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It's the sleazy motel that rents rooms by the hour. The clerk doesn't ask what for, and doesn't want to know.
The No-Tell Motel is where philandering affairs and criminal deals take place. Human nature being what it is, that also makes it the site of gruesome unsolved murders.
Low-lifes on the run, prostitutes turning tricks, and the detectives who want to talk to them, will all end up here sooner or later.
- Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt has one. It ain't called "Immoral Motel" for nothing.
- During Marvel's Civil War, Spidey, Aunt May and Mary Jane ended up stashed at one of these after he switched sides. The hourly rate was more than the rate for a whole night, to Peter's confusion.
- The Corinthian is first encountered in one of these-- along with a sleazy owner dropping off room service and a teenaged male prostitute tied up in the bathtub. Of course, he ends up dead. It's quite possible that this is the Corinthian's regular modus operandi, but he was on the road already, after all.
- The entire Sin City series starts off in one of these as Marv is framed for murder.
- In Highlander, the motel that The Kurgan stays at in New York apparently has at least one door-to-door hooker (Candy). It's neither shown nor explained exactly what he does there. (For anyone else it would be obvious, but this is The Kurgan we're talking about.)
- Seen in 12 Monkeys, where Bruce Willis and his psychiatrist visit one to work out just what the hell is going on with their lives in privacy.
- When he is released in Psycho II, Norman Bates is shocked to find that this is how the Bates Motel is being run. He promptly sacks the manager, the hilariously sleazy Dennis Franz.
- Vlad Taltos and Kiera both find one of these immensely useful in Orca. Which fits the trope quite well, considering they are, respectively, an assassin on the run from an organized crime syndicate and the best thief and, secretly, most feared demigoddess in the entire Empire.
- L.A. Confidential has two examples - one is El Serrano motel, where Buzz Meeks waits to be snuck out of the USA ( he doesn't make it) and Victory Motel, headquarters of Mobster Squad run by the resident Magnificent Bastard Dudley Smith, where out-of-town gangsters arriving in L. A. are hauled over and persuaded to leave and never come back (usually through applying cut rubber hose).
- Shown perfectly in the "Full Moon" episode of Homicide: Life On the Street.
- CSI's Las Vegas has lots of these, generally complete with dead body.
- With more hotel-like places, appears in The Bill, such as with the Chandler-McAllister relationship. The one that ended with him raping her on their wedding night and then shooting himself during a Hostage Situation as she was in labour (with him in the room).
- In an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Arthur Carlsen tries to spice up his marriage by taking his wife back to the hotel they stayed at when they eloped, but since then its aspirations have declined a bit...
Carmen: "Arthur, there's a machine in the bathroom that sells... things."
- In an episode of Happy Days, Joanie and Chachi had to stay in one when they took a trip to a Beach Boys concert without permission.
- Sam and Dean Winchester check into No Tell Motels together fairly frequently. This does not help their reputation at all.
- In the pilot of White Collar, Peter Burke checks Neal Caffrey into one of these on the grounds that it's one of the few places a person can live for $700 a month in New York City. Neal improvises.
- In an episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse stays at one of these, where he smokes some meth and has sex with a prostitute.
- On Boy Meets World, Shawn's father dumps him at one of these when he leaves to chase after Shawn's mom, though it's not seen on screen.
- These were Faith's digs during her time in the series, pushing her character as The Ladette and she even uses it as a one night stand (well two nights) with Xander.
- All over the place in Law and Order SVU. The detectives are always frequenting these places to pick up suspects (and witnesses of the shady variety.)
- One features in the Heart song All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You.
- Lupino's hotel from the first Max Payne game, which you have to blast through twice, was of this type.
- The Visual Novel Hotel Dusk: Room 215: Room 215 for the Nintendo DS takes place in one of these.
- Though it's rundown and out of the way, it's more a place for people with troubled pasts than dirty goings on. Rosie wouldn't stand for it.
- "King Arthur & the Knights of Justice" (SNES Action-RPG game) had a motel called literally, "No Tell Motel"
- Also featured, in all places, in the explorable landscape of the game Bully. You can't take girls there, of course, being fifteen (and rated T) but... well, other people do.
- Galerians features one of these, complete with drug pushers, a sketchy maintenance man, pedophilic priests, men making nuclear weapons and a whore.
- Fallout: New Vegas has the Bison Steve hotel, where you can find ransom notes and a murder/suicide. It's also where a group of criminals are currently holed up.
- No More Heroes Motel in No More Heroes is the residence of one Travis Touchdown. While it does seem bright and cheery, don't forget it's in Santa Destroy.
- The Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Decemberween special is called "Cactus Coffee and the No-Tell Motel". There is, of course, neither a No-Tell Motel or cactus coffee involved, but Eh! Steve's mouth does explode the universe, and Ready For Primetime does a tiny, tiny dance. Even Strong Bad is stumped and he created the show.
- The motels frequented by Mayor Quimby in The Simpsons. In particular, the "SLeEp-eAZY" Motel that Marge and the kids stay at during the episode "The Cartridge Family", complete with prostitutes at the entrance, coin-operated vibrating beds, and a corpse in the pool. Homer, Marge (and Mayor Quimby) go to one closer to a Japanese style Love Hotel in "Grandpa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" too.
- The Family Guy episode "Screwed The Pooch" hits all the notes in this tune: prostitutes, sleazy proprietors, crime, roaches, non-working switches, Murphy beds, insane residents, people on the run, America's Most Wanted, police raids.
- Rocko's Modern Life, king of the Parental Bonus and Getting Crap Past the Radar extraordinaire of The Nineties, has a cut scene with one named the No Tell Motel. The cut version of the episode just shows the exterior of the hotel. What they didn't cut just makes it even worse once you know what this trope is about!
- This trope was referenced in Chowder, where a hotel is called the No Tell Motel. We don't actually see this trope in action, though.
Real Life Edit
- There is a hotel shamelessly called the No-Tel Motel in the sleazy part of Tucson, Arizona. According to the Tucson Weekly, it lives up to its name.
- The stereotype is often less held in real life. Most who would use such hotels in fiction tend to go for normal places; a three or four star motel the likes families and businessmen would use, though occasionally they choose somewhere more up market.