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Nevada Gets the Star Treatment in These 10 Movies and TV Shows

Nevada is a state of jaw-dropping landscapes, dramatic weather, and a colorful history of cowboys and mobsters. So it’s no surprise that the thirty-sixth state is the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows. In particular, gritty, glittery Las Vegas pops up in bit parts and starring roles in just about everything.

There’s quite a range of entertainment options to choose from, but these ten TV shows and films show off the Silver State’s charms.

Mockumentary: Reno 911! (2003–2009)

Definitely not a show for the kiddos. The raunchy Reno 911! is a part-scripted, part-improvised comedy about the fictional Reno Sheriff’s Department. The hapless crew of foul-mouthed officers are often on the losing end of attempts at corralling speeders, prostitutes, and various other ne’er-do-wells. Crooks and cops alike jockey for camera time because they (mistakenly) think they’re being filmed for a documentary series called Heroes on Patrol.

Reality Show: Pawn Stars (2009–present)

Pawn Stars documents the dealings at the 24-hour Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, which was opened in 1989 by recently deceased patriarch Richard “Old Man” Harrison. Manned by his son Rick, Rick’s son Corey, and a goofball named Chumlee, the shop sees a steady stream of patrons hoping to get major bucks for absurd items, including a potato allegedly chucked at Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1963 march on Washington. (The hopeful customer wanted $100,000 for the tater but settled on $2.) Real treasures abound, too, like JFK’s cigar box (which the shop bought for $60,000).

Crime Procedural: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000–2015)

CSI has versions set in Miami and New York, plus another that focused on national cybercrime, but the original was set in Vegas and had a cast that included Marg Helgenberger, Ted Danson, Laurence Fishburne, and Elisabeth Shue. The team solves murders using forensic evidence—the show is even credited with birthing “the CSI effect,” where jurors in real court cases now expect DNA results from the prosecution.

Heist Movies: The Ocean’s Series (1960, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2018)

The Ocean’s series (Ocean’s 8, Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12, and Ocean’s 13) feature celebrity casts pulling off outrageous casino heists. Some of the big names that have popped up in the films: the Rat Pack, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, and Cate Blanchett.

Drama: The Misfits (1961)

Another star vehicle, The Misfits was the last film for both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. The movie takes the focus away from Las Vegas for a change to show off the sights of Reno, where recent divorcee Monroe takes up with a cowboy (Gable), a tow-truck driver (Eli Wallach), and a rodeo rider (Clift).

Musical: Viva Las Vegas (1964)

It’s a toss-up whether Viva Las Vegas is best-known for the hit titular song or the sizzling on-screen chemistry of Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret. Either actor makes it a worthwhile watch, even if the plot—Elvis is a Grand Prix racer who competes with his racing rival for the gorgeous redhead’s affections—is hardly unique.

Crime: Casino (1995)

No Vegas film list would be complete without one featuring the mob, and Casino delivers. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie stars Robert De Niro as a casino manager, Sharon Stone as his scheming wife, James Woods as a con artist, and Joe Pesci as an out-of-control mob enforcer. How much more do you need?

Comedy: Vegas Vacation (1997)

Vegas Vacation is the fourth film about the misadventures of the Griswold family, helmed by Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. This time, the family heads to Vegas but makes some pit stops along the way at a hydrogen bomb test site and the Hoover Dam. Rest assured that hijinks ensue.

Dark Comedy: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a trip of a film—literally. It was adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name and turns all kinds of psychedelics in the hands of director Terry Gilliam and stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. The bizarre visuals and excessive drug use make this film another one best viewed by adults only.

Comedy: The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover is the first installment in a trilogy about four pals (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha) getting into hot water, and the movie takes advantage of well-known landmarks such as Caesars Palace and one of the city’s many quickie wedding chapels. Mike Tyson also makes an appearance after the boys steal his pet tiger.

You can watch these Nevada-centric shows and films pronto using the high-speed internet connection offered through CenturyLink.