Created By: mtlwriterguy on November 21, 2011 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on December 15, 2015

Town Out of Time

A small town is mysteriously transported to future, past, parallel universe or fantasy world

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Trope
An easy trope to explain: A perfectly normal Everytown from Anywhere, America, is mysteriously transported somewhere and/or somewhen else. It could be an alien world, the far future, the past, a parallel universe with a completely different history or a fantasy dimension where magic works and dragons patrol the sky.

Then the Plucky Americans (which if it isn't a trope, should be) must pull together, cooperate and arm themselves to survive. I repeat, arm themselves. On which score it's a good thing that it's an American town and not, say, a Canadian or Danish town, because the local firepower quotient would be much lower.

Town Out of Time is primarily a literary trope. I don't think I've ever seen it done on TV or in film, though I'm sure it must have been at some point.

A subtrope of Mass Teleportation and Trapped in the Past (which has a subsection on entire groups being transported).


Examples:

Comic Books
  • Green Lantern: Mosaic.
  • The town of Marshville in the Cavewoman comics.
  • In Secret Wars, the Beyonder creates Battleworld out of various pieces of worlds throughout the universe, including a suburb of Denver Colorado.

Literature
  • 1632 and sequels by Eric Flint: The West Virginia coal town of Grantville ends up in 16th century Germany. It has a decided technological advantage and decides to use it to foment the American Revolution early.
  • The 1994 novel Mysterium by Robert Charles Wilson is one of the creepiest examples of this trope, where a quantum experiment gone wrong flings the requisite American town into an alternate universe, where a particularly intolerant form of Gnostic Christianity is the dominant world religion. Because the environment is so strange, and the most innocuous act (like putting up Christmas decorations) can trigger harsh retribution, the townspeople are completely at a loss, though still somewhat Plucky(tm)
  • The 1951 novel City at World's End by Edmond Hamilton: The town of Middletown (yes, that's what he called it!) is somehow flung to the far future, where the sun has expanded to a red giant and Earth is only barely inhabitable. The Middletowners find themselves at the mercy of their super-advanced descendants, who treat them with contempt. They're still Plucky Americans, though, whatever colour the sun is.
  • In Island in the Sea of Time and sequels by S.M. Stirling the island of Nantucket is sent back in time to the late Bronze Age.

Live-Action TV
  • Similar to, but not exactly the same as, more prosaic small-American-town-on-its-own tales like the TV series Jericho.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun". While on the planet of the Melkots, Captain Kirk and his party find themselves in the town of Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. Kirk had to roleplay the shootout at the OK Corral. During the episode they learn that the entire town and its inhabitants are just a telepathic illusion.

Tabletop Game
  • In GURPS Fantasy, humans came to the world of Yrth when a elven spell went wrong and teleported numerous small villages from medieval Europe, the Middle East and Japan to Yrth.

Theatre
  • Brigadoon is a small Scottish town that has this "showing up once every 100 years" thing.

Video Game
  • Chrono Cross: It happens to Chronopolis (it's transported 14300 years to the past), although it's debatable whether it could count as a town, it's more like a huge research facility.

Web Original
  • SCP Foundation: The SCP-110 entry consists of an underground city under the state of New York, with an area of approximately six square kilometers, that was transported to the past by an unknown entity imprisoned there.
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • November 21, 2011
    Shnakepup
    I'm pretty sure this is covered under Mass Teleportation.
  • November 21, 2011
    mtlwriterguy
    Hmmm... yeah. But that's a very broad trope, this is more of a sub-trope, no?
  • November 21, 2011
    Micah
    See Trapped In The Past for the "sent into the past" version of this (which has a subsection on entire groups being transported).
  • November 21, 2011
    foxley
    The town of Marshville in the Cavewoman comics.
  • November 21, 2011
    PaulA
    I think this could reasonably be created as a subtrope of both Mass Teleportation and Trapped In The Past.
  • November 21, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Brigadoon is a small Scottish town that has this "showing up once every 100 years" thing.
  • November 21, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Please elaborate on the One Word Examples.
  • November 22, 2011
    Omeganian
    City at World's End by Edmond Hamilton. written in 1951.
  • November 26, 2011
    morenohijazo
    Why it has to be American? I think there's some degree of Americanitis with this trope.
  • November 26, 2011
    jate88
    So Mass Teleportation doesn't have to include the town but must involve a large group of people and Town Out Of Time is the ones where the entire town goes with them?

    There are some exceptions but examples go in the example section and not the trope description.
  • November 26, 2011
    wanderlustwarrior
    Mass Teleportation does state it could be a city in the description, and this does seem to have a lot of Americanitis to it.
  • November 26, 2011
    PaulA
    So list some examples where the town isn't American.

    (I can vaguely recall a Japanese example, but not the title or author or anything.)
  • November 26, 2011
    PaulA
    ^^^ The distinction from Mass Teleportation isn't "the whole town is transported", it's "this is the subtrope for when it's transported through time".
  • November 26, 2011
    foxley
    • In GURPS Fantasy, humans came to the world of Yrth when a elven spell went wrong and teleported numerous small villages from medieval Europe, the Middle East and Japan to Yrth.
  • November 27, 2011
    morenohijazo
    I haven't played Chrono Cross, but for what I've read, I think there was an example of this trope. Could somebody confirm it?
  • November 27, 2011
    Likely
    It seems a bit of an arbitrary split of the examples of Mass Teleportation. At the very least, all of the examples involving towns or cities should be included, rather than just American ones.

    The title Town Out Of Time makes it sound like this is referring to a Vanishing Village like Brigadoon.
  • June 27, 2012
    morenohijazo
    ^^ Done some research. It happens to Chronopolis in Chrono Cross (it's transported to the past), although I'm not sure if it would count as a town, it's more like a huge research facility.
  • June 27, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^ and ^^^: yes, and that's a major plot point and spoiler.
  • April 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Secret Wars the Beyonder creates Battleworld out of various pieces of worlds throughout the universe, including a suburb of Denver Colorado.
  • May 5, 2013
    morenohijazo
    • SCP Foundation: The SCP-110 entry consists of an underground city under the state of New York, with an area of approximately six square kilometers, that was transported to the past by an unknown entity imprisoned there.
  • May 17, 2013
    ekolis
    I think there was an episode of the original Star Trek that was set in (a replica of?) an Old West town, and Kirk had to roleplay the shootout at the OK Corral?
  • May 18, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ That was "Spectre of the Gun".

    Live Action TV
    • Subverted in the Star Trek The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun". While on the planet of the Melkots, Captain Kirk and his party find themselves in the town of Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. During the episode they learn that the entire town and its inhabitants are just a telepathic illusion.
  • October 19, 2013
    DAN004
    IIRC, Touhou has Keine Kamishirasawa (a were-hakutaku) is able to eat history and replace it with something else. She has done it with a village, and it's the heroes' duty to save it.
  • October 19, 2013
    Synchronicity
    Lots of zero context examples.
  • October 20, 2013
    TrueShadow1
    ^^As someone who is familiar with Touhou, no it's wrong. First, Keine did it to protect the village. Second, she didn't actually take the village away, only hid it from outsiders. The village is still there, but because its history is 'eaten', people can't perceive it as being there. Or something like that...her ability is one of the most vague ability in the series.
  • October 21, 2013
    jamespolk
    I don't see why this has to be an American town, or why the characters have to arm themselves.

    Literature

    • In the famous Jerome Bixby horror story "Its A Good Life", omnipotent and not-completely-human toddler Anthony has transported his town... somewhere. It's not completely clear whether Anthony sent the town into some alternate universe or whether he destroyed everything outside the town; all the people know is that outside the town limits is nothing but a gray void.
  • October 21, 2013
    Skybunny
    The very first episode of The Twilight Zone , "Where is Everybody?" is a classic example. Man wanders an abandoned town, only to have it revealed at the end of the episode that it is a hallucination of a potential astronaut's mind.
  • October 21, 2013
    morenohijazo
    ^^ The description needs to be rewritten. This trope, as it's described now, is too specific and would suffer from the Missing Supertrope Syndrome.

    Before any rewrite, I think we should define the trope, of course.
  • December 13, 2015
    Mauri
    Why not generalize it? That way we avoid the whole "USA centralization" syndrome. Before anyone gets mad I'm just stating the neutralization on this trope, if anyone wants to make the whole "Plucky + nationality" should do a separate tag (Personally I'd keep it to plucky individuals).

    • A possible outtake on it:

    For any reason a normal town of any country is displaced out of space and time, in some instances thrown into a parallel universe. Be it for: science going wrong, Mass Teleportation, a child with godlike powers decided that way, etc. In the case of time it can be to the past or future. And in the case of present, then it is space and it can be more onto sending said town to another unrelated place. It can be a mixture of both in any situation. Despite the reason the town's citizens is having to adapt to the new surroundings where there are dragons cruising the skies and hippogriff's poo is the best manure known to sentients.

    So in the wake of being what could be seen as a Canon Immigrant to said planet, or universe, the individuals have to learn how to adapt and if possible arm themselves to deal with the new environment. Possible reasons for the arming up can be the Dire Deer that shoots lightning from it's antlers.

    The idea that a Town Out of Time is the child of Mass Teleportation and Trapped in the Past tropes.
  • December 13, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    I think a better name would be something like Time Displaced Town, since "out of time" has other meanings.
  • December 13, 2015
    DAN004
    I don't think "out of time" would be apt for the title if this can cover the town being teleported someplace else.
  • December 13, 2015
    Mauri
    Well time to put the trope name AND description under the workshop until it is a proper set.

    What about "aptly misplaced town"? Or "Schizo placed town"? Oops the town is elsewhere?
  • December 13, 2015
    DAN004
    Town Teleported Away or just Teleported Town is simple enough.
  • December 13, 2015
    Mauri
    Teleported Town sounds nice. Why complicate stuff up?
  • December 13, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
  • December 14, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Jericho is Zero Context.

    EDIT: And so are the Green Lantern and Catwoman examples.
  • December 14, 2015
    dalek955
    • In Destroyermen, the Squall occasionally picks up ships and deposits them on parallel Earths. It places the destroyers Walker and Mahan in a world where Everything Is Trying to Kill You and the lemurlike, peaceful Mi-Anaaka have come under attack by the rapacious Grik.
  • December 15, 2015
    PaulA
    ^^ Jericho is not actually an example. It's a series about a town in an After The End setting.

    Green Lantern: Mosaic is a story arc about an alien stealing cities from various planets and transplanting them onto his homeworld.
  • December 15, 2015
    randomsurfer
    "Its A Good Life" takes place in the town of Peaksville, which used to be in Ohio. Nobody in Peaksville knows if they're cut off from the rest of the world, or if Anthony made the rest of the world disappear.
  • December 15, 2015
    dalek955
  • December 15, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^I don't think you're right.
  • December 15, 2015
    Gamermaster
    • The Phantom Village from Final Fantasy V was trapped in an inter-dimensional rift 1000 years ago when the planet was split in two. It's even called "The Town that Time Forgot".
  • December 15, 2015
    NoirGrimoir
  • December 15, 2015
    Mauri
    Mmm at the rate we are going we might have to just put a name crowner/poll for the options.

    Also I guess that the fixing of the description will have to be done eventually.

    On the FF V example (if I recall correctly)... At some points it was too bizarre as it was accessible only by random encounters in that one forest but hinted. However, when you came via the cogs in the last dungeon it was left as "if time stood still" within the town itself.
  • December 15, 2015
    DAN004
    Again, just Teleported Town.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=49fyec25qfgjgd8rfmueopp9