Created By: Kemosabi4 on February 21, 2011 Last Edited By: NightShade96 on June 19, 2017

Deathville, USA

A town with an ironic name that undermines the horrors that goes on in it.

Name Space:
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Page Type:
Trope
So you've wandered into a haunted town, where the darkest horrors of the beyond lurk around every corner, and you have to have a change of pants on hand constantly. Yes, it's terrifying, the epitome of fear. Slowly, when the coast is clear, you cut through the thick fog and find yourself in front of a large billboard. You begin to read. "Welcome to sunny..." Wait... Why the hell do they call it that!? Why is it that some of the scariest places on Earth have such innocent names?

Deathville, USA applies mostly to Towns With Dark Secrets (and is largely a subversion of this trope) or generally any location that has a relatively misleading name when compared to the horrors that go on there. Of course, it doesn't always have to be NormanRockwellville but something that belies the nature of the town.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Films 
  • Sandford, the small village that serves as the setting for Hot Fuzz has a name that perfectly fits it's countryside feeling, despite the fact that the citizens of said town systematically kill anyone who threatens the sanctity of it's peaceful existence.
  • The A Nightmare on Elm Street films all take place in the innocent-sounding town of Springwood, haunted by the evil spirit of the child-killing Freddy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sunnydale, CA, the setting of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is located over a Hellmouth - a place where the barriers between dimensions are weak - thus attracting horrors of every shape and size to it. Death is pretty common when there are vampires, demons and other horrors lurking around every dark alleyway.

     Podcasts 
  • NightVale from Welcome to Night Vale is a weird little town full of strange and terrifying things that either kills its residence, drives them mad or something worse, including the Sheriff's secret police, librarians, and the Glow-Cloud. All hail the Glow-Cloud!

    Video Games 
  • In Silent Hill, your deepest fears literally come alive in a town that is virtually devoid of sane life. If it hadn't been for it's introduction in the long running horror series, the name Silent Hill would paint pictures of a quiet, sleepy, small town, without any tentacle monsters or sexy nurses.
  • Bright Falls from the Video Game Alan Wake is a small, peaceful backwoods town that hides an ancient monster.
Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • February 21, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I find it odd that this trope is about scary towns with happy or innocuous names and yet it subverts/averts the trope by being called Deathville. I want it to be called something like Bad Things Are Always Happening In Sunnyville.
  • February 21, 2011
    bbofun
    The Hellmouth, portal to all things evil and nasty, sits under the lovely town of Sunnydale,CA. (This is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, if anyone doesn't know.)

    And, yeah, Deathville sounds either like a)all towns that are "evil'; or, b)evil towns with evil names (Silent Hill, 'Salem'sLot, etc.)

    Oh, and I know 'Salem's Lot is Jerusalem's Lot, and thus, shouldn't sound evil, but, c'mon, it reallly does.

    OOOH- Derry and Castle Rock, both from the Stephen King oeuvre.
  • February 21, 2011
    Grain
    We could name the trope "Sunnydale". Most Triumphant Example
  • February 22, 2011
    foxley
    Currently this is covered by Super Fun Happy Thing Of Doom, but it might be splittable.
  • February 22, 2011
    chris282
    Jaws is set in the fictional beachside resort of Amity. Amity means friendship or cordiality.
  • February 22, 2011
    Kemosabi4
    @foxley. I'm hoping to split it on the grounds of it being centered more on towns and cities.
  • February 22, 2011
    BlackDragon
    Bright Falls from Alan Wake comes to mind... idyllic little backwoods-town with a fun-filled local festival and a 'recharge-center' for burned-out artists. And an Eldritch Abomination sleeping fitfully under the ever-so-idyllic and picturesque crater-lake.
  • February 24, 2011
    Kemosabi4
    Thanks for your suggestions. I'll make sure to update it and try and gain some more attention before creating it.
  • February 26, 2011
    bbofun
  • February 26, 2011
    Grain
    Happytown Isn't So Happy

    Happytown? More Like Doomytown!
  • February 26, 2011
    TBTabby
    I second Sunnydale.
  • February 26, 2011
    jate88
    What's this tropes relationship to Names To Run Away From Really Fast?
  • February 27, 2011
    bbofun
    ^It would be a subversion, although that trope is more about people's names, not places.
  • March 21, 2011
    TBTabby
    It seems like Fluffy The Terrible, just applied to places.
  • March 21, 2011
    Earnest
  • March 24, 2011
    Kemosabi4
    I like Welcome to Sunny Doomville, when I'm not up to my neck in school and other activities, I'll try to update it a little.
  • March 24, 2011
    PaleHorse87
  • March 26, 2011
    Terabiel
    I dunno, Silent Hill sounds like a graveyard to me. Terrible name for a town. I second "Welcome to Sunny Doomville" and the seperation from Fluffy the Terrible, unless the town in question happens to be a Genius Loci... at which point it could go either way.
  • March 26, 2011
    bbofun
    Except "Doomville" is not this. Welcome To Sunnyville And Your Doom? Come To Happytown And Die? Pleasantville Is A Bad Place?

    I think I have a problem with the "Doomville" name. It's just the exact opposite of the trope.
  • March 26, 2011
    INUH
    Nthing the "this trope should have a name that isn't the opposite of what it means."
  • March 27, 2011
    Earnest
  • March 27, 2011
    vijeno

    I think there are a few in the X Files, but I don't remember the names.

    Do we have the opposite, actually?
  • March 27, 2011
    INUH
    ^^Like that title.

    ^Um...I kind of feel like we do have the opposite, but I can't think of what it is, so I could be wrong.
  • March 27, 2011
    vijeno
    Oh, and the page image should be one of those "welcome to..." signs, with the population number striked through and corrected.
  • March 27, 2011
    Venompen
    Zombieland. Nuff said.
  • March 27, 2011
    Earnest
    ^^ Like this poster from The Crazies?
  • March 27, 2011
    Kaoy
    ^^Zombieland doesn't take place in one town, nor is it one town being affected. It takes place in multiple states, and it's the entire world. Thus, not an example.
  • March 27, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    For the Record I still think the title needs a more ironic name
  • March 27, 2011
    SoneAnna
    Hinamizawa from Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni. IIRC (my kanji-reading skills are terrible; forgive me) it means something along the lines of "swamp of dolls and hope."
  • March 27, 2011
    Rolf
    beauful cheery town of death?
  • March 27, 2011
    Kaoy
    The longer this gets, the more and more I am liking 'Sunnydale' as the name.
  • April 18, 2011
    Kemosabi4
    How does 'Welcome to Sunnydale' jive with everyone?
  • October 30, 2016
    lakingsif
    Here's an example that gives a good page quote:

    • In I Am Number Four, John moves to a place called Paradise. Lest to say, it is not paradisal, actually harbouring a lot of danger — as well as being back woods Ohio to begin with.

    Sarah: How are you liking Paradise?
    John: You know, they should've called this town 'Ironic'.
    Sarah: 'Ironic, Ohio'? Has a ring to it.
  • October 30, 2016
    eroock
    Subtrope of Ironic Name.
  • October 30, 2016
    WildKatGirl
    • Not a town, but in Toy Story 3 the toys go to a daycare called Sunnyside, which turns out to be a a brutal dictatorship ruled by Lotso the bear. Toys are subjected to rough treatment by toddlers who don't know how to play with them properly and any defiant toys get imprisoned in cubbies, forced to stay the night in the sandbox, interrogated, brainwashed, or thrown into the daycare's dumpster to go to the landfill.
  • October 30, 2016
    MonaNaito
    Sunnydale and Welcome To Sunnydale both are nonindicative if you don't know the reference. If the title has to have "Sunnydale" in it, it should be something like Dont Go To Sunnydale or Sunnydale Will Kill You to imply that the happy sounding town is in fact dangerous.
  • October 30, 2016
    WildKatGirl
    Maybe something like Not So Happyville?
  • October 31, 2016
    eroock
    ^^ The ironic nature doesn't need lampshading for this trope to work. At least the current draft doesn't mention it. That said, I have complains about the example towns Sandford, Springwood and Night Vale in OP. They don't suggest an overly joyful setting.

  • October 31, 2016
    Daefaroth
    When witty fails you can always fall back on clear and concise. Innocuously Named Death Town or Ironically Named Death Town. Also, Example As Thesis should be cleaned up.
  • November 5, 2016
    lakingsif
    I think Sandford works; remembering that it's English and so place names aren't arbitrary, it evokes the idea of a cute village.
  • November 5, 2016
    WildKatGirl
    ^To me, Sandford sounds like a happy village by the sea, but then I know nothing about it.
  • June 17, 2017
    Getta
    Just call it Ironic Town Name, that way we can cover really happy cities called Mordor.
  • June 19, 2017
    shadowbeast
    Midsomer? [[Series/Heartbeat Aidensfield]] and Mount Thomas probably wouldn't qualify, as they are strangely high-crime for the population density but the amount of horror and violence doesn't come close to Midsomer. Better examples would be towns such as Cascade Falls, and others that Milo and Amber visit in Demon Road. Or perhaps Dog River in Corner Gas, which has some backstory horror in its name (as does Cascade falls, for that matter).
  • June 19, 2017
    hszmv1
    • Coolsville from the Scooby Doo Franchise, has an inordinate amount of alleged hauntings that turned out to be people trying to scare locals away from illegal activities. Depending on the show, the town is depicted as a thriving Everytown USA, a Tourist Trap town that promotes known hoaxes as the real deal for their tourist industry, or a town where their primary source of industry has pulled up and left or some combination there of. Again, subverted in that it is rarely if ever depicted as a town conspiracy, and often it's not even named in the series, it just has a bunch of crooks who all have the same idea.

    • The town of Sanford in Hot Fuzz. The name itself isn't a true example of this trope, but it does boast being named the "Best place to live in Britain" and has quite a few "accidents" that are secretly for The Greater Good.

    • A recurring theme in Danny Phantom was that the city of Amity Park was constantly advertising itself as a pleasant place to live, only to have the fight between Danny and the Monster Of The Week wreck the sign.
  • June 19, 2017
    hszmv1
    • The titular town in The Legend Of Sleepy Hallow, which ranks as one of America's first Ghost Stories. May also be the reason for the prevalence in American works.

    • Lavender Town and Cinnabar island from Pokemon Red And Blue can have this vibe. Next to the starting town, they are the two smallest cities by area and both are home to some strange goings on (the former having the Pokemon Tower, which is a grave yard for deceased Pokemon and exclusive home of that generations ghost Pokemon and the latter is home to abandoned laboratory which was abandoned after a mysterious explosion... clues indicate that this is where Mewtwo was created. Was given an extra level of creepy for being the location of the Missingno glitch, which did all sorts of wackiness to the games if encountered).

    Real Life Example:
    • The Akigara Forest at the base of Mount Fuji. It's name translates to "Sea of Forest" or "Sea of Trees". It's surprisingly quiet for a forest (visitors note the absence of noises from wildlife and the density of the trees prevents breezes from rustling leaves deep into the forest. Due to the lava that formed the forest's soil, the rocks and soil are highly magnetic and confound both compasses and GPS devices, making it easy to get lost in, and the porous nature of the rock means the forest is littered with hidden caverns one could accidentally fall into if they wander off the trail. It's also known for it's high rate of suicides by visitors (many of whom come there to do such) after a book popularized the idea of suicide in the forest, but suicides in Akiagara was known before the book was published. Understandably, those who live in the area are terrified of the forest and believe it is haunted, but no one can say if it's haunted because of all the suicides or all the suicides caused the haunting.
  • June 19, 2017
    LB7979
    • Poltergeist: In the first film the family live in "Cuesta Verde" / "Green Hill". Sounds so sweet doesn't it? But as they, and the audience, soon find out, they actually are living in Hell on Earth.
  • June 19, 2017
    LB7979
    Also, agree that Trope title should be renamed to something more seemingly cute. This basically is the place-instead-of-person-version of Fluffy The Terrible.
  • June 19, 2017
    Malady
    Folderized, fixed Silent Hill wick... Nightvale doesn't count 'cause Dark Is Evil and Night Is Deadly tropes?
  • June 19, 2017
    Getta
    ^^ let's broaden this to cover scary town names that belies their peaceful nature.
  • June 19, 2017
    zarpaulus
    Maybe not Night Vale itself, but it's sister city Desert Bluffs was far worse while trying to present a nice, friendly smiling image.

    At least until the revolution.
  • June 19, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^^ Maybe this could be called Dissonant Town Name? That way both types are covered.
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