Created By: archie on November 2, 2017 Last Edited By: archie on November 7, 2017
Troped

From New York To Nowhere

Main character starts the story by moving from a big city to a small town

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A Fish out of Water story that centers around a character who, for whatever reason, suddenly relocates from a big city to a small town. Cue lots of issues with fitting in, Eccentric Townsfolk (often with some Flyover Country stereotyping), and the eventual Aesop about home being where the heart is.

The significance of this trope lies in the commonly perceived superiority of a metropolitan lifestyle. If the protagonist left the city voluntarily, expect a lot of characters (perhaps including the protagonist themselves) wondering why they would move to such a "dump". They'll probably also have a few suspicious locals accusing them of being conceited and condescending; if these locals happen to be right, there's likely a Break the Haughty / The City vs. the Country subplot unfolding as well.

More common in TV series than movies, as the setting and the wide assortment of colorful characters is crucial to the story.


Examples

Comic Book
  • Thanks to her parents' divorce protagonist of Amelia Rules! fulfills the trope name literally, moving from New York City, to as she calls it, 'Nowhere, Pennsylvania.'

Film
  • Arachnophobia: Dr. Ross Jennings moves his family from San Francisco to a sleepy town in Northern California because he got the offer to be the town doctor there. Things get pretty bad for him when the Jerkass town doctor that made the offer decides to not retire after all, making him struggle to get patients so he'll have a job... and then a South American killer spider arrives to town, causing a rash of deaths with its equally super-deadly spawn...
  • Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen begins with Lola Steppe and her family moving to a suburbs in New Jersey, much to Lola's annoyance because she dreamed of being a Broadway actress.
    Lola's Mom: Oh, stop being such a drama queen.
  • Hannah Montana The Movie - Miley is taken on a surprise vacation to her hometown in Tennessee when Robbie Ray fears that her fame as Hannah is going to her head
  • Sean Thornton, The Quiet Man, used to work in the American steel mills, and took up amateur boxing as a sideline. However, after one match with a nasty opponent, Sean's temper overcame him, and he literally beat the man to death in the ring. Sean moved to Innisfree, Ireland as The Atoner, heeding a Call to Agriculture on a farm plot, growing potatoes and red roses.

Film Animated
  • Non-protagonist example: Sally Carrera of Pixar's feature animation Cars recounts her story to Lightning McQueen that she used to be a fast-track lawyer in the big city, but grew disillusioned with the phoniness and the guile. She withdrew to bucolic Radiator Springs, and became its sole public defender, and has been content with that ever since. Sally recounts this as part of her stop-and-smell-the-roses Aesop.

Live-Action TV
  • CrazyExGirlfriend - Rebecca gets a panic attack when she hears she's about to be promoted at her job which is already destroying her in every way, and impulsively decides to move to West Covina, CA to stalk her Old Flame instead.
  • Everwood - After Andy Brown's wife is killed in a car accident, he announces to his kids that they're moving to the small town of Everwood, CO (which his wife had been very fond of) to get a fresh start.
  • Gilmore Girls - After a falling-out with her high-society parents as a result of her pregnancy, Lorelei moved from big-city Hartford to small-town Stars Hollow.
  • Green Acres - New York lawyer Oliver Douglas moves to the small rural town of Hooterville to become a farmer. There he has to deal with Eccentric Townsfolk while his wife Lisa keeps begging him to return to the city.
  • Northern Exposure - New York physician Joel Fleischman, fresh from med school, moves to the quirky small town of Cicely, Alaska as part of a financial aid package from the state.
  • Series/Riverdale - Hermione and Veronica Lodge, New York city elites, move to Riverdale at the beginning to wait out the scandal of family patriarch Hiram facing embezzlement charges.
  • Road to Avonlea - Sara Stanley is sent away to live with her relatives when her father gets into legal and financial trouble becaue of a fraudulent accountant.

Video Game
  • The player character in Stardew Valley starts off as an office drone in the city before answering the Call to Agriculture and moving to the farmlands near Pelican Town.
  • In Life is Strange:
    • In the original game, Max is technically returning to her home town of Arcadia Bay after moving to Seattle 5 years before (at the age of 13), but she's enough of a Stranger in a Familiar Land that it winds up in line with this trope. She can even admit to Chloe that she much preferred the big city and only came back because she wanted to study photography under Mr. Jefferson (although she doesn't resent being "stuck" there as much as Chloe does).
    • The prequel, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, reveals that Chloe's Replacement Goldfish best friend Rachel Amber (whose disappearance forms a large part of the original game's story arc) moved to Arcadia Bay from California. As the first game hinted, she utterly resents being there, and moving away is her main goal.

Web Comic

Western Animation
  • Gravity Falls - Dipper and Mabel are sent by their parents to spend the summer with their great uncle.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic - The main character, Twilight Sparkle, begins the series as a university student in the glamorous capital city of Canterlot, but moves to the small, rural town of Ponyville. Initially, this is just a short trip to Ponyville—Twilight had been tasked to oversee preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration—but Twilight makes five friends there and decides she doesn't want to leave.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • November 3, 2017
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
      • Added media section titles as per Media Categories.
      • Added asterisks at the beginning of examples to indent them.
      • Namespaced work names.
      • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
      • Blue Linked work names.

    Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.
  • November 3, 2017
    archie
    Added context to examples
  • November 3, 2017
    Synchronicity
    • Gilmore Girls: After a falling-out with her high-society parents as a result of her pregnancy, Lorelei moved from big-city Hartford to small-town Stars Hollow.
    • Riverdale: Hermione and Veronica Lodge, New York city elites, move to Riverdale at the beginning to wait out the scandal of family patriarch Hiram facing embezzlement charges.
  • November 3, 2017
    Kartoonkid95
    • Hannah Montana: The Movie: Miley is taken on a surprise vacation to her hometown in Tennessee when Robbie Ray fears that her fame as Hannah is going to her head
  • November 3, 2017
    TonyG
    Green Acres: New York lawyer Oliver Douglas moves to the small rural town of Hooterville to become a farmer. There he has to deal with Eccentric Townsfolk while his wife Lisa keeps begging him to return to the city.
  • November 3, 2017
    zarpaulus
    Often involves Flyover Country stereotyping.
  • November 3, 2017
    Lawman592
    Northern Exposure: New York physician Joel Fleischman, fresh from med school, moves to the quirky small town of Cicely, Alaska as part of a financial aid package from the state.
  • November 3, 2017
    Berrenta
    Video game example:

    • The player character in Stardew Valley starts off as an office drone in the city before answering the Call To Agriculture and moving to the farmlands near Pelican Town.
  • November 3, 2017
    GirlofMassDeconstruction
    • Thanks to her parents' divorce protagonist of Amelia Rules fulfills the trope name literally, moving from New York City, to as she calls it, 'Nowhere, Pennsylvania.'
  • November 3, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Sean Thornton, The Quiet Man, used to work in the American steel mills, and took up amateur boxing as a sideline. However, after one match with a nasty opponent, Sean's temper overcame him, and he literally beat the man to death in the ring. Sean moved to Innisfree, Ireland as The Atoner, heeding a Call To Agriculture on a farm plot, growing potatoes and red roses.
  • November 4, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Film Animated
    • Sally Carrera of Pixar's feature animation Cars recounts her story to Lightning McQueen that she used to be a fast-track lawyer in the big city, but grew disillusioned with the phoniness and the guile. She withdrew to bucolic Radiator Springs, and became its sole public defender, and has been content with that ever since. Sally recounts this as part of her stop-and-smell-the-roses Aesop.
  • November 5, 2017
    LB7979
    Overlaps with City Mouse
  • November 5, 2017
    Chabal2
    Does it need to be at the beginning? Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has the plot dump CJ in the backwater town of Whetstone after all the Los Santos missions are finished (there's no penalty for going back into the city, but it's far off), then lets him move on to San Fierro.
  • November 5, 2017
    ANTMuddle
    Big City to Small Town... you can't get more Green Acres than that.
  • November 5, 2017
    Synchronicity
    Other tropes you can work in the description: The City Vs The Country, Arcadia, Call To Agriculture

    Contrast Small Town Boredom
  • November 5, 2017
    Bisected8
    • In Life Is Strange:
      • In the original game, Max is technically returning to her home town of Arcadia Bay after moving to Seattle 5 years before (at the age of 13), but she's enough of a Stranger In A Familiar Land that it winds up in line with this trope. She can even admit to Chloe that she much preferred the big city and only came back because she wanted to study photography under Mr. Jefferson (although she doesn't resent being "stuck" there as much as Chloe does).
      • The prequal, Life Is Strange Before The Storm, reveals that Chloe's Replacement Goldfish best friend Rachel Amber (whose disappearance forms a large part of the original game's story arc) moved to Arcadia Bay from California. As the first game hinted, she utterly resents being there, and moving away is her main goal.
  • November 5, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Come to think of it, Doc Hudson from Pixar's WesternAnimation.Cars qualifies as well. Doc used to race in the Piston Cup series, just like Lightning McQueen, and has won the trophy three times. After an accident on-track left him debilitated, the Piston Cup and its sponsors and groupies all abandoned him. Doc retired to Radiator Springs, sick of the fake friends on the racing circuit, and content with the decent, amiable cars of that sleepy, close-knit town.
  • November 6, 2017
    MetaFour
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: The main character, Twilight Sparkle, begins the series as a university student in the glamorous capital city of Canterlot, but moves to the small, rural town of Ponyville. Initially, this is just a short trip to Ponyville—Twilight had been tasked to oversee preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration—but Twilight makes five friends there and decides she doesn't want to leave.
  • November 6, 2017
    intastiel
    The people might make the mistake of thinking that Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here.
  • November 7, 2017
    alnair20aug93
    • Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen begins with Lola Steppe and her family moving to a suburbs in New Jersey, much to Lola's annoyance because she dreamed of being a Broadway actress.
      Lola's Mom: Oh, stop being such a drama queen.
  • November 7, 2017
    Bisected8
    Does LiS not fit the trope, then?
  • November 7, 2017
    marcoasalazarm
    Arachnophobia: Dr. Ross Jennings moves his family from San Francisco to a sleepy town in Northern California because he got the offer to be the town doctor there. Things get pretty bad for him when the Jerkass town doctor that made the offer decides to not retire after all, making him struggle to get patients so he'll have a job... and then a South American killer spider arrives to town, causing a rash of deaths with its equally super-deadly spawn...
  • November 7, 2017
    archie
    @Bisected 8 Sorry, I somehow managed to skim past your comment. Added now, thanks for reminding!
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