-> ''"When the soul of a man is born in this country, there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets."''
-->--'''Stephen Dedalus''', ''Literature/APortraitOfTheArtistAsAYoungMan''.

Maybe their home is a DyingTown or TheOldCountry, maybe they live in an [[WrongSideOfTheTracks urban ghetto]], or maybe most people are just [[SmallTownBoredom bored]] with life DownOnTheFarm. Hardly anyone seems to want to live there, but finances, family obligations or lack of will to leave keep most people there for good.

But every so often, there's one who makes it out - maybe an incredible talent proved their ticket out of there. Maybe they won their way to a great, faraway college or to a lucrative job... but sometimes they just up and leave. Peers and elders in the town usually admire them for their tenacity, but tend to resent them for leaving if the community isn't as close-knit. Impressionable youngsters, though, might look up to them and get ideas of maybe leaving one day themselves. Expect, for the hero after achieving success to come back home and find out how much or how little is changed, as well as why YouCantGoHomeAgain.

This story is a particular fascination in several American films, books and plays partly because of its close relationship to UsefulNotes/TheAmericanDream, the promise that anyone in America can transcend their origins and roots to get where they want to go.

Character trope. Can overlap with TheRunaway, SocialClimber, WorkingClassHero.


[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]

* Jack Atlas of ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'', who did it by betraying Yusei in his backstory.
* Gary is one of these early in ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}''. For example: Before Gold/Silver were announced, he shows off 10 badges when anyone who played the game knew you could only get 8. Additionally, he has a chauffeur and is always accompanied by fangirls and his own cheerleader squad.
* Hojo and Asami, the main characters of ''Manga/{{Sanctuary}}'', escaped from the Killing Fields of Cambodia under Khmer Rouge as children, and work together to reform the political system of Japan, one from "on top" as a diet member, and one from "underneath" as a yakuza boss. Atypically, they claim that they didn't make it out of Cambodia because they were clever or driven, but because they were lucky.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* DependingOnTheWriter, continuity reboot status, medium, etc., in various permutations of the ''ComicBook/{{Superman}}'' franchise, Clark Kent is occasionally given this treatment for having made it from Smallville to Metropolis.
* Part of the reason the Yancy Street Gang initially hated the Thing in ''Comicbook/FantasticFour'' is that Ben Grimm is a former Yancy Streeter who got out, and they think he's forgotten his roots.
* In ''ComicBook/BlackLightning'', Jefferson Pierce is the one who made it out of the ghetto and then came back to teach in the high school and help others make it out.
* Since ComicBook/{{Luke Cage|HeroForHire}} became a globally prominent superhero, some characters have occasionally accused him of forgetting his roots as a hero of the downtrodden in New York City. [[BerserkButton He doesn't take it very kindly]], especially not when a young upstart uses this to justify taking up Luke's abandoned "Power Man" codename.
* In ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'', Angie Spica came from a lower-class background where her dad drove a bus and all of her sisters ended up pregnant before they finished high school. She escaped the same fate by applying herself to her studies, replacing her blood with nine pints of liquid machinery (which transformed her into the superhero known as the Engineer), and [[spoiler:travelling back in time to turn Jenny Sparks into a Century Baby so that she could go on to recruit the future members of the Authority]].
* In ''ComicBook/XStatix'', Phat supposedly comes from a lower-class background before getting spotted by a recruiter for ComicBook/XForce. In reality, he came from the suburbs, and his old neighborhood is less than thrilled by how he portrays in interviews, resulting in him getting the shit kicked out of him when he tries to go home.


[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/OctoberSky'': Homer Hickam especially, but all of the rocket boys qualify. Their small West Virginia town is proud of them for their success.
* In ''Film/SweetHomeAlabama'', the lead got away from her country life to make it big in [[BigApplesauce New York]] but then has to go home to a TheCityVsTheCountry plot.
* ''Film/DontBeAMenaceToSouthCentralWhileDrinkingYourJuiceInTheHood'': Parodied when Malik first arrives at college, but is shot by "The Man".
* Inverted in ''Film/GoodWillHunting'', where mathematics prodigy Will Hunting wants to stay in Southie but his friends desperately want him to use his gifts to become the one who gets out.
* Elements of this trope pop up in ''Film/BillyElliot''. His father is eventually faced with the decision to stay loyal to the union and their strike, or become a scab to earn enough money to let his son follow his dream of dancing and make it out of their harsh life in a desperately poor community.
* In ''Film/TheDeparted'', Creator/JackNicholson's mob boss Costello announces, "I don't want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me."
* ''Film/RoccoAndHisBrothers'': About a poor family that leaves backwards Sicily for the big city of Milan. There is tension in the family between Vincenzo who first married a non-Sicilian and attempts to assimilate into Northern Italy and the rest who are traditionalists. In the end Ciro, and little Luca, decides to follow in Vincenzo's footsteps and avoid the fate of Rocco and Simone.
* ''Film/IVitelloni'': All of the five Vitelloni want to get out of town and make it big in the wider world and they keep making plans to escape but most of them stumble and fail to act on their plans. Moraldo is the only one who manages it, and the finale is a poignant montage of him in the train leaving the town intercut with small vignettes showing his friends adjusting to their small time lives, surrendering their dreams and hopes forever.
* ''Film/SomebodyUpThereLikesMe'': Rocky Graziano, who rises from being a petty criminal and gang leader in Little Italy, to becoming middleweight boxing champion of the world. Emphasized when Rocky comes back home and finds that one member of his old gang is still a petty thief, while everyone else is either dead or serving long prison sentences.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* Theodore Dreiser's ''Literature/AnAmericanTragedy'' shows the doomed attempts made by hero Clyde Griffiths to get out of his ghetto. He succeeds for a time, but his past and own moral failings end up bringing him down. His lover Roberta Alden is also a tragic example of the same.
* ''Literature/IAmNotASerialKiller:'' One of the first hints towards [[StepfordSmiler Marci's]] HiddenDepths is her speech about wanting to get out of Clayton, and how she doesn't understand how such a stagnant, pathetic town came from people who walked out into the boonies and built something from scratch.
* Janice and Larry, the older Grape siblings from ''Film/WhatsEatingGilbertGrape''. They only come back for Arnie's birthday party at the end of the book.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' [[Franchise/DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse Expanded Universe]] {{Elseworld}} novel ''The Infinity Doctors'', some young Gallifreyans treat the Doctor as this, and are bemused as to why he has come back.
* In ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', Lancre is "the place people come from to become successful somewhere else" (usually Ankh-Morpork). Opera singer Enrico Basilica grew up in Rookery Yard, in the Shades, where "you could fight your way out, or you could sing your way out" ([[{{Metaphorgotten}} or you could get out by going through an alley into Shamlegger Street]], but no-one came to anything going ''that'' way).
* The non-fiction book ''In Search Of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio'' follows the lives of Puerto Rican crack dealers in El Barrio. One managed to make it out, getting through high school (a rarity in the neighbourhood at the time) and college (almost unheard of) to make it into the middle class and move into a safer neighbourhood. He had to be careful going back home to adopt all his old mannerisms so that he wasn't ostracized, and had to keep his background hidden from his wealthy neighbours when at home.
* This is Mahlia's life's goal in ''Literature/TheDrownedCities''. She is desperate to make it out of the war-torn WretchedHive she lives in. [[spoiler:She manages to do it by the end, bringing a whole pack of [[ChildSoldiers soldier boys]] along for the ride]].
* In Francine Rivers’ ''Literature/RedeemingLove'', Angel is the only prostitute that escapes the brothel she lived in at the beginning of the story. [[spoiler:This is partially because there was a fire that killed most of them a few weeks after Angel left.]] Near the novel’s end, she [[spoiler:begins working to subvert this trope by beginning a ministry that helps girls who have been sold into prostitution by teaching them skills that will help them integrate into society as self-sufficient and upstanding women]].
* Beka Cooper and her friend Tansy make it out of the slum in ''Literature/ProvostsDog'' in different ways. Beka helps the Lord Provost arrest a gang that threatened his career, so he takes in her family to repay her. Tansy marries Herun Lofts, the NiceGuy son of the richest (and nastiest) man in the Lower City.
* Blke Thorburn of ''Literature/{{Pact}}'' is the only one of his extended family to make it out of the toxic environment that their BigScrewedUpFamily became over an inheritance conflict, with dubiously-legal acts of sabotage and spiteful manipulation abounding. In an inversion of the usual, Blake ended up homeless in Toronto, where he was brutally beaten more than once, and by the start of the story has only just managed to claw his way up to "dirt poor." He still considers it better than coming home.
* Although this is often an American trope, Creator/JamesJoyce, explored it in a specifically Irish context as well. It's found in his short stories, ''Literature/{{Dubliners}}'', and ''Literature/APortraitOfTheArtistAsAYoungMan''.
* Factors into the SurvivorsGuilt felt by Sean in ''Literature/MysticRiver'', since unlike his friends Jimmy and Dave he actually made it out of the fictional poverty-stricken neighborhood of Boston where they grew up and made it as a cop.
* In ''The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian'', the protagonist realizes that if he stays in his American Indian reserve, he'll lose hope and [[HistoryRepeats go nowhere like everyone else in the reservation]]. He is encouraged to go to an off-reserve school (where the education is better than in the reserve) by a teacher who helps him see this.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/AfterschoolSpecial'': Subverted in "15 and Getting Straight," a 1989 "ABC Afterschool Special" starring Creator/DrewBarrymore, Corey Feldman and David Birney about junkies in a 12-step drug counseling program. A teen named Rick seems to have made tremendous progress and is mentoring some of the other teens who are in denial about their problem. The subversion is played as irony ... in the end, the lead counselor (Birney) comes in one day and announces to the group that Rick had overdosed on a new drug. Rick had run into some old friends and was trying to tell them to go away, but they persisted in getting him to try the drug and immediately had a seizure. The counselor – himself an ex-drug user – tells the group "I would have bet money" on Rick's future success in staying straight; instead, Rick is dead ... and – in playing the trope straight and part of this episode's irony – [[WhereAreTheyNow all of the other teenagers who had been in denial are successful in their resolve to stay straight]].
* Tasha Yar of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' was originally from a post-apocalyptic planet but managed to get into Starfleet. Ro Laren similarly managed to escape from the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor.
* This is a major theme in ''Series/{{Justified}}''. Harlan County is very poor and many of the characters dream of leaving and starting a better life somewhere else. However, few actually follow through with this.
** Raylan Givens is actually one of the characters who actually made it out of Harlan. Faced with either working in the coal mine for the rest of his life or becoming a criminal like his father, he left Kentucky and became a U.S. marshal. He is understandably quite unhappy that when he is assigned to the Kentucky office at the beginning of the series.
** Bowman Crowder and his wife Ava wanted to get out of Harlan and believed that as a local football star Bowman would get a college scholarship and then have a professional sports career. When it turned out that he was not good enough for a scholarship, he went to work in the coal mine and became an AbusiveSpouse. After Ava kills Bowman she has a chance to leave Kentucky but decides to stay. When Ava finally gets away from Kentucky, [[spoiler: she is a fugitive wanted for murder]].
** The main motivation behind Mags Bennet's actions is to provide her grandchildren with the opportunity to go to college and get away from the criminal life she and her sons are living.
** The Crowes are a family of poor criminals and Wendy Crowe is desperate to get away from that environment. She works as a paralegal and is studying to be a lawyer. However, she is pulled back into the criminal life when her brothers get in trouble with the US Marshals. It turns out that Kendell Crowe is actually her son and she lacks the means to support them both so has to rely on her brothers to help raise him. [[spoiler: She finally has a chance for a fresh start with Kendell when her brothers are killed.]]
* Frequently parodied with Tracy Jordan on ''Series/ThirtyRock''.
* ''Series/WelcomeBackKotter'': Gabriel Kotter made it out of the Brooklyn "ghetto", became a teacher, and then moved back to teach in his old neighborhood.
* One episode of ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' had a Marine captain whose mother had taken him away from their hometown due to escape the [[FeudingFamilies blood feud]] which had killed his father and countless other members of their family. He only returned to take revenge when he learned his brother had been killed as part of the on-going feud.
* Season 4 of ''Series/TheWire'' introduces a group of children from West Baltimore's projects and rowhouses. Each friend follows a different path and Namond Brice, the son of a reputed drug soldier, is the only kid able to escape the doomed background of a troubled childhood, a dysfunctional family -at best- and the notion that crime is the only way to earn a living. Sadly, it only happens thanks to a remarkable, extremely unusual and unique adoptive parent, Howard Colvin, a former cop who identifies Namond's potential.
* The premise of ''Series/SurvivorsRemorse'' is that two cousins from a rough neighborhood made it big in professional basketball, and now have to contend with being in the spotlight and the effects it has on their family.
* This trope is a running source of source of conflict in ''Series/SixFeetUnder'':
** Older brother Nate ran away from his dysfunctional and overbearing family so he could live outside their influence and without having anything to do with their family business. This condemned younger brother David to suspend his ambitions to go to law school as he felt responsible for the family and he got saddled into a line of work he had no interest in. When their father dies at the beginning of the show, Nate returns, clearly afraid of getting stuck at home for good this time while David's resentment at being left behind to deal with everything boils to surface.
** Over the course of the series, it is revealed that their mother, Ruth, had her own dreams but ended up staying home to take care of her sickly mother, resulting in life-long regret of WhatCouldHaveBeen.
** Towards the end of the series, their sister Claire receives a job offer in New York and takes it. Just before she is due to leave, she gets news that the offer is no longer available but she decides to move anyways as she is afraid of repeating the mistake her mom did.
-->'''Nate''': Claire, you can't stay here!\\


[[folder: Music ]]

* A lot of songs by Music/TheKinks. "Do You Remember Walter" deals with someone who has made it out, singing about his friend Walter, who hasn't and the huge gulf that separates the two:
--> "Walter, you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago\\
If you saw me now you wouldn't even know my name.\\
I bet you're fat and married and you're always home in bed by half-past eight.\\
And if I talked about the old times you'd get bored and you'll have nothing more to say.\\
Yes people often change, but memories of people can remain."
* "Dirty Blvd." by Music/LouReed:
--> "And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming\\
he's found a book on magic in a garbage can\\
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling\\
'At the count of 3' he says, 'I hope I can disappear'\\
And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard "


[[folder: Poetry ]]

* C. P. Cavafy's famous poem ''[[http://www.cavafy.com/poems/content.asp?id=58&cat=1 The City]]'' deals with someone longing for escape from their surroundings and going out in the big world for adventure but they get so caught up in their yearnings, that they never truly escape where they come from:
--> "This city will always pursue you. You will walk\\
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,\\
will turn gray in these same houses.\\
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:\\
there is no ship for you, there is no road.\\
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,\\
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world."


[[folder: Theatre ]]

* A major motivation of many characters of ''Theatre/InTheHeights'', and whether or not this is necessarily for the best.
** Nina escaped the barrio and got into Stanford. Subverted in that she struggled to meet her financial obligations, her grades suffered as a result, and she lost her scholarship and dropped out. When she returns home for a visit she's embarrassed and ashamed when everyone tells her how proud they are of her. DoubleSubverted when she uses the money from her father selling off his business to go back in the fall.
** Vanessa wants to find a better place to work and get an apartment downtown in West Village. She ultimately goes through with it, but not before getting a date with Usnavy.
** Abuela Claudia came from Cuba with her family, and is happy to have a home and close relationships with the community until her death.
** Usnavy wants to leave the Heights and return to his parents' home on a beach in the Dominican Republic, believing the place is changing and with many of his friends leaving, there's not much left for him. At the end after seeing Sunny's beautiful mural of Abuela, he decides to stay and use his lottery money to fix up the coffee shop, get a date with Vanessa, and remember all the stories the customers have to tell as the community changes with the times.
* ''Theatre/DeathOfASalesman'': [[spoiler:It's heavily implied that Biff Loman will be the one member of the Loman line to avoid the trap of chasing after unattainable dreams.]]


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIVBlackFlag'' has Edward Kenway, the son of poor Welsh farmers who wants to become "a man of fortune" and see the wide world. In the process he becomes a {{Privateer}}, a {{Pirate}}, an Assassin and finally a rich gentlemen albeit not without a lot of painful sacrifices along the way.
* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' largely deals with protagonists who for a variety of reasons want to escape their hood and face consequences for trying to do so.
** ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity'' has Tommy Vercetti raised poor and a gangster in Liberty City, the son of his father who worked as a printer. He wanted to get out, and so worked for the Forelli Family who sold him out and Tommy spent a decade or so in prison. Naturally when he gets dispatched to the titular Vice City to oversee a drug deal, Tommy is not going to miss a chance of making up for losing out a huge chunk of his life.
** ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' has CJ who gets a lot of grief from his brother Sweet for walking out of Los Santos to Liberty City after past tragedy. In the middle point of the game, CJ is exiled and banished from Los Santos and becomes a powerful mercenary who is OneDegreeOfSeparation from every mob-boss and power broker on the West Coast but Sweet insists that he has to do something for the Hood.
** ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'' and its DLC MissionPackSequel also deal with this. Niko Bellic is an immigrant to America who is frustrated and miserable that in the new world he's more or less doing the same kind of work he did in the old world. Luiz Lopez and Gay Tony likewise are kind of miserable about their mutual aspirations, friendships and how a lot of it depends on their ties to the poor homes they came from. Johnny Klebitz doesn't want to escape the hood, but he does want to make his biker gang powerful again, and in the process, he destroys it.
* If Shepard has the "Earthborn" background in ''Franchise/MassEffect'', they escaped a childhood of petty crime on the streets as a member of the Tenth Street Reds by joining the military. In the [[VideoGame/MassEffect1 first game]], a member of the Reds who is still active approaches Shepard and tries to blackmail them by threatening to reveal their criminal past to the galaxy, with embellishments to also make Shepard seem like an anti-alien xenophobe. Shepard has multiple options on how to deal with the situation. In [[VideoGame/MassEffect2 the sequel]], Finch will send you an e-mail saying that, even if you are not a member of the Reds anymore, he is glad it is you going after the Collectors.
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicII'', the Jedi Exile is the only one of Revan's renegade Jedi who did ''not'' become a Sith. Whether or not that stays the case depends on the player's actions.
* In ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'', the Sith Inquisitor was plucked from the slave auction when their Force sensitivity was discovered and sent to [[AcademyOfEvil Korriban]] [[BoardingSchoolOfHorrors Sith]] [[TrainingFromHell Academy]] as just another recruit for the other hopefuls to kill on their way to the top. The Inquisitor ends up as one of the {{CoDragons}} of the Empire (along with the Sith Warrior).


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* In ''{{WebOriginal/Takotsubo}},'' the trope is heavily referenced in the prologue: Cord Cai is a Chinese-American boy from {{UsefulNotes/Oakland}} with gang history, who desperately wants to get out of the street life. [[DespairEventHorizon His fiance Roland's death and the police force's uselessness utterly trash that plan,]] so after a suicide attempt, [[TragicVillain he shoots Roland's murderer and starts a gang again.]] He's constantly calling himself [[InternalizedCategorism a failure or a "bad Asian,"]] but his gang alias is "the TinMan," Cord's gang [[NeighbourhoodFriendlyGangsters is constantly helping out civilians and the police,]] and the tagline is [[SuperheroOrigin "the story of a superhero."]]


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TheBoondocks'':
** Huey and Riley originally came from inner-city South Side Chicago. They weren't all that happy about being sent away to live with their grandfather Robert in the lily-white suburb of Woodcrest. Robert himself is a former Tuskeegee Airman who has worked his whole life to get where he is.
** According to an in-universe documentary, Thugnificent's hometown was so poor that many locals couldn't afford ''clothes''. The crime was so out of control, that the underfunded police department gave up on the place, and just built an electric fence around it. But thanks to his musical career, Thugnificent can now afford a BigFancyHouse in Woodcrest.
* ''WesternAnimation/BojackHorseman'': Out of the cast of ''Horsin' Around'', Bradley Hitler-Smith was the one with enough sense to get out of show business. At the time of the show's present, he runs a successful hardware store and is the only reasonably well-adjusted member of the group.
** From the same show, Diane is the only member of her family who actually has a job.
* ''TheSimpsons'' originally portrayed world boxing heavyweight champion Drederick Tatum this way, to the point where he once said if he ever moved back to Springfield "you know he'd messed up bad". Ironically, when he became a minor recurring character, the show implied he never left despite his success.
** Marge's high school friend Chloe is this, having become a hugely successfull international reporter, much to Marge's resentment.