If you're a writer of a TV drama series with recurring characters, you have a problem: You need a new story every week, and they cannot all be just about your regular cast. So most TV series formats, particularly for drama, involve some way of bringing a new set of guest stars into your leads' lives for every episode. There are just two ways to do this: Either your leads work as cops, lawyers, doctors, or some other profession that naturally brings lots of other people to them for short periods of time; or else your leads do something that has them travelling around a lot, meeting new people and situations wherever they go.
Maybe they're Drifters Walking the Earth
. Maybe they are being chased by the law
. Maybe they are just trying to get home. Whatever the reason, our main characters go to a new place each week that results in an adventure that they have to solve in forty-two minutes — sixty minutes minus the commercials. Often the heroes will be Mistaken for Spies
when they get there. Count on a local
The location version of Monster of the Week
. Compare to City of Adventure
and Wacky Wayside Tribe
. In Science Fiction
shows, instead of going from town to town, the protagonists tend to go from world to world (thus travelling to "Adventure Planets
"). Combined with Alternate Universe
to make "Adventure Universes" in Sliders
. Combine it with Time Travel
and you get Quantum Leap
. Combine with both space travel and time travel (plus the occasional alternate universe), and you get Doctor Who
Set Right What Once Went Wrong
and Clean Up The Town
are often associated with this. Wandering heroes like The Drifter
and the Knight Errant
are built to save Adventure Towns.
A subset would be the Town with a Dark Secret
. Best examples are from movies like Bad Day At Black Rock
, High Plains Drifter
, or Hang 'Em High
. The town is complicit in some evil criminal past and the arrival of the stranger disrupts their efforts to keep the lid on.
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Anime and Manga
- One Piece has several, except they're adventure islands, and they tend to spend an Arc there.
- Kino's Journey has the main character visit a new Adventure Town in most episodes, occasionally visiting several new ones in a single episode. Each Adventure Town tends to have its own physical laws, technological level, and eccentric characteristics. Frequently subverted by Kino's aloofness preventing her from actually taking part in an adventure.
- The 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime utilized this in a way that was very unique for the time, combining it with Chekhov's Armory. The early part of season 1 was yet another anime where the heroes visited a town every week looking for a MacGuffin and just happened to be there at the right time to set right that which was wrong. However, after a few episode of this, a much larger plot materialized. The clincher is that, with the exception of the Psiren incident, practically everything that happened during this period of visiting adventure towns came back to affect Ed and Al at some point, highlighting one of the show's theme of equivalent exchange: you give something up (in this case, time they could've been using to search for the Philosopher's Stone), you gain something equal (aid in their quest later on). This left such an impression on many that even Hiromu Arakawa, the writer of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga upon which the anime is loosely based, actually took inspiration from this specific story structure during the later chapters of her series.
- The Pokémon anime has a lot of these in practically every episode between Gym battles. Even the Gym towns themselves qualify as this, as they spend a few episodes in each one doing various things.
- The original Dragon Ball started out this way as part of the quest to collect the Dragon Balls, and GT as well.
- Trigun quite blatantly does this, especially the first season.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle provides examples of Adventure Universes, although major plot key to the Myth Arc was hidden in one of them.
- The Flying House and Super Book titles have kids visiting places in Biblical times.
- In Ergo Proxy they're really more like Mindfuck Towns.
- Kenshiro's wanderings in Fist of the North Star often had him going through many such towns.
- Jannah Station has a steady stream of tourists, students, and the uber-wealthy to supply all the trouble the local police need.
- The Marvel Universe comic book Exiles is an Adventure Universe series, and Excalibur had an Adventure Universe story arc.
- Usagi Yojimbo uses this a lot. The plot of an issue would have Usagi wondering into to a town plagued by bandits or yakuza or a supernatural monster.
- Every film in the Blind Swordsman series has Zatoichi wandering into a new one of these.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events takes this approach. Some of the "towns" are individual foster parents for the orphans. As the books progress, they become more like actual towns including a lumber mill, a boarding school, and an actual village called the Village of Fowl Devotees, an unusual community where arbitrary laws and birdwatching are Serious Business.
- The Odyssey, forcing Odysseus to travel to several islands, travel through dangerous waters, and go to the land of the dead before coming back home.
- In Dogs In The Vineyard, the PCs are God's Watchdogs in an Expy of 19th century Mormon territory, traveling between towns ("branches") and fixing thorny problems before they fester into full-blown demon-enabling heresy.
- Classic Stern Chase versions include The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk, and Nowhere Man.
- Cheyenne may be the first live TV example (it started in 1955). Cheyenne Bodie, the only recurring character after the first three episodes (during which he had a sidekick), aimlessly wanders the West, taking on odd jobs and having adventures.
- Doctor Who: Featuring a time machine that can go anywhere in time and space, features Adventure Times that are often also Adventure Planets and at least three times an Adventure Universe. Adventure Bases, Adventure Starships and Adventure Space Stations are also par for the course.
- Farscape: Another good example.
- Firefly: Often visited Adventure Planets and Adventure Moons as the crew of Serenity went on jobs.
- Have Gun — Will Travel, and to a lesser degree Wagon Train and Rawhide are also early Western examples.
- JAG: Harm and Mac’s line of work (court cases and/or field investigations) takes them all over the world, i.e. wherever the US Navy and Marine Corps forces are stationed. Not to mention the occasional CIA undercover stuff and Harm’s private searches for his MIA father.
- The Littlest Hobo: A classic Canadian series that exemplifies the Adventure Town theme, what with wandering hero strolling into a new town every week to set right whatever domestic issues they may be facing, only to head off into the sunset by the end of the episode. Only the hero in question is a dog. Most Canadians and quite a few Australians older than twenty-five can sing its "Maybe Tomorrow" theme from memory to this day. Those of us even older remember the original theme — "Road Without End".
- Quantum Leap: Sam wound up in major cities, small towns, even flying a plane once (which he did not know how)!!
- Revolution: While there is an overarching story, each episode finds the protagonists somewhere new with a new 44-minute adventure.
- Route 66, Then Came Bronson, Kung Fu, Knight Rider, and Supernatural did this every week.
- Sliders: It's (almost) always the same city (San Francisco), but due to our heroes travelling from one alternate reality to another, they find themselves in a different situation each episode.
- The Stargate franchise: Fits this trope also.
- Used in most of Star Trek except Deep Space 9. In fact, Gene Roddenberry described Star Trek as "it's like Wagon Train to the stars" in his early pitches.
- The X-Files: FBI Agents Mulder and Scully chase aliens, alien-human hybrids, clones, genetic mutants, vampires, serial killers and conspirators all over the United States. Plus in Norway, Hong Kong, Russia and Antarctica.
- Xena: Warrior Princess visited adventure villages weekly, as did her Spear Counterpart in Hercules The Legendary Journeys.
- In My World, My Way, every town is an Adventure Town...'even the little hamlet out in the oasis.
- EarthBound. One city is filled with delinquent children, another has a cultist group just around the corner, another is in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse...
- The Fallout games have numerous adventure towns. It's not mandatory to visit them, but they are good sources of experience and equipment.
- The Spore expansion pack Galactic Adventures turns whole planets into this. Your captain can go down onto them and do quests, Star Trek style.
- this is generally how Pokémon is structured.
- Incubus Tales features this model for each adventure: the shop Phantasies can go anywhere, anytime, any reality.
- ReBoot has this happen while Matrix and Andraia are lost on the Net, though most of the towns are visited offscreen. They mention visiting over dozens of systems but we only see three of them before they find one with ports to the Net and can finally reach the Web.
- Here Comes the Grump sends the protagonists to a new town every episode in their quest to find the Cave of Whispering Orchids and escape from the villainous Grump.
- ThunderCats (2011) has its title group of Catfolk Hitchhiker Heroes stumble on to these while hunting for various magical Ancient Artifacts on a Multicultural Alien Planet, in hopes of defeating Big Bad Mumm-Ra.
- Glenn Martin DDS is about a Bumbling Dad wandering the country in his RV. They go to a different town every episode, such as the Amish Country, a green town populated by Hippies, and the setting of a reality show where the host secretly tries to break up their family. They also go to various major cities.
- A few episodes in the second season of Gargoyles were like this, after the island of Avalon kept sending Goliath, Elisa and Angela to different parts of the world where old or new enemies were causing trouble.