Joyce: Why Canada?Looking for a place to set the disaster of the week/alien invasion/supervillain's base/origin of the bad guys etc? Well, you can use the classics: New York, Tokyo, London or Paris for the first three and places like Russia, North Korea or the Middle East for the last. Of course, you may think that's too cliché. Another alternative is having the last three take place in a fictional town in the middle of nowhere and have the villains come from some equally-fictional Ruritania or Qurac. Or you may Take a Third Option. Have the center of the plot be in an actual place, but some relatively harmless semi-known non-exotic location which makes you ask "Why THERE, of all places?" That is the basis of the trope. Are aliens landing in UFOs? They'll land in Johannesburg, South Africa, or Roswell, New Mexico. Is there a neighborhood full of world-class martial artists with superhuman powers? It's in Luxembourg. Is there a Hellmouth opening? It's opening in Cornwall.* Is there a magical gateway between worlds? It's in Cleveland. One of them, anyway. Is there a mysterious gigantic cavern hidden just beneath the earth's surface, wherein aliens once upon a time created all life on earth? It's underneath Sugarloaf Mountain. This is sometimes Played for Laughs, though in most cases it rather realistically points out that events do happen in the world outside its largest cities. The trope namer is Doctor Who and subsequent spin-off Torchwood. This is due to the fact that the revived Doctor Who was produced by BBC Wales. This trope may also happen as a type of Author Appeal, when the author is a native of that location and wants to see it in the spotlight. Such an author may also prefer to write what he knows. Writing about New York City when you don't actually live there risks making the setting generic and cliched, but if you're from Charlotte and know its culture, locales, and history, it can make your story distinctive, as well as informative for outsiders and exciting for locals who will get the references. An author writing about their own country and for their own country may be seen as such by foreigners, even if it was not the original intention. For example, an Argentine sci-fi author writes a comic about an alien invasion that lands in Buenos Aires. Aliens in Buenos Aires? For an Argentine reader, Buenos Aires is the center of the universe. For a reader from elsewhere, it's an "Aliens In Cardiff" story. Not to be confused with Aliens of London (though this doesn't mean they are mutually exclusive), Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here (where the location is just generically boring). Contrast with Canada Does Not Exist, where it's forbidden to name the semi-known location, as well as Washington D.C. Invasion, when the aliens don't feel like faffing around and cut right to the chase.
Head Alien: I figgered "Who'd f***ing notice?" Goddamn was I right.
Head Alien: I figgered "Who'd f***ing notice?" Goddamn was I right.
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Anime and Manga
- In Soul Eater, Death City, the home of The Grim Reaper and his school, is located in Nevada. It's a play of words on the grimly named desert, Death Valley, which spans parts of California and Nevada. This leads to anomalies like the world's most powerful ninja setting up base in Nevada.
- Vladivostok, gets to feature not just in one, but in two completely unrelated shows with a supernatural touch. But while Darker Than Black 's representation is completely accurate, Blood+'s was almost unrecognizable.
- Mizuho-sensei of Please Teacher! lands her spacecraft in Lake Kizaki, Nagano Prefecture, presumably for the Scenery Porn. The spinoff, Please Twins! is set in the same area.
- The Maguar and the aliens fighting them in Figure 17 Tsubasa & Hikaru are confined to rural Hokkaido.
- In Code Geass, one would have expected the capital of Britannia to be somewhere on the North American eastern seaboard, perhaps in one of the original thirteen colonies or the other Britannian (British) New World settlements. Instead, it's located in the middle of Arizona, either around where Yuma (as it was located on a map) or Phoenix (going by the surrounding mountains and southwestern desert landscape) would have been.
- In Aldnoah.Zero, the Vers Empire's invasion of Earth begins with Martian Landing Castle slamming into four key cities. Tokyo and Beijing are megacities you'd expect an extraterrestrial enemy to invade... but New Orleans and Maputo? But those cities makes sense when you consider the map of the Earth as it stands in Aldnoah.Zero's setting: the East and West Coasts of America are gone, and nearly all of the western coast of Africa as well as northern Mozambique is devastated, so it stands to reason that New Orleans and Maputo have become megacities thanks to population explosions from fleeing refugees. Episode 9 shows us a full map of the invasion.
- One of the Landing Castles settled in Dushanbe, the capital of the small and dirt poor Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, which is so awkwardly placed in the corner of the very inaccessible mountainous area of Pamir that it's literally nothing to see and do there: the mountains effectively preclude any meaningful economic development. Unless Martians are interested in meager amounts of cotton and aluminum ore, or prodigious amounts of unskilled laborers that are chief exports of Tajikistan, it's hard to imagine the reason for them to land there.
- Meanwhile, United Earth Headquarters is located in central southern Russia near the Mongolian border. Talk about way out in the boonies. On the other hand, HQ is actually a hardened bunker 600 meters underground that can survive a nuclear strike, so that's not exactly the kind of building that should be found in a major metropolitan area.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, the Earth is divided into 4 major economic blocs. The capital of Arbrau, one of these 4 blocs, is located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and becomes the major goal of Tekkadan to get to in the tail end of the series. Episode 23 sees Tekkadan approaching the city by train, and Episodes 24 and 25 feature the show's big climactic battle occurring on the city outskirts and moving into downtown proper. A local Edmonton newspaper even wrote an article on it.
- The animators used Google Maps to very accurately replicate Edmonton down to specific buildings (with a "Money Market" becoming a "Monkey Market" for instance). One Edmontonian anime blogger theorized that they went further than just Google Maps: the episodes in question place heavy emphasis specifically on Jasper Avenue and also includes an uncannily accurate recreation of the Shaw Conference Centre interior, which cannot be obtained from Google Maps, so he assumes that somebody involved with the show's production team must have personally attended a business meeting or conference in the SCC and then taken a walk down Jasper Ave., possibly location scouting.
- Kuromukuro is set in the relatively backwater Toyama prefecture around the iconic Kurobe Dam, where the titular artefact was ostensibly found. The real reason, however, is that Toyama prefecture is a home of the P. A. Works, the studio producing the series, and their newly-built headquarter even gets heavily damaged during the alien rampage, for which the studio boss even presents the aliens a humorous "bill of repairs".
- In Halo: Uprising, when a captured UNSC colonel is tortured by the Covenant, he tells them the "Key of Osanalan" is in Cleveland. It was a ruse to keep them from wiping out the city from orbit and so give his brother there a chance to escape.
- In Gold Digger, the Diggers family lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Consequently, all the supernatural and superscientific friends, enemies, and acquaintances they make during the course of their globe-trotting and multiverse-hopping adventures inevitably end up finding their way there.
- The Jaime Reyes runs of Blue Beetle deviated from the standard "stick the hero in a counterpart of a real-world city" DC formula by having Jaime patrol El Paso, Texas.
- In the 4-issue Great Lakes Avengers series, Maelstrom manages to create his universe-ending device successfully, and has only the titular D-List team to face him. He notes that he succeeded in creating his doomsday device because he didn't go to a major city like Los Angeles, London, or New York, but instead went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
- Alpha Flight are superheroes in Canada.
- Pretty much the whole point of The 50 State Initiative. A super Hero team for every state, even Iowa. And of course, our friends The Great Lakes Avengers patrol Wisconsin as The Great Lakes Initiative.
- In Alan Moore's first Swamp Thing story line the Justice League is caught completely off guard when the Floronic Man makes his move.
Green Arrow: Man, I don't believe this! We were watching out for New York, Metropolis, for Atlantis... But who was watching out for Lacroix, Louisiana?
- Howard the Duck was based in Cleveland.
- ROM: Space Knight: a major center of the Dire Wraith invasion is Clairton, West Virginia.
- Eduardo Risso's (with scripts by Barreiro) "Parque Chas" turns this into a joke, setting a detectivesque comic writer in the very quiet, middle-class, small and residential neighbourhood of Parque Chas, in Buenos Aires, where a lot of crazy paranormal stuff is going on due to a dimensional gate. The craziest part is that there are indeed urban legends about Parque Chas, due to its weird circular streets.
- An escape pod carrying the infant survivor of an otherwise extinct alien species crash lands in Smallville, Kansas. Of course.
- And then there's one of the Post-Crisis Supergirls, Linda Danvers, who defends Leesburg, Virginia, from all sorts of villains, be they alien or demonic.
- According to the DC Database, Gotham City is in New Jersey.
- Empowered has a ninja clan in New Jersey.
- The Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run into all kinds of supernatural crap. It's easy to overlook when they're in New York, but it feels jarring when they're constantly running into aliens and eldritch abominations in Northampton, Massachusetts.
- In the Post-Civil War Marvel Comics world Asgard - the home of the gods of Norse legend - is floating over Broxton, Oklahoma.
- Secret Avengers: The secret empire has built their underground teleporting city beneath Toledo, Ohio for two reasons: It has no subway systems and there is very little chance of any government or media attention.
- The new Ms Marvel is Jersey City's very own (well, only) superhero. Granted, Jersey City is right across the Hudson River from Manhattan and isn't out of reach of the NYC heroes, but it's still a nice change of pace.
- The XMen's most well-known base of operations is North Salem, New York. Like Jersey City, it's still within the NYC metro area, but the writers deserve credit for using a specific town rather than generically plopping them in Manhattan.
- In Worldwar: War of Equals, the aliens do land near or outside capitol cities such as Sao Paulo, Cairo, Kiev, Beijing, and Mumbai, they also choose to land in some place that aren't so popular such as Belleville, Bari, Al Basrah, and Bendigo.
Films — Animated
- Except for the big battle in San Francisco, the President's War Room and the undisclosed location of the monster prison, most of the action in Monsters vs. Aliens takes place in Modesto, California. This is lampshaded in the TV Halloween Special Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space: "Why is it always Modesto?"
- Lilo & Stitch has the epicenter of alien activity on Earth in Hawaii—it's not even on the most populated island, but Kauai. The fact that there weren't any major cities on the island was a plot point: Stitch can't swim so he wasn't able to immediately commence with the mass destruction he was built for; he pretended to be a dog so he could manipulate someone into getting him off the island. Apparently the original idea was for Stitch to crash-land into a very rural area of Kansas. Possibly, they changed it to cover the aforementioned issue of why he couldn't just walk to another city.
- The Iron Giant: The Iron Giant lands in Maine.
Films — Live-Action
- Cleveland is where Howard the Duck took place, complete with aliens trying to take over the world.
- The MST3K B-Movie The Giant Spider Invasion takes place in Merrill, Wisconsin.
- The Final Sacrifice takes place in Eagle Hat, South Alberta.
- Time Chasers takes place in Vermont - Rutland, at that, not even Chittenden County - because that's where the company that made it was located. It makes it seem as if Vermont is the epicenter of the future dystopia.
- From Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid: 'At least we managed to get... Terre Haute... Indian-uhh...'
- In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the aliens are first spotted in the town of Muncie, Indiana. They land at Devil's Tower, Wyoming (the mountain Roy keeps trying to sculpt.)
- Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem takes place in the small college town of Gunnison, Colorado, about as far out in the sticks as possible. The movie exaggerates, however, making the town several times larger than it really is and giving it a power station and other such accoutrements. It was actually filmed on Vancouver Island, Canada.
- In Star Trek: First Contact the Vulcans first land in Montana, though they had a pretty good reason as they were looking for the people who managed to create spaceship with warp technology in their basement. This is a case of Author Appeal: Brannon Braga is from Bozeman; he even named a USS starship after it.
- Starship Troopers: The first city to be attacked by the aliens is Buenos Aires, which happens to be our hero's hometown.
- Discussed in The Faculty. When one character points out the absurdity of aliens secretly invading via a High School in small town Ohio, another character points out that it'd be easier to secretly invade in somewhere out of the way than try to blow up The White House, which the whole world will notice.
- Lampshaded in the first ten minutes of District 9, where the sick, malnourished aliens had the misfortune to make first contact with Johannesburg, and notes when the ship first appears over the city that it wasn't some place like New York, London, or Chicago. Cue thinly-veiled apartheid parallels.
- The remake of The Stepford Wives lampshades this during the antagonist's speech near the end:
Claire: "I asked myself, where would people never notice a town full of robots? *mocking gasp* Connecticut!"
- In this short film Ataque de Pánico! (Panic Attack!), aliens destroy Montevideo. Where? Why it's the capital of Uruguay of course!
- Thor: upon being stripped of his powers, Thor lands in a small town in New Mexico; and his hammer, Mjölnir, in another location 50 miles away from his. Dr. Jane Foster and her colleagues seem to take this in stride as Thor has trouble adjusting to Earth customs.
- Attack the Block has aliens landing in London, but it's not exactly the postcard version.
Dimples: "What kind of alien, out of all the places in the whole wide world, would invade some shitty council estate in south London?"Dennis: "One that's lookin' for a fight!"
- Looper is a hardboiled, time-traveling hitman tale set in... Kansas.
- In Incident At Ravens Gate, aliens invade a small town in South Australia.
- Dude, Where's My Car?: "We will now use the power of the Continuum Transfunctioner to banish you to Hoboken, New Jersey!"
- The Blair Witch Project gives an entire backstory of supernatural events to Burkittsville, Maryland. The residents of the real Burkittsville were not thrilled by the attention the movie brought to their town.
- Kronos (1957): While (as usual of films of the era) America Saves the Day, the titular alien lands on (and stomps flat a good chunk of) Mexico.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect explains why aliens always seem to land in the middle of nowhere.
Ford: Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets that haven't made interstellar contact and buzz them . . . They find some isolated spot with very few people around, then land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennas on their heads and making beep beep noises. Rather childish really.
- The first Martian ship to reach Earth in The War of the Worlds lands in Horsell Common in Woking, Surrey. Orson Welles' radio production, and many subsequent adaptations, move it to Grover's Mill, New Jersey.
- The small town of Illium, NY, is where the world-destroying substance Ice-9 is developed in Kurt Vonnegut's classic Cat's Cradle. It's also where Billy Pilgrim is abducted by aliens in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five.
- In The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, aliens invade Grinnell, Iowa (changed for very little good reason to Ambrose, Iowa, in The Movie).
- This trope is openly discussed by Stan and Pete in How to Build a Skydeck, set in the small town of Columbus, Georgia.
- Daniel Pinkwater likes setting the weirdness in his books in odd places like Hoboken (The Hoboken Chicken Emergency) or other obscure towns (Yobgorble: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario). And that's when the weirdness isn't happening in Hogboro.
- In Roger Zelazny's Doorways in the Sand, the rogue terrorist threatening the world (or at least threatening the world's good relations with its new alien friends) does indeed turn out to be Australian.
- The Captain Underpants series takes place in Piqua, Ohio, a real city with a population of a little over 20,000.
- Good Omens has Lower Tadfield, an unremarkable village somewhere in rural (probably) Oxfordshire, as the location of Anti Christ and start of the Apocalypse.
- The short story "On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy" by Desmond Warzel is a literal case of Aliens in Cleveland; well, actually, aliens in the upscale suburbs of Gates Mills and Lyndhurst (apparently even extraterrestrials have standards).
- The first scouting sortie of the alien collective in Alan Dean Foster's A Call to Arms encounters as its first human contact a musician in a fishing boat off the coast of Belize.
- The events of Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters trilogy takes place in Bixby, population: 13,000. Though the location is important to the plot.
- The Chrysalids portrays a surviving enclave of civilsation after an implied nuclear holocaust. Naturally it's in Newfoundland (although New Zealand seems to be doing pretty well too.) Although this is justified by the very premise, as the only places where there would be any surviving enclaves of civilisation left after an apocalyptic nuclear war would be remote, sparsely-populated areas with no military bases or important industrial facilities.
- Twilight is set in Forks, Washington, a place the residents have barely heard of. Another vampire clan lives in Denali, Alaska. Considering they've been there for a while and how rural, scenic and insular these places are, this may also overlap with Lovecraft Country.
- In the novels of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the largest vampire population—and the headquarters of the eponymous secret society—is in Caldwell, NY. Yep.
- The Mercy Thompson series of books, sure people know OF the Tri-Cities in Washington, but few can name all three, and remember this is three cities that take up the same amount of mileage as the ONE city that Washington is known for.
- An entry for the Bulwer-Lytton worst-first-sentence contest discards the Big City and sets the putative action in a more unlikely venue:
"It had been three days since Torfongu had eaten Los Angeles, and now he sat staring down at Bakersfield... a tasty little morsel, indeed."
- In John Dies at the End, the extradimensional shenanigans take place in a small unnamed town in the American midwest. In early drafts of the story, the town was identified as Rockville, Indiana. In This Book Is Full Of Spiders, the town becomes global news, but the narrator still refuses to name it.
- The Mediochre Q Seth Series is primarily set in Scotland, due to Creator Provincialism. The title character notes at one point that the highlands of Scotland are "good dragon country".
- Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God: The aliens want to take a good look at Earth fossils, so they go to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
- His Neanderthal Parallax books have a Neanderthal from a parallel universe appear in... Sudbury, Ontario. Sort of justified, since the device that sent him there was built in the same cavern as the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. You may have guessed by now that Robert J. Sawyer is from Ontario.
- Many of his books either are set in Canada, or have Canadian characters. He's stated it's to make up for the lack of them in science fiction novels.
- In The Kane Chronicles, Set initiates his plan to take over the world, obviously starting in New York, right? I mean, that's where the heroes are based and that's where the last group of evil gods started their attack. But no, he starts with Phoenix, Arizona.
- Apparently Maine is haunted as crap. Between the Eldritch Abomination sleeping under Derry, the Wendigo doing his thing in an Indian Burial Ground just outside Ludlow, the ancient alien spacecraft buried in the woods outside Haven, and all the crap that goes down in Castle Rock....
- Richard III in the 21st Century comes to call Portland, Oregon home after his initial trip through time there. Other important scenes take place in Rochester, New York, and the Big Applesauce shows up as a location only because of the justified use of New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Hospital as the site of some very specific medical research.
- S. Andrew Swann's Dragons of the Cuyahoga duology has a portal to a magical world open in Cleveland, and dragons, elves, dwarves and such come through, along with magic (limited only to the greater Cleveland region).
- Swann is a native of Cleveland, and also set the first book of his Moreau Series in Cleveland.
- The Raven Cycle takes place in small town Henrietta, Virginia, which is apparently (due to being on a ley line) a hub of psychic energy, ghosts, and magic in general. Oh, and the burial ground of an ancient magic Welsh king that may or may not grant wishes. The second book The Dream Thieves adds Dream Walkers to the list.
- In The House of Night, while vampyres exist all over the world, most of the action takes place in a House of Night in... Tulsa, Oklahoma. A comment by Aphrodite's parents, in Betrayed, claims that, to them, going to the school in Tulsa was more notable and prestigious than going to a "no-name House of Night" in Europe. In fact, Neferet's backstory in Redeemed details her rise to power in Tulsa and the existence of Old Magick there.
- Robert Rankin lives off this trope. Any event of cosmic importance, if not taking place entirely in, will at least relate to Brentford.
- Alien In a Small Town is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A Starfish Alien ends up living in a small Mennonite town for years.
- In The Lathe of Heaven, all the major events center on Portland, Oregon, where the protagonist (whose dreams alter reality) lives. Coincidentally, this is also the home town of author Ursula LeGuin.
- The Swedish young adult/fantasy The Circle is about a group of young witches fighting the forces of darkness and takes place in Engelsfors, a small town in Sweden with a population of 13,000.
- The sci-fi/horror novel Eden Green portrays alien needle monsters invading an expy of the author's home city of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
- The eerie phenomena in Jules Verne's Master of the World occur mainly in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and the Great Lakes. (Of course, those locales would seem a good deal more exotic to your typical French reader, and thus to Verne).
- Jam is set in Brisbane, Australia, which while is still a large city in its own right is nowhere near as populated or well-known outside of Australia as say Sydney or Melbourne.
- Sphere: Contact with an alien artifact (and the human ship that is so advanced that was initially believed to be alien) smack in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean. This Trope is discussed extensively on the book as part of the "Project ULF" briefing, and explained that 1) alien intelligences have to be assumed to be so alien that they may not care to land on a major city, 2) alien biologies are so different from humanity that they would go to a place that fits them better (which is then argued that Earth is covered with oceans so extensively that it makes more statistical sense for first contact to occur on water) and 3) assuming that aliens will do something like, say, land on Washington D.C. because it's what aliens do on movies, is just using a very erroneous (and maybe even dangerous) basis for planning.
Live Action TV
- The Trope Namer is the Whoniverse:
- Ever since the show returned in 2005, it made Cardiff, the capital city and most populous county of Wales and the headquarters of BBC Wales (the producers of the show), a Weirdness Magnet courtesy of a dimensional rift. This trope is repeatedly lampshaded by several characters in both Doctor Who and Torchwood by their dumbfounded reactions to the thought of supernatural stuff happening in Cardiff. While the Doctor only visits Cardiff on occasion (to "refuel" the TARDIS) the first two series of Torchwood are set there.
- Even gets lampshaded during Season 2 when Gwen tries to tell Rhys what she really does at work. His reaction is (obviously) "Aliens? In Cardiff?!"
- When Doctor Who stories are set in America, they either take place in New York, Washington, the area around Cape Canaveral, or... Utah? Utah's importance is due to the unusual properties of the location and time for them to create a fixed point in time and space in an attempt to kill the Doctor.
- Except for in "Dalek," which is also set in Utah for absolutely no reason at all.
- In an Eleventh Doctor audio story called 'The Ring of Steel', the aliens invade on Orkney, a small group of islands off the north coast of Scotland. Justified as the aliens in question were genetically engineered to survive by converting planets' atmospheres into hydrocarbons and eating the life trapped 'like flies in amber', but wish they didn't have to. Therefore, they choose somewhere quiet and out-of-the-way to invade in the hope that no one will notice.
- Season 10/36 begins with the Doctor hiding out as a university professor and fighting aliens in Bristol.
- In the old series, especially in the UNIT era, it was Aliens in the Home Counties. Doctor Who Magazine had a short story justifying this, by saying the standard operating procedure for an alien conqueror was to establish a beachhead in a relatively rural area of a small landmass, make their way from there to the local power centre, and then use that as a centre for taking over the rest of the planet.
- The old series does, nevertheless, go to even less common locations at times, such as Time Lord criminals hiding out in Cambridge or Amsterdam, an alien time experiment in Seville, a secret underground base where scientists create natural disasters in Australia and a mad super-computer plotting to take over the world from South Wales.
- An episode of My Hero had Thermoman stop an abandoned Russian space station from crashing into the center of Grimsby.
- Used in a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about aliens who come to destroy "the very heart of civilization." Their target: New Pudsey.
- Frequently used in The X-Files (e.g., a building full of identical clones in Allentown, Pennsylvania; a shapeshifter assassin in Syracuse, New York).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes occasional references to a second Hellmouth in Cleveland. In fact, Cleveland is rather frequently a subject of this trope, hence its alternate title, Aliens in Cleveland. It's part of a long-Running Gag in popular culture that Cleveland is a depressing hellhole of decay, corruption, and a river of fire. The city's demonic influence permeates into its residents, who actually like it there.
- The Roswell episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had Nog fabricate a story about alien conquest of Earth, randomly pointing to the initial landing site on a map (next to a 'blue blob'). The soldier who is listening to him leans in and exclaims, "Your people are going to invade... Cleveland???"
- One of the 'unseen' scenes from Harry Hill's TV Burp parodies an occurrence of this in some drama or other; a long list of cities scrolls past, from "Lagos", "New York", "Tokyo", and then the map zooms in and the final location affected is revealed: "Norwich". Harry starts to go into a panic: "But where will we go to see puppet dramas without the Norwich Puppet Theatre? And where will we buy our many varieties of mustard when The Mustard Shop is destroyed? Oh no!" (Aside Glance) "I'm kidding. I love Norwich!"
- In the pilot of Star Trek: Enterprise, an interplanetary incident is set off when a Klingon crash-lands in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
- Midway through season 7 Colonel Dubaku targets a pesticide plant just outside Kidron, Ohio (pop. 30,000), for his next terrorist attack.
- One season features a significant plotline involving terrorists in Palmdale, California, a mid-sized city a couple hours outside of the greater LA area. It's justified by the fact that the terrorists are hiding out and intend to target major cities when they're ready. It's also small enough to get nuked without completely changing the world in which 24 takes place.
- Being Human (UK) has vampires planning a vast global empire from their headquarters in Bristol, England.
Mitchell: It can't happen like this! Not here! Not in WALES!
- Lampshaded by George, who directly asks the question of 'Why Bristol?'
- And later, in season 3:
- Charlie Jade takes place in three alternate universe versions - one dystopian, one ecotopian and one normal - of Cape Town, South Africa.
- Other than the occasional Hollywood haunting, all of the action in Supernatural takes place in small- to mid-size towns, mostly in Flyover Country. Big Bads have been vanquished in Jefferson City, MO; South Dakota / Wyoming; New Harmony, IN; and Ilchester, MD. Funny how all of the above (including Hollywood) seem to have the same general climate.
- Heroes goes all over the place. The most prominent cities are major population centers (New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles), but plenty of other locations are visited. Claire Bennet (and one of Primatech's major facilities) is in Odessa, TX. The Volume Three finale is set in Hartdale, NY and Fort Lee, NJ. The plane carrying all the heroes at the start of Volume Four crashed in Oklahoma.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun is set in Rutherford, Ohio. The place is fictional, but it's obviously meant to be a typical Midwestern town.
- True Blood, and obviously the Sookie Stackhouse novels the show is based on, are set in Bon Temps, a fictional suburb of Shreveport, Louisiana. Dallas and Jackson, Mississippi have also been significant locations.
- Stargate SG-1 tended to use this for its Earth episodes. The frequent use of Colorado Springs is justified by being where the main cast actually lives, being the closest city to the Cheyenne Mountain installation. Those examples tend to be a case of the cast being Weirdness Magnets, for instance an ascended Ancient falling in love with Carter and following her home. Other examples include a rural area north of Seattle ("Seth"), and Steveston, Oregon ("Nightwalkers").
- Continuum is set in Vancouver, Canada. While it is only the 35th most populous metro area in North America, the events of the series show that all the critical events of the continent's political, industrial and cultural future happen there.
- Once Upon a Time, where All Myths Are True, is set in a town in Maine.
- The Almighty Johnsons has the Norse gods... in Auckland. It's revealed that at least some of them stayed home in Norway, but all of the main characters are Kiwis.
- Almost all the weird shit that happens in Fringe happens in... Boston, Massachusetts. Cue the music!
- Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down To Georgia." Although it is mentioned that he was "way behind" and getting desperate.
- Frank Zappa was from California (albeit of Italian and Syrian origin), and one of his trademarks was setting songs in all kinds of exotic locations for seemingly no reason. Notable is the song Montana, where the protagonist has a dream to move to the state of Montana to become a dental floss tycoon. It appears to be a deliberate subversion of the idea that someone would move to a lucrative city like LA or New York to strike it rich.
- Lewis Black claims to have found the edge of the universe in Houston, Texas. Specifically, at a dead-end road where there were two Starbucks directly across the street from each other.
- Subverted-by-Real Life example: The designers of Shadowrun originally picked Seattle for their game's home base, because as large North American cities went, it was relatively obscure in pre-90s pop culture. Little did they suspect that movies, TV shows, grunge and Starbucks would conspire to elevate Seattle's cultural prominence in the years to follow.
- White Wolf's website had a Java-based RPG chat room for their New World of Darkness also set in Atlanta, Georgia; the Old World of Darkness chat had the fictional city of "New Bremen" instead. The World of Darkness has also released sourebooks for cities all over the world. In addition to the obvious (New York, London, Hong Kong, etc.), there is also the rather twisty Milwaukee by Night.
- Tales From The Loop: The titular Magical Particle Accelerator arrays (and subsequent Weirdness Magnets) were built on Sweden and Boulder City, Nevada.
- In Tomb Raider: Legend, we learn that King Arthur's tomb is under a tacky Camelot tourist trap in Cornwall.
Lara: As in take the M5 to the A30 Cornwall?
- A level of No One Lives Forever 2 has you fighting an army of ninjas in Akron, Ohio.
- Leather Goddesses of Phobos has the player start in a bar in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
- In Half-Life 2 the office of the entire planet's military administration is located in a small city at the Black Sea (unless it's in Latvia. Or northwestern Russia. Or Somewhere). Which coincidentally is exactly the same place where the few survivors of Black Mesa have created their secret rebel headquarter. Though it might have been the cities exceptionally high rebel activity that caused the administration to relocate there.
- Any level in the Halo series that takes place on Earth is set in East Africa, specifically New Mombasa and Voi. However, one of Earth's space elevators is located in New Mombasa, making it less Cardiff and more Rotterdam (one of the largest ports in the world).
- East Africa is also the location where The Forerunners build the portal to the Ark, intentionally locating it right next to the area where the first modern humans originated.
- Though the Chief himself never sets foot on Earth in Halo 4, the city that the Didact chooses to target isn't New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing, etc., but New Phoenix, Arizona. Granted, New Phoenix is North America's fourth most populated city in the Halo-verse, having been formed when Flagstaff and "Old" Phoenix grew so large that they merged into a single metropolis.
- Superhero League of Hoboken.
- Played for laughs in an Interactive Fiction game, where part of the backstory details Satan's arrival on Earth to punish humanity for their sins and his construction of a hellish citadel to house his legions in New Jersey. Apparently it was a few years before people realized something was wrong.
- In MDK, the population centers threatened with annihilation by the invading city minecrawlers were Laguna Beach, Lindfield, Livingston, Kirkaldy and Sparrow Pit. In MDK 2 the city minecrawler in the opening mission was targeting Edmonton.
- In Persona 4, it turns out that the identity of the Gas Station Attendant was Izanami, Goddess of the Underworld, who had been responsible for bestowing Adachi, Namatame and the protagonist the Persona of Izanagi, giving them powers to enter the Midnight Channel and created the being responsible for the fog. And all this is done from Yasoinaba, a town considered out in the "boonies" in Japan.
- Earth made its first real appearance in Mass Effect 3, something that was heavily marketed in the game's advertising. Namely, the Reaper attack on London. However, the first we see of the Reaper invasion is the scorched remains of... Vancouver. Justified in that Bioware is Canadian and Vancouver is one of Canada's largest and most famous cities, and averted in the final battle, which takes place in London.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the entire middle of the game takes place in Denver, Colorado. Not exactly a small city, but definitely not the first to come to mind.
- Parasite Eve 2 starts off in downtown Los Angeles, but after the Action Prologue is over, Aya then spends the rest of the game on a mission in Dryfield, Nevada, a tiny desert hamlet in the middle of the Mojave Desert that is not so much a town as it is a collection of buildings clustered together. Population: 1, a former Vietnam veteran named Douglas who was the only person to stay after the Neo-Mitochondrion Creatures infested the place.
- Used in the Fallout series, for good reason: many big cities were nuked into oblivion during the war (Los Angeles was destroyed so badly that it was called "the Boneyard", San Franciscio is mostly deserted, and it's implied that New York is just a radioactive crater). Therefore, the capital of the New California Republic isn't New Sacramento or anything like that, but instead a formerly small, post-apocalyptic community called Shady Sands. Somewhat averted in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, which take place in Washington, DC, Las (New) Vegas, and Boston, respectively, but in the case of New Vegas and 4, it's justified: the de-facto ruler of New Vegas, Robert House, had a missile defense system set up that destroyed most of the nukes before they could land, and most of the conflict in 4 comes from the actions of the Institute (formerly CIT, the Fallout version of MIT), which wasn't founded in its current form until after the war. However, the trope is once again invoked as DLCs for the new games take place in exotic locales such as Zion National Park (Honest Hearts), Pittsburgh (The Pitt), Maine (Far Harbour), Anchorage (Operation: Anchorage), Point Lookout State Park (Point Lookout) and quite often, areas that, in real life, are empty or just don't exist (Lonesome Road and Old World Blues).
- In an It's Walky! storyline, Head Alien experiments with his new time freezing technology in a small town in Canada, leading to the exchange in the page quote. It's also an excuse for a Crossover with another webcomic, Avalon, set in small-town Canada, which was in the middle of a long hiatus.
- In the flash series 21 (a parody of 24), plumber Al Johnstone has 21 minutes to save Norwich from a nuclear explosion.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja takes place in a heavily fictionalized version of Cumberland, Maryland. Nobody in the comic thinks anything of it.
- Although a very populous place, there are not many superhero stories that take place place in Germany's Ruhr Area, a fact that was one of the motivations of Ruhr Area native Arne Schulenberg for creating Union of Heroes.
- Spinnerette features superhero action in Columbus, Ohio; the writer makes numerous Central Ohio references throughout the series. Also, the team of Canadian superheroes includes the Werewolf of London... Ontario.
- Fairville, the town where The FAN takes place is actually the author's hometown, a real Transylvanian city called Marosvasarhely.
- The main setting of At Arm's Length and seemingly main magical entrance portal to Earth Houston. Apparently monsters like to target Hermann Park.
- In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Iceland is the largest bastion of surviors, Scandinavia (more specifically Norway, Sweden and Bornholm island of Denmark) and Finland are the location of a bunch of smaller bastions. The Death World Forbidden Zone that the main characters are exploring used to be mainland Denmark.
- The PPC's main base in the real world (or "World One") is a city in New Caledonia, a French overseas territory. Nobody is quite sure why, though there are other doors to HQ scattered about Earth and the multiverse in general.
- Brentalfloss' Civilization song includes the line "learn to write before you can read and build the Taj Mahal right in Cleveland".
- Welcome to Night Vale is staged as a local radio show reporting the incredible number of supernatural goings-on in the small desert town of Night Vale.
- Survival of the Fittest: While some of the locations the students are from are either major cities (Twin Cities in v4, Seattle in v5) or fictional (Alderbrook in Virtua, Whitree in TV2), a few also qualify. The v6 location in particular is Kingman, Arizona, a real world town along Route 66.
- Enter the Farside is set in Greater Manchester in the north of England, as well as parts of Staffordshire where the main character lives.
- Bedtime Stories (YouTube Channel) has "The Alien of Varginha", where a UFO sighting and a subsequent sighting of mysterious red-eyed creatures took place in a then-unremarkable rural town in Brazil.
- An episode of The Tick featured a bunch of supervillains known as "The Swiss". Who were dressed in uniforms bearing the Swiss flag and wielded giant Swiss Army Knives:
Die Fledermaus: Listen to me! The Swiss are invading The City!
American Maid: Switzerland is a neutral country, you goober.
Die Fledermaus: [showing his arm in a cast] YOU CALL THIS NEUTRAL?
- Vlad from Danny Phantom lives in Madison, Wisconsin. He's a Green Bay Packers nut.
- Minor example: While most of Transformers Animated takes place in Detroit, Megatron's disembodied head landed on the farm Isaac Sumdac grew up in near Paw Paw, a village with a population of about 3,300. It's also where the art director/lead character designer is from.
- In Megas XLR a giant mecha ends up in Jersey City, leading to all manner of hijinks and invasions.
- Alien invasions were the order of the day in Terlawk, New Jersey on Earthworm Jim. Justified in one episode where it's revealed that one of the town's residents used to work for NASA, and spray painted "Hey aliens! I dare you to attack Terlawk!" on a satellite.
- In the Danger Mouse episode "Multiplication Fable" DM and Penfold investigate a spaceship crash landing in Birmingham, England.
- Code Lyoko: A.I. Is a Crapshoot and is trying to conquer the world... from an abandoned factory in the Parisian suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt.
- The events of Roswell, New Mexico come to mind. Aside from the odd military base, the closest notable landmark are the Carlsbad Caverns, and even that is a bit of a stretch.
- Of course, Roswell is now a landmark, but that's because of the UFO crash more than anything else.
- Following WWII (and at the time of the Incident) Roswell was the home base for the 509th Bombardment Wing, the world's only nuclear strike force. Which almost certainly has nothing to do with the Incident, but it makes great conspiracy theory fuel.
- It is also worth noting that Roswell is where Robert H. Goddard, a founding father of modern rocketry developed and tested rockets in the 1930s. A local high school is named in his honor.
- Given that it was a facility for rocket testing, locating it as far away as possible from anything was most probably intentional.
- The Cold War made this kind of appearance a necessity. The declassification of what happened there revealed that the "weather balloon" was a balloon, but carrying detection equipment prototypes meant to spot bombers carrying a nuclear weapon (as ICBMs (nuclear missiles) didn't become common until The '60s), possibly a Super Prototype if the weird materials the theories mention actually existed. Testing it in a backwater desert region meant that even when the military got caught, the focus on the UFOs did the job the cover-up couldn't... and might have even been done on purpose to replace a failed cover-up. Similarly to this trope being about the place nobody suspects, a genuine former government agent could easily be given a final assignment to spread disinformation to someone crazy enough to believe something just because it perfectly fits their world-view, in lieu of a better way to keep experimental military technology unknown to a potential foe. When even the people who would never trust you can't see through a trick, the paranoid who hear the disinformation are Cardiff, and an otherwise mundane Spy Fiction-like scenario becomes the "Aliens" doing the "invading". How's that for a conspiracy theory?
- Bonnybridge in Scotland has an average of three-hundred U.F.O. sightings per annum, earning it the nickname "U.F.O. Capital of the World" despite the fact it's a fairly obscure town (even in Scotland).
- Same with the Calder Valley in Yorkshire, though it's becoming more well-known in the UK due to television production moving there.
- The Flatwoods monster/alien that was seen in Flatwoods, West Virginia, in 1952. The town has a population of 348.
- The stereotypical monster/alien sighting is the redneck who lives out in the middle of nowhere.
- When the Live 8 concert locations were announced back in 2005, with concerts in places like London, Paris and Berlin, Canada's concert venue was held in Barrie, a cottage town about 60 miles north of Toronto. This was much to the bemusement of many, particularly residents of Barrie.
- The original Woodstock concert took place on a dairy farm in the Catskills near Bethel, New York. Most of the area's few thousand residents felt the same way about its attendees and performers as they would have about alien invaders.
- Wacken Open Air is probably the largest Heavy Metal festival in the world, held in the small German village of Wacken, pop. 1,819. With about 80,000 visitors, "alien invasion in a small town" sounds about right.
- The Tunguska Event, largest asteroid/comet impact in recorded history, was in the middle of nowhere - fortunate, given had it hit a city it would have leveled it. Of course, conspiracy and fringe theories about the cause abound.
- The Niihau Incident, during World War II. One of the Pearl Harbor bombers crash-landed on the Hawaiian island of Niihau, believing it to be uninhabited. The island is privately owned and access is restricted, but a tiny community who still speak the native Hawaiian language are allowed to live there. The Niihauns, who could not communicate with the outside world, were left to deal with the Japanese pilot all by themselves.
- A major reason why the Islamic State terrorist organization is so much more dangerous than its predecessor al-Qaeda is because of their willingness to embrace this trope. Generally, al-Qaeda typically plans their terror attacks to hit major cities and national capitals to cause massive casualties for maximum effect. This has been seen numerous times with incidents like the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, 9/11, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 2005 London bus bombings, and the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, with fewer low-profile attacks in small cities. In contrast, Islamic State's strategy is practically the inverse of al-Qaeda's: IS conducts large-scale attacks on capitals more rarely (most infamously, the November 2015 Paris attack and the March 2016 Brussels bombings) but they actually prefer to hit small and mid-sized towns much more frequently, using a Death of a Thousand Cuts strategy. Examples of this include the July 2015 Chattanooga shooting, the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting, and numerous stabbing incidents such as in Merced, California, Maganville, France, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Cloud, Minnesota.