New York City seems to get all the attention in American fiction.
Are aliens landing in UFOs? They'll land in Queens. Is there a neighborhood full of world-class martial artists with superhuman powers? That's Chinatown. Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny? Madison Square Garden's got your front-row seats. A magical gateway between worlds? Look in Queens Midtown Tunnel... or even Central Park. And, of course, look out for the Mage in Manhattan.
The rule seems to be that if a series or movie proposal does not require another setting (Kirk's Rock, for instance), it should be set in New York. If an original, successful series is set in Las Vegas, its Spin-Off will be more successful if set in New York. If you can't possibly get the show to happen in New York, have at least one main character (and as many minor ones as possible) be from New York, and continually harp on about how much better New York is than wherever the setting takes place.
In other words, everything is better with a side helping of Big Applesauce.
At the very least, New York is where a great many writers live, or come from (the rest reside in Los Angeles), which makes it more interesting to thewriters than anything elsewhere. Not to mention "writing what they know." Picture how these guys tend to portray the South and Midwest... (Unless, of course, they become politicians, in which case it is of the utmost importance to appeal to those two groups!)
The bias is especially obvious when characters speak about specific parts of New York casually (everybody in the world knows which subway train you have to take to get to 115th street, right?), while the entirety of Middle America usually consists of about ten distinct places, or when any group of people naturally includes a Jewish person, because isn't one eighth of the population everywhere Jewish?
There is a reason for this: the skyline is just so darn recognizable. In addition, New York City is the most populous metropolitan area in the United States (and the 4th most populous in the world), possibly justifying the frequency with which events of great significance occur there in fiction. Further justification for this is New York's diversity. Very close to every single ethnic, racial and religious group is is represented to some degree or another on the streets of the five boroughs, and nearly every language spoken on Planet Earth can be heard there. Although most US cities are cosmopolitan to one degree or another, New York is particularly noticeable due to the larger population, thus making the diversity more obvious. Further helping matters is the fact that New York is a major hub for business, finance, politics, culture, etc., which makes it that much easier to set stories of all sorts there.
It is worth pointing out a lot of NYC streets aren't actually filmed there; more than one California studio (and some other studios outside the US) has a dedicated NYC backlot.
Compare Fulton Street Folly, the localized version where everything inexplicably happens in Lower Manhattan because it's relatively easy to film there. See also Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe for Anime and Japanese TV, Britain Is Only London for UK productions, and Hong Kong for Chinese-language equivalents. If the writers pick someplace off the beaten path instead, you've got Aliens in Cardiff.
If a story depicts New York as an unlivable hellish Wretched Hive (and is usually set during the period from the mid 1960s through the early 1990s), the sub-trope of Big Applesauce, The Big Rotten Apple, comes into play. See also Brooklyn Rage.
If a story is set in a Big East-Coast Metropolis but is deliberately cagey about whether it's New York or Toronto, that's Canada Does Not Exist.
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Is the home to the famous (or infamous) Madison Avenue ad agencies. Accordingly, an extremely large number of national commercials are filmed and set here.
Pace picante sauce is made in San Antonio, Texas. Its cheap, Brand X rivals, however, are made in New York City. ("NEW York CITY?!?")
Anime & Manga
Axis Powers Hetalia occasionally makes a few nods to (including strips that take place in) New York. Which isn't that surprising when you consider the series having started there. The author lived there for a while.
In The Big O, the very obvious ruins of New York City (now called Paradigm City) are not just the center but the practical extent of the universe.
The primary focal point for most of Baccano!! is New York. There is an exception in the Flying Pussyfoot story, which takes place on a transcontinental railroad...heading to New York.
Red Garden takes place around the Greater New York Area, though mostly on Roosevelt Island.
New York City becomes the background of the climatic showdown in Blood+.
Virtually all the heroes of the Marvel Universe set up shop in New York, as well as the major teams like The Avengers and the Fantastic Four. (The X-Men were usually based in Westchester County before the move to Utopia, off the coast of San Francisco. They've since returned to Westchester.) Part of this was their distinction of living in a "real city" versus most of the fictional DC ones. Teams not set in New York are either the rare West Coast teams, the "international" teams that pop up every so often, or jokes (the Great Lakes Avengers). Naturally, all the bad stuff for them to save the world from occurs in New York as well.
This is so pervasive that Marvel sells their own guide to New York, allowing you to walk around and see all the real inspirations for the comic sites.
Until recently, there was a giant, crowded, vibrant, multicultural ghetto of Mutants in lower Manhattan, known as Mutant Town, occupying roughly the space of our world's Alphabet City. Given that this overpopulated ghetto full of superpowered, alienated freaks was barely even mentioned outside its own book, District X (swiftly cancelled), it might perhaps have made more sense to set it down in a city that wasn't already swarming with superheroes, and the subject of 99% of Marvel's comics output. But, hey, New York is just that special.
This was Lampshaded in-universe during the Civil War storyline, when someone pointed out that if, for example, aliens invaded anyplace BUT New York, there would be no one to stop them (or at least, lots of people would die before the heroes could get there.) This resulted in the creation of The Initiative, a government program to give every state in the US its own superteam, with the Avengers remaining in New York while everyone else was drafted to new parts of the country. The program only lasted a couple of years, and once it folded nearly all the heroes clumped back together in New York.
This is also Lampshaded in Scarlet Spider; Kaine Parker flees to Houston to avoid Spider-Man and the Avengers, and ends up becoming the city's defender after seeing that it has no heroes of its own.
While not technically part of the MCU, The Wolverine takes place in Tokyo.
DC Comics averts this by having every hero protect a different (usually fictitious) city, although at least two (Gotham and Metropolis) are based on New York. The major DC comic book to be set in the real NYC was the 80s run of The New Teen Titans which had the original Titans Tower on an island in the East River.
Superheroes that have lived in The DCU's New York include the Green Lanterns Alan Scott (originally based in Gotham), Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner; Plastic Man; Power Girl (when she's not living in Metropolis); the Manhattan Guardian; the Teen Titans before they removed to San Francisco; and the original Sandman. Currently, Static and Hawkman are the protectors of New York in the New 52 continuity.
Though they originally met in Gotham, today the Justice Society of America operates out of New York City, their headquarters located on the site of the Sandman's old brownstone.
Even more ironic: parts of The Dark Knight Rises were filmed in New York City (for instance, 33 Wall Street is the Gotham Stock Exchange, and there is an establishing shot of Lower Manhattan with bridges digitally added on the Hudson River side).
The maps in the DC Heroes Roleplaying Game (which aren't necessarily canon in the comics, but hey, we've got to start somewhere) indicate that Metropolis in the DC Universe physically occupies the location of New York City, while the map of Gotham City corresponds quite well to that of Providence, Rhode Island. Gotham's history is treated as if it were New York City, though, with the implication being that Gotham used to be The Big Apple equivalent until it was upstaged (in the last century or so) by Metropolis.
DC published an Atlas of the DC Universe in the early nineties. This located Gotham in southern New Jersey and Metropolis in Delaware.
Doc Savage had his headquarters in the Empire State Building, and most of his stories had a large section in NYC before heading off to more exotic locales.
The Marvel The Transformers comics feature New York increasingly predominantly throughout their run, even though the crashed Autobot spaceship is located at Mt. St. Hilary in the Cascades in Oregon and the early comics tended to head over to Portland if they needed a metropolitan area to trash with giant robots. The switch to New York came after the anti-robot task force known as RAAT set up shop there, and several later Decepticon bases were set up in the region. In a nihilistic alternate future the shattered corpse of Rodimus Prime is even displayed as hanging between the partially collapsed Twin Towers.
There is one DC comic set in New York City — Watchmen. DC's seeming hatred of setting comics in NYC becomes obvious when Ozymandias blows it up.
To be fair, Ozymandias blows quite a few cities up, we just get to see the New York bit go sky high.
Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! started off with Superman accidentally crossing dimensional boundaries and winding up in "Gnu York City", Earth-C's version of NYC, and meeting the future team's leader there (working as a writer/artist for his world's DC Comics). Later issues often featured the team visiting Gnu York (despite being headquartered on the other side of the country in "Follywood, Califurnia").
The protagonists of Garth Ennis' The Boys base themselves in New York City.
Mega-City One from Judge Dredd is essentially supposed to be New York City in the 22nd Century... and stretch from about Boston to Charlotte in current continuity.
The title character in A Troll in Central Park is banished to "a place of rock and steel, where nothing grows." Guess.
There is at least one place where things grow, as the title indicates.
An American Tail: where else would a story about (anthropomorphic mouse) immigrants from Europe be set?
The lyrics to the opening song of Disney's Oliver & Company borderline-Lampshade this:
Now it's always once upon a time In New York City. It's a big old, bad old, tough old town, it's true. But beginnings are contagious there They're always setting stages there They're always turning pages there for you.
Also the film stars Long Island native: Billy Joel
The Big Reveal at the end of Antz is that the entire film took place around a water fountain in Central Park's Great Lawn. The film stars Woody Allen.
The animals from Madagascar live in Central Park Zoo, and a lot of local humor is sprinkled in the script, mostly thanks to one of the writers having worked on Seinfeld. The first act is basically a festival of New York gags, and features landmarks like Times Square, the Essex House, 7th Avenue, Grand Central Station, and the Rockefeller ice rink. Lincoln Center, the Knicks, Metro North railroad, and Lexington Avenue being mentioned.
One of the films in The Animatrix, The Second Renaissance, Part II, features a Sentinel demanding humans 'hand over their flesh' in the UN after signing a peace treaty before setting off a nuclear bomb, killing everyone. Yes. Everyone.
The "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000. The artwork was inspired by New York caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, whose cartoons chronicled the Broadway scene for the New York Times theater section.
The Danish film Samson and Sally has Moby Dick living in or near a submerged NYC, called 'the city that man built'.
Films — Live Action
There are eight million stories in The Naked City — all of them in New York.
The Seven Year Itch. Not only does it set itself in early 1950s New York, but it flashes back to 500 years earlier when Manhattan Isle was pre-Peter Minuit.
In Godspell (1973), the clown-Christ begins his ministry in the middle of Central Park, and wanders all over the (empty) city with his disciples.
Ever notice that in Ghostbusters, as well as its sequel and Animated Adaptation, that nearly everything paranormal — including the end of the world — tends to happen somewhere in or near New York City?
Spider-Man once told a magical being (who was called "The Gatekeeper", according to Ezekiel) who came to New York that this movie was "required viewing" for New Yorkers. (Unfortunately, it seemed to have No Sense of Humor.)
In the 1978 film adaptation of The Wiz, the role of Oz is played by a Fantasy Counterpart of New York City. For instance, Emerald City is the World Trade Center area; also note the five Chrysler Buildings on the skyline.
Strange, because Seattle's nickname is the "Emerald City".
Highlander has Mentor Ramirez telling Connor that eventually the Immortals will meet in "a faraway land" to fight for the Prize. NEW YORK.
The fairy-tale characters from Enchanted end up in New York... because, naturally, New York is the opposite of a fairy-tale kingdom.
I Am Legend depicted the city abandoned after a plague decimated the human race.
Cloverfield featured a gigantic monster laying waste to the city.
Hercules in New York. Zeus blasts Hercules with a lightning bolt, casting him out of Olympus. After some strange encounters in the air and at sea, Hercules arrives in New York City. It's somewhat justified by the obvious lack of budget of that movie.
Men In Black. The organization for monitoring and enforcing alien activity on Earth is based in New York and most of the undercover aliens live there. The lead character is a former NYPD cop and the Statue of Liberty is used as a giant neuralizer.
Q: The Winged Serpent shows that when an ancient Mesoamerican serpent-god is resurrected by a resumption of prayer and human sacrifice in his name, where else would he return than New York City, not, for example, Mexico City!
Earlier Woody Allen movies, period. Nowadays he seems to shoot exclusively in Europe, but earlier on, shooting in New York was one of his trademarks.
The gateway thing is played with in Being John Malkovich: Those who enter the mind of John Malkovich find themselves teleported to the New Jersey Turnpike after ten minutes.
Super Mario Bros. started off in NYC, then jumped to Another Dimension where the only city on the mostly-desert parallel Earth is a Manhattan analogue called "Dinohattan."
King Vidor's 1928 film The Crowd, including a memorable sequence when the protagonist first arrives which highlights the film's theme of urban alienation.
Buddy (Will Ferrell) in Elf finds out his real dad lives and works in, naturally, Manhattan, leading to many Fish out of Water moments.
The climax of King Kong is of Kong climbing the Empire State Building (in the 1933 and 2005 versions), and the World Trade Center (in the 1976 version).
End of Days starring Arnold Schwarzenegger takes this trope to new heights. The film's basic premise is that the apocalypse would come at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve in the year 1999... but only after the ball drops in Times Square. It even gets a Lampshade Hanging:
"So, the Prince of Darkness wants to conquer the Earth, but has to wait until an hour before midnight on New Year's Eve? Is this Eastern time?"
The Coen brothers' The Hudsucker Proxy, a period piece (1958-59) screwball comedy, takes place here.
The climax of The Avengers takes place mostly in the area around Grand Central Station and the Metlife building, which is replaced by a tower owned by Stark Enterprises. And yes, it gets wrecked hard. There's a certain scene with Thor on top of the Chrysler Building conjuring up lightning against some Chitauri, and another with a flying alien creature crashing into Grand Central Terminal. It's location here is fully justified as Loki needed the power source of the Stark building for his plan to work, and he deliberately chose New York because he wanted a big show.
The Other Woman is set in New York and features Central Park as a backdrop for many of the scenes.
The Baby-Sitters Club series has Stacey constantly reminding the readers how awesome New York is. The other book narrators make a big deal out of Stacey being from the city as well.
Stephen King's The Dark Tower series definitely is an example of this. New York is mentioned frequently, and several main characters all come from there. The second book is split between Roland's world and New York. Everything just seems to be tied to New York. It's implied that New York is where the Dark Tower intersects with our world, literally making it the center of the universe.
Extends to The Stand, where one of the main protagonists is from New York.
Holly Black's Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside all take place in New Jersey, with several characters taking trains or driving up to New York. Additionally, New York City is where all exiled fae are sent, where the city and all its iron saps them of their powers.
In the Peter David novel Knight Life, King Arthur returns. In a clothing store in Queens. Oh, and his secret hiding place is in Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
The early urban fantasies by Mercedes Lackey were set on the West coast, mainly in LA, but she later moved the setting and focus to New York City. Elves bent on conquering the world and government conspiracies involving magic all seem to happen in New York.
Many lesbian pulp fiction novels tend to have the character going to New York because of the fame of Greenwich Village.
The eponymous virus of the Wild Cards series falls over Broadway. Because of its nature, outbreaks occur all over, but New York is still the major locus of the action.
This is deliberate justification of the frequency of superheroes in New York City or its Expy.
It's Kind of a Funny Story takes place in Brooklyn.
Bordertown is a Shared Universe story about a portal to the Elflands opening in a city that is very heavily implied to be New York.
Except when it's strongly implied to be Minneapolis, or a character is surprised to discover that a city he knows to be far inland has enough ocean shoreline to support at least one fishing boat. But the geography of Bordertown isn't supposed to map coherently onto our non-magical one.
Defied by Michael J. Nelson in his book Movie Megacheese. While discussing Nora Ephron's movies and her nonstop gushing about The Big Apple, Mike takes a few paragraphs to express his annoyance not so much the city itself, but with New Yorkers' insistance that the rest of America always agree with them about how awesome New York City is. Well, that and the hot blast of urine-scented air that can sometimes hit you out of nowhere.
Literary adventurers such as the Gray Seal, the Shadow, the Spider, Doc Savage, and others had bases of operation in New York.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians says outright that America is the current center of Western civilization, so all of the mythological sites that used to be in Greece or Rome are now in America. The Sea of Monsters, for example, isn't the Mediterranean anymore... it's the Bermuda Triangle. Where's Mount Olympus, one might ask? The 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Where else. It's also where the Titans begin their conquest of the world. And where does the main Egyptian Series hub at? Why, Brooklyn of course.
The first entry in Diane Duane's Young Wizards series takes place almost exclusively in one of two alternate Manhattans; the final battle itself features every tree in Central Park, and every statue in New York City, defending the entire universe from an army of carnivorous taxi-cabs and lost-soul werewolves led by the being that invented Death, by reading a love song for existence itself. It is exactly as beautiful as it sounds.
Partly justified, because the high population density of major cities causes "worldwall thinning" and makes it easier to travel between the two worlds. (In the early chapters, the kids have to commute in from the suburbs to find a worldgate.) On the other hand, Union City (NJ) and a lot of cities outside the US are denser than New York.
Duane's somewhat-forgotten (but recently republished) Young Wizards short story Uptown Local takes place on (a slightly more interdimensional version of) the NYC subway system, and elaborates on the idea of the power of places where people crowd together and interact, naming the three most magical places on earth as Westminster Abbey, the Capitoline Hill in Rome, and the NYC subway. So You Want to be a Wizard also mentions, and Book of Night with Moon revisits, a worldgate complex (interdimensional transit station) hidden beneath Grand Central Terminal.
In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, we get to see what Ford's original article would be about Earth. In it, he includes advice for aliens who land in New York, as in where to land (anywhere), what to do (become a taxi driver), and where to go eat.
Most of the non-action scenes in Atlas Shrugged take place in NYC. Darn near lampshaded in the final scene, when the banker is noting the location of his investments, and all of them are totally or partially in New York.
The events of Caleb Carr's The Alienist are set primarily in New York City in 1896.
In John Birmingham's After America Manhattan is the scene of a battle for control between the restored US government and a coalition of pirates, mostly from West Africa and jihadis looking for a homeland after the Second Holocaust. A third group, funded and armed by The Mafiya sits the battle out.
In the In Death series, both the text and some of the characters treat New York City with a reverence bordering on religion. In one book Roarke feels the need to point out to Eve that New York isn't the center of the universe, to which Eve replies that it should be. The fact that New York state exists beyond New York City is generally ignored.
The Animorphs book The Familiar takes place in an alien-controlled NYC.
The A-to-Z Mysteries book The Orange Outlaw has the three main kids visit Dink's Uncle in New York City.
The Kiki Strike books focus on a secret underground city in the middle of New York. The book is spliced with facts about the real life New York City and it's history as well.
Pete Hamill's Forever was about a man granted immortality who witnessed four centuries of the city's history.
Jonathan Lethem sets many of his works in or around New York, especially Brooklyn. Or a fantastic version of New York. Examples include Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude.
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, which follows the lives of upper-class New Yorkers in the 1870s.
In the Star Carrier New York was largely evacuated due to rising sea levels in the backstory; one of the viewpoint characters, Lt. Trevor Gray, grew up in the squatter communities there. At the end of Earth Strikemuch of what remains is destroyed by a tsunami resulting from a Turusch Orbital Bombardment.
The first two books of The Mortal Instruments, as well as the fourth. The third book is set in Idris, but the trope is still in play, as the representatives of the faeries, vampires, warlocks and werewolves that come to Idris (which is located between France and Germany) are all from New York City.
In the Pendragon series, New York is apparently the most important place in the world, and is even visited in three different eras: 1937, 201X, and 5010. It's where Bobby is from, it's where all Earth's Turning Points occur, and it's where Ravinia is headquartered. Fridge Logic kicks in when you realise that events in all the other Territories were centered around one settlement, so why shouldn't it be the same for Earth?
Much of Christian Nation takes place in New York City, including the Last Stand between the forces of the new American theocracy led by President Steve Jordan and the last holdouts of American democracy and freedom, which the protagonist and his friend Sanjay are part of.
The French title for the franchise is even New York, with a subtitle for each series (New York - police judiciaire, New York - section criminelle, etc.).
The Naked City, which had a TV series besides the film mentioned above.
In the Food Network Challenge episode "Celebration Cakes", one of the teams presented a cake celebrating the grand re-opening of New York's Museum of Modern Art; the team's assumption seemed to be that this would be worth more points due to a theme other than a birthday or baby shower cake, such as presented by the competing teams.
Season one of Heroes has many of its superpowered heroes meet up in New York, seeking to prevent a nuclear explosion there. However, the series does also have many crucial scenes set in Las Vegas and Texas, and the occasional few in Japan or India.
As at least one critic pointed out, "Save the cheerleader, save New York" would have been a more accurate tagline for season one.
Volume Five's conclusion returns to this trope with Central Park being the backdrop for Samuel's dastardly plan and, by extension, also used during the setup for Volume Six.
MTV was established in the New York area and since the move to its iconic Times Square studio it has become even more NY-centric, filming nearly all of its dating and reality shows in and around the city.
The original Time Travel episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, "The City on the Edge of Forever", sends Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to Depression-era New York City. "Assignment: Earth" had Gary Seven setting up in New York City. However, later time jaunts seem to focus on the West Coast, especially San Francisco. Non-Time Travel trips to Earth also focus on San Francisco, since Starfleet headquarters is there. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, spends about equal time in San Francisco and New Orleans (where Captain Sisko grew up and where his father still lives and owns a restaurant).
The portal which opens between our world and the world where fairy tales are real in The 10th Kingdom is located in New York's Central Park. What makes this miniseries a particularly striking example of the trope is how the opening titles quite conspicuously, and jaw-droppingly, magically morph the New York City skyline into a fantasy land to suggest the crossing over of magic into the real world. The sequence, quite justifiably, won an Emmy. To watch the sequence, go here.
The fourth season midseason finale of Battlestar Galactica featured a devastated planet, the "original Earth". The ruins of the city where the crew makes landfall were designed to be reminiscent of a destroyed New York City to help the sequence resonate with American viewers.
The actual finale, meanwhile, fast-forwarded 150,000 years from prehistoric Earth to show the two "angel" characters chatting about the future of humanity (and Cylonity), while walking through Times Square.
The main characters of Californication were originally from New York, and Hank often pontificates on its superiority.
In Fringe, the heroes operate out of Boston, but Massive Dynamic is headquartered in New York City, and the first season was filmed in New York until budget considerations forced them into Stargate City.
In addition, events the Alternate Universe take place in New York, including the Statue of Liberty as the headquarters of the Department of Defense and the gateway between worlds in an opera house in Brooklyn.
The Job and Rescue Me both take place in New York, but in the latter's case, it's kind of important to the story, what with the main character being a 9/11 survivor.
The History Channel's documentary series Life After People consistently plays into this trope. They do talk about other places but at least once an episode they have to go into detail about what will happen to the landmarks in New York over the centuries after humans disappear.
To be fair, the show is made by an American cable channel, and due to the effects of this trope, New York landmarks are most likely to be recognized by the majority of viewers. And urban landmarks are the most massively constructed of modern civilization.
The PBS-BBC children's series Ghostwriter was set in Brooklyn.
The US Life On Mars remake was moved to New York, despite the original having been set in Manchester, a city whose US parallel would be more on the lines of Philadelphia or Detroit.
24 couldn't hold out forever. After setting the first six seasons in L.A. and the seventh in Washington D.C., the eighth and final season takes place in New York City.
Gossip Girl is naturally set in Manhattan's Upper East Side and, on occasion, Brooklyn.
An entire episode, "I Heart NJ," of How I Met Your Mother is dedicated to a series of arguments between the characters regarding whether New York or New Jersey is superior. Long-term relationships hang in the balance as they try to resolve this question. The result is an episode that is headscratchingly locked-out for viewers outside of the Tri-State area.
Wizards of Waverly Place takes place in New York City. Waverly Place is a real street in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan.
So far all of V (2009) takes place in New York City. Even though alien ships have supposedly landed in major cities all over the world, they're only ever seen in the periphery flashes as the main characters all have their dealings in (or above) New York.
Seinfeld (which likes to trash the more annoying quirks of the city as often as possible, often with entire episodes dedicated to the problems caused by oversized parking garages, impossible-to-find parking spaces, and infuriating subway systems).
Spin City: A multi-camera sitcom revolving around workers at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.
On the other hand, it references several things that only people who've been to New York know about, such as Duane Reade, cornbread from Sylvia's, the F Train being in Queens, and the G Train being horrible.
Subverted with Pan Am. Although the home base in the U.S. is New York, each episode features at least one foreign locale. Most of the scenes take place at the destination or aboard the plane, though New York is always the end of the journey.
The famous opening sequence of The Sopranos, which takes place primarily in New Jersey, depicts main character Tony Soprano driving away from New York. Series creator David Chase says this was specifically to underline the fact that, in contrast to most gangster movies, it was not set there.
How To Make It In America is a paean to New York at times with two main characters, Ben and Cam, representing very different New Yorker archetypes.
In the Criminal Minds episode "Psychodrama", the team is sent to investigate a series of bank robberies in Los Angeles. When tasked with having to watch hours of victim testimony, Elle Greenaway essentially suggests L.A. doesn't have any sights making the lead detective correctly suggesting she is from Brooklyn.
The BBC America drama Copper is set in Manhattan during the The American Civil War and focuses the New York Police Department. The protagonist Kevin and his police colleagues work a beat in the impoverished Five Points neighbourhood, but he also has friends and acquaintances living in the wealthier Midtown district.
The Nanny is set in New York, since the father, Maxwell Sheffield, is a Broadway producer.
Billy Joel was born and raised on Long Island; as such, his more autobiographical songs (of which there are a lot) discuss New York City. "New York State of Mind" is the most blatant example; another one is "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)," which is about the destruction of New York City and the survivors living in Miami in the year 2017—it was written during the 1975 bankruptcy of the city government. His songs may possess a few subversions. "Leningrad," "Allentown," and "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" come to mind.
Although in the context of the album (Turnstiles), which is really a Concept Album, "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" is really about going back to New York from L.A.
And lots of his songs contain plenty of references to places in NYC, too many to list.
UK artist Estelle's popular song "American Boy" lists off all the places in the US she'd like to visit, with New York listed first and more often than any other place (5 times). It also mentions Broadway and Brooklyn.
Gothic heavy rockers the Blue Oyster Cult are local boys: hence the intro on their live album Some Enchanted Evening
All the way from Noo Yoik City - the Blue! Oyster! Cult!
Local references in their songs include the dystopian Joan Crawford, in which the revenant allegedly Satanist actress returns to Brooklyn as a zombie, spreading terror and loathing, so as to find Christina and discuss some of the more contentious points of Mommie, Dearest.
Suffocation and Immolation are not from the city proper (Suffocation is from Long Island, while Immolation hails from Yonkers), but it's a large part of their identity. It's also reflected in the prominent (and frequently joked about) accents of Frank Mullen and Ross Dolan.
Steely Dan throws around NYC-specific terms and locations so often that at least one website has been created specifically to explain these references to non-New Yorkers.
They Might Be Giants are New York-based, and apparently their songs are packed with obscure references, especially Village landmarks and personalities
The Bronx is recognized as the birthplace of hip hop. As a result, many rappers make it no secret that they hail from New York City, and countless hip hop songs have been made in honor of its boroughs, neighborhoods, and culture. Even rappers from elsewhere in the world tend to eventually make reference to the city out of respect to the music's origins.
Beastie Boys bring up New York in their music pretty often (it is their hometown, after all). More well-known examples of NYC appearing in their music, however, would include the song "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" and the album To the 5 Boroughs.
Often in Cage's music. Cage was raised in New York City.
Dead Prez "NYPD" recounts the history of the city. Also echoes the nickname of the city "Eight Million Stories".
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1972 album Some Time In New York City was recorded and released not long after the two moved to New York, where Lennon would spend the rest of his life. Partly subverted, in that most of the songs deal with wider political issues; however, a couple — such as "New York City" and "Attica State", about the then-recent riots at the nearby prison — are about their experiences in New York and some of the issues they encountered there.
Lou Reed has an album called New York. He also sang about the city's gossip culture in "New York Telephone Conversation":
Just a New York conversation, gossip all of the time / Did you hear who did what to whom, happens all the time / Who has touched and who has dabbled here in the city of shows / Openings, closings, bad repartee, everybody knows
Willie Nile's adopted hometown is New York (considering he's from it's Crapsack World Evil Twin, Buffalo, this is hardly surprising), and he likes to mention it from time to time.
The Rolling Stones' 1978 album Some Girls was heavily inspired by the vibe of New York.
The concept album "Snow" by the Southern California-based band Spock's Beard is set in NYC, and was inspired, somewhat obliquely, by 9/11.
!Hero is a Christian Rock Opera with much of its story of Jesus taking place in New York City, which has become its Jerusalem for the main character.
Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin have written many songs about, set in or namechecking New York City, including "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters" (and "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters Part II" written in 1988), "Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way (NYC)", "Ticking" ,"Levon", "You're So Static", and of course, "Empty Garden".
Elton performed a free concert on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park in 1980, playing to a record-breaking 450,000 people. The show was later broadcast on HBO.
Elton also performed a record-breaking sixty-plus shows in his career in New York City's Madison Square Garden, and an honorary jersey was hung up with Elton's name on it in honor of the feat. The sixtieth concert, deliberately held on Elton's 60th birthday (March 25, 2007) was filmed and recorded for his Elton 60 DVD and live album.
A lot of Simon & Garfunkel songs have specific New York references, including "Bleecker Street." Lampshaded on the 1981 live album recorded in Central Park, where they start off with "It's great to do a neighborhood concert" (the crowd, of course, is delighted).
Laura Nyro's album New York Tendaberry is entirely composed of songs either taking place in New York or being inspired by the city.
National Geographic magazine did a pictorial on the three most culturally significant cities at year 1, 1000 AD, and 2000 AD. New York was, naturally, their choice for the year 2000.
Generally subverted, as professional wrestling in America has a very regional history, meaning that although some wrestlers may come from New York or the Northeast, far more come from the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest.
However it's worth noting that the WWE, which is the last major wrestling organization left standing from the old regional days had New York in its territory back then and New York and its Madison Square Garden arena was long considered home away from home for the McMahon family. Given that the Garden is only about a 35-mile drive from WWE headquarters, this is quite understandable.
The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious in college football; it was awarded by the Manhattan-based Downtown Athletic Club from the award's creation in 1935 until the club went bankrupt in 2002. The award ceremony, now handled by The Heisman Trust, remains in Manhattan. Interestingly, college football is possibly the only sport that is not represented in the New York City area, which has no major teams within 30 miles.
The NBA and NFL drafts are held each year in New York.
Madison Square Garden has a snippet of Frank Sinatra singing "it's up to you, New York, New York!" that they use in Down to the Last Play situations. No pressure.
During the "Golden Age" of Baseball, New York City boasted three teams: the Giants, playing in uptown Manhattan, the Yankees in the Bronx, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. These teams accounted for over half of the pennants and World Series titles from 1940 till the Dodgers and Giants moved west in 1958. They also boasted some of the most storied players: Mays, Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Robinson, Mantle, etc.
Jackie Robinson became the first black man in modern major league baseball when he debuted for the Dodgers in 1947. The Yankees catcher Elston Howard was the first black American League MVP.
A flavor of this occured in the modern era when the Yankees and the New York Mets played in the 2000 World Series. Alternate logos for the Series included mock-ups of a subway sign and a manhole cover.
The Belmont Stakes, the third jewel of American horse racing's Triple Crown, takes place in Belmont Park, near NYC.
The starter setting for Werewolf: The Apocalypse (a game about monsters battling damage to the environment) is Central Park!
The paragon city for Geist The Sin Eaters is New York City, the reason given by the book being because so many people die there every day.
The theater industry itself. Theatres are divided into "Broadway", "off-Broadway", and "off-off-Broadway", based mostly on the seating capacity of a particular theatre. You can get up to about five offs before leaving Manhattan. Obviously playing in a Broadway theatre means being in the center of the English speaking theater world.
Lampshaded in Fahrenheit: in the opening cutscene, the narrator proclaims that such an epic event in the world's history as described in the game could ONLY happen in New York City, "capital of the universe".
NYPD officer Aya Brea encounters the first wave of a neo-mitochondrial epidemic in Parasite Eve, which takes the player through the subways, Central Park Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, and the Statue of Liberty, all while fending off Body Horror at every turn. Why New York? Because it's fun to see it get trashed. Even the game's Bonus Dungeon takes place in one of the city's famous landmarks, the Chrysler Building.
The third game, The 3rd Birthday, deals with a mutant outbreak that manifests in New York City.
The first two Max Payne games feature New York predominantly in bad weather - the first during the worst winter blizzard in history, and the second during a three-day-long downpour -, and the noir-esque nature of the city is commented on by Max several times throughout the game.
Duke: New York... If I can kill them here, I can kill them anywhere!
Duke: Time to de-worm the Big Apple!
Prototype takes place in New York City. The Virus and the ArmyThat Fights It trash the city during their war. All you can really do is finish the job or eat everyone while you finish the job. Prototype 2 trashes it even further (with Manhattan being blocked from the other buroughs for suffering the worst).
The team working on Crysis 2 apparently chose NYC for the sequel, because it was the city that constantly appeared on the top of their lists due to its iconic nature.
Oh, and it's had an epidemic of The Virus, with the C.E.L.L. organization attempting to contain it by murdering any potential carriers-that is to say, anything that moves and isn't one of them. Does This Remind You of Anything??
NYC is a recurring location in Deus Ex. Liberty Island was made the headquarters of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition after the destruction of the Statue of Liberty. The player can visit Battery Park and Hell's Kitchen.
Although not specifically by name - Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto fame gets progressively closer to it's real life counterpart with every passing sequel.
Even Grand Theft Auto III was originally supposed to be closer to that goal than it ultimately was; but due to when it was released and, the unfortunate implications of allowing players to kill cops, driving around in (at the time) current NYC police car paint jobs (blue & white), Rockstar realized that this would go over far worse than usual, and instead, distanced itself from the city Liberty City was supposed to represent. This included using landmarks from other cities (i.e. the airport) and giving cop cars a far more traditional black & white paint job.
By the time Grand Theft Auto IV was released, Too Soon had passed, and featured plenty of parodies and depictions of New York City (and the surrounding area). Going so far as to directly mimic famous landmarks and the current NYPD color/font scheme of their cars and the officers that drive them.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor's debut trailer highlights an Operation Overlord-esque United States offensive on Manhattan in 2082 against a currently unknown enemy.
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has demons attacking New York City (though previous installments took place in Tokyo and Paris).
The second and third Crazy Taxi games have Small Apple
Hydro Thunder has the "NY Disaster" course which is Manhattan submerged in a flood caused by a meteor strike at New York harbor.
Test Drive Off-Road 3's New York is Manhattan in the middle of a blizzard.
In Enslaved, the slave ship at the beginning crashes in New York.
Even though Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops have no explicit storyline connection to New York, both choose to set a Multiplayer level there ("Skidrow" for the former and "Stadium" for the latter).
It does appear in Modern Warfare 3's campaign mode, as the setting of the first two missions. "Black Tuesday" takes place around Wall Street, while "Hunter-Killer" is centered on a Russian submarine in New York Harbour.
One of the early levels of Ninja Gaiden II (both the NES game and the entirely different Xbox360 / PS3 game) has Ryu traversing the Big Apple.
Much of The Darkness is set in downtown Manhattan, and allows players to explore the streets and subway tunnels in between violent encounters with local thugs, mobsters, and crooked cops.
The Shivah is set in New York. At least partially justified in that both Judaism and organized crime has a strong presence in the real city and feature prominently in the game's plot. Plus, creator Dave Gilbert is an ethnic Jew living in New York, so he is probably writing what he knows.
Eight of the nine levels in Sonic Unleashed are based off real world locations, and the Empire City/Skyscraper Scamper level is heavily based off New York and some other American cities as a result.
Both X-Men Legends have a level there (then again, see the Marvel example in Comics, above). In the first, it's the very first mission, where Wolverine and Cyclops rescue viewpoint character Magma. In the sequel, Apocalypse attacks New York because, as he sums up, "Now I've razed their mightiest city".
This is where all the fun happens in Marvel Avengers Alliance. Various landmarks both fictional and real are even specifically featured, including Stark Tower, the Chrysler Building, Times Square, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
All of Alex's stages from the 3 games of the Street Fighter III series take place in New York City. Combines this with Eagleland, as the last one is an unusually patriotic take on the New York City subway.
In the Whateley Universe, New York City has its own major superhero group (the Empire City Guard), a "teenage sidekicks" group, a ton of "street heroes", and a couple main characters (like Phase, She-Beast and Techno-Devil, Kerry) and side characters (like Tempest) come from the New York area too.
The Epic Tales series Shadow Hawk is set in New York. However, the complete lack of references to any actual places leads one to believe that the writer has never actually been to New York, and is just treating it as a generic city.
Averted with extreme prejudice in the 1983: Doomsday timeline in the Alt History Wiki; the only things landing on Times Square were about two dozen nuclear warheads. Decades later, scouts reported nothing but open water where Manhattan Island and Brooklyn were, and charred, radioactive wastelands covering the other boroughs and surrounding states. Reconstruction is estimated to be possible no earlier than 2060. Ironically, fiction set in NYC prior to the war (and created either before or after) is quite popular.
The Salvation War: Pantheocide: Lampshaded by Michael - the last Bowl of Wrath gets poured on New York precisely because it's the city that always gets attacked in fiction.
Bender: New York City... the city so great, it inspired a casino in Vegas.
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Although the Rescue Rangers' hometown remains unnamed and shows a little Geographic Flexibility, there are still landmarks from New York City to be seen and identified, namely the Chrysler Building ("The Carpetsnaggers"), the Twin Towers ("Robocat"), and the Statue of Liberty ("It's a Bird! It's Insane! It's Dale!").
The situation is Lampshaded in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Spidah-Man," where it's pointed out that since most of the superheroes like Spider-Man and The Avengers live in New York, very few other cities have their own heroes. The episode ends with Spider-Man entrusting the protection of Boston to a teen hero named the Steel Spider.
It's a good thing that the Ghostbusters decided to set up shop in New York, since the Big Apple is regularly invaded by all kinds of demons, ghosts, phantoms, goblins, and other assorted evil creatures. This trope is sometimes averted, however, when the Ghostbusters travel to other parts of the U.S. or even overseas to places like Scotland or France to deal with the hauntings going on there.
The second 1980's Strawberry Shortcake special takes place in "Big Apple City", a clear parallel to New York City. Additionally, there are various place names that are take offs on various locations in New York such as "Times Pear" (Times Square), "Sentimental Park" (Central Park), and "Spinach Village" (Greenwich Village).
In the Gargoyles universe all of the really weird stuff happens in New York.
Superjail!'s season finale takes place partly in New York City, and Ugly Americans takes place there as well. Both are produced by Brooklyn-based Augenblick Studios.
The Simpsons 9th season episode "The City of New York vs Homer Simpson". Homer has to wait for a traffic officer to remove a parking boot from his car (which Barney left at the World Trade Center) while the rest of the family explores the city. This episode was pulled from syndication after 9/11, although it has started to reappear.
The one where Bart forms a boy band. They find themselves in New York but Milhouse is clueless:
Lampshaded in Xiaolin Showdown episode "My Homey Omi". Looking for the Shen Gong Wu in New York City, Omi tells his new friend Jermaine to keep an eye out for anything strange. Jermaine replies, "Omi, dawg, this is New York. Strange here is normal." Then the Serpent's Tail appears. "But this might quailify!"
John Lennon famously gave this as a justification for why he abandoned his British roots to make his permanent home in NYC. "If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself."
Name a major American news network. Unless it's CNN (they're in Atlanta), it's based in New York. Possibly with some secondary bases in Washington, D.C.
After the American Revolution, and before Washington D.C. was built, New York City served as the capital city of the United States.
Before being replaced by the more central Philadelphia, which hosted the Continental Congress before the Revolution as well.
When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, New York became the only US city which could easily ship goods west of the Appalachian Mountains. The business culture and population of New York City exploded as a result, to the point where the growth was incomparable to other US cities. Much like modern TV writers, 19th century businessmen and merchants believed there were only two types of cities: "Places Called New York", and "Places Not Called New York".
Modern day New Yorkers can also exhibit this attitude. And you know what? They're right.
Call it Too Soon or even Black Comedy, but the real-life September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York make this trope sickeningly self-authenticating, complete with many moments of going From Bad to Worse (multiple surprise attacks on different locations from an unknown enemy, with the precision of a Chessmaster) where, for that day at least, the bad guys totally won.
New York City is called the "Financial Capital of the World". There is a reason why when you say, "Wall Street", everyone knows you are talking about money. While there are others, the New York Stock Exchange is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at US$13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010.
Although, interestingly enough, many of the traders are based in London, therefore demonstrating both this trope and its transatlantic sister. This is because, thanks to the relative time zones, traders based in London can trade on both the NYSE Euronext, and the European and Asian Stock Exchanges in a single working day.
The United Nations is headquartered in New York City, which, in a sense, makes it the closest thing there is to a capital of the entire world.