Canada Does Not Exist is a strange, location-based trope distantly related to WhereTheHellIsSpringfield Though this trope might arguably apply to a tiny handful of shows shot in other countries, it's the relative closeness of American and Canadian culture, contrasted with their distinct differences, that really define it. CDNE shows are virtually always shot in a Canadian location, while the fictional setting is deliberately left vague, a generic North American location that is neither fully America nor completely Canada.

Superficially similar to CaliforniaDoubling and other location tropes, CDNE is distinguished by the way the shoot location actually affects the story. With CaliforniaDoubling, the audience needs to accept the desert-scrub of a Burbank backlot as the Amazon rainforest, but the location of the shoot has no effect on the story itself. With CDNE, the location affects the script considerably, forcing the writers into crazy contortions to avoid mentioning or even giving hints about the show's fictional setting.

In the 1980s, a very low Canadian dollar, the construction of a bunch of new production facilities in UsefulNotes/{{Vancouver}}, UsefulNotes/{{Toronto}} and UsefulNotes/{{Montreal}}, and a host of tax incentives triggered a wave of drama TV production by local (though often transplanted American) producers. These quasi-Canadian producers started churning out a bunch of reasonably slick cop and action-adventure shows for a fraction of what they cost to produce in Hollywood, and eventually allowed them to crack the notoriously foreign-phobic U.S. network market.

The first show of this type was ''Series/NightHeat'', a cop series produced in Toronto by Sonny Grosso Productions. It premiered in Canada on CTV in 1985, and later joined the CBS Late Night lineup in 1987. It was the first Canadian-produced drama ever to air on a U.S. network.

That's when things started to get weird. CBS wanted a gritty U.S. cop show set in a gritty U.S. inner city, but CTV (which was still paying most of the bills) needed more domestic drama. When the characters started flashing American eagle police badges and calling up the "district attorney," CTV went ballistic. Already under fire for producing so few domestic TV shows, the last thing the network wanted was for Night Heat to be perceived as yet another American import in its prime time line-up. Moreover, the Canadian federal tax incentives and production grants the producers were getting likely bound them to certain minimal "Canadian content" rules.[[note]] Indeed, Canadian TV stations must air 55% Canadian content daily.[[/note]]

Forced to square the circle, the producers decided to set the show ''nowhere,'' albeit a very American-flavoured nowhere. The American eagle police badge became a mutant eagle/beaver hybrid that was never seen in close-up, and all sorts of innocuous words and objects suddenly became more taboo than Creator/GeorgeCarlin's infamous "[[SevenDirtyWords seven words you can't say on TV]]." You couldn't show flagpoles, currency or license plates or make overt references to any level of government. Instead of a "district attorney" or a "crown prosecutor" the cops would phone the generic "prosecutor." Courtroom scenes were laughably torturous to produce, for obvious reasons.

As CBS and other U.S. networks started picking up more Canadian productions, an unspoken "scale of hidden Canadianness" started to emerge. Night Heat was a pure, level-10 Hidden Canada, bent almost comically out of shape in its attempts to be 100% Yankee Doodle American without ever actually saying so out loud.

'''Note:''' CDNE does not affect plain-vanilla "Hollywood North" productions like ''Series/TheXFiles'', ''[[Franchise/StargateVerse Stargate SG-1]]'' [[Franchise/StargateVerse and its spinoffs]], ''Series/{{Andromeda}}'' and ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003''. These shows are usually big-budget, all-American or international co-venture productions simply outsourced to Canada. They're either set unequivocally in the USA or in a futuristic setting where the whole question is moot.

Compare with CaliforniaDoubling, WeAllLiveInAmerica, CityWithNoName, WhereTheHellIsSpringfield, SoCalization, BigApplesauce, NoCommunitiesWereHarmed, and NegativeContinuity.

Contrast with EaglelandOsmosis.


%%Please read the description before adding examples.
%%Canada from Axis Powers Hetalia is not an example of this trope.

* A funny Canada Does Not Exist moment was related about Creator/DavidCronenberg's remake ''Film/TheFly1986'', shot in Toronto. During production, they hit a crisis moment when the script called for Jeff Goldblum's character to prominently pay someone $50 in cash. Cronenberg, himself a Canadian, couldn't decide whether to use Canadian or American currency. In the end, he opted for U.S. greenbacks, pretty ironic considering that [[Film/TheFly1958 the 1950s Vincent Price original]], shot in Hollywood, was actually set in Montreal, and given that several of his other movies were unequivocally set in Canada, even if they had mostly American actors (like ''Film/{{Videodrome}}''), ''and'' given that the CN Tower, a major Toronto landmark, is clearly visible in one shot.
* ''Film/HoboWithAShotgun'' features many of the hallmarks of this trope, what with the oddly-generic police badges, fake currency that resembles neither American nor Canadian bills, and so on and so forth.
* Most of ''Theatre/HedwigAndTheAngryInch'' was shot in Toronto, with various locations (including the Toronto Eaton Centre, with the store names blurred out) standing in for areas around the American Midwest.
* A version of this trope appears in the Irish film ''The Brylcreem Boys'', VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory about Allied and German military personnel who were stranded in neutral Ireland during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII and held in adjacent internment camps. One of the main characters is an officer of the RCAF and [[InformedAttribute explicitly stated to be Canadian]], but, other than a few obligatory lines inserted to establish his nationality, he consistently acts like an American and all other characters treat him as such. (He talks about American isolationist politicians with telling "we," the other main character, a German patriot but no Nazi, insistently laces his lines with "you Americans" in conversations with him, etc.) This might be because of CriticalResearchFailure by filmmakers who failed to appreciate that Canada is not same as the US. Or, this might be because the character is intended to be an AudienceSurrogate for American audiences to whom Canadian perspectives on UsefulNotes/WorldWarII would not be familiar.
* ''Film/{{Her}}'' has a rare application of this trope to a country other than Canada. A number of exterior shots where Theodore walks around what's presented as 2025 Los Angeles are recognizably (to anyone who's been there) filmed in UsefulNotes/{{Shanghai}}, in order to make the cityscape seem more futuristic. However, the film avoids giving the game away by not showing any of the Chinese city's iconic buildings such as the Oriental Pearl Tower, much like American films shot in Toronto won't show the CN Tower if they can avoid it.

* Canadian author Creator/CharlesDeLint made it intentionally vague where the city of Newford that he sets many of his stories in actually is. For example, WordOfGod is that Newford's legal system features elements of both American and Canadian law. Interestingly, according to De Lint, American fans tend to think it's in Canada, whilst Canadian fans tend to think it's in the US.
* The Creator/StrugatskyBrothers famous sci-fi novel ''Literature/RoadsidePicnic'' is (unlike its later adaptations) set in an unnamed town located somewhere in midwestern North America. But it's never made explicit whether the country it lies in is Canada or the US. Some of the governmental lingo involved would point to the US, but other details of the setting (including motor vehicles, like the more British Land Rover Defender) would point to Canada. It's a generally unusual example of this trope, given that the writers were neither American or Canadian, but Soviet.
* James Alan Gardner doesn't make it obvious that the location for his novel ''[[Literature/TheLeagueOfPeoplesVerse Trapped]]'', set in a MagicFromTechnology 25th century, is southern Ontario until later in the novel when the characters reach Niagara Falls, as location names have changed (the story starts in "Simka", the futuristic version of Simcoe, Ontario). Many Canadians, however, will quickly catch on where the setting is when one major locations nearby is mentioned: "Trawna", a common way many people pronounce "Toronto".

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
%%* ''Counterstrike''
%%* ''Series/CodeNameEternity''
* The Creator/{{Netflix}} show ''Series/{{Between}}'' is a joint Canadian-American production. The number plates appear to be Ontario and the newscasts show a public health official with the title "Minister."
* ''Series/DegrassiJuniorHigh'' reshot scenes involving money for the US version. Later, ''Series/{{Degrassi}}'' became a notable subversion although generic rather than Ontario-specific terms are still used when discussing things like driver licensing and standardized tests. More recent seasons of ''Series/{{Degrassi}}'' are showing signs of EaglelandOsmosis, though, as what are largely American practices, like the UsefulNotes/SATs, have become major plot points in some episodes, and the generic Canadian universities of the early seasons have been replaced with very specific American universities (NYU and Yale, to be specific).
* ''Series/{{Flashpoint}}'' tried to be set in an ambiguous North American metropolis, but officers in the very first episode had Canadian flags on their uniforms. The setting slowly let more aspects leak through that reflected the already obvious setting of Toronto until they finally admitted they're in Toronto.
* ''Series/{{Goosebumps}}'': Toronto, Canada was one of the series' primary filming locations, but most episodes were set in a vaguely North American town.
* ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' took place in a fictional PacificNorthwest city dubbed [[UsefulNotes/{{Seattle}} Sea]][[UsefulNotes/{{Vancouver}} couver]] by fans.
* ''Series/HowToBeIndie'' never explicitly states whereabouts the action is set. It could be anywhere in North America, although natives of the USA or Canada might spot something.
* ''Series/TheListener'' At least partially subverted with prominent views of the Toronto skyline. When the main character gives a homeless man a dollar, it's a coin. References to Canada were deliberately changed in the closed captions for the American market. Averted with a vengeance from the second season onward, with direct references to Canadian cities and politics, the RCMP, a massive Canadian flag, and shout-outs to Canadian bands and TV shows.
* ''Series/LostGirl'':
** The show makes absolutely no effort to hide the fact that it is filmed in Toronto (the accents, all those shots of the ''very distinctive'' TTC streetcars, and a few incidental glimpses of the CN Tower being dead giveaways), but this, or even which country or province the city is in, is never made explicit.
** In one episode Bo makes multiple visits to a woman on death row. The first time she goes, it is implied that she crosses the border (there is no death penalty in Canada). Afterwards she is back home but then she visits the prisoner twice more on the same day, which would make for a lot of commuting since it is about a 2 hour drive to the nearest border crossing from Toronto.
* ''Series/NightHeat'': Probably the TropeCodifier. The show went to extremes in seeming to take place in the US without making any references that contradicted it being set in Canada.
* ''Series/OrphanBlack'':
** The show is shot in Canada, starring Canadian actors, and is strongly implied to take place in UsefulNotes/{{Toronto}}. However, nearly all blatant references to Canada or Toronto are carefully avoided; one has to be on the lookout for the few instances when they slip up and give away the location (such as on a bank form in season 1).
** [[EiffelTowerEffect The CN Tower]] is carefully cropped out of shots of downtown Toronto. It can be partly seen in the opening shot of the pilot, but with the top of it cut off, only a native Torontonian would recognize it. Later episodes are better at hiding the city's most famous landmark. The very distinctive octagonal double-decker [[ GO Transit commuter trains]] were digitally repainted from green to blue in the pilot.
** The Toronto Police Service is instead called the "Metropolitan Police Service." This is based on the older name "Metropolitan Toronto Police Service," but still cuts out "Toronto" from the name.
** Alison is said to live in "Scarborough," a municipality of Toronto, rather than just "Toronto." There are a lot of communities in the world named Scarborough, making the location sound generic.
** The [[UsefulNotes/YanksWithTanks US Army]] is involved with the clone project, though in season 3 they're also shown to have a black site in Mexico, indicating that national borders are no object to them.
** Fleeting references kept in include Canadian money, Ontario license plates, and UsefulNotes/{{Toronto}} addresses and area codes.
** By contrast, all the cities they do mention explicitly are in the US. Cosima grew up in Berkeley and went to grad school in Minnesota, while Tony is from Cincinnati.
* ''Series/PsiFactor'', sometimes. The producers could never seem to decide whether Canada existed or not.
* ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}'' is set in "Old City" somewhere on the west coast, but which country it's in is never made clear. It's an invented city (like [[Franchise/{{Superman}} Metropolis]]).
** In one episode, however, Kate gives her brother what looks like Canadian money.
* ''Series/{{SCTV}}'': Melonville is never explicitly stated to be in Canada, and most of the television/film they parodied was familiar to both American and Canadian audiences. The Great White North segment, created specifically on orders to add more Canadian flavor to the show, intentionally plays as a parody of Canadian stereotypes and could ironically be interpreted as a foreign lampooning of Canada.
* ''Series/YouCantDoThatOnTelevision'', once it became internationally syndicated and Nickelodeon became a production partner with the show's Canadian producers, its previously unapologetically Canadian flavor got downplayed if not completely blanched - the kids were making references to the Fourth of July and American cultural institutions and being told not to say "eh" or use Canadian terminology for things that were called something different in America.
* ''Series/SchittsCreek'': The show keeps the location of Schitt's Creek ambiguous, never explicitly referencing its location either in Canada or the United States. The official reason is so the characters stand on their own and do not represent the real-world denizens of any specific region.

[[folder:Web Video]]
* ''WebVideo/TheOtherSide'' is filmed entirely in Canada, but it isn't entirely clear if it's set there. In Season 2 Episode 2, Colorado has box of Timbits and identifies them by name, but Ethan's flashback a few episodes later shows them passing several landmarks in New York City, suggesting that they at least traveled through there at some point. Another popular theory is Hawaii (despite nothing looking ''anything'' like Hawaii), due to the fact that [[spoiler: Hawaii entered the program voluntarily, and, since the States are named after the place from which they were abducted and he was not abducted, they may have already been there to start with.]]
* A short video documentary, whose title, ''[[ Vancouver Never Plays Itself,]]'' pretty much invokes this trope, was uploaded to the Internet in 2015.
* ''Podcast/{{Qwerpline}}'' is intentionally vague as to whether it takes place in America or WebVideo/LoadingReadyRun's native Canada.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Played with in the Canadian-produced ''WesternAnimation/CloneHigh''. It is explicitly set in the fictional town of "Exclamation, USA", but one character spends her spring break on "the sunny beaches of Canada, where the sun is always shining." An American viewer unaware of the show's Canadian origins [[InsideJoke would be quite puzzled]] about the point of the joke.