"For on the fateful day, when fire rained from the sky, the giant steel door of Vault 101 slid closed — and never reopened. It was here you were born. It is here you will die. Because, in Vault 101: no one ever enters and no one ever leaves."One step beyond a Small Secluded World, a community has been raised for generations inside of a bubble because of an Ancient Conspiracy and begins to think there is no outside world, that The City or The Village is the only remaining bastion of civilization. This will be disrupted when either an outsider comes into the community or one of the members of the community is required to leave it for some reason. This may cause the members of the shadowy government who know the truth to kill the interlopers, if they haven't gone native and/or died themselves. Extremely common in the science fiction genre which inspired it, especially in the more cynical age since the 70's when it was popularized by Logans Run. It nearly always takes place in a dystopian future, or at best a World Half Full where the outside world really is that bad, or a world where the people are brought up to believe the world is untenable outside, in order to control them. This little plot device is a prime source of Paranoia Fuel for innocent minds. Often run by an Emperor Scientist who likes to produce Designer Babies and force everyone to wear identical pajamas. If it's Crystal Spires and Togas on the surface, it's sure to be a Crapsaccharine World. If the outside world has improved after mankind abandoned it, it's also a Green Aesop. If the rest of mankind went on without them, it may be a Cruel Twist Ending. A frequent subtrope is the Generation Ship, a huge slower-than-light vessel designed for journeys lasting multiple generations— in this case, with inhabitants who've either forgotten or don't know their destination. Not to be confused with the Bottle City of Kandor, part of the Superman mythos: Kandor really is a literal city in a bottle (shrunken by an alien robot), but isn't part of this trope. For a community that knows about the outside, but just wants nothing to do with it, see Hidden Elf Village. Often a Domed Hometown with a Wall Around the World which may or may not be doomed by its residents' collapsing infrastructure and the idiocy and forgetfulness of the sheeple. If the hero is banished for noting that the place is falling apart, compare Defector from Decadence, Ignored Expert. If the food supply is Made Of People, compare Town with a Dark Secret and/or Powered by a Forsaken Child. See also Escape from the Crazy Place. If you want to get really dark, the heroes may escape the Government Conspiracy only to find that the outside world really is barren and desolate. Possibly does double duty as an Underground City or Underwater City. Compare Crapsaccharine World, Hidden Elf Village (especially if the inhabitants are Perfect Pacifist People), Lost World, Space Amish, and Space Elves (of the Proud Scholar Race sort). Contrast The Outside World. See also Space Brasília.
— Opening narration, Fallout 3
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Anime & Manga
- Jiiha village in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, where Simon and Kamina hail from. Kamina steadfastly believes in the surface world, much to the dismay of the chief, who only believes its existence once Yoko and a Ganmen crash through the ceiling.
- Aida village is an extreme example: they have so few resources that they can only maintain a population of 50, and must exile any excesses, chosen by lottery.
- Tokyo Jupiter in RahXephon.
- Megazone23 does this with what the inhabitants believe to be Tokyo during The '80s; anyone who travels overseas is secretly brainwashed with memories of their "trip".
- Paradigm City in The Big O is a Domed Hometown heavily implied to be a post-apocalyptic New York City whose citizens all simultaneously came down with a mysterious case of total amnesia forty years back. As far as anyone can tell until some foreigners show up to disabuse them of the notion, the entire rest of the world is an unpopulated wasteland.
- The unnamed village from the Komi Naoshi oneshot, Island. Though this is merely a case of ignorance, and not evil. The town fell victim to land subsidence, which was interpreted by the villagers at some point or another as the world being engulfed by the sea. This being Komi Naoshi, the ending is happy.
- The city of Glie/Guri, where Haibane Renmei takes place. Nobody is allowed to leave, only a few chosen people are allowed to interact with outlanders carrying supplies, and they must do so with sign language.
- Judoh in Heat Guy J. People are not allowed to leave the city, and there is not even trade with other city-states. This is because people are mistrustful of other people because apparently humanity came close to nuking itself to death when it utilized the technology of the resident Superior Species.
- The human territory of Attack on Titan, sometimes referred to as "The Walled City" (it's actually the size of a small country and is ruled by a monarchy, but functions more or less like a city-state), is the only land that humans still control. The government is totally comfortable with sending unarmed, untrained citizens to "reclaim land from the Titans" in order to maintain a comfortable population density.
- Kandor, in Silver Age Superman tales. It's where Superman and Jimmy Olsen became Batman and Robin Expies.
- In the Malibu Comics' Ultraverse continuity, the Fire People were an offshoot of humanity that lived in a hidden community Beneath the Earth for so long that the "world of light and air" was considered a myth.
- The Sandman features a literal case: the majestic city of Baghdad is sealed inside a bottle at the request of its king and given to Dream to take care of; this allows the city to continue forever in dreams, even when the city is war-torn and battered in reality.
- Inverted in Age of X: while the mutants only think they're fighting in a The Siege situation against the rest of humanity, it turns out there is literary nothing outside of their "bubble" and they are trapped in an Epiphanic Prison.
- In the Ćon Flux tie in comic The Herodotus File, it's revealed that the rulers of Bregna go to great lengths to prevent their citizens from learning that their city and its mortal enemy Monica were once the nation of Berognica, never mind anything about the world outside of the two walled cities.
- Doctor Who Magazine: Tickle Town in "Welcome to Tickle Town". Founder Tobias Tickle thought a nuclear war was inevitable and so sealed off his amusement park on its opening day - trapping the patrons - and teleported it deep underground. However, the war never happened.
Films — Animated
- Thneedville in The Lorax is a lesser version — it hasn't been closed-off for hundreds of years, but it's been at least a generation, possibly longer, since anyone traveled beyond the walls. Also, the residents are aware that there's a world outside their town, but they don't know or care about what it's like, since they're perfectly happy where they are.
- In Wall E, The directive to keep the Axiom from going back to Earth doesn't necessarily force humanity to forget life on Earth; it just happens all on its own.
Films — Live-Action
- The Mole People, about a subterranean albino Sumerian race who disbelieved in the surface world.
- 2005 film The Island. The last remnants of humanity hope to win a state-run lottery to be resettled on an island paradise. Actually, they are clones harvested for body parts by an unscrupulous corporation.
- Of course, this film is an unacknowledged remake of Parts: The Clonus Horror which is about a colony of people who similarly hope to be resettled in a paradise known only to them as "America." And who are likewise clones raised to provide spare organs for the rich and powerful.
- The village of Johnny "Goodboy" Tyler in Battlefield Earth originally believed they were the last people left on Earth.
- Turned on its head in the dystopian Sci-Fi movie Dark City (1998). Everyone in the city is subtly programmed to believe that there is an "outside" to their monstrous city (which is locked in everlasting night time), the beautiful sun-lit Shell Beach. Everyone is utterly certain they know the way to Shell Beach, but if someone actually tries to find it, the only train that supposedly goes to Shell Beach never stops at any train station, all roads going there simply go in circles or end in front of walls or canals, and in the end, Shell Beach was only an illusion. In reality, the city is all there is, a huge edifice drifting in the darkness of outer space, created and controlled by The Strangers, aliens who abducted humans from... some other place no-one can remember anymore, because The Strangers control their memories.
- Pleasantville. Here the people in the TV show actually do know there are other people - it just never occured to them they can leave and see them...
- THX 1138 lived in one of these, until the very end.
- City of Ember, an underground city with tons of lights, which became a new home for civilization After the End, and it turns out fine...until the power generators start to go out.
- The underground city of Topeka in A Boy and his Dog is one of these, sheltering its genetically and culturally inbred populace from a post-apocalyptic world.
- Pandorum is set on a Generation Ship, primarily due to Space Madness and Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- Brigadoon, the 1954 film based on the stage play, features a Scottish village which only appears every one hundred years and became isolated based a local pastor's prayer for a miracle to protect the villagers from change. The miracle is then jeopardized by Harry's wish to leave.
- The plot of The Thirteenth Floor involves a simulation of the early 20th century city that only extends to the city limits.
- Possibly the case in Waterworld. The City on the Water and a few people in boats believe that all land is underwater and they are some of the last survivors. However, not only is there nowhere near enough water on Earth for this to be possible, but when the protagonists find dry land it is green and habitable rather than being only the tops of mountains. That a young girl somehow has a map showing how to get there tattooed on her shows that some people certainly know that land still exists.
- Arthur C. Clarke's novel The City and the Stars is the Ur-Example of this trope. And its original version, Against The Fall of Night. Both have a remarkably utopian vision compared to most examples, however. Diaspar really has achieved a technological utopia, so why leave? And then, of course, we're introduced to Lys, the other utopian vision...
- High Sacristan, location of the Canticle Engine in Micah E. F. Martin's short story The Canticle, is the last city on Earth. Everything visible from its walls is desolate, endless dessert.
- Again, Logans Run.
- The Community from The Giver, has existed for long enough that no one has any concrete knowledge of the world outside it (known as "Elsewhere"), except the Receiver of Memory. An interesting example as it was intended for their own good, and the ones who Know The Truth carry the burden of knowing every memory ever held by mankind, including the bad and painful ones.
- The H.G. Wells story, The Country of the Blind is about a mountaineer who, while visiting Ecuador, stumbles upon a lost population of people living in a valley that has been cut off from the rest of the world. Thanks to a disease that rendered their citizens blind and unable to produce sighted children, the entire population is now sightless. They have no concept of how vision works — and no idea of what eyes are for. The visitor thinks, because of his extra sense, that he will be able to easily take over the valley, but it turns out the villagers' other senses have compensated for their loss of vision and they remain virtually unimpaired. (They also regard his "vision" as something of a curse, which is driving him crazy, and decide there is only one medically sound solution.)
- Maraposza Street, also known as "the dreaming street", in Abarat
- The planet Krikkit from Life The Universe And Everything was originally one of these totally by accident. Well, maybe not totally by accident...
- Worth noting that the Krikkiters' response when they did discover there was an outside universe was to decide, with chilling logic, that the truth must be restored by destroying it. ALL OF IT.
- The third book of the Gormenghast trilogy, Titus Alone.
- Terry Pratchett's Truckers features inch-high people known as 'Nomes' who live in a large Store and refuse to believe that there is any such thing as 'the Outside'. When the Store Nomes are visited by Nomes who are from the Outside, one of the Store Nomes' leaders actually pretends not to be able to see them.
- A recurring metaphor throughout the series is the Real Life bromeliad plant, which, to the frogs who live inside, is the entire world. Indeed, Truckers and its sequels, Diggers and Wings are collectively known as The Bromeliad Trilogy.
- Agatean Empire (an Expy of China) from Discworld. It is completely surrounded by a high wall and general population only knows outside as a desert wasteland populated by homicidal vampire ghosts. Their word for foreigner also means ghost — until Twoflowers' (Discworld's first tourist) book "What I did last summer" kick-starts a revolution.
- The City of Ember; a small town completely surrounded by darkness on all sides. The only light the residents have ever known is the harsh glow of the town's street lights. Until the citizens find their way out and realize that the world has gone on without them.
- Airstrip One is generally considered to be one of these. Opinions vary on what the rest of the world might hold.
- Elizabeth Bear's Dust plays with the "stranded generation ship" version.
- H. M. Hoover's This Time of Darkness tells of a city several kilometers underground whose inhabitants don't realize that they're basically a slave race whose labor is being used to keep the above-ground inhabitants in luxury. There's a strong contrast between the City in a Bottle environment (an incredibly filthy city with low lighting, poor food, cramped living quarters, and no choice of clothing or haircuts... not to mention that generations of malnutrition has made the entire race unfit and ugly) and the other environment... and then there's contrast between both of these environments and the wild outdoors that the children get cast out into, and the town they eventually reach.
- The basic premise is reused in an episode of Stargate SG-1, with a planet in the middle of an ice age. The apparently pristine domed city on the planet's surface is supported by the efforts of slave laborers in an underground complex, who have no idea that the city exists and believe themselves to be the last remnants of their civilization. Dissenters in the city are brainwashed and sent to be laborers.
- Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, set in futuristic Zimbabwe, includes an area cordoned off - much like in The Village - where the people chose, generations ago, to live apart from the modern world, and where they have turned into a shamanistic backwards tribe that believes in boogey men and kills certain unwanted babies (specifically twins - or, rather, one of the twins, the girl if it's a split-gender pair).
- In Christopher Priest's novel The Inverted World the inhabitants of the mobile city are told that they, originally colonists from Earth, are bottled in because of the harsh environment of their alien planet. Only the elites are allowed to go outside and know the real truth.
- Robert A. Heinlein's novel Orphans Of The Sky and the two short stories it's based on feature this trope. It is about a multi-generational space craft where the inhabitants lost the knowledge that they were on a ship (along with most other knowledge) after a failed mutiny, so the current generation thinks the whole universe is just the ship.
- Phoenix Without Ashes by Harlan Ellison is set on a massive Generation Ship composed of hundreds of completely independent and isolated biospheres, each featuring a different civilization. Originally written as a screenplay for a television series, the main character is from a Space Amish biosphere, whose inhabitants threaten to execute him for blasphemy when he tries to inform them of his recent discovery — that they are all on a giant spaceship.
- Brian Aldiss's Non-Stop is also based on this concept, but with some gleefully British plot twists.
- In Andrey Livadniy's Ark, the protagonist turns out to be the last "pure" descendant of the human crew of a Moon-sized (it's literally made out of the Moon) Generation Ship, drifting in space for millennia, during which the alien inhabitants of the various biospheres (who mutinied against the humans long ago), as well as the other human descendants (who have their own Earth-like biosphere), have forgotten that they're on a ship and reverted to more primitive technology. After millennia of lack of maintenance, the Ark is beginning to fall apart at the seams, with more and more systems shutting down. The ship's AI is unable to affect repairs in most areas. This, however, is not the biggest twist of the novel.
- One of the few (perhaps the only) novels based on the Earthdawn game used this trope. A kaer, built to withstand the centuries-long invasion of the Horrors, is supposed to let its inhabitants out when the threat is over. However, thanks to a Horror that slipped inside before the kaer was sealed, something went wrong with the mechanism designed to tell the occupants it was time to leave, and the kaer's residents are slowly dying out in their needless confinement.
- 'The Allegory of the Cave' from Plato's The Republic uses such a society as a metaphor for the human soul and the philosopher.
- The D'ni, as seen in the Myst novel "The Book of Ti'ana", are a strange example. The central hub of D'ni culture is indeed located underground, tunelling deep and wide in all directions. But they also have access to special books which can transport them to a theoretically infinite number of Ages, many of which are outdoorsy. But when Atrus and his team are building upwards through disused tunnels, they still encounter resistance from politicians who believe that, in their homeworld, the "Surface" is an impossibility!
- Though most of the political opposition to tunneling to the surface has less to do with a belief in its impossibility, and more to do with a belief that D'ni has nothing to gain by going to the surface (they can write linking books for any surface resource they need) and much to loose (if there are hostile dwellers on the surface they may follow the D'ni back down the tunnel and sack the city.)
- Saraksh from the Strugatsky Brothers' Noon Universe is a "planet in a bottle" — the index of refraction of their atmosphere causes them to believe that they live on the inside of a hollow sphere, and they're very confused by the arrival of Earthlings.
- Deltora Quest 2 features Lief, Barda and Jasmine attempting to collect three pieces of a magic pipe. One piece was being held on a literally bubble-enclosed island, citizens of said island banishing the part of their group who told the truth and acknowledged the past. What brings down the bubble is Jasmine's insistence on telling the truth, rocking the faith of the one sorcerer still left alive on the island.
- The planktonic humans from the short story "Surface Tension" — genetically modified descendants of a crashed colony vessel, whose survivors deemed the planet unlivable by anyone larger than a water flea — believe they live in a complete universe bounded at top and bottom. In fact, they live in a puddle, and the "space expedition" they launch only travels to the next puddle over.
- Michael Marshall Smith's Only Forward has one of these - a 'neighbourhood' which long ago sealed itself in and indoctrinated its residents to believe that they live in the only surviving human settlement surrounded by a barren, irradiated wasteland (which always takes longer than the scientists thought to become safe again). Only the high-ups know that there's a perfectly viable world all around it. Worryingly, it's not the scariest Neighbourhood out there.
- Cowslip's warren in Watership Down.
- The Ursula K. Le Guin short story "Paradises Lost" from the collection The Birthday of the World is the generation ship take on this, with the twist that the ship isn't stranded. Some of the people on the ship (by the end of the story, a large majority) believe that there's nothing outside the ship and "the journey is all". A minority remember the original purpose of the voyage, which is to explore and possibly colonize a far-flung planet.
- E.M. Forster's short story "The Machine Stops" features an underground city. There the inhabitants have forgotten what the surface world is like to the point of believing it is a lifeless, barren world. Believing their artificial environment is the only solace from a dead world, the protagonist of the story ends up finding otherwise with disastrous results.
- In The Forest of Hands and Teeth, set generations after a Zombie Apocalypse kills most of humanity, Mary lives in a town that is fenced in to keep the Unconsecrated (or zombies) out. It is revealed that pretty much all surviving towns are like this.
- In Across the Universe by Beth Revis, the remainder of humanity is riding aboard a single, city-sized spaceship to their new home planet. The trip will take generations, so the important people have been cryogenically frozen while the rest are ruled by Eldest and his protege, Elder.
- Sergey Lukyanenko's novella Thirteenth City has a human crash-land on a planet suffering the aftermath of a nuclear war with its Human Alien inhabitants living in twelve enclosed and self-sufficient Cities, where their lives are closely watched and regulated by the aptly-named Watchers. Children are raised by Watchers and frequently moved to other Cities once they reach adulthood, sex partners are selected by the computer, complete social equality is the goal of every Equal (the term is itself an honorific). No one lives past 60, as the Watchers kill them. There are Outsiders, people who live in the radioactive wasteland and occasionally raid the Cities for new recruits and supplies. The protagonist meets Outsiders and a former Equal and decides to help them against the oppressive rule of the Watchers. He finds out that there is a secret Thirteenth City, a pristine forest used as a retreat by the Watchers, while everyone else lives in squalor. However, when he finally reaches it, he finds out that the current social state is the only one possible on this planet. The forest can only hold a few thousand Watchers. The Cities can support millions, although supplies are low. Also, Watchers are selected from children with a sufficiently high IQ in order to understand the necessity of their actions and are themselves subject to the 60-max rule. The astronaut pledges to tell his people about this and get help for their dying world.
- The One State in We.
- In Divergent, the people of Chicago, having resided there for eight generations believe that Chicago is the last remaining bastion of humanity, and that what lies beyond the outer gates is desolate wasteland. Averted in Allegiant, when it's revealed that not only does Chicago is not the only bastion, the US government still exists, albeit as a Fallen States of America. Half of the US population is dead, but other peoples still exist in other cities, some of which were also formerly used for experiments to produce more GP population. In fact, Tris' mother, Natalie was a refugee from one of those cities: Milwaukee.
Live Action TV
- In an episode of Mutant X, some of the group accidentally enter a pocket dimension that had been set up to be an agrarian utopia. All references to the outside world had been erased, in the belief that human nature could be changed with a clean break from human history and all its violence.
- Jim Henson's 1980s children's show Fraggle Rock:
- Small creatures (Fraggles) living in a cave which exits to a mousehole in a tinker's shop (or a lighthouse, if you saw the UK version). One fraggle, "Uncle Traveling Matt," wanders the outside world, sending postcards which show great places of geography (and mundane, everyday objects) from an innocent's point of view.
- The Gorgs who live on the side of the cave opposite the tinker's shop. These three creatures are so enormous that they believe themselves to be the only sentient beings in the Universe, and labor under the delusion that they are the Universe's supreme rulers.
- Star Trek: The Original Series The episode "For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" featured this on a generation ship.
- Stargate SG-1
- One episode has the SG-1 team mind-swapped with some stored memories about working in a mine. Said mine was actually underneath a magnificent city and was used to keep said magnificent city running. But it was sold as a city in a bottle. They were told they kept it going or else the cold feezing air above the mine would kill them all. They thought that nothing else was above them. They thought that if they didn't work, they'd die, or at least, no longer get fed. It wasn't as bad as normal cities in bottles, but it was pretty bad.
- In one episode, the stargate was inside a dome created by a force-field, and the atmosphere outside actually was toxic. The twist was that the computer controlling the dome was running out of power, and had to slowly shrink the dome and kill off some inhabitants (mind control through their neural links to make them walk outside) in order to save the rest. Eventually the humans were all evacuated to another planet.
- SG-1 encountered a planet where the population was inside a greenhouse-like building. They were all hooked up to a Matrix-like simulation to preserve them indefinitely while their planet repaired itself from an extreme industrial disaster. The computer/caretaker that was also in charge of helping repair and maintain the outside environment kept telling them that it wasn't safe to leave yet, as it believed that they would simply destroy the environment yet again if set loose in the real world.
- The 1973 Canadian production The Starlost featured a generation ship where disaster had killed the crew, while the passengers had lost the knowledge that they were indeed aboard a ship. Not to mention the disaster had altered the ship's course to collide with a star. The premise was interesting, but Harlan Ellison was disappointed enough with the end results to affix his Cordwainer Bird pseudonym to it.
- In one of the final episodes of Lost, Jacob and the Man in Black's mother tells the Man in Black that the island is all there is, and that nothing exists beyond the sea.
- Hive Cities in Warhammer 40,000, billions-strong Wretched Hives in bottles that stretch up to space.
- Alpha Complex in Paranoia. OK, so most people are aware that there is "an Outdoors", but all info on it is very heavily restricted to the point that showing that you know that grass is green is grounds for execution.
- Unless you're rank Green of course.
- The early SF Role-Playing Game, Metamorphosis Alpha, is set on a lost and damaged generation ship packed with mutants.
- City in a Bottle from Magic The Gathering, which blocks out all other cards from the Arabian Nights expansion (which was about 20% of all cards when it came out, clearly not nearly as useful today).
- In the early D&D module The Lost City, the few residents of the underground city who aren't drugged out of their minds by the evil priesthood are still convinced there's nothing but desert on the surface, and nothing but unbeatable monsters in the surrounding tunnels.
- The shadow elves, when they finally found their way to the surface, found themselves in the midst of an uninhabitable wasteland (the Broken Lands). They concluded that the whole surface was like this, so returned to their underground realm, where they didn't learn pf their mistake for centuries.
- The 1981 miniseries Goliath Awaits features a British ocean liner sunken by a U-Boat in 1938 a la the Lusitania, which was partially saved and transformed into an underwater version of this by a genius inventor/Chief Engineer played by Christopher Lee. Generations have grown up, and some people don't want to return to the outer world when a crew finds them 43 years later.
- Vault 101 in Fallout 3. It and the other "Vaults" were constructed to shelter a human population safely underground in case of a nuclear holocaust. It worked, and as soon as the radiation had worn away enough all the Vaults were abandoned so the survivors could try to rebuild civilization—except for the people in Vault 101, who remained there for two hundred years, and whose "Overseers" tell them that the surface is still not inhabitable. Whether or not it remains a City in a Bottle depends on the player's decisions.
- Vault 13 would have been this, but their MacGuffin broke, so they had to leave.
- Actually, the Fallout series plays this trope straight — the Vaults weren't intended to shield humanity from a nuclear attack, they were a series of social experiments designed to test the occupants' reactions to stressful situations. One Vault contained population of 999 women (and one man), one was rigged to open six months after it was sealed (when the inhabitants were told it would be sealed for the next 200 years), one was even rigged so that it couldn't close, and so on. Needless to say, this is pretty much a Crapsack World combined with this trope, with a hearty dash of After the End thrown in for good measure.
- It isn't clear that the 'Vaults as experiments' notion isn't a Retcon, they may or may not have been in Fallout, were mentioned to be by the Enclave president in Fallout 2, were confused by the addition of 'Vault 0' in Fallout Tactics, and were vastly expanded upon in Fallout 3. Whether or not the experiments had a point is a matter of opinion, but then again, it was the Old Enclave that did it. They weren't exactly concerned with human life other than themselves.
- There is a slightly more conventional example in Fallout New Vegas, Nellis Air force base with its population of explosive loving Boomers. They trace their origins to Vault 34 and have a strict isolationists policy, enforced upon the outside world with artillery fire. The Boomers make everything they need inside the airbase, and only have one goal outside its walls. Unlike a Hidden Elf Village, they are pretty ignorant of the outside world. While they have gathered some intel through binoculars, they are surprised that the courier even speaks the same language when he or she drops by.
- Vault 13 would have been this, but their MacGuffin broke, so they had to leave.
- The majority of worlds in the Kingdom Hearts series, with most of the exceptions being worlds whose very purpose is linked to the multiplicity of worlds. At most, there's youth speculation about the existence of other worlds.
- Crysta in Terranigma.
- In the underground world in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, the existence of 'the surface' is a legend, a myth - after all, how could it even be possible for a place to have no roof?
- This is a perfectly legitimate strategy in Dwarf Fortress, and in fact was used on a regular basis in the 2d version-which has been described as a Nintendo Hard, single-player version of Korean Starcraft. In 40d it was much less necessary for the experienced player-due to 40d being ridiculously easy-but it is back, to a certain degree, in the 31 series. Depending on your supplies, it is perfectly possible to survive for a hundred in-game years (consider that at 50 FPS a season will take two to three hours) off incest, kittens, and Plump Helmets.
- Some players generate worlds with no surviving civilizations to embark with this trope invoked. Embarking to an isolated island a simpler method. In either case, after the first wave of immigrants, there will be no contact with the outside world, or evidence that it exists.
- The city of Palm Brinks in Dark Chronicle was cut off from the outside world by a giant stone wall, the only exits being the train station and main gate. This was actually done by the mayor to protect the citizens from the villain. He was after a mystical artifact called the Atlamillia (actually three jewels but the city has the red one), and he didn't want to destroy the city with the artifact floating around in there somewhere. The male hero, Max, has been carrying the jewel around for some time now, and no one noticed.
- Koholint Island in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The citizens (except for Marin) believe there is nothing beyond the sea and don't understand the concept of "when" they came to the island. This is because the island is All Just a Dream.
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has this in Kokiri Village, where the locals know little to nothing of what goes on outside the forest, and all believe that leaving will cause them to die.
- Skyloft in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword qualifies — the civilization apparently consist of less than a thousand people, all of whom live on a few dozen floating islands in the sky. The land below is a complete mystery, believed to be overrun with hideous monsters, but an impenetrable cloud cover prevents anyone from even descending to it.
- Custom Robo for the Gamecube,(apparently the people there were taught that the world was flat and that the end of the world was a wall. turns out that the real world was destroyed by a being called Rahu so they entrapped themselves in a safe-dome for a very very LONG time. Long enough that the idea of an outside world without walls, and even the idea of "real grass" seems perfectly absurd to the characters.) Freaky, ain't it?
- Might and Magic VII featured a bonus level in the form of a Temple in a Bottle.
- This is the background premise to the 8-bit era game Cholo: the radiation from the nuclear holocaust has mostly died down, but you must take control of robots on the surface and crack the exit open from the outside before anyone can leave. (BTW, there's a free PC version available now!)
- In Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden the American Sunbelt region is similar to the Pleasantville example above. For some reason it never occured to any of these people to go visit the Gundam X crew up in Canada or the Combat Mecha Xabungle guys across the sea.
- A non-scifi example in Black Sigil, where Bel Lenora voluntarily sealed itself off from the rest of the world then forgot that the rest of the world existed.
- Sanctuary 17 is one of these.
- SCP-756 is a miniature solar system contained within a 10x10 cell; most of the planets have no knowledge of the world beyond- except for the fourth planet, which converted its entire surface into a battery of ICBM launching stations to defend itself from imagined attacks by the nightmarish giants from beyond the "stars".
- In the Fine Structure story "Crushed Underground", a revolution overthrows the governor of such a city - until he reveals that the surface of earth outside the city really is uninhabitable.
- A Cracked article lists 6 isolated groups who had no idea that civilization existed.
- Online role-playing often uses settings like this, nicknamed a "jam jar". Player characters typically band together to search for a way out of the "jar", while the game master and non-player characters try to keep them in for whatever nefarious purpose.
- The underground hatch (and likely their old city of Beautopia) that Susan Strong and the Hyooman tribe live in starts out this way on Adventure Time.
- On a less philosophical note, cities in Ancient Greece were akin to micro-countries, and looked down on everything and everyone outside the city's boundaries as uncivilized and barbaric.
- There is a common Russian stereotype of Moscovites that they think Moscow is this and everything else except, probably, St.Petersburg, is wilderness.
- Same for Londoners. This particularly galls the rest of Britain since the media is almost entirely based in London.
- Ditto in France which is divided into two parts, namely Paris and the Province (as in outback).
- Then there's this◊ famous cover of The New Yorker depicting the city dweller's view of America.
- Just like in France, Mexico is usuallly divided into Mexico City and 'Provincia' (Province); while this trope is true for most lower income Mexico City residents (some of them who have never gone outside the city limits), the view is mostly a stereotype seen by non-Mexico City residents.
- Most people have the stereotype that all of New York IS Manhattan and/or New York City, despite NYC being only a very small geographical portion of the state, with such different politics, economy, ecology, attitude, and most other aspects of life that many upstaters wish the two could become separate states.
- A lot of medieval villages would have existed in a state of almost complete isolation, with the only contact from the outside world being the occasional travelling merchant and representatives from the local lord.
- Own your own ecosystem!
- The basis of the book 'Nothing to Envy' is showing the truth of this trope in North Korea, the name coming from the fact that they are conditioned to believe that North Korea is the most advanced and glorious nation on the planet... which leads to quite significant culture shock for those who actually defect.
- The Black Soft-shell Turtle ((Nilssonia nigricans) is extinct in the wild, existing only in a single pond adjoining an Islamic shrine in Chittagong, Bangladesh. There are about 400 turtles in the pond.