...because talking ponies are normal.
"Tips for aliens in New York: Land anywhere. Central Park, anywhere. No one will care or indeed even notice."
City of Weirdos
is a Comedy Trope
when people in a city idly dismiss unusual happenings and odd-looking strangers as part of metropolitan life
. This joke is almost always invoked in large urban centers, where the everyday bustle and diverse population justifies such reactions - small towns can also be hotbeds of weirdness, but for different reasons
. Unlike a Weirdness Censor
or a Fisher Kingdom
, the Invisible to Normals
effect doesn't require any magic
or Applied Phlebotinum
to work — the jaded residents
just don't care, since they've Seen It All
New York City
, Los Angeles
, San Francisco
, and Tokyo
are especially popular targets, but it might also happen for folks living in a City of Adventure
might be used for the trope. One is that the weird thing is mistaken for being All Part of the Show
, Some Nutty Publicity Stunt
, or another weird-but-not-extranormal thing. Another is that residents in the city have an exaggerated idea of normality, so occurrences like kaiju
in Tokyo are no big deal.
A joke-specific subtrope of Weirdness Censor
. Also see Apathetic Citizens
, Unusually Uninteresting Sight
, Bystander Syndrome
, Your Costume Needs Work
, and For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself
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- Occasionally invoked in various Marvel Comics. While most folks will panic appropriately when a superhuman battle breaks out nearby, sometimes a jaded resident ignores the ruckus, or yells at the heroes to move their Quinjet and stop blocking the street.
- One particular variation is invoked extremely often in Marvel Comics, particularly those written by Stan Lee: bystanders who exclaim "Ah, must be some publicity stunt!" or "They must be filming some nutty new sci-fi movie!" Curiously, in this variant, the populace seems to think the city is overflowing with publicists and filmmakers, not superheroes. Based on the sheer number of appearances, this might be Stan Lee's favorite trope.
- It didn't start with Stan, though. The "just a publicity stunt" trope, almost exactly like Stan used it, turns up in a 1942 Wonder Woman story.
- This exchange from Fantastic Four describes the Marvel New York perfectly:
- In Doctor Strange stories, Doc can wander the streets of New York openly, in costume, because everyone takes him for a harmless quack. But when things get out of hand, characters will comment that they need to stop the [magical whatsit] soon, because even Greenwich Village is going to notice the [flaming headed monster/enormous dragon/giant rabbit].
Spider-Man: Um, Doc? If I told you the city had gone all misty, and demons were popping out of midair...that's bad, right? Or is this just something that happens on your street?
- During Walter Simonson's run on The Mighty Thor, there was a story arc where the hosts of Asgard were trapped on Earth for a few weeks, and spent the time hanging out in New York City.
Narrator: ...and New York being what it is, almost nobody notices.
- In an issue of Runaways, the kids are meeting with the Kingpin at an upscale restaurant, and notice a green-skinned woman eating scampi off-panel. They instantly think she's She-Hulk until Kingpin says otherwise.
Chase: You can't threaten us, we got She-Hulk in the house!
Kingpin: [unconcerned] That isn't She-Hulk.
Chase: Nice try. Don't you see her over there eating scampi?
Kingpin: That isn't She-Hulk.
Chase: Dude, she's green!
Kingpin: This is New York.
- There was a The Flash comic book where he was transported into 'our' universe, but no one really noticed except for a Fan Boy and his mom.
- Played with in Astro City, where the residents treat the various super-heroics as part of the appeal of the city. Even when a gigantic Thunder God threatens to level the town, most folks get outside, pull up lawn chairs, and watch the show. Except for the kids who needed to finish their homework.
- And there are some Astro City residents with real super-powers who work as special effects consultants for an in-universe soap opera... about superheroes.
- Even better. One of the soap's side characters is secretly a superhero because otherwise it wouldn't be realistic.
- "Bus Stop", a Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, in which first the Doctor, then the alien monster pursuing him, get on the same London bus, with an Innocent Bystander who just wonders why the nutters always decide to sit next to him.
- Metropolis, whose citizens get their supervillain activity reports between the weather and the sports.
- Sin City is a very dark variation of this trope. Marv beats people into bloody messes in bars and the people around him keep drinking, a ninja assassin can kill a man in an alley while citizens walk by (as seen in the background of the short story Blues Eyes), and shoot outs are not entirely uncommon due to the Wretched Hive nature of the city.
- Judge Dredd's Mega-City One is filled with around half a billion weirdos. With an eighty per cent unemployment rate, citizens resort to some very strange trends to alleviate boredom. There's even a mental card that gets you extra welfare payments.
- Astonishing X-Men: The team are helping the SFPD investigate a corpse who was burned by a pyrokinetic:
: Pretty weird stuff for you guys, huh? Officer
: Hell, no. This is San Francisco
. Yesterday we had to arrest a seven foot tall dude dressed as a nun for wearing human kneecaps as earrings.
- In the Quantum Leap/CBS Beauty and the Beast crossover Fan Fic "Quantum Beast" (written by Peter David, no less), Sam leaps into Vincent's bestial body and has to travel across New York to rescue Catherine. After refusing Al's suggestion to cling onto the top of a subway train, Sam goes to the nearest station and boards a car like everyone else. He is ignored by the other riders, except for a tattooed young man with a pink mohawk, red fishnet stockings, and an exposed leather vest who calls him a "freak".
- This is part of the shtick of the Doctor Who fanfic setting This Time Round, which is home to various aliens, time travellers and dimension hoppers. Weird tends not to faze most of the inhabitants; danger, on the other hand, does.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Trixcord, Discord picks up a newspaper from a Manehattan newspaper stand to read about the chaos he has sown. The stand owner tells Discord that if he wants to read the newspaper, he's got to pay for it. Discord is perplexed at how nonchalant this guy is about the fact that he's standing next to the pony equivalent of Cthulhu.
- On a more meta note, a number of fanfics that feature greater Equestria will make reference to Ponyville's reputation as odd. It's next to the Everfree forest, home to Princess Celestia's personal student, and tends to suffer calamity on a weekly basis. And that's before season two...
- Per the page quote in So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy aliens visiting Earth are advised to land in New York as it requires little to no disguise in order to fit in.
- In Artemis Fowl it is mentioned several times that faeries often go to Disneyland on vacation, with no reaction from the human occupants.
- In Stravaganza, Rodolfo (and other Stravagante) travel to 21st century London to drop off talismans and are regarded as nutjobs in period costume, rather than being noticed for being out of place.
- In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Unnatural History, San Francisco is invaded by dragons, unicorns, strange men in fezzes, etc. No one thinks much of it, even when Lombard Street goes straight. (No, you're thinking of the Castro, Lombard Street is this one◊.)
- Oddly averted in Ankh-Morpork of the Discworld, mainly because anything that happens in the streets of the city counts as a spectator sport, and standing around watching interesting things is the public's favorite pastime and penetrating stares the city's chief export. So they only really notice strange things in as much as it's something interesting to watch for a few minutes before going on with their day. If it's worth watching for more than a few minutes 'Cut-me-own-throat' Dibbler will show up to sell his 'sausages inna bun!'.
- Played straight(er) in the Ramtop Mountains. According to Wyrd Sisters, when people in Lancre are woken in the night by strange happenings, they say "Oh, it's just another bloody portent," then roll over and go back to sleep. When someone goes for a long walk without seeing anything spooky, he needs a stiff drink to settle his nerves.
- The title character of Mr. Spaceman almost avoids this—rather than picking any of the abovementioned cities, he decides to make First Contact in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of doing this on January 1st, 2000, and even landing a Flying Saucer in the middle of the city is assumed to be All Part of the Show. Then again, even those who meet him after the celebrations tend to assume this blue-skinned, lipless fellow is just costumed or disfigured.
- This is a recurring motif in Spider Robinson's fiction: in the novel Night of Power, the hero is surprised that he and his wife — he white and covered in blood, she black and completely bald — actually attract stares in a New York City video arcade. The two characters in the short story "Half an Oaf" attract absolutely no attention in Times Square at midnight, even though one is a twelve-year-old boy with a fake mustache and the other is the upper half of an extremely fat man.
- Mike Callahan of Callahans Crosstime Saloon tells the story of waking up after an epic week-long bender naked in Central Park, fleeing on a stolen police horse. He gets all the way to Brooklyn by wrapping himself in a plaid horse blanket and yelling "Attack of the Horseclans! Coming soon from United Artists" as necessary.
- Subverted in the Enchanted, Inc. series. Small town Texas girl Katie moves to NYC and thinks it's common to spot people wandering around wearing wings and the like, especially since nobody else seems fazed by it. Turns out she just is immune to magic and sees things as they really are.
- Alan Dean Foster's Quozl features a group of rabbit like aliens who have colonized earth. A few humans know about them, and one even had a cartoon show made about them. When the aliens decide to gradually reveal themselves to humanity, their human friends take them to Disney Land, where they can walk around and talk to people and be completely ignored. Eventually they are nabbed by security...but only because Quozl are not licensed Disney characters.
- In Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, the immortals live by this trope in New Orleans. Any odd, nonhuman features just get handwaved as being costumes. One group of demons are shown to regularly go out among humans with no attempt to hide their horns, and they get away with it because one of them wears a shirt claiming that they're a special effects company.
- In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, L.A. is so full of superheros and supervillains that when Lucyfar, Bad Penny and Reviled start a supervillain fight in the middle of downtown, people just walk around them. Also, no one makes any comment about the Inscrutable Machine riding a subway in full supervillain costume. And Penny manages to stumble across an evil ancient artifact completely by accident.
- In the Mercedes Lackey novel Invasion, Belladonna Blues comments that it's easy for people like her (A metahuman with blue skin) to blend in in Vegas - in this town, you can wait for the bus alongside a Russian acrobat, a seven foot tall transvestite in Cleopatra drag, a guy with an albino snake wrapped around his shoulders and five Elvii, and all anyone wants to talk about is last night's football game.
Live Action TV
- Sunnydale in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- In the first or second episode of Heroes, Hiro teleports himself to New York City, and nobody around notices the man who appeared out of thin air.
- No one ever seems to notice Hiro teleporting, unless he's deliberately showing off his power to them. Maybe he has some sort of Weirdness Censor ability.
- David Letterman once did a sketch where he filled a coffee shop in Times Square with 35 men in Spider-Man costumes. Crowds walking by failed to react.
- Letterman has done the "How many guys in X costumes can fit in a Y?" bit several times, trying to get the proprietors to throw them out. The only time they succeeded was "How many guys in Easter Bunny costumes can fit in an H&R Block?" (during Easter/tax time) because it was disruptive to their business.
- It takes a lot for anyone to notice anything weird in Eureka, but that's possibly because "weird" is pretty normal for a town full of mad scientists.
- The citizens of Eureka notice the weird stuff; they've just gotten used to crazy situations.
- Lampshaded in the pilot when Lupo can't get through to Henry at first, Sheriff Cob waits until they hear an explosion and try again without changing expression.
- They relampshade this to emphasize how Carter is fitting in by him taking Cob's place in the same scene at the end.
- The Coming Out of Our Shells video, featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a musical group, has a scene where the Turtles are performing atop the marquee of the Radio City Music Hall in New York. The crowds of people passing below weren't even looking up.
- The citizens of Gotham City were pretty blasť in the old Adam West Batman series. The Batmobile could screech to a halt in front of city hall and the caped crusaders dash up the steps in their colorful costumes without so much as a second glance from passersby. Even looking out a window and finding Batman and Robin walking up the side of your building was treated as routine.
Gothamite (leaning out window): "Oh, it's you. (over-shoulder) It's okay, honey, it's just Batman and Robin!"
- Referenced in Charmed when a knight from the Middle Ages is accidentally transported to the present day:
So he's just wandering around in chain mail? Piper:
It's San Francisco
. Nobody'll notice.
- Implied in one episode of Sanctuary when Henry and more importantly for this trope, the Big Guy were unavailable. They were at Comic-con.
- Noel Edmonds' House Party sometime in the 90's did a transatlantic O/B to William Shatner standing on a New York corner playing a Hot Dog vendor. A truck driver rolled up in the middle of the segment and ordered a Hot Dog. "I'm doing a TV thing here!" "Yeah, can I have mustard on that" "Don't you know who I am?" "Yeah I know who you are. And onions."
- Doctor Who:
- Akibahara in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is presented this way, given the vast importance of otaku culture to that section of Tokyo.
- Invoked in Ray Stevens' Haircut Song, in which the singer winds up done up in punk style by a skinhead barber and claims he was lucky his next job was in San Francisco - "those people thought I was an insurance salesman!"
- Sigil, the City of Doors, from the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Planescape. To paraphrase and misquote one of the creators, it is the sort of city where cannibal halflings can open a tavern and hire a drow as bartender while an angel and a demon fight each other on the floor. No matter what strange people you encounter, you can always find stranger ones.
- City of Heroes and its Evil Counterpart, City of Villains, are pretty good examples of this trope, but most MMORPGs are jam-packed with weirdoes of all kinds.
- Champions Online also has lots of random weirdos in the form of players. You can even run around as a puddle of ooze underneath people's feet, and they won't even blink when you materialize in front of them.
- The crowd that gathers at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2 seem awfully calm despite a huge mobile fortress crashed into Federal Hall as well as the body of the former President of the United States wearing an exoskeleton suit with metal tentacles and a selection of swords lying nearby. They also seem to not notice the oddly dressed and armed Snake and Raiden. However, this may not be meant to be taken literally.
- In the Grand Theft Auto series, you can generally walk around brandishing any weapon you want without drawing attention to yourself. In Grand Theft Auto IV this continues to be true with the exception of strip clubs and restaurants. Pull a gun there and the place goes nuts.
- Also, you can indulge in any amount of destruction and carnage, but people will walk past the wreckage without a curious glance. Blow up something and they'll flee in terror...for a few hundred yards, then they forget all about it.
- Even one of the official trailers for GTA4 has this where two cops walk past Niko and Packie ignoring the fact that both of them are wearing balaclavas and carrying AK-47s, all while another cop talks about fighting terrorism.
- Having started its life as a GTA clone, the Saints Row series starts off this way and progressively turns it Up to Eleven as the series continues. Gang wars between teleporting rollerbladers and maniacs riding VTOLs and wielding mind-controlling squids and giant purple dildos? Just another Tuesday in Steelport.
- In Prototype, the reaction many Marines (and not a few Blackwatch) will have to the sight of wanted fugitive Alex Mercer effortlessly sprinting up vertical walls and smashing holes in the pavement with every landing is "Fuckin' New York!" and nothing else.
- Sumaru City. Dear God, Sumaru City. It does not get any worse than a city where rumors become reality.
- The nameless isolated town in Pathologic has some pretty quirky and secretive inhabitants. This counts even without that whole, well, you know... minor distraction in the form of that mysterious apocalyptic plague crisis that's going on.
- In MegaTokyo, invading hordes, Humongous Mecha, and Rent-A-Zillas are common in Tokyo to the point where no one is surprised any more. Possibly justified in that undead hordes invading Tokyo are a regularly scheduled event by the police force's cataclysm division.
- No, the police just enforce the schedules. They would prefer that the undead hordes didn't invade, if only because it's less paperwork.
- The City of Reality is one of the best examples of City of Weirdos. The city is crime-, inconsideration-, and worry-free. The citizens regularly take part in city-wide role-playing events such as defending against anamatronic zombies,with no fear whatsoever for their safety. It is only once the city borders are opened that people begin to realize how different their city is.
- In New Chroma, the setting of Colour Wheel, the extraordinary is ordinary and the once-in-a-lifetime happens once a day. The populace has become somewhat immune... those who aren't part of the problem, at least.
- Happens regularly in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. The residents of Cumberland, Maryland don't particularly care when the mayor installs a citywide anti-zombie system, and a rampaging Paul Bunyan is treated by the police as ordinary policework, not worthy of exceptional notice.
- In Peter Is the Wolf, Jean, a werewolf, is caught out in public partially transformed. Passers-by just think she's a furry and ignore her.
- In MSF High, this is rather obviously in effect. Even moreso with the forum game, where a few students fighting to the death during the middle of the class can, at times, be completely ignored. Sometimes averted, however. At which point, it becomes a group activity.
- Definite evidence of this in Voodoo Walrus. There's a local finance manager who's a coffee powered cyberpunk/steampunk cyborg in a suit, three mute and odd looking brothers who run a variety of stores and shops, and the devil himself manages to work at the art store and the coffee shop simultaneously.
- Not to mention the mad scientists, superheroes, possibly demonic comic publishers, and the magic girl who might be from a completely different dimension who thinks lobsters are baby humans.
- Girl Genius:
- In The Mad Scientist Wars, Xyon City. Not surprising when 60% of the citizens are mad scientists, and a good chunk of the rest are latents, henchmen, constructs and normal people from Mad families. Weird sights are so commonplace as to be more annoying than interesting.
- All the residents of Night Vale have seen so many bizarre paranormal happenings that nobody bats an eyelash anymore when the high school's quarterback grows a second head or a glowing cloud rains animal carcasses upon the city, among other things.
- While not a large city, Springfield definitely applies.
Krabappel: Then let us take our case directly to the townspeople!
Chalmers: Oh, yeah, that'll be real productive. Who do you wanna talk to first, uh, the guy in the bumblebee suit or the one with the bone through his hair?
Sideshow Mel: My opinions are as valid as the next man's!
- In Freakazoid!, the creepy, giggling Weylon Jeepers and Vorn the Unspeakable are able to blend in perfectly in Venice Beach.
Freakazoid: A couple of weirdos like Jeepers and Vorn should be pretty easy to spot around here!
Cosgrove: I don't think so.
[shot of the various hippies and weirdos living in Venice Beach]
Freakazoid: Good point. Am I overdressed?
- In the Classic Disney Short Social Lion, a lion is dropped in the middle of a big city (obviously New York, but never mentioned by name). No matter how loudly he roars, the citizens fail to notice him, even mistaking him for one of their own. A tailor even makes him a suit, and that is when everyone recognizes him as a wild animal and run away screaming.
- Happens on occasion in Biker Mice from Mars, set in Chicago. In one instance while the titular Mice are fighting a villain in the street, we see a civilian calmly check his watch and wander off as though nothing odd is happening.
- An entire Powerpuff Girls episode focuses on a typical day in the life of villain Mojo Jojo. He goes to the grocery store, the park, and walks down the street without anybody giving him a second thought. In fact, there were even kids swimming in his moat.
- There's also an episode where this is justified. The citizens of Townsville are so used to having the girls fighting giant monsters that when one goes on a rampage through the city (with no girls in sight) they walk around as if nothing's happening. One little kid even asks if he can TAKE THE MONSTER HOME.
- O'Grady. Weird things happen on a daily basis so no one thinks twice about it.
- In Turtles Forever, this trope is both played straight and subverted. The 1987 Turtles, transferred to the universe of their 2003 counterparts, walk around New York like they're a common sight, unaware of the pains the 2003 Turtles take to conceal themselves. People are surprised by this as would be expected. The trope is, however, played straight when the teams end up in the 1987 universe, where rampaging living bananas fighting mutant turtles don't even get a glance from residents.
- In the Chuck Jones MGM short, The Bear That Wasn't, everyone in the company refuses to acknowledge that the titular Bear is anything but "a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat" to the point that he actually goes along with it for a while.
- Regular Show the city where the characters live are filled with people who possess supernatural powers over mundane things. Such as a shop keeper of a board game store, or a guy how makes prank calls.
- In Static Shock, the townsfolk don't seem too fussed with the vast number of meta-humans running around, unless their superpowered antics seem to put civilians in danger. Given how the "Big Bang" that created said meta-humans was made public, this is all justified in that everyone in town is well aware that there are super-human people running around.