"I only wish the capitol of Sweden was Swedeville, and the capital of Greece, Greekborough."
— Terry, Fattypuffs & Thinifers
In Real Life
, cities and locations are named after historic events or persons, landmarks, local folklore or other things, that explain their names somewhat. These names change and evolve over the time and are a direct result of the history revolving around them.
In fiction, however, such immense back stories
rarely exist, so the writers have to make up names on the spot, and quite often these names lack a certain creativity.
Instead of genuine, unique names, we get locations with names consisting of just a noun and a variation of City
behind them, that are named after the species that inhabits it, after nearby landmarks, or the main purpose they serve. In other words, Exactly What It Says On The Sign.
Sometimes, the writer tries to conceal it a bit, with names that are puns on plot points or characters, or the translation thereof in a foreign language.
This also can cover celestial bodies. Related to Premiseville
and Theme Naming
Note: Not every city that has a name ending in City
is an example of this trope. Even if the name appears to be unimaginative, if it is justified or explained by the backstory, it is not an example of this trope.
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Anime & Manga
- Paradigm City in The Big O.
- Fullmetal Alchemist. Most of the action happens in Central City and East City, and it also has a North, West and South City.
- Justified with Brotherhood and the manga since the country is run by an inhuman creature that doesn't really care too much about the country itself.
- Pretty much every town or city in Pokémon.
- Dragon Ball Z has North City, South City, and so on. Eventually one of them gets wiped out by Cell and is rebuilt as Satan City (named after professional wrestler-turned-world's strongest man Mr. Satan/Hercule).
- Many of the islands in One Piece get this treatment, both the manga and the anime, with Alabasta, a desert kingdom, lying on Sandy Island, and Hand Island. Also, Marine HQ originally laid on the island of Marineford, which is mostly a giant fortified Marine base.
- DC Universe: Big City, Central City, Coast City, Gay City, Gorilla City (in Africa, and Exactly What It Says on the Tin), Happy Harbour, Keystone City, Midway City and Opal City,Star City and Smallville. Metropolis has a name that just means "City".
- Actually, if you translate the greek in Metropolis, you get: Mother-City. Of course, it has lost that colonial meaning over time.
- Smallville is named after its founder, whose surname was Small.
- To avoid this trope, Marvel mostly uses real cities.
- In Love and Capes the cities are based on real ones and named after common traits. Deco City is Chicago for the many Art Deco buildings that are there. Chronopolis is New York City, for its ubiquitous clock towers. Amazonia has her home in Liberty City, which is probably Washington, D.C. (since that's Wonder Woman's home in America).
- Warren Ellis' Ignition City, which is actually a spaceport.
- Hondo City covers most of Japan in the Judge Dredd 2000 AD comic series (and the Judge Dredd Magazine strip Shimura in particular). And of course, Mega City One, but that was properly intentional.
- Golden City in Dark Horse Comics.
- Astro City is both the Comic Book series and its main setting. Justified in that the city was originally Romeyn Falls, but was later renamed to honor the superhero Astro-Naut when he died saving it.
- Neopolis from Alan Moore's Top 10 simply means New (Neo) City (polis). Of course, the same can be said of real life Naples (hence the adjective Neapolitan).
- Duckburg, Calisota in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, originally named so by Carl Barks.
- Similarly, in the 1990s, Mickey's hometown was given the name Mouseton and has managed to keep that name since then (except when Mickey apparently lives in Duckburg).
- And the French names are worse: The cities are named after the main characters (Mickeyville, Donaldville), which is inexplicable in-story.
- Darkwing Duck lives in St. Canard (French for "duck").
- Numerous examples in British Comics. Beanotown the main setting from The Beano, Dandytown the main setting from The Dandy, Cactusville Desperate Dan's wild west hometown and Whizztown home of none other than Billy Whizz.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- The Matrix: Supplemental material reveal that the entire action of the Trilogy is taking place in a certain "Mega City". Also, when Neo is being interrogated by Agent Smith, his birthplace is listed as "Capitol City". Possibly justified by the Matrix being, you know, not real and all.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has Shipwreck Cove. Lampshaded when Gibbs comments on the lack of imagination in Pirate naming conventions.
Gibbs: Look alive, and keep a weather eye! Not for naught it's called Shipwreck Island, where lies Shipwreck Cove and the town of Shipwreck.
Pintel: You heard him. Step lively!
Jack: For all that pirates are clever cobs, we are an unimaginative lot when it comes to naming things.
Jack: I once sailed with a geezer lost both of his arms and part of his eye.
Gibbs: And what'd you call him?
- Dark City in the film of the same name. It's dark. But not necessarily the actual name of the city (if indeed it has one... or indeed only one).
- Bartertown in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Justified in that it's supposed to have been founded pretty recently.
- The Town in Back to the Future is named Hill Valley.
- Pleasantville, in the film of the same name.
- King Kong: Skull Island, which is its shape.
- Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- The Nameless City in HP Lovecraft's short story of the same name.
- Honor Harrington has Landing City, as in "the place where the first colonist's shuttle landed", as the capital of Manticore. Helen Zilwiki lampshades it in Storm from the Shadows.
- It's noted in Crown of Slaves that Landing is the most popular name for the capital.
- Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell takes place on Bridwell Island.
- Laketown in The Hobbit.
- Whenever Robert A. Heinlein placed a colony on the Moon, it was called Luna City. (The Chinese colony in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress was called "Hong Kong Luna".)
- In Fattypuffs & Thinifers, the capital of Fattypuff is Fattyborough, and the capital of Thinifer is Thiniville. This is given a Lampshade Hanging by Terry, who has been learning the dissimilarly-named capitals of Real Life countries.
- In The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters, the main world is called Central Earth. The main city on Central Earth is called "Town."
- In Larry Niven's Known Space series, some cities have a bit of this. The main city on Jinx (in the Sirius system) appears to be Sirius City, and the name of the Kzinti homeworld in their language translates to "Kzinhome." There are also the worlds Plateau and Canyon, named after their most distinctive features (and only habitable locations; the one for Plateau is actually called Mount Lookitthat, but it is a plateau, or more properly a mesa). There's also Crashlanding City, capital of We Made It (natives of which planet are called crashlanders).
- In The Emperor of Nihon-Ja protagonists encounter a village in the woods named "village in the woods" in nihonese, and one that translates "lakeside village" - guess what's nearby. Emperor implies that it's a naming convention for most of smaller settlements in Nihon-Ja.
- Bay City in Another World
- Battlestar Galactica: Caprica City.
- The eponymous town of LazyTown.
- Brüteville in "Bullet in the Face". It doesn't help that almost everyone shown has tried to kill someone.
- Bear City in the Saturday Night Live recurring filmed sketch of the same name.
- A bit done after the release of King Kong (see Film above) on Weekend Update had the mayor of Skull Island descrying the way his island is described.
Mayor: And it is not called "Skull" Island. It is pronounced, "Skool" Island. It is a local word.
Anchor: What does it mean?
Mayor: Head bone.
- Lampshaded in an episode of Grimm, but with a Real Life city this time, when Sean Renard's half-brother Eric visits Portland. He concludes that "Portland" must be an unimaginative Line-of-Sight Name.
- Bleak Expectations: Poverty St. Mary (in the constituency of Dreadfulness North). As might be surmised, most of the inhabitants are incredibly poor, due to over-taxation. The local reverend tries to keep them alive via holding Holy Eucharist eighty-seven times a day, but it's sort of failed completely, to the extent that he and his daughter are the only people there still alive.
- And Moory-on-the-Moor, by the Moory-Mory-More Moor. It's a moor.
- Liberty City and Vice City in the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Empire Bay in Mafia II.
- Raccoon City in the Resident Evil series.
- Several EA Sports video-games take place in the same fictional city of Bay City.
- Pacific City in Crackdown
- Patriot City in Freedom Force games.
- The MMORPG City of Heroes is set in "Paragon City".
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: Castle Oblivion. It's dangerous.
- Rivet City in Fallout 3
- To an extent Ravenholm and City 17 in Half-Life 2, though the latter is justified, since human city names have been reduced to numbers by the Combine rulers.
- Imperial City in Oblivion.
- Happens all over the place in Skyrim. Winterhold, Riverwood, Whiterun, Windhelm... and that's just the major ones.
- inFAMOUS takes place in Empire City.
- Similar to the French Disney comic example, Donkey Kong's home island is named Donkey Kong Island. It has also gone by the names Kongoland (in Captain N: The Game Master), Kongo Bongo Island (in the DKC cartoon), and Kong Isle (in the Donkey Kong 64 manual).
- Super Mario Bros.: The Mushroom Kingdom.
- In the WarCraft series, both games and novels (those set prior to WoW), the capital city of Lordaeron is known far and wide as... Capital City.
- The main city of Kingdom of Loathing is called Seaside Town. Three guesses what major geographic feature is nearby. There's also Bordertown (located near The Border, south of which is South Of The Border) and Forest Village (in the forest), plus the clan dungeon, Hobopolis (which is, of course, full of hobos) and Crimbo Town (which only appears during the Crimbo season).
- Touhou has, among other things, the Human Village, the only location on the map that is truly safe for human residents.
- Goron City, from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, is, well, precisely that.
- Final Fantasy Mystic Quest has Foresta, Aquaria, Fireburg, and Windia—guess which crystal corresponds to each town?
- St. Canard (literally "St. Duck") from Darkwing Duck.
- Timmy Turner of The Fairly Oddparents lives in Dimmsdale, which is a town over from Brightburg. Justified in that the town was named after Dale Dimm.
- Fish City in Fish Police. One wonders how they name all their other cities, if they exist.
- Similarly, the Christmas special Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer takes place in Cityville.
- Kim Possible lives in Middleton, which is between Upperton and Lowerton.
- My Little Pony's G3/G3.5 specials have Ponyville.
- The Powerpuff Girls lampshades this with the City of Townsville and the Town of Citysville. Also the Town of Farmsville.
- In A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, the gang lives in a town named Coolsville.
- The Simpsons: The capital of the state Springfield is in is named Capital (or sometimes Capitol) City.
- The 2009 incarnation of Strawberry Shortcake lives in Berry Bitty City.
- Wharf City in Sushi Pack.
- The Tick's The City. Supposedly a mistranslation of its original French name, "Les Citrons".
- Autobot City in Transformers.
- One episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? featured the gang going to Munchville, Ohio. That town is known as the location of several snack factories, including the Scooby Snack factory, which the gang got to visit as a prize for winning a contest.
- The Super Hero Squad Show has Super Hero City and Villainville, which are right next door to each other.
- In Japan and probably China. Kyoto: capital city. Tokyo: Eastern capital. Beijing: the characters mean "North Capital" (as the opposite to Nanjing, "Southern capital"). May be because Chinese characters force you to have meaningful names, while phonetic alphabets allow a place name's meaning to get lost once the pronunciation changes.
- In America, there's Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, and one of the two municipalities named Kansas City (however, the larger of the two is in Missouri and, while the smaller one is in Kansas, it isn't the capital - any more than Jersey City is the capital of New Jersey).
- In fact, there is a City of Townsville in Australia.
- Non-city examples include Australia's westernmost state, called Western Australia, and the southern state South Australia. Of Australia's two territories, the one to the north is called... well, the Northern Territory. Down Under, we're not known for our creativity with names.
- Also, Australia itself as "australis" means "southern" in Latin.
- Turns out Long Beach is pretty long.
- Also in the greater Los Angeles area are the cities of Commerce and Industry. Three guesses what happens in those cities.
- Further south (it's actually a suburb of San Diego, not LA) is Oceanside. There's also a neighborhood in San Diego proper named Pacific Beach. You may be able to figure out which prominent geographical feature it's near.
- An interesting example is the Transoxania region in Central Asia because it has the same meaning in different languages apparently independently. In Arabic it is Mal Wara Al-Nahr or "What is beyond the (Oxus) river". Westerners call it the Transoxania, which of course means, "What is beyond the Oxus".
- Battery Park, NY is a place where the US army mounted its artillery at one time.
- Arizona's Kofa Mountains — named for the nearby King of Arizona mine — are marked on early maps as the "S. H. Mountains". This sobriquet was derived from a series of blocky stone slabs that, to the eyes of white settlers, resembled sanitary facilities dating from before the installation of plumbing. Yeah. The Shit House Mountains.
- Milwaukee, as famously pointed out by Wayne's World by Alice Cooper, is derived from a Potowatominote word meaning "good land," although some translations have it as "fine land" or "rich beautiful land."
- Most city-states and microstates fall under this (The capital of The Vatican being Vatican City, the capital of San Marino being San Marino, the capital of Andorra being Andorra la Vella ("Old Andorra"), and so forth.) Some aversions of this are the capital of Liechtenstein being Vaduz and of Brunei being Bandar seri Begawan. This isn't limited to city-states and micro-states though, some examples of non-city-states and non-microstates with these kind of capitals being Kuwait's Kuwait City, and Pakistan's Islamabad. (Essentially "Muslim City")