Fantastic Ghetto

Where Fantastic Racism meets Urban Segregation. The Fantastic Ghetto is a place where an undesirable racial minority is rounded up inside to keep them out of the majority's line of sight.

Ghettoes are very much a case of Truth in Television: the term "{bor}ghetto" (Italian for approx. "little town") originally referred to the district in City State Era Venice where the Jews were supposed to live. Ironically, it has been asserted that the original Jewish ghettos were privileges, designed to protect Jews from unfriendly Gentile citizens, provided by the local rulers, including walls and locked gates which were bitterly resented by the locals. Like all well-meaning attempts at segregation, the "special treatment" not only turned out to be not so special, but increased division and tension between communities.

As a form of racial segregation, whether deliberate or emergent, ghettos still exist to this day. Therefore the topic is usually approached with caution in fiction, usually from the Fantastic Racism angle. However, it can also be implied by the Unfortunate Implications of having different races live in different areas (say, all the elves living in a hidden woodland glade) with little or no mixing.

Not to be confused with Sci Fi Ghetto, or the related term "Fantasy Ghetto," where the genre gets this treatment by the literary establishment.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Birdy the Mighty, most Altans live in a slummy area of the city, called simply "the Altan district."
  • In the Holy Britannian Empire of the Code Geass universe, the "Concession" cities in the conquered "Area" colonies are usually split between the rich "Settlements" inhabited by Britannians, Honorary Britannians, and generally the rich and powerful, whilst the "Ghettos" are where the conquered "Numbers" (conquered subjects), terrorists, and other unsavoury groups are forced to reside. The Tokyo Concession in Area 11 (Japan) is the best example, being the setting for the majority of the series.
  • The city of Kumersun in Spice and Wolf has an area surrounded by high wall, where live alchemists and other people, whose profession is considered “suspicious” by the Church. Dina is a local chronicler, collecting tales not yet censored by authorities and mediating in trade between inhabitants and outside world. She also happens to be a giant bird, who took on human shape like Holo.
  • Ceres in Ai no Kusabi.
  • The world of One Piece is mostly populated by humans, while other species live in specific home islands. Giants work occasionally for the World Government, and fishmen and merfolk are known to marry other species, but it's extremely rare to see races like longlegs or dwarves wandering among humans. Separation seems to emerge naturally due to Fantastic Racism; the World Government doesn't enforce segregation but doesn't try to prevent it either.
    • Living separated from humans on the sea floor is especially problematic for merfolk and fishmen. They don't need sunlight and oxygen, but they still yearn for it. However, the cruelty of humans makes them afraid of living above the surface.

  • In Strontium Dog, mutant populations in New Britain are not allowed to hold any jobs (apart from bounty hunting) or live amongst normal humans, instead living in their own trashed ghettos, the most prominent one located in Milton Keynes.
  • This shows up during Alan Moore's run on WildC.A.T.s, when the team visits Khera, where it turns out the Kherubim-Daemonite war ended centuries ago everywhere except Earth. Khera is ruled by the wealthy and technologically advanced Kherubim while the planet's indigenous population, a race of Sizeshifters from which Maul descended, has been displaced into underground cities, and Daemonite civilians living on Khera are confined to a low-tech ghetto. Having one Daemonite ancestor is enough to get Voodoo, a Kherubim-human hybrid like her teammates, forced into the ghetto.
  • Top 10 is about an entire city where superheroes were relocated after World War II. There are separate slums for various other science beings like robots and vampires, and a throwaway line mentions Kaiju being confined to a tiny island.
  • The X-Men family of books have given us multiple takes on the idea of a mutant ghetto, from concentration camps (Neverland), to reservations (the grounds of Xavier's school during the 198 series), to isolationist compounds (Utopia), to ethnic neighborhoods (Mutant Town/District X), to national "homelands" (Genosha).
  • Marvel Comics also has Attilan, where pretty much every Inhuman on Earth lived (until it moved to the moon), and Wundagore Mountain, home of a society of humanoid animals.
  • DC Comics has Gorilla City, a city in Africa populated by talking gorillas(!) and surrounded by a field that doesn't just keep humans out, it makes the city invisible!
  • Both Marvel and DC have had periods where their respective versions of Atlantis were destroyed, leaving Atlanteans as refugees living in various aquatic shanty towns.

    Film - Animated 
  • The plot of the first Shrek movie was basically driven by the local Feudal Overlord turning Shrek's swamp-home into a ghetto for fairy-tale creatures and the like, and Shrek objecting rather violently to this - not so much because he's against ghettoization, but because he's against ghettoization in his back yard.

    Film - Live Action 

  • Several in New Crobuzon on Perdido Street Station for pretty much any non-human sentient species.
  • The Dipple on the planet Korwar in Andre Norton's science fiction stories. It was filled with war refugees no one wanted to deal with.
  • The Wild Cards novels have Jokertown, the only place where Jokers (the 9 percent of the people who contract the Wild Card Virus who don't die or become normal-looking superhumans) don't have to be self conscious about their disfiguring mutations.
  • The Orphan's Tales has Shadukiam city, where magical beings are either locked in separated areas on the outskirts (genies, one-legged) or forced to wear distinctive clothes (Yi). The local Mad Oracle (who actually pretends to be mad to scare off wealthy idiots) chose to reside in the shadow of the shiny basilica, chained to dirty wall, because it’s where those in need appear. Citizens prefer to have them all where they can’t dirty their beautiful city.
  • In the Harry Potter books, there is a werewolf ghetto, which Lupin visits in Half-Blood Prince to tell them to Stop Being Stereotypical.
  • In the X-Wing Series novel Wedge's Gamble, Coruscant is still under Imperial rule so human supremacism is in full force. Nonhumans are herded into a region of the planet officially called the "Alien Protection Zone," but colloquially known as the "Invisible Sector" or "Invisec". They're frequently harassed by stormtroopers, and at the time of the book General Evir Derricote is kidnapping its denizens as test subjects to perfect his Krytos virus.
  • In Discworld Ankh-Morpork has a dwarf neighbourhood around Cable Street, and a troll neighbourhood around Quarry Lane. People like "Mayonnaise" Quirke sometimes refer to the dwarf district as "Tinytown". Snuff reveals that the goblin district is a shantytown outside the city walls.
  • In Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown vampires are trapped in ghettos called Coldtowns. Humans go into the Coldtowns to party.
  • In the Dred Chronicles, the lawless Prison Ship setting is divided into various gang territories. Most prisoners aboard Perdition are human, but those who are aliens keep to themselves in their own isolated section of the ship, both avoiding other prisoners and being avoided themselves.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Shadowrun, Orks and Trolls often get this treatment. Notable examples include Orkland in the Bay Area and Yomi Island in Japan. Also, the Seattle Underground.
  • In Traveller the Imperial Starport on each planet is a distinct place with it's own laws. This is less because of Fantastic Racism and more an application of the policy of compromise between Imperial hegemony and local autonomy.
  • Some progressive worlds in Warhammer 40,000 allow mutants to live in miserable ghettos to serve as slave labor for the Imperium's factories, with only occasional pogroms to keep the numbers manageable. Other planets simply burn their mutants at the stake with the other heretics.

    Video Games 
  • The Alienages in the Dragon Age universe are ghettos for the City Elves. The "protective" aspect is brought up in a codex entry in the first game, in that it's technically legal to live outside them but elves who do nearly always end up being driven back in by their violently bigoted neighbors.
  • The Magical Ghetto in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is where The Empire of Azadi keeps the non-human citizens of Marcuria permanently locked in. Azadi claims it's for their own protection. It doesn't stop them from scouring non-humans' houses in search of illegal goods and blocking supplies of medicines and food to the ghetto.
    • Anyone who uses magic is put in the ghetto, even if he or she is human. Roper Klacks, a human alchemist, is found there, despite the fact that alchemists don't have any natural magic abilities.
  • Between Warcraft II and III the Orcs were confined to internment camps rather than being outright executed. The ruins of two such camps can be visited in the MMO.
    • In World of Warcraft, under Garrosh's rule the Goblins and Trolls who live in Orgrimmar were confined to a narrow valley they have to share. The goblins' decision to drill for oil in their water source and pollute the entire thing didn't help matters.
  • The Underground, the setting of Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism, is where those youkai that were shunned and despised by their brethren went, including a spider that causes disease, two mind-readers with severe Power Incontinence (or at least very poor Mind Over Manners), and all of the oni (with the exception of Suika, who left). True to the nature of Touhou, the denizens not only willingly moved to the Underground but are far more content amongst fellow exiles than they were before.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the city of Windhelm segregates Dark Elves into the Grey Quarter, since the government of the city isn't too big on non-Nords, and Dark Elves and Nords don't get along. And they still get better treatment than the Argonians, who are locked outside the city walls and forced to live on the docks as woefully underpaid manual laborers and killed on sight if they try to enter the city proper.
  • Likewise, in The Witcher, nonhumans are confined to dank slums on the west end of the city.
  • Taris in Knights of the Old Republic has two. Nonhumans are ghettoed in the middle levels of the City Planet, while criminals are punished by exile to the planet surface, which is infested with rakghouls.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, the natural inhabitants of Rabanastre have been forced by The Empire to live in what used to be the sewers of the city, while the wealthy and imperial citizenry take everything above the surface.

    Web Animation 
  • Attempted in the backstory of RWBY, when humans attempted to relocate Faunas to the isle of Menagerie. The two sides eventually went to war and the end result allowed Faunas to live among humans.

    Western Animation 
  • On Futurama, mutants (except for Leela) are legally required to live in the sewers underground. This changes in the season 6 episode (also the 100th episode) "The Mutants Are Revolting."
    • Also, after the Native Martians sold their entire planet's surface to humans they were required to live underground. This is resolved when they discover that they sold their land for a gem worth a lot of money, allowing them to just buy a new planet.