Homegrown Hero

aka: Hometown Hero
Alvaro Neves: You are a proper American hero.
Max Payne: Well at least I fucking tried!
Alvaro Neves: *Sarcastic Clapping* Well done with your effort. The whole city is grateful, the Great American Saviour of the Poor.
Max Payne: That's right!
Max Payne III, lampshading this trope in Brazil.

Be it an action movie from North America, a graphic novel from Asia or a video game from Europe - not all stories from all countries are going to be set in the same places; some will be set in their creator's native home, but many others can just as well be set in Bulungi, or Überwald, or SPACE.

However, there is one thing you can almost always count on happening:
  1. Is there a US Crime Caper about outfoxing a Yugoslavian human trafficking ring and saving the poor local townsfolk from their corrupt grip? Expect the gun-wielding Magnificent Bastard making it happen to be a tough-as-nails ex-FBI agent straight out of Los Angeles, looking for a new start in the old world.
  2. Is there a Japanese Space Opera show about some Earthlings from all over town on an adventurous romp through space and time? You can bet that The Leader of the crew is going to be some futuristic Osaka youth, along with The Lancer and The Smart Guy, with maybe a few token non-Japanese thrown in for some spice.
  3. Is there a British based-on-a-true-story war drama about an obscure African civil conflict? At best, you can expect at least one British freelance reporter to mournfully narrate it all from the sidelines - at worst, you can expect the entire story to focus on an aid worker from Essex and him getting tangled up in the struggle.
  4. Is there a humorous Russian film about a Fish Out of Temporal Water travelling back in time and encountering Ming Dynasty China? Almost certainly the time traveler's going to be a lazy modern-day St Petersburg slacker schoolkid who ends up 'bettering' the highly advanced civilisation with his marginal knowledge of recent Russian pop culture and a quick aesop in some modern Russian values, usually to either great positive or very negative effect.

These kinds of works are always going to feature some important character who represents the work's domestic country or culture, even if there is no particular in-story reason for them to be there. Whether said character is a fish-out-of-water Vanilla Protagonist following the Call to Adventure or just a mauve-shirted Right Man in the Wrong Place - the principle is identical.

The reason any foreign setting will feature a familiar spirit is so that there'll be someone that the author - or, more commonly, the intended Target Audience - will be able to hold on to and navigate by (either that or because the producers wouldn't trust them to care for the story if there were no fellow countrymen involved). Alternately, this could be a mere effect of budget restraints - not everyone can afford to include (decent) foreign parts, particularly not for leading characters.

Needless to say, this very often intersects with various other tropes of the same bent, such as, the White Male Lead, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the Vanilla Protagonist, the Standardized Leader, Lead You Can Relate To, America Won World War II and America Saves the Day, and But Not Too Foreign. Naturally, Unfortunate Implications tend to abound that range from Creator Provincialism, over We All Live in America, all the way to genuine (though ultimately misplaced) Patriotic Fervour.
Mighty Whitey, Strange Cop in a Strange Land and Foreign Correspondent cover aspects of this trope, but are ultimately subtropes to the Homegrown Hero. Audience Surrogate and Write What You Know, in return, are Supertropes.

It should be noted that this often not only applies to the work's country of origin, but that of the audience that's primarily expected to be exposed to it, either because they are from that country/culture, or because it just happens to be very popular with them.

Often crops up in both Sequels and Foreign Remakes, who often like to recycle the plot in more exotic locations and give the story a 'translated' tinge respectively.

Examples of this trope:

    open/close all folders 

  • A Kid in King Arthur's Court: The eponymous kid happens to be American, getting sent back to pre-medieval England.
  • Big Game: A president's plane gets shot down over Lapland. Which president? The US President, of course.
  • Blood Diamond is about a Rhodesian and a Sierra Leonese surviving the Sierra Leone Civil War... with the obligatory bystander/love interest being an American journalist.
  • Casablanca: Set in the titular Moroccan city during World War II, where refugees from all of Europe gather to escape Those Wacky Nazis - and the main character is the American expatriate who runs the local nightclub.
  • The bread and butter of Eurotrip, where a group of American tourists explore a landscape of European stereotypes.
  • James Bond usually departs on entirely international adventures and would not grow even a bit less British through any of it.
  • The Darkest Hour, where aliens attack and level Moscow. The leads are a bunch of American tourists (and a Swede who quickly dies being stupid).
  • Fast Five, which is set entirely in Brazil, is almost exclusively a clash of American gangsters and American cops - both sides have exactly one important non-American character in their midst.
  • A Good Day To Die Hard: Both protagonists are Americans battling The Mafiya in Moscow.
  • In The Great Escape, a good portion of the leads are American, whereas in Real Life, there weren't even any American POWs in the camp at the time of the escape. It makes the whole July 4th celebration scene a lot more cringeworthy to watch.
  • The Kingdom: There is a series of terror attacks in Saudi Arabia - and we follow a group of investigating US agents.
  • In Hotel Rwanda, two of the most prominent characters are a Canadian UN officer and an American reporter, both of whom were at least semi-fictional.
  • The Last King of Scotland: It's a movie based on the reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin - as told by a Scottish doctor.
  • The Last Samurai is another prime example, where said last samurai happens to be a disgraced US military man.
  • In The Ninth Gate, an American bookseller travels around Europe to discover a Lucifer-raising cult.
  • Severance: A group of maddened, blood-thirsty ex-mercenaries roam the woods of Hungary... and the first victims to cross their path are office drones from an Anglo-American PMC on a company outing.
  • Taken is about a certain someone taking on a Parisian sex slave ring - that someone is Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent.
  • Team America: World Police plays this for laughs, with Americans doing their part to stop a North-Korean/Arabian conspiracy from Paris to Egypt.
  • Zig-zagged in The Third Man where the American protagonist being out of luck in post-war Vienna is very much a deconstruction of this trope. With the British deuteragonist however, not nearly so much.
  • Vantage Point: The US President gets blown up during a visit to Salamanca. The other leads are an American bodyguard, an American newscaster, and American tourist, and some Spanish cop respectively.
  • Gojira had an all-Japanese cast. When it was dubbed and reedited as Godzilla: King of the Monsters! for American audiences, a subplot was added about an American journalist reporting on Godzilla's rampage.
  • The later Showa-era Gamera films had token American children shoehorned into stories set in Japan. Daiei did this specifically because their film distributor assured them the movies would be better-received in the US if there were Americans in the cast.
  • In the Mexican film Santa Claus (1959), Santa allegedly delivers gifts to all the children of the world, but we only see a few stops in Mexico City. Santa also has children from every country helping at his workshop, and naturally one of the Mexican kids is Santa's right-hand helper and gets more screen time than the others.


    Live Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, practically all the human representatives are from the US.
  • Doctor Who sure seems to have a thing for British assistants on his galaxy-saving travels.
  • Farscape: the main character is an astronaut from the US, blasted to a faraway region of space.
  • Outsourced: A Work Com set in India... and the protagonist is American.
  • Stargate Atlantis is one heavy offender, where six out of the ten regular cast in the "Multinational Team" are Americans.
  • Star Trek is a classic example: a multi-planetary Fictional United Nations ship is being commanded by the American Captain Kirk.

    Video Games 
  • The Arma series regularly casts you as an American soldier in NATO intervention and/or peacekeeping operations in fictional countries. Sometimes it's actually closely based on Real Life (like in II's Yugoslavia-esque Chernarus and Afghanistan-esque Takistan) and thus downplayed, but other times (as with Sahrani in I or Altis and Stratis in III) not so much. The creators themselves are Czech (and have once even made a Czech faction in-game), but the intended target market audience was obvious.
  • The Assassin's Creed series plays with this as, while the historical protagonists are Arab/Italian/British/Iroquois/French, the descendant characters of the Framing Device are always American/North American.
  • In the Resistance series, Russia, continental Europe and the British Isles are attacked by a deadly mutant virus - and you play, of course, as a soldier of an American intervention force, even before it reaches North America.
  • This trope is a staple of the Far Cry series, as every single protagonist, regardless of where the games take place, are American citizens abroad.
  • Taken to a new extreme in Half-Life 2 in which, despite taking place in post-apocalyptic Bulgaria where any semblance of nationstates has been destroyed, 99% of the surviving humans still seem to be American (including Gordon Freeman himself, naturally).
  • Max Payne III is about everyone's favourite New York cop moving his 'practices' to Sao Paolo, Brazil.
  • Resident Evil 4 lampshades the trope, despite not being an example itself (being a Japanese game with an American protagonist): The US President's daughter is kidnapped to a Spanish speaking Ruritania and Leon Kennedy (now a secret service agent) is sent to rescue her. The villains enjoy taunting him over how things won't turn out "like your American action movies".
  • Sleeping Dogs is a Honk Kong crime drama... and the protagonist is an undercover San Francisco PD Sino-American.

...And this trope just happens to be American.

Alternative Title(s):

Hometown Hero