New York Is Only Manhattan

New York City is made up of five boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Of them however Manhattan is the one that by far gets the most attention in fiction. New York State has it even worse. Despite what fiction may lead you to think, Manhattan is actually the smallest of the boroughs, and "New York City" is only a relatively small part of New York as a whole. In video games, this is often due to New York City's sheer size making it hard to fit everything in.

If a character comes from New York, they'll usually come from some portion of Manhattan, unless they come from a troubled background because then Brooklyn and the Bronx are fair game.

This trope exists in a certain tension with Big Applesauce: in practice, there can be a fine line between treating New York as a cartoon or Manhattan-centric version of itself, and treating familiarity with NYC as something to be assumed in one's audience (to the frequent irritation of non-New Yorkers). Predictably, the location and fineness of this line can vary by individual.

Related to Britain Is Only London, which is a similar situation in a different country. Compare Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe. SoCalization is similar, except with the whole United States being assumed to be like Southern California. Fulton Street Folly deals with concentrating on Lower Manhattan in particular.


  • There are NY state vacation advertisements with the slogan "There's more to New York than New York" meant to put emphasis on places besides Manhattan.
  • A New York City advertisement for Seamless boasts about how everything is "big" in NYC, except for the kitchens, by using clips of Manhattan. Small kitchens are also usually associated with Manhattan more than the other boroughs.

Comic Books
  • The Marvel Universe has this as a Zig Zagged Trope: While the majority of events that occur on New York visibly occur only on Manhattan, there are many heroes who live in other boroughs and thus occasionally had to deal with situations closer to home (example: Spider-Man being a Queens native, Captain America taking pride in bring from Brooklyn).
  • Deadpool: The main stories in the comic of Deadpool all take place not only on Manhattan, but within a 5 or 10 block Midtown area.

Film - Animation
  • The Disney feature Oliver & Company transpires almost entirely in Manhattan; the climax occurs on the Manhattan Bridge. Further, the opening scene is a slow pan of western Manhattan, and the closing scene is a zoom-out on Times Square.

Film - Live Action
  • Averted in The Snake Pit. When the mentally ill protagonist is tested on whether she's well enough to leave the mental institution:
    Man: Where were you living when you became ill?
    Virginia: New York.
    Man: Where in New York?
    Virginia: New York City.
    Man: I mean, where in New York City?
    Virginia: Manhattan.
  • Averted in Saturday Night Fever, which focuses on Brooklyn.

Live-Action TV
  • Invoked on NewsRadio when Bill gives an editorial.
    Bill: Wake up, Manhattan! Wake up, Brooklyn! Wake up... the other three boroughs!
  • Averted in The King of Queens. Which, as it says on the label, is set in and around Queens.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond averts this. The location is Lynbrook, Long Island.
  • Averted in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which focuses on all the boroughs.
  • Luke Cage strictly limits itself to Harlem and the upper part of Manhattan. It gets particularly bad when you tie it in with Jessica Jones where Luke was the main love interest. At the end of the season, Luke decides to leave to reinvent himself. But not only does he not leave New York City, he doesn't even leave Manhattan.
  • Daredevil primarily takes place in Hell's Kitchen, but it does have parts set elsewhere, such as in season 2 when Karen breaks into Frank Castle's house, which is clearly in Queens.
  • Jessica Jones primarily takes place in Manhattan, but does avert this as large portions of the show do take place in other boroughs, primarily Queens.

  • Averted in the Young Wizards series. The protagonists live in Nassau County, on Long Island, and the series consequently spends quite a bit of time there. The entire second book is set in The Hamptons. (That said, the main action of the first book does take place on a day trip to Manhattan.)
  • In Cities in Flight, the flying city of New York consists only of Manhattan.
  • Subverted in Annie on My Mind. Liza lives in Brooklyn while her girlfriend Annie lives in Manhattan. Liza mentions early on that she lives in a suburban-looking area that isn't much like people expect from NYC.

Video Games
  • The first Midnight Club starts off in New York, but is limited to Manhattan. The only evidence that the other boroughs exist is that one of your rivals, Larry Muller, proudly states he's from Queens.
  • True Crime: New York City takes place in New York City (as you can tell from the title). Once again, the city seems to be relegated to Manhattan. Debug mode reveals other areas of New York. They have named streets, vehicles and pedestrians, but no buildings. It's possible they were Dummied Out due to NYC being too large.
  • Averted by Driver and Driver: Parallel Lines. Driver takes place in New York in the last part of the game and part of the map includes Brooklyn. Parallel Lines, on the other hand, includes not only Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx (but not Staten Island), but a portion of New Jersey as well.
  • Liberty City, the New York City stand-in from the Grand Theft Auto series, has averted this in each of its incarnations:
    • The 2D Universe features a version of Liberty City that is most obviously modelled on New York, with counterparts to Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx: Brocklyn, Kings, Island City and the Brix, respectively. While there's no counterpart to Staten Island, the smaller islands of Rikers (Law Island) and Roosevelt (Nixon Island) are depicted, along with a counterpart to New Jersey, New Guernsey.
    • In the 3D Universe, the second area of Staunton Island stands in for Manhattan, with the game beginning in the Brooklyn/Queens-like Portland, and the third island representing parts of upstate New York and New Jersey.
    • In the HD Universe every borough except Staten Island and even part of New Jersey (in the form of Alderney) is represented.
  • In Need for Speed The Run, the final leg of the transcontinental street race takes place in New York, though because the linear style of the game we only see what's between the Holland Tunnel to the harbor where the finish line is.
  • In Assassin's Creed III Connor and Desmond only visit Manhattan, though in the former's case it's justified because during the 18th Century New York City was comprised solely of what would later be called Lower Manhattan.
  • Averted in The Crew where despite the game's version of NYC being condensed as part of a map spanning the entire United States, it managed to include the other boroughs (except Staten Island).
  • The Division starts out in Brooklyn but the rest is in Manhattan.
  • In Lego Marvel Super Heroes the island of Manhattan is used as a conveniently well-defined location for everything to happen on. For this to work, the game's designers have moved some things to Manhattan that are normally situated in greater New York (such as the X-Mansion, which in the comics is upstate in Salem Center).

Western Animation

Real Life
  • For a good 250 years, New York was only Manhattan. The original Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (founded 1624), renamed New York when the English captured it in 1664, was on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. The communities of the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens were independent municipalities separate from New York City. (This is why Manhattan is still officially New York County.) Between 1874 and 1898 those outlying boroughs were merged with the old New York City to create what was then informally called "Greater New York".