Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here
"Nothing amazing happens here. Everything is ordinary."
Where is the most dangerous place on the planet to live? Not the city where something exciting is always happening
. Not Mordor
. Not a Haunted Headquarters
. Not the crime-ridden big city
. Not even Tokyo
. The most dangerous place to live is the small, quiet, unknown town where "nothing exciting ever happens."
New serial killer on the loose? Bodies are piling up in a small town where nothing like this has ever happened before. Portal to a Magical Land
opening? It's in the big house in the country where you were preparing to spend the most boring summer of your life. Aliens landing? Their UFOs are parked in the middle of a deserted cornfield in a rural town where cattle outnumber people. Emo Teen
moving with their divorced mother out of the Big Applesauce
into the sleepy suburbs? They'll be hiding Batman in their basement
or starting a mission to Save Both Worlds
by the end of the first episode.
How can I turn my own boring, mundane neighborhood into a Weirdness Magnet
, you ask? Just say the magic words "Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here," and let Tempting Fate
do its work. Be Careful What You Wish For
(after all, you don't know what genre you're in
) and don't say we didn't warn you!
Compare Aliens in Cardiff
and Everytown, America
. Contrast Quirky Town
. See Ordinary High-School Student
for when this happens to a person.
Everyone's going to assume that wherever you live, nothing exciting has ever happened, and if you live in a city that no one has ever heard of, it's because Nothing Exciting Ever Happened There, so no straight Real Life
examples should be mentioned.
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Anime and Manga
- In Code Geass, right before the Battle of Narita, two soldiers monitoring the area are actually in the middle of complaining about how boring their station is when Zero walks in and Geasses them to ignore any unusual activity. So from their point of view, they're right.
- The plot of Ergo Proxy happens in "Romdeau City. This place is undoubtedly our final paradise. Today is just another day here. Nothing changes for the better in this cradle...A boring paradise."
- Renton spends approximately half of the first episode of Eureka Seven saying this. Of, course, this is right before the Super Robot crashes into his garage.
- FLCL: Naota remarks in the first episode, "Nothing amazing happens here. Everything is ordinary." Then he gets run over by a Vespa-riding self-proclaimed Space Police officer and smacked in the head by her gas-powered guitar. Next thing he knows, giant robots are climbing out of a portal in his head and he's embroiled in a farcical space opera/coming-of-age story.
- Curiously enough, none of these events seem to change his mind about his life and hometown being boring and ordinary.
- More like, he's always saying to himself that his life is ordinary (presumably because he's bitter about it), so much that he defines it to be so, so to him, any event in his life must be ordinary by definition. This is a logical fallacy, of course.
- What it really is is that he wants his life to be a hum-drum ordinary life, only he can't seem to get a break. From the very beginning, he has to deal with Mamimi constantly using him as an outlet for her own frustrations. And that's before Haruko arrives. At the very end, though, it seems he's finally seeing things settle down; the issues he's facing at the end (mostly Ninamori) are more typical for a boy his age.
- This is the basic concept behind the Rear Window remake Disturbia.
- Related note: In The Iron Giant, Special Agent Kent Mansley misguidedly believes that "big things happen in big places", and he's all too keen to get back to those places when he arrives in the sleepy Maine village where the action takes place. And then the action takes place.
- Deconstructed in Hot Fuzz, where the reason nothing ever happens in Sandford is that the Neighborhood Watch Association kills anyone who threatens their village's perfect image and covers it up.
- The Happening - the massive group of people running from the unexplained mass suicide that may or may not be linked to natural causes or very intricately orchestrated terrorism (it's a long story) find themselves dumped in an isolated town in the middle of the Northwest. Mark Wahlberg says to his best friend's daughter, "Don't worry, nothing's going to happen to us here." Oh boy, is he wrong.
- In Star Wars, Luke complains of Tatooine that, "Well, if there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from." In the first episode of the radio dramatization of A New Hope, Biggs tells Luke that he only feels that way about Tatooine because he hasn't been anywhere else. It turns out Luke is quite wrong: everything happens on Tatooine. Among the films, Episode 5 is the only one without a major plot point on the planet, which just might be why everybody likes it most.
- Even the Expanded Universe isn't all that expanded; everything still happens on Tatooine. Clearly Tatooine is the most significant planet in the entire galaxy — everyone who is anyone has been therenote . But you wouldn't necessarily expect Luke to know about all this, or suspect that Tatooine would become famous partly because of himself. Anyway, this trope could just as easily be called "The Tatooine Effect".
- The 1932 film Grand Hotel famously opens and closes with a character stating that "nothing ever happens" at the title locale. This is, of course, in ironic counterpoint to the many dramatic episodes which take place over the course of the film.
- At the very end of Can't Hardly Wait, the two "X-Philes" complain that nothing ever happens in their town. A suspicious shadow falls over them with an unworldly sound, and they look up and grin as a blue light shines on them.
- Lampshaded in Suddenly, where a policeman and a traveler discuss the idea that the town's name should be changed to Gradually. The plot of the movie: A man takes hostages in the town when it is realised that a family's window is just the right place for a sniper rifle pointed at the president.
- Subverted slightly in the home-spun play of Blaine (from Waiting for Guffman), in which an alien's musical number is "Nothing Ever Happens On Mars".
- In Home Alone, Buzz claims that the family lives on the most boring street in the country "where nothing remotely dangerous will ever happen"...while Kevin is preparing to fight off burglars Harry and Marv.
- Dinah has this lament at the beginning of The Philadelphia Story.
- In Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn, the protagonist, Caspian Knoll, believes this of his life in the city of Baltimore. His main gripe, however is that nothing exciting ever happens in his personal life.
- The Dark Side of Nowhere centers on the protagonist discovering that everyone in his Norman Rockwell-esque town, including himself, is really an alien. The frequent booster shots they've received all their lives have been chemicals to suppress their Adonis-level good looks and blend in with humanity. And the message has just come through that the time has come to gear up for the invasion...
- Blackbury from Johnny Maxwell Trilogy.
- In "Hill of Fire", the main character is a farmer who spends the whole story using this trope's very title to gripe about his hometown. At the end of the book, there's been a volcanic eruption in his cornfield.
- That's actually a true story—the volcano Parcuitin appeared in a cornfield in Mexico in 1943 and erupted on and off until 1952. The village was destroyed, but no one was killed, except for three people struck by lightning.
- The main characters of the Brentford trilogy by Robert Rankin claim Brentford is this. In spite of being the place where Julius Caesar invented football, having a nesting griffin, existing in four dimensions simultaneously and having an Eldritch Abomination attack per book...
- Stephen King's horror stories are often set in the town of Derry, Maine, which is King's fictional version of Bangor, Maine, population 31,000.
- Visually implied in The Lost Thing. The suburbs are ridiculously identical, the city manages despite all its Steampunk design to be incredibly drab and filled with almost nobody but businesspeople, and, oh yeah, there are random biomechanical creatures wandering about the place. Then again, it's implied that for most people there's a Weirdness Censor involved.
- Maggody, Arkansas, setting of Joan Hess's Arly Hanks mysteries, is a too-small-for-the-mapmakers flyspeck town where the locals consider the burning of Hiram's barn to be the sole event of historical note in decades. In those same decades, said flyspeck has variously been invaded by porn movie-makers, a rehab clinic, pot farmers, UFO fanatics, tabloid reporters, militia nutjobs, golfers, Civil War buffs, country-western music groupies, fake psychics, the Internet, televangelists, and feminists, all of them with a distressing tendency to get themselves murdered. And people still play this trope straight if asked.
- Around the World in 80 Days is a somewhat more ordinary example. Phileas Fogg's house in Saville Row has been running like clockwork for years. Fogg himself never wavers in his routine; he never travels, he has no business to attend to, and he never makes a public appearance except for his daily trip to the Reform Club to play whist. Enter Passepartout, Fogg's new manservant. He's looking forward to a nice quiet gig, and he delightedly comments on how mundane and predictable his master is. On the very day that Passepartout enters Fogg's service, however, that same ordinary gentleman makes an extraordinary wager and embarks on a mad dash around the world.
- Plenty of Sherlock Holmes stories start with Holmes complaining at length to Watson of how there aren't any interesting crimes anymore. Cue the arrival of his latest client...
- Sweet Valley, CA. Whenever someone is murdered, a serial killer comes to town, drug dealers show up and start taking hostages, vampires enroll in the local high school, or another one of Jessica Wakefield's boyfriends dies a horrible death, the inevitable reaction from the locals is "How could such a thing happen in Sweet Valley? Things like that never happen here!"
- Moose County, from The Cat Who books, is "400 miles north of everywhere," and is described as an idyllic but boring rural location. The locals insist that crime is something that happens "Down Below," as they refer to the rest of the U.S., despite the fact that Moose County seems to have a per capita murder rate to rival Cabot Cove or St. Mary Meade.
Live Action TV
- Corner Gas. If your main theme is "Not a lot going on" (by Craig Northey and Jerry Valenzuela), you must be living in a very sleepy community. Fortunately, it's never boring.
- Variation on this trope in Sherlock when John says "Nothing ever happens to me." Then he meets the titular protagonist and hoo boy...
- Smallville, naturally. Chronologically, one of Chloe's first lines is something like this (in a flashback in Abyss).
- Eerie Indiana, which was selected by the protagonist father as their new home because it was the most "normal" town in the country, statistically speaking, and whose many inhabitants complain about the bleakness of their lives (unaware of what's really going on). The thing was parodied in the second series, where its protagonists complained about how boring their lives are, while living in a world whose quotidian is truly outrageous.
- Eureka; the town looks painfully normal. Except, in a subversion of the trope, for the experimental laboratory complex where almost the entire town works, and which, for lack of a better term, leaks weirdness into the town. So it is a normal and unexciting town... strictly by their standards.
- Sunnydale, the hometown of Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is built right over a Hellmouth. But most citizens studiously ignore the vampires, demons, monsters and strange occurences or explain them away as "gang violence". Slightly subverted in that the town's founders actively work to support this masquerade.
- Teen Wolf Pilot episode has this trope. This is what motivates Stiles and Scott to go into the woods looking for half a body in the middle of the night. This, of course, leads to Scott getting bitten.
Stiles: "You're the one bitching that nothing happens in this town."
- The Young Ones episode "Boring" is devoted entirely to this trope. The main characters are bored out of their skulls and yet incredibly blind to all the exciting things happening around them.
- In an odd variation, Virginia Lewis of The 10th Kingdom, despite living in the Big Applesauce, thinks to herself (in voiceover narration) on the way to work at the beginning of the miniseries that she knew "nothing exciting was ever going to happen" to her and "some people just lead quiet lives". Cue her running into a golden retriever on her bicycle who is actually a transformed prince from the world of fairy tales, and...
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor and Ace are visiting the suburb she grew up in.
Doctor: So what's so terrible about Perivale?
Ace: Nothing ever happens here.
- She is, of course, 100% wrong.
- Or, in the new series, Leadworth, home of Rory and Amy. It's a completely boring, normal English town... of course, then the Doctor lands there, so you know it won't stay like that for long.
- The League of Gentlemen opens with Benjamin Denton on a train to Royston Vasey, reading a letter from his aunt, which includes: "I hope you...don't find our little town too boring."
- Misfits contains a rather amusing exchange in the tail end of the first episode that suggests the entirety England fits this trope.
- The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town takes place in the fictional town of Shuckton, Ontario, Canada, which, prior to losing its bid for the 2028 Olympic Games, was famous for its rat fur industry.
Mayor Larry Bowman: What do you think of when you hear our name? Probably nothing. We're not very well known.
- Stargate SG-1: When a bored Vala begs Mitchell to take her with him to his high school reunion, he says "It. Is. In. KANSAS!" in an effort to convince her that she would just be bored because nothing ever happens in Kansas, right? When they actually go there, bounty hunters descend on the reunion. Of course, the only reason the bounty hunters are even there is because Mitchell is there. If he hadn't gone, it would have been the typical boring, awkward reunion.
- One of the recurring skits in the 1970's variety show The Hudson Brother's Razzle Dazzle Show was about a very small tropical island where nothing supposedly happened. In every sketch, the infamous words would be lamented: "Ho hum. Another boring day on the island of Pegi Pegi (pronounced Peegee Peegee)." Cue the arrival of something like a huge shark fin or lava spewing from the island's only volcano.
- In the Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Midnight Ride," the new kid in town at first says that, although he likes Sleepy Hollow (yes, that Sleepy Hollow), it's "kind of boring." One Chase Scene with the Headless Horseman later: "And I thought this place was boring."
- Henrik Ibsen seems to have been fond of the trope. In a number of plays he wrote, action is set by the fact that Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here.Thus:
- Ghosts has captain Alving getting destructive because he is confined to a small town with dull people.
- Hedda Gabler makes her own action, because her life is similarly uninteresting.
- The Lady From The Sea and The Master Builder both comment on the little community where Ellida Wangel is looking for a purpose, and also where Hilde Wangel (her step-daughter) grew up. She left for town as soon as she was able to, and it didn`t end well - for the master builder Solness, at least. But Hilde found the thing more exciting.
- The League Of Youth has newspaper editor Aslaksen, who solely lives for stirring things up, because nothing ever seems to happen. On a dark note, Ibsen shrewdly states that the consequences of this line of thought seldom end well. In fact, things may get more exciting than the characters actually want.
- In his epic song/monologue "Alices Restaurant", Arlo Guthrie mocks Stockbridge, Massachusetts as being this kind of town because they react to his (admittedly excessive) littering as being the "biggest crime of the past 50 years", bringing in policemen and equipment from the next town over and taking dozens of crime-scene photographs to use in a court case against him.
- Pretty much the entire point of Del Amitri's song "Nothing Ever Happens"
The Martians could land in the car park and no one would care
- There was a line like this in "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "The Hardware Store"
Nothin' ever (ever) happens in this town
Feelin' low down (down), not a lot to do around here
I thought that I would go right out of my mind
Until a friend told me the news
- Rock and Roll has been practically built on this trope from Day 1, with some of the greatest revolutions being started by people who seemed to come out of nowhere, or at least, places that weren't really on the radar.
- Jeremy from Zits has complained on a number of occasions how dull his town is. In one case, he and his friend Hector play a game in which they spin a globe around and randomly point at different cities or towns that are more exciting than their own. On another occasion, he laments this aloud pretty much word-for-word. In response, his dad takes his shirt off and dances around singing "Shake your bon-bon" while, well, shaking his bon-bon. When he's done, Jeremy goes to wash his eyes out while his mom warns him to Be Careful What You Wish For.
- One Bloom County comic has a teen working in a convenience store. He notes "Ah America, you are great. But you are also very boring." Cue the last panel, where Rosebud the Basselope and a cockroach come in to order "a lifetime supply of rancid Ding-Dongs". (This being the community of Bloom County, there's also plenty of bizarre political plans, visits from the government over computer hacking, and other weirdness)
- In Garfield, one strip has Garfield hanging on the screen door, lamenting how bored he is. He thinks "I wish something would happen". A panel later, John throws open the screen door to call Garfield to lunch, inadvertently smashing Garfield against the house.
Garfield: "I'm in pain, pain, pain, pain, pain."
- Alan Wake takes place in a remote, small town. That should give you an indication of how horrible things go.
- Lahan in Xenogears.
- Nibelheim in Final Fantasy VII until a defective Makou reactor triggers out a catastrophic and unlikely chain of events.
- Lampshaded in Crisis Core, during the very first meeting between Zack and Cloud as they talk about their respective hometowns Gongaga and Nibelheim.
Zack: A Mako reactor outside Midgar usually means...
Cloud and Zack (in unison): ... nothing else out there.
- In the intro movie for Psychonauts, Lili tries to reassure a nervous Dogen by telling him "I've been coming here for years, and nothing ever happens." Shortly afterward, Razputin falls out of a tree right behind them.
- As it turns out, this year at Whispering Rock will be far more eventful than the last few, what with the campers' brains being stolen to be turned into weapons to take over the world.
- The town featured in Persona 4 is portrayed as a lazy country burg whose most exciting conflict is the new Wal-Mart-stand-in Junes putting the mom & pop stores out of business. Of course, the first thing that happens once the main character gets into town is a serial murder, and, by the end, teenagers are fighting a god (or two, who's counting?) with the fate of the soul of humanity at stake.
- Fur Fighters:
1st Bear: Nothing exciting ever happen to this bear.
This bear also.
- Seconds later a large explosion consumes them both.
- Deadly Premonition is a game about serial murders, alternate dimensions, ghosts, imaginary friends, Eldritch Abominations, split-personalities, and child abuse. It occurs in Greenvale, which seems to have a population of about 40 people, and many, MANY lines of dialogue emphasize what a small town it is.
- A certain guard in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time says this verbatim while complaining how boring the day watch is in the Castle Town. At night, he wishes that ghosts would come out once in a while because he is "really interested in ghosts". We all know what happens next, and now there's a certain little... thing in the ruins of the Castle Town who buys ghosts. Be Careful What You Wish For, kids!
- Then there's the much-quoted dialogue from the CDI game. "Sure is boring around here."
- In Eternal Darkness, Ellia wishes for something exciting and significant to happen to her. And boy does she get it, though not exactly as she imagined it. Again, be careful what you wish for!
- A sbemail on Homestar Runner called 'boring (really)' asked Strong Bad if anything exciting happened over there, and that the sender was bored out of his mind. While the show is normally very exciting, just to piss the emailer off the entire episode was extremely boring, with such craziness as counting bricks on a wall, practicing blinking, and naming off all the 3 lettered words Strong Bad could think of.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is set in "the pleasantly innocuous hamlet of Generictown," where nothing much ever happened until one of their residents, Mr. Bob Smithson, suddenly became the biggest Weirdness Magnet on Earth.
- Counting The small, quiet town of "Thirston" is mass poisoned via the water supply by the Colonel
- Tandy Gardens, setting of The Wotch, is said to be this sort of place in the first strip. By now, everyone in the city's probably been turned into something once. At least once. Two words: Myth Virus.
- RPG World had Cameotown, which was the place where people who weren't doing anything lived until they had something to do again.
- In Sluggy Freelance Katie Zalia complains that the tiny town of Podunkton is too boring. Turns out this boringness is just a lull, however, in the town's ongoing conflict with Canadian drug lords.
- In Bob and George, George gets prompt results.
- Dragon Ball Multiverse: When selecting the fighters in U3, the Vargas were surprised to find a strong fighter on Earth, and one of them said "I don't think we'll find powers there in other universes". Check the Earth Is The Centre Of The Universe entry...
Noah: "All people do around here is just come and fish and it's just really boring."
Milo: "I never saw the point in fishing. It's kinda boring."
- South Park.
- Absolutely, completely, totally subverted in Regular Show. It's not so much that the crazy shenanigans are considered mundane, so much as Rigby and Mordecai possess the inexplicable capacity to take utterly mundane situations and transform them into world-stake epics.
- A Running Gag on Danny Phantom was displaying various billboards and signs all over the City of Adventure that read things like, "Amity Park: A Safe Place To Live" or "Amity Park: It's Quiet Here." Wishful thinking by the Genre Blind.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Mai laments, "This place [Omashu] is unbearably bleak. Nothing ever happens." Cue La Résistance trying to assassinate her and her mother.
- Amusingly, after surviving the assassination attempt and chasing the Gaang for a while, she immediately goes back to being bored.
- Not to mention that Aang is first found at the South Pole by a couple of
Inuits Water Tribe kids.
- The first post-opening-credits scene of Yellow Submarine (at least, the first that isn't set to music) features Ringo Starr moping around Liverpool, complaining that nothing ever happens to him — until he realizes that he's somehow being tailed through the streets by a yellow submarine.
- In the Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats episode "Cat Balloon", Cleo says this exact phrase about Westfinster. Twist #1: At the moment Cleo says this, exciting things are happening all around her, but she's too busy complaining to notice them. Twist #2: When Cleo and the Catillac Cats use a balloon to go to a neighboring town, it's hijacked by a similar gang of cats who want to leave their hometown because—you guessed it—Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here.
- An ep of Pepper Ann sees Hazelnut (her hometown) making a big deal of an apparent earthquake because of this trope (to the point where TV news coverage precedes CCTV footage of a single jar of food falling off a supermarket shelf with disclaimers suited for more intense things)... and ends with using this trope for a gag.
- The opening scene of Galaxy Rangers episode "Galaxy Stranger." Ten years later, Mandell and company lifted the speech nearly verbatim and put it in an episode of Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders as a Shout-Out.
- The whole point in Courage the Cowardly Dog. No one says it, but crap happens ANYWAY.
- The opening of the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Ceiling Zero Zero" opens with the narrator telling that nothing exciting ever happens in the town of Dunkelville, until an earthquake shatters the skyline. It was a sonic boom caused by Vulture Squadron pursuing Yankee Doodle Pigeon with a giant amplifier.
- Parodied on Jimmy Two-Shoes where Jimmy sighs "Nothing exciting ever happens in Miseryville" while dinosaurs and aliens attack the city in the background.
- In the King of the Hill episode "A Rover Runs Through It" Bobby is at his grandmother's ranch, he wanders through a field playing his gameboy commenting how boring it is out there, while he is saying this he passes by several animals including a pair of deer fighting for dominance, a flock of pheasants, and an elk, he never notices because he is focused on his gameboy game.
- There's a sketch of a Polish cabaret, where everyone is shocked by the fact that nothing is happening there. Can be watched (with english subtitles ) here