Really Moves Around

I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
I've crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
— "I've Been Everywhere", Geoff Mack (and many others)

A character, or family of characters, has/have lived in many different places (geographically) and is/are constantly moving. In fiction this is generally used to denote either one of three things:

  1. The character, or main breadwinner of the family, simply has a job that requires constantly moving. The most iconic example of this is a character who is in the military (Truth in Television, as military families in Real Life often do move around a lot).

  2. Alternatively, and more Played for Drama, the moving around is not due to job demands, but is used to display that the character / family has psychological issues. Whether it is due to some sort of anxiety, a form of OCD, or just generally not fitting in with people / society - these characters just can't "root" anywhere, and barely having settled somewhere, already are off to the next place.

  3. Or, the characters are on the run from other characters - e.g. from a stalking psycho ex, or from the police / law enforcement (either because they did commit a crime, or because they're innocent and falsely accused of it) or from a criminal organization that is looking for them. In the latter case, it can overlap with Conspiracy Theories. If their being hunted is all in the character's head because they're paranoid, they actually are of the type above instead of this type.

Compare Adventure Towns, where the characters move around as part of their quest and main plot. Compare New Job as the Plot Demands. Often a result of being a Military Brat. If the characters are kids or teens, it results in them being a serial New Transfer Student, or sometimes Homeschooled Kids.

Not to be confused with Really Gets Around, which is about entirely different proclivities / activities.


Examples

Film -- Animation
  • The Incredibles: The members of the titular family all have superpowers, and have to keep their identities secret because of a government ban on superheroes. It is stated that by the time of the movie's main plot, they have moved at least a few times in the past because of blowing their cover. And by the end of the movie, they have to do it again.

Film -- Live-Action
  • High School Musical: Up until moving to East High School in Albuquerque and meeting Troy Bolton, Gabriella Montez and her family often moved to different places once the school year was over.
  • Rebel Without a Cause: Happens for drama with James Dean's character Jim Stark. Because his family is afraid of trouble for their son, they move around a lot.

Literature
  • The Familiar: The Ibrahim family is noted to have (prior to the start of the 1st book) lived in at least a dozen places/states in as many years. Since Astair is in college and the constant moving around of the family is explicitly mentioned to have delayed her graduating, and she isn't mentioned to have a job; and Anwar is a computer programmer - a job that is about the easiest to do long-distance, instead of moving around for - this really raises the question what on Earth the family were moving around for that much. This is never answered.

Live-Action TV
  • The Torkelsons: Riley moves to the small Oklahoma village in which the series takes place, mentioning to Dorothy Jane how his family is always moving around a lot due to his father being in the military.

Manga
  • Captain Tsubasa: Taro Misaki, one of the best known characters of the series and Heterosexual Life Partner of Tsubasa Ozora, moves to many different places, since his father is a painter. He played in several teams due to his father travelling around Japan all the time.
  • Natsume's Book of Friends: Before being taken in by the Fujiwaras, Natsume was passed around between his father's relatives, never staying with any of them very long as they saw him as a trouble maker and taking care of him as an unwanted duty.

Western Animation
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReallyMovesAround