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Small Secluded World
Peaksville was just someplace. Someplace away from the world. It was wherever it had been since that day three years ago when Anthony had... done the thing. Had taken the village someplace. Or had destroyed the world and left only the village, nobody knew which.
— "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby

The character(s) live in a small secluded world. It could be a Pocket Dimension, Middle-of-Nowhere Street, an island without communication with The Outside World, a spaceship lost on the void, a special kind of prison, or something else that has the same effect. If there is any contact at all with an outside world, then this contact is very limited.

When there doesn't seem to be any world outside the Small Secluded World, then this trope overlaps with World Limited to the Plot. If there is an outside world, characters who grew up secluded from it are very likely to be naive to it. They might mistakenly believe themselves to understand their world — be Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance. Alternatively, the characters are completely unaware that there exists an outside world at all: there's only the City in a Bottle.

In any case, living in such narrow boundaries is likely to affect the characters negatively. They might get depressed, desperate to get out, or even fail to comprehend that anything larger then their Small Secluded World exists.

May often have a Wall Around the World. Any Hidden Elf Village or Ominous Floating Castle is likely to qualify for this trope if the characters are forced to live there for a while. Also, any case of Ontological Mystery is likely to also be a case of Small Secluded World or World Limited to the Plot, or both.

Compare with Bottle Episode, where the characters are only locked in a secluded world, the bottle, for a single episode. Contrast with The Outside World.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • Morbus Gravis takes place in a barbaric world simply called "The City". It is really a spaceship, but everyone forgot. Drifting aimlessly through space, its ruling priesthood no longer understands that space and stars even exist.

Fan Fic

Film
  • All of Lifeboat takes place on said lifeboat, which the cast is stuck in after a German U-boat sinks their ship.
  • In Blast from the Past, the main character is born and lives the first 35 years of his life in a underground bomb shelter. He is raised by his parents, who incorrectly believe that there has been a nuclear war and that the surface has been rendered uninhabitable.
  • Most of The Truman Show takes place in a small society that is extremely secluded from the outside world although the main character is unaware of the artificial nature of the situation (it's all to keep him from ever leaving the fake town where everyone else is a paid actor).
  • Dark City appears to be an ordinary city on earth. But it's actually some kind of space-station.
  • In Beetlejuice, the main characters are stuck in their house, unable to have any contact with the surrounding world. At first, they do not realize that they are dead and haunting the house in which they lived.
  • In The Others, the main character keeps her children locked in the darkened house due to their genetic disorder which makes sunlight lethal to them.
  • The coffin in Buried.
  • Dogville takes this idea and turns it into an emotional nightmare.
  • The protagonist in Bad Boy Bubby lives in a bunker-like place until he reaches the age of 35.
  • Dogtooth revolves around three children who have been confined their entire lives to a small country estate and told almost nothing about the outside world.

Literature
  • Room is narrated by a 5-year-old who is unaware of anything outside the 12' x 12' room he lives in. Eventually, his mother reveals that they are locked in her kidnapper's garden shed.
  • In Flatland, the King Of Pointland lives in a nothingness that he mistakes for infinity.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, the main character's world only includes a few islands since no one in his tribe ever sailed far enough to see the continent.
    • Well... not since the last Ice Age, anyway.
  • Most of the places in The Little Prince, if the story is to be taken literally at all.
  • For most of Robinson Crusoe, the title character is stuck on a deserted island.
  • Lord of the Flies feature a group of teenagers stuck on a deserted island. Unlike Robinson Crusoe, they quickly go wild instead of building a new little civilization.
  • The Greene tribe in Non-Stop are familiar with the idea that they're living in a Generation Ship, but they generally mock it, considering the ship to be all of existence.
  • The generation ship in the short story Paradises Lost. Communication with Earth is infrequent, difficult to understand, and has been known to fail for years at a time. Most people simply don't pay any attention to it at all. It gets to the point where the religious sect Bliss bases its entire system of belief on the conviction that there is nothing outside the ship at all.
  • The exiled brother and sister Ged encounters on a small island in A Wizard of Earthsea. They were marooned on the island as small children, and having spent their whole lives there have "forgotten that there were other people in the world."
  • The City of Ember: The city was built underground as a refuge from a nuclear apocalypse, but the instructions for escape were lost long ago, and now the city's supplies are running out.
  • In Life The Universe And Everything, the planet of Krikkit has a thick haze covering the outer atmosphere, so its inhabitants can't even see the stars.
    • They eventually build a spaceship, and see for the first time that the universe exists. This collides so harshly with their iron-bound belief that they are the only things that exist in the universe, that their only reaction is to make plans to destroy the rest of the universe.
    • The ruler of the universe lives on a world shrouded in secrecy by the few people who know who he is. In his own perspective, his shack is all that exists, making it it's own small secluded world.
    • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, Wonko the Sane built an inverted house to contain an insane universe, and by living inside it he lives outside it.
  • In Being There, mentally challenged Chance the Gardener knows no home aside from The Old Man's residence until he is middle-aged and his benefactor's death means he must leave it. He is aware of the outside world, but only through television.
  • Gormenghast castle may as well exist in a Pocket Dimension for all the reference made to any kind of outside world. The only way to even vaguely judge what time period it's set in is by the few descriptions of people's clothes. The whole thing is played for the seclusion and oppression it creates in the inhabitants, especially Titus, who longs to escape and explore the world.
  • The fable about the frog who lives in a well who is one day visited by a frog from the ocean and simply can't understand that the sea is so much bigger than his well.
  • In Helliconia, some maggots are mentioned which live in nuts, and people in-story think that the maggots must be very surprised when someone eats the nut, and the maggots suddenly realize (if they could think) that the world is much bigger than they thought. Yuli, protagonist of the prologue, compares his companions who spent their whole life in a cave to the maggots.
  • Hender's Island in the sci-fi novel 'Fragment' by Warren Fahy is the last surviving remnant of the original supercontinent, where evolution has progressed in complete isolation for over 400 million years. Most of the island's life forms, including the single intelligent species, are highly evolved terrestrial stomatopods - i.e mantis shrimp.
  • In "The Tunnel Under the World" by Frederick Pohl, a man wakes up from a terrible nightmare and it's always the same day, over and over again. He doesn't realize this until he falls asleep in his basement and then sees what is happening. As it turns out the entire town was destroyed by a chemical plant explosion and the minds of the dead bodies were put in robot bodies to test advertising. They repeat the same day over and over again so the missing people and the lack of contact with the outside world don't have time to alert the people. The man thinks he can escape but to save money the robots are miniatures and the entire recreated town is basically on a tabletop.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Random Thoughts", the trope is discussed by Seven Of Nine. She argues that the ship ought to seclude itself, in order to avoid the dangers of the surrounding civilizations.
  • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, USS Enterprise fits in a very disturbing way. Dr Crusher has started noticing that people and places are disappearing, without anyone but her even remembering them. After a while, the starship is all that's left of the universe, and the few crewmen who are left still treat her like a Windmill Crusader for believing that a universe outside the ship ever existed. and in this case, it is NOT a case of No Mere Windmill. It turns out that Dr. Crusher was a Don Quixote after all... but the misguided kind, not the insane kind. Eventually she realizes: "If there's nothing wrong with me, then there has to be something wrong with the universe".
  • In LOST, the island usually works so that no one gets in and no one gets out. This is because Jacob said so. In the final episode, Hugo takes over as the guardian of the island and changes the rules.
  • The Twilight Zone TOS episode "It's a Good Life" takes place in a small town and its environs that were removed from the Earth by a young boy with Reality Warper powers.
    • Possibly removed from the Earth. It's just as feasible that Anthony removed the Earth from around it.
  • Gilligan's Island: the island that Gilligan and the others never seem able to leave.
  • Wonder Woman TV Series: The amazons claim Paradise Island is this: the youngest of these immortals have never seen a man before. However, Princess Diana recognizes a parachute, and the Queen can read Trevorís english written documents without any problem.

Western Animation
  • Played for laughs and slightly subverted in the Pixar Short "Knick Knack"

Video Games
  • Kingdom Hearts has numerous worlds which exemplify this trope. According to the backstory, travel between them was impossible until Ansem's tomfoolery and the discovery of gummi blocks (unless, as in the prequel, you had a Keyblade or powerful magic). From any given world, all the others appear only as stars in the sky. The heroes' home, Destiny Islands, apparently consists of a handful of islands almost designed to inspire wanderlust in powerful individuals. Take a look at Riku or Master Xehanort...
    "This world is just...too small."
  • Cocoon from Final Fantasy XIII. It's "only" the size of North America. Most, if not all, of the people of Cocoon have never even glimpsed the world of Gran Pulse below until the ending and have been raised to believe that it's hell. Given all of the horrible monsters that live there, they're not entirely wrong.
  • The Myst series is all about exploring Small Secluded Worlds.
  • Gensokyo from Touhou, a magical realm which was specifically sealed off from the outside world to keep the magic from going away. The border separating the two realms, however, isn't entirely stable, and things and people from outside are constantly drifting into it by accident.
  • Rapture from BioShock an underwater city the lies on ocean floor where the only means to to get there is via bathysphere, its quite amazing that almost no one in the surface knows about it by much, considering the feat of building an underwater city isn't exactly easy.
    • They do give at least one reason In-Universe for how they could hide something like that, all of the workers who helped build Rapture were given free passage to live there. It can be asumed the people who didn't want to live in Rapture weren't allowed to build it or Andrew Ryan found a way to shut them up.
  • Zenozoik from Zeno Clash is a roughly square-shaped world surrounded by impassable barriers (at least to the primitive, caveman-like inhabitants). To the north is the Endworld, a world of darkness with guardians attacking people who try to pass; to the south: ice and freezing cold; to the west: a vast ocean; and to the east: steep mountains. In Zeno Clash 2 we find out that Zenozoik is in fact a tiny part of the actual world. The civilized people who inhabit the rest of the world use advanced technology and live under the rule of law. They believe the inhabitants of Zenozoik are not capable of life under such a system, so they keep them locked in Zenozoik and don't let anyone in or out.

Web Comics
  • In Glorianna, the Mountain King rules a small colony of castaways stranded on the Moon.
  • In Time, Megan and Cueball know next to nothing about the world outside their seaside community.

Real Life
  • Isolated lighthouses, back when they weren't automated and there was no radio communication. If the lighthouse was on an island off the coast, the keepers had to stay on their own for weeks or even much longer.
  • Easter Island became this trope for its natives, after all the trees were gone and boats could no longer be constructed to leave.
  • Bluewater sailing on a yacht. A transoceanic leg may take weeks, perhaps months. Before the solar panels and wind turbines, electricity (and hence communication) was on very short supply.
  • Even the most remote islands in the world aren't as secluded from the rest of the world as they once used to be. Still, many lonely islands and archipelagos in the South Atlantic and the southern Antarctic seas are amongst the most secluded places on the Earth (to the point that you might feel like on a different planet entirely). Case in point : Tristan da Cunha, the Crozet Islands, the islands of Amsterdam and St. Paul...
    • It is not all that surprising that many of the more isolated island groups developed their own endemic flora and fauna after many millenia of gradual local evolution. There are lots of species of herbs or sea birds that only live on one small island in the entire world (and are all the more vulnerable to introduced species they aren't used to).
  • Forest wildfire watch persons in the US spend months alone during the summer and early fall months high up in a small post. There's minimal furnishings and the only human contact they get are runners who get them supplies once in a while.

Shrinking VioletIntroversion TropesThe Snark Knight
Single Specimen SpeciesSolitary TropesSolo Sequence
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