"Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world.
She took the midnight train going anywhere."
A teenager growing up in a small rural town wants to get away from it all, to the big city, or abroad, anywhere but the boring old Small Town. Characters that come from this background, such as the Country Mouse
and Farm Boy
, generally Jump At The Call
. If they don't, expect the Call to come looking for them anyway
Compare and contrast with Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here
and Hated Hometown
. Related to Grass Is Greener
, which is about someone in bad conditions dreaming of going to a better place. Often seen in stories set in Dying Towns
, perhaps ones with Small Town Rivalry
Often, however, leads to An Aesop
about Home Sweet Home
and appreciating what you've got. A common subtype is leaving the Close-Knit Community
and finding that Apathetic Citizens
are much worse.
When this happens in a musical, expect a Somewhere Song
or a Wanderlust Song
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Anime & Manga
- Captain Kanril Eleya of Bait and Switch grew up in Priyat, a small town in Bajor's Kendra Province. She enlisted in the Bajoran Militia at the earliest legal age because she didn't want to be a town maintenance worker like her parents. In the prequel From Bajor to the Black it's further revealed that A) she felt the town was dying (half the population just lives there because it's close to Kendra City) and B) she'd get a scholarship after mustering out. (She wound up going to Starfleet Academy afterward instead.)
- Amy enters through the interdimensional Rift in Traversal in hopes of escaping this.
Live Action Television
- Motivation for Joey on Dawson's Creek.
- This is a good portion of JJ's backstory on Criminal Minds.
- Once Upon a Time: Ruby (Red Riding Hood's counterpart) suffers from this. She actually tried to leave town prior to the show, but the curse gave her grandmother a heart attack, forcing her to stay in Storybrooke.
- Also Milah is often seen at the town's tavern and is bored of being a wife and a mother, so she fakes being kidnapped by Captain Hook to run away with him and his crew, abandoning her husband and young child. But when Rumpelstiltskin finds out the deception, it does not end well for her.
- In an episode of The George Lopez Show, George is considering taking a new job and moving the family to a small town in Colorado. He believes that it will be a better place for the kids instead of L.A. However, when they go there to look around, they see that the kids that live there have literally nothing else to do but smoke, drink, and get into trouble (a little girl encourages Max to steal for little more than the fact it's a cheap thrill.)
- An episode of That '70s Show has Hyde use this trope as an explanation for why the gang stole the drive-through sculpture of Fatso The Clown from Fatso Burger.
Stand Up Comedy
- On his album Werewolves And Lollipops, Patton Oswalt talks about growing up in Sterling, Virginia, and "The Test Of The Small Town". You pass the test when you say "I'm leaving before I kill everyone and then myself!" You fail it when you say, "I'm gonna get a job at the Citgo and fill my truck up for free!"
- Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters.
- Natalie from the musical All Shook Up.
- "Blow Wind Blow" from Frank's Wild Years
- The title character in Evita.
- The Golden Apple begins with Helen dryly complaining that "nothing ever happens in Angel's Roost."
- Persona 4: Said boredom is such that it drives someone to murder. This was also a key point in Shadow Yosuke and Shadow Yukkiko's dialogues. Shadow Yosuke taunts Yosuke about how boring the town is to him, while Yukiko's shadow mentions how much she hates the town and just sits on her ass waiting for her prince to come rescue her from it. It should be said that the whole town's leisure facilities basically amount to one small diner, the shrine, the river, and if you're really desperate the food court of the local supermarket. That is literally it.
- In the fan-made musical of Persona 4, the very first song is 'Small Town Blues' which completely tears down any pretense of fun and excitement. It used to be called 'Everything's Boring In Inaba'.
Inaba our town, where nothing ever happens,
Where a superstore's enough to throw our homes out of whack
Department store JUNES showed up here last December
And proceeded to devour all our economic slack
- Kingdom Hearts has this on a planetary scale. After Kairi falls from the sky and appears on the Destiny Islands, Riku becomes obsessed with learning what's out there. Several games later, it turns out that Terra and Aqua dropping by a year before that is what first planted the idea, and that the franchise's uber-villain started out the exact same way.
"This world...is just too small."
- Mikasalla in Golden Sun The Lost Age. The locals even tell you that if you're looking for someone, the best place to look is somewhere else.
- Lieutenant Kyona, the tactical officer of the USS Enterprise-F in Star Trek Online, said that she grew up in an agricultural community on Cait and initially joined Starfleet because it was the most exciting career she could think of.
- Touched on sometimes in King of the Hill, specifically the episode where Hank worries about losing Bobby to a more exciting place... like Wichita Falls, home of the Dallas Cowboys training camp. Hank tries to campaign to have the training camp moved to Arlen, with disastrous results, but in the end Bobby says that he would never move to Wichita Falls—because to be a prop comic you need to go to New York or Los Angeles.
- Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast: "There must be more than this provincial life!"
- Also Disney, Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She's an odd example, though, in that in her case the "small town" is actually the ocean.
- The title character from Katy Caterpillar begins her adventure because she considers the safe cherry tree where she and her sisters live to be "ever so boring."
- Truth in Television: Happens even with some good-sized cities that aren't as huge as others.
- Some states, such as Indiana, have problems keeping up job rates because college grads and other people of age immediately flee to larger cities such as Chicago or LA to seek gainful employment.
- It gets worse in the Great Plains states, where this trope, combined with industrialized agriculture outcompeting small farmers, has been causing a demographic crisis. Small towns are being abandoned as nobody shows up to replace the young people who leave, and the last Census survey holds that some areas now have a lower population density than they did in 1890, the year that the frontier was declared to be closed. There have even been calls to bring back the Homestead Act in order to resettle the Plains states.
- Some of the farm-country and Lovecraft Country areas of New England.
- Inverted in some areas of the American Rust Belt (particularly Michigan) where young inner suburbanites and city dwellers go from universities in the bigger cities to high-paying jobs in the exurbs. Inverted HARD in Michigan, where the fastest growing towns in the state are all boring bedroom communities 45 minutes from anywhere of import.
- In general, this trope can be subverted by people who actually enjoy the fact that small towns seem sleepy and boring. These people can find large, vibrant cities to be too loud, too suffocating, or what have you, and very much prefer the slower pace of life that occurs in smaller communities. What others would call boring and dull, they would call peace and quiet.