Tap, Dark Ritual for Hypnotic Specter, gg?
A few more steps and we'll be safe in the Fire Swamp! Buttercup:
We'll never survive! Westley:
Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
In fiction, swamps are often portrayed as godforsaken places that no man enters willingly. When they aren't infested with undead horrors, they hide tribes of hideous frog-, lizard-, or fish-men (or possibly fishlizardfrogmen
) who slink from their half-sunken temples to grasp the unwary with their cold hands and drag them beneath the still black water. At the very least, they are the home of poisonous snakes and strange, incurable diseases. Often, there are ancient curses that cause travelers to become lost and wander the swamps forever. Will o' the Wisps
(also called corpse candles and Ghost Lights
) lead the unwary into quickbogs to die. For extra horror, people who get lost in the swamp may themselves become one of the monsters
infesting it. Swamps are also a popular home for witches
, voodoo ladies
, families of inbred cannibals, zombies
, and other unsavoury types.
There is an element of Truth in Television
to this: Swamps were long regarded as dangerous and unsanitary. They tend to attract a lot of insects, which can spread disease; the sodden terrain can make traversing them on foot difficult; many swamps are prone to heavy fog because of all the water, which can make it easy to get lost; and some swamps are also inhabited by dangerous animals, such as alligators. More realistic depictions will have swamps as dangerous and unpleasant
rather than outright evil. Expect lots of complaining about mud, leeches, and over-sized mosquitoes, and (in summer) the godawful humidity.
In real-world folklore, swamps were often regarded as cursed, haunted or full of monsters. This is, of course, the basis for many fictional portrayals. That said, swamps, marshes and other wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem, providing a habitat or breeding ground for many different species. Some are actually quite nice places to go birdwatching or fishing. Swamps are natural water level monitoring devices
because in rainy times they collect rainwater as a sponge and thus prevent floods. In dry times swamps are water reservoirs.
In a Video Game setting
, swamps will frequently be inhabited by zombies or carnivorous plants. Expect to find a lot of Grimy Water
as a gameplay mechanic.
Not to be confused with Bubblegloop Swamp
, though the two may overlap.
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Anime And Manga
- Onigafuchi, in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, is believed to be the mouth of a dormant volcano, and the villagers believe that it could leak toxic gas at any moment. Big Bad Takano uses this as an excuse to cover the true reasons for the massacre of Hinamizawa.
- The Numa Numa no Mi/Swamp Swamp Fruit Logia-class Devil's Fruit eaten by Caribou allows the user to instantly create a swamp anywhere, and to absorb things into it. However, it's more the person creating the swamps are evil.
- In Episode 22 (and 23 probably) an opponent of Alice uses some sort of mind trick or illusion of this a bit in "Pumpkin Scissors".
- Swamp Thing and Man-Thing were both "born" in swamps, as was their Golden Age inspiration, The Heap.
- Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing averted this a bit, as while the swamp was mysterious and sometimes dangerous, evil tended to intrude upon the "clean earth" that was the titular character's place of power.
- Man-Thing isn't really evil either.
- DCU villain Solomon Grundy was created from a dead gangster that was tossed into a swamp.
- Played with in With Strings Attached with the Poison Swamp. The four and the Hunter have to cross Goblin Valley and enter the swamp in order to get to the next portgate. The journey is more nerve-wracking than the swamp, which is blessedly goblin-free, and the four are not at all worried about protecting themselves from the various denizens of the swamp. Too bad they didn't tell the Hunter this. After the Hunter slaughters half a pack of Poison Wolves, it's clear the only “evil” in the swamp is him.
- John even pegs the swamp as artificial, though he doesn't know why anyone would want a swamp there.
Films — Animated
- In the first Shrek movie, Lord Farquaad exiles all magical creatures to the swamp where the titular ogre already lives. Granted, they're not actually all that evil, but the principle is the same. On a similar principle Shrek lives in the swamp because he's an ogre, and wants to play on the perceptions to get more privacy.
- The Bayou in Disney's Princess And The Frog looks rather murky and is infested with nasty crocodiles.
- On the other hand, it also plays host to Louis, Ray (and his massive firefly family), and Mama Odie - all friendly. Not to mention, a number of sweet and romantic scenes take place in the Bayou (Tiana and Navine cooking for everyone, or dancing together; their wedding; and Ray appearing as a star in the sky next to Evangeline after his death). Plus, it hosts no less than four musical numbers, all positive in nature (three upbeat songs - including a rousing gospel number - and a lovely moonlit ballad).
- Devil's Bayou from The Rescuers. The presence of Madame Medusa doesn't make it any frendlier.
Films — Live-Action
- The Creature from the Black Lagoon lived in the swampy jungles of the Brazilian rainforest.
- The film was actually shot in Wakulla County, Florida... an area known for its mosquito-infested swampland.
- Labyrinth has the Bog of Eternal Stench, a wretched swamp that would make anyone unfortunate enough to fall in it stink forever.
- The swamp world of Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi certainly looks evil, and there's at least one big, nasty swamp creature interested in eating you, but it also is the home of Yoda.
- It also contains the strange tree-cave, which holds an unusual presence of the Dark Side of the Force.
- And another swamp is home to Jar Jar.
- In The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Deadwood Swamp is a desolate, terrible place. Just see the name.
- While the actual swampland in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is never seen, the King of the Swamp Castle is suspiciously eager to get the hell out of there. So much that he's willing to marry his son to a hideous princess in order to get his hand on her huge... tracts of land.
- Later he also tries to adopt the princess by killing both his son and her father.
- It is also kind of played. The King tried building the castle atop the swamp just to show his friends that he can make a castle strong enough. It sank into the swamp. He built a second one. That sank into the swamp. Then he built a third one. That burnt down, fell over and sank into the swamp. The fourth one stays up... you may start wondering that the swamps are nasty enough taking down 3 castles that the King wants out of it. Surprisingly, he is kinda proud on the fourth castle's toughness.
- Its entirely possible that the only reason the fourth castle didn't sink into the swamp is because its sitting on top of the sunken ruins of the previous three.
- The monsters of Attack of the Giant Leeches dwell in the swamps of Florida.
- AJ Annila's Sauna is mostly set in a nameless village in the middle of a large swamp. It's not a nice place.
Live Action TV
- In Rhapsody of Fire's Emerald Sword saga and Dark Secret Saga, the Darklands where Akron rules supreme are surrounded by the swamps of Halgor, a dark, gloomy place with waters infested by ferocious sea serpents. Is also subverted in the Dark Secret saga, when our heroes hide in the swamp to hide from the living dead chasing them.
- Charlie Daniels Band's "Legend of Wooley Swamp" talks of the titular swamp as a place where travelers are advised not to go at night, as there are "things that crawl, things that fly, and things that creep around on the ground", and can "make a strong man die from fright".
- Swamp cards in Magic: The Gathering produce black mana. There are also Bog Wraiths, Will o' the Wisps and numerous other horrible swamp creatures. The designers insist that Magic: The Gathering does not have an evil color, but black does represent death, greed, and amorality. It is also the color that (until recently) contains all the classically evil creatures, including nearly every undead monster you can name, demons, cosmic horrors, etc.
- Not to mention the card Evil Presence. Not happy with your neighbour's depressingly wholesome Tropical Island getting sunlight all over your yard? Slap an evil curse on it. Instant swamp!
- In the end of the Kamigawa saga, however, the main hero settled nicely in a marsh. So, Swamps Are Not Always Bad. Kamigawa block in general was an intentional aversion of this trope, as the main villain uses white mana (meaning Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Good are both in effect)
- Among the ten original dual-mana land cards, the red/black one, white's enemies, was the Badlands. Though the Badlands are not particularly swampy (far from it, they're usually very dry), and are quite spectacular to behold.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! field spell Venom Swamp is a lovely place to visit, especially when you consider the native inhabitants. And don't forget to pay a visit to the royals!
- The Yozi Metagaos in Exalted. His entire body is a swamp, and he's fond of snacking on anything that enters him. And when we say anything, we mean anything - he eats mortals, demons, time, space, identity, himself... If you manage to survive a trip through him, you'll probably wish you hadn't, because you'll be infected with numerous diseases that will turn you into an outgrowth of Metagaos.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, swamps are the traditional home of black dragons, generally regarded as the most sinister and malicious of all dragon breeds. Other inhabitants include the evil frog-like bullywugs and the more neutral (but still aggressive) lizardfolk.
- Monster Mansion at Six Flags in Atlanta, where you meet all kinds of friendly, silly monsters until you make a wrong turn. "Stay out of the marsh," indeed.
- Averted with the Blue Bayou resteraunt at several Disney Theme Parks.
- Nan Zhong In the Dynasty Warriors series has a poison swamp somwhere which can drain you health quickly...
- In ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal, there's a swamp village called "Dunmore" and there's also "The Misty Swamp".
- In the forgotten PC game Princess Maker 2 if you set adventure to the forest you might find a few swamps in there, not really evil but it has a shortcut trap that you'll least expect...
- In Quest for Glory IV, the evil influence of the Dark One has caused the surrounding valley of Mordavia to mutate into a swamp, complete with undead monsters and deadly green goo. Needless to say, Baba Yaga thinks it's a lovely place to make her new home.
- It gets worse: This particular swamp is also home to Error 52, the most infamous Game-Breaking Bug of the series.
- In both Dragon Quest and Ultima, swamps deplete Hit Points and sometimes inflict the "Poison" Standard Status Effect.
- A swamp appears in Final Fantasy Tactics. The enemies that often appear on the map are almost always undead or flying (or both), and thus aren't effected by the highly poisonous water. You are, though.
- Conall Curach from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is another good example, being ridden with poisonous miasma and full of fish-like creatures, giant toads and ghosts. Not to mention its boss is a huge undead dragon.
- Averted in Minecraft until the introduction of witches, which live exclusively on swamps, and slimes, which now spawn in swamps as well as underground.
- This is the way it is in almost every single The Legend of Zelda game that features a swamp.
- The Swamp of Evil in A Link to the Past, where you find the sixth Dark World dungeon: Misery Mire. Also the Plains of Ruin, which are the Dark World counterpart of the Great Swamp in Hyrule; they contain its second dungeon, the Swamp Palace.
- Goponga Swamp from Link's Awakening.
- The entire Southern Swamp region of Termina in Majora's Mask. The water is poisoned and most of the vegetation appears to be either dead or dying. Situated within its central mountain is Woodfall, a twisted bog that contains one of the game's four dungeons. Woodfall Temple itself also conforms to this sort of atmosphere.
- The Swamp from Four Swords Adventures. It serves as the second stage of the fourth level. Though it wasn't always the poisonous mire you trek through: it used to be a place of natural beauty before Vaati's power corrupted it, and it is seen back to normal in the ending.
- Castor Wilds from The Minish Cap barely qualifies due to its abundance of ropes (ie. the Zelda equivalent of snakes) and exotic theme music; is is, however, a textbook example of the Bubble Gloop Swamp trope.
- In the Exile series and the remake, Avernum, you are poisoned by walking through swampy terrain.
- Bubblegloop Swamp from Banjo-Kazooie featured vicious piranhas.
- While the Black Marshes from The Elder Scrolls are not necessarily evil as well as the Bitter Coast from Morrowind, they are inhospitable. Also, the Black Marshes are populated by Argonians who, despite being friendly and benevolent, are fiercely territorial and will never let the Empire rule them.
- The Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion, realm of Sheogorath the Mad God, also deserve mention, as it is split in two to represent the dual nature of madness. Dementia, the southern half of the isles represents the darker aspects of madness, and consists mostly of swampland.
- The southeast of Skyrim is also home to a wetlands/swamp region. There are no undead there, only lots and lots of eight-legged wildlife. Adjacent to it is the lovely town of Riften.
- The new "Point Lookout" DLC for Fallout 3 features a swamp filled with Hillfolk ready to murder you instantly. And it's also filled with Ghouls, Mirelurks, and Robots, all also ready to murder you.
- King's Quest: Mask of Eternity had a subversion. The Swamp was actually a fairly decent place to live and had a couple of huts and benevolent beings. Unfortunately, a great cataclysm takes place in the opening scene, turning human beings to stone and causing the Swamp Witch to take over, bringing a host of nasty monsters with her.
- King's Quest II: Romancing the Stones has a straight example, complete with poisonous water and an Ominous Castle inside.
- Secret of Evermore had the Bugmuck, a swamp home to a gigantic (like the size of a small village!) bug carcass and bone dragons.
- EarthBound features the Deep Darkness, a tropical swamp where wading in the deeper water actively saps your health. And by "deeper water," we mean "muck deep enough that our Child Heroes are totally submerged by it." So they're probably losing HP from having to hold their breath...
- Left 4 Dead 2 has the campaign "Swamp Fever" set in a zombie-infested swamp.
- Slender Fortress contains a large marshland entitled "Swamp" housing a very angry Shrek.
- The Black Morass in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans is not evil per se, but it is where the orcs first came to Azeroth. The Swamp of Sorrows and Dustwallow Marsh in World of Warcraft are infested by dragons, spiders, crocodiles...
- The Mire of the Damned in Might and Magic VI is, well, you get the idea.
- Part III on the other hand gives us an entire island of swamp, including such wonderful places as the Minotaur Marsh, Shadowmire and Deathbog. It's also home to Swamp Town, a ghoul-infested pit. The best part of the island: There are a few squares of quicksand. Every turn you stay on them, two party members die. No HP loss, no status conditions, just death. And differently from M&M IV and V, III interprets turning around as the start of another turn...
- Wraithmarsh is a particularly good example - a desolate swamp that separates the town of Bloodstone from the rest of Albion in Fable II. Wraithmarsh was once the site of Oakvale, the Hero's hometown from the original game; it was destroyed as part of Reaver's bargain with the Shadow Council. Run-down buildings, skeletal statues and graves can be found throughout Wraithmarsh, which is haunted by Hollow Men, Wraiths and the occassional Balverine and Troll. It is also the home of the Demon Door to Terry Cotter's Army, easily one of the freakiest areas in all of Albion. A trek through Wraithmarsh is accompanied by a haunting soundtrack; even after the Hero gets strong enough to overcome anything Wraithmarsh has to throw at him, it can still give you the heebie-jeebies.
- RuneScape both averts this and plays it straight: there's a swamp just south of the starting town that's populated by goblins and giant rats, but they won't attack you; in fact, several quests involve locations in this swamp itself, including one of the beginner quests in the starting town itself. Once you progress farther, though, you encounter the land of Morytania, which is arguably one big swamp full of werewolves, the Vyrewatch, and other restless dead, all out to kill you. Special mention goes to the Mort Myre area, though, which is full not only of spooky pools and acid-spitting snails, but also Ghasts, which are intangible and sneak up behind you to spoil the food you're carrying. If, by chance, you don't have any food or a particular plot item, they'll instead spoil your own flesh (i.e., your Hit Points).
- The two swamps in Summoner are both pretty evil places, though in different ways. One was actually a lovely forest kingdom before the reigning monarch decided to halt Human Sacrifices to the local river god, at which point every single person was turned to stone and the entire place allowed to degenerate into swampy monster-infested ruins. The other is filled with a malign fog which inflicts a nasty Status Effect on the entire party, and is the home of The Fair Folk; even so, it's perhaps not quite entirely evil, because it provides protection of sorts for a sacred shrine.
- The Korcari Wilds in Dragon Age: Origins may or may not qualify - it is a fairly unpleasant place filled with wolves and darkspawn, but as for evil, it is nothing compared to many other places such as the Deep Roads.
- The Blackmarsh, in the expansion, plays this trope entirely straight. Once ruled over by an Orlesian blood mage called the Baroness, the Blackmarsh became a Ghost Town when she pulled the entire population into the Fade. It is now a haunted place populated with blighted werewolves, and that's before the Baroness comes back.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition adds the Fallow Mire to the list of evil swamps in the setting. The Fallow Mire is filled to the brim with walking corpses that attack anyone who ventures into the water. It was a somewhat livable place, however, before a waterborne plague swept through the local village. After that, a clan of Avvar barbarians showed up to push out the remaining survivors.
- The second and third stage of the Valley of Defilement from Demon's Souls. Lots of Goddamned Bats in the shape of gigantic insects, freaky mutants with disease literally pouring from their flesh, gigantic trolls that deal massive damage per hit and aborted fetuses. Did we mention that staying too long in the swamp poisons you? And that you are reduced to a crawl when you are in it? And that enemies, especially the aforementioned powerful ones, are not hindered by such a thing? Have fun.
- Dooms Mire from Brütal Legend. there's a grove of hanging-trees about midway through, so if people become lost they can commit suicide instead of drown or rot. Or get eaten by laser-shooting panthers.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the area where you first encounter the Flood is located in a swamp.
- In the Neopets console game, The Darkest Faerie, the village of Bogshot is located in a swamp that houses the Plague Serpent Kastraliss, a minion of the titular Darkest Faerie. Everyone in the village comes down with disease when the swamp is turned by the Darkest Faerie's magic.
- Splot in Bug! Oh dear god, Splot. The water instantly killed Bug- never mind Mercy Invincibility, you still die. There were many unforgiving sections (bubble jumping comes to mind). Enemies were either annoying (farting stink bugs, swamp flies, mozzies) or dangerous (frogs, literal lightning bugs, machine-gunner snails Made of Iron).
- And the boss? A swamp worm◊, who you were forced to fight while standing on a small platform (and an even smaller one later) surrounded by water. Getting hit would knock your character back into the water for instant death. That One Boss, indeed.
- Castlevania II featured swamp levels. The fun unit is that when in the water, you have to jump out to move.
- The Final Boss of Fire Emblem Gaiden is fought in a swamp. Units standing on the swamp tiles take some damage when their army's phase start. The Final Boss in question is an "Dark God" named Doma.
- Heroes of Might and Magic I and II have the Warlocks, who seem to be vaguely on the side of evil, prefer hanging out in swamps. III, on the other hand, have the swamp be home to the Fortress, which is neither good nor evil. In IV swamps are again associated with a vaguely-evil faction (Chaos).
- Blighttown in Dark Souls is the Valley of Defilement reborn. The game throws you a bone at least in the form of artifacts like the Rusted Iron Ring and the Poisonbite Ring that makes trudging through the swamp much easier. If you know where to find them.
- Sierra's ''Conquests of the Longbow' Played With the trope in the Monastery in the Fens. While the Fens were not inherently evil—at least not in any obvious way—the black-robed monks that lived there almost definitely were.
- Episode 3 of Apogee's Monster Bash has two nightmarishly difficult swamp levels which result in many a player resorting to the extra lives cheat.
- The Hydra Marshes in Chrono Cross are hazardous. Just stepping into the water without proper gear will hurt you.
- The Witcher has the swamp near Vizima in chapters two and three that runneth over with undead and all sorts of monsters. Ironically, with a single notable exception (the Order and the Scoia'tel clash), the quests you get in the swamps are usually much less morally ambiguous and dark as in the Hub City of Vizima itself—because the swamp is so evil, you don't have to question your every move, and just kill everything that moves.
- Fallenmire from Sands of Destruction. Upon arriving to the place, Kyrie discovers, to much to his horror, that there are skeletons floating around the wetlands. Taupi explains that the ferals forced their humans slaves to work to their graves on a nearby mine without caring about the dangers of mining in such a hazardous area.
- Lemures Marsh from Tales of Innocence. As soon as Ruca and Co. step on the area, they're ambushed by zombies. The party deduce those are the corpses of the soldiers fighting in the Northen Battlefield that were brought here thanks to the rains. Then we have the boss of the marsh, the Mud Undead who is revealed to be the souls of people that couldn't reincarnate and became trapped inside that monstrosity.
- There are swamps in both default maps in Dungeon Siege as well as the expansion map. III features a return to the swamp from the original singleplayer map, although several things have changed in the centuries since. All of these swamps are dark, misty places filled with all kinds of slimy, rotting creatures. The swamp revisited in III is also home to the Ur-Shamesh, or First People, a race of seemingly primitive magic-users who are generally hostile to anyone who enters the swamp.
- Nibelhenne Swamp from The Witch and the Hundred Knight, a Bubblegloop Swamp so deadly that the stench alone can incapacitate or even kill and those covered in it's muck can melt a person instantly. Very few can enter the swamp perfectly fine with no protection, one of which is it's owner and main character, the Swamp Witch Metallia. Unfortunately, she wants to expand the swamp beyond it's borders and gains the means to do it. It's later revealed that the swamp is the remains of an Eldritch Abomination and the muck contains dense mana, meaning those who die from it are actually experience Phlebotinum Overload. Metallia can survive in it because she was born from the swamp, which also allows her to use the mana in the swamp muck to it's full potential.
- Dragon Tavern has the aptly named Dreadmarsh, which is home to various undead monsters, mud, dangerous insects, fearsome giants, mud, deadly traps, lizard people and mud. The only reason people even visit the place is to loot the many treasure-filled ruins.
- Mz. Ruby's level in the first Sly Cooper game is a swamp in Haiti, complete with undead, swamp monsters, and dark Voodoo magic.
- The Blood Marsh near Westmarch in the Diablo III expansion, Reaper of Souls, is like this as a result of the evil Blood Magic employed by Adria corrupting the place. Apart from the unusually aggressive fauna (Boggits, Bogans, giant shrieker bats and the occasional Maggot Brood), there's also the pools themselves, which are quite poisonous and can kill a traveler quite easily.
- The Mere of Dead Men in Neverwinter Nights 2 is exactly as pleasant as its name implies, and that's before the Big Bad starts raising an undead army there. (And after that, in Storm of Zehir.)
- The Foggy Swamp from Avatar: The Last Airbender is initially depicted not as evil but definitely as very creepy (visions of the dead, scary noises, etc.). Meanwhile, the residents of the swamp are hunting the main characters for dinner. Though once all the misunderstandings are sorted out, it's not that bad a place.
- The Magic School Bus does an episode about wetlands where the kids start by believing in this trope but eventually learn the importance of a swamp in the ecosystem.
- On Challenge of the Superfriends, the Legion of Doom is headquartered in "The Swamp." It is always referred to as "The Swamp," in such a way as to imply that there is only the one swamp in the world (in fact, at least one episode contains a minor plot hole if you assume that there are other swamps). In one episode, the Legion hassles a witch they spot in The Swamp, only to discover that she works for an entity even more evil than they are, who also dwells in The Swamp.
- Froggy Bottom Bog from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic isn't so bad. Just avoid the giant hydra that lives there.
- In another episode there's a fire swamp, inhabited by a Chimera. There's also a much less evil swamp beyond that, where ponies have peacefully settled.
- Invoked metaphorically in-universe in The Simpsons episode "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington," in her essay "Cesspool on the Potomac."
- The Great Dismal Swamp, in the eastern USA. Or the name at least. It actually isn't evil. It isn't even that ugly.
- Vasyugan Swamp, located in south-western Siberia. It occupies 53,000 km. You don't want to get lost there, believe me.
- Two of the visible markings on the Moon were named "Palus Putredinis" and "Palus Epidemiarum". Although they're not really swamps, names like "Marsh of Decay" and Marsh of Epidemics" show that astronomers aren't immune to this trope.
- A notable aversion: If you were a slave in the antebellum South, the swamps of Florida were home to the Seminoles. Of course, this could also qualify as an exploitation, since nobody would venture into Seminole territory because Swamps Are Evil.
- Alternately, no one ventured into Seminole territory because the Seminoles were lethally capable of defending themselves in swampy terrain terribly unsuited to major offensive operations. The American Government did ultimately make the attempt to dispossess them after their "success" with the Cherokee in Georgia. It is believed that the Second Seminole War led to more American casualties than there were Seminole warriors arrayed against them (contemporary Andrew Jackson estimated around 900 total and modern historians treating 1400 as a maximum possible amount, with the Americans losing 1600 soldiers and uncounted settlers). Though an American victory, it was Pyrrhic at best when the bodies were counted and the economic costs made apparent, and in spite of everything, hundreds of Seminoles still remained in the swamps at the conclusion of hostilities, a source of significant pride to modern Florida Seminoles. An aversion by any measure, as far as escaped slaves and the Seminole alike are concerned.
- If some accounts of the Battle of Ramree Island are any indication, saltwater crocodiles were responsible for killing five hundred Japanese soldiers out of a group of about nine hundred that tried to escape from British forces through a swamp.
- Heck, even major cities like Philadelphia aren't immune to this.