The City vs. the Country
These are two very common plots in fiction and naturally occur quite often in real life too. But their execution is extremely different and often leads to a Double Standard
Alice is a sweet Country Mouse
who grew up in a sparsely-populated rural area, either on a farm or simply a small town in the middle of nowhere. Either of her own desire or against her will she moves to the big city. She doesn't like it because it's so much bigger, city people aren't
and they look down on her because they consider her a backwoods hick. This kind of plot is usually resolved by Alice getting to move back to the country and appreciating it more if she originally hated it, or acclimating to city life and making new friends who appreciate her good nature.
Bob is a City Mouse
who lives in a big city with lots of friends and loves to go everywhere. He's likely very independent and materialistic as well. Almost always against his will, he is moved to a much smaller area be it the suburbs or a small town. He will hate it because it's boring
, there's nothing to do, and country people are completely different from city people. If it's a farm he'll resent having to help out on the farm. In the process he may learn how hard farming really is, or he may not.
But by the end of the story he'll have learned An Aesop
and come to like his new home, realizing it is much better than his old life.
Plot B2: Alice used
to be a Country Mouse but moved to the big city and has now become a City Mouse with a glamorous life and career, and is usually embarrassed by her humble origins. Then she's forced to go back home for some reason, either temporarily or permanently depending on the story. Similar to Plot B, although there will usually be a rekindled forgotten Childhood Friend Romance
The Double Standard
decrees that a country person who doesn't like life in the city is free to move back home, or their down-home nature works to their advantage and they never learn the plus-sides to living in the city (and the story will imply that there aren't any
); meanwhile, a city person will just have to put up with the country and learn to accept a simpler life. Some works will portray the city as being full of criminals and shady people, often with a lot of drugs thrown in
while the country people will be more innocent
. Compare Welcome to the Big City
, Country Mouse
, City Mouse
, and Country Cousin
. It's worth noting that the characters who move do not necessarily have to fit the Country Mouse/City Mouse character types.
Heroic protagonists are often simple farm boys who are thrown into a larger world. One of the supporting characters may be a more urban, streetwise character who is initially depicted as cynical and dubious at best. This is in sharp contrast with the country boy hero's wholesome nature. Characterizations frequently gloss over the fact that people of rural upbringing are often conservative, traditional, and possibly unaccustomed to ethnic diversity.
So or so, the story will often depict how different people (and life) of the city/country are. To the point that they may not understand each other anymore.
is often a very specific form of plot B (and one of the few kinds where the city-loving characters in the country might end up going back — after the war is over, of course). Compare Arcadia
Move From Country To City:
Anime & Manga
- Hideki from Chobits is rather eager to move away from the farm, specifically to get an education in order to avoid being a boring farmer for the rest of his life. When he first enters the city, he's quite amazed at all the technology and stuff. He even says that he can't wait to get a computer with the internet so he can finally look up the fabled porn that he's heard so much about. Then he finds Chii in the trash in the back alley, wakes her up, and the plot starts up. All in all though, his country upbringing isn't treated as an issue.
- In the Pony POV Series, the Awful Truth that Applejack faces when she looks into Truth is that, despite not fitting in at first, she could still have been as happy in Manehattan as she is in Ponyville. Worse, she arguably could have been happier.
- In Aesop's Fables the Country Mouse visits her friend the City Mouse and is terrified by the city, swearing never to go back again because the country is simpler and safer.
- The Bell Jar has Esther Greenwood struggling to survive in New York City.
- The Secret of Drumshee Castle plays both plots out. Both Grace and Judith are country girls from the south of Ireland and visit England. Grace decides she prefers the simple life of the countryside but Judith stays in England, loving the lifestyle.
- Diggory Kirke in The Magician's Nephew is very unhappy that he has to move from his country home to a house in London when his mother falls ill. When she recovers he is overjoyed to return to the country. Frank the cab driver is also from the country and is thrilled when he becomes King of Narnia. CS Lewis also gives a rather unfortunately phrased paragraph about how city people talk and Frank's reward is getting his old country accent back.
- This is the premise of Black Beauty when the titular character ends up in London driving cabs. Of course it's completely justified since he's a horse and would be better suited living in the country.
- Beatrix Potter's The Tale Of Johnny Town Mouse inverts the fable from Aesop twice: Timmy Willie is brought to the city first, and then Johnny Town-mouse visits him; and, while Timmy Willie is convinced it plays out as in the fable, the narrator makes it clear that in fact both of them don't notice the problems with the place they know already, and are frightened by the strange ones. The story does try to give credence to both country and city, though it is significant that the "city" is a thriving English village.
- Perfect Strangers was mostly about Country Mouse Balki Bartokomous moving to Chicago and living with his American cousin Larry Appleton, Balki remains a Fish out of Water throughout the series, but unlike other examples, Balki takes to city life quite well.
- Mostly averted in CSI NY. Danny likes to tease Lindsay about moving to New York from the country (Montana), but she can handle herself in the city just as well as any of her coworkers. And she sometimes teases him right back about being a city boy.
- The video for The Script's "For The First Time" has a young Irish couple living in New York for work and missing Ireland. At the end of the video they buy tickets to move back home.
- Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is about a person who has grown disillusioned with life in the big city and decides to return to the countryside.
- Country Music in general will have a strong preference for the country. Any song where a country boy moves to the city will almost always have that boy back in the country (or at least wishing he was) by song's end. A good example is the Waylon Jennings song "Where Corn Don't Grow" (Covered Up by Travis Tritt later).
- Bernice Bobs Her Mullet, a musical adaptation of Bernice Bobs Her Hair, has Bernice from a hick town visiting her cousin in the City (pretty much the opposite of the original story, though the rest of the plot is exactly the same).
- In Hey Arnold! Lila moves from a farm to the big city and is immediately resented and made fun of by the other kids. Resolved when she stays in the city and the other kids warm to her.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode 'The Cutie Mark Chronicles', Applejack relates how when she was younger she decided to leave Ponyville and live the sophisticated life with wealthy relatives in Manehatten. She returned home once she realized she didn't fit in and was happier on the farm.
- The The Powerpuff Girls episode "Town and Out": the Utonium family moves to the metropolis of Cytysville, only to realize that it can't compare to Townsville, their original home. It's rather strange, since Townsville seems like a pretty big city in and of itself.
- In the Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures episode "A Star is Fashioned," Raspberry Torte goes to Berry Big City to talk with a fashion designer about her designs, and is given her own studio in the city. However, when she returns to pack up her things, the behavior of city folk juxtaposed to the behavior of her small-town friends makes her change her mind and decide to stay, even though this means giving up fame and fortune.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode ‘Simple Ways’, famous travel writer Trenderhoof, on whom Rarity has a crush, comes to town to see the ‘small town chic’, but becomes enamoured with Applejack and her rustic lifestyle (or, rather, with his own image of what rustic lifestyle is like), while Applejack sees him as a nuisance. Near the end of the episode Rarity, who has been preparing the Ponyville Days Festival and trying to show Trenderhoof that she is rustic too, finally decides to change the theme of the festival shortly before it’s due to ‘Simple Ways’, a ridiculous caricature of the rustic lifestyle, in a drastic attempt to win over his affection. Fortunately, Applejack sets her straight, both Rarity and Trenderhoof acknowledge their mistakes, and Rarity manages, through a lot of effort, to pull off the festival using its original small town theme.
Moving From City To Country:
- Arachnophobia has a young doctor and his family move into a small town. The townspeople immediately resent him for being from the city.
- The Nephew has an American teenager moving from New York to a remote and conservative Irish island. After clashing with his uncle he decides to go back to America but eventually is convinced to stay.
- Jersey Girl has Ben Affleck's character forced to give up his publicist job and move from New York to New Jersey in order to raise his daughter. He tries to get his publicist job back and suggests moving back to the city but of course he learns his Aesop.
- Doc Hollywood has a hotshot plastic surgeon on his way to a new job in Hollywood crash his car and have to do community service as a doctor in South Carolina.
- In Sweet Home Alabama, a woman from Sweet Home Alabama who has become a fashion designer in Big Applesauce has to go home to sever ties with her Childhood Marriage Promise who she actually married and he never signed the divorce papers before she can marry her New York fiance.
- Hot Fuzz features a London supercop who is forced to move to a little rural village. Subverted because the village harbours deadly plots and crimes as well.
- In Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen, the City Mouse Mary "Lola" Steppe with her family moves from New York City to the suburbs of Dellwood,New Jersey.
- Hannah Montana: The Movie: Robby Ray takes Miley on a private jet which is supposed to take Miley to World Music Awards in New York,to their hometown in Crowley Corners,Tennessee for her grandma's birthday,due to Miley's alter ego as pop-sensation Hannah Montana that starts to overwhelm her life. Miley has Childhood Friend Romance when she gets there.
- millenium@drumshee has English brat Emma get moved to the South of Ireland and not getting a long with the locals at all. She eventually bonds with a local girl on their mutual love of dogs and becomes happier there.
- James Qwilleran of The Cat Who... series by Lillian Jackson Braun is a big-city journalist who moves to a small town in Moose County under the terms of his Aunt Fanny's will. Several early novels in the series detail his adjustment (and that of his cats Koko and Yum-Yum).
- In How I Met Your Mother Ted and Stella debate over whether Stella and her daughter will move to New York or Ted will move to New Jersey to live with them. Stella wins. Subverted when Stella and her daughter move in with Tony in the city.In the series finale, Marshall and Lily decide to move to the suburbs due to having another child.
- Everwood: The show's premise is that of a New York City doctor moving his family out to rural Colorado after his wife's death.
- Played with in Green Acres. Oliver is tired of city life and moves to Hooterville to live the idyllic (he thinks) life of a farmer. He finds, however, that Hooterville operates by its own peculiar set of rules, and is often frustrated by its colorful denizens. His socialite wife Lisa is always begging him to return to the city, but, ironically, she is the one who fits in, as she is as loopy as the Hootervillians.
- The premise of Northern Exposure. Fish out of Water Joel is a New York City boy fresh out of medical school; the state of Alaska paid for his education in return for him practicing in Alaska for 4 years. He's supposed to be posted in Anchorage but they overbudgeted their doctor-payments. He thinks that means he doesn't have to work in Alaska at all, but instead they send him to the tiny town of Cicely, where he spends a couple of years resenting being there before finally blending in, and eventually Going Native - when the government of Alaska is forced to let him out of his contract early, he leaves Cicely but stays in unincorporated Alaska.
- The reality series Escape To The Country which is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- The Kenan & Kel two-parter where Kenan's family moves to Montana so Roger can live out his dream of being a park ranger. Subverted when the whole family hates the run-down house, Kenan hates his new school and Roger finds his job boring and the family can't wait to move back to Chicago.
- An episode of Sex and the City featured Carrie spending a week out in the middle of nowhere with her boyfriend and his cabin. She had a mental breakdown by the time a squirrel tried to approach her.
- Perfect Strangers was mostly about a Country Mouse moving to the City, but two episodes went back the other way.
- On one visit back to Mypos, Balki brings Larry to his old home, and the City Mouse falls in love with it.
- Balki meets his cousin Bartok, a Country Mouse who became a City Mouse named Bart, and lost his old world accent and mannerisms. Bart comes looking for money, which Larry believes is Bart trying to take advantage of Balki, but Balki gives him the money anyway; this leads to an emotional moment as Balki wrote the check to "Bartok", as he doesn't know "Bart", and Bartok regrets losing touch of his old Country Mouse self.
- Gaby Estrella: In this Brazilian series, the titular character used to live in the city until her mother got a job in New York and couldn't (initially) take Gaby with her. Gaby was then sent to her paternal Grandmother's farm.
- The premise of Suburgatory,when George found a condom in her daughter's drawer,he decided to move with his daughter,Tessa,from their home in New York City to the suburbs of Chatswin.
- The George Lopez Show features a subversion. George moves the family to a rural Colorado town after he and Angie feel it will be a better environment for their kids. However, once they move there, Carmen and Max spend all of their free time with the town's teens drinking, smoking marijuana, and shoplifting because there is literally nothing else for them to do. This, combined with George and Angie not getting along with the gossiping, judgmental adults, makes them realize that every town in America has the same problems as L.A. and they go back.
- Girls Aloud's "Live In The Country" is about being so exhausted with city life that when they have enough money, they're ditching the city life for a quieter life in the countryside, with ducks in a lake and a stall at the village markets selling cakes. Bonus Last Note Hilarity for including animal noises at the end of the song.
- One of Henrik Ibsen's early plays, St John's Eve, is based on this trope, with an urban lady moving to the countryside with her daughter, trying to steal the farm out of the hands of the true inheritor, her step daughter. This conflict is lampshaded throughout the play, showing just how different the mentalities were.
- The basic premise of the early Harvest Moon games involve a big city boy/girl who just moved to a rural town to inherit a rundown farm whose owner had recently passed away. The goal of the game is to settle down in said farm and try to restore it to its former glory, although some versions allow the player to refuse the farm offer, which would immediately lead to a game over.
- Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a Lighter and Softer version of this. She's sent from Canterlot to Ponyville in part to prepare for a celebration held there, but is also told to make friends while there. She resents having to do this, and focuses on work instead, but by the end of the 2-part pilot, she's warmed up to her newfound friends and wishes to stay with them.
- Cherry Jam from Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures is a variation, as she purposefully chose to perform a gig in Berry Bitty City because it was a small town, and ended up liking the place so much that she made it her new home. She specifically points out the friendliness of the BBC residents over those of Berry Big City.
- The implication that urban Americans are not as "American" or "patriotic" as their small-town relations is a well-known Berserk Button of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart (as well as many urban Americans; Stewart himself is a New York City native). The attitude itself can be found as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who maintained that America ought to be a primarily agrarian nation for democracy to survive (he lived before urbanization became a widespread phenomenon, so it's a bit more excusable).
- The 2004 presidential election (the one where George W. Bush was re-elected) in particular brought the "red state vs blue state" divide to the forefront (red and blue are traditionally - since the 2000 presidential election, that is - assigned to conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, respectively).
- "Main Street vs Wall Street" is another common theme during election season.
- In 18th century England, one of the two main political factions referred to itself as the "Country Party" and accused its opponents of being a "Court Party" (as in the Court of the King, not the justice system) that cared only for the interests of powerful and well-connected people in the capital.
- The English Civil War and the Hanover-Stuart Wars were in part a war between the cities and the country. More specifically subcultures connected with the city tended to line up first with parliament and later with the Hanovers and subcultures connected with the country went Stuart. Obviously this is a very rough appraisal but there is some truth to it.
- In Switzerland this was the cause of the splitting of the former canton of Basel into the half-cantons of Basel-Stadt (litt. Basel-Town) and Basel-Landschaft (litt. Basel-Country), the latter feeling marginalised against in the political system by the former.
- The Nazis often espoused a kind of idyllicnote agrarian system whereby Germanic veteran-colonists would till their own plantations in the blacksoil region of Eastern Europe, attended by Slavic slaves, whilst the cities were reserved as centres of Party learning, monuments, and military installations. Indeed, the Nazis were primarily supported by rural and small-town areas of Germany, whilst cities remained left-wing strongholds.
- The Roman Republic often had a romantic view of the rural past, and one of the folk heroes of the early republic was Cincinnatus, who was elected dictator at a time of crisis, and called to duty while plowing. He reluctantly set his oxen in the barn, took up the reigns of government, solved the problem at hand and beat down the invaders. And after that, he humbly resigned his duties, went back to his farm to finish the plowing. Cincinnatus became an example of virtue for centuries (enough that he is still the Trope Namer of this plot device on this very Wiki).