->''"The Simpson story begins back in the old country. I forget which one, exactly."''
-->-- '''Abe Simpson''', ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''

So, you want to introduce a European immigrant to your North American-based show. You want the character to get up to lots of FishOutOfWater fun as his crazy traditions clash with modern American life, marvel at the amazing wealth of Americans and contrast it with the poverty of his homeland, and provide incisive {{Whoopi Epiphany Speech}}es about how different life was back in his one-tractor peasant town, all while talking in an outrageous accent. So, their homeland needs to be poor, backward, simple, oppressive, rustic and pastoral, with crazy traditions and, of course, a distinctive accent.

There's just one problem - if you claim this geographic hodgepodge is a real country, you'll get a lot of complaints from nationals of that country, either because you've totally misrepresented their traditions, or because you've just described them as a bunch of uneducated peasants. So, the best route to take is to ignore the country issue altogether: Whenever you need to have your character talk about his origins, have them call it "the old country".

The old country is usually a {{Ruritania}} or {{Uberwald}}, with splashes of [[{{Oktoberfest}} Bavaria]], [[OliveGarden the Mediterranean]], the Former Soviet Union, [[NorseByNorsewest Scandinavia]] and {{Scotireland}}. Expect everyone to drive [[TheAllegedCar Ladas]] and tractors (if not goat carts), eat some sort of [[ForeignQueasine bizarre offal sausage]] and speak in a lilting yet guttural tongue. May be a case of WhereTheHellIsSpringfield

Note that this has definitely ''not'' been TruthInTelevision since TheNineties in the east and TheSixties in the west. Most of Western and Northern Europe is as urbane, cosmopolitan, and wealthy as the United States (Scandinavia in particular being considerably ''richer'' per capita, at least nominally), and even Eastern Europe (with a [[{{UsefulNotes/Albania}} couple of]] [[{{UsefulNotes/Belarus}} exceptions]]) is doing a lot better now than in the UsefulNotes/ColdWar days. And naturally, the ''people'' that come from such developed countries are not going to be poor, unlettered [[AlterKocker stereotypical 19th century Central European Jews]].

* There's a short story in Neil Gaiman's ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' in which a modern-day grandfather tells his teenage granddaughter a folk tale from the old country [[spoiler:and then hints at the end that the tale's hero was, in fact, himself as a young man. Also, apparently their entire family are werewolves.]]

* The titular character in ''Borgel'' by Creator/DanielPinkwater claims to be from TheOldCountry (more recently, he lived in The Old Apartment in The Old Building in The Old Neighborhood). His Old Country is in AnotherDimension instead of Europe, but otherwise is very much a parody of this trope; everyone there is so poor they all sleep in ditches and use dead skunks for clothing, they speak a language that sounds like someone preparing to spit, and Borgel has a number of stories from there which are generally total nonsense.
* Several of Jack O'Connell's ''Quinsigamond'' novels involve characters who came to the US from the Central European state of Old Bohemia, which appears in the world of the novels to be an actual country rather than a romanticised name for a region.
* Uberwaldians living in Ankh-Morpork in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels occasionally call it "Zer Old Country", usually when complaining about the absence of [[DramaticThunder psychotropic scenery]] on the Plains or in gratitude that in the city they're unlikely to be killed without at least being given a ''reason''.

* ''Series/{{House}}'' and ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' have both featured doctors, struggling with their {{Worthless Foreign Degree}}s, who merely came from the old country.
* [[Creator/AndyKaufman Latka Gravas]] of ''Series/{{Taxi}}'' fame, whose country was entirely fictional and rather vague. Probably the TropeCodifier for the current era.
* The original ''Series/AllThat'' had a recurring character named Ishboo (played by Kenan Thompson) who fit this trope.
** His home country was actually called "Foreign Land", meaning that the ''actual name of the country'' was Foreign Land.
* ''TheMunsters'' reboot had Grandpa often musing on "The Old Country" with all its traditions of ghosts, vampires, werewolves, possibly Romania but never stated so.
* A recurring character on ''Series/LateNight with Creator/ConanOBrien'' was Gustavo, an arrogant European who constantly insisted that Europe was superior to America in every way. In each of his appearances, Conan asks what country in Europe he's from, but Gustavo always refuses to answer, usually claiming that Americans would be too stupid to have heard of it. This is the closest he's come to giving any details on his country:
-->'''Conan''': What are you? Are you French?\\
'''Gustavo''': Heh, my country fought against France in World War II.\\
'''Conan''': Okay, so you're German or Italian.\\
'''Gustavo''': We fought them too.\\
'''Conan''': Wait, what? You fought ''both sides'' in World War II.\\
'''Gustavo''': [[UpToEleven We fought all three sides.]]
* Pierre, on ''Series/{{Danger 5}}''. While the other members of the eponymous MultinationalTeam of spies represent the major Allied powers of WorldWarTwo - the USA, UK, and USSR - [[CreatorProvincialism plus Australia]], Pierre is simply "from Europe", and seems to be a mishmash of French, Italian, and Spanish stereotypes.
* Borderline instance on an early episode of ''Series/JeevesAndWooster'', where Prof. Kluj and his wife have strong emotional reactions to anything that reminds them of the old country. Only borderline because the professor does explicitly name it as Romania in one scene (and describe it as "dump"), but ''mostly'' it's just referred by nonspecific descriptions.
* [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] and [[ParodiedTrope parodied]] in the ''Series/ShakeItUp'' episode "Hot Mess It Up": When FunnyForeigner Gunther talked about taking a trip to "the old country", he meant that he was heading to Saint Louis for a sequin convention.
* Fez's homeland gets this treatment on ''Series/That70sShow''.

* Typical ForeignWrestlingHeel turned Internet demigod Wrestling/TheIronSheik, after rattling off his [[BreadEggsMilkSquick itemized list of techniques that went into]] "humbling" his target, would often refer to it as "the old-country way," with the old country in question being his native Iran.

* ''Busch Gardens Williamsburg'' is a European themed amusement park in Williamsburg, Virginia. Formerly known as ''Busch Gardens: The Old Country'' in its early years.

* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'', the homeland of protagonist Niko Bellic is not named, and he and his cousin refer to "the old country". However, they speak Serbian in-game and Niko is quick to correct people that he's definitely ''not'' from Russia.

* Rolf from ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' claims to be from "the old country", which is a land of strange folk tales, ghastly traditions involving seafood, and lederhosen. Perhaps he's actually from {{Cloudcuckooland}}.
** Rolf is based (and exaggerated) from childhood experiences of the show's creator, Danny Antonucci, himself the child of Italian immigrants, dealing with the culture shock that sort of upbringing provides.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KickButtowskiSuburbanDaredevil'', this is where Gunther's family is from. Aparently it is set somewhere NorseByNorsewest, where the people [[HornyVikings still follow the old ways]]. One episode takes place there, and it is indeed called The Old Country.
* Didi's parents on ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' are like this. Especially her father. Apparently, in the old country, a woman gives birth in the potato fields, puts the child on her back and keeps going. He also claims they grew up "sleeping with the goats" at which point Didi states that he actually came from a well-off family, and wouldn't know a goat if it bit him.
** In the Chanukah special they said he grew up in Russia.
* Parodied on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' - see the page quote.
* Tish's family in ''TheWeekenders''. Again, it is just called ''The Old Country'' and nobody knows which one. When a television report was done on Tish, they said experts were unable to locate on a map or even ''pronounce'' the country. Presumably it no longer exists...

* Troper SilentHunter used this term at PhoenixRoleplaying to euphemistically describe AJJEGames (where much of the membership originated from and left in unpleasant circumstances) and it seems to have stuck.

* There's actually a region in northern Germany called [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altes_Land Altes Land]]. It's known primarily for its fruit orchards.