Toros y Flamenco

This idyllic Spanish town brought to you by Red Bull! By the way, this "town" is supposed to be Madrid

"I have long been avowed enemy of bullfighting and flamenco. [...] No, it is not the intrinsic worth of bullfighting and flamenco that perturbs me but rather the way in which they reduce the rich history and culture of Spain to the level of exotic folklore."
Jonathan Brown in the Foreword to Richard L. Kagan's Spain in America: The history of Hispanism in the United States (2002)

The Hollywood Atlas version of Iberian countries (mostly Spain with possible addition of elements from Portugal, Andorra, etc.).

You know, that place where all the women dress in tiered skirts, and all the males in chaqué, where the landscape consists of mountains, red dry hills and beaches, and every night (because there's siesta all day anyway) passionate Tall, Dark and Handsome toreadors with roses in their teeth escape from stampeding bulls while playing guitars, and equally passionate Spicy Latina gypsies with roses in their hair, daggers in their garters and fans in their hands throw oranges at them while dancing flamenco. ¡Olé!

If you don't know why this trope fails that much at Geography, you should know that the Running of the Bulls (celebrated on the week beginning the 7th of July on the day know as "San Fermín") is celebrated only in Pamplona. The "Feria de Abril" (April Fair) where women actually dress with tiered spotted skirts and men wear chaqués is celebrated only in Seville. The distance between those cities is over 600 milesnote . Yet in fiction, both seem to happen at the same time and place.

Additionally, the Running is often portrayed as featuring hundreds of bulls on a murderous stampede. In Real Life, though, there's generally no more than fifteen bulls, released in groups of four to six, and they're often surrounded by a larger crowd of people, including a group running around them to keep them following the right path. Bonus points if the work even decides to portray the correct path they follow, or simply has them rampaging through any of the city's streets freely.

Also, this Iberian country is always Spain. Portugal? What's a Portugal?

Toros Y Flamenco is one of the most popular origin countries for a Latin Lover.

See also Latin Land, which shares many elements with this trope, due to strong historical and cultural ties between Iberia and South American countries. Sometimes confused or amalgamated (by hack authors) with South of the Border into Spexico due to the same strong historical and cultural ties plus the similar climate.

Sometimes coincides with It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans, when a visit to Pamplona (or any other town in Iberia if the author is particularly lazy) is destined to happen exactly on the week of the Running of the Bulls.

In Real Life Spain this trope is known as Españolada.


    open/close all folders 


    Anime & Manga 
  • Surprisingly averted by Antonio aka Spain in Axis Powers Hetalia; while there is official art with him in a matador costume, the traditional stereotypes about the country are barely touched (he is still depicted as a siesta lover, though) and his personality is less of a Latin Lover and more of a Nice Guy.
    • However, in his drama CD released on December 8th 2010, the first verse mentions bullfighting and flamenco almost immediately.
  • Like every other national and ethnic stereotype, this trope is alive and well in Mobile Fighter G Gundam. "Now representing Neo Spain, Matador Gundam!"
  • The Spain arc of Ashita no Nadja has Nadja working her ass off to learn how to dance Flamenco, befriending an embittered matador, attracting the ire of the matador's bailaora New Old Flame as she returns into his life suddenly while having plans to use the guys's affection for her... and, in a subversion, it shows her meeting up with Keith and mistaking him for his twin brother Francis in the Alhambra of Granada, a place that doesn't really follow the stereotypes above.
  • Spain team in Medabots; the medafighters are dressed as bullfighters and the Medabots are bulls!
  • Played with in Hana no Ko Lunlun. Around four episodes of the series happen in Spain, but only one involves the toros y flamenco stereotype. (Another even takes place in a desertic area, which can be either Bardenas Reales, Monegros or Tabernas.) In a further subversion, Lunlun had to disguise herself as a bullfighter to save herself and her companions from a bull, instead of meeting/befriending/helping a matador.
  • Also played with in Montana Jones when the gang goes to Granada. The main trio hears a deep noise. Montana says that it reminds him of a bison stampede. Alfred says that there aren't bison in Spain, so it must be a bull run. Melissa says that the bull run happens in Pamplona, not Granada. Then a bull herd runs on them... because the bad guys made it panic and run in their direction.
  • Mostly averted in Kujira No Josephina (Josephina The Whale). Since the series is based in a children's book by a Spanish writer, it depicts the Madrid of the years after World War II in a more realistic light - as possible as it can be through the eyes of a pre-teenager and his Imaginary Friend, of course. In fact, one of the most important episodes towards the end (when Santi meets his soon-to-be girlfriend Celia, takies the definitive steps towards teenagehood and leaves Josefina behind) takes place in El Escorial, an historical residence of Spanish royalty that is located in a town near Madrid.
  • In One Piece, the island of Dressrosa seems to follow this trope pretty closely, albeit in an affectionate way. Luffy even gets to ride a rampaging bull.
  • Nasu: Andalusia no natsu ("Eggplant: Summer in Andalusia") has the main character giving a military salute to a gigantic Osborne bull and Andalusians singing about Andalusia being an "infertile land" - Andalusia may have a small desert in its eastern fringe, but the general region is the breadbasket of Spain (and a good chunk of Europe). Other than that, the film largely avoids the trope as a result of choosing a local road bycicle racer as protagonist.

  • Astérix in Spain plays with the trope. There are "aurochs" (bulls), and Asterix acts like a matador when he fights with one, but most of the setting is traditional roman cities, no much different than the ones in other comics. There is a band of gypsies and Obelix dances flamenco, however. Partly justified because Asterix is set in 50 B.C. (so it's not like making 21st century cities look like 18th century ones).
    • Doesn't excuse the fact there are gyps... ahem, "nomads" and flamenco hundreds of years before any of them arrived in Spain (but then again, this is Asterix we are talking about).
      • Strabo and Roman sources like Juvenal or Pliny actually talk about the puellae gaditanae, women from Gades (today's Cádiz) or otherwise in the Baetica who were famous for their dances two centuries BC, even using metal castanets (crusmata baetica). I kid you not.
  • See also this Daredevil comic in which the hero participates in an illegal bullfight with lions (so... lionfight?..)
    • Daredevil also fought a villain called the Matador very early in his career. This culminated in a battle DD won by butting the Matador with his horns.
      • Matador's Start of Darkness is as priceless. He was once a corrupt matador that drugged bulls with sedatives hidden in banderillas because he was afraid of them. This ended when Bruce Banner witnessed it and turned into The Hulk ("The bull has no chance. This is not sport!"). After being exposed as a coward, Matador decided to exact revenge on mankind... by becoming a criminal in New York City. Uh?
    • And this Superman one.
    • And another one from Batgirl.
    • And another one from Indiana Jones.

    Films — Live Action 
  • There is a sequence taking place in this kind of Spain near the beginning of Mission: Impossible II, where they managed to mix Pamplona's Running of the Bulls with Seville's Easter processions, Valencia's Falles, and about any other Spanish cliché.
    • Also, Anthony Hopkins tells Tom Cruise that "the people are burning the saints to worship them"... which is completely false. The already mentioned Falles DO burn figures... but not of saints, and in Easter processions figures of saints are taken out... but NOT burned.
  • Tom Cruise does it again in Knight and Day, with running of the bulls scenes shot in scenic Cádiz, in the other extreme of the country.
    • It may have been shot in Cádiz, but the movie claimed it was Seville. Which neither honors San Fermin, nor has a running of the bulls.
      • At least, part of it was actually shot in Seville, and several areas of the historic city centre had to be closed for the shooting. Needless to say, Sevillians weren't very happy with the result...
  • Parodied in the classic Spanish film ¡Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!, in which the people of a small Castilian village decide to give themselves an Andalusian makeover in order to impress the Americans in charge of distributing Marshall Plan funds.
  • The surreal 1959 movie Thunder in the Sun has 19th century French Basques killing Indians in California with Cesta Punta and dancing Flamenco each night. It gets worse.
  • The 1956 adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days has a stop in a stereotypical Spanish town where Passepartout (played by Cantinflas) is forced to do precisely Toros y Flamenco.
  • Featured as part of a Culture Equals Costume spoof of the United Nations' Security Council in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The Spanish representative is seen conversing with a matador and a tonadillera, just like the Japanese is flanked by a sumo wrestler and a geisha and the British is seated next to a beefeater.
  • The 2001 Masterpiece Theatre version of The Merchant of Venice, and, likely, the Trevor Nunn stage production it was based on, has the Prince of Aragon show off with a flamenco dance step with fitting music to boot. Given that Aragon is in Northern Spain and has zero flamenco tradition, this was about as accurate as portraying someone from Alaska as a ten gallon hat-wearing cowboy.
  • (Mostly) averted in the Peter Sellers comedy The Bobo, where Barcelona is shown as a bustling modern city. Still, Sellers plays a (singing) matador, and there's an extended scene in a flamenco club (with a startlingly intense performance.)

  • P. Merimee's Carmen, especially the opera by Georges Bizet, is one of the oldest examples of this trope.
  • Tom Clancy and Dan Brown have also portrayed Spain as a third-world country in Balance of Power and Digital Fortress, respectively. Brown's case is even stranger because he supposedly spent some time living in Seville.
    • Digital Fortress has someone falling down the stairs of the Giralda, the Seville cathedral's belfry. Said cathedral was originally a mosque, with the actual belfry being its minaret, and it was built to allow horses to climb to the top. So, there's not a single stair on there, as it's built on ramps.
    • Op-Center: Balance of Power (which wasn't really written by Clancy but by a ghost writer like the rest of the series) should be considered one of the most blatant examples of Critical Research Failure, as the Ethnic Scrappy Spaniards are constantly characterized with the worst stereotypes about Mexiconote , and the whole "ethnic tension" that serves as motif of the book is said to rely on racial grounds with no linguistic or cultural differences whatsoever. The book goes as far as to claim that you can tell a Castilian apart of a Catalan because of his darker face.
  • In the play A Shot in the Dark, the Spanish chauffeur Miguel Ostos is described as a bullfighting fan and a passionate and jealous lover. Unfortunately, he's not in the play's Dramatis Personae because it's a murder mystery and he's the victim.
  • Turns up, complete with running of the bulls, in the Discworld novel Witches Abroad. Unfortunately the whole thing is misunderstood by the witches, and after the sight of a small blonde woman walking right through the crowd of bulls as though being trampled to death is something that happens to other people and taking the wreath off the lead bull, the townsfolk decide just to have a flower festival instead.

    Live Action TV 
  • There is a hilariously wrong episode of MacGyver set in the Basque Country (Spanish dub of the beginning here).
  • There is an episode of Full House where the oldest daughter tries to sell her father a trip to Spain, mariachi hat included.
  • Caroline in the City has an episode (called Caroline and the Bullfighter, so you know where this is going) where the main characters travel to Pamplona and, well, let's just say that every single thing that follows is wrong.
  • The episode Barcelona, May 1917 of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Curious case as it was written, directed and starred mostly by British people, and in turn features a lot of British stereotypes about Spain instead of American ones: paella, Cordobese hats, a duel at a bullring, a small jealous husband with moustache and an omnipresent bullfight tune every 5 minutes. Oh, and once the cheating is revealed to be a forgery, the small jealous husband decides to share a drink with the guy that he was going to kill a second before. ¡Fiesta!
  • An episode of Relic Hunter has Sydney and Nigel in a rush to meet a professor in a Spanish university because according to them, siesta time will begin in 20 minutes and then everything will stop working.
  • The Running of the Bulls is parodied in the Brass Eye episode "Animals" with the "Running of the Wasp", complete with footage of a crowd of people ostensibly running away from a wasp.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The James Bond 007 role-playing game module Goldfinger II - The Man With Midas Touch takes the heroes to Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls, where they are doused with pheremones that make them an irresistible target to the bulls and then dumped into the Running of the Bulls as part of a Death Trap.

  • Invoked in "My Little Castagnette", in The Desert Song.
  • The ballet The Three-Cornered Hat has a prologue set in a bullring for no better reason than to provide one half of this trope. Manuel de Falla's music amply fulfills the other half.
  • Bizet's Carmen.

    Video Games 
  • Vega's stage in Street Fighter II (and Vega himself, for that matter). The catch? That stage is set in Barcelona, one of the least Toros Y Flamenco-esque cities in Spain. Of course, one can easily find a tablao if desired... but it's as representative of the city in itself as ceili dancing.
  • Mike Tyson's Punch Out has the unforgettable Don Flamenco. Besides his name, this fighter likes to comment about everyone's hair, thinks he's very beautiful, dances flamenco (some dance the game designers thought looks like flamenco, anyway) with a rose between his teeth and has a girlfriend named Carmen. And the entrance music is from Bizet's opera — specifically, "The Toreador Song". The Wii game retains these characteristics and even gives him dialogues in actual Spanish.
  • Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup: The Spanish team members are dressed as bullfighters, their stadium is a bullring and they SCREAM!!!, don't talk.
  • The level "Black Velvetopia" in Psychonauts which, in typical Tim Schafer absurdist style, combines Toros Y Flamenco with tacky black velvet paintings, neon &... high school gym class. Capped off with a Bullfight Boss battle, of course. Somewhat justified in that the level is not an actual place, but rather a representation of the mind of a Latin-American former wrestler with a combination of OCD, chronic depression and deep-seated insecurity issues relating to an incident in high school.
  • The Spanish team in Backyard Soccer is called Los Toritos.
  • While the Kingdom of Sapin from Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War is presented as a modern and advanced nation, some of the usual Spanish stereotypes still creep into its portrayal. The main female character from Sapin is a modern day Ace Pilot with the callsign "Macarena" (groan), who works as a teacher of flamenco (groan) after she quits in the armed forces. And yes, she wears a rose in her hair while teaching said dance (groan) and is presented as a romantic, melancholic woman (groan).
  • The Regional Riff of the Spanish civilization in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors is distinctively flamenco-ish, despite the fact that the game ends around 1600 at the latest, yet the first mention of flamenco dates only from 1774. Also, and as informative as it is, one can't help but think that the History section of the game dropped the ball when they devoted most of it to what is more exotic to non-Spanish players, Muslim Spain - which would fit more in the 'Saracen' civilization part - rather than the Christian kingdoms that the game's Spanish civilization is meant to represent. Castile and Aragon are only mentioned when the text deals with the conquest of Granada and no mention whatsoever is made of Asturias, Leon, Navarre or the Catalan counties (or Portugal, see Real Life).
  • Rome: Total War has "bull warriors" as an Iberian elite troop. While the bull is a common motif in Ancient Iberian art, there is zero evidence that such unit or their fancy helmets with bull horns sustaining a solar disc ever existed.
  • Kind of a Necessary Weasel in 0 A.D.. The Iberian civilization's gameplay music is far too modern, dominated by guitars and trumpets. Of course no actual Ancient Iberian melodies have survived, and the few musical scenes represented in Iberian art show instruments common in the Ancient Mediterranean like lires and flutes. The Iberian units and buildings also used to have Spanish names in the first versions of the game before the programmers switched to Basque, which is at least a non-Latin derived language (the actual relationship between Basque and the poorly understood Ancient Iberian language(s) is debated; on the other hand, the game's Iberians are a stand-in for all peoples in the ancient Iberian Peninsula, including the Iberians but also Celts, Celtiberians, proto-Basque/Aquitanians, Lusitanians, Tartessians and Balearics).
  • At his debut in Tekken 6, Miguel, the Spanish representative in the King of Iron Fist Tournament, dressed in bullfighter-inspired attire. The resulting backlash over the blatant employment of a national stereotype (something Tekken usually doesn't rely on, unlike Street Fighter where it's part of the point) made Namco change his standard outfit in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, to something more akin to the street brawler he is.

    Western Animation 
  • Walt Disney's Ferdinand The Bull short. (And the book it was based on.)
  • In the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "When Mice Were Men", the Rangers travel to Spain, to a place named "Tramplonia" to be precise, to visit an old friend of Monty named Don Quijole. He tells them about an evil bull who stole all the other bulls to ruin the Running of the Bulls festival. The Rescue Rangers construct a mecha-toreador to defeat the evil bull. By the way, that's where the picture in this article is from.
  • In an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, the bad guys tail Jackie to Pamplona, and end up getting caught up in the Running of the Bulls. Everyone has to run for it except the Shendu-possessed Valmont, who the animals avoid like water around a rock.
  • An episode of the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon featured the Running of the Bulls... in Lisbon.
    • Which of course, looked like your stereotypical Spanish town, apart from the mentions of them being in Portugal.
  • One episode of Totally Spies! had the spies going to Spain. Not only was Madrid placed MUCH higher on the map, the city seemed to have come out of the 19th century... oh yeah, and there were bulls, of course.
  • Sylvester And Tweety Mysteries had one episode where Granny and her pets go to Pamplona and Sylvester had to constantly run away from bulls. Bonus points for getting the festival's name right.
  • The Mickey Mouse short Al Rojo Vivo takes place during the Running of the Bulls. It also includes another Spanish festival, La Tomatina (the one where they throw tomatoes at each other), which takes place in a different town and at another time of year.

    Real Life 
  • On the issue of Portugal being considered part of Spain, it is interesting to note that prior to the union of Castile and Aragon in the late 15th century, "Spain" was a purely geographical term applied to the whole Iberian Peninsula, and Portugal (which had secured its independence in 1143) thus considered as Spanish as any other Iberian kingdom (John II of Portugal was in fact angered when Ferdinand and Isabella called themselves monarchs of Spain for this very same reason). It wasn't until the dynastic union under the Habsburgs and the later rebellion in 1640 that Portuguese Independence was restored and that being "Spanish" became a foreign notion to the Portuguese. Don't ask a Portuguese person if he or she is Spanish. It's very poor form.
  • There are three things you can expect any Spanish euro store to have (even moreso if frequented by tourists): a stuffed bull, a sevillana dancer doll, and a Mexican hat. There is at least some justification to that, as those Mexican sombreros are descendants of the broad-brimmed hats worn in Andalusia, but they look nothing like their ancestors.note 

Alternative Title(s):

Toros Y Flamencos, Espanolada