A place, be it a nation, colony, city, special district or the cafe on the border of gang territory, where neutrality is the operating principle. Unlike The Neutral Zone
or a demilitarized zone where members of the opposing side risk being shot if they enter, the Truce Zone actively encourages people of all stripes to visit and do business. Having shooting break out in a truce zone between opposing sides is bad for business and is strictly
discouraged, often forcefully by the local law. Or everyone else will just mob you.
Some Truce Zones refer to themselves as a "free city", a region not controlled by The Empire
, The Federation
or any other nation state. A frequently seen aspect of these places is that they are centers for trade and commerce and may have laws favoring businesses that might wish to establish themselves there. Such places often conveniently fail to have extradition agreements with the big players. Many free city Truce Zones take this further and allow businesses and people of questionable nature to exist there as long as they don't cause trouble for the place, making it a Wretched Hive
attractive to criminal elements and bounty hunters as well as protagonists fleeing The Government
for more heroic reasons. Anyone who enters the free city and obeys the truce rules can expect equal protection by local law enforcement, so this is a relatively safe place for fugitives.
Sister trope of Holy Ground
. Contrast The Neutral Zone
, which despite sounding the same, is actually the opposite — instead of both sides coexisting, neither side is allowed entry. Often combined with City of Spies
, Hub City
, Vice City
(in the seedier ones), and Good Guy Bar
. Sometimes includes (or is) a Bazaar of the Bizarre
or Inn Between the Worlds
. May well include a Power Nullifier
field for added security and deterrence; after all, Mr Joe Bulletproof is much less likely to start a fight if he's not so bulletproof after all.
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Anime & Manga
- The asteroid colony "Blue Heaven" in Outlaw Star
- Side 6, a neutral space colony in the original Mobile Suit Gundam. This didn't last, unfortunately.
- New Ostia's public baths in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
- The city-state of Ariadne serves as a mediator between the two Magical World superpowers during the Ostian Festival: the Republic of Megalomesembria and the Hellas Empire. True to the trope, they claim independence from both superpowers and have a strong enough military force to provide security for the Festival.
- Gina's restaurant in Porco Rosso
- The world of Phezzan in Legend of Galactic Heroes is introduced as a politically neutral planet which sits at one of two possible routes between the Galactic Empire and the Free Worlds Alliance, despite being officially subjects of the Empire. As expected, there are a fair share of spies and refugees who cross between the two superpowers via this route.
- There are several such zones in Sekirei, usually owned by MBI and used to keep their game of There Can Be Only One running smoothly. Miya strictly enforces a "No Fighting" rule at Izumo Inn, and the Genre Savvy villains steer clear of that area.
- The protagonist of Highlander: The Search for Vengeance attempts to break the "no fighting on holy ground" rule from the Highlander franchise. In his defense, at the time he's a newly risen Immortal. He learns his lesson quickly. Even picking up a broken sword with the intention to hunt down a far away enemy Immortal is enough to merit him a Bolt of Divine Retribution.
- In the Marvel Universe there is a tailor who does costume work for both heroes and villains and his shop is something of a truce zone (he himself remains neutral, not divulging any information he hears). However, he sets different days of the week aside for heroes and villains (taking Sundays off) to avoid any trouble.
- Marvel also has The Bar With No Name. While the place is mostly villain-exclusive, the proprietor claims an unwritten law that villains are safe while inside and any heroes that come in should treat them as ordinary customers. This hasn't stopped the likes of Spider-Man and Daredevil starting a brawl once or twice, however.
- The comic book Common Grounds was built around this. It was set at a coffee house that was considered neutral turf for both heroes and villains.
- The Reef in Sinister Dexter is a massive casino floating in the Mediterranean, which welcomes members from gangs and cartels all around the world. Everybody who sets foot in it is armed, but they all have enough sense not to actually try to shoot anyone.
- Fallen Angel. Furors bar is sort of a safe zone in Bete Noire. The proprietor does not tolerate violence in the bar. Of course, take one step out the door and you'll probably get mugged by Satan.
- Time In a Bottle in The DCU London, where neutrality is enforced by Merlin's magic. It's where the Martians signed the non-agression pact with the UK Government, British agents made deals with Fu Manchu, and the Rattles had their last civil meeting, and is now My Local for heroes and villains from across the UK.
- The DCU also has the Oblivion Bar, shown in Shadowpact to be a neutral ground for the magic-using heroes and villains.
- The Transformers has "Maccadam's Old Oil House", Cybertron's premier watering hole, where all grudges must be checked at the door.
Live Action TV
- The Highlander franchise: anywhere considered holy ground, be it a church, synagogue, or Shinto temple, is deemed safe refuge for an immortal so long as he stays there. However, this only protects them from other immortals and mortals can still kill them on holy ground.
- Immortal legend has it that the last time two immortals tried to fight on holy ground it was in Pompeii in 79 AD. Everyone knows how that ended.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Willy's Bar welcomes demons, vampires and humans alike. Later subverted in "The Zeppo" when it gets trashed and Willy is beaten to a pulp by a bunch of demons.
- Spike explains that Vampires worldwide traditionally establish this once a year on Halloween, abstaining from hunting humans for one night only. When Spike finds out that some newly risen vampires are breaking this rule, it pushes his Berserk Button;
- Caritas, the karaoke bar run by The Host/Lorne on Angel was neutral ground, and via a spell demons were not able to use their powers there - but that didn't stop some humans from invading and killing a bunch of them with the non-supernatural power of Gun Violence. It was rebuilt with new wards to keep anyone from committing violent acts, but that didn't stop Daniel Holtz from throwing a firebomb in from outside.
- The eponymous space station Babylon 5 was built specifically to provide one of these, although it didn't turn out too well in practice.
- Mac's Pub in The Dresden Files.
- V The (Original) Series turned Los Angeles into a Truce Zone, although fighters on both sides would circumvent the truce at every opportunity.
- Deep Space Station K-7 in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", where it appears both Starfleet officers and Klingons could hang out and get a drink. At least until the bar fights started...
- The capital city of Qo'noS is used as one in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Redemption" between supporters of Gowron and supporters of the House of Duras in the midst of the Klingon Civil War. They still seem to be allowed to beat each other up and engage in various competitions, though for a Proud Warrior Race this might be largely indistinguishable from a typical Friday night.
- A Red Dwarf episode featured a zone within a ship where criminal activity could not occur (as in, attempts to break the law would cause the lawbreaker to suffer the consequences he hoped to inflict on someone else). At first, this was played solely for laughs (for instance, Lister's attempted arson causing his own backside to combust), but when a deranged simulant attacked the crew, Lister soon realized how to game the system in his own defense.
- Happy Days: Ralph and Potsie, in the middle of a This Is My Side plot, have put a line down the middle of their apartment and pretend not to hear each other on the "other" side. Richie makes them all stand like tightrope walkers on the line in order to talk to both of them.
- In the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, the Armistice Station was built so that once a year, Human and Cylon representatives could meet. For 40 years, the Cylons sent no-one. The day they finally did, they then proceeded to destroy the station, thus committing the first act of war that began the Fall of the Twelve Colonies.
- The planet Zenophon in The Space Gypsy Adventures is neutral territory, hence the reason why so many of the eponymous space gypsies like to hide out from the Federal Alliance there.
- In Old World of Darkness' Vampire: The Masquerade, the Prince of a city can declare a specific place to be Elysium, which acts as a Truce Zone for the vampires of that city.
- Every now and again, truly neutral cities would pop up. Cairo was known for being an independent city, and Vancouver refused entry to both the Camarilla and the Sabbat (enforced by werewolves, until a Revised splatbook suggested the arrangement had changed). For a while, Los Angeles was the "Anarch Free State," and declared free of sectarian concerns.
- New World of Darkness continues the tradition in Vampire: The Requiem, allowing a Prince (or equivalent figure) to declare multiple areas of the city as Elysiums. The Prince of New Orleans uses this as an offensive tactic - his rival unofficially controls the French Quarter, so the Prince keeps declaring parts of it to be Elysium, meaning that every time something bad happens in one of them, his rival loses face for allowing Elysium to be violated.
- In Geist The Sin Eaters, any krewes or individual Sin-Eaters who have beef with each other are advised to put it away during a Carnival, or find a way to solve it non-violently. After all, when you and your rivals all know the trick of coming back from the dead, why bother?
- In Changeling: The Lost, any decent Goblin Market enforces this rule with magical oaths and brutish hobgoblins.
- The Champions supplement Neutral Ground. Sanctuary is a club for super-beings with a strict non-violence policy, where superheroes and supervillains can meet without fighting.
- The fourth edition setting San Angelo combined this trope with Shrine to the Fallen. One park in the city had memorial statues/plaques for deceased heroes, going back to World War II. The park was accepted by both heroes and villains as a no-fight zone. (Well, most villains — the book's cover art showed an exception in progress.)
- The Federation of Arden in Traveller.
- Dragon magazine #71 adventure The Taming of Brimstone. In the eponymous Wild West town, no crimes occur in Jason Scott's doctor's office: the local cutthroats have an unspoken agreement not to endanger Scott, whose medical skills are sorely needed and impossible to replace.
- In Nomine
- Supplement Revelations 1: Night Music. The city of Austin, Texas is neutral ground between angels and demons. They still carry out plots against each other to achieve their goals, but try to avoid the use of direct violence.
- In the original French game In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas, in "Chez Régis" angels and demons can drink without fighting each other.
- Shadowrun has Denver in North America and the Free City of Sekondi in Africa. The former is jointly run by the nations of North America as a treaty city, while the latter is an independent city-state with a zero-tolerance policy against violence, where bar fights are taken outside the city wall and any ship-to-ship fight entering the harbor will get both parties railgunned for their trouble.
- Alpha-Omega has several "open cities", where virtually anyone who isn't diseased can get in so long as they play nice.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Sigil in the Planescape setting. Angels, demons and devils rub shoulders alongside mortal races of all shapes and kinds in there without anyone causing overt trouble. While a certain level of 'mundane' criminal activity is to be expected, those who attempt to turn Sigil into an open battleground are dealt with by The Lady. The only creatures who aren't allowed in the city are deities themselves; that's the Lady's most stringent rule, and her presence bars them from entering and severely punishes anyone who tries to break them in.
- Fan expansion mimir.net introduces La Pax, a Sigil tavern for fiends and celestials. It's an Anti-Magic zone, so any Bar Brawls don't involve supernatural powers. Run, of course, by a rilmani.
- Forgotten Realms has such places, usually enforced with divine or overwhelming arcane power. 1st Edition supplement Forgotten Realms Adventures. Temples of the deity Mask are neutral meeting sites for all thieves guilds in a town. Most trade cities do this, some more than others. Trademeet (a town on the crossroad of two major caravan routes) for centuries enjoyed Merchant’s Peace, said to be declared by Waukeen herself. There's a peer pressure to keep it in the merchant community, and few who break it soon receive a beating with Laser-Guided Karma just shy of a Bolt of Divine Retribution — e.g. a merchant who tried to hinder another and accidentally caused his drowning soon was hit with a storm which ended the moment he gone down, etc. Skullport — a Wretched Hive ruled by flying skulls who quickly suppress any open fighting. Sshamath — The Magocracy of drow who simply don't care about things that don't concern them or their trade and even for most creatures not getting along with dark elves elsewhere is a fairly safe place to visit — as long as one doesn't breach the peace, that is.
- Manual of the Planes describes the demiplane "Common Ground", a meeting place for deities, where the participants are immune to each other's powers and attacks. It consists of nothing but a large, opulent chamber (150 m in diameter) with a table and chairs around it, as well as portals in the walls to each god's home plane.
- DC Heroes RPG. In the Manchester district of Gotham City, the Manchester Viaduct race track was neutral ground for the street gangs of the district.
- As goes its literary progenitor, so goes the Dresden Files RPG. In fact, the identity and nature of the local Accorded Neutral Grounds is generally considered one of the key facts of any given DFRPG campaign. One of the first (the very first?) published adventure even centers around a coffee shop punningly named Neutral Grounds.
- In West Side Story, the school gymnasium where the dance takes place is neutral ground for the Sharks and Jets.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has a version of this with the "Bar" area... mostly. While there is essentially a cease-fire in effect all the time (on threat of being shot), mercenaries and monsters will occasionally spawn and start wiping out the neutral and duty stalkers in the area and then disappearing before the player arrives in the area, meaning that a previously vibrant area (compared to the rest of the Zone, at least) will slowly, over time, turn into a silent graveyard strewn with previously alive stalkers, with no sign of what killed people. Thankfully, there are Game Mods that fix this.
- Clear Sky on the other hand, has the more traditional approach with weapons-free zones in some areas (the Clear Sky Base, for instance), making them safe places to stay at whilst waiting for sunrise.
- In Call of Pripyat, the neutral settlement of Yanov, formerly a train station, is one of these, with the center third of the main building acting as a neutral gathering place for stalkers from every faction, and the two wings of the building functioning as the area headquarters for detachments of Duty and Freedom forces (who are still officially at war when outside the settlement). The 'town' of Skadovsk, an old shipwreck converted into a fortress, acts as one as well, albeit on a lesser scale since there are no organized factions operating in that area of the Zone.
- In World of Warcraft, the goblins are an independent race and in their cities Horde and Alliance players can trade with each other. Shattrath City houses refugees from both sides and Dalaran City is run by neutral mages; they qualify as well, even going so far as to have an aura forbidding Player Versus Player combat. The Druid enclave, Moonglade, is also a truce zone for Night Elf and Tauren Druids.
- Note that in Shattrath and Dalaran, neutrality is enforced by the rules of the game itself; player vs. player combat is impossible barring one long-ago event or exploits or other glitches. This forms an interesting contrast with the Steamwheedle Cartel goblin cities, in which neutrality is enforced by NPCs. So you can fight with another player there all you want as long as you're prepared for the guards to come down hard on you (or on the other guy for fighting back). For low-level characters, the wrath of multiple city guards with abilities specifically tailored to protect their city basically means a One-Hit Kill. But for higher-level characters, killing another player of the opposing faction and then fleeing or even beating the guards is sometimes feasible. Then consider that some players actually want to kill the Steamwheedle Cartel guards for a certain achievement, and these goblin cities are much... rowdier than the average Truce Zone.
- "Pocket D" in City of Heroes is a pan-dimensional no-fire zone open to both heroes and villains; party events are held here as are some quests that allow or require mixed hero/villain teams.
- The Midnighter's Club also counts to a lesser extent, as it's basically Cimorea's Lobby. It is one of the two no-combat zones in the game that characters of all alignments can access, however.
- Numerous examples are present in Star Trek Online: There's a Ferengi-operated bar in the Neutral zone, where Klingon and Federation players can both visit, and the entire Deferi Sector block and Borg Sectors are an Enemy Mine variation, where the two factions have set their differences aside to deal with a more important issue (The Deferi are allies of both sides, believing in "Balance", and naturally no one wants the Borg interfering.), Deep Space Nine is a combination of Enemy Mine against the Dominion and a convenient meeting place to speak about Borg issues (the Federation's transwarp gate to Borg space is one sector away, as is Deferi space, which is seeing heavy attacks by the Borg), and the Tau Dewa Sector block are home to another ally of both sides (a Romulan faction, enemy to the Tal Shiar and seeking a new peaceful beginning with its neighbours).
- One reason why there is numerous zones is that (by Word of God) the war is de-facto over by the high-levels as more and more Enemy Mine situations keep cropping up (Borg, Dominion, Iconians, Undine, an Omega-particle producing facility the Voth are trying to take over...) — the Solanae Sphere goes so far as to be an allied zone, where the Klingons, Federation (and aforementioned Romulan faction, who take the lead due to the access-point being in their space) outright call what they have there an alliance.
- Manaan in Knights of the Old Republic is this due to its production of strategically vital medical supplies. Not that it stops violence from happening, mostly instigated by you.
- The neutral zones in Bionic Commando.
- The main towns in Far Cry 2.
- Dogovor in Escape Velocity Override. Or rather, Pax Station in Dogovor — the description for the station mentions that much of the fighting in the technically-over Voinian War occurs right outside the station.
- Jeuno in Final Fantasy XI is it's own independent nation of sorts and is a neutral area for the three nations of the Middle Lands. More proper to this trope is that it has the highest population of Beastmen than any other player-race city in the Middle Lands. Granted, all of them are Goblins, but still...
- The Freeports in Freelancer (Freeport 1 in Omega-3, Freeport 2 in Bering, Freeport 4 in Magellan, Freeport 5 in Omega-41, Freeport 6 in Tau-29, Freeport 7 in Sigma-17... wait, scratch that, Freeport 9 in Omicron Theta and Freeport 10 in Tau-37. We're not sure where Freeport 3 and Freeport 8 are). Junker bases also serve as less lawful Freeports. In addition to those listed, Freistadt in Omega-7, Battleship Hood in Dublin and Ames Research Station in Kepler are also Freeports.
- Little Lamplight in Fallout 3, no one in your party, not even Jericho, will dare draw weapons in the area.
- In Fate/stay night, the local Church of the city is designated as a safe haven in the Holy Grail Wars. No one is allowed to attack another while there, and Masters whose Servants have been defeated can go there for protection if he's still to be targeted for his Command Spells. We never once get to see it played straight; the resident priest is the Big Bad in the first route and Caster attacks the church and takes it over in the second.
- It held the same status in the prequel, Fate/Zero. And it was played just as straight there: Assassin's Master used it as his base of operations after claiming sanctuary on false grounds.
- The Miko Institute in Sengoku Rance. However, you can actually declare war on it.
- The War Room in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. It's even pointed out during one mission by two COs from opposing sides.
- In Suikoden III, Thomas decides to establish Budehuc Castle as a truce zone so that everyone can visit freely, revitalizing the neglected property. Eventually, it becomes the player's home base.
- In the original Majesty, every Trauma Inn is one of these, but the in-game effect is minimal except in multiplayer.
- The bars in each hub level of Kingpin: Life of Crime are this, although this would have been far more significant had the game been released how the developers originally envisioned it, with multiple gangs fighting over turf and using the bars as places to hire grunts and enage in diplomacy.
- In the removed PVP worlds in RuneScape, banks and the player's immediate respawn point functioned as these. Though there was a cooldown time between entering the bank while in combat to avoid abusing them.
- Standard operating procedure in Drowtales: when noble clans feud, they are not supposed to interfere with the economy of Chel or kill civilians or slaves. Thus supposedly, the whole market district, Orthorbbae (a Hogwarts - style elite school), the Black Dragon tavern, etc. are all safe, neutral territory. Needless to say, this rule has gone ignored on a number of occasions, especially by the Ax-Crazy Nidraa'chal clan and the fanatical Kyorl'solenurn clan.
- The Magic Kingdom from Erfworld.
- Homestuck: The Veil is considered neutral territory between the warring Prospit and Derse in every session, so both kingdoms actively used it to house numerous laboratories in which to conduct genetic experiments to breed more chess piece soldiers for their perpetual war. When shit turns sour in the trolls' session, they hide out in one such laboratory which contains genetic experiments from both kingdoms.
- Troops Of Doom has the three factions of snowtroopers on the prison planet Rura Penthe. Granted, their truce is fueled largely by cowardice, laziness and lack of supervision, but it's no less touching for all that.
- The apartment of the main cast in Roommates is used like this by some supernatural forces. The catch is? They never bothered telling them, which leads to several kinds of awkward situations and routinely having tea with Cthulhu.
- In The Gamers Alliance, Bella and Fehr's Crafty Crow inn in Reign is a neutral zone for every faction where no harrassing or bloodshed is allowed. The inn side acts more like a Good Guy Bar whereas the tavern underneath the inn is a more typical Bad-Guy Bar.
- All of Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe is considered a Truce Zone: its charter was put together by superheroes and supervillains and super-neutrals alike, and teenagers can attend high school there regardless of their intent or their sponsorship. There's even a recognized school club for children of supervillains, the Bad Seeds. There's also a school club called the Future Superheroes of America.
- In Worm, Brockton Bay has a pub called Somer's Rock that acts as this for the supervillains of the town.
- The Neutral Planet on Futurama is a parody.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has the mall, where children, teenagers, and adults alike are welcome usually with just a bad taste in their mouths. Only really mentioned once in the entire series when they had to trade captured members of opposing sides.
- In Vor Tech Undercover Conversion Squad, The Hero Hudson Roarke and his older brother Lord Matrix use the park that was their childhood playground as a Truce Zone. In between their battles over technorganic dominance of the Earth, the brothers spend time in the park (while Matrix wears a human-looking hologram disguise). Hudson always tries to bring out his brother's lingering humanity in a bid to save him, and Matrix always denies him while trying to get Hudson to accept his vision of a technorganic paradise.
- An airport waiting room (or in this case, a space-port waiting room) usually doesn't function like this, but in one episode of Duck Dodgers, I.Q. High meets the Martian Queen there and they take the opportunity to chat. (In fact, the episode suggests they might have known each other before they both had their current jobs.)
- Switzerland. Neutral through two World Wars, destination of many refugees fleeing the Holocaust, home of the Geneva Convention and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent, and until recently, the place to bank large sums of money clandestinely.
- The Free City of Danzig, located on the Baltic Sea and bordering on Poland and Germany, was formed in 1920 when the end of World War I saw many German territories broken off. It was recognized as independent by the League of Nations but fell to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939.
- The Hanseatic League was a trading alliance dating back to the 1200s that controlled various free cities all over Europe. Some cities still retain the title although it is mostly honorary - the historical league partially fell apart in the 1600s and completely in 1862.
- Under the partition plan drawn up by the United Nations in 1947, Jerusalem was supposed to be one of these (with the UN serving as administering party). The necessities of the 1948 War led to the de facto abandonment of this particular idea, but it led to the general practice of having foreign embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem, as well as the efforts of a few idealistic (if probably misguided) souls to make the original idea a reality.
- The Joint Security Area in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, shared between North and South Korea.
- At the frontier in the South, there is a mini-museum dedicated to the wildlife and ecosystem that has thrived in the DMZ over the decades, since there is no human presence (aside from a stray mine blowing up a small woodland creature every once in a while).
- The Cayman Islands have gained a reputation as a haven for shady business and convenient lack of extradition treaties.
- The Restaurant Karpics in Ankara during World War II was attended by diplomats, spies, and journalists of all sides.
- All of Ankara and Istanbul was like this, really. But Karpics was the "Rick's Bar" of Ankara.
- The New York headquarters of the United Nations are autonomous such that anyone entering there has effective diplomatic immunity, even if they're on a country's most wanted war criminal/terrorist/dictator shitlist.
- This includes all employees. Do not tick off the UN janitors.
- Speaking of New York, there was a proposal by then-mayor Fernando Wood for New York City to become this during the American Civil War, whereby the city would secede from the Union and trade with both Northern and Southern states. Part of this was also the huge Hatedom in New York for Abraham Lincoln.
- Berlin was a bizarro version of this during the Cold War, as half of it was a Western city deep inside Eastern territory, and remained that way on the pretense that it was still one city occupied by the four Allies of World War II. As a result, military forces of the UK, France, the US, and USSR all remained in Berlin until the fall of the Wall... and besides becoming a City of Spies, commanders from opposing sides got to know each other a little. Particularly useful was the stipulation that Westerners could enter East Berlin on day passes.
- Tangier—on the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar—was also this for the longest time, being disputed between various European powers for decades if not centuries before being declared an unfortified and more or less demilitarized international zone under Anglo-Franco-Spanish administration in 1929. It remained that way—with a five-year Spanish occupation during World War II—until Moroccan unification and independence in 1956.
- Hong Kong had elements of this under the ninety-nine year lease. Technically, it was a British territory inside Communist China. In practice, it was an area with far less restrictive laws than the surrounding territories, which resulted in it gaining similar economic and criminal elements.
- The name of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Massachusetts means "Fishing Place at the Boundaries — Neutral Meeting Grounds".