Now with less fire!note
"Now, I make fun of Cleveland because everybody makes fun of Cleveland. I mean, every country has one city that people make fun of. In Russia, we used to make fun of Cleveland."
— Yakov Smirnoff
Known in some circles as "The Mistake By The Lake" (i.e., Lake Erie) or "The/Tha Land," Cleveland is the largest urban area in Ohio
. Located on the state's northern coast, it's often considered a Wretched Hive
and a Place Worse Than Death
, a joke that's been ongoing for years. Recent polls and news articles only reinforce this image, as it was once rated the most miserable city in America
. It was also the original Trope Namer
for Aliens In Cleveland
, as the city is considered by many the image of mundane mediocrity (at best).
Possibly the biggest reason why this goes unchallenged is because all but the most anal-retentive of locals have a sense of humor about it — they'll tell you themselves
how Cleveland is America's Butt Monkey
. With the brutal winters, massive urban decay
, a river that was once so polluted that it caught fire thirteen times
, several political scandals leading to multiple FBI raids, and the fact that road construction is never
finished (also a staple of Ohio in general), most residents have no illusions of being in paradise, and often speak with Gallows Humor
. Some choose to stay, however, as the city has a low cost of living, a growing healthcare industry (the world-renown Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals), and decent nightlife. It can even be called a mini-Chicago
, due to its patchwork of ethnic neighborhoods, Midwest atmosphere, public rail that's both elevated and underground, and division by a major river (east and west in this case, with people on either side almost never going further than downtown).
The term "Rock & Roll
" was coined in Cleveland by local DJ Alan Freed, and the city has a proud musical heritage and is home to both the Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Orchestra, one of America's "Big Five" symphonies. Also, Playhouse Square in downtown is the second-largest theatre complex in the United States, behind New York City
's Lincoln Center. The city is also sometimes used as a stand-in for NYC or Chicago in film, due to lower filming costs, since it has similar architecturenote
. It possesses a surprising number of truly beautiful churches, more museums than a city thrice its size generally has, and two of the best library systems in the country. Cleveland's the home of Case Western Reserve University, one of the more bizarrely named colleges in the countrynote
, and Cleveland State University. An hour southeast is Kent State University, a Berzerkley
known for an infamous shootout in 1970.
Its baseball and basketball teams — the Indians and Cavaliers, respectively — are fairly solid, although the Indians have currently gone for over sixty years without a World Series pennant, longer than any other team in the American League and longer than any Major League Baseball team that hasn't been cursed by a goat-owning bartender
, and the Cavs lost star player LeBron James (from nearby Akron) to the Miami
Heat, who went on to finally win two titles. But then he decided to come back home in his prime, so maybe the city is on the upswing. And supporting its football team, the Browns note
, tends to be a lesson in masochism
. The city has had a rivalry with Pittsburgh
for decades. Also, never, ever
say anything nice about the Baltimore Ravensnote
The city was named for surveyor Moses Cleaveland (the first 'A' was reportedly dropped so the name would fit on a newspaper masthead) and has no connection to the English county of Cleveland
, or the 22nd and 24th President of the United States
(who was only distantly related to Moses Cleaveland).
Has been the subject of some rather infamous but hilarious videos.
Cleveland in fiction:
- Antwone Fisher
- Howard the Duck
- American Splendor
- The Fortune Cookie
- Major League (filmed in Milwaukee)
- The Drew Carey Show (whose one-time theme song is the former Trope Namer, used in full irony here)
- Overton from Living Single
- Marvel superheroine Dagger (of Cloak & Dagger fame) is from Shaker Heights, a wealthy suburb in the East Side.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, passing references are made to a Hellmouth in Cleveland. Robin is shown to have moved there with his own squad of slayers.
- How I Met Your Mother: the main character of the show, Ted Mosby, is from Cleveland, namely Shaker Heights. Series creator Carter Bays (he based Ted’s character off of himself) also hails from Shaker.
- Ted’s best friend from school, Punchy, still lives in Cleveland with his fiancée. In season 6, he asks Ted to be the best man at his wedding, which may or may not lead to a major turning point in the series.
- Bosom Buddies: Kip and Henry went to high school in Shaker Heights.
- The 30 Rock episode of the same name portrayed Cleveland as an idyllic paradise, albeit through the eyes of harried New Yorkers. In actuality, Public Square should have a lot more homeless people and pigeons hanging out.
- The Escapists
- The opening scene of Air Force One was filmed from the roof of Severance Hall.
- Fat Freddy of The Freak Brothers was briefly elected mayor (after trying to replicate Dick Whittington's adventures and become Lord Mayor of London, Cleveland was reckoned second best). People mooned him and threw bottles during his inaugural parade.
- Portal takes place in Cleveland, according to information◊ in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Later retconned, Portal 2 takes place in a salt mine in the state of Michigan, though both settings could have been used.
- Welcome To Collinwood
- The Soloist
- Stranger Than Paradise
- Kappa Mikey main character Mikey Simon is said to be from Cleveland
- Not fiction, but a number of Cleveland's restaurants have been featured on TLC.
- Several books/movies based on the Torso Murder (a Cleveland serial killer) such as Butcher's Dozen or John Peyton Cooke's novel Torso.
- Criminal Minds had an episode with a serial killer in Cleveland.
- Blood and Rust by S. A. Swiniarski a book that contains two vampire stories set in Cleveland.
- A few Route 66 episodes take place in Cleveland.
- The short story "On a Clear Day You can See All the Way to Conspiracy" by Desmond Warzel.
- The Infocom game Leather Goddesses Of Phobos includes a small area of Cleveland, where it is compared (unfavorably) to the slime pits of Venus and sandstorms of Mars.
- A few Get Fuzzy strips mention Cleveland such as the one that rates it the smelliest city in America.
- In View From The Top, Cleveland is the hub of Royalty Airlines' commuter-class sibling, Royalty Express, and serves as the setting for the middle third of the film.
- Hot In Cleveland
- The short story "Fields" by Desmond Warzel takes place in Cleveland during the final days of humanity, after most plant life on Earth has been choked out by genetically modified wheat.
- In Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II eats Cleveland.
- In Kids Next Door Numbuh 1's history report decribes the founding of an adult paradise, "they named it Cleveland."
- In Deadpool's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he accidentally destroys Cleveland during a drunken party aboard Galactus' ship.
- Carl Sandburg's poem "Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio" seems to paint the Cleveland of the first half of the 20th century as a happening jazz and blues scene, albeit with a darker undertone of hedonism and disappointment for the common worker (in keeping with Sandburg's socialism).
- Les Roberts's series of detective novels featuring Milan Jacovich (fifteen books as of 2011).
- In Skin Horse, the transgenic convention takes place in Cleveland.
- In a darkly humorous twist of fate, Cleveland is left as the largest city left standing in North America within the AlternateHistory.com timeline, Protect and Survive.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun is set in the fictional town of Rutherford, Ohio. Throughout the series, Cleveland is treated as being the nearest big city.
- S. Andrew Swann, a local, set the first book of his Moreau Series and both books of his Dragons of the Cuyahoga series in Cleveland.
- The Avengers was partially filmed in Cleveland, probably in response to The Dark Knight Rises being filmed in Pittsburgh. Locals found it hilarious when "Germany" looked like the Cleveland Museum of Arts. Also, the exterior of the opera house in Stuttgart is actually the entrance of the Terminal Tower, one of Cleveland's most recognizable buildings.
- Cleveland was seen in one episode of The Fairly Oddparents. Cosmo and Mr. Turner call it "the magical land of Cleve".
Celebrities from Cleveland and the surrounding area:
- Ernie Anderson (Ghoulardi, Tim Conway's comedy partner, and longtime ABC announcer)
- Jim Backus
- Halle Berry
- Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
- Drew Carey
- Tracy Chapman
- Tim Conway
- Wes Craven
- Mike Douglas
- Harlan Ellison (Grew up in the nearby town of Painesville)
- Alan Freed
- Teri Garr
- Arsenio Hall
- Steve Harvey
- Patricia Heaton
- Anne Heche
- Hal Holbrook
- Bob Hope (born in London, but grew up in Cleveland)
- Langston Hughes
- Kid Cudi
- Bernie Kosar (Who famously played the NFL Draft system so he could end up with his hometown team.)
- Lady Akashia (Drag Queen who appeared in the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race)
- Jerry Lawler (Spent some of his childhood there, life-long Cleveland Browns fan. We're sorry, King.)
- Gerald Levert
- Burgess Meredith
- The Miz
- Paul Newman
- Nine Inch Nails
- Harvey Pekar, creator of the autobiographical comic American Splendor
- Pere Ubu
- Award-winning sportswriter Joe Posnanski
- Monica Potter
- Perry Saturn.
- Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel (the creators of Superman)
- Siegel and Schuster originally wanted Superman's adventures to be set in Cleveland before Executive Meddling vetoed that idea. We can only speculate how this would have affected Cleveland's image in the public consciousness.
- Molly Shannon
- George Steinbrenner (Who tried to buy the Cleveland Indians before settling for the New York Yankees instead.)
- Michael Symon (Food Network Chef)
- Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) is from Chagrin Falls, a suburb of Cleveland.
- Mary Ann Winkowski - Television personality whose claims of paranormal experiences are the basis for Ghost Whisperer, on which she is also a paid producer.
- Frank Yankovic (musician, known as "America's Polka King")
- Dolph Ziggler (born there, according to That Other Wiki)