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Quest To The West

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In fiction, journeys will often have a significant reason to be headed west.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
GayGeek on May 29th 2013 at 9:51:05 AM
Last Edited By:
WolfMattGrey on Sep 13th 2017 at 12:57:38 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

So you're reading a story/watching a movie/playing a game and someone, usually The Protagonist, has to embark on a journey somewhere. Maybe The Hero has to go rescue the oppressed, maybe it's a family migrating to a place where they hope to live better lives, maybe someone has to escape a powerful enemy. Whatever the case, it's very likely that they'll be headed west.

Several circumstances conspire together to make west the direction to go:

Going west means our hero(es) will be coming from the east, which means the sun will rise behind them. It is widely accepted that the sun is a metaphor for light and all that is good and righteous. Similarly, dawn is a metaphor for new beginnings and hopes. So going west is a sort of Visual Metaphor, showing that our hero is bringing new hopes for better life with them. Furthermore, from a cinematic prospective, it makes for a very heroic and awesome shot.

Another reason has to do with recent history. When Europe was in an expansionist movement, they started going north, east, and south. To the west was a vast and dangerous ocean. When Europe was running out of room, they tried going west and found a continent that was entirely new. So "west" became the direction of exploration, challenge, and great rewards. As America became colonized and purchased the Louisiana territory, west was STILL waiting for European-descended explorers, and held challenge and land for anyone who could defend their territory. These events are still recent in a sense to the human race, and so "west" has become associated with "frontier", "adventure" and "unknown" tropes.

In the Eastern world, the passage of the great ocean seemed impossible, so Japan was the furthest East one could travel. If one wished to explore new things, then West to the mountains is where you had to go.

Note: this trope is for when the journey west has symbolism and meaning beyond just "Character X happens to go west". For examples to count, they have to imply a new life, a quest or an adventure of some sort. If our heroes are heading west only at the end of the plot this is Riding into the Sunset.

This trope is frequently used to start a Cowboy Episode. A Left-Justified Fantasy Map can lead to this if the characters are interested in crossing the sea. For the video game equivalent see When All Else Fails, Go Right.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mushrambo: The heroes head west to Shinzo, where the last human city is, in order to save humanity. Also throughout the show Yakumo repeatedly says something along the lines of "always going west, to Shinzo".
  • Princess Mononoke: While defending his village, Ashitaka's arm becomes infected by an angry forest god. The Cool Old Lady who heads the village sadly expels Ashitaka, advising him to journey west to the great old forests, there perhaps to plead for forgiveness from the other forest gods.

    Film 
  • In the post-apocalyptic movie The Book of Eli, Eli has been told to go west until he finds a place where the titular book will be safe and useful.
  • Gangs of New York: Jenny talks of her desire to leave New York for San Francisco to start a new life. At the end of the film, she and Amsterdam do just that.
  • Inverted and parodied in the comedy Wagons East, where the failing settlers hire a wagon master to help them leave the West, and return to the homes they left behind when they tried frontier life.

    Literature 
  • Journey to the West is an ancient note  Chinese story about Xuanzang and his mission to find the scrolls of Buddha and bring them back home. He and his protectors go far west, beyond the mountains, to find the scrolls. Given its age, it's most likely the Trope Maker of significant westward journeys.
  • Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief: The prophecy given before the quest starts with "You shall go west, and face the god who has turned".
  • The Lord of the Rings: Inverts this as the heroes journey east and then south. Probably symbolic of the fact that they, in contrast to the vast majority of epic stories, set out to get rid of something rather than to find something. At the very end of the book though most of the characters do in fact travel all the way west - to either spend the rest of their eternal life there, or to die there.
  • The Silmarillion contains a story called "The Great March", about the elves trying to escape the corruption of Morgoth. The Valar help the elves reach Valinor, a paradise untouched by evil, while the elves must cross the continent on foot, and ride an island across the western sea.
  • At the start of the second series of Warrior Cats, the main characters receive a sign that they must head toward a place where the sun drowns in the water each night - i.e. journey to the west, toward the sea.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The heroes head west twice - once to Emerald City and again to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the last episode of Wild Boys, Jack Keenan and Dan Sinclair ride into the sunset heading for Western Australia to start a new life in a place where they are not wanted by the law.
  • The The X-Files episode "Drive" has Agent Mulder drive stricken Patrick Crump due west at high speed. Crump and his wife lived near an antenna array that caused their inner ear pressure to escalate. Driving fast due west through the Earth's magnetic field was the only way to relieve the terrible pain.

    Music 
  • Pet Shop Boys have a song, "Go West", where the "west" in the song is a paradise the singer is inviting people to join him in going to.
  • Tom Waits has a song, "Goin' Out West", where the singer is trying to escape his current life and start a new one "out west", where people will "appreciate him".

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In The Odyssey, Odysseus is trying to go home from Troy to Greece, after the events of The Iliad. The story is about the seven-year journey it takes him to return to his wife.

    Video Games 
  • Warcraft III: the plot gets kicked off when the Prophet urges Thrall and later Jaina to take their people (orcs and humans respectively) to the previously-unknown western continent of Kalimdor, as the eastern kingdoms are lost to the Undead. By allying themselves with the local night elves, they can oppose a sufficient force to repel the demonic invaders.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Fievel's family does this twice. An American Tail tells the story of their travel from Europe to America, as they escape the cats of Russia. Then the sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, has the family continuing to a midwest frontier town where "cats and mice live in harmony".
  • In The Land Before Time, Littlefoot is told to follow the Great Circle (the sun) to find the Great Valley, meaning that it lies west.

    Real Life 
  • The following quote, attributed to Horace Greeley:
    "Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country."


Feedback: 107 replies

May 29th 2013 at 10:01:02 AM

There's four cardinal directions. If people are going somewhere, there's a 1/4 chance it's west. I don't think this is common enough to consider a trend.

... that said, there is an episode of Pokemon called "Go West, Young Meowth." And of course Journey To The West.

May 29th 2013 at 10:27:49 AM

here're some exapmles:

1)Percy Jackson and the lightning thief- the prophecy given clearly states Percy will "go west to face the god who has turned" 2) Mushrambo- throughout the show, Yakumo repeatedly says "Always facing west, to Shinzo" (the city the heroes are supposed to get to) 3)In the Odyssey,Odysseus is trying to get back from Troy to Greece,heading west 4)the full quote which I used for the name: For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar's gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go 5)"Go west" by pet-shop boys and "Going out west" by "Tom Waits 6) In the Wizard of Oz, the heroes set out to defeat the wicked witch of the west (guess which direction they go) 7) Broadly speaking, in the Old testement there is a tendency to view migration west as positive and migration east as negative (Jenosis 11/2, 13/12, 25/6)

I urge you to reconsider

May 29th 2013 at 10:32:40 AM

This is actually a really common one (though not in this specific form). Since we in the Western world read from left to right, even Picture Books and Comics tend to portray a traveling character moving from the left side of the page/panel to the right, whereas the dangerous/conflicting element often comes from the right. In countries where people read from right to left (like Japan) this is reversed.

Also, this is of course related to Left Justified Fantasy Map.

May 29th 2013 at 10:41:25 AM

If the journey is taken at the end of the story, this could be Riding Into The Sunset

May 29th 2013 at 10:53:57 AM

Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.
--Horace Greeley, 1865 (maybe)

May 29th 2013 at 11:28:48 AM

"Go West, young man" is a quote by American author Horace Greeley concerning America's expansion westward, related to the then-popular concept of Manifest Destiny. [1], which is (and somewhat explains) the Ur Example.

May 30th 2013 at 12:54:27 AM

In the last episode of Wild Boys, Jack Keenan and Dan Sinclair ride into the sunset heading for Western Australia to start a new life in a place where they are not wanted by the law.

May 30th 2013 at 12:58:48 AM

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is an obvious example, though the first film may also count since Fievel's family travels west from Europe to America.

May 30th 2013 at 6:23:54 AM

^^^ Yes, Larkmarn, I should have said Horace Greeley was the American Ur Example, due to the United States being settled in the East, and the Westward expansion thereof.

May 30th 2013 at 2:29:20 PM

The "Pet Shop Boys" song was in Dance Dance Revolution EXTREME.

May 31st 2013 at 10:27:57 AM

Inverted (and likely parodied) in the film Wagons East (1994).

May 31st 2013 at 12:06:22 PM

Duncan shared part of WHY we say, "go west". When Europe was in an expansionist movement, they started going north, east, and south. To the west was a vast and dangerous ocean. When Europe was running out of room, they tried going west and found a continent that was entirely new. So "west" became the direction of exploration, challenge, and great rewards. As America became colonized and purchased the Louisiana territory, west was STILL waiting for European-decended explorers, and held challenge and land (great reward) for anyone who could defend their territory. These events are still recent in a sense to the human race, and so "west" has become associated with "frontier" and "adventure" tropes.

In the Eastern world, the passage of the great ocean seemed impossible, so Japan is the furthest East one can travel. If one wishes to explore new things, then West (where the light-skinned, wide-eyed, freaks with giant noses come from) to the mountains is where you must go.

Jun 1st 2013 at 2:56:30 PM

so tropers I patched up the description but i don't know how to add links and the like. If anyone can explain that so it'll look more like an actual entry I'd be really glad

Jun 1st 2013 at 3:28:20 PM

Ok, did some formatting. If you need help in this kind of thing, here is where you find it: Text Formatting Rules.

Jun 1st 2013 at 3:31:05 PM

Thank you so much! you rock!

Jun 1st 2013 at 5:25:31 PM

Did a pronoun trick; "them" can be used as a plural or singular, and doesn't identify gender. I think the line about cimetography can be folded into the previous paragraph, as the Visual Metaphor sentence provides a nice segue.

Might want Cue The Sun

Jun 2nd 2013 at 1:53:18 AM

@/randomsurfer: I think that's a cool quote for a potential quotes subpage.

Jun 2nd 2013 at 7:19:35 AM

The Land Before Time: Littlefoot is told to follow the Great Circle (the sun) to find the Great Valley, meaning that it lies west.

Jun 2nd 2013 at 8:30:40 AM

I think The Western and Cowboy Episode should be wicked (and the latter cross wicked). Your description is pretty good now, and the laconic accurate.

The name is non-indicative, since west has meaning beyond one of the four directions, but I have no suggestions.

Jun 2nd 2013 at 10:15:34 AM

  • In The Lord Of The Rings, the Elves sail west to the Undying Lands to leave Middle-earth when they grow weary of it.

(If someone else wants to expand on this that would be great, as I am hardly an expert on LOTR -- still working my way through the books.)

Jun 2nd 2013 at 10:28:48 AM

The Pet Shop Boys' song "Go West" is a cover of a Village People song of the same name. Strange to mention the cover but not the original.

Jun 3rd 2013 at 9:44:53 PM

Live Action TV

  • The X Files episode "Drive" has Agent Mulder drive stricken Patrick Crump due west at high speed. Crump and his wife lived near an antenna array that caused their inner ear pressure to escalate. Driving fast due west through the Earth's magnetic field was the only way to relieve the terrible pain.

Jun 18th 2013 at 9:42:30 PM

I folderized the draft. There are some Zero Context Example's here that need to be expanded.

The Lord of the Rings is not an example of this, it has Riding Into The Sunset instead.

The All he Kings Men example will need to be rephrased: it is never correct to write an example referring to the page quote, because page quotes can be changed. This one may be too long to simply repeat in the example section (which is normally what you do) so I recommend putting a copy of the quote on the Quotes/trope page after launching this.

Jun 19th 2013 at 3:37:36 AM

Music: used on several levels by the Blue Oyster Cult in Then Came The Last Days of May

they're OK, the last days of May;
In the freezin' dry air,
I'm leavin' soon, the others are already there;
If'n you're interested, come along,
Instead of stayin' here -
They say the West is nice this time of year (that's what they say)

"Going West" is used both in the physical geographical sense, and the metaphorical sense of dying and going on the ultimate trip west.... the song is about sudden death in the desert, as would-be drug smugglers follow the Mexican border looking for a safe and unguarded crossing-point.

Jun 19th 2013 at 10:23:00 AM

Pardon the obvious, but couldn't this trope just be named "Go West, Young Man" ?

Jun 19th 2013 at 7:46:26 PM

Not kosher with certain rules.

I want to make a rhyme like Quest To The West.

Jun 20th 2013 at 12:46:19 AM

Warcraft III: the plot gets kicked off when the Prophet urges Thrall and later Jaina to take their people (oircs and humans respectively) to the previously-unknown western continent of Kalimdor, as the eastern kingdoms are lost to the Undead. By allying themselves with the local night elves, they can oppose a sufficient force to repel the demonic invaders.

Jun 23rd 2013 at 1:50:50 PM

Looking at Riding Into The Sunset, I guess LOTR doesn't really have that, since they go West to get away from conflict and action, but it isn't this trope either since the story doesn't follow their journey.

But The Silmarillion might have an example of this trope. Towards the beginning of the book, the elves have awakened somewhere in Middle-earth and are being attacked and kidnapped by Big Bad Morgoth's minions. After the Valar (angelic powers) and their army of lesser angels come to Middle-earth to save the elves and defeat Morgoth in war, they decide to invite the elves to live in their continent, Valinor. It's an earthly paradise almost entirely free from the corruption Morgoth has seeped into the World, and has enough light to see clearly, and isn't infested with Morgoth's surviving minions. Most of the elves accept this invitation and go on a long journey, on foot, called the Great March. When the get to the western sea, the Valar pull up an entire island to use as a ferry to bring the elves to Valinor. But the Great March only takes up 1.5 chapters, so I don't know if it counts. It's a pivotal piece of backstory, but not the focus of the book.

^The above is not a draft for a main page example. I don't even know if it counts for this trope.

Jun 23rd 2013 at 2:53:41 PM

In "Opportunity" from Bounce (one of the earlier versions of Stephen Sondheim's Road Show), Papa tells his sons to go west, forgetting in his deathbed delirium that they're already in California.

Jun 29th 2013 at 8:18:15 PM

^^ Silmarillion isn't a book; it's a collection of notes.

I would try something along these lines....

  • The Silmarillion contains a story called "The Great March", about the elves trying to escape the corruption of Morgoth. The Valar help the elves reach Valinor, a paradise untouched by evil, while the elves must cross the continent on foot, and ride an island across the Western sea.

Jun 30th 2013 at 1:35:55 AM

^ The Silmarillion is a book like any other. It's not a novel (it's more of a collection), but a book nonetheless.

Jul 25th 2013 at 8:24:59 AM

Fine, Silmarillion isn't a novel; it's a collection of notes. :P

Dec 9th 2013 at 4:30:38 AM

This has been quiet for some time but I have another example:

[[folder:Webcomics]]

[[folder]]

Dec 9th 2013 at 11:41:12 PM

how about Journeying Towards The West? less awkward, and you can put in an I Thought It Meant Journey To The West or Backstroke Of The West somewhere in the description.

Dec 10th 2013 at 12:10:18 AM

The current title West Is Where We All Plan To Go sounds like a line of dialogue and thus violates No New Stock Phrases. If launched with that title it will be immediately Cut Listed, and if Fast Eddie sees it on YKTTW he may simply discard it for that reason, as he has done to a number of others with the same flaw.

Dec 10th 2013 at 4:01:33 AM

Westward Journey is clear, concise, witty exactly in that order.

I'm Lovin' It.

still want the Backstroke of the West reference in though.

Dec 10th 2013 at 8:25:53 AM

"The current title West Is Where We All Plan To Go sounds like a line of dialogue and thus violates No New Stock Phrases."

This seems like an overreaction. "West is where we all plan to go" doesn't sound like a line of dialogue to me, not one we're likely to hear, unless you're dealing with a bad screenwriter.

But Westward Journey is in fact better.

The Horace Greeley quote would be an excellent page quote, being concise, and summarizing the idea of traveling west in the direction of renewal, rebirth, and discovery.

Music

  • "Go West" by Liz Phair, in which the singer journeys west to start anew and escape a bad relationship.
    Safe on/the interstate
    New York/is three thousand miles away

Dec 10th 2013 at 8:54:51 AM

Took the liberty of correcting the spelling of "Genesis" and the formatting of chapter-verse in the initial post.

Dec 28th 2013 at 8:17:29 PM

Literature:

  • At the start of the second series of Warrior Cats, the main characters receive a sign that they must head toward a place where the sun drowns in the water each night - i.e. journey to the west, toward the sea.

Dec 29th 2013 at 11:41:48 AM

Adding context and namespacing for existing examples:

  • Fievel's family does this twice. An American Tail tells the story of their travel from Europe to America, as they escape the cats of Russia. Then the sequel, An American Tail Fievel Goes West, has the family continuing to a midwest frontier town where "cats and mice live in harmony".
  • Inverted and parodied in the comedy Wagons East, where the failing settlers hire a wagon master to help them leave the West, and return to the homes they left behind when they tried frontier life.

  • Journey To The West is an ancient chinese story about Xuanzang and his mission to find the scrolls of Buddha and bring them back home. He and his protectors go far west, beyond the mountains, to find the scrolls.

  • Pet Shop Boys have a song, "Go West", where the "west" in the song is a paradise the singer is inviting people to join him in going to.
  • Tom Waits has a song, "Goin' Out West", where the singer is trying to escape his current life and start a new one "out west", where people will "appreciate him".

  • In The Odyssey, Odysseus is trying to go home, after the events of The Illiad. The story is about the seven-year journey it takes him to return to his wife.

Dec 29th 2013 at 2:19:50 PM

I don't believe this can be made into a general trope—characters have a tendency to go off in all sorts of directions, even in the same work. Including The Odyssey feels just strange—of course Odysseys is going west, because he's going back home, and he happened to have travelled east first to Troy. How else was he to get home? (Yeah, yeah, I know...)

Now, going west is a quite American trope, where the west is associated with breaking new frontiers and a new start in life, but that's not what you seem to be going for here.

Dec 29th 2013 at 5:48:21 PM

^"Now, going west is a quite American trope, where the west is associated with breaking new frontiers and a new start in life"

Then it's a trope, yes?

Dec 29th 2013 at 7:47:07 PM

To the west of USA is the Pacific and then the Far East. Is it true historically that those two things were "associated with breaking new frontiers and a new start in life" to the Americans?

Dec 29th 2013 at 8:32:00 PM

^No, the idea of "associated with breaking new frontiers and a new start in life" is about traveling from the eastern part of the U.S. to the western part (The Wild West) and the West Coast, especially California.

Dec 29th 2013 at 8:41:02 PM

Leaving Europe to colonize the Americas is also "associated with breaking new frontiers and a new start in life". Yes, KJ, it is the objective, here.

Dec 29th 2013 at 10:58:17 PM

  • In Chasing The Sunset Leaf's party is headed west because that's the direction the big flood swept his father towards.

Dec 30th 2013 at 2:28:12 AM

^^ But that we one already have, in Settling The Frontier.

Just going west in general can only be a Trope In Aggregate.

Dec 30th 2013 at 10:53:57 AM

Settling is about a colony. Not the journey. An example to illustrate:

  1. first book about the life of a Peasant in rural France
  2. the sequel is his trip to the Virginia colony with English settlers, ending with reaching land.
  3. the first five years of colony hardship in Virginia
  4. leaving Virginia to become a trapper beyond the Mississippi river.
  5. making a home in the Arkansas mountains.
Story one is neither trope. Stories 2 and 4 are about the journey only. Stories 3 and 5 are actually about settling the new frontier. If the existing examples are doing their job correctly, it should show how the journey itself is a metaphor for growth and new life. The Illiad still bothers me, it may be so old that this trope isn't applicaple to the meaning.

Dec 30th 2013 at 12:14:13 PM

In that case, you need a trope about what west means, eg the dream of freedom, justice, reasonably priced love, and a hard-boiled egg.

Otherwise it's either a Trope In Aggregate or People Sit On Chairs.

For what it's worth, the song "Go West" was first released by Village People.

Dec 30th 2013 at 5:57:59 PM

"you need a trope about what west means, eg the dream of freedom, justice, reasonably priced love, and a hard-boiled egg."

Well, this trope is where we discuss it...

Dec 31st 2013 at 6:49:08 PM

^^^^"Gesundheit".

I don't get it.

^^"In that case, you need a trope about what west means, eg the dream of freedom, justice, reasonably priced love, and a hard-boiled egg."

Isn't that exactly what we're talking about?

Dec 31st 2013 at 7:50:10 PM

^ Maybe I should say "I stand corrected" than "Gesundheit". (It's a Stock Phrase, btw.)

Jan 1st 2014 at 2:36:32 AM

^^ Not from the way the description is written or the way most examples look. There, it's simply "people going westwards", which can only be a Trope In Aggregate.

Jan 1st 2014 at 3:11:19 AM

Film: In the post-apocalyptic movie The Book Of Eli, Eli has been told to go west until he finds a place where the book will be safe and useful.

Aug 3rd 2014 at 11:18:25 PM

Does this count?

  • Inverted in A Dance With Dragons where most of the plots of the cast involve trekking to the far east to meet Daenerys Targaryen for various, mostly political, reasons.

Aug 4th 2014 at 2:18:07 AM

  • Deleted unnecessary blank line(s).
  • Added blank line(s) for readability.
  • Corrected spelling (decended).
  • Namespaced work name(s).
  • De-capitalized word(s): (West).

Aug 4th 2014 at 8:31:43 AM

Several examples (including mine) not added to the entry yet.

Aug 4th 2014 at 9:05:59 AM

Who wanna grab this?

Aug 6th 2014 at 11:47:33 AM

Music;

  • Led Zeppelin
    On we sweep! With flashing oar! We're going to go and seize that western shore! (Immigrant Song)
    there's a feeling I get when I look to the west, and my spirit is crying for leaving (Stairway to Heaven)

Apr 21st 2015 at 2:22:39 PM

  • Inverted in Lord Of The Rings, where Mordor is located to the east of Middle-Earth. Although in the end, Frodo and the elves set sail towards the west.
  • Warcraft III: The previous two games took place on the eastern continent of Azeroth, the third game starts with the orcs heading west to the unexplored continent of Kalimdor.

Apr 24th 2015 at 7:14:49 PM

This came to my attention when I started a YKTTW called Refuge in the West. So now there seems to be some question as to what to do with either of these. From what I can tell there are generally two types of journeys west, the quest kind, where you go for a specific reason then come back, and the immigration where they stay there, which is more or less the one I have. The question is, do we need both of them, or can we actually split them along those lines?

May 1st 2015 at 6:54:56 PM

Anyone? If not, I'll take it over and start doing that, since that's what makes the most sense to me.

Aug 23rd 2015 at 10:02:24 AM

AAARGH - ignore this, senility setting in, just realised I added it some months ago.

MUSIC:

Led Zeppelin, The Immigrant Song

On we sweep! With flashing oar! We're going to go and seize that western shore!

you could try The Pogues, Thousands Are Sailing, about Irish emigration "across that Western ocean"

Aug 23rd 2015 at 1:46:29 PM

How the Wicked Witch of the West became "of the West" from Wicked's Defying Gravity: "So if you care to find me, look to the Western sky!" Which Elphaba sings as she plans to start again.

Dec 27th 2015 at 8:59:34 AM

Anime And Manga

  • While defending his village in Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, The Hero Ashitaka's arm becomes infected by an angry forest god. The Cool Old Lady who heads the village sadly expels Ashitaka, advising him to journey west to the great old forests, there perhaps to plead for forgiveness from the other forest gods.

Dec 27th 2015 at 10:21:18 AM

I'll add the examples then — I also think the best names are Westward Journey and Go West Young Man (temporarily changed because of No New Stock Phrases)

Oct 2nd 2016 at 6:08:09 AM

Gangs Of New York: Jenny talks of her desire to leave New York for San Francisco to start a new life. At the end of the film, she and Amsterdam do just that.

Oct 2nd 2016 at 7:38:56 AM

Film

  • The Gumball Rally, The Cannonball Run, and Speed Zone all feature an illegal road race from the east coast to Los Angeles. Inverted by Cannonball and Cannonball Run 2 which feature an illegal road race from Los Angeles to the east coast.

Apr 13th 2017 at 10:04:14 PM

Ok, it's been more than 5 months since this was active.

My biggest question is how Larkmarn's concern in the first comment was not answered. This is Not A Trope. "Going west" is not a trope. Yes, I understand the symbolic meaning behind going west, the description does a good job of that, but it doesn't seem like a trope.

The fact that a majority of the examples are Zero Context Examples doesn't help.

Apr 14th 2017 at 12:55:23 AM

^ It's a Trope In Aggregate, I suppose (the meaning is in the vast amount of works that use the theme, not in how the theme is used in the works)

Apr 14th 2017 at 9:49:43 AM

^ I guess that might work, but the trope itself looks more like Garnishing The Story than a Trope In Aggregate. "West" doesn't add narrative significance more than other directions. Like Larkmarn mentioned in the first post, west is 1/4 of the cardinal directions. Yes, there's historical symbolism, but even in aggregate, the narrative doesn't depend on "west" as a specific direction. (Yes, there's the exception in westerns, going west means going forward, going east means going back to civilization. But in general my point remains.)

Apr 14th 2017 at 3:18:27 PM

^ It goes the other way, like I said: historical symbolism of this trope causes works to develop a habit of making people journey to the west. The significance isn't in the story (but they can appear if there are in-story reasons), but it's in how life inspires art and the particular work.

Jun 9th 2017 at 4:57:31 AM

  • The Lord Of The Rings: Inverts this as the heroes journey east and then south. Probably symbolic of the fact that they, in contrast to the vast majority op epic stories, set out to get rid of something rather than to find something. At the very end of the book though most of the characters do in fact travel all the way west - to either spend the rest of their eternal life there, or to die there.

Jun 9th 2017 at 10:08:30 AM

  • I forget the artist, but I recall the song "Should have been a Cowboy" which includes the following line:
    Go West Young Man Like you were Told
    California's full of Whiskey, Women, and Gold

When I saw this title my mind immediately jumped to those lyrics and I'd strongly advocate for that as the page quote.

I will also back up by pointing out that "West" has historically been a direction of adventures in the unknown. Consider the classic Chinese story Journey To The West and the significance of Chinese culture to many East Asian literature. The Western World is much more entrenched in this as well, owing to various reasons. The first would likely be the Birth of Jesus, specifically the Adoration of The Magi, who all traveled west to pay visit to the child. After that, the discovery of the New World built an western age of discovery, which was followed by the American Westward expansion which is such an triumphant example of this trope that they built an entire Genre of fiction around the myth of the "Wild West". Even today, the Western Americas are largely undeveloped, remote, and great hiding spots for all sorts of oddities, especially compared to the Eastern Seaboard, which contains two very large Metropolitan areas. At the sake of making an Increadibly Lame Pun, this is quite the circular trope. For example, while East Asia is still known to the Americas as "The East" most people living in the Americas will tend to picture the trip as a movement to the West as the flight path will typically go from east to west.

Sep 9th 2017 at 12:36:21 AM

Alright, it's been 3 months since this was last active so I'm grabbing it unless someone really wants it.

Sep 9th 2017 at 12:50:46 AM

^^ Quest For The West sounds like some sort of expansionist civilization thing, so maybe not. I like Quest To The West.

  • Princess Mononoke: After he is cursed by a demon, Ashitaka is exiled from his tribe, and must head west to meet his destiny.

Sep 9th 2017 at 12:56:58 AM

Started adding examples. Quest To The West does sound interesting and emphasizes the plot-driven nature of the journey. I might change the title to that and keep Westward Journey as a redirect.

Sep 10th 2017 at 3:39:19 AM

The Wizard goes from somewhere in Utah to Los Angeles.

Sep 10th 2017 at 4:11:32 AM

Two thoughts

1. A Left Justified Fantasy Map would tend to create Eastward journeys. Bilbo's travels in The Hobbit and Frodo's in Lord Of The Rings are two examples, with Frodo's eastward quest being due to the map, rather than to being an inverted quest to get rid of the Ring.

2. Wouldn't Journey To The West be the ur-example?

Sep 10th 2017 at 6:33:38 AM

1) True, but I assume Left Justified Fantasy Map also creates Westward journeys if the characters are interested in sea travel. They might want to know what's on the other side of the ocean, or need to escape a powerful enemy, or whatever other reason. And in Lot R some characters do end up travelling west at the very end. I'll change the sentence to "Compare LJFM" because "This trope is related to LJFM" is a bit too much. Nice catch.

2) I was planning to ask something like that. The example providing the page quote has zero context and it's the trope namer for some stock phrase used as a past iteration of the title. I'm probably gonna remove it and not even bother with a quote. It can always be re-added later with more context anyway. This leaves space for giving some context to Journey To The West and maybe find a way to mention it in the definition.

Sep 10th 2017 at 4:42:45 PM

I would suggest two possible solutions: 1- Don't make it about the West. Make it about all directions. In a similar way how we have tropes about Elemental Nations or Elemental Powers, place the symbolism of each of the four cardinal points in media and separate the examples for each case. Of course is going to be big but... Or 2- Make it about the esoteric/mythological symbolism about the traveling to the West, like in Journey to the West (the Ur Example) but also make it a non-examles page as it will be too broad to control and could fall easily in People Seat On Chairs territory.

Of course if examples are allowed make sure the examples are about only for those cases where the West has some symbolic/esoteric/mythological meaning and not just characters going at a random cardinal point that happens to be West. But that probably would requires huge amounts of constant clean-ups.

Sep 11th 2017 at 12:07:07 AM

There seems to be a missing supertrope about the symbolism of the four cardinal points, and since there'd probably be enough examples for each of them they'd all deserve their own pages... (with a descriptive paragraph for each of them on the supertrope page) That may be something to work on in the future.

I'll make the "example has to have some meaning beyond just going west" policy more explicit. I was already trying to follow it but it's better to spell it out. As you say, better avoid generic meaningless examples.

Sep 11th 2017 at 11:17:31 AM

The passage "(where the light-skinned, wide-eyed, freaks with giant noses come from)" is a bit obnoxious and unnecessarily negative. The joke is lost on me.

Also, wouldn't it make more sense to start with the supertrope?

Sep 11th 2017 at 12:24:07 PM

I dismissed that passage as a joke (it looks like one imo) when I first read it and then completely forgot about it. Now that you draw attention back to it, I'll tell you I assumed the joke was about the different styles used to portray people in Europe and Japan. European animation and comics tend to give people big funny noses and Manga style has tiny noses. Then there's this stereotype about narrow eyes, which means European eyes would be seen as wider by comparison. Even if nothing offensive was intended I find it quite off-topic now that you mention it. Guess I'll remove it.

I thought it'd be easier to do all four cardinal tropes first so I have some solid material for the super trope later. Even if I never had the supertrope idea I think this trope could stand on its own. It was obviously originally intended as such since its premise was "West is a notable and symbolic direction for journeys, more than the other directions". Of course now the later part isn't so true but while I get everything done (and it'll take a while) this one will be fine. There are many examples of supertropes/indexes coming much later than a lot of tropes that turned out to be part of them. Feel free to start working on one of the three other cardinal tropes or even the supertrope if you got ideas about it, though. I never said I had to be the only one doing this.

Also, I'd like to keep Westward Journey as a redirect/alternate title but I'm incredibly unfamiliar with the process. Can anyone help me with this?

Sep 11th 2017 at 4:48:45 PM

For redirects, there should be some level of discussion (even this is probably good) and then you take it to the Locked Pages thread and request the redirect, citing the discussion and any information that's relevant.

I was going to suggest that as the main title, but it is kind of boring... That as a redirect / alternate title will probably be good...

Sep 12th 2017 at 12:38:25 AM

Alright. I'll do it as soon as the trope is launched. There was plenty of discussion about the title in the previous posts... the consensus seemed to be that Westward Journey was clearer and better than whatever stock phrase was previously used, and then Quest To The West was deemed even better. And I think it illustrates the non-random nature of the trope better than Westward Journey.

Sep 13th 2017 at 12:57:38 AM

Launching it. Thanks for the help, everyone.

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