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Artistic License – Geography
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The other nine countries of South America lost the game.

"Where did all those majestic cliffs go in the interim 500 years?"
The Nostalgia Chick on the towering cliffs of coastal Virginia in Pocahontas.

A writer may want to set a story in a location, but that doesn't mean they want or need to be accurate. This form of Artistic License can happen in a number of ways. The most common seems to be setting a story in a particular city without consulting a map, thus placing locations that are nowhere near one another quite close by, underestimating the time it would take to get from one to another, and sometimes transplanting whole landmarks from somewhere else entirely.

Lack of knowledge of regional climate or local architecture can also be glaringly obvious. A show set in suburban Cleveland should not look like Southern California. Often the lack of knowledge beyond common National Stereotypes results in a Hollywood Atlas or worse. This is often used in a stereotypical way, since well Viewers Are Morons, the popular image of a country or region's geography is used rather than the actual one.

This trope may not be obvious to anyone unfamiliar with the locale in question, but anyone who lives there will spot it right away, and when it's bad enough it can destroy the believability of the entire project or at least make the filmmakers look lazy. In medieval and older works, this trope is a sign that the story was known in places far removed from where it originated.

Super-trope to Time Zones Do Not Exist. Compare Television Geography and The Mountains of Illinois. If the writer intentionally has a character make geography mistakes, then that's a case of Global Ignorance. Artistic License – Space has some examples of this trope, only in space. Also, for geography that's explicitly fictional but still unrealistic, see Patchwork Map.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Advertising 
  • The "Junkface" ad from Neutrogena mentions "provinces, territories, and Nunavut", fails to include the border separating Nunavut from the Northwest Territories, and the eastern regions of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton are completely absent from the map.
  • An ad for the U.S. Postal Service tying in with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed Spidey picking up a package at the main post office in Manhattan, swinging past the Queensboro Bridge, and delivering the package to a man at the Ziegfeld Theater. Except the bridge is north and east of both locations — quite a bit east, in fact, as in the other side of Manhattan.
  • In the 1980s, in a year when the World Science Fiction Convention was held in Brighton in Sussex, the announcement of it in magazines claimed Brighton to be "near London". Maybe it's because Britain is smaller than the USA, or because it has a higher population density (especially in Southern England), but the British don't regard a place 60 miles away as "near".
  • In a commercial for the SNES version of Super Mario All-Stars, the narrator goes on a Mario-craze that includes among other things stating that the capital of Ohio is Mario.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Appare-Ranman!: The land around Los Angeles looks absolutely nothing like it does in real life. Instead of rolling hills and chaparral vegetation, it's rendered as vegetation-free desert with broad mesas, more appropriate for New Mexico or Arizona.
  • The "Koro-sensei Drawing Song" from Assassination Classroom shows Koro-sensei drawing his trademark smile by leaving contrails from Dubai to Hawaii and then back again, passing the Philippines along the way. Although the manga depicts this accurately, in the anime, he actually crosses Indonesia on his return trip instead of the Philippines.
  • In S1E31 of Bakuten Shoot Beyblade series, the main characters are ditched in Southampton, England, on their way to Russia for a tournament battle. As the ship pulls into harbour, Southampton appears to have green mountains and picturesque brick houses. It's actually a large modern city and its docks are flat slabs of concrete far as the eye can see. Definitely no mountains. The show redeems itself only a little, relying mostly on Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The scene suddenly jumps from Southampton to London, which means a distance of eighty miles. Kenny has previously mentioned that they have no money, and it's not said whether they walked, hitchhiked or anything else. However, their arrival on foot does suggest that they walked. Yet the sky is still bright when they get there, and the only thing to suggest that Southampton is not right next door to London is Kenny's (vague) comment that seeing Big Ben reminds him of how much time they've lost.
  • Blood+ went for the climate. At one point in the series, when Red Shield ship came to Vladivostok, the heroes transferred to a train. Among them, only Lewis wore a hat. In the middle of the winter. Apparently, nobody told the authors that the winds at the time could lift an adult man off the ground, and temperatures routinely reached -25C (-13F) with precipitation of 400mm or 32 inches. You'd be lucky if you end up with only frostbitten ears in such conditions.
    • In one episode in Vietnam, Kai walked from Hanoi to a port and back in a day. Firstly, if you look at the map, Hanoi has no port, the nearest one from there is in Hai Phong, which takes 4 hours to travel by car (assuming it doesn't cross the speed limit), and another 4 hours to go back, and somehow Kai traveled back and forth between the 2 places on foot... in a day... before the sunset. And no, Kai is a human character in this vampire series, and for the vampire characters, only the Schiff variants have sonic speed power.
    • Averted, though, in Darker than Black 2, where they did do the research. Sure, the weather was shown to be a bit too balmy for a season, but warm spells do tend to happen around New Year and everything else was spot on.
  • Doraemon: In one story, Doraemon and Nobita board a drilling vehicle to dig beneath the Earth, but end up going all the way down, across the Earth's core. When the vehicle finally loses power, they arrive at a ruined pre-Columbian civilization. In real life, the antipode of Tokyo (and all of Japan, with the exception of Okinawa) is the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Gundam:
    • The most common one is the Colony Drop scene from the original Mobile Suit Gundam: although the city is said to be Sydney, Australia, the location that's shown is quite clearly New York (the Brooklyn Bridge is visible in the foreground, while what looks like the World Trade Center can be seen in the distance). Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn re-creates the scene, and this time gets the city's look right (including the iconic Opera House).
    • Invoked in Gundam 0080; Bernie, disguised as an enemy soldier and claiming to be from Australia, talks about how much it would snow in December. Minutes later, the soldier to whom he was speaking realizes that the Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of summertime in December, exposing Bernie as a spy.
    • In ∀ Gundam, this map places the Mountain Cycle near West Virginia and Vicinity Town in central Jersey. In the show, a group of teenagers is able to walk between the two locations in less than twelve hours. (Not even walking fast, either.) In general, the pace of movement between locations is far quicker than one would expect by looking at the map. In fact, the map actually makes much of the plot for the first half of the series nonsensical - the territory that the Diana Counter wants to colonize and are trying to negotiate for the right to settle in and the region they've landed in and whose leaders they are negotiating with are in totally different countries.
  • Shinzo takes place 300 years in the future; apparently, geography has changed until New York is nowhere near an ocean and the Statue of Liberty is partially buried by the land. At the same time, Egypt is entirely covered by ocean, and you can reach it in half a day starting from the Alps while moving in a vehicle that goes about 30 miles per hour.
  • Assuming Neo Domino City in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is in Japan (and it probably is) the Crashtown Arc makes very little sense. Crashtown, which seems to fall under the jurisdiction of Sector Security (seeing as they showed up to arrest the villains in the end) is a town resembling an Old West mining town in a desert resembling the American southwest, and there simply aren't any places like that in Japan.
  • Parodied in Excel♡Saga. New Zealand is a massive desert filled with monsters, which Excel kills and sells their pelts in order to get back to Japan. It could be the usual mistake of thinking New Zealand is Australia.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Rosette's journey from NYC to San Francisco to rescue her brother goes as follows: She takes a pilgrimage to the time-frozen Seventh Bell Orphanage in Michigan. From there she drives to Washington DC (roughly 500 miles the wrong way), where Satella destroys her car. Then she takes a train to Chicago (which gets hijacked and wrecked). From there, her superiors get tired of all the accidental destruction and charter a plane to take her directly to California. Since this rescue mission was the most important thing on Rosette's mind for the four years leading up to this trip, there are only two possible explanations for such a roundabout route: Either the mangaka forgot to plot the journey out on a map, or Rosette is incapable of cross-country navigation. Even with the story taking place 30 years before the creation of the interstate highway system, there had to be a more direct route than that.
  • The novel A Dog of Flanders is very popular in Japan. This led to many anime adaptations of the story. Even though the story takes place in Antwerp, Belgium, some of these films depict the country in a stereotypical version of a neighbouring country, The Netherlands, complete with boys and girls on clogs walking in tulip fields.
  • The ROD OVAs start with a shot of the rolling, forested hills of Washington DC. The city was built in a filled-in swamp and has little greenery outside parks and the Potomac waterfront. It actually looks much more like Alexandria (which used to be part of DC and is across the Potomac) than DC proper.
  • In one episode of Lupin III, a sign shows the Kansas/Washington D.C. border. No points for figuring out the problem with that.
  • In one episode of Dinosaur King, Rex's father is somehow able to drive from the Museum of Natural History in New York City to the Statue of Liberty, even though they are on two different islands, and the Statue can only be accessed by ferry. He also makes the distance in about five minutes or so.
  • In the official translation of Hellsing, the location of the opening scene is identified as "Cheddar, a small village in Northern England". While Cheddar is a real village, it is located in Somerset, in the southwest of England, not far across the Bristol Channel from Wales.
  • Adventures of the Little Koala: The prominence of the Breadknife rock formation overlooking the village places it somewhere in New South Wales, about 350 miles from Sydney. However, in "Heavenly Fireworks", Weather journeys on foot to Ayers Rock to research the likelihood of a spectacular meteor shower, a journey which appears to take a day at most. The Breadknife and Ayers Rock are over 1,000 miles apart, so to make that journey on foot would take over a month; the writers evidently decided to set the distance aside in the interest of having an excuse to depict Ayers Rock's visual splendour.
  • The anime of Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse at one point shows a map of BETA's advance across the Old World, using our real-world national borders. This is despite the fact that in Muv-Luv Alternative, the Cold War canonically never ended due to the Alien Invasion that started in 1973, so Germany and arguably Vietnam should still be divided, and Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union should all still be shown as single countries (two major characters, Cryska Barchenowa and Inia Sestina, are Soviet-born Russians).
  • Kanna's brief trip to America in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid suggests that Cool-kyou Shinsha has a tenuous grasp of American geography. She accidentally lands in New York City, which is already a stretch (after flying away from Japan, she was looking for any city to land in, which would make her much more likely to wind up in a West-coast city like San Francisco or Seattle). But after befriending a wealthy girl named Chloe, Kanna finds out that Chloe is actually a runaway from Minnesota, which is a full 1,200 miles away from NYC! This would be an 18-hour drive, and there's no telling how a 12-year old runaway managed to make the trip on her own.

    Arts 
  • Sistine Chapel: Despite taking place in the Jordan River in Galilee, “The Baptism of Christ” includes famous Roman landmarks in its background for symbolic reasons. The Arch of Constantine, the Pantheon and the Coliseum all were significant landmarks dedicated to Jesus as Rome turned to Christianity, just as humanity turned from death to life in Christ beginning with his baptism.
  • The Starry Night: Vincent van Gogh painted it through the bars of his asylum window. As a consequence, he took a lot of liberties when depicting the landscape. For one, he could not see the town, so the steeple looked nothing like how he depicts it. In-Universe, the steeple reminds more of the kind you would see in Holland.

    Comic Books 
  • Exaggerated in the Sam & Max: Freelance Police debut issue, in "Monkeys Violating the Heavenly Temple", when Sam and Max take a trip to the Philippines. Max lampshades the fact that the background behind him is drawn without reference material.
  • The Asterix series also likes to feature travel episodes, where the characters visit a country and are confronted with many references to their modern-day equivalents. Since the comic strip is humoristic and anachronistic itself, many stereotypical jokes should not be taken that seriously.
    • Asterix in Britain: The Tower of London wasn't built until the Middle Ages. But then, the tower of Londinium as shown in this story looks nothing like the medieval or present-day one.
    • Asterix in Belgium: The Belgian landscape is portrayed as being nothing but a flat, monotonous grassy field without any other vegetation on it. Funnily enough, according to Uderzo, what really caused complaints was the depiction of the Belgian coast, which in reality consists of just long sandy beaches without the hills, bushes, and trees he had drawn in the traditional scene with the pirates.
  • Jet Dream: In "The Powder Puff Derby Caper," Jet is shot down over a "South Pacific island" somewhere between Honolulu and San Francisco.
  • The Avengers: A villain controlling the Red Ronin mecha tried to fly to the USSR to start World War III, and was thwarted because he tried flying eastward from the USA when he could have had a much shorter flight flying north and over the North Pole to that nation. Marvel's official handbooks actually acknowledged the guy tried to take the long way. Then again, the guy's plan was to start World War III by attacking the USSR with a Japanese mecha. He might not have been the best planner.
  • In Ultimate X-Men #10, Proteus comes from "Land's End, Scotland" (Land's End is the most southern part of England; John O'Groats is the northern counterpart) and #11 refers to the "A90 motorway" (should be either the A90 road or the M90 motorway depending on where exactly you are). This prompted Paul O'Brien to wonder if Mark Millar was really Scottish at all.
  • Uncanny X-Men Vol 3 #15 has a caption stating the female X-Men are shopping in "London, Piccadilly Square" (the square is actually called Piccadilly Circus). The UK reprint mag Essential X-Men actually added a Note from Ed. from the Marvel UK editor saying "Yes, we know. Don't laugh."
  • Cable: Blood & Metal Vol 1 #2 shows the Uruguayan Kallawaya mountain range. Such a mountain range does exist in South America, the problem is that it's located in Peru. To put things in perspective, both countries are basically on opposite sides of the continent.
  • In Spider-Man 1602, Peter claims to be from "the borough of Staffordshire". This is like saying you come from "the city of New York County". Also, he says it while explaining he's Scottish, but Staffordshire is in the English Midlands.
  • X-Men Unlimited #4 features the Mississippi river with waterfalls.
  • Issue 1 of Batman and the Outsiders calls Markovia "Eastern European", only to provide a map placing it in southern Belgium, next to Luxembourg, which is four hundred miles from even the most generous definition of Eastern Europe.note  Ironically, the given borders would encompass Bastogne, one of the few places in Belgium Americans have heard of. Later maps would place it between Switzerland and Italy (still not Eastern, but at least it's further east) or between Austria and Hungary, which is Central Europe.

    Comic Strips 
  • A 2017 storyline in Mary Worth, in which Wilbur Weston was in Bogotá, Colombia, repeatedly showed him and his Colombian girlfriend walking on the beach. Bogotá is on a plateau high in the Andes, and about 370km from the coast.
  • A 2012 storyline in Apartment 3-G had LuAnn dating the Governor of New York State. The writer seemed completely unaware that the governor would be based in Albany, some 150 miles from New York City, because NYC is not the state capital.

    Fan Works 
  • As a result of making the phrase "imagination always trumps research" the guiding ethos of his life, Who Let The Dog Out's version of Mark Haddon has a very interesting understanding of the world map.
  • In a case of failing canonical geography, legolas by laura has Mirkwood, Mordor, and Rivendell about five minutes' walk away from each other, as opposed to the hundreds of miles separating all three in The Lord of the Rings canon. Then again, Mirkwood and Mordor are persistently called "Milkwood" and "Mondor", which may be entirely different places that are closer together.
  • A lot of fanfic writers think that California is sunny all year long when the weather from September to mid/late May is completely unpredictable. Winters on the coast are also extremely rainy, windy, and cold. Though given media portrayal, one can hardly blame them...
    • Especially when the artery come from places that actually get cold. The average low temperature in winter in LA is 48 degrees.
  • In Chapter 4 of Sherlock Season 4, it's possible to drive from London to Paris in a matter of minutes, and you can easily throw an atomic bomb from the Eiffel Tower into the English Channel.
  • It's not uncommon to run across Harry Potter fanfic which misunderstands where Hogwarts is, portraying it as being "just outside London" (the city is big, but not so big it takes the best part of a day to travel across via train) instead of in Scotland.
  • Hogwarts Exposed has one scene in which Hermione watches the sunset at 4 pm on the 1st September. If there's anywhere in the northern hemisphere where this is possible, it certainly isn't in Scotland. For the record, it's over four hours too early, and it's before the equinox and during summer time. An earlier scene had it still dark at 5:50 am in August.
  • Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami has all of chapter 10, which takes place in "francs". In "francs", the locals speak in bizarre pseudo-French, which is mostly just English with -ez stuck on the end, random French pronouns and random accents on vowels (and on one odd occasion, Spanish), one can buy guns from "gun shops" without any kind of legal issue, it's home to "the mona lisa church" and the "Eyfal tower", which you can apparently jump off of into the "river tames". The author butchers London (all of Great Britain) just as badly. The Channel Tunnel goes directly to London, from which you can catch the Tube to "whales", home to cliffs from which you can jump into Loch Ness.
  • Lampshaded in regards to timezones in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series:
    It was Easter Morning in the town that Calvin and Hobbes live in.
    Is it Easter Morning where you are?
    Probably not, but go ahead and watch the show anyway.
  • In Supper Smash Bros: Mishonh From God, Asia is one big country.
  • Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness:
  • In Violine, a Running Gag is that a tribe of Amazonian headhunters is living in Africa somehow, and multiple characters lampshade this.
    • Which is either coincidence or the author poking fun at the readers who don't know the original Amazons were from Africa, and the South American region was named for them.
  • Due to a sense of geographical haziness and A.A. Pessimal agreeing he was too lazy to look at an atlas, in the Discworld's exaggerated analogue of South Africa, the home town of Assassins Johanna and Mariella Smith-Rhodes shifts from the "Transvaal" to "Natal" and back again several times. Okay, both provinces of SA have similarly-named towns that can be plausibly contracted and conflated into "Piemberg". Or "Piemburg". Spelling varies, making it even more of a Saffie Brigadoon.note  Proving one-to-one mapping between Real Life and a Fantasy Counterpart Culture isn't always possible or indeed desirable, Pessimal also moves an entire mountain range, the Drakensbergs, several hundred miles closer.
  • Invoked in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: a flashback where Bakura is introduced as a new student from Britain has some generic student yelling "Go back to Russia!"
  • In The Simpsons fanfiction Must Love Ned Flanders, Naomi gets on a plane to "Springfield, America" without having to specify, even though there are over thirty American towns called that. Then again, the exact Springfield where the Simpsons is set is subject to some debate, so it could be a joke, handwave or Lampshade Hanging.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Rescuers:
    • Perhaps mice divide the world up differently than humans, but some of the Rescue Aid Society nameplates in the original Rescuers are rather... interesting. For example, there's a mouse representing Vienna (a city) and another mouse representing Africa (a continent). And there's a mouse representing Austria — you know, the country that contains Vienna. Incidentally, there's some accidental accuracy mixed in with Germany and Latvia represented as countries. At the time the film was made (1977), Germany was divided and Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, but both are countries now, so at least the real world had fixed those two by the time The Rescuers Down Under came out in November 1990.
    • Near the beginning of The Rescuers Down Under, when we see the Travel Montage following the telegraph signal from Australia to the United States, Australia for some reason is unusually small and the United States is unusually big. In real life, both countries are approximately the same size. Also, Papua New Guinea is shown being the same size as Australia, the Marshall Islands the size of New Zealand, and Hawaii the size of Indonesia.
  • The globe that was seen in various promotional media for Cars 2 showed some continents as being either much larger or smaller than they are in real life. Justified, since the Cars series films all take place in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic vehicles, and therefore everything in their world down to the rocks, trees, clouds, and "animals" (they are also shown as vehicles) is given a car motif, and the same is for countries and continents.
  • Disney's Pocahontas depicts majestic cliffs and pine forests in the Tidewater region of Virginia. While western Virginia is mountainous and thickly forested, the Tidewater is a low-lying coastal plain characterized by a lot of swampland. Even the Appalachian areas of western Virginia (hundreds of miles from Jamestown) look nothing like the movie.
  • In 101 Dalmatians (the Disney cartoon), a reference is made to the "small village of Suffolk". Suffolk is a county, just like the ones in Massachusetts and New York.
  • The 2007 Beowulf movie is set in Denmark. The highest above-sea-level point in Denmark is a television tower. The highest natural point weighs in at a whopping 170 meters above sea level. But in the film, it is full of huge cliffs, rivers and mountains.
  • In Dumbo, the view of the United States from the heavens is cartoonishly represented as a giant map. On this map, "KY" (the abbreviation for Kentucky) appears where Tennessee ("TN") should be. Slightly less egregious is that Alabama is missing the portion of the state that drops down to the Gulf Coast (the counties of Baldwin and Mobile).
  • In Yellowbird, though the flock eventually make it to Africa, the towering trees dotting the landscape look remarkably similar to a species of baobab, Adansonia grandidieri. This baobab species, however, is native to Madagascar only.[1].
  • In The New Year Journey, a boy magically travels from Moscow to Antarctica on New Year's Eve, and it's explicitly mentioned that it happens at midnight. Somehow, it's a dark starry night in Antarctica, just like in Moscow, even though it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere and Antarctica has the midnight sun. Subverted: the whole journey turns out to be a dream.
  • Turning Red: Though the view of the CN Tower from Mei's house would roughly put her location somewhere in west Chinatown, the street layout and the architecture of the houses take more inspiration from the one at the intersection of Broadview and Gerrard known as east Chinatown.
  • Inside Out: The montage of the Andersen family driving to San Francisco shows them crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (US-101). Coming from Minnesota, they likely would have crossed the Bay Bridge (I-80) instead. However, the Golden Gate Bridge is much more famous to non-local viewers.

    Music 
  • In "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash, he is in Folsom Prison because he "shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die." Folsom Prison is a California state prison, and Reno is in Nevada, just across the California line. But there's no rule that the state a person is imprisoned in has to be the same one their crime was committed in.
  • In Lefty Frizzell's "Saginaw, Michigan", the narrator claims that he lived in a house on Saginaw Bay. Saginaw, Michigan is about 20 miles inland from the bay, so it would be physically impossible to be in both Saginaw and on Saginaw Bay.
  • And then there's Lead Belly's "Cotton Fields" song which mentions a place "in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texarkana". Texarkana is sitting on top of the Arkansas/Texas border, but it's nowhere within one mile from Louisiana's borders.
  • Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has the line "Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit." There is no South Detroit; directly south of downtown is Canada (specifically Windsor, Ontario), while the area south of the city on the Michigan side of the Detroit River is known as "Downriver" and is more of a collection of suburbs than the "city" of the lyrics.
  • The Feeling's "Without You" (its lyrics referring to the Virginia Tech spree shooting) mentions "North Virginia", a term that is not used by locals and in no way describes the location of Virginia Tech within the state of Virginia.note 
  • Averted/parodied by The Beatles' "Back in the USSR"; the lyric "and Georgia's always on my mind" refers both to the song Georgia on my Mind (about the US state of Georgia and/or a woman named Georgia) and the Georgia in the Caucasus.
  • The very first verse of the Canadian-geography-extolling patriotic song "Something to Sing About" begins, "I've stood on the sand on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland..." The Grand Banks are between 24 and 100 metres under water.
  • British artist Kim Wilde's "Kids in America" includes a perplexing line about "East California". California is long and narrow and is usually divided into north and south regions. The northeast part is dominated by mountains, the southeast is dominated by desert, and both are sparsely populated.
  • Sade's "Smooth Operator": "Coast to coast, LA to Chicago", though you can argue that they're supposed to be two unconnected phrases.
  • Music video for "Pippero" by Elio e le Storie Tese takes place on the Italian-Bulgarian border. Needless to say that the Italian-Bulgarian border doesn't exist.
  • Lemon Demon's Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny has Abraham Lincoln came out of his grave, in Tokyo...
  • Paper Lace's "The Night Chicago Died" says that the police shootout took place on the east side of Chicago. Chicago has no east side. East of Downtown Chicago is Lake Michigan. There is a neighborhood in Chicago called East Side; it's on the Far South Side, along the Illinois/Indiana state line. In the 1920s, East Side was a quiet, residential, and predominantly Swedish neighborhood — hardly the site of the bloodbath described in the song. There's also a district in downtown called the "Near East Side", north of the Chicago River and east of Michigan Avenue. The songwriters (who, like Paper Lace, are British) said in interviews — most notably on Beat-Club shortly after the song's smash success — that they had never been to Chicago before that time, and that their knowledge of the city and that period of its history had been based on gangster films. Paper Lace did send the song to Mayor Richard J. Daley, who was not impressed with the song and greatly disliked it.
  • Parodied in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Canadian Idiot", where the singer mentions "driving a Zamboni all over Saskatchewan". Saskatchewan is actually considered a prairie province and definitely isn't covered in ice. This, however, is making fun of people who think that all of Canada is a frozen wasteland as if the Great Plains stopped at the US-Canadian border for some reason...
  • In the song "Uneasy Rider", Charlie Daniels sings about his left rear tire being "about ready to go" just as he crosses the Mississippi line on his way to Los Angeles. He limps along the shoulder until he gets to a bar in Jackson. This doesn't make sense no matter how hard you squint. If he had started in Nashville, Tennessee, or Muscle Shoals, Alabama, his best route would be I-40 through Memphis, not I-20 through Jackson (interestingly, there is a Jackson along I-40 between Nashville and Memphis). If he'd started in Atlanta, Georgia, then I-20 does make sense, but then he wouldn't go through Arkansas at all. In any case, he was really pushing his luck to drive on a bad tire and on the rim to Jackson — it's at least 130 miles from any "Mississippi line".
  • There's still lots of debate over the chorus of the Robert Johnson blues classic "Sweet Home Chicago": "Oh, baby don't you wanna go?/Back to the land of California/To my sweet home, Chicago." The consensus is that this wasn't a mistake on Johnson's part, but there are endless guesses as to why he wrote it that way. The song's supposed to be about a road trip from California to Chicago. Or he was combining two places that people in the Mississippi Delta wanted to move to. Or the song's Unreliable Narrator doesn't know that Chicago isn't in California. Or Johnson was giving a Shout-Out to friends/relatives who lived in the small California towns of Chicago Park or Port Chicago.
  • Pavement's "Box Elder" has the line "I'm gonna head to Box Elder, M.O." There are a few places in the United States called Box Elder, but none are in Missouri, the state with the post office abbreviation of MO; the band most likely meant to refer to Box Elder, Montana, which would be "Box Elder, M.T."
  • Dan Fogelberg's "Run for the Roses", about the Kentucky Derby, begins with the lines "Born in the valleys/And raised in the trees/Of western Kentucky..." Although Kentucky is indeed the epicenter of the American Thoroughbred industry, the horse farms are mostly around Lexington, locally considered to be in Central Kentucky, and far removed from anything that anyone from Kentucky would call "Western".
  • "Rollin' Home" by Pirates of the Mississippi: "Picked up a load in San Angelene / Dropped a transmission down in New Orleans". There is no place anywhere in the world called "San Angelene".
  • Jon Lajoie's character, MC Vagina, did "Very Super Famous", which is about how he is loved by women all over the world. Given that MC Vagina is a moron, it would probably be easier to list the stuff he gets right.
  • Invoked by "Jack" to yank his friend's chain in the opening dialogue of the Arrogant Worms' "Bitchin' Camaro", when Jack claims his parents drove his new car (the titular Camaro) up from the Bahamas for him.
  • In Jason Derulo's hit "Talk Dirty", he sings about how he's been all over the world and doesn't need to speak the local tongue to flirt with women. However, half of the places he name-drops are predominantly English-speaking (New York and London), and one of them has English as a required academic subject from age 8 onwards, with many schoolchildren starting to learn it much earlier (Taiwan).
  • "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" has the line "[the] River Jordan is deep and wide". Today's River Jordan is neither of these things. Justified, as it's a metaphor for death and moving on to Heaven and is not referring to the literal river.
  • Invoked in "Wagon Wheel", originally recorded by Old Crow Medicine Show and Covered Up by Darius Rucker. When Ketch Secor wrote the lyrics, he knew that "west from the Cumberland Gap to Johnson City, Tennessee" was wrong (one would head east through said gap to get to Johnson City), but left it anyway because he thought "west" sounded better. (Although why he didn't just swap "to" and "from"...)
  • Travis Tritt's "Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde" also gets geography wrong regarding Johnson City. The song begins in that city, while the chorus has the line "It's a long way to Richmond, rolling north on 95". Interstate 26 is the main freeway through Johnson City (although at the time of the song's recording, it was part of Interstate 181, which ended south of town), and the most direct route to Richmond would be via Interstates 81 and 64. While I-95 does travel through Richmond, going from Johnson City to Richmond using I-95 would first require one to travel south to Asheville (again, keeping in mind that I-26 between Johnson City and Asheville had not yet been completed at the time of the song's writing) and then cut all the way across North Carolina on I-40.
  • Alabama's music video for "Tar Top" shows an Interstate 40 shield with the state name of Alabama on it (at the time, many Interstate shields bore the name of the state through which the highway ran). I-40 never runs through Alabama at any point.
  • "Hazard" by Richard Marx is set in Hazard, Nebraska, because he liked the name, but the real Hazard is just a village, not the town depicted in the song, and doesn't have a river.
  • "U2" by Negativland samples an infamous outtake of Casey Kasem introducing a record by U2, introducing them as Irish, starting to give their lineup, then breaking off and exclaiming "These guys are from England and who gives a shit?" (this line would subsequently become the title for an expanded reissue of the EP). Ireland is not even part of the United Kingdom, and has never been part of England.
  • "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" by The Arrogant Worms talks about a pirate on the Saskatchewan River, but also refers to "Regina's mighty shores", implying that the river flows through the city; it doesn't even come close. Regina isn't even located on anything that approaches a river; it's bisected by Wascana Creek, which is a low-flow, mostly seasonal stream (though it was dammed in the 1880s, creating a still-existing lake in the central portions of the city).
  • John Linnell's "Arkansas" mentions "the coast of Arkansas", which is a landlocked state, and claims the state could one day sink into the ocean. Since the song is mainly about the improbable design of a ship the exact size and shape of Arkansas, this was probably just meant to add further absurdity to the premise.
  • Logan Paul's "It's Everyday Bro" has Nick Crompton refer to England as his "city".
  • "Africa" by Toto has the line "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti". Kilimanjaro is around 250 miles from the Serengeti, in a completely different National Park (Kilimanjaro National Park, oddly enough). At least they're both in Tanzania.
  • C. W. McCall: "Four Wheel Cowboy" has McCall driving south from Denver to Santa Fe, supposedly going straight... but some of the places named appear to be rather out of order, implying that he must have backtracked for some reason. Especially notable when he's "Rattlin' down off a' Raton Pass", with the next spot being "Glorieta Hill like a sheet a' glass". Glorieta Hill is about 160 miles (260 km) from Raton Pass, so he wouldn't be going anywhere near it if he's trying to go as straight as possible. However, because Interstate 25, which is the fastest route between the two cities, has to wind its way through very mountainous terrain on its way to Santa Fe, it takes a very indirect route in northern New Mexico. From Raton Pass on the Colorado–New Mexico border, I-25 takes a roughly southwest route to reach Glorieta Pass, after which it takes a sharp turn to the northwest toward Santa Fe.
  • The Christmas carol "I Saw Three Ships" mentions said ships "sailing into Bethlehem," which is miles from any ocean or even the unnavigable Jordan River.

    Pinballs 
  • A small one occurs in Lights... Camera... Action! Although it is set in San Francisco, the right side of the table shows an orange suspension bridge with three towers. Either the Oakland Bay Bridge is miscolored or the Golden Gate Bridge got a sudden extension.

    Podcasts 
  • Mom Can't Cook!: Discussed. The general plot of Jumping Ship seems to have been written for the Caribbean (Ruthless Modern Pirates, mention of a wrecked Spanish treasure galleon, Paradise Islandnote  being a significant named location, etc.), but the film is actually set, and was filmed, in Australia. Luke assumes this was for tax reasons.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Radio 
  • In a November 2016 broadcast of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Jack Dee's patter includes a joke about 'Equatorial New Guinea'. The joke works but the nation should either should be Equatorial Guinea or Papua New Guinea.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Old World of Darkness was excused by White Wolf saying it was an Alternate Universe, and they took liberties with the geography to fit the mood of each game. Still:
      • One supplement infamously placed Oxford within easy walking distance of central London, despite being nearly 60 miles away.
      • Auckland is located in Australia — and Australia's capital is Sydney.
      • New Orleans apparently has a subway system. Near the Gulf Coast. Below sea level. To put things in perspective, most houses in southern Louisiana lack basements precisely because they'd become indoor pools before long.
      • No one lives between Vancouver (Canada) and the Rocky Mountains, which is weird considering how much of that space would be great for farming, mining or logging.
    • The New World of Darkness somewhat esoterically treats Europe (and the American seaboards) this way in its Vampire installment. It's explained that vampires don't want to risk driving even to the nearest city from their own, because it might end up with them stranded with not enough time to make it back to their own city. This makes sense in the middle of the US or Canada, where it can take hours to drive to the city limits of the nearest city and more to drive to the centre and the same amount of time back. In Europe and along the coast, few cities outside Scandinavia are more than an hour from their nearest neighbours.
  • The Lexicon, the geography volume of Bard Games' Atlantean Trilogy, can be forgiven for re-drawing the map of Earth to make their ancient civilizations more interesting. However, referring to salt-water straits as "rivers" merely because they're wet and narrow would surely have been a boo-boo even in the Second Age of Atlantis!
  • Risk redefines the borders of many countries by incorporating smaller ones into their larger neighbors or by grouping them together to form geographic regions in order to simplify the game and to make the map more legible. However, the game mistakenly refers to one region in Central Asia as "Afghanistan" despite not incorporating the country at all; it's instead a part of the neighbouring "India" region. On the flip side, larger countries such as the USA and Russia get broken up into smaller territories. This is likely for the sake of game balance.
  • The game Outburst is playing by giving a team a category and seeing how many of the 10 examples of things within that category they can name within a short period of time. Somewhat like Family Feud, but without taking turns. Each card will feature at least one answer that is factually incorrect or just plain off-the-wall, on the basis that someone is likely to say it anyway. One edition had a card listing "Cold Countries", with "Siberia" as one of its answers. Siberia is a region of Russia, not a country unto itself. So a globally ignorant player who pipes up and gives this response may end up winning the round for their team.
  • One Shadowrun adventure taking place in Bogotá describes the landlocked mountain city as having a port. It has an airport, but no seaport to speak of.
  • The Atlas of Earth-Prime for Mutants & Masterminds got into a bit of a muddle with Britain Versus the UK, first saying the Republic of Ireland is separate from "England and Northern Ireland" (you missed two countries, guys), and then including Belfast in the Ireland entry anyway.
  • Ticket to Ride is prone to placing cities creatively to fit them on the map. On the original map, Raleigh is more-or-less overplayed with Charlotte's real-life location, Duluth is placed closer to real-life Twin Cities than its place along Lake Superior, and Boston gets shifted up into Maine.

    Theatre 
  • William Shakespeare has been accused of this, accurately and inaccurately.
    • The Italian Errors — None, actually, as the accusations are based on the accusers' own error.
      • In Two Gentlemen of Verona, the character of Valentine takes a ship to go to Milan from Verona. In the sixteenth century, Verona and Milan were connected by a canal, allowing Valentine to make his trip by boat to Milan from Verona.
      • In The Tempest, Prospero, Duke of Milan, and Miranda, are put forth from Milan on a "bark", or boat, and are taken "some leagues to sea" to "a rotten carcass of a boat" (Act I, Scene 2). Milan's Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande), still around today, linked Milan to the Ticino river, which in turn empties into the Mediterranean Sea, some leagues away from Milan.
      • In The Taming of the Shrew, Tranio’s father was a ‘sailmaker’ from land-locked Bergamo. Bergamo is the nearest large city to Lake Iseo and close to Lake Como, creating a Bergamo boat-making and sail-making industry which started long before the 16th century and continues to this day.
      • In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo is exiled and goes to Mantua — Mantua is within a reasonable distance of Verona.
    • The Bohemian Errors — Shakespeare was actually criticized for them while he was still alive, but they depend on what is meant by "Bohemia": is it the original country itself, or the entire kingdom of Bohemia? Also, what exactly is a "desert" to an Elizabethan man?
      • In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gives Bohemia both a coastline and a vast desert.
      • This was also present in the original text that Shakespeare lifted the plot from, so it may be that Shakespeare doesn't fail geography, he just doesn't check the source material.
      • Originally "desert" simply referred to wilderness rather than the more specific modern definition of a very dry region (usually hot and sandy/rocky), so Bohemia having a "desert" might not be as bad as it sounds. At least to Britons and Americans who think that most of Central Europe consists of steppe.
      • King Ottokar II (r. 1253–78), King of Bohemia, extended his rule to the Adriatic Sea by inheriting Carinthia and Krain (which however did not become part of the Kingdom of Bohemia) in 1269. As Shakespeare's King Polixenes of Bohemia in The Winter's Tale vaguely parallels the life of King Ottokar II, some think that it is admissible to speak of a "Bohemian coastline" with reference to the tiny part of the Istrian coast that belonged to Krain (most of that coast was Venetian), but it really is only as legitimate as referring to the White Cliffs of Dover as part of the Scottish coast after the accession of James I to the English throne. Not to mention that Ottokar lost Krain as well as his life after a grand total of nine years' possession.
      • The Habsburg ruler Rudolf II (1552–1612) became king of Croatia and Hungary in 1572, then became king of Bohemia in Germany in 1575 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1576, effectively creating a personal realm with an Adriatic Sea coastline and Bohemia combined. But the Hungarian-Croatian coastline was not regarded as "Bohemian", even if Rudolf did make Prague his main residence.
    • In Timon of Athens, his description of the Athenian countryside sounds nothing like Greece, but like so many of his other plays depicting foreign parts more like a generic culture with a generic wealthy society.
    • In Othello, he puts Venice only a day away by sail from Cyprus. Venice is over 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km) from the Cypriot coast; in Shakespeare's time it could take up to three weeks if the winds were right to sail from one to the other.
      • Especially bad because in act 1, everyone seems to fully expect Othello to arrive in Cyprus before the Turks do, despite having to travel a much longer distance. Luckily a storm manages to sink all the Turks' ships anyway so it doesn't matter.
      • While the events of the play span three days, they occur in two periods: a time period of one day in Venice leading up to the departure in Act I Scene 3, and then the arrival in Cyprus in Act II Scene 1 starting another time period of two days in Cyprus, with an unspecified period of time between the two periods. Thus the actual length of the journey between Venice and Cyprus is never specified in the play itself.
    • In Macbeth. A witch says she'll keep a woman's ship-captain husband from making port in Aleppo because she wouldn't share her chestnuts. Aleppo is some distance from the sea, located near Euphrates River which empties into the Persian Gulf.
      • Shakespeare would have had easy access to the account of one Ralph Fitch, who in 1583 set sail on the Tyger bound for Tripoli and Aleppo in Syria. Aleppo's seaport in the late 1500s was located on the nearby Euphrates River. It was a seven-day journey according to Mr. Fitch. Mr. Fitch arrived back in London in 1591, with plenty of time to write his description before Shakespeare read it.
      • If Mr. Fitch claimed to have made port at Aleppo, he was either sorely mistaken or lying. The Euphrates flows, in fact, into the Persian Gulf. In order to make port there, a ship from England would have needed to circumnavigate Africa. Furthermore, Aleppo is in fact roughly 50 miles from the banks of the Euphrates, and cannot be said to have a port. It is more probable that Fitch made port at Tripoli, on the coast of the Levant, and subsequently traveled overland to Aleppo.
  • The final act of Puccini's Manon Lescault is set in the deserts of Louisiana, with the heroine eventually dying of dehydration right outside of New Orleans. (The original novel makes the same mistake.)
    • As already noted elsewhere on this page, "desert" did not have the same "vast expanse of sand" meaning in the era that Manon Lescaut was written as it does today, but referred to any large tract of wilderness at all. New Orleans was nowhere near as highly urbanized in the 1700s as it is today, so it's hardly an "error" for a person lost in the wilderness to die of dehydration.
  • Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George is set, in part, on the isle of La Grande Jatte, in Paris. At one point, Georges's mother comments on the construction of the Eiffel Tower, across the river from the island, when in reality the tower is more than a mile away and around a large bend in the river.
  • In Annie Get Your Gun, the title character, who is from Ohio, says she got to be a good sharpshooter when "I'd be out in the cactus and I'd practice all day".
  • Subverted in The Addams Family. Gomez talks about an ancestor setting sail from Madrid to North America, then adds, "And three weeks later...he was still in Madrid, because it is 400 miles from the nearest ocean."

    Visual Novels 
  • Crops up from time to time in Katawa Shoujo. Assuming the game is indeed set somewhere around Sendai, it's about seven hours by conventional train to Hokkaido, and both trains that go that far are sleeper trains. (They also skip Sendai going the other way.) Hideaki also mentions that his and Shizune's parents' house is in Saitama, yet Hisao manages to take a cab there in a very short amount of time in Lilly's route, even disregarding the small fortune he'd have to pay to get therenote .

    Web Animation 
  • Whenever the Earth is shown in Homestar Runner, the United States is actually drawn as a single landmass surrounded by oceans, with Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America nowhere to be seen!
  • Stupid Kids: Sometimes it is implied HiVille and other locations shown take place in Hungary but the series also shows kind of places the country itself lacks, such as oceans, active volcanos, and a desert right next to the protagonists' home town.

    Web Comics 
  • In the Mafia-themed La Cosa Nostra set in the mid-1800s where the Irish main character emigrating to America meets a Japanese boy on a ship going across the Atlantic without any suggestion that he came from anywhere but Japan. The sad part is, that isn't the only instance.
  • In Scandinavia and the World, America cannot see Denmark and cannot tell the difference between Sweden and Norway. On the flipside, he seems to be the only main character that acknowledges South America.
  • In Educomix, Asia is a country, and beneath Ireland. Likewise, Australia is beneath America. And the South Pole is its own country. England is a small, apparently independent island (no other real-life parts of Britain have been mentioned).
    Jessica: With its purple roads and steaming chimneys, Texas is literally the best village in America!

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Decker: At one point in Decker: Unclassified, Decker goes to "Pearl Harbor, Japan".
  • Played for Laughs in The Internet and You. Captain Dial-Up provides internet to Abraham and Net-Meister by taking it from China, which is labeled "East Korea" in an on-screen map.
  • In Jerma985's video called Jersey Boys in Sentry Town, Star held this license when he said that Plymouth Rock is in Pennsylvania somewhere during his Rambling Old Man Monologue when Jerma corrected him by saying that Plymouth Rock is in Massachusetts. STAR_ tried to justify it by saying that he never been to Massachusetts, cue the video captions stating that STAR_ lives there.
  • French Baguette Intelligence: In Geography Makes No Sense..., Fuck Cares argues that Americans decided that North and South America are different continents because of the Panama Canal, not because they are actually separate and that Australia isn't a continent; Oceania is. Then Harry states that one could argue that they are separate continents because they are on different tectonic plates, meaning that Europe and Asia are the same continent, but Arabia and India are separate from Eurasia and New Zealand is its own continent (Zealandia).
  • Vaguely Recalling JoJo: During their travels, the Stardust Crusaders somehow manage to travel to Singapore and then travel to its capital. In reality, they traveled to Hong Kong, and then they traveled to Singapore.
  • In the Cracked.com article "6 Myths About Famous Places You Believe (Thanks to Movies)", Canberra, Australia is referred to as being "just outside Sydney." "Just outside" in this case refers to a distance of some 286 km.
  • In "Catching Up: With Matt! (#1)" by Matthew Santoro, Matthew says that Mexico is part of South America, but it's actually only part of North America.
  • Gemini Home Entertainment: In "The Deep Blue", the Marianas Trench is represented by a photograph of a marine sinkhole surrounded by a coral reef. In reality, the Marianas Trench is completely underwater, without any surrounding reefs. The picture is actually from the Great Blue Hole in Belize... some 13,000 kilometersnote  away.
  • Often Played for Laughs in Map Men. This usually manifests in the form of Jay or Mark visiting a place, but pretend they're actually somewhere else, despite all evidence to the contrary.
    • Mark going to "China" to talk about why the country cares so much about the sea, when it's very obviously filmed in London's Chinatown, as shown by the London parking sign directly behind Mark, as well as the "Orient London" sign on the left of the video.
    • In the "north/south divide" episode, when the north/south divide of France was mentioned, a map of Sudan and South Sudan was shown instead.
    • Jay going to "Australia" while wearing a silly cork hat and driving, all the while while talking about tectonic plate shifting as a snowy blizzard rains down in what is clearly an English street.
    • In "English counties explained", Mark shows various things with "Yorkshire" in their names that come from different parts of Yorkshire. The last of which is Yorkshire Tea, which he shows as being from Kenya (which he still says is part of Yorkshire).
    • In "What will the world look like in 250 million years?", the scene of Mark as Alfred Wegener examining rocks in South America and Africa uses the same footage in the same beach for both continents, with one of them merely mirrored from the other.
      • The same episode has Mark avert this, where he pre-recorded himself saying "Here, in India" when on an unrelated trip to the country. They did this prior to COVID-19 restrictions being put in place, and partially did it just in case they ever got to use it.

Alternative Title(s): Artistic Licence Geography

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