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"You bought your own shovels and hammers and steels and blasting powder and lamps and boots and gloves and overalls and food from the company store for whatever price the company cared to charge. You lived in company shacks and slept in lousy company bunks and paid rent for the privilege. One way or another, every penny you earned went straight into the stockholders' pocketbooks."
Mary Doria Russel, The Women of the Copper Country

In its simplest form, a Company Town is a town that is owned, or at least controlled, by a single company. In fiction, however, one generally finds the darker (and more dramatic) version: a company that owns/controls an entire town and uses that control to benefit itself at the expense of the townsfolk.

In the United States during the 1800s, many small towns were built for a single, specific purpose: to provide workers for a nearby business. Railroads, mining companies, and timber companies were especially notorious for this sort of thing, but any company could do it given the right circumstances. The company owned the land on which the town was built, so the company decided what would be built there. The company would build one of each thing that the town absolutely needed — one general store, one blacksmith, one hotel, one tract of housing (which was built as cheaply as possible) — and nothing more. Treating one's workers well wasn't exactly a high priority in those days, so many companies price gouged and used debt bondage to keep their employees from leaving for a better job — a form of Indentured Servitude. Their prevalence was one of the factors that led to the formation of labor unions in the USA in the late 1800s and early 1900s, often with violent resistance from these companies and their Tyrannical Town Tycoons, who employed Pinkerton Detectives or similar agencies to suppress labor organizing and strikes.note 

Not all company towns were bad; some companies genuinely tried to provide decent living conditions for their workers. Others exist simply because the town in question is so remote, no one else wants to move in. But they're not the majority of historical examples.

The more modern version of this trope is a town with a single commercial organization that outclasses any others nearby and effectively runs the area. Smaller, independent businesses do exist, but with little to no political influence in comparison. Unlike older versions, these towns can hold protests and rallies, but will be looked down upon as inconsequential insects from those within the imposing corporate tower, if not ignored outright.

If the company has enough resources to build a town quickly, it's also a Boom Town. Should the company in question go under, the town can become a Dying Town or Ghost Town. If it's not a company, but a family running things, then it's closer to feudalism. You can expect this trope to be Recycled In Space, with Asteroid Miners taking the place of Earth Miners.

Compare with Only Shop in Town, there's usually more than one shop, but they're either in league with or owned by a single company; One Nation Under Copyright, a MegaCorp owning a citystate or bigger; Industrial Ghetto, usually a part of larger city; I Own This Town, where one person is running things; Egopolis, a town named after the dictator who controls it; Scienceville, for when the company's business is research and development; and Elaborate University High or (for a collegiate version).


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    Anime and Manga 
  • One early chapter of Fullmetal Alchemist has the Elric Brothers pass through a mining town where the mine owner is also the local government representative, with all the corruption that having one's employer, landlord and tax collector being the same person implies. Ed tricks the man into giving up ownership of the mine, and then sells the deed to the miners for a night at the inn and food for the next leg of his travels. The mine owner would return dozens of chapters later as a minor character after leaving the town in disgrace.
  • Ghost Hound: Suiten has Dai-Nippon Bio, which employes a lot of the town, but there are also smaller businesses on the side, like Tarou's parents' brewery.

    Comic Books 
  • In Albedo: Erma Felna EDF Endly is a planetary company town run by the Enchawah group. When the planet first appears the narration notes that the economy in company towns are effectively socialist and because Enchawah is employee-owned it's practically indistinguishable from a democratic republic.
  • Everyone in Copperhead either works for Benjamin Hickory's copper mine or provides goods and services for those employees.
  • Honest Corporate Executive Scrooge McDuck from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe owns just about every business in Duckburg, and if he doesn't own every business in the world, it's not from lack of trying. Unlike most versions of this trope, Duckburg existed before Scrooge showed up, but was just a tiny farming community surrounding the decaying ruins of the colonial Fort Duckburg. Also unusual, he shut down his business empire and retired for about a decade, with Duckburg not being particularly worse for wear.
  • There was a series of Green Arrow stories where he worked alongside Green Lantern that played off of their divergent view of law and justice, and one story had them go to a mining town in the Rocky Mountains called Desolation, which was an example of the really bad type of these. As discussed here, the whole story is not very realistic, particularly in regard to having such a town still existing in the 1970s.
  • Judge Dredd: The "Cursed Earth" arc reveals that outside the Mega-Cities, most of the North American continent (i.e. Flyover Country) was blown to all hell during nuclear wars, and the government basically abandoned any survivors to fend for themselves. Arkansas in particular has been carved into fiefdoms between McDonalds and Burger Kingnote , which routinely fight bloody wars over the "customers" of other towns and communities looking to stay neutral. Said "customers" are, of course, mostly used as slave labor, "paid" in burgers and fries, and immediately discharged by Ray Gun if they're caught slacking.

    Fan Works 
  • Fragmentation covers events during the Marik Civil War. Anton Marik used Company Town tactics to pad his forces against his brother, by hiring mercenaries and then confiscating their equipment when they couldn’t pay for repairs after the battle. This backfired when Executive Outcomes provides evacuation to units, leaving only irreparable husks behind for Anton’s forces to waste time and money on.
  • In the Game Mod Stardew Valley Expanded, selling the Community Center to JojaCorp ends up transforming Pelican Town into one of these, as they greatly expand their activities there and the JojaMart manager, Morris, becomes the town's new mayor.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Armpipe, Pennsylvania in All the Right Moves is a small town almost entirely reliant on a steel company, which is going through hard times due to the economic recession of the early 1980s. The protagonist, Stefan, is a teenager who is well-aware of the dead-end and miserable future that lies ahead of him if he stays, and wants nothing more than to go to college and escape.
  • Attica: This phrase is used as a 1971 news report says that the Real Life town of Attica, NY is a "prison town". The documentary points out that the prison was almost the only employer in Attica. This is cited as a problem since the town of Attica was at that time very white, which resulted in a lily-white workforce of prison guards in charge of an inmate population that was 70% black or brown.
  • Big Business (1988): Jupiter Hollow is run lock, stock and barrel by the Hollowmade Furniture Company, with the local hospital only being accessible to Hollowmade employees. During the Distant Prologue, when a wealthy woman is in labor, and is refused admittance to the hospital, her husband races to the house of the owner and buys the company from him on the spot. Decades later, his children (one of whom was Switched at Birth with a girl from Jupiter Hollow) are contemplating shutting down the company, and bankrupting the town. Hilarity Ensues when some of the townspeople come out to protest, including the sister of the Switched at Birth girl.
  • Biopic Coal Miner's Daughter starts with Loretta Lynn growing up in the company coal mining town of Butcher's Hollow, KY. After her father collects his paycheck from the mine, he goes straight to the company store to spend it.
  • Dark Waters: Parkersburg West Virginia is a town where DuPont employs most people and are mentioned as having showered favors on people who played ball with them.
  • The Hunter: The local town owes its existence to the logging company, which is why many locals harass Martin and Lucy due to their (initially feigned, in Martin’s case) environmentalism.
  • Matewan was set in Matewan, West Virginia in the 1920s, which was a company town controlled by a coal company. It told the story of people resisting this arrangement and forming a miner's union, facing harsh suppression by company enforcers.
  • No God, No Master: Discussed by Flynn when he's speaking with John D. Rockefeller, as a possible motive to send a bomb for Rockefeller's house. In particular, the Ludlow Massacre at one of the company towns which Rockefeller's business runs appears to be the impetus behind the bomb.
  • October Sky is set in Coalwood, West Virginia, a real town founded, owned, and operated by the Carter Coal Company and then sold to the Consolidation Coal Company (which became the Olga Coal Company...) to house workers at the Coalwood mine. Attempts to unionize the mine are part of the story.
  • Outland has a company town and mining camp, in the form of a mining station in orbit around Jupiter.
  • Raccoon City was this in the Resident Evil Film Series, built and owned by the Umbrella Corporation.
  • In the RoboCop movies, OCP's plan is to level the current Detroit and replace it with "Delta City", which would be entirely corporate-owned.
  • The Rundown involves a mining town in a remote part of Brazil that's run this way, at around the present time. The boss of the town, Hatcher, is brutal with his workers and pays them a paltry wage of 65 cents an hour, which necessitates borrowing money from him and getting so deep into debt with him that there's no hope of getting out of it. Mariana leads a group of rebels that oppose this arrangement, calling it nothing less than escravidão — slavery.
  • In Salt of the Earth, Delaware Zinc owns everything, not just the mine and the land, but the shacks the miners live in and the store where they go to buy goods. This allows them to put the screws to the miners when the miners go on strike for better living and working conditions.
  • Shorts: The town of Black Falls Community is owned and founded by the CEO of the Black Box, Inc.. All the adults that live there work for the company, and if they are fired they and their family are forcefully evicted from the town

  • All the Wrong Questions: The economy of the Dying Town Stain'd-by-the-Sea is dependent on the Knight Family's ink manufacturing business, especially since the company's Inadequate Inheritor ruined the local fishing grounds in an effort to get more ink from octopi. Said efforts have failed to secure the company's long-term future, and it is barely hanging on. Mr. Knight's daughter Cleo is working on a plan to save both the company and the town, but the series never reveals if she succeeds.
  • In the Alliance/Union universe humanity's space stations throughout colonized space were run by the Earth Company, at least on paper. Until they rebelled.
  • Many business owners in Atlas Shrugged had towns named after them pop up around their businesses (ex. Marshville for Roger Marsh, Wyatt Junction for Ellis Wyatt). When the government sets out to rid the world of these greedy, selfish villains and their evil moneymaking ways, they reply, "Okay," and obligingly close up shop. The loss of each business triggers a set of Disaster Dominoes as the businesses that grew up around it close as well, putting more and more people out of work, thus causing more businesses to go bankrupt upon losing their customers... all per Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, in which such towns only exist due to the ruthless ambition and intellect of their owners, and their many employees are axiomatically incompetent to run such operations without such guidance (if any of them could, he would be a business owner himself and not a mere worker, see).
  • John Saul's Creature is set in a modern-day company town named Silverdale, Colorado, which doubles as a Town with a Dark Secret.
  • The Darth Bane book Path of Destruction has one of these in the form of the planet Apatros, owned by a mining corporation that does this. Dessel, later known as Darth Bane, grew up here with an alcoholic father that drove his family deep into debt through his drinking, and then died of an (apparent) heart attack but leaves Dessel with the debt. Even getting lucky at cards can't get the debt paid, because the pot has been deliberately capped to keep workers from paying off their debts in a single lucky night.
  • Fuzzy Nation: Zara XXIII is a company planet. Its sole industry is mining on behalf of ZaraCorp, and the sole big town is named after the company's CEO.
  • Sacroden in the Hc Svnt Dracones novel Fate's Fangs is owned by the medical corporation Reveidolon, who use their authority to spread "benign" viruses among the residents for research and kill undesirables.
  • Proudhon City in the Hostile Takeover (Swann) series is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Proudhon Spaceport Development Corporation, which keeps order on its own terms.
  • Red Harvest is set in one of these officially known as Personville, but popularly called "Poisonville". The town is essentially the fiefdom of industrialist Elihu Willsson, "Czar of Poisonville", and Willsson established his control by hiring various gangs of thugs to help him "settle" a labor dispute and enforce that settlement. At the time the story starts, this has started to backfire on Willsson, as the gangs proceeded to fight for power among themselves and bring anarchy to the town.
  • The Preaker clan in Sharp Objects owns a hog slaughtering business that is a core economic foundation of the town of Wind Gap, MO.
  • Son of Interflux: Half of the people in Greenbush, New York work for Interflux and the company is willing to pressure the town government into being a Rules Lawyer and targeting their enemies with various obscure ordinances, as well as officially classifying an obvious creek as a stream due to streams being allowed to have more factory pollutants in them.
  • Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: Boulder City, Nevada was formerly a company town erected by the builders of Hoover Dam, a history referenced in the story.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In Sweet and Low, Dreyer, New York changed its name (it used to be Roosendal, New York) decades ago to honor Leonard Dreyer, the founder of a famous chocolate factory that acts as the town's biggest employer and tourist attraction. Most of the townspeople are knowledgable about the cocoa market that Dreyer depends on. However, while the local officials are accommodating to the Dreyer executives, those executives don't really try to push them around. Thatcher also admits that the town is far nicer than most company towns due to the nature of the company and the generous spending of a trust that Leonard set up (Thatcher is one of the trustees).
    Far from being a grimy company town, Dreyer boasted a superabundance of parks, fountains, and playing fields. All these amenities, Thatcher feared, were about to become his responsibility.
  • The Lost Fleet passes through a couple of planetwide versions on its way back to friendly territory, mostly in systems where the only reason to be there is because the nature of FTL travel in the setting forces you to pass through on your way somewhere else... up until the hypernet gates were built. On two occasions they find settlements where the management decided to close down and simply didn't bother taking the workers with them: The first example wasn't so bad, since it was on a rather bleak but habitable world, but in the second case a few hundred people had been left in domed surface settlements on an airless rock. When Captain Geary insists on responding to their Distress Call and repatriating them it thanspires that they'd all been reported dead to cover it up, and the fact they turned up alive after being rescued by a fleet of warships belonging to The Alliance certainly doesn't do anything to discourage the brewing Enemy Civil War.
  • In the Elemental Masters book Jolene, main character Anna May Jones lives in Soddy, which is one for a coal mining company. She later goes to stay with her aunt, who lives in a holler outside Ducktown, which is one for a copper mining company (Burra Burra Mine). Both places are described as being terrible places to live in, with Ducktown being so poisoned by the mining to the point that almost nothing grows there and what rainfall is implied to be mostly acid rain.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: In The Miserable Mill, the only major business in Paltryville (a town so small that its library only has three books) is the Lucky Smells Lumbermill. The owner is a complete Jerkass, but he ignores the rest of the town rather than oppressing it.
  • Tower of Somnus: Taken to the next level; everyone who lives in the arcology owes the company for everything, including being born. Therefore, everyone has a "ledger," an impossible debt that they will never be able to repay. Kat, a Teen Genius who gets a decent job straight out of high school, might be able to pay it off in thirty years. The company stores go the next level to not even using scrips; instead, everyone has a weekly spending limit, which of course goes straight to their debt, and they simply can't spend more.
  • The Half-Made World: The Stations of the Line are effectively company cities, huge smog-wreathed complexes of factories, offices, and tenements built up around a train station at their core, which services the Engines that command the Line. They're sufficiently vast that they don't have to look for employees; their populations produce enough children on their own to offset turnover, to the point where "Linesman" is considered an ethnicity more than a job description.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: The Scholomance, an evil Wizarding School, functions as this since the school itself is the students' only source of food, medicine, magical equipment, and other supplies. This means that the students have to follow the orders of the Scholomance elite and play by their rules in order to get 'passes' like infirmary passes, school store passes, etc., which function as the local scrip. While some of the students like Lily are implied to be extremely rich, their money is worthless at the school; Scholomance passes are the only (legal) way for the students to get supplies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones: "The Baby in the Bough" features a small town which has been suffering economically since the nearby highway was diverted. The only source of income left for the townspeople comes from a tire-recycling factory that the victim worked at. The murder turns out to have been triggered by someone embezzling from the factory.
  • Constantine (2014): The second episode features a West Virginia town that was a Dying Town until a mining company showed up five years ago. Most of the owners are callous jerks, and it initially seems that their operations have unleashed evil spirits, but this turns out to be a Red Herring.
  • Chernobyl shows life in Pripyat, which was an "atom city" built for the power plant's employees and their families. This actually made it a very nice place to live because the nuclear profession was important and prestigious. The shops were well-stocked and there were numerous amenities, like the public swimming pool. It was all, of course, abandoned to nature after the evacuation.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The story "The Sun Makers" features a company planet.
    • Sweetville in the episode "The Crimson Horror" is based on real-world Victorian "model settlements" by paternalistic employers like Port Sunlight and Bourneville. It's actually a front for a murderous eugenicist cult.
  • Eureka centers around Global Dynamics, with its mayor even being a former employee.
  • Firefly: Jayne explicitly uses this term for Canton, the ceramics workers' town on Higgins' Moon in "Jaynestown". It's one of the bad ones: Magistrate Higgins pays the workers almost nothing so he can get filthy rich, and they're mostly indentured so they can't legally quit. The RPG rulebook says that Higgins' son has been working to improve conditions since the episode, however.
  • In the episode "A Private War" of the TV show Guns of Paradise, a mining company uses strongarm tactics to try to buy or ruin all independent businesses in town.
  • In Incorporated, the Green Zones are luxury versions. Gated cities and suburbs where the owning corporation's management can live without being disturbed by the Red Zone slums surrounding them. If someone gets fired though... they're out of luck.
  • The planned municipality of Zawame City from Kamen Rider Gaim.
  • Westerly and Leith in Killjoys are Company Moons which are all owned by the Company which owns the entire star system.
  • One of the locations that Loki and the TVA chase the rogue Variant to in Loki (2021) is Haven Hills, Alabama, a corporate town owned by gigantic supermarket chain Roxxcart. A Roxxcart supermarket building sits at the center of the town, and serves as a storm shelter for the citizens when the town is being severely ravaged by a hurricane in 2050.
  • In season 3 of Malcolm in the Middle, Francis moves to Alaska to get a logging job on the recommendation of Eric. Turns out that the job is horrible and Eric tricked Francis into coming in a desperate attempt to help him get out of crushing debt to his boss, Lavernia. Lavernia rules over the isolated workers with an iron fist and price gouges them so they have to work for her to pay off their endless debts.
  • In Resident Evil (2022), New Raccoon City is as controlled by Umbrella as the former edition, a Stepford Suburbia patrolled by Umbrella's private militias and police. For exemple, Billie Wesker managed to get away from an accusation after her father Albert Wesker threatened the complaining pupil's father with termination; said pupil even had to apologise to Billie!
  • In The Secret World of Alex Mack, nearly everyone in the town of Paradise Valley works for the chemical company that made the product Alex was splashed with, and whose evil higher-ups are looking for her.
  • The Sliders episode "Season's Greedings" had the Sliders land near a city sized mall that was effectively one of these. Not only were prices exorbitant and wages low, but:
    • Cash was not allowed, only the mall's debit accounts.
    • Employees in the mall were required to spend 80% of wages earned within the mall. Failure to do so would cause your wages to be docked.
    • Those who took on actual debt to pay for their purchases were forced to wear an electronic shackle that prevented them from leaving the mall.
    • The mall was also secretly using Subliminal Advertising to get people to spend more money on things they didn't really need. Of all of these, this is the only thing the mall was doing that most people on that world considered immoral or illegal.
  • Severance (2022) is set in the town of Kier, PE (a fictional New England state), which is owned and controlled by Lumon Corporation. Many Lumon employees live in housing subsidized by the company so that their bosses can keep better tabs on them.
  • Smallville originally relied on a creamed corn plant to keep the populace in business. The owners sold out to the pesticide company Luthorcorp under the promise that no one would be kicked out of work. So it should come as no surprise that the factory was bulldozed and replaced with a noxious fertilizer plant.
  • Quarra, in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Workforce", appears to be a Company Planet.
  • Stargirl (2020): The American Dream Company is Blue Valley's major source of stability and income. The company is initially run by a super villain with sinister Well-Intentioned Extremist goals, but after his death, the company sticks around under equally well-intentioned but far less extreme management.
  • Twin Peaks is the modern version, where Ben Horne runs both the hotel and the department store, with the lumber mill being the only major thing he doesn't absolutely control - and much of his plot arc is based around his attempt to take control of that, too.

  • Sixteen Tons first recorded by Merle Travis and made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford was about life in a coal-company town and not being able to get out.
    You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt.
    Saint Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
    I owe my soul to the company store!
  • The Grateful Dead song "Cumberland Blues" has the line:
    Gotta go back to the Cumberland mine
    That's where I mainly spend my time
    Make good money, five dollars a day
    If I made any more, I might move away
  • The Men They Couldn't Hang's "Company Town", obviously:
    Mister Company man on the Company land
    Stands every street and building in the town
    Every park, every green, every hope and dream
    The company owns every piece of ground
    And everybody in the company town
  • "Les Corons", from the French word specific to mining company towns, by Pierre Bachelet. It's about Bachelet's own childhood in such a town, his father was a coal mine worker. This song was an instant hit and has become an anthem for people of Northern France, supporters of the Association Football club of Lens even use it as unofficial anthem during half times.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most nations in BattleTech's Inner Sphere have pulled Company Store tactics from time to time, and freelance Mechwarriors find regular employment helping to either suppress or aid and abet the ensuing worker revolts. Occasionally you'll even find a few individuals who get the bright idea of using the same debt-slavery tactics to keep their Hired Guns in line, which rarely ends well for thewm; shockingly, battle-hardened mercenaries who own their own Humongous Mecha are in a much better position to push back than your average working man. Some of the most famous examples of such were the Draconis Combine's attempt to assimilate the Wolf's Dragoons and the Federated Suns' hamhanded treatment of the Northwind Highlanders. Both ended tragically as the Dragoons ended up 'winning' a bitterly-fought Pyrrhic Victory against Warlord Samsonov's forces on Misery, and the Highlanders, covertly backed by an agent of the Capellan Confederation who was a descendant of one of their heroes, decided to go independent when Katherine Steiner-Davion's actions triggered the breakup of the Federated Commonwealth, leaving FedSuns forces unable to keep hold of their homeworld of Northwind.
  • Exalted has the Northern mountain town known as the Coindelving, which manufactures and distributes the currency used by the Guild. Unusually for this trope (and the Guild as a whole), the Coindelving is actually a pretty decent place to live and work; the mines offer good wages and are a warm place to work in the icy nation, the workers are continuously praised for their work ethic and craftsmanship, and the elemental dragon who powers the furnaces also defends the town from bandits and monsters.
  • Hc Svnt Dracones has an unusual take on it, large automated constructors made private cities and even islands affordable and many citizens dissatisfied with conventional governments moved to the new "corptowns". Tensions rose between the Megacorps and the old nations for several years and came to a point after MarsCo colonized Mars and began to genetically engineer sentient bipedal animals called "Vectors", which the governments saw as abominations and tried to exterminate. This led to Mars declaring independence supported by the Earth-bound corporations and open war with the governments, which became nuclear. MarsCo was the only significant power to survive the war, though in later centuries other Megacorps emerged, so pretty much everyone now lives in a corptown.
  • Malifaux is an entire world that functions as a company town, and is described as "an economic hellscape" out-of-universe. The Guild controls all passage in or out of Malifaux, the only accepted currency is Guild Scrip (and the Guild sets the exchange rates within Malifaux), all businesses must obtain a Guild license, and all law enforcement is operated directly by the Guild.
  • In Shadowrun the Mega Corps take this a step further with extraterritoriality. On their property they issue their own scrip (only usable at their stores) and write their own laws, like it was their own country.
  • Classic Traveller Double Adventure 3 "Death Station". The adventure starts with the PCs on the planet Gadden, working at a small mining camp. The wages are cheap and the expenses are exorbitant, and the PCs are in debt over their heads to the company store.
  • Both the potential settings of Tales from the Loop are socially and economically dominated by their respective Loops and the governmental or quasi-governmental agencies that run them.

  • In Hadestown, the titular town is a reference to Hades, the Underworld from Greek mythology. In this version, however, it is represented as an underground factory town run by Hades himself, with terrible conditions, constant labor, and no hope of escape. Whether the workers are actually dead or only dead metaphorically is deliberately left ambiguous.
    Everybody hungry, everybody tired
    Everybody slaves by the sweat of his brow
    The wage is nothing and the work is hard
    It's a graveyard in Hadestown
    Way down Hadestown
    Way down under the ground
    Hermes, Way Down Hadestown
  • All of the employed characters in Urinetown seem to work for Mr. Cladwell, the CEO of Urine Good Company. The unemployed are at the mercy of UGC as the company controls the water supply in a drought-ridden, Dying Town.

    Video Games 
  • The settlements in Anno 1800 are this. Instead of paying taxes, income comes from your workers buying essentials from you. Although this is a major case of Artistic License – Economics: Company towns don't turn a profit by selling to their employees, they merely recover the wages they paid in the first place, making the employees essentialy work for free. Profit is made by selling the product to outsiders, which is entirely optional, if sometimes very rewarding, in the game. Quite contrary to real life, the workforce is housed completely for free. Only the Investors are somewhat realistically modeled and are not part of your workforce and only buy luxury items; they still don't pay rent.
  • Rapture from the original BioShock wasn't supposed to be this, but for all intents and purposes ended turning into a Company Town as Andrew Ryan quickly abandoned all pretense of free enterprise when he thought Fontaine threatened his vision of Rapture.
  • Finkton from BioShock Infinite hits pretty much all the marks. Long, strictly-enforced working hours, pitiful wages that are paid in scrip only usable at the company store, and propaganda all over the place trying to convince employees they don't need things like sick leave or lunch breaks. Jeremiah Fink even has employees bid on who can perform a job for the lowest wage. His overthrow by the Vox Populi is very well deserved. As some of the recordings the player can find throughout the game reveals, Finkton only really exists to provide the rest of Columbia with cheap labor and produce, because Comstock's "flock" of believers balked at having to actually do any real work themselves in their utopian society. Originally, the laborers weren't even workers, they were prison slaves Fink brought up from the surface.
  • Bradberton from the Nuka-World DLC of Fallout 4 is a company town owned by the Nuka-Cola Corporation for the workers of the Nuka-World Theme Park.
  • Midgar (and Junon, and really the whole world) from Final Fantasy VII, a colossal metropolis constructed and ruled explicitly by the Shinra corporation.
  • In Hitman: Absolution, the protagonist pays a visit to Hope, South Dakota, the home base of Dexter Industries. The company owns and employs everyone in some shape or form, including the crooked police force. Civil protestors meet an untimely end in Sheriff Sturkey's jail (though officially, they "fell"), and everyone works in harmony to keep the money flowing. 47 essentially has to reduce the town to a smoking crater to mop up the corruption.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser had the town of Burroughs situated on Isla Sorna to provide a place for the staff of Jurassic Park a place to live while everything was being built. Seemingly averts the corruption aspect of this trope, as it might've been a decent place to live if it weren't for all the carnivorous dinosaurs and whatnot. There is a company owned store call the "InGeneral Store" though.
  • Kentucky Route Zero features an entire Company Region: the Consolidated Power Company has a hand in almost every aspect of life in a sad crumbling stretch of Kentucky.
  • Killer7 contains a subversion. The stage Cloudman takes place within a company town, but the end of the stage reveals that the company itself isn't even real, and the monolithic building the city is built around is just a flat prop.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, Crimbo 2010 saw Crimbo Town replaced with CRIMBCO, a "Blandly Pleasant, Inoffensively Festive" corporation that paid its employees (i.e. Crimbo elves and adventurers) in scrip they could only use to buy food and drink from the cafeteria and tacky presents from the gift store.
  • The Outer Worlds takes place in a solar system that had been bought by a conglomeration of a dozen companies, which establish these on any planet they can. The first town you come to, Edgewater, owned by Spacer's Choice, takes this to such a ludicrous degree that suicide is legally considered vandalism because you are damaging company property, and your closest living family member will be made to pay for said damages. By which they mean whichever random person happens to be physically closest to you at the time, because you are all part of the Spacer's Choice family.
  • Resident Evil:
    • The Umbrella corporation in the first three games had controlled the small Midwestern American town of Raccoon City, though they also had influence in other parts of the world. According to the in game files and backstories, Umbrella helped pay for several things that Raccoon City needed when it was a new town (cable cars, a hospital, etc) and effectively ran the town in their name from there. This gets gets lampshaded in Resident Evil 2 (Remake) where Leon wonders how the heck Umbrella could have a sewer system that leads directly to their lab without anyone knowing about it. Ada simply replies "Welcome to corporate America."
      By Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Jill Valentine, one of the survivors of the Mansion Incident from the first game, tried to warn the townspeople about Umbrella, but no one would listen to her due to either fearing retribution from Umbrella or they worked with Umbrella and thus refused to talk or listen. The entire town then suffers an Zombie Apocalypse before the U.S. government decides to nuke the town off the map to prevent the virus from spreading further.
    • In Sheva Alomar's backstory for Resident Evil 5, her hometown in Africa was run by Umbrella and although most people there were poor, they made enough money to be able to live somewhat comfortably. An accident occurred at the factory, which had killed a lot of people and this included Sheva's parents when she was a child. After Sheva became a teenager, she found out that the accident was directly caused by Umbrella with their experimental B.O.W.s going haywire.
  • Kaidan district Tokyo in The Secret World - prior to the Tokyo bombing, anyway. The stamping grounds of the Orochi Group, just about everything in Kaidan kowtowed to the company in one way or another: with a few notable exceptions, most of the local businesses, services, and products were all owned, managed or influenced by Orochi in some way; even local sports teams were branded with Orochi colours. An entire stretch of the local waterfront was remade into housing projects for Orochi employees, complete with schools and daycare facilities provided by the Group's daughter corporations - all for the purposes of isolating potentially valuable test subjects for the Rising Star Project, of course. Last but not least, Kaidan's skyline is dominated by the colossal Orochi Tower, the company's official headquarters and the hub of economic, political, and scientific power in the region.
  • The Doog in Star Control 3 have this kind of setup. They owed a debt to the Ploxis, which the Ploxis graciously allowed them to work off. But to do the work they have to buy materials from the Ploxis, which only increases the debt. And lest any of them get the bright idea to stop working, they're also fined for non-productive time.
  • Port Prosper in Sunless Skies is the stronghold of the Windward Company, which represents New London's interests in the Reach and is the center of most of the events surrounding the port.
  • In Star Trek Online, the player is sent to investigate a planet with a Romulan mining town, completely controlled by a Ferengi and a mining company. The people are living in squalor. They're allowed just enough currency to buy upgrades for their machinery, or food, but not both. The Ferengi in charge mentions how prices for food rations have doubled due to recent events. Further investigation reveals a hidden Romulan communications base, with the Romulans in charge paying off the Ferengi to keep quiet.
  • The Wolf Among Us has a strip club, "The Puddin' and Pie", which is similar to a "Company Store" because the owner refuses to release any of his workers, charging them "fees" to stay there. Also, they're fitted with decapitation collars with disguise and vocal trigger mods.
  • London has become one of these in Watch Dogs: Legion as Albion has its propaganda plastered over every building in the city, has privatized the police force, suspended the civilian government, and divied up the public services among its corporate allies.

  • Dear Children: Hearthbrook, MA is more or less owned by the Langworthies and the Saddlers. They co-own the port which is the town's main business: Mr. Saddler built the port and Mr. Langworthy runs it. Both families seem to be connected to the shadowy conspiracy, which treats with the mysterious monsters who dwell beneath the town, and is strongly implied to be providing them a steady supply of human victims.
  • Metompsychosis Union: The Greater Garlen Product Commune is a town in the gulf outside of the control of any government but instead controlled by the MegaCorp OPAL. People caught trying to flee through unofficial means are killed and most of the populous works for OPAL.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Namechecked and defied by Sanctum Adroit, a law enforcement company that's firmly lawful and good, who have a strict "No Company Towns" policy. Requiring Massey, the lawyer for Tagon's Toughs, to explain he's representing a newly established nation-state that's contracted his employer for defense, not the Toughs themselves.
  • Unsounded: The kingdom of Cresce uses high-tech super-expensive magic programming on every single coin, which feature genetic identification and procedural tracking, all to control every town's meagre wages so that any work done in their cities can only be used to requisition supplies from their government with government-regulated prices. Stockyard outright compares the country to a company town. Considering that most of the world suspects that the queen is a sociopath, this lack of economy makes sense.
    • And then horribly deconstructed after Glasceau makes his move and unleashes a titanic murder machine made from the pain and suffering of the afterlife on Ethelmik. Since the town doesn't have an economy to salvage, the Cresian militia comes to wipe them out, thinking they're no better than vermin for the crime of living in the same town that birthed that monstrosity.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Costume Quest (2019)'s Auburn Hollow is a parody of mining towns, where the main export of their mines was nougat.
  • Detroit Deluxe from Motorcity seems partly based on Midgar; while they're both Sci-Fi Company Towns built over massive slums, Deluxe favors the Ascetic Aesthetic in comparison to Midgar's Diesel Punk.
  • Recess: A child-level example; in one episode, T.J comes back to school after being out with the flu for a week, only to discover that the entire playground has formed an economic system around the latest fad - Monstickers bubble gum cards! Starting from the bottom, T.J ends up virtually taking over the playground and turning it into this trope since he controls nearly all the cards, and kids spend all recess either working for him or doing nothing (the latter of which he institutes a fine on). His empire crumbles when the fad runs its course and is replaced by something new.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Springfield itself is a Downplayed example; the town is largely dominated by Corrupt Corporate Executive Montgomery Burns and his power plant, which not only functions as an energy monopoly, but is also one of the main job providers. The plant is incredibly poorly maintained, produces a lot of pollution and presents a massive danger to the citizens, but they're stuck with it, as any time the plant is closed down or resorts to layoffs, Springfield plunges into an economic depression.
    • "You Only Move Twice" has an interesting example in Cypress Creek, built for Hank Scorpio's Globex Corporation – Scorpio treats his employees very well, but he's also an Affably Evil parody of a Bond villain, who (thanks to Homer) managed to seize the East Coast by the end. Cypress Creek is a Company Town in only the most literal sense of the word though, having more in common with a planned community than the traditional version of this trope. The wages for employees are high, standard of living is through the roof, and the entire town is clean, well maintained and a generally great place to live... unless you're the Simpson family, who are used to the general bleakness and crapsackness of Springfield.
  • TaleSpin: "Citizen Khan" takes place in a small western mining town occupied solely by Khan Industries employees and a service establishment provider. The mine workers are stuck in indentured servitude, but this is because of the Small-Town Tyrant overseers (who are also robbing Khan) and Khan himself puts a stop to their theft and slave labor as soon as he finds out what's going on and visits the town.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures, Acme Acres is the logical extension to Acme Products.

    Real Life 
  • For a list of company towns in the world, see the other wiki.
  • The closed cities played a similar role in the Soviet Union, except they were usually built around state-controlled research institutes and military production facilities (particularly nuclear and aerospace) rather than privately-owned companies. Currently, both closed cities and the more traditional company towns exist in Russia; the latter tend to be concentrated in the resource-rich but severe Northern Siberia. Including a whole Company City, Norilsk. Ukraine contains probably the most infamous Soviet closed city: Pripyat, former home to Chernobyl nuclear plant employees and their families… and currently a Ghost Town.
  • In Communist China, each danwei (work unit—the socialist equivalent of a company) forms a quasi-autonomous compound that would not only contain offices and factories, but also contain worker's housing, clinics, schools, restaurants, stores, sports and entertainment facilities, etc. Cities like Beijing would contain hundreds of these cities-within-cities, each dedicated to a different danwei. This allows each danwei (and by extension, the Communist Government) better control of its workers as they would spend 90% of their adult lives within the compound; activities such as travel, marriage, and even getting pregnant would require prior-approval by your danwei. As an added bonus, it also saved on transportation fees. Even today, when private and government enterprises have stopped being so all encompassing, the Chinese people have retained a certain taste for this sort of communal living, and these compounds have developed into the shequ (community), which are essentially the same thing minus the workplace (think of a surburb-sized gated community with dedicated amenities).
  • In Akron, Ohio, the former "Rubber Capital" of the US, the two biggest tire companies in the world both had their own sections of the city: Goodyear Heights and Firestone Park. While the companies have long since moved their manufacturing operations elsewhere (though Goodyear still has its corporate headquarters in Akron), the neighborhoods have kept their names and they're still two of the nicer areas of the city.
  • This was Walt Disney's intention for creating EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) at Walt Disney World. Every future citizen of age to work would be required to be employed at either the Magic Kingdom theme park, the industrial park, the airport, the Welcome Center, the hotel/convention center, or the city central shopping areas, all labor which the Disney Theme Parks would profit from. Walt died before he could truly start on his dream city, and the post-Walt Disney decided it would be less of a hassle to just make EPCOT another theme park.
  • Noisel, in the Seine-et-Marne, grew along with the fortunes of chocolate maker Menier: in 1825, it was only a village counting 200, but the company expanded the city enough that it counted 2000 inhabitants by 1870. The owners were powerful enough to be elected deputies and senators; a Menier was always mayor from 1871 to 1959, when they sold the company. Some workers perceived said sale as a betrayal. The company provided housing to its workers and even maintained a farm to provide meat and vegetables. Today, Nestlé still dominates the city.
  • Boulder City, Nevada, about a half-hour's drive from Las Vegas (and in the same county), is a slightly different type of company town. It was established in 1931 to house workers on the Hoover Dam project. Despite the dam being completed in 1936, the town remained under federal control until 1960.note  Both alcohol sales and gambling were prohibited from the community's establishment, with both prohibitions retained when the city was chartered. Alcohol sales were first permitted in 1969, but gambling remains illegal within city limits.


Video Example(s):


Vulcan, Virginia

Led by the Roman God of the same name, Vulcan is a town based around and ran by a gun manufacturing company, and thus is steeped in America's gun culture, with all of the disturbing implications this implies.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / CompanyTown

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