Next town over by the railroad track
Some nights I'm glad it passed us by
Some nights I sit and watch my home town die
A town that has lost its main reason for existing, or the industry or support systems it needs to thrive. As a result, it's losing its inhabitants far faster than they're replaced and there is little income for the residents. The town's tax base is also drying up, so there's barely any public services. Trash is rarely collected and the roads are potholed. If this continues to its logical end, this community will become a Ghost Town.
Easily spotted by the number of businesses that are shuttered or boarded up, particularly on its main thoroughfare. The streets are nearly empty of vehicles, and the few businesses still remaining are dollar stores, liquor stores, a pawnshop, a check-cashing/car title loan business, rent-to-own stores, or fast-food places selling Poverty Food. The grass hasn't been cut around quite a few houses, which often have a barking dog tied to a cinderblock, and inoperable vehicles and/or appliances lie rusting on the lawn, along with litter. Some lawns have ornaments that are considered "tacky," or holiday decorations unironically left in place even though it's August, and inhabitants who spend their days sitting out front in cheap plastic lawn chairs with a cigarette perpetually clutched between two outstretched fingers and a cheap beer in the other hand.
The local pastime, for many people, is some type of drug (meth, heroin, crack, whatever the "flavor of the decade" happens to be). There may also be children running amok in the yard while the adults pay them no mind. If you ask, the inhabitants will tell you Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here. At least not since the rutabaga canning factory burnt down, or the hot springs dried up, or the Widget Factory sent all its jobs to Ruritania, or Bigville got the freeway exit.
The economy, meanwhile, probably hinges on monthly benefits payments (possibly also the resale of stolen goods, usually household items shoplifted from nearby chain stores), and the local Wal-Mart is likely the de facto town meeting place. The few jobs that do still exist are either part-time and pay minimum wage with little or no benefits, or full-time unskilled labor positions that pay poorly, and have limited opportunities for advancement that are largely contingent on who you are due to rampant nepotism and cronyism; unless you belong to or are associated with one of a select few dynastic local families, you simply do not have a shot at rising through the ranks. If there is a decent-paying job available that doesn't require higher education or specialized training, it's probably dangerous, unpleasant (usually mining, waste disposal, or meatpacking), and likely to necessitate an early retirement due to the physical toll that it takes.
Most of the inhabitants will be older folks, safely retired or desperately holding on to the few remaining jobs. There are relatively few younger adults—most have fled to greener pastures, and the remaining ones are either uneducated, dedicated to something in the town, or resent being trapped by obligations. The teenagers and children are likewise mostly interested in leaving as soon as they can manage it, and woe betide the kid whose parents inexplicably decide to move to Dying Town from the big city. Worse still is the kid who had a good shot at leaving, but wound up getting yanked right back in by circumstances (frequently a Career-Ending Injury, an unplanned pregnancy, an economic downturn that affects even the places where there were better opportunities, or ailing parents), and never recovered.
May be the hometown of a cast member, and a visit to it will explain a lot about them. Sometimes overlaps with Town with a Dark Secret, especially in the mystery and horror genres. It also sometimes overlaps with Wretched Hive when the problems that tend to plague impoverished towns full of people who are there because they can't get out set in, especially if the area was dependent on manufacturing and now has no livable jobs; when people get desperate, some will inevitably turn to crime, or turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to cope with the stress. A common plotline in more idealistic stories is for a new inhabitant to find some way of turning things around and restoring the town's prosperity, especially if it is a Close-Knit Community that can rally around them. A more cynical twist has the newcomer promising this to con the remaining inhabitants out of their meager savings.
This is one of the most feared outcomes of a Tourism-Derailing Event.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- In the first Fullmetal Alchemist novel, as well as an episode or two of the anime, there is the town with the man trying to make philosopher's stones out of the red water.
- The Expy of Venice in Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) is dying in two senses - it's sinking under the water (and will be gone in a decade), which is causing people to leave it in droves. The only thing that brings any money to the town anymore is Psiren.
- Some of the places that are associated within their respective case arcs in The Kindaichi Case Files suffer this fate.
- Much of the economy in Hitokui Village has been dependent on a bio-chemical research lab, so there was more population within the village when there was more funding for lab research(es) during WWII and the population decreased after much of the funding for lab researching got pulled out or dried up after WWII. In the present day, about half of the buildings in the village are boarded up and/or showing other signs of vacancy.
- Seiren Island is technically a "dying island", as the island has no separate townships itself, but the trope applies all the same because it has a dwindling human population. At the present day, there's only one person, an elderly octogenarian woman, who's still residing on the island. According to her testimony, the island population was around 100 in her younger years, during and after WWII, but the failed attempt to turn the island into a resort after WWII caused the already-critical economic status of the island to become downright unsustainable, which, in turn, resulted in the continual decrease of the island population until only she herself remained as its inhabitant, which has held true for the past twenty years.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, Mercury itself is considered this. Though there are colonies throughout the solar system, the Mercury colony was originally a mining colony used to dig out the local Unobtainium, Permet. This made it worth maintaining despite Mercury being one of the least hospitable planets in existence, but a supply of Permet was found on the Earth's moon, and Mercury has been in decline ever since. Suletta, the protagonist, was one of the only children there when growing up, and she's basically regarded as the equivalent of a hick from the boonies. She claims that a personal dream of hers is to found a piloting school on Mercury, in the hopes that it might one day thrive again.
- Tokyo 3, from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Most of the people fled after the first angel attack, leading to the tiny size of Shinji's class. And unknown to them, Shinji's classmates are all potential Eva pilots, so even they're only there because NERV wants them on tap.
- In Franky and Iceburg's flashback, One Piece's City of Canals, Water 7, was this due to rising water levels submerging the city, pirate attacks and storms disrupting the cities ship building trade, and the ship building trade competing too aggressively with itself. Iceburg, in forming Galley-La to unite the companies, helping Franky and Tom build the Sea Train to create a more secure trade and connections to nearby islands, and hiring master shipwrights who could also beat up pirates, saved the city, becoming its beloved Mayor in the process. The sinking is still a problem, though he's working on that with a project to turn the entire city into a floating metropolis.
- Sakura Quest is about the efforts to revitalize the town of Manoyama. The town suffers from an aging population, a struggling economy, local businesses shutting down and few tourists coming through. Unfortunately, the solution is not at all clear-cut, since while many residents agree the situation has to improve, others are apathetic or otherwise resistant to the idea of change. The protagonists in the tourism board's efforts to revitalize the town have some success, but the series ends with the town considering a merger, which leaves the future somewhat uncertain.
- In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, there's the town of Kyrie. Since it sits at the Yodaka side of the bridge to Yuusari (respectively the poor and middle-class regions of Amberground), one would think that it's an important center of commerce, but because the regions are heavily segregated and few people can pass between them, hardly anyone comes through. Jiggy Pepper, one of the few Yodaka residents who became a Letter Bee, helped the town by contributing his salary toward buying a bell for the newly constructed church.
- Trigun has a number of these, due to Planet Gunsmoke's unforgiving environment. The best example is in the 2nd episode of the TV series, where a town is rapidly depopulating due to its aquifer drying up. It turns out a local robber-baron who lives on top of the aquifer was secretly draining it and storing the water in giant tanks, intending to sell it at a massive profit.
- CGI film Vexille features this with the whole country of Japan being the victim.
- The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw has the town of Erries whose sheep inhabitants are dying from an unknown disease in alarming numbers.
- In Generation Zero, the town of Rook was dying after the closure of its plants. More recently, it's become a technological hub Powered by a Forsaken Child.
- One of the main recurring themes of Ghost Rider (2022) is how America's lesser known, underpopulated towns across its vast rural areas are much more vulnerable to be preyed on by malevolent supernatural forces, its struggling populations constantly falling under the radar of most superheroes who mainly congregate in large cities and are largely concerned with big scale events. This causes the titular anti-hero, Ghost Rider, to come to the grim realization that his nomadic lifestyle is likely one of only few reasons that America's poor, forgotten people have any hope left.
- Lampshaded in the Harvest Moon DS oneshot Best Friends when Claire mentions that Forget-me-not Valley is barely a town. It doesn't have a McDonald's or church. She disparagingly mentions that they barely even have electricity.
- Dimmsdale in the Burning Black series, due to Timmy Turner's death, the eight Dark Spires, and the declining fairy godparent population.
- Chase and the Temple of Stone has Stone Town from the Pokémon: The Original Series series episode Pokémon S1E40 "The Battling Eevee Brothers" as one, whose surface prosperity is fading fast as the mines run dry of evolution stones. Its in its early stages of death but Goh can see the signs.
- In From Bajor to the Black Kanril Eleya characterizes her hometown of Priyat this way. According to her, half the population only lives there because it's close to a major city. She enlists in the Bajoran Militia to get out of town.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines's Cynthia comes from one of these as shown in her oneshot.
- Ta'akan in With Strings Attached, becoming abandoned due to the restless Baravadans going to search for things to fight out of boredom.
- Green River from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is essentially this by the time the Mousekewitz family arrives, a withering old west former Boom Town. Upon seeing it Mama remarks that they'd been "schnookered".
- Radiator Springs from Cars. Once a waypoint along Route 66, it was bypassed when the interstate was built and siphoned away all their traffic and customers. The musical number "Our Town" depicts its decline from a thriving community. Thanks to Lightning McQueen, the town begins to thrive again.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Swallow Falls used to be a fairly prosperous town until the local sardine cannery suffered a serious hit in business, leaving the locals with almost nothing to eat but sardines. Part of Flint's desire to be a successful inventor is to put Swallow Falls back on the map.
- Dirt in Rango. A case of the town being killed on purpose, as the mayor deprives the citizens of water so that he can use it to buy off their land and create a new community while the old one is left to die.
- Rust Bank in Wendell & Wild. Following a fatal fire in the town’s prized brewery, the town has gradually become rundown and abandoned by the people to be bought up by Klax Korp to be demolished and replaced by a private prison.
- By the end of Annie Hall, Annie is of the opinion that New York is one of these (and this film took place in The '70s when she was somewhat justified). Alvy disagrees:
Alvy: You're not gonna come back to New York?
Annie: What's so great about New York anyway? I mean, it's a dying city — you've read Death in Venice.
- The Big Green has Elma, Texas, with bad student test scores and few employed citizens. Even the movie's programming guide says that the town is dying.
- The Blob (1988): Downplayed. Apparently, much of the economy of Arborbille is dependent on winter tourism, but not enough snow has fallen in recent years for skiing. It hasn't led to a population drain just yet, but the town is starting to feel it.
- The 2020 remake version of Children of the Corn has the town of Rylstone, Nebraska. Due to massive crop failures brought about by over-reliance on GMOs and herbicides, the town is in the middle of an economic collapse, with the title sequence showing literally every storefront either already boarded up or having going out of business sales. The townsfolk are so desperate that they decide to wipe out their remaining corn fields in exchange for federal crop subsidies, which is what angers "He Who Walks" so much that it starts corrupting the town's children into turning on their parents. Since by the end of the movie the entire adult population is dead and all the corn fields have been burned in an attempt to kill "He Who Walks", it seems likely that the town is doomed.
- Raven's Fair in Dead Silence. Mary Shaw has killed so much of the town's population that most of the buildings are shuttered and dilapidated.
- Eight Legged Freaks is set in ironically named Prosperity, a small mining town whose economy revolved entirely around the local gold mine. No points for guessing what happened when the vein ran dry. The film's protagonist returns to his native town after decades of absence with the noble intention of reopening the mine, only to get roped into the Giant Spider invasion the movie is all about, but in the end he succeeds in bringing prosperity back to Prosperity.
- Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare touches on this slightly, with anyone in Springwood under 18 killed off by Freddy (which accounts for a very high percentage of the town population), the remaining adults have gone wacko as a result.
- The town of Ticklehead from The Grand Seduction used to be a proud fishing community. However, the collapse of the cod fishery has gutted the community, with many moving away to find work while those who choose to stay scraping by on welfare. The film's plot revolves around trying to get a plastic processing plant built in town so that the inhabitants can feel the dignity of a hard day's work again.
- Gummo is an example of this trope. Set in Xenia, Ohio some time after a tornado nearly destroyed it. Dirty, overgrown, and abandoned, only the people who couldn't leave remain... a poverty-stricken group of delinquents, mentally handicapped, and child molesters.
- Gung Ho: Hadleyville, Pennsylvania, is a factory town without a factory. The residents are under the gun to convince a car company to reopen the factory before the town dies. Shortly into the first act, they manage to get a company to invest... a Japanese company. Hilarity Ensues.
- Part of the Big Bad's plot in Gunslinger involves buying up property around the town she owns a hotel and saloon in on the off-chance that a railroad would be built through the town. However, she and her hired gun intercept the letter revealing that the railroad wouldn't go through, dooming the town to be like this. When featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, due to the supporting cast just up and disappear before the climatic shootouts, Crow and Tom run with the idea that the townspeople have all died, leaving replacement sheriff Sam Bass to watch over a city of dead bodies.
- Heart of Glass by Werner Herzog revolves around an 18th-century small town that is dependent on its glass factory. When the factory loses the secret recipe for red glass, the whole town goes angst-ridden with the threat of decline.
- Jumanji: When Alan Parrish is trapped in the board game for 26 years, his father thinks he has run away (due to their last conversation being a fight), and thus puts all his time and efforts into finding him, closing his shoe factory in the process. When Alan is freed from the game by Judy and Peter, he finds his home town in dire straits, with people on the street, main street all but shuttered, and the rest of the town choked with big boxes and speedy burgers where churches used to be. At the end, time is reset, allowing Alan to prevent this by reconciling with his father and eventually taking over the family business.
- In Last Man Standing, the small town of Jericho has only a gas station, Bar/Hotel, Sheriff's office, Coffin Maker, and two rivaling Gangs remaining. By the end of the movie, half of those are gone, too.
- Perigord, the setting of the last half of Phantasm II, as it is yet to be fully razed by The Tall Man.
- The Milagro Beanfield War: Milagro has very few young adults, as most of them leave town as soon as they can. Water being dammed up has made most of the local farmers sell their land. Finally, a planned development will raise taxes to the point where no one can afford to stay. The book also mentions that the average high school class size a decade earlier was sixteen, and that during The Vietnam War most of the male recent graduates ended up in the army and often died.
Ruby: What good is a hometown if everyone you know is gone?
- The Reaping: the entire town is slowly killed off one by one by the 10 plagues of Egypt which are brought upon them by a girl, because everyone in the town became cultists and turned their back on God, and they sacrificed every second born child to create The Antichrist. The girl was an angel sent by God to eliminate the entire town.
- In Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, Raccoon City is one of these instead of the urban metropolis it is in the video games. The town's economy was entirely dependant on the Umbrella Corporation, so with Umbrella moving its operations elsewhere, the only people still left are either the last few Umbrella employees that haven't transferred out yet, or residents who are simply too poor to leave.
- A running subplot throughout the Robocop franchise is Detroit being a horrible place to live in general and OCP doing its damnedest to kick residents out of their homes in order to have enough land to make "Delta City", which would both revive the city and turn it into One Nation Under Copyright (it's also heavily implied that they want to do their "Delta City" project on Detroit because the U.S. Government has pretty much given up on trying to keep the city alive).
- Roger & Me is Michael Moore's documentary about Flint, Michigan, a former GM factory town in the Rust Belt that began to die after GM closed the factory and outsourced to Mexico.
- The titular Spanish town of Santoalla is this. Before Martin and Margo moved in, only the Rodriguezes were living there.
- Tommy Boy: When Tommy Callahan returns to Sandusky after graduating from college, he learns that several of the town's other industrial plants have been closed down. Callahan Auto is the town's only remaining major employer and if they shut down, the whole town will go under.
- Perfection, Nevada from the Tremors franchise is a similar example to Prosperity- at the start of the first film it's down to about a dozen residents and can't even be properly called a town anymore and the arrival of giant killer worms doesn't help much. The first film ends with indications that Perfection might actually see a revival in the future, but by the later films the population has evidently dwindled to Bert and his son.
- On Adam Ruins Everything, Adam meets a 50-year-old man who is dismayed because he lost his job since the toaster factory went out of business, which was what his town was centered around. His family had worked in it for generations. Adam explains to him that just as economies grow and change, so must people. The man he's talking to decides to go Back to School and gain some new skills so he can get a new job.
- An example occurs on Bones in the Season 3 episode "Baby in the Bough". The murdered woman is from a town, Huntsville, that is dying because the main bridge was destroyed cutting the town off from "the scenic route" and drying up all the tourism associated with it. After the murderer is caught, Bones saves the town by investing a large chunk of her recent advance for her next book into rebuilding the bridge and hiring project manager they met to run the project (she also decides that she might buy a vacation home there once the bridge is fixed).
- Figures into the first season of Brockmire as Jules attempts to use Brockmire to revive the lulling attendance figures at the minor league ballpark. The general aura of the town always seems to reflect this and the fact that the team is named the Frackers indicates that the town is in a co-dependent relationship with an oil company that's not beneficial to them.
- Dare Me takes place in the fictional town of Sutton Grove, which has been ailing ever since the old tire factory closed. Exacerbating their problems is their attempt to build a football stadium, which has stalled, costing the town a lot of money. Many of the teen characters on the show openly talk about trying to leave.
- Dillon, Texas in Friday Night Lights, much like the Real Life Odessa, Texas it is based on, is a post-bust oil town. It's more or less functional after a hideous crash in The '80s, but there's basically no opportunities besides farm work and minimum wage service jobs, and if an adult over twenty-two lives there, it's because they couldn't get into college or pro sports.
- The majority-black East Dillon is in even worse shape than the rest of the town, as all the money from the state bailout which got the town into its current state of semi-repair got funelled into the majority white West Dillon.
- It could go a long way towards explaining why many of the teenagers' goals is to get out of Lima post-graduation in Glee.
- In Lodge 49, Long Beach is presented as this, as the closure of the local Orbis plant has put many of the residents out of work.
- The Mandalorian shows the famed Mos Eisley Spaceport has fallen into this following Luke and friends eliminating Jabba. With the main criminal element gone, the town is largely desolate and empty.
- Midnight Mass is set on Crockett Island, which has declined to 127 people after a major oil spill decimated the fishing industry that was the backbone of its economy. According to one of the characters, people moving away simply abandon their homes and don't even attempt to sell them anymore. The only social institution that remains is the local Catholic church.
- Camden on My Name Is Earl seems to be this. Most of its residents are low-income and uneducated, and Earl mentions that if you hadn't left town by Junior High, odds are, you never would.
- The Outer Limits (1995):
- In "Glyphic", the small town of Tolemy is on its last legs after a brain cancer outbreak killed most of the town's children.
- In "Seeds of Destruction", Hobson was a dying town until MacroSeed arrived. The company paid a small fortune to rent several of its fields in order to grow TX-40, their genetically engineered strain of corn.
- True Detective: Rust Cohle gets off a memorable description of some sad little dying Texas town.
Rust: This place is like someone's memory of a town, and the memory is fading.
- Dibley, in The Vicar of Dibley to the point where the birth of a child was celebrated with a statue of that child.
- The titular town of the third episode in Y Gwyll, "Penwyllt," is more of a village than a town that used to have an active quarry. Penwyllt actually is a real settlement in South Wales (rather than in Ceredigion in the show, which is the jurisdiction of the Aberystwyth police), and it used to have an active quarry, although today its main purpose is to serve as a rest stop for caving enthusiasts. The only people living In-Universe in Penwyllt are all directly or indirectly involved with the murder case.
- The folk songs "Out From St Leonards" and "Farewell to the Rhondda" are about the demise of fishing in Newfoundland and mining in Wales, respectively.
- "Little Man" by Alan Jackson shows a town whose small businesses are dying off because of big chain stores.
- "Trickle Down" by Ani DiFranco deals with the predictable effect that a steel plant's closing has on a small town.
- "Allentown" by Billy Joel. "Allentown" is actually about the neighboring Pennsylvania town of Bethlehem, which has been dying a long slow death since the loss of Bethlehem Steel. "Allentown" just ensures it won't be mistaken for a Christmas song.
- "North Country Blues" by Bob Dylan.
- "Dry County", by Bon Jovi. The singer moves to the title town (or, at least, county) that springs up when oil is struck. Then the oil abruptly runs out, and he doesn't even have enough money left to get back home.
- "My Hometown", "Youngstown" and "Death to My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen.
- "A Howling Dust" by Cormorant has the town (Hornitos, CA) dying towards the end.
- "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues", a 1972 top 10 hit for Danny O'Keefe about a young man living in a small, dying town somewhere in rural America and is depressed over his loneliness and that all his friends and everyone he cares for have moved away ... in the song, they've moved to "L.A." (Los Angeles).
- "Blue Collar Town" by David Goldman.
- "Telegraph Road" by Dire Straits follows the history of a town all the way from a single settler to its dying phase.
- "Old Coyote Town" by Don Williams.
- "Nobody Gets Off in This Town" by Garth Brooks is a more lighthearted take.
- "Monopoly on the Blues" by The Hangdogs.
- "The Day They Closed the Factory Down" by Harry Chapin, which he introduces on the concert album by saying, "This is about what happens to a little one-horse town when the one horse decides to up and leave."
- "Our Town" by Iris DeMent.
- "We Can't Make It Here" by James McMurtry uses this as the basis for a Protest Song about 21st-century America.
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes, or the shape I'm in?
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today?
No, I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see 'em all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily-white and squeaky-clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war
But we can't make it here anymore
- "Shutting Down Our Town" by Jimmy Barnes is about the closing of the Holden car factory in Barnes' hometown of Elizabeth, South Australia.
- "Ringling, Ringling" by Jimmy Buffett.
- Many of the ska punk band Less Than Jake's songs are about the desire to leave their boring, dying town and commiserating with other people stuck there. Such songs include "History Of A Boring Town" and "Look What Happened" among others.
- "Company Town" and "Industrial Town" by The Men They Couldn't Hang.
- Randy Newman has a few songs on this topic, ranging from sarcastic ("Burn On") to tragic ("Baltimore," the aformentioned "Our Town" from Cars).
- Ray Stevens's "Dear Andy Griffith" pays homage to a suburban town that has seen better days; the garden beds have become overrun with weeds, yard sales, cluttered lawns, pit bulls, with the banker's house turned into a funeral parlor, and the local veteran's memorial is a hangout for Goths and vampires.
- "Ghost Town" by Shiny Toy Guns, despite its title, is about a Dying Town that hasn't yet reached Ghost status.
- "My Little Town" by Simon & Garfunkel, where "nothing but the dead and dying" remain.
- Similarly, "Ghost Town" by the Specials is about a Dying Town in 1980s Britain full of urban deprivation, violence, and unemployment.
- Turns up a lot in the music of Stan Rogers, focusing on small fishing villages in Atlantic Canada, including "Make and Break Harbour" and "Free in the Harbour". "The Idiot" focuses on a young man who left one of these towns to work the oilfields in Alberta.
- "Town with No Cheer" from Swordfishtrombones by Tom Waits.
- "Laid a Highway" by Tift Merritt, which provides our page quote.
- A large chunk of Uncle Tupelo's catalog would fit this category.
- Kepler, West Virginia, in The Adventure Zone: Amnesty used to be a reasonably popular ski resort town, but competition from larger, more popular ski resorts have hit the town's economy hard, and Kepler's location, deep within the National Radio Quiet Zone, has made it unlikely for any new industries to move in anytime soon.
- The town of Dry River in The Adventure Zone: Dust. Formerly called Twin River, before the river dried up. The incorporation into the rest of the Crescent Region, spearheaded by the Mathis and Blackwell clans, is an attempt to avert this. Sheriff Connors' attempt to stop the incorporation by killing Jeremiah Blackwell is his own attempt at saving the town.
- Dark Heresy: The world of Sinophia, at the edge of the Calixis Sector, was the staging point for the Angevin Crusade that brought the sector into the Imperium millennia ago. At that time, Sinophia's infrastructure and economy were greatly expanded to support the crusade, and the world benefitted as immigrants arrived, industry flourished, and the planet became wealthy and influential. However, as the crusade wound down and the conquered worlds settled fully into the Imperium, the importance and influence of Siophia declined. These days, the world is slowly decaying, in a perpetual economic downturn, with a shrinking population, an unmaintained infrastructure, and various noble houses bickering among one another with none able to wield the influence to steer the planet to recovery.
- New World of Darkness:
- The sourcebook Ghost Stories has Fort Assumption. When the Babyhead Mine's silver veins played out, the town began to die off.
- The opening fiction to the Promethean: The Created corebook takes place in a small town with very few members — they need to invite a psychologist in from out of town to interview a suspect. This is because most of the town has moved away — like in Centralia, PA, the coal veins underneath the town have caught fire and been burning for years. And would you believe Frankenstein's Monster did it?
- The unnamed town of Anyone Can Whistle. It used to make a product that never wore out, and its industry thus became obsolete for failing to manufacture obsolescence. As the play begins, the town's only thriving institutions are municipal corruption and an insane asylum.
- In the Australian play The Custodians of Culture, a man and his simple-minded friend live in a ghost town that's been abandoned after a highway bypass, going through the pretense that they're its custodians.
- Uranium, Saskatchewan in Ride the Cyclone is the "mall took over and killed off all the local business" variant, as conveyed in the "Uranium Suite" opening. Apparently "the smart ones all packed up and went," but the kids were stranded there since their parents wanted to stay.
- In the unnamed setting of Urinetown, the town's water supply is about to dry up for good, even with Mr. Cladwell's draconion water sanctions on the poor to prolong its preservation. Mr. Cladwell and his cronies are aware of this inevitability, and secretly make plans to jet off to Rio so they can ensure their own survival.
- The Visit: The town of Güllen has fallen into poverty since its mill and mine closed, so the citizens are fatally tempted when the billionaire Claire Zachanassian offers them a vast payout to kill Alfred Ill. In Act III, she reveals that she secretly bought and closed the businesses herself, invoking the trope to set up her revenge against Alfred.
- The titular town in Echo has been in a constant state of decline for decades prior to the novel's story. It started out as your typical Gold Rush-era Boom Town that reached its peak population of 6,500 in 1877. Several mass hysteria events lead to numerous residents fleeing over the years. Other contributing factors to the town's decline were the mines shutting down in the 1940s, the railroad branch feeding into the town shutting down in the 60s, and the Interstate highway bypassing the town soon after. By 2015 (the time of the novel's main story), the population was only 50 people, with the town littered with abandoned homes, closed businesses, and disused industry. Most residents commute to the nearby city of Payton for work and school. Echo doesn't seem to have its own hospital or police department either since it's mentioned those resources come from Payton as well.
- In Higurashi: When They Cry, Hinamizawa would have become this had the dam project gone through. In Saikoroshi-hen's 'Ideal World', the project was approved, emphasizing the fact that while everyone is relatively happier in this world, the True Companions have not been brought together by their respective problems, and will soon be separated for good.
- In Higurashi Gou and Sotsu, the village has reverted back into this status anyway with the passage of time. A bunch of the familiar landmarks have been torn down and people are continuing to leave the village in droves. It makes it clear that even if Satoko were to completely separate from Rika, there would be very little in Hinamizawa for her to come back to.
- By the time of Higurashi: When They Cry Rei, Hinamizawa is even worse. The population's dwindled heavily since the 80s, and the town's aversion to outsiders had only made it worse. The Kimiyoshi family had been experimenting with ways to get the town back on its feet, but in response got 500 members of the Polaris community as new citizens instead. It still causes a lot of friction between the new and old residents.
- Kirkman's Peak from Bad Moon Rising was a tiny town before the school closed. In the 10 years since, it's been reduced to a handful of residents too stubborn to leave.
- Unsounded: The Crescian town of Ethelmik began to fail when its mines ran dry, leaving it vulnerable to foreign gangsters like Stockyard Frummagem. At the time of the comic, the citizens are being relocated by the communist State of Cresce, and those who remain are massacred by a rogue Crescian general in a False Flag Operation.
- In Winter of '83, we learn early on that the town of Fawn Circle, Minnesota isn't doing so well as it has been under a budget crisis that had delayed a repair work of the Governor's Mansion, Scotts Manor, and is putting local television station K83FC in dire straits. Near the end of the series, we learn that Scotts Manor was rented out to the University of Minnesota for their science experiments with a group of bacteria from space. Said bacteria and a massive blizzard ends up destroying the town at the end.
- Dimanche: The little town where the protagonist, a small boy, is taken to visit his grandparents. The newspaper has a headline that says "Factory Closed" and the factory is shown later with a "For Sale" sign on it.
- The Scooby-Doo Show: In "The Beast is Awake on Bottomless Lake", after three weeks of monster sightings, the town of Bottomless Lake, Canada is abandoned (until the gang solves the mystery) except for one obstinate fisherman, a Creepy Gas-Station Attendant who wants to leave but has car trouble that he's trying to fix, and a young woman who claims that she left but returned to look for her missing cat.
- The Simpsons:
- Springfield is a moderate example. It has a decent-sized population, a lot of amenities, and a good deal of industry. However, flashbacks have shown that the town has taken a considerable fall from the past, where the streets were literally paved with gold, and areas of the city are in deep urban decay and disrepair.
- Several episodes have shown that the nuclear power plant is basically Springfield's only economic driving force. Several times, Mr. Burns has either shut down or drastically scaled back the plant, and each time, the town has fallen into a recession almost instantly. If the plant ever goes for good, Springfield would go with it.
- In "Marge vs. the Monorail", Marge visits North Haverbrook, one of the towns Lyle Lanley sold a monorail to, and finds the town has fallen into decay and disrepair after the shoddy monorail Lanley sold them suffered a catastrophic breakdown.