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Eiffel Tower Effect

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Get an Eiffel of that tower!
"The Eiffel Tower can be seen from ANY window in Paris!"
"Hollywood Rule Book", Vanity Fair

Some cities are renowned for their industries. Hollywood makes movies, Detroit makes... made cars. Others are known as hotspots for the scientific community, like Geneva. Or for the political community, like... Geneva. And in some places, there is a landmark. Such as Geneva.

A few of these landmarks, in various locations around the globe, are so well-known by so many people that they've come to function as a sort of visual shorthand for the city, sometimes the country, in which they're located to the point where some footage of the landmark in question must be portrayed on the screen, even when that landmark is irrelevant to the plot and nowhere near where the characters are supposed to be. The National Mall in Washington, D.C., Westminster Palace (specifically, its clock tower housing Big Ben) in London, the Taj Mahal in India, St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow (occasionally mistaken for the nearby Kremlin), the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, the Tokyo Tower in Tokyo, The Colosseum in Rome, the Sistine Chapel for Vatican City... When these locations are portrayed in a film or TV show, expect numerous, panoramic establishing shots of the landmark in question. Occasionally, these landmarks will be visible out of windows or from rooftops where viewing them in real life would be geographically impossible, or in historical settings when they weren't actually built yet.


Iconic structures such as these can also function as Red Shirts. If they are ever destroyed, then circumstances have become dire indeed. Which naturally means that in a disaster movie, the landmark in question will probably be doomed to certain destruction. The Hollywood sign and the Statue of Liberty are popular targets for CGI catastrophes. Alternatively, the structure will be one of the few things left intact After the End, either mostly undamaged, to give the characters some kind of hope for the future, or nearly collapsed, as a testament to how much has been lost.

This trope is not simply here to list various landmarks around the world, but rather instances of landmarks in fiction used as a shortcut to showing either where the action occurs or how bad things have gotten.

Can overlap with both Scenery Gorn and Scenery Porn, depending on how lovingly and lavishly the landmark in question is filmed. Often combined with Time Zones Do Not Exist if the landmark is shown in a view from another country at the same time in both places. For instances where entire countries, or more, are represented by the landmarks of only one city, see Britain Is Only London. Compare Landmarking the Hidden Base, where a major HQ is situated inside or underneath one of these monuments; Rushmore Refacement, where they are deliberately altered; Weaponized Landmark, where they're turned into Weapons Of Mass Destruction; and Monumental Damage, where they are damaged or destroyed, possibly as a result of a Monumental Battle. (And Monumental Damage Resistance, when they survive a disaster.)


This trope is useful for works with an Informed Location, as using the landmark in a Title Sequence is a quick and easy way to establish a setting with little other effort.

The trope namer is on the Champ de Mars in Paris and was completed in 1889. The Other Wiki calls the Eiffel Tower "one of the most recognizable structures in the world." Part of this is due to the fact that there was a strict building code of no buildings over a certain height in Paris, so that the Tower is seen from farther away than it would have been had it been built in, say, New York City.

For its historical equivalent, see "Mister Sandman" Sequence. This trope is not to be confused with the Washington Monument Syndrome.note 


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  • Pick any advertising for a French perfume. It will inevitably be set in Paris, with its landmarks showing up.
  • In one ad for Liberty Mutual Insurance, a man in Witness Protection tells viewers that with the money he saved on insurance, he was able to go on vacation with his family, but he "can't say where," and the Statue of Liberty is seen in the background. He then shows a picture of his family, who are obscured in shadow the same way he is, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Tokyo Tower functions this way in many anime; one of the most famous is in CLAMP's works, such as X/1999, Cardcaptor Sakura, and more.
  • Death Note uses both the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye to indicate that the world is listening to a broadcast. More bizarrely, the anime uses Big Ben in a flashback where the character in question was remembering Winchester and not London at all.
  • In one episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Section 9 assists German military counterintelligence in capturing an international terrorist in Berlin. During his stakeouts, Batou makes one of his hiding spots on top of the Siegessäule. While at 67 meters height, it offers quite a view, it's right in the centre of Berlin's largest park and about 500 meters from the nearest buildings, making it completely useless for that task.
  • During the Doma Arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, when the Orichalcos Soldiers were attacking everywhere on Earth, the cities they were attacking were identified with a single famous landmark (e.g. the Palace of Westminster, the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, Tokyo Tower, l'Arc de Triomphe, etc., etc.)
  • Darker than Black seems to employ this with the giant wall around Hell's Gate. It's most noticeable in Huang's flashback episode, where the wall still in construction is often visible to signalize the timeframe.
  • During Renge's introduction in Ouran High School Host Club, when she's having tea with her father you can see the Eiffel Tower outside their window, looming so huge that it practically looks like it's on their property. Considering the tone of the show, this is probably as much for comedic effect as it is to tell the viewers "This is France".
  • Mostly averted for Noir. Although much of the series is set in Paris, the only glimpse of the Eiffel Tower is from a good distance away in the opening, which an inattentive viewer may miss entirely. The absence of this trope actually causes a slight problem with the narrative pacing, since not all viewers realize at what point the first episode transfers between Japan and France, which may lead to confusion.
  • Used in Mobile Fighter G Gundam in combination with Earth That Used to Be Better. The Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower, Brooklyn Bridge, and other notable landmarks are all in states of hideous decay, and some of them are outright destroyed during the episode.
  • In Case Closed, one story had Ran visit New York. She takes a nap at one point and when she wakes up, she's already there... And literally the first thing she sees there is the Statue of Liberty.
  • When Kanna flies to New York City in chapter 62 Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, she lands at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Makoto Shinkai likes to use the NTT DoCoMo Yoyogi Building as a sign that the film is currently in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo.
  • Code Geass: Akito the Exiled: Many scenes have the Eiffel Tower, letting viewers know the story is set in France, Paris.
  • The Legend of Koizumi: How do you know that George W. Bush is in America (as if you didn't already know)? You can see the Statue of Liberty from his bedroom window. His bedroom... in the White House. In Washington DC. 200 miles from Liberty Island.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Doctor D", there is a shot of Dhokla taking selfies on the Eiffel Tower. The country he visits is never referenced by name, so this is the only indication that he's visiting France.
  • Weslie and the gang visit America in episode 20 of Pleasant Goat Fun Class: Travel Around the World. One of the first things they see is the Statue of Liberty.

    Comic Books 
  • Blake and Mortimer:
    • In the story Professor Sató's Three Formulae - volume 1, Tokyo Tower is really prominently seen (as seen here). Funny enough, while the story mostly does take part in Tokyo, apart from one panel where it is seen broadcasting a TV signal, and one panel where it's a vague outline in the background, it doesn't appear whatsoever in the story itself. It also doesn't appear in the second volume of the story.
    • In the story SOS Meteore, the Eiffel Tower is prominently seen on the cover, but not once in the story itself, despite the story otherwise faithfully showing many places in Paris.
    • Jacobs seemed aware of this trope, since the other story taking place in Paris, The Necklace Affair, also never shows the Eiffel Tower.
    • In the story The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent - volume 1 however, the Atomium in Brussels is not only seen on the cover, but also rather prominent in the story itself, which is no wonder, since the story takes place at the world fair for which it was built.
    • The Palace of Westminster and its famous clock tower are shown in stories taking place in London, like The Yellow M and The Francais Blake Affair.
    • Since the first two-volume story was called The Mystery of the Great Pyramid, it was inevitable that the Pyramids of Gizeh are the center piece of this story taking place in Cairo.
    • Played dead-straight in the first story 'The Secret of the Swordfish. When the Yellow Epire announces its victory, they talk about the destruction of Rome, Paris and London. And indeed, we do see St. Peter's Basilica, the Eiffel Tower (collapsing) and the Palace of Westminster in Flames.
  • Tim Drake spends more time in Paris than any other members of the Bat-family and the Eiffel Tower is often used as shorthand to let the reader know when a story is taking place there, like on the cover of Robin (Volume 1) #1.
  • Superman:
    • Superman: Savage Dawn establishes a flashback to medieval Rome by showing Vandal Savage admiring a newly painted Sistine Chapel, instead of the dozens of others churches in the area.
    • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, Xviar teleports several Superman's enemies to Egypt... concretely to the Valley of the Kings for no particular reason.
    • During the final battle in Two for the Death of One, Superman gets blasted across half world and randomly crashes into, of all places, the face of the Great Sphinx of Giza.
    • In The Hunt for Reactron, Supergirl and two friends are staying in Paris. Then Kara and her friend Thara get into a fight during which the former gets accidentally slammed into the Eiffel Tower.
    • Strangers at the Heart's Core: When Supergirl lures villain Klax-Ar back to Earth, she makes landfall on Manhattan, right next to the Statue of Liberty, whose sight makes Klax realize where they have arrived.
    • Superman vs. Shazam!:
      • Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel's first scene has them save New York City's Brooklyn Bridge.
      • Later, the Sandman Superman places Karmang's device in the World Trade Center for no particular reason.
      • When Karmang imagines the damage which his devices might cause, visions show a tidal wave engulfing the Big Ben, and a lightning storm hitting Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
      • Superman and Captain Marvel's brawl takes all the way to the Canadian border... concretely, the Niagara Falls.
    • The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor: When Supergirl takes Lena back home, the shilouette of the Empire State Building in the background of one panel reminds readers that the story is set in New York City.
    • Girl Power: When Power Girl agrees to see Supergirl, the younger Kara chooses the Statue of Liberty as the meeting point for no particular reason.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): During Judgment In Infinity the Adjudicator appears next to the Washington Monument for no particular reason. Later, Supergirl and Madame Xanadu are teleported into Earth-X's Paris, right in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): One of the panels showing civilians watching Diana's duel with Medusa shows the Eiffel Tower and two French flags in the background, just to make sure the reader knows these people are in France.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Priscilla Rich's abode is in Cairo, which is established by having a view off her balcony in which the Pyramids of Giza are clearly visible.
    • Wonder Woman 600: The setting for the fight in "Valedictorian" is made clear by having the White House very visible in the background.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: "Mayhem of the Madbomb!" takes place in the Empire State Building. Black Panther demands himself and Hulk to reach the bomb at the top with stealth, fearing a battle with the HYDRA agents inside could damage the building, while Hulk doesn't care if they have to destroy the structure to save the city.
  • Jo, Zette and Jocko: A part of The Secret Ray is set in New York. The Statue of Liberty is visible in a panel.
  • In Gargoyles spin-off comic Bad Guys:
    • Every sequence set in Paris (there are several, as that's where the team is based) opens with a shot of the Eiffel Tower.
    • The scene in Sydney in the first issue opens with a shot of the Opera House.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • The Ultimates: When Tony Stark tries the new Iron Man suit, there is a sight of the Empire State building in the background.
    • Spider-Men II: The adult Miles Morales has made it to another dimension. The first time we see it, we recognize it's the Ultimate Marvel universe because, besides the Daily Bugle, there's the Baxter Building with the top part destroyed (something that happened in Ultimate Doomsday), and the Triskelion with SHIELD hellicarriers nearby.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • An American Tail: The Statue of Liberty is seen under construction, thus using this trope to establish that the characters have arrived in New York of the past.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs has plenty of fun with this trope, showing a giant club sandwich being skewered on the Eiffel Tower, among other things. Further fun is had when it is revealed that food is raining down on all major landmarks first before spreading to less interesting parts of the world.
  • Spoofed in Despicable Me, where Gru is giving a speech to his minions in which he recalls some of their famous landmark-stealing capers, including the theft of the Statue of Liberty ("The small one, from Las Vegas"), and the Eiffel Tower ("Also from Vegas").
  • Finding Nemo uses the Sydney Opera House to represent... well, Sydney. Even the school of mimicking fish do this.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Movie, the Statue of Liberty is being attacked by Cobra, establishing the setting as New York City.
  • Monsters, Inc.: When Mike and Sully go through the Portal Network of closet doors to escape Randall, the Eiffel Tower and Mt. Fuji can be seen in two of the bedrooms.
  • Ratatouille: The Eiffel Tower is the first landmark Remy sees when he emerges from the sewers, and Linguini's cheap apartment and the fancier one he gets later both include views of it from out the window.
  • Rugrats in Paris: The filmmakers included a couple obligatory shots of the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame, and a Monumental Battle.
  • Turning Red:
    • The Eiffel Tower is used to show Robaire, Aaron T, and Aaron Z are in Paris for one shot.
    • Shots of the CN Tower are used liberally to continually remind viewers that the movie is set in Toronto.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 12 Monkeys makes extensive use of the circa-'90s Philadelphia skyline, particularly the glass towers of Liberty Place.
  • At the end of 2010: The Year We Make Contact there's a montage showing the Lincoln Memorial, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge and the beach next to Heywood Floyd's house in Hawaii. In every shot, there are two suns in the sky.
  • In Roland Emmerich's 2012, it's the end of time! What happens at "the end of time"? Famous landmarks get destroyed! Time, meanwhile, apparently continues to flow.
  • 28 Weeks Later concludes with a scene of the "infected" running rampant in Paris. One guess as to how we're shown that it's Paris.
  • The Adventures of Picasso combines this with the California Doubling: a different landmark appears over the very same scenery to show which city the characters are in.
  • Argo uses the Azadi Tower in Tehran and the Hollywood sign with the latter shown in decrepit condition (anachronistically so, apparently for symbolic reasons; it had been restored the year before the story takes place).
  • Armageddon (1998) had the Eiffel Tower demolished.
  • On one of the theatrical posters for Around the World in 80 Days (1956), the Westminster clock tower and the Eiffel Tower are used as shorthand for London and Paris, despite the fact that the movie takes place in 1872 and the Eiffel Tower hadn't been built yet.
  • In the 1960 film Austerlitz, the Palace of Westminster, including St Stephen's Tower, is visible out of Pitt's window. Unfortunately, it wasn't built until decades after the time the film is set.
  • In The Avengers (1998), Big Ben was completely demolished by the film-makers to demonstrate that the bad guy was really, truly evil.
  • The City in Babe: Pig in the City is a massive parody of this. It contains every landmark mentioned on this page, all within view of the same window, and its streets are canals (as in Venice, Italy).
  • Being There takes place in and around Washington, D.C., but the setting is only gradually revealed to the audience because the film is confined to Chance's townhouse for its opening section. He's never been outside it, and it's in a poorer section of the city, so we don't start seeing landmarks like the Washington Monument, the White House, and the Capitol Building until he's wandered well away from it. Prior to this, the only hint that Chance lived in Washington was an ad for the Washington Post on a television.
  • The Brain Stealers has an action scene in Tokyo, set on the Tokyo Tower's midsection (appropriately enough, the Tokyo Tower is based on the Eiffel Tower). The heroine Li Chiu-Lan managed to hurl a mook off the tower's side, before getting pushed off herself and ends up Hanging by the Fingers until her partner saves her.
  • Camille Claudel, a biopic about the 19th century sculptor, puts an interesting spin on this. Camille leaves a doctor's office, distressed at having learned that she is pregnant. The camera pans up to show the Eiffel Tower behind her—still under construction, built up only to the second level.
  • The 1945 film Captain Kidd features the Tower Bridge in its establishing shot for a scene set in London — even though the bridge wasn't built until nearly two centuries after Kidd died.
  • In Casablanca, Rick's Paris flashback begins with a shot of...the Arc de Triomphe.
  • Since A Christmas Carol was written before Westminster Palace, Tower Bridge, and the Clock Tower were built, most film adaptations use St. Paul's Cathedral to this effect, and the bells Scrooge hears on Christmas morning would be coming from there.
  • In Clegg, the film establishes that Clegg and Cruikshank have travelled to Paris with a shit showing the pair of them with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.
  • Colette only uses one or two slightly less well-known Parisian landmarks (though it can’t resist mentioning the in-period debate about the trope namer structure), but the poster designer just had to include the Eiffel Tower.
  • In The Dark Knight and before that Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, the protagonist(s) leap off the Two-ifc in Hong Kong.
  • In the film adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada, when Andy finally goes to Paris the Eiffel Tower is clearly visible out of the window in her suite.
  • Dhoom 2 wanted to be sure everyone knew the second half of the movie took place in Brazil, so they made a very big deal out of the Christ The Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. So much so that a scene in one of the songs took place there.
  • In the Bollywood film Don, most of the action occurs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Every five minutes or so there is an establishing shot of the Petronas Towers so that we don't forget this, even when they come between scenes that occur miles away from the towers.
  • La Famille Bélier gives a Parisian example: as soon as the family arrives in Paris, they encounter the Eiffel Tower.
  • Averted in Frantic where we don't catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower until the last part of the movie. In fact the protagonist is momentarily confused to see the Statue of Liberty.
  • Parodied in French Kiss, in which the main character Kate says while in Canada that despite hating all things French, she does want to see the Eiffel Tower one time in her life. When in Paris, she keeps missing seeing the Tower because of silly contrivances (a bus blocks it, and so on). It isn't til she's leaving Paris that she sees the Tower, beaming after finally viewing it. It's never seen again in the film. (Played straight and/or lampshaded for the poster, which has the base of the Tower indistinctly in the background behind the leads.)
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra had the bad guys take out the Eiffel Tower specifically for shock value to demonstrate how evil they were.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone used a brief shot of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and the River Thames to establish London before we cut to Harry and Hagrid arriving at the Leaky Cauldron.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince shows the Millennium Bridge being destroyed by Death Eaters. It also has a scene of Harry flying down the Thames, past Canary Wharf and the London Eye... despite the fact that this scene takes place in August 1996, when the Canary Wharf development (save only 1 Canada Square) and the London Eye hadn't been built yet.
  • Home Alone: When everyone is in Rob and Georgette's apartment in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is in the background.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: Kevin realizes that he didn't get on the plane to Miami when he looks out a window at the airport and sees the Manhattan skyline.
  • The traditional icon for New York City was the Brooklyn Bridge (called, not unreasonably, the Manhattan Bridge by people in Brooklyn, which was not a part of NYC at the time). After the Twin Towers were completed in 1970 and 1972, they promptly became the new icon. Now that they are gone, the Brooklyn Bridge is back. The Hot Rock, filmed in 1971, for good measure showed both icons.
  • In Hudson Hawk, the title character wakes up after being knocked out to find himself in Rome. He knows this because his hotel window just happens to face the Colosseum. Even better, when he then passes a door/window at a 90 degree angle with the first, he can still see the Colosseum.
  • Inception is a bit of a Shoot the Money film, so we have Scenery Porn (and Scenery Gorn) in the form of the streets of Paris exploding outwards in a beautiful manner, folding in on themselves like a taco and during the scene where Ariadne plays with the use of mirrors on the street, the Eiffel Tower is visible in the background.
  • Various landmarks are shown in Independence Day to indicate where some of the alien ships have parked.
  • Indiana Jones series:
    • When Indy leaves San Francisco in Raiders of the Lost Ark, his plane is shown flying over the Golden Gate Bridge. This is sometimes thought to be an anachronism because the film is set in 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge didn't open until 1937. However, the bridge had been under construction since 1933 and we don't get a clear enough shot of the bridge to tell whether it's finished or not.
    • During the Travel Montage in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the plane is shown flying over the Great Wall of China, but the route shown on the map takes it nowhere near the Great Wall.
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade uses the Petra ruins in Jordan as the entrance to the temple at the end. However, there is nothing apart from solid rock behind the façade in Petra, and the context in which it appears in the film would imply that the actual ruins do not exist in the movie's reality.
  • James Bond:
    • The movies in general have used Big Ben far more than necessary.
    • A more egregious example is in Goldfinger where Felix's office has a clear view of the White House, even though the CIA's headquarters are in the suburb of Langley, Virginia.
    • The Man with the Golden Gun provides a temporary example by depicting the MI6 Hong Kong office in the burnt out and capsized hulk of RMS Queen Elizabeth, the former ocean liner that had been destroyed by arson in Hong Kong harbour the year before the film was released.
    • The most egregious example is definitely The Spy Who Loved Me in which the Egyptian base of operations for MI6 is located just inside the main entrance to the Temple of Ramesses II.
    • In Octopussy, there is a shot of Bond's helicopter flying in front of the Taj Mahal, although Agra is not on the way to his destination. The director felt that he needed to insert a shot of the Taj Mahal because it was so beautiful, and they were in India anyway.
    • Since the last third of A View to a Kill takes place in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area, it's perhaps inevitable that the film climaxes over the Golden Gate Bridge. And earlier in that film, May Day leaps off the Eiffel Tower itself.
    • When the plot of Skyfall takes Bond to Shanghai, we see the standard establishing shot of the Lujiazui skyline reflecting on the Huangpu at night.
  • Justice League: Wonder Woman's Batman Cold Open shows her foiling a terrorist bombing in London. The Establishing Shot is Tower Bridge hung with a huge black flag with the Superman symbol, showing the worldwide mourning for the loss of their hero. The terrorists are shown driving across the bridge before carrying out their attack.
  • Subverted in The Kentucky Fried Movie's in-universe spoof "A Fist full of Yen" which shows the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, then labels the shot "Hong Kong."
  • The Killer That Stalked New York, a 1950 film Very Loosely Based on the 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak, uses the Washington Monument, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower for the Establishing Shots for Washington, D.C., London, and Paris, respectively.
  • Parodied in A Knight's Tale, in which the Establishing Shot of medieval London uses a wooden version of the London Eye as a distinctive landmark.
  • As one of the rare non-Asian films set (even partially) in Taipei, Lucy uses Taipei 101 generously in its establishing shots of the city. Later, the film moves to Paris, where during the climactic scene the title character transports herself to just outside the tower, giving us a pretty full view.
  • Man in the Attic opens with a shot of Big Ben and the fog shrouded Thames River to establish the movie takes place in London.
  • Non-urban example: In Men in Black 3, when Boris escapes from the lunar supermax prison, he steps out into the middle of Tranquility Base, instantly establishing that he's on our Moon rather than any of the other worlds presumably known to that Verse's MIBs.
  • The Mosfilm biopic Mikhailo Lomonosov opens with a shot of a snowbound Peter and Paul Fortress to represent both St. Petersburg and Tsar Peter I "the Great" whose death opens the film.
  • The Mummy Trilogy:
    • The Mummy: You can see the Pyramids from Thebes.
    • The Mummy Returns established clearly that the opening scene was set in London, by showing the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge. All apparently next to each other.
  • Both National Treasure films did this in every single scene set in a major city. The Lincoln Memorial is the backdrop for a very serious discussion between Ben and Riley early on in the first film, apparently just so that they could get it in there. Fun fact: That scene was filmed on a day when the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was drained for maintenance. They digitally added the water back in, in post production.
  • Early on in Ocho apellidos vascos, the Giralda can be seen from Rafa's bedroom in Seville.
  • In Out of the Past, any exterior shot of San Francisco stars the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • In the original Planet of the Apes (1968), the movie ends with Taylor finding a demolished Statue of Liberty "You animals! You finally gone and done it!"
  • Averted to great effect in Jacques Tati's film Playtime. It's set in Paris, but the film is all about the alienation of the jet-set 1960s. The only times monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are visible are when they're accidentally reflected in the glass doors of the hyper-modern, anonymous buildings the film's shot in. In a background gag, a travel agency has posters of places like Rome, New York, and Cairo. All of the posters show the same hyper-modern anonymous building.
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes opens (and closes) with a shot of Big Ben to establish that the film is set in London (despite being shot in New York). No other London landmark is ever seen.
  • The villain of The Rocketeer (Timothy Dalton) meets his end by crashing into the "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign, resulting in its present lettering.
  • The Sentinel (2006) is about a Secret Service agent accused of being a mole, and as such there are lots of establishing shots of the White House and other Washington DC landmarks.
  • The Sinking Of Japan, particularly the 2006 remake, does this quite a bit. Flying volcanic rocks smash into ancient Japanese temples and the Tokyo Tower succumbs to the waves.
  • The Trans America Pyramid appears in The Social Network which would almost be a Shoutout to Fincher's Zodiac but Fincher says it was random stock footage they picked.
  • Shown during the Avengers Assemble montage of The Soldier, despite the fact that Scene Shift Captions are used throughout the movie. The green fields of England and the French Alps somehow require establishing shots of the Palace of Westminister and the Eiffel Tower.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020):
    • San Francisco is prominently represented by the Transamerica Pyramid, where Sonic's rings fall on top of, and a few background glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge. One pre-redesign poster shows a first-person view of Sonic on one of the struts of the bridge, although he never actually comes near the bridge in the actual movie.
    • When Sonic and Robotnik warp to Egypt, Robotnik blows up the Great Sphinx and Sonic approaches and climbs atop the Great Pyramid of Giza.
    • They also chase across the Great Wall of China briefly.
    • When they go through France, the tower is visible but they don't actually go near it. In the animated credits sequence, Sonic spirals up the tower before entering the next ring, although it's colored like Tokyo Tower for some reason.
  • The 2021 Irish film Spears has scenes set in London, Florence and Berlin - and lets you know it through use of the landmarks. Florence is coded with the Piazza della Signoria, London with The Shard and Berlin with the Tiergarten.
  • Various parts of Spice World have the group riding around on their tour bus around numerous landmarks in London, as The Nostalgia Chick notes in her review of said movie, including a death-defying scene toward the end of the movie with Victoria Beckham trying to drive the bus over Tower Bridge, as it rises to allow a boat to pass through, so they could make it to their performance at the Royal Albert Hall. (This may be a reference to a real-life incident from 1952, in which a bus jumped Tower Bridge just after it had started to rise.)
  • All sorts of science fiction movies have destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge as an avatar for San Francisco. In reality, crossing the bridge north from the city doesn't really go anywhere other than some ritzy bedroom communities and the sticks further north. Destroying the Bay Bridge, on the other hand, would put a serious wound in the city's infrastructure and many people's commutes, but the Golden Gate is a much prettier and more instantly-recognizable bridge. Averted as a very brief joke in Star Trek (2009), where Spock shoots Nero's drill down when it's drilling into Earth, just above Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. The drill breaks up and part of it falls down...just to the right of the Golden Gate Bridge and into the water. And then it nearly gets destroyed again in the next movie. Alcatraz, however, is not spared.
  • The retooled cut of Superman II has terrorists planting a bomb on the Eiffel Tower. Notably, the French police are rather blasé about it exploding.
  • Attempted (badly) in Taking Lives. The film is set in Montreal, but has numerous lingering shots of the Chateau Frontenac...which is in Quebec City.
  • Parodied (hard) in Team America: World Police. Each set is an elaborate miniature of the most visible landmarks in the city (Paris, Panama, etc.), placing them all in the space of a few blocks...and then destroying them, much to the consternation of the people who live there.
  • Averted in Thor: The Dark World — though much of the action takes place in London, we never see Westminister Palace (home of "Big Ben"), Tower Bridge, or Buckingham Palace. The only landmarks on display are the Greenwich naval college building, and the gherkin-shaped 30 St. Mary Axe tower.
  • Trainspotting introduces a sequence set in London with a quickfire montage featuring Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Canary Wharf.
  • The Transformers Film Series is quite notorious for this by now. In the first film, we had the Hoover Dam, and Starscream partially destroyed one of its water towers. In the second, the Great Pyramids of Giza are directly across from the Rose Red City of Petra (what happened to Israel in-between?). Michael Bay was pretty happy about being allowed to film at both locations.
  • Played for laughs in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. The Big Bad makes his threat video using a fake backdrop of the Eiffel Tower and playing French music in the background (he was on a train the whole time). When the government agents are coming up with ways to catch him, one feebly suggests searching Paris.
  • Van Helsing begins with an opening shot of Paris. Interestingly, the movie is set in 1888, and the movie shows it as incomplete.
  • It's a little hard to make out since it's so far away, but in Who Framed Roger Rabbit the Hollywood Sign is visible from Eddie's office window.
  • X-Men Film Series
  • Zodiac uses a number of icons to show San Francisco, the Ferry Building, the Transamerica pyramid is shown frequently, though it's still under construction, Melvin Belli's St. Francis Wood mansion is shown to have a close view of Downtown San Francisco. In reality, the neighborhood is miles from Downtown and the view is obscured by hills.

  • A pilot is flying alone in his plane around the world, and his supervisors kept asking him where he is. To figure that out, he has a technique: put his arm through a hole in the floor of the plane, and touch things with his hand.
    "Where are you now?"
    "In the USA."
    "How do you know?"
    "I touched the Statue of Liberty."

    "Now where are you?"
    "In the UK."
    "How do you know?"
    "I touched Big Ben."

    "And now?"
    "In France."
    "How do you know?"
    "I touched the Eiffel Tower."

    "And now?"
    "In Italy."
    "How do you know?"
    "I touched the Leaning Tower of Pisa."

    "In China."
    "How do you know?"
    "I touched the Great Wall."

    "In Japan."
    "How do you know?"
    "I touched the Tokyo Tower."

    "In Brazil."
    "Let me guess. You touched the statue of Christ the Redeemer."
    "No, that's not it."
    "Then how do you know it's Brazil?"
    "Because somebody stole my watch."
  • Subverted in an anecdote about Guy de Maupassant, who regularly dined in a restaurant on the Eiffel Tower. "So you love the Eiffel Tower that much?" "Au contraire, it's just the only place in Paris where you CAN'T see the bloody thing!"

  • In the Cory Doctorow novel Little Brother, it is the Bay Bridge that gets blown up by terrorists, instead of the Golden Gate; the narrator lampshades this with the same comment made above in the film section; the Golden Gate is for tourists, people actually living in San Francisco use the Bay Bridge.
  • The Dark Tower often uses this trope for the titular MacGuffin Location in both official and fan artwork (though it's presumably for metaphorical purposes in most cases). It doesn't matter if it's artwork of Roland staring out to sea or the cover for a book almost entirely focused entirely on backstory, chances are the Tower is looming in the distance.
  • Decades of Darkness: Since urban development patterns were among the many things altered over the years, cities have different landmarks from those known in OTL. For instance, New York, instead of the Statue of Liberty, has the Colossus of New York, a figure resembling an ancient Greek hoplite that was gifted to New England by the Greeks. The New England capital of Hartford and the *US capital of Columbia City (formerly Knoxville, Tennessee) are nearly unrecognizable from their OTL forms by the 20th century due to all the government buildings and monuments that have been built. There is still a Statue of Liberty... only she's overlooking Sydney Harbour instead, reflecting the status of Australia in this world as the land of freedom, liberty, opportunity, and multiculturalism.
  • Modesty Blaise series:
    • I, Lucifer opens with Modesty on holiday in Paris, and her first scene is not over before somebody has pointed out the Eiffel Tower in the distance. (And then, because he's a native Parisian of the "newfangled abomination" school, jokingly solicited her collaboration on a hypothetical scheme to blow it up and save the eyeballs of future generations.)
    • Part of The Night of Morningstar is set in San Francisco and revolves around a terrorist plot to bring down the Golden Gate Bridge during the morning rush hour.

    Live-Action TV 

By Landmark:

  • Chinese series set in the Ming and Qing dynasties such as Princess Returning Pearl and The Legend of Zhen Huan will have establishing shots of the yellow roofs the Forbidden City.
  • Korean Drama: Namsam Tower in Seoul features prominently in many of these:
    • Best Love: In the background when Dokko Jin explains the folk tale "Camellias" to Ae Jung.
    • Boys Before Flowers: Jan Di and Jun Pyo have their first date (and later, their most significant date) at the base of the Tower.
    • Can You Hear My Heart?: Joon Ha frequently mentions wanting to ride the cable car to the Tower; eventually he does.
    • The City Hunter: The Tower can be seen from Na Na's rooftop.
    • The First Shop of Coffee Prince: One of the places Eun Jo wants to go for a date, even though it is clearly visible from his rooftop apartment.
    • King of Dramas: Anthony views a nighttime glowing Tower as proof that he has made his comeback.
    • Protect the Boss: The tower shows up in the very first episode. It also shows up in Ji Heon's video taken by the Han River.
    • Queen In-hyun's Man: Hee Jin promises to take Boong Do there for their second date.
    • Rooftop Prince: The scheming Se Na took Crown Prince Yi Gak to the Tower to get him away from Park Ha.
    • Scent of a Woman: There it is, episode 14.
  • Taiwanese Series: In Taipei, Taiwan, the most prominent building is known as Taipei 101. It shows up in the background of the following shows:
    • Devil Beside You: When the kids are running around the Warner Village Mall, they seem to pass by the skyscraper several times.
    • Drunken to Love You, especially during night scenes.
    • It also shows up in the first installment of the trilogy, Fated to Love You.
    • It's actually shown and identified by caption in the first episode of Love Keeps Going.
  • Vanity Plate: The classic Thames Television logo (1969-1989) shows a montage of London buildingsnote  and their reflections emerging from a mirrored sky, but in real life they're not nearly so close together. A version made for Russian markets replaced the reflections with a montage of Moscow buildings (including the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral) which are also not that close in real life.


  • Alias: Plays it straight with the Los Angeles skyline, which will always show the U.S Bank Tower.
  • The Benny Hill Show: Subverted in a spy movie sketch. An establishing shot of the Eiffel Tower is shown, and after a second, the caption "Istanbul" appears on the screen.
  • By Any Means: Uses establishing shots of famous London landmarks such as The Shard and Trafalgar Square to disguise the fact that the action is actually filmed in Birmingham.
  • Castle: Played straight, where (almost) every scene-changing shot to Paris had the Eiffel Tower in it. Also, many scenes took place near a bridge that looked very much like the place where Duncan MacLeod (see Highlander entry) had his barge anchored.
  • Subverted or even defied by Casualty. Imagine a show making frequent use of the Eiffel Tower yet claiming not to be set in Paris but merely in some French everytown. That's basically what the early years of Casualty did with its Bristol locations, not least the city's iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, which even appeared as scene-setting in the very first episode.
  • Charmed: Virtually every episode featured a montage of San Francisco aerial footage beneath the first-act credits, much like the CSI example below but even more extended. In later seasons, some of the main characters (with the ability to teleport at will) took to using the top of one of the Golden Gate Bridge's towers (or an approximation thereof on a Los Angeles soundstage) as a regular meeting place.
  • Invoked in Chernobyl — Lyudmilla visits her bedridden & dying husband in the hospital he's been airlifted to in Moscow, where they'd always planned to visit together. He asks her to look out the window and tell him what she sees, and rather than tell him it's just a dull concrete building, she begins to describe all the famous Moscow landmarks.
  • Café Americain: Played with in this short-lived sitcom. Valerie Bertinelli's character rents a cheap apartment from which she can see the Eiffel Tower — when she leans way out of the window with a mirror.
  • Colonel March of Scotland Yard: "Death in Inner Space" opens with a shot of the Effiel Tower, followed by the Arc de Triomphe and the Fontaines de la Concorde to establish beyond a doubt that the episode starts in Paris.
  • Cosmos: Lampshaded in the new series, Season 1, Episode 12. The establishing shot of Paris instead uses Notre Dame.
    Neil Degrasse Tyson: Paris, September 1878. The Eiffel Tower won't be built for years to come.
  • CSI: Loves this. Vegas is shown in loving detail in nearly every episode. Expect to see tons of aerial shots of the Vegas strip at night. Especially of The Stratosphere.
  • CSI: Miami: In the episode "Rio", set in, Rio, the opening shot shows Caine getting down on one knee dramatically, and then pans up to reveal the Christ the Redeemer statue just before the YEEEEAAAAHHH. This statue is in virtually every shot of the episode. Caine even looks up at it (dramatically) after the episode's climactic knife fight.
  • CSI: NY: Much like the original series, this spin-off treats it's aerial shots like a love letter to it's titular city's landmarks. The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Statue of Liberty are all shown practically every episode, and not just in the opening credits. Sometimes they're featured more prominently:
    • A famous building climber falls to his death while scaling the Empire State Building in the season 2 premiere.
    • A murder is committed on Lady Liberty in the season 4 premiere and the Statue is vandalized as well.
    • Another episode has a clue left in a box atop a high-rise with a perfect view of the Chrysler Building and Mac tells Adam it's the spot where he & Claire got engaged.
    • Mac, Danny & Sheldon search for evidence while harnessed to the top of Empire during "The Triangle."
  • Daybreak: The studio of the London-based breakfast news programme had a window wall with a view of the London skyline, centred on the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. Where the trope really comes into play is that with the show being on at 6am, in the winter it was still dark outside. So the production company paid to have the cathedral lit up specially.
  • Degrassi:
    • The show's rotation of Establishing Shots include the CN Tower as well as several views of Toronto streetcars, a "De Grassi Street" sign and the exterior of the school itself.
    • In Snake and Spike's wedding episode the DP tried valiantly to get them (on a lakeside boardwalk) and the tower's observation pod in the shot at the same time. And couldn't.
  • Doctor Who and its spin-off Torchwood:
    • Cardiff is always represented by the Roald Dahl Plass, with its recognizable Millennium Centre and Water Tower. On Torchwood, a sweeping aerial shot of the Plass is frequently used to indicate the action is moving to the Torchwood Hub, which is directly beneath the Water Tower.
    • "Aliens of London" features an alien ship crashing through Big Ben before landing in the Thames. Between this and finding out that the "alien" in the ship is just a pig that's been hotwired by alien technology, the Doctor deduces that the real alien invaders have staged the whole event, and it's too perfect a crash landing in terms of cinematography for the ship to have hit Big Ben the way it did.
    • "Spyfall": When the Doctor and Ada Lovelace wind up in 1943 Paris, the Eiffel Tower is clearly visible from Noor Inayat Khan's window. The Doctor later meets the Master on top of the tower. Curiously, Ada does not comment on the tower despite it not existing in her time.
    • Arguably in the original series episode "The War Machines". To really sell the fact that after three years of past Earth, future Earth, and distant planet yarns this is the first Who story truly set entirely in contemporary Londonnote , the villain is a supercomputer located at the very top of the newly completed and very prominent Post Office Tower (now the BT Tower).
    • When the show's biggest aliens try to conquer Earth (meaning London), they're always shown marching past major landmarks, as if they were just like any other tourists visiting London apart from the mass extermination of humans. These images would not only feature prominently in the show as a Wham Scene, but would form a major part of the accompanying publicity barrage in The Radio Times and elsewhere. Examples include:
      • The Daleks in front of Big Ben (truly shocking at the time), Trafalgar Square, and Nelson's Column in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", as shown on the recap page.
      • The Cybermen marching past St. Paul's Cathedral for "The Invasion"; again, the famous image is also on the recap page.
      • Expanded beyond London in the new series: in "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" there are quick checklist shots of famous world landmarks with Cybermen in front of them, including the Taj Mahal for no good reason other than that the Cybermen wanted to get a really good set of holiday snaps.
  • Eurovision Song Contest: During the results portion of the show each spokesperson is shown in front of a projection of a location from their country, often with a famous landmark featured prominently to remind you where they're speaking from. The backdrop for the French spokesperson usually includes the Eiffel Tower.
  • Frasier: The pilot episode has Frasier pointing out the Space Needle, which, of course, his lofty apartment has a view of. Martin thanks him for pointing out a landmark that Frasier acts like his father has never seen before, despite having lived here all his life. The view from Frasier's apartment is an example of Artistic License – Geography. The only way to get that view of the Space Needle is to stand atop a hill in Seattle which, at the time the series was made, didn't have any apartment buildings on it.
  • Grey's Anatomy: The show is set in Seattle. The Space Needle is prominently displayed.
  • Subverted on Growing Pains when Jason and Maggie go on a second honeymoon in Paris. She comes down with appendicitis and has to be hospitalized. Jason tries to cheer her up by reminding her they're still in Paris by opening the curtains to her window but instead of a view of the Eiffel Tower it's the brick wall of a building a few feet away.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: As with seemingly anything taking place in Boston these days there’s the obligatory scene at Fenway Park. However this scene is significantly more disturbing than watching the Red Sox-it's used staging a mock hanging to punish defiant Handmaids.
  • Highlander: Frequently featured numerous, plot-irrelevant establishing shots of the Eiffel Tower when the characters were hanging out in Paris.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Averted Trope: When Robin goes on a bender, Barney tries to dramatically show she'd ended up in Toronto by opening a window, hoping to see a memorable Toronto monument. Except there isn't any, just the solid wall of another building about 10 feet away blocking the entire view.
    • This was also invoked by Barney when he would blindfold a girl and take her on a long bus ride then take her to his (New York) apartment. Once there, he would project an image outside his window of an iconic view from a famous city so he could convince her he'd flown her somewhere like Paris. The girl ended up mistaking the Eiffel Tower for the one in Vegas, but it still worked.
  • iCarly: It wasn't until the third season that this show added an establishing shot of the Seattle skyline with the Space Needle prominent.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): The San Francisco scene in episode 6 begins with Daniel Molloy lighting a cigarette in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Joey: Spoofed: Gina's apartment has a view of the Hollywood sign - if you lean back on the balcony. And then you only see the middle of it, so technically, it's a view of the OLLYWOO sign.
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto did this frequently with the Tokyo Tower, it gives the impression that all the alien-fighting action happened in walking distance of the tower.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: The first two episodes of season 2 see a subplot where Midge and her father have to travel to Paris because Midge's mother has ran off there, dissatisfied with life in New York City. A transition shot between the Empire State Building in the 1960s New York City skyline, matched to the spire of the Eiffel Tower, is used for the establishing shot.
  • Maynila: The opening sequence of the show on GMA Network in the Philippines features Manila landmarks.
  • Murder, She Wrote: Used all the time. If Jessica is in a city, expect an establishing shot of the Empire State Building, or the Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben, or the Kremlin, or whatever.
  • NCIS:
    • Whenever Gibbs flashes back to his time in Paris with Sheppard, the Eiffel Tower is intercut about every other frame or so with stock footage of two people on a bed.
    • The Title Sequence always ends with a shot of Capitol Hill.
  • The New Avengers: "Complex", the first episode filmed in Canada, opens with a shot of the CN Tower in Toronto so there can be no doubt where they are.
  • Averted by Orphan Black, which despite being clearly set and filmed in and around Toronto seems to go out of its way to avoid showing the CN Tower.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • You can tell that the last scene of "Under the Bed" takes place in Paris as there's an establishing shot of the Eiffel Tower.
    • "Ripper", which is set in Victorian London, opens with a shot of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
    • "Trial by Fire", which is set in Washington, D.C., opens with a shot of the Capitol Building.
    • "Patient Zero", which is set in New York City, opens with a shot of the World Trade Center.
    • The opening shot of "A New Life" features the Golden Gate Bridge, indicating that Daniel, Beth and Thomas lived in San Francisco before joining Father's religious community.
    • In The Teaser of "Flower Child", the meteor containing the plant-based alien that later transformed itself into Violet passes by the Golden Gate Bridge as it falls to Earth, setting the scene in San Francisco.
  • Police Squad!:
    • Parodied. Frank Drebin goes to question the relative of a victim in Little Italy; as he drives there, Stock Footage of the Colosseum is rear projected behind him. When he arrives, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is visible from the apartment.
    • The view from the Police Squad office window changes from episode to episode. In one, the Eiffel Tower can be seen; in another, the US Capitol Building is clearly visible.
  • Poltergeist: The Legacy: Often had stock footage of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and other San Francisco landmarks. There was also a scene in a bar in the Tenderloin (a famous San Francisco slum), with a crude mural of the Golden Gate, the Trans-America Pyramid, Coit Tower and a cable car.
  • Revolution: Makes use of some notable Chicago areas, like the Grand Hotel, and they use Wrigley Field as this, even using it in all of the trailers for the show.
  • Root into Europe: The couple travels to Paris, where, you guessed it, the Eiffel Tower is in view. It's even visible on the VHS cover.
  • Largely averted by Six Feet Under. There was a conscious decision not to depict LA in any of the usual ways.
  • Smallville: When Lana Lang visits Paris, the Notre Dame cathedral is always shown whenever the episode shifts to her story.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: One episode features a scene in Paris where the Eiffel Tower is visible in the background of nearly every shot, even if two shots are facing in opposite directions. It was a recreation of Picard's memories on the Holodeck, so maybe the computer was trying to be clear it was simulating France.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • One episode had an odd Subverted Trope instance: the Golden Gate Bridge was destroyed, but off-camera, and we only got a brief view of its wreckage. Maybe not so odd on a TV fx budget.
    • It became a noticeable element of Deep Space Nine's style to use this trope for in-universe locations as well, with standard establishing shots repeatedly used to introduce scenes on Bajor, Cardassia, Future!Earth and Kronos. note 
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • Whenever a scene takes place in San Francisco, it's usually preceded by a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    • In "Remembrance", there's a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower before it switches to Dahj hiding in a Parisian alleyway.
  • Super Adventure Team: When Buck crashes on a deserted island, he meets Phillipe, a French scientist who switched his body with the body of a chimp. When we see his laboratory in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is in the background.
  • Tatort: No matter where a Münster episode is set, even if it is in the suburbs or a village in the environs, there will always be a sequence involving the Prinzipalmarkt and the church St. Lamberti, and often Thiel or Boerne will also pass the cathedral. Episodes set in Cologne will usually show Cologne cathedral; here it helps that Ballauf and Schenk are regular customers at a fast-food trailer directly across the river from the cathedral.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • "A Small Talent for War" opens with a shot of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
    • "Grace Note" opens with a shot of the Statue of Liberty, followed by one of the Empire State Building.
    • "The Last Defender of Camelot" opens with a shot of Big Ben chiming. Even so, a subtitle indicates that it is London a few seconds later.
    • "Time and Teresa Golowitz" opens with a shot of the Manhattan skyline.

    Music Videos 

  • Played totally straight in Attack from Mars, where each of the cities attacked by the Martians is represented by its major landmark: The Eiffel tower in Paris, The Pisa tower in Italy, The Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, The Tower Bridge in London, and the Statue of Liberty in New York.
  • Since Data East's Secret Service pinball is set in Washington D.C., the playfield includes model replicas of the Capitol Building and the White House.
  • The Nintendo Entertainment System version of Roller Ball establishes itself in New York City by having the Statue of Liberty visible in the foreground.
  • World-famous landmarks appearing in Harlem Globetrotters On Tour include the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, and (of course) the Eiffel Tower.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge is prominently featured on the backglass for Lights... Camera... Action!
  • Landmarks shown in Vacation America include the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Capitol Building, a Space Shuttle launch, and Mount Rushmore.
  • Spy Hunter includes shots of the Capitol Building and the Eiffel Tower.



  • In Of Thee I Sing, Wintergreen's Presidential office in the White House has a view of the Washington Monument. He asks his secretary Jenkins what it is, and Jenkins immediately identifies it as Grant's Tomb.

    Theme Parks 
  • Many landmarks are used in It's a Small World at the Disney Theme Parks to represent certain locations, such as the Big Ben for the United Kingdom, the Eiffel Tower for France, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa for Italy. The Paris version goes even further and includes the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Hollywood Hills to represent the United States.
  • Also used at Walt Disney World in Epcot's World Showcase. While almost all of the pavilions feature at least some sort of replica location or homage, the most notable is the France pavilion, where you'll see, of course, the Eiffel Tower.

    Video Games 
  • Any Mario Kart Tour track based off a real-life city will try to shove as many iconic landmarks into the track regardless of actual geography. Paris Promenade mainly features the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, Tokyo Blur does the same with the Tokyo Tower, the Rainbow Bridge and a clear view of Mt. Fuji, Sydney Sprint has the race start close to the Sydney Opera House and have drivers race through Luna Park Sydney while Uluru can be seen in the background (despite the fact that Uluru is thousands of miles away from Sydney)... just to name a few.
  • Mass Effect 3 begins the final mission in London by throwing a backdrop of Big Ben right in your face from the offset, despite how your location seems to not match up to anywhere near the tower. Sure, some rebuilding will have happened, since the Mass Effect series is futuristic, but a lot of current-day architecture seems to be intact in the city.
  • In Keen II: The Earth Explodes, eight different major landmarks around the world were used to represent the cities in which they were located (and the threat of that city's impending doom):
    • Big Ben - London
    • Sphinx - Cairo
    • Sydney Opera House - Sydney
    • Statue of Liberty - New York
    • Eiffel Tower - Paris
    • Colosseum - Rome
    • St. Basil's Cathedral - Moscow
    • White House - Washington
  • Early in the life of Euro Truck Simulator 2, cities were little more than a generic industrial district surrounded by more built-up inaccessible areas. Thus, the easy way to give cities a bit of character was to place some local landmarks in the distant skyline and call it a day. As the map expanded, the cities began to become much more lifelike and the landmarks are now more smoothly incorporated into the map; the rebuilt version of Paris even removes the Eiffel Tower out of a lack of a sensible location to place it.
  • Fallout 3 made sure to beat up on the Washington Monument, so that players would know they were in a post-apocalyptic Washington, DC. It's in remarkably good shape for a stone structure after a nuclear war and 300 years of chaotic anarchy (but unlike its real-life counterpart, it's reinforced by a metal skeleton). It's one of the first things you can see once you exit the Vault, although it's actually pretty far away.
    • There's also the scarred remains of the Capitol building (which you can freely explore), along with several national museums (these are within walking distance in real life, too, though all that walking to be done on the Mall is conveniently abridged). Oh, and if you're feeling patriotic, you can always go visit the White House, or rather the smoldering radioactive hole where it used to be.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, The Lucky 38 can be seen from nearly anywhere, outside of DLC area, much like its real life counterpart, the Stratosphere. It itself is very mythic in gameplay lore as it shines in the wasteland's nights and in that no one is allowed in under its owner's, Mr.House, watch. In terms of gameplay as well, it helps give you bearing on where you generally want to head towards, the Strip.
    • The Other buildings in the strip also count, as the area is generally still just as it was before the war due to Mr.House's defense systems saving most of it from the atomic bombs.
  • Happily averted in Hitman. Our globetrotting 'hero' rarely checks himself into a conspicuous place... though Blood Money eventually led him to Washington D.C. The mission? Break into the White House.
    • IO Interactive landed in hot water when they included the Harmandir Sahib, a Sikh temple, as a sniper's nest in Silent Assassin. Whoops.
    • Discussed during Hitman 3 — Agent 47 maintains a social media account for his go-to civilian alias, "Tobias Rieper", and one character comments it consists entirely of "bland, generic tourist photos" of clichéd landmarks. Considering he never appears in any of them, it's implied they're in fact stock photos.
  • The first level of Jungle Strike is set in Washington DC (the jungle comes later), so the bad guys' first targets are the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, and the Library of Congress, with your base at the White House.
  • In every version of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, going to almost any country will immediately take you to its most famous landmark, which just happens to be where the crook last was. Slightly subverted in the third version in which the Golden Gate Bridge, of all places, is the U.S. locale, presumably because the heroes' headquarters is supposed to be in San Francisco.
  • The Final Boss battle of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty takes place on top of New York City's federal hall.
  • Act 3 of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots takes place in an unnamed city somewhere in "Eastern Europe". However, the Charles Bridge makes it very obvious that it's Prague.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE had, in its intro, as one of the last surviving elements of Tokyo, the Tokyo Tower. Somewhat ironic given that game's portrayed genre, that tower's survival ratio is extremely low indeed.
  • In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, all of the exotic cities in "Dangeresque 3: the Criminal Projective" are filmed in the same location (the Stone Bridge) with a really crappy cardboard cutout of a landmark or other relevant object sitting nearby. Paris gets the Eiffel Tower, naturally.
  • The bigger levels in the Katamari Damacy games have countries that consist of a landmark and a few stereotypical homes. Or sometimes several iconic landmarks right next to one another. Apparently, the Roman Colosseum is on a large plateau above downtown Paris, and New York is within driving distance of Easter Island. Who knew?
  • Earth Eternal has a few landmarks left over from the human age, notably the Chunnel and the Eiffel Tower.
  • In Agent USA most cities have a generic "city" look to the skyline, sometimes with water for coastal cities or mountains for cities in the mountains, like Denver. However, the skyline in New York City clearly shows the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building and, in fact, is a pretty good representation of the famous Manhattan skyline.
  • In Resistance 3 part of the game takes place in St. Louis, and the Gateway Arch is prominently depicted though the game is supposedly set well before it was built.
  • In Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, the Eiffel Tower appears prominently on the cover and in just about every shot of the skyline in the game. it also serves as the place where Napoleon tells Phantom R to meet him to exchange the Dragon Crown for Marie, and Phantom R uses it to get into the Hanging Gardens.
  • As Kalos is based on France and Lumiose City is based on Paris, the games get this in the form of the Prism Tower, Clemont's Electric-type Gym.
  • Trailers for Splatoon 3 have shown a wrecked Eiffel Tower in a desert scene, implying the setting used to be France.
  • In Modern Warfare 3, the Eiffel Tower is prominently featured (and destroyed) in the appropriately-named mission "Iron Lady" (that being one of its many nicknames), while the Statue of Liberty and the not-yet-complete One World Trade Centre can be spotted around New York City in "Hunter-Killer".
    • Christ the Redeemer is fairly visible in the Brazil levels of Modern Warfare 2.
  • Battlefield 3 actually manages to avoid showing the Eiffel Tower in the Paris-based mission "Comrades", but the multiplayer maps based on it have the Tower visible in the background. Meanwhile, every mission in Tehran has Milad Tower prominently visible on the skyline.
  • Krang steals the Statue of Liberty in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. The final battle with Shredder takes place on scaffolding overlooking Lady Liberty's face.
  • SNES racing game Top Gear (no relation to the TV show) mostly played this straight, with every race going on in a major city around the world (except maybe Sheffieldnote ). It gets ridiculous when, in the Loch Ness level near the end of the game, they went to the length of placing a Stock Ness Monster in the lake, off in the distance.
  • The Cruis'n series uses this a lot by way of designing the tracks as essentially The Theme Park Version of the location you are in, especially in Cruis'n World, whose locations are more recognizable to players. While they usually save the biggest landmark for the finish line (e.g. you only see the Eiffel Tower when you finish the France race), some other things in the scenery give this vibe (e.g. the Golden Gate Bridge segment in the San Francisco stage of Cruis'n USA and racing on the Great Wall of China in World).
  • El Viento begins with the spirit of Hastur being summoned into the Empire State Building, "the landmark in New York." The game is set in 1928, and the Empire State Building wasn't even under construction until 1930.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, the Burj Khalifa (or rather, a crude facsimile of it called the Burj Aurora) can be seen at all times during the game. This is understandable as it is quite hard to miss the tallest building in the world, and it's a good stand-in for an Evil Tower of Ominousness.
  • The very first trailer for Pokémon X and Y had Pikachu standing on the (real) Eiffel Tower. In the game itself, we get Prism Tower, very obviously inspired by it, down to being able to be seen pretty much anywhere in Lumiose City. Since Kalos has so much inspiration from France, its hub city had to be quite clearly Paris. Even the name evokes the La Ville-Lumière (City of Light) epithet of Paris.
  • The Sims 3: World Adventures: The Egyptian setting is the biggest offender, including the Pyramids, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, and Temple of Queen Hatshepsut all within short distances of each other. The Chinese setting has the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. In the French setting, the Eiffel Tower is visible in the distance (you can't actually visit it) even though the community is modeled as a vineyard town.
  • TumblePop is set in the real world and every level has the appropriate background for each region, from the Sphinx to Mt. Fuji, from Christ the Redeemer to Ayers Rock/Uluru. The French level however has the Arc du Triomphe in the background, because all the stages are set inside the Eiffel Tower, full of killer robots for no real reason!
  • Pang (the Pang and Super Pang entries at least), like TumblePop above, has the players travelling across the world with different landmarks as backgrounds. In France those backgrounds are respectively the Arc du Triomphe and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: Look up anywhere in the Imperial City and you'll see The White Gold Tower. Whiterun has Dragonsreach, while Winterhold has its eponymous college.
  • In Slipstream 5000, some of the racetracks use monuments and landmarks to make sure you know where you are. The London track, for example, is mainly underground, but you pop out for long enough to pass St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower Bridge. Similarly, the Egypt track features the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, while the New York track features the Statue of Liberty. However, some tracks avert it — for example, the France track is entirely in caves, with not a single Eiffel Tower to be found.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Most of the seasonal animations viewable at display Santa's sleigh passing over or circling a monument of this type.

  • Girl Genius: The introduction to Paris includes a shot of the Arc de Triomphe and the Awful Tower, the renamed and slightly modified though still identifiable version of the Eiffel Tower that exists in the world of the comic.
  • In this Bug! strip, the French bug is painting with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

    Web Original 
  • The CollegeHumor short Google Street View Guys, which involves a couple of marshmallow-like caricatures driving around in a vehicle with a camera mounted on top to make shots for Google's Street View feature has a moment when they pass through St. Louis and one of the caricatures refers to the Gateway Arch as the "Golden Arch" and the "Archway to Heaven".

    Web Videos 
  • 7-Second Riddles: A cheating husband in one riddle is caught when he claims to be in London, but sends a picture with the Statue Of Liberty visible in the background, proving him to be in New York.
  • In Moone Boy, a doodle-fantasy sequence suggests that Martin thinks Dublin is home of most of the world's landmarks.
  • The Weather: When Ben proposes to a caller in one sketch, they are standing on a ledge with the Eiffel Tower in the distance, just to prove that they are, in fact, in Paris.
  • Discussed by Kyle Kallgren in the video "Washington D.C. Always Plays Itself", particularly with how Washington, D.C. is often subjected to California Doubling that he, having been born and raised there, can easily pick out. He notes that this is oddly consistent with the history of Washington itself, as a planned city constructed purely to house the federal government as opposed to places like London, Paris, and New York City that were already centers of industry, trade, and culture before they became major world cities, and that its design was meant specifically to express the ideology of the nation — in short, a massive set for America in general, with the city that emerged around it being incidental and rather anonymous.

    Western Animation 
  • The Beatles:
    • "Help!" has Paul chasing fashion thief Jacques Le Zipper up the Eiffel Tower. The bulk of the action during the song takes place there.
    • "Thank You Girl" opens with a pan of the city of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in full view.
    • "Hold Me Tight" has the boys touring Times Square in New York City and Ringo is counting the lights ("They say there's a broken heart for every light on Broadway"). George and Ringo visit the Statue of Liberty where they think a foreign spy is trying to blow it up.
  • BoJack Horseman: The titular character's house has a crystal-clear view of the Hollywoo(d) sign from the living room, reminding us of the celebrity setting.
  • Danger Mouse:
    • "The Statue of Liberty Caper" has Baron Greenback not only stealing said statue, but also some other noteworthy structural icons of New York City—Yankee Stadium and the Empire State Building among them.
    • "Danger Mouse On The Orient Express" starts with DM and Penfold in a gondola on the Grand Canal of Venice.
    • Any Danger Mouse episodes that open in London will usually feature Buckingham Palace and/or Big Ben.
  • Averted in the opening to Darkwing Duck. What appears to be San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge is actually St. Canard and the Audobon Bay Bridge.
  • In the DuckTales opening, the nephews run across the desert, being chased by a mummy. About six pyramids are in the background, establishing an Egyptian setting.
  • Family Guy: Parodied in "Peter & Lois' Wedding"; during flashback scenes, the Twin Towers show up in every Establishing Shot to show that it's The '90s, even in scenes not taking place in New York.
  • Averted in the Freakazoid! opening. The Capitol Building would establish Washington, D.C., but this is just a model held by Freakazoid.
  • Parodied by an episode of Futurama. when the gang goes to the beach just in time for the beach to be overrun by Omicronians, with Fry walking onto the beach, and saying, "Hey, the Statue of Liberty!" and then Leela shows off a series of others. Leela and Bender explain that a supervillain moved them all to that particular beach after becoming Governor of New New York, adding his face to Mount Rushmore.
  • Gargoyles had shots of both the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe when the characters went to Paris. There was a shot of Big Ben in the London episode. This trope can also be done with wildlife if an animal is particularly tied to the area. When the group is sent to Australia during the World Tour season, a kangaroo is passing by just as they show up, instantly cluing them in on where they are.
  • In the Godzilla: The Series opening, the Brooklyn Bridge and Twin Towers establish New York City.
  • In one opening to Goof Troop, a photo album shows Max's family posing in front of the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids.
  • In the Histeria! opening, The Sphinx and pyramids establish Egypt.
  • In the opening credits of Jackie Chan Adventures the Golden Gate Bridge is a regular feature, and in the Grand Finale it is damaged along with half the city. However, once the Big Bad is defeated the city magically is repaired, saving the bridge presumably. Also, the Bay Bridge, Transamerica Pyramid, and Coit Tower make appearances throughout the show.
  • In The Karate Kid opening, the Leaning Tower of Pisa establishes Italy, The Sphinx establishes Egypt, and the Statue of Liberty establishes New York City.
  • The Mighty Mouse cartoon "Sunny Italy" opens with a shot of the Tower of Pisa. The villain Oil Can Harry is trying to tip the tower over as he has Pearl Pureheart tied to a rail at the tower's summit where she is dangling by one foot. The Grand Canal is seen as well as the Coliseum in Rome, where Mighty Mouse is battling attacking lions.
  • Considering it takes place in Paris, Miraculous Ladybug regularly places the Trope Namer in the background of shots, regardless of whether it would actually be visible from that location and angle. The intro notably features the protagonist Marinette standing atop the tower and overlooking the city before transforming into Ladybug and leaping from it. It's most obvious when battles take place at the Louvre, when it will actually jump around from shot-to-shot (in Real Life, the Eiffel Tower is visible to the Louvre's west). About the only times this trope is avoided in outdoor scenes are for the battles that take place at the Eiffel Tower itself.
  • In the Muppet Babies opening, the Grand Canal establishes the city of Venice.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The episode "Rarity Takes Manehattan" is set in Equestria's version of New York, complete with pony versions of the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, and many other recognizable landmarks.
  • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb in a quick gag on a family trip to England. After his father points out various English landmarks in a series of cuts, Phineas lampshades how small England seems with all their notable landmarks inexplicably in one place.
  • Played for Laughs in the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Road Rash". When Heffer tells Rocko to take a shortcut on their motorcycle trip, they end up passing random world landmarks: Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge (Heffer even tells Rocko to "turn right at Stonehenge,") a Venetian canal, Moai Statues on Easter Island, the Eiffel Tower (obviously), and the Taj Mahal in India, complete with Regional Riffs for those areas are being played.
  • Justified in The Simpsons. The CN Tower features prominently in the episode where they go to Toronto, but this is just Truth in Television. It's so tall you really can see it from damn near anywhere within city limits (cf. Real Life). If anything, they don't show it enough.
  • The Snowman had no need of a specific setting, but it got one anyway courtesy of the gratuitous appearance of Brighton Pavilion in one of the flying sequences. Creator Raymond Briggs lives near Brighton, and evidently so does the boy in the story.
  • In the opening to Taz-Mania, a large sandstone formation resembling Uluru is present, establishing central Australia. note 
  • In the Thundarr the Barbarian intro, the Golden Gate Bridge establishes the city of San Francisco. The wreckage of the Titanic establishes part of the ocean floor has surfaced.
  • After Timon & Pumbaa decide not to eat a snail when they get trapped in a mailing package, Pumbaa worries that whomever is at the destination might hurt their new friend. Timon reassured them that the only way that could happen is if they ended up "in France, where snails are considered a delicacy". Cue the package opening up, and a clear view of the Eiffel Tower-ig over them.
  • In the Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? opening, the Chinese guardian lion and Chinese temple rooftop establishes the location as China, possibly the Forbidden City. The Sphinx and the pyramids in the desert establish the location as Egypt. The Statue of Liberty and Twin Towers establish New York City.

    Real Life 
  • Given that it's literally the tallest building in the world, at four-fifths of a kilometer high, it's no surprise that the Burj Khalifa is this to the city of Dubai.
  • Washington, D.C. has a thirteen-story height capnote  on buildings within its city limits, so the Washington Monument is at least partly visible throughout a large portion of that city.
    • Supposedly some building codes in the area were made for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.
    • Of course the Washington Monument is not the only notable building in media. The White House and Capitol Building are also well-known presences.
  • The aforementioned CN Tower is similar to the Washington Monument, but for different reasons. It's not that the buildings in Toronto are especially small, it's just the CN Tower really is that huge. It can even be seen from some points north of the city.
    • It can be seen (on a very clear day) in Rochester, New York, which is on the other side of a Great freakin' Lake and in another country.
  • In Paris itself this does happen to some degree with the Eiffel Tower, visible from the entire Western half of the city, and to the dismay of many Parisians, it also happens with the Montparnasse tower and the Southern half.
    • Some go out of their way to avoid this effect: Novelist Guy de Maupassant supposedly ate lunch in the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that, as no big fan of the Tower, it was the one place in Paris where he knew he wouldn't see it.
    • Georges Clemenceau also allegedly chose his apartment in the Rue Franklin (in Passy, now a museum) so that he would not have to look at the Eiffel Tower from his study.
    • The Tower is so prominent because Paris, like Washington DC, has a strict height limitation in the central city. (It's one of the legacies of Baron Haussmann's enormous renovation of the city in the mid-nineteenth century.) Due to intensive underground quarrying, the ground under considerable parts of the city is too weak to support really high buildings. Paris does have skyscrapers, but they're concentrated at La Défense, a purpose-built business district in the suburb of Nanterre, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.
  • Non-visual example. Lots of movies back establishing shots of Middle Eastern cities with the Islamic call-to-prayer chant to establish their Middle Eastern-ness. Also truth in television; for example, İstanbul alone has thousands of mosques, and the call to prayer can be heard sounding out, five times a day, anywhere in the city.
  • New York City used to be instantly recognizable by the Twin Towers. Since 9/11, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, or the UN headquarters building are forced to stand in instead.
    • The Statue of Liberty has been used to establish a New York setting since the very beginning of film.
    • New York has several lesser-used but still highly visible landmarks, especially the Washington Memorial Arch (When Harry Met Sally...), the Brooklyn Bridge (Taxi Driver, Spider-Man), the Flatiron Building (TV's Veronica's Closet and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), etc.
    • There's a reason why King Kong climbed the Empire State Building.
    • Ever since the completion of One World Trade Center, TV shows and movies set in New York have been quick to include it in establishing shots; it won't be long before the tower is cemented in pop culture like its predecessors. Given the historical baggage of its predecessors, though, don't expect to see it be destroyed in movies anytime soon.
  • Speaking of newly completed structures, although Tokyo Tower has cemented its place almost permanently in Japanese pop culture, Tokyo Skytree of Tokyo is starting to become a new one, already being featured in multiple works.
    • It may not be as noticeable as the above two, but the Rainbow Bridge and Fuji TV headquarters in Odaiba are these to some extent.
  • If there's anything that would be synonymous with Japan, that would be Mt. Fuji.
  • While Chicago's tallest building is the Willis Towernote , it's the John Hancock Center that's the city's true "signature" structure.
    • But the Board of Trade is the coolest Chicago building...
    • Marina City gets used a lot, too. It's sometimes called the "Wilco Towers" since its appearance on the cover of their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
    • Buckingham Fountain, aka the Married... with Children fountain, is sometimes used if a non-skyline establishing shot is preferred, as is Cloud Gate (aka "the Bean").
  • The Gateway Arch in St. Louis for Missouri in general. That's what ended up on the back of the Missouri quarter. Kansas City, on the opposite side of the state, is generally represented by one of the many, many, many fountains in the city, most often the JC Nichols fountain.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (prevalent in the title credits in Full House, for one). You can substitute cable cars for similar effect.
    • The Sutro Tower really can be seen from anywhere in San Francisco–-it's a tripod-shaped radio tower much taller than any building, located on the second-highest hill, in the geographical center of the city. Ironically, it almost never appears in film, possibly because it's often regarded as quite ugly, although it was featured in an episode of Mythbusters.
    • The Transamerican Pyramid Center is also a building that stands out in the city's skyline.
    • Also Coit Tower and the "crookedest street in the world" block of Lombard Street.
    • Or any photogenic intersection where a nice shot of a passing cable car can be filmed.
    • The Sing Chong Building is frequently used to establish the setting as San Francisco's Chinatown.
  • Stockholm, Sweden has a few:
    • The most famous one is the City Hall, visible from much of the inner city. This building is to Stockholm what the Westminster Palace/Big Ben is to London. It even has a signature tune, played by the bells at 12 and 6 pm.
    • There's also Globen (aka Avicii Arena), a hemispherical ice hockey/entertainment venue, which is currently the largest hemispherical building in the world. When Sweden hosts an ice hockey world championship, it's usually there.
    • Usually depicted together with the City Hall and Globen are Hötorgsskraporna (Haymarket Buildings), a row of five high-rise office buildings.
    • A lesser one is Kaknästornet (the Kaknäs tower), a tall TV tower located on Djurgården.
  • For Helsinki, Finland this is the 19th century St. Nicholas' Cathedral. If you do an image search with the city's name, it's literally impossible to not work out which building it is.
  • Probably even more visible (though far less spectacular) than the tower in Paris is the Petřínská rozhledna on a hilltop in Prague, a city with few skyscrapers. Unfortunately, despite being higher up than the real Eiffel Tower, it's still not as conspicuous in the skyline as the world's second ugliest building.
  • South African TV news, when broadcasting from Johannesburg, includes an opening shot of the Hillbrow Tower, even though it's just a radio antenna and the newsroom isn't in there, to establish the location (justified in that it's the tallest building in Africa). Foreign news stories tend to include shots of Table Mountain, which overlooks the country's legislative capital of Cape Town, if an event happened anywhere in South Africa generally. This is sometimes quite funny, as if you were reporting on an event happening in Maine while showing a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Close, but no cigar.
  • The Space Needle's entire reason for existence seems to be as a means to set up establishing shots of Seattle. Never mind that the Needle itself is dwarfed by surrounding buildings to such a degree that it ends up looking comically small if not framed well.
    • It also stands somewhat apart from the rest of the skyline, another reason for exact framing. As a result, almost every notable photo of the Seattle skyline is shot from a single location: Kerry Park. This often results in the Needle looking much taller on film than it is in real life.
    • One of the Seattle area's other iconic landmarks, Mount Rainier, is easily visible from a large portion of Washington State on a clear day.
    • Pike Place Market (with the big PUBLIC MARKET CENTER sign and clock) is sometimes used as a secondary establishing landmark.
    • Meanwhile, the nearby city of Tacoma has the Tacoma Dome featured in many shots of the city.
  • The Oriental Pearl shows up in nearly every establishing shot of Shanghai.
    • Shanghai's skyline is also instantly recognizable by the presence of the World Finance Center "Bottle Opener" building, which was the tallest building in the city until the Shanghai Tower surpassed it in height.
  • Tian'anmen gate is often used as a establishing shot for Beijing, but as a bit of a subversion, the structure is only visible if you stand next to it. Classical Chinese architecture is rather disdainful of the vertical dimension. Chinese television and movies tend to use the CCTV tower instead.note 
    • The Temple of Heaven, or rather the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the central building of the complex, is also used not just to signify Beijing but China as a wholenote , even though it, too, is not very visible unless you're in the surrounding park.
  • In Taiwanese Series, the Taipei 101 building in the country's capital is the tallest building on the island and tends to show up in the background of at least one episode.
  • Los Angeles has the US Bank Tower, which is the tallest and usually the most recognizable skyscraper in the city. It's usually shown in establishing shots when the story takes place in Los Angeles, or they'll show the whole skyline if the shot is being taken from one of the many hills.note  Sometimes a shot of the Hollywood sign is used as well/instead. The Hollywood sign is visible throughout most of West LA, but usually as a small white smudge on a big mountain range. It's best viewed — you guessed it — in Hollywood.
    • Another recognizable LA landmark is the Capitol Records building which isn't very tall, but it is cylindrical to simulate a stack of records.
    • For when you want to show the Gangsters Paradise side of things, shots of the Los Angeles River and the bridges spanning East LA with West LA get shown often. Watts Towers also get used a little.
    • You'd never know from TV or movies, but there are other streets in Beverly Hills besides Rodeo Drive.
  • In the ultra-rare instances where you're filming in Salt Lake City (and want the audience to know you're filming in Salt Lake City), the Salt Lake Temple, the largest temple of the LDS Church, will be briefly shown.
  • Mexico's main cities are not exempt from this.
    • Mexico City has this with the Zócalo, a huge slab of concrete bearing a huge monumental flag, as well as with the Angel of Independence, the Torre Latinoamericana, and the Reform Avenue.
    • Guadalajara has this with the cathedral, the Minerva Roundabout, and more recently, the small patch of skyscrapers near Puerta de Hierro in the northwest.
    • Monterrey, however, is best represented by the prominent Saddle Hill (Cerro de la Silla).
  • California's state capital, Sacramento, as well as West Sacramento, is represented by the Ziggurat building (in West Sacramento) and the Tower Bridge (not that Tower Bridge) a golden bridge in Sacramento which crosses the Sacramento River.
  • Due to the significant plurality of cultural groups in the Philippines, no one site could represent them if not beyond the capital city Manila's sites (as mentioned in Maynila's above). The examples, therefore, tend to be very specific to the local regions (and indeed heavily exploited by Philippine tourism advertising).
    • The usual candidates, specifically for Manila, would likely be the tower of Manila City Hall or the Rizal Monument, the central nexus of Rizal Park complex in honor of its national hero Jose Rizal.
    • The second (and previous) capital, Quezon City, is usually represented by the tower of Quezon Memorial Shrine, built in honor of its eponymous president, Manuel Quezon.
      • A more modern but negative example: Quezon City also is the site of the Skysuites Tower, which can indeed be seen from a very wide radius of the city, even from districts far away (though rather subverted since the tower was halted for construction for several years due to financial corruption, and thus is not yet operational nor prominently featured in local Philippine pop culture.)
    • Bicol Region is almost always represented by Mayon Volcano, which natural cone shape makes it a striking vista.
    • The islands of the Visayas region are likeliest to be represented by:
    • Mindanao is likely to be represented by the Marawi Grand Mosque, as one of the largest structures representing the Islamic ethnic groups of the island region. Tragically, it would be a major casualty of the Siege of Marawi in 2017 due to the actions of terrorists affiliated with Islamic State.
  • Thousands of Armenian paintings and photographs would suggest that Mt. Ararat is visible all over the country, when in fact it has to be a really clear day to be able to see it from its capital, Yerevan. And partly due to a long, sad history of horrible luck, Armenia's most iconic landmark isn't even in Armenia anymore but in Turkey.
  • Many recent British productions have used the Gherkin in establishing montages because of its distinctive architecture. London's tallest tower (as of 2012), the Shard, may be joining it. These are both pretty well-justified examples, as it wasn't until fairly recently that advances in construction techniques enabled true skyscrapers to be built in London's soft ground, and they can be seen from quite a large section of the city.
    • In slightly-older works, the London Eye serves this purpose.
  • As mentioned before, the Great Pyramid of Giza and/or the Sphinx is generally the establishing shot for Cairo, or anywhere else in Egypt for that matter. Egyptian and other Middle Eastern productions tend to use the Cairo Tower or Tahrir Square for Cairo.
    • Again, framing matters, since The Pyramids are quite close to Cairo (the oldest parts of Cairo were actually built from the scavenged facade of the Pyramids, and the Sphinx is deteriorating due to the modern city's pollution).
    • Napoleon's Battle of the Pyramids actually took place about nine miles away from the Pyramids, where they were only faintly visible on the horizon. Napoleon named the battle as such because he was mindful of this trope. Accordingly, most paintings of the battle depict it happening much closer to the Pyramids than it really did.
  • Any time Auckland, New Zealand appears, the Sky Tower is guaranteed to be shown. Justified, since it is a 328m (1076ft) structure in a city where there are only two other buildings taller than 150m. Locals sometimes use the tower as a compass, since it can be seen from afar and is to the north from most of the city.
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House define urban Australia while Uluru/Ayers Rock defines the Outback.
    • Even within Australia the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are used to define Sydney since they are such iconic parts of the skyline. Sometimes they will use Sydney Tower (formerly known as Centrepoint Tower) to change it up.
    • As for other cities, Parliament House is used as short hand for Canberra - although often the old Parliament House, which is still more recognisable to many Australians 25 years after the switchover - and, more rarely The Story Bridge for Brisbane, though it's mostly seen in news casts.
    • Because Melbourne lacks any landmarks of international stature, the go-to iconic image for Melbourne is usually a tram (Melbourne, alone among Australian cities, has an extensive light rail network and in fact the world's largest urban tram network). If the media in question is aimed at Melburnians, expect to see steps at Flinders Street Station or the Arts Centre Tower. And a tram.
  • St. Basil's Cathedral is the visual shorthand for Moscow and, to some extent, the entirety of Russia. So in works set during the Cold War, the atheistic Soviet Union is ubiquitously represented by a colorful, onion-domed church. (The building was turned into a museum under Soviet rule. Today it's a church and museum in one.) And just so everyone is clear on this, St. Basil's Cathedral is not the Kremlin (which is right next to the cathedral).
  • The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, justified since it stands on a very high mountain top overlooking the city.
    • In an interesting subversion, the nearby city of Niterói, tired of being overshadowed by neighbouring Rio de Janeiro, built an "extravagant" landmark of its own. The Contemporary Art Museum has the shape of a flying saucer (think of the Space Needle minus needle, or the Chemosphere house of LA), and every single media appearance of the city has to feature it since - it's even on the city administration logo.
  • Whenever something is established to take place in Cleveland, it always includes a shot of the Terminal Tower, the oldest and most distinctive highrise in the city. If not Terminal Tower, you are bound to see an image of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.
  • Saint Petersburg, Russia is often represented by the Peter and Paul Fortress or the Winter Palace.
  • Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square for North Korea, usually Stock Footage of a military parade there.
  • A South Korean example would be the N Seoul Tower of Seoul, also known as the Namsan Tower, atop the Namsan mountain. It is visible at most parts of the city thanks to it's considerable height and since it's construction it has earned a landmark status, being featured in various news stock footages.
    • The Sungyemun, otherwise known as the Namdaemun, is the south castle gate of the Seoul city walls. Live footage of the intersection surrounding the gate is commonly featured as a background of news briefing.
    • Although to a lesser extent, the Trade Tower in Gangnam is also used to indicate something happening in the region. The tower was the first thing you saw in the Seoul mission of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to show the battle going on the region.
  • Las Vegas unsurprisingly has a couple of these:
    • First and foremost, the most popular way to establish the city in the media is having the camera pan down the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street (they're two different attractions and the Strip is technically outside the city proper) at night with the neon signs blaring.
    • Arguably the city's most well-known individual landmark is the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada" sign at the southern end of the Strip.
    • "Vegas Vic," the neon cowboy fixture. Vic has become a symbol of Las Vegas to the point that he has outlived the original casino he was built to promote (it's now a souvenir shop). And like many examples on this page, tourists note that Vic is a lot smaller in real life than expected, due to how he's framed in films.
  • Pittsburgh is most often represented by the PPG Place, aka the glass skyscraper that looks like a castle. Before its completion in 1984, the US Steel Building and the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning were popular for this.
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum's Quadracci Pavillion (completed and opened in 2001), with it's distinctive "wings" that give it the appearance of a sailboat has become this for Milwaukee. Before then, City Hall was often used (most famously in the opening montage on Laverne & Shirley).
  • Ottawa contains no buildings other than Parliament. The Centre Block of Parliament, specifically.
  • The big German cities are confusing. Either their defining building is rather unseeming/small, or they suffer from having too many to chose from (most often the case). Only some examples are given, since there are simply too many.
    • Berlin has so many, it's difficult to make a choice. The most well known are the Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag and the Siegessäule. In the future, the Stadtschloß, which is currently in reconstruction, could join them. In general, the Reichstag is used for political news and the Brandenburger Tor for the city itself
      • The landmark that can be seen from almost everywhere in the city (and from way outside) is the TV Tower, although that wasn't used much until reunification, because it is in former East Berlin.
      • For works set (or made) during the Cold War, expect the Berlin Wall to be used. Typically, it will be the stretch of the Wall which was in front of the Brandenburger Tor, thus putting two recognizable structures into one shot.
    • It's somewhat easier for Munich. The Münchner Frauenkirche is so iconic, everyone recognises it right away.
    • Cologne has two that are so close together, that they are often seen together. The Kölner Dom is of course the most well-known one of world fame, but the Hohenzollenbrücke right at its feet is also famous.
    • The city of Hamburg lost tons of old buildings in WW II, but still retained three that almost everyone recongises at once. The Hamburger Michel is the most famous one, closely followed by the Rathaus. The big surprise is the third one, which is the very distinctive Hamburg Central Station.
    • Dresden is a very interesting case. There was no defining building after WWII (many good ones, but nothing defining) until the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche.
      • A more modern defining building for the city is the Transparent Factory, a Volkswagen factory whose walls are almost completely made of glass.
    • The city of Bremen is an example of something rather small that is defining. The Bremer Roland is mere 5,47 meters high, but is the sign of the city.
  • Major cities in Texas have these:
    • San Antonio has The Alamo.
    • Dallas has the Reunion Tower (the one with the big ball on top).
  • The Merlion used to be Singapore's icon, but this privilege is gradually being taken over by the Marina Bay Sands buildings.
  • Whereas there's no consent what the most iconic landmark for Poland is, St Mary's Basilica in Kraków remains the strongest contender (though it's sometimes challenged King Sigismund's Column in Warsaw, mirroring the centuries-long rivalry between the former and the current capital).
    • As for Warsaw itself, the Palace of Culture and Science is slowly becoming this. Many people in Poland revile this building for its socialist-realism ugliness and wish it were gone (imagine what would have happened in France had the Eiffel Tower been built by occupiers).
  • Los Arcos in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
  • For any tourist, foreign or local, landing in Manila, they would always stop for Rizal Park.
  • Akron, Ohio has a few notable buildings and landmarks including the Goodyear Airdock, All American Soap Box Derby, and the Quaker Oats grain silos (a present-day student dormitory) but when the city is represented in media the most likely image you'll see is the Goodyear Blimp.
  • Blackpool in Lancashire is usually represented by the Tower, which is a half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. More recently, the Big One (which at launch was the world's tallest roller coaster) is sometimes used.
  • A French example outside of Paris is Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, which dominates the skyline of Clermont-Ferrand. While Clermont-Ferrand isn't exactly a common location for films, two of France's all-time classics were shot there and have panorama shots with the cathedral standing out (The Sorrow and the Pity and My Night at Maud's).
  • For New Orleans, showing the French Quarter is mandatory, and showing it during Mardi Gras is strongly encouraged. Jackson Square, with the statue of Andrew Jackson framed perfectly in front of St. Louis Cathedral, is the secondary choice, and the Superdome also works. And of course, a second line parade with a colorfully-dressed brass band marching in any of those locations doesn't hurt either.
  • When North Macedonia is shown in media and the go-to image is not a statue of Alexander the Great, it will often times be the main square of the capital Skopje, the skyline of the city of Ohrid as seen from the lake, the Macedonium found in the city of Kruschevo, or the main pedestrian street or clock tower of Bitola.
  • Spanish examples include for its capital Madrid either Gran Vía, Plaza de Cibeles, Plaza Mayor, or La Puerta de Alcalá and for -to give some examples- Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Zaragoza, Ávila, and Segovia, either La Sagrada Familia or Las Ramblas, either La Giralda or La Torre del Oro, the Alhambra, la Basílica del Pilar, the Walls of Avila, and either the Alcázar or the Aqueduct of Segovia respectively.
  • It is absolutely compulsory for establishing shots of Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, to include footage of the honking great castle on Castle Rock which dominates the city skyline and has done for centuries. Helpfully, it's very photogenic.
  • When a media wants to depict Pripyat, an abandoned Soviet/Ukrainian city made (in)famous by the Chernobyl disaster, in addition of the Chernobyl Power Plant itself, it's almost mandatory to also include an establishing shot of the famous ferris wheel in its amusement park. A move that popularized by many video games such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Modern Warfare.

Alternative Title(s): The Eiffel Tower Effect