Lois: Oh, be still, my heart.
Basically, if an American film or TV show doesn't take place in a famous big city, it will be set in some version of Everytown, America. Everytown, America is a usually fictional town or small city containing pastel suburbs, a single elementary/High School (depending how old the main characters are) with the same name as the town, and a main street or town square of some kind. Everyone likes hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Mandatory attire is flannel with blue jeans, or a bolo tie if you're rich. Most people will be friendly except for the Pointy-Haired Boss, the Alpha Bitch or the Jerk Jock. Anyone worse than that will be an invader from some big city or The Government. It is often a Close-Knit Community, and almost Everyone Went to School Together. Usually (though not always), the members of this community identify as (or are at least implied to be) some variety of Christian, and they all attend the same church.
Where is Everytown? Well obviously it's in Eagleland, but if the specific state is given at all, it's particularly likely to be somewhere in New England, the Great Lakes States, or the rural South. Expect it to have hot summers all abuzz with cicadas, and snow on Christmas.
Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here (or at least it didn't until the aliens / vampires / witches / commies / weirdos showed up). The town's history, if discussed at all, will probably be very simple (usually it will have been named after whoever founded it — there might be a statue of him) and everyone living there will be familiar with the story. The characters may become routinely involved in city affairs, which will usually consist of convincing the city council not to tear down some historic building or to clean up the local park so all the children can happily play there. The townsfolk can cause it to be a Quirky Town, but just about everybody you meet will be friendly and polite. It's usually the home of The All-American Boy and the Girl Next Door.
For such an average place, Everytown seems to become a City of Adventure surprisingly often, and occasionally masks a Town with a Dark Secret. If featured in a TV series fond of Special Guests, celebrities may visit the town a disproportionate number of times.
To be fair, there are a lot of towns like this in the U.S.A. (particularly in the Midwest and Great Lakes states), but it also taps into a very powerful vein of nostalgia about what kind of town many Americans wish they lived in.
Together with Down on the Farm, this is one of the main components of Flyover Country, though that trope is usually more dismissive than idealized. See also Where the Hell Is Springfield?, with which this trope often overlaps. Contrast with No Communities Were Harmed, which involves a fictionalized version of a specific real city.
- SD Gundam Force: Neotopia features a lot of American motifs from Mark's terrible country music, to everybody playing catch in the park, to even a giant ferris wheel statue of the mayor herself that resembles the Statue of Liberty! If that doesn't make it America maybe Shute knowing the existence of Ypsilanti, Michigan might.
- Mail Order Ninja has Cherry Creek, Indiana. Population: 23,745.
- A recurring motif in the art of Norman Rockwell.
- Superman comics have Smallville, childhood hometown of Superman/hometown of Superboy, and Midvale, childhood hometown of Supergirl. Less so in Smallville the series.
- Blue Valley. Home of Wally West before and during his Kid Flash days before he became The Flash and relocated to Keystone City.
- Astro City: In "Pastoral", Cammie — a girl from Astro City — gets sent to spend the summer with her cousins in the country. Caplinville, the small town she ends up in, feels very much like this.
- Timmy Turbo, Tom Strong's number one fan, seems to live in Anytown, USA. Though some stories feature him in Millenium City.
- Naomi's hometown Port Oswego is located in Oregon and is a sleepy little town. Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here is what pretty much everyone says about the place. Including the people who live there.
- Unfrozen: Where Liz and Sasha Jamison hail from, heavily implied to be somewhere in the Midwest or heartland due to travel time from their home to Florida.
- In Kara of Rokyn, the main character's adoptive parents live in a small, nondescript Midwestern town named Midvale. Although she moved out long ago, Linda still visits the town every so often.
- In Hellsister Trilogy, Kara's foster parents Fred and Edna Danvers live in Midvale, a average-looking town located in Illinois.
- In Aquamania, Goofy's hometown is called Anytown.
Narrator: This could be any town, anywhere, anytime.
- Bedford Falls, New York in It's a Wonderful Life. A small, friendly town anchored by its trustworthy and generous Building & Loans institution, where everyone knows everybody else by name.
- The resort island of Amity, New York in Jaws.
- Hill Valley, California in the Back to the Future films, especially when we see it in 1955, when the film goes out of its way to flood viewers with as much '50s Americana imagery as possible. The manner in which it has been corrupted in the alternate 1985 is used to demonstrate the Bad Future that Marty accidentally created.
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: While the town Elliot live in is never mentioned, he points to Northern California on a map when showing E.T. where they live. (The actual house is in the L.A. neighborhood of Sunland-Tujunga at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.)
- Cuesta Verde, California in Poltergeist. It is in fact filmed in the small town of Simi Valley, west of Los Angeles. Poltergeist II: The Other Side has Alta Dena fill in for the home in Arizona. Subverted in Poltergeist III with Chicago playing as itself.
- Parodied, justified, lampshaded, then played with till it can't play no more in Pleasantville. Basically, the trope was a basketball, and Pleasantville was the Harlem Globetrotters.
- Parodied in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, where the protagonists pass three identical small towns during their cross-country trip. Naturally, the characters lampshade this.
- The town in Edward Scissorhands is pretty much like this trope (except for the out-of-place Gothic mansion on a hill in the centre, and the fact that some people are not as nice as they seem in the beginning).
- Bomont, Utah in Footloose.
- Carvel, in the Andy Hardy films of the 1930s and '40s.
- Edge City in The Mask, although it's not a small town by any means.
- Fringe City in Son of the Mask.
- Haddonfield, Illinois, in Halloween.
- Grandview, USA in Grandview USA. Filmed in the middle of Illinois.
- Kingston Falls, heavily based on the above Bedford Falls, from Gremlins.
- Sherwood, Ohio in Heathers.
- Smalltown, USA, in The Muppets.
- Denton, Ohio in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Woodsboro, California in the Scream films. Wes Craven notably insisted on filming the first movie in the US rather than in budget-friendly Vancouver like the film's producers, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, wanted to, as he wanted Woodsboro to feel unmistakably American.
- In the "making of" book for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film, it is stated that they were looking for this kind of town. Ironically, that town happened to be in the suburbs of Toronto, a Canadian city.
- The Human Comedy is set in Ithaca, CA, a fictional small town with a stereotypical Main Street and small independently owned stores, the kind of town where a kid who's lost in the street is immediately recognized and sent back to his brother. It also has a surprisingly variegated mix of ethnicities, including Russians, Hispanics, and Greeks. This is because the whole movie is a propaganda effort encouraging American patriotism and participation in World War II.
- Mainhead in Colossal is this, contrasting with the opening scenes set in New York and the monster scenes set in downtown Seoul. Apparently there's one bar, one convenience store, one school, one playground, and just about everyone knows each other. This is a shockingly dark version of this trope, as characters see being stuck in Mainhead for their entire lives as a sign of failure due to how small and dull it is.
- Russ Meyer's Beneath The Valley of the Ultra-Vixens was set in "Smalltown, USA."
- In Power Rangers (2017), Angel Grove is depicted as this, in contrast to the original series' more metropolitan setting.
- Groundhog Day has Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the town where Phil Connors gets stuck.
- Stoneybrook in The Baby-Sitters Club.
- Similarly, Sweet Valley, California, from Sweet Valley High.
- In Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent, he goes off across America in search of the quintessential small town (an idea he most likely got from the famous Universal Studios backlot). He starts out thinking the best examples will be in the Midwest, but discovers they're mostly in New England and the Deep South. He eventually decides that he'll just have to start picking out his favorite bits of the towns he's passed through and create his own ideal Everytown, America, which he dubs Amalgam.
- Viciously parodied in Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town with the town of Mariposa, which is inhabited mostly by blithering idiots who can't do anything right. Also transposed to Canada (because that's where Leacock was from), but still basically the same trope.
- Played with in 1632 by Eric Flint. Grantville is just like this — which means it is very different to Everytown, 17th Century Germany.
- Dandelion Wine takes place in a small mid-Western town. Ray Bradbury based Green Town on his own hometown of Waukegan, IL.
- [Undisclosed] in John Dies at the End, which is distinguished only by having a considerably higher than average population of the mentally ill. The film version features scenes at the abandoned Shorewood (Illinois) mall, implying that the main plot takes place approximately an hour's drive southwest of Chicago in the vicinity of Joliet.
- Derry, Castle Rock, and Jerusalem's Lot are this, and each situated fully in Lovecraft Country.
- New Zebedee, Michigan in The House With a Clock in Its Walls is a quaint little American town which also happens to be home to a magical mansion owned by a wizard.
- Nightmares & Dreamscapes: Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon in "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band". It is described as looking exactly like a Norman Rockwell painting.
- Deconstructed in Rabbit, Run in the generic middle-class suburb of Mount Judge, Pennsylvania. As Updike noted, "My subject is the American Protestant small-town middle class. I like middles. It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules."
- Sinclair Lewis set Main Street in Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, an only slightly fictionalized version of his real childhood home of Sauk Centre. It is a decidedly negative take on this trope, portrayed as a land of smug, small-minded conservatism where the protagonist Carol can only find companionship in the town's outsiders. The residents of Sauk Centre recognized the parody and were not amused in the slightest, and so Lewis created the fictional state of Winnemac, a pastiche of several Midwestern states, to set his later books in.
- Madison of Our Miss Brooks.
- Mayberry, North Carolina of The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. (and referenced in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.); stated to be 60 miles from Raleigh, NC.
- Mayfield of Leave It to Beaver.
- Bryant Park, on My Three Sons for most of its run. In the eighth season, Steve Douglas is transferred and the family is forced to move to Los Angeles.
- Springfield on Father Knows Best.
- Riverview, Ohio, Lt. Hector Canfield's oft-mentioned hometown on It's About Time.
- Rutherford, Ohio of 3rd Rock from the Sun.
- Westbridge, Massachusetts of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
- Subverted with Sunnydale, California in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The whole point of founding the town was for a cultist to create the Hellmouth.
- Wellsville of The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Also an example of Where the Hell Is Springfield?. One episode states that it's in Michigan; other episodes implies it is all over the map.
- Pawnee, Indiana, of Parks and Recreation is a medium-sized town in the Midwest that is not particularly rural or metropolitan.
- Stars Hollow, Connecticut of Gilmore Girls fame is definitely this, however, it's somewhat a subversion of the actual trope, in that it IS perfectly normal.
- Haven, Maine is not to be found anywhere in Maine except in the series Haven (and a couple of Stephen King novels), but there is a North Haven in Maine.
- Cabot Cove, Maine in Murder, She Wrote
- Crabapple Cove, Maine in M*A*S*H. Lampshaded in one episode where, as Hawkeye is bandaging up a soldier, he asks about things in the guy's town, like the annual harvest dance, and the little diner on the outskirts of town that serves the greasiest fries ever. When the soldier asks when he had been there, Hawkeye replies, "Never. I grew up in the same small town in Maine."
- Warehouse 13: The eponymous warehouse is located in an Unincorporated Unnamed Settlement, in South Dakota, known as Univille.
- Pickford in Phil of the Future.
- In the "The Serenity Now" episode of Seinfeld, Kramer turns the front of his apartment into an "Anytown USA" performance piece, right up to him talking and acting like he's living in an Everytown America in the middle of summer.
- Storybrooke, Maine, the town created by The Dark Curse in Once Upon a Time, is meant to look like one of these, but it wouldn't take long for an outsider to realize that something is off about it.
- Hawkins, Indiana, in Stranger Things, comes off as an obvious Spielberg homage.
- Charming in Sons of Anarchy, and the Sons want to keep it that way.
- Rosewood, Pennsylvania of Pretty Little Liars.
- Fagan Corners, Vermont in Daredevil (2015), Karen Page's hometown.
- "Everyday America" by Sugarland has it right there in the title. The song follows a couple through high school and growing up in such a town.
- Parodied by Tom Lehrer in "My Home Town", from Songs by Tom Lehrer. It starts out talking about the town as a "place where no-one wears a frown" populated by "extra-special just plain folks", but when it starts getting specific, it turns out that the "just plain folks" include murderers, arsonists, pornographers, and a kindly parson who did something the narrator refuses to even talk about.
- "Small Town" by John Mellencamp is ostensibly about his native Seymour, Indiana, but honestly it could as well be anywhere given how universal the lyrics are.
- "Small Town USA" by Justin Moore is about a town of this sort, reflecting the common small-town themes of country music.
- Referenced in "Where I'm From" by Jason Michael Carroll:
I said I'm from the front pew of a wooden white church
The courthouse clock, it still dont work
Where a man's word means everything
Where moms and dads were high school flings
Gave their children grandmother's maiden name
Yes, it may not sound like much
But it's where I'm from
- Lake Wobegon, Minnesota in A Prairie Home Companion, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.
- Wistful Vista of Fibber McGee and Molly, and Summerfield in its spinoff The Great Gildersleeve.
- Many, many radio series were set in such a town: Lum and Abner (probably more rural than this trope), Father Knows Best, Our Miss Brooks, The Aldrich Family, The Burns and Allen Show, etc.
- Adventures in Odyssey: Originally envisioned as a one-street town, Odyssey has grown rather large for a "small town" in the past twenty-five years, but still maintains a quiet dignity about it.
- Fiasco: One of the basic settings in the game is "Main Street", characterized as an American small town.
- While the setting of Unmasked can be altered and changed to suit the GM's taste, the default setting is Boundary Bay, New York, a small town on northern Long Island which comes fully fleshed-out.
- Kids on Bikes can technically be set in any small town in the world at any time before modern communications, but the examples given and general assumption of play is "American podunk town in the '80s or '90s", as in the movies and shows that inspired it. Players develop the town and its history themselves before play starts.
- Angel's Roost, Washington in The Golden Apple. It lies in the shadow of Mount Olympus, but that's only significant as a Mythology Gag (though the state of Washington really does have a mountain named that).
- Grover's Corners in Our Town.
- Bomont, Texas in the stage musical of Footloose.
- 13: Appleton, Indiana is 'The Lamest Place in the World,' at least according to Patrice.
- Main Street, U.S.A at the various Disney Theme Parks.
- Onett, from EarthBound is the quintessential '80s Amer- er, Eaglandian town, replete with school, burger joint, arcade, City Hall and gang of street toughs. And a meteor, but we don't talk about the meteor. See also Twoson and Threed for variations on the theme, but Onett plays it to the hilt.
- Podunk, from Mother is a prototype of Onett.
- Secret of Evermore also starts in the town of Podunk. It's a popular name.
- The events of Dead Rising mainly take place in the eponymous mall of Willamette, Colorado.
- BioShock Infinite's Columbia is at first glance a beautiful piece of turn-of-the-century Americana floating in the sky. It's gradually subverted however in that the rotten truth is just beneath the surface.
- Motorville from Ni no Kuni is a spot-on pastiche of one despite being produced by a Japanese video game company in co-operation with a Japanese anime studio known for heavy heavy European artistic influences, and the English version is mostly voiced by British actors.
- The main setting of The Evil Within 2 is Union, a Mental World designed by MOBIUS to evoke this trope in an effort to keep the test subjects calm and complacent as part of their scheme to Take Over the World. That is until Stefano, Theodore and Myra's collective psychosis pollute the carefully constructed mindscape, slowly turning it from this to a Town with a Dark Secret, devolving into an Eldritch Location Monster Town before it collapses entirely.
- According to Will Wright, the first The Sims deliberately had an "American television culture" aesthetic (that is, a stereotypical US sitcom aesthetic) both in order to make the game feel familiar to most people around the world and to make a satire of contemporary US ideals.
- While the sequels have introduced more varied worlds including desert towns, bustling cities, paradisiacal islands, and European and Asian inspired towns each game still includes a default world that follows this trope:
- Almost every game by DONTNOD Entertainment is set in one of these towns:
- Life Is Strange has Arcadia Bay, Oregon.
- Tell Me Why has Delos Crossing, Alaska.
- Twin Mirror has Basswood, West Virginia.
- The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit has Beaver Creek, Oregon.
- Life Is Strange 2 initially averts this trope, with the start of the story taking place in Seattle. However, the Road Trip Plot of the season eventually leads the protagonists to several of these, the most classic example being the aforementioned Beaver Creek in Episode 2.
- Though Deck Nine have now taken over the Life Is Strange franchise from DONTNOD, they're keeping the spirit of this trope going with Haven Springs, Colorado in Life Is Strange: True Colors.
- Generictown of The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
- Pleasant Prairie in Tales Of Gnosis College.
- Belleville of Penny and Aggie.
- Moperville, Illinois, of El Goonish Shive.
- Springfield in the contemporary arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, which has the same relation to the big city of Camelot as Smallville's Smallville does to Metropolis. In one strip, Arthur compares it to Bedford Falls.
- Springfield of The Simpsons, though given the nature of the show most of the characters are caricatures of people you might find in other towns.
- Played surprisingly straight in South Park. Only occasionally does anyone wonder why so much seems to happen in an otherwise anonymous Colorado town, and no explanation is ever given.
- Middleton, home of Kim Possible, besides appearing to be a hotbed of science labs and the odd Supervillain Lair. Part of a tri-city area including Lowerton and Upperton, and a case of Where the Hell Is Springfield?. Word of God says its somewhere in between California and Colorado given the mountains seen in the background.
- Danville of Phineas and Ferb and its successor Milo Murphy's Law.
- The show Hey Arnold! takes place in the fictional American city of Hillwood.
- The Fairly OddParents is set in Dimmsdale, California (Previously somewhere in New England). An average American town filled with weirdness, in part because of Timmy Turner and his fairies.
- The main characters of Courage the Cowardly Dog all live in Nowhere, Kansas. Except this whole town (if not the entire planet in this universe) is really an Eldritch Location where monsters and all sorts of surreal happenings occur on a nigh-daily basis.
- Subverted in Earthworm Jim. Terlawk, New Jersey has a crappy strip mall and a couple of old guys sitting on a porch predicting rain with their kneecaps, but every week they sit and not only watch the alien invasion, but explain that one or the other of them may have caused it. Also, they live next door to a giant earthworm in an alien power suit.
- Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, even after Rocky and Bullwinkle got famous.
- Peach Creek of Ed, Edd n Eddy. The craziness that ensues there is usually from the Eds' antics.
- Hazelnut of Pepper Ann.
- Bluffington from Doug. Doug's family is unusual, in that they moved there from a nearby city called Bloatsburg; most of Bluffington's residents grew up there, and their families have lived there for generations.
- Moralton, the capital of Statesota in Moral Orel which also happens to be in the exact center of the country.
- The Goofy short "Aquamania" has Goofy's (Mr. X) hometown called Anytown.
Narrator: This could be any town, anywhere, anytime.
- Plainville from ChalkZone, located in Minnedakota County.
- Real-life versions of this sort of place are beloved by market researchers and political pollsters searching for a representative cross-section of the American populace. The city of Peoria, Illinois is probably the most famous for this, serving as the origin of the vaudeville-era phrase "will it play in Peoria?", while Muncie, Indiana was the site of the Middletown studies in the 1920s and '30s that played a major role in shaping sociologal research for decades to come. More recently, small cities like Albany, New York; Boise, Idaho; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Santa Barbara, California have become popular as Everytowns, America for this purpose.