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Fantastic Ghetto

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Where Fantastic Racism meets Urban Segregation. The Fantastic Ghetto is a place where an undesirable racial minority is rounded up inside to keep them out of the majority's line of sight.

Ghettoes are very much a case of Truth in Television: the term "(bor)ghetto," Italian for, more or less, "little town," originally referred to the district in City-State Venice where the Jews were supposed to live. Ironically, it has been asserted that the original Jewish ghettos were privileges, designed to protect Jews from unfriendly Gentile citizens, provided by the local rulers, including walls and locked gates which were bitterly resented by the locals. Like all well-meaning attempts at segregation, the "special treatment" not only turned out to be not so special, but increased division and tension between communities.

As a form of racial segregation, whether deliberate or emergent, ghettos still exist to this day. Therefore the topic is usually approached with caution in fiction, usually from the Fantastic Racism angle. However, it can also be implied by the Unfortunate Implications of having different races live in different areas (say, all the elves living in a hidden woodland glade) with little or no mixing.


Not to be confused with Sci Fi Ghetto, or the related term "Fantasy Ghetto," where the genre gets this treatment by the literary establishment.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Birdy the Mighty, most Altans live in a slummy area of the city, called simply "the Altan district."
  • In the Holy Britannian Empire of the Code Geass universe, the "Concession" cities in the conquered "Area" colonies are usually split between the rich "Settlements" inhabited by Britannians, Honorary Britannians, and generally the rich and powerful, whilst the "Ghettos" are where the conquered "Numbers" (conquered subjects), terrorists, and other unsavoury groups are forced to reside. The Tokyo Concession in Area 11 (Japan) is the best example, being the setting for the majority of the series.
  • The city of Kumersun in Spice and Wolf has an area surrounded by high wall, where live alchemists and other people, whose profession is considered “suspicious” by the Church. Dian is a local chronicler, collecting tales not yet censored by authorities and mediating in trade between inhabitants and outside world. She also happens to be a giant bird, who took on human shape like Holo.
  • Ceres in Ai no Kusabi, a slum where the mongrels live.
  • The world of One Piece is mostly populated by humans, while other species live in specific home islands. Giants work occasionally for the World Government, and fishmen and merfolk are known to marry other species, but it's extremely rare to see races like longlegs or dwarves wandering among humans. Separation seems to emerge naturally due to Fantastic Racism; the World Government doesn't enforce segregation but doesn't try to prevent it either.
    • Living separated from humans on the sea floor is especially problematic for merfolk and fishmen. They don't need sunlight and oxygen, but they still yearn for it. However, the cruelty of humans makes them afraid of living above the surface.
  • In Megalomania, there are the slums where the demihumans, a bioengineered Slave Race, live.
  • In Endride, the human race (Endras) used the Zoozians for hard labour and shipped all the ones who were too weak to work to an island in the middle of the sea so they'd be out of sight.
  • Attack on Titan: The Eldians that were left outside the Walls were rounded up by the Marleyans, and thrown into internment camps. They live in abject poverty, with absolutely no rights, and are only permitted to step outside the designated Internment Zones with special permission. In the century since their internment, Marley has used propaganda to frame this as them showing "mercy" on the "Children of the Devil", and convinced the residents that the Eldians that escaped behind the Walls are the ones to blame for their suffering. In reality, the camps exist to maintain a captive population that can be turned into Titans during times of war. Libero Internment Zone is the main camp seen in the series, and was the home of both Grisha Yeager and the members of Marley's Warrior Unit.
  • The city of E-Rantel in Overlord (2012) has a Demihuman District, which used to be a slum but was recently rebuilt.

  • In Strontium Dog, mutant populations in New Britain are not allowed to hold any jobs (apart from bounty hunting) or live amongst normal humans, instead living in their own trashed ghettos, the most prominent one located in Milton Keynes.
  • This shows up during Alan Moore's run on Wild CA Ts, when the team visits Khera, where it turns out the Kherubim-Daemonite war ended centuries ago everywhere except Earth. Khera is ruled by the wealthy and technologically advanced Kherubim while the planet's indigenous population, a race of Sizeshifters from which Maul descended, has been displaced into underground cities, and Daemonite civilians living on Khera are confined to a low-tech ghetto. Having one Daemonite ancestor is enough to get Voodoo, a Kherubim-human hybrid like her teammates, forced into the ghetto.
  • Top 10 is about an entire city where superheroes were relocated after World War II. There are separate slums for various other science beings like robots and vampires, and a throwaway line mentions Kaiju being confined to a tiny island.
  • The X-Men family of books have given us multiple takes on the idea of a mutant ghetto, from concentration cams, (Neverland) to reservations (the grounds of Xavier's school during the 198 series), to isolationist compounds, (Utopia) to ethnic neighborhoods, (Mutant Town/District X) to national "homelands." (Genosha)
  • Both Marvel and DC have had periods where their respective versions of Atlantis were destroyed, leaving Atlanteans as refugees living in various aquatic shanty towns.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume III implies that these exist for aliens from Venus as "Treens Out" can be seen written in graffiti a couple of times.
  • In Transformers: TransTech, Axiom Nexus has nine Offworlder Zones that house interdimensional refugees.
  • In The Ballad of Halo Jones, New York has designated areas for the the Proximan alien refugees where humans aren't allowed. The title comes from The Hoop, a floating, hoop-shaped conurbation full of unemployed humans and Proximans that's tethered to Manhattan.

  • In Hemostuck, the seadwelling trolls get forced into the ghetto 'round the docks, and some of the worse-off end up living in what passes for the local sewers.
  • In Mass Effect Human Revolution, once the Templars gained control over Caleston, they quickly moved all the alien population into the Red Light district. They don't bother patrolling inside anymore, and the situation quickly descended into mass anarchy and partying.
  • In Tales Of The Canterlot Deportation Agency, the "temporary human settlement camp" (aka New Cynosure) where the trans-dimensional humans are kept qualifies. The Princesses recognize that there are peaceful humans who either arrived by accident or found their deliberate method only worked in one direction. Those incursions were granted two square kilometers carved out of a wild zone, and there they live, work, and make any friends they can. They can even recreate technology as long as it works cleanly. But... it's isolated from pony territory, there are guards, the entire thing is covered by a shield, and outside the border there's a monster-infested wilderness.
    • However, one option for some of the violent incursions is an underground prison. (Ben doesn't ask about the rest).

    Film - Animated 
  • The plot of the first Shrek movie was basically driven by the local Feudal Overlord turning Shrek's swamp-home into a ghetto for fairy-tale creatures and the like, and Shrek objecting rather violently to this - not so much because he's against ghettoization, but because he's against ghettoization in his back yard.

    Film - Live Action 

  • Several in New Crobuzon on Perdido Street Station for pretty much any non-human sentient species.
  • The Dipple on the planet Korwar in Andre Norton's science fiction stories. It was filled with war refugees no one wanted to deal with.
  • The Wild Cards novels have Jokertown, the only place where Jokers (the 9 percent of the people who contract the Wild Card Virus who don't die or become normal-looking superhumans) don't have to be self conscious about their disfiguring mutations.
  • The Orphan's Tales has Shadukiam city, where magical beings are either locked in separated areas on the outskirts (genies, one-legged) or forced to wear distinctive clothes (Yi). The local Mad Oracle (who actually pretends to be mad to scare off wealthy idiots) chose to reside in the shadow of the shiny basilica, chained to dirty wall, because it’s where those in need appear. Citizens prefer to have them all where they can’t dirty their beautiful city.
  • In the Harry Potter books, there is a werewolf ghetto, which Lupin visits in Half-Blood Prince to tell them to Stop Being Stereotypical.
  • In the old Star Wars expanded universe, non-humans on the Imperial capital world of Coruscant were relocated to a section of the City Planet officially called the "Alien Protection Zone," and colloquially known as the "Invisible Sector" or "Invisec." The locals are frequently harassed by stormtroopers, and in the X-Wing Series novel Wedge's Gamble, General Evir Derricote is kidnapping its denizens as test subjects to perfect his Krytos virus
  • In Discworld Ankh-Morpork has a dwarf neighbourhood around Cable Street, and a troll neighbourhood around Quarry Lane. People like "Mayonnaise" Quirke sometimes refer to the dwarf district as "Tinytown". Snuff reveals that the goblin district is a shantytown outside the city walls.
  • In Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown vampires are trapped in ghettos called Coldtowns. Humans go into the Coldtowns to party.
  • In the Dred Chronicles, the lawless Prison Ship setting is divided into various gang territories. Most prisoners aboard Perdition are human, but those who are aliens keep to themselves in their own isolated section of the ship, both avoiding other prisoners and being avoided themselves.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant:
    • There are mage-only neighbourhoods that are designed to look like ghettos so that Muggles will leave them alone, in a deliberate exploitation of this trope.
    • There's also a tower block that's controlled by vampires. The human residents give them blood in exchange for them keeping the area free from criminals.
  • The Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. novels are largely set in the Unnatural Quarter, a slum district in an unspecified American city that's been zoned for habitation by the Monster Mash of non-humans unleashed by the Big Uneasy.
  • Monster Hunter International has the Enchanted Forest Trailer Park, which is filled with trailer trash elves.
  • The Tower and the Fox: London's Calatian population is confined to a dreary island in the middle of the Thames referred to as "The Isle of Dogs". They're allowed to spread out more in the American colonies, but still tend to be pushed together.

    Live Action TV 
  • E4's series The Aliens has a similar set up to District 9 with alien refugees living in a slum called Troy behind a gigantic concrete wall. They get let out during the day for work release though.
  • Misfits: The Wertham Estate can be seen as an inversion of this trope. It was a normal borough of London until a mysterious storm gave a lot of the residents superpowers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Shadowrun, Orks and Trolls often get this treatment. Notable examples include Orkland in the Bay Area; Yomi Island in Japan, serving as an internment camp for all Japanese metahumans, before being abandoned and left to the Wendigo and other HMHVV infectees; and the Seattle Underground, settled by Orks and Trolls following anti-metahuman pogroms.
  • In Traveller the Imperial Starport on each planet is a distinct place with it's own laws. This is less because of Fantastic Racism and more an application of the policy of compromise between Imperial hegemony and local autonomy.
  • Some progressive worlds in Warhammer 40,000 allow mutants to live in miserable ghettos to serve as slave labor for the Imperium's factories, with only occasional pogroms to keep the numbers manageable. Other planets simply burn their mutants at the stake with the other heretics.

    Video Games 
  • The Alienages in the Dragon Age universe are ghettos for the City Elves. The "protective" aspect is brought up in a codex entry in the first game, in that it's technically legal to live outside them but elves who do nearly always end up being driven back in by their violently bigoted neighbors.
  • The Magical Ghetto in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is where The Empire of Azadi keeps the non-human citizens of Marcuria permanently locked in. Azadi claims it's for their own protection. It doesn't stop them from scouring non-humans' houses in search of illegal goods and blocking supplies of medicines and food to the ghetto.
    • Anyone who uses magic is put in the ghetto, even if he or she is human. Roper Klacks, a human alchemist, is found there, despite the fact that alchemists don't have any natural magic abilities.
  • Between Warcraft II and III, the orcs were confined to internment camps scattered across Lordaeron after being defeated in the Second War.
    • You can visit some of these camps in World of Warcraft — one is in ruins and occupied by bandits, another has been reclaimed as the Horde's main outpost in the Arathi Highlands. Then in the Cataclysm expansion, the newly-promoted Warchief Garrosh confines Orgrimmar's troll and goblin populations to a cramped stretch of canyon, a situation made even worse when the goblins decided to drill for oil in the only water source.
  • Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism takes place in the Underground, home to a population of banished youkai like a plague-manipulating tsuchigumo or mind-reading satori, whose powers made them shunned and despised even by other youkai. There's also a lot of oni found there too, but oddly enough the oni relocated later and voluntarily, after getting fed up with humans resorting to trickery to defeat them. True to the nature of Touhou, the Underground's denizens seem far more content amongst their fellow exiles than they were before... well, except the satori, who found that they were just as unwanted among the exiles as they had been on the surface, causing at least one of them to lock herself away and pushed her little sister into giving herself a Poke in the Third Eye.
    • Oddly enough the trope gets flipped around when you look at Gensokyo proper, where it's the humans who are confined to a single settlement, the imaginatively-named Human Village. There aren't any youkai soldiers or anything making sure the humans stay put there, it's just that there's an understanding that any humans encountered outside this village at night are fair game. Humans who live outside its borders tend to be people like Reimu Hakurei or Marisa Kirisame, who have repeatedly proven that they can handle themselves.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the city of Windhelm segregates Dark Elves into the Grey Quarter, since the government of the city isn't too big on non-Nords, and Dark Elves and Nords don't get along. And they still get better treatment than the Argonians, who are locked outside the city walls and forced to live on the docks as woefully underpaid manual laborers and killed on sight if they try to enter the city proper.
  • Likewise, in The Witcher, nonhumans are confined to dank slums on the west end of the city.
  • Taris in Knights of the Old Republic has two. Nonhumans are ghettoed in the middle levels of the City Planet, while criminals are punished by exile to the planet surface, which is infested with rakghouls.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, the natural inhabitants of Rabanastre have been forced by The Empire to live in what used to be the sewers of the city, while the wealthy and imperial citizenry take everything above the surface.
  • In Miserere, the aliens and human-alien hybrids have to live in the sewers to escape persecution from humans.
  • In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided the situation for augmented humans has gotten so bad that, in Prague at least, Augs have to live in the crappiest part of town and go through police checkpoints to get anywhere. And they're the lucky ones, the unlucky ones get shipped off to Golem City.

    Web Animation 
  • Attempted in the backstory of RWBY, when humans attempted to relocate Faunus to the isle of Menagerie. The two sides eventually went to war and the end result allowed Faunus to live among humans, and while there's no institutionalized racism, there is still a lot of bad blood between the two groups.

  • In Disenchanted, Vermintown has Bogside, where the Boggarts live.
  • In The Zombie Hunters, the carriers of the zombie plague live apart from healthy people in barracks infested with rats and roaches.
  • The Avalons in Skin Deep are basically hidden elf villages where mythological creatures walk around openly. They range from remote villages like Wonderland, to single shops like the Southwest Missouri Avalon, to concealed neighborhoods like the Liverpool Avalon (which is housed in the empty shell of a huge warehouse.)
    Jim: Most "abandoned" buildings aren't really abandoned. We use them for shops and meeting places and the like. We keep 'em run down so they don't attract attention.
    • Played With, in that we are told that the Mythical Community chose to go into hiding and took their communities with them, to escape the Fantastic Racism of Middle Ages Humanity.
  • Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood: In the troll (half)-City Planet on Surrogia, where you’re allowed to live in is dictated by your blood color. This means that, while the goldbloods and jadeblods have very good living conditions, the blue- and violetbloods get the slums, while seadwellers live in abject poverty in the slums’ slums.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • Mutants (except for Leela, who pretends to be an alien) are legally required to live in the sewers underground. This changes in the season 6 episode (also the 100th episode) "The Mutants Are Revolting."
    • Also, after the Native Martians sold their entire planet's surface to humans they were required to live underground. This is resolved when they discover that the single bead their ancestors sold the planet for was in fact a colossal diamond worth a lot of money, at which point they promptly dump Mars and just buy a new planet and pretend it's sacred to them.
    • New New York also has Little Bitaly and Little Neptune, ethnic areas for robots and Neptunian aliens respectively, although these are more along the lines of immigrant neighborhoods in the last century than anything.
  • In the future of The New Adventures of Speed Racer mutants, people exposed to toxic waste, are relegated to living in ghettos, while "Norms" live far away from the toxic waste spills.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In Treehouse of Horror XXI, Lisa and Edmund run away to Dracula-la Land, a vampire neighbourhood inhabited by vampires from different TV shows and movies.
    • In Holidays of Future Passed, Bart drives by District 9, then goes by District 10, a more upscale neighbourhood filled with Prawns.
  • South Park: "Goobacks" has the eponymous goobacks (people from the future who go to the past to work for decreased wages to send money to their families via Compound Interest Time Travel Gambit, so named because the time travel process leaves them Covered in Gunge) settle in their own part of town, quickly nicknamed "Little Future."
  • In the Rick and Morty episode, The Ricklantis Mixup, the Citadel of Ricks has Mortytown. It's a ghetto full of alternate versions of Morty that have no Rick.


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