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Finian: America's full of gangsters, you know.
Sharon: I thought you said it was full of millionaires.
Finian: That depends on which newspaper you read.

This might be considered the Urban Hellscape counterpart of Eagleland, the perception (more ignorantly so in other countries) of American cities as crime-ridden Vice Cities. This has much to do with the export of American films. Supposedly, you will find French people, for instance, believing that Chicago is still as it was when Al Capone was alive.

While they all derive from the movies, most versions of Gangsterland do reflect violent periods in the history of various cities — at least if you turn your head and squint a little. New York City stand-ins will have violence courtesy of The Mafia, Chicago from the Mayor's office and Prohibition-era bootleggers, Boston from the Irish Mob and Los Angeles from Black and Mestizo Hispanic street gangs. Note that the first is organized crime, the second is corruption (and organized crime), and the third is street anarchy (though the more successful street gangsters move up into organized crime, or die trying). However in terms of treatment of civilians, the first rarely fits into Totalitarian Gangsterism, the second may fit into it (depending on the government) and the third is this full-on. Pray that the people who run the land are Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters.

Compare Wretched Hive and Totalitarian Gangsterism (the latter is Gangster Land, but the gangsters also oppress the civilians). Can overlap with City Noir in Period Piece settings such as the Roaring 20s and The Great Depression.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Referenced in Azumanga Daioh when Chiyo announces that she will be going to America. Osaka puts on her Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant hat and suggests that Chiyo will be kidnapped and killed there.
  • Baccano! fits in so far as its milieu is a gangster-ridden 1930s New York. However, it also involves alchemy, and the mobster characters tend not to fit stereotype.
  • Soul Eater basically combines old and new versions of this as well as Eagleland with the Thompson twins who were formerly muggers in America until they tried to mug Death the Kidd
    • This trope is directly invoked by Tsugumi in Soul Eater Not! when she and Anya get in a fight with Liz and Patti. Tsugumi turns into a halberd, then Patti turns into a gun.
      Tsugumi: A handgun!? Now that's American... in the worst possible way!

    Comic Books 
  • The Punisher MAX depicts New York City as a haven for every criminal organization in existence, be it the Italian Mafia, the Russian Bratva, the Irish Mob, the Chinese Triads, Eastern European sex traffickers, Gangbangers, and even the Armenian Mob. Chances are if you think of any real-life criminal gangs, they're bound to show up in the Big Apple.
  • Sin City, as the name implies, is a crime-filled cesspool where even the heroes aren't the most law-abiding.
  • Tintin: Tintin in America pits Tintin against Chicago gangsters, including an undisguised Al Capone.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • The setting of Slaughter Race in Ralph Breaks the Internet is the Los Angeles variant of this trope, where street thugs race each other in expensive cars, there is no law enforcement whatsoever, everything is dirty and run down, and it's perpetually sunset. This is paradise to Vanellope.
  • The French animated film The Triplets of Belleville has American gangsters as villains. It also invokes Eagleland in depicting the Statue of Liberty and Americans as obese in contrast to the svelte (if equally unattractively drawn) French characters. Well, according to a newspaper the gangsters are apparently the (nonexistent?) French Mafia, and insofar as Belleville was a parody of America, the actual geography of the city, besides the statue, seems to be inspired by Montreal.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Discussed in The Dresden Files novel Death Masks, where a Catholic priest from Italy says that he is hiring Harry Dresden because he does not trust the police in Chicago, thanks to Chicago's reputation as a Mafia hotbed. While Harry is quick to point out that there is a lot of Mafia activity in Chicago, the level of corruption that said priest suspects is mostly fictional since the Capone days ended.
  • Visible in the James Bond series (novels and early movies) in that while non-American villains were more of the megalomaniacal type, when American villains appeared, they were zoot-suited members of organized crime families.
  • In Maximum Ride, Fang, Iggy, and Gazzy visit California. They meet a street gang there called "The Ghosts" who offer them a safehouse. Said gang also helps them out by scaring a hot dog vendor into giving free hot dogs to the mini-Flock and helps them fight the Flyboys.
  • For a British Gentleman Adventurer, The Saint seems to bump into a lot of gangsters when he goes to America. Of course, since this is the Saint we're talking about...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boardwalk Empire, takes place in Atlantic City and the surrounding areas during the 20's.
  • Peaky Blinders dives into the British gangland of the interbellum period, although American gangsters - so far, mostly of the Italian-American Mafia - occasionally show up. Series 4 saw a major vendetta against a Mafia boss played by Adrien Brody.
  • Remington Steele seems to invoke this trope in having Steele obsessed with hard-boiled detective stories. He seemingly believed that they presented as accurate a picture of contemporary America and its slang as they did in the 1920s-1940s, when most of them were written.
  • The Sopranos: New Jersey is portrayed as this in the series. It's a city filled with drug dealers, Loan Sharks, drug cartels, contract killers, criminal organizations, illegal business, corruption, illegal gambling, and mobsters.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: This is Sigma Iota's hat in "A Piece of the Action."

  • Capcom's unreleased Kingpin takes place in one of these. It's never named, but only referred to as "the Big City".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Necromunda the under hive of the planet are ruled by several gangs who are in constant war with each other over supremacy.
  • Pretty much the main point of White Wolf's The World of Darkness setting is that it's like this - the darkest rumours and fears are all true, and then some.


    Video Games 
  • Earthbound Beginnings has the gang-ruled city of Ellay. In the original Japanese version, the city is called Valentine.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series, given that it is produced by a Scottish company, is a perfect illustration of the trope. No matter that state, they all share one common setting, they are run by gangs and gang warfare is considered a common sight.
  • The King Of Chicago, a Cinemaware game in which you play an ambitious gangster trying to take over the city after Al Capone is busted.
  • L.A. Noire, to an extent.
  • The Mafia series, obviously. Lost Heaven in the first game and Empire Bay in the second game are loosely based on some combination of New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Detroit, while New Bordeaux in Mafia III is based on 1960s-era New Orleans.
  • Saints Row is another straight up example of the trope. Stillwater, Steelport, and Santo Ileso feature powerful gangs that run the district and often wage wars with one another, leaving pedestrians (and local law enforcement) in the crossfire. To show how bad the gang activities are, the US Government, after the events of the second game, has formed a military task force to combat powerful gangs using military grade, space-tech hardware.
  • Shadow Hearts: From The New World takes place in the late 20's, and there's a subplot that involves the party visiting Chicago while the city is recovering from a vicious gang war that ended up with Al Capone in Alcatraz and a new hotshot Irish gangster called Roy MacManus in charge of the place.

    Western Animation 
  • The Looney Tunes short the Unmentionables shows a Chicago dominated by gangsters to the point of mobster shoot-outs being the main attraction in the streets. At least they are organised enough to have traffic lights telling them when to start and stop.


Video Example(s):


The Greed Ring

The parts of the Greed Ring outside of Loo Loo Land seems to be populated entirely by mobsters.

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