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Hemisphere Bias

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Any shot of a spacecraft or other object orbiting or approaching the Earth will only show that side of the planet where the target audience of the production lives. It will almost always be in full sunlight as well, regardless of whether ground-based scenes in that hemisphere are in day or night.

The one big exception is when they copy "The Blue Marble", a famous space shot of Earth taken by the crew of Apollo 17. That shot is centered on Madagascar.

See also Creator Provincialism. Might be part of some Standardized Space Views if what it's being shown is our Earth.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Averted in Heroman, where most shots are of North America, where the show takes place, rather than Japan, where it was made.

    Comic Books 
  • Averted in Tintin: Explorers on the Moon. In the view of "our good old Earth, seen from over 6,000 miles", South America and Africa are the most visible continents; Europe is obscured from readers by a protruding periscope.
  • In anticipation of Grant Morrison's The Multiversity, DC Comics released a map of the DC multiverse. Earth-23 is a world where most superheroes are black; the picture of the planet provided is centered on Africa. (Although note that all other signs point to the United States still being the center of attention there.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Averted in Star Trek: First Contact, where a 21st century woman's first view of Earth from orbit is of Australia. Montana (her home), she's told, won't be in view for a little while yet.
    • Played straight with the emblem of the Terran Empire, focusing on North and South America. Enterprise redraws the model to show both hemispheres though.
  • The 1924 Soviet science fiction film Aelita has the Queen of Mars fall in love with the protagonist while watching him via a telescope. Since our hero is naturally a good Soviet citizen, most of the shots of Earth center on Eurasia.
  • When the aliens arrived in Independence Day we see North America, of course. It was noted that to do this, the Earth's tilt was wrong for July.
  • Lampshaded in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, when Mike and the robots are watching This Island Earth. As the heroes return to Earth, a clear shot of North America is visible, and Crow remarks, "Ah, just like we left it, with the U.S.A. in charge!"
  • The Universal Pictures logo generally centers on the western hemisphere.

  • The covers of books 1 and 4 of The Long Earth show a string of Earths, all showing Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who shots hang over the British Isles, typically speaking.
    • Though this is averted at the end of Earthshock - the views of Earth quite clearly show Indonesia, China and Australia. note 
  • The third season of the new Battlestar Galactica (2003) ended with a shot of Earth which showed North America. (This should be a spoiler, but given the topic of this trope, it's fairly obvious what that spoiler would hide.) Averted in the fourth season, which shows Africa prominently.
    • Note the clear (and admitted) use of Audience Provincialism. They wanted to show Africa in the first shot too, but executives suggested changing it for fear that the dominantly-North-American audience wouldn't recognize their own planet. But audiences are anticipating the second shot (there's been a Plot Arc built around it), priming them for Africa the second time around.
  • Averted in the remake of Survivors, wherein each episode ended with a sudden pullback to a view of the Earth...centered on Gibraltar. The series itself was filmed and set in and around Manchester.
  • Inverted in Power Rangers (Mighty Morphin and Zeo) where it is always pointed at Japan, because production couldn't afford to shoot new footage to replace the Super Sentai footage.
    • Then "uninverted" in Dino Charge, where the shot of Earth from space during the meteor shower that wiped out the dinosaurs is centered in North America.
  • Lexx introduces the Earth by showing Newfoundland.
  • Played for Laughs in The West Wing, with a group wanting to invert maps of the world, putting the south pole on top and resizing the continents.
    • Not entirely for laughs: the map the lobbyists propose is in fact a much more accurate representation of the comparative area of the continents of Earth, though it does introduce its own distortions in exchange. The problem with traditional maps (As well as the above-described national and hemispheric biases) being that any attempt to represent the surface of a sphere on a 2d plane is going to have shortcomings. The proposition to have the poles inverted so south is on top is perhaps absurd practically, though there is no real reason other than Western power and tradition for 'north' to mean 'up'. The president is shown being struck by the inaccuracy and injustice of the present map, if not actually considering it in his scope to do anything about the issue.
  • Averted in the series finale of Stargate Atlantis, for one small part. When Sheppard's F-302 is in orbit around Earth, it is very clearly over Italy.
  • Spoofed by Harry Enfield, where a fake Imperial-era PSA series has in its opening credits a shot of the Earth with a Russia-sized British Isles in view.

  • Argentinian band Los Acidos included a poster in the physical releases of their self-titled debut LP, depicting an Alien Sky with Earth visible over the horizon. Earth is oriented with south facing up, putting South America front and center.

    Video Games 
  • Averted in Iji, in which the cutscene showing the Komato fleet approaching Earth has the Earth centred at South America. Averted even more so when you consider that the creator is actually Swedish.
  • Averted in Final Fantasy XIV where the Planet, seen from the moon; not only rotates, but is illuminated differently depending on the time.
  • In the original Halo trilogy, whenever there's a view of Earth from space it centers on Africa. This is most likely because pretty much all of the Earth levels are set in Africa.
  • In Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and its sequel, the "victory" image after the final level shows Asia and Japan. In the Americanized Elite Beat Agents, the results-screen image is of North America.
  • Averted in X3: Terran Conflict. Egosoft is in Germany and mainly targets Europe, but the view of Earth is centered on Ecuador in South America, and the Torus Aeternal's geosynchronous docking area is directly over the country.
  • Averted in Mass Effect 3: the development team is stationed in Vancouver and the game begins from this city, but the final mission is set in London, and only Europe is clearly visible during the approach to Earth.
  • Terranigma centers the charts of Earth's continents on Japan, because, of course, the developers are located in Neotokio.

    Western Animation 
  • Evolution: The Americas are visible as the alien spacecraft sails to Earth.
  • In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Haredevil Hare," Bugs Bunny, from on the Moon, admires the "beautiful Earth out tonight"; he's looking at the Western hemisphere, of course.
  • Spoofed in the opening credits of Moral Orel, where the Earth is seen from an angle placing the United States in full view, and there's nothing there but the U.S.: no Canada, no Latin America, just water.
    • Also seen on Homestar Runner.
    • It can be worse though: at least the Earth zooms in to the state (Statesota) and city (Moralton) where the series takes place in. In the Bad Future implied in "Geniusis", by the time the epilogue happens, Moralton has taken over the entire continental United States.
  • What on Earth!: Yes, that's North America front and center as the Martian spacecraft hurtles to Earth.

    Real Life 
  • Almost every map of the world shows it with the Northern Hemisphere at the top and the Greenwich Mean line at the center. From this point of view Europe is the center of the world. This is mainly because European culture spread so widely across the world. (At least the "Europe is the center" part; the Northern Hemisphere would probably be on top no matter what as that is where the vast majority of the human race lives.) Europeans used the maps to navigate and thus centering their maps on Europe made for the most natural coordinate system (likewise the Chinese centered their maps on China). Since maps are no longer major tools of navigation many people have advocated for showing a greater diversity of maps and thus of world perspectives.
  • The "Blue Marble" photo, mentioned above as an exception to hemisphere bias, is actually an example of Northern Hemisphere Bias. When the photo was taken, the camera was oriented in such a position that north is on the bottom of the photo and south was on the top. When the photo is published it is always flipped around so that north is on top and south is on the bottom.
  • Maps made in Europe show Europe in the middle with Asia to the right and the Atlantic and North America to the left, with the International Date Line as the divider. East Asian maps show China/Japan in the middle with the Pacific and the Americas to the right and Eurasia to the left with the Atlantic as the divisor. Some maps made in Canada and the U.S. have the Americas in the center , with the Atlantic and half of Eurasia to the right, and the Pacific and East Asia to the left; the dividing line runs through Russia and India. There is usually some overlap so all India and parts of Russia can be seen side by side.
  • During the Cold War, in a rare meeting between senior military commanders from East and West, the Russian general looked at an American map showing the world from the usual Western perspective, centered on the Greenwich Meridian. From this point of view the USSR seemed to be extremely far from the USA. He then led his American counterpart to a room where a large map was pinned on the wall showing the world centered on Moscow. He explained that from this angle, the USSR saw itself having enemies on all sides: Europe on its western border, Turkey and Israel along its southern border, China on its eastern border, and the USA directly to the north (across the north pole).
  • The old logo for USA Today shows a stylized globe with North and South America facing us.
  • The world-globe, and later the Mercator-map that was the BBC's ident for so long, was of course centred on London and the Greenwich Meridian.
  • Averted in this video from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. We go from the Himalayas to the edge of the known universe and back again.