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Made in Country X

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“American components. Russian components. All made in Taiwan!
Lev Andropov, Armageddon (1998)

Overseas products and works have a (sometimes unfair) reputation of being utter crap, as they tend to have looser (or nonexistent) quality assurance standards, are made by underpaid, overworked laborers, and are composed of even cheaper raw materials. Depending on the time period, the country in question will shift, but it's generally a Second/Third world country. People from these countries often joke about their products as a form of Self-Deprecation.

On the other hand, certain countries boast high quality products stemming from their superior work ethic and/or starting materials (only the best, hand-picked Whatevers for Product Awesome).

A Sub-Trope of Public Medium Ignorance, and a Super-Trope to Operator from India and It's Cuban.

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"Terrible Art and Products are Made in Country X":

  • Ads for Discover credit cards chronicle the dealings of fictional competitor USA Prime Credit, whose customer support office is located in Ruritania, staffed by one guy who claims to be "Peggy" and considers a room full of phones on hold to be "beautiful".

  • On Monty Python's Contractual Obligation album, Eric Idle does a bit about Australian table wines, trying to convince the listener of their quality, while the joke is that he actually makes them sound even more horrible, such as saying that one "ranks with any of the best sugary wines", another is "for those keen on regurgitation", and another "has a kick on it like a mule! Eight bottles of this and you're really finished! At the opening of the Sidney Bridge Club, they were fishing them out of the sewers every half an hour!"

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix mocks British food in Asterix in Britain and in Asterix the Legionary. In the latter album, the legionaries are served their first military meal in the barracks, and it's so bad that they refuse to to eat it, voicing their disgust in many creative ways. The Belgian says: "That is food for the Goths", the Goth says: "In my country we've had people drawn and quartered for less!" Cut to the British recruit who not only ate all of his serving, but is licking the last bits from his fingers saying "Mmmh, delicious, isn't it?"

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert has the (fictional) country of Elbonia, home of crappy products and even crappier customer support. Word of God claims it's meant to represent American perceptions of "any country without cable television".
    • This is saying something, considering how bad the products and services from Dilbert's own company are and how they are implied to get away with it because the competitors are just as bad. So for there to be a country that makes even worse products...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When the page-header Armageddon (1998) was released in theaters in Taiwan, this line was in it. Subsequent satellite-TV showings cut this scene in order to not offend China, which uses the same satellite broadcast.
  • Back to the Future Part III hangs a lampshade on how nations can change their reputations in a relatively short time. In the 1950's Japan had a reputation for putting out cheap, low-quality goods. Their reputation began to change in the 60's, and by the 1980's, the country was considered a powerhouse of top quality craftsmanship and technology, particularly with regards to electronics.
    1955 Doc: No wonder this circuit failed. It says "Made in Japan."
    Marty: What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.
    1955 Doc: Unbelievable.
  • Son of the Mask: Loki constantly searches both in the Mask Museum in Edge City and in every store and house in Fringe City for the green god-mask. Every mask he finds is just a replica with the engraved words "Made in Pakistan."
  • Godzilla: Jean Reno's character is openly disgusted by American coffee. One of his colleagues hands him a mug of what he's told is French Roast, only for him to spit it out in disgust.
    Philippe Roaché: I thought you said this was French Roast!
    Colleague: American French Roast.
  • Pain & Gain: The China-made electric chainsaw the Sun Gym Gang use to try to dismember the bodies of two of their victims had a number of problems: first it wouldn't start, then it cut out before they could begin, then it got caught in one of the victim's hair rather easily and the blade wound up irreparably jammed.
    Lugo: Figures! "Made in China"! IT'S A PIECE OF CHINA FUCKING CRAP! I fucking told you to get a gas-powered one, not some fucking piece of electric China crap shit!
  • You Only Live Twice: After Bond breaks into the Osato offices, cracks a safe and kills the Mook who attacks him, he decides he needs to take a drink from Osato's bar. He takes a sip and notes with horror that he's drinking Siamese vodka.
  • The Wagon Queen Family Truckster, the butt-ugly, pea-green Alleged Station Wagon featured in National Lampoon's Vacation, was intended as a parody of crappy American cars from the '70s. The sequel/reboot in 2015 continued the tradition with the Tartan Prancer, an Albanian minivan (American cars having come out of their Audience-Alienating Era since 1983) that's jam-packed with weird features, none of which are clearly labeled and all of which cause no shortage of grief for the Griswolds. One of them blows the car up.
  • A rather weird case from the infamous Live-Action Adaptation of The Cat in the Hat — the crate the Cat uses (which is apparently an interdimensional gateway to his world from ours) is marked "Made in the Philippines." When Conrad questions this, the Cat responds "Well yeah, but not this Philippines." (In a Freeze-Frame Bonus, the Cat's "Phunometer" also has this written on it.)


  • Adrian Mole says that his birthday presents were the usual Japanese rubbish, although he did get a model aeroplane that was made in West Germany. Note also this scene from the great Teletubby toy shortage:
    I asked where the Teletubbies were to be found. The assistant said "in China, sir, where they make 'em." He said they'd had a few Laa-Laas on Monday, but they'd gone within minutes. I asked why we couldn't manufacture Teletubbies in this country. He said, "They'll work all week for a bowl of rice in China; we can't compete."
  • We The Living by Ayn Rand:
    A habit which had sprung from nowhere and spread over the country, which even Party members could not check or resist for which no one was responsible nor could be punished, referred to all products of local inefficiency as "Soviet"; there were "Soviet matches" that did not light, "Soviet kerchiefs" that tore the first time worn, "Soviet shoes" with cardboard soles. Young women like Nina and Tina were called "Soviet girls."
  • In Good Omens, Newt has a Japanese car that was made in the gap between Japanese auto-makers starting to innovate and not just copy and Japanese auto-makers being good at innovating. As a result, it breaks down frequently and has terrible voice messages, like repeating "Prease to frasten sleat-bert!" even when the seatbelt is fastened. He calls it Dick Turpin because it holds up traffic.
    • It also makes the same point as Eric, below, about British fast food — namely that while the American version's sole redeeming qualities are its speed and the fact that the meal is hot and loaded with enough salt and sugar to make you not care, the British version manages to screw even that part up. (France, we are told, simply had fast food executives shot on sight.)
    • In fact, Eric has a lengthy digression about the British habit of attempting to mimic an American product exactly, only without the one thing that made the American version worthwhile, such as slow fast food, and hotels that sacrifice atmosphere for efficiency, without the efficiency.
    • A scene from The Fifth Elephant which takes German reactions to British sausages up a notch during Commander Vimes' visit to Überwald:
      Skimmer: To a connoisseur here, your grace, an Ankh-Morpork sausage would not be considered a sausage, mmph, mmhm.
      Vimes: Oh really? So what would he call it?
      Skimmer: A loaf, your grace. Or possibly a log. Here, a butcher can be hanged if his sausages are not all meat, and at that it must be from a named animal, and I perhaps should add that by named I do not mean that it should have been called "Spot" or "Ginger", mmm mmhm. I'm sure that if your grace would prefer the more genuine Ankh-Morpork taste, Igor could make up some side dishes of stale bread and sawdust.
  • In The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul, Dirk's amazingly craptastic electronic I-Ching calculator is described as probably having been made in whatever Asian country was doing to South Korea what South Korea was doing to Japan.
  • In Doug Naylor's solo Red Dwarf novel, Last Human, Lister is sentenced to fifteen years in Cyberia, an inversion of Better Than Life from the previous books and the TV series. Among the products in his apartment's kitchen are American coffee and Portuguese tea.note 
  • How to Survive a Horror Movie has a variation: objects that come from certain countries inevitably turn out to be possessed, cursed, or otherwise evil. Examples of places whose exports you should watch out for include Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa, the southwestern US, central Mexico, the Caribbean, and outer space. American cars also merit a mention, since it's always Detroit steel that turns out to be evil.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The IT Crowd, Moss' fire extinguisher catches on fire as he attempts to use it. He wonders why and then sees the 'made in Britain' label — of course.
  • Outsourced — It's about a customer service department based in India, and much of the humor lies in the culture shock that its American manager faces on a daily basis.
  • In a Mr. Cholmondley-Warner sketch on Harry Enfield and Chums, he warns about defective goods, saying that they can usually be identified by the "Made In Belgium" written on the bottom.
  • In the Frasier episode "Star Mitzvah", Martin brings out his Schmerblatt 7-XK, which Niles describes as "the blindingest, noisiest camera ever produced in the former Soviet Union".
  • In Friends, Ross celebrates getting tenure with a bottle of Israel's finest champagne.
  • In the Only Fools and Horses episode "Danger UXD," Uncle Albert tells Rodney that Del has just bought a new video recorder. Rodney replies that he was just reading in the paper that Taiwan is the only country with no rubbish dumps; they send it all to Del. Del quickly replies that the video recorder was actually made in Formosa. Uncle Albert tries to explain that Taiwan and Formosa are the same island, but Rodney advises him not to bother.
  • Red Dwarf makes several references like this; Starbug's recycled water supply (made from urine) is compared to Dutch lager and Kryten notes that one of the things that nobody wanted was American chocolate. The books indulge in this as well, as some of the foods in Lister's Cyberia simulation in Last Human include American coffee and Portuguese tea.note 
  • A Truth in Television example occurred during the 2018 Discovery Channel season of BattleBots when the Gigabyte team went into their first battle using a component they'd had made for them in China (presumably while they'd been there for King of Bots earlier in the year). They'd ordered the component milled from solid 6061-T6 to withstand and contain the forces of Gigabyte's massively powerful spinning shell weapon, but the manufacturers had lied to them and provided with a piece made from cast aluminum, which is immeasurably weaker. Unsurprisingly, the piece snapped under the stress and caused Gigabyte's shell to fly off in the middle of a fight against Tombstone, the then reigning champion, and it was only thanks to the mercy of Tombstone's driver that the helpless Gigabyte wasn't annihilated on the spot. To add insult to injury, the company responsible flatly refused to even acknowledge there was any fault in their product at all. You can read about the whole thing here.
    • Amazingly, pretty much the same thing happened again during the same series, this time in the grand finale bout, when Minotaur's side armor was ripped apart by Bite Force's weapon. The panel had been made from the same cheap kludge material as Gigabyte's securing bolt, and was about as durable, costing them the championship.
    • Gigabyte's woes didn't end there. During the Desperado Tournament, its self righting rod snapped after it was upended by Lucky. As revealed by the team that operated Bloodsport the following year, that team obtained one of Gigabyte's remaining rods, which then proceeded to snap off in the very same fashion. Bloodsport's team would also reveal that the rod was also made from China, making it more likely that all of Gigabyte's self righting rods were likely made by the same manufacturer which made the defective securing bolt.
    • Hilariously (and possibly ironically), approximately the same thing note  that happened to Gigabyte also happened to a Chinese spinner called Pot of Love in season 2 of King of Bots- their own securing bolt snapped off their machine during their battle against Earth Shovel, causing the shell to slip off. Unlike in the Gigabyte vs Tombstone battle, however, Earth Shovel was a flipper rather than another spinner, so Pot of Love bravely continued fighting with just the naked drive section, ramming hilariously against Earth Shovel in a futile but endearing show of defiance until the match went to time and Earth Shovel won on points.

    Video Games 
  • An early case in L.A. Noire has somebody insulting a jewelry shop owner by claiming that all of his wares are made in Japan, and thus cheap, nickel-plated crap.
  • In Shadow Warrior attempting to use a non-functioning vehicle will result in Lo Wang remarking, "Huh? Must be American made!"
  • The Royal Mech, an enemy in Guardian Heroes with a limited movelist, will sometimes say this as its victory quote in the HD version: "Why does it say 'Made in Taiwan' on my butt? *sigh*"
  • During a codec conversation with Colonel Campbell and Rose in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Campbell talks about a conference he went to where different countries compared their standard issue military rations. He notes that the American ones were the worst of the lot.
  • Mocked in a campaign mission in Tropico 4. El Presidente is informed that the trusty "Made in Tropico" brand is considered less reliable than China (see below) and you're offered the opportunity to rebrand your exports as Chinese to raise their prices. (At the cost of harming relations, naturally.)
  • The Japanese title for the WarioWare series is Made in Wario, a meta play on the phrase. It's under this heading because the games Wario makes are all less than four seconds long.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • In Chrontendo episode 48, Dr. Sparkle notes that the worst games of the episode were Hollywood Squares, Sesame Street ABC and Bad Street Brawler and that it was a good pitcher for the horrible video games being produced in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball
    • Not about "quality" in the usual sense, but "The Wicked" has a bit where Gumball reads a tag on Margaret Robinson (a very evil muppet woman) which says she is "made in the fiery pits of the underworld".
    • "The Console" is about Gumball receiving a "Game Child", a knockoff so shoddy the country it was made in is also a knockoff ("Chainor"). Turns out, like everything else from the Awesome Store, it's an Artifact of Doom that turns Elmore into a video game.
  • In one Family Guy episode where Brian befriends Rush Limbaugh and moves in with him, Brian buys Rush a whole new kitchen comprising of all American made appliances. Each one collapses, fails or explodes the moment Brian mentions them.
  • Bender from Futurama proudly shows the Hecho en Mexico label on his compartment door... which then falls off.
    IKEA Robot: Enjoy your affordable Swedish crap.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Marge is in a store looking at a set of kitchen knives. When she notices that the label says "Made in USA", she decides against buying it.
    • A Simpsons Couch Gag created by the famed graffiti artist Banksy featured workers in a Chinese sweatshop toiling away to make merchandise and DVD sets. Can be seen here. CRASH!
    • They seem to like this gag. In another episode, when Homer is shopping for a new car and looking at a particularly crappy one, he asks the salesman what country it was made in, only to be told that said country no longer exists. This was more of a specific jab at the Yugo than at foreign products in general, though.
    • In another episode, Flanders is driving Homer to the big game only for Homer to make him duck so that Lenny and Carl don't see him. Once they see Homer in the passenger seat of a driverless car in motion...
      Lenny: Hey look! Homer's got one of those robot cars!
      Carl: One of those AMERICAN robot cars!
    • From Burns Verkaufen Der Kraftwerk, when Homer offers one of the German investors who bought the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant a free beer at Moe's:
      Fritz: Oh, thank you. My English is not perfect, but I have to tell you, your beer is like swill to us. Do I have that right? I am saying that only a swine would drink this beer.
    • One Halloween special showed a gravestone marked "American workmanship". The gravestone promptly crumbles.
    • In "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore", Lenny and Carl—recently out of a job because Mr. Burns moved the nuclear plant to India—comment to Moe that the neon Duff Beer sign he's just plugged in is powered by non-American workers. Annoyed, Moe points out that the beer they're drinking is German and the TV they're watching is Japanese, so they ask if anything in the bar was made in America. Moe points his shotgun at them and says, "Just this." It immediately fires backwards into his own face.
  • Downplayed in the Rugrats episode 'Mirrorland', Didi purchased several antique knick-knacks from a newly-opened store and brought them home, including a Louis XIX mirror that she asserted was French in origin. Grandpa Lou isn't impressed.
    Didi: You know that's a genuine Louis XIX looking glass? It's French! Could you help me carry the rest of this stuff in?
    Lou: You mean there's more?
    [Lou looks at a note on the side of the mirror]
    Lou: 'Made in Taiwan'. Hmm. I didn't know Taiwan was in France.

"True Art and Products are Made in Country X":

  • Car manufacturers from Germany often boast "German Engineering". Opel's campaign starring Claudia Schiffer with the slogan "It's a German" is a good example.
    • Parodied in the Volkswagen "Unpimp my ride" commercials.
  • Pace picante sauce commercial: "Pace is made in San Antonio... by folks that know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like." / "This stuff's made in New York City."note 
    • In the original commercial the line was "New Jersey", but they changed it to NYC... because Pace's competitor Ortega is based in New Jersey.
    • Ironically, NYC has a substantial Mexican population, making said commercial... a little unfair. Also, Pace has been owned for several years by Campbell Soup...which is also based in New Jersey.
  • The "Made in America" logo in ads, though that one tends to be less a boast of quality and more an appeal to patriotism.
    • "Made In Australia" logos are meant to be both a boast and an appeal to patriotism, especially when related to food.
  • Coffee producers often boast that their beans come from Colombia, Kenya, or Costa Rica.
  • Produce sold in the U.S. often advertise that they are from one of the U.S. states that usually produce that produce. For example, "Florida oranges," "California oranges," "Georgia peaches," "Washington apples," "Michigan cherries," "Washington cherries," "Michigan apples,"note  "New Jersey blueberries," "Jersey tomatoes"note  "Idaho potatoes," and "Vidalia onions" (Vidalia is a town in Georgia).
    • Some such commercials come across less as "it's from state Y, so you know it's good" and more "the Y state X lobby is desperate for you to buy their X. Please. It doesn't totally suck." Ads for California cheese tend to feel this way, at least if you grew up in some other part of the US (i.e. most of it) where Wisconsin is usually regarded as the premium source for dairy products generally and cheese in particular, followed by Vermont and Upstate New York (which is practically Vermont).
  • The advertisement for Shamwow.
    Vince Offer: Made in Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.
  • The German instant pizza label Wagner (owned by Swiss firm Nestlé) once produced a number of commercials of people in typically pizza-consuming countries like Italy, America and the Holy See fawning over how great the pizza they're eating tastes, until someone reveals that it's German, and from Wagner. Cue the diners' shock and awe-struck faces. Here be the American one.
    Dad: It's so... American.
    Kids: A real American pizza!
    Mom: Oh! It's from Deutschland. It's Wagner!
    Family: [Beat] We love Wagner. We love Deutschland!

    Audio Plays 
  • In one Big Finish Doctor Who story, the Fourth Doctor is being threatened with a fondue fork. He proceeds to gush about how it was made in Sheffield, and wonders if they still make steel there.

  • On Monty Python's Matching Tie and Handkerchief album, during the opening announcement about how this is the Executive Version of the album, we hear that the album was made from "the very finest Columbian extruded polyvinyl," and "the center hole has been created to fit exactly on your spindle with all the precision of finest Swiss craftsmanship."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Robin's father's sword is noted to be made of Spanish steel by the Sheriff Of Nottingham, which he states is superior to English blades. Indeed, during the final confrontation, he uses it to destroy the sword Robin takes from one of his Mooks.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Dornish wine has a reputation not only in Westeros, but in Essos as well. Valyria was historically noted for its steel blades, but as the Valyrian Empire died centuries ago and took its metallurgy and swordsmithing with it, this bleeds into Lost Technology.
  • Baptism of Fire has Geralt discuss with Zoltan the merits of various types of sword. Geralt is convinced that the Elven sword he's been given as a replacement for his destroyed Witcher's steel sword is among the best crafted, but Zoltan eventually manages to convince him to use a Dwarven sihil, which turns out to be not only an Absurdly Sharp Blade, but also surprisingly light, making it very easy to use. In any case, subsequent books note that Gnomish craftsmanship trumps both Elven and Dwarven, with the sword that Leo Bonhart buys for Ciri being incredibly well crafted.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, the highest-falutin' grand dame from back home came to visit and critique the Clampetts' lifestyle. She was slightly impressed with the antiques that the Clampetts had in their house, which came from England and France; but her antiques came from even farther away — Japan. Cue Laugh Track.
  • Saturday Night Live sketch "All Things Scottish", starring Mike Myers. Their slogan: "If it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!"
  • Invoked in Mad Men: Sterling Cooper gets Heineken beer as a client, and although both Heineken and most of the SC team want to focus on increasing the brand's bar distribution, Don has the idea of Up Marketing the product. The strategy would involve playing on the "Imported from Holland" angle—with the importation from Europe being a supposed mark of quality—and selling it in grocery stores to rich housewives, who would serve it at parties as a trendy alternative to wine (as opposed to the cold domestic brews their husbands drank alone or with their buddies at informal gatherings).

    Video Games 

  • In Achewood, anything labeled "Hecho en Mexico" will manifest "Mexican Magical Realism", which can be as elaborate as Time Travel or as simple as a van where it rains on the inside.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa never dreamed of Homer's American loaner car designed in Germany, assembled in Mexico from the parts from Canada could be so amazing.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Long Feng tries to convince the Earth King the reason the wreckage of a huge freakin' drill (clearly meant for breaching the walls of Ba Sing Se) has a giant Fire Nation symbol on it is that it was imported: "You know you can't trust domestic machinery."
    • Zuko presents a child with his favorite knife, and asks him to read the inscription, which has always brought him much wisdom. Unfortunately, the child reads the "made in the Earth Kingdom" one first.
    • Much later, in Legend of Korra, Varrick states that he imported the red carpet from the Fire Nation, because "they make the best red stuff."

RULE #1 OF THE 21ST CENTURY: Everything is made in China. No exceptions. MADE IN CHINA


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Made In China


Moss' Fire Extinguisher

As Moss (slowly) tries to follow the instructions on a fire extinguisher, it randomly catches on fire itself. Moss wonders why, until he sees the "Made in Britain" label. Of course.

How well does it match the trope?

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