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Möbius Neighborhood

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The neighbors. Sometimes, they're annoying, sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they just drop by way too often. Whether good or bad, however, one thing is fairly certain: If you're living in TV land, you've only got one clear set of 'em. Almost as if the rules of space-time somehow didn't apply to this neighbourhood, resulting in a house that's actually only got one side... or a block with only two lots on it, so only two houses border each other. However, in that case there would still be other nearby houses across the streets, so if it seems like there is only one other named family in the entire neighborhood then this trope is in full force.


The reasoning behind this trope is fairly simple: Keeping down the number of characters that the audience has to remember, and thus the number of actors you have to hire, and even the number of sets you have to maintain, in the case of a live-action TV-series.

Sometimes, the "other" neighbours may make a brief, single-episode appearance, only to be promptly forgotten again. Or may only be seen in the background at parties or other special occasions the main characters attend or host. And no, this trope has nothing to do with President Moebius. And given the large cast of the Sonic games, the neighborhoods on the planet Mobius are probably not Moebius Neighborhoods (besides, the constant attacks from supervillains probably drive property values down).

See also Limited Social Circle and Everyone Went to School Together.



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    Comic Books 

  • Donald Duck in comics has two neighbors, one named Jones and one named Smith. They are, however, functionally identical, as they are both sworn enemies of Donald. In fact, most recent comics ignore Smith.
    • Often, Donald's other neighbor will just be whoever happens to fit the story (though kind old ladies seem popular). Or it could be someone new who moves in and forces an Enemy Mine situation between Donald and Mr. Jones by annoying both. These things get pretty formulaic after one reads many of the comics.
  • In Circles, the only important neighbors are Mrs. Nussbaum and Carter Allen and his family.
  • Batman: While a few of the other rich folk who live in Bruce's neighborhood show up in stories from time to time, usually because they're being robbed or are corrupt corporate executives, they rarely make more than one appearance. The house next door that is right at the entrance of the Wayne estate though has the Drake family move in and they become recurring characters until their deaths since their son Tim becomes the newest Robin.

  • In Clerks (and Clerks: The Animated Series), the convenience store, as far as we know, has only the video store next to it — thus making it an interesting case of a Moebius Strip Mall.
    • One of the many Clerks comic book stories involves the clerks finally noticing a small store set in between the locations. Turns out an old, bearded guy named Claus runs it.

  • This is one of the questions frequently raised about Harry Potter. Harry spends an awful lot of time in the Gryffindor common room or eating at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, yet some of his fellow (and not new) Gryffindors are still strangers by the time he meets them in books five and six. He would have to have been actively avoiding these people for years in order not to at least know who they are.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Small Wonder never showed us the Lawsons' other neighbors, as if they and the Brindles were the only families on their block.
  • The early seasons of Married... with Children had the Rhodes as the Bundys' neighbors... and nobody else. Later seasons introduced Bob Rooney, another man from the neighborhood, as a recurring character, though it's unclear whether he lives on the other side of the Bundys, or somewhere else nearby.
  • Played with in the PBS show Square One TV. During the "Mathnet" sketches, George Frankly would often speak of his "right-side neighbor, Mr. Beasley," without ever mentioning who was on the left side. However, in later seasons, the "Math Brigade" sketches detailed the adventures of Dirk Niblick and his "left-side neighbor, Mr. Beasley," which gives Beasley two sets of neighbors.
  • iCarly: Well, Moebius apartment building.
  • In That '70s Show, this trope is followed, and it's even strongly implied that the Foremans and the Pinciottis each have only each other for next door neighbors (where a lecherous character says he drives by Donna's house a lot because his mother lives next door and Eric protests that he lives next door).
  • The title character of Everybody Loves Raymond lives across the street from his annoying parents, but neither house seems to have one beside it.
  • Friends: Averted with the main apartment building. The gang do know other people in their building,( Mr Heckles, Danny, Joey's singing friend, Ugly Naked Guy (who actually lives in a building across the street)) Played straight with their actual floor, as only Apartment 19 and 20 exist: We see the gang running across the hallway to each other, using it as a thoroughfare, never locking their doors, having joint parties in the hallway, getting into fights, riding pogo sticks, putting the chick and the duck out there...without the other residents ever appearing. They may as well have demolished the walls and joined the apartments up completely.
  • Lampshaded on The Drew Carey Show when one of Drew's wacky neighbors from the early episodes drops by. Drew, not being too happy about them always showing up, asks her, "Don't you have neighbours on the other side?"
  • Either played straight or averted on Cougar Town, depending on how many houses there are on the cul-de-sac. Either there are not many houses and we know all or most of the residents, or it's a good example of this trope.
  • Steve Urkel on Family Matters lived next door to the Winslows for most of the series, but eventually he moved in with them. Apparently this left a vacancy in the neighborhood's only other house, because shortly thereafter a new obnoxious neighbor, Nick Niedermeyer, moved in to the former Urkel residence.
  • On Boy Meets World, the Matthewses and Mr. Feeny are always talking over the fence between their adjacent side yards, but we never see an inch of the rest of the street, or even the rest of their yards.
  • In Round the Twist, the only neighbour of the Twists is Nell. However, as the Twists live in a lighthouse near a cliff's edge, this is pretty realistic.
  • Roseanne had new neighbors in the house next door every few years. Sometimes they would be heavy in the plot, and others would be around for a one off joke. No neighbors living in any other house on the block were ever mentioned or interacted with, though.

  • Bitmap World averts this: Both the Smileys and the Ks are plot-relevant.
  • Andy Weir talks about his attempts to avert this trope in this Casey and Andy newspost (scroll down to the Trivia Tidbit).
  • This is what is shaping up for Savestate. The only known neighbors for Kade and Nicole at the house they inherited from their Uncle Scooby are a family of reindeer that live across the street. This includes Amber and her two children, Chris and Claire. He know Kade and Nicole's parents live "a long car ride" away from their house.

    Western Animation 
  • Living next door to The Simpsons are, of course, the Flanders. But on the other side? Ruth Powers and her teenage daughter Laura. Never heard of them? Don't feel bad; they've appeared in a grand total of maybe two episodes.
    • And before them there were the Winfields, who appeared in four episodes, including the one where they moved out to be replaced by the Powers. In fact, Ruth's most recent appearance ("Strong Arm of the Ma") suggests they're not living there anymore, either...
    • A few episodes seem to forget that the house next door exists at all in any way, shape or form.
    • Similarly, the house across the street from the Simpsons, alternates quite rapidly, some episodes it's a huge mansion as in the episode where George Bush moves in, other times it's a vacant lot, most of the time it's just another regular house with nondescript occupants, but once it was shown that Carl lived there which was never mentioned again.
    • Of course, there is a Separate Simpsons Geography Thing anyway. And the first time 742 Evergreen Terrace was mentioned, it was a generic house being burgled by Snake rather than the Simpsons' house, adding to the confusion.
    • Similarly, behind the Simpsons' backyard is most commonly sheer empty space (nothing is drawn behind the fence) or wilderness, but it has also been everything from a graveyard to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Darkwing Duck has only one set of neighbors, the Muddlefoots.
  • Eventually abandoned in The Flintstones, in which a group of Addams Family knockoffs: The Gruesomes moved next to the other side of Fred and Wilma from the Rubbles.
    • In the 1980s they got a similar cast of neighbours, the Frankenstones, who seemed to be based more around The Munsters. The head of the family is a typical Frankenstein's Monster knockoff, and he and Fred really hate each other's guts, even when everyone else gets along fine.
  • Up until around the sixth season of The Fairly OddParents, it seemed as if the Dinkleburgs (relationship's pretty much ripped off Homer and Ned) were the only neighbors to the Turners. It turned out their other neighbors included a black family and a extremely stereotypical British family. Naturally, they only existed for the sake of the plot of one particular episode and have yet to be seen again.
    • The Pfifers [the black neighbors] did reappear as one of the childless couples outshining the Turners in "The Masked Magician".
  • Averted in The Backyardigans. There are three houses behind the titular (and pretty big) backyard, but its residents are never shown.
    • If you pay attention to the end of the episodes, you'll see the three houses belong to the families of Pablo, Tyrone, and Uniqua. They are color coordinated to the characters. Austin lives on the other side of the fence to right, and Tasha lives across the street. If anything, this show subverts the trope.
  • Carl is the only neighbor of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and they are his only neighbors (except for the half season or so when they were kidnapped/evicted and their landlord rented the place out to even worse people to live near). Probably makes sense considering how the Aqua Teens seem to demolish property values. Even when there's
  • Averted in Family Guy, as the Griffin family's neighbors (Cleveland and Loretta Brown, Mort and Muriel Goldman, Glenn Quagmire, Joe and Bonnie Swanson, and Herbert) form most of the supporting cast.
  • Averted greatly in King of the Hill. The Hills' family home in Rainy Street is near four sets of neighbors who regularly appear in the show. Also occasionally, there is somebody moving in the house in front of the Hills' home.
  • Averted on Kick Buttowski. A bunch of the Buttowskis' neighbors make regular appearances, including Gunther and his family, Jackie, Mr. Vickle, Ms. Chicorelli, and in "Kick or Treat" it was revealed that Kendall was living next door to Kick the entire time (which he somehow did not know).
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: The Robinsons are essentially the only neighbors of the Wattersons. A few shots show various supporting cast and Recurring Extras living in nearby houses, but only Gary the mailman is seen consistently—and even he's been shown living in several different houses ("The Wand" and "The Allergy" both show Gary living on the house opposite to the Robinsons' house, in "The Remote" he lives across the street, and in "The Nest" and "The Neighbor", to the left of the Wattersons).
  • Mort and the It's Your Funeral Home and Crematorium is to the left of Bob's Burgers. A constantly changing array of businesses are to the right of the titular shop in the show's opening titles, but the lot in generally vacant in the body of the show's episodes. Jimmy Pesto's Pizzeria is directly on the other side of the street, and various other nearby businesses are visited.

    Real Life 
  • Chances are, if you live in a big city, you know maybe one or two sets of neighbors, if any at all. This is especially true if you live in a high rise, which can realistically house hundreds of apartments in a single building. The only people one tends to encounter are people on a similar schedule to his own, and at those times nobody's in the mood to stop and chat. Most city dwellers simply don't bother making neighbors' acquaintances.
  • Comedian Dara Ó Brian has a bit about how he and his wife know all the neighbors on their side of the street, but nobody on the other side. He claims they were all hanging out one day and he learned that nobody knew anyone from the other side, and he wanted to get a posse together to march across and find out why. "Are we not good enough for you? Stuck-up even-numbered pricks!"

Alternative Title(s): Moebius Neighbourhood, Mobius Neighborhood, Mobius Neighbourhood


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