A location with an unlikely vista. It may be a home where none were built or beyond the income of the characters, a geographically or geologically implausible location, beyond their security clearance, or from a building that simply has not been constructed at that location and is unlikely to ever be.
The characters aren't just passing it and it is not an Establishing Shot. Instead, it is giving you a quick look at the identifying feature - the characters actually have a view from a perspective which is impossible or extremely unlikely for them to obtain, usually from their alleged residence.
- Princess Celestia's room has one. She can see the entire princessdom, including Ponyville.
- Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li starts in her first home, where she's playing the piano in a room of her house with an excellent view of the Golden Gate Bridge... one that would be somewhere in the Presidio, which is park land and office buildings.
- This gets invoked with Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's a cool, weird monument and the focus of much attention throughout the movie, but the clearing/landing pad at the base of the tower in the climax does not/could not exist.
- Star Trek is all over this one; in every iteration, Starfleet academy is on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge. There's maybe a couple hundred acres of usable land in view of the bridge in Real Life (and not all together), the rest being steep hills and canyons. Unless the entire area was leveled, the facility is not possible and even with leveling would be crammed on a narrow strip of land next to a major thoroughfare.
- Star Trek Online did a great job fixing the problem. The Academy really is on that narrow strip of land (what we saw in the show was a trick of angles) and the main building goes into the cliffside under the road next to the Bridge and then goes up to a leveled portion of HQ where Janeway's office is in Nemesis.
- The view out of Frasier's apartment of the Space Needle is actually a photograph taken from a hill that didn't actually have any residential buildings on it when the series was made. As of 2014 there are now apartment buildings on Queen Anne hill, the source of the photograph.
- In Lost, Boone's hotel room in Sydney was apparently suspended in the air above Sydney Harbour, as that is the only way he could have had that view out of his window.
- The trope is mentioned and lampshaded in Fawlty Towers, when a guest complains about the view of her hotel room not being interesting:
Basil: Well may I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain?
- Late night shows and news shows tend to have cityscape backgrounds that have little to do with their actual location and are sometimes composite images.
- According to JonTron, Rare Studios is apparently based inside of Big Ben.