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Really Moves Around

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I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
I've crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breathed the mountain air, man
— "I've Been Everywhere", Geoff Mack (and many others)

A character, or a family of characters, has/have lived in many different places (geographically) and is/are constantly moving. In fiction this is generally used to denote either one of three things:

  1. The character (or at least someone in the character's family, especially if the character is still a kid) has a job that requires them to move a lot, with the most common example being that that particular character works for the military—this is definitely Truth in Television, as military families do typically move a lot. In fact, military families relocate around ten times more often than civilian families (which would amount to around once every two or three years—although some move more frequently than others).

  2. Alternatively, and more Played for Drama, the moving around is not due to job demands, but is used to display that the character / family has psychological issues. Whether it is due to some sort of anxiety, a form of OCD, or just generally not fitting in with people / society — these characters just can't "root" anywhere, and barely having settled somewhere, already are off to the next place.

  3. Or, the characters are on the run from other characters - e.g. from a stalking psycho ex, or from the police / law enforcement (either because they did commit a crime, or because they're innocent and falsely accused of it) or from a criminal organization that is looking for them. In the latter case, it can overlap with Conspiracy Theories. If their being hunted is all in the character's head because they're paranoid, they actually are of the type above instead of this type.
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This trope's significance for the story can vary from work to work. In some cases, it can be a reason for a character to arrive in a new town at the start of a story and/or have to leave in the middle or at the end. Other times, it can be a backstory element for characters(often children), explaining why they aren't particularly attached to any one community or school, and possibly leading them to try to get their parents not to move.

Compare Adventure Towns, where the characters move around as part of their quest and main plot. Compare New Job as the Plot Demands. Often a result of being a Military Brat. If the characters are kids or teens, it results in them being a serial New Transfer Student, or sometimes Homeschooled Kids.

Not to be confused with Really Gets Around, which is about entirely different proclivities / activities.

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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Asteroid in Love, the Manaka family moves around a lot due to Ao's father's unspecified job. This is why it took Mira so many years to reunite with Ao. This is also why Ao never fights back when her dad gets a job transfer, even though this time around she's definitively not happy at all, since this would mean she'd have to part with her Childhood Friend for the second time. With some help from her friends, she convinces her mother to let her stay at Mira's home. The manga mentions in passing that Ao doesn't keep many belongings in her room, to limit how much she has to pack up when she moves.
  • Captain Tsubasa: Taro Misaki, one of the best known characters of the series and Heterosexual Life Partner of Tsubasa Ozora, moves to many different places, since his father is a painter. He played in several teams due to his father travelling around Japan all the time.
  • Natsume's Book of Friends: Before being taken in by the Fujiwaras, Natsume was passed around between his father's relatives, never staying with any of them very long as they saw him as a trouble maker and taking care of him as an unwanted duty.
  • Penguin Brothers: Hina lives with her painter uncle, and as a result they move around a lot to accommodate his wanderlust. At the start of the story, she mentions how she's changed schools 8 times, and by the end of the series, he decides out of the blue to move to France, and she willingly goes with him.
  • In Saki, Nodoka has often had to move around due to her parents' jobs, resulting in her moving out of Achiga after elementary school, and leaving some close friends behind. Her desire to win the Inter-High mahjong tournament is motivated by a deal with she made with her father to stay in her current town.

    Art 
  • Civic Virtue Triumphant over Unrighteousness was originally erected in-front of New York City Hall. Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, who hated it for its lack of modesty (nudity in art being less acceptable in America than Europe at the time) and had it moved to Kew Gardens, at Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike, beside the new Borough Hall in 1941. In 2011, the statue was put up for auction on Craigslist by Former Congressman Anthony Weiner where it would eventually be purchased by Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn where it now stands.
  • After Venus de Milo was first discovered by a peasant in Milos (the name of the person debated among scholars), it was purchased by the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, where it was then repaired and given to King Louis XVIII, who then donated it to the Louvre Museum where it now stands.

    Fan Works 
  • Moving revolves around Karen learning to stop this behavior. After the tragic suicide of her best friend Martha, Karen tries to run away from her past by moving from city to city. Eventually she runs out of money, but she refuses to go home. This is when she's taken in by her roommate Elizabeth, who helps her get on on her feet.
  • Jason, his mom, and Aunt Pam move around constantly in The Next Best Thing to Normal. While Harley has gone civilian, Poison Ivy continues being an active supervillain. Jason also isn't safe in one spot considering his parentage.
  • In Of Blood and Steel, Catherine, a friend of Riko "Erwin" Matsumoto's mother, tells Riko that as a Military Brat, she moved around often when young, and didn't make many long-term friendships. She says this to let Riko know that she doesn't know what to say to her to make her feel better about having to leave Oarai and say goodbye to Hippo Team.
  • In the Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? fanfic Parthenogenesis, the Title Character and her daughter, Maggie, move to San Francisco when the latter's a teenager so she can live her dream of having a "normal" life after moving around so much while she was growing up. Prior to living in San Francisco, Carmen and Maggie had never lived in a place for longer than a year—this is not only due to Carmen's adventurous nature, but also because of the fact that she's still a wanted thief (despite having long since gone straight).
  • In Velma Dinkley's Beginning, Velma and her family move around a lot due to her dad's job. Velma wants to stay in Coolsville, due to befriending Fred, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby. Her parents briefly considered moving due to her getting bullied, but Velma and her friends convinced them otherwise.
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    Film — Animation 
  • The Incredibles: The members of the titular family all have superpowers, and have to keep their identities secret because of a government ban on superheroes. It is stated that by the time of the movie's main plot, they have moved at least a few times in the past because of blowing their cover. And by the end of the movie, they have to do it again.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Aaron Loves Angela: Angela's mother moves whenever she gets bored. The two of them have lived in New Orleans, Miami, and Atlanta.
  • The Black Balloon (2007): Thanks to being a Military Brat, Thomas went to three primary schools and is now on his second high school.
  • High School Musical: Up until moving to Alburquerque and transferring to East High (and meeting Troy Bolton), Gabriella Montez and her family would usually move to a new place once the school year was over.
  • If You Could Say It in Words: Sadie was a Military Brat whose family moved so much when she was a teen that it disrupted her education. She didn't graduate high school until she was twenty.
  • In The King of Marvin Gardens, it's mentioned that the prostitutes Sally and Jessica have lived in hundreds of places.
  • Modeena from One-Trick Pony moved all over the country as a kid because her dad's firm transferred him every other year or so. A.M. radio kept her sane because the same songs were played no matter where she was.
  • Rebel Without a Cause: Happens for drama with James Dean's character Jim Stark. Because his family is afraid of trouble for their son, they move around a lot.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs: David seems to move around a lot, probably due to his dad's job with the NSA (possibly because David never thinks to keep quiet about what his dad does, thus blowing his cover wherever they move to). This has led to him being antisocial and having no apparent friends.
  • In Catfishing on CatNet, Steph hasn't lived anywhere longer than six months because she and her mom are always moving to keep away from Steph's violent father.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Qwill and the cats rarely spend two books in a row in the same quarters, with books 7 and 8 making the first time it happens in the series (in both, Qwill lives in the former servant's quarters over the garage of the Klingenschoen family mansion). In The Cat Who Talked To Ghosts, Qwill says to Arch Riker that "I'm a gypsy at heart," ... "Home is where I hang my toothbrush and where the cats have their commode."
  • Clade: During Noah's early childhood in England, he and Summer lived in multiple houses. In each one, Noah would stand in the garden at night and watch the stars through a telescope.
  • Daddy's Little Girl: After her divorce, Ellie's mother Genine moved all over the United States, bringing Ellie with her. She was never able to settle in one place for too long, which is implied to be due to her on-going grief over her eldest daughter's murder. As a consequence, Ellie was constantly being uprooted and never felt truly settled nor established lasting personal ties; even in adulthood she settled in Atlanta mostly because her job is based there and she still travels a lot for work (she's an investigative journalist). When the newspaper she's working for gets sold and Ellie is made redundant, she realizes there's not anything keeping her in Atlanta (especially as her closest companion Pete is moving on too). In the end, Pete gets her a new job in New York and she settles down with him there; it also allows her to be closer to her father and half-brother, whom she's reconnected with at long last.
  • In Dogs Don't Talk, Emily's family moves even more often than usual for a military family, sometimes staying in one place for only a few months. She copes by sticking her nose in a book. Just as she's starting a relationship with Ben, she's moved again.
  • Fiene of Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte recalls in her early years, she and her mother had to move frequently to escape from people trying to hunt them down, sometimes moving once a month. Her mother explained that's because some high-ranking nobles are mad at her. Those were assassins sent from Fiene's maternal grandparents, and they're trying to hunt down Fiene, much less her mother.
  • The Familiar: The Ibrahim family is noted to have (prior to the start of the 1st book) lived in at least a dozen places/states in as many years. Since Astair is in college and the constant moving around of the family is explicitly mentioned to have delayed her graduating, and she isn't mentioned to have a job; and Anwar is a computer programmer - a job that is about the easiest to do long-distance, instead of moving around for - this really raises the question what on Earth the family were moving around for that much. This is never answered.
  • The official novelization of Godzilla vs. Kong says that Madison Russell and her father Mark have been moving around to places around the world in the years since Mark rejoined Monarch before Mark settled them down in Pensacola, Florida.
  • Harmonic Feedback: As other characters put it, Drea's mom changes cities the way other people change underwear.
  • The Kane Chronicles: For most of his childhood, Carter traveled all over the world with his dad, living out of a suitcase and never staying in one place long. By contrast, his sister Sadie grew up with their grandparents, staying in one place and attending a normal school.
  • Livvie Owen Lived Here: Since the Owens lost their house ten years ago, they've moved about twenty times, usually getting evicted due to noise complaints regarding Livvie. They've lived at least once on practically every street in Nabor.
  • Lost Voices: When Luce was a kid, she and her dad moved every few months to avoid him being arrested for his petty crimes. Peter compares their life to an obstacle course because of all the places they had to avoid.
  • My Dark Vanessa: When Charley and her mom move to New Hampshire, it's the fourth time they've moved in three years.
  • Mrs. Carillon from The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel) moves to a new city every month or two so she can thoroughly search it for any sign of Noel. After she adopts Tony and Tina, they beg her to settle down so they can make friends, so she buys an apartment in New York City and agrees to stay put from now on.
  • Rita Long from The Silence of Murder grew up in Grain, Ohio, but dropped out of high school and left to get away from her parents. After that, she and her kids lived in a number of cities, including Minneapolis, Chicago, and Enid, Oklahoma before finally settling back in Grain when Jeremy and Hope were sixteen and fourteen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Boys (2019): Stormfront, who is significantly older than she looks, has been repackaged under a new superhero alias and moved around by Vought several times to keep her murderously racist tendencies secret when they get out of hand.
  • The Torkelsons: Riley moves to the small Oklahoma village in which the series takes place, mentioning to Dorothy Jane how his family moves around a lot due to his father being in the military.
  • In "Dissin' Cousins," a first season episode of That's So Raven, the Title Character is revealed to have a rich and beautiful (but also mean and snobby) cousin named Andrea who has spent a large part of her life traveling through Europe—Andrea's dad (Raven's uncle) is in the military and as of "Dissin' Cousins," Andrea and her family were living in Paris, France (it's also revealed that they've live in London, England and Rome, Italy). Raven and Andrea eventually reach an understanding when Andrea admits that her life isn't as perfect as she likes to make everyone think it is and confesses that she's always been secretly jealous Raven (which surprises her). Andrea elaborates by explaining that she hates having to move around so much and was envious of how Raven ultimately got to have a much more "normal" life (it's never revealed if Andrea knows about Raven's Psychic Powers).
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): Sissy and Harlan had to move around a lot because of Harlan's usage of his powers. We get a montage of Sissy slamming down the car trunk every time they leave a different city.

    Roleplay 
  • Irene from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues has moved around a lot as a result of her mother's business. By the start of the roleplay she's lived in China, Czechia, Denmark and Germany, and has only been living in the titular Oldport for the past four years.

    Video Games 
  • Zoë Castillo, protagonist of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey and co-protagonist of Dreamfall Chapters, was born in India, and she and her father Gabriel spent most of her childhood in London until the Collapse, after which they moved to Casablanca, Morroco. She then went to uni in Cape Town, South Africa for a couple of years, moved back to Casablanca to live with Gabriel after dropping out, moved to the city-state of Europolis with her ex-ex-boyfriend Reza in Chapters, and is shown back in Casablance five years after the events of that game.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: The Player Character can own up to five houses (eight with Hearthfire) in different locations, and nothing is really forcing them to make any one of them their permanent residence. They can impose this upon their family, as well. The fact that each Hold is a different jurisdiction and the entire point of the large number of houses is to enable the player to have homes in different Holds makes this a viable means to escape law enforcement.
  • With the Spacer background, Mass Effect's Commander Shepard and their parents, both of whom are Systems Alliance officers, were constantly moving from one post to another.
  • In Persona 3, Yukari and her mother had to move many times since the death of Yukari's father, Eiichiro Takeba. The reason was that people blamed Eiichiro for the experiment that went awry, resulting in his death and, unbeknownst to most people, the start of the Dark Hour. Late in the game, it's mentioned that Yukari once lived in Kyoto, the site of the Class Trip.
  • In Persona 4, Yosuke often had to move around because of his father's job, with his move to Inaba a few months before the start of the game only being the latest such. Because of moving so often and trying to integrate into new schools, he doesn't have many close friends before meeting the Investigation Team. In the manga and anime it's shown that Yu had a similar background which contributes to him becoming Yosuke's Best Friend.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog characters are constantly moving around from title to title. For example, in Sonic Adventure they lived either in or around Station Square but Sonic Battle moves them to the more suburban Emerald Town.

     Visual Novels 
  • Lily from Daughter for Dessert has a wanderlust which always comes out. She walks and hitchhikes for transportation, and can sleep either in a tent or in the houses of friends she makes along the way. She attempts to settle into a job at the diner, but eventually, she leaves to keep traveling. In the “good” Lily ending, the protagonist bequeathes the diner to Amanda so he can travel with her.

    Webcomics 

     Web Video 
  • A Running Gag in Jake and Amir is that Amir's unseen father responds to every predicament from being embarrassed by his son's behavior to getting himself involved in a suicide pact by moving away.
    Amir: All right, lemme tell you a story. In sixth grade, I was bullied so hard that my dad almost moved. Instead, my teacher called a parental mediation session. So it was just me and my dad, the tormenter and the tormenter's foster mom? They all ganged up on me so hard that my dad moved.
    Jake: Sorry, your dad ganged up on you so hard that he moved?

    Western Animation 
  • In the 2019-version of DC Super Hero Girls, prior to moving to Metropolis, Zatanna (Zee Zatara) and her dad lived with their magic act on the road before they become successful enough to have somewhere to perform regularly at without having to move to a new town.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee: The series begins with Molly and her family moving to the tire of Brighton. Previously, they had moved around a lot due to her father’s job as a city planner, but they intend for Brighton to be their permanent home.
  • Recess: Gus Griswald's family moves often because his father is a general. He admits to attending eleven different schools by the time he starts 4th-grade—in fact, until transferring to Third Street Elementary School, Gus explains that he's never been at a school long enough to be known as anything other than "the new kid" (or, as revealed in one episode, to have a class picture taken).
  • Steven Universe: When Connie is introduced in "Bubble Buddies", she says her family moves around a lot because of her dad's job as a private security guard. This is never referenced again, doesn't really make sense once we find out her mother is a doctor, and she keeps living in the same house until she leaves for college.
  • The Wild Thornberrys: The titular family wanders around the wild in various countries as part of their nature documentary show.

    Real Life 
  • Pedro Pascal interviews sometimes describe him as a nomad, unable to plant roots despite his fame as an actor. By the time the son of Chilean-American refugees graduated New York University, he lived in three different countries, and three different states. His acting career further complicated his attempts to settle down, after he began landing gigs that require him to travel away from his home.
  • American Serial Killer Sean Sellers' psychological decline was in large part due to this. His mother and stepfather frequently moved around due to their jobs and as a result, Sean had a Friendless Background and tried to avoid getting attached to other people so he wouldn't be disappointed when he inevitably left. After finding happiness in Colorado Sean became embittered after being uprooted once again, and as a result of this in addition to physical abuse from his mother Vonda he grew to resent his family and turned to Hollywood Satanism in a bid to gain control of his own life and environment. After murdering a store clerk at the age of 16, he murdered his parents in their sleep months later in 1986 before being arrested, converted to Christianity in prison, and finally executed in 1999.
  • In the Columbine "Basement Tapes", Eric Harris complains that he was forced to go through this, having moved five times as a result of his father's work. He says he always had to be the new kid in school, was always at the bottom of the "food chain", and had no chance to earn any respect from his peers as he always had to "start out at the bottom of the ladder" being frequently bullied.

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