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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 around a lot, with the most common/iconic example of this is having that particularly character works for the military—this is a very strong Truth in Television, as military families in Real Life do typically move around a lot (on average, military families move around two or three years).

  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.
  • 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.
  • In Saki, Nodoka has often had to move around due to her parents' jobs. 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 
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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's cousin, Andrea, is mentioned to move around a lot due to her dad (Raven's uncle) being in the military. While it has given Andrea the chance to travel to all sorts of cool places (including living in at least three different European cities), she eventually confesses to Raven that she doesn't like having to move around so much, especially since she never really got to have a "normal" life like her cousin has (it's never revealed if Andrea knows about Raven's Psychic Powers).

    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 
  • 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.
  • In Persona 4, 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • DC Super Hero Girls: Zatanna (Zee Zatara) and her father Zatara lived with their act on the road before they were successful enough to have somewhere in Metropolis to perform regularly.
  • Recess: Gus Grisswald's family moves often because his father is a general. He admits to attending eleven different schools by the time he 4th-grade—in fact, until transferring to Third Street Elementary School, Gus had never been at a school long enough to be known as anything other than "the new kid."
  • 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 goes to college.
  • The Wild Thornberrys: The titular family wanders around the wild in various countries as part of their nature documentary show.

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