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Small Town Boredom

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"Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world.
She took the midnight train going anywhere."
Journey, "Don't Stop Believin'"

A teenager growing up in a small rural town wants to get away from it all, to the big city, or abroad, anywhere but the boring old Small Town. Characters who come from this background, such as the Country Mouse and Farm Boy, generally Jump At The Call. If they don't, expect the call to come looking for them anyway.

Compare and contrast with Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here and Hated Hometown. Related to Grass is Greener, which is about someone in bad conditions dreaming of going to a better place. Often seen in stories set in Dying Towns, perhaps ones with Small Town Rivalry. Contrast From New York to Nowhere. If the small town is actively toxic to live in because of its insular nature, it can lead into Small Town, Big Hell.

Often, however, leads to An Aesop about Home Sweet Home and appreciating what you've got. A common subtype is leaving the Close-Knit Community and finding that Apathetic Citizens are much worse.

If a specific town is named, expect it to be Toledo, Ohio or Cleveland.

When this happens in a musical, expect a "Somewhere" Song or a Wanderlust Song.

Contrast the inverse trope, Big Town Boredom, when a character living in a bigger city or suburb wants to move to a small town or just anywhere that's generally smaller and more rural.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • All the main characters of Boy's Abyss feel this way. Chako wants to go to school in the city and takes up work with her favorite author despite knowing his infamy. Reiji bounces between bouts of suicidal attempts and Sex for Solace. His teacher, Ms. Shibasawa, started a relationship with him out of crippling loneliness. Gen makes Reiji buy cigarette packages he never uses and bullies others into leaving him alone because he'd otherwise have no one else in town left to connect to. Everyone's using everyone else as a Living Emotional Crutch, which means either that boredom is fulfilled in exactly the way they want with their chosen crutch on pain of jealousy and misery, or they suffer together in town.
  • Rita in El Cazador de la Bruja desperately wants to escape her small town and go to the big city. The narrative treats her as mentally ill, which depending on taste can be an interesting anti-urbanist Deconstruction or an obnoxious example of Values Dissonance.
  • Part of the reason for Nakamura and Kasuga's behavior in The Flowers of Evil.
  • Naota says "Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here" in the first episode of FLCL. Naturally, he's quickly proven wrong...
  • Makoto from Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl is glad to leave his town to live in the city with his aunt.
  • In Innocents Shounen Juujigun, many of the protagonists, especially Nicolas, express a desire to get away from their small village.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Many children (and some adults) originate from small, humble towns in the Pokémon world, but often leave said-towns to become traveling Pokémon trainers. Even when they return home to meet up with family or celebrate their latest achievements, it isn't long until they immediately leave to go on a new adventure. The movie Pokémon: I Choose You! highlights that the entire world literally functions on this trope because a world without Pokémon is a dull and nearly lifeless society where the only adventure is going to school.
  • Nagisa from Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai dislikes living in her small town. This is a factor in why she wants to join the Kaiju Defense Force instead of going to high school.
  • Shiki: Megumi expresses this at the start of the series, hoping to go travel to the big city from her rural village as she finds it boring. Ironically after she becomes a vampire, she's denied going to the city by her master and never leaves her village alive once she attempts to do so when things hit the fan. At most she gets a Dying Dream of finally going to Tokyo upon being staked in the manga.
  • The entire planet orbiting Betelgeuse in Space☆Dandy is essential Rural Japan IN SPACE!— a low density, post-industrial area with nothing to do and lots of poverty. Meow hated growing up there and got away as soon as he could to travel through space. He was very reluctant to return.
  • Hodaka Morishima from Weathering With You is so unhappy with his endlessly shallow (and possibly abusive) lifestyle on his home island, that he decides to get away from it all and kickstarts the plot of the movie where he gets involved with a girl from Tokyo who has magical weather-bending powers.
  • Mitsuha from Your Name wishes she could move to Tokyo and get away from her tiny mountain town. She gets her wish...when she starts randomly swapping bodies with a boy named Taki who goes to school in Tokyo and deals with some Be Careful What You Wish For, both when she has to adjust to being male and putting up with Taki's hectic school life and part-time job.

    Fan Works 
  • Captain Kanril Eleya of Bait and Switch grew up in Priyat, a small town in Bajor's Kendra Province. She enlisted in the Bajoran Militia at the earliest legal age because she didn't want to be a town maintenance worker like her parents. In the prequel From Bajor to the Black it's further revealed that A) she felt the town was dying (half the population just lives there because it's close to Kendra City) and B) she'd get a scholarship after mustering out. (She wound up going to Starfleet Academy afterward instead.)
  • A Diplomatic Visit: The Apple Clan has their own name for this - the "Apple Itch", where they get the urge to leave their hometown, go out in the world and create their own farm. Slice n' Dice felt the urge one day, and it led her to the Packlands. Applejack also mentions the time she felt something very close, which led her to Manehatten; inverted when she realized she belonged at the family farm and her return there earned her her Cutie Mark.
  • Daisy begins the plot of Doctor Who Regenerated intensely disliking her boring hometown. Then the Doctor comes around.
  • Do You Believe in Fairies?: Toucan Island is very pretty but Selena thinks of it as a Gilded Cage. It's so small, there's nothing to do, and the internet is terrible. She wants to see the world, but her parents disagree with her. Selena ends up running away without telling her family.
  • Mei from Kyoshi Rising yearns for a chance to move away from the small village she lives in and see the world, in contrast to the title character (her younger sister) who is quite happy living in isolation but is forced to leave due to being the Avatar
  • Sonic in Sonic and Donna feels cramped on South Island and wants to see the world with his best friend Donna.
  • Amy enters through the interdimensional Rift in Traversal in hopes of escaping this.

    Films — Animation 
  • Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast: "There must be more than this provincial life!"
  • Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989). She's an odd example, though, in that in her case the "small town" is actually the ocean.
  • The titular heroine of Moana lives on an island and has a strong desire to sail the ocean. Unfortunately, everyone on the island is forbidden from sailing past the reef, so she never gets the opportunity to explore the ocean. A Downplayed Example in that she does not dislike her village and is going to be their future chief. A part of Moana's character development involves her reconciling her love for her people and the strong draw of the ocean.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • After Midnight: Abby went to university in Miami, and only meant to come back to her small hometown to say goodbye to her parents. Ten years later, she is somehow still there and increasingly dissatisfied, so one day she goes back to Miami for a few weeks. She visits galleries and museums, sees people from different cultures, and eats food that isn't brown. "Just four hours from our front porch."
  • The titular character in Anna and the Apocalypse feels this way about her small town, and had plans to head for Australia after graduation instead of going to university. "Had" being the operative word here.
  • Janie in Another Time, Another Place is fed with living in her village, but she acknowledges she'll never be able to break away from it.
  • The Band's Visit: The inhabitants of Bet Hatikva are well aware that they live in a boring town in the middle of nowhere, and the band's accidental visit is the most interesting thing to happen in a while.
  • The main character in Big Fish.
  • The Bridges of Madison County: Francesca finds her life to be a stifling one; she lives in a small Iowa town where just about nothing happens, her marriage is passionless despite her husband being a good man, and though she loves her kids, she feels increasingly distant from them. She begins a four-day affair with Robert, who's been all over the world, partially as an attempt to escape from her feelings of being trapped. She seriously does consider running away with him, but eventually decides to stay since she doesn't want to abandon her family.
  • In Dodsworth, Fran is around 40 and must have been unhappy for a number of years. Staying with her much older husband in a small town was suffocating to her and she wanted a totally different life before she was too old to enjoy it. That's why she plans a trip for them both to Europe, where she meets fancy people, derailing her marriage completely.
  • In Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), Elvira arrives in the pretty dull small town of Falwell, where the only hub of social life is a bowling alley and the sole movie theater only shows G-rated films. Elvira's arrival shakes around their boring status quo, and the local teens quickly grow fond of her because she brings entertainment to their lives.
  • In Footloose, the whole plot is kicked by Ren moving from Chicago to the small town of Beaumont, where his frustration with how boring and dull small-town life is drives him to shake things around.
  • Friday Night Lights: Odessa, Texas. Those who get out are considered lucky.
  • Gas Food Lodging: Trudi tells Shade that she's not coming back to their dinky New Mexico hometown from Dallas, because "Laramie is a shithole. There's nothing there." Of course she immediately follows this up with "Too many bad memories," alluding to how she was gang-raped there.
  • In The Half of It, Ellie is a Chinese American high school girl growing up in Squahamish, a small rural town. She clearly hates being stuck there. Aside from maintaining perfect grades and playing the guitar, she spends most of her free time performing her father's job at the train station running a secret essay-writing cheating scheme to make money on the side.
  • In Infamous (2020), Arielle is convinced that she is destined to be famous and has no interest in staying in what she calls a "speedtrap town" in south Florida. She wants to get out and get to Hollywood, even if she has to resort to crime to do it.
  • I Vitelloni: Five young men in an Italian small town chafe against boredom and think about getting out. Only one of them does.
  • George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life wants nothing more than to leave Bedford Falls forever. Life intervenes.
  • In The Last Starfighter, Alex Rogan really wants to get out of the boring trailer park where he lives.
  • In the rarely seen De Laatste Zomer (The Last Summer), the character Tim often vents about wanting to escape to somewhere different.
  • In Lust for Gold, Julia decides to latch on to Walz (and dump her husband Pete) because she has no intention of staying put and becoming "dried-up" like all of the other townswomen.
  • In Minnal Murali, Jaison's primary motivation for most of the story is to get his passport in order so he can move to America. He ends up learning the Aesop of Home Sweet Home and deciding to stay to help the people of Kurukkanmoola.
  • Popular Music From Vittula takes place in the northern Swedish town of Pajala in the '60s. A lot of the youngsters talk about moving away the moment they turn 18. In the end, Niila is the only one to actually do anything, as he hitchhikes out and becomes a rock star.
  • Rusty James is stuck in Tulsa, Oklahoma in Rumble Fish, which leads him to become quite angry and seeking out fights... if you interpret the movie that way.
  • The Swedish movie Fucking Åmål is a teenage Coming-Out Story set in the titular Åmål, which Elin thinks is the most boring place in the world.
  • Raw Deal (1986). Mark Kaminsky's wife is suffering badly from this after her husband was thrown out of the FBI and now makes his living as a small town sheriff, where all she can do is discuss cows with the other farmer's wives. She gets drunk and throws a cake at him.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, while Clarice Starling is interviewing a girl in Belvedere, Ohio, the girl asks her:
    Girl: Is that a good job, FBI agent? You get to travel around and stuff? I mean, better places than this?
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), this is Tom's motivation for wanting to leave Green Hills for San Francisco. He wants to join the SFPD because he wants to be challenged in his abilities as a police officer and have someone rely on him. There's no challenge for Tom in helping people recover bagels stolen by ducks and sitting at a speed trap. Sonic calls him out for wanting to stop defending Green Hills just for a higher ranking position in a bigger urban city. At the end of the film, he chooses to stay in Green Hills after all and let Sonic live with him and Maddie.
  • Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope who's stuck in his family's moisture farm on the planet Tatooine (mostly out of obligations).
    C-3PO: I'm only a droid and not very knowledgeable about such things, not on this planet, anyway. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure which planet I'm on.
    Luke: Well, if there's a bright center in the universe, you're on the planet it's farthest from.

    Aunt Beru: Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.
    Uncle Owen: That's what I'm afraid of.
    • Expanded Universe materials (and a deleted scene with his friend Biggs) show this is why the few "friends" Luke has on Tattooine resent him: because they know he's gonna leave Tattooine, while they're stuck there.
  • Swelter is set in the town of Baker, Nevada. At one point, another character speculates that the protagonist, Sheriff Bishop, may be the only person there who doesn't wish he was someplace else. Of course, one of the reasons it's so boring is his insistence on closing down anything fun but even slightly illegal (including a church bingo night).
  • Theodora Goes Wild. The reason why Theodora began writing her racy stories—to have some excitement in her humdrum life in a small town. She also gets to visit the big city whenever she meets her publisher. Eventually, she does move to the big city, and into another man's apartment, no less.
  • Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is a girl who hates living on her small farm in Kansas. This is a reason why she dreams up Oz.
    • This, however, is against L. Frank Baum's Dorothy from his books, who was completely content with living in Kansas.

  • In Michael C. Bailey's Action Figures - Issue One: Secret Origins, Carrie observes that other people have this problem, but she thinks she will love living in this small town.
  • The source of Indira's ambivalence toward the town where she was raised in Alien in a Small Town.
  • In the novel Dandelion Wine, one of the characters is complaining about just this when the Lonely One returns.
  • The book The Dark Side of Nowhere starts out with the protagonist thinking like this. Then he discovers that he and most people in the town are actually a race of aliens gearing up for a full-scale invasion.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Rose wants to leave and go somewhere where even a girl can make devices. (It doesn't help that they all think she's touched in the head.)
  • Discworld: Most young people in the villages and small towns of the Ramtops and Sto Plains dream of moving to Ankh-Morpork, where things actually happen and there are professions that don't involve cabbages. Some manage it, others eventually become old people complaining about young people today wanting to move to Ankh-Morpork.
  • Emma:
    • Downplayed with Emma's feeling about Highbury, her home village (almost town) in Surry. She's a bright young woman who has lived there her entire life and takes care of her elderly father. She enjoys being the first lady in the Highbury society but considers others to be rather inferior (with the exception of Mr and Mrs Weston and Mr Knightley). When Emma meets Frank Churchill, he speaks of Highbury so handsomely, that Emma begins "to feel she has been used to despise the place rather too much". Emma's desire to travel is hinted at, e.g. when she jokingly complains that she's the only one who has never seen the sea.
      "I must beg you not to talk of the sea. It makes me envious and miserable;—I who have never seen it!"
    • Frank Churchill grew up in a secluded Big Fancy House and once he's an adult, he's travelling in England (e.g. he visits Weymouth, a popular spa town) and he has a great desire to travel abroad.
      Frank: As soon as my aunt gets well, I shall go abroad. I shall never be easy till I have seen some of these places. You will have my sketches, some time or other, to look at—or my tour to read—or my poem. I shall do something to expose myself.
      Emma: That may be—but not by sketches in Swisserland. You will never go to Swisserland. Your uncle and aunt will never allow you to leave England.
  • Early in Frost Dancers, Skelter looks at birds in the sky and wishes he could fly away to a better place. He gets his wish when humans kidnap him.
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Bertie Wooster ruminates on this in the short story "The Ordeal of Young Tuppy":
    You know how it is in these remote rural districts. There’s nothing much to do in the long winter evenings but listen to the radio and brood on what a tick your neighbour is.
  • Pale: Avery is a born wayfarer, driven in part by her disillusionment with her small hometown of Kennet. She finds her way in the Paths, a set of lost places just outside of reality, where she can go on quests and meet others from all over Canada who are walking a similar journey.
  • Pocket Monsters: The Animation goes into depth on this in the Pokémon anime's 'verse. Many people end up becoming trainers in order to leave their towns, but many of these people end up failing their journey. A lot of them refuse to come home deadbeats. Ash's father and even his maternal grandfather ran off on journeys and never came back.
  • Bo and Agnes from Run want to escape the town of Mursey partly because of this, though they both have deeper reasons for fleeing as well.
  • The main reason Zoë in Saving Zoë decides to try to become a model. It leads to her death.
  • This is the reason Camille's little sister Amma gives for why she acts out in Sharp Objects. Unbeknownst to Camille, Amma is not just referencing her sneaking out at night, flirting with older men, and hard drinking and drug use, but also her murdering two little girls from the town. Amma says multiple times during the book that she wishes she could leave Wind Gap to live with Camille in the big city.
    • John Keene, the teenage brother of one of the murdered girls, is frustrated by the Wind Gap Gossipy Hens and corrupt local police force when they start to harass him and his family after his sister's murder. John wishes he could go back to the relatively cosmopolitan anonymity in his home city of Philadelphia.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, this is Petyr Baelish's backstory in a nutshell. His family keep is on the smallest of the Fingers (peninsulars on the eastern coast), technically being petty lords beholden to the Lords of the Eyrie, and... they aren't exactly highly populous. Most people in the Seven Kingdoms won't ever think about them much, beyond "pirates and invasions from Essos very occasionally land there". About the most you can do on any of them is fish and look after goats or sheep. He went from that to the capital of the Riverlands (a bustling Danelaw Expy and trade hub), Riverrun, and back though no real fault of his own as a kid, thanks to a debt Lord Hoster Tully felt he owed Petyr's father. There, the young boy rubbed shoulders with the likes of Tullys and Lannisters — and received his rather mean-spirited nickname, to boot. However, Hoster withdrew Petyr's invite the minute he realised just how badly smitten Lysa was with the young nobody from a fishing hamlet not even beholden to Riverrun. No wonder Littlefinger has issues.
  • This is one of the many, many reasons why Joe from The Tenets of Futilism left his home for Boston. Of course, Boston doesn't end up being that amazing, either.
  • In Ann Turner's Third Girl from the Left Sarah is so tired of her little Maine hometown that she decides to become a Mail-Order Bride for a Montana cattle rancher. Unfortunately for her, life there is a bit harsher, and the groom a bit older, than she was led to believe.
  • In This Quest is Bullshit!, this is what kickstarts the entire story of Evelia Greene.
  • The Undertaker: Barnaby Gold was born and raised in New York before being dragged out west to New Mexico town of Fairfax after his mother died. He was never happy there and planned to sell up and travel to Europe after his father died, but has to go on the run after killing Floyd Channon in the first book.
  • Rusty, the first protagonist of Warrior Cats, decides to give up his place as a house cat and join the Clans because of this.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Both Greg and Valencia see West Covina as this, and it's the subject of one of the series' most surprisingly earnest songs, "What'll It Be?" Contrast Josh, who loves how peaceful and uncomplicated it is, or Rebecca, who tries to convince herself it's something amazing and special to justify why she moved there, because it DEFINITELY wasn't because Josh lives there.
    Greg: Hey West Covina, why won't you let me break free? Am I doomed to stay here pouring my high school friends beer for the rest of eternity?
  • In Cybervillage, Marinka, Nikolay's older daughter, seems to suffer from it.
  • Daredevil (2015): In a season 3 flashback showing Karen's backstory, we see Karen dealing with this. It's prominent enough that her father and brother can see it, and it's implied that this (plus her father's inability to handle his money) is the reason she's shagging a drug dealer named Todd Neiman.
  • Dead Man's Gun: The kids who get mixed up with the bank robbery in "Bad Boys" although they change their minds at the end.
  • Doctor Who: In "Amy's Choice", Amy eventually admits this to Rory about their life in the Upper Leadworth reality, saying it's not what she had in mind for herself. Even when they're sitting on the bench early on, all three of our protagonists are clearly bored and have nothing to say to each other for a few moments before the Doctor asks what they do to stave off the... self-harm (at the same time, Amy says "boredom").
  • This was why Wash became a space pilot in Firefly. He grew up in an industrial town on a backwards planet, so polluted you couldn't even see the sky, and hopped a shuttle off of it as soon as possible. He also mentions having once visited a town so boring that the most entertaining thing you could do was juggle goslings. "Baby geese. My hand to God. They were juggled."
  • In an episode of The George Lopez Show, George is considering taking a new job and moving the family to a small town in Colorado. He believes that it will be a better place for the kids instead of L.A. However, when they go there to look around, they see that the kids that live there have literally nothing else to do but smoke, drink, and get into trouble (a little girl encourages Max to steal for little more than the fact it's a cheap thrill.)
  • On Gilmore Girls, Rory has dreams of escaping Stars Hollow to become an overseas correspondent. Subverted in the fact she actually loves her small town, but she wants to explore beyond it. Played straighter with Jess, who moves From New York to Nowhere to live with his uncle, makes it clear he thinks Stars Hollow is lame, and pulls pranks to alleviate his boredom.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Ruby (Red Riding Hood's counterpart) suffers from this. She actually tried to leave town prior to the show, but the curse gave her grandmother a heart attack, forcing her to stay in Storybrooke.
    • Milah is often seen at the town's tavern and is bored of being a wife and a mother, so she fakes being kidnapped by Captain Hook to run away with him and his crew, abandoning her husband and young child. But when Rumpelstiltskin finds out about the deception, it does not end well for her.
  • An episode of That '70s Show has Hyde use this trope as an explanation for why the gang stole the drive-through sculpture of Fatso The Clown from Fatso Burger.

  • The Garth Brooks song "Nobody Gets Off in This Town"'' — referring both to how nobody gets off the bus here and to the lack of entertainment opportunities.
  • Dexter Freebish - "Leaving Town" (I know you've been talking about leaving / You've lost all your feelings for this town.)
  • Kelly Clarkson - "Breakaway", which is all about wanting to break away from the small town where she grew up.
  • "Subdivisions" by Rush.
    • Even more so "Middletown Dreams".
    • Experienced by the protagonist of Clockwork Angels in "Caravan".
  • Much of Big Black's work, such as "Cables" and "Kerosene", deals with how people alleviate this trope.
    • "Kerosene" is a particularly dark example. It's about someone who decides the only cure for his boredom is a combination of sex and fire.
  • "Dry County" by The B-52s, on the album Cosmic Thing.
  • "Midnight Girl/Sunset Town" by Sweethearts of the Rodeo.
  • The song "Small Town" from Lou Reed and John Cale's eulogy for Andy Warhol, Songs For Drella.
  • "Texas in My Rearview Mirror" by Mac Davis. He inverts the trope in the final verse, though, realizing that he was happiest in the small town.
  • "Thunder Road", Born to Run... Basically, a lot of stuff by Bruce Springsteen.
  • "Face the Promise" by Bob Seger.
  • "Every Day Is Like Sunday" by Morrissey, about a seaside town they forgot to close/bomb down.
  • "Something To Do" by Depeche Mode. The singer, living in a factory town, is "going crazy from boredom" and says "it's a wonder this town doesn't sink".
  • "Cool Enough" by Nicole Atkins.
  • "Black and White Town" by Doves.
  • Taylor Swift, particularly in "White Horse".
  • While the song itself isn't about it, the song "White Kids Love Hip-Hop" by mc chris has a spoken-word monologue by Andy Merril along these lines.
    Aw man, there's nothing to do in this stupid town. Rope swing's busted, stinkin' cops always kicking me out of the park, manager of the 7-11 always saying 'Get off my curb, you good-for-nothings!'. All the girls already know I'm a bad kisser so they won't come anywhere near me. I dunno how many times I've been to T.G.I.F; a kid can eat an Onion Bloom only so many times. Bowling's boring, the skating rink's been taken over by twelve-year-olds. There ain't no good movies out. Blockbuster never has any good games in. I don't want to play Bombad Racing! I mean, what the heck is that? I'm sick of all my records but any time I go to the record store, I forget what I want to get! And there ain't nothing on TV! Not a stupid thing! There ain't nothing to do but take naps, and wait patiently for death!"
  • Sara Evans' "Bible Song;" after the narrator's cousin commits suicide to escape, she gets out before she goes the same way ("so no one would sing some Bible song over me").
  • Steve Earle's "Someday".
  • The Band Perry's "Independence".
  • "Stuck" by Ash Bowers.
  • The aptly named "Small Town Bringdown" by The Tragically Hip.
  • "Whistle Down the Wind", from Bone Machine by Tom Waits, is about someone who feels this but can't make himself leave. It's implied that he's contemplating suicide.
    I can't stay here, and I'm scared to leave.
    • "Burma Shave" from Foreign Affairs by Tom Waits deals with a girl who runs away with a handsome out-of-town stranger in order to escape this. Again, it ends kind of darkly.
  • "Small Town Saturday Night" by Hal Ketchum. Particularly the third verse.
    Bobby told Lucy: the world ain't round
    Drops off sharp at the edge of town
    Lucy, you know the world must be flat
    'Cause when people leave town they never come back
    They go ninety miles an hour to the city limit sign
    Put the pedal to the metal 'fore they change their mind
  • John Mellencamp's "Small Town" is one of the more notable aversions of this. Its narrator was born, lives, and will "prob'ly die" in the same small town, as is perfectly okay with that.
  • "Down Home" by Alabama. The narrator couldn't wait to get out of his hometown when he was young. But now that he's older, he appreciates how peaceful and friendly the town is and he wants to raise his family there.
  • Stevie Wonder's "Living For the City" from Innervisions tells the story of various people living in poverty who are "living just enough for the city". However, the song, especially the album version, implies that the city isn't much better than their current lives.
  • The Kinks' "Village Green" from The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is a deconstruction. The narrator left his small town years ago while seeking fame. Returning he's not only dismayed by how much the town has changed but also feels responsible.
  • The character Jesus of Suburbia from Green Day's American Idiot. The eponymous track on the album (which is actually a medley of five fairly short songs) tells of his tiredness of his conformist life in the suburbs (hence the name "Jesus of Suburbia"), so he announces his plans to leave home and go to the city to become a punk. His family tries to stop him by taking him to some therapy sessions and trying to help him, but they let him go anyway. After the song, JOS quickly goes from having the time of his life to becoming lonely and depressed. He briefly finds love in Whatsername, but she breaks up with him, leading to him deciding to return home.
  • The narrator of "Big Time" from Peter Gabriel's album So does not think highly of the small town he's from or the people who live in it, since "they think so small, they use small words" and he considers himself to be smarter than that. He spends the rest of the song singing about moving to "the big, big city" and listing off the different "big" things he'll do and see there.
  • The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" is about spending time in such a town before playing a gig... even if the city that inspired it was London, back when it closed down during Christmas.
  • Referenced in "Hello" by Adele.
    Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happens?
  • The aptly named "Small Town" by Kero Kero Bonito:
    And I would like to fly away
    Around here everybody knows my name
    And they all think I am so strange
  • "Hardware Store" by "Weird Al" Yankovic opens with the narrator lamenting that "Nothing ever ever happens in this town". Apparently his hometown is so dull he regards the grand opening of a hardware store as cause for celebration.
  • "Cruising For Burgers", "Centerville" and "Wind Up Working In A Gas Station", among others, by Frank Zappa.
  • Samantha Fish's song "Cowtown" is about someone who has finally made the decision to leave the dead-end life in the small "cow" town.
  • "My Little Town" by Simon & Garfunkel:
    In my little town I never meant nothing
    I was just my father's son
    Saving my money
    Dreamin' of glory
    Twitching like a finger on a trigger of a gun
    Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town
  • "Shit Towne" by Live.
  • Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen" is about a boy who wants to leave his boring town with his crush.
  • Ray LaMontagne's "Beg Steal or Borrow" is about a young man whose desire to break free of his town doesn't fade as he grows up, as it does for his once-rebellious friends.
  • "Anchorage", the Signature Song of Michelle Shocked, is about a woman who has moved to Alaska from New York and is trying to downplay her small-town boredom.
  • "Big Wheels in the Moonlight" by Dan Seals.
    I came from a town that was so small
    If you looked both ways you could see it all
    All I wanted was some way out
    Every evening I'd slip into town
    Stand around by the caution light
    And watch big trucks rolling by
    To me it was a beautiful sight
    Big wheels in the moonlight
  • Dixie Chicks' "Long Time Gone," where the narrator, desperate to achieve their dreams of music stardom, ditches their small country town, which they view as stifling and unable to help them achieve their dream. However, they do eventually return, abandoning their lofty dreams in favor of settling down.
  • Frank Turner's "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The One Of Me", a restless young man's ode to getting out of his parents' house in a small town, which ends on the tongue-in-cheek note that "we're all gonna move to London anyway, so I'll see you in town"
  • A rare positive example with "Thrice All American", painting Tacoma, WA as something she loves exactly because it's this trope as well as a Dying Town.
    God bless California! Make way for the Wal-Marts!
    I hope they don't find you, Tacoma.
  • A very, very common topic in many a Pop Punk song.
  • "Oklahoma Smokeshow" by Zach Bryan is about a young woman stuck in "That small town bar scene/Where small vices kill your big dreams."

  • The setting for the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town is the town of Nowhere, Kansas, which is this in spades. The school motto is "Going Nowhere Fast".
  • During Episode 398 of the Rooster Teeth Podcast, Chris and Blaine talk about the weird stuff they did in their small towns as teenagers because there was just nothing to do. Both admit that it's pretty common to just... randomly climb buildings, among other things, which Miles jokes is them looking for an escape. Miles then quickly jots down the hallmarks of small-town America, which match Chris and Blaine's hometowns, before noting that it's a miracle they didn't succumb to hard drugs.
  • In Unwell Podcast, Lily Harper saw Mount Absalom as too small and boring as a teenager and has similar feelings when returning as an adult.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • On his album Werewolves And Lollipops, Patton Oswalt talks about growing up in Sterling, Virginia, and "The Test Of The Small Town". You pass the test when you say "I'm leaving before I kill everyone and then myself!" You fail it when you say, "I'm gonna get a job at the Citgo and fill my truck up for free!"

  • The title character in Evita expresses this in "Eva Beware of the City".
    Bad is good for me
    I'm bored, so clean, and so ignored
    I've only been predictable, respectable
    Birds fly out of here, so why oh why oh why the hell can't I?
    I only want variety, of society
  • Patrice introduces the town of Appleton, Indiana as "The Lamest Place in the World" to new kid Evan in 13.
  • In The Fantasticks, Matt and Luisa both decide they want to go their separate ways and see the world, explored in their Act Two duets with El Gallo, "I Can See It" and "Round and Round".
  • The Golden Apple begins with Helen dejectedly complaining that "nothing ever happens in Angel's Roost." Ulysses is also enticed by the thrills of city life, despite his promise to stay home with Penelope after returning from the war.
  • Veronica Sawyer in Heathers expresses her desire to get to college somewhere more sophisticated than her small Ohio town populated by useless adults, predatory jocks, and a cruel Girl Posse with an Alpha Bitch that rules with an iron fist.
  • Uranium, Saskatchewan of Ride the Cyclone is a shrinking, insignificant little mining town in northern Canada, home to the main characters who all die in the first fifteen minutes of the show. Noel worked a miserable job at the Taco Bell in the mall because he wanted to save up enough money to move to France, Mischa wanted to become a famous rapper and move back to Ukraine to be with his online girlfriend, and Ocean wanted to leave Uranium so she could make a difference in the world. The only member of the choir who ever expressed any fondness for Uranium was Constance, and she was teased mercilessly by her classmates for liking their hometown. Several lines in "Sailing Through Space" reference their fears that they'll never leave their hometown — a tragic irony because all six of them die (and five remain dead) without having gotten the chance to move away.
  • Shucked: Averted. Maizy doesn't want to leave because she's bored, she wants to go out and find someone who can help with their corn.

    Video Games 
  • In APICO, your character has recently moved to the APICO Islands because they were bored with life in the city.
  • Mikasalla in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. The locals even tell you that if you're looking for someone, the best place to look is somewhere else.
  • Persona 4: Inaba is a small rural town where normally, at least before the murders, nothing of interest happens. This provides initial characterization for several characters.
    • Yosuke Hanamura is a transfer student who comes from a big city. As such, in the beginning he's secretly very frustrated by having nothing exciting to do. Shadow Yosuke amplifies this aspect and mocks him for being a Heroic Wannabe and treating the murders as an excuse to have an adventure. While he still calls Inaba boring, he admits the new friends are worth more than the thrills.
    • Yukiko Amagi is the inheritor of the Amagi Inn, which she's not very fond of, and is expected to soon become its manager. Her boredom manifests in Shadow Yukiko, who accuses her of prefering a self-inflicted Gilded Cage and doing nothing but wait for a "prince" to take her away from Inaba. She eventually chooses to stay at the Inn in gratitude for her family.
    • Boredom comes up in Eri Minami's Social Link. She has married an Inaba man who had a son and finds the town somewhat boring. TV and the Internet are her only forms of entertainment, and she also has no friends among the other mothers who come to the daycare center.
    • The Heavy's main motive turns out to be the lack of fun. Per his admission, Tohru Adachi only became a police officer to legally walk with a gun, but quickly finds that there's really nothing for him to do in Inaba. The first murder happened accidentally in an Attempted Rape, because Mayumi Yamano rejected his love confession, while Saki Konishi was killed deliberately, both of whom Adachi considers his playthings. Realizing there are now both the supernatural and multiple people involved in the case, he masterminds the events of the rest of the game solely For the Evulz.
    • One of the Midnight Channel's apparent purposes is to provide entertainment for the audience, by showcasing the worst aspects of a victim's personality in an advanced Malicious Slander. One of the themes of the game is that the best and not the worst parts makes the person interesting.
    • Depending on player's dialogue choices, Yu can also agree the town is lackluster, though it has no gameplay significance.
  • Kingdom Hearts has this on a planetary scale. After Kairi falls from the sky and appears on the Destiny Islands, Riku becomes obsessed with learning what's out there. Several games later, it turns out that Terra and Aqua dropping by a year before that is what first planted the idea, and that the franchise's uber-villain started out the exact same way.
    "This just too small."
  • Both Ratchet & Clank (2002) and Ratchet & Clank feature this trope IN SPACE!, with Ratchet living on the backwater world of Veldin where Ratchet has very little future ahead of him. In the PS2 game he leaves purely for the fun of adventure, while in the movie and its video game Ratchet leaves to become a famed hero with the Galactic Rangers.
  • One official source states that Sonic The Hedgehog only began exploring because he was bored with his birthplace, Christmas Island.
  • Lieutenant Kyona, the tactical officer of the USS Enterprise-F in Star Trek Online, said that she grew up in an agricultural community on Cait and initially joined Starfleet because it was the most exciting career she could think of.
  • This is a recurring theme in Story of Seasons, as the games take place in rural towns:
  • Stardew Valley has Abigail who desperately wants to see the world or go adventuring in the nearby mine, but is held back by her protective father.

    Web Comics 
  • The Backstory of Lars from Girl Genius. He was a cheesemaker's apprentice and left with the circus because life was boring in his home.
  • In Dragon Sanctuary, this is Dean's main motivation for getting away from his village and becoming a Slayer or Bannerman or anything, really.
  • Pacem's situation in the prologue of Lucid Spring. Repa is a small and uneventful town, but Pacem stays there on orders from her father.
  • Questionable Content: The teenage Emmett apparently suffered from a literally near-lethal case of boredom in the small Canadian town where they previously lived; a combination of boredom and social isolation led them to a series of stunts that were unwise even by the standards of poor teenage judgment.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: This shows up in both Tuuri and Reynir's backstories. The Plague that has been around for ninety years results in those who are not The Immune greatly discouraged from leaving whichever place they were born in, and the Depopulation Bomb resulting from the initial outbreak has made just about all settlements small (sometimes very small) towns. Tuuri has lived in two of those small settlements during her childhood, the second implied to be significantly larger than the first, but still yearns for more. Reynir lives in the only known entire country to have been secured, but his great-grandfather who was alive during the initial outbreak reacted to the circumstances by intentionally moving to a small town.

    Web Video 
  • Pirate SMP: The reason Jojo ventured beyond her tiny home village to sail the seas, only to be captured by the Hooded Figures, leading up to her breaking out with her fellow captives and joining the Nightingale faction on the Isles.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Flamin' Thongs, 14-year-old Narelle considers Whale Bay to be the most boring place on earth and desperately wishes she could move to 'the big smoke'. This is despite the chaos her family wreaks on the town every episode.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Into The Bunker", Wendy tells Dipper that she was going through this until he and his sister Mabel arrived.
  • The title character from Katy La Oruga begins her adventure because she considers the safe cherry tree where she and her sisters live to be "ever so boring."
  • Touched on sometimes in King of the Hill, specifically the episode where Hank worries about losing Bobby to a more exciting place... like Wichita Falls, home of the Dallas Cowboys training camp. Hank tries to campaign to have the training camp moved to Arlen, with disastrous results, but in the end Bobby says that he would never move to Wichita Falls—because to be a prop comic you need to go to New York or Los Angeles.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", Applejack's story involves her suffering from this and deciding to leave Ponyville for the big city of Manehattan, where her wealthy Aunt and Uncle Orange reside. Once the culture shock sets in, however, she realizes that her birthplace, Sweet Apple Acres, is where she really belongs; as a result, she earns her Cutie Mark.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: This can even happen in good-sized cities that aren't as huge as others. In the United States, for example:
    • Some states, such as Indiana and Iowa, have problems keeping up job rates because college grads and other people of age immediately flee to larger cities such as Chicago or LA to seek gainful employment.
    • Oklahoma has successfully documented the "Great Brain Drain", a finding that 50% of all university graduates leave the state for any state which has both better odds of employment and appears less boring to their university-educated eyes. One consequence of this finding has been a reluctance for Oklahoma parents to allow their children to attend university because they fear that a university education will take their children away from them. It's theorized that this is one of the contributing factors to Oklahoma's increasingly severe issues with meth addiction among its residents; to escape both the lack of prospects and the high poverty rate, many people turn to illicit substances, leading to a downward spiral of addicts who can't make progress in their lives and therefore remain addicts.
    • It gets worse in rural regions like the Great Plains and New England, where this trope, combined with industrialized agriculture outcompeting small farmers, has been causing "rural flight". Small towns are being abandoned as young people are moving and old people are dying at much faster rates than they're being replaced, and the latest Census survey holds that some areas now have a lower population density than they did in 1890, the year that the frontier was declared to be closed. There have even been calls to bring back the Homestead Act (which was repealed in 1976) in order to resettle the Plains states.
    • This has caused some major problems when you consider some essential occupations like medical care. Some midwestern states have instituted incentive programs for graduating medical students from out of state to come live and work in their states, up to and including total forgiveness of student debt.
  • Inverted in some areas of the Rust Belt, especially Detroit, where young inner suburbanites and city dwellers go from universities in the bigger cities to high-paying jobs in the exurbs. The fastest-growing towns in the state are all boring bedroom communities 45 minutes from anywhere of import.
  • Hawaiʻi residents may experience "Island Fever," which is basically this trope applied to whichever island they happen to live on, since there's only so much to do on any given island, and they may rarely (or never) have the opportunity to visit other islands or visit the mainland due to the relative expense of doing so and the high costs of living in Hawaii.
    • A similar phenomenon exists in Alaska. Its towns can be extremely remotenote , and air travel within Alaska can be expensive, let alone travelling to the "south" (read: the lower 48 states). This is a huge reason why Anchorage has grown exponentially over the years; it's the largest city in thousands of miles and pretty much the only option for Alaskans wanting an urban lifestyle without leaving their home state.
  • Overall, the Western world has undergone (at the very least) one major cycle of this over the last two hundred years or so. When the industrial revolution came, many people left behind their small towns and villages for jobs in the city. Sure, they had No OSHA Compliance, you lived on the Wrong Side of the Tracks, but it still beat being stuck in a dead-end agricultural job, same as your ancestors all the way back to the Stone Age. Later on, the Railroad, the Streetcar, the bicycle, and then the Automobile enabled people to move "further out" and still work in industrial jobs, which would one day result in "drive till you qualify" suburbs in some places. Jobs would also move out and ultimately people would live in one place, work in another, play in yet another and drive everywhere. Some jobs even allowed working from home. Ultimately all the effects of this trope hit hard, and starting sometime in the 1980s, 1990s, and picking up steam with the great recession, more and more people - particularly young, childless folk, are flocking back to cities.