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"Spain is a peaceful land of giant hats and luchadores (or maybe we're getting that confused)."

Fiction writers seem to not just confuse Mexico and Spain, but to fuse them into a strange amalgam of the most general stereotypes of both, much as Scotireland fuses Scotland and Ireland. Maybe it's because they share a language and their majority religion, the fact that Mexico used to be a Spanish colony, they both have exotic foods and customs compared to an Anglo-Saxon culture,note  or simply that the author didn't check the facts and hasn't travelled much, either.

American writers (and particularly those in California) also have the excuse that Mexico is literally over the border from the US note  while Spain is an ocean away, so the more familiar Mexican culture to them colors their perception of Spain. This approach, naturally, requires the writer to ignore that Mexican culture owes as much to the native cultures that existed there before the Spanish conquest, like the Maya and the Aztec/Mexica ones, as it does to Spain's (although Hollywood has never showed its strength when having to keep those apart either), that Mexico is more influenced by U.S. culture than Spain is, and that the two countries are, simply put, an ocean apart from each other and have been not under the same flag for almost two centuries now, meaning that they have had ample room to develop independently from each other - be it in law, politics, holidays, food, dress, music or even language. Indeed, not only do they speak different dialects of Spanish in Spain and Mexico (the epic wars between supporters of Castilian and Latin American dubs on YouTube are a testament to that) but there are also different accents and dialects within the countries themselves.

In short, saying Spain and Mexico are the same is like saying that the United Kingdom and the United States are the same.

This trope came to be due to the "Good Neighbor Policy" in the 1930s and 1940s, when America sought friendly non-interventional diplomatic ties with Latin American countries. Prior to this, works that revolve around Spanish language and culture focused directly towards Spain. Following the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco's regime, media, especially Hollywood media, sought for easier and more practical alternatives, and with Franklin D. Roosevelt's implementation of the Good Neighbor Policy, they looked no further than Mexico as a shorthand for Spain, and it stuck ever since even after World War II and the death of Franco in 1975.

In its usual form, this trope is represented by a group or town that is full of stereotypically Mexican or Spanish people, set in a location or doing an activity better suited to the other. That is, when they aren't just made into a mish-mash. It could be a Spanish mariachi band at a wedding instead of a tuna singing Clavelitos, or a town of thick-mustachioed men in sombreros and ponchos dancing Flamenco. When South of the Border and Latin Land are brought into the mix, it could even end with Spain being depicted as a hot, tropical jungle or desert full of revolutionary outlaws, sometimes fighting a Banana Republic run by a Fascist dictator (which might have been technically true during Franco's dictatorship, except there are no tropical jungles in Spain. But it's definitely false in anything set after 1978, and that's being generous). It also takes the form of Spanish characters sporting names or surnames that are Hispanic in origin but geographically uncharacteristic (for example, Salazar or Chávez are very common in the American continent, but actually very rare in Spain).

US productions are likely to misrepresent Spaniards more often than Mexicans, since Mexicans have many more demonstrable stereotypes in American pop-culture than Spaniards do, and they will likely have a much easier time casting Mexican actors (or from anywhere else in Latin America) than Spanish ones, accents and even race be damned. In Japan, where both nations are equally exotic, the mix and mash is likelier to happen both ways. It cuts the other way in Europe, where British productions in particular see Mexico (and the rest of Latin America outside Brazil) as nothing more than a region of Spain with sombreros and chili where the familiar Castilian (European) version of Spanish is universally spoken.

See Toros y Flamenco and South of the Border for Hollywood Atlas versions of Spain and Mexico, respectively. Contrast Latin Land for a similar fusion of different countries south of the United States in a process not that different of Spexico, with only jungle or llamas added for flavor depending on the circumstances, and narcoterrorists if convenient. Compare Latino Is Brown, when fictional depictions of Latin American characters are portrayed as Mestizos.

Often linked to Developing Nations Lack Cities.

Compare Far East, Ancient Grome, Scotireland, and Mayincatec. Spexico is not the only example of transatlantic fusion, however: a similar phenomenon occurs with depictions of Quebec in Hollywood movies as being full of Frenchmen with Parisian accents and mannerisms, and outside the Anglosphere some people can't see the difference between the UK and the US either.


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  • Verizon, as seen in this sociologist's blog post, has got a print ad out there with "Coverage in Spain" on it (just ignore the "and 25 more countries than the UN recognizes" part) with the Verizon guy in front of a crowd of stereotypical Mexicans.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones issue "The Fourth Nail" loops the loop with its visit to Argenspexico. Mapuche boleadoras are a widespread civilian weapon in Barcelona (a white village with sandy streets that people call Barcelona, that's it). Indy's local sidekick is a Gipsy pickpocket dressed like a Mexican bandito, who also cons people out of pesos, a currency never used in Spain. And like the rest of the series, the comic takes place in late 1936, a time we all know had no significance whatsoever in Barcelona's or Spain's history, so everything remains bucholic and harmless.

    Films — Animated 
  • In TMNT, the four ancient Aztec generals are named Mono, Gato, Aguila, and Serpiente. Why would ancient Aztec people from 1000BC have names in Spanish? Not only did the Spanish language not exist 3000 years ago (for that matter, it's debatable whether Latin did) - the Spanish people did not conquest the Azteca till after 1521 AD, and the Aztec Empire itself got started in 1323 AD. So this is also an Anachronism Stew.
  • In Thumbelina, "Los Sapos Guapos" come from Spain. They feature elements from Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina in their songs (and possibly more countries). They do not stop at Spexico, though - they also throw in elements from Brazil and Italy! note  All while living in France. It is worth noting, however, that lead singer Mrs. Toad is voiced by actress Charo, who is a native Spaniard.
  • In the 1930's Classic Disney Short Ferdinand the Bull, the narrator tells us the story is set in "sunny Spain." However, many of the Spaniards look like stereotypical Mexicans, with sombreros, brown skin, thick black mustaches, etc.
  • DreamWorks Animation's Puss in Boots (2011). In Shrek 2, the setting is against a take on Arthurian England, so viewers assumed Puss was Spanish. In this prequel, it shows he came from somewhat of an amalgam of Spain and Mexico. This actually makes sense, since Puss is played by Antonio Banderas, famous for often playing Latin American characters, and generally spoofs Zorro, whom Banderas played. Spain itself is directly mentioned at one time, though.
    • This is enforced in the Spaniard dub, where all but three characters are dubbed in Standard Castilian (though Jack & Jill sound unschooled and low class). The exceptions are Puss (also voiced by Banderas, but in his signature heavy SW Andalusian accent), Kitty and the Comandante (voiced, like in the English version, by Salma Hayek and Guillermo del Toro, both with Mexican accents).
  • Coco: Defied. The development team flew to Mexico and did extensive research on everything native to it. From the architecture, to the music, to the food, and especially the local mannerisms in order to make the movie feel as authentic as possible. The vast majority of the cast is of Latino descent (as are the vast majority of the musicians that played for the soundtrack) and the characters use the Mexican dialect of Spanish rather than the typical version taught in American schools, paying particular attention to uniquely Latin American details like Elena's preferred weapon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Viggo Mortensen was cast as a swashbuckling hero in the Spanish Film of the Book Alatriste. This trope comes into play as he speaks fluent Spanish, but it's the Argentine accent (he lived in Argentina in his youth for several years), which is different from both European (Castilian) and Mexican Spanish. Mortensen does his best to hide it, but he still sounds like he's having difficulty articulating. Given that the character is rather laconic anyway, the filmmakers might have thought that this was an acceptable artistic choice. The book's author, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, was quite satisfied with him overall.
  • Many Spanish-speaking actors are cast as other nationalities within the Spanish-speaking world. This isn't particularly surprising given how often all actors play characters of different ethnic backgrounds than their own.
    • Antonio Banderas is Spanish, but often plays Mexican characters, such as in his two El Mariachi films. In the original English version and in the Mexican dub for Shrek he gives Puss-in-Boots a thick Spaniard accent, whereas in the Spaniard dub he uses an Andalusian accent (which, funnily enough, is his mother accent—he's from Málaga).
    • Penélope Cruz is Spanish, but has played Mexican and even Brazilian characters.
    • Jordi Mollà is also constantly playing Latin Americans characters despite being Spanish.
    • Óscar Jaenada is also required often to play Latinos, maybe for being a natural Dashing Hispanic.
    • Many aspiring Spanish actors worked as extras in spaghetti westerns (shot in scenic Almería, Southern Spain) playing Mexican characters. You can make a game of watching these movies and spotting the extras who would later gain recognition.
    • Gael García Bernal, who is Mexican and has played so in Babel, has played the Argentinian Che Guevara in two different movies. He also played a Spaniard in Bad Education (2004), after convincing director Pedro Almodóvar that he could speak with a convincing Castilian accent.
    • Dafne Keen is Spanish-British and in Logan this is very clear as she has a Spanish accent. This was changed in the Mexican dub, where she has a Mexican accent, and even uses lingo. In the same vein, Elizabeth Rodriguez is of Puerto Rican descent and plays a Mexican character, taken to the next level by the fact that she was born in Manhattan and clearly doesn't know how to speak Spanish.
    • And reportedly back in the day when Spanish-language versions of movies were shot on the same Hollywood (literally) sets at night, whoever was available was cast totally without consideration of diverse accents—Spexico meets Latin Land.
  • Invoked in The Spanish Apartment by Cedric Klapisch, a Spanish student takes offense at the way a visiting Brit caricatures her country, and mentions that saying "Caramba" is a Mexican, not a Spanish thing... Even though it actually is (if Totally Radical, though).
  • Vantage Point is set in Salamanca, Spain but was shot mostly in Puebla, Mexico and it shows. The actors that can do a Castilian accent do, a few extras are dubbed over, and others ( Matthew Fox in particular) fail at it miserably. Mexican green beetle taxis, stop signs reading "ALTO" rather than "STOP", and humid-soaked buildings and tropical green mountains can be seen in the background, despite Salamanca being in the middle of a drier, colder plain.
  • In the original 1919 novel The Curse of Capistrano, the father of Don Diego de la Vega a.k.a. Zorro was a Spanish nobleman but Zorro himself was born and raised in Los Angeles and was active during the time when California was part of Mexico (1821-1846). The old movies changed the character to be born in Spain and active during the earlier Spanish rule, and gave him his iconic outfit topped by an Andalusian hat. Later, The Mask of Zorro returned him to the Mexican period by way of Legacy Character. This was advertised in Spain as the first Zorro movie to star a Spanish actor (Antonio Banderas), yet ironically, Banderas' character in the movie is neither De la Vega nor a Spaniard, but a Los Angeles native loosely based on Joaquín Murrieta, a Mexican bandit that was active in California during the Gold Rush. Commendably, the custom department incorporated Mexican designs into the second (Mexican) Zorro's suit, which contrast with the classic suit worn by his Spanish-born predecessor.
  • The crews of the Amistad (a Spanish ship registered in Cuba) and the Tecora (a Portuguese ship) speak Mexican Spanish. The two Spaniards that claim damages for the loss of the Amistad are played by a Mexican-American and a Puerto Rican actor who use their native accents.
  • American Assassin: Terrorists attack a beach resort in Ibiza. Tropical vegetation? Check (the scene was actually shot in Phuket, Thailand of all places). Latin American accents? Check (not that it's uncommon to find a Latin American barman in a Spanish beach resort, however). And yet the film has many other scenes shot in Malta and Italy, which would have easily passed for Mediterranean Spain.
  • In Murder Mystery, the terrible Spanish tour operator booked by the main characters is called Gonzales, which is a Latin American spelling (European: González).
  • Father of the Bride (2022): One of Natalie's first pitches for the wedding theme involves flamenco. Billy is quick to point out that flamenco is Spanish, and her clients are Mexican and Cuban.
    Natalie: Teachable moment.
  • The Valley of Gwangi is set in rural Mexico, but was filmed in Spain (in Almería and Cuenca) and many of the native characters are Roma (which are much more common in Spain than Mexico).
  • Bedazzled (2000): Brendan Fraser wakes up as a "Colombian drug lord" (a transparent expy of Pablo Escobar) after he wishes to be very rich. The Regional Riff used is "Bem, Bem, Maria" by the Gypsy Kings, a French Rumba Flamenca group with ancestry from Spain.

  • Most astounding example in Tom Clancy 's Op-Center: Balance of Power: It looks like the author's first intention was to draw a parallelism between the nationalities of the former Yugoslavia and Spain, but did not do the most basic research and confused "ethnicity" with race. As a result, his depiction of Spain is that of a society divided in races with close resemblance to the traditional socioeconomic enviroment of Mexico and other countries in Ibero-America (i.e. Whites on top, Mestizos in the middle, Indians and Blacks at the bottom), without realizing that said division is the result of a centuries-long mestizaje that couldn't obviously exist in Spain because most of the immigration was one way. And that's only one of the thousands of errors in the book.
    • The book takes the trope and beats you with it when it has two American operatives successfully pose as Spaniards despite never having been to Spain before: they manage because one was undercover for years in Mexico City. Would the same author write about a foreign agent going undercover in London because he had learned English in Texas?
    • San Sebastián, Spain is described as a once unremarkable fishing village that was transformed into a beach tourism boomtown by outside capital just a few decades ago, leaving the locals angry with the loss of their traditional way of life. In other words, the author just turned a province capital with history going back to the Middle Ages into an expy of Cancún.
  • The War That Came Early did the research when it had Chaim Weinberg remind himself that in Castilian dialect the letters C and Z are pronounced like 'th' rather than 's'note . Sadly, it invalidated itself immediately by having Spanish characters using Mexican slang like mamacita or pendejo.
  • Dan Brown:
    • Digital Fortress portrays Seville, Spain as a Third World hellhole with rampant crime, poverty and corruption, where injured citizens have to struggle to get basic medical treatment at hospitals, and most people apparently don't have access to hot water. Brown apparently confused some of the more negative stereotypes about Mexico with Spain, which is a fairly prosperous Western European country with universal healthcare since 1986 and a healthcare system that is considered one of the best in the world.
    • Done again in The Da Vinci Code, where Oviedo, Spain is portrayed as a little village where one Catholic missionary builds a church with his own hands (which would actually be uncommon in Mexico either, even in its poorest locations).
  • In Princess Mariana And Lixo Island, it is never specified where Mariana lives. Is she in Latin America, or the Iberian Peninsula? The location has access to the ocean (so it is not a landlocked countrynote ) and relatively warm weather- but the actual inhabitants, flora, and fauna could be part of both Iberian countries, as well as many Latin American countries.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls repeatedly describes Spanish gypsies as physically resembling Indians (American Indians, not the Indian Indians gypsies actually descend from) and holding shamanistic beliefs and rituals stereotypical of Injun Country. The version of the Spanish Civil War in the book seems to lack actual fronts and plays more like a Western set in the Indian Wars or in The Mexican Revolution, with the derailment of a train serving as the climax of the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There is an episode of Full House where the oldest daughter tries to sell her father a trip to Spain, mariachi hat included.
  • Take a band of Zapatistas. The more indigenous the better. Then drop them in the Rockies, dress them with the clothes left over by the Sicilian scenes of The Godfather and make them live in wooden barracks with bananas in the porch. According to MacGyver (1985), this is Basque Country.
  • In Arrested Development Maeby buys plane tickets to Portugal because she wants her parents to think she's going to South America. Later, GOB discovers the tickets and, knowing that Michael is trying to learn Spanish, he concludes that Michael is fleeing to South America.
    • In the new series on Netflix, George Michael spends a year in "Spain" for study abroad, but from what we're shown it more closely resembles Mexico. He loses his virginity to and is implied to have impregnated his hostess, played by an American actress of Puerto Rican descent. All of the people he interacts with in "Spain" are played by Latin Americans.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?
    • Lampshaded in a sketch where Neil Ashdown is supposed to be a bartender in Spain:
    Neil: Would you care for some tortillas? ... No, wait, that's Mexico. Never mind ... I've been around, you know.note 
    • In another episode, during a game of Hollywood Director, the three actors play out a scene from Zorro, which takes place in Mexico. None of their fake accents are even remotely alike, prompting Ryan to comment, "Funny how we all come from a different part of Spain!"
  • Played straight by Blanche about her Cuban suitor in an episode of The Golden Girls:
    Blanche: The point is, [Fidel]'s rich, he's handsome and we were made for each other... even if I don't speak Mexican.
    Dorothy: Spanish.
    Blanche: WHATEVER!
  • In the Season 5 Angel episode "Unleashed," the episode's villain Crane says the following to his clientele (note that mole is a family of Mexican sauces):
    Crane: When I dined on werewolf in Seville, the cocinera used an understated molé [sic] sauce to bring out the meat's tanginess.
  • One episode of Mind of Mencia had a Spanish celebrity invoke this to get into a nightclub. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The Lost episode "Ab Aeterno"'s flashbacks are set in the Canary Islands, yet the accents and dialects used are all Latin American Spanish. Almost an Acceptable Break from Reality, since Canary Spanish actually has an accent vaguely similar to that of some Latin American dialects.
  • In the 8th season of How I Met Your Mother, Ted recalls a trip he made to Spain with a fanny pack. The montage shows Ted going through a map of the correct country (albeit with all the cities misplaced and many of them misspelled; one's spot even falls in Portugal even though it is coloured differently) and in typical Toros y Flamenco places. Then, at the end of the montage, a group of Mexican mariachi show up, and Ted proudly (but obliviously) points out that he was nicknamed by the locals El ganso con la riñoneranote  ("The doofus with the fanny pack"). So off, it has to be deliberate. Nonetheless, this scene still caused enough controversy in Hispanic countries that in international airings it was replaced with one where he travels through Mexico instead.
  • A background news piece in Intelligence (2014) mentions a "Federal Police in Spain". Mexico has a federal police, but Spain doesn't.note  The world of Intelligence is also apparent home to a CIA task force that plans selective killings of Basque separatists.
  • In an episode of NCIS, DiNozzo claims that paella was named after "the Aztec god of sex". Doubles it by naming the god "Paellus", which sounds like the wrong kind of Latin.
  • The Basque bomber in Narcos is named Efram (or Efras?) Gonzales. "Efram" is neither a Spanish nor Basque name, and the closest variant, Efraín, is not nearly as popular in Spain as in Latin America. Gonzales is a spelling used in Latin America but not in Spain (where it would be spelled "González", unless belonging to a Latin American immigrant). Ironically, since the show is filmed in Colombia it is likely that the character was named after mid-20th century Colombian bandit Efraín González, whose entire name actually followed the Spaniard spelling.
  • All the Spanish characters in the E-Ring episode "The General" have fluctuating accents, save for Big Bad Basque terrorist Miguel Carrera, who is very consistently Mexican. This makes the scene in which he accuses Spain of destroying the Basque language unintentionally hilarious.
  • The Unit: In "Non-Permissive Environment", the team must escape from a version of Valencia, Spain with Chicano street art, Panama hats, coconut street vendors and ubiquitous Caribbean accents.
  • The Pamplona street scenes in the episode "El Toro Bravo" of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders were filmed in the "Old Mexico" set at Universal Studios, a place better suited for a Pancho Villa or Zorro flick with dwarf palms, cacti, sand-covered streets and buildings clearly intended for a climate both warmer and drier,note  which is only made more obvious by the abundant jumps to stock footage of the real Pamplona. Why they didn't film in the "Little Europe" set used by The Unit and Caroline in the City (this one with its own Running of the Bulls, even) is anyone's guess. Another puzzling element is that the actors playing Spaniards (none of them born in Spain) were apparently coached to make a Spaniard accent when speaking English, but not when speaking Spanish. Most tried on their own (with variable success) but the one playing the Greater-Scope Villain didn't.
  • In Alias, Sydney went to Spain twice per season, but the language was always Latin American. The worst time was the first ("Parity"), where more than one Madrid security guard was not merely brown, but obviously Amerindian, and there was the occasional word not even used in Latin America out of Mexico (checar for "to check" - in Spain in other Latin American countries, they would have said chequear instead).
  • Crosses firmly with Latin Land in NatGeo's Locked Up Abroad's episode "Spain / Deal with the Devil", about an American Rastafarian imprisoned in Spain for trafficking cocaine from Ecuador. Everything is blatantly filmed in Ecuador, to the point of featuring shots of Quito's El Panecillo both in scenes set in Quito and in Madrid, and actually having less Caucasian actors playing Spaniards than Ecuadorians. The only attempt to make the Spain scenes look like Spain are sticking a Spanish flag in a pickup truck standing in for a police car and a few crowns, Guardia Civil and Policía Nacional insignias on uniforms without regard of what they look like in reality. The airport police in both Quito and Madrid wear the exact same military camouflaged uniform with the Ecuadorian national police's insignia on their shoulder, and the prison guards have a Peruvian flag of all things over their breast.
  • In an episode of Frasier, Frasier Crane makes a verbal leap from the Spanish Civil War to Eva Perón, suggesting that in his mind he is conflating Spain and Argentina as the same entity, or assuming the Argentinian Perón came to power as a result of a civil war five thousand miles away in Spain.
  • Empty Nest: Harry travels to Pamplona to run with the bulls and drink tequila. Tequila is a Mexican drink distilled from the American agave plant.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck versus the Honeymooners", Chuck fights a Basque terrorist with the very non-Basque name of Juan Diego Arnaldo.note  The actor playing Arnaldo is Cuban-born Carlos Lacamara, who speaks Spanish in his native accent.
  • CSI: NY: In "Holding Cell", Mac investigates the death of a Barcelona businessman with the help of the victim's uncle, a member of the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra (lit. "Squad Lads" in Catalan). Said character is played by Cuban-American actor Jsu Garcia and takes his notes in Cuban Spanish. In one scene, he mispronounces his own corps's name as Mossos de Estrada (Estrada means "covered road" in Spanish).
  • True Blood: Season 4's Big Bad is Antonia Gavilán de Logroño, a witch that was burned by The Spanish Inquisition in 1610. She's played by Texan actress Paola Turbay and all flashback scenes are in Latin American Spanish. However all people investigated in the historical 1610 witch trials were Basque speakers.
  • Lampshaded in Acapulco, which is set in the titular Mexican resort town. Hector, the lead pool boy at Las Colinas, tells Maximo that he is actually Spanish, but it's all the same to the gringos.

  • The 1970s rock band Carmen, which was formed by Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles, invoke this trope through the use of flamenco stylings and Spanish imagery. Considering they were formed as an outgrowth of the Allen siblings’ parents’ flamenco nightclub it’s at least somewhat justified. Ironically, the band found no initial success at home and only became notable after relocating to Europe, adding a British bassist and drummer and cementing the Spanish influences. Then they became a near-legendary opening act for several British Progressive Rock bands touring the US.
  • Near the end of the video for D12's "My Band" (the lead single from their 2004 sophomore album "D12 World" and biggest hit to date), during the part where "lead singer" Eminem does a joke teaser for his nonexistent song "My Salsa," we see Shady dressed in a matador's outfit and waving a cape while holding said salsa bottle. However, the rest of D12 are dressed in mariachi outfits and playing guitars.
  • The wacky Eurodance mariachi character Carlito (actually a Swede named Jonny Jakobsen) is a flagrant example of this trope, still justified by the fact that it's an obvious parody.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • British radio comedy show Son of Cliché had the Show Within a Show ¡Asso - Spanish Detective! Asso, a private eye working the sexy and glamorous Costa Brava and taking jobs like locating a missing drunken Englishman on holiday named only as Dave from Ardwick ("Finding a drunken Englishman on the Costa Brava. This would be difficult!''). Asso, vocally, is not so much Spanish as Mexican.
  • Comedian and satirist Mark Steel takes a BBC radio show Mark Steel's In Town on the road, presenting from a different location every week. On an overseas broadcast from Gibraltar, he wound up the audience by making his opening introduction in Spanish. It was pointed out to him that his spoken accent was Mexican, not Spanish, and if he was going to insult them in fun, he really should get the accent right ("as we've got nothing against the Mexicans, they're alright").

    Tabletop Games 
  • Castille in 7th Sea, with fencers, a powerful Inquisition, pirates and Armadas... and inexplicably, Ranchos and a Zorro's Expy named El Vago (whose name, by the way, translates as "The Slacker").
  • Averted with Argos, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Spain in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. While depicted as having a mostly barren landscape (see "Real Life" below) very similar to (most of) Real Life Spain, complete with windmills and resembling the real country during the time of The Catholic Monarchs (feudalism, strong ties to the Church, and (very exaggerated) religious fanatism) Toros y Flamenco is nowhere mentioned, nor anything that resembles this trope.note 

    Video Games 
  • The Ganados in Resident Evil 4 start with the wrong foot by being a gramatically wrong word,note  but they also speak with Mexican accents, despite the game being set "in a village in a Castilian speaking country of Europe that is not Spain". Character Luis Sera, who was born in the village but made career as a cop in Madrid, also speaks with a Mexican accent. Of note is that an in-game map places the village in the center of the Iberian Peninsula next to Madrid, and the currency is Peseta, which was Spain's currency before switching to Euro. Capcom still insists that it is not Spain. The 2023 remake undoes this issue by having them speak in Castilian Spanish and finally acknowledging the location as rural Spain.
  • Esteban Noviembre from The Cursed Crusade speaks in a blatantly stereotypical Mexican manner despite being a Spaniard. In the Middle Ages.
  • Spain Hill is a location in The World Ends with You whose only feature is... a Mexican restaurant. Note that "Spain Hill" is a real life location in Shibuya, Tokyo, in which the game is set. In reality the very Spanish embassy in Japan is located in that hill, hence the name.
  • Black Velvetopia in Psychonauts combines bullfighting and Spanish architecture with Mexican luchadores and painters dressed in South of the Border-style outfits. It's mildly justified in that it takes place in the mind of an ambiguously Latino asylum patient who was never involved in bullfighting or masked Mexican wrestling to begin with, and probably hasn't ever been to Spain.
  • An alternate outfit of Miguel's from Tekken Tag Tag Tournament 2 is a good example of this trope. Miguel is from Spain, and while his puffy white shirt does seem Spanish, the rest of his outfit seems very much Mexican-inspired, rather than Spanish-inspired.
  • In the very beginning of the English version of Data East arcade game Spinmaster (Miracle Adventure in Japan) you enter into an airport with a sign that reads Madrid Airport, complete with a waving Spanish flag. Real Life Madrid airport is very, very different of the game's version and to take this further, looks like the developers put Madrid in America instead of Europe.
  • Duolingo's Spanish course is identified by a Spanish flag and Mexico's Temple of Kukulcan. In every other course, the flag and the landmark belong to the same country, even when this country is not the birthplace of the language (e.g. the English course shows America's flag and the Statue of Liberty, and the Portuguese course shows Brazil's flag and Rio's Christ the Redeemer). The de-facto dialect used is the creator's birth Guatemalan Spanish, but the course accepts answers in others.
  • Wheelman depicts downtown Barcelona, a place where a single bullet being fired would make national news, as a Gangsterland divided between three major "cartels" whose members routinely engage in gunfights with firepower that would be alarming even in the most violence-striken part of Mexico or Brazil. The NPCs speak English or Spanish from all over Spain and Latin America, and also look like it. Some of that might be explained by immigration, but it is weird to hear people complaining that gang violence is fueling Catalan separatism while speaking in a Mexican or Cuban accent. Nobody bats an eye at Vin Diesel's claim of coming all the way from Miami to join a local gang, and there is at least one billboard for a salsa festival.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet take place in a region based on the Iberian peninsula, but the Fuecoco line — one of the region's Starter Mons — uses quite a bit of Mexican imagery, from the egg and nest atop Crocalor's head resembling a sombrero to Skeledirge's design making it look like it has Calacas face paint. In all fairness, neither of its fellow starters are heavily rooted in Iberian culture either — the Sprigatito line has a stage magician and masquerade motif, while the Quaxly line takes inspiration from Rio de Janeiro dancers.

    Web Original 
  • Classic example from The Onion that perfectly illustrates this trope.
  • Back in 2004 in the news articles about Prime Minister Zapatero's decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq, it was easy to find on their sections of comments people desiring things as "boycotting Taco Bell". You can guess Spaniards were not the only people facepalming.
  • Not Always Right has a woman that is not aware of Spain being "still" around and another that seems oblivious to the existence of a world outside North America (and she's also a racist who holds the South of the Border and Latin Land tropes at heart).
    • Similarly, there are a few posts circulating here and there featuring people complaining about others calling themselves "Spanish" as "that's a language, not a country," with replies of the form "I have some very interesting news for you about a country called Spain."
  • In the YouTube viral video 4 Shocking Facts about US Healthcare (a.k.a. "I can literally fly to Spain, live in Madrid for 2 years, learn Spanish, run with the bulls, get trampled, get my hip replaced again, and fly home for less than the cost of a hip replacement in the US."), the narrator's avatar wears a mariachi suit and sombrero after he undergoes two years of "cultural acclimation" in Madrid.
  • PBS Space Time stated that Mexican astrophysicist Miguel Alcubierre was Spanish in their October 28, 2015 piece on FTL travel.
  • This trope is indirectly acknowledged in the Smosh episode "Anthony is Mexican". Anthony attempts to get more in touch with his cultural heritage, and believes himself to be Mexican after Ian tells him that his surname, Padilla, is of Spanish origin. However, Ian is quick to point how that not every Spanish person is Mexican.
  • One of the many, many things people briefly got worked up over on Twitter was the idea that white, European-descended peoples had no business "culturally appropriating" the Spanish language from Latin American and Mestizo communities. Thankfully, enough people from all across the cultural and ideological spectrum were able to point out the laughably stupid logic behind this gripe that it disappeared rather quickly.

    Western Animation 
  • Elena of Avalor runs on this trope. The castles, princesses and the like come from Spain, although most of the characters are brown (like in Latin America, or at least very southern Spain). Mariachis are frequently seen, but music is mostly tropical, even more similar to Dominican Republic's merengue and salsa than Mexico's ranchera. When characters speak Spanish, they do it with the neutral Mexican accent.
  • In the episode "The Bull Market" of the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective series, Ace discovers that a stolen Mexican bull has been shipped to Spain. Of course, because there is only one city in Spain, he immediately goes to Pamplona, that happens to be in the middle of the Running of the Bulls. Except it's only the bulls who are running because the "Spaniards" are sleeping the siesta inside their ponchos and sombreros in the middle of the street. Pamplona is also portrayed as a village of white limed houses in the middle of a desert.
  • A cutaway in an episode of Family Guy has Peter Griffin reminiscing about his time as the male lead in Spanish TV soap operas. However, the setting is a typical Mexican hacienda in a semi-desert, and the culmination of the scene is Peter flying away in a sombrero-shaped UFO.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters' episode "The Ghost of Don Quixote" has a milder example with Spaniards constantly using Mexican slang and a villain who is a walking robber baron stereotype down to the Cantinflas moustache. Also, every Spanish character but Don Quixote has orange skin for some reason.
  • Generator Rex. While fighting four highly skilled assassins in an alley, Rex crosses with Dos, who speaks Spanish. Rex (who is Hispanic) asks him in Spanish if he's from Mexico. Dos raises his weapon and angrily declares "¡España!"
  • Subverted in one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures when the Enforcers go to Pamplona, and can't remember what the town is famous for. Hak Foo suggests that it's famous for its paella, and Ratso asks if that's the thing you hit with clubs at a birthday party to get candy. Valmont points out that it's a piñata, and that they're in Spain, not in Mexico.
  • Besides oozing Toros y Flamenco, "Tramplonia, Spain" from the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "When Mice Were Men" is riffed with Magnificent Moustaches of Mexico, Mexican sombreros, mariachi, ándales and Saguaro cacti, a species that only grows in Sonora and Arizona.
  • In Saturday Supercade, Donkey Kong's episode "El Donkey Kong" is centered on Toros y Flamenco but takes place in Mexico.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Das Bus", Wendell represents Mexico in Model UN, but his costume looks more Andalusian than Mexican.
    • The Tapas bar in "YOLO" has a picture of two tacos hanging on the wall.
    • The scene where the family goes to a Mexico vs. Portugal soccer game is filled with Hispanic clichés, including a guy selling Paella as a snack on the stands.
  • Hurricanes: Toro Contrais, a Spaniard from Pamplona, becomes the Mexican luchador "The Masked Matador" when he is expelled from the team.
  • La Flamencita of ˇMucha Lucha!, a literal half-masked luchadora, half-flamenco dancer who plays castanets as a substitute of speech. To be fair, though, there are students from many parts of the world giving their twist on Lucha Libre (Like French Twist, the mime or Sonic Sumo from Japan).
  • Dennis the Menace: "Dennis Plasters Pamplona." The trope was obviously in the American writers' minds, given that Dennis' family arrives in Spain by train and a local bull herder uses Mexican slang constantly (even dropping an ¡Ay, Chihuahua! at some point). However, the Japanese animators were apparently as unfamiliar with Mexico as with Spain, so the Pamplona in the episode instead resembles an American Wild West town, complete with cowboys, Victorian-era clothes and technology, and even wooden sidewalks and saloon batwing doors.
  • Count Duckula: Spain was depicted as this in "Vampire Vacation". In fact, the first few Spaniards that Duckula encounters look more like banditos straight out of a Western.
  • South Park: At an European summit, all representatives are old white guys in similar ties and blue suits. Except the one from Spain, who is younger, brown-skinned, and wears a khaki military uniform. The flag of "Spain" as seen from the mast pole side is dark green, like the flag of Mexico.

    Real Life 
  • The trope was Truth in Television back when the Spanish Empire was still around, obviously. This traced back to the very discovery of America, when Queen Isabella the Catholic ordered that all new land would be ruled as an extension of mainland Spain, therefore considering natives to be vassals theoretically at the same level as her own Iberian subjects - which means that, as strange as it may sound, Mayans and Aztecs became legally Spaniardsnote  by default right after either being conquered or joining voluntarily, with all consequences (whenever it could be enforced, of course - abuse was always bound to happen and was an additional headache for the crown). Legal treatment varied mostly in the religious (natives were considered too green on the whole Christianity to be eligible for religious orders, though in exchange, they were outside of the jurisdiction of The Spanish Inquisition) and economic fields (every state that made to the Empire had confusingly different taxing systems, some paying more and some less, and this extended to the natives as well).
  • There was considerable cross-fertilization between Spanish and Mexican culture, back when Mexico was called New Spain, and some practices they picked up from each other persist to this day. Both countries enjoy churros and hot chocolate, though their traditional recipes now differ, and bullfighting is still practiced in both nations.
  • The word "Hispanic" used to be common on survey forms, literally meaning "Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America." Not that the word Latino is much better (it's actually worse, as Latin is a term that's applicable to non-Spanish, Romance-speaking countries such as Brazil, Portugal, Lusophone Africa, Italy and Italian-speaking Switzerland, France and the Francosphere, Romania, Moldova and even Andorra and Equatorial Guinea as well as Spain). Ironically, Latino is now the more popular term, while Hispanic is often relegated to political contexts (supporters of Hispanidad or Pan-Hispanism dislike the term Latino for being confusing and non-indicative). The word is also often misused in U.S. grocery stores, as the aisles that were once labeled "Mexican Food" are now likely to be called "Hispanic Food"— as if all Spanish speakers, all around the world, shared a single cuisine.
  • The central Mexican city of Guanajuato (in the state of the same name) fits this trope. It is a very well preserved colonial town that closely resembles remote villages in Spain that have not changed much since the Middle Ages. At first glance, Guanajuato is practically indistinguishable from such villages apart from the fact that the population is of course Mexican rather than Spanish. Playing on the town's colonial heritage are bands whose members dress like sixteenth century Spanish noblemen but play traditional Mexican songs of various genres. Furthermore, you can eat tacos or enchiladas and drink micheladas in little inns that seem to have come right from a Toros y Flamenco town (none of which serve Spanish food, by the way).
  • A case of The Coconut Effect: Selling Mexican sombreros has become a lucrative business in Barcelona and beach resorts in eastern Spain because of the increasing demand from tourists. That's because that while Mexican sombreros did descend from the original hats worn in Andalucia, they generally don't resemble their ancestorsnote  anymore, but are by far the most popular variant.
  • John McCain starred a quite strange moment during an interview with a Spanish-speaking radio of Miami. When asked if he would receive José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in the White House (Spain's Prime Minister at odds with the Bush administration because of his opposition to the war in Iraq), McCain answered that he had "a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us and standing up to those who are not (...) [a]nd that's judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America and the entire region". Even after the interviewer made clear that she was talking about "Spain, in Europe" and pressed for a more clear response, McCain continued in his vague remarks and then praised the Mexican government of Felipe Calderón. Critics accused McCain of being unfamiliar with the differences between Spain and Latin America, and some joked that he had confused Zapatero with the Mexican Zapatistas.
  • Jeb Bush used his fluent Spanish to thank the "President of the Republic of Spain" during a visit in 2003. Spain is a constitutional monarchy, and although its head of government's title in Spanish is Presidente del Gobierno ("President of the Government"), he is invariably called "Prime Minister" in English.note  The incident had an additional layer for Spaniards because the PM in question, José María Aznar, was pushing hard for closer relations with the United States (which was unpopular due to the War on Terror) and his critics had also accused him before of being a megalomaniac who wanted to upstage the King.
  • In 2001 Aznar hosted George W. Bush at Quintos de Mora, a state-owned country house dubbed the 'Spanish Camp David'. Bush apparently believed that it was Aznar's private property and Condoleezza Rice referred to it as "Aznar's ranch". This got additional mockery because the word rancho (as it was translated by the press) is only ever used in Spain to talk about properties in the Americas. Bush repaid Aznar by inviting him to his own property in Prairie Chapel Ranch in 2003. While in there, Aznar gave a bizarre press conference where he seemed to have picked a foreign accent; the Spanish press "lauded" him as being the 'first Spanish PM to become fluent in Texan'.
  • Spanish-born filmmaker Luis Buñuel acquired Mexican citizenship after the Spanish Civil War forced him into exile and made films in both Spain and Mexico (and later on, France) at various points in his career. Buñuel often admitted that he didn't "get" Mexico, and he had difficulties in adapting, and transposing concepts from Spanish literature (such as Benito Pérez Galdós' Nazarín) to Mexico.
  • Reportedly, the last words of Spanish writer Ramón del Valle-Inclán (who had lived for nearly 30 years in Mexico) were that Spain wasn't Spain anymore, and that to get a real Spanish feeling you had to cross the Atlantic.
  • In Paris, there are quite a few 'Tex-Mex' restaurants that serve Spanish food. Particularly cringeworthy because the French are, in language and original ethnic rootstock, closely related to the Spanish.
  • On a train from Barcelona to Zaragozanote , you might be surprised to see how much the landscape of the Spanish countryside looks like classic depictions of southwestern North America (almost like a Road Runner cartoon). It is for this reason—as well as the high availability of dark-skinned, Spanish-speaking actors, that Sergio Leone and other Italian directors of "Spaghetti Westerns" tended to shoot their films in Spain, particularly in Andalucia, since getting to the actual Mexico or United States was simply too expensive.
  • Guillermo del Toro is Mexican but has made a number of films set in or around the Spanish Civil War. He credits his interest in the conflict to growing up in around Spaniards who took refuge in Mexico during The Franco Regime.
  • When Madrid-based Parques Reunidos acquired the historical Kennywood theme park in West Mifflin, PA in 2007, the Kennywood spokeswoman was interviewed on local TV, where she told concerned fans that "We don't think it's going to become a giant taco stand." Some viewers complained and she apologized later that day.
  • There is one giant saguaro in Seville, Spain (estimated 1500 years old). It was brought from Mexicali to preside the Mexican Pavilion at the 1992 World Fair.
  • Agaves and prickly pears were introduced in Spain after the conquest of Mexico, and are now feral there and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.
  • During the 79th Academy Awards, host Ellen DeGeneres mistakenly identified Spanish actress Penélope Cruz as Mexican. When she learned about the mistake, she apologized to Cruz in her next appearance.
  • The Mission Revival style is an architectural style popular in the Southwestern US in the early 20th century, was often called "Spanish Style", even though the style is modeled off the missions and other buildings built during the pre-Mexican-American War era, and more closely resemble Mexican architecture than Spanish.
  • Bizarrely invoked with the Hilaria/Hillary Baldwin (wife of Alec Baldwin) "scandal". Baldwin, a white woman, passed herself off as a Spaniard, an ethnically white group, despite being from Boston. Yet progressives on social media and in op-eds accused her of using "white privilege" to appropriate the Spanish culture, as if Spaniards were a minority race and not, y'know, people from a very large European nation that shares a border with France.note 
  • In the infancy of Guzman y Gomez, an Australian chain of Mexican casual dining restaurants, co-founder Steven Marks employed Colombians for the Newtown store, arguing that Australians wouldn't know the difference "so long as you speak Spanish".
  • Mexico City has a copy of Madrid's Cibeles Fountain, built in 1980 by Spanish immigrants.


Video Example(s):


¿Eres de Mexico?

Rex asks the Spanish speaking Dos if he's Mexican. Dos is visibly displeased when he replies that he's from Spain.

How well does it match the trope?

4.45 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / Spexico

Media sources: