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Superman Stays Out of Gotham

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Superman: But dude, you know what I would've done?
Batman: Oh, I don't know, probably just—
Superman and Batman [simultaneously]: Fly really fast, saving everyone from the bullets and explosions!

It's simply a fact that some characters are more powerful than others. This trope comes into play when two or more characters who are on the same team have blatantly different levels of power and live in the same universe, but the stronger of them always stays out of anything the weaker character(s) have trouble with. This is because their powers would instantly solve the problems of the weaker hero(es), thus failing to preserve drama and cutting the plot short.

This commonly happens with Badass Normal heroes, who are defined as such because they live in a Shared Universe of wizards, literal supermen, flying tank armored guys, cyborgs or everything in between. This gives the writers plenty of opportunity to develop their heroes in contrast to their super-powered neighbors, while at the same time being able to focus on the more mundane issues taking place in the hero's own backyard. While this hero can learn to become a part of the everyday reality of his not-so-normal colleagues, and even fight alongside them, it's much more difficult to do the other way around: most of the time, the more powerful heroes could easily fix any problem the weaker heroes have in a heartbeat... and that would make for a pretty dull storyline. Often, this is avoided by simply keeping the demi-Gods of comic continuity out of the less talented heroes' homes altogether. This is especially true if the hero is so thoroughly associated with a common everyday problem, characteristic or element that solving it would damage their franchise. In that case, it simply ever won't be solved — even if the hero's superpowered friend could fix it at once. More often than not, the problem is so integral to their own works that most readers simply accept it. Any crossover team-ups between the heroes will usually Hand Wave away the possibility of the stronger hero making any substantial impact in the badass normal's livelihood.


It's not strictly limited to Badass Normals either; some heroes endure heaps of abuse just for being a superhero that can metastasize into Super Registration Acts and other anti-superhero hindrances that never end up on the radar of their colleagues.

Common in works starring the Anti-Hero. The plots and characters within their own works take place in their own hometown with its own tone and rules for the genre of acceptable morality and realistic plot resolutions. This leads to Fridge Logic when Green Rocks-based innovations that would work under any other circumstances that have been used numerous times are proposed but they just won't work for that specific hero, resulting in a Broken Aesop.

A less-common Double Subversion is when the hero calls upon his pantheon of super-allies for help in solving some intractable problem that they may or may not have solved before, only to get back a unanimous "There is nothing we can do" response.


A sub trope of Reed Richards Is Useless. Compare This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman, Fantastic Aesop, Status Quo Is God, Plot Technology, The Only One, and Law of Conservation of Normality. Contrast Superhero Capital of the World. For this as a learning/interaction trope, see Die or Fly or Sink-or-Swim Mentor. When Badass Normals and other heroes could become superpowered or much more powerful rather easily and then clean up their respective areas instead of some other hero, but for some inexplicable reason don't, that's One Super One Powerset. When the situation is explained by having the more powerful heroes busy dealing with some other problem, that's Hero of Another Story.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Tower of God: Rankers, people who have already climbed the Tower, made their wish and received great power on the way up, are not allowed to interfere with the Regulars who are still climbing. That's why overpowered characters like Yuri and Lero-Ro rarely make an appearance on the front lines and often act with severe restrictions. Most Rankers aren't even allowed to get close to the testing areas of the Inner Tower. This rule does get broken occasionally, though. At one point Yuri threatens to blow up an entire testing area and murder the test director, and is only stopped when the director threatens to fail everyone involved if she doesn't back down.
  • Clamp made a short parody comic in their Clamp in Wonderland Ex collection about Kamui of X/1999 visiting the shop of the Dimensional Witch, Yuuko Ichihara. Though it's more of popping into the shop's front yard after the cliffhanger of the manga where he's from. Yuuko agreed to grant Kamui's wish then Mokona jokingly states that the price is the fate of the world, much to Kamui's despair and to Watanuki's irritation for that joke. Then, Fuuma appears and states that he is the only one who can grant Kamui's wish. Cue the two fighting much to Watanuki's chagrin. Though this does raise the question of why Kamui doesn't visit Yuuko's shop to have his wish granted considering that Yuuko made an offhand comment that she knew the Sumeragi twins when they were young with Subaru being a Dragon of Heaven, it should be noted that X/1999 debuted years before xxxHolic and Kamui believed that his true wish is to bring Fuuma back to his original self and that he should be the one to do it. It's only in the cliffhanger chapter where Fuuma revealed that that is not his true wish and Kamui is in a state of shock when he found out. In fact, this short comic made it clear that if Kamui does indeed visit Yuuko, it's implied that his price for whatever his wish is probably higher and riskier and Yuuko would have know that his true wish is something greater than what he originally thought and it might be best if Fuuma would be the one to grant it. Also, Yuuko's presence would be seen as a Story-Breaker Power given that she's probably not in the position to intervene the battle between the Dragons of Heaven and the Dragons of Earth unless she was asked to like how she is unable to help the group from Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- during the Acid Tokyo arc until Kurogane requests for her help.
  • Amuro Rey and Char Aznable never appeared in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ despite appearing in the opening. Their rivalry was supposed to be settled in the show but Yoshiyuki Tomino was given the greenlit to produce Char's Counterattack; hence, Sayla Mass appeared in the second half of show and she and Bright Noa speculate that Char is probably watching from the sidelines waiting for the opportunity to return to Zeon while Amuro was mentioned in passing by Hayato that he's on duty somewhere. Gundam Evolve revealed that he's also fighting against Neo-Zeon though not the final battle where Haman and Judau are. However, Sayla didn't appear in the movie as her voice actress was again unavailable, and she's offhand mentioned in a flashback by Char while remembering Lalah's death. Many fans were also expecting Kamille Bidan and Judau Ashta to appear to help Amuro stop Char. But the ending of ZZ showed that Kamille retired to civilian life with Fa as a doctor while Judau signed on with the Jovian fleet.
  • It is implied that Watchdog-Man of One-Punch Man is one of the more powerful S-Rank Heroes (for one, he's one of the few heroes who managed to single-handedly defeat Garou, whereas it took Blast, Bomb and Genos to try and defeat the heavily injured hero-hunter), however he never leaves the city he's guarding, so he cannot contribute in missions where his help would be useful.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • The Caped Crusader's hometown of Gotham City is the Trope Namer. It's a crime-ridden dystopia that's full of problems from the ground up. Batman himself is the poster child for the badass normal who relies on "mundane means" to get the job done: mastering every Martial Art in the world, educating himself in virtually every science known to man, various powered armors, pure determination, and money, lots of money. Despite all that, Gotham continually teeters on the edge of becoming a complete waste. Gotham exists in the same universe as Superman, who easily has the power and motivations to take down most of the rogues and crime groups overnight.
    • Lampshaded in the first JLA Classified story, which revealed the Batcave has a "sci-fi closet" full of rayguns, teleporters and antigravity discs. He just hates using it. By Grant Morrison, naturally.
    • Batman has built Powered Armor and acquired powers (like a Green Lantern Ring in the Elseworlds story Batman: In Darkest Knight), which his human allies wield in spades, none of which ever lasts in his case. As Batman is only one hair away from being as nuts as his Rogues Gallery, having a bit of extra power in hand is generally portrayed as the corrupting influence to push him over the edge to Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • By comparison, Batman has used Powered Armor in stories that take place in the future (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman Beyond) where his armor is a contemporary innovation. The Batman Beyond armor was over 20 years old and thus dated (but still effective) by the time Terry McGinnis took up the role.
    • Gotham's status as a hellhole, Arkham Asylum as a Cardboard Prison and the existence of Joker Immunity have all been lampshaded / Hand Waved as due in part to a supernatural curse, which Batman's magical allies (Zatanna, The Spectre) do not seem to know about, let alone consider removing. In one case it was even Etrigan sealing demons under Arkham and he never told Batman about it.
    • Likewise, it is frequently established as the most nightmarish city on Earth, a metropolitan hellhole with a ridiculously high violent crime rate overrun by murderous psychopaths like The Joker who terrify even the superpowered rogues of other cities, yet Supes and the rest of the demigodic heroes who could easily clean up the place and overpower pretty much all of those homicidal lunatics in seconds barely do any meaningful crime fighting when they visit. They actually show up quite frequently—they don't really "stay out of Gotham"; it's just that on those occasions they tend to talk with Batman more than they actually help him out.
    • In the Superman reboot launch miniseries The Man of Steel, Superman aids Batman with a criminal named Magpie. At the end, Batman says that Gotham requires a different touch than Superman's Metropolis.
    • It doesn't necessarily work both ways, though: during The Death of Superman series, Batman patrolled Metropolis in the days during and after Superman's funeral. He even played by Superman's rules.
    • During the No Man's Land Bat Family Crossover, the government features a literal version when it cuts Gotham off from the rest of the USA and enacts legislation to prevent anyone (normal or superhero) from going in or out even to assist. This proves remarkably effective given how many superheroes are aliens, or for whatever reason shouldn't care at all about the ruling:
      • Superman travels to Gotham to deliver supplies and help set up a power plant to provide heat during the winter. The plan falls apart leading to Batman explaining how the city has changed and Superman realizes he's “not up to the task” of fixing Gotham and suddenly leaves without Batman even considering that maybe, just MAYBE, having someone with Superman’s level of power would help him bring order to Gotham even faster. Similarly, the Huntress in a JLA storyline points out the League's refusal to assist Gotham and Superman replies her presence is the League's presence. Superman does return to No Man's Land... but only as Clark Kent. He still seeks to help, but as a normal man doing things like growing gardens for food. He even dirties up his appearance to make it look like he's been there all along. While Batman points out that his disguise is flawed (no one in Gotham has smelled like soap in months), he admits it's fine for the people Clark intends to be among. This is more of a desperate Deus Exit Machina from the writers than this trope, but it still applies.
      • In the League's own book, it was shown that, during "No Man's Land", they were keeping a slew of opportunists (Kobra's organization, evil Atlanteans, assorted alien armadas, etc.) from seizing Gotham for their own. This neatly balanced Superman Stays Out Of Gotham with "Brainiac Is Kept Out Of Gotham." Of course, they missed a few villains that still managed to get in during the chaos, so they weren’t that good at it.
      • Jim Gordon revealed during the crossover that he cannot get a job in any police department outside of Gotham as no one wants a cop who needs an "urban legend" to do his policing for him, which Batman is considered despite being a known member of the JLA and living in a universe with other cities that have local superheroes (he mentions Keystone City by name). Of course, it’s extremely hypocritical for the other departments to look down on Gordon for his reliance on Batman, considering how many of these other police departments rely on superheroes to keep them safe and help them catch supervillains. Keystone city is especially guilty in that regard given they have been shown, in multiple storylines, to be nearly useless at dealing with the Rogues without the Flash around. Of course, they are the Keystone Kops.
    • Barbara Gordon, formerly Batgirl until The Joker put a bullet in her spine, was rescued from the fridge and turned into the information-broker superhero Oracle. She became one of The DCU's most capable heroes and an iconic figure of an effective disabled person yet did not regain the use of her legs despite the loads of superpowers, magic and technology the DCU had to offer. In-universe, Barbara has justified refusing offers to insta-heal her spine as not wanting special treatment for being a superhero that a regular citizen wouldn't have access to. One offer came from Amanda Waller. Not trusting 'The Wall' is just logical. Using magic in the DCU? It's just begging for trouble. As of the New 52 reboot, her back is fixed and she's back to being Batgirl, although she feels incredibly guilty about being given a cure that the average person doesn't have access to.
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Batgirl reinforces this: she banishes all parahumans from Gotham after closing the city off. However her ban is defied by Supergirl, who flies to Gotham to help whether Batgirl likes or not.
    • "The Call," a short story in the Batman Black and White series, thoroughly discusses this trope. It's revealed that Batman carries a small communicator that can instantly summon Superman, but he only uses it in extreme emergencies—in the context of the story, a young woman is shot in the throat by a mobster during a raid on a party, and Batman, who swears by Thou Shalt Not Kill, knows that he can't get her to a hospital in time. Superman makes short work of the healing process, but as he does, he talks with Bruce about the whole situation—the Dark Knight never calls the rest of the Justice League for help, for example. The two ultimately come to a vague understanding, pointing out that regardless of their methods of heroism, they both play a crucial role in protecting people, and that's what matters most, yet not really answering the question.
    • This whole situation was lampshaded in an out of continuity story Gail Simone did for Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman. After Batman and his partners are temporarily sidelined, Wonder Woman comes to Gotham and not only makes a significant dent in its supervillain underworld, but even causes some of Batman's foes to reform in the process.
    • Superman and Batman have both mentioned having a noted dislike for operating in each other's respective cities. Superman hates working in Gotham because it's so dark and dingy for the sun empowered hero, not to mention most of the buildings are lined with lead, blocking his X-ray vision, making him less effective than he could be. Batman hates working in Metropolis because everything is so brightly lit, making it difficult to hide and the buildings are spaced further apart preventing him from scaling them easily.
    • During one very interesting conversation in Justice, Batman observed with some admiration that the reason Superman publicly talks about having X-Ray Vision and other Super Senses is specifically because it serves notice on the criminals of Metropolis that the shadows cannot hide them from him. This contrasts the criminals of Gotham, where Batman has had to become a part of the night in order to chase down the criminals that use it as cover for their crimes.
      • In the Novelization of Kingdom Come, Wonder Woman addresses this as well, noting that Superman could have been a Mysterious Protector, but instead flew around the city "like Apollo in the sky," partly to inspire, but also let everyone know he was on watch.
    • This was discussed in an issue of Superman/Batman, where it's explained that whenever Batman has business in Metropolis, Superman insists on keeping watch on Gotham City. The Dark Knight always makes sure to return the favor for the Last Son of Krypton. Anyhow, Superman notes that Commissioner Gordon always seems happy to see him. Furthermore, they two have noted in the same issue that crime and trouble come in very different shapes in their two respective cities; with Gotham City, it's mostly about psychopaths like Joker, Zsasz, Firefly, Two-Face, and the rest robbing banks or blowing stuff up. Metropolis, on the other hand, is mainly endangered by the "sci-fi monsters rampaging down 2nd Avenue," or something to that effect.
      • Another issue (or possibly the same one) attempts to provide a justification for the trope, when the two characters swap cities for a bit. Batman has trouble operating in Metropolis, where the bright lights and widely spaced out buildings make it difficult for him to do his thing, meanwhile Superman finds that, due to all the lead in the construction and the echoes between the tightly-spaced but porous buildings, his supersenses are essentially useless.
    • In a somewhat funny if grim aversion, during Battle For The Cowl, where Batman is believed to be dead and the villains of Gotham are all rampaging, Nightwing runs around trying to deal with the problems and quickly decides 'Nope' and calls in 20-25 other superhero allies of his to help him bring order back to Gotham. He probably remembers the last time Batman tried to deal with that situation himself.
    • Batman (Rebirth) seems to be a Deconstruction, as Batman deals with two new flying heroes who state they'll be protecting Gotham, after saving a crashing plane and Bats' life. Bats' reaction? Incorporate them slowly into his fold, seeing what they can do and study their background. He learns they're normal people who have a similar background to him, enough that he's pleased that advice he gave one as a boy has been taken to heart. The same storyline also averts it: When one of the new heroes ends up going berserk due to suddenly coming across the Psycho Pirate, Batman calls in the Justice League to help take him down.
    • In the DC Universe Holiday Special 2008: A Day Without Sirens, a "Day Without Sirens" is proposed right before Christmas. Commissioner Gordon believes such an initiative is doomed to failure. The criminals of Gotham would never heed such a calling. However, the day proceeds without police sirens. It turns out that Oracle teamed up with Supergirl and both girls handled covertly all emergency calls during that day. Supergirl ended up completely exhausted, though, making clear she cannot keep it up forever.
      Oracle: Just rest easy knowing you did something special today.
      Supergirl: You really think so? Do you think this one day is going to make a difference?
      Oracle: I know so. Never discount the healing power of a little hope, Kara.
    • Dramatically defied in Batman (Rebirth), when Batman summoned the entire Justice League to deal with a mentally deteriorating hero Gotham.
    • There is another, more subtle reason that is danced around as well. Superman and other heroes understand that Batman needs to patrol Gotham for his own mental health. Batman needs to be a protector, and he can't be one if he's constantly being aided.
  • Conversely, Batman stays out of Blüdhaven, which is his former protégé Nightwing's patrol. Dick Grayson has a very different touch than Bruce's, and regardless, Bruce trusts Dick implicitly and doesn't presume to undermine or interfere with his life there.
  • Hitman (1993) takes place in an area of Gotham known as the Cauldron, and is said to be so bad Batman stays out of it.
  • Averted in Super Powers — the first issue begins with Batman mysteriously missing (he'd been captured by Brainiac), so Superman stays to fight the rampaging supervillains while Wonder Woman goes into space to rescue him.
  • The Punisher:
    • He really doesn't get along well with the rest of the Marvel heroes: he's a Vigilante Man who lives in a Darker and Edgier world and kills criminals in a universe full of superheroes who hold Thou Shalt Not Kill as an ethical absolute. In non-Punisher stories, any hero that runs into the Punisher contends he's a murderer like any other and tries to apprehend him. (It never works). Within his own Black and Gray comic, Frank Castle is the hero (or Anti-Hero) and his victims run the gamut of unrepentant mobsters, psychopaths and hired killers but no hero ever takes the initiative to come down to Hell's Kitchen to apprehend him for racking up such a high body count. It also works the other way around: Punisher is usually never allowed in stories with other heroes in it (unless it’s a crossover) for mainly three reasons: One, the writers obviously don’t want the Punisher to kill one of the heroes’s “iconic” villains (like Norman Osborn, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, etc.), because if he did, then they wouldn’t be able to make money off of those villains or write any stories about them anymore (until they come back, that is). Second, it doesn't work the other way around, either; The Punisher could only cause so much trouble for, say, The Kingpin, before the latter would hire one (or more) of the Marvel Universe's many bullet-proof, super-strong villains to smash The Punisher's head in. Frank can be fiendishly clever, but at the end of the day, he still relies on being able to gun down his his enemies. Third, the punisher’s stories are dark and grim in nature, which would clash with most heroes’s stories who tend to be somewhat lighthearted and fun (a few exceptions being Daredevil, Wolverine or Ghost Rider).
    • There was at least one story where superheroes tried to neutralize him (Wolverine would have been happy to kill him, but Daredevil and Spider-Man were against it). This being The Punisher, he takes them all out (non-lethally).
    • Averted in later years with Castle being split into the Darker and Edgier MAX imprint in which only a few Badass Normal Marvel characters appear, such as Nick Fury or the Kingpin or Bullseye, quite different from their mainstream counterparts, and he takes on contemporary criminals (terrorists, sex slavers). Mainstream Punisher tries to replace Captain America, killed alien invaders, wears a costume based on the Venom symbiote, fights The Hood and his supervillains with stolen weapons of various superheroes and gets killed by Daken but is then resurrected as a Frankenstein-esque monster to aid Morbius, Man-Thing, Living Mummy, and Werewolf by Night in their fight against Nazi Zombies.
    • In an odd example, Batman beats up The Punisher for 20 minutes in JLA/Avengers. In the Batman/Punisher crossovers, Frank gets annoyed at Gotham and leaves so he can deal with his own scum, without Batman's interference (namely, that whole Thou Shalt Not Kill attitude by Bats, who proves he's more than capable of handling him). He almost killed the Joker once, just before Batman intervened (but worth it just to see the Joker's My God, You Are Serious face). This is further reinforced by Batman deciding to just let him go (instead of, you know, bringing him in like he would with any other killer).
    • Also often averted during the nineties. Back then The Punisher was one of Marvel's cash cows along with Spider-Man and Wolverine, and as such he had quite a few crossovers. Surprisingly, most heroes were either okay with him, or at least willing to put aside their dislike to work with him. The stories tended to focus on both character's intent to save innocent lives first and foremost. But in one particular instance, Castle was recorded shooting a corrupt psychopathic cop on TV, which led to the police and a few other heroes to try to apprehend him. Captain America tried to reason with him. Spider-Man just stomped his ass flat.
    • Since Punisher operates in Hell's Kitchen he often has meetings with Daredevil. One of those encounters ended with DD chained up to a pole with Punisher giving a Hannibal Lecture on how his way is the right way and he doesn't even want DD to try it.
    • The mini-series Punisher: War Zone revolved around The Avengers trying to bring down the Punisher after he was falsely accused of killing a New York police officer. Word of God from Greg Rucka states that the Avengers have known of the Punisher's murders for years, but ignored him because they felt that sending him to prison wouldn't do any good. Rucka also contends that the Punisher respects heroes like the Avengers, as he's smart enough to realize that if they didn't keep threats like Loki and the Skrulls at bay, there'd be no streets left for him to protect.
  • One More Day had a forced Double Subversion: Spider-Man asks numerous heroes for help in healing Aunt May's gunshot wound, to which the various heroes responded with a collective "There is nothing we can do." The X-Men in particular had an Omega-level mutant with Healing Hands at the time who had healed far worse injuries, including someone having their heart torn out of their chest. Spidey is forced to make a Deal with the Devil to heal Aunt May in exchange for erasing his marriage from history. That aside, Spider-Man/Daredevil is perhaps the single most recurrent team-up in Marvel history, the second obviously being any combination of those two and the Punisher. Part of the reason, of course, is because they're roughly similar in terms of power levels, realistic themes, and the sorts of enemies they go up against. Spider-Man headlined Marvel Team-Up for nearly 15 years — he couldn't swing a web without bumping up against some other hero.
  • Most heroes in the Marvel Universe are based in New York City, so they can't be accused of "staying out of Gotham". Yet although it is the base and home of The Avengers, Doctor Strange, The Fantastic Four, The X-Mennote  and various other immensely powerful superhumans and superteams, it's usually left up to Spider-Man, Daredevil and various other "street-level" heroes to sort out the city's superhuman crime wave. While they do cross over more frequently than DC's heroes, and Rogues Gallery Transplant is a little more common, it's amazing how many times Doctor Octopus or the Rhino can go on a rampage or normal crooks can rob a bank and end up running into Spider-Man instead of, say, The Thing, or even a Badass Normal like Captain America. Even considering that they are often on adventures to another country or battling aliens in a different dimension, you'd think that with how easily the Web Slinger and others come across serious criminal activities they should run into this kind of thing every other day. It could be argued that Spider-Man is the main adversary for New York's crime because he is always on duty, 24/7. New York is the other heroes' main base, but they take time off, get fringe benefits, and are often off fighting threats on a larger scale. Spider-Man, and to a lesser extent Daredevil, are the heroes charged with guarding New York itself.
    • Some creators, fans and critics have said that while most of Marvel's heroes live in New York City, Spider-Man is New York City.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by the Maximum Carnage storyline. Spider-Man did assemble a team of allies (and not just Venom, but up to and including Captain America), and the Fantastic Four's absence was a plot point, but the X-Men completely missed the fight, and the Avengers as a group weren't around either. Carnage's family of evil had sent New York completely into chaos by the end; you'd think at some point they'd call out the big guns and make a Crisis Crossover out of it. But Carnage is a Spider-Man villain, so they can't take the plotline out of Spider-Man and Venom's hands.
  • Some have questioned why Iron Man doesn't create suits of armor for all of his teammates on The Avengers, or at least those who don't have powers like Black Widow or Hawkeye. Hawkeye once justified his lack of body armor to Iron Man by saying that he doesn't like the idea of wearing something that would restrict his movement, and only accepted a new suit from Stark after making sure it'd be light enough to not slow him down. Completely averted in The Ultimates, where Tony did eventually outfit Black Widow in a new suit of black armor.
  • X-Men:
    • Non-mutant heroes with superpowers function side-by-side among mutant superheroes who face discrimination from humans who fear them because they have superpowers. The anti-mutant regulations include high-profile government-sponsored elements such as Mutant Registration Acts and mutant-hunting Sentinels, which the rest of the heroes are well aware of, as The Avengers were once forced to fire their mutant members as a result of increasing public scrutiny (naturally, the Avengers went along with it passively, despite having other members who are just as feared, if not even more feared than the mutants, such as the Hulk) and used a fleet of Sentinels in a major battle against Kang the Conqueror. Despite not being anti-mutant racists themselves, all the heroes who got their powers through other means (and for unexplained reasons are therefore exempted from the Fantastic Racism and government scrutiny) have “somehow” decided the plight of mutants is not their problem.
    • X-Men works both ways too. When evil pro-mutant forces like Magneto threaten the world, it's the job of mutants like the X-Men, and specific anti-mutant forces to stop him. Magneto rarely ever has The Mighty Thor or Doctor Strange coming down on him, unless he's done something specific to drag them into the story (beside his usual Kill All Humans spiel). Conversely, the X-Men almost never bother to intervene with any non-mutant villains like Kang the Conqueror or Doctor Doom, even if said villain's latest plot should be causing shrapnel to rain down on the Xavier Mansion's front lawn.
    • Wolverine is a perfect symbol of how ridiculous this whole thing can get. He is both a frequent member of the X-Men and an Avenger, often at the same time, meaning one man can be simultaneously part of a persecuted minority and member of a group which is "feared and hated" by the government and general public alike; and also part of a team of beloved celebrities with ties to the US government.
    • There have been two storylines of Captain Britain that have an insane reality-warping mutant (one of whom was the superhero's older brother). Even though years back they faced off against Proteus who caused similar havoc in Muir Island, Moira MacTaggert doesn't think to contact them of something taking place in Britain. With the former situation, one gets the impression that Merlyn set the whole thing up in a way that only Captain Britain was supposed to deal with them. Interestingly enough, The Fall Of The Mutants event was supposed to rectify this, but didn't. At least not directly - Excalibur was formed sometime afterwards, with two X-Men (Nightcrawler and Shadowcat) in the team.
    • The Civil War storyline mended the hypocrisy, subjecting all superheroes to a Super Human Registration Act. In a twist, the X-Men declared the whole thing not their problem (specifically citing how the non-mutants never bothered to interfere with Mutant Registration Act(s)).
    • Similarly, other large-scale threats to mutantkind exist in the X-Books alone. The Legacy Virus was meant to stay active until they found a cure for AIDS but it became a Plot Tumor when the writers had no clear answer for why scientific geniuses like Reed Richards or Hank Pym couldn't find a cure.
    • Beast reaches out to nine of Marvel's Mad Scientist supervillains for help in solving the "Decimation" that Brought Down to Normal most of Earth's mutants. They all just laugh in his face.
    • A trend that comes and goes Depending on the Writer, and one that at present has "come", is that Marvel's superheroes will act like jerkasses in X-Men comics and the X-Men will act like jerkasses in other Marvel comics, yet they will never be portrayed as jerkasses (or that jerkish, anyway) in their own stories. Witness Reed Richards getting pissed at the X-Men for summoning the giant metal bullet that trapped Kitty Pride back from space (long story), basically a long overdue rescue attempt aimed at saving a member of their extended family, albeit with some (averted) danger to the Earth. Never mind that Reed himself would go to equally insane lengths to save one of his friends or family, that he frequently messes about with stuff that potentially puts the Earth in far greater danger (sometimes for his own curiosity), or that he didn't even give Cyclops the chance to explain that it wasn't even them doing it (Magneto had decided he owed them a favor).
    • When Magneto took over New York during Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men he explained that he had tricked the Avengers and the Fantastic Four into leaving on a wild goose chase. That does not explain why none of New York's other heroes who weren't associated with any of those groups did not try to help the X-Men. While Magneto may be a few power levels above them, there is no way Spider-Man, Daredevil or Luke Cage would have stood by and watched while Magneto sent New Yorkers into gas chambers.
    • One story did its best to explain why Magneto is usually the X-Men's problem. Immediately after the Legacy Virus is cured, Magneto sets about gathering mutants from all over the world and organizes them into an army on Genosha in preparation for his latest attack on the rest of the world. Questioned by news reporters on why the Avengers haven't moved in to stop him, Captain America explains that, because the Avengers are a government-sponsored team and Magneto is legally recognized as the ruler of Genosha, they can't move in until he actually does something (of course, he subsequently attacked Professor X in his home, kidnapped him and put him on display in the centre of his city, which seems like the kind of thing the Avengers would respond to). At the same time, Israel's main superhero (Sabra, who, like Magneto, is a Mutant as well as Jewish) says that she would be willing to strike him preemptively.
    • In the non-canon Universe X comic, one character hypothesises that the more powerful evil forces in the Marvel Universe- for instance, Hell Lords like Mephisto, and other demons and dark gods- actually go out of their way to manipulate characters and events to sabotage human-mutant relations, with the explicit aim of stopping them banding together more often and kicking their collective asses or making the world a better place. This is quite a clever justification, even if it wouldn't explain everything (as demons can't affect Free Will), but it has yet to cross over into the mainstream stories.
    • The Avengers vs. X-Men Crossover averts this with a vengeance. The Phoenix Force is returning to Earth, and while the Phoenix was always an X-Men problem in the past, this time the Avengers have caught wind of it. Their disagreement on how to handle the incredibly powerful cosmic entity that could potentially save mutantkind or destroy the Earth is the main conflict of the event. It also includes the X-Men (or at least Cyclops's side) calling the Avengers out on their constantly saying that they don't involve themselves with mutant affairs even when mutants are on the brink of extinction, only to suddenly decide to get involved once the issue becomes a potential threat to them.
    • One X-Men Expanded Universe novel trilogy had Magneto conquer New York City. Despite this being the home turf of Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Fantastic Four, the X-Men are the only people (Other than the US Military) to even try to do something about it. All the other heroes who happen to live in New York aren't even mentioned.
    • Uncanny Avengers is built around breaking down this trope while also giving it more reasons as to why it exists in the first place. After admitting that the Avengers never did much to help the mutant race, Captain America decides to form a new mutant-centric team of heroes in order to convince humans and mutants to get along. Problem is the two groups have different dynamics and styles of command, and they clash. Frequently. In the end the series shows at several points that this trope could also be called 'Superman Stays Out of Gotham Because He and Batman Operate Very Differently and Their Arguments Can Lead to Bad Things'. Both groups are made up of good people true, but they don't mesh as well as a pure team of Avengers or a pure team of X-Men.
    • Part of the problem also originates from the membership choices. The original team had a designated leader in the mutant Havok, but Cap joining the team to inspire by example creates serious leadership confusion that often divides the team by group origins. Also the recruitment of the Scarlet Witch to the team led to several clashes with the mutant members who still blame her for House of M. While the membership was partially influenced by who they could round up during the Red Skull's plans and later by monetary and PR necessity, one can't help but wonder if the team would have had more success with a more precise and careful recruitment method that avoided conflicts of command and flare ups of old grudges.
    • On the other hand, this is epically subverted in one Cable & Deadpool issue where Cable lands in trouble with the other heroes. The X-Men decide to call in help from an ally and we’re led to believe it’ll be an X-Men related character. It’s not. It’s the Silver freaking Surfer, who almost never gets involved in conflicts like this. This also highlights an out-of-story reason for this trope; Silver Surfer is so totally out of Cable’s weight class it’s almost laughable that Cable tries fighting back.
    • Every year, with absolute predictable regularity, Sabretooth tracks down Wolverine on his birthday and beats him almost to death. Every year, Wolverine is totally alone and typically in the middle of nowhere on his birthday, allowing Sabretooth to easily attack him. Hey Logan, aren’t you a member of like three superhero teams? Don’t you have access to at least two fortresses full of superbeings? And aren’t you friends with some of the most powerful heroes on Earth? Do you not think they might be pretty useful right about now?
    • This trope is notably subverted in Astonishing X-Men. In the first portion of the story, the "lead" team consists of Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Beast, and Kitty Pryde, and they are specifically attempting to build up goodwill for mutantkind by handling problems without outside help. When they head to New York City to take down a monster, the Fantastic Four show up and assist; Thing initially grouses that "they're on our turf," but Reed Richards assures the X-Men that they're happy to boost human-mutant relations however possible. In the "Breakworld" portion of the plot, every major New York-based hero gathers to try to stop the giant bullet that's on a direct collision course with Earth—but the creators of said bullet planned ahead by sealing it with various psychic and magical protections that put every single hero into a dream-like trance wherein they do successfully stop the weapon...all while their actual selves are standing stock-still. Spider-Man is the only person who's able to wake up from the spell in time to realize what's happening, but can't do anything to help. Ultimately, Kitty Pryde is forced to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to phase the bullet through Earth, resulting in the "long story" mentioned above wherein Magneto rescues her years later.
    • The X-Men's lack of presence in the World War Hulk storyline, itself a sequel to Planet Hulk, is justified via the events of M-Day. Hulk's goal in the plot is a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the four members of the Illuminati—Black Bolt, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Dr. Strange—who decided to banish him from Earth after his powers grew too unstable. Professor X, also an Illuminati member, was not present during the group's vote, but admits that he would have agreed with the decision (although he promises that he would not have supported a permanent exile). Hulk is originally ready to take down the X-Men as punishment—and fights some of their members as well—but then realizes that the mutant population is already in crisis after Scarlet Witch's actions on M-Day. He thus leaves Professor X alone, reasoning that he's suffering enough as it is; presumably, this uneasy truce is why the rest of the X-Men don't get involved when Hulk continues his quest for vengeance against the rest of Marvel's heroes (along with the fact that the existential crisis of M-Day has shattered the group's morale and left them scrambling to stay alive).
  • This trope even occurs with facing threats that logically another Superhero would be much more equipped to deal with. For instance, The Juggernaut is usually the X-Men's job to handle despite the fact that he's a mystically powered supervillain and thus would fall under Doctor Strange or Ghost Rider's purview, but it is extremely rare that either of them ever get involved and even when they do, it's usually just showing up to tell the X-Men how to deal with it.
  • This problem is very much averted in the Ultimate Marvel universe. They have a separate crossover series which is acknowledged to mostly be canon, and there was an arc called Ultimatum which affected ALL of their superheroes. Furthermore, there are frequently villain crossovers, and other heroes making guest appearances. Particularly notable in Ultimate Spider-Man: There is an issue where Spidey shows up to stop the Rhino and discovers that Iron Man has already taken care of it. To name but a few other occasions: The Fantastic Four show up to help Spider-Man face off against S.H.I.E.L.D. during the Clone Saga; Nick Fury always has his back when Norman Osborn turns into the Green Goblin; he briefly dates Kitty Pryde; the X-Men show up to help him take care of a reckless teenage mutant; Daredevil recruits him to a superhero team to take down the Kingpin; he has teamed up with the Ultimates before; The Human Torch is a close friend and briefly attends his high school; Etcetera.
  • Black Panther:
  • From about 1985-2010, DC Comics was essentially split into two barely-related worlds. Dark and magical characters such as Constantine, Swamp Thing, the Endless, and Lucifer interact with each other but rarely cross over with mainstream superhero characters (though it still happened very occasionally). This changed with the Flashpoint event, where the WildStorm, Vertigo, and main DC universes were all fused together. Interestingly, for a time, Constantine existed as a younger version in the mainstream DCU, while retaining all his years of real-time aging and mature content in his solo title Hellblazer, until the latter's conclusion in 2012, replaced with the slightly-more-mature-than-mainstream DCU title "Constantine".s.
  • In John Ostrander's writing of The Spectre, his human host (Jim Corrigan) asks Father Cramer why the Spectre never responded to the obliteration of Coast City. Father Cramer suggested that the Spectre was designed by God only to respond to certain cries for vengeance. Hell, the Spectre usually stays out of most cities populated with superheroes. Not just because he’s overpowered, but also because if he was allowed in, let’s say, Gotham, he would destroy Batman’s entire rogues gallery in a milisecond, which is of course something the writers don’t want to happen, because otherwise they wouldn’t be able to tell stories about those villains or make money off of them anymore.
  • The series Alias lampshades this. Jessica Jones investigates what appear to be relatively mundane crimes. When she realizes she's in over her head, she tries to contact her old friends in The Avengers, but they are busy with supervillains.
  • Lampshaded in Exiles, where Asgardians are conspicuously absent from most of the dystopian Alternate Universes the team visits, with Morph pointing out that The Mighty Thor could likely resolve or prevent the problems the team are sent to deal with by himself. Indeed, on a world ravaged by a Legacy virus/Phalanx hybrid, Morph gets Rachel Summers to telepathically contact Asgard, bringing them to Earth for the first time, allowing Hank Pym and Beast to synthesis a cure from their blood.
  • Touched on during Stephanie Brown's run as Batgirl which showcased both her friendship with Supergirl, and the fact that when she went up against a team of bad-guys with power-armour induced superpowers, she had already pre-planned an intervention of Kara and her team of equally superpowered heroes.
  • An egregious example with the character Adam Strange over at DC. The character's entire premise was that the Zeta Beam that takes him to the planet Rann will wear off, so he can only stay there for a limited time. There was no reason that he couldn't have asked Green Lantern or other space-travelling superheroes for a lift to permanently solve this problem. To a degree, Strange has done it before: Hawkman and Hawkwoman helped him work up a way to teleport to Rann without the Zeta Beam.
  • Later developments in the Green Lantern books more or less invoked this with respect to Earth: per the terms of a deal between the two, Guy Gardner and the Red Lanterns now patrol sector 2814 (which includes Earth), while Hal Jordan and the rest of the GL Corps are required to stay away. New Lantern Simon Baz is allowed to stay on Earth but isn't allowed to go anywhere else. The deal was dropped when Guy Gardner left the Red Lanterns and the entire Green Lantern Corps disappeared, leaving a vacuum that wasn't filled until DC Rebirth, when the Sinestro Corps decided to take over and Hal Jordan, having been a renegade on the run during the period before, decided to come back and right that wrong, the other Corps members making their way back from where they disappeared off to.
  • Subtly lampshaded in The Dark Phoenix Saga - the Dark Phoenix's awakening alerts the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer, but it happens so fast that none of them can effectively do anything but worry. Even more so, when Beast gets word of the X-Men's fight with the Hellfire Club, Beast just grabs the nearest Quinjet and doesn't bother letting his teammates know to go help his old team. Though in this case, he did that deliberately, since it was a politically sensitive matter he wanted as few people as possible involved in.
  • Enforced in Avengers: No Surrender early on. Many heroes are quick to spring to action to figure out what happened to the Earth and to protect everyone from the destruction. However, many of them, both hero and villain, are captured by a blue aura that freezes them in place, leaving the heroism to a Ragtag Band of Misfits comprised of the remains of three active Avengers teams and one Reservist.
  • Aquaman:
    • Usually justified, since Aquaman's solo adventures typically take place underwater.
    • Double Subversion in the first issue of his 2003 series, where he is exiled from Atlantis and left chained to a rock on shore to die. He immediately tries to call the Justice League for help, only to find that the bad guys destroyed his communicator and are magically blocking his telepathic connection to Martian Manhunter.
    • Played straight, then subverted late into his New 52 run. Thule, a Dark World counterpart of Atlantis is invading Earth, spreading poisonous waters and launching attacks on cities. Aquaman single-handedly fights off the invasion and rescues refugees from Thule while staying one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis under the command of his evil sister-in-law, without once calling any of his friends for help. Subverted when he bumps into the Justice League, who have noticed what's going on and showed up to help. He admits that trying to handle a trans-dimensional incursion by himself was dumb and accepts their aid.
    • When Arthur is deposed (again), new king Corum Rath uses a mystic artefact to surround Atlantis in a magical force field, with Arthur trapped inside and Mera and Garth outside. Garth suggests asking the Titans and Justice League for help, but Mera points out that Rath rose to power off the back of an isolationist movement, and getting surface born superheroes involved would only make things worse.
    • Zig-Zagged at the end of his DC Rebirth series. When the Ocean Master attacks Atlantis with an army, Arthur calls in all his superhero friends to help. However, both forces just kind of stand around and watch the brothers fight one on one.
  • In general, any Intercontinuity Crossover that acts as though the characters from both companies involved have always been part of a single shared universe tends to fall into this. Examples like Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans and Batman vs. Hulk operate on the premise that the characters of the Marvel and DC Universes have always coexisted in the same continuity, but simply never encountered one another until then, despite the obvious questions this raises. Lampshaded in Incredible Hulk vs. Superman, where Lois Lane asks how the Avengers can possibly call themselves "Earth's mightiest heroes" when Superman has never joined their ranks.

    Fan Works 
  • Justified in the Naruto/Justice League crossover, Connecting the Dots. Batman insists that any superheroes in Gotham operate under his rules, and stay out of the public eye. When Wonder Woman engages in a very public battle with Sakura and Rock Lee, this later draws the Cheetah, who had gained some new abilities, to Gotham. Batman explains that she was drawn there by Wonder Woman's public presence in the city, and uses Metropolis's Superman-induced villain infestation as a justification for why he insists that supers in Gotham operate under his rules.
  • Also justified to a considerable extent in the Earth-2706 verse, the setting of Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams and its companion series Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light. Unlike Earth-616, the main setting of the Marvel Universe, superheroes like the X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, The Mighty Thor and Doctor Strange are not based in New York City and are not usually available to help the street-level heroes out. Even the Fantastic Four aren't even in New York half the time. As a result, Sleepwalker, Spider-Woman and every other hero in New York has their hands full with their own individual Rogues Galleries. Except for the rare occasion when they can team up due to responding to the same emergency, the heroes simply can't help each other out even if they might like to.
  • In Origin Story, as in the original Civil War storyline, the X-Men sit the entire thing out after quietly determining that Alex Harris is not a mutant after all, despite the fact that originally everyone simply assumed she was. Since she isn't a mutant, and isn't attacking mutants (and has, in the past, actually defended them) they don't see Alex as their problem, and thus refuse to interfere.
  • The End of Ends has Count Logan go around and destroying various planets, including Starfire's home world, and yet the only team to get involved other than the Teen Titans are the Doom Patrol and not, say, the Green Lantern Corps.
  • In the Doctor Who / DC Universe crossover "Fear Itself", Superman is brought to Gotham at one point and reflects on how Batman always hates it when he shows up, believing it's because Batman feels compelled to solve the city's problems single-handedly. Later, we see Batman's thoughts on the issue, where it's revealed that the issue for him isn't so much one of territoriality as it is effectiveness; when faced with a superpowered alien showing up and easily handing them their asses, the criminals of Gotham consequently tend to be less frightened of the prospect of encountering a guy in a bat-suit, thus making Batman's job harder when Superman eventually leaves.
  • The Daredevil (2015) fanfic What They Wouldn't Do uses this trope twice in one conversation:
    • Sarah asks Matt where he was during "The Incident", and if he had started his Daredevil career at that point.
      Matt Murdock: No. Not until… a little over a year later, I guess. Aliens are a little out of my wheelhouse, anyway. I was at this law firm that Foggy and I used to intern for and they put the whole place on lockdown. No one in, no one out. But especially no one in. Landman and Zack at its best.
    • Learning that Matt's not left New York City once in his life, Sarah suggests to Matt that he ought to take a vacation and let the Avengers watch over Hell's Kitchen. Matt's response?
      Matt Murdock: [laughs] I think stopping muggers and crashing arms deals might be a little small time for them.
      Sarah Corrigan: Small time is important, too. I mean, saving the world is great and all—I'm way glad someone does it. But if the world ends…well, that's it, right? We'd all be dead, so we won't be around to care. The day-to-day stuff in between massive alien invasions… that's what people need more help dealing with. No offense to the Avengers, though. Lauren adores them. So does my dad.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supergirl crossover The Vampire of Steel this is brought up several times:
    • When Kara figures out what is going on in Sunnydale she wants to call the Justice League and stomp the place flat. Buffy pleads with her to not do it because people are better off not knowing vampires are real.
    • In the aftermath of the battle, Buffy asks Supergirl to leave and trust the Gang to handle Sunnydale.
      Kara: Then, what am I supposed to do? Just go, and pretend that none of this exists?
      Buffy: No. You’re supposed to go, and leave it to us. We’re the trained professionals in this thing. We know what to do, Kara. Just like... and, well, you know I hate to bring this up... just like when I was in your body. I don’t know that much about super-heroing, but I’ll bet that Batman doesn’t call you up every time the Joker and he have a throwdown. You all have your spheres of influence. So do we. That’s why we’re here, Kara... and that’s why you’re there.
  • What the Cat Dragged In: When Tony Stark eventually asks (after encountering both Ladybug and Chat Noir and an Akuma) why the hell isn't SHIELD providing assistance regarding the Hawk Moth situation (pointing out that the agency's resources should make dealing with him an easy thing, or so he thinks), he is told back that Mayor Bourgeois pretty much kicked Nick Fury out of his office when he arrived to provide the offer and flat-out refused, saying that the Parisian authorities and the Miraculous holders could deal with it pretty fine by themselves. Fury ends up agreeing (and thus denies Tony's request to send the Avengers) when he points out that the agency has very little clue of how the Akumas operate and the true extent of their powers, and he won't risk the potential escalation. Stark gets pissed about it and gets Akumatized for his trouble and nearly takes over Paris. After he's brought back to normal, he agrees with Fury.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, powerful DC Heroes like The Flash are active in the same world as My Hero Academia. But when S.T.A.R. Lab tech is stolen and shipped off to Japan, the Japanese Hero community is simply tipped off to lock down the ports and airports and monitor the cargo closely rather than receiving any American aid. At the very least, Barry Allen makes it clear that he wants to go and intervene, but can't due to having his hands full with the Rogues and Black Hole.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): Played with. Kara is based out of the same city as Oliver and makes frequent trips to Central City, but she pointedly stays out of the boys' ways, sticking to her own threats and major disasters like crashing planes. This is mainly because she would be complete overkill; Oliver and Barry can handle themselves and their respective prey perfectly fine on their own and hardly need her help anyway. However, she will intervene if they are unable to or the threat risks serious harm to their persons, as seen with China White and Grodd.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, when Mewtwo begins using his powers to alter the weather in Kanto, Rayquaza senses his actions and becomes agitated, and begins flying more erratically across Hoenn in response. Steven Stone takes notice of this and wants to investigate the cause of it, but like Rayquaza he can't leave his region unprotected in case something else comes up (having had some incidents recently that means his concerns are fairly justified).
  • Miraculous Knight: The Joker invokes it while convincing Gabriel to come to Gotham with him. He says Batman wouldn't let Superman come after him.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, For some reason, Spidey is one of the only superheroes in New York to actually take on street crime, stopping bank robberies and investigating things while the entirety of the Avengers are off stopping an Alien Invasion or some other Apocalypse How scenario. Lampshaded, of course, when Peter wonders why his peers like Daredevil are never around.
    Peter: Aw, who am I kidding? He's probably busy with the Hand or something.
  • Justified in Harry Potter and the Invincible TechnoMage. Thor, Stephen Strange, Iron Man, and the other top-tier Marvel heroes can't pop over to Britain and squash Riddle and his Death Eaters because they've got their hands full dealing with the villains that can compete on their level.
  • Dance with the Demons: Subverted. Batman's friends stand aside while he investigates the assassination attempt against Catwoman, but at the end of the story Superman and Wonder Woman arrive in the Batcave to help the Batfamily beat an army of Kobra soldiers.
  • In crossover fanfiction Displaced, the Justice League is told to stay out of Gotham, despite their willingness to stop an ongoing bloody gang war, because Batman -and James Gordon- think the presence of super-powered heroes would attract super-powered villains. However Spider-Man, who has just started operating in Gotham, doesn't care for Batman's rules, and eventually the Dark Knight has to accept that Spider-Man isn't leaving or stopping.
  • In the DC crossover chapters of Marinette Dupain-Cheng: Myth Buster, it is stated that the Paris authorities are doing their best to keep the knowledge of the Miraculouses from the wider world, because regular citizens are tough enough as it is, but if Superman or Wonder Woman came in and were akumatized...
  • Justified in the Teen Titans fanfic Joker's Wild, where Batman and the rest of the Gotham vigilantes can't help Robin defeat the Joker due to a mass break out at Arkham and Blackgate.
  • Ultimate DCU Headverse: Averted in the first story when Barbara Gordon asks Linda Danvers come to Gotham and help Kate Kane look for Mad Hatter.

    Films — Animation 
  • The LEGO Batman Movie: The entire Justice League is shown partying midway through the film, but none of them show up when all the villains in the Phantom Zone are let out and Gotham risks falling into an abyss. Parodied in How It Should Have Ended, where all the superheroes do show up and so instantly override the Bat-Family's attempt to save their city.
  • Batman and Harley Quinn has Batman consider breaking the trope, but most of the heroes at the time were out with other things (in space or at Atlantis) and the heroes left available were B- and C-list heroes that Batman and Nightwing did not want to deal with, and Booster Gold (who they also didn't want to deal with).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Averted in Superman Returns — in the news report, Gotham actually is listed as one of the cities where Superman stopped to do good deeds. Mostly just a Mythology Gag, though, since as far as we know other superheroes don't even exist in this universe.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Man of Steel retroactively runs into this problem when later films reveal that most of the other members of the Justice League would have been on Earth and active as superheroes during Zod's invasion. With Batman it's justified, as without any of his tech that allowed him to go toe-to-toe with Superman in the sequel, he likely couldn't have done much anyway. No word on why Wonder Woman, Aquaman, or the Flash couldn't help out, though. Aquaman does have a subtle exception as The Ghost: he summons a pod of whales to help Kal-El ashore after the latter rescued rig workers from an exploding oil platform, but isn't seen doing this by the audience.
      • Justice League provides some clues: Arthur Curry limited himself to helping out a poor fishing village in Iceland (and he already wanted to avoid attracting attention prior to that when destroying an underwater robot in Batman v Superman), and Flash had no experience of confronting anything stronger than mere humans who can't do anything against his superior speed. Seeing Kryptonians trade super heavy blows and displaying superhuman speed themselves on TV might have dissuaded him from intervening. Still no word on why Diana didn't jump in other than maintaining her decision to not intervene in earthly affairs (the decision to greenlight Wonder Woman and have her appear in Batman v Superman came after the release of Man of Steel).
    • Averting this drives a lot of the conflict in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Gotham is a direct sister city to Metropolis, separated by the baynote . Wayne Industries has almost as much investment in Metropolis as Lex Corp and it's shown that the building Zod destroyed with his heat vision in the climax of Man of Steel was Wayne Financial. In addition to that, Bruce Wayne was there that day, knew many of the employees personally, and he blames Superman for the entire incident. The film continues to acknowledge that Superman's "area of operation" is far larger than just Metropolis, and is seen doing heroic acts around the world.
    • Suicide Squad: Neither Batman, the Flash, nor Wonder Woman showed up in Midway City when Enchantress and her brother began building a world-ending super-weapon smack dab in the middle of it. Even when a squad of villains Batman and the Flash locked up are let loose in the city with the Joker not far behind, there's not a superhero in sight. It's somewhat justified for Wonder Woman here, as her film shows her working at the Louvre museum in Paris, she returned to Europe soon after Clark's funeral. Given the time it takes to cross the Atlantic in a plane (since she doesn't seem to have an invisible jet in this setting) and the unlikeliness of booking a seat on a plane one day or less before it leaves, the Midway City crisis would have been over by the time she gets there.
    • Justice League oddly enough does this despite being the series first Crisis Crossover. Specifically, the Green Lantern Corps are showing as as one of the groups fighting the Big Bad's army in the flashback, only to not be mentioned again. Why they don't show to stop the Big Bad in the present day is never addressed.
    • Aquaman: Arthur Curry/Aquaman never thinks to warn the Justice League in case Orm would invade the surface (they wouldn't be as effective as Aquaman underwater, to be fair). No member of the Justice League is ever shown responding to the tsunamis and massive dumpings of warships and trash Orm sends as a warning to the surface or at least asking Aquaman what's going on.
    • Birds of Prey (2020): Curiously, Batman and the Joker don't get involved in any of the events on their own turf, whether it be Harley Quinn blowing up a factory, a $500K bounty being issued for Cassandra Cain, Huntress's targeted killings across the city, Black Mask approaching hand's grasp of financial control over Gotham, and an army of gangs being sent after the titular Birds. (The real life reason being that Ben Affleck had retired from playing DCEU Batman and Warner Bros has been distancing themselves from Jared Leto as DCEU Joker.)
    • At the end of Zack Snyder's Justice League, recurring character Calvin Swanwick reveals himself to be the Martian Manhunter in disguise. Why he didn't help out during Zod's attack on Metropolis, Doomsday's rampage or Steppenwolf's invasion isn't addressed.note 

  • Rick Riordan, author of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, writes stories where the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse gods run around in the modern world, with all their classical bad guys also around and doing horrific things such as turning random people to stone to sell as lawn decorations, blowing up Elvis's home, and creating more chain restaurants, let alone the various attempts of creating Apocalypse How as soon as possible. Yet you never see the Egyptians deal with Titan uprisings, or the Demigods reacting to the very real threat of the sun being eaten. True, the pantheons do try to stay apart due to the many comments that the meeting of god pantheons creates wars. And true the Greek and Roman demigods did, indirectly, work together against the titans, but that was more a coincidence, as oppose to a Superman and Batman vs General Zod thing. Though the "Heroes of Olympus" series has the Greek and Roman elements working together directly, and the Trials of Apollo series continues a lack of barrier between the two beyond simple space. There is a short story titled The Son of Sobek which features Percy and Carter. After nearly killing each other, they team up to take on a monster crocodile. It's implied that there are forces at work to keep the Greek and Egyptian pantheons separate, and that someone had engineered their meeting in hopes of it ending violently between the two. Later confirmed, except on the last point. Apparently, it was for research, and it led to two more team ups.
    • A slight justification, similar to the Superhero examples, is the aspect of space. While why the Divine aspects don't interact more is still up in the air, a lot of the heroes in play are often working in very different areas from each other and don't have the free time to randomly go looking for trouble. Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase don't have cars or the spare change to randomly travel to Boston and New York City respectively, and the Romans exist out around San Francisco. While the main Egyptian characters exist in New York City, they are often out in different parts of the world that don't tend to be the same parts Percy and company will go to (The Demigods travels brought them to Quebec, Chicago, San Francisco, British Columbia, the Rockies, Seattle, Alaska, Kansas, the middle of the Atlantic, Gilbraltar, Rome, Croatia, and Greece, while the Magicians went to London, Brooklyn, Egypt, France, Memphis Tn, New Mexico, Phoenix, St. Petersburg, and Texas). The Norse characters have this even more so by often interacting with the other 9 realms like Alfheim that the Greeks and Egyptians likely do not even know how to get to. While contact between the groups does increase over time, with Annabeth meeting with Magnus, the actions and decisions of the characters means they often aren't able to get involved if they wanted to (with Percy Jackson for example spending not insignificant periods of time around the time of the Egyptian series either hidden by Hera, without his memories, or in Tartarus, while during the Norse series Percy isn't as active due to trying to live his normal life for a spell.)
  • Legacy: The Tale of the American Eagle implies that this has something to do with the Department of Justice Registration (so police can work out standard crimefighting plays?), and is explored as a theme in the novel when the Hero of St. Theodore uproots and goes on a crusade across the world, irregardless of international boundaries. On a larger scale, there appears to be laws against sending superheroes who operate in one country into another, explored with Nightwolf, a former supersoldier who was court-martialed for violating the Non-Combatant Treaty (superpeople can be medics or chefs, but not fight in wars.)
  • In The Lord of the Rings, a commonly asked question in fandom is "Why couldn't the Eagles just fly the Fellowship to Mount Doom?". It makes sense, since Gandalf had good relations with the Eagles as seen in The Hobbit. And the Eagles did show up to save Frodo and Sam from certain death after the One Ring was destroyed. So why couldn't they just fly the Fellowship to Mount Doom in helping to destroy their shared enemy? Tolkien has never given a definitive answer but most agree that he probably would also have attempted to give an in-universe explanation, but only after stating the obvious, most important reason: "Because then there would be no story". But in The Hobbit the Eagles do save Bilbo (who has just acquired the ring) and the dwarves from a fiery fate.
    • Fans have come up with several hypothetical explanations such as the Eagles too conspicuous as they approached Mordor. Sauron would have sent his winged Nazgul immediately. Another theory is that the Eagles couldn't carry them all the way from Rivendell, and by the time heroes approached Mordor, there was no Gandalf to call them. Finally, some speculate that this may have been Gandalf's unspoken plan all along, but the sidetrack to Moria put a stop to it. Or, of course, there is the implication that the eagles could not bear to touch or have anything to do with the one ring - which is why they stepped in and saved Frodo and Sam the very instant the ring was destroyed. Another explanation is that the Eagles simply choose not to intervene more than they do because, contrary to appearances, (at least in the film version) the Eagles aren't dumb animals that Gandalf has at his beck and call, they're an intelligent race of Middle-earth all their own.
  • With the introduction of both the Secret Histories Droods and the Who You Gonna Call? Ghost Finders to his personal Verse, Simon R. Green had to justify these supernatural-menace-suppressing organizations' non-participation in each others' affairs, as well as their absence from his previous Nightside series. The Droods' absence from the Nightside is explained away as the result of age-old jurisdictional limits, while the Ghost Finders are tasked to oppose supernatural threats that arise outside the Nightside's boundaries. The Ghost Finders' work, at least until recently, usually falls short of the Droods' The World Is Always Doomed caliber of mission, and as a British government institution, the former aren't on good terms with the latter due to the Droods' history of bullying the world's nominal leaders.
  • In Rumor's Block Confluence has such a corrupt government that most super heroes are afraid of working there, and the few who do are forced to be loners because the government considers them illegal vigilantes rather than proper heroes.
  • Not supers, but one of the reasons Terry Pratchett introduced Moist von Lipwig to Discworld was so that he could keep writing novels set in Ankh-Morpork without the Watch's formidable cast of characters horning in and taking over the story. As Moist was (and arguably still is, albeit on the city's behalf) a professional con artist by trade, he has plenty of reasons not to like, trust, or seek out the assistance of the Watch.
    • He also dislikes his fellow new protagonist William de Worde, who runs the Disc's first newspaper. Vimes, Moist, and de Worde all dislike each other.
    • The Witches and Wizards don't get heavily involved in the Ankh-Morpork books, and there are good reasons for both so we're not wondering why some witch or wizard isn't standing by to turn conspirators into frogs. The Wizards prefer to not have to do any magic at all except when there are unexpected extradimensional threats, and are not on loan to help the Watch deal with mundane plots. The Witches just don't live in Ankh-Morpork to begin with, and when they've traveled there it hasn't overlapped any other Ankh-Morpork book.
  • Many of Stephen King's stories share a universe, or at least a multiverse, yet most of their heroes are actually more Action Survivors, so a Nightmare Warriors style team-up is unlikely, and most of the events are very localized. The Gunslingers could certainly have helped the people in the grocery story or The Losers gang, but they were divided by dimensional barriers.
  • Downplayed and generally justified in A Certain Magical Index. Touma has a number of allies who also live in Academy City and who could easily curb-stomp most of his opponents (e.g. Mikoto and Accelerator). They do work together on many occasions, but there are still plenty of instances where this doesn't happen. It's justified by the fact that Touma's allies all have lives and adventures of their own (as shown in the spinoffs).

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The X-Files, all those demons and vampires and mutants running around would have been really useful for the Earth Home Team when the Alien Colonization finally hit.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: A number of fans have questioned why the Enterprise, the flagship of the fleet and a powerful warship crewed with Starfleet's best and brightest, never showed up to help fight off the Dominion, the greatest threat against the Federation since the Borg, especially given that this meant that the TNG films being released concurrently needed to find a new excuse to get Worf back aboard the Enterprise each movie. The Watsonian answer is that they did help fight off the Dominion, but were dispatched to put out fires and resolve crises better suited to a single, very versatile ship rather than put on the front lines with the large fleets where one battleship more or less wouldn't make much difference, which just happens to mean that they never spent much time around the titular space station. The Doylist explanation, of course, is that more crossovers would have meant spending a lot of the budget paying some very expensive guest stars and could have lead to the Enterprise crew overshadowing the cast of DS9.
    • Expanded Universe books that cover the TNG crew during the Dominion War timeframe simply have them fighting elsewhere. This is after all the interstellar equivalent to World War II, and was fought on multiple fronts.
  • Doctor Who runs into this rather frequently as well. There are other advanced species besides the Doctor who could be of help to Earth, but this seems to have happened once in the 50-year history.
    • Several mercenary forces would probably gladly sign up with Earth for the right consideration, but there's never any mention of an offer being solicited. The Sontarans in particular would love to mix it up with the Daleks after being left out of the Time War. However, only one Sontaran (that was demoted to a nurse as punishment) joins the Doctor's army in "A Good Man Goes to War". In that same episode though, an army of Silurians that owe a debt to the Doctor takes command of Demon's Run. However, having alien mercenaries fighting for the Earth would probably cause as many problems as it would solve, if not more
    • After two series of deconstructing the way the Doctor operates and showing just how hated he's become amongst certain people, the Series 6 finale reveals that millions upon millions of individuals wished to answer River's distress beacon and prevent the Doctor's death in 2011 Lake Silencio. None of those individuals actually end up helping to prevent the Doctor's death (except for the Teselecta), though in fairness that's because the Doctor already had a plan to get out of it by slipping under the radar.
    • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, this is played harrowingly straight, except that it's the Doctor from Doctor Who who stays away. After learning that the government is willing to give up children to the aliens, Gwen posits that the reason the Doctor doesn't do more to help Earth is that sometimes the Doctor is too disgusted by humans. However, this is just Gwen speculating. The Doctor has been known to just not know Earth is in danger, since he's definitely not omniscient. Word of God said that the Doctor would never appear in Torchwood, as Torchwood is very much not aimed at children and his presence might encourage them to watch it.
    • The Sarah Jane Adventures has the time-traveling Doctor pop in occasionally, but for the most part the fate of the Earth (or at least London) appears to be in the hands of a middle-aged woman and some school-aged children. Likewise, while it's established that Sarah Jane Doesn't Like Guns and Torchwood's tone is the exact opposite of this show's, it's still bit glaring that Sarah Jane and Captain Jack Harkness never seem to share notes in crisis situations, even after working together well in "Journey's End". However, most of the situations both face are time-limited, and with Jack's teleporter broken, by the time a team got from Cardiff to London or vice versa (especially given how bad British public transportation is), the world would probably have gone to smithereens already.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:
    • Buffy is not allowed in Los Angeles. Not because she's too powerful, but because Angel kicked her out after she tried to kill Faith rather than allow him to try and redeem her in "Sanctuary" (they reconciled). In "Orpheus", Willow visits L.A. when the Fang Gang need a witch, then returns to Sunnydale with Faith.
    • There's also the fact that Buffy can't stay away from Sunnydale for too long (she doesn't go to L.A. after they reconcile), mostly because all of those demons trying to open the Hellmouth or get one of those Artifact of Doom hidden around the town. If the beginning of Season 6 is any indication, Buffy's presence is what's keeping the demons under control.
    • In Angel season 5, the lack of help from Willow or any of the others who could've possibly helped with Fred's demon possession is explained by their refusal to cooperate with Angel due to his decision to work for the resident Big Bad, Wolfram & Hart no matter if his intentions are to subvert their assets into something good.
    • The opposite is in effect, too. Angel turns up again in "Chosen" ready to help fight the First Evil, but Buffy immediately sends him away so he can prepare "a second front" in Los Angeles in case she dies.
    • So since Spike, souled, has managed to come Back from the Dead one would think he would be rushing off to find Buffy. Actually, he thought about it and guessed that doing so would cheapen his Heroic Sacrifice and chooses instead to play the hero in LA.
  • Touched on in the crossover episodes of The Flash (2014) and Arrow; The Flash's superspeed would make cleaning up a lot of Starling City's issues easier, but Barry doesn't have the tactical awareness that Ollie does; the latter fights the former to a draw with no powers and sticks him with an ambush arrow on two occasions when Barry thinks he's got the upper hand. Star City's villains are usually more violent. Barry disagrees with Oliver's more gray-zone morality when it comes to fighting Starling's darker criminals. "Flash vs. Arrow" makes clear that the CCPD find the Arrow an unwelcome presence due to his vigilante killings in season 1, and Oliver has real trouble facing people with superpowers (not to mention a pissed-off gorilla with Psychic Powers). That said, when Barry has his Big Damn Heroes moment in Season 3 finale, the entire League of Assassins is shown to be hopelessly outclassed by a single speedster, especially since they have no idea he's coming. The trope is averted in major crossovers, such as the "Invasion!" arc, when it's "all hands on deck" in order to stop an Alien Invasion, requiring Team Arrow, Team Flash, the Legends, and Supergirl to work together.
    • Although averted a few times in Arrow when Oliver calls on Barry to make a quick stop over to do something for him then immediately leave, like help him and Diggle intercept a criminal before they leave the city, since Barry can be there and back in an instant without really taking much time out of his own problems (and since all it requires is a "Flash" streak shown running by without an appearance by Grant Gustin). Also averted in Flash's season 1 climactic battle against Reverse Flash where Barry does call for backup because he just can't take him alone. However besides Oliver only Firestorm shows up because Atom and Black Canary were unable thanks to events on their own show, and as this was early in the series run (where he'd yet to meet Supergirl and the Legends hadn't formed yet) no other heroes had started operating yet.
    • Stretched to unbelievability in the Arrow finale. Oliver's team is falling apart and mundane thugs are taking over the town, and he's willing to bring in some really questionable allies. But doesn't even try to call Barry.
    • Explained away with the Thinker as he has powers sufficient to take them all down, so there's no point.
      • However, in general played straight-Vixen, Flash, and Supergirl all stay in their own areas, despite being just a phone call away from each other.
    • In season 7 of Arrow, It's revealed that Roy Harper died and was resurrected by the Lazarus pit, which gives you a blood lust. Smart solution? Call Oliver, and have him call the Legends to get Constantine to purify Roy the same way he did Sara. Practiced solution? Try to keep the blood lust under control with drugs, and tell no one else, resulting in the deaths of two innocent guards.
    • Also happens in season 8, after William, Mia, and Connor somehow time-travel to 2019, no one thinks to call Team Flash or the Legends for their thoughts on time travel.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the post-Crisis Black Lightning, which now takes place in the same universe as the other Arrowverse shows. The country is under attack by a foreign power with an army of metahumans. Does Black Lightning think to call on the other heroes? No, of course not. He'd much rather use children to fight the Gravedigger and his army. For that matter, Gravedigger seems awfully focused on Freeland, even though Central City arguably has more metas than Freeland.
  • Supergirl:
    • This is addressed as Kara's desire to strike out on her own as a superhero in the world, so she defends National City while Clark stays in Metropolis. When James Olsen has to call Superman to save Supergirl from dying to an attack from Reactron, Kara and James have an argument about whether or not he should have called Superman at all. At the end of the episode even James admits that he moved to National City to become his own man and not remain "Jimmy" forever. In that episode, Supergirl also notes a practical reason: villains will start to think she's an easy target and plague National City if she needs Superman to help her on every problem. Superman finally makes an appearance, when both Kryptonians have to stop a falling space shuttle. Clark then stays in National City for a few days, but it's revealed that he refuses to work with DEO because they keep kryptonite in storage. Near the end of Season 2, everyone wonders where Superman is, considering that Earth is the middle of an Alien Invasion. Clark did show up, but he was mind-controlled by Queen Rhea of Daxam into fighting Kara, resulting in Kara proving herself to be his equal or better. Clark then comes up with a way for Kara to beat Rhea with a Combat by Champion.
    • Although Superman has arrived to help save the day on occasion, his absence during the world-threatening Reign arc of Season 3 is puzzling, given the arc has several episodes in which is presence would not only have saved his cousin from a lot of pain and injury, but would have been a no-brainer, in particular when Supergirl is rendered comatose after a fight with Reign, technically leaving no one in National City with the same level of power - the fact Superman isn't called in borders on the irresponsible. Later, it's mentioned that he's working on the other side of the world, but you'd think he could pop in at Super Speed. Similarly, given Supergirl has a device capable of transporting between worlds, someone should at least suggest asking The Flash, Steel or any of the other super-powered beings from the other universe to return Kara's favor for helping save their Earth several times. This is ultimately settled in Elseworlds (2018), as Clark decides to retire as Superman to marry Lois and prepare for a child on the way.
    • In the Elseworlds (2018) crossover, Batwoman really doesn't want Oliver or Barry in Gotham, especially the Green Arrow (there are already enough vigilantes in Gotham). She doesn't mind Kara, though.
    • While the Superman & Lois is just starting, so far there haven't really been any mentions of the other heroes. Even Clark hasn't mentioned his cousin once, even when a mysterious villain in Power Armor is attacking nuclear power plants all over the country, or when a bridge is collapsing in China. Why was Superman the only one to respond to that one? Supergirl is at least as strong as him.
  • This is a problem that's frequently glossed over in Power Rangers. By the time the Zordon era was over, there were multiple Ranger teams on earth and the number has only increased as the show has gone on. More to the point, pretty much every ranger team defeats their enemies by the end of their season. As such, one would think some of these older Rangers might move to whatever city is being attacked in the current season and try and help out. In some cases there are valid excuses. Lost Galaxy isn't set on Earth, SPD is set in the future, RPM is in an alternate universe, not to mention numerous Rangers have lost their powers (although by the time of Megaforce every past Ranger seems to have been repowered somehow). However, there are plenty of still active Rangers who have no obligation to stay in their original city, yet outside of the occasional team up, the newest team is typically left to deal with the bad guys on its own.
    • Naturally, this is also the case for the series Power Rangers was adapted from; Super Sentai. Notably, Super Sentai has had a history for having a team-up movie for almost every series, but during the final battles, no two teams are present together.
  • Kamen Rider also has this problem, but it gets thrown into sharper relief by the crossovers that happen. Every Showa-era series has a point where some (or all) of the past Riders show up and help the current hero fight his enemies. The Heisei era handled this by seemingly putting every series into its own continuity, but the "Phase 2" era (2010 onwards) brings back the old issues with the annual Movie Wars crossovers. Only rarely does this get addressed, with one example being Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive: Super Movie War Genesis, where Shinnosuke (who already has his responsibilities as a police officer) tells Takeru "I'll leave the Ganma to you." — and on top of that the Drive gear got sealed away at the end of the series, meaning he couldn't help even if he wanted. Sometimes it's also addressed that the previous Riders are busy with fighting villains elsewhere in the world other than Japan, in some cases including The Remnant of their series' monster group, or Foundation X in the "Phase 2" era. There's also some special cases, such as Kamen Rider Den-O patrolling the time stream or Kouta being busy literally being God on a planet on the other side of the universe and only stopping by to help on occasion.
  • In the CSI Verse, there were few episodes where the three CSI shows (Las Vegas, Miami and New York) crossover. However, Jack Malone and his FBI team from Without a Trace never crossed paths with Mac Taylor and the New York Crime Lab despite being in the same city. Justified that Jack's team only handled missing persons cases and the only crossover episode that they had with CSI is Las Vegas. In a meta-sense, several actors such as A.J. Buckley and Anna Belknap appeared in Without A Trace before they were cast in CSI: NY as the main characters and Enrico Murciano appeared in Las Vegas as a different character instead of his character from Without A Trace. Cold Case also had one crossover episode with New York since the show's city, Philadelphia, is closer to New York.
    • Oddly enough in CSI: Cyber, the team went to New York and later, Miami, and not one of the spinoff characters was seen. This could be justified in a meta-sense: the two spinoffs were already cancelled and Gary Sinise was busy with another show.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess / Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Despite being in the same universe, the two protagonists only met three times in the period the two shows aired. Justified in that it would be difficult to find anyone quickly in ancient times. In reality, the producers wanted to keep the two shows distinct and limit the number of cameos from the two series. It occasionally runs into problems, such as Dahak debuting in Xena but being resolved in Hercules without any input from the warrior princess.
  • In a similar vein as in DS9, in Star Trek: Discovery, this trope is discussed as to why the original Enterprise hadn't shown up during the Federation/Klingon War. After learning of Section 31 and how its base is set up, Captain Pike accuses Admiral Cornwell of keeping the Enterprise away so someone like him wouldn't point out their morally dubious decisions going against the ideals of Starfleet. Cornwell counters that they did so so that Starfleet's finest — and their ideals — would survive should the Federation lose.

  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour: Played straight and averted. One of the segments, a superhero show called "The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam", features two heroes, Captain Laserbeam and Phillip Fathom. While Fathom frequently teams up with Captain Laserbeam in his city, Apex City, Captain Laserbeam never joins Fathom in his own adventures in his city, Aquapolis.
  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • The Red Panda actively kicks other superheroes out of Toronto, and keeps saying "I Work Alone". People keep pointing to his partner, the Flying Squirrel. He says she doesn't count. Part of his character development is learning to share, and he eventually starts training other heroes to take over when he retires.
    • Ironically, Panda has no problem showing up in New York and interfering, whether the heroes there like it or not. If anything, he goes out of his way to annoy them.note 

  • In the second Superman radio series this was sort of averted; Superman DID stay out of Gotham, but Batman was in that continuity living in Metropolis too. Team-ups with Batman, Robin and Superman were common, mind you.
  • Averted for comedy effect in "That Mitchell and Webb Sound" on BBC Radio 4. There's a running gag sketch involving the heroic team of Angel Summoner (Webb) and BMX Bandit (Mitchell). They typically arrive at the scene of some crime/natural disaster/whatever, and BMX Bandit suggests some complex solution usually involving some combination of highly dangerous stunts on his bike. Angel Summoner then just summons a host of angels who fix the entire situation in a matter of a couple of seconds, leaving BMX Bandit nothing much to do.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Fifth edition Champions Universe (the official setting) imposed this trope on Gotham-Expy Hudson City. Despite existing in the same world as Millennium City and other cities with superheroes, Hudson City only had vigilantes fighting crime, and none of the villain organizations of the "main" Champions Universe ever tried to expand into Hudson City. It worked in reverse as well; the Harbinger of Justice could probably take out some supervillains with only a little planning, but since he never left Hudson City ....

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate would have ended right after the beginning if Elminster, instead of wandering around randomly greeting the main character, decided to end the Big Bad conspiracy. BUT, he is a Chosen of the deity Mystra, and the gods were forbidden to interfere with the Bhaalspawn (and besides, players wouldn't have had much to do besides raiding xvart villages and fetching golden pantaloons). Thus... "ho there wanderer".
    • But Drizzt had no divine obligations and he could have easily disposed of the Big Bad, seeing what he accomplishes in his novels. He is a well renowned hero in the Forgotten Realms and he was just roaming south of Baldur's Gate by the time the main character ventured forth for the first time, even meeting him: is it possible that he didn't notice and/or care about the iron ore shortage, the reports of monsters at Nahskel's mines, the unusual bandit activity, the shift of power in the Iron Throne? To the point that a rookie protagonist adventurer solved all of this before him?
  • The Spider-Man games for the PlayStation:
    • There are appearances by several NYC-based heroes in the cutscenes to express their sympathy at his frame-up but who are of no help at all. Daredevil leaves to "spread the word" about his innocence right before the NYPD swoops down to arrest the wallcrawler. Spidey naturally refuses The Punisher's' offer of help knowing his penchant for bloody murder. Also, while you can visit the Baxter Building, Spidey will mention that the Fantastic Four aren't home at the moment.
    • Averted in past and later games, where Spidey has had a surprisingly large number of allies. The 4-player arcade game featured Namor, Hawkeye and the Black Cat as the other three playable characters. His first Game Boy game featured the X-Men. In Maximum Carnage and Separation Anxiety, Venom was an optional playable character while several hero icons popped up throughout both games, summoning characters like Captain America, Firestar, Daredevil and more in order to help the player. Finally, Web of Shadows has Wolverine, Luke Cage, and Moon Knight as summonable allies who feature largely in the plot.
    • Spider-Man (PS4) plays it straight. Despite locations like Avengers Tower, the Wakandan embassy, the Sanctum Sanctorum, Matt Murdock's law office and Alias Investigations being present as Easter eggs, no superheroes other than Spider-Man ever actually show up. Granted, Spider-Man does mention that the Avengers are hardly ever in New York due to battling threats all over the world and the same could be said for others like Dr. Strange, and Black Panther (who runs an entire country), and Daredevil and the other street vigilantes could be handling more minor threats.
  • Rainbow of the Rainbow Six games will occasionally perform stealth missions, even though Splinter Cell's Third Echelon would be much better suited. Rainbow is a secret international counter-terrorist unit that answers to multiple governments note . Third Echelon is an NSA black-ops program. The idea is that various governments can call Rainbow in to respond to terror attacks, while Third Echelon only answers to and works for the US government, and usually takes a more proactive approach.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum invokes it, by having the Joker specifically announce that if he sees anyone in a cape besides Batman on the grounds, he's going to detonate the bombs he has scattered around the city.
    • In Batman: Arkham City, Robin makes a brief appearance, but by this time it is revealed Joker infected thousands of people with his tainted blood and Batman instructs him to return to Gotham because he knows that Robin will soon be needed there. So Gotham is saved by Batman and Catwoman despite the fact that the Justice League would have been all over it even without Bruce calling for help at the start of act 5, though this could be explained as the fact that Batman shut it down not long after it started. Also in a DLC it is revealed that Robin was behind the scenes stopping Black Mask.
    • Even other Bat-Family members are neglected. Batwoman, Huntress and The Creeper are all established to exist by the time of Arkham Knight, but never appear to help. Well, Jack Ryder does appear, but it never occurs to him or Batman to turn into the Creeper.
    • In Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman works alone and doesn't believe he needs helps fighting crime. Giving Batman Character Development about how he can't face his war alone and needs to make allies is part of the plot.
    • The Justice League is absent in Batman: Arkham Knight because after your first bomb encounter, Scarecrow and the Knight's threat is broadcast worldwide to prevent outside involvement lest there be a big crater where Gotham used to be. A mook comments that he's worried about "that freak from Metropolis" intervening, so it's probably due to the rapid developments that the other heroes don't get involved - it's all over before other heroes learn of the event and can react.
  • The LEGO adaptation games break this trend with Batman: while the first LEGO Batman played this trope straight by featuring only Gotham characters, the sequel, the aptly titled LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes makes it quite clear it averts the trope by having, well, the rest of the DCU joining in. And the game actually lampshades the entire concept by having Superman just casually drop by and save the day, pissing off Batman greatly and telling Robin don't expect Superman to swoop in and save the day every time. When The Joker and Lex Luthor invade the Batcave, Batman begrudgingly lets Robin call out to Superman, but when he doesn't immediately show up, Batman goes to tell him I Told You So, but ends up being saved at the last minute. At the end of the game, the entire Justice League shows up to save the day, making Batman realize that sometimes, outside help IS needed.
  • Averted in Injustice: Gods Among Us. The prequel comic starts with Superman and Batman talking in Metropolis. Later, The Joker causes trouble in Metropolis and the Justice League tries to deal with him. They fail, and his plan to kill Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and ultimately all of Metropolis goes off without a hitch. This leads to the dystopia years later in the main game, where Superman has taken over the world Knight Templar style along with other fallen heroes and Batman leads other heroes in the La Résistance against Superman's forces.
  • An interesting variation. In a NES video game starring The Flintstones, Fred and the others travel to the future in search of their pets and run into George Jetson. Despite being his time frame, he tells Fred he can't help out because Spacely Sprockets is in the middle of their own crisis that he has to fix himself.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Fighters Guild, an organization of "warriors-for-hire" that operates throughout most of Tamriel, does not have a presence in Skyrim. Instead, Skyrim is served in a similar capacity by the Companions, a group who traces their origins back to the original 500 Companions of Ysgramor.
  • World of Warcraft's Legion introduced the Vindicaar, and with it the ability to fire extremely powerful beams of Light at targets on the ground, and they joined the Alliance. Which really begs into question as to why the Alliance didn't use it in the next expansion, Battle For Azeroth. The only explanation ever given is an Out-of-Universe one by the devs that they felt it clashed with the themes and aesthetics of sieges and castles and towers they wanted to have for the expansion.

    Web Comics 
  • Fans!. A huge mish-mash of tropes includes a sci-fi organization with teleporters and rayguns chasing down Osama Bin Laden. Or so they thought. Their hearts were in the right place. 'Osama' didn't even have one.
  • Double-subverted in Learning with Manga! FGO. Mash and Nitocris have a mystery on their hands, and the first thing Nitocris brings up is to get Holmes to help them solve it... but because neither of the two girls have the story Servants (one of which is Holmes) on hand and he's never been summoned otherwise, they have to do it themselves.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • In 'Silent Nacht', it is mentioned that in cities like Los Angeles where there are multiple superteams, they usually wait until the police call on them (for both legal and PR reasons), and make sure that they don't interfere with another team's takedowns unless invited to. This leads to a scene where one team is watching another getting their butts handed to them on TV, eating popcorn and making snarky comments about their rival fellow heroes.
    • It is also mentioned in 'Razzlr Dazzle' that the Dark Avenger (a Captain Ersatz combination of the Shadow, Batman, and the Punisher) had a habit of pissing off other costumed heroes by jumping into the middle of another hero's bust, guns blazing. He did this in Chicago one time in the mid-1930s, to the Champion (the world's Superman equivalent), who got so angry at the Dark Avenger's gun-happy recklessness that he tried to arrest him.
  • At the end of Volume 3 of RWBY, Ruby teams up with the remnants of team JNPR to travel to Haven and hunt down those who destroyed Beacon, since team RWBY was dissolved at that point. There's no indication in the show or spin-off novels that she made a similar offer to Team CVFY, a still-complete team of second-year hunstsmen-in-training who said novels establish were close friends with RWBY and JNPR.
  • Even assuming the wider Red vs. Blue universe at least resembles the Halo: Combat Evolved universe, Master Chief's absence in most of the storylines is justified, since he would have been busy fighting the Covenant during the Blood Gulch Chronicles, and afterwards he was MIA for several years. Project Freelancer, being a rogue military-corporate operation would likely have been out of his and his allies jurisdiction anyways. The given reason the Reds and Blues were used as Sim Troopers in Project Freelancer was also that they were so stupid that they were more use as training dummies for super-soldiers and would have been more a danger to their allies than the Covenant. However, this is played straight during the Schisno Paradox; Sarge (who according to non-canon material, is aware of and admires Chief) tries to assemble a team of history's greatest warriors with a time machine, but does get anyone born after the 20th century, resulting in the effort failing miserably.
  • Seanbaby lampshades this on his JLA page, in which Superman could do everything if he wanted to. Not that he hasn't tried. There have been a few stories where Superman tried to save everyone and do everything, usually with An Aesop that he can't do everything alone, or that it's just not worth sacrificing his social life to save a few cats stuck in tree

    Western Animation  
  • Played straight in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. As a High School A.U., despite taking place in New York most of Tony's super-hero counterparts are probably not of age (Black Panther, in his appearance, was still just a teenager, and Iron Fist is mentioned as a local teen martial arts champion), and the adult characters who make appearances are otherwise uninterested or unable to in help Tony out (Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. view Iron Man as a vigilante threat, the Incredible Hulk was in one of his rampaging moods during his appearance, Captain America is still apparently frozen, Black Widow and Hawkeye had yet to do their Heel–Face Turn.) It starts to fall apart in the second season where Doctor Doom and Magneto show up, but neither the Fantastic Four nor X-Men do. Jean Grey does show up as a teenager and is clearly shown to not yet be a superhero or member of the X-Men. At the end of the episode where she appears, she seems to meet Professor X for the first time, so presumably the team is just now being assembled. Reed Richards is mentioned as a professor, but it is unclear whether he has powers. Though Word of God states that Wolverine at least would have shown up had the series been given a third season.
  • Teen Titans:
    • The Titans never even mention their adult counterparts, at least not by name. Even when the fate of the world is at stake, and every teen-aged hero on Earth has been captured except for half-a-dozen C-list Titans, no one thinks to let Superman know what's happening. This despite the presence of characters like Robin, Aqualad and Speedy.
    • The League wasn't even mentioned when Trigon made a successful planet-side takeover. Neither were the Titans East. There's Die or Fly, and then there's this. This specific case may be justified by those who read the source story, showing the other superheroes were petrified when Trigon's dimension began absorbing Earth.
    • The Doom Patrol are the only "adult" superheroes that actually appear, and even then its only for two episodes and afterwards they are quickly forgotten and never mentioned again. The only reason they appeared at all was to setup the main antagonists of the final season, "The Brotherhood of Evil". The only other hero to appear is Batman but only in a small number of background references that only those familiar with his mythos would really notice.
      • The reason for all of this is because at the time, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation had a policy of "Character Embargos". A character couldn't appear in one show if another show already had them in a major role. While Teen Titans was running, for example, it had dibs on Robin, so Robin couldn't appear in Justice League or The Batman, and no Batman characters could appear on Justice League, since The Batman had dibs on them. Ironically, this ban included Harley Quinn, a character who was created for one of the shows that Justice League was a continuation of. Batman was grandfathered into Justice League by virtue of being a main and popular character, but the only other exceptions were Speedy's guest appearance in Justice League, which occurred after Teen Titans had aired all their episodes but still had reruns, and technically, Kid Flash's appearances in Teen Titans, as both he and Justice League's Flash were obviously Wally West, but under different identities allowing the writers to "Exploit a Loophole". Both Justice League's Speedy and Teen Titans's Kid Flash were clearly based on the other show's version of the character, going so far as to use the same voice actors.
    • Conversely, the comedic Spin-Off Teen Titans Go! mentions and showcases many adult superheroes regularly. Early seasons had Batman making background cameos, several appearances of Aquaman, and an episode where, sick of Beast Boy slacking off, the team holds auditions for other Animal-Themed superheroes to replace him, such as Vixen. Later seasons and the movie would go on to have members of the Justice League in speaking roles and involved with the plot.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • In the first episode, Green Arrow lampshades this trope, getting angry when Green Lantern takes down some criminals that he was fighting and calling him a big name hero who has now decided that fighting street crime is his thing.
    • While this was averted in the series finale and justified against Brainthor, the series premiere had a team of seven taking on a planetary invasion. At least with the Thanagarian invasion, future Unlimited league members like Vigilante were stated to be fighting offscreen or imprisoned because of it.
    • Lampshaded and justified in the episode "In Blackest Night", to explain why none of the classic DCAU heroes are helping out today:
      Martian Manhunter: Wonder Woman is on another case, Superman's dealing with an earthquake and Batman would only say that he's "busy".
    • A subtle episode that was Flash-centric shows that Flash deals with his supervillains differently - some of them act like Flash is their counselor. In short, only Flash can deal with the villains in Keystone.
      Flash: [admonishingly] James, you're off your meds, aren't you?
      Trickster: Better off without 'em! Take 'em if I start feeling down.
      Flash: You know that's not how the medicine works. You're not well!
      Trickster: I'm fine! [brightens up] ...You wanna throw some darts?
      Flash: No, listen, James, you're wearing the suit again.
      Trickster: I am? [looks down at his costume] Well, what do you know?
      Flash: Here's the deal, buddy. Tell me where those guys went, and I'll come see you in the hospital. We'll play darts! The soft kind.
      Trickster: [smiles widely] Okay, they're gonna ambush you at the Flash Museum!
      Flash: See? That's all we needed! [to Batman and Orion] Come on, we better get over there.
      Orion: What about your enemy?
      Flash: Oh, right. Dude, as soon as you finish your drink, turn yourself in!
      Trickster: [raises mug] Got me again, Flash!
  • Superman: The Animated Series:
    • In the "Knight Time" episode, this is subverted when Superman DOES go into Gotham to investigate Batman's disappearance with Robin's help (and disguised as Batman): it's shown Brainiac got to Batman while he was working with Lexcorp in Metropolis as Bruce Wayne. Leading to "Batman" confronting Brainiac (The Mad Hatter vouched the tech involved was not "of human origin"). One priceless scene in the episode is "Batman" able to overcome the best efforts of Bane, Mad Hatter and Riddler with brute force.
      Mad Hatter: [shocked at how "Batman" survives a stone pillar falling on top of him, and then kicks it off of him with two feet] That's not possible.
      Robin: He's been working out.
    • Earlier, when Superman and Batman first met, they clearly did not trust one another (the mutual discovery of each other's secret identity was implied to be the one thing preventing the other from turning them in). From the first episode of Superman's show, a brief mention of the "nut from Gotham" made it clear that Batman was not held in much high regard as a hero.
  • The New Batman Adventures:
    • The episode "Girls' Night Out" gender-flips as well as subverts it when Livewire escapes to Gotham (and runs into Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy). In response, Supergirl must team up with Batgirl to stop the trio.
    • Played straight with a justification in "Love is a Croc", in which one of the newspapers describing the duo's crime spree includes a side-story headline "Superman Has Hands Full".
  • Averted in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, where other heroes often pop up to help the team. The Grand Finale has the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, The Falcon, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and other New York-based heroes aiding the Avengers in the final battle against Galactus.
  • Similarly, Ultimate Spider-Man often has Spidey teaming up with any one of the numerous superheroes who live in New York City. This is largely due to Spider-Man often facing villains from other heroes' rogues galleries.
  • Lampshaded in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Night of the Batmen!" Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Green Arrow, and Plastic Man regularly team-up with Batman during the course of the series, but run into numerous obstacles when they try to fight crime in Gotham (partly because they are in disguise to fill in for an injured Batman, trying to do things his way rather than play to their own strengths). Otherwise, averting this is the hook of the series. Batman fights villains, and eagerly accepts the help of any hero he comes across, or otherwise calls in his buddies to assist.
  • Young Justice:
    • Averted where the Justice League has evolved into an international organization so effective that the villains had to form a Secret Society called "The Light" in response, because individually they were no match for the heroes. At the start of the show, the League's roster is twice as large as it normally is in the comics, and it gets even bigger as time goes on. Team-ups if anything appear to have become the norm.
    • Apparently played straight earlier in their careers. Word of God stated that before the League was formed, there was one team-up between Batman and Superman and one between The Flash and Green Lantern, and that was it.
    • Season 2 had Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and others on an intergalactic trial, leaving just the B-listers and the Team to deal with a worldwide threat.
  • Harley Quinn (2019): Averted literally, and then enforced literally, in "Devil's Snare": When the Legion of Doom creates an army of man-eating trees in a Gotham City park, the Justice League shows up. Shortly thereafter, the Queen of Fables traps the League in her story-book world, leaving the villains in control of the city for the next dozen episodes.
  • The Super Hero Squad Show was very specifically designed to avoid this trope. Aside from being Lighter and Softer (and funnier) in general, the series takes place in Super Hero City where all the Earth-based Marvel heroes live (in fact, only a handful of people shown are NOT heroes.) The city is separated from Villainville by a giant wall. All the villains live there. Even though the series mainly focuses on the "Super Hero Squad" composed of Iron Man, Falcon (Spider-Man couldn't be included due to licensing issues with Sony Pictures), Silver Surfer, Reptil, The Mighty Thor, Wolverine, the Incredible Hulk, and later the Scarlet Witch, many episodes had other heroes join in just because they were literally in the neighborhood. One episode involved the Squadies trying to recover the show's MacGuffin from a Bratty Halfpint named Brynnie Bratton. Eventually she ends up being passed around like a football by random heroes and villains alike such as Colossus, Ms. Marvel, Juggernaut, various members of the Avengers, the Wrecking Crew, the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, Abomination, M.O.D.O.K., Storm, Sabretooth, and numerous others along with the Squadies themselves all trying to stop the other side just to get the tiara she's wearing. By the end of the first season, most of these same heroes did whatever they could to stop Galactus from going on an eating binge.
  • The American Voltron franchise has King Zarkon of Planet Doom as a vassal of the Drule empire from the Vehicle Voltron series. Given how many times Zarkon and Lotor have had their butts kicked by the Lion Force Voltron, as well as their overall untrustworthiness, it raises the question as to why the Drules haven't sent a fleet or two to planet Doom to effect a change in management. Also, the Drule robeasts that regularly fail to destroy the Vehichle Voltron and the Explorer fleet are nowhere in the same league as Haggar's magical robeasts. Why didn't they enlist Haggar's expertise in fighting the Explorer and Vehicle Voltron? Especially given that VV, being an Earth knockoff imitation, was obviously technologically inferior to the definitely Magitek Lion Voltron. Additionally, the Drules were looking for a new planet as their home planet was doomed. Why couldn't they just go to planet Doom whether Zarkon liked it or not? The real-life reason for this, of course, is due to the fact that Lion Force Voltron and Vehicle Voltron are based on two separate original anime.
  • Phineas and Ferb Save Summer features the entire world being put in peril of a new ice age. Earlier, the Avengers appeared in the show showing they are part of a Shared Universe (though that episode's canonicity is debatable). This was an incident that involved the entire world that everyone knew about so they couldn't be accused of staying out of Danville.
  • Rick and Morty: On one hand, Rick seems to have a solution to almost everything, including a shapeshifter problem that the local superheroes blew up a planet to desperately solve themselves. On the other, tentacled, Davey-Crockett wielding hand, Rick has caused entire universes of death and chaos. It doesn't help that his intelligence seems to be powered by sheer sadism.


Video Example(s):


The Avengers Didn't Assemble

Honest Trailers lampoons the fact that the Avengers never really assembled for most of Phase 2 until the very end and for something moderately small-scale compared to the other times.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / SupermanStaysOutOfGotham

Media sources:

Main / SupermanStaysOutOfGotham