Follow TV Tropes


Urban Segregation

Go To
"For every city, however small, is, in fact, divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another."

Real-life cities are vast, diverse mishmashes of different cultures and socioeconomic groups.

Obviously, the entirety of a city cannot always be adequately presented in a work, and often there is no point in doing so, due to The Law of Conservation of Detail. However, since some diversity of status and income is needed, the City of Adventure you happened to end up in will usually be split into districts by their prestige and socioeconomic level. Most often, there are three of them:

  • The Industrial Ghetto, a dirty slum of overcrowded , crumbling buildings and poverty. It is often a Wretched Hive inhabited by scum and poor people. In a Dystopia, it may be a ghetto for beings judged as "inferior" by whoever is in charge. Home to many poor workers, servants and refugees. Low-level criminals abound, with a few Gentleman Thieves, Moses in the Bulrushes, and ragtag entrepreneurs among more malicious elements. May have a Bazaar of the Bizarre where any Black Market goods or personal services (The Oldest Profession or a hitman) can be obtained—for a price. The Bad Guy Bar can also be located here if the bad guys are of low enough social class. Police Are Useless here, due to a mix of corruption and wanting to avoid danger.
  • The "normal" district, a clean, middle-class area bustling with families and small businesses. This is where different cultures meet. Often the center of trade activity, as well as the place where you can learn the latest news and gossip. The people here are generally satisfied with their lives, or brainwashed into satisfaction in a dystopia. The people in this neighborhood may go into the elite district by day to work for aristocrats or executives. Law and order is observed here, due to the City Guards.
  • The elite district, a gleaming area of well-landscaped buildings inhabited by the "cream of the crop", usually wealthy aristocrats and executives. The government, if one is featured, also has its executive branches and offices here. Mega-Corp executive offices are here. The inhabitants may be shown as evil or simply not caring for the common folk. A Shining City, often featuring Crystal Spires and Togas. It is typically walled off from the poorer section and well guarded.

Despite the urban segregation, there are many ways that the classes mix from time to time, such as a poor kid getting a scholarship to the university in the elite sector, a rich teen volunteering in the slums to help the less privileged, or a cross-class romance.

Notice that this also happens in real life. A glaring example is Detroit, Michigan, which is divided in rich north and poor south by 8 Mile Road, while many smaller western cities are divided in this way by the town's railroad tracks, justifying the phrase "born on the Wrong Side of the Tracks." Do note, though, that while income levels are by far the most common means of delineating areas within a city, Urban Segregation doesn't have to be by money lines: race (fantasy or otherwise), language, one's occupation (specialized trades like meatpacking or jewelry-working may be segregated in real life), and common tribal/clan lineage are other ways one neighborhood can become distinguished from the next (though, admittedly, differences in income and wealth usually end up happening anyway).

While real life segregation is mostly horizontal, a common sci-fi setting is a Layered Metropolis with vertical Urban Segregation — usually the poor live at the bottom in smog and darkness, while the rich live in the upper levels with sunlight and fresh air. This is a particularly common element in a Hive City, whose three-dimensional mass of architecture if often divided between upper-class districts in the upper or outer regions and slums and industrial areas at the bottom or within the core.

When applied to a school setting, it usually leads to an Absurdly Divided School.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Each of the three Walls functions in this manner, with permission required to travel between them. Wall Sina is the innermost region, with the Royal Capital and many of the nobility living there. Many military recruits dream of joining the Military Police, in order to be given permission to live in Wall Sina. Beneath the kingdom is the Underground District, a slum built into an enormous cavern where the poorest people live in wretched conditions and are not permitted to leave. Wall Rose was essentially a middle-class region prior to the loss of the largest territory, Wall Maria. This region was a poor agricultural area on the outskirts of human territory, prior to being lost to an invasion by Titans.
    • In the nation of Marley, the Eldian population live in walled-off slums separate from the rest of society. These ghettos are guarded by the Secret Police, and residents may only leave when granted permission by the government and carrying a valid permit. Those that leave the ghettos without permission are subject to beatings or even execution.
  • They may be entirely on entirely different stellar bodies, but the lunar city of Mooneyes is treated much like the upper echelons of society in Basquash! In contrast, Rollingtown is almost a modern day Earth downtown. Except for the whole Bigfoot mecha thing.
  • Battle Angel Alita: Technocrats living in a floating city (actually, it hangs from an orbiting satellite) and a slum around a trash heap on the surface. Unauthorized construction of a flying vehicle or possession of a firearm is a death sentence.
    • Considering that the floating city has suicide booths (called "Endjoy") and has a ritual where all the residents, at age 19, have their brains removed and replaced with biochips, essentially killing them and replacing them with AI copies to create a more orderly society, the trash heap is arguably the better place.
  • The Big O's Paradigm City is strictly divided between The Domes, with artificial sunlight and clean air, and "those living outside the domes", who don't even get the benefit of a concise name (at least not in English).
  • Bleach: Aristocrats and shinigami live in the peaceful and elegant Seireitei ("Court of Pure Souls"), the commoners outside the Seireitei walls in the Rukongai ("Town of Wandering Spirits"). There are 80 numbered districts in the Rukongai, those with smaller numbers can be rather nice, but the ones at the end have hellish living conditions. And according to the setting, people who die in the real world get reincarnated in a random Rukongai district.
  • Code Geass has the Settlements, shining modern cities inhabited by the Britannians, and the Ghettos, the bombed-out remains of the old cities where the Japanese are forced to live. One episode shows that (in Tokyo at least) the dividing line is the train tracks.
  • In Getbackers, the limitless fortress(where most of the important stories take place) is separated into 3 levels: Lower town, which is basically a slum and is home to all the "normal" residents. People in this town often wear rags for clothes. The belt line, which is basically the "middle class" of the fortress, mostly houses supernatural monsters who exist only to terrorize residents of lower town. And finally there is Babylon City, the top level, home to the most powerful beings in the Getbackers universe. The top level is basically a palace.
  • An Exaggerated Trope in Kill la Kill: Honnouji town is strictly segregated in four levels... according to how well each family's students are doing at school. No-Stars live in the outermost, poorest levels, and are very individualistic. One-Stars live in massified, uniform apartment blocks, and all look identical to each other. Two-stars live in lavish houses and carry a luxurious, decadent lifestyle. Three-stars and Kiryuuin Satsuki, the Absurdly Powerful Student Council, who rule Honnouji, Academy and Town, with an iron fist, are the innermost circle, there's only a handful of them, and they live without their parents. One and two-stars are extremely commited to the system and to keeping no-stars from rising up, to the point that mothers carrying their babies will whip out a Tommy gun and shoot you if you're breaking the Apartheid.
  • Metropolis (2001) has a layered society, much like the Fritz Lang movie below: the elites live in the top of the skyscrapers, middle classes on/near the ground, workers in the first underground layer, while only robots toil in the depths of the city.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the rich and middle class inhabitants live in the interior of colonies, where they can enjoy simulated environments and live in well maintained cities. However, the colony's poor are often forced to live in the "underside" of the colony, which would be its outer rim.
  • In My-Otome, the segregation of Windbloom into three "layers" is evident (with the middle "layer" being little more than generic-looking urban sprawl); even though Garderobe and the royal castle are located in opposite parts of the city, they are both part of the "elite", both rising way above the cityscape, and interaction between their residents is usually direct.
  • One Piece
    • Goa Kingdom has this going on. Ba Sing Se (See Western Animation), each class is kept separate by a huge wall. There's the royals and aristocrats living in the center wall, the workers and normal citizens living in the middle wall, and finally the outside slums called Grey Terminal; This is where the kingdom dumps their garbage. The people living there basically live off of the trash, and no one living in the normal city cares what happens in Grey Terminal. The kingdom is basically described as a place where 'everything unwanted is removed'. However, this sort of attitude leads to a Moral Event Horizon when the royal family decides that in order to 'purify' the kingdom, they need to burn Grey Terminal to the ground — people included. Dragon the revolutionary uses this event and kingdom as an example of why this is wrong.
    • The country of Wano is another example. Thanks to Shogun Orochi "wealth is everything" philosophy, only the richest of the rich are allowed to live in well-off cities such as the Flower Capital and must pay a fee to do so otherwise they face exile. The rest of the population are forced to live in the "leftover towns", so called like that because people only have access to leftover food passed over by those of higher status. Those towns are located in the Polluted Wasteland that make most of Wano's countryside where poverty and starvation run rampant.
  • Rebuild World: Kugamayama City, run by One Nation Under Copyright, is a Cyberpunk Dystopia city separated into the Upper District, Middle District, Lower District, and Slums. People in the top two consider the bottom two to be nothing more than an extension of the Death World wasteland.
    • The Upper District is a Citadel City with a wall separating it from the rest (inside the wall is short-hand for it), and filled with fantastical Old World technologies. The Ojou Reina was kicked out from here due to factional politics, and it's where most executives live.
    • The Middle District is filled with well off people who aren’t wealthy enough to compete with the gentrification of the upper district, basically middle class. Only the top two districts have a judicial system. Civil servants like Hikaru live here.
    • In the Lower District, for the working class, security is handled by Law Enforcement, Inc. formed by retired hunters who offer discreet corpse disposal as part of their services. Shizuka and most successful hunters come from here.
    • And finally, the slum dwellers are used as Cannon Fodder where guns are more common than food to act as the city’s first line of defense, and they’re given Mystery Meat and other dangerous experimental foods to survive. If an area of it gets too dirty, the government will burn that section of the slums down in The Purge, thus, slumlord gangs, as long as they dispose of corpses, set whatever rules they want (usually involving a Protection Racket).
  • Neo Verona is like this in Romeo × Juliet. The noble people live in the upper parts and the rest in the lower ones.
  • In Saturn Apartments there are three sections of the space station where humanity lives. The higher floors,the middle floors, and the lower floors. Nobody's allowed to go to a higher section without a special permit, meaning that the residents of the lower levels are stuck there.
  • Tomorrow's Joe heavily features San'ya, the slum area of Tokyo (see Real Life below). For much of the series Joe's ultimate goal is to gain enough money to build a factory, a hospital and a school there for the residents to have better jobs and healthcare and their children better education, hence the series of scams at the start that got him into juvie and later his desperate climb to the boxing world.
  • In Tousouchuu: Great Mission, after climate change causes the Earth to be unsalvagably polluted, mankind is forced to flee to the moon and start over. That 'starting over' ends up being a classist dystopia in the form of a Layered Metropolis. Tomura Sawyer, his younger brother Haru and numerous other poor people live in the polluted Gray Area, where the pollution is so severe it can cause serious health issues. The wealthy live comfortably in the pristine White Area. The Phantom Thief Appolon steals from the homes of the rich in White Area and anonymously donates the loot to the Gray Area.
  • Domino City in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. On the quality side, Neo Domino City. About the same quality of life as Domino from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, plus 25 years or so of technological advancement. On the bad side, Satellite, where the inhabitants recycle trash for a (meager) living and aren't allowed to leave.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V expands on this — the City in the Synchro Dimension is a more extreme, classicist version of Neo Domino and Satellite; the Tops (rich people) live in the well-kept and futuristic city, while the Commons (poor people) live in the slums. The Tops oppress the Commons, and the only way for Commons to move up in the world is to keep winning duels in the Friendship Cup — meaning that they're serving as entertainment for the Tops.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: While there are comparatively decent neighborhoods in Gotham City proper, the city's elite, including the Waynes, mostly live in manors and mansions across the river in the Bristol Township.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark: Iest's Upper City is on a very high and sheer mesa, though this is not made explicit for some years.
  • Judge Dredd: In Ciudad Barranquila, there is rather stark segregation between the poor extorted majority living in the slums and the higher class districts occupied by the corrupt Judge Supremo and his cronies.
  • Marvel 2099: New York features vertical segregation. The city's affluent classes live and work "Uptown" in luxurious skyscrapers built on top of the existing real estate. At the time of the comics, "Downtown" is a dimly-lit slum only for the poor and needy and desperate; Uptown citizens venturing Downtown are warned to proceed at their own risk.
  • Sin City: The rich live in Sacred Oaks, the poor in The Projects. Somewhere in between is Old Town, the city's quasi-autonomous Red Light District.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Milvayne City is a Layered Metropolis dominated by an Imperial-aligned, police state-based society. The upper layer, consisting of the top levels of the city's skyscrapers, is home to the bulk of the citizenry. Anyone found guilty of breaking one of the city's many and often trivial laws is literally thrown out; those who survive the fall are thereafter exiled to living on the ground level, scavenging through piles of garbage to survive.

    Fan Works 
  • Daria in Morrowind presents Balmora as one of these, divided into wealthy High Town, prosperous Commercial District, and rough Labor Town. These reflect the neighborhoods seen in-game, but go into more detail since the most of the stories take place within the city's confines.
  • Equestria Divided: Manehattan is surrounded by a wall, with the rich living inside and the poor in the slums on the outside; you can move inside... if you can buy admission for a high fee.
  • In Everqueen, Alaris is a Floating Continent capital (a Crapsaccharine World by itself) with the cities underneath it being the regular WretchedHives and suffering serfs of pre-Unification Terra.
  • In The Good Hunter, this is present in Lescatie. The dazzling noble estates in the rich district, controlled by the nobility and clergy, are contrasted with the slums where hunger, crime, and desperation rule.
  • Spirit of Redemption: The fact that this isn't the case is something of a shock for the batarians that were captured after invading Mindoir — they can't wrap their heads around the idea that the houses in and around the base are not separated by caste.
  • Sunshine and Fire: The domed city of Trottingham is divided between the top layer, built on the limestone pillars holding up the city's dome and home to the unicorns and pegasi, and the crowded, dirty shantytown on the ground below where the earth ponies live.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Vexille, the remaining population of Japan lives in a shantytown, while the Mega-Corp has its own ultra-high-tech island.
  • A unique example of the "not across money lines" type: the eponymous city in Zootopia is divided by biome, on the logical basis that animals would prefer to live in an environment that replicates their natural habitat.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alita: Battle Angel (Live-Action Adaptation of the above Battle Angel Alita) has Zalem floating above the slum that is Iron City. Quite a few people dream of reaching Zalem with hopes of a better life there, but the scarcity of possible accesses to it as well as the Mad Scientist Nova inhabiting it hint at sinister things going on there.
  • The Blind Side: Contrast the wealthy suburban community of the Tuohys and Wingate with the housing projects of Hurt Village.
  • This trope was actually brought up in the film Candyman, which parts of were filmed in the run-down Cabrini-Green housing projects.
  • Although most of 2027 London in Children of Men appears far scruffier and more ramshackle than present-times, there are clearly enclaves within the city where a gentrified lifestyle still occur — although these once-public areas are clearly now highly restricted. When Theo travels in a Rolls Royce to visit Nigel at Battersea, he goes through a check-point clearance gate at Admiralty Arch and travels down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace. During the journey, it appears as if the area around the Palace, St James' Park and Green Park is physically un-changed, although it has now become an exclusive gated enclave, where people relax in the parks, walk dogs (as well as other more exotic animals) and listen to a brass band play while the Household Cavalry march by.
  • Elysium has a variation of this. The well-to-do live on a space station orbiting Earth, while the downtrodden live in a polluted, slum-ridden Los Angeles.
  • New York in The Fifth Element is segregated vertically: as the protagonist drives further and further down the buildings get more and more decrepit, finishing with a very thick layer of smog.
  • The silent movie The Golem, set mostly in the Jewish ghetto of Prague, treats the issue as a quite obvious subtext. A massive gate separates the Jewish quarter from the Christian town and seems to be always closed, and anyone passing in or out of the ghetto is a cumbersome procedure each time.
  • In the opening of Johnny Mnemonic, Beijing, China is a downtrodden city with a riot of NAS-stricken citizens clamoring outside a hotel. The hotel's interior, by contrast, is clean, posh, and luxurious when he arrives. Newark later on is also heavily worn down and filthy, and Johnny himself, being from city life, loathes being there.
  • In George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, the poor live in slums, while the rich live in Fiddler's Green, protected by a river and an electric fence. This doesn't stop the zombies in the end.
  • In Fritz Lang's classic movie Metropolis, the poor live in squalor underground, while the rich live high up in towers.
  • Omar depicts the real-life urban segregation of the West Bank. Omar has to climb a 25-foot-wall, and sometimes avoid gunshots, in order to see his girlfriend Nadia.
  • In Pacific Rim, the poor and downtrodden live along the coast, with the rich and wealthy moving inland, so that they can be protected from the Kaiju attacks. The massive defensive walls that were being built to protect the poor remain unfinished, for the most part; with only a few places like Australia and Russia having their walls complete. Whenever the Kaiju do make landfall, the poor all huddle together inside of cramped Anti-Kaiju Defense Shelters, whereas the rich are secure behind the walls of the gated communities they live in. In the case of Hannibal Chau, he has his own private Anti-Kaiju Defense Shelter, because of an incident that happened inside of a defense shelter that resulted in a messed-up eye. Mind you, these shelters are far from ideal, as Kaiju can still breach them, like they do with the Walls of Life.
  • Coruscant in the Star Wars Franchise is also a vertically segregated city/planet: diplomatic quarters, the Senate, the Jedi Temple etc., are all at the top, while the entertainment district and the industrial district are further down. Star Wars in general loves this trope. Any city that evolves vertically is vertically separated. While Coruscant's lowest levels are home to the filth of society, Nar Shaddaa, which is a slum in its best areas, has its lowest levels infested with all sorts of mutants and dangerous beasts.

  • In Ai no Kusabi, the Elites live in the advanced cybernetic city Tanagura, while the "mongrels", the descendants of the people who rebelled against the supercomputer Jupiter's authority and thus had their citizenship records erased, are forced to live in the squalid, violent slum area of Ceres. The average citizen lives in Tanagura's satellite city Midas, of which Ceres was once part of. A mongrel who is caught in Midas is beaten by the police known as the "Darkmen" and sent back, usually broken.
  • Bored of the Rings parodies this by making the Minas Tirith knockoff have nine city levels, each with better life quality than the previous ones. The people of the higher levels keep throwing their garbage to the lower ones, and on the lowest level people are so poor they have to eat it to survive.
  • The Brotherhood of the Conch: In the city of Coal, where Anand and Nisha become trapped in Shadowland, the rich live in luxurious apartments in glittering bio-domes with virtual weather, while the poor live in polluted slums full of ruined buildings where the air quality is so bad that they have to wear breathing masks. Anand is reminded of life in Kolkata, where the rich throw lavish parties while the poor wait outside to eat leftovers out of the trash, but here it's even worse because the poor don't have access to the rich people's trash.
  • In The Chosen, we are shown the Hasidic district of New York City and the less conservative district. The various gentile districts are never shown, as the focus is on Jews. There seems little difference in wealth; everybody is a reasonably prosperous middle class.
  • David Wingrove's Chung Kuo is an extreme example: the entire Earth is covered in a 50-story megastructure, with the elite living up top, a wretched hive of scum and villainy on the bottom, and beneath even that, the poor schlubs who actually live on the ground in utter barbarity.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: Charisat is built in eight tiers, with each higher tier being appreciably cleaner, wealthier, more peaceable, and with a fresher and more abundant water supply. Tiers one through three are truly high-class gated communities, inhabited by patricians and Warders; tiers four and five are comfortable but not elite, requiring more security and housing most of the legal merchant districts; and six through eight are a Wretched Hive, with the eighth tier crawling with starving beggars who are barely managing not to be pushed out into the Waste.
  • City of Light: Palidia's inner city is wealthy, beautiful and peaceful. The outer city is a poor, dirty, crowded slum inhabited mostly by refugees and foreigners.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Montfort has a strict divide between economic classes under Duke Morkney, with the rich living in the inner city, which is behind a wall from the poor in the lower city.
  • Celendor, the capital city of the Celendrial Empire in Dark Shores, is divided into the harbor district, which is poor, smelly and full of cramped tenement houses, the Hill, inhabited by the rich (the best families have their houses on the top, facing the sea), and between them there is the Forum and other public buildings, which would qualify as "normal" part.
  • The Darksword Trilogy: The city of Merilon is separated into two layers, with the rich and affluent living on the top layer along with artisans, while the poor and simple tradesmen live underneath. You can buy your way into the upper level, and even get moved their by your guild if you're talented enough, but typically travel from the lower to upper levels is heavily discouraged.
  • In the 30th century of the Doctor Who New Adventures (seen mostly in Original Sin, but also in some other novels), all Earth's cities have become Spaceport Undercities, home to the unfortunates who can't afford to live in the Spaceport Overcities that hover above them.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld has got the famous city Ankh-Morpork. It is divided by the river Ankh into the sections Ankh (where the rich live)note  and bigger Morpork (where the less well-off live). On the Ankh itself, there lies an islandnote  with the Opera House, the Dysk Theatre, a major publishing house, and the main Watch House.
    • There's also the Shades, a Wretched Hive with a dash of Red Light District thrown in, which seems to be pretty well delineated. Earlier books stated that it predates the rest of the city (except possibly the Tower of Art) by so much that the street plan follows stone-age goat paths.
    • It's not quite as clearly delineated as it seems, though; both the Patrician's Palace and Unseen University are on the Morpork side of the river. The "normal" district can probably be considered to be Hubward Morpork, the area around the Palace and Sator Square. As the series timeline advances and the setting evolves from Medieval European Fantasy to Gaslamp Fantasy the division becomes more Old Money vs New Money and a growing middle class.
  • Pratchett homages this in Jingo, where Sam Vimes is contemplating gnolls, the lowly city scavengers, who live on the absolute dregs cascading down from all the social levels above.
  • Goblins have a similar second-class-people status in the city. Their shanty town just outside the accepted city limits is explicitly compared to a native township in the old South Africa in The Apartheid Era for the same historical and political reasons: a people who may work in the city but who are not generally permitted to live there.
  • Chicago in the Divergent series is split up in five factions and five corresponding living areas — with the slums left for the Factionless.
  • Because they live in trees, the Kindar people of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-sky have the honored and powerful citizens on the lowest branches — they're bigger and can support grander houses and so forth. The "farheights" are reserved for people who don't contribute very much (or at all) to society, such as dream-berry addicts, especially if they have "the wasting". There's also a society living literally underground who are despised as monsters if they are thought of at all — ordinary human beings who were banished in a long-ago socio-political dispute. It's not exactly a Wretched Hive down there, there are communities, loving families and thriving industry, but it is a prison — and food is getting scarcer all the time.
  • In Halfway Human, blands, the asexual underclass, live and work in service corridors called "grayspace", which are woven throughout the cities. Nearly every room in the city has a "graydoor" that allows blands to access human space for cleaning and other chores.
  • In Havemercy, Thremedon is divided into three districts of different levels of prosperity.
  • David Weber has it in droves in the Honor Harrington series, especially when League or Haven is concerned. Nouveau Paris, Haven's capital, has explicitly separated slums in the form of decrepit kilometer-high habitation towers built during happier times, where only proles now live. Chicago, the capital of the Solarian League, is even more spectacular in this regard, as it's now more that two thousand years old and is a survivor of many wars and revolutions. It even has stone-age-like troglodytes living on the lowest levels.
  • District 12 in The Hunger Games is divided in two-the town and the seam.
  • This is what happens to people who outspend their credits in Gondawa, the idyllic civilization in René Barjavel's The Ice People (La nuit des temps). The way the system is set up, it's very hard to overspend, but apparently some people do. They are ostracized, have their credit keys revoked and are left homeless, living in abandoned tunnels and eating — ugh — living things.
  • New York City in The Lord of Opium is said to be this, with what remains of the American wealthy living on the tops of the city, with the poor living on the bottom levels and streets.
  • Done to anvilicious extent in Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, in which the City of London in 2049 appears to have no middle class whatsover, being a gated community surrounded by Zones of crime-ridden ghettos.
  • Mortal Engines makes use of the Layered Metropolis version of this trope. All the mobile Traction Cities in the setting are composed of stacked layers, with the lowermost Tier housing the poor (or even slaves on the less pleasant cities), while the rich have their mansions in the fresh air and sunlight of the top Tier. Larger cities have more than two Tiers (up to a dozen in the largest ones) and so allow for finer social gradation. The bottom Tiers also house the giant engines that move Traction Cities, which helps make them very unpleasant places to work and live.
  • Patrick Rothfuss does this with the port city of Tarbean in The Name of the Wind, which is divided into Waterside (poor) and Hillside (rich). The rich side keeps the beggars out by brutally oppressing the ones who dare show their face in Hillside.
    • There's also Severen in The Wise Man's Fear, which is both vertically and horizontally stratified: the rich live in Severen-High, which is up a cliff face called The Sheer, while the lower classes are confined to Severen-Low, near the docks.
  • In The Place Inside the Storm, Los Angeles has two kinds of neighborhoods: the wealthy ones owned by the corporations, and the run-down, lawless ones inhabited by homeless people, refugees, and outlaws.
  • Unusual version in Rant: segregation is by time. The population is divided into "daytimers" and "nighttimers", who may only be outside their homes during their specified time unless by special permission (such as for work purposes). Switchover is at 8am and 8pm, with curfew sirens and police enforcement. This is allegedly to even out the burden on infrastructure, but has become a class issue, with "nighttimers" generally poorer and seen as lower-class than "daytimers".
  • In the New Eden in the Rendezvous with Rama series — a human colony composed of both regular citizens and criminals aboard an alien spacecraft zoo — There immediately was racial segregation when the colonists were assigned housing, with the white convict lady not wanting to be placed with the blacks and hispanics, because she thought things would go poorly there as on Earth where she came from (all in the far far far future). Then there comes a corrupt Japanese businessman/drug dealer who's contact bullied his son to let him on and all hell breaks loose as he establishes a dystopia government, which does noting for the status quo except worsening it in some ways by segregating also the colonists who got a heart disease (space HIV basically) to an isolated island, and requiring they wear arm patches.
  • The Expanded Universe novels for Star Wars brought to light that Corsucant was a planet-sized example of this trope. The topmost layers were where the rich and powerful dwelled while the rotting layers of city beneath were filled with criminals, vagrants and mutated creatures where no 'civilized' person would dream of going.
  • In the unnamed city in Swordspoint, the nobility lives on the Hill while the poor and the criminals live in Riverside.
  • The city of Unify in Tasakeru is divided into eight sections, one for each of the sentient species, separated by high stone walls. This is mostly a peacekeeping measure.
  • H. M. Hoover's This Time of Darkness separates the unschooled laborers from the clueless elites by putting the elites at the top of the city and the laborers at the bottom (the city is much like a giant, windowless skyscraper albeit most of it underground). There's a third group, simple farmer types, who live outside the city in relative peace and prosperity. Oh, and the city gets rid of undesirables downstairs by refusing them jobs and pretty much making them hobos, and gets rid of them upstairs by shoving them outside the city and leaving them to fend for themselves, so over the years they turn feral and become examples used to scare the others into unquestioning obedience.
    • The whole setup screams Aesop about not forgetting history: The laborers get taught only how to obey rules and do jobs (the few who can read are regarded as troublemakers), and believe in Level 80 as a sort of fairy tale ("be good and someday you might get to go there"), the elites have forgotten that there are even laborers living beneath them (they think it's all machinery), and those outside the city don't know about anything within the city, and once they find out, realize there's nothing they can do to fix things. The only people who know what's truly going on are the few who making up the ruling class and law enforcers, and even they seem to have a communication problem.
  • The Ur-example of vertical segregation occurs in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. The Time Traveler arrives at such a distant point in the future that divergent evolution has transformed the human race into Morlocks and Eloi, and hypothesizes this is the end result of a society where the working-class was moved underground and the middle- and upper-classes remained above ground. He then says (approximately) "Like most neat, simple theories, it was wrong."
  • Axiom Nexus in the Transformers Trans Tech universe is arranged into Zones, each of which is further subdivided into levels. They range from the upper zones which are upper-class and usually reserved exclusively for the native TransTech denizens, down to The Heap, a lawless trash-filled place described in the visitors' info pamphlet as a place to "Stay out [of] unless you really want to die."
  • In Uglies people in their late teens and early 20s who have had the "Pretty" operation live in the middle of the city in New Pretty Town, while people aged 12-16 who are too young to have the operation live in Uglyville, separated from New Pretty Town by a river. Middle-aged and elderly pretties live in the suburbs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The title station in Babylon 5 is mostly a very clean place with lots of shiny metal architecture. Then there's Down Below, a grimy crime-ridden section filled with petty criminals, gangsters, and the just plain luckless who got stranded on the station when their money ran out.
  • The Black Mirror episode "Nosedive" presents a dystopian future Stepford Suburbia where people rate each other (out of five stars) on a Facebook-style phone app, and this rating is taken extremely seriously, in fact it affects almost everything about your life; where you can live or work, and even your priority for hospital treatment.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Gridlock", it is revealed that the poor people of New New York live in underground slums, while the rich live above ground. Or they would, if the latter weren't all dead.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In Eberron, Sharn, the city of Towers, is divided in multiple wards and levels. Like the 40k hives, the lower you are, the poorer you are. In decreasing level of prestige, the levels are: Skyway, High City, Middle City, Lower City, and the Cogs. In fact, Sharn takes things a step further than usual. The High City is the tops of the towers, but it's only for the independently wealthy. If you're obscenely wealthy, your entire Skyway estate floats above the entire city.

      More in depth, districts begin mixing it up. The high/middle/lower divisions are divided into five quarters based on their horizontal position. Upper Dura is in fact less prestigious than Lower Northedge, while Lower Dura is practically the Cogs. Lower Tavik's is a mix of slums and the usual trappings of rail stations, while Upper Tavik's is on par with Skyway in terms of prestige and bests them when it comes to keeping out the riffraff. (Well, they best them because the district has its own private security. Skyway simply keeps the riffraff out because it's flying and the riffraff is generally not expected to be able to afford the transportation to go there.)
    • Sigil, City of Doors, in Planescape is divided into Wards. The Lady's Ward is where the elite live, the Market and Guildhall Wards are the "normal" districts and the Hive Ward is the slums. The Clerks Ward is somewhere between "normal" and "elite", being home to the city's bureaucracy, and the Lower Ward is somewhere between "normal" and "slums", being home to the heavy industry.
  • GURPS: In Traveller Starports'', a typical starport city will have the port district ruled directly by the Imperium, the rest of the city ruled by the natives, and the Startown on the border of jurisdictions where law enforcement is tangled up and the less seemly members of the population live.
  • In Magic: The Gathering's Ravnica block, Ravnica is implied to have urban segregation like this. Again, the rich and the prestigious guilds (the mystics and nature-tenders of Selenya, Izzet's mad scientists in their fancy labs, the ostentatious lawgivers of the Azorius Senate) live on the top, while the poor and the guilds more associated with manual labour (Golgari's necromancers and waste-disposal crews, the maniacs of the Cult of Rakdos, the heavily armed police of the Boros Legion and the spies and informants of House Dimir — if it existed, which it does not) live closer to street level and in the depths of the Undercity.
  • Pathfinder: The city of Algidheart, in witch-ruled Irrisen, has very strict laws regarding who is allowed to live where. The city is defended by formidable walls, and as the population grew and no-one wanted to settle outside the walls' protection the citizens built up, resulting in the heart of the city being a very literal mountain of deceptively rickety-looking houses built against and on top of each other and connected by a maze of stairs, ramps and suspended streets. Only the Jadwiga nobility, their allies and wealthy foreign merchants are allowed to live in the Soaring Districts, as they're known, and everyone else is kept out by force — despite over half the buildings being vacant as a result of a plague some centuries in the past. The city's oppressed peasant class lives in the slums between the Soaring Districts and the city wall, and by law cannot live in any building higher than two stories.

    The Districts are further divided into seven wedge-shaped sections inhabited by different strata of the ruling class — the most influential noble families, for instance, live in Winghammer, the merchants live in Bloodmerchant Towers and the Jadwiga's monstrous allies, such as winter wolves and The Fair Folk, live in Witchspire.
  • Shadowrun:
    • Los Angeles ended up with a very severe case of this as increasingly large tracts of the city were simply walled off from one another — some to serve as exclusive corporate and high-wealth enclaves and others created as the city's poor were quite simply walled off and left to their fate. Anything resembling a middle class evaporated in short order, and LA essentially became two cities pressed against one another, one home to the fantastically rich upper crust living a life of continual partying and indulgence and the other to a desperate, starving pariah class cut off from the world by concrete walls and armed guards. This came back to bite the elites when an 8.5 earthquake shook the city in 2061, bringing down the walls and leading to orgies of violence and rioting as the poor flooded into the breached enclaves.
    • Berlin was also this for some of the timeline. Between 2055 and 2072 (between 2nd and 4th edition), the city was divided into two: A walled enclave in the east still held by the anarchist groups who had turned the city into a commune in 2039, and an open western part of the city controlled the invading government and Mega Corps who had invaded in 2055 to restore corporate control. In 2072 the German government would complete the Berlin takeover and demolish the wall again.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Some sourcebooks point out that if player characters are part of the Camarilla, they should actively encourage this state of affairs as a part of their need for blood. Rich people, the reasoning goes, are bored and decadent and prone to doing mind-numbing things in strange places with strange people, while poor people are isolated, powerless, and ignored by authorities. Both make them good prey for vampires bent on enforcing the title Masquerade. When cities are full of content middle-class professionals who go home to the suburbs before sundown, vampires go hungry.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Hive cities put a literal spin on the concept of a pyramid hierarchy; the wealthy, distinguished elite of society live closest to the top, with the living standard going down as you move down the hive. At the very bottom is the Underhive, populated by tribes of scavengers who live off the garbage dumped from the upper levels and generally have little contact with the rest of the society. Below that live mutants and monsters, and below that even worse mutants and monsters, and so on. Therefore, the underhive is usually considered a practical and efficient barrier between the elite and danger.
    • Although the traditional structure, this is not always the case. In one of the Hives from the Dark Heresy background, the rich all live in the middle and particularly at the bottom, whilst the 'underhive' is actually the surface area of the Hive. This is because the Hive is located in the middle of a desert in the baking sun and as such shade, coolness and air conditioning is considered a premium.
    • It gets even more complicated in Petropolis, a subsector capital where much of Dan Abnett's Ravenor series takes place. Wealthy and powerful there live in the center, as Eustis Majoris, the planet is sits on, is so polluted that acid rain is a significant threat on the upper levels, and underhive is a typical wretched den of gangs and criminals, as in most imperial hive cities.
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Scourge the Heretic, Icenholm is not a hive city — but it has the same effect, being a city suspended over a (deep) mine, with status rising as you rose.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Each of the three cities, Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus, is split into Rich, Poor, and Middle districts.
  • Baldur's Gate: The title city is divided into six sections (which can get annoying to navigate due to the city having double walls), based more on geography than anything else — the districts flow into each other, rather can being completely self-contained. The sequel, 'Shadows Of Amn'' decided to make ease of navigation more important than complete verisimilitude, and divided up Amn's capital of Athkatla into a Government District, the Slums, the Temple District, the Graveyard, the Docks, the Gate, and Waukeen's Promenade (market district), none of which have geographical landmarks in common with each other. (There's also the sewers under the Slums, and another set under the Temple. The Government district should probably have one too, being full of rich people who can afford plumbing.)
  • Beneath a Steel Sky: The poor are forced to live high up in steel towers, where there is a great deal of pollution, while the rich live in hermetically-sealed safety on the ground.
  • BioShock: The underwater city of Rapture has wealthy neighborhoods that are strikingly beautiful examples of Art Deco architecture and luxury living. And then there are the slums, where everyone who thought they were going to live in the rich neighborhoods and failed find themselves.
  • Bully has the town of Bullworth, which has the rich suburb Old Bullworth Vale and the downtown political and commercial district Bullworth Town separated from the inner city ghetto New Coventry and the rough blue collar industrial neighborhood Blue Skies Industrial Park by a railway bridge.
  • City-Building Series:
    • Common and Elite housing provide workforce and high taxes (along with soldiers in some games) respectively. However, it's possible to raise the level of common housing to the point where it isn't actually on the Wrong Side of the Tracks but the nice part of town (and for the most part, once your economy is up and running you make enough money from taxing the commoners that elite housing is more of a hassle to keep supplied). Building vast slums is possible, but generally building housing blocks with maximum access to utilities is far more advantageous.
    • Workers are taken from a global pool and assigned as needed rather than specialized. But Pharaoh requires a recruiter to walk past a house for workers to be assigned there, meaning agro-industrial complexes needing hundred of workers might be staffed by a few huts containing five people each, while the bulk of the workers actually live in large, clean houses on the other side of the map.
  • Civilization VI invokes this trope with the new districts concept for city building and development. Where previous games in the series had all buildings essentially piled into the city center, the districts concept force buildings to be built in the appropriate district which are placed outside of the city center. Districts are encouraged to be placed next to each other where possible as they receive adjacency bonuses when placed next to multiple other districts. For example, for most civilizations research buildings like libraries have to be built in a Campus district, which in turn gets bonuses to research for adjacent tiles with mountains, jungle, coral reefs, or other districts. Korea and the Maya have unique replacements in the Seowon and Observatory, respectively — further, the former can only be built on hills and its adjacency bonus is instead turned into a penalty for each adjacent district save for the Government Center to reflect Korea's historical tendency for such learning centers to be located away from the rest of Korean society so that the sequestered students can concentrate on their studies.
  • Crackdown: Pacific city is divided into three regions: the western part of the city is residential and "normal," the southeastern part is an industrial hell, and to the northeast is the clean and futuristic (but still corrupt) region.
  • Pops up in all four Deus Ex Universe games:
    • In Deus Ex, the poorer parts of New York have been literally walled off from the rest of the city to cork up the high crime and rioting taking place.
    • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, futuristic Seattle is split into Upper Seattle and Lower Seattle, connecting by the Inclinator, a large transport elevator. Upper Seattle residents are rich and live in luxury, and they had robotic servants. The residents of Lower Seattle live in slums and have to worry about wild mutants and cyborgs. They seemed to have made the best of the mutant problem though; they use them for something similar to a cockfight.
      • In Cairo the WTO-controlled Arcology is prosperous while the outer Medina is infested with a nano-machine plague. You require a passport to get from the outer area to the upper area.
    • Heng Sha in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is divided between upper and lower cities as well. In contrast to the other examples, Lower Heng Sha is clearly not the worst place, having an impressive skyline of its own and home to the city's entertainment districts. It actually comes off as more vibrant than Upper Heng Sha which hosts universities, research centres, and corporate headquarters, it's just that Upper Heng Sha is literally built over Lower Heng Sha and completely blocks out the sun. That said, the impeccabily modern and shiny upper city is so expensive that many of society's less fortunate end up in the lower city anyway.
    • Happens on a global scale in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, where augmented people are kept segregated in the ghettos and kept pacified via martial law.
  • Diablo II: Lower Kurast, Kurast Bazaar, and Upper Kurast. Of course, all three of these areas are inhabited by murderous demon-possessed fanatics. There isn't a lot to distinguish Lower Kurast from Upper Kurast.
  • Diablo III: Caldeum and Westmarch have lower districts, merchant districts (which is most of Caldeum), and upper districts. Caldeum's lower district was mortared, Caldeum's upper district was full of snakes, Westmarch's lower district was infected with a ghost plague, and Westmarch's upper district is on fire. Forever.
  • The dwarven city of Orzammar in Dragon Age: Origins is segregated into the Diamond Quarter (where the Noble Caste lives), the Commons (where the Merchant Caste does their business), the Proving Grounds (where the Warrior Caste spends their time), and Dust Town (the only place in the city where casteless can live). Given the dwarven caste system, Kal Sharok is likely divided the same way.
  • The main city of Dragon's Dogma is Gran Soren, which has a Noble Quarter, Craftsman's Quarter, Urban Quarter, and the slums, which are reached by going through an aqueduct at the bottom of the city. The Noble Quarter has the Duke's castle, where the extra fancy people live.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, most of the game's larger cities have this going on. It's subtle in places like Balmora and Ald-Ruhn, but more clear in Vivec's cantons. (Plaza > Waistworks > Canalworks > Sewers) In fact, in Vivec, outlanders are typically restricted to the Foreign Quarter only.
    • Oblivion features this not only in its cities, but also in the country. The Imperial City is mostly marbled homes, where most people live well. But the Waterfront is where all the poor live, and their houses are made of wood planks. Bravil is almost all wooden houses, and most of the people are working class. Leawynn (The farthest south) is nice, but the center of town is smaller homes, usually stucco (Or the Tamriel-ian equivalent) and low end, but this is territory taken from the Kajiit and Argonians, with a giant swamp nearby (Blackmarsh). Cheydinhall is nicely architectured, and most of the folks are rich here. Anvil is a mix, but the lower end housing is outside the city, along the docks. Bruma has all the poor housing behind the church, while the nicer homes are on the three tiers that lead to the castle. Overall, the farther south you go, the lower class everyone appears to be.
    • Skyrim features this in several of the major cities. Markarth is mostly a city of gray-white stone built into an old dwarven ruin, where the middle class lives on the ground level, the nobility in the upper levels of the cliffs around the main keep, and the poor underclass lives in tunnels referred to as the "Warrens." Windhelm, capital of the Stormcloak rebels, is more conventional, with the west side of the city featuring large mansions and the east side of the city being a slum with narrow alleys. The former is home to the native Nord nobility, while the latter is home to the poorer Dunmer immigrants. (Argonians who work the docks aren't even allowed in the city in the first place). A more benevolent version is the central city of Whiterun, built around a large hill, where the business/lower class "Plains" district is located at the bottom of the hill, the residential "Wind" district is partway up the hill, and the Jarl's keep is located in the "Cloud" district at the top of the hill.
  • Bowerstone in Fable is divided into three sections, a rich, a poor and a docks section.
    • In the sequel, Bowerstone has a pretty average area which is either the lower or upper class based on your earlier actions. Old Town can be an up market area with expensive, but well stocked shops or the most wretched hive of scum and villainy this side of the Wraithmarsh.
    • In Fable III, Bowerstone Industrial is a slum, Bowerstone Old Town is a middle-class neighborhood, and Bowerstone Market is an upscale neighborhood. However, all the really rich people apparently live in nearby Millfields.
  • In Faery: Legends of Avalon, the City of Mirages is sharply divided into upper and lower districts — literally, since one is built on the back of a giant, perpetually moving scarab beetle and the other is suspended by ropes underneath it, creating a fantasy version of a Layered Metropolis. The upper city is rich and snobbish; the lower city is poor and resentful. Sorting out the tensions (by going to the lower city and either solving people's problems or beating them up) is one of the player's jobs.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 2's Vault City is divided between the Citizens who have access to high tech services and a good quality life and the Denizens who live in the slums outside the city proper and can only get in by passing a ridiculously hard citizen test (which most Citizens would not be able to pass either) or becoming "servants", i.e. slaves (but the Citizens get really annoyed if you call them that).
    • Most other places in the Fallout verse have no problems like this though, one of the few improvements they have over modern society.
    • Similar to Vault City, Fallout: New Vegas has the eponymous New Vegas: whilst the New Vegas strip is luxurious and mostly untouched by the Great War, the entrance fee is expensive, resulting in only the rich and New California Republic citizens being granted entrance. Both Westside and Freeside are slums with different advantages and disadvantages; Westside has its own militia and is largely self-dependent, but is frequently attacked by Fiends and other raiders, whereas Freeside is home to the selfless Followers of the Apocalypse, but the streets are so dangerous that hiring a bodyguard isn't just recommended, it's common practice.
    • Diamond City in Fallout 4 is fully contained within a baseball stadium (hence the name), with the rich living in the boxes and elevated shacks up in the stands, the middle class in smaller shacks on the field, and the poorest sleeping outside on mattresses near the crops.
  • Final Fantasy VI has Jidoor, which is segregated between the middle class to the south and the rich to the north, the poor residents of the city banished to the Wretched Hive city of Zozo.
  • One of the most famous examples: Final Fantasy VII actually sported three.
    • The giant city of Midgar, which is divided into "above the plate" (rich) and "below the plate" (absolute slums). Since the city was built outwards and upwards in a circular tier shape, sunlight often didn't reach the bottom bits.
    • Junon, with paved streets and nice houses on either side of the cannon, slowly smothering the small fishing village it was built over to death.
    • The Gold Saucer, though technically not a town, follows the same pattern. There's a glitzy casino/amusement park on top — again, elevated off the ground — with a shantytown (the remains of a certain character's Doomed Hometown) filled with debtors and criminals at its base.
  • Final Fantasy IX has Lindblum where there are different districts, some of which are blatantly poorer than others. There's no tension because of this though as Lindblum is a giant sprawling industrial city with jobs for everyone.
    • Treno, reverses the usual trend as a city divided into the rich section by the low-ground (along the water) and the poor, crime-ridden section built up the hill.
  • Final Fantasy XII does this twice, with Rabanastre and Archades.
    • After the war and the subsequent Arcadian occupation, the poor as well as war orphans like Vaan, Penelo, and their friends, were pushed into the tunnels once employed to ferry goods from one side of the city to another in what eventually became known as Lowtown. Rabanastre proper is inhabited by the rich as well as Archadian nobles.
    • The Imperial City of Archades is the quintessential Skyscraper City. Old Archades, located underneath the massive capital, is where poverty-stricken families, nobles who had lost power with the rise of the Empire, and just about anyone deemed unworthy to enter Archades live.
  • The poorer residents of Ghostrunner's setting live in the lower, warehouse-like levels of Dharmas Tower, while the richer residents live above in a neon metropolis. Supposedly, skilled individuals could move up, but when Zoe ponders if she could do this as an engineer, the Architect merely scoffs at her.
  • Gravity Rush 2 gives us Jirga Para Lhao, which hosts four levels: Lei Elgona (the crowded slums), Lei Colmosna (the middle-class marketplace and tourist district), Lei Havina (the upper-class mansions and galleries), and Avarash au Governa (where the military and government reside). To make things all the more egregious, Jirga Para Lhao is designed with a similar vertical design to Midgar, with Avarash au Governa and Lei Havina being situated at the highest altitude while being bathed in permanent clear skies, while Lei Elgona is situated at the lowest and doesn't even have much in the way of natural light or fresh air, being filled with a permanent grayish haze.
  • The Hayseed Knight Eyrlum, the focal city of the game, feautures several separate districts. The Slander District is home to the poor and seedy residents of Eyrlum. The city also features districts for the nobility that are kept segregated at spearpoint. Additionally the Heartache District is separated exclusively for finding paid company.
  • Illusion of Gaia has the town of Freejia, with a very well-kept neighborhood on the side facing the main entrance... and a back-alley slum with slave laborers on the other side.
  • inFAMOUS's Empire City is split into 3 islands in various states of wealth and disrepair. Before the blast, Neon City was the commercial district, the Warren were the slums and the Historic District was the wealthy residential area. The scenery changes to match the islands; Neon City is primarily commercial skyscrapers and monuments, the Warren is filed with industrial complexes, government buildings, run down apartments and a large shanty town and the Historic District is primarily residential with the buildings being noticeably post modern and detailed. However, it's the Historic District that is the most dangerous (there are gang wars in broad daylight) due to it being the center of the Ray Sphere explosion.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: The three layers of the city-planet of Taris — the Upper City, the Lower City, and the Undercity. The farther down you go, the worse it gets.
    • And the upper layer got obliterated when Malak ordered its destruction, with lower levels mostly surviving. Sometimes it's good to be poor.
      • Except the people at the bottom had all the rubble fall on them. So, it kind of sucks either way.
      • Plus, the upper levels were mostly human supremacists and the lowest levels were filled with disease, lack of sunlight, very few supplies, and giant monsters as well as being used as bases for some of the meanest and dirtiest gangs. Sometimes the Sith do good works.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, the city of Neverwinter is divided into exactly, you guessed it, three areas. The Docks, home to the petty criminals and organised crime; the merchant district, with a lot of shopkeepers and such; and the Blacklake district, location of the seat of government, the archives, the academy and the vast majority of the nobility.
    • The first Neverwinter Nights had the Beggars' Nest (what it sounds like) and Peninsula (prison) districts also.
      • In the first game the academy was actually in the Beggars' Nest. And despite being dominated by a prison, the Peninsula district was middle-class.
  • Laurentia in the Nexus Clash backstory was the world's greatest center of culture, innovation, and finance...and as the rest of the world plunged into war, the difficulty of legally emigrating there approached Hidden Elf Village extremes. A global refugee crisis combined with a constant need for blue-collar labor led the Laurentian government to allow some refugees in anyway, but confined them to the already-beleaguered slum district of Sunrise, walled in by Sinister Surveillance.
  • The kingdom of Overture in An Octave Higher is a textbook example. The inner part of the city where the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie live is a shining urban metropolis where magic machines are abundant and everyone has access to Mana Potions, while the proletariat districts are cramped and miserable slums without even the most basic of public utilities.
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga has a city that is divided up for religious reasons. Those who have ancestors who lived within the ancient forest (the only spot of real life for miles) get to live in an enclosed part of the village, only they can eat the fruit of the forest and they don't let anybody else to eat it. Meanwhile, outside of the wall is a whole village of people who are hoping to be granted permission to go into the city proper and also to make a living off what the elite do sell/buy.
  • The city of Rogueport in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door may seem like one big slum, but there is a hierarchy: Robbo territory in east Rogueport qualifies as the slums of the slums, and you either have to pay Gus 10 coins every time you want to pass, or beat him in a fight. The west side, however, is as elite as Rogueport gets. It's run by the Piantas, who in this city are a mafia-esque organization who run a casino and who actually help you twice over the course of the plot. Then you have the Absurdly Spacious Sewers (actually the ruins of an older, buried city), which are home to madmen and people who need to stay even farther off the radar than the people living topside.
  • Path of Exile has the city of Sarn showing some pretty sharp divisions. The Slums district is essentially as it sounds with shoddily-built houses crammed together, the Warehouse district and the Marketplace are comparatively nicer, the Battlefront and the Ebony Barracks were apparently a plaza or park-like area before the cataclysm, and the temples and the Imperial Gardens on the north side of the city are the height of luxury. As with the Diablo II example everywhere is crawling with monsters and the Ebony Legion, meaning architecture is the only real difference.
  • Project Eden has conditions degrade drastically as soon as you leave the top parts of the city.
  • Romancing SaGa has Estamir, a city straddling a river. North Estamir borders the lush kingdom of Rosalia, and is a wealthy port town, boasting a massive temple dedicated to the goddess of love, Amut, a vast selection of high-scale shops, and a very comfortable aristocracy. South Estamir, meanwhile, is a slum ruled by slavers, where thugs and beggars alike chase after anyone they think has money.
  • RuneScape has Varrock; north Varrock is populated by the wealthy, while its southern half is run-down.
    • There's also Ardougne; The eastern part of Ardougne is wealthy, while the western part is full of the poor and the so-called plague victims.
    • Keldagrim, on the west of the Kelda River is rich dwarves and the Black Guard's fortress, the east side is mostly an industrial section.
    • There's also Meiyerditch and Darkmeyer, which form the capital of the Vampyre controlled nation of Morytania. Meiyerditch is practically a blood farm, which is further segregated into sections that are built to make it difficult for the human inhabitants to move around, and Darkmeyer is divided into 3 zones based on wealth of the inhabitants.
    • Menaphos and Sophanem are twin two cities divided by a river. Sophanem is much smaller and poorer but also contains the temple of the desert gods and some pyramids that can be plundered, while Menaphos is a massive and very rich city which is divided into four districts, except the worker district is very noticeably run down and neglected. Sophanem is also on lockdown due to a curse causing it to be affect by plagues.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II: The last bastion of humanity After the End is split into The Center, a safe haven for all the important, privileged and religious people; and Valhalla, which isn't exactly a dump but is at risk from wandering demons. Unlike most examples of this trope there is a small degree of social mobility: a battle royale where the victor wins citizenship in the Center.
  • In The Sims 2, the Belladonna Cove city is separated into a poor area inner city area (where there are cheap apartment blocks, a trailer park, and run-down coffee shops), a middle-class area where the house and apartment prices increase and there's more parks, and a wealthy area above the rest on a hill with high-tech expensive apartments and mansions.
  • Valua in Skies of Arcadia. Like Midgar, it lacks middle ground, though arguably the rich are the middle class and the palace, on a separate landmass, is where the most elite are.
    • If you could call it "middle" class. One of the residents of the upper city complains of an empty feeling in her life, which she immediately decides to fill by installing a solid silver bathtub next to her solid gold shitter. Meanwhile, in the lower city, you can meet a little girl whose fondest wish is to try the soft white bread residents of the upper city eat, because in the lower city they only have black bread that's so hard, eating a meal means running the risk of losing a tooth.
  • Kazakh City in Strider (2014) has three divisions: the Historical District, the area where the most humble people live in, crowded in really old buildings and under constant vigilance by the army; the Residential District, where modern apartments and commodites are provided to a select few; and the Underground, a region beneath the sewers where those who manage to escape the city alive end up, living in an imporvished refugee camp scavenging for supplies while under constant attack by mutated monstrosities. Kazakh City was possibly inspired by the first stage in Strider 2, Neo Hong Kong City, who in the game has become a Layered Metropolis Mega City with two distinct areas. The lower district is where the remains of the original Hong Kong now stand and is inhabited by poor people, criminals and varied merchants in old, ruined buildings and roads; and the upper district is a Skyscraper City build on top of the lower district, where the rich elite lives and Flying Cars take up all the free airspace.
  • Suikoden II has Two River City, a city split into three sections by two rivers. One section contains only Humans, another only Wingers, and the third only Kobold. The Wingers seem to be the slum section, while the Human the elite.
  • Summoner had Lenele, featuring the Crown District, the rest of the city, and the Old City (along with the ubiquitous sewers).
  • Tales of Symphonia has Meltokio, Tethe'alla's crown city. For the most part, the city is as upscale as it gets, with the castle, church, and aristocracy on the upper level. One corner of the lower level of the city is home to the slums, which are populated by the poor, the sick, and the just plain unlucky.
    • The first town in Tales of Vesperia also has this in place, being explicitly divided into the modest "Lower Quarter", and the thriving "Upper Quarter". This is emphasized in the story where the lower quarter's sole blastia malfunctions. This is a problem for them, but one can see that the Upper Quarter is chock full of blastia. Yuri lampshades it and is hardly impressed with how the nobles treat the residents, especially with how for them a blastia loss is nothing.
  • Vandal Hearts has an interesting version early on. In the capital city the former aristocrats who supported the reign of the Holy Asha Dynasty now live in the "blue blood ghetto" downtown. In the upper echelons of the new democracy are former members of the Liberation Army, comprised mainly of peasants. Hel Spites, the defense minister, seems to be a remnant of the old kingdom tohugh, as do his elite Blood Knights.
  • The Witcher video game. The city of Vizima is made up of the the not-visited-in-this-game but presumably elite Royal Quarter, the rich Trade Quarter, the poor Temple Quarter, and the plague-infested nonhuman ghetto of Old Vizima. Each district is separated by some very solid looking walls.
  • In Witch's Wish, Vicky's town is divided into a north, sunny rich side and a south, dreary poor side.
  • Orgrimmar in World of Warcraft has Garrosh practically enforce this. The largest and most trafficked areas are dominated by the Orcs, with the Taurens receiving a smaller but still nice valley of their own. The Goblins are relegated to an area deemed the "Goblin Slums", brushing elbows with the Trolls who have been forced even further from the main city.
    • Suramar City, formerly a City in a Bottle for 10,000 years, has the Nighthold (the city's palace), the walled Court of Stars, and the park-like Grand Promenade for the rich nobility, and the rest of the population crammed into one district that makes up a small fraction of the land. For people who though that the rest of the world was destroyed, they are not good at efficient land usage.

  • The Continentals: In the steampunk murder, mystery, scifi adventure webcomic "The Continentals", the city of Mansfordshire is figuratively and literally divided into two halves-The high society Westend known as "The Heights" and the lower class Eastend known as "The Narrows"-by a series of interlocking back alleyways known as "The Divide". Find it here.
  • Unsounded: In Aldish cities people live in walled ghers determined by their caste to preserve caste purity and try to keep the undesirable castes from mixing with the elites. Their public transportation is also segregated, as soud and semon caste members have to sit in top deck exposed seating rather than inside.

    Web Original 
  • RWBY: While Mantle and Atlas are technically two separate cities, the fact that they're run under one government makes them this trope: Atlas is the wealthy, technologically advanced shining metropolis that literally hangs over Mantle, the impoverished, dirty home of menial workers and laborers.
  • In medibot and MyNameIsKaz's playthrough of Mario or Luigi: Superstar Saga, as part of their discussion of the Beanbean Kingdom's apparent despotism, the topic of race relations within the nation is brought up, and how the people seem to be segregated across towns. Comparisons and contrasts are drawn between this and Rogueport, in which a Wretched Hive is nevertheless a melting pot of people from many backgrounds.
    medibot: Racial stratification is nothing new to any of the kingdoms.
    Kaz: I disagree. I mean, it might be nothing new, but it's certainly something bad.
    medibot: What, you've never went to Koopa Village, or Goomba Village? You ever see any Goombas in Toad Town? Huh? No! Any Goomba comes within five miles of Toad Town, like five different Toads have put twelve different spears in them!

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Though by the time of the game's canon, the undercity of Piltover has seceded to become the nation of Zaun, during the show, it plays this to a T. The upper city of Piltover is shining bright, very clean, and very upper-class while the Undercity at first looks like the worst Charles Dickinson novel depiction of London and even after Silco takes over, it upgrades more to a very neon-tinged slum of crime and poverty.
  • The Earth Kingdom capital Ba Sing Se (The Impenetrable City) in Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which the three districts are divided by big huge walls. The outer ring is home to the refugees from the war, menial laborers, and other poorer inhabitants; it is described by Joo Dee as "quaint" and "lively," but she also warns visitors to watch where they walk. The middle ring is home to the middle class; government functionaries, business owners, and artisans. The inner ring is where the Earth King himself lives and is home to the wealthy aristocracy of the city, including the Avatar when he and his team traveled to the city in order to meet with the Earth King.
  • Exaggerated ridiculously in The Fairly OddParents! — Chester and AJ literally live across the railroad tracks from each other. However, Chester's side is a rundown trailer park, and AJ's side is a wealthy suburb where everyone lives in a huge house.
  • Hill Valley in The Oblongs is divided between "the Hills" (upper-class) and "the Valley" (horrible polution). One line implied that the people from the Valley can't afford to live anywhere else because they spend all of their money on treating the illness they get from living there, which makes sense as anybody born there suffers from at least one birth defect. The titular family has a man from the Valley (who has no arms or legs) married to a Hill girl who moved in with him and lost all of her hair (but she found a great wig store in town).
  • The city of Springfield from The Simpsons underwent this when the city adopted new area codes. 939 was the poor area while 636 was the rich area, and a wall was built between the two. Later, the 939 side was soon populated only by Homer and his family.
    • Which was more like the inner German wall in Berlin making 939 the East and 636 the West.