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We All Live in America

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Every country in the world has a unique series of cultures and traditions, and even the smallest ones in the world (e.g. Singapore) have numerous diverse cultures and traditions. However, National Stereotypes and personal experience aside, you probably couldn't tell that just from consuming entertainment media.

Often, when writing a story set in another country, the writer basically takes their own country and substitutes in some foreign (or 'foreign') names, and might refer to a famous local festival or two if you're lucky. If you're not, it will be the writers' own country half-dressed-up as a Land of Hats in "the local style". If you find an author who demonstrates a more-than-superficial understanding of other countries and cultures, cherish them - for they have a gift.

The title is inspired by (but is not a direct quote of) a line in the Rammstein song "Amerika", which is about the spread of American values and culture across the globe.


Please note that, despite the trope name, this is not an exclusively American phenomenon; writers from other countries will often project their own cultural mores, vernacular, and sense of geography onto countries other than their own, including the United States, as well. Most common is the strange tendency to treat all the landmarks and major cities of a country that spans an entire continent as if they are within a couple hours' drive of each other. However, writers from non-American English-speaking nations writing chiefly for an American audience will often do this too.

Super-Trope of SoCalization, when American media, most of which is produced in or around Los Angeles, wrongly assumes that aspects of life in L.A. are the same at a national level.

Compare Creator Provincialism, in which nothing important happens outside the writer's home country. Politically Correct History is the temporal version of this. Also compare Canada Does Not Exist, a weird mutation of this trope that Canadian TV producers often impose upon themselves in order to sell their shows in America.


Contrast Eagleland Osmosis, where the influence of another country's media (chiefly the United States') causes people to do this to their own society. See also Values Dissonance, which is perhaps the most compelling reason why this trope doesn't work.

Related to Culture Chop Suey, which is about fictional locations that are based on cultures of several different real-life locales, often accidentally including the author's own. When a dub attempts to make it seems like the series takes place elsewhere, but the numerous set pieces make it apparent that's not the case, see Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change.

Shows with their own subpages:


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Chri, er, Heaven's Day episode of The Big O, despite Paradigm City clearly being future New York, the celebrations do seem to emphasize romance more than family.
  • The Opening Monologue of Code Geass makes a big deal about how the Britannian Empire has suppressed Japanese culture. However, the school system we see has almost nothing in common with the British or American systems; it's really just the Japanese system with funny uniforms.
  • Death Note has some of the most Japanese "Americans" ever seen. At least once, a member of a crime family bows to another member - his subordinate, no less. Every mafia thug knows exactly what a Shinigami is.
  • In Eden of the East, at least one American uses "Johnny" as a euphemism for a man's special organ (it's also used by a Japanese person in The Tatami Galaxy, so it's apparently not a made-up euphemism). Americans have… numerous common ways to say "penis", but "Johnny" isn't one of them (although "Johnson" is, and "Johnny" is somewhat outdated British English slang for "condom" but still not a word for a penis itself).
  • In FAKE, Ryo (who is half-Japanese, but was brought up in the USA) and Dee, two New York cops, celebrate Christmas the Japanese way, with a romantic date. This could happen in the USA as well, but it probably isn't popular.
  • Gunslinger Girl, though it's set in Italy, had many of the adult handlers be quite reserved towards their charges, probably causing Values Dissonance for any Italian viewers (though it can be justified as the handlers aren't comfortable around Child Soldiers and they all have troubled backgrounds). They even bow sometimes. The girls don't act much like typical Italian girls, either.
  • Kaleido Star does this a couple times. It takes place in America, but the characters who are supposed to be non-Japanese occasionally do Japanese things, like bowing. One of Sora's friends, Mia, uses the Japanese gesture for "come here" (the maneki neko paw gesture), in an episode of Kaleido Star New Wings, but it may not count since she was signalling Sora.
  • Red Garden is set in New York and does a good job of reflecting that, but a few bits of Japanese society leak through: people bow to each other, students have access to the roof of their school, the metric system gets used casually, etc.
  • Studio Ghibli's anime adaptation of Ronja the Robber's Daughter is set in medieval Sweden. And yet Mattis and his crew can sometimes be seen wearing what looks like Japanese "Oni" type masks.
  • In Soul Eater, it's implied that the school is located in Nevada in the US, since Spirit is the local Death Scythe of North America, and there aren't many other deserts that fit the bill. Yet there are certainly a lot of Japanese cultural tropes at work, such as the bento lunches, students can go anywhere in the school (barring the underground Sealed Evil in a Can), group baths, etc. Soul Eater Not! states that Death City has its own culture independent of its surrounding, but Japanese culture is still represented disproportionately both with locals (like Maka) and characters from other countries.
  • In the Iron Man manga, Tony Stark works hard to curtail his American sensibilities (especially his womanizing) while in Japan, knowing it won't win him any points with the locals. His behavior, however, more closely resembles what a Japanese writer would guess an American hotshot would act like. For example, at one point, he is sparring with a Japanese fighter and compliments the man on his Japanese Spirit… before cheating and then proclaiming that as an American, he instead has "Pioneer Spirit". Not only is Japanese Spirit something most Americans have vaguely heard of, at best, but no American would ever use the term "Pioneer Spirit". The "American Way" maybe, but in this context, even that's a stretch.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has characters from all the around the world, but many still use expressions that are rather specifically Japanese. For example, Polnareff is French, but tells a villain that he will be judged in hell by Yama and mentions the Red String of Fate when hoping to find a girlfriend. While there was ample opportunity for Polnareff to have learned of Asian tropes like the Red String off-panel (either in causal conversation with his Japanese friends Jotaro and Kakyoin or during his travels through China prior to meeting them), it would be rather rare indeed for a Frenchman to actually believe in East Asian mythology's judge of the dead to the point of using judgement by Yama as a threat against a villain.
  • Little Witch Academia is set in the United Kingdom and for the most part the writers did do their research. However, the lone episode set abroad (in Finland, home to Lotte's parents) shows Lotte's family have very typical Japanese traits, such as bowing and saying "Itadakimasu" before the meal. Also, in what may or may not be a parody of this kind of thing, the same episode shows that the lone Japanese character (Akko, the protagonist) strongly dislikes the typical Japanese tradition of having long, hot baths.
  • Shootfighter Tekken has a Tournament Arc set in the US and falls into this trope hard, with the announcer denouncing modern problems such as high-school girls going out with older men for money. Not exactly as common in the US as it is in Japan.
  • The Asterisk War: Volume 7 has the Girl Group Rusalka try to exploit Contractual Purity to ruin their rival Sylvia Lyynneheym's career by starting a scandal with the rumor that she has a boyfriend. This might work in Japan—Idol Singer otakus can be weird—but Sylvia (and Rusalka) explicitly has a worldwide fanbase and Western audiences probably wouldn't consider this a big deal.

    Comic Books 
  • Frequently in U.S.-set comics of The Beano and The Dandy. For example, steering wheels are often portrayed on the right side of the car. The Mayor of Cactusville in Desperate Dan dresses like the Lord Mayor of London, complete with gold chain of office and tricorn hat. Even British mayors don't really dress like that, except on special occasions.
  • Judge Dredd occasionally shows people driving on the left side of the road in America. Also, background text tends to use U.K. spellings.
  • The Muppet Show Comic Book: On The Road has a brief reference to replacement comedian Mitch Wacky getting his gags from Christmas crackers; a UK and Commonwealth tradition that barely exist in the US, where the Muppets live. (Writer/artist Roger Langridge is British.)
  • El Libro Vaquero is an erotic Mexican graphic anthology of stories that take place in the American Wild West, and most of the characters are Americans. The problem is, most of the American characters act and behave like Mexicans and this was completely deliberate, according to the creators, as they didn't like the way how American creators of Wild West stories write them. Basically, the Wild West depicted in El Libro Vaquero is basically the Mexico from the same time period, with more romance and soft-core eroticism.
  • Neil Gaiman briefly but memorably flirts with this in The Sandman. In #7, the American John Dee calls Morpheus "a spittle-arsed, poxy pale wanker", which is the least American (and most British) thing he could have possibly said. (To be fair, Dee's mother was English, being the former mistress of Gaiman's No Celebrities Were Harmed Alistair Crowley before fleeing to San Francisco.)
  • There's a number of instances of British terms and phrases used in Top 10 despite the American setting of Neopolis. For instance, Neural 'Nette compares the Libra killer's Razor Floss to "candy floss", which any American would call "cotton candy." Oddly, this seems fairly unique to Top TenAlan Moore has written dozens of comics set in the US without running into this problem.
  • In an issue of Ultimate Avengers, War Machine tells the second Black Widow not to refer to their teammate Tyrone (the original Hulk) as an "African-American" since he comes from England. Widow responds by saying she's still not comfortable saying "black", and asks if she can just call him "African-English".
  • The comic book W.I.T.C.H. tends to hint it's set in America (currency, American flags, law enforcement with US-like uniforms and cars and, in one vacation town, being led by a sheriff). The problem is the human members of the cast act as generic Europeans (with a light leaning on how Italians act), and the traffic signs are obviously European.
  • In Wonder Woman Vol 4 #50, a young boy in England whose father died of cancer is worried about how his mum would pay the medical bills. Nobody in the UK actually has this worry thanks to the NHS, which (usually) covers stuff like this. Britain does have private healthcare with higher out-of-pocket cost, but it's a choice rather than the default. One reviewer looked at this and a few other oddities in the storyline, and came to the conclusion that, in the DCU, Britain actually is a US state, where everything is exactly the same except they drive on the left.
  • In Werewolf by Night volume 2, Jack is shown to have a bidet in the bathroom of his small New York apartment. The issues were penciled by Leonardo Manco, an Argentine artist. In Argentina, bidets are a standard feature of homes but they are rare in North America.

    Fan Fiction 
  • This trope is very common in fanfics written by people hailing from countries other than the source material is made in. Many of them completely forget that the original work was written and set in another country and place the characters in a setting which (from their POV) isn't. This ranges from things that you may find in the country of origin, but are clearly modeled on the version in the author's own culture (such as the existence of a McDonald’s restaurant or the celebration of Christmas in Japan) to things that simply don't happen (such as Leni Loud getting exemption from being drafted to the US Army because she has a Profile 21.How wrong is this? ).
    • While this example will generally evoke images of Americans writing anime and manga fanfics, a particularly nasty example is a series of Real Person Fics written by Polish teenage girls and sporked at this Polish blog, where Americans such as Miley Cyrus go to schools that use the Polish Educational System; there they attend Polish classes, then they go back home to talk to their friends via Polish instant messaging clients, and buy stuff on Polish auction websites.
  • It is extremely common for fanfic writers using the English from their country when writing a fanfic about a story that takes place in another English-speaking country. For example, it's frequent for Harry Potter characters to be shown using American English. American English being used in British works is most frequent, but the reverse occurs quite often as well. And that's not even taking into account other English dialects.
  • Parodied in the troll fic Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami as it only says America, and even the city is "Light's City"
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia fanfiction, it is a very common mistake for personified nations to act like people from the nation the author is from. For example, Nordics having an Asian hot pot tradition in a Japanese doujinshi.
    • A rarer version of this trope occurs with the naming of the British Isles, for example England's brothers calling him 'Britain' or UK when in fact these are names for various groups of the British Isles countries - occasionally you get people referring to England as 'the United Kingdom of England' which causes a great deal of facepalming. More common is the misuse of British slang and accents (note the plural).
  • Most Degrassi fanfiction these days is written by American fans, whose grasp of Canadian geography and cities seems to be limited to stereotypes. Two particularly egregious examples included one which depicted Toronto, Ontario as a small town of about 300 peoplenote  only accessible by a long bridge over a lake from the United States, and a second which had a character drive from Edmonton, Alberta to Toronto in about eight hours, a trip which should take about a day and a half without stopping (as much time as a trip from New York to Salt Lake City) in real life.
    • Toronto is on the shore of a lake on the other side of which is the United States, so at least the author got that right. The problem is that the lake's name is Ontario, and "very long" is a mild description of what such a bridge would have to be like (there's about 30 miles of water between Toronto and the US shore). Not necessarily impossible ... the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway just north of New Orleans, for example, is almost 24 miles long ... but Lake Pontchartrain has an average depth of about 12 feet as opposed to the 64 feet average of Lake Ontario. And any bridge across Lake Ontario would have to be much taller than the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway because Great Lakes cargo ships would need room to pass under it.
  • Eiga Sentai Scanranger sure likes to talk about its main character's love of Asian culture, but since he never actually demonstrates any knowledge of Asian culture (at one point the realization that people in Tokyo would speak Japanese falls on him like Dorothy's house on the Wicked Witch of the East) one kind of gets the feeling the author thinks of Asia as the same as America but with better TV shows, sushi and samurai.
  • And, to counter this - there is a reason why so many American Sherlock fic writers need a "Britpicker". English children do not attend elementary school. Ever. Nor does John wear a sweater. A large percentage of American fanfictioners write fics for series set outside of America without at least researching local slang or terminology.
    • Many Sherlock fans also write Cabin Pressure fic. The most painful Britpicking failure - Gerti is not an 'airplane'!
  • There is a Shiki fanfic in which the residents of Sotoba do nothing remotely Japanese and seem more interested in the Gary Stu lead's attempts to introduce Halloween to them than they are in their own religion and traditions.
  • Reading an The X-Files fic that has the very American FBI agents Mulder and Scully using such a high density of Britishisms that an American reader can barely figure out what they're saying is more than a little brain-bending. It could make sense in the case of Mulder, seeing as he went to college in England (though he never says anything in the show to give one the impression he adopted British culture to any degree). Scully, however, has no excuse. Ironically, the opposite would be true of their actors. Gillian Anderson spent some of her formative years in England and slips into a British accent easily in real life, while David Duchovny has lived all his life in the States.
  • This could just as easily be called "European Writers Have No Sense Of Scale In North America". Writers often seem to forget that the United States and Canada are each almost as large as the entire continent of Europe, and even Mexico (only a fifth the size of either of its northern neighbors) is still more than three times the size of any European nation.note  It's no Asia, but North America is still huge.
    • British Supernatural fanfiction often has the Winchesters speaking in British slang and claiming that their small Indiana town is 30 minutes away from the Canadian border. Problem is, Great Britain is much smaller than the United States — "from Land's End to John o' Groats", the longest distance in the isle, means 874 miles by road, whereas "coast to coast" in the USA means at least 2,460 miles depending on where one is measuring from.note  In Real Life, anywhere in Indiana is at least three hours from Canada by car, and that's just going from the northern extremes of the state to Windsor, Ontario, the closest Canadian city. From Indianapolis, it's closer to five hours, and from Evansville, seven and a half. For anywhere of note in Canada, tack at least a few more hours on to that.
    • RPG writer Graeme Davis once wrote a scenario for the Call of Cthulhu RPG set in the 1930s where an NPC starts in Los Angeles, drives over to San Francisco on an errand, drives back and "spends the rest of the afternoon in her hotel room". (From memory, some specifics may be off.) For reference, Los Angeles to San Francisco is roughly a 6-7 hour drive via modern highways in a modern car (not counting the frequent backups along that route); the drive would have likely been even longer in the '30s.
    • A pair of German Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans wrote a fic in which Xander and Faith drive from Boston to California in 8 hours.note 
    • And then there's the story set in rural northern Canada, where the protagonist keeps himself warm through the winter by raiding the local used book store for Harlequin romance novels and by digging through his neighbour's recycling for their old phone books. Putting aside the fact that books don't burn very well, rural northern Canada doesn't have used book stores, recycling, or large telephone books (some phone "books" up North are the size of magazines). Even if books were a practical fuel for heating, the number of books and other paper products you could scare up within 50 miles would probably keep you warm for two or three hours; you need cubic yards of wood to get through a winter where it gets down to -40º or lower for weeks on end. Did we mention that they were going to pick these books up via car, even though vast areas of northern Canada have no roads?
      • On the other hand, Americans have the whole "but it looks so small on the map!" thing - which really winds up most people in Europe when they regard the multiple regions of European countries - or even groups of countries - as all one, resulting in the Britain Is Only London trope. (Actually, most Americans from more thinly populated areas of the US have the same issue when writing about populous areas of their own country, resulting in, say, New York Is Only Manhattan and L.A. Is Only Malibu. They aren't.)
  • This fanfic-rant. Who could think, and yet...
    OP: Dear FFVIII fanthing: Balamb Garden does not celebrate the Fourth of July.
    one of the answers: Do they even have a July? note 
    • And another answer: 'I'm reminded of another fandom where the artist had drawn the main character with an American flag. His reasoning was that the canon had Christmas.' And it might not be a joke.
      • It sadly wasn't. The canon in question? NiGHTS into Dreams.... Which almost completely takes place in a Dream Land. note 
    • Another Final Fantasy VIII fic had them celebrating Easter. One reviewer: "Why do the FFVIII characters celebrate the traditional resurrection narrative of a religious figure from a different universe?"
    • The vast majority of British schools have uniforms. This includes Hogwarts. Most American schools, especially public (i.e. state-run) schools, don't bother with uniforms.
    • Hot Topic is unlikely to be brought up — there are vague equivalents, but most are local to one or two towns or cities. The closest thing to a national indie clothes shop would probably be an online store, which weren't that popular in the 90s.
      • Plus the problems inherent in wizards from the Potterverse trying to buy clothes online.
    • It's easy to get mad at My Immortal but this is rather common with Harry Potter fanfic written by American fans. The "American exchange student" (or Japanese, for otaku fans) in HP Self-Insert Fic could be a trope all its own. It's to the point where some HP roleplaying communities require that all characters be born in the UK or Ireland, not just to keep with the established canon but also to remove this tendency.
  • Your Fave Is PoC, a community for headcanon races of non-specified or non-human characters, was an interesting idea but almost every headcanon was from an American perspective, resulting in things such as Mexican characters apparently going unremarked in revolution-era France.
  • One Yu-Gi-Oh! fic that took place in Ancient Egypt had a scene where a royal party is a ball with people dancing in Western-style dances. And the Pharaoh's proposal to his love by kneeling down and holding up a ring.
  • The Hunchback Of Notre Dame fic Back to the Frollo has the protagonist playing baseball with the medieval Parisian kids, eating/preparing foods exclusive to the midwest, wearing modern American clothing that would shock a medieval Parisian, and even sharing American Civil War history with Quasimodo. Despite all that, none of the characters find her behavior shocking or inappropriate.
  • Averted in Becoming More one of the Slayers asks her girlfriend to meet her parents during Thanksgiving. When she tries to explain that she just means if her girlfriend won't be visiting her own family for Thanksgiving, said girlfriend reminds her that she's Swedish and thus her family doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving.
  • The Kim Possible fic The Touch Of Green Fire and its sequels are written by a South African, not an American. It has some slip-ups, such as characters using "bloody" way more than Americans do and Kim calling her mother "mum" (instead of "mom") a few times. The characters also use Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Ann being a doctor might give her pass but even then that's pushing it.
  • At least one Frozen fanfic has 18-year old Anna mentioning she's too young to drink. Judging from real-world Norwegian laws and Anna actually shown drinking in supplementary works, the drinking age in Arendelle is 18, not 20-21 like in some places.
  • The Azumanga Daioh fic Control makes the mistake of having Yukari and Nyamo begin high school at thirteen. This is a normal age in America, but in Japan middle school is usually began at twelve. High school first years are fifteen.
  • In Severance, Delia knows how to use a gun due to her days as a Team Rocket agent. All Rocket grunts are taught to use guns. Delia is from Kanto, which is based on Japan. Though Team Rocket is not lawful, it seems unlikely that they'd go around casually carrying guns considering Japan's strict gun laws.
  • My Little Pumpkin is a Pokémon fic that styles Pallet Town after a small American town. In canon, Pallet Town is set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Japan.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): One of the water-breathing Atlanteans plunges his head into a toilet bowl to avoid asphyxiating. Toilet bowls in Europe aren't filled with as much water as in America, so he would likely not be able to completely submerge his head as shown.
  • The Avengers (2012): The German company being guarded by security officers complete with SMGs may be somewhat believable in an American setting, but in Germany, most private security firms would get into trouble issuing as much as tasers to their personnel.
  • Best of the Best: The South Korean Tae-Kwon-Do team cheered for their country as "Korea, Korea!", but "Korea" is an exonym. It should've been "Hanguk, Hanguk!" (Korea) or "Daehan Minguk!" (South Korea).
  • Deadpool (2016): After being diagnosed with cancer, Wade says that Vanessa is working on Plan A, Plan B and all the way to Plan Z, pronounced "zee". Being Canadian, he should have pronounced it "plan zed." However, Deadpool may have spent enough time in America to adapt his expressions, and many Canadians already pronounce it "zee", partially due to Eagleland Osmosis.
  • Geostorm shows a Chinese car with a thermometer that shows temperature in Fahrenheit. It should be Celsius.
  • Gladiator:
    • Most characters have an anachronistic willing for democracy and speak of a return to Republican rule as a realistic alternative to the Empire, which is in turn painted like a purely monarchical institution. The Roman Senate is portrayed, likewise, as a much more powerful institution than it was and is free to take over after Commodus is killed, something that obviously didn't happen in reality.
    • Maximus's full name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, which is consistent with modern American (or generically Anglo-Saxon) naming conventions. However, in the Ancient Roman system "Maximus" was a cognomen, which was said last. So his name should be Decimus Meridius Maximus.
  • Godzilla (1998): Jean Reno's French secret service agent character travels to Tahiti to investigate Godzilla's recent attack on a freighter. Upon arrival he is hounded by members of the US Navy who demand to know who he is and what he is doing there, apparently unaware that Tahiti is an island in French Polynesia and that it should be him asking them those questions, not the other way around.
  • The Great Muppet Caper is pretty good about this. Yes, the take on London is a bit touristy, and all the Muppets who supposedly live there still have the same accents as they did on The Muppet Show (this also happens in The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island). And then Beauregard shows up driving the only yellow cab in the city. It's particularly confusing and distressing for Sam the Eagle, an in-universe moral guardian who is deeply patriotic... toward America.
    Sam the Eagle: Mm, you will love business. It is the AMERICAN WAY!
    Gonzo: [whispers] Sam...
    [whispers in Sam's ear]
    Sam the Eagle: Oh... It is the BRITISH WAY!
  • In Mortdecai, the flashback scene showing Charlie, Johanna, and Alister at university clearly shows them in an American-style college dormitory of a type not really present in the UK, despite the fact that all three characters are British and therefore are (presumably) being educated at a UK institution.
  • The Omen (1976): Armed police in the UK operate in special firearm units and are only called in when the situation requires it. Not so, apparently, in the world of The Omen because at the climax Robert Thorn is shot dead by an officer who had been pursuing him for what amounted to erratic driving.
  • Vantage Point:
    • It's set in Spain, yet the Secret Service (the U.S. President's bodyguards) are seen seizing cars from the locals, as well as chasing, arresting, and shooting them, even cops. Plenty of wars have started over much less. Such a policy was proposed in real life when the USSS asked Britain to allow its agents to shoot to kill when protecting the US president in the UK. The British said no.
    • The film's setting is an international summit, but it is presided over by the city's mayor (with no member of the Spanish national government apparently present), the President of the United States is the absolute star, and the public waves a zillion Spanish flags at him - but only Spanish flags, something much more reminiscent of Eagleland. This level of flag waving is generally looked down upon in Europe, unless it's the national football team playing. And the film's scene is excessive even for that. Plus, if they want to honor the POTUS and Spanish-American relations, shouldn't they be at least Spanish and American flags? And what about the other foreign representatives there? Does nobody care about them? It's painfully evident that the writer had in mind an American president giving a speech in the US and only painted a light coat of "but in Spain" over it. The cherry on top of the cake is that the original script was apparently set in Madrid and was written right after the 2004 train attacks, when the popularity of the American president in Spain couldn't be lower. The only reason the movie took place in Salamanca was because the studio felt that Madrid was not "exotic" enough.
  • The film adaptation of The Girl on the Train moved the setting from the suburbs of London to the suburbs of New York City, and changed little else. At least one critic noted that the very English names of some characters (like "Hipwell"), while not particularly unusual to the ears of British readers, can sound like Preppy Names to Americans even though the characters aren't supposed to be upper-class.

  • The original Aladdin is often said to be set in China, as this was the most distant and magical land that most Arabs had heard of. The character's names, the genies, and so forth all seem Arabian, however. Almost every single character is a Muslim (except for one Jew), even though Muslims then - as now - made up a phenomenally small minority in China. note 
  • The Alex Rider series of children's books subverts this this trope at one point. The British main character, who is undercover as a kid from the United States, uses language that is obviously not American and is chastised for breaking his cover. However, played straight for nearly every other scene set in the United States.
  • It's a minor point, but the American character in Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down refers to his apartment as a "bedsit", a very British term. It is set in England, so it's possible he just picked up the term, from his real estate agent or neighbours, perhaps.
  • Dan Brown's Angels & Demons for some reason has a British camerawoman for the British Broadcasting Corporation referred to as "African American". Her partner is also allegedly British, but seems to think and speak using an awful lot of American terminology and in an Imagine Spot he likens himself to Dan Rather — who is almost totally unknown in Britain. Even if the reporter has heard of Rather, if he were really British he would have likened himself to Trevor McDonald.
  • Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code has Chicago Police Officers referring to an elevator as a "lift". note 
  • Perhaps the most ridiculous claim about Spain in Digital Fortress's long list of gross misrepresentations of Spain, also by Dan Brown, is that cranberry juice is a very popular drink in the country. Not only is cranberry a crop mainly grown and consumed in the United States, but Spain is one of the few European countries where cranberrynote  is neither grown nor consumed, nor does the plant even grow in the wild there!, except in small numbers in the high, humid mountainous regions of northern Spain.
  • In Dragon Bones, hamamelis (witch-hazel) is used to treat wounds, despite the overall cold climate and medieval Europe-ish setting. The plant does grow in China, and could be imported, but there are less expensive options.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey is written by an English author but allegedly set in America. Despite this, there is no concession to the setting whatsoever.
    • People refer to "exams" (not "mid-terms" or "finals")
    • The very British "do go through" shows up.
    • Fifty Shades Freed:
      • It gets a bit funny in Chapter Nine, when one of Ana's bodyguards, realizing that someone has smashed a lot of furniture and knick-knacks in the hall outside the penthouse elevator, yells, "Code Blue!" In the U.K., that's a common general code for "Emergency!" In America, that's a common hospital code for "cardiopulmonary arrest".
      • Chapter Ten talks about the villain being "released from hospital". An American would be more likely to say "released from THE hospital". This mistake recurs throughout the book, too. Earlier in that chapter, a bodyguard says the villain will "have an aching skull when he wakes" instead of "...when he wakes UP."
      • In Chapter Thirteen, Ana refers to Grey leading her from the ground floor of his Aspen mansion to the first floor. In the U.K., that would be correct. However, in America, the ground floor IS the first floor. Ana and Grey would be headed up to the second floor.
      • In Chapter Fourteen, Ana, her friend Kate Kavanagh, and Ana's sister-in-law Mia all refer to dancing as "throwing some shapes" – which is Irish slang that has penetrated Britain but is virtually unknown in America.
  • For Want of a Nail is an Alternate History by American author Robert Sobel that depicts the world after a failed American Revolution. The British government sets up their colonies as the Confederacy of North America, which possesses a parliamentary government. Nonetheless, later on in the book, articles of impeachment are drawn up against this system's equivalent of a Prime Minister despite the earlier confirmed existence of a vote of no confidence. note 
  • A minor example from the Iron Druid Chronicles: In Trapped, Atticus and Granuaile raid a sporting goods store for all manner of equipment, including guns and ammo. These are only sold in gun stores in Greece.
  • Older Than Steam: The Chinese Epic Journey to the West assumes that all countries have the same kind of governors and imperial courts as China and that all countries in the world recognize a monkey-faced being as looking like a thunder god (among many other We All Live In China examples).
  • Left Behind has references to "Captains" and "Lieutenants" at Scotland Yard — in the British police they would be "Chief Inspectors" and "Inspectors".
  • Pittsburgh Backyard and Garden, a short story by Wen Spencer set in the same world as her Tinker series, featured a Scottish naturalist reminiscing about how the platypus family in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood inspired him to become a biologist. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was never broadcast in the United Kingdom.
  • The British Saffy's Angel series has a recurring character who is a visiting American...and who speaks in distinctly British slang.
  • The Sum of All Fears mentions that the Super Bowl will be broadcast in Spain "in five different dialects" - implying that the event has a following there far larger than it actually does. In reality, American football is so small in Spain that when mainstream news cover the Super Bowl they only talk about the musical numbers. That's right, the teams in the Super Bowl aren't even mentioned.
  • Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Balance of Power: Aside from being actually Spexico, the Spain of the book has a government just like the US one, only with a king replacing the president. Spanish provinces are apparently as powerful as US states and have their own National Guards, and congressmen (read: deputies) have their own limos and drivers (in Real Life they don't).
  • The Night's Dawn Trilogy had a character who had served in the Australian Marines in The Vietnam War. Australia does not have a dedicated marine unit, just army and navy units trained in amphibious warfare.
  • Likewise Hannibal by Thomas Harris has an offhand reference to "an Australian quarter" — there's no 25-cent coin in Australian currency.
  • "Rule Golden" by Damon Knight has a BBC news reporter say "In Commons today..." But omitting the article like that is an Americanism; any real Brit would at least say "in the Commons", and a BBC announcer would more likely say "in the House of Commons", which after all takes only about half a second longer.
  • Inverted in Doglands. It is heavily implied to take place in Great Britain and it's written by an English writer, but the characters use American terminology, such as "TV" instead of "tele", and use the Imperial system instead of the Metric system.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Alias, Sydney and Vaughn waterboard an enemy in the toilet of an Ibiza nightclub's restroom. There is no way they could do this in a European toilet, as they use less water than American ones.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In Season 1's "Machismo", where the BAU helps the police of a small Mexican town find a serial killer targeting elderly women, the BAU realizes that the victims are the mothers of young women attacked by an unreported serial rapist when they notice that the surnames of the younger victims match the elderly women's maiden names. Maiden names don't exist in Mexico. Mexican women keep the same name until they die. Latino people usually have both their parents' last names (father's, then mother's) so it could still be recognized that way.
    • An important childhood event for Dr. Tara Lewis is that, while at a school in Germany, she had to correct everybody's pronunciation of her name since they automatically pronounced it wrong ("Terra"). In real life, the pronunciation she insists on is the one that would come natural to native German speakers. A German boy teased her by repeating the "wrong" pronunciation over and over, escalating to that boy beating up Tara's brother and painting a swastika onto her locker. The swastika would get a student onto the short list for being expelled, given that the symbol is outlawed and even scribbling it into one's own papers would get a student into trouble. Also, German schools don't have lockers, making the whole event appear to be scripted for a US school and then moved to Germany.
  • CSI: New York:
    • In the episode "Unfriendly Chat," Adam slacks at work by chatting with a girl who is promptly murdered on camera. The only clue about where the murder took place is a TV in the background noting the temperature outside, so the team checks climate reports from all over the world to know what place had that temperature at the time. At no point do they notice that the temperature is marked in Fahrenheit, which is only used in the United States and four small island countries (the murder turns out to have happened in their own Manhattan). note 
    • In the episode "Grounds for Deception," Detectives Bonasera and Taylor travel to Greece in pursuit of a ring of antiquities smugglers. Detective Taylor not only brings his firearm to Europe (for which he does not have a license in Greece), but discharges it multiple times while in pursuit of a fleeing suspect, eventually shooting him. No legal consequences or complications with local authorities arise from this exchange.
  • Played for comedy in The Office (US) when Andy refers to the South African singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo as "Ladysmith African American Mambazo". The "black" in the group's name doesn't even refer to the race. It's a reference to the black ox, the "strongest farm animal" according to the group's founder.
  • USA High is about a school for Americans in Paris, but even the non-American characters speak American English (in silly versions of their own accents).
  • On World's Craziest Fools, a British show hosted by the American Mr. T, Mr. T is made to use British terms for things.

  • In the days when Cracked was a MAD knockoff, it ran a parody comic strip of Star Trek: Generations, including a take on the scene where Picard reminisces about his ancestors, where the joke is that the Discard family were all responsible for famous military defeats. However, they're all American military defeats. The Picards (and presumably the Discards) are French.

  • Heliand, an Old Saxon poem the 9th century AD, paraphrases the Biblical story of Jesus's birth, adding local flavors. So the shepherds would not care for sheep. They obviously care for horses. Steeds. Stallions. The Saxons at the time had only recently been Christianized, so the poem downplays the "meek" aspects in favor of the mighty.

  • The Mikado intentionally invokes this, as the Japan of the setting is meant as a satire of Victorian English society, separated by a thin layer of "exotic" Japanese paint over it.

    Video Games 
  • The Crash Bandicoot series is ostensibly set in an Australian archipelago, but since the series was made by American company Naughty Dog, most of the characters speak with American accents and the locations are quite unusual for the setting.
  • In the Crazy Cars games, developed in France by Titus Software, all the races take place on American roads, but speeds are only given in kilometers per hour.
  • Granblue Fantasy takes place in a vaguely European setting, with many of its places and characters given western names. While there is a Japan-like country among the floating islands, and the vast amount of trading done implies some of the cast should be familiar with some concepts, there's still a few times when their knowledge is well over what one might expect. Everyone participates in White Day in March, two of the Dragon Knights go off to a hanami event in spring, New Years tends to follow Japanese customs (the main cast even gets special kimonos as an alternate skin), and the few private schools we've seen all match up to Japanese high school stereotypes.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series of games is, in theory, set in America, but is made by Scottish developer DMA Design/Rockstar North; Americans who play it can tell this is neither real America nor quite Hollywood America. A lot of place-names in San Andreas are thinly-disguised ones from Scottish cities, and there's even an exact replica of the Forth Rail Bridge. Rockstar are based in Edinburgh and Dundee, and evidently like their Creator Provincialism in-jokes.
  • The Story of Seasons games are apparently set in Europe or America, but the characters retain certain Japanese mannerisms such as bowing, a lot of the characters love Japanese foods, and some of the plants are native to Japan. The fact Muffy from Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is having severe difficulties keeping a man due to being 30 is confusing in a western setting.
  • Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain are set in New York and Philadelphia, respectively, but were made by a French company, and there are a bunch of telling details — for example, both games feature apartments with the bath/shower and toilet in separate rooms, which is not unheard of in Europe but is never seen in America.
  • While the ObsCure games are set in the United States, they were made by a French developer, and it shows.
    • Metric measurements are frequently used in place of American Customary Measurements, the parking lot has a large bike shed (most American schools have, at most, a small rack to park bicycles), dates are rendered in the form of "DD/MM" rather than the "MM/DD" format used in the U.S., British spellings are employed frequently, and a notice makes reference to the "Ministry of Health" (the U.S. equivalent is the Department of Health and Human Services). On top of that, one of the calendars still has the French names for the months of the year (octobre, janvier, avril), though that could just be something that the translators overlooked. If it weren't for the American flag in the gymnasium in the first game and the brief reference to Principal Friedman being born in Iowa, one might guess that the games took place in Quebec rather than the US.
    • Likewise, with the exception of the Friedmans (whose last name implies a German background), every single character who's not explicitly specified as being non-white (Mei and Jun) or otherwise foreign (Sven) has an English last name like Matthews, Thompson, Jones, Carter, Brookes, or Wilde. No corner of the US was exclusively settled by the English; even those parts of the country with substantial levels of English heritage (like New England, Utah, and the Southeast) tend to have Scottish, Irish, German, and Scandinavian ancestry mixed in as well. To English ears it probably wouldn't be out of the ordinary, but it certainly stands out to Americans.
    • One of the weapons available in the second game is a flashball gun, a less-lethal riot control weapon (though for the game's light-intolerant monsters, it is far deadlier) designed by a French company that is widely used by law enforcement and gendarmes in France and the rest of Europe, but is virtually unheard of with American law enforcement.
  • Onmyōji has Christmas and Thanksgiving events despite their being Western holidays with the latter not celebrated anywhere outside America. The fact the game is set in Japan in the Heian period just makes it weirder. Subverted in that the developers aren't Westerners.
  • Pokémon: In Pokémon Sun and Moon characters from Alola (based on the US state Hawaii) sometimes bow.
  • Raccoon City in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a supposed to be a modern Midwestern American city, but the size of the streets and presence of extensive alleys and shopping arcades are clear evidence that Raccoon was based on a contemporary Japanese city. For reference, many of the streets are blocked by a single longitudinal car across the road. In America, the only roads that narrow are called "back alleys", and you're not likely to see them outside of the downtown cores of larger older cities. Further games in the series that revisit Raccoon City, however, seem to retcon it to a more American layout.
  • SimCity:
    • There is a very mild – and entirely justified (though not Justified) – version of this by having the police be run and funded by the city government. On the one hand, this just isn't true in many places, where either the national (as in France) or state/provincial/what-have-you government (as in Germany) is responsible for the police. On the other hand, this is SimCity we're talking about. What national government? Simnation's, of course.
    • SimCity also has the city responsible for power plants and many other things that would in most American cities (and, more recently, in many non-American cities) be run by private companies or are municipal services. Admittedly, big plants are mostly in private hands.
  • Having been made in the UK, all the cars in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect have their steering wheels on the right side. However, one of the missions takes place in Russia, where cars should have their steering wheels on the left side. note 
  • In the PAL English version of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, released in the UK and Australia, Wailord's trophy mentions that it can dive down a distance over twice the height of Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles and well known in the UK, but almost unknown outside of it. The NTSC English release uses general terms for this trophy, which makes you wonder why the PAL writers didn't do the same.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X takes place in a human settlement on an alien planet. Despite the fact it is New Los Angeles and most characters are American, you can see weather in Celsius and characters bow to each other.

     Web Comics 
  • In one Cyanide & Happiness strip (written by Dave Mc Elfatrick, who is Irish), a kid asks the jock pestering him about who his favorite "footballer" is. Nothing wrong so far...but the next panel makes it clear they're talking about American football. In real life, American people talking about football players would just say "football players".
  • In one baseline arc Arthur, King of Time and Space strip, Lot of Orkney decides it's time to attack Arthur when he sees the first robin of spring. While some European robins (a completely different species to American robins) are known to spend the summer in Scandinavia and the winter in North Africa, across most of Europe, including the British Isles, they're non-migratory, and are a popular symbol of winter in the UK. The bird that heralds spring in Britain is the cuckoo.

     Web Original 
  • Parodied in Neko Sugar Girls. It supposedly takes place in Japan but they seem more like Japan-obsessed Americans. One character even almost accidentally refers to their country as America before doing a Last-Second Word Swap.
  • Carmilla the Series takes place at a fictional "Silas University" in Styria, Austria, which is basically portrayed as an extension of Canada (the show's country of origin), only with more Überwald tropes and Magic Realism laid on.
  • Sailor Nothing is supposedly set in Japan, but the characters constantly refer to American media and pop culture. Some of this is understandable, some not; Hunter S. Thompson is famous, but why would Shin compare something to an NBC sitcom?

    Western Animation 
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi is about a real Japanese pop duo. Or so we're led to believe. The characters themselves say and do things easily identifiable with American culture as all the writers and animators are from North America. They attempt to remind the viewers that Ami and Yumi are from Japan by having them speak in Gratuitous Japanese, use chopsticks to eat, obsess over sushi, and spend yen (even though there doesn't seem to be any rate of conversion...), but it doesn't go much deeper than that veneer.
  • A minor example happens in Justice League Unlimited: the Injustice League tries to rob a trainload of euros, but when we see some notes, they look more like American dollars.
  • Kaeloo: The English dub is made in Australia, but the characters are supposed to act like Americans. However, they do screw up at times, like saying "rubbish" instead of "trash".
  • Other than cultural references, Kappa Mikey falls into this headfirst with people getting fired and rehired constantly in Japan, where a job in a company is considered a lifetime occupation and the main punishment is being demoted as opposed to fired.
  • The Simpsons:
    • During a trip to the UK, Bart and Lisa visit a Candy Store, rather then a Sweet Shop.
    • Similarly when they go to Ireland they are arrested by the police instead of the Gardaí. While the American characters calling them the police out loud is acceptable (and not uncommon in Ireland anyway) the vehicles having POLICE written across them in big friendly letters is completely wrong.
  • An episode of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries set in Australia featured a sign in miles rather than kilometres, and a character with a thick "Australian" accent talking about putting something up in aluminum (not aluminium as any Australian would say).
  • The Amazing World of Gumball is made in Europe, mostly London, but set in the United States – Elmore is eventually shown to occupy the space that is taken up in real life by Vallejo, California (the place where most of the show's photographic backgrounds come from). It's convincing enough that the majority of American viewers don't notice this, but several things slip by, mostly background details like cars sometimes driving on the left or signs using British word spellings. There are so many examples for this show that it actually has its own page.
  • Tarzan and Jane's London is mostly okay, but there's a few oddities like cars sometimes driving on the right, a low bridge which has a yellow-diamond warning sign on the lead up (but a British red-triangle sign on the bridge itself), and a poster saying "Visit the London Zoo" (a real poster might say "London Zoo" or just "the Zoo", but never both.)
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Christmas Episode had the Kanker sisters play with Christmas crackers, a tradition common in Canada (where the show is made) but mostly unheard of in the U.S. (where the show is set).



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