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Useful Notes / The Other Rainforest

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Hail Cascadia!

The Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada. When people talk about the Rainforest, they invariably mean the tropical one in Brazil, but the Pacific temperate rainforest is the largest in the world by area, and stretches from northern California upwards to Alaska. There are also American tropical rainforests in Hawaii and Puerto Rico (and the Philippines, when they used to be under U.S. colonial rule).

This part of the Hollywood Atlas is home to magnificent forest scenery, Vancouver, mountain lions, Bigfoot, log cabins, lumberjacks, and Magical Native Americans delivering Green Aesops. Oh, and Crazy Survivalists who live in shacks, write manifestos, and send letter bombs. Also expect to see a New-Age Retro Hippie or two. Alternatively, we may get a beautifully forested small town, which turns out to be a City of Adventure, usually for the local Kid Heroes, who may be subjected to a Horrible Camping Trip. (Note the "rain" part of "rainforest".) This area may also be a Wild Wilderness with very little contact with the outside world because the only city in this region Hollywood seems to know about is Seattle, home of the Space Needle and Starbucks.


As home to Microsoft and its founder Bill Gates, Amazon (the non-tropical one) and its founder Jeff Bezos, and with Nintendo of America down the block and to the left, the Seattle area is the 'cool' alternative location for tech people. Occasional recognition is given to Boeing. If Oregon ever gets a city, it will be Portland, which is often stereotyped as being populated by hipsters and Granola Girls. Funny thing is, despite Seattle being known as a tech city, Portland is a major center for computer manufacturing, with many Silicon Valley companies such as Intel moving their manufacturing north due to cheaper utilities, wages, and land prices. Another notable company in the area is Nike, whose world campus is in Beaverton, a suburb just west of Portland.

Whenever something is supposedly set in Washington, you can almost guarantee it is Vancouver Doubling. However, due to good union contracts it's becoming more common for it to be doubled in Oregon. This may change in the next few years as Washington State has recently passed tax breaks and other incentives for filmmakers, as well as the Canadian and American exchange rates and labor laws making the States an equally valid choice.


Also, beyond the Cascade Mountains, vast stretches of Central and Eastern Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia are not in any way a rainforest (and the residents tend to be far more conservative politically.) Much of Eastern Oregon is desert or semi-arid, described by some as "the closest you can get to the Wild West and still have cable", while Eastern Washington is largely rolling plains similar to those in Idaho and the Midwest. The latter area is home to the majority of America's apple production, as well as the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, the largest dam in the United States (and at one point the largest dam in the world). Eastern Washington is home to the state's second-largest city, Spokane, whose suburb of Mead is home to Cyan, the developers behind Myst. Plutonium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal is produced on the Hanford Reservation (rather than Oak Ridge, Tennessee or Los Alamos, New Mexico). Eastern BC includes the Okanagan Valley, a major orchard and winery region, as well as a few different mountain ranges.

This region in fiction:

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    Comic Books 

    Films — Animated 
  • Coraline is set in Ashland, Oregon, due to Laika, the animation company that made it being based near Portland, and them wanting to have it set in Oregon while still making Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's backstory of being former actresses semi-plausible (Ashland is the host for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The forests of Endor are in Humboldt County, California.
  • Outbreak was filmed in Humboldt County, set in the fictional city of Cedar Creek (actually Ferndale, CA). The infected monkey is released in the same forest that Luke and Leia rode speeders in.
  • The scenes that were supposedly set in Japan for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III were filmed on the Oregon coast.
  • My Name Is Bruce is set in the fictional southern Oregon town of Goldlick, as well as actually being filmed in southern Oregon (Bruce Campbell lives in the southern Oregon town of Jacksonville).
  • The Parallax View, which starts in Seattle (with an assassination at the Space Needle) and continues around the Washington State area.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was shot at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem.
  • The Lost Coast Tapes takes place in the Pacific Northwest. California's Lost Coast, to be exact.
  • That Cold Day in the Park is set in bleak, rainy Vancouver. Robert Altman told reporters that the gloomy weather was one of the reasons he chose the location.
  • Leave No Trace is set in the chilly forests of Oregon and Washington.
  • Quite a few of Lars von Trier's films are set in Washington state, such as Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist, and The House That Jack Built, the latter even mentioning Mt Saint Helens. Despite taking place in Washington State, Von Trier has never visited the state and doesn't intend to due to his fear of flying.
  • First Blood, in contrast to the jungle and desert settings of its sequels, is set in the fictional Hope, Washington and was filmed in the real life Hope, British Columbia as well as Golden Ears Provincial Park.
  • Even Lambs Have Teeth is set in northern Washington. Two girls planning to spend a month working on an eco-farm never make it, but are instead kidnapped by a gang of redneck sex traffickers. The film plays up the isolation of the region, and how easy it is for someone to just 'disappear'.
  • Turkey Hollow takes place in the Pacific Northwest, but nobody says which state.
  • Without a Paddle, set in Oregon but filmed in New Zealand.
  • Fire With Fire 1986 is set in the mountainous regions of Oregon.

  • Twilight is set in the town of Forks, Washington. Although Forks is a real place, the first movie filmed the Forks scenes in Oregon, and the subsequent movies filmed the Forks scenes in Vancouver, both of which are at least in the right region.
  • The Postman
  • Barbara Kingsolver's novel Pigs in Heaven has the main character move from Tucson to Seattle. She finds the local climate impossibly rainy. "This isn't a city, it's a carwash!"
  • Most of the Mercy Thompson series takes place in the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington. The second Alpha & Omega novel is set in Seattle and does a good job.
    • Patricia Briggs was living in the Tri-Cities when she started writing the series.
  • Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby books are all set in Portland.
  • Some of Michael Slade's RCMP thrillers take place in Vancouver. Many of its characters have spent time hunting or backpacking in British Columbia.
  • The Emberverse book series by S.M. Stirling features the PNW and Willamette Valley as central setting locations. The green and verdant landscape is mentioned as being a boon to the residents.
  • The Northwest Front series of books takes place (mainly) in the Pacific Northwest as white nationalists try to separate and establish their Northwest American terrorism.
  • The Wildwood series by Colin Meloy (yes That Colin Meloy) is a young adult fantasy that sets an entire fantasy land in the wild woods near Portland.
  • The prime setting of Imagine Someday a fictional city in Oregon that's somewhat like Portland. The characters also visit the Cascades at one point.
  • In Metatropolis the eco-anarchist city of Cascadiopolis is hidden among the trees and basalt flats.
  • A Study In Moonlight is all set in Western Washington. Most of "Tamanous of the Brackenwoods" takes place in a fictional small town in the Olympic Peninsula rainforest country, not far from Forks.
  • Ken Kesey uses the Pacific Northwest extensively. Notably One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion.
  • The Lathe of Heaven takes place in Portland. Haber begins to believe Orr when he dreams that it hasn't rained there for two years.
  • The Eagle Tree is about an autistic boy from Olympia and his fascination with the trees in this region.

    Live Action TV 
  • Eureka
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Bones episode "The Man in the Bear", which for some reason included a Stock Footage shot of Yosemite (they must have been walking really far).
  • Nowhere Man - filmed entirely in/around Portland, though the various episodes were actually set in cities all over the country.
  • Dead Like Me - Set in Seattle, but quite obviously filmed in Vancouver.
  • The Sentinel is set in the fictional city of Cascade, a stand-in for Seattle.
  • Almost Live!, a sketch comedy show that ran from 1984-1999 in the timeslot before Saturday Night Live, was produced and shot in Seattle, and featured skits which, in addition to lampooning (and helping codify) all the area stereotypes, regularly involved local current events and celebrities. Often the trivia of choice to determine if someone's a 'true' Washingtonian is to quiz them about their knowledge of this show.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force - Though the fictional city of Briarwood suggests that it is either in Northern California or Oregon, it was filmed in New Zealand
  • Frasier is set in Seattle, but filmed entirely in LA, except for one special on-location episode.
  • iCarly
  • John Doe
  • Lost had a scene showing Ben being born in the forests just outside of Portland.... only problem being that the trees and foliage in the scene are obviously(and hilariously) tropical.
  • Dark Angel is set in cyberpunk-esque Seattle 20 Minutes into the Future after an EMP burst destroys the US economy.
  • Highlander: The Series is set in "Seacouver".
  • The X-Files filmed its first five seasons in Vancouver, though it played host to a variety of different places, including Oregon, Idaho, Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington just in the first season. The pilot is set in the fictional town of Bellefleur, Oregon. They switched filming to L.A. after season five, and this becomes almost glaringly obvious in season seven, when Mulder and Scully return to Bellefleur to follow up on their first case. The pilot is drizzly, rainy, and ominous. The entirety of "Requiem" is sunny and more inviting.
  • NBC's Perfect Couples is set in Portland, Oregon, although this is not mentioned on-screen often.
  • One episode of Stargate SG-1 ("Seth") was set north of Seattle. Also, the episode "Nightwalkers" was set in a small, coastal Oregon town. Most of the series was filmed in the Vancouver area, leading to more than one joke about how all these alien planets sure look a lot like the Rocky Mountains.
  • Portlandia is, obviously, set in Portland.
  • Grimm is set and filmed in and around Portland, Oregon. There are a lot of little in jokes that are funnier if you're a Portlander or an Oregonian (two eisbibers being really big OSU fans, for instance).
  • Leverage filmed its second, third and fourth seasons in Portland but set them in Boston. Starting in season five, the show will take place in Portland.
  • Kyle XY is filmed in Vancouver, BC and while their exact town remains unnamed it seems to be close enough for frequent and casual trips to the University of Washington in Seattle, which is established as many alumni of the Government Conspiracy having started as students there.
  • MacGyver had the episode "Log Jam", featuring Mac investigating the Northwest logging industry to discover... the Yakuza.
  • Here Come the Brides: "The bluest skies you'll ever see are in Seattle..."
  • Everything Sucks! is set in Boring, Oregon, a small town in the exurban part of the Willamette Valley.

    Radio Dramas 
  • ''BellinghamTerror is set and produced in Bellingham, Washington and features loads of local history and references.
  • Pacific Northwest Stories and the Public Radio Alliance:
    • PWNS and the PRA produce series in which the groups are fictionalized versions of themselves as a journalistic company based in this region. Naturally their shows largely take place in the area. They're also in a Shared Universe on paper; the two plotlines don't overlap much other than that the reporters Nic Silver and Alex Regan make the occasional appearance in one another's shows.
    • The Black Tapes follows their reporter Alex Regan as she investigates Dr. Richard Strand, a reclusive scientist and paranormal investigator of the highly-skeptical variety, and his yet debunked cases (the "Black Tapes"). Although Strand legitimately works to debunk cases, it's partly a cover to investigate the real mysteries of the Black Tapes, which link together to paint a picture of an incoming demon apocalypse.
    • Tanis follows Nic Silver as he takes to the field to investigate a thing called Tanis. It's not entirely clear if Tanis is a place, a phenomenon, a "doorway", or even an entity, and there's evidence to suggest that it fits into more than one of those definitions. As he digs deeper, he stumbles into the conspiratorial conflict centered around containing it. Much of Nic's research focuses on a specific point in the pacific northwest's forests that is home to strange phenomena and frequently affects the minds and sanity of those who draw too close to it.

  • Mixed martial artist, commentator and All-American U of O wrestler Chael Sonnen would sometimes call himself the "Gangster of West Linn," (Oregon), with a flawlessly straight face.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun's default campaign setting is Seattle and surrounding areas.

    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake. The developers wanted to create a convincing Washington landscape, so they took literally THOUSANDS of photographs of the land, not to mention architecture styles. As a result, the game had very little concept art.
  • Deadly Premonition is set in the fictional city of Greenvale, Washington. (Based on the landscape, it's up somewhere in the Cascades.) Many characters mention visiting Seattle as well.
  • World in Conflict Much of the story and game play, while sometimes set in Europe with the EU, and in New York, is set in Washington. In 1989, The Soviet Union invades Seattle using a lot of cargo vessels as a front. Their invasion is halted around the fictional city of Pine Valley (in place of Ilwaco, Washington), and finally turned around at the fictional town of Cascade Falls (in the Cascades in northern Washington). A final counterattack on Seattle (with an appearance by the Space Needle) forces the Soviets and Chinese reinforcements to retreat from the US mainland.
  • The first mission in Mass Effect 3 takes place in a futuristic version of Vancouver as it is being attacked by the Reapers.
  • The starting village of Arroyo in Fallout 2 is located roughly in the vicinity of Medford, Oregon and most of the game takes place in northern California, once a part of the Northwestern Commonwealth (Nor-cal, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska). That being said, a lot of the area (especially south in Northern California) is still a dead and irradiated desert after the Great War, with the one large rainforests being hard to find.
  • Gone Home is set in Oregon during, naturally, The Nineties.
  • Life Is Strange features a prestigious art school in Oregon, populated by every variation of the Hipster archetype one would expect.
  • Oakwood is set in an abandoned campground (presumably) somewhere in North America. It's abandoned because it's experiencing a case of dinosaur infestation.
  • The Sims:
    • The Supernatural expansion for The Sims 3 adds the town of Moonlight Falls, based on Forks, Washington from the Twilight books, all the better to go with its Urban Fantasy theme.
    • The Eco Lifestyle expansion for The Sims 4 adds Evergreen Harbor, which the flavor text indicates is located on the "Willupette Sound" (a reference to both the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Puget Sound in Washington). Uniquely, it's less a rustic Arcadia and more a run-down and polluted industrial city based on cities like Tacoma, Renton, Kent, Everett, and pre-tech-boom Seattle, with the gameplay in the pack revolving around cleaning it up, though once the smog is gone from the skies, the snow-capped mountains and pine forests surrounding the town become far more visible.
  • While State of Decay never specifies where its setting of Trumbull Valley its located, the Seattle-based developers stated that they based it on the rural prairies and forests of central and eastern Washington state, a rare example of the parts east of the Cascades showing up in fiction (and being accurately depicted).
  • Tower Unite's Zombie Massacre level Compound takes place in Washington, which is also where the Development team is.


    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Pacific Northwest


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