Big Applesauce

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

There is only one city in America.
There is only one city in the world.

They Might Be Giants, "P.S.O.K."

New York City seems to get all the attention in American fiction.

Are aliens landing in UFOs? They'll land in Queens. Is there a neighborhood full of world-class martial artists with superhuman powers? That's Chinatown. Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny? Madison Square Garden's got your front-row seats. A magical gateway between worlds? Look in Queens Midtown Tunnel ... or even Central Park.

The rule seems to be that if a series or movie proposal does not require another setting (Kirk's Rock, for instance), it should be set in New York. If an original, successful series is set in Las Vegas, its Spin-Off will be more successful if set in New York. If you can't possibly get the show to happen in New York, have at least one main character (and as many minor ones as possible) be from New York, and continually harp on about how much better New York is than wherever the setting takes place.

In other words, everything is better with a side helping of Big Applesauce.

At the very least, New York is where a great many writers live, or come from (the rest reside in LA), which makes it more interesting to the writers than anything elsewhere. Not to mention "writing what they know." Picture how these guys tend to portray the South and Midwest...

The bias is especially obvious when characters speak about specific parts of New York casually (everybody in the world knows which subway train you have to take to get to 115th street, right?), while the entirety of Middle America usually consists of about ten distinct places, or when any group of people naturally includes a Jewish person, because isn't one eighth of the population everywhere Jewish?

There is a reason for this: the skyline is just so darn recognizable. In addition, New York City is the most populous metropolitan area in the United States (and the 4th most populous in the world), possibly justifying the frequency with which events of great significance occur there in fiction. Further justification for this is New York's diversity. Very close to every single ethnic, racial and religious group is is represented to some degree or another on the streets of the five boroughs, and nearly every language spoken on Planet Earth can be heard there. Although most US cities are cosmopolitan to one degree or another, New York is particularly noticeable due to the larger population, thus making the diversity more obvious.

Compare Fulton Street Folly, the localized version where everything inexplicably happens in Lower Manhattan because it's relatively easy to film there. See also Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe for Anime and Japanese TV, and Britain Is Only London for UK productions.

See also Brooklyn Rage. Contrast with Canada Does Not Exist, where nothing interesting is ever permitted to happen north of the border.

Examples of Big Applesauce include:


  • As pointed out in Mad Men, New York City is the home to the famous (or infamous) Madison Avenue ad agencies. Accordingly, an extremely large number of national commercials are filmed and set here.

Anime and Manga

  • Axis Powers Hetalia occasionally makes a few nods to (including strips that take place in) New York. Which isn't that surprising when you consider the series having started there. The author lived there for a while.
  • In The Big O, the very obvious ruins of New York City (now called Paradigm City) are not just the center but the practical extent of the universe.
  • The primary focal point for most of Baccano!! is New York. There is an exception in the Flying Pussyfoot story, which takes place on a transcontinental railroad...heading to New York.
  • Red Garden takes place around the Greater New York Area, though mostly on Roosevelt Island.
  • New York City becomes the background of the climatic showdown in Blood+.

Comic Books

  • Virtually all the heroes of the Marvel Universe set up shop in New York, as well as the major teams like The Avengers and the Fantastic Four. (The X-Men were usually based in Westchester County before the move to Utopia, off the coast of San Francisco.) Part of this was their distinction of living in a "real city" versus most of the fictional DC ones. Teams not set in New York are either the rare West Coast teams, the "international" teams that pop up every so often, or jokes (the Great Lakes Avengers). Naturally, all the bad stuff for them to save the world from occurs in New York as well.
    • This is so pervasive that Marvel sells Their own guide to New York, allowing you to walk around and see all the real inspirations for the comic sites.
    • Until recently, there was a giant, crowded, vibrant, multicultural ghetto of Mutants in lower Manhattan, known as Mutant Town, occupying roughly the space of our world's Alphabet City. Given that this overpopulated ghetto full of superpowered, alienated freaks was barely even mentioned outside its own book, District X (swiftly cancelled), it might perhaps have made more sense to set it down in a city that wasn't already swarming with superheroes, and the subject of 99% of Marvel's comics output. But, hey, New York is just—that—special.
  • The major DC comic book to be set in the real NYC was the 80s run of The New Teen Titans which had the original Titans Tower on an island in the East River.
    • Superheroes that have lived in The DCU's New York include the Green Lanterns Alan Scott (originally based in Gotham), Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner; Power Girl (when she's not living in Metropolis); the Manhattan Guardian; the Teen Titans before they removed to San Francisco; and the original Sandman. Though they originally met in Gotham, today the Justice Society of America operates out of New York City, their headquarters located on the site of the Sandman's old brownstone.
  • Doc Savage had his headquarters in the Empire State Building, and most of his stories had a large section in NYC before heading off to more exotic locales.
  • The Marvel Transformers comics feature New York increasingly predominantly throughout their run, even though the crashed Autobot spaceship is located at Mt. St. Hilary in the Cascades in Oregon and the early comics tended to head over to Portland if they needed a metropolitan area to trash with giant robots. The switch to New York came after the anti-robot task force known as RAAT set up shop there, and several later Decepticon bases were set up in the region. In a nihilistic alternate future the shattered corpse of Rodimus Prime is even displayed as hanging between the partially collapsed Twin Towers.
  • There is one DC comic set in New York City -- Watchmen. DC's seeming hatred of setting comics in NYC becomes obvious when Ozymandias blows it up.
    • To be fair, Ozymandias blows quite a few cities up, we just get to see the New York bit go sky high.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew started off with Superman accidentally crossing dimensional boundaries and winding up in "Gnu York City", Earth-C's version of NYC, and meeting the future team's leader there (working as a writer/artist for his world's DC Comics). Later issues often featured the team visiting Gnu York (despite being headquartered on the other side of the country in "Follywood, Califurnia").
  • The protagonists of Garth Ennis' The Boys base themselves in New York City.
  • Mega-City-One from Judge Dredd is essentially supposed to be New York City in the 22nd Century... and stretch from about Boston to Charlotte in current continuity.
  • Where does The Devil hang out after stealing your soul? Well, in J. Michael Straczynski's Midnight Nation, he hangs out in New York, and you have to travel there in a quest to get it back.
  • In Kurt Busiek's The Wizard's Tale, a bumbling evil wizard crosses from his dimension to ours looking for a book of spells. Naturally he arrives in the harbor and his quest leads him to Queens.

Films -- Animation

  • The title character in A Troll in Central Park is banished to "a place of rock and steel, where nothing grows." Guess.
    • There is at least one place where things grow, as the title indicates.
  • An American Tail: where else would a story about (anthropomorphic mouse) immigrants from Europe be set?
  • The lyrics to the opening song of Disney's Oliver and Company borderline-Lampshade this:

Now it's always once upon a time
In New York City.
It's a big old, bad old, tough old town, it's true.
But beginnings are contagious there
They're always setting stages there
They're always turning pages there for you.

    • Also the film stars Long Island native: Billy Joel
  • The Big Reveal at the end of Antz is that the entire film took place around a water fountain in Central Park's Great Lawn. The film stars Woody Allen.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story where it takes place in New York.
  • The animals from Madagascar live in Central Park Zoo, and a lot of local humor is sprinkled in the script, mostly thanks to one of the writers having worked on Seinfeld. The first act is basically a festival of New York gags, and features landmarks like Times Square, the Essex House, 7th Avenue, Grand Central Station, and the Rockefeller ice rink. Lincoln Center, the Knicks, Metro North railroad, and Lexington Avenue being mentioned.
  • One of the films in The Animatrix, The Second Renaissance, Part II, features a Squiddie demanding humans 'hand over their flesh' in the UN after signing a peace treaty before setting off a nuclear bomb, killing everyone. Yes. Everyone.
  • The "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of Fantasia 2000. The artwork was inspired by New York caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, whose cartoons chronicled the Broadway scene for the New York Times theater section.

Films -- Live Action

  • There are eight million stories in The Naked City—all of them in New York.
  • The Seven Year Itch. Not only does it set itself in early 1950s New York, but it flashes back to 500 years earlier when Manhattan Isle was pre-Peter Minuit.
  • In Godspell (1973), the clown-Christ begins his ministry in the middle of Central Park, and wanders all over the (empty) city with his disciples.
  • Ever notice that in Ghostbusters, as well as its sequel and Animated Adaptation, that nearly everything paranormal—including the end of the world—tends to happen somewhere in or near New York City?
  • In the 1978 film adaptation of The Wiz, the role of Oz is played by a Fantasy Counterpart of New York City. For instance, Emerald City is the World Trade Center area; also note the five Chrysler Buildings on the skyline.
    • Strange, because Seattle's nickname is the "Emerald City".
  • Highlander has Mentor Ramirez telling Connor that eventually the Immortals will meet in "a faraway land" to fight for the Prize. NEW YORK.
  • The fairy-tale characters from Enchanted end up in New York... because, naturally, New York is the opposite of a fairy-tale kingdom.
  • I Am Legend depicted the city abandoned after a plague decimated the human race.
  • Cloverfield featured a gigantic monster laying waste to the city.
  • Gangs of New York, obviously. Portrays New York as the 1860s equivalent of Gangsterland.
  • Hercules in New York. Zeus blasts Hercules with a lightning bolt, casting him out of Olympus. After some strange encounters in the air and at sea, Hercules arrives in New York City. It's somewhat justified by the obvious lack of budget of that movie.
  • How did George Taylor learn that the Planet of the Apes was actually Earth? Answer: He saw the Statue of Liberty, and realized he was once again in New York.
  • In Coming to America, Prince Akeem of Zamunda announces his determination to go to America to find a bride. His servant Semmi replies, "All right... New York or Los Angeles?"
    • Lampshaded; to find his royal bride, he thinks Queens is the obvious place.
  • Live and Let Die. Mr. Big's operation is headquartered in New York. There's also a James Bond short story simply titled "007 in New York".
  • Hancock. If an ancient curse forces you to leave Los Angeles, where would you move? Exactly.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The Elven King has his throne room in a NYC Railyard.
  • Men in Black. The organization for monitoring and enforcing alien activity on Earth is based in New York and most of the undercover aliens live there. Also the lead character is a former NYPD cop.
  • New York is the favorite target of disaster movies. See Meteor, Armageddon, Independence Day, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, etc. Averted, however, in 2012.
  • The hero of the Die Hard movies is a New York cop. The third movie is the only one that takes place there, though.
  • Hitch is about a New York love doctor.
  • Q – The Winged Serpent shows that when an ancient Mesoamerican serpent-god is resurrected by a resumption of prayer and human sacrifice in his name, where else would he return than New York City, not, for example, Mexico City!
  • Earlier Woody Allen movies, period. Nowadays he seems to shoot exclusively in Europe, but earlier on, shooting in New York was one of his trademarks.
  • The gateway thing is played with in Being John Malkovich: Those who enter the mind of John Malkovich find themselves teleported to the New Jersey Turnpike after ten minutes.
  • Super Mario Bros started off in NYC, then jumped to Another Dimension where the only city on the mostly-desert parallel Earth is a Manhattan analogue called "Dinohattan."
  • King Vidor's 1928 film The Crowd, including a memorable sequence when the protagonist first arrives which highlights the film's theme of urban alienation.
  • Buddy (Will Ferrell) in Elf finds out his real dad lives and works in, naturally, Manhattan, leading to many Fish Out of Water moments.
  • The 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still is set in New York, even though the original was set in Washington D.C.
  • The climax of King Kong is of Kong climbing the Empire State Building (in the 1933 and 2005 versions), and the World Trade Center (in the 1976 version).
  • End of Days starring Arnold Schwarzenegger takes this trope to new heights. The film's basic premise is that the apocalypse would come at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve in the year 1999... but only after the ball drops in Times Square. It even gets a Lampshade Hanging:

"So, the Prince of Darkness wants to conquer the Earth, but has to wait until an hour before midnight on New Year's Eve? Is this Eastern time?"


Crow: They turned the Big Apple into applesauce!

  • Spike Lee's Crooklyn
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Stereotypes, stereotypes and nothing else...
  • The Paper is set in New York, and could only ever be set in New York. Check the quotes page.
  • Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Blinking Eye takes place in New York, and mentions many of its famous landmarks.
  • The original Gremlins was set in small town America but the sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch takes place in New York (and features a stand-in for Donald Trump).
  • The live-action film adaptation of The Smurfs involved the Smurfs being transported through a portal from a medieval forest into modern day Central Park.


  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower series definitely is an example of this. New York is mentioned frequently, and several main characters all come from there. The second book is split between Roland's world and New York. Everything just seems to be tied to New York. It's implied that New York is where the Dark Tower intersects with our world, literally making it the center of the universe.
    • Extends to The Stand, where one of the main protagonists is from New York.
  • Holly Black's Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside all take place in New Jersey, with several characters taking trains or driving up to New York. Additionally, New York City is where all exiled fae are sent, where the city and all its iron saps them of their powers.
  • In the Peter David novel Knight Life, King Arthur returns. In a clothing store in Queens. Oh, and his secret hiding place is in Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
  • The early urban fantasies by Mercedes Lackey were set on the West coast, mainly in LA, but she later moved the setting and focus to New York City. Elves bent on conquering the world and government conspiracies involving magic all seem to happen in New York.
  • Many lesbian pulp fiction novels tend to have the character going to New York because of the fame of Greenwich Village.
  • The eponymous virus of the Wild Cards series falls over Broadway. Because of its nature, outbreaks occur all over, but New York is still the major locus of the action.
    • This is deliberate justification of the frequency of superheroes in New York City or its Expy.
  • It's Kind of a Funny Story takes place smack-dab in the middle of Manhattan.
  • Border Town is a Shared Universe story about a portal to the Elflands opening in a city that is very heavily implied to be New York.
  • Literary adventurers such as the Gray Seal, the Shadow, the Spider, Doc Savage, and others had bases of operation in New York.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians says outright that America is the current center of Western civilization, so all of the mythological sites that used to be in Greece or Rome are now in America. The Sea of Monsters, for example, isn't the Mediterranean anymore... it's the Bermuda Triangle. Where's Mount Olympus, one might ask? The 600th floor of the Empire State Building. Where else.
  • The first entry in Diane Duane's Young Wizards series takes place almost exclusively in one of two alternate Manhattans; the final battle itself features every tree in Central Park, and every statue in New York City, defending the entire universe from an army of carnivorous taxi-cabs and lost-soul werewolves led by the being that invented Death, by reading a love song for existence itself. It is exactly as beautiful as it sounds.
    • Partly justified, because the high population density of major cities causes "worldwall thinning" and makes it easier to travel between the two worlds. (In the early chapters, the kids have to commute in from the suburbs to find a worldgate.) On the other hand, Union City (NJ) and a lot of cities outside the US are denser than New York.
    • Duane's somewhat-forgotten (but recently republished) Young Wizards short story Uptown Local takes place on (a slightly more interdimensional version of) the NYC subway system, and elaborates on the idea of the power of places where people crowd together and interact, naming the three most magical places on earth as Westminster Abbey, the Capitoline Hill in Rome, and the NYC subway. So You Want to be a Wizard also mentions, and Book of Night with Moon revisits, a worldgate complex (interdimensional transit station) hidden beneath Grand Central Terminal.
  • In So Long and Thanks For All The Fish, we get to see what Ford's original article would be about Earth. In it, he includes advice for aliens who land in New York, as in where to land (anywhere), what to do (become a taxi driver), and where to go eat.
  • Most of the non-action scenes in Atlas Shrugged take place in NYC. Darn near lampshaded in the final scene, when the banker is noting the location of his investments, and all of them are totally or partially in New York.
  • The events of Caleb Carr's The Alienist are set primarily in New Your City in 1896.
  • In John Birmingham's After America Manhatten is the scene of a battle for control between the restored US government and a coalition of pirates, mostly from West Africa and jihadis looking for a homeland after the Second Holocaust. A third group, funded and armed by The Mafiya sits the battle out.
  • The Caves of Steel takes place in New York. Well, future New York that is a Mega City underneath a gigantic metal dome, but New York all the same.
  • "New York" is the only place name that makes it into the list of 2000 most used words in contemporary fiction, at #1966.
  • In Max Brallier's Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?, the zombie outbreak takes place in New York City and features much of the Big Apple's landscape.
  • In the In Death series, both the text and some of the characters treat New York City with a reverence bordering on religion. In one book Roarke feels the need to point out to Eve that New York isn't the center of the universe, to which Eve replies that it should be. The fact that New York state exists beyond New York City is generally ignored.
  • The Animorphs book The Familiar takes place in an alien-controlled NYC.
  • The A to Z Mysteries book The Orange Outlaw has the three main kids visit Dink's Uncle in New York City.
  • The Kiki Strike books focus on a secret underground city in the middle of New York. The book is spliced with facts about the real life New York City and it's history as well.

Live Action TV

  • Law and Order and its first few spinoffs take place in New York City, although this has changed with Law and Order LA and several international spinoffs, including Law and Order UK.
    • The French title for the franchise is even New York, with a subtitle for each series (New York - police judiciaire, New York - section criminelle, etc.).
  • The Naked City, which had a TV series besides the film mentioned above.
  • In the Food Network Challenge episode "Celebration Cakes", one of the teams presented a cake celebrating the grand re-opening of New York's Museum of Modern Art; the team's assumption seemed to be that this would be worth more points due to a theme other than a birthday or baby shower cake, such as presented by the competing teams.
  • A prime example of the Spin-Off variety (in fact, the very one alluded to in the main text) is the expansion of the CSI franchise to include CSI New York.
  • Season one of Heroes has many of its superpowered heroes meet up in New York, seeking to prevent a nuclear explosion there. However, the series does also have many crucial scenes set in Las Vegas and Texas, and the occasional few in Japan or India.
    • As at least one critic pointed out, "Save the cheerleader, save New York" would have been a more accurate tagline for season one.
    • Volume Five's conclusion returns to this trope with Central Park being the backdrop for Samuel's dastardly plan and, by extension, also used during the setup for Volume Six.
  • MTV was established in the New York area and since the move to its iconic Times Square studio it has become even more NY-centric, filming nearly all of its dating and reality shows in and around the city.
  • New Amsterdam
  • The original Time Travel episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, "The City on the Edge of Forever", sends Kirk, Spock, and McCoy to Depression-era New York City. "Assignment:Earth" had Gary Seven setting up in New York City. However, later time jaunts seem to focus on the West Coast, especially San Francisco. Non-Time Travel trips to Earth also focus on San Francisco, since Starfleet headquarters is there. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, spends about equal time in San Francisco and New Orleans (where Captain Sisko grew up and where his father still lives and owns a restaurant).
  • The portal which opens between our world and the world where fairy tales are real in The Tenth Kingdom is, located in New York's Central Park. What makes this miniseries a particularly striking example of the trope is how the opening titles quite conspicuously, and jaw-droppingly, magically morph the New York City skyline into a fantasy land to suggest the crossing over of magic into the real world. The sequence, quite justifiably, won an Emmy. To watch the sequence, go here.
  • The fourth season midseason finale of Battlestar Galactica featured a devastated planet, the "original Earth". The ruins of the city where the crew makes landfall were designed to be reminiscent of a destroyed New York City to help the sequence resonate with American viewers.
    • The actual finale, meanwhile, fast-forwarded 150,000 years from prehistoric Earth to show the two "angel" characters chatting about the future of humanity (and Cylonity), while walking through Times Square.
  • The main characters of Californication were originally from New York, and Hank often pontificates on its superiority.
  • In Fringe, the heroes operate out of Boston, but Massive Dynamic is headquartered in New York City, and the first season was filmed in New York until budget considerations forced them into Stargate City.
    • In addition, events the Alternate Universe take place in New York, including the Statue of Liberty as the headquarters of the Department of Defense and the gateway between worlds in an opera house in Brooklyn.
  • The Job and Rescue Me both take place in New York, but in the latter's case, it's kind of important to the story, what with the main character being a 9/11 survivor.
  • The History Channel's documentary series Life After People consistently plays into this trope. They do talk about other places but at least once an episode they have to go into detail about what will happen to the landmarks in New York over the centuries after humans disappear.
    • To be fair, the show is made by an American cable channel, and due to the effects of this trope, New York landmarks are most likely to be recognized by the majority of viewers. And urban landmarks are the most massively constructed of modern civilization.
  • The PBS-BBC children's series Ghostwriter was set in Brooklyn.
  • The US Life On Mars remake was moved to New York, despite the original having been set in Manchester, a city whose US parallel would be more on the lines of Philadelphia or Detroit.
  • 24 couldn't hold out forever. After setting the first six seasons in L.A. and the seventh in Washington D.C., the eighth and final season takes place in New York City.
  • Gossip Girl is naturally set in Manhattan's Upper East Side and, on occasion, Brooklyn.
  • An entire episode, "I Heart NJ," of How I Met Your Mother is dedicated to a series of arguments between the characters regarding whether New York or New Jersey is superior. Long-term relationships hang in the balance as they try to resolve this question. The result is an episode that is headscratchingly locked-out for viewers outside of the Tri-State area.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place takes place in New York City. Waverly Place is a real street in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan.
  • So far all of V-2009 takes place in New York City. Even though alien ships have supposedly landed in major cities all over the world, they're only ever seen in the periphery flashes as the main characters all have their dealings in (or above) New York.
  • I Love Lucy (until season 6)
  • The Honeymooners
  • All in The Family. An ever-changing setting of a working class neighborhood in Queens during The Seventies was the perfect backdrop for Archie Bunker would have to contend with Minority Of The Week. It's hard to imagine the show taking place anywhere else.
  • The Cosby Show
  • Seinfeld (which likes to trash the more annoying quirks of the city as often as possible, often with entire episodes dedicated to the problems caused by oversized parking garages, impossible-to-find parking spaces, and infuriating subway systems).
  • Spin City: A multi-camera sitcom revolving around workers at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.
  • Friends
  • 30 Rock Justified because NBC and the show on which TGS is based really are located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan.
    • On the other hand, it references several things that only people who've been to New York know about, such as Duane Reade, cornbread from Sylvia's, the F Train being in Queens, and the G Train being horrible.
  • The Wayans Bros: The Brothers and Pops live in Harlem.
  • What I Like About You
  • Mad About You
  • The Doctor Who episodes "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks".
    • And then we have "New Earth" and "Gridlock", set 5 billion years into the future, in "New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New New York".
  • Sex and the City. The City is exactly that. Its French title is even "Sexe à New York".
  • The Doctor Oz Show is filmed in New York. Call-outs for participants to appear on the show usually specify that they must live in New York, or at least the tristate area.
  • Will and Grace
  • Sesame Street is set in New York, in an unnamed borough (probably Brooklyn or Queens).
  • The season two finale of Glee is set in New York. Since this is Glee, a Broadway scene is practically compulsory.
  • Raising the Bar
  • Subverted with Pan Am. Although the home base in the U.S. is New York, each episode features at least one foreign locale. Most of the scenes take place at the destination or aboard the plane, though New York is always the end of the journey.
  • The famous opening sequence of The Sopranos, which takes place primarily in New Jersey, depicts main character Tony Soprano driving away from New York. Series creator David Chase says this was specifically to underline the fact that, in contrast to most gangster movies, it was not set there.
  • Blue Bloods, which is actually shot in NY, rare for a series these days.
  • Castle is set in New York.
  • How to Make It in America is a paean to New York at times with two main characters, Ben and Cam, representing very different New Yorker archetypes.


  • Billy Joel was born and raised on Long Island; as such, his more autobiographical songs (of which there are a lot) discuss New York City. "New York State of Mind" is the most blatant example; another one is "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)," which is about the destruction of New York City and the survivors living in Miami in the year 2017—it was written during the 1975 bankruptcy of the city government. His songs may possess a few subversions. "Leningrad," "Allentown," and "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" come to mind.
    • Although in the context of the album (Turnstiles), which is really a Concept Album, "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" is really about going back to New York from L.A.
    • And lots of his songs contain plenty of references to places in NYC, too many to list.
  • UK artist Estelle's popular song "American Boy" lists off all the places in the US she'd like to visit, with New York listed first and more often than any other place (5 times). It also mentions Broadway and Brooklyn.
  • Gothic heavy rockers the Blue Oyster Cult are local boys: hence the intro on their live album Some Enchanted Evening

All the way from Noo Yoik City - the Blue! Oyster! Cult!

    • Local references in their songs include the dystopian Joan Crawford Has Risen From The Grave, in which the revenant allegedly Satanist actress returns to Brooklyn as a zombie, spreading terror and loathing, so as to find Christina and discuss some of the more contentious points of Mommie, Dearest.
  • Steely Dan throws around NYC-specific terms and locations so often that at least one website has been created specifically to explain these references to non-New Yorkers.
  • They Might Be Giants are New York-based, and apparently their songs are packed with obscure references, especially Village landmarks and personalities
  • The Bronx is recognized as the birthplace of hip hop. As a result, many rappers make it no secret that they hail from New York City, and countless hip hop songs have been made in honor of its boroughs, neighborhoods, and culture. Even rappers from elsewhere in the world tend to eventually make reference to the city out of respect to the music's origins.
  • Beastie Boys "Open Letter to the NYC".
    • Beastie Boys bring up New York in their music pretty often (it is their hometown, after all). More well-known examples of NYC appearing in their music, however, would include the song "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" and the album To the 5 Boroughs.
  • Often in Cage's music. Cage was raised in New York City.
  • Dead Prez "NYPD" recounts the history of the city. Also echoes the nickname of the city "Eight Million Stories".
  • Andrew WK's I Love New York City is pretty self explanatory.
  • According to TOW, there are no fewer than seven songs specifically titled "New York, New York", including the most famous, popularized by Frank Sinatra.
  • "Empire State Of Mind," performed by New York natives Jay Z and Alicia Keys.
    • "N.Y. State Of Mind" by Nas paints a far grittier picture of the city.
  • The Genesis Concept Album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway takes place in New York City. Well, parts of the story do, anyway.
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1972 album Some Time In New York City was recorded and released not long after the two moved to New York, where Lennon would spend the rest of his life. Partly subverted, in that most of the songs deal with wider political issues; however, a couple—such as "New York City" and "Attica State", about the then-recent riots at the nearby prison—are about their experiences in New York and some of the issues they encountered there.
  • Lou Reed has an album called "New York". He also sang about the city's gossip culture in "New York Telephone Conversation":

Just a New York conversation, gossip all of the time / Did you hear who did what to whom, happens all the time / Who has touched and who has dabbled here in the city of shows / Openings, closings, bad repartee, everybody knows

  • Willie Nile's adopted hometown is New York (considering he's from it's Crapsack World Evil Twin, Buffalo, this is hardly surprising), and he likes to mention it from time to time.

Print Media

  • National Geographic magazine did a pictorial on the three most culturally significant cities at year 1, 1000 AD, and 2000 AD. New York was, naturally, their choice for the year 2000.
  • This New Yorker Magazine cover pretty much sums this trope up.

Pro Wrestling

  • Generally subverted, as professional wrestling in America has a very regional history, meaning that although some wrestlers may come from New York or the Northeast, far more come from the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest.
    • However it's worth noting that the WWE, which is the last major wrestling organization left standing from the old regional days had New York in its territory back then and New York and its Madison Square Garden arena was long considered home away from home for the McMahon family. Given that the Garden is only about a 35 mile drive from WWE headquarters, this is quite understandable.

Puppet Shows

  • Indoctrination to this trope starts early with Sesame Street, which is supposed to be in a Brooklyn neighborhood.
  • Avenue Q


  • The Heisman trophy is the most prestigious in college football, and it is awarded by the Manhattan-based Downtown Athletic Club. Interestingly, College Football is possibly the only sport that is not represented in the New York City area, which has no major teams within 30 miles.
  • The NBA and NFL drafts are held each year in New York.
  • Madison Square Garden has a snippet of Frank Sinatra singing "it's up to you, New York, New York!" that they use in Down to the Last Play situations. No pressure.
  • During the "Golden Age" of Baseball, New York City boasted three teams the Giants, playing in uptown Manhattan, the Yankees in the Bronx, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. These teams accounted for over half of the pennants and World Series titles from 1940 till the Dodgers and Giants moved west. They also boasted some of the most storied players Mays, Ruth, Robinson, Mantle, etc.
    • Robinson became the first black man in modern major league baseball when he debuted for the Dodgers. The Yankees catcher Elston Howard was the first black American League MVP.
      • A flavor of this occured in the modern era when the Yankees and the New York Mets played in the 2000 World Series.

Tabletop Games

  • The starter setting for Werewolf: The Apocalypse (a game about monsters battling damage to the environment) is Central Park!
  • The paragon city for Geist: The Sin Eaters is New York City, the reason given by the book being because so many people die there every day.


  • The theater industry itself. Theatres are divided into "Broadway", "off-Broadway", and "off-off-Broadway", based mostly on the seating capacity of a particular theatre. You can get up to about five offs before leaving Manhattan. Obviously playing in a Broadway theatre means being in the center of the English speaking theater world.
  • Angels in America
  • Rent
  • Stephen Sondheim's Company. "Another hundred people just got off of the train..."
  • Neil Simon plays almost always take place in New York.

Video Games

  • The original Mario Bros. and presumably the original Donkey Kong (seeing as the source material has this) take place in New York, the former taking place in the dense underground sewer network as Word of God states. This explains the show and movie expanding it to Mario and Luigi living in Brooklyn, and partially explaining their Italian roots.
  • Lampshaded in Fahrenheit (2005 video game): in the opening cutscene, the narrator proclaims that such an epic event in the world's history as described in the game could ONLY happen in New York City, "capital of the universe".
  • NYPD officer Aya Brea encounters the first wave of a neo-mitochondrial epidemic in Parasite Eve, which takes the player through the subways, Central Park Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, and the Statue of Liberty, all while fending off Body Horror at every turn. Why New York? Because it's fun to see it get trashed.
    • Even the game's Bonus Dungeon takes place in one of the city's famous landmarks, the Chrysler Building.
  • The Max Payne games feature New York predominantly during the worst winter in history and the noir-esque nature of the city is commented on by Max several times throughout the game.
  • Guess where Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project takes place?

Duke: New York... If I can kill them here, I can kill them anywhere!
Duke: Time to de-worm the Big Apple!

  • Prototype takes place in New York City. The Virus and the Army That Fights It trash the city during their war. All you can really do is finish the job or eat everyone while you finish the job.
  • The team working on Crysis 2 apparently chose NYC for the sequel, because it was the city that constantly appeared on the top of their lists due to its iconic nature.
    • Oh, and it's had an epidemic of The Virus, with the C.E.L.L. organization attempting to contain it by murdering any potential carriers-that is to say, anything that moves and isn't one of them. Does This Remind You of Anything??
  • True Crime: New York City takes place solely in Manhattan and allows the player to roam freely throughout the island.
  • The first two games of the Def Jam Series of fighting games take place in New York City, with the third, Icon, featuring the city as one of several locales.
  • Punch-Out!!, the NES and Wii versions, takes place in NYC as you see Doc Louis train Little Mac with the bike and you see the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty in the background.
  • In keeping with the Comic Book examples listed above, any video game based upon the Marvel Universe will usually be set at least partially in New York City, even if it's just one or two levels.
  • The final set of missions in the PC game Crimson Skies are based in New York and involve the showdown between Heroic Sky Pirate Nathan Zachary and Big Bad Corrupt Corporate Executive Lucas Miles.
  • Invaders come and take over the United States, while a plumber from New York rises to fight back. No, it's not some Darker and Edgier Mario game - it's Freedom Fighters.
  • NYC is a recurring location in Deus Ex. Liberty Island was made the headquarters of the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition after the destruction of the Statue of Liberty. The player can visit Battery Park and Hell's Kitchen.
  • Although not specifically by name - Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto fame gets progressively closer to it's real life counterpart with every passing sequel.
    • Even Grand Theft Auto III was originally supposed to be closer to that goal than it ultimately was; but due to when it was released and, theunfortunate implications of allowing players to kill cops, driving around in (at the time) current NYC police car paint jobs (blue & white), Rockstar realized that this would go over far worse than usual, and instead, distanced itself from the city Liberty City was supposed to represent. This included using landmarks from other cities (i.e. the airport) and giving cop cars a far more traditional black & white paint job.
    • By the time Grand Theft Auto IV was released, Too Soon had passed, and featured plenty of parodies and depictions of New York City (and the surrounding area). Going so far as to directly mimic famous landmarks and the current NYPD color/font scheme of their cars and the officers that drive them.
  • Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor's debut trailer highlights an Operation Overlord-esque United States offensive on Manhattan in 2082 against a currently unknown enemy.
  • Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love has demons attacking New York City (though previous installments took place in Tokyo and Paris).
  • Hydro Thunder has the "NY Disaster" course which is Manhattan submerged in a flood caused by a meteor strike at New York harbor.
  • Test Drive Off-Road 3's New York is Manhattan in the middle of a blizzard.
  • In Enslaved, the slave ship at the beginning crashes in New York.
  • Even though Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Black Ops have no explicit storyline connection to New York, both choose to set a Multiplayer level there ("Skidrow" for the former and "Stadium" for the latter).
    • It does appear in Modern Warfare 3's campaign mode, as the setting of the first two missions. "Black Tuesday" takes place around Wall Street, while "Hunter-Killer" is centered on a Russian submarine in New York Harbour.
  • One of the early levels of Ninja Gaiden II (both the NES game and the entirely different Xbox360 / Play Station 3 game) has Ryu traversing the Big Apple.
  • Much of The Darkness is set in downtown Manhattan, and allows players to explore the streets and subway tunnels in between violent encounters with local thugs, mobsters, and crooked cops.
  • The Shivah is set in New York. At least partially justified in that both Judaism and organized crime has a strong presence in the real city and feature prominently in the game's plot. Plus, creator Dave Gilbert is an ethnic Jew living in New York, so he is probably writing what he knows.
  • Eight of the Nine levels in Sonic Unleashed are based off real world locations, and the Empire City/Skyscraper Scamper level is heavily based off New York and some other American cities as a result.
  • Manehattan in My Little Pony: Rise of Vicis appears to be this.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • In the Whateley Universe, New York City has its own major superhero group (the Empire City Guard), a "teenage sidekicks" group, a ton of "street heroes", and a couple main characters (like Phase, She-Beast and Techno-Devil, Kerry) and side characters (like Tempest) come from the New York area too.
  • The Epic Tales series Shadow Hawk is set in New York. However, the complete lack of references to any actual places leads one to believe that the writer has never actually been to New York, and is just treating it as a generic city.
  • 665. My WW2 era mad scientist will pick a new target for his project other than Manhattan.
  • New York Magician: Mostly Manhattan, to be precise.
  • Averted with extreme prejudice in the 1983: Doomsday timeline in the Alt History Wiki; the only things landing on Times Square were about two dozen nuclear warheads. Decades later, scouts reported nothing but open water where Manhattan Island and Brooklyn were, and charred, radioactive wastelands covering the other boroughs and surrounding states.. Reconstruction is estimated to be possible no earlier than 2060. Ironically, fiction set in NYC prior to the war (and created either before or after) is quite popular.

Western Animation


Bender: New York City... the city so great, it inspired a casino in Vegas.

    • Technically, this is New New York.
    • Which makes it even better, since it's... Big Big Applesauce?
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Although the Rescue Rangers' hometown remains unnamed and shows a little Geographic Flexibility, there are still landmarks from New York City to be seen and identified, namely the Chrysler Building ("The Carpetsnaggers"), the Twin Towers ("Robocat"), and the Statue of Liberty ("It's a Bird! It's Insane! It's Dale!").
  • Magical creatures are drawn to New York in American Dragon: Jake Long.
  • They should change the name The Penguins of Madagascar to The Penguins Of New York!
  • It's a good thing that the Ghostbusters decided to set up shop in New York, since the Big Apple is regularly invaded by all kinds of demons, ghosts, phantoms, goblins, and other assorted evil creatures. This trope is sometimes averted, however, when the Ghostbusters travel to other parts of the U.S. or even overseas to places like Scotland or France to deal with the hauntings going on there.
  • The second 1980's Strawberry Shortcake special takes place in "Big Apple City", a clear parallel to New York City. Additionally, there are various place names that are take offs on various locations in New York such as "Times Pear" (Times Square), "Sentimental Park" (Central Park), and "Spinach Village" (Greenwich Village).
  • The Critic takes place in New York.
  • In the Gargoyles universe all of the really weird stuff happens in New York.
  • Superjail's season finale takes place partly in New York City, and Ugly Americans takes place there as well. Both are produced by Brooklyn-based Augenblick Studios.
  • The Simpsons 9th season episode "The City of New York vs Homer Simpson". Homer has to wait for a traffic officer to remove a parking boot from his car (which Barney left at the World Trade Center) while the rest of the family explores the city. This episode was pulled from syndication after 9/11, although it has started to reappear.
    • The one where Bart forms a boy band. They find themselves in New York but Milhouse is clueless:

The statue of Liberty? Where are we?


Real Life

  • John Lennon famously gave this as a justification for why he abandoned his British roots to make his permanent home in NYC. "If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself."
    • Then again, that choice got him shot and killed.
  • Name a major American news network. Unless it's CNN (they're in Atlanta), it's based in New York.
  • After the American Revolution, and before Washington D.C. was built, New York City served as the capital city of the United States.
    • Before being replaced by the more central Philadelphia, which hosted the Continental Congress before the Revolution as well.
  • When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, New York became the only US city which could easily ship goods west of the Appalachian Mountains. The business culture and population of New York City exploded as a result, to the point where the growth was incomparable to other US cities. Much like modern TV writers, 19th century businessmen and merchants believed there were only two types of cities: "Places Called New York", and "Places Not Called New York".
    • Modern day New Yorkers can also exhibit this attitude. And you know what? They're right.
  • Call it Too Soon or even Dead Baby Comedy, but the real-life September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York make this trope sickeningly self-authenticating, complete with many moments of It Gets Worse (multiple surprise attacks on different locations from an unknown enemy, with the precision of a Chessmaster) where, for that day at least, the bad guys totally won.
  • New York City is called the "Financial Capital of the World". There is a reason why when you say, "Wall Street", everyone knows you are talking about money. While there are others, the New York Stock Exchange is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at US$13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010.