"I only wish the capitol of Sweden was Swedeville, and the capital of Greece, Greekborough."—Terry (being given a lesson on capitols), Fattypuffs & Thinifers
In Real Life, cities and locations are named after historic events or persons, landmarks, local folklore or other things, that explain their names somewhat. These names change and evolve over the time and are a direct result of the history revolving around them.
In fiction, however, such immense back stories rarely exist, so the writers have to make up names on the spot, and quite often these names lack a certain creativity.
Instead of genuine, unique names, we get locations with names consisting of just a noun and a variation of City behind them, that are named after the species that inhabits it, after nearby landmarks, or the main purpose they serve.
Sometimes, the writer tries to conceal it a bit, with names that are puns on plot points or characters, or the translation thereof in a foreign language.
Note: Not every city that has a name ending in City is an example of this trope. Even if the name appears to be unimaginative, if it is justified or explained by the backstory, it is not an example of this trope.
- DC Universe: Big City, Central City, Coast City, Gay City, Gorilla City, Happy Habour, Keystone City, Midway City and Opal City,Star City and Smallville. Metropolis has a name that just means "City".
- Actually, if you translate the greek in Metropolis, you get: Mother-City. Of course, it has lost that colonial meaning over time.
- To avoid this trope, Marvel mostly uses real cities.
- Warren Ellis' Ignition City, which is actually a spaceport.
- Hondo City covers most of Japan in the Judge Dredd 2000 AD comic series (and the Judge Dredd Magazine strip Shimura in particular). And of course, Mega City One, but that was properly intentional.
- Golden City in Dark Horse Comics.
- Astro City is both the Comic Book series and its main setting. Justified in that the city was originally Romeyn Falls, but was later renamed to honor the superhero Astro-Naut when he died saving it.
- Neopolis from Alan Moore's Top 10 series sounds no less plausible than Naples, Italy, until you break it into its constituent parts... New (Neo) City (polis)
- Duckburg, Calisota in Disney Comics, originally named so by Carl Barks.
- Similarly, in the 1990s, Mickey's hometown was given the name Mouseton and has managed to keep that name since then (except when Mickey apparently lives in Duckburg).
- And the French names are worse: The cities are named after the main characters (Mickeyville, Donaldville), which is inexplicable in-story.
- Numerous examples in British Comics. Beanotown the main setting from The Beano, Dandytown the main setting from The Dandy, Cactusville Desperate Dan's wild west hometown and Whizztown home of none other than Billy Whizz.
- The Matrix: Supplemental material reveal that the entire action of the Trilogy is taking place in a certain "Mega City". Also, when Neo is being interrogated by Agent Smith, his birthplace is listed as "Capitol City". Possibly justified by The Matrix being, you know, not real and all.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has Shipwreck Cove. Lampshaded when Gibbs comments on the lack of imagination in pirate naming conventions.
Gibbs: Look alive, and keep a weather eye! Not for naught it's called Shipwreck Island, where lies Shipwreck Cove and the town of Shipwreck.
Pintel: You heard him. Step lively!
Jack: For all that pirates are clever cobs, we are an unimaginative lot when it comes to naming things.
Jack: I once sailed with a geezer lost both of his arms and part of his eye.
Gibbs: And what'd you call him?
- Dark City in the film of the same name. It's dark. But not necessarily the actual name of the city (if indeed it has one... or indeed only one).
- Bartertown in Mad Max 3.
- The Town in Back to The Future is named Hill Valley.
- Pleasantville, in the film of the same name.
- Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- The Nameless City in H.P. Lovecraft's short story of the same name.
- The Honorverse has Landing City, as in 'the place where the first colonist's shuttle landed, as the capital of Manticore. Helen Zilwiki lampshades it in Storm from the Shadows.
- Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell takes place on Bridwell Island.
- Laketown in The Hobbit.
- Whenever Robert A. Heinlein placed a colony on the Moon, it was called Luna City. (The Chinese colony in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress was called "Hong Kong Luna".)
- Greyhawk City (a.k.a. the Free City of Greyhawk) in the Dungeons & Dragons Greyhawk setting.
- Night City is the default setting for R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk 2020 game.
- Freedom City in Mutants and Masterminds.
- Millenium City in Champions.
- How about Warhammer Fantasy Battle's Skavenblight? Not that the Skaven actually exist, of course...
- Liberty City and Vice City in the Grand Theft Auto series.
- Empire Bay in Mafia II.
- Raccoon City in the Resident Evil series.
- Several EA Sports video-games take place in the same fictional city of Bay City.
- Pacific City in Crackdown
- Patriot City in Freedom Force games.
- The MMORPG City of Heroes is set in "Paragon City".
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: Castle Oblivion. It's dangerous.
- Rivet City in Fallout 3
- To an extent Ravenholm and City 17 in Half-Life 2, though the latter is justified, since human city names have been reduced to numbers by the Combine rulers.
- Imperial City in Oblivion
- In Famous takes place in Empire City.
- Similar to the French Disney comic example, Donkey Kong's home island is named Donkey Kong Island. It has also gone by the names Kongoland (in Captain N: The Game Master), Kongo Bongo Island (in the DKC cartoon), and Kong Isle (in the Donkey Kong 64 manual).
- Super Mario Bros.: The Mushroom Kingdom.
- In the Warcraft series, both games and novels (those set prior to WoW), the capital city of Lordaeron is known far and wide as... Capital City.
- Kingdom of Loathing
- The main city is called Seaside Town. Three guesses what major geographic feature is nearby.
- Of course, now there's also Bordertown (located near The Border, south of which is South Of The Border) and Forest Village (in the forest). Plus the clan dungeon, Hobopolis, which is, of course, full of hobos. Or Crimbo Town, which only appears during the Crimbo season.
- Autobot City in Transformers.
- Wharf City in Sushi Pack.
- COPS takes place in Empire City (which is certainly not New York City).
- St. Canard (literally "St. Duck") from Darkwing Duck.
- The Powerpuff Girls lampshades this with the City of Townsville and the Town of Citysville. Also the Town of Farmsville.
- Similarly, the Christmas special Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer takes place in Cityville.
- The Simpsons: The capital of the state Springfield is in is named Capital (or sometimes Capitol) City.
- Fish City in Fish Police. One wonders how they name all their other cities, if they exist.
- The 2009 incarnation of Strawberry Shortcake lives in Berry Bitty City.
- Kim Possible lives in Middleton, which is between Upperton and Lowerton.
- Timmy Turner of The Fairly OddParents lives in Dimmsdale, which is a town over from Brightburg. Justified in that the town was named after Dale Dimm.
- The Tick (animation)'s The City. Supposedly a mistranslation of its original French name, "Les Citrons".
- My Little Pony's G3/G3.5 specials have Ponyville.
- One episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? featured the gang going to Munchville, Ohio. That town is known as the location of several snack factories, including the Scooby Snack factory, which the gang got to visit as a prize for winning a contest.
- In A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, the gang lives in a town named Coolsville.
- In Japan and probably China. Kyoto: capital city. Tokyo: Eastern capital. Beijing: the characters mean "North Capital" (as the opposite to Nanjing, "Southern capital"). May be because Chinese characters force you to have meaningful names, while phonetic alphabets allow a place name's meaning to get lost once the pronunciation changes.
- In America, there's Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, and one of the two municipalities named Kansas City (however, the larger of the two is in Missouri and, while the smaller one is in Kansas, it isn't the capital - any more than Jersey City is the capital of New Jersey).
- In fact, there is a City of Townsville in Australia.
- Non-city examples include Australia's westernmost state, called Western Australia, and the southern state South Australia. Of Australia's two territories, the one to the north is called... well, the Northern Territory. Down Under, we're not known for our creativity with names.
- Turns out Long Beach is pretty long.
- Also in the greater Los Angeles area are the cities of Commerce and Industry. Three guesses what happens in those cities.
- An interesting example is the Transoxania region in Central Asia because it has the same meaning in different languages apparently independently. In Arabic it is Mal Wara Al-Nahr or "What is beyond the (Oxus) river". Westerners call it the Transoxania, which of course means, "What is beyond the Oxus".
- Battery Park, NY is a place where the US army mounted an artillery battery at one time.
- Arizona's Kofa Mountains—named for the nearby King of Arizona mine—are marked on early maps as the "S. H. Mountains". This sobriquet was derived from a series of blocky stone slabs that, to the eyes of white settlers, resembled sanitary facilities dating from before the installation of plumbing. Yeah. The Shit House Mountains.
- And it won't take much imagination or familiarity with Romance languages to realize what the Grand Tetons are named for.
- Lake Superior got its name either because it is a big lake or it is an upstream lake. Interestingly in Chippewa, as Ballad of the Edmund Fitzgerald reminds you, it is "Gitche Gumee", which is of course "big water". In other words white men and indians can at least agree that Lake Superior is a big lake.