Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here
Where is the most dangerous place on the planet to live? Not the city where something exciting is always happening. Not Mordor. Not a Haunted Headquarters. Not the crime-ridden big city. Not even Tokyo. The most dangerous place to live is the small, quiet, unknown town where "nothing exciting ever happens."
New serial killer on the loose? Bodies are piling up in a small town where nothing like this has ever happened before. Portal to a Magical Land opening? It's in the big house in the country where you were preparing to spend the most boring summer of your life. Aliens landing? Their UFOs are parked in the middle of a deserted cornfield in a rural town where cattle outnumber people. Emo Teen moving with their divorced mother out of the Big Applesauce into the sleepy suburbs? They'll be hiding Batman in their basement or starting a mission to Save Both Worlds by the end of the first episode.
How can I turn my own boring, mundane neighborhood into a Weirdness Magnet, you ask? Just say the magic words "Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here," and let Tempting Fate do its work. Be Careful What You Wish For (after all, you don't know what genre you're in) and don't say we didn't warn you!
Everyone's going to assume that wherever you live, nothing exciting has ever happened, and if you live in a city that no one has ever heard of, it's because Nothing Exciting Ever Happened There, so all Real Life examples should be an aversion.
Anime and Manga
- FLCL: Naota remarks in the first episode, "Nothing amazing happens here. Everything is ordinary." Then he gets run over by a Vespa-riding self-proclaimed Space Police officer and smacked in the head by her gas-powered guitar. Next thing he knows, giant robots are climbing out of a portal in his head and he's embroiled in a farcical space opera/coming-of-age story.
- Curiously enough, none of these events seem to change his mind about his life and hometown being boring and ordinary.
- Renton spends approximately half of the first episode of Eureka Seven saying this. Of, course, this is right before the Super Robot crashes into his garage.
- In Code Geass, right before the Battle of Narita, two soldiers monitoring the area are actually in the middle of complaining about how boring their station is when Zero walks in and Geasses them to ignore any unusual activity. So from their point of view, they're right.
- This is the basic concept behind the Rear Window remake Disturbia.
- Related note: In The Iron Giant, Special Agent Kent Mansley misguidedly believes that "big things happen in big places", and he's all too keen to get back to those places when he arrives in the sleepy Maine village where the action takes place. And then the action takes place.
- Deconstructed in Hot Fuzz, where the reason nothing ever happens in Sandford is that the Neighborhood Watch Association kills anyone who threatens their village's perfect image and covers it up.
- The Happening - the massive group of people running from the unexplained mass suicide that may or may not be linked to natural causes or very intricately orchestrated terrorism (it's a long story) find themselves dumped in an isolated town in the middle of the Northwest. Mark Wahlberg says to his best friend's daughter, "Don't worry, nothing's going to happen to us here." Oh boy, is he wrong.
- In Star Wars, Luke complains of Tatooine that, "Well, if there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from."
- Of course, in the Expanded Universe, everything happens on Tatooine.
- In the films, everything happens on Tatooine. Episode 5 is the only film without a major plot point on the planet, which just might be why everybody likes it most. Clearly Tatooine is the most significant planet in the entire galaxy—everyone who is anyone has been there. This trope could just as easily be called "The Tatooine Effect".
- In the first episode of the radio dramatization of A New Hope, Biggs tells Luke that he only feels that way about Tatooine because he hasn't been anywhere else.
- And we do mean everyone. Everyone from Revan to HK-47 to 2 generations of Skywalker males have been there, one of whom was from a virgin birth and had a great destiny. Oh, that explains a lot. I wouldn't be shocked if the Skywalkers descended from Revan.
- Heck, in Star Wars Legacy the Big Bad Darth Krayt is also from Tatooine. Heck, his Sith name is based on Tatooine's nastiest native predator the krayt dragon.
- At the end of the day, of course, the whole Tatooine focus is more than justified by the presence of the most powerful crime lord in the galaxy and some whiny little kid named Anakin. But you wouldn't necessarily expect Luke to know about that.
- Of course, in the Expanded Universe, everything happens on Tatooine.
- The 1932 film Grand Hotel famously opens and closes with a character stating that "nothing ever happens" at the title locale. This is, of course, in ironic counterpoint to the many dramatic episodes which take place over the course of the film.
- At the very end of Can't Hardly Wait, the two "X-Philes" complain that nothing ever happens in their town. A suspicious shadow falls over them with an unworldly sound, and they look up and grin as a blue light shines on them.
- Lampshaded in Suddenly, where a policeman and a traveler discuss the idea that the town's name should be changed to Gradually. The plot of the movie: A man takes hostages in the town when it is realised that a family's window is just the right place for a sniper rifle pointed at the president.
- Subverted slightly in the home-spun play of Blaine (from Waiting for Guffman), in which an alien's musical number is "Nothing Ever Happens On Mars".
- In Home Alone, Buzz claims that the family lives on the most boring street in the country "where nothing remotely dangerous will ever happen"... while Kevin is preparing to fight off burglars Harry and Marv.
- Dinah has this lament at the beginning of The Philadelphia Story.
- The Dark Side of Nowhere centers on the protagonist discovering that everyone in his Norman Rockwell-esque town, including himself, is really an alien. The frequent booster shots they've received all their lives have been chemicals to suppress their Adonis-level good looks and blend in with humanity. And the message has just come through that the time has come to gear up for the invasion...
- Blackbury from Johnny Maxwell Trilogy.
- In Hill of Fire, the main character is a farmer who spends the whole story using this trope's very title to gripe about his hometown. At the end of the book, there's been a volcanic eruption in his cornfield.
- That's actually a true story—the volcano Parcuitin appeared in a cornfield in Mexico in 1943 and erupted on and off until 1952. The village was destroyed, but no one was killed, except for three people struck by lightning.
- The main characters of the Brentford trilogy by Robert Rankin claim Brentford is this. In spite of being the place where Julius Caesar invented football, having a nesting griffin, existing in four dimensions simultaneously and having an Eldritch Abomination attack per book...
- Stephen King's horror stories are often set in the town of Derry, Maine, which is King's fictional version of Bangor, Maine, population 31,000.
- He actually went there in The Langoliers.
- Us locals to that area never thought it was Bangor, especially since Bangor is mentioned by name in his books. Best guess is Derry is the fictional version of one of the "Greater Bangor Area" towns; probably Orono or Old Town.
- Visually implied in The Lost Thing. The suburbs are ridiculously identical, the city manages despite all its Steampunk design to be incredibly drab and filled with almost nobody but businesspeople, and, oh yeah, there are random biomechanical creatures wandering about the place. Then again, it's implied that for most people there's a Weirdness Censor involved.
- Maggody, Arkansas, setting of Joan Hess's Arly Hanks mysteries, is a too-small-for-the-mapmakers flyspeck town where the locals consider the burning of Hiram's barn to be the sole event of historical note in decades. In those same decades, said flyspeck has variously been invaded by porn movie-makers, a rehab clinic, pot farmers, UFO fanatics, tabloid reporters, militia nutjobs, golfers, Civil War buffs, country-western music groupies, fake psychics, the Internet, televangelists, and feminism. And people still play this trope straight if asked.
Live Action TV
- Eerie, Indiana, which was selected by the protagonist father as their new home because it was the most "normal" town in the country, statistically speaking, and whose many of its inhabitants complains about the bleakness of their lives (unaware of what's really going on). The thing was parodied in the second series, where its protagonists complained about how boring their lives are, while living in a world whose quotidian is truly outrageous.
- Eureka; the town looks painfully normal. Except, in a subversion of the trope, for the experimental laboratory complex where almost the entire town works, and which, for lack of a better term, leaks weirdness into the town. So it is a normal and unexciting town... strictly by their standards.
- Sunnydale, the hometown of Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is built right over a Hellmouth. But most citizens studiously ignore the vampires, demons, monsters and strange occurences or explain them away as "gang violence".
- Slightly subverted in that the town's founders actively work to support this masquerade.
- The Young Ones episode "Boring" is devoted entirely to this trope. The main characters are bored out of their skulls and yet incredibly blind to all the exciting things happening around them.
- In an odd variation, Virginia Lewis of The Tenth Kingdom, despite living in the Big Applesauce, thinks to herself (in voiceover narration) on the way to work at the beginning of the miniseries that she knew "nothing exciting was ever going to happen" to her and "some people just lead quiet lives". Cue her running into a golden retriever on her bicycle who is actually a transformed prince from the world of fairy tales, and...
- In Doctor Who, the Doctor and Ace are visiting the suburb she grew up in.
Doctor: So what's so terrible about Perivale?
- She is, of course, 100% wrong.
- Or, in the new series, Leadworth, home of Rory and Amy. Its a completely boring, normal English town... of course, then the Doctor lands there, so you know it won't stay like that for long.
- The League of Gentlemen opens with Benjamin Denton on a train to Royston Vasey, reading a letter from his aunt, which includes: "I hope you...don't find our little town too boring."
- Misfits contains a rather amusing exchange in the tail end of the first episode that suggests the entirety England fits this trope.
- The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town takes place in the fictional town of Shuckton, Ontario, Canada, which, prior to losing its bid for the 2028 Olympic Games, was famous for its rat fur industry.
Mayor Larry Bowman: What do you think of when you hear our name? Probably nothing. We're not very well known.
- And then he ends up dead. Doesn't really change the boredom factor, though.
- In Sherlock, John Watson says the following before meeting Sherlock:
John Watson: Nothing ever happens to me.
- Stargate SG-1: When a bored Vala begs Mitchell to take her with him to his high school reunion, he says "It. Is. In. KANSAS!" in an effort to convince her that she would just be bored because nothing ever happens in Kansas, right? Of course, when they actually go there, bounty hunters descend on the reunion.
- In his epic song/monologue "Alices Restaurant", Arlo Guthrie mocks Stockbridge, Massachusetts as being this kind of town because they react to his (admittedly excessive) littering as being the "biggest crime of the past 50 years", bringing in policemen and equipment from the next town over and taking dozens of crime-scene photographs to use in a court case against him.
- Pretty much the entire point of Del Amitri's song "Nothing Ever Happens"
The Martians could land in the car park and no one would care
- There was a line like this in Weird Al Yankovic's song "The Hardware Store"
Nothin' ever (ever) happens in this town
- Jeremy from Zits has complained on a number of occasions how dull his town is. In one case, he and his friend Hector play a game in which they spin a globe around and randomly point at different cities or towns that are more exciting than their own.
- Minor variation from The Bible. John 1:46: "And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Nothing exciting ever happens there.) Well, we all know how that turned out, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- Actually, that's more like making fun of the country bumpkin, kind of like saying "Can there any good thing come out of Alabama?" Still, that The Messiah would come from backwoods Palestine - and not from, say, the seat of power - lines up a bit with his ancestry; King David had a similar origin. As did a lot of prophets and judges.
- Alan Wake takes place in a remote, small town. That should give you an indication of how horrible things go. It's also a great game.
- Lahan in Xenogears.
- Nibelheim in Final Fantasy VII until a defective Mako reactor triggers out a catastrophic and unlikely chain of events.
- Lampshaded in Crisis Core, during the very first meeting between Zack and Cloud as they talk about their respective hometowns Gongaga and Nibelheim.
Zack: A Mako reactor outside Midgar usually means...
- In the intro movie for Psychonauts, Lili tries to reassure a nervous Dogen by telling him "I've been coming here for years, and nothing ever happens." Shortly thereafter, Raz shows up...
- The town featured in Persona 4 is portrayed as a lazy country burg whose most exciting conflict is the new Wal-Mart-stand-in Junes putting the mom & pop stores out of business. Of course, the first thing that happens once the main character gets into town is a serial murder, and, by the end, teenagers are fighting a god (or two, who's counting?) with the fate of the soul of humanity at stake.
- Fur Fighters:
1st Bear: Nothing exciting ever happen to this bear.
- Seconds later, a large explosion consumes them both.
- A sbemail on Homestar Runner called 'boring (really)' asked Strong Bad if anything exciting happened over there, and that the sender was bored out of his mind. While the show is normally very exciting, just to piss the emailer off the entire episode was extremely boring, with such craziness as counting bricks on a wall, practicing blinking, and naming off all the 3 lettered words Strong Bad could think of.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob is set in "the pleasantly innocuous hamlet of Generictown," where nothing much ever happened until one of their residents, Mr. Bob Smithson, suddenly became the biggest Weirdness Magnet on Earth.
- Counting The small, quiet town of "Thirston" is mass poisoned via the water supply by the Colonel
- Tandy Gardens, setting of The Wotch, is said to be this sort of place in the first strip. By now, everyone in the city's probably been turned into something at least once.
- At least once. Two words: Myth Virus.
- RPG World had Cameotown, which was the place where people who weren't doing anything lived until they had something to do again.
- In Sluggy Freelance Katie Zalia complains that the tiny town of Podunkton is too boring. Turns out this boringness is just a lull, however, in the town's ongoing conflict with Canadian drug lords.
- Also, the most exciting thing that happens in Japan is shopping. And this. Classics, really.
Noah: "All people do around here is just come and fish and it's just really boring."
- South Park.
- Absolutely, completely, totally subverted in Regular Show. It's not so much that the crazy shenanigans are considered mundane, so much as Rigby and Mordecai possess the inexplicable capacity to take utterly mundane situations and transform them into world-stake epics.
- A Running Gag on Danny Phantom was displaying various billboards and signs all over the City of Adventure that read things like, "Amity Park: A Safe Place To Live" or "Amity Park: It's Quiet Here." Wishful thinking by the Genre Blind.
- If you're talking signs, how about "Bellwood: The Most Normal City in America"?
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Mai laments, "This place [Omashu] is unbearably bleak. Nothing ever happens." Cue La Résistance trying to assassinate her and her mother.
- Amusingly, after surviving the assassination attempt and chasing the Gaang for a while, she immediately goes back to being bored.
- Not to mention that Aang is first found at the South Pole by a couple of
InuitWater Tribe kids.
- The first post-opening-credits scene of Yellow Submarine (at least, the first that isn't set to music) features Ringo Starr moping around Liverpool, complaining that nothing ever happens to him—until he realizes that he's somehow being tailed through the streets by a yellow submarine.
- In the Heathcliff and The Catillac Cats episode "Cat Balloon", Cleo says this exact phrase about Westfinster. Twist #1: At the moment Cleo says this, exciting things are happening all around her, but she's too busy complaining to notice them. Twist #2: When Cleo and the Catillac Cats use a balloon to go to a neighboring town, it's hijacked by a similar gang of cats who want to leave their hometown because—you guessed it—Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here.
- An ep of Pepper Ann sees Hazelnut (her hometown) making a big deal of an apparent earthquake because of this trope (to the point where TV news coverage precedes CCTV footage of a single jar of food falling off a supermarket shelf with disclaimers suited for more intense things)... and ends with using this trope for a gag.
- The opening scene of Galaxy Rangers episode "Galaxy Stranger." Ten years later, Mandell and company lifted the speech nearly verbatim and put it in an episode of Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders as a Shout-Out.
- The whole point in Courage the Cowardly Dog. No one says it, but crap happens ANYWAY.
- There's a sketch of a Polish cabaret, where everyone is shocked by the fact, that nothing is happening there. Can be watched (with english subtitles ) here
- Granby, Colorado was this until Marvin Heemeyer destroyed it in the Killdozer, his homemade armored bulldozer.
- This list of the ten most boring cities in America. Arizona is well-represented with three cities on the list (Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert), with California and Nevada also having multiple cities appear.
- Alamogordo, New Mexico: a sleepy suburb-without-a-city in the middle of nowhere, but with such events as the Trinity Nuclear Test Site forty miles north, the burial of ET: The Game just outside city limits, and (more recently) the Harry Potter Book Burning by local zealots.
- Ohio. All of it.
- Vermont, definitely. There are three questions that get asked when you say you're from Vermont. Where's that?, What state's that in? and Isn't that part of Canada? Not kidding.
- Popular bumper sticker/t-shirt saying: What happens in Vermont stays in Vermont... but nothing ever really happens here.
- Inverted with St. Louis, Missouri. Stuff used to happen here (the World's Fair, the Olympics), and now we're probably best known for a recent BBC documentary about how racially and economically disparate the north and south sides of Delmar Boulevard are.
- And on the other side of the state, Joplin was more or less unknown until the May 22nd, 2011 tornado hit and took out much of the city.
- Abbottabad, Pakistan was this to most of the world until May Day, 2011, thanks to the death of Osama bin Laden.