Wretched Hive

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Gin Lane: Not a good place for a holiday.


"Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

Take the worst or grimmest and darkest side of society, give them a place where all their sins are given free roam to be expressed, and collect it into a system that can just barely sustain itself and you get the Wretched Hive.

It will be a mostly lawless setting, usually (over) populated by criminals. There may be no actual government in this Wild West or Scavenger World because it is miles or light years away from civilization, and if there is it's probably a Dystopia that's corrupt, incompetent, obstructive or perhaps just uncaring enough to not bother to spread its reach to all corners of society. If this hive has any truly good authorities, expect them to be extremely overworked, incapable of controlling the sky-rocketing crime everywhere, or just too idealistic to survive. An alternative is to have it as a gang-like system ruled by a mob boss, Big Bad or Evil Overlord who allows evil, but only to a certain standard. It could be truly lawless with no authority other than the big stick you carry with you.

This lawless setting is often wonderful for allowing all varieties of creativity, ideas and/or tropes to flow in, be played and interact in interesting ways, and many plot conveniences that the protagonists need to get away with doing active work rather than just handing problems over to the police or running into Fridge Logic when they don't get arrested for taking the law into their own hands, while there are several takes on all sorts of unlawful or devious acts. Gangs, cons, gambling, underground fighting, rampant prostitution, a thriving blackmarket (ranging from one guy with some watches under his coat to a literal market), jaywalking and many more. This can be portrayed as anything from guilty fun, inevitable underbelly of humanity to constant danger. The heroes can always find some misdeed around them to solve and the villains will have little problem finding a safe hideout or Bad Guy Bar to get together and plot schemes. Compare Tortuga and Gotham to take two recent film examples.


The Wretched Hive has a few Sub Tropes in increasing size:

  • Den of Iniquity A room in the Big Bad's lair where the mooks get to indulge in various forms of debauchery.
  • Bad Guy Bar A tavern of ill repute where the crooks get together to scheme or get a drink. The tenuous peace is only held together by The Bartender and his Bouncers.
  • The City Narrows The back alley to the entire town; a small section of a city that has a bad name for a good reason and gets avoided by decent folk with any sense.
  • Red Light District A street, block, or even complete district of a city devoted to prostitution and other illicit trades.
  • Outlaw Town A settlement run by criminals, for the benefit of criminals
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor A port, harbour or coastal town that has fallen into wretchedness due to the flux of sailors and pirates and the sort of rough entertainment they desire.
  • Vice City An entire urban sprawl that has fallen to wretchedness including its authorities which provide little sense of escape but also little constraint.


Opposite of the Sugar Bowl and Utopia in general, and Shining City more specifically.

Often paired with Crapsack World, but differs in that while the setting is less than ideal, the people in it need not be unhappy or universally sociopathic, nor is the worst result the most likely to happen.

Overlap occurs with the Gangsterland when the criminal activities become more overt. A City Noir or Industrial Ghetto is often this. Also overlaps with Soiled City on a Hill when the city grows so corrupt that it's beyond redemption and must be destroyed. Has nothing to do with bees.

Examples of Wretched Hive include:


If an example fits into one of the more specific subtropes better, please list it there, rather than on this page.

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Zaraki region of Soul Society in Bleach. When the Blood Knight comes from there and treats slicing up people and smelling like blood as everyday activities, that's because there's a really bad place. Makes one wonder how Hell would be...
  • Subverted in Princess Mononoke. When seen for the first time, the Ironworks are a bunch of grey roofs and tall smoking chimneys crowded together on a small hill surrounded by heavily barbed barricades inside the rotting stumps of a razed forest. But once Ashitaka gets inside, the steel workers are astonishingly well mannered and cheerful people who hold their equally charming director in very high regard.
  • The fictional Thai city of Roanapur from Black Lagoon is regarded as the criminal capital of the world.
  • Mock Town from One Piece. Since the World Government only controls one Island there, the second half of the Grand Line, dubbed the "New World" controlled by the Four Pirate Emperors, it's safe to say it is.
  • In the English translation of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Kereellis, the sock-puppet from outer space, complains once that the Russian night club the group visits once is not the wretched hive of scum and villainy he was promised.
  • Lux in Texhnolyze is this trope. The parts of the city that aren't in the control of three vicious gangs struggling with each other are in hopeless squalor, and the "normal" populace can easily be more dangerous than the gangsters in those parts.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Snowtown in Fell is described as a "feral city" where nearly all infrastructure has fallen apart.
  • Calia, the so-called "Republic of Desperados" that was founded by escapees from Devil's Island, appears in the Modesty Blaise serial "The Jericho Caper".
  • Cynosure from Grimjack Where all the dimensions meet. In many dimensions you need to hire a Bodyguard/Private Cop or a whole Private Army. Or just be Total Bad Ass.
  • Downlode in Sinister Dexter is one that covers most of Central Europe.
  • The Legion of Super Heroes gives us Rimbor, the homeworld of Legionnaire Ultra Boy. Yes, the entire planet is a Wretched Hive.
  • Batman -
    • Gotham City. Comic writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has described Gotham as "Manhattan below Fourteenth Street on the coldest night in November" - only year-round, and on the scale of a city. (For context, recall what a Crapsack World New York was in the early 1990s, when O'Neil wrote that.)
      • In the New 52 continuity, Gotham's miserable state is partly due to the influence of the Court of Owls, a secret society that relies on Gotham being a Wretched Hive to maintain their power. They are devoting all of their resources and risking their own secrecy to getting rid of Bruce and his associates because Bruce's work as Batman and as Bruce Wayne might actually make Gotham a better place.
    • Even worse was Bludhaven, the focus of Nightwing, a city 30 miles out of Gotham that seemed to pick up all the filth that Gotham was too saturated to hold. Eventually it got nuked during Infinite Crisis.
  • Sin City.
  • The Question: Hub City, which can legitimately claim to be worse than Gotham.
  • Aztek: Vanity City. It is hinted that most of it's buildings have Alien Geometries that increase violent tendencies in their inhabitants. The town turned its resident superhero from Captain Patriotic a Nineties Anti-Hero.
  • In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck the town Dawson evolves into one during the height of the gold fever. The local mounties keep far away from the town, citing that: "There's only twenty of us!" Don Rosa makes a disclaimer in his foreword that the real Dawson City was in fact remarkably peaceful and law-abiding place for a town founded in the Gold Rush thanks to the efforts of the Mounted Police, and that apart from the name the town in the stories is based on its counterpart on the United States' side of the border, Scagway, which in contrast lacked any kind of law enforcement.
  • Mega-City-One from Judge Dredd.
    • One might be able to go so far as to say EVERY Mega-city is one of these.
  • Lucky Luke: Several Far West towns (notably Fenton Town) that Luke usually brings back to the law.
  • Faith name drops the Trope Namer when she and Angel investigate such places, including a demon bar where Harmony is stripping. Faith looks on in envy.
  • 1980's British science fiction comic Starblazer
    • Issue 194 "Cabel and the She Warrior". The planet Netherworld is populated by thieves, murders, sadists, terrorists, arsonists and the infamous Vytronian Slavers.
    • Issue 208 "Planet of the Dead". The planet Vegas Prime' entire surface was covered in all manner of vice dens and it is home to various criminals both petty and serious. Law enforcement is thin on the ground and murder is commonplace.

Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Mos Eisley from Star Wars, the Trope Namers. The new trilogy has the lower levels of Coruscant like this. And the Expanded Universe has Nar Shaddaa, a moon of it.
    • On a broader scope, the planet Tatooine. It's ruled by the Hutts, a race of gangsters. Every single city—not just Mos Eisley—is shown to be incredibly hostile and filled with criminals. As far as natives go, take your pick. You've got the thieving Jawas or the Exclusively Evil Tusken Raiders. Or The Empire.
    • The Trope Namer is oddly inverted in The Star Wars Holiday Special. The Cantina is more Cheers than a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
  • Escape from New York can qualify as well. Technically, in this film the island of Manhattan is a prison if you observe it from the outside, but if observed from the inside, it's a Wretched Hive.
    • The film was shot in downtown St. Louis, which was a real life wretched hive at the time (the area has since been cleaned up and restored).
  • Casablanca. As a way-station for people from all over Europe who hope to escape the Nazis, it has acquired a strong criminal element, whose police force is headed by a self-described "poor corrupt official". Ferrari, the head of all illegal activities in Casablanca, is "a respected man". A pickpocket swipes a man's wallet while warning his mark to look out; "There are vultures, vultures everywhere!"
  • Gangs of New York: 19th century New York City is one of these.
  • Streets of Fire: The unnamed city that the work is set in.
  • The Troll Market in Hellboy 2.
  • Spoofed as Sogo the City of Sin in Barbarella. Since it was made in the 1960s for general release, the evil shown on the screen mostly consists of people in weird costumes looking darkly at the protagonists, plus some very mild bondage games.
  • The New York City of the real world is portrayed this way in Last Action Hero. Two people are shot dead in the middle of a public street, with bystanders visible in the background, and one of the shooters takes the time to shout to the rooftops that he did it and wants to confess. The only reaction is someone yelling at him to shut up.
  • Tortuga in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
  • Subverted in Battle Beyond the Stars when the hero lands his spaceship on the Planet Of Lawless Hats only to find the local worlds have raised an army and cleaned it out.
  • The setting of Indonesian action flick The Raid is this. It's a rundown apartment controlled by drug lord and populated by drug soldiers.


Gamebooks[edit | hide]

  • Ragadorn, main city of the Wildlands in the Lone Wolf series. Vakovar in Magador even more so.
  • Titan, the official setting for the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, has a couple of these. The most notorious are Port Blacksand, well-known as the City of Thieves, and Khare, called the Cityport of Traps. One is a ramshackle collection of pirates, thieves and murderers who'd slit their mothers' throats for a few copper pieces (if mommy didn't get them first), and the other is a debauched collection of cultists and slavers of every conceivable race, who only manage to live together without killing each other because their city is the only thing resembling civilization in a wild, hellish wasteland.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Calcutta, Lord of Nerves. A short story in which the author asks what would happen if you took a real-life wretched hive and added zombies and an animate statue of the destroyer goddess Kali.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armour of Contempt, the swelter decks. One gambling den there sets out to beat Merrt to death, and when Ludd interrupts, intends to kill him as well. Hark was there to back Ludd up, but as he was in the swelter decks, some soldiers thought they could Revenge their captain on Hark safely; fortunately for Ludd, he dealt with them quickly enough.
  • Han Dold City in Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless, which seems to be controlled by "police tribes" which lay ambushes for each other, and in which bass players are machine-gunned for playing the wrong riff one too many times.
  • Sanctuary, the setting of Robert Aspirin's Thieves' World series embodies this trope. The city of Sanctuary itself is a Wretched Hive (although sufficient wealth or power can get you a modicum of safety and luxury), while the area called The Maze is The City Narrows and the tavern called The Vulgar Unicorn is the Bad Guy Bar
  • Dan Brown's Digital Fortress inexplicably depicts Seville, Spain as one of these. Its description was so over the top that Seville's local government actually invited Brown to visit the city to prove him wrong. Bizarrely, he claims to have done so before writing the book.
  • Simon R. Green created at least two of these: Haven in the Hawk And Fisher series, and the eponymous district of Nightside.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40000 SpaceWolf novel Wolfblade, the underhive that they raid because of the Cult. There are dispossessed people down here, and a Brother Malburius, ministering and acting as The Medic, but also plentiful horrors.
  • Lankhmar of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser series.
  • Crobuzon from China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and sequels blows most examples here out of the water in terms of sheer ugliness. It's ruled by vicious capitalists who ignore crime against ordinary citizens, but send death squads to deal with dissenters, essentially ensuring that the city stays a brutal lawless mess forever.
  • Michael Moorcock's Elric character was once compelled to visit a city called Nadsokor, also known as the "City of Beggars". This city's population consists entirely of those who are physically, mentally, and morally deformed.
  • Andre Norton's The Dipple—a refugee camp featured in several novels, such as Catseye and Judgment on Janus. Its ugliness is thrown into sharp relief by the fact that it is located in Tikil, the only city on the pleasure planet of Korwar.
  • Discworld: Ankh-Morpork in the earlier books; The Shades turn this all the way past eleven up to one-twenty-five, to the point where "a ghastly frieze of tortured silhouettes" on a wall is deemed less likely to attract attention than "fresh paint". And informing three very drunk Watchmen that they'd blundered into the Shades was enough to sober them instantly.

Havelock Vetinari seriously cleaned up the city, though, by legalizing the Thieves' Guild and putting them in charge of regulating the muggings. And the Watch became very efficient later under the influence of Captain Carrot and Samuel Vimes. To the point Ankh-Morpork is in the later books a bustling center of economic activity where, according to Going Postal, "being attacked while going about your lawful business in Ankh-Morpork was now merely a possibility instead of, as it once was, a matter of course." You can still get killed at night just by wandering in the wrong places, but the pragmatic Ankh-Morporkians consider this "suicide". And a sure sign of being either a tourist (and thus accidental) or Too Dumb to Live since if you're a local you ought to know better.

    • Subverted in Feet of Clay, which has a bar named "Biers", a bar for supernatural creatures which contains at least a dozen deadly creatures every evening, but which is perfectly safe for a blind old widow named Mrs. Gammage to visit every evening. The creatures even go so far as to act like bar regulars she remembers from before the bar became "Biers", and protect her when she is not in the bar.
  • In the Mutant Chronicles novels based on the games, Luna was one big Wretched Hive.
  • Conan the Barbarian: The pirate town of Tortage in the Barachan Islands. And throughout almost all Conan media, Shadizar, otherwise known as Shadizar the Wicked, capital of Zamora, Crossroads of the World.
  • Verel in The Tamuli.
  • The X Wing Series has Gavin Darklighter from Tatooine going to the underlevels of Coruscant and thinking that "if Mos Eisely was considered the armpit of the galaxy, this part of Coruscant could be considered anatomically lower and decidedly less hygienic." A few chapters on, Corran Horn, wandering around and not paying attention to his surroundings like an idiot, finds himself at a very low-level bar. He was a cop, and thinks to himself that his beat on Coronet City had seedy spots, but they appeared positively immaculate and safe compared to here. He'd chased fleeing Selonians through sewers with better atmosphere and more consistent lighting than this bar, the Headquarters.
  • Vanity Faire in The Pilgrims Progress is pretty nearly the Ur Example.
  • In John C. Wright's The Phoenix Exultant, Talaimannr is the truly wretched home of everyone whose uncivilized habits make them unfit for society.
  • Perdido Beach in Gone (novel) seems to be turning into this, and in the FAYZ, it's one of the nicest places to live.
  • The Proles from Nineteen Eighty-Four, because the government does not bother to interact with "animals". However, the bureaucrats and people on the side of order live even more horrible lives.
    • This is at least how Winston and the party members view the Proles, due to party propaganda and the standard class warfare. To the Proles themselves, it's just your standard poor/working-class lifestyle, to the point that an older who remembers life before Ing Soc considers there to be no real difference from his life before the revolution, save for the absence of a few novelties like top hats and coat-tails. And the Proles themselves are the lucky ones; Big Brother doesn't care so much if he doesn't consider you important.
  • Lampshaded in C.R. Jahn's Underground. The Twisted Spokes in an "Ultimate Biker Bar" which sells hard drugs and permits duals on premises.
  • An interesting variant in the Hyperion Cantos: Settlements on Lusus are all underground and called "Hives;" most of them are quite nice. However, there are definitely bad—nay, wretched—areas, in which drugs abound and doctors of questionable qualification and dedication to the Hippocratic Oath are everywhere.
  • The eponymous Domina City of the web-novel Domina. Genetically engineered monsters roam the streets, gangs use Bio Augmentation to turn into vampires or demons, and if you can't get in contact with someone, its safe to assume they're dead.
  • The Port in Septimus Heap is described as this.
  • Any urban environment in William Gibson's novels counts as this, but particularly the settlements that each of his cyberpunk trilogies are named after: the sprawl - a continent spanning enclosed megacity; and the the bridge, a lawless community built on the carcass of a crumbling Golden Gate Bridge. Idoru's 'Walled City', an online community comprised almost entirely of hackers and (modeled after the real life wretched hive, Kowloon Walled City) might also count, despite being virtual.
  • Parts of Darwin, especially New Town and of Kansas City in John Birmingham's Angels of Vengeance

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Deadwood: Deadwood itself. Eventually gets a telegraph, employs a sheriff and elects a mayor. Remains a place where the preferred way of getting rid of inconvenient corpses is by feeding them to Mr. Wu's pigs.
  • Harlan in Justified. Particularly in Season 2 when Doyle Bennett uses his police job to keep his family's crimes covered up and intimidate any opponents.
  • Averted on The Wire. While the lion's share of the show takes place in neighborhoods where everyone is either a drug dealer or a drug addict, the show takes time out to illustrate there are nice parts of Baltimore. Further, it takes a close and careful look at how such disparate places can be so close together and yet so far apart. Quoth Bubbles, "Thin line 'tween heaven and here."
    • The Free Zones or Hamsterdan on the third season is whatt happens when you move all West Baltimore crime to one place.
  • Freedom City in Blakes7.


Music[edit | hide]

  • In the Alestorm song "Nancy the Tavern Wench", the titular Nancy's tavern is such a hive.
  • The song "Night City", by The Sword, is about such a place—a metropolis on the dark side of a tidally-locked planet, ruled by slavers and pirates.
  • The street in the Space song 'Neighbourhood' is definitely one. It's got an Omnicidal Maniac, an Ax Crazy vicar and a family of criminals, amongst others.
  • Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera depicts New York City as a grim and miserable place filled with criminals, drugs, and Apathetic Citizens who will watch a man die rather then help.
  • Motley Crue's song "Wild Side" takes place in a Wretched Hive.
  • Guns N' Roses' song "Welcome to the Jungle" also depicts a Wretched Hive. In fact, the line "You know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby! You're gonna die!" was said by a cab driver to Axl Rose during a trip to visit a friend.


Religion[edit | hide]

  • Hell, when it's not all fire and brimstone, is this in some interpretations, like "eternal separation from God". Believers consider this to be terrifying enough, while others' mileages vary.
    • Sodom, Gomorrah, and Ninevah as portrayed in The Bible. Sodom and Gomorrah were considered so vile that nothing short of divine obliteration was enough to clean them. This trope was actually subverted in the case of Ninevah. God told Jonah to preach the people there to repent, or else the city would be destroyed in three days. The king of Ninevah saw the error of his ways and told his people to mourn in sackcloth and ashes in hopes that they would be spared. God did not destroy the city, much to Jonah's chagrin. The last part of the book of Jonah is God giving Jonah a big "The Reason You Suck" Speech because he would rather see thousands of people die than come to repentance.
      • Ninevah would be more like The Empire and has a distinct reputation for having kings who boasted of their atrocities in monuments to their own glory. If their deeds bear any relation to reality then probably only God has any right to berate Jonah on that score because you better believe any Jew of the time would want it destroyed and indeed it is not a perfectly unpleasant thought even at several thousand years distance.
      • Sodom's population has been estimated by some to be between 600 and 1200 at the time of its destruction. And in all the city, not ten righteous men could be found, thus God destroyed it.
  • In The Bible, after King Solomon's reign, Israel divides itself North and South, and lots of corruption and idolatry take place. And then It Got Worse as they got involved in wars with neighboring nations such as the Assyrians.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • BattleTech - large sections of the Inner Sphere are like this, but especially Dustball, Kooken's Pleasure Pit and Solaris.
  • Dungeons & Dragons naturally has several Wretched Hives strewn through various settings. Examples include:
    • In Eberron, the city of Stormreach is a city founded by pirates. It's also the main gateway to the continent of Xen'Drik.
    • Skullport in Forgotten Realms. Multiclassed as a thriving center of smuggling (including slave trade) and therefore has properties of Bazaar of the Bizarre, such as a "Truce Zone". That is, sworn enemies don't attack each other noticeably more often than complete strangers.

Zhentil Keep, and indeed many of the cities of the Moonsea area, are other notable examples.

Luskan is populated almost entirely by pirates, slavers, and other types of criminals, and their main leaders are totalitarian wizard-dictators who regularly perform horrific experiments on innocent people. They've also willingly aided an ancient evil empire's attempt to conquer the world, knowing full well they would also be subjugated, just because it would give them a chance to attack their rival city, Neverwinter.

    • The World of Greyhawk has a few cities like this, most notably the city of Dorakaa in the demon-ruled Empire of Iuz, the city of Molag in the Horned Society, the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu, and the entirety of the orc- and goblin-ruled Pomarj region.
    • In Temple of Elemental Evil, Nulb is this. It does however have a small number of decent if not good-aligned characters living there. The player's actions can either destroy it or make it prosper.
    • The Planescape setting has a region of Sigil, the main city, that is actually called "The Hive". It's one big lawless slum where criminals, anarchists, death-worshipers, and demons fight for control. Even Sigil's normally formidable Harmonium guard are too afraid to even patrol there.
    • The Drow city of Menzoberranzan in the Forgotten Realms. The populace as a whole is Exclusively Evil, follow a Religion of Evil dedicated to their even more twisted goddess (who enforces their Exclusively Evil nature), and have Chronic Backstabbing Disorder as their hat. Slavery, corruption, and warfare between various noble houses run rampant in the city. The only reason the Drow haven't managed to kill themselves off with this behavior is because their deity finds them too much fun.
  • A regular setting in Shadowrun.
    • Seattle has a Wretched Hive within a Wretched Hive, in the Barrens.
    • Berlin, from the Germany sourcebook. Dear God, Berlin! When shadowtalkers attach posts about their favorite cannibal restaurants to the main file, you honestly can't tell if they're joking or not.
    • Chicago becomes a literal Wretched Hive after a particularly nasty incident with some bug spirits.
    • And the Chicago Shattergraves are still a kiss from your mother compared to the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. The sheer concentration of human despair and viciousness is so thick there that it allowed the Yama Kings to manifest, and rampage over the slums slaking their unholy lusts on the populace in secret. The place is so bad that the insect spirits get left facedown in a gutter if they go there (the sole exception being one hive that has a pact with the Yama Kings). Yes, this is the part of town that's so mean that the flesh-eating monsters from another dimension get mugged.
  • Star*Drive has Lucullus, a former penal colony where the inmates are Running the Asylum. They don't do a very good job of this.
  • Many of the Hive Cities of Warhammer 40,000 are like this from spire to foundation, but the underhives almost always qualify. Necromunda is the most prominent example, where the planetary government and military are essentially one sprawling gang that commands the obedience of the next gang below them.
    • The Dark Eldar are a race of Exclusively Evil space-elves, and their capital Commorragh fit the trope. The city is ruled by warring kabals and the only semblance of government is the biggest kabal that's powerful enough to boss the others around. Getting killed by a total stranger in broad daylight (well, technically due to its location in the Webway there is no day and night cycle in Commorragh, only perpetual twilight) in the middle of a street is seen as a perfectly normal occurrence. One has to wonder how the Dark Eldar have managed not to kill themselves off yet.
    • All the other races seek expansion and colonize new worlds. The Dark Eldar? They've got one city, period. That's all they've had for thousands of years.
    • Granted, it is a city big enough to have multiple suns in it, which they stole from the Materium because they felt like it and wanted the heat and light.
      • Also, it's not really a single city in a conventional sense, but thousands of cities all over the Webway, linked together with a vast Portal Network. Most of those cities is a wretched hive on it's own right, and the ones that aren't are somethign even worse.
  • Similarly, the major cities of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle world are much like their 40k counterparts, sans the plumbing. The city of Mordheim became so depraved, corrupt, and horrifying that a god threw a comet at it. Then it became a bunch of warped ruins home to a few depraved, corrupt, and horrifying mutants, as well as the mercenary warbands coming from across the realm to loot it.
  • A number of places in the Coalition States in Rifts, but most notably the Chi-Town 'Burbs. One city, Cuidad Juarez, is stated to be "The Mos Eisley Cantina scene, spread out over an entire city". Also, Atlantis.
  • Exalted - The city of Nexus, to a tee. "Ah, Nexus, the city of one thousand names!" "Yeah, but only a hundred of them are printable, and only ten of the printable ones are even nice..."
  • The cities of the Kult RPG. All cities in Kult are echoes of the One City, and the bigger they get, the more likely that the borders with the One City get thin and tenuous...
  • Junkyard, built next to the remain of Salt Lake City, from the Deadlands: Hell on Earth setting.
  • In the parody game HOL the titular site is a Wretched Hive planet. HOL is essentially a combination of garbage dump and penal colony for the galaxy.
  • The small-press RPG Fates Worse Than Death is set in a cyberpunk future where Manhattan has become the Wretched Hive due to a series of wars, economic disasters, and anyone with a suitable level of income fleeing for the burbclaves. The city is divided between gangs, drug pushers, the wreckage of social movements and subcultures, and a self-replicating serial killer. Despite all this, it's supposed to be an Earn Your Happy Ending game—how hard will you fight to clean up the mess?
  • The island city-state of Al-Amarja, setting of Over the Edge.
  • Every city in Vampire: The Requiem.
  • Montreal in Vampire: The Masquerade. It's far from the only one in the setting, but Montreal is so wretched its setting book, Montreal By Night, got the "honors" of being the launching title of Black Dog Factory, White Wolf's imprint for mature products. This is what happens when the Sabbat is in charge.
  • Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) supplement Dreamlands boxed set. The city of Dylath-Leen in the Dreamlands is described as being one of these.
  • Eclipse Phase: Scum barges, places where anything goes and you can probably get anything not actually capable of punching through the hull if you know the right person to ask.


Theater[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Kirkwall in Dragon Age II used to be the new heart of the slave trade for the Tevinter Imperium 600 years ago, but since so many slaves died in those walls, the boundaries between The Fade and The Real World weakened greatly, allowing easy possession of not just mages from demons, but regular people. There's constant crime on the streets at night from dwarf carta members, mercenaries, slavers, imposter city guardsmen, and blood mages. The Templars and mages are far more insane and extreme than they were in the first game, and their conflict ends up forming the game's main crisis. Finally, this cesspool is under the watch of an Authority in Name Only.
    • The Legacy DLC strongly hints that Kirkwall is the site of the Old Tevinter Imperium's original attempt to breach the Fade and invade the Golden City. You know, the event that created the First Blight? Living on the Hellmouth would be paradise compared to how metaphysically tainted the astral space must be around here.
  • Bleak from Breath of Fire. Syn City from Breath Of Fire 3.
  • Everywhere in the Rogue Isles is the titular City of Villains. The Isles are actually run by scum and villainy.
    • Paragon City, the titular City of Heroes, has seen better days itself. Most of the world's superheroes died during the Rikti War, to say nothing of the havoc it wrought upon the world at large. Street gangs, emboldened by a severely weakened police department and hero population, brazenly harass and threaten citizens with their lives.
  • Pickam in Dragon Quest VIII.
  • Fable 2 has the town of Bloodstone, a sort of Evil Counterpart to the town of Bowerstone: while Evil characters are treated with fear and suspicion in Bowerstone, in Bloodstone they are treated with respect.
  • Every Fallout game has at least one of these:
    • In Fallout, Junktown will become one if you help Gizmo and the Skulz gang take control. The Hub will also be on its way of becoming one if you side with Decker.
    • In Fallout 2 there is The Den (which is even referred to as such): an anarchistic community populated by drug addicts and slavers, and New Reno: a city dedicated to prostitution, pornography, gambling and bloodsports, run by a variety of constantly-feuding gangs, with no authority whatsoever in appearance. Redding may also become one if you have them ally themselves with New Reno.
    • In Fallout 3 there is Paradise Falls, a town run by slavers. Characters can even improve their Karma Meter by murdering everyone in town except the slaves.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, there is Nipton, which by the time the Player gets to it, is already razed by a more (albeit affable) evil entity, Vulpes Inculta, after he duped the town into capturing and killing some visiting NCR troopers on leave. Freeside can also count, although nowhere near the degree of Nipton. Because its considered the "outskirts" of New Vegas, Mr House doesn't devote nearly as much attention there than he does the Strip. As a result, poverty is essentially omnipresent, most of the population is homeless, and those that aren't live in absurdly poor living conditions, and despite the efforts of the Kings and the Followers, crime is rampant to the point where drunks, addicts and general thugs assault people in the streets in broad daylight. However, there are still some redeemably good people there, unlike Nipton.
  • Zozo in Final Fantasy VI is more of a dungeon than a city, since you run into random encounters in its streets and it has an end-boss. Every single person living in the town is a filthy liar. The boss of the area says something to the effect of "I hate fighting, so I'll just let you pass peacefully", then attacks you.
  • Most of Sector 7 (indeed, much of lower Midgar) in Final Fantasy VII.
  • Any city in the Grand Theft Auto series approaches this, though they may simply be Vice Cities.
  • Kras City, in Jak X. The only genuinely good people you meet apart from Rayn even though that's an act seem to come from Haven, Spargus, or the distant past. The Jak games (since they went Darker and Edgier) are dedicated to the idea of "a few good people in a Crapsack World", so it's not too surprising.
  • Nar Shaddaa in Knights of the Old Republic II, a sprawling metropolis controlled by the Exchange, the Star Wars equivalent of the Mafia.
    • The Dreshdae spaceport on Korriban in the first game is a lot smaller, but still pretty wretched: everyone there is either an aspiring Sith out to prove their evilness, an actual Sith relaxing by kicking puppies, or a smuggler looking for somewhere to dump weapons they can't offload in civilized systems. The whole place is run by the slave-trading Czerka Corp, and the bartender is an arms dealer.
  • The concept of Outer Heaven reappears in a new incarnation in every other game of the Metal Gear Solid series: Outer Heaven (MG), Zanzibar Land (MG2), Liquids plan for Shadow Moses Island (MGS), Arsenal Gear (MGS2), and both Outer Heaven (company) and Outer Haven (submarine) (MGS4).
  • The Undernet in Mega Man Battle Network.
  • Santa Destroy from No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
  • Rogueport in Paper Mario 2 is a parody of this trope. The fact that this sleazeball town also features a shop that enlists people to help the other residents, most often with actual legitimate things as well, makes it all the more enjoyable.
  • Planescape: Torment actually starts with the player waking up in The Hive.
  • Blackthorne and the Space Pirate ports in Escape Velocity. One of them even quotes the "wretched hive" line from Star Wars.
  • If you thought Gotham City was bad, try ArkhamCity.
  • Empire City from In Famous begins this way, but taking the good path can lead to the city cleaning itself up and return ing to the state of a bustling metropolis it once was. If you take the evil path, however, things take a turn for the worse, and soon not just the city, but indeed, the entire world, is infact a Crapsack World.
  • The space station Omega in Mass Effect 2, which serves as the capital of the Terminus Systems, the lawless backwater of the galaxy where might makes right and slavery, among other things, is a vital part of the economy. However, the game makes a point of showing that many perfectly ordinary and decent people do live on Omega - they're just poor, desperate, or have nowhere else to go.

Miranda: "Omega. What a a pisshole."

    • And, as an amusing inversion, there's Illium—it's a Wretched Hive, where drugs, slavery, arms-dealing and prostitution are omnipresent—but it's run by the artistic, diplomatic, ultra-civilized asari. Which means that it's all set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring Crystal Spires and Togas architecture, with a thin veneer of legality covering everything. Even the most brutally mind-scarring drugs are legal... as long as there's a truthful description of the effects on the package and a legal waiver. And it's not slavery, it's indentured servitude. Also Eclipse mercenaries have their hands in all kinds of illegal and legal operation there and their joining ritual is to kill someone. Garrus comments on it directly if you bring him there... "Look just a bit deeper, and this place is no safer than Omega." It's Planet Noble Demon; Upon arrival, guests are immediately greeted by armed guards and warned to not sign anything - "We're a whole planet of greedy bastards. If you don't like that, stay away. If that's what floats your boat, then come on down and bring lots of money."
      • Ironically, the one stable leader in Omega, who is the closest thing they have to a ruler, concerned with keeping Omega running, is an openly ruthless asari too. Which can be also said about Omega itself. At least it's honest about being a wretched hive.
    • There's also Noveria from the first game. A planet settled almost entirely by corrupt corporate executives and mad scientists. Absolutely everybody on that icy rock is trying to bribe/manipulate/kill you in some manner.
  • Clint City from Urban Rivals. There's a police force, but they're even in terms of power and influence with the mob, the surf bums, and the denizens of the city zoo.
  • Thieves' Landing in Red Dead Redemption is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A little gambling town in the bayou where you can't go a few seconds without a crime happening and the mini-game order of the day is either five-fingered fillet or poker with a couple of cheats.
  • Many Dwarf Fortresses, especially the infamous Boatmurdered, end up like this.
  • Jubei from BlazBlue directly quotes this trope in Ragna's story mode.
  • Even though it lost much of its power in the backstory, the Tevinter Imperium in the world of Dragon Age definitely counts. The country is practically one giant empire where Blood Magic (read:magic specifically designed to control and murder people in the most horrific ways possible) is practically required by law, slavery is legal and exceedingly brutal, and those who are not mages are treated little better then the slaves. The sequel ups the ante by having one of Hawke's companions, Fenris, be a former slave to the Imperium, and he makes it perfectly clear just how horrible the place is.
    • And, if some of Fenris' dialogue is true, then the Imperium may be well on its way to reclaiming the power it lost to Andraste's rebellion and the fall of the Golden City. Oh Crap.
  • The city of Tortage in Age of Conan fits this trope. The city is a haven for pirates, prostitutes, slavers, smugglers, and other less than savory people.
  • Hector: Badge of Carnage has Clapper's Wreake, a complete shitstain of a city, with the main antagonist being a terrorist whose finally had enough of the corruption and decides to do something about it.
  • Markath and Riften in Skyrim are both run by powerful and corrupt families. The Silver-bloods run Markath in all but name, while the Black-briars run Riften. In Riften the corruption is so rampant that the near extinction of the Thieves' Guild based there has done nothing to reduce it. It's even worse in Markath, since one of the Silver-bloods is using the captured leader of the Forsworn to murder anyone he doesn't like (and disguising the assassinations as terrorist acts). And he doesn't have nearly as much control over the Forsworn leader as he believes.

Web Comics & Web Originals[edit | hide]

  • The fallen space port of Svoboda in Nexus Gate fits the bill. It is controlled by crime syndicates and the playground of criminals of every stripe. Kovolis holds no stake in the port's ground.
  • Obi-Wan's well know quote about Mos Eisley is referenced in Darths and Droids episode 59:

GM: You walk into the town. It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
R2-D2: Oh, how I love stock descriptions.

  • The aptly-named Greysky City in Order of the Stick.
  • Erossus in Dominic Deegan. So kinky that you can buy little candies shaped like certain body parts and the police wear Stripperific outfits.
  • New Hong Kong, in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire. It has one Law Drone, but since New Hong Kong has no laws, it spends a lot of time meditating up on a tower. New Hong Kong may have only one law ("There shall be no laws on New Hong Kong") but it has a great many customs, and the populace enforce them so effectively that it's actually quite peaceful. In the same sense that Ankh-Mopork is peaceful under the Thieves' Guild. Or as the residents of New Hong Kong put it: "There are no laws here. That doesn't mean that there aren't rules."
  • The Ciem series features the cities of Craterville, Dirbine, and Viron. Contained therein are: Monsters, Mutants, alien gangsters, pedophile gangsters, serial rapists, international spies, thugs that break down motel room doors at random, arsonists, ex-government agents-turned-pedophile kidnappers, suicide bombers, debit card thieves, mass-murdering AI, and more. Guns (and darts!) are everywhere. Churches have almost no 20-something members, because of a belief by the older members that nobody who attends Viron University has any self-control. Upon a visit, Miriam wishes to ask Candi: "How does anyone tolerate living here?"
  • Subverted and rewritten in this page of Twenty First Century Fox.
  • Survival of the Fittest has this with Denton, New Jersey. Criminal gangs are everywhere in the city, which is practically run by the most powerful of them instead of by the Mayor himself, as the whole police force is either too corrupt or too inept to do anything. Like any other gangs, they've divided the city up between themselves, and they maintain a tense peace between them, as the bloodshed brought by a gang war is bad for business. Even then, though, shootouts and gang brawls are common, while anyone who sticks their nose in the wrong place turns up dead. This is considered highly unusual in SOTF's world, though, and no other city that has been seen is quite as bad as Denton. This came about as an attempt to justify all the gang members in Pregame, and the city apparently disintegrated into full-scale warfare after v2.
  • In Nip and Tuck, the Show Within a Show Rebel Cry features Midway, which is depicted as this in-universe, though it's not a bad place.
  • In Galactic Maximum, Earth, after the war.
  • In Blue Yonder, Jared thinks he's been brought to one. (No cops. He overlooked all retired capes, though.)
  • In Tales of the Questor, the Tumbledowns which is nothing but back alleys.
  • Crimson Dark has Golgotha station owned by the Creer Syndicate, but while it's a pirate (and smuggler) haven, it's also a rather competently enforced Truce Zone. Also, in a side story "Grey Station". No, wait...

Actually, Vaeyr thought, "hive" probably wasn’t a fair term – it implied organisation and structure. Grey Station was more of a nest. A nest where rats, cockroaches and snakes lived together because it was slightly safer than trying to survive amongst honest folk.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Scotsman: Heckbucket Seaport. You will never find a more wretched dive of scum and villainy... and the crabcakes aren't bad either!

  • Miracle City from El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, "a spicy cesspool of crime and villainy" according to the Opening Narration and is in fact the town's slogan. The nearby town Calavera takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Stormalong Harbor of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water: Janda Town -- "Only the scum of the sea drop anchor here."
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender holds a couple of these; the ice spring in the middle of the desert, the bar that Jun the bounty hunter is at, and the lovable port with the pirates. "Who's brave enough to look into this bag?"
  • The Simpsons—The family visits New York City. According to Homer's flashbacks to his last visit NYC conforms to the trope. Every living thing is corrupt in some way. On his last visit, a random guy steals his coat, a cop steals his wallet, and a pigeon steals the very hotdog he was eating. Right from his mouth. A New York pigeon. Also the teller he was reading claimed that "crime was up eight million percent".
  • Galaxy Rangers had Tortuna. Nominally controlled by Her Travesty, though the Mooks are receptive to bribes. It's crawling with criminals of every stripe, and any human setting foot there at risk of being handed over to the local torturers to be mashed down for Life Energy. Yup, the heroes end up having to head there almost every other episode.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The phrase appears in a description of Port Royal during the colonial period. The port was widely seen as an open haven for pirates and smugglers, turning the economy into one based around boozing, whoring, stealing, and an assortment of activities centered around catering to men who could spend all of their pay in a few days. Recalling the of Sodom and Gomorrah story, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692 that caused it to sink into the sea. There was another earthquake in 1907, which destroyed the rebuilt parts.
  • The picture for this trope is inspired by the city of Bath in the south of England, which in the Georgian period was an aristocrats seasonal playground. Whilst the city was good if you were rich, the poor lived in... well look at the picture.

The picture is entitled Gin Lane and was drawn as contrast to Beer Street, showing pleasantly mellow people chatting and discussing politics, to comment on the problem of cheap Gin in England at the time. Gin was seen as being as corrupting as crack today. Considering just how cheap it was and how prevalent abuse could get, it wasn't an exaggeration.

  • Speaking of 19th century England, the Whitechapel of Jack the Ripper and Soho when Mr Hyde had his flat there qualify.
    • Afters the murders ended, the public realized how absymal the living conditions were and the worst parts were demolished and then rebuilt.
      • Modern Whitechapel STILL qualifies. Riddled with half-derelict buildings and the filthy run-off of street-markets.
    • Another reason for the living conditions was that the Police Are Useless trope applied. In addition to Interservice Rivalry, they were also under-trained. Reforms were introduced to improve the reputation and effectiveness of the London police forces. London has 2 police forces. One is for the city, the other is for the administrative division.
  • Yoshiwara, now one of the prefecture of Tokyo, was allowed legal prostitution/slavery by Bakufu and Imperial government until end of WW 2.
  • Shanghai in the pre-WW 2 years was called "the largest brothel in the world" and its unofficial mayor was a Triad crime lord.
    • Not that he was alone. Everybody in Shanghai seemed to be engaged in something evil or at least somewhat tricky. Secret services from different nations were constantly plotting against each other; Nationalist and Communist agents battled enthusiastically; political refugees, swarmed in some of whom were desperate enough to do anything and many of whom naturally had a chip on their shoulder and were willing to do-interesting-things about it considered it a favorite local. Naturally it's cops many of whom were Sikhs were some of the toughest and meanest in the world as no one else could do that job there.
    • It's said that it's European cops who served there considered Chicago a retirment gig.
  • Before Portugal handed it back to China in 1999, Macau had a reputation as a stronghold for The Triads and the Tongs. But it was a really pleasant place to live, work or visit, as long as you kept out of the politics around the gambling industry.
    • Some parts of Hong Kong didn't have a much better reputation, specially the Kowloon Walled City. From World War Two to The Seventies it was completely controlled by the Triads and had high rates of prostitution, gambling, and drug use; yet at the same time, it had many genuinely hardworking people who just wanted a decent life, thus formed tightly-knitted groups to protect themselves. In the early nineties, the Walled City was completely demolished, and now it houses a City Park.
      • While hardly a posh district, at no point of time Walled City was completely wretched or a real slum. Most of its 33 thousand-strong population were artisans and tradesmen who lived there simply because it was a cheapest accomodation in Hong Kong: as the land belonged to no one, no one paid taxes on it and rent was the lowest there. Even the gangs tried to limit their impact: after all, it was their base, not feeding ground. In short, it was little different than a lot of poor neighborhoods around the world, its only defining character being its questionable legal status. But even then, since the mid-Seventies there was a tacit agreement between the mainland authorities (to whom the area ostensibly belonged) and the British, that allowed British police to operate within the Walled City. This radically brought down the crime activity and increased the quality of life, as the utilities could come there as well.
  • The Favelas of Brazil: they house some of the worst poverty in the world and the drug gangs are so heavily armed and violent that they killed off almost 600 cops in 2007 alone.
    • On the flipside, the favelas also contain some of the nicest illegal housing in the world. Most of the housing has electricity, running water and TV connections. There is even an internet cafe, restaurants, shops and a bank in Rio de Janiero's Rocinha.
    • The townships of South Africa, particularly the big ones like Khayelitsha outside Cape Town. Soaring murder, drugs and violence rates, cheap ramshackle homes, and fluctuations between highest and second highest poverty rates in the world (competing with Brazil's Favelas). And yet, in the nicer areas, it's not entirely unheard of for one to find a corrugated iron shack housing a working widescreen television set...
  • The CNMI, specifically Saipan and Rota. http://www.saipansucks.com/about.htm Yes, they are US territories.... and a testing lab for corporate corruption and political corruption. As well as having limited health services, no potable tap water, police brutality out the wazoo...
  • The coastal town of Eyl in Somalia: the base of operations for pirates who prey on oil tankers and civilian boats in the Gulf of Aden.
    • Somalia has been a Wretched Hive since the government was overthrown, most of the country is now divided between two anarchistic factions who kill each other off on a daily basis, there's a reason why people are warned against visiting there.
  • Washington DC, the capital of the United States. It has very high crime rates for its population. Since the nineties, it has dropped in the rankings for both violent crime and property crime; however, crime in D.C. still receives more media attention than does crime in cities with higher rates, simply because D.C. is D.C. and those other cities are not.
    • It doesn't help that mayor Marion Barry was caught on tape in a hotel room smoking crack with a hooker.
      • Unclear whether this says more about the people of Washington D.C. or the candidates for Mayor, but after he got out of prison for the above debacle, Marion Barry ran for Mayor again and WON.
  • A running joke among people who live in the United States is for all of New Jersey to be portrayed and talked about as if it's this. In reality, it's bad, but nowhere near Wretched Hive levels. For more info, look at Joisey. Most areas are actually nice; there are suburbs that are normal and streched of land. Then again, there are cities reside here that have the worst crime rates in the nation.
    • Two reasons why Joisey has its terrible reputation are two cities very close to New York City: Newark with its sky-high crime rates and Elizabeth with its industrial pollution. New Yorkers who venture past these wretched hives are often surprised at how pleasant the rest of the state is.
    • There's also Camden on the other side of New Jersey, which is a terrible city even by global standards. Wracked by poverty, highest crime rate in the United States, and looks about as inhabitable as the surface of the moon. Naturally, just like Newark and Elizabeth form an unnatural barrier to New Yorkers seeing anything but hell in New Jersey, Camden is across the river from and colors the state's general impression in Philidelphia.
  • Detroit likely qualifies as a Wretched Hive. Not only is violence and poverty extremely prevalent (for example, a dead man was once found frozen in several feet of ice in an abandoned basement), but the city has also been noted as being in a state of mass exodus, with its citizens fleeing to greener pastures. It doesn't help that, like many hives in Cyberpunk, Detroit is also dominated by a few of the biggest and most industrial corporations in America.
  • Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican City on the border next to El Paso, used to be this until a couple of decades ago (and is starting to fall back into this category, not so much now as a town of lowly pleasures but as a murder metropolis). How bad is it in Juarez you ask? local buisness owners are requesting UN Intervention!
    • Also from Mexico: Culiacán (and while we're at it, most of the state of Sinaloa is equally violent due to the drug cartel's violence). Because the city is a main hub of the drug cartels (and Sinaloa being the birthplace of most of Mexico's own drug cartels with a few exceptions) it's practically unheard of a day where there is not a shootout on the streets for really pointless reasons, such as someone honking at the person in front of him, or just because a person looked funny at a Cartel gunmen. Made worse with the fact the Red Cross is scared to death about attending shootout victims, the Human Rights Watch Commision acting like a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card due to blatant Loophole Abuse, and the people in general being defenseless against the drug cartels because the federal gun laws forbid civilians to bear anything stronger than a .22 rimfire and the rampant police corruption.
    • This is actually bad enough that one police chief fled to the US out of fear for her life and another town's entire police force resigned for the same reasons. One regional governor was also murdered by Cartel gunmen who were able to waltz into his office and shoot him dead without apparently anyone trying to stop them.
    • Tijuana has been infamous for being this long before the 2006-ongoing "Drug War". Mostly because of the drug cartel activity, but also because just like Ciudad Juarez, it serves as the perfect destination for under-21 US teens to get booze & entertainment. Also: during a nation-wide area code renumbering, Tijuana had been given the area code 666. The Mexican Comms and Transportation Secretariat had to change it after lots of complaints from Tijuanans.
  • In Israel: formerly Ramlah, now Lod is mostly notorious for this. The police had a huge operation to swipe tonnes of illegal arms and still didn’t get most of it. People there are used to falling asleep to the sound of guns. Netanya also has such reputation, but it’s mostly negative media representation.
    • There's a joke about how much better the new train model is compared to the old one: It only shakes while approaching Netanya...
    • Somewhat significantly—and not coincidentally—Lod and Ramlah are home to large concentrations of Israel's traditionally disenfranchised Arab population. Decades of poverty and discrimination do more or less the same thing everywhere you go.
  • 4chan, especially /b/. It's widely known as the 'Asshole of the Internet', even to itself.
  • The so-called deep web is commonly regarded as this by those who know it, even by 4chan. Now, the term deeb web refers to every part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines, often because of technical limitations. A lot of it are academic databases or even results of other earch engines, which are anything but dangerous. However, it also contains websites with the ending .onion, which are only accessible via Tor, and this sites can be quite sick. It is not easy to get reliable sources as to the content of the sites, but some (unverified) examples include: guides on how to rape and torture people, human experimentation sites, marketplaces for drugs and arms, child porn, classified content from intelligence agencies and the military and sites where you can hire assassins. The simple reason for this content is that .onion sites are located on hidden servers, and that Tor greatly increases your anonymity on the internet. However, the deep web is not immune to trolls, that the FBI monitors. Many download links and that a lot of the content, which is often described as being magnitudes better and bigger than the content on the surface web. Is informally speaking, complete and utter crap.
  • Limerick has often been named Stab City. Though in recent years the number of stabbings has decreased, as gun crime has gone through the roof.
  • Grozny, the capital of Chechnya has been this way for over two decades now, since the Soviet Union fell, and Chechnya has been through war after war. The country has officially been at peace for several years, but Chechen Rebels and Russian Mafia still have major presences in the city.
  • The particular combination of sectarian ill feeling, poverty, drug dealing, alcoholism, knife culture, and if we're honest, a city lost in in it's own legend (Violent Glaswegian) means that Glasgow is still the official murder capital of Europe (new Europe included).
  • New Orleans, Louisiana is infamous, even within its own state, though local governments do their best to hide this fact from tourists. The police were notoriously corrupt (at one point, they even carried out contract killings), people were warned not to stop at red lights at night, the local population was poverty stricken with Projects the size of neighborhoods, it was once a center for the Mafia, and some neighborhoods were so bad that even the police dare not venture there, ever. The murder rate was so high, that it was a strong contender for the title "murder capital of the United States". And all of this was before Katrina hit. It's started to get a bit better since then, but it's still ahead of anywhere else in the U.S.
    • Part of the reason for the high crime rate was the influx of illegal weapons. Also, the police did sometimes go into the bad areas; but always with a SWAT team.
  • The Ancient Greek city of Corinth. It was well-known as a Red Light District, and to "live as a Corinthian" was to be a Complete Monster with no morals whatsoever.
    • The OLD Corinth which was none to particular itself, had undergone a genocidal sack by the Romans and the replacement population had been sailors from all over as well as land-sharks to cater to their taste in vice and cheat them while doing so. Imagine if the population of New York was wiped out to make way for a population chosen at random from a random pool composed of anyone nearby any waterfront, barracks, truck stop, or logging camp within hundreds of miles.
  • Tortuga in real life was also, for some of its' history, very much as depicted in fiction. At worst, every second building was a brothel, then rest being taverns. One attempt to create a move normal lifestyle for the inhabitants involved importing over a thousand prostitutes. (Yes, it was so bad that filling it with whores was considered an improvement.)
  • The (now quiet holiday destination town) of Russell in New Zealand was known as "The Hell Hole of the Pacific" in the days following British colonisation for being lawless and full of prostitution.
  • New York from the 1800's to round about the 1940's is famously one, although in other countries it had the image of a land of milk and honey, even though most poor immigrants left slums and went into even worse slums in New York.
    • New York City was essentially this from about the 1970's to roughly 1994. There were skyhigh crime rates and police corruption until 1994, when the crime rates started going down and, as a general trend, have been going down ever since.
  • Cervantes said of the Indies: "The shelter and refuge of Spain's desparadoes, the church of the lawless, the safe haven for murderers, the native land and cover for card sharps, the general lure for loose women, and the common deception of the many and the remedy of the particular few."
  • The "Communities" of every Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game ever made. Especially self-proclaimed "Pro" environments like Heroes of Newerth and Defense of the Ancients. Their terrible attitudes are so prevalent that Valve (Making DotA 2) and Riot (behind League of Legends) have implemented in-depth reporting/temp ban systems to discourage the kind of behaviour they're known for.
  • East St. Louis, Illinois regularly appears on "worst city" lists for very good reasons, the crime rate is through the roof, the streets are lined with abandoned buildings, it has one of highest rates of pollution in the U.S., and trash is everywhere in the city as it dosen't have a service for garbage collecting. It looks so much like a dystopian wasteland that Escape From New York was filmed there without having to build much in the way of sets.
  • Gary, Indiana quickly went this way once the steel industry it was built on collapsed in the 60s, the streets are lined with closed down retail businesses, the scent of industrial pollution fills the air and the crime rate is even worse then that of Chicago's South Side, admittedly the city has improved in recent years, but it still has a long way to go.
  • The Tenderloin district of San Francisco has increasingly become a dumping ground for street drugs and prostitution, largely because the rest of the city has become increasingly gentrified. Tourists who make a wrong turn from nearby City Hall and Union Square have been known to run away screaming.
  • When Milwaukee is portrayed in the media (fictional or otherwise), it’s usually as this. It’s also the way the rest of Wisconsin tends to view the city. While Milwaukee does have a few individual neighborhoods that could reasonably be described as this, it also has some very nice areas such as the Lakefront, the Third Ward, and Brady Street, which are rarely seen or referenced in the media. In fact, much of what is said in the media about Milwaukee in the local media (where many get their perception of the city) could easily be seen as evidence of outstate Wisconsin being a Type II Eagle Land.