WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

 "Prisons have to be built somewhere. Everybody just prefers that it's in NIMBY - Not in My Back Yard thanks."

Tom Croydon, Tom's Story.

There are many things in life whose existence is desirable, or even essential to the society we live in, but that people generally don't want to live too close to. They might be noisy, smelly, polluting, dangerous, or just ugly. However as any Sim City player will tell you, not everything can be in the middle of nowhere - for people to have cheap and convenient access to them, they have to be near to civilization.

Fair enough. Just... Not In My Backyard, OK?

While it might be rather selfish to want the benefits of such amenities while declaring the downsides to be Somebody Else's Problem, it can be justified - there is little to no reward for living nearby, and often the decrease in housing prices actually punishes the neighbours on top of the lowered quality of life. It's not necessarily hypocritical except in Zero-sum situations where they want the good without the bad.

The phenomenon is a major part of many Simulation Games, where the player must balance necessary or lucrative buildings against residents' quality of life.

Also known as NIMBY. There is apparently a more extreme version that does believe that everything noisy, smelly, polluting, dangerous or ugly should be built in the middle of nowhere, dubbed "BANANAs" - "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone", which is a viable option... in some video games.

For the webcomic of the same name, go here.

Examples of Not in My Back Yard include:

Anime & Manga

  • Emerging: The Department of Virology, located in the National Institute for Infectious Diseases has the potential to operate as a BSL-4 (which is required to deal with deadly diseases such as Ebola and the unknown disease ravaging Tokyo), however it only operates at as a BSL-3 due to opposition from local residents and communities. This is an example of Truth in Television for the real life National Institute for Infectious Diseases located in Kanto, Japan.

Comic Books


  • Erin Brockovich shows why most people have a NIMBY reaction: in the movie's case, toxic substances are leeching into the water supply.
  • Australian film The Castle is an inversion of this trope. The Kerrigans live a few hundred metres from an airport runway. Massive power lines pass right over their backyard. And the Kerrigans love it that way. They only get upset when a planned airport expansion means that they would have to move.

Live Action TV

  • Law and Order Special Victims Unit often run into cases where they have to deal with former child molesters who face this problem when they get out of prison.
  • The trope name is the title of an early Blue Heelers episode, with a protest against a prison being built near Mt. Thomas.
  • An episode of Boston Legal focused on this problem, with some townspeople employing the firm to stop the production of a nuclear power plant in their area. Opposing counsel actually points out the use of this trope and rhetorically asks where they're meant to put the plant, as they'd already thought they'd chosen a perfectly remote location before the ruckus started.
  • This is the title of Midsomer Murders episode in which an unpopular real estate development planned for a small village results in murder.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, taking Not in My Back Yard to its logical extreme, the Malon are a race that never bothered to develop clean ways of disposing of waste, because they simply shipped it all off to somewhere else, a long way away.
  • In Desperate Housewives, the neighborhood holds a protest rally after plans for moving convicts into their street start going ahead. It ends badly. For everyone.

Tabletop Games

  • Hordes of the Things compares the average fantasy world peasant's attitude to magic to the average modern person's attitude to nuclear energy: "I have no direct experience with it, it is sometimes reputedly beneficial, certainly often very nasty, and the further it is from my back yard the better!"


  • From musical Rent's number "Over the Moon": "Not in my backyard, utensils! Go back to China!"

Video Games

  • The term NIMBY is used in at least one Sim City game (makes sense, as you're playing a city planner).
    • This ranges to many things, from the obvious, toxic waste dumps, and casinos, to more subtle things like landfills, industrial areas, and commercial zones (more so in Sim City 4, where traffic noise becomes a factor to how desirable a zone is). Naturally, anything that humans wouldn't want sitting in their backyard in Real Life, Sims wouldn't want either.
    • The inverse of this is called YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard), which includes things like parks, schools, hospitals and police stations. A good strategy is to balance out the NIMBY with YIMBY. (Sure you're living next to a pollution factory, but look at the nice trees!)
  • Present in Dwarf Fortress. Obviously it is a bad idea to leave rotting meat in an indoor refuse pile near a place dwarves will frequently have to pass through, as the miasma it gives off will disgust nearby fortress dwellers. More subtly, it is a bad idea to create bedrooms near frequently used crafting workshops, next to areas under current excavation, or just next to rooms in which dwarves are hauling around and placing furniture. Doing so will result in any dwarves sleeping in said rooms having an unhappy through at their uneasy sleep due to the noise.
  • Constructor: High-level tenants are conscious of their neighbors, especially if you group Nerds together with noisy Hippies on the same estate. They also tend to demand more costly fences. The most expensive one is the Insurmountable Monolith, which more closely resembles the Berlin Wall. Only Yuppies want to live next to this monstrosity, which they dub "Art Deco".
  • In Pharaoh, there are many buildings that produce various entertainers and service providers required to keep your citizens happy. Unfortunately, while the walkers are welcome, the buildings themselves are not. Reasons range from the sensible (industrial buildings are ugly, noisy and smelly) to Fridge Logic (people coming and going from the dance school). Most cities end up with a few zones of highly-developped housing, requiring vast slums of workers to keep the rich society's services running correctly.

Western Animation

  • There's an episode of The Simpsons where a stamp museum is being built directly behind the Simpsons' house. The family aren't best pleased at having a construction site practically in their back garden, and successfully lobby to have it moved - it's shifted onto the site of Springfield Cemetery, which is promptly moved behind the Simpsons' house, giving Lisa nightmares.
    • They then visit the stamp museum and complain about how long the journey took.
  • Johnny and the Sprites: In "The Sprites Save Grotto's Grove," a super-annoying real-estate developer shows up with exciting plans to build a hotel. It sounds great at first, until Johnny and the Sprites realize that it would require the complete destruction of Grotto's Grove, not to mention most of Johnny's literal backyard.
  • In the 90's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon; Shredder and Baxter were raiding a hidden science testing facility deep in the bad part New York City. When asked why it was here of all places by Baxter, Shredder replies on how it's because "if it blows up the neighborhood, nobody cares."

Real Life

  • This is a major obstacle for cell phone companies wanting to put up towers to cover some areas. The fact that nobody wants a big, ugly cell phone tower in their view is one thing keeping Can You Hear Me Now from becoming a Dead Horse Trope. So companies typically offer deals, or dress up the towers to hide them from view.
  • Nuclear waste disposal as well. Very few places are willing to take on this sort of waste, whether it be nuclear weapons related or energy production related and most fight tooth and nail to avoid even the mildest radioactive waste, often quoting this exact trope. This has made finding locations for safe and secure disposal extremely difficult.
  • This applies to any type of waste disposal facility. When a new landfill is created the people owning the nearby properties will usually be very unhappy about it.
  • For other forms of energy production: Wind Turbines. They might be better for the environment than huge power plants but when they're in operation they're very noisy.
  • Highways and freeways. They make things easier for business and tourists, but also bring in a lot of noise and pollution. Residential areas are kept away from these for just these two reasons, and mostly businesses and public service buildings are near them.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.