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If Miami hasn't got it, nobody's invented it yet.
—Vinne Marco in a first season episode of Miami Vice

Ever since a certain 1980's detective show, Miami, FL has become a favorite destination of TV and movie writers (and makers of certain video games involving homicide and car theft.)

It makes sense. If aliens, terrorists, or Mother Nature decide to smite a city, they'll go for one of those other two first. It has all the warmth and tropical glamor of the West Coast, but with an East Coast hipness. You might mistake it for Hawaii at first glance.

If you believe TV and the movies, Miami is the only city in Florida; despite being hundreds of miles apart, Tallahassee (which, by the way, is far up north enough to experience at least occasional snow in winter), Jacksonville, Key West, Tampa, and Orlando are just suburbs. You would also think that everyone lives in Art Deco mansions, wears the latest designer sunglasses, speaks Cuban-accented Spanish, has access to a speedboat and takes off their sunglasses at the slightest provocation. Not quite Truth in Television. Nobody *actually* takes off their sunglasses - it's too bright for that. The abundance of palm trees however is true, as are the boats (though there are usually more yachts than speedboats), thanks to Miami's proximity to both Biscayne Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Miami/South Florida metro area (which extends north through the three most populous counties in the state) is the biggest urban area in the state, and fourth largest in the United States (not the largest city proper in the state, however; that would be Jacksonville). It also has the largest immigrant population of any city in North America, just ahead of Toronto, thanks to its large Caribbean and Latin American communities.

Often used in Real Life negatively as a No True Scotsman fallacy. It's totally safe to visit Miami; it doesn't have nearly as many shoot-outs and car chases as it does on TV, but the clubs and beaches are really that glamorous. [1]

Completely (well, mostly) unrelated to Only in Florida.

Examples of Only in Miami include:


  • The second The Fast and the Furious movie headed to Miami.
  • Both Bad Boys movies center on a couple of Cowboy Cops who work for the Miami PD
    • These movies also had a bit of of an odd case of California Doubling, not with Cali but with quiet, gentrified Delray Beach, Florida, 50 miles to the north for some scenes. Many areas are instantly recognizable to native Miamians, though.
  • A few years before Miami Vice, there was the 1983 movie Scarface, which also contributed heavily to the image of Miami as a noir/cop setting.
  • One of the odder examples is Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which involved the Miami Dolphins.
    • And involved a story based on their real-life archrivals, the Buffalo Bills, losing Super Bowl 25 on a missed field goal.
  • Any Given Sunday takes place here, following the "Miami Sharks."
  • Averted- and how- in Dolphin Tale. The movie takes place in Clearwater, Florida. Which is not an obscure little town- but not one of the major 4 Florida cities either (though it is just west of one- Tampa). It is based on a real story- and they kept the actual specific West Central Florida location instead of moving it to the better known Miami.


  • Almost all Elmore Leonard crime novels, largely because Leonard is a Miami-based author. Dave Barry has also set his fiction in Miami for the same reason. In 1996, Barry, Leonard and 11 other Florida writers, some of whom also set most of their works or one or more series in Miami, collaborated on a Miami-set comedy mystery novel entitled Naked Came The Manatee.

Live-Action TV

  • Miami Vice. Of course.
  • CSI: Miami: Now the setting this show focuses on is...*puts on sunglasses* Only in Miami. YEAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
  • Any Spanish-speaking Soap Opera co-produced by Telemundo, who can showcase truly "international casts".
  • Burn Notice has an international superspy artificially confined to Miami, leading to the oddest combination of Stale Beer and Martini-flavored Spy Fiction ever concocted.
  • Nip Tuck.
  • Dexter takes place in Miami, and is filmed mostly there (but also in California).
    • Has something of a dark twist; Dexter likes Miami not for the sun or the glamour (things which he actually personally dislikes) but for the high unsolved-murder rate, which makes it an ideal place to "hone his craft". (20%, if Dexter is to be believed, which is...impressively atrocious.)
  • Reno 911 Miami
  • The Golden Girls is based here, though none of the four protagonists are natives. They're also all over 50, leading to plenty of "old people in Florida" jokes, even though three of the girls are still working full-time.
  • Austin and Ally

Tabletop Games

  • The sample city for Changeling: The Lost is Miami, the reasoning being that Miami sees such a regular influx of immigrants and travelers that it's only logical it would serve as a net for those who fell out of the Hedge. Though the crazy probably has something to do with it as well.

Video Games


  1. Just note that tourists flying into the airport are a prime target for criminals because Florida's very friendly concealed carry laws make them the least risky targets.
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