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Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world.

She took the midnight train going anywhere.
—'Journey, Don't Stop Believin

A teenager growing up in a small rural town wants to get away from it all, to the big city, or abroad, anywhere but the boring old Small Town. Characters that come from this background generally Jump At The Call. If they don't, expect the the Call to come looking for them anyway.

Compare and contrast with Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here and Hated Hometown. Related to Grass Is Greener, which is about someone in bad conditions dreaming of going to a better place. See also Farm Boy, Ordinary High School Student. Often seen in stories set in Dying Towns, perhaps ones with Small Town Rivalry.

Often, however, leads to An Aesop about Home, Sweet Home and appreciating what you've got. A common subtype is leaving the Close Knit Community and finding that Apathetic Citizens are much worse.

When this happens in a musical, expect a "Somewhere" Song or a Wanderlust Song.

Examples of Small Town Boredom include:


Anime & Manga


Comic Book


Film

  • The DCOM Stuck in the Suburbs.
  • Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
  • The Swedish movie Fucking Åmål is a teenage Coming Out Story set in the titular Åmål, which Elin thinks is the most boring place in the world.
  • Popular Music From Vittula takes place in the northern Swedish town of Pajala in the 60's. A lot of the youngsters talk about moving away the moment they turn 18. In the end, Niila is the only one to actually do anything, as he hitchhikes out and becomes a rock star.
  • George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life wants nothing more than to leave Bedford Falls forever. Life intervenes.
  • Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz
  • The titular character in Big Fish.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, while Clarice Starling is interviewing a girl in Belvedere, Ohio, the girl asks her:

 Girl: Is that a good job, FBI agent? You get to travel around and stuff? I mean, better places than this?

  • In The Last Starfighter, Alex Rogan really wants to get out of the boring trailer park where he lives.
  • In the rarely seen De Laatste Zomer (The Last Summer), the character Tim often vents about wanting to escape to somewhere different.


Literature

  • Corrie Swanson in Still Life with Crows.
  • The book The Dark Side of Nowhere starts out with the protagonist thinking like this. Then he discovers that he and most people in the town are actually a race of aliens gearing up for a full-scale invasion.
  • The mother in the novel Anywhere But Here.
  • In the novel Dandelion Wine, one of the characters is complaining about just this when the Lonely One returns.
  • The main reason Zoe in Saving Zoe decides to try to become a model. It leads to her death.
  • Rusty, the protagonist of Warrior Cats, decides to give up place as a housecat and join the Clans because of this.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, Rose wants to leave and go somewhere where even a girl can make devices. (It doesn't help that they all think she's touched in the head.)


Live Action Television


Music

  • The Garth Brooks song "Nobody Gets Off in This Town" -- referring both to how nobody gets off the bus here and to the lack of entertainment opportunities.
  • Dexter Freebish - "Leaving Town" (I know you've been talking about leaving / You've lost all your feelings for this town.)
  • Kelly Clarkson - "Breakaway", which is all about wanting to break away from the small town where she grew up.
  • "Subdivisions" by Rush.
    • Even more so "Middletown Dreams".
  • Much of Big Black's work, such as "Cables" and "Kerosene", deal with how people alleviate this trope.
  • "Dry County" by The B-52's, on the album Cosmic Thing.
  • The song "Small Town" from Lou Reed and John Cale's eulogy for Andy Warhol, Songs For Drella.
  • Texas In My Rearview Mirror by Mac Davis. He inverts the trope in the final verse, though, realizing that he was happiest in the small town.
  • Thunder Road, Born to Run... Basically, a lot of stuff by Bruce Springsteen.
  • Every Day Is Like Sunday by Morrissey, about a seaside town they forgot to close/bomb down.
  • "Something To Do" by Depeche Mode. The singer, living in a factory town, is "going crazy from boredom" and says "it's a wonder this town doesn't sink".
  • "Cool Enough" by Nicole Atkins.
  • "Black and White Town" by Doves.
  • Taylor Swift, particularly in "White Horse".
  • While the song itself isn't about it, but the song "White Kids Love Hip-Hop" by MC Chris has a spoken-word monologue by Andy Merril along these lines.

  Aw man, there's nothing to do in this stupid town. Rope swing's busted, stinkin' cops always kicking me out of the park, manager of the 7-11 always saying 'Get off my curb, you good-for-nothings!'. All the girls already know I'm a bad kisser so they won't come anywhere near me. I dunno how many times I've been to T.G.I.F; a kid can eat an Onion Bloom only so many times. Bowling's boring, the skating rink's been taken over by twelve-year-olds. There ain't no good movies out. Blockbuster never has any good games in. I don't want to play Bombad Racing! I mean, what the heck is that? I'm sick of all my records but any time I go to the record store, I forget what I want to get! And there ain't nothing on TV! Not a stupid thing! There ain't nothing to do but take naps, and wait patiently for death!"

  • Sara Evans' "Bible Song;" after the narrator's cousin commits suicide to escape, she gets out before she goes the same way ("so no one would sing some Bible song over me").
  • Steve Earle's "Someday".


Stand Up Comedy

  • On his album Werewolves And Lollipops, Patton Oswalt talks about growing up in Sterling, Virginia, and "The Test Of The Small Town". You pass the test when you say "I'm leaving before I kill everyone and then myself!" You fail it when you say, "I'm gonna get a job at the Citgo and fill my truck up for free!"


Theater


Video Games

  • Persona 4: Said boredom is such that it drives someone to murder. This was also a key point in Shadow Yosuke and Shadow Yukkiko's dialogues. Shadow Yosuke taunts Yosuke about how boring the town is to him, while Yukiko's shadow mentions how much she hates the town and just sits on her ass waiting for her prince to come rescue her from it.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Riku wants to get off his home island.


Western Animation

  • Touched on sometimes in King of the Hill, specifically the episode where Hank worries about losing Bobby to a more exciting place... like Wichita Falls, home of the Dallas Cowboys training camp. Hank tries to campaign to have the training camp moved to Arlen, with disastrous results, but in the end Bobby says that he would never move to Wichita Falls--because to be a prop comic you need to go to New York or Los Angeles.
  • Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast: "There must be more than this provincial life!"
  • Also Disney, Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She's an odd example, though, in that in her case the "small town" is actually the ocean.
  • The title character from Katy Caterpillar begins her adventure because she considers the safe cherry tree where she and her sisters live to be "ever so boring."


Real Life

  • Truth in Television: Happens even with some good-sized cities that aren't as huge as others.
    • Some states, such as Indiana, have problems keeping up job rates because college grads and other people of age immediately flee to larger cities such as Chicago or LA to seek gainful employment.
      • As a Chicago native, it does not surprise me anymore to meet people at city events, bars and find out that they are NOT from the city proper, or even the suburbs but from other midwestern cities like St. Louis, Detroit Metro or South Bend (Indiana)
    • It gets worse in the Great Plains states, where this trope, combined with industrialized agriculture outcompeting small farmers, has been causing a demographic crisis. Small towns are being abandoned as nobody shows up to replace the young people who leave, and the last Census survey holds that some areas now have a lower population density than they did in 1890, the year that the frontier was declared to be closed. There have even been calls to bring back the Homestead Act in order to resettle the Plains states.
  • Some of the farm-country and Lovecraft Country areas of New England.
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