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"Now, I make fun of Cleveland because everybody makes fun of Cleveland. I mean, every country has one city that people make fun of. In Russia, we used to make fun of Cleveland."
—Yakov Smirnoff with the opposing viewpoint
Known in some circles as "The Mistake By The Lake" or "The/Tha Land", Cleveland has the largest urban area in Ohio. It's often considered a Wretched Hive and a Place Worse Than Death, a joke that's been ongoing for years. Many recent polls and news articles only reinforce this image, as it was once rated the most miserable city in America. It was also the original Trope Namer for Aliens in Cleveland, as the city is considered by many the image of mundane mediocrity (at best).
Possibly the biggest reason why this goes unchallenged is because all but the most anal-retentive Clevelanders have a sense of humor about it; they'll tell you themselves how Cleveland is America's Butt Monkey. With the brutal winters, massive urban decay, a river that was once so polluted that it caught on fire thirteen times, several political scandals leading to multiple FBI raids, and the fact that road construction is never finished (also a staple of Ohio in general), most residents have no illusions of being in paradise, and rely often on Gallows Humor. Some choose to stay, however, as the city has a low cost of living, a growing healthcare industry (the world-renown Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals), and decent nightlife. It can even be called a mini-Chicago, due to its patchwork of ethnic neighborhoods, midwestern atmosphere, public rail that's both elevated and underground, and division by a major river (east and west in this case, with people on either side almost never going further than downtown).
The term "Rock and Roll" was coined in Cleveland, and the city has a proud musical heritage and is home to both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Orchestra, one of America's "Big Five" symphonies. Also, Playhouse Square in downtown is the second-largest theatre complex in the United States, behind New York City's Lincoln Center. The city is also sometimes used as a stand-in for NYC or Chicago in film, due to lower filming costs, since it has similar architecture. It possesses a surprising number of truly beautiful churches, more museums than a city thrice its size generally has, and two of the best library systems in the country. Cleveland's the home of Case Western Reserve University, one of the more bizarrely named colleges in the country, and Cleveland State University. An hour southeast is Kent State University, a Berzerkley known for an infamous shootout in 1970.
Its baseball and basketball teams—the Indians and Cavaliers respectively—are fairly solid, although the Indians have currently gone more than 60 years without winning the World Series, longer than any other team in the American League and longer than any Major League Baseball team that hasn't been cursed by a goat-owning bartender, and the Cavs lost its star player; ESPN had an hour-long special dedicated to his announcement. And supporting its football team, the Browns, tends to be a lesson in masochism. The city has had a sports rivalry with Pittsburgh for decades. Sort of. Also, never, ever say anything nice about the Baltimore Ravens.
The city was named for surveyor Moses Cleaveland (the first 'A' was reportedly dropped so the name would fit on a newspaper masthead) and has no connection to the English county of Cleveland, or the 22nd and 24th President of the United States (who was only distantly related to Moses Cleaveland).
Not to be confused with Cleveland, the name of the area around the mouth of the River Tees in the UK including the cities of Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees.
Cleveland in fiction
- Antwone Fisher
- Howard the Duck
- American Splendor
- The Fortune Cookie
- Major League
- The Drew Carey Show (whose one-time theme song is the Trope Namer, used in full irony here)
- Overton from Living Single
- Marvel superheroine Dagger (of Cloak and Dagger fame) is from Shaker Heights, a wealthy suburb in the East Side.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, passing references are made to a Hellmouth in Cleveland. Robin is shown to have moved there with his own squad of slayers.
- How I Met Your Mother: the main character of the show, Ted Mosby, is from Cleveland, namely Shaker Heights. Series creator Carter Bays (he based Ted’s character off of himself) also hails from Shaker.
- Ted’s best friend from school, Punchy, still lives in Cleveland with his fiancée. In season 6, he asks Ted to be the best man at his wedding, which may or may not lead to a major turning point in the series.
- The Thirty Rock episode of the same name portrayed Cleveland as an idyllic paradise, albeit through the eyes of harried New Yorkers. In actuality, Public Square should have a lot more homeless people and pigeons hanging out.
- The Escapists
- The opening scene of Air Force One was filmed from the roof of Severance Hall.
- Fat Freddy of The Freak Brothers was briefly elected mayor (after trying to replicate Dick Whittington's adventures and become Lord Mayor of London, Cleveland was reckoned second best). People mooned him and threw bottles during his inaugural parade.
- Portal takes place in Cleveland, according to information in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Later retconned, Portal 2 takes place in a salt mine in the state of Michigan, though both settings could have been used.
- Welcome To Collinwood
- The Soloist
- Stranger Than Paradise
- Kappa Mikey main character Mikey Simon is said to be from Cleveland
- Not fiction, but a number of Cleveland's restaurants have been featured on TLC.
- Several books/movies based on the Torso Murder (a Cleveland serial killer) such as Butcher's Dozen or John Peyton Cooke's novel Torso.
- Criminal Minds had an episode with a serial killer in Cleveland.
- Blood and Rust by S. A. Swiniarski a book that contains two vampire stories set in Cleveland.
- A few Route 66 episodes take place in Cleveland.
- The short story "On a Clear Day You can See All the Way to Conspiracy" by Desmond Warzel.
- The Infocom game Leather Goddesses of Phobos includes a small area of Cleveland, where it is compared (unfavorably) to the slime pits of Venus and sandstorms of Mars.
- A few Get Fuzzy strips mention Cleveland such as the one that rates it the smelliest city in America.
- In View From The Top, Cleveland is the hub of Royalty Airlines' commuter-class sibling, Royalty Express, and serves as the setting for the middle third of the film.
- Hot in Cleveland
- The short story "Fields" by Desmond Warzel takes place in Cleveland during the final days of humanity, after most plant life on Earth has been choked out by genetically modified wheat.
- In Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey II eats Cleveland.
- In Kids Next Door Numbuh 1's history report decribes the founding of an adult paradise, "they named it Cleveland."
- In Deadpool's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he accidentally destroys Cleveland during a drunken party aboard Galactus' ship.
- Carl Sandburg's poem "Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio" seems to paint the Cleveland of the first half of the 20th century as a happening jazz and blues scene, albeit with a darker undertone of hedonism and disappointment for the common worker (in keeping with Sandburg's socialism).
- Les Roberts's series of detective novels featuring Milan Jacovich (fifteen books as of 2011).
- In Skin Horse, the transgenic convention takes place in Cleveland.
- In a darkly humorous twist of fate, Cleveland is left as the largest city left standing in North America within the Alternate History Dot Com timeline, Protect and Survive.
Celebrities from Cleveland and the surrounding area
- Lebron James (basketball player once worshiped for making the Cavs a respected team, now hated with a violent passion for moving to Miami and making a huge media event out of announcing The Decision)
- Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
- Halle Berry
- Drew Carey
- Alan Freed (Cleveland disc jockey, coined the phrase "rock and roll.")
- Tracy Chapman
- Patricia Heaton
- Jim Backus
- Anne Heche
- Gerald Levert
- Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel (the creators of Superman)
- Award-winning sportswriter Joe Posnanski
- Jerry Lawler (Spent some of his childhood there, life-long Cleveland Browns fan. We're sorry, King.)
- The Miz
- Molly Shannon
- Teri Garr
- Monica Potter
- Burgess Meredith
- Hal Holbrook
- Frank Yankovic (musician, known as "America's Polka King")
- Pere Ubu
- Harvey Pekar (who also wrote about it)
- Steve Harvey
- Tim Conway
- Mike Douglas
- Bill Watterson
- Bernie Kosar (Who famously played the NFL Draft system so he could end up with his hometown team.)
- Langston Hughes
- Paul Newman
- Bob Hope
- Michael Symon (Food Network Chef)
- Wes Craven
- Mary Ann Winkowski - Television personality whose claims of paranormal experiences are the basis for Ghost Whisperer, on which she is also a paid producer.
- Harlan Ellison (Grew up in the nearby town of Painesville)
- George Steinbrenner (Who tried to buy the Cleveland Indians before settling for the New York Yankees instead.)
- Lady Akashia (Drag Queen who appeared in the first season of Ru Paul's Drag Race)
- Kid Cudi
- Many a local has squeed upon seeing the Trust Company Rotunda in Spider-Man 3
- The Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University used to be two separate institutions until 1967. "Western Reserve" itself refers to an old name for northeast Ohio, the Connecticut Western Reserve, claimed by the state of Connecticut for its veterans to settle in following the American Revolution until the state agreed to give it up to the newly-formed state of Ohio.
- Before you ask what a "Brown" is, the team was named after its first owner Paul Brown, former Ohio State coach and a highly respected figure in Ohio athletics. It wasn't even his idea and he was against it at first, but later went along with it. For an animal mascot, dogs have long been popular due to the city's first pro football team, the Bulldogs.