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It is only proper that the world be set to rights. However, if we were to unite the entire world the ignorant masses would be unable to keep pace. Therefore, we will start here. And just to be extra prudent and avoid pushing ourselves too hard, we will go one step further and focus here. Conquering one city is a reasonable plan that allows for some leeway for setbacks, don't you think?
—Lord Il Palazzo, Excel Saga
Supervillains are, as a rule, ambitious. From your typical Evil Overlord to a Mad Scientist to a pair of lab mice, any bad guy worth their Spikes of Villainy will have a grand plan to Take Over the World.
Then there's this brand of villain. Either they set their sights low out of practicality, or it just doesn't occur to them to aim higher. Whatever the reason, they focus their plans in one specific location. Usually the City of Adventure where the heroes happen to also live. There's nothing special about that particular town or city. No hidden source of power, no Weirdness Magnet attracting trouble, nor any particular personal reason for the bad guy to target the place at all. In some cases, it's either possible or explicitly stated that the city in question is the villain's hometown, and thus it could be a matter of the villain taking over whatever area he happens to find himself in.
In some cases that particular location could be Step One in an ultimate take over the world scheme. If so, usually it just seems to never occur to the villain in question to simply move their operations someplace less troublesome.
This trope is primarily used for comedy, as in most serious works the villains are either more ambitious, or have more pragmatic goals. It's also most commonly seen in kids shows in the west. Alternatively, when played seriously, it could be that the city in question is a city-state, large enough to be a small country in its own right.
Anime & Manga
- Excel Saga's Il Palazzo believes in pacing oneself, so he starts out by conquering the city, then Japan, then the world.
- Soon after its foundation, the World Domination Club in Twinkle Saber Nova realizes that they cannot Take Over the World with their current strength, so they decide to Take Over the City first. But the city is too large for them, too, so they start with their school.
- Florsheim's Evil Plan in Astro Fighter Sunred is, in order: 1) Defeat Sunred. 2) Take Over the World. They're still sort of stuck at step 1 and refuse to move on to step 2 until it is finished. Which is sort of good, since they probably wouldn't know what to do for step 2 even if they did get to that point.
Koga Shuko: ALL I WANT IS TOTAL DOMINATION OF ONE MAJOR AMERICAN CITY! IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?
- For some mysterious reason Supervillains with peculiar fetishes seem fixated on taking over Gotham City - and nobody except Batman seems very interested in stopping them, certainly not the State or Federal authorities!
- Casanova Frankenstein from Mystery Men built a Doomsday Device with which he planned to ... do something really evil to the city, it's not entirely clear what his plans are, he is after all insane.
- Many villains of Discworld set their sights on ruling Anhk-Morpork
- Despite being possibly the most powerful human ever, Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series doesn't seem to want to extend his empire outside of Britain.
- The protagonists of The Secret History develop an effective plan to take over Hampden town, the bucolic locale of Hampden College -- but it's all just a chilling intellectual exercise.
Live Action TV
- All the Arrowverse villains who ever tried to take over either Star City, Central City, National City, Gotham City or Freeland.
- While after world domination and despite the fact they were on a moonbase capable of transporting their monsters anyplace they wanted, the first Big Bads of the Power Rangers series always and without exception attacked Angel Grove.
- Due to the unique way Torchwood is written, the Sleeper agents in Season 2, episode 2 begin their quest for total global domination with the terrifying act of blowing up a post office in Cardiff.
- Many Wide Open Sandbox games feature this when you're limited to a single city.
- The Grand Theft Auto series had you conquering either Liberty City or Vice City. Though Grand Theft Auto San Andreas upped the ante and gave you three cities to conquer.
- The first two Saints Row games has you taking over Stillwater not once, but twice. Saints Row: The Third focuses on a new city, Steelport.
- Order of the Stick has Daimyo Kubota, a card-carrying evil aristocrat who schemes to take over Azure City, and still plots to assassinate its lawful ruler even after its entire population has been displaced. His main mistake is severely underestimating Vaarsuvius' ruthlessness and sociopathy.
- Ink City has to deal with this, primarily from Trevor Goodchild, who wishes to turn it into New Bregna. Several other villains have also planned to do so, while many of the regular residents are Genre Savvy enough to respond to any public threats of this with eye rolling and sarcastic commentary.
- Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls generally concentrated his efforts on taking over Townsville though this was his first step to taking over the world.
- Miss Mister from Super Duper Sumos wanted to destroy the world but start with Generic City. In some episodes. In others she wanted to take over the city, then the world. To add to the confusion, in one episode she says "All I ever wanted to do was destroy Generic City and take over the known world, is that too much to ask for?"
- Phineas and Ferb villain Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz concocts plan after plan with which to conquer "the entire Tri-State Area!" The episode "What Do It Do?" has a flashback to a date he went in in high school with Linda, and when he tells her he plans to take over the world, she suggests he start small.
- The title character of Megamind showed little interest in conquering anything beyond
- Lampshaded in an episode of Johnny Test when Mr. White & Mr. Black ask why the show's villains always seem to attack Porkbelly.
- In a Superman TV special faux documentary, Evil Genius Mad Scientist Brainwave recommends beginning villains start small, for example, taking over their next door neighbor.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron had one Mad Scientist who tried that.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man only has one villain try to take over the world in one episode; the rest war over New York City.
- Re Boot has Megabyte mostly focus on taking over the city of Mainframe. He would rather go after the Supercomputer but he'll settle for the city he's stuck in. When he succeeds he tries to leave for the Supercomputer as soon as possible.
- In Disney's Aladdin, most villains really only want to take over (or destroy) Agrabah. Even Jafar, though he definitely cared about having a lot of magical power, never seemed to extend his political reach beyond Agrabah.