"It's kind of a mystery, yes. But if you look at the clues, you should be able to figure it out."The location of the city, state, region, or sometimes even the country in which a work is set is never revealed or intentionally hidden. It’s most often used as a Running Gag, but it can also be used in drama to create an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty. Leaving a location unspecified can help it serve as a geographic Audience Surrogate. It can serve to create a City of Adventure (if only because very few real locations have every possible thing to see and do). Other times, the writers simply never see a reason to bring it up. Creator Provincialism and No Communities Were Harmed come into play if the location is vaguely based on a real place, but here the difference is that the creators can also play fast and loose with the accuracy. Nevertheless, fans will still sometimes go to extensive effort to piece together clues and pin down the location, which usually just leads them to conclude that it’s set wherever it was filmed. The trope is named after Springfield, the hometown of The Simpsons, which even has its own Separate Simpsons Geography Thing. “Springfield” is one of the most common names for towns and cities in the United States, so the name serves as an indicator of an Everytown, America. Compare City with No Name. Contrast No Communities Were Harmed and Canada Does Not Exist, where the setting is based on a real-life location but never outright identified. The temporal version of this trope is Ambiguous Time Period.
— Lisa Simpson being unusually cryptic in The Simpsons
open/close all foldersThe trope namer has so many examples that it has its own page.
Anime & Manga
- Attack on Titan is implied to take place sometime in the future and mentions the Far East, so the geography is assumed to be the same as ours. However, the Walls officially have a combined radius of about 480 km, or larger than most European countries or American states. Chapter 86 seems to suggest that Never Was This Universe was in play all along.
- Futari wa Pretty Cure is set in Wakabadai, an amalgam of various suburbs surrounding Tokyo on different sides. There is a real town by that name, but it's not anywhere particularly near Tokyo.
- Yes! Pretty Cure 5 is set in a city that is supposedly somewhere in Japan. But it’s full of French signs, and some fans have noted that it looks like The Theme Park Version of London.
- Dragon Ball is heavy on World Building, but it’s still not clear where on Earth much of the action is taking place. None of the nations are named or specified, and cities have names like “East City” and “Ginger Town”.
- Ojamajo Doremi has Misora Town (or “Misora City”), which is claimed to be in the Kanto region of Japan (i.e. near Tokyo). There is a real Misora Town, but that’s in Otsu, in the Kansai region.
- Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha are both set in Uminari City; all we know about it is that it’s somewhere on the coast of Japan.
- Princess Tutu is set in the town of Kinkan, which is translated to “Gold Crown” in the English dub. But nearly all the text in the series is in German. Only in the last episode did we see a clue as to its location, where a town map named the town “Goldkrone” – German for “Gold Crown”. This implies that it’s either in Germany or a fantastic equivalent. It appears to be based on the real-life German town of Nördlingen.
- The town that D.N.Angel is set in is a strange case. All the characters have Japanese names and they seem to follow Japanese customs, but the town's architecture makes it look like a seaside European village. The anime added a character who claimed to be an exchange student from America, but otherwise countries aren’t really mentioned. The audio commentary for the English dub has two of its voice actors asking, “Where is this set, anyway? France?”
- It's never revealed what country the jungle in Haré+Guu is in. It does have Indonesian flowers, bears, and orangutans, but the rest of the wildlife is totally bizarre.
- Prétear is set in the fictional Awayuki Town, somewhere in Japan. We're shown that the town appears to be on a small island connected to the main part of Japan by a bridge, but it's hard to tell much else.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! features Mahora Academy. All that can be determined of its location is that it's likely somewhere in the Kanto region of Japan (so somewhere near Tokyo).
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Daten City and neighboring Oten City are equally vague. The setting itself is an Americasia, so while we see several Eagleland references, Daten City also has parts that look just like a Tokyo suburb.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! is mostly set in Domino City, which is almost definitely somewhere in Japan. Some speculate that it’s a fictitious Tokyo. Yu Gi Oh Zexal takes place in Heartland City, and all we know about it is that it’s somewhere else in Japan.
- Most of the race locations in Initial D are actual mountains, but Akina is a notable exception. It’s somewhere in Gunma and looks kinda-sorta like the real-life Haruna; beyond that, details are sketchy at best. The closest settlement is “S City”, which doesn’t help. The course in the manga also doesn’t match the Haruna course in the video games.
- Umi no Misaki is set on what is for all intents and purposes a fictional small island in the vicinity of Okinawa.
- Mitakihara, in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, is one of the stranger examples of this trope: there's a lot of very recognizable architecture, but it puts the series setting in thirteen different cities on four different continents. note
- Is the Order a Rabbit? is supposedly set in Japan; everyone follows Japanese customs, eats Japanese food, and uses Japanese currency. But the town is modeled after Colmar, a town in Alsace – a region of France with a strong German influence, so there are both French and German influences in the show as well (like the German-style Christmas market). And the military rations shown in Episode 3 include things like raisin walnut, marshmallow fudge, and panna cotta, which the Real Life Kaiju Defense Force is unlikely to provide.
- Much of the Nasuverse media is set in or around three fictional Japanese cities: Misaki, Fuyuki, and Mifune. Fuyuki is a coastal city modeled after Kobe, while Misaki lies further inland, near Tokyo. Beyond that, we know nothing about where they might be.
- Riverdale in Archie Comics:
- In very early Archie stories, Riverdale is explicitly situated somewhere in Massachusetts, the home state of creator Bob Montana. For example, Mr. Lodge first appears as a Massachusetts senator, who appears to be named after a contemporary real-life senator from Massachusetts. It appears to draw heavily from Montana’s hometown of Haverhill, whose sole salient geographic feature is the Merrimack River winding its way through town (hence the name “Riverdale”). This location has long since ceased to be canon.
- Later stories imply that Riverdale is close enough to New York to be a reasonable drive away, putting it somewhere on the East Coast. A few others, though, have implied that it’s in California.
- Eventually, a “Where is Riverdale?” contest was held, which revealed that Riverdale is “all of America, including Canada and Mexico.”
- In Gold Digger, the Diggers family lives in Atlanta, Georgia. However, since the whole point of the comic is that Gina is an Adventurer Archaeologist and explorer, most of the stories are set in various “lost lands” like El Dorado or Atlantis whose locations are, of course, never specified.
- Duckburg and Mouseton from the Disney comics and cartoons.
- Duckburg is in “Calisota,” a Springfield of a state. Its location was unspecified in Carl Barks’ time; he would joke that it can’t be found on the map because it’s under the letter “A” in “U.S.A.” Don Rosa gave it a specific location, in the northern third of California, which also happens to coincide with the proposed State of Jefferson.
- Mouseton is sometimes shown as very close to Duckburg, as seen as early as Romano Scarpa’s “Emperor of Calisota” (1959), which also identified Calisota with the California coast.
- In several classical strips by Floyd Gottfredson, the city where Mickey lives is implied to be somewhere on the East Coast. In a couple of those adventures, Mickey talks about "going to the West". Speaking of Scarpa, the current standing in Disney Italy is that Duckburg is somewhere in California and Mouseton is somewhere in New England.
- One DuckTales episode broke with the trend, though, with the characters finding the city of Atlantis, which is clearly not in the Pacific Ocean.
- In the G.I. Joe comics, one of Cobra's bases is “a nice little town called Springfield,” a Stepford Suburbia Town with a Dark Secret somewhere in the United States. It’s become something of a Running Gag, especially given that since there are so many Springfields, there may be more than one with a Cobra base. For example:
- Cobra troops disguise themselves as a marching band from Springfield and discuss the idea that every state seems to have a Springfield – one quips, “Yeah, and some have two or three.”
- One storyline has Joe brought to Springfield, only to escape and try to mount a counterattack. But by the time he does so, Cobra has already evacuated, suggesting they could just bug out to another Springfield.
- In one continuity, Cobra Commander hails from a fictional Springfield on the southern tip of Staten Island, New York (which was actually just farmland in the 1980s when it was written, rather than suburbia).
- The TV series had an episode “There’s No Place Like Springfield”, where an amnesiac Shipwreck wakes up in a world with Cobra destroyed and the Joes disbanded, gets married, has a kid, and settles down in a town called Springfield which turns out to have been Cobra Island all along.
- British comics The Beano and The Dandy (made by the same company) are contained within their own fictional towns that are meant to be somewhere in the UK, called Beanotown and Dandytown respectively. The two towns are rivals, so it’s assumed that they’re close together, but beyond that, there’s no indication of where they are, and the geography will happily change as convenient.
- Viz is an adult pastiche of The Beano and The Dandy, and it’s set vaguely in North East England in the fictional town of Fulchester (perhaps just to name its football club “F.U.F.C.”), somewhere near Newcastle and Sunderland, with all that implies.
The Clitoris of the North – a hidden gem that’s hard to find but gives great pleasure when you do.
- Astro City is in an undefined location, and Kurt Busiek implies that he knows where it is but refuses to tell. He will say only that its real-life location is a small town rather than a city. Some clues (big mountains, radio station KBAC, and apparent proximity to California) put it somewhere in the western United States. The town founder was apparently on his way to California when his wagon broke an axle and he just gave up.
- The geography of The DC Universe and its fictional cities is vague and inconsistent at best, but some facts have been “officially” or quasi-officially established from time to time. DC's “house fanzine” from The '70s, Amazing World of DC Comics, established some city locations, which were mostly followed in The Atlas of the DC Universe, a supplement for the DC Heroes Roleplaying Game. Some of this information can be found categorized in this website. What’s weird about the DC universe compared to the Marvel universe is how many fictional cities DC has; the JLA/Avengers miniseries suggests that this is because the DC Earth is physically larger.
- Metropolis, home of Superman, has rarely been nailed down to a precise location in the comic books. Where it does have a precise location, it tends to vary:
- In the comic strip The World’s Greatest Superheroes (which ran from 1979-1982), Metropolis is unequivocally located in in Delaware. Subsequently, this location was codified in the Atlas and in the JSA vs. Kobra miniseries.
- Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster grew up in Cleveland, and Shuster also lived in Toronto until he was 10. Both have been suggested as inspirations for Metropolis.
- New York City is another inspiration, given its reputation as the Big Applesauce. The 1978 movie and its sequels made this explicit. However, The DCU does contain its own separate New York.
- Superboy series tend to use Chicago as an analogue, if only for it being “the nearest big city” to Clark Kent’s hometown of Smallville (which is itself a Springfield, but at least we know it’s in Kansas).
- Occasionally, Metropolis has been placed in the fictional state of “New Troy”. On other occasions, “New Troy” refers to a part of Metropolis (such as in the Atlas).
- Gotham City, home of Batman, has even more varied locations:
- It may or may not be very close to Metropolis. Some works (such as World’s Greatest Superheroes) suggest that Gotham and Metropolis are practically twin cities. This often puts Gotham across the Delaware Bay from Metropolis, in New Jersey.
- It’s also often used as an analogue for New York City, even more so than Metropolis, because it can also make use of The Big Rotten Apple tropes. Many Most maps of Gotham City suggest it shares some aspects of New York’s geography, including a big body of water to the east and much of the action taking place on a large, inland island like Manhattan. Batman: The Animated Series and its tie-in comics like to play up the New York-style imagery as well (although it’s inconsistent on if Gotham actually is in New York state or its own “Gotham state”). As is sometimes said, “Metropolis is New York by day, and Gotham City is New York at night.”
- The Young Justice animated series puts it in Connecticut, around where Bridgeport is in real life.
- A crossover with Spawn placed Gotham at the former site of the disappeared colony of Roanoake in Virginia.
- Chicago has gained currency as an inspiration city after The Dark Knight was filmed there and showcased the city rather extensively.
- Central City, home of The Flash (Barry Allen), and Keystone City, home of The “Original” and the third Flash, Jay Garrick and Wally West:
- The Atlas puts it in Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Keystone City (which places it in the neighboring Illinois).
- Pre-Crisis, Central City may have been in Ohio, and Keystone City may have been in the Keystone State, Pennsylvania.
- Sometimes Central City is suggested as having been named for being "in the center of" the United States. However, this might mean very different things depending on when the city was founded.
- Silver Age and Bronze Age stories quite often depict Central City with prominent mountain ranges (and mountain caves used as supervillain hideouts) nearby, which would be inconsistent with a Midwestern location.
- In The New Frontier, a character refers to Barry as “the Illinois Flash”.
- One Bronze Age story depicted Central City being near sizable salt flats, of all things. The DCU's 2011 relaunch recalls that imagery; Central City and Keystone City (collectively known as “the Gem Cities”) are shown to have “badlands”, drawn with a Monument Valley look, “just outside Central and Keystone City.”
- Opal City, home to multiple generations of Starman, is in Maryland, according to its creator, James Robinson. It’s a rather bizarre location, since Opal City seems to have been at least somewhat on the edge of “the Wild West” in the late 19th Century.
- Coast City, home of Green Lantern Hal Jordan, has somewhat surprisingly always had an unambiguous state in the comic books. It's in California. Its location within California is pretty vague, though. The Atlas puts it in the north, about halfway between San Francisco and Eureka.
- Smallville, hometown of Clark Kent, was given an unambiguous location in Kansas in the 1978 movie. This location carried over into the comic books. Its location was previously unspecified, however:
- As noted above, Smallville was sometimes depicted as being relatively close to Metropolis. This could suggest a Midwestern location for Metropolis or an Eastern location for Smallville. In any case, the northeast was much more rural in the 1930s, which would have been the setting of the first Superboy stories.
- The eponymous TV series suggests that Metropolis is the closest big city to Smallville. In fact, the series admirably resigns itself to implausibility and places both Smallville and Metropolis in central Kansas, regardless of how absurd that is. Smallville is covered in forests, mountains and lakes, while the real Kansas is famously flat and featureless. And Metropolis dwarfs Kansas's largest city, Wichita, by at least an order of magnitude, probably two.
- As with Central City, a number of Superboy stories depict nearby geography (such as mountains) that would be inconsistent with a Midwestern location.
- Hub City, home of The Question, has an undefined location, but was specifically inspired by East St. Louis, Illinois, (according to creator Denny O'Neil).
- Happy Harbor, Rhode Island was home to the original Justice League of America's “Secret Sanctuary”. Later stories established this as a fact, but as one blogger notes, this isn't really supported by the original stories. The Secret Sanctuary is also in a mountain cave, a feature Rhode Island is not known for.
- Star City (aka Starling City) has been based on Chicago at times, and more recently on San Francisco.
- Metropolis, home of Superman, has rarely been nailed down to a precise location in the comic books. Where it does have a precise location, it tends to vary:
- Basin City, a.k.a. Sin City. It is in the West somewhere, considering it's located near a desert and was started as a boomtown. There are also Western-style bars and strip clubs (Nancy often dresses as a cowgirl), and the term “cowboy” is thrown around sometimes. Country music is also popular there, apparently. The city seems based mostly on Las Vegas with elements of New York, Chicago, and LA thrown in for good measure.
- Tintin, though a Belgian creation originally intended to be a reporter for a Brussels newspaper, essentially became of undetermined nationality and hometown once the comic went international. Though the drawings incorporate features of Brussels, he is never stated to be from anywhere more specific than Europe in the comics, nor does he ever acknowledge being in Brussels when he is in the city. The English translation at one point puts Captain Haddock's estate of Marlinspike in England (based on the address on a letter), but this is never acknowledged elsewhere in the series and the French original does not specify Belgium. But there are some clues that wherever Tintin’s from in Western Europe, it must be a Francophone city:
- The international versions don’t change many of the street names or names of people in Tintin’s hometown, which are clearly French. That said, English translations (including The Movie) do use British currency.
- In The Black Island, Tintin narrowly catches the ferry to England, which is clearly not his home, and the journey takes less than a day, implying that he started in Belgium or northern France.
- Tintin’s address is clearly written on the letter that Chang sent him in Tintin in Tibet – except it’s in Chinese, although you can barely make out the double “L” of “Bruxelles” on the envelope.
- Early editions of Tintin in the Congo show Tintin teaching Congolese schoolchildren that the homeland is Belgium (the then colonial power), but later editions retcon this into a mathematics lesson.
- Used In-Universe in Miracleman. The City of Spies in Spy Story is just called “the City”. When the main character starts asking what country it’s in, people look at her as if she’s mad. It turns out that the City was built to house all the spies in the world, who couldn’t deal with the utopia the world had become and were instead given a fictional war of intrigue to carry out amongst themselves.
- W.I.T.C.H. has Heatherfield. It was apparently meant to be somewhere on the U.S. East Coast, but this left us with something looking like a big American city with people who all behave like Italians (or at least as if they’re from elsewhere in Europe). Most of the characters’ names are British, the biggest sport is soccer, and the police will contact Interpol to deal with illegal aliens. But at the same time, you do see most signage in English, Halloween is a popular celebration, the school sometimes flies the Stars and Stripes, and France and Italy are both treated explicitly as foreign countries. Currency can be either American dollars or Euros.
- The City of Transmetropolitan gives few clues as to its location, save that it is near both a mountain and the ocean, though even these have to be taken with several hefty bags of salt, since it’s also said The City is the size of a small state at least once and has its own block of national electoral votes. And much like in The Tick, it really is just called “The City”. It’s implied that the City was once New York, grown too big for one city to handle over so many years.
- Diabolik started out set in France, as made obvious by the police officers wearing the kepi, Diabolik being sentenced to death with the guillotine (also used in other places, but to an Italian associated mostly with France) and mentions of Marseille. Then, as the authors had troubles documenting themselves in the pre-Internet days (the series is quite the Long Runner), the setting was Retconned in the fictional city of Clerville, capital of the country with the same name, with a number of other fictional or unnamed countries hosting a few stories (the most frequent are Benglait and Rennert, bordering with Clerville, and, in flashbacks, King’s Island, placed somewhere in the Indian Ocean with its exact location being explicitly off the maps) and, more rarely, Italian cities hosting special stories. The only thing that is known for sure is that Clerville is in Europe, as made explicit in 2002 when the country adopted the Euro.
- Dykes to Watch Out For: The city is never named, but depicted as a medium-sized American Midwest town with snowy winters, a university, and a large and diverse LGBT community. Maps included as title pages in some of the collections show a surprising number of streets named after famous lesbians. Author Alison Bechdel has said that the look and character of the city is very loosely based on Minneapolis.
- Calvin and Hobbes never makes any direct mention of where it's set, and Calvin and Hobbes themselves aren’t quite sure. Played for Laughs when Calvin is daydreaming during geography class, and Ms. Wormwood asks him what state he lives in. Calvin replies “denial”. Ms. Wormwood states she can't argue with that.
“If I remember my atlas, we live in a big, purple country.”
“And our house is by the giant letter ‘E’ in the word ‘States’.”
- That said, there are some hints that it’s in Bill Watterson’s hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland. This strip◊ clearly shows the Great Lakes when Calvin imagines he’s climbed up to outer space, and a splash panel from a Sunday strip with GROSS had a sign next to their treehouse reading “Beware: falling buckeyes!”, a reference to Ohio’s nickname of “the Buckeye State”.
- Peanuts never explicitly stated its setting, but the few clues given suggest either Minnesota (where Charles Schulz grew up), Northern California (where he spent the last four decades of his life), or a combination of the two. Since it hardly ever snows in most parts of Northern California, Minnesota is probably the answer.
Lucy: Which side of the Mississippi are we on?
- Lampshaded in one strip from April 1995, when Rerun says that marbles-playing bully Joe Agate is “the best player this side of the Mississippi.”
Rerun: I don't have the slightest idea.
- The strip never brought up the name of the town, but it's been mentioned in other Peanuts material on at least two occasions: the 1963 book Security is a Thumb and a Blanket calls the town “Pinetree Corners”, while the 2002 TV special Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales lists it as “Sparkyville, USA”.
- Garfield's location is never specified in the comics, though according to the animated special Garfield Goes Hollywood, it's Muncie, Indiana, Jim Davis' hometown.
- Zits is never precisely clear on where it’s set, but a number of references suggest that it’s somewhere in central Ohio (although Jeremy does state that he was born in Nebraska). The strip is drawn by Jim Borgman, a chief cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, which is in southern Ohio.
- FoxTrot has hinted that the town in which the Fox family lives is called Hillsdale (e.g., a Hillsdale Mall in an early strip, H's on the school team's uniforms, etc.), but besides an address in the first strip, no specifics are given. Peter and Roger are fans of Northeastern sports teams (like the Boston Red Sox, Washington Redskins, and Chicago Bulls), but even that doesn’t necessarily place them in the Northeast.
- At least one early strip in Pearls Before Swine said the strip took place in Stephan Pastis’ hometown of Albany, California, which is near San Francisco. However, this is never mentioned again, and a later series shows the characters needing to take a cross-country bus trip to San Francisco.
- Dick Tracy's adventures take place in an unnamed analogue of Chicago (based on the presence of Capone counterpart Big Boy). Interestingly, the 1990 Warren Beatty film adaptation never revealed the city's name (the characters just called it “the city”), but many film critics automatically assumed it was Chicago.
- Curtis takes place in a city that was unnamed for decades – until 2009, when Curtis and Barry play hooky to watch Obama’s inauguration in Washington. They travel there by city bus, proving that they live in Baltimore.
- Beetle Bailey: When first seen, Camp Swampy had palm trees and was definitely not in Alaska. That's about all we have, except the palm trees aren't there anymore, and it now snows there.
Eastern European Animation
- Investigation Held By Kolobki is an interesting example. Originally, the city the story takes place in was called “Ensk”, a Russian catch-all term for a small provincial town meaning “City n”. The sequel shorts and video games, though, have established it as Berdichev, Ukraine, which moves it into “Wacky Detectives in Berdichev” territory.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series goes back and forth on this. An earlier episode revealed it to be near Yellowstone National Park (i.e. Montana or Wyoming). A later episode lampshaded when the weather reporter simply calls the nearest county “that unnamed county that’s next to us.”
- Its very ambiguous where Amestris is in Alternate Universe Fic Im Giving You A Night Call. Countries like the U.S. and Japan exist separately, and Amestris is further implied to have been created post-WWII based off Edward the 1st's stories of the actual Amestris.
- Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy takes place in the fictional town of Oriyama, which neighbours the equally fictional town of Tsukimiya. Add another equally fictional town, Isuten, and you have the Tri-Cities. The author is still not sure where exactly they’re located.
- We don’t know where exactly Cellar Secrets is set, but we can assume it’s in America (the author’s home country), based on little details like the house having a basement and characters having middle names. But we don’t know exactly where in America they live.
- Similarly, in Kiryuuin Chronicles, we can assume that the fic takes place in America; Rye is from somewhere in New York, and Satsuki's father, Soichiro lives there, although other details suggest that the story itself takes place somewhere in the Midwest.
Films — Animation
- Most of Kiki's Delivery Service takes place in a city that explicitly borrows architectural elements from such locations as Stockholm, Visby, Lisboa, Naples, and Paris. It is implied to be located in Northern Europe, and the inhabitants seem to be a mix of European and East Asian phenotypes with no hint of racial segregation or discrimination.
- Wallace & Gromit takes place in a generic Northern English town, though when Wallace gets post, the address can be briefly seen as “62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan.” Other hints also suggest a Lancashire setting; though ironically (given the counties' infamous rivalry) Peter Sallis' voice acting gives Wallace a Yorkshire accent.
- Chicken Run is set on a farm in Northern England, which could be pretty much anywhere. (The Other Wiki claims it's in Yorkshire.)
- Most Pixar movies are set in undetermined locations (the only big exception being Finding Nemo, which is known to take place in and around Australia):
- The Toy Story movies are set in “the Tri-County area”, as seen on newspaper vending machines, TV ads for Al’s Toy Barn, the local airport, and WebTuraMaps. Some of the architecture suggests a Southern California setting, albeit a rather provincial, suburban one; Simi Valley is a good bet.
- The Incredibles is set in Metroville, which is in an undetermined location, and much of the action takes place on Nomanisan Island, a tropical volcanic island in another undetermined location. We do know, though, that Violet’s middle school is based on Brad Bird’s high school in Corvallis, Oregon.
- Cars is set in Radiator Springs, which is clearly located somewhere in the southwestern U.S. near I-40 and Route 66, but its exact location and state are never explained.
- In Whip It, Bodeen, Texas is clearly within driving distance of Austin, but other than that its precise location and geography are left ambiguous.
- In A Bug's Life, the setting is never specified, but the arid landscape and mention of a rainy season heavily implies it is either in Texas, the American Southwest, or Southern California.
Films — Live Action
- Se7en takes place in an unnamed American city. Some take it to be Seattle due to much of the film taking place on rainy days. Word of God, on the other hand, calls the film Andrew Kevin Walker’s “love letter to New York City.”
- American Beauty takes place in a generic Stepford Suburbia in an unspecified location, although it was filmed in Chicago.
- Miller's Crossing takes place in an unnamed American city during The Roaring '20s.
- Saw takes place in an unnamed city, with no hints as to where it is located.
- The state represented by Senator Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is not named, even though (or more likely because) its two senators, the governor, and the boss of its political machine are all central characters.
- The opening voiceover of Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave states that “this could be any city.”
- The city of Springwood in A Nightmare on Elm Street wanders all over the country as the series goes on. The first movie is set in an unnamed Los Angeles suburb, but as Continuity Creep sets in with each sequel, the setting picks up the name Springwood and enough backstory to turn into a Town with a Dark Secret. The sixth film's opening finally puts Springwood squarely on a U.S. map – in Ohio. Freddy vs. Jason suggests that it’s near Camp Crystal Lake (which is in central New Jersey), but Word of God clarified that the movie just didn’t show how long it took Jason to get to Springwood.
- Batman films tend not to be consistent with Gotham’s location:
- The Dark Knight Saga never hides the fact that the first two films were shot in Chicago, with prominent landmarks like the Wrigley Building visible, but there the location of its Gotham City is apparently fantasy, given that its license plates state that it's located in Gotham State. The map of Gotham is the same one from Batman: No Man's Land, which puts the city on a group of fictional islands in New Jersey’s Great Bay. The final film throws New York and Pittsburgh into the mix as well.
- Batman Forever hangs a lampshade on Gotham’s ambiguous geography by giving it landmarks associated with different real-world cities, like the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. Some Batman continuities give Gotham a “Statue of Justice” instead.
- Payback is set in some city during some decade. The architecture, clothing, furniture, and phones all make its city difficult to place both in location and time.
- Office Space had cars with generic “USA” license plates, but it's implied to be set near or around Dallas-Fort Worth: the boat Peter, Joanna and Lawrence fish in has a Texas registration number (with Texas state shape), the place where Lawrence mentions he's helping build a new McDonald's is an actual Dallas suburb, Las Colinas (where many big companies have operations), the “channel 39” Joanna mentions at the restaurant is an actual Dallas station (for many years it aired lots of Westerns; now it's the Telemundo station); and the fact that both Beavis And Butthead and King of the Hill are also made by Mike Judge and are both also set in Texas.
- Incendies is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country in a state of unrest and rebellion.
- The Transformers film series is all over the place. Sam Witwicky lives in a place called Mission City, which in the first film was 22 miles from the Hoover Dam, putting it somewhere in Nevada or Arizona. Its final battle sequence, though, was very obviously filmed in downtown Los Angeles (with some bits in Detroit as well). Sam also goes to college somewhere far enough from Mission City that he has to fly there, although Executive Meddling necessitated this one – since the second film also shows his mother’s marijuana-fueled escapades around campus, several colleges forbade Michael Bay from identifying the place.
- Zigzagged in the Indiana Jones movies. Originally, there was no need to name Indy’s home town (although the maps showed it was somewhere in New England) or the college where he taught, and neither is given a name in the films. Novelizations and video games, however, do both, as the author found writing a novelization difficult without doing so. The town was named Bedford and put in Connecticut, and the school was named Marshall College after Frank Marshall, a collaborator of Steven Spielberg and producer on all four films. It did, though, conflict with the video game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, which called the school “Barnett College” – fans theorize that Indy teaches at more than one school.
- Footloose takes place in Beaumont. Many viewers assume it’s meant to be Beaumont, Texas, but dialogue references (e.g., being within driving distance of Chicago) place it somewhere in the Midwest. The stage version lampshades this (see Theater below).
- In Cinderella (2015), the kingdom's location is never given; however, it is clearly set in the real world, as various globes and maps can be seen around Ella's house. Influence was drawn from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and France is also nearby, or at the very least, Ella is fluent in French.
- The Double takes place in a dystopian city, but the time and location are both unclear. The actors are predominantly white and speak English with American accents, but there is a noticeable number of British accents as well. In one scene, Simon uses a Japanese coin to play a Japanese song on a jukebox. Another scene features a lounge band playing a song referencing Iwo Jima.
- No Escape went to great lengths to make the setting as vague as possible, other than it being somewhere in Southeast Asia. Despite being filmed in Thailand, no Thai is spoken or seen written. The police officers’ shields have a modified Khmer script, and dialogue is a mix of several languages. This was done because the setting is not shown in a good light, and they didn't want to offend their audience.
- The cult favorite slasher film Sleepaway Camp is known to take place in Upstate New York, made evident by the natural scenery of the camp’s location and the New York accents and dialogue of several characters, who obviously live in the New York City area and would logically head upstate for summer camp. However, it's unclear exactly where upstate the camp is.
- Carry On Cowboy is set in a town called Stodge City somewhere in The Wild West. They seem to get telegrams from Washington, D.C. very quickly, but the Loveable Rogue cowboy says that he's from Texas and he's been wandering the roads for ten days. Furthermore, although Stodge City is firmly in The Wild West, Washington looks like it’s in The '60s.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Shock Treatment are both set in a town called Denton – 18 towns in America have that name. In Rocky Horror, Janet is seen reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which suggests that it’s Denton, Ohio (confirmed by the Rocky Horror Scrapbook). But Shock Treatment tried to throw that out of whack by filming it in Denton, Texas (but due to a writers’ strike, they had to film in England instead). Shock Treatment’s Opening Narration also refers to it as “a town not far from yours.”
- In The Name Of This Book Is Secret, the narrator specifically says that he cannot reveal where the story is set (or even the real names of the characters) because it is too dangerous. The book is just as strange as it sounds.
- In the Discworld continuum, one of the very early books (when they were “straight” parodies of mainline fantasy fiction) has an author’s foreword by Terry Pratchett reading, “This book contains no maps. If this disturbs or offends you, feel free to go and draw one of your own.” Fans did, for a while; one became canon about thirty books in, but this hasn’t stopped all manner of arguments about specific locations.
- Don Quixote invokes this trope in the very first line: “In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to recall…” Scholars have deduced that the village is Argamasilla de Alba, where author Miguel de Cervantes was imprisoned for a time (and where he began to write the novel) – no surprise he had no desire to recall the place. The last chapter suggests that In-Universe, not revealing Don Quixote’s hometown would allow all the villages of La Mancha to compete for the right to be his hometown in legend.
- Animorphs is up-front with the characters saying that they “can’t let you know who we are, or where we live.” The last book does say that they live in California, somewhere around Santa Barbara, but there are earlier hints as to that location, such as the region’s geography and the conveniently nearby zoo/theme park “The Gardens”.
- The Saga of Darren Shan, as well as the Demonata, never reveal the name of their town, city, or country. Darren's school in the first book is based on one near the author’s home in Limerick, Ireland. It feels very Irish in general, too. Lord Loss and a few of the sequels take place in Carcery Vale.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events is unclear on the orphans’ location, hometown, country, or time period during any of the books. There are vague “hints” at being set in the U.S., the author’s home country.
- Lampshaded in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days; early in the book, the narrator explains that a surveyor’s error caused the entirety of Mist County, the town’s location, not to appear on any maps of Minnesota.
- John Dies at the End is set in the town of “Undisclosed”, with the only information ever given about it being that it's somewhere in the American Midwest. Before the book was published, the town was Rockville, but fans took this to mean it was set in the real town of Rockford, Illinois, so it had to be changed. The Alternate Reality Game on the website suggests that it’s Cairo, IL, based on photos of the town and multiple references to the Egyptian city of the same name.
- Most of Charles de Lint’s stories are set in the city of Newford, whose location has never been stated. It’s not even clear if it’s in Canada or the United States, although the author does live in Ontario.
- Saramago's novels Blindness, Seeing, Death with Interruptions and All The Names are all set in undefined cities and even countries. It’s a safe bet they take place in Portugal, even though the unnamed country in Death with Interruptions is a monarchy.
- Without Blood by Alessandro Baricco includes a note at the beginning stating that this trope was used intentionally so as to universalize the story. Spanish character names are used “due to their music” and do not indicate a Spanish setting.
- Huge by James W. Fuerst would seem, according to careful examination of Huge's descriptions in the story, to be set in Eatontown, New Jersey. However, while some aspects of the book’s geography match up with Eatontown (the location of the mall and the Circle, the town's proximity to the Garden State Parkway), the author has obviously taken care to scramble other aspects and make the setting more generic. The proof is in the location of the reservoir relative to the mall; it just doesn't work in real life.
- The main action in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in the original U.K. edition, seems to be set somewhere in Britain (probably London), but it's otherwise ambiguous. Cultural Translation has Charlie finding a dollar in the snow in the American edition, rather than the 50p of the UK edition. And then the sequel, which was published in the U.S. first, explicitly puts the action in the United States.
- The first series of Warrior Cats was set in a forest based off of New Forest in southern England, but in the second series, the Clans moved to an entirely fictional new forest and have encountered some wildlife that can't be found in the UK, making it pretty hard to determine where the series is set. Even the authors aren't sure.
- M. T. Anderson's Feed is set somewhere in America, but apart from that the only clues are that it is not too far from the ocean. The problem with pinning down location is that the book is set in the future, so the modern indications don't quite fit.
- Encyclopedia Brown lives in Idaville, USA, with a fair amount of Geographic Flexibility. Some hints suggest that it’s in the Southeast, and an Onion story spoofing the books put it in Florida. One story mentions that the Skunk Ape is “Idaville's version of Bigfoot,” further suggesting Florida and the Southeast. In another, thieves hid stolen fishing rods among the mangrove trees. Nearly all mangroves in the USA grow in Florida.
- After Sinclair Lewis released Main Street, some people were mad at him for using the real town of Sauk Center, Minnesota. For every subsequent book he wrote, he used the fictional state of Winnemac, with its biggest city Zenith and a smaller town named (in quite a coincidence) Springfield.
- Wicked Lovely is often presumed to be in Pennsylvania, but it is never actually stated where Huntsdale is, although it’s clearly American. Melissa Marr stated that this was intentional in an interview, wanting it to be a kind of Everytown, America. Leslie hopping on a train to Pittsburgh in Ink Exchange does give it a bit of a radius.
- All the King's Men is set in a state that is never named and about which little is said except that it’s in the Deep South. However, given that it is very loosely based on the career of Huey Long, a governor of Louisiana in the 1930s, to say nothing of other clues, it's not too much of a long shot to just say that it’s set there.
- The "Conni" series of books, written by Julia Boehme, is set in a town called Neustadt (meaning “New Town”). There are 26 Neustadts in Germany itself, nine more in other European countries, and one in Ontario, Canada.
- The Cat Who books take place in Moose County, which is described as being “four hundred miles north of everywhere.” It’s definitely in the United States and is probably somewhere in the vicinity of the Great Lakes. That's all that has ever been explained about where it is.
- Keys to the Kingdom takes this to such ridiculous extremes that all we know about the protagonist, Arthur, is that he lives on Earth. The author put in the effort to make sure his country, town, and even school remain nameless.
- In The Hunger Games, the exact locations of the Districts and the Capitol are never made clear. There are some geographical clues, as well as the industries each area is known for, but nothing specific. We know only that District 12 is in Appalachia and the Capitol is in the Rocky Mountains somewhere.
- In the endless Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys stories, they've always had trouble pinning down their hometowns:
- Nancy's hometown of River Heights was originally placed in Iowa, but in the following years, it drifted as far east as New Jersey. In the most recent series, it's implied to be in Illinois, within driving distance of Chicago.
- The Hardy Boys’ home of Bayport was a little better. It was always implied to be a coastal town, but that didn't stop it from drifting up and down the East Coast. Similar to River Heights, though, in more recent years, they keep it in the New York/New Jersey area to keep it within driving distance of New York City.
- The novel series of Sandokan has a strange example that borders in real life. Author Emilio Salgari tried to base every location on a real place, but sometimes the maps he used were inaccurate or based on conjecture. Sandokan’s base on the island of Mompracem is based on an island on an old map that can’t be found on modern maps; although Keraman is a good candidate for its location, it’s mentioned in the books as a completely separate island. At least one location was a lake that was only theorized to exist, only discovered not to be there after Salgari’s death, and then dug up by The British Empire years later.
- New Mayhem and Midnight in the Den of Shadows series. New Mayhem is probably somewhere around Concord, Massachusetts, but Nathaniel drugged Turquoise and Ravyn specifically so that they (and we) wouldn't know where Midnight was.
- In The Supernaturalist, it’s very unclear where Satellite City is. The story is set entirely within the city, and very little reference is made to the outside world. And since conventional nation-states no longer exist in the book's setting, the city is inhabited by people of every conceivable ethnicity and background, although the currency is apparently dinars.
- Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's Barnaby Grimes series is set in an unnamed city that seems to be a mix of various 19th Century European cities, mostly Victorian London. Apart from being on a coast, it’s impossible to say where it is, and the few mentions of other places in the world are all fictional locations.
- H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos stories intentionally avert this to help build up the sense that his horrors are very real and out there somewhere. He gives precise latitude and longitude for R'lyeh in The Call of Cthulhu, mentions real Vermont towns and faithfully recreates the local environs in The Whisperer in Darkness, and he often goes over travel plans in minute detail to recreate the protagonist's sense of discovery in the reader. Lovecraft Country flirts with this trope but is usually set firmly in New England — Lovecraft basically created a new river valley in Massachusetts to house Arkham, Dunwich, and any other usefully horrid little towns. Lovecraft himself lived in Providence, Rhode Island, so many fans choose to accept the stories are set somewhere around there.
- In Harry Potter, the exact location of Hogwarts is never stated, and the school is stated to be under a spell that makes it impossible to put on a map. Fans have figured out it's in Scotland — it's the only place in mainland Britain that would take all day to get to by train from London, and the newspapers reporting on Harry and Ron flying a car over the countryside mention Muggles in Scottish towns seeing the car — but beyond that, its exact location in Scotland is unknown.
- In The Genesis of Jenny Everywhere, Levendale City (where this version of Jenny lives) deliberately falls under this trope, despite clearly being in England and possibly the author's home region. It’s a joke on the fact there are several places or geographical features with the name “Leven” the author is familiar with, including a not-very important river that's a tributary of the Tees, and it plays on the idea that like Jenny, it exists “everywhere”.
- In The Mysterious Benedict Society books, the fictional Stonetown Harbor is indicated to be in the United States on the Atlantic Ocean. It's also somewhere reasonably north enough that snow is normally expected in the winter. Other than that, though, the details of the exact location are left vague.
- Czech author Jaroslav Foglar’s YA adventure books are generally set in Czech “Springfields”, including the protagonists’ hometown of Druhá Strana and the mysterious town quarter of Stínadla. The latter is supposedly based on Prague’s old town, as Foglar was from Prague, but it turns out that many Czech cities have mysterious old towns with serpentine alleys, and Foglar insisted that its location be kept secret for it to keep its mystique.
- The Bailey School Kids series is set in a place called Bailey City in an unclear location. A relatively early book describes the local Red River as flowing into the Atlantic Ocean and that the original settlement on the river’s banks was close enough to the Atlantic for the city founders to worry about pirates. But in a later book, a Wild West ghost town is only a bus ride away.
- Most of Stephen King’s stories are set in fictional cities Maine or in actual places King lived (Florida and Colorado in particular). The Running Man, however, is set in the fictional town of Harding, which is somewhere in the Midwest.
Live Action TV
- Most American soap operas are set in Springfields:
- General Hospital is set in a city called Port Charles, but we don’t know where that is.
- Days of Our Lives is set in Salem, which is pretty explicitly in or near a heavily Catholic part of the greater Chicago area (but not in Chicago itself) – it does, though suffer from extreme Geographic Flexibility.
- Both Llanview, in One Life to Live, and Pine Valley, in All My Children, are explicitly stated to be in Pennsylvania, but exactly where is unclear.
- It's implied that the The Brady Bunch is set in California, but where exactly is unknown. It’s heavily implied to be near Los Angeles, though, especially given the numerous references to local sports teams. The Deconstruction The Brady Bunch Movie also explicitly sets the characters in Los Angeles.
- Malcolm in the Middle takes place in an undefined city and state. It is, however, near a beach, 2000 miles from Harvard, 5000 miles from Alaska, and 12 hours to Francis’ military school in Alabama. That plus the climate implies southern Texas, but some later episodes showed Oklahoma license plates.
- Hill Street Blues took place in an undefined city and state. It was filmed in and heavily resembled Chicago, right up to the police uniforms, cruiser livery, and the clear Expy for then-mayor Harold Washington. But there were also occasional references to the “East River”, which would imply New York.
- Arrow and the spinoff The Flash have the following Springfields: Starling City, Central City, Coast City, Nanda Parbat and Lian Yu. So far there has been no real indication as to where these are located. All we know about the “cities” is that they are in the US, and Starling is the coldest and cloudier of the three (which might just be metaphorical anyway). Iron Heights Prison even seems to move from Starling City to Central City between seasons. Nanda Parbat is some crazy Arab-Asian mixture, and Lian Yu is an island in the South Pacific. All of these places are reminiscent of the original comic book versions.
- Oz takes place in an unnamed state, likely in the Northeast due to members of the Mafia comprising one of the show’s main gangs. The creators specifically state that it’s in New Jersey in the commentaries, but they also point out in the pilot that Alvarez is wearing L.A. gang colors.
- The Bill is set within the fictional district of Canley in London. Its precise location in London is unclear, although the district’s central area is along the Thames. It was originally filmed – and explicitly set – in Tower Hamlets in East London, before filming moved to Merton in South London and the setting moved to a fictional location.
- The Mission: Impossible: series often sent the team to vague locations, like the “Western” or “Central” United States, “Africa”, “Western Europe” (vaguely referred to as a nation in itself), the nation of “San X” somewhere in the Caribbean or South America, and a vaguely-named People's Republic of Tyranny.
- La Femme Nikita: the location of Section One's command center is only revealed to be in Paris, France when the center is destroyed to prevent the enemy from gaining control. The other command centers and Section One sub-centers are never revealed unless they are destroyed or are temporary installations. The locations of the missions, though, are usually shown explicitly or easy to guess.
- In The Prisoner we never learn the location of The Village. Filming took place in Portmeirion, Wales, but this was only ever credited in the final episode, but it actually works perfectly in the context. Various parodies, as well as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, seem to concur with this analysis. That final episode also implies that it can be reached by road tunnel from the south of England, but it was such a Mind Screw that such proclamations should be taken with a grain of salt. And a tie-in book (of uncertain canonicity) suggested that it was in Spain.
- The eponymous town of Eureka is never explicitly pinned down, although the whole town is supposed to be a national secret. Various episodes have narrowed it down to somewhere in Oregon, though.
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete was described as taking place “in the mythical city of Wellsville.” Their home state is nicknamed “The Sideburn State”, and you can run or ride a lawn mower to the Canadian border in under four hours. Some vague hints suggests it’s in the East (e.g. Little Pete’s journey to the Central Time Zone, the radio station with a “W” callsign), and a few episodes put it in Michigan. Then again, New Jersey license plates and NJ Transit Buses are everywhere.
- This happens often in Power Rangers; only Silver Hills, Washington and Turtle Cove, Colorado have been confirmed by Word of God. Most of the other seasons seem to be in California, even though post-Wild Force seasons were shot in New Zealand.
- Angel Grove, the setting of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, has every single sort of climate imaginable: mountains on one side, forest on another, desert on another, ocean on another. It’s never outright stated where it is, but between Kirk's Rock, a “Bank of California” sign, the similarity of the name to “Los Angeles”, and all of those climates being found in Southern California, it's generally accepted as being smack-dab on top of Los Angeles, which has the minor consequence of implying differences in history there, given that Angel Grove has been shown to have been a British colony in the 1700s. Different Time Travel escapades gave the town either an Old West look or an English colonial look (although neither was meant to be that accurate anyway). Of course, Rita's telescope makes it clear that it is actually located in Japan, in what is likely Tokyo.
- Power Rangers RPM has contradictory hints as to the location of Corinth; latitude and longitude coordinates given place it either in the center of Greenland or the middle of the Indian Ocean, whereas overhead shots, maps, and other minor clues place it in Boston. It has a desert climate, but it’s heavily implied that it was a victim of nuclear bombardment, which handwaves quite a bit there.
- Power Rangers Samurai is set in a city that has English signs and a rather diverse group of citizens, but at the same time has ancient temples and other distinctly Japanese locations. When we eventually see someone's driver's license, it says “Panorama City, PR 649815” – which implies Puerto Rico, an unlikely location, and also uses an invalid six-digit zip code.
- Desperate Housewives is set in the fictional town of Fairview, which is located in the equally fictitious Eagle State, although the state is rarely mentioned. this check◊ even has a six-digit zip code, and there are fictional license plates and driver’s licenses everywhere.
- The setting of Scrubs is an amalgam of most of California. The writers call it “San Difrangeles.” The episode “My Malpractical Decision” does have a subplot involving Turk’s new cell phone number, which has a 916 area code – this implies Sacramento, but this probably wasn’t done deliberately.
- The eponymous town in Jericho is in Kansas, but its real-world location has been deduced to be non-existent. Maps imply that a number of major highways intersect there, when they don’t cross that way in Kansas in Real Life. It was commonly thought to stand in for Oakley, Kansas, but since the characters could see when the bomb hit Denver, Jericho must be much closer to Colorado than Oakley.
- The exact location of CTU Los Angeles is the best-kept secret about 24. One writer at Television Without Pity attempted to triangulate it by using the driving times mentioned in the show, but they couldn't possibly correlate with each other (and that’s before you even factor in Los Angeles’ notoriously congested traffic). And when it is shown in a long shot including the backdrop of Los Angeles, it shot even those calculations all to hell. The building itself is pretty easy to find, though; it’s in the district of Westlake, just across the 110 from downtown (and a block or so from Viridian Dynamics). By Season 8, CTU is moved to somewhere in New York City.
- My Name Is Earl is set in “Camden County”, which seems like it’s supposed to be Southern but shows evidence of California Doubling. The show does have a lot of references to real locations in northern Maryland; Greg Garcia based it off Waldorf, MD, and the state being right on the border during The American Civil War befits Camden’s history. But Garcia also pointed out that there are too many palm trees for it to really be Maryland. The county is also treated like a town in itself, and there is a consolidated city-county called Camden, but it’s in North Carolina.
- Raising Hope, another Greg Garcia show, is set in Natesville, another unidentified location.
- Corner Gas is set in Dog River, Saskatchewan, whose exact location is never revealed; it’s described only as “40 kilometers from nowhere.” Characters do refer to or drive to “the city”, which could be either Saskatoon or Regina (Word of God says it’s Regina). And some of the locations in the show are actual businesses in Rouleau, Saskatchewan, which is almost exactly 40km from Regina – but the gas station itself is not.
- Pushing Daisies is set in a large-ish city in the fictional Papen County, near the fictional small town of Coeur des Coeurs (which is either a short drive or 120 miles away). Information on them is inconsistent; the pilot hints that Papen County might be in Michigan, but a later episode shows that Coeur des Coeurs has a Massachusetts zip code.
- None of Jonathan M. Shiff's productions explicitly state a location, although they're all set somewhere in Queensland, Australia. This works for Ocean Girl, which is set 20 Minutes into the Future on the Great Barrier Reef, but H2O: Just Add Water and Cybergirl both feature locations easily recognisable to locals (the River City Museum is actually the Brisbane Powerhouse, H2O's water park is Sea World), even though they go to great pains to avoid referencing specific areas.
- The Dukes of Hazzard never said which state Hazzard County was in. There are a number of hints that it’s in northwest Georgia; early episodes were shot in various cities there, particularly Covington, the General Lee has Georgia plates, Daisy was once said to have “the best legs in all of Georgia,” it’s near several state borders, and there’s a reference to “the tornado of ‘74” (which might refer to the 1974 “Super Outbreak” in the area). But they do take day trips to Macon but day-long drives to Atlanta, suggesting southeast Georgia, and Hazzard, Kentucky claims credit as well. As a MAD magazine satire of the show observed:
If we suggested that any state in the nation allowed these kinds of goings-on, they’d sue our britches off!
- Highlander: The Series took place in an unnamed city. It was filmed in Vancouver, but all the cars had Washington State license plates, giving rise to the fanon name for the city, “Seacouver” (a portmanteau of Vancouver and Seattle).
- Nick @ Nite's almost entirely forgettable Hi Honey Im Home has an ordinary suburban family whose neighbors stepped right out of a 1950s sitcom. The sitcom family comes from a town called “Springfield”.
- All That had Ishboo, a Funny Foreigner whose Running Gag was to avoid the subject every time someone asked him which country he was from.
- The Sentinel takes place in the fictional city of Cascade, WA, the exact location of which is never disclosed. Jim Ellison also has the non-existent ZIP code 98765. If you follow the clues, Cascade is easy to locate – it’s Vancouver.
- A major recurring theme in Lost is nobody knows where the island is, to the point that even those who have been there before can’t get back easily. It’s a particularly unique example, considering that it physically changes location every so often.
- LazyTown is a completely unknown location. At least one episode bizarrely implied that it’s surrounded by a wasteland filled with nothing but dirt and periodic telephone poles.
- The 1966 Batman series was obviously filmed in Southern California, but Gotham City’s exact location is all over the place.
- For the most part, it’s a send-up of The Big Applesauce, with different names for famous New York landmarks (like “Chimes Square”) and personalities (like “Mayor Linseed”, an analogue for then-mayor John Lindsay). Establishing shots of Gotham were usually stock footage of New York. The Batcave clocks show Gotham in the Eastern time zone, and in Batman: The Movie, Gordon has a large map of New York City in his office.
- Then again, parts of the series seemed to embrace its California filming location. “Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!” had a surfing sequence at “Gotham Point”, and a Mook in an earlier episode suggests that the Big Bad dispose of Batman and Robin by locking them in a room full of “California smog” (which could be evidence either way, really). Gotham’s TV and radio stations also have “K” callsigns, implying that they’re west of the Mississippi.
- And many of the references were deliberately random or contradictory. The Joker comments on how Gotham is experiencing a power failure “just like New York!”, implying that they’re separate cities (and referencing New York’s famous 1965 blackout). The city has a “West River” that separated Gotham from “New Guernsey”. And Batman’s “Giant Lighted Lucite Map of Gotham City” has been determined, thanks to eagle-eyed viewers, to be a reverse-image map of the greater St. Louis area.
- True Blood is set in the fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, but its exact location was inconsistently presented until later seasons settled on making it a suburb of Shreveport, a real city in northern Lousiana. However, scenes actually shot in Louisiana are filmed in Baton Rouge and its nearby wetlands, showcasing bayous and cypress trees, which are virtually non-existent in the northern part of the state.
- While The Wonder Years certainly looks to be set somewhere in Southern California (and a couple of episodes feature clues hinting that this is indeed the case), the exact setting is never specified.
- Community's Greendale is placed rather ambiguously. It seems to be in Southern California from various small details in episodes, but All There in the Manual suggests it’s really in Colorado (and it was stated in-show after five seasons). It is, however, filmed at Los Angeles Community College, Dan Harmon did go to community college in California, and one episode suggests it was discovered by a Portuguese sailor (named “English Memorial”, looking for a fountain that would cure syphilis).
- Green Acres never indicates its location. It is said to be a four-hour drive from the state capital, Springfield (which would imply Illinois). But then, the state was apparently named after former U.S. president “Rutherford B. Skrugg”, and the state animal is the kangaroo.
- Sanctuary is set in the fictional Old City. Although they don’t advertise the country, it’s clearly set in Canada. The money is all Canadian, and the geography puts it near Vancouver. Then again, the architecture of the mostly computer-generated city looks incongruously ancient, and the Powers That Be have stated that its location is purposely ambiguous.
- Sledge Hammer! examples:
- In one episode, Sledge and Doreau have to bodyguard a Soviet dissident on a train, which is crossing the USA to its destination, Springfield.
- Sledge’s own city is left unidentified, but he holds the rank of Inspector — an uncommon police rank in American jurisdictions, but used in the city where the pilot episode was partially filmed, San Francisco. Which is also the home city of one of Sledge’s inspirations, Dirty Harry.
- The setting of Keeping Up Appearances is never revealed, since it is implied that the characters could exist anywhere in England, although the family are indicated as coming originally from Merseyside. In reality, the series was filmed in and around the city of Coventry and the West Midlands in general.
- Mr. Lucky's yacht is anchored in international waters off the coast of a large city in America, but just which city — and even which part of America — is left intentionally vague.
- Father Ted is set in Craggy Island, which is in an undetermined location off the Irish coast. The general rule is if you're heading away from it, you're going in the right direction.
Ted: Oh no, it wouldn't be on any maps. We're not exactly New York! No, the best way to find it is to head out from Galway and go slightly north until you see the English boats with the nuclear symbol. They go very close to the island when dumping the old “glow-in-the-dark”.
- Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? Word of God says it's based on a neighborhood of New York, and several references in-show (such as Gordon being a Knicks fan) support this. It’s generally accepted to be in Spanish Harlem somewhere. A sketch by Obscurus Lupa and Phelous spoofs its inexact location. Muppet Wiki has all the recorded evidence.
- Most episodes of Criminal Minds take place in real cities in the U.S., mostly sizable cities such as Pittsburgh or Buffalo. However, they are known to occasionally make up places, with their locations in their state being vague. Two notable examples are North Mammon (from the eponymous episode) somewhere in Pennsylvania and West Bune from “Elephant's Memory”, located somewhere in Texas along the Mexican border.
- Teen Wolf is set in the town of Beacon Hills, which is located somewhere in California, but pinpointing the exact location is complicated by mutually exclusive clues:
- The local flora and geography would put it somewhere north of Sacramento and with its 95921 zip code, Beacon Hills would occupy the same location as Inskip, California.
- Its 925 area code would place it in either Alameda or Contra Costa counties near San Francisco, 200 miles away.
- In the episode “I.E.D.”, the sheriff says the town has a population of 30,000 people and is located in the equally fictitious Beacon County, which itself has a population of over 500,000 people. These numbers don’t match any real world demographics in California.
- Crown Court, a 1970s British courtroom drama series which used non-actors as the jury, was set in the fictitious city of Fulchester. The programme was made by Granada TV, so the location could be assumed to be somewhere in the North West of England (though there was never any outside filming). Many of the characters of Viz comic live in a city of the same name, which is explicitly stated to be in the North East of England.
- SCTV is set in a town called Melonville. All we know about its location is that it’s somewhere in the United States, despite SCTV being a Canadian production. A number of clues suggest that it’s a suburb of Los Angeles, but another episode makes it clear that it’s north of San Francisco, and other references suggest it’s right over the border from Canada (or at least somewhere cold). Matt Groening calls Melonville an inspiration for the Trope Namer, if only because it was its own self-contained universe where everything could happen.
- Schitts Creek does this deliberately. The exact location of the eponymous town is kept in the shadows by the writers so they can focus more on the residents therein and their interactions with the Rose family. The town is almost definitely in Canada, though. The show itself is filmed in rural Ontario.
- On The Electric Company (1971), this is Deconstructed in an animated Western Parody that takes place in Or, Utah...
Or, was it Montana?
- In Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the town where the Framing Device (the kids at the campfire) takes place is never identified. This is also true of the overwhelming majority of the spooky stories the kids tell (one specifically took place in Sleepy Hollow, New York). They all seem to have a vaguely Canadian feel, though.
- Scream Queens (2015): The location of Wallace University is never stated, with license plates left deliberately vague. The preppy environment of the campus is reminiscent of many small, private liberal arts colleges on the Eastern Seaboard, but the clues get contradictory from there. Gigi’s reference to the region having once been glaciated implies that it's in the Northeast, but Chanel referring to The American Civil War as the “War of Northern Aggression” suggests the South (though that could be more a joke about her reactionary Alpha Bitch nature, especially given that her accent is generic American).
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: It's never explicitly stated where Polk Middle School is, but it's known to be somewhere in California as evidenced by the state flag near the school’s entrance (the exterior shots of Polk are taken in Santa Clarita, which is right north of L.A.). The finale features a stand-in for Huntington Gardens, which likely confirms it.
- Big Wolf on Campus takes place in a town called Pleasantville, whose precise location is never explained. The show was created in Canada, so it's possible it takes place there, though the fact that Tommy Dawkins idolizes Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway implies that Pleasantville is in Colorado.
- Crime drama Line of Duty is set in an anonymous British city policed by an unnamed constabulary, which allows the writers to be flexible in how they portray police procedure. The first series was shot in Birmingham, series two and three in Belfast.
- In the Focus on the Family radio show Adventures in Odyssey, the location of Odyssey is never actually revealed (naturally, neither is Campbell County). It’s implied to exist somewhere in the American Midwest. At some points, it’s explicitly stated to be in Ohio, but other mentions contradict this (such as a claim that it was a month’s wagon journey from Virginia). The wiki still maintains it to be in Ohio.
- The location of the nameless city in which Urinetown is set is a complete mystery. All that can be inferred (though the presence of Senator Fipp) is that it is in the U.S.
- The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is implied to be set in the U.S., but beyond that, it’s unclear exactly where. Consensus suggests that it’s Alabama, though; it’s near the coast (but not close enough), on the track of a hurricane that destroys Pensacola, within driving distance of Georgia, and of course mentioned in the “Alabama song”. But at the same time, there’s also a mention of Alaskan miners coming down the unspecified coast, which implies California.
- Avenue Q takes place, according to Word of God, “in an outer-outer borough of New York City.”
- As explained by this exchange in Footloose:
“What he means is that he’s moving to some little hick town that nobody's ever heard of.”
“Hey! People have heard of it!”
“Oh, yeah? What's the name of it?”
“You can find it on any map.”
“What's the name of it?”
“Folks are flocking there from all over.”
“What’s the name of it?”
“Beaumont?! Where the hell is Beaumont?!”
- Resident Evil:
- Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is allegedly set in “the American Midwest”. This is contradicted by very variable geography, very warm autumns, and a sign with a 212 area code (which is Manhattan in New York City). Fan speculation puts it in either Colorado or Pennsylvania; the novelizations put it in Pennsylvania.
- Resident Evil 4 is set in an unspecified Spanish-speaking European country, and Word of God says this was intentional. That said, Spain is the only major Spanish-speaking country in Europe, the currency is the peseta (the former Spanish currency before the Euro), and Luis Sera tells you that he “used to be a cop in Madrid” (implying that Spain exists even if it’s not the setting).
- Resident Evil 5 is set in Kijuju, a Bulungi in what is supposed to be northwest Africa. Its official language is Swahili, though, which is spoken in East Africa. Its currency is the Naira, which is used in Nigeria. The flag on Irving’s boat is just the Pan-African flag with stars added to it. Basically, it’s all over the continent.
- Resident Evil: Damnation is set in Edonia, supposedly a southern Slavic country. It’s also the name of what was once a real region of southeastern Bulgaria and northern Greece, but that doesn’t seem quite what they were going for.
- Resident Evil 6 is set in the non-existent Chinese city of Liangshang, although its urban structure and appearance make it seem like an Expy of Hong Kong.
- The Silent Hill series has very few clues as to its setting; only a lake, forests, and vaguely New England-ish architecture.
- Silent Hill itself is all over the place. The original manual describes the town as being in New England, but the first two games have what appear to be Michigan license plates, and Downpour and Shattered Memories both suggest Michigan as well. The atmosphere and environment fit both locations. The town also happens to be near a body of water called Toluca Lake, which does exist – in California. Other games suggest it’s specifically in Maine. And the movie version is very strongly inspired by Centralia, Pennsylvania, a real-life Ghost Town thanks to a decades-old underground coal fire, but it’s explicitly in West Virginia.
- Other games are set elsewhere, but those locations are Springfields as well. Silent Hill: Homecoming is set in Shepherd’s Glen, which is given a location that doesn’t fit with where everything else was established around Toluca Lake.
- FEAR is set in Fairport, whose location is never officially stated. The third game’s strategy guide claims it’s in the Northwest, but that doesn’t fit with the Point Man landing there in a helicopter he took all the way from Central or South America.
- Half-Life 2 is set in City 17; all we know about it is that it’s somewhere in Eastern Europe. The Half-Life wiki suggests that it’s based on Sofia, Bulgaria; the game’s art director is from there, and various Cyrillic signs are in Bulgarian. But it’s also implied that it’s a former Soviet country, putting it further north; the canal system and forest imply St. Petersburg, although Riga, Latvia is another candidate. The Overwatch Nexus is modeled after the Parliament◊ of Serbia◊. And the second Destroy All Humans! game has a throwaway joke that City 17 was once the game’s own Eastern European Springfield, Tunguska.
- A background detail in Half-Life 2: Episode One practically confirms the city as Riga, Latvia. There is a map showing City 17 with a river called the Daugava flowing through it. This is the name of a real river that flows through... you guessed it, Riga. There are also other bits of evidence. The skyline of Riga resembles City 17's, City 17 is coastal and borders a sea (Riga is the only coastal city that the Daugava flows through), the lettering on most signs is Russian suggesting an ex-Soviet country, and there's also occasionally Swedish lettering, suggesting that City 17 s not too far away from Sweden (Latvia is a stone's throw away from Sweden, and hosts many Swedish businesses). Finally, there's numerous restaurants with signs that translate to "Café Baltic", which would match Riga's location in one of the Baltic States.
- Condemned: Criminal Origins takes place in Metro City, which is a highly decayed industrial city, most likely located somewhere in the Rust Belt.
- Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow has a clever spin on this; the good guys know that the Big Bad is planning to deploy some sort of weapon in “the Springfield demonstration”, but they don’t know which one because there are so many Springfields in the country. It’s theorized that this is why the Big Bad chose a Springfield as a target.
- Touhou is set in Gensokyo, which exists within a barrier somewhere in Japan that’s mountainous and landlocked. Fan speculation places it in Nagano (Yatsugatake being around helps), but there's really no way of knowing for sure, and there are no official maps of the place.
- Urban Dead is set in the zombie-infested city of Malton, which could be anywhere in the world. It features U.S.-style malls, British-style pubs, a lot of African art, and many further contradictions. It’s been speculated to be everywhere from England to America to Canada to South Africa to Belize (although fan consensus has settled on England – or some mysterious area of South Africa that gets snow every December).
- Valve based the maps of Team Fortress 2 on the environs of the American Southwest without giving any actual clues as to where 2Fort, Hydro, Badwater, etc. are located. The fandom has a lot of fun finding real-life analogues for all the bits in the game. The War! update did put Badwater in New Mexico.
- Nanashi no Game is set in a fictional Japanese university called “Nanto”, which also happens to be another name for the city of Nara. There’s also a subway going to the university (also called the “Nanto Line”), one apartment building is based on a real building in Fukuoka, and there’s a visit to Nakano Broadway, a real shopping mall in Tokyo.
- Final Fight’s Metro City (as seen in the intro of the first game) is somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. Seeing as its port leads directly to the Atlantic Ocean, fan speculation either places it as New York City or close to it. New York does explicitly exist in the Street Fighter Shared Universe (as seen with Street Fighter III and the Brooklyn-born Alex, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 showing Haggar running for mayor of New York).
- Valkyria Chronicles takes place in Gallia◊, a fictional country that would be located near Poland but which takes most of its cultural and architectural cues from the Netherlands. The creators resolved this by putting Gallia in Europa◊, Europe’s fantastic counterpart.
- Earlier Metal Gear games tend to take place in unspecified locations. Outer Heaven in Metal Gear is supposedly 200 miles north of the Galzburg region of South Africa, which is itself a Springfield. Zanzibarland in Metal Gear 2 is only mentioned as being part of the former Soviet Union, while the real island of Zanzibar is off the coast of Tanzania. Later games, though, tend to take place either in real locations or fake ones explicitly marked on a world map.
- Saints Row and Saints Row 2 take place in the fictional city of Stilwater, which has been implied to be a city in the Great Lakes region. Possibly in Illinois or Michigan. Saints Row: The Third takes place in Steelport, which is loosely based on New York City and Pittsburgh. It’s safe to say that Steelport and Stilwater are close to each other; Steelport could also be in the Great Lakes region, as it’s surrounded by water, or it could be in western Pennsylvania like Pittsburgh.
- MOTHER takes place in the United States — in a completely unidentifiable part of the country that has no ports and just one mountain, and where they name all of the towns after various holidays.
- The Persona series likes to do this, which is odd because most other games in the Shin Megami Tensei series are explicitly set in Tokyo.
- The first game was set in “Mikage-cho”, apparently part of an unnamed larger city. There is a Mikage-cho in Japan, very close to Kobe, but we don’t know if it’s the right one.
- The Persona 2 duology invented Sumaru City, which was somewhere on Japan’s east coast, near to but distinct from Mikage-cho. Then again, most of the first game’s cast is also present, implying that Mikage-cho is part of Sumaru.
- Persona 3 featured the city of Iwatodai; all we know about it is that it’s pretty much owned by the fictional Kirijo Group of companies.
- Persona 4 is set in the countryside, in the large rural Dying Town of Inaba.
- Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters are both set in South Town, which is somewhere in the U.S. Non-game material heavily implies that it’s in Florida and heavily inspired by Miami.
- Paradise City in Burnout Paradise resembles Miami, but it has mountains to the northwest, which don’t exist in Florida.
- Jet Set Radio is set in “a city that is not found on any map, called Tokyo-to. But people just call it Tokyo.” However, its locations only bear a vague resemblance to the real-life Tokyo. Grind City, on the other hand, is a mishmash of Chicago, New York, and the U.S. West Coast.
- The Police Quest trilogy is set in the town of Lytton, which is allegedly somewhere in California.
- Reality On The Norm: It's never made clear which country Reality even lies in. At the beginning of Invasion of the Space Aliens..., the characters argue whether it’s in America or Britain, with the narrator chiming in to claim that it lies in Australia. In any case, the city seems to have its own currency, “Reality Dollars”.
- PAYDAY: The Heist has several heists that looks like they take place in either Chicago or Pittsburgh due to how the cities look in each level, but even the developers don’t exactly know where the heists take place in. The Undercover heist is explicitly stated by one of the characters to take place in Washington D.C. PAYDAY 2 does take place in Washington D.C. (though a good chunk of the DLC heists take place outside of it), but it's not really stated which neighborhoods the levels take place in.
- Kadath in Shikkoku No Sharnoth is either somewhere north of Britain or in an alternate dimension. Evidence tends to point to the latter, apart from the fact that to get to Kadath you have to keep going north.
- Ace Attorney ran into this problem with its localization; it tried to set it in the U.S., and Word of God placed it vaguely in Los Angeles, but it’s so clearly set in Japan that it has a Fan Nickname: “Japanifornia”. The original is just set in an unnamed Japanese city.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is set in a town with haunted woods, a pharmaceutical research facility, a warehouse district, a pirate bar and various other locales useful for the plot or action scenes. It is eventually revealed, through a series of hints in art and dialogue, to be Cumberland, Maryland (and later lampshaded in the Alt Text).
- Gunnerkrigg Court and Gillitie Wood are located somewhere in the UK (apparently in Campbell Country). So far, only two further clues to their location have been given: the nearby Annan Waters (a real river in Scotland), and a letter from Kat (whose contents imply that the Court is not in Scotland).
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! is set in the aptly-named suburb of Generictown. It has not yet been specified what city Generictown is a suburb of. It is adjacent to Pitcheresk Forest, with a mountain range beyond that, including Mount Generic (which is notable for having a hole in its peak, thanks to events in one storyline).
- Housepets! is set within Babylon Gardens, a suburban neighborhood somewhere in the United States; the exact location is not specified and has even been un-revealed, although the author has stated that the main characters’ home was based upon a former residence of his in North Carolina.
- El Goonish Shive’s Moperville is in an undisclosed location somewhere in the US. At one point, in order to avoid revealing the location when Sarah is trying to search obituary records, the State abbreviation is replaced with asterisks. Fans have established that Moperville is most likely based on Naperville, Illinois, at least according to the wiki.
- Unwinder's Tall Comics is set somewhere in Minnesota. Eli Parker tried to avoid revealing its exact location for a long time, but eventually, a conversation came up which would have been too awkward to write without the characters mentioning the town’s name. It wound up being set in Garen, Minnesota, a real-life Ghost Town.
- Bob and George is set in an undisclosed location. They’re presumably Japanese, but if so, why do they celebrate the Fourth of July?
- Homestuck originally played this trope straight and left locations ambiguous, but Andrew Hussie did an about-face and gave all the heroes’ homes exact coordinates, which puts three of them in various parts of the U.S. and one in the South Pacific. Only Dave’s location is kind of ambiguous; he’s near Houston somewhere, but Hussie hadn’t drawn the city to look like Houston.
- In Blood Stain, Dr. Stein's house is known to be in a city by the Mediterranean Sea. Said city is dubbed “God-knows-where” in lieu of an actual place name. In chapter three, the protagonist is shown an envelope with the house’s address, showing that the city is literally named “Godknowswhere”.
- Classic Alice is set in Valeton; all we know about its location is that it’s “somewhere in New England”. Based on the leak of Alice and Andrew’s phone numbers, we know that Alice is from Connecticut and Andrew is from Long Island.
- In Legion of Net.Heroes, Net.ropolis floats from state to state. It has its own senator for this reason.
- Homestar Runner is set in “Free Country, USA”. Not even the characters really know where it is (apparently, it’s in “Place”). The only map of the place showed the continental U.S. as a free-floating continent, with Free Country in the exact center (so presumably Nebraska). And in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, even locations within Free Country move around freely. That said, Creator Provincialism puts Free Country somewhere on the East Coast (radio stations begin with “W”, and they’re within driving distance of a Hardee’s restaurant).
- Worm is mostly set in Brockton Bay, which is on the Atlantic Coast, driving distance from Boston; fanfics have placed it in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and even New Jersey. Brockton Bay replacing Portsmouth, NH is popular.
- Pact, written by Worm’s author, takes place in Jacob’s Bell, Canada, but the exact location is left ambiguous.
- Welcome to Night Vale’s eponymous town is known to be somewhere in the deserts of the American Southwest (and by Word of God not in Texas), but beyond that the location is uncertain. The fact that local grocery store is a Ralph’s suggests that it might be in southeastern California, although the fact that the town’s natives have never seen mountains complicates the issue, as most of the candidate locations are actually quite hilly.
- You Have Become Your Avatar parodies the trope; Marcie!Joshua purchases a map that has every city labeled “Springfield”.
- The early episodes of RedLetterMedia’s Half in the Bag are inconsistent regarding where Mr. Plinkett's house is. It would switch between Teaneck, New Jersey (setting of Mr. Plinkett Reviews) and Milwaukee, Wisconsin (real location of RedLetterMedia). After the fan theory of there being two different Plinketts, they settled on Milwaukee.
- The Simpsons is the Trope Namer, and it’s got so many examples that it has its own page.
- The G.I. Joe cartoon used a town named Springfield, in the episode “There's No Place Like Springfield”, where Shipwreck was subjected to a Truman Show Plot to try to get him to spill classified information.
- Daria is set in the city of Lawndale; although Word of God says that it’s in Maryland, this contradicts several episodes which show that it’s driving distance from desert and mountains. The city itself is always green, though, and it’s also only a few hours’ drive from Boston.
- Lampshaded in The Tick, in which the city is literally named “The City”. This leads to landmarks being named things like “City City Hall”.
- Ed Eddn Eddy takes place in a small town called Peach Creek and gives no hints as to where the town actually is.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy takes place in the fictional town of Endsville. We never get any clues about where the town is, and it doesn't help that, being one of Cartoon Network's more absurd shows, the geography of the town and the natural scenery surrounding it can readily change to fit the plot.
- The Powerpuff Girls has both the City of Townsville and the Town of Citysville. The Townsville mayor puts the city at latitude 32 degrees north by longitude 212 degrees west (which doesn’t exist, as longitude only goes up to 180). There is a city called Townsville in Australia, which might explain all the monsters that plague the city.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends doesn’t even give a name to the town where the home is, much less a general location. It is hinted, however, to take place in or near Townsville.
- Frisky Dingo is set in a town which is universally referred to as “Town” – complete with extensive pauses and shifty eye movements from the Genre Savvy characters. One episode puts them near Seattle, but this is based only on how long it took them to drive to Las Vegas. The most likely location is Atlanta, home of both the production company and [adult swim]; the freeway map seems to correspond, and the Haggar Pants Arena is a carbon copy of the Georgia Dome (albeit with a giant pair of dress pants attached to the roof).
- Ben 10 takes its sweet time getting around to telling you that the Tennysons are originally from the town of Bellwood. But neither it nor its sequel Alien Force (which actually stays close to home instead of driving all over the US) ever bothers to mention which of the ten possible Bellwoods it is. We’ve never seen it snowing there, and there is a desert within fifty miles; Wild Mass Guessing usually puts it somewhere in California or Nevada.
- King of the Hill is set in Arlen, Texas. Where in Texas Arlen is, however, is never made clear. It’s in Heimlich County (which is also made up), and geographical details change from one episode to the next.
- It’s most likely somewhere near Dallas, in the DFW Metroplex. Mike Judge once lived in the Dallas suburb of Garland, which is considered the closest analogue to Arlen. Arlen is also said to be within driving distance of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
- It may be a suburb of Austin. Strickland Propane’s Real Life counterpart is based in Leander, only a short drive from Austin. Austin and Arlen even apparently share a zip code. And about 60 miles from Austin is another candidate region, Bell County, with references to the cities of Belton and Killeen.
- It may be in the far south of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. The waterpark in “Four Wave Intersection” is eerily similar to the Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark in South Padre Island, Texas; the same episode mentions that Boomhauer was a highly-renowned surfer in Corpus Christi. “Escape from Party Island” also features a short journey to Port Aransas.
- Its location relative to the Mexican border is uncertain. In “Three Days of the Kahn-Do”, Hank says it’s an eight-hour drive to the border, but later episodes (such as “The Perils of Polling”) have characters traveling to Mexico and back in the same day.
- And it did cross over with The Simpsons, but they only mentioned that Arlen is 2000 miles from Springfield, which doesn’t clear anything up one way or the other.
- Code Lyoko is set in an undefined location in France. Satellite shots show the action clearly taking place in the southern suburbs of Paris, but which one is not clear. The characters never name the town, nor do they refer to the river as the Seine. “The Factory” is inspired by a real Renault factory in Boulogne-Billancourt, a southern Paris suburb (it was demolished in 2004). Kadic Academy, on the other hand, was inspired by the Lycée Lakanal, based in Sceaux, further to the South. And the English dub didn’t even acknowledge that it was in France.
- Thomas the Tank Engine is set on the island of Sodor, which is large enough to contain mountains, lost cities, and every sort of geographical feature, sometimes contradicting itself from season to season. It seems to be broadly British in terms of scenery and architecture, with some exceptions. There is mention of an unnamed “mainland”; locomotives from there have British and American designs, although later episodes show that the “mainland” refers to mainland Britain. A few locations, including some that resemble North America or even Japan, are close enough to be reached by tunnel. The Railway Series books, though, have a rigid Fantasy World Map, which places Sodor between the Isle of Man and the Walney Channel, off of Barrow-in-Furness.
- Bigg City in Tugs is never clearly given a location. One episode is called “4th of July” and features a very red-white-and-blue themed regatta, suggesting an American location. The architecture, vehicles, and generally the sheer size of the place suggests America. However, almost all the characters have British accents, and not a single one has an American accent. Wherever it is, it’s at the mouth of a river near extensive logging camps, and it sometimes freezes over in winter. Word of God suggests that inspiration was taken from New York, Chicago and Baltimore.
- The city in which the Ranger Tree resides in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is said by Tad Stones to be meant to be a mixture of New York and Los Angeles, and many clues bear this out.
- Phineas and Ferb has several examples:
- The show itself takes place in Danville, which is somewhere in the Tri-State Area. It’s never stated which Tri-State area, and later episodes suggest it was actually named after a guy called “John P. Tristate”. There are also eighteen Danvilles strewn across the U.S. and Canada, so it could be any one of them. We do know that the family can drive to Mount Rushmore and back in a day, and The Pilot shows it on a map somewhere around Denver. But “Hail Doofania” has Doofenshmirtz putting his micronation in the San Francisco Bay Area (which does have a Danville), and its radio station starts with a “W” (implying that it’s east of the Mississippi).
- Doofenshmirtz comes from the fictional nation of Druelselstein, a tiny European Ruritania. It might be a fictional region of Germany, as Doof’s dad spoke German, Doof himself has “some sort of a German accent”, and he’s been known to use German words on occasion (like dummkopf, meaning “idiot”). We later see that it has its own princess (whom Ferb describes as speaking with “an upper-class Druelselsteinian vocal pattern”). It might be based on a European micronation like Liechtenstein, a tiny monarchy in the Alps that uses Germany as an official language, but Druelselstein seems to be much a much poorer country.
- The PBS cartoon series Arthur takes place in Elwood City, with no clear location. That said, it’s relatively easy to trace it to Elwood City, Pennsylvania, which is near Pittsburgh. The characters are within driving distance from Washington, D.C., and creator Marc Brown grew up 90 miles away in Erie, PA.
- Middleton in Kim Possible is apparently close enough to the heartland to be able to access Tennessee in less than thirty minutes, but it has California weather. It’s been shown on maps several times — in a different location each time.
- Amity Park from Danny Phantom has been hinted at to be anywhere from states like Louisiana to the northwest states like Oregon and Washington. General consensus is that it's located in the central U.S., but that doesn't explain why Casper High has “Northwestern Standardized Testing”.
- The city where Regular Show takes place doesn’t have a clearly defined location; in fact, it appears to be named “City”. It’s most likely in Texas, though; radio callsigns start with “K”, it seems to be close to the Mexican border, and it gets hit by a tornado at one point. Then again, “Skips v. Technology” states that the park was once a battleground during The American Revolution, putting it further east.
- Metalocalypse: The location of Mordhaus, Dethklok’s home, and the surrounding land is up for grabs. People have tried to get clues based on how Dethklok got to various gigs, but then it starts getting inconsistent. The only thing fans can conclude is that it isn’t Los Angeles. Or the Marianas Trench. And season three reveals that Mordhaus can fly.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle come from Frostbite Falls, supposedly in Minnesota, which is just about as conveniently populated as Springfield, although it is based on the real Minnesota town of International Falls (and even resides in the same county). Boris and Natasha (and their respective cohorts, superiors and employers) come from Pottsylvania, a tiny eastern European republic, which according to the live-action Movie is nestled between the two other tiny eastern European republics of Wrestlemania and Yursovania.
- Monster Buster Club takes place in Singletown, whose location is never explained.
- WordGirl’s Fair City never has its location fully explained; all we know is that it’s near a body of water.
- Parodied in Pinky and the Brain; Brain creates his own country named Brainania, and Pinky accidentally declares war on the U.S. The U.S. immediately capitulates because they don’t know where Brainania is, and they can’t go to war with a country they can’t find.
- The city in which the Teen Titans animated series takes place is never explicitly named in the show, though it's shown to be on the west coast of the United States. In the Teen Titans Go!! comic based on the animated series, it's given the (rather unfortunate) moniker of Jump City. The Titans East, however, get to live in and protect "Steel City." In the Teen Titans comic that inspired the series, the team was based first in a secret location near Gotham City. Later incarnations were based in New York City and San Francisco.
- The animated Christmas Special 'Twas the Night Before Christmas takes place in “Junctionville, U.S.A.” Literally — this is what's written on all of the mail that gets delivered to the place.
- The Fairly Oddparents is set in Dimmsdale. The Christmas Special puts it in Southern California, and it’s near the desert, beach, and forested mountains, but a Time Travel escapade reveals that it was a British colony at the time of its founding (complete with Ye Olde Butcherede English). The only real-life “Dimsdale” is in Canada.
- Doug’s hometown of Bluffington is only shown to be near Bloatsburg. However, it’s likely set in Virginia, where creator Jim Jenkins grew up. In a Freeze-Frame Bonus, Skeeter has a “Visit Virginia” sign in his room, and the geography looks similar to Virginia.
- Gardenia, the home town of Bloom, protagonist of Winx Club, appears to be in some English-speaking nation given the number of English signs, such as the big “Welcome to Gardenia” sign in the first episode. It certainly isn’t Italy like some fans thought, since in Season 4 they had to travel to Italy in order to find a certain fairy.
- In Making Fiends, there's the town of Clamburg. With clams, Puritans and a relation to Vermont and Canada, you would assume it's somewhere in New England. However, that wouldn’t explain how it manages to be blazing hot in December and February. The creator lives in Los Angeles, which may explain things.
- The Transformers:
- “Central City”, from the two-part episode “Megatron’s Master Plan”, It apparently isn't that far from Autobot Headquarters, but it otherwise has no defined location.
- The Autobots’ crashed ship is also not given a specific location in the cartoon (although it did in the Marvel Comics, which put it near Portland, Oregon on the side of “Mount St. Hilary”). In “Cosmic Rust”, though, Perceptor is left in Fox Creek Canyon, just three miles from Autobot Headquarters.
- Dynomutt Dog Wonder: The Blue Falcon and Dog Wonder, a Batman and Robin parody, come from “Big City” in an undefined state. They have a port on the ocean and are near a huge lake - an apparent joke on one of the great lakes.
- League of Super Evil is set in “Metrotown”. Its location is hinted at when explosions and such are seen from space, suggesting it is near Vancouver, Canada, where the show is made. And greater Vancouver also has a small neighborhood called Metrotown as well. Like Springfield, Metrotown has a statue of its founder, the aptly named “Jeremiah Metrotown”.
- It’s hard to tell where Dora the Explorer is set. The spinoff series, Go, Diego, Go!, seems to be somewhere set in Latin America. And the spinoff Dora's Explorer Girls is equally vague; the city is unspecified, all of Dora's friends speak fluent spanglish, and it seems to be set in the same area as the original.
- Johnny Test can’t decide whether Porkbelly is in an unspecified American state or in Ontario.
- The animated adaptation of W.I.T.C.H. never really describes Heatherfield’s location either, though the English version seems to be set in a North American city that has moderate snowfall in winter and is located by the ocean.
- The Rugrats franchise is very vague about this. The characters are mostly babies who have other things to worry about anyway. The setting is discussed in-depth here, but many clues point to California, including California flags and license plates, and the ability to travel by car to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
- Hey Arnold! is set in the fictional city of Hillwood. There are very few clues as to where the city is located, other than the fact that there are forests and mountains as well as the beach, all within driving distance. The looks of the city itself don't provide any evidence, but the natural scenery implies that it is somewhere along the Pacific Northwest. Indeed, creator Craig Bartlett is from Seattle, and he has stated that he based Arnold's city on an amalgam of northern cities such as Seattle and Portland, though there is also a little bit of New York City thrown into the mix, particularly with the Brooklyn-style brownstones and the subway.
- Rocket Power is a minor example. The fictional town of Ocean Shores is confirmed to be on the beaches of Southern California; it’s just not confirmed exactly where it is along that coastal area (i.e. if it’s closer to Los Angeles or San Diego).
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is set in the town of Retroville. It is never actually stated where in the country Retroville is, but several hints imply it is located in Texas, including the warm climate and presence of ranches nearby. In fact, in the movie, when Goddard is converted to fly cycle mode, you can even see the “Bad Dog” vanity license plate being from Texas. However, in “Attack of the Pants”, Carl at one point exclaims that his uncle is from Texas, though this might just be a throwaway line or an indication that Carl doesn’t know what state he lives in. Even if Retroville is in Texas, it's still unknown what part of the state it is in, which makes a difference since Texas is the second-largest state in the union behind Alaska.
- Clone High is set in the town of Exclamation, U.S.A. The references to towns such as Santa Barbara and La Puenta indicate that the town is located in California. However, the existence of “St Paul’s Mattress Discounters” indicate it is possibly set in or near St. Paul, Minnesota.
- The Mr. Men Show is set in Dillydale, which is located near Onionville – wherever that is. It may be in California; Mr. Scatterbrain once mentions taking a wrong turn at Tahiti, and there is a bridge similar to the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Fillmore!: Although X Middle School is easily large enough to qualify as a small city by itself, there's really no solid information on where it is beyond “somewhere that snows in the winter”, “north of Tennessee”, and “not Cleveland”. Character accents don't help much, since you can find virtually any accent if you look hard enough — everything from Southern to Scottish has been used at least once. The Other Wiki puts it in or around Minneapolis.
- Krazy Kat kept the location of Kokonino Kounty ambiguous for decades, until this short established it’s in Idaho.
- Littlest Pet Shop (2012) is set in an American city know as Downtown City. Its location in the country is unknown, but it seems to be based on New York and San Francisco.
- Magic Adventures of Mumfie is all over North America. Whale mentions the U.S. Constitution in one episode, but the gang also seems to live relatively close to the North Pole.
- The Hallmark animated special Jingle All the Way (no relation to the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy of the same name) takes place in Pineville. The Other Wiki states that there are at least seven Pinevilles in the United States. The sequel, Jingle and Bell’s Christmas Star, mentions “Palm City” – there’s one near San Diego, and the other is in Florida.
- On Toot & Puddle, Woodcock Pocket and Pocket Hollow are somewhere in the United States, far north enough that it gets snow on Christmas. All the other locations on the show are analogues of real-world locations (but with Funny Animals). Beyond that, there are no hints as to where in the United States, and some episodes even implied it was set in Canada instead.
- The city in Bob's Burgers is never named, but it closely resembles San Francisco with all its old-fashioned architecture and steeply-sloped roads. Other clues, including people’s accents and certain maps, would suggest it might be on the New Jersey coast. We don’t even know the town’s name, although the Belcher kids go to “Wagstaff school” and certain businesses are called “Oceanside”. (Behind the scenes, the cast and crew call it “Seymour’s Bay”, after the show’s editor and his editing bay that they spend a lot of time in.)
- Aaahh!!! Real Monsters has a city setting that greatly resembles New York City, but there are suburban areas that suggest it's set in suburban California.
- It is never stated where Garbage Pail Kids Cartoon takes place.
- The city where Invader Zim takes place is never even named, let alone given a location. Various zoom-ins from orbit, and some supplemental material of questionable canonicity, place it anywhere from Ohio to Ontario to Quebec — the consensus is that it's somewhere in northern North America, but that's as far as it goes.
- Naturally, in Real Life many cities in the same or different regions can share the same name. Sometimes this was deliberate, where one city is named after another; sometimes they might just refer to common geographic features which recur frequently; or multiple cities are named after the same person or entity.
- Alexander the Great was one of the most prolific such people; not only were eight cities in his former empire named Alexandria (including the modern Egyptian city of Alexandria), several other cities of that name have popped up around the world, including two in Canada, three in Australia, and nineteen in the United States.
- Over fifty place names in the United States are named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a key figure in The American Revolution.
- Not Always Right gives us a caller who lives in Springfield and can’t seem to tell what state she’s in herself.
- Some real-life places are undefined as well, likely because they’re a part of legend:
- Polynesian culture, as a result of being spread around several distant Pacific islands, tended to refer to The Old Country in this way. Hawaiian mythology, for instance, refers to “Kahiki”, which is often interpreted to be Tahiti, but can theoretically mean anywhere in Polynesia that isn’t Hawaii. The Maori concept of “Hawaiki” is similar (and may or may not refer to Hawaii).
- Aztlán, the ancestral home of the Aztec people, is in an undefined location; the descriptions of the place seem to contradict each other. The only thing everyone agrees on is that it was somewhere north of where Mexico City is today.
- The London Underground has a fake station called “Ashfield West”, which has no particular location and is served by no particular line. It’s technically used for training purposes.