The location of the city, state, region or sometimes even the country in which a work is set is never revealed or intentionally hidden.
Its 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 its 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 namesnote for towns and cities in the United States, so the name serves as an indicator of an Everytown, America.note
Compare City with No Name, Everytown, America, and Fictional Province. Contrast No Communities Were Harmed and Canada Does Not Exist, where the setting is based on a real-life location but never outright identified, and Informed Location, in which the location is clearly specified. If the place is given a generic Mathematician's Answer of a name, then its a Business of Generic Importance. The temporal version of this trope is Ambiguous Time Period.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Comic Strips
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western 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.
- KikoRiki: The exact location of KikoRiki Island has been a subject of speculation for years, and there hasn't been a definitive answer since. The island got a variety of landscapes: desert with many cactuses, mountains with few active volcanos, forest, jungle and sea at the same time, making it impossible to pinpoint a place on Earth that would match all of these. Dmitry Yakovenko, one of the lead writers, thinks Chamomile Valley would be somewhere close to Kazakhstan.
- Joe the Great takes its sweet time getting around to telling you that Joe, Fred, and Sam are originally from the city of Boomfield. But neither it nor its sequels Magic Squad, Ultimate Magic, or Superverse (which actually stays close to home instead of going all over the US) ever bothers to mention which state Boomfield is in. It never snows there and there is a desert within fifty miles; Wild Mass Guessing usually puts it somewhere in California or Nevada. Although in Joe the Great: Magic Flock, a map on a computer showed Boomfield to be in the upper Midwest near the Minnesota-Wisconsin area. However, in Joe the Great: Ultimate Magic, it is revealed Ethan and Joy ran away to New York City as children and the now abandoned fashion show appears which is the same one Joe, Fred, and Sam met Ethan and Joy, this would indicate Boomfield is in New York.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Most of the stories in this series are post-canon and have a rural setting in an unknown US state. It may or may not be located in Flyover Country. The clues given so far:
- Pigeons, starlings, and crows live there as wild birds, and their winters are cold enough for snow ("The Blood Brother").
- Sunflowers are grown there ("The Ship" and "The Kippies").
- It's a reasonable commuting drive away from an unnamed large city which is home to a college with a veterinary school ("The Coffee Shop").
- There's a freight train line in the very general vicinity, located between their house and the unnamed large city. A tornado also occurs in that city's outskirts ("The Wind").
- It's several hours drive from the nearest ski resort ("The Ski Resort").
- It's about a three-and-a-half hour drive away from Prairie City, a locale large enough to field a Single A baseball franchise ("The Baseball Game").
- It's not near any of the cities named in "The Imaginary Letters."
- Age of consent in the state where Penny lives is 16 years old ("The Cameo").
- Calvin & 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 thats next to us.
- Guys Being Dudes: It's ambiguous where the setting is, or if it's even on Earth vs. the Pokemon world. Earth pop culture and Mexican food exists, but canon regions are also mentioned. All that's known for certain is that it's somewhere that it's summer and hot in June, that Team Valor HQ is within a bus trip of Orre, and that it's not Kanto, Johto, Alola, or Orre.
- It's very ambiguous where Amestris is in the Alternate Universe Fic i'm giving you a nightcall. Countries like the U.S. and Japan exist separately, and Amestris is further implied to have been created post-WWII based off Edward I'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 theyre located.
- We dont know where exactly Cellar Secrets is set, but we can assume its in America (the authors home country), based on little details like the house having a basement and characters having middle names. But we dont know exactly where in America they live.
- Similarly, in Kiryuuin Chronicles, we can assume that the fic takes place in America; Rye is community somewhere in New York, and Satsuki's father, Soichiro lives there, although other details suggest that the story itself (or most of it) takes place somewhere in the Midwest.
- Much like the aforementioned two, we don't know where The Outside takes place but we do know it's an America, as in one piece of dialogue, Rei specifically says "state" (other countries tend to use terms like "province", "prefecture", or "region").
- Quartz, TX from In the Eye of the Beholder is said to be located somewhere between Houston and Galveston, with part of the QIB visiting Houston at one point to visit a con.
- In the expanded Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Rimwards Howondaland is an Expy of South Africa, but an exaggerated version, based on scattered hints dropped in canon, and pushing what everybody thinks they know about South Africa and White South Africans all the way off the scale. note . The city of Piemberg was imported for this purpose from the black farces of Tom Sharpe and given a Discworld twist or two, largely as a rural backwater place for characters to come from. Word of God says that the author didn't properly do the research, so that in some tales Piemberg is in Natal, or a Natal-like place, and in some it's in the Transvaal, or a Transvaal-like place. The Drakensberg Mountains shift around a lot, too. Piemberg is best thought of as a shifting Brigadoon for all the South African clichés to find a home in. Lawkes Drain is fairly nearby, for instance...
- Part of the worldbuilding of The Guide to Lost and Hidden Locations of Earth and Near-Earth is set on averting this, with locations given to traditionally undetermined locales.
- Autobot City is located in Oregon, while Sub-Atlantica is in the Puerto Rico trench.
- Frozen's setting of Arendelle is placed around the border of Sweden and Finland. Weselton and the Southern Isles are in modern times a part of Sweden and Finland.
- The islands of Berk are in the Norwegian Sea.
- Latveria is in Southeastern Europe in the Banat region near the Carpathian Mountains. East of it is Mechanicsburg.
- Central City is in Missouri.
- Gotham City, where Batman dwells, is in New Jersey.
- Amity Park is in Ohio near Lake Erie.
- Tremorton is in Pennsylvania in the Pittsburgh area.
- Kahndaq is on the Sinai Peninsula.
- Birdwell Island is south of Cape Cod.
- Prehistoric Park is given East Africa as a location.
- The Xiaolin Temple is in the mountainous parts of central China, while Chase Young's lair and territory is in the Zomia geographic region.
- Retroville is in Texas.
- Miracle City is located in Sonora Mexico.
- Townsville, Angel Grove, and Bellwood are all in California: Townsville is in the Bay area, Angel Grove is between Los Angeles and San Francisco, while Bellwood is in north-central California.
- From Behind Bars:
- The story identifies the lions of The Lion King as being of the Panthera leo massaica subspecies (now known as Panthera leo melanochaita subspecies). This pins the series as taking place somewhere in east Africa, but the exact location is unspecified.
- Mufasa and Scar are sent to a European zoo. It's never described where the zoo is; however, one of the characters is based on a lynx from a Polish zoo.
- There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton: The story Thanatos Scowled establishes Amity Park as being in Minnesota, near both the Great Lakes and the Canadian border.
- By the Sea: Obi-Wan lives on a western temperate coastline, but Anakin is stated to have grown up in a "miserable sandy place" on the other side of the (English-speaking) country. Whether this was intended to be Obi-Wan living on the eastern coast of the US with Anakin coming from the southwestern US (an area that is sandy), or just a bit of deliberate Artistic License is unclear, and no surface-world place names or other regional or geographical information is given. At the end of the day, it doesn't actually matter that much to the story.
- The Pokémon Squad's Unnamed Town parodies and subverts this trope. While the town was first mentioned as "an unnamed town" in an early episode, it was later established that it's indeed the town's name. It was also later established that Unnamed Town is located on an island called "Unnamed Island", which is between Kanto and Johto.
- "857-5309/Jenny", the song where Jenny's Number originates, by Tommy Tutone. It's a Telephone Song that references the phone number 867-5309. However, it doesn't include an area code or country code, meaning that the number referenced could be anywhere in the US, Canada, or a country that uses a similar-looking phone number (such as many Caribbean countries, or a US territory such as Guam). Word of God has it that the number belonged to the lead singer's ex, to flood her phone with nuisance calls, but there's no telling what town, city, county, state, province, or country "Jenny" is in from the number.
- 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). Recent DNA and linguistic studies have suggested that Taiwan could be the original Polynesian homeland.
- According to the legends of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), its inhabitants originally came from the island of Hiva, possibly the Marquesas Islands.
- 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 Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis. Could it have been a (semi-)real place? It's possible. All we know is that its location was somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and there are two more rivers mentioned that have no modern equivalent. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers, though, are real, and would put the location "somewhere in the Fertile Crescent," or modern-day Iraq, Syria, Iran, Jordan, or Turkey.
- Some historians believe that the legend of Atlantis was inspired by the Minoan civilization of the island of Crete, and its decline as a result of various natural catastrophes.
- Sometimes, wrestlers would be billed from the same fictitious location as another:
- John Cena (as "The Prototype") and Soldier Ant were both billed from "Classified" at different times. Was it the "same" "Classified?"
- 'The Shah' Hack Meyers and Sami Callihan were both billed from "The Last House on the Left." Was it the same house?
- The Tag Team The Skyscrapers, Chris Hero and Eric were all billed from "Metropolis".
- Glenn "Kane" Jacobs (as "Doomsday") and The Ascension were billed from "The Wasteland."
- Dutch Mantel was billed from "Oil Trough, Texas", a town who's exact location in the state was undisclosed. When asked where Oil Trough was, Mantel answered with a question to the effect of "Do you know where *insert Texas town here* is?", and if the answer was "yes," he replied "It ain't nowhere near there!"
- The Muppets:
- Kermit's swamp, initially in an undisclosed location in The Muppet Movie, is revealed to be in Florida during The Muppets at Walt Disney World, and then Kermit's Swamp Years puts it in Mississippi, not far from Jim Henson's birthplace. That seems to have stuck, with Denise commenting that his state tree is magnolia in The Muppets (2015) episode "The Ex Factor".
- The locations of the Muppet Theatre in The Muppet Show and KMUP Studios in Muppets Tonight are never revealed in the original series either, since what exists beyond the show isn't relevant. (The CGI background of the MuppetVision studio in The Jim Henson Hour arguably isn't intended to have a realspace location.) There's a slight hint early on that the Muppet Theatre might be in London (the spelling of "theatre", a reference to The Tube in The Muppets Go to the Movies, and, of course, that's where they were actually filming), but it mostly seems to be in the US. It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie establishes it's in a city with a park, a bank, and, for some reason, Whos, but doesn't name it (even the Official Historical Landmark certificate just says "the City". The skyline outside Piggy's window in the alternate universe is New York, but there are some issues with taking that literally). The Muppets (2011) makes it part of Muppet Studios in Hollywood.
- In Mustard Pancakes the location of the host, Courtney Campbells house is never revealed in the show.
- In the Focus on the Family radio show Adventures in Odyssey, the location of Odyssey is never actually revealed (naturally, neither is Campbell County). Its implied to exist somewhere in the American Midwest. At some points, its explicitly stated to be in Ohio, but other mentions contradict this (such as a claim that it was a months wagon journey from Virginia). The wiki still maintains it to be in Ohio.
- Centerville, the hometown of the title characters in The Aldrich Family, is in an unnamed state. The fact that many episodes that aired during the winter months reference heavy snowfall implies that it is north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but that's as much as can be easily inferred.
- Dead Ringers:
- After getting a spare episode, the cast of Line of Duty spend it trying to figure out where the show is actually taking place. They figure it's probably Birmingham, but their wide variety of accents, spanning the length and breadth of Britain, makes that a toss-up as well.
- A similar dilemma befalls the cast of The Archers during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the tier system is introduced, since they've no idea which bit of Britain they're in, and therefore which tier they're in, and the cast's accents don't help.
- 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, its unclear exactly where. Consensus suggests that its Alabama, though; its 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, theres 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 hes 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?!
- Glengarry Glen Ross: While the Glengarry Islands and a few other (fictional) locations sold by the firm are in Florida, it is never revealed where their current focus, "Rio Rancho," is. There is a real Rio Rancho in New Mexico, and land there has actually become much more valuable since the play was written.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The West End version does this. Despite specifying where Augustus, Veruca, and Violet are from (Bavaria, England and California, respectively), Mike is said to come from "Suburbia". The Broadway adaptation fixes this problem, stating instead that Mike is from Idaho, though the onstage background during his introduction still suggests he lives in an Everytown, America.
- Starlight Express: It is never mentioned where the railyard the musical takes place in is set, despite the fact that competitors from numerous different countries around the world take place in the championship races. It would make sense if it was set in the country of performance- England for the West End production, America for the Broadway production, Germany for the Bochum production, etc- but there are already national trains representing the wide majority of those countries, including the three mentioned previously. To partially remedy this issue, many fans have settled on the idea that it is set in the (entirely fictional) Apollo-Victoria railyard, commonly referred to as 'the AV', which was named after the original West End theatre that Starlight Express took place in.
- Daughter for Dessert:
- The name of the city where the majority of the story takes place is never named, nor is the name of the state ever mentioned. Using context clues, the story probably takes place in California, possibly in a secondary city such as Pomona or Merced.
- The location of Whiskeyville is likewise never stated. A prime possibility is Texas. However, there are no towns named Whiskeyville anywhere near California.
- So in what country exactly does Double Homework take place? From the architecture, it is somewhere in Western Europe. It is ruled by a king/queen in a constitutional monarchy. It is a small country that gets little media attention. It either contains mountainous terrain, or has an easy travel deal with at least one other country that does. Unfortunately, that leaves no possible real countries. In addition, the location of the much-hyped Winter Olympics throws another wrench into the equation. In Rachels epilogue, Rachel, her mother, and the protagonist travel to the host city by bus, so the games must be held somewhere in Europe as well. This leaves two possibilities for the host city: Sochi, Russia (site of the 2014 Winter Olympics) is the most likely, but its more practical to travel there by plane from anywhere in Western Europe. The lesser possibility is that the story takes place all the way back in 2006, and the Winter Olympics in question were the ones in Turin. Alternatively, though, the game could be set in the near future instead (the 2026 Winter Olympics are set to be held in Milan).
- In Melody, some parts of the setting look American, while others look European. However, since Christmas (presumably) takes place in the summer, the story must be set in Australia (the home of Mr. Dots) or New Zealand.
- 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: Word of God as well as dialogue in Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice places the localized version in an alternative universe Los Angeles where there's an abundance of Japanese culture in American. The original is just set in an unnamed Japanese city.
- 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). This confluence could easily place Free Country in rural Illinois, Indiana, or western Ohio.
- Mystery Skulls Animated: Vivi, Arthur and Lewis are from a town called Tempo that is somewhere in the vast state of Texas.
- 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). It's eventually revealed that while the entrance to the Court is somewhere in the U.K., most of the Court is contained inside a Pocket Dimension.
- 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 Shives 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.
- The location of the city in The Letters of the Devil is never specified. See also City with No Name.
- 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 towns name. It wound up being set in Garen, Minnesota, a real-life Ghost Town.
- Bob and George is set in an undisclosed location. Theyre 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 Daves location is kind of ambiguous; hes near Houston somewhere, but Hussie hadnt 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 houses address, showing that the city is literally named Godknowswhere.
- Tailsteak intentionally avoids giving a precise location for the setting of Leftover Soup, though occasional hints are provided. One common theory is that it might have been set in Portland.
- Exactly which country Miss Abbott and the Doctor takes place in is never made clear, other than people speaking and writing in English.
- Classic Alice is set in Valeton; all we know about its location is that its somewhere in New England. Based on the leak of Alice and Andrews phone numbers, we know that Alice is from Connecticut and Andrew is from Long Island.
- The Hidden Almanac: The Gregorian calendar, and references to real holidays and products, all suggest the setting may be the real world. Except, well, a lot of obviously impossible stuff happens and the only places mentioned are fictional. The City with No Name and the country it resides in have an erratic mix of English and US American cultural and political traits, but references to its neighbors predate the European discovery of the New World, further confounding where it might be located. So maybe a very strange corner of Earth, or (given references to The 'Verse) an alternate Earth with lots of weird stuff going on?
- In Legion of Net.Heroes, Net.ropolis floats from state to state. It has its own senator for this reason.
- 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 Worms author, takes place in Jacobs Bell, Canada, but the exact location is left ambiguous.
- Welcome to Night Vales 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 Ralphs suggests that it might be in southeastern California, although the fact that the towns natives have never seen mountains complicates the issue, as most of the candidate locations are actually quite hilly. "Best Of?" reveals that there actually are hills in Night Vale, but the citizens carefully avoid looking at them because they don't want to be reminded of the strange shadow creatures that watch them from the distance. Given that space and time don't function normally in Night Vale, it may not have a definite physical location at all.
- You Have Become Your Avatar parodies the trope; Marcie!Joshua purchases a map that has every city labeled "Springfield".
- The early episodes of RedLetterMedias 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 Grossery Gang webseries takes place in Cheap Town, which has various contradicting elements to its locale that makes it impossible to pinpoint, such as Australian-style wall outlets and snow during Christmastime.
- T.O.T. mostly takes place in a subdivision called Green Water, and it's implied the characters live somewhere out in the country, given that the police force is small and consists of deputies. However, no one ever says what county, city, or even what state the story is located in.
- In Twelve Hundred Ghosts Scrooge apparently lives in England, America, Japan, and Canada all at the same time, and in different time periods.
- Winter of '83 deals with the events that bring to an end to the small town of Fawn Circle, Minnesota. However, it is never state where exactly. Segment One states that the station K83FC is owned by the Spencer Sheridan Foundation, who works with Redwood County, MN. However, Segment Two reveals that the transmitter is so low powered that it's only supposed to only serve Fawn Circle but could transmit to Chaska "on a good day". Chaska is a little over 76 miles from Redwood County's edge if using Redwood Falls as an edge point.
- The London Underground has a fake station called Ashfield West, which has no particular location and is served by no particular line. Its technically used for training purposes.
- Similarly, the telephone exchange "FiveFiveFive" in the US and Canada is not affiliated with any town, city, county, state, or province, and most often is used to denote a fictional phone number, or a number for training purposes in the telecommunications field.