The Simpsons: Springfield
Springfield is the fictional city where the TV series The
Simpsons is set, founded by Jebediah Springfield, located near
Springfield seems to be a small city rather than a megalopolis. Its
features include one nuclear power plant, an elementary school, a minor
league baseball stadium, an airport, an ocean harbor, a downtown district,
a run-down district, several specialized shopping districts, and Moe's, a
bar run by Moe Syzslak. Springfield was nearly chosen as the host for the
Summer Olympic Games, until Bart Simpson's antics angered representatives
from the IOC.
The location of Springfield is a long-running joke in the series, based
in the fact that 34 states in the United States have at least one
community with that name. Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons, grew
up in Eugene, Oregon. From Groening's childhood perspective, Springfield,
Oregon was "the next town over". Groening also lived in
Portland, Oregon. The show contains several references to features in
Portland - Terwilliger Street (Robert Underdunk Terwilliger a.k.a.
Sideshow Bob), Lovejoy Street and Park (Reverend Lovejoy is the pastor of
the Simpsons' church; Asa Lovejoy was a partner in the 1843 land grant
that became Portland, Oregon), and Northeast Flanders St. where the signs
say "NE Flanders St." Some people have vandalized them to say
"NED Flanders St." (Ned Flanders).
While Springfield, Illinois has a Shelbyville 30 miles to the
southeast, and a nuclear power plant 40 miles to the northeast, there has
not been any indication that it is 'the' Springfield, and could be
coincidental. However, The Simpsons does make a direct reference to the
Illinois city; in episode where Homer is in a graveyard at night digging a
plot, discarded dirt covers up the grave of Adlai Stevenson (a prominent
Illinois politician and 2-time US presidential candidate). Springfield,
Massachusetts is also referenced since Mayor Quimby and his political
machine have similarities to the powerful Kennedy family.
In the episode, "Sweets and Sour Marge", Tennessee is
referenced as being "south of the border". Kentucky is north of
Tennessee and has both a Springfield and Shelbyville.
Springfield was founded in 1796 by settlers who were trying to find a
passage to Maryland after mis-interpreting a passage in the Bible. In its
early days, the city was the target of many Indian raids, and to this day
many forts and trading posts remain (including Fort Springfield and Fort
The founder of Springfield was pioneer Jebediah Springfield, widely
celebrated in the town as a brave and proud American hero. The town motto
"a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man" is attributed to
Jebediah. Lisa Simpson would
later discover that Jebediah Springfield was in fact Hans Sprungfeld, a
murderous pirate and enemy of George Washington, but eventually decided
that the myth of Springfield should be preserved and did not reveal her
In the mid-20th century, the city reached perhaps the pinnacle of its
success when it became the home of the Aquacar, a car which could be
driven in water like a boat. At this point, the city's streets were
literally paved with gold. But unfortunately, as related in the Are We
There Yet? Guide to Springfield, this fortune imploded when it was
discovered that the Aquacar was prone to spontaneous explosion after
10,000 miles and/or knots. The town has never really recovered from this
tragedy (the gold was reportedly shipped to the Sultan of Brunei to encase
one of his many elephant herds), but some heavy industry remains in the
town, including factories for Ah! Fudge chocolate, Southern Cracker,
fireworks, candy, and boxes, as well as a steel mill.
Springfield's nearest neighboring town is Shelbyville. There is a
strong rivalry between the towns, dating back to a rivalry between their
founders -- Jebediah Springfield and Shelbyville Manhattan. Manhattan
wanted to found a city where men were free to marry their cousins, but
Springfield refused to allow it, so Shelbyville was founded as a rival
town. The story of the dispute between Jebediah Springfield and
Shelbyville Manhattan contains faint references to the historical stories
of the deal between Asa Lovejoy and William Overton to file a land claim,
and the dispute between Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove over the name of
The Mayor of Springfield is Joe
Quimby. He was briefly thrown out in favor of Sideshow
Bob Terwilliger, but was later re-instated when Bob was impeached for
electoral fraud (see Sideshow Bob Roberts).
When the mayor briefly skipped town due to missing lottery funds (see
They Saved Lisa's Brain), the town's MENSA chapter (Lisa Simpson, Dr.
Julius Hibbert, Lindsey Naegle, Comic Book Guy, and Prof. Frink) took
over. They changed clocks to metric time, eliminated the green lights from
stoplights, and put the city on the top 300 US cities. It was 299th, above
East Saint Louis, Illinois.
For a brief period (see A Tale of Two Springfields), Springfield
divided itself into two cities, Olde Springfield and New Springfield on
the basis of an area code division. Wealthy Olde Springfield, which
featured Mayor Quimby, anchorman Kent Brockman, and bullies such as Nelson
was separated from the rest of Springfield by a wall that was erected by
poor New Springfield. Mayor Quimby maintained control of Olde Springfield
while Homer Simpson ran New Springfield. The cities were later re-united
through a concert by The Who.
In Bart-Mangled Banner, Bart accidentally moons the U.S. flag, and the
Simpsons appear on a talk show to explain the matter. However, the show's
host makes it appear that Springfield hates America. When the rest of the
U.S. reciprocates this loathing, Mayor Quimby changes the name of
Springfield to "Liberty-Ville". An enormous patriotic craze
ensues, wherein all items are priced at $17.76.
There are over 2,000 McDonald's restaurants in Springfield's state, but
none in Springfield itself. Krusty Burger is basically a cheap imitation
of McDonald's. This was noticed by Eddie, Lou and Chief
Wiggum as a spoof of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (see 22 Short
Films About Springfield). The Are We There Yet? Guide to Springfield
cautions tourists to avoid Krusty Burger, stating that "the local
public seems to have built up a resistance to the inherent bacteria and
spirochetes". Also, tests on the burgers' meat have proven
inconclusive as to what exactly the substance is.
If there were to be a nuclear war, Springfield would be wiped off the
map. During the Cold War, Strategic Air Command classified Springfield as
a "NWB" (nuclear whipping boy). In the first moments of a
nuclear war, Springfield would be bombed by all friendly nations for their
missiles' calibration. This was seen in an illegal video that Comic
Book Guy owned.
Springfield has several ethnic districts, including a Russian district,
a Jewish district, and a gay district as well as a Chinatown and
Towns near to Springfield (within driving distance or close enough to
be included in local news) include North Haverbrook, Shelbyville,
Ogdenville, Brockway and Cranford.
The city paper is the Springfield Shopper, and the most popular TV
station is KBBL-TV (Channel 6), with Kent Brockman, Scott Christian and
Arnie Pie on the news and Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Mel doing shows.
Alternatively, Canal Ocho is a Spanish-language channel featuring the
Public Transportation is provided by the route 22 bus on Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday; and the 22A bus on Tuesday and Thursday.
Springfield was once served by a now defunct monorail system.
According to the Are We There Yet? Guide to Springfield,
visitors from elsewhere are advised to constantly wear radiation suits and
carry Geiger counters, since the city is perhaps the most radioactive in
the U.S. This is because the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant was built
during an incredibly lax period for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in
which the plant's nuclear core was surrounded not by several layers of
protective concrete and graphite but by ordinary plaster with a horseshoe
hanging from a nail. Also, management apparently gives employees benefits
for storing nuclear waste in buildings; in some episodes, barrels of waste
have been seen in the Simpsons' basement. Also perhaps due to this, the
book reports that international law forbids shipping produce from
Springfield; those who do venture into a local supermarket or farmer's
market may find that it gives off a barely audible hum.
The geographic location of Springfield is never stated, but Springfield
is generally considered to depict, in a lampooning manner,
"bread-and-butter" Middle America, culturally somewhere between
a suburb and a small town. Springfieldians are not, for the most part,
cosmopolitan, and most are of lower-middle to middle income (excluding the
nefarious, extravagant Montgomery Burns,
Lindsey Naegle, and the "Well, I never!" women).
In one episode, the "small-town nastiness" of Springfield is
made evident by a benighted tradition of "snake-whacking"
whereby, annually, Springfieldians bludgeon snakes to death. Lisa Simpson,
a proto-liberal disgusted by this activity, encourages the people of
Springfield to quit the tradition with the aid of soul singer Barry White.
Springfieldians have a very bad reputation. As described by Dr.
Hibbert, it is a town where the smartest have no power and the stupidest
run everything. TIME magazine once did a cover story on Springfield
entitled "America's Worst City." Citizens of Springfield are all
very stupid, overweight, and also quick to anger. There is a riot almost
every single day. Springfield also has a strange smell that is
uncomfortable to new residents. It is usually about six weeks before they
adjust. (Cities near pulp mills, such as Lewiston, Idaho, have a similar
problem.) Springfield is also the first United States city to abandon the
Obesity has been several times a joke on the show. It is even stated,
in one episode, that Springfield is "The Fattest city in the
The exact geographic location of Springfield is much disputed, but many
episodes make it clear that Springfield exists in some non-existent state,
and not one of the actual 50 that exist in the real world. In the episode
"Blame it on Lisa," the character Lisa Simpson says about
Springfield's state "Well, it is a bit of a mystery, but if you
follow the clues you can figure it out."
The only fact that can be assumed to be true (based on constant
reinforcement over the years) is that Springfield lies somewhere on the
west coast. This is bolstered by A) Springfield sits on the ocean, and B)
it has various features that only the west coast has (e.g.: redwood
tree(s), mesas, a TV station that starts with a K). Beyond that, the
evidence is easily gathered but often conflicting.
A web page discussing Springfield's location states that due to the
many contradictory clues, it is impossible for Springfield to exist in any
set location. However, in one episode the town becomes so polluted its
buildings are moved five miles down the road, via 'plan B'. This could
allow for the city to be in more than one state with different episodes
taking place before and after the move. This could also explain the
discrepancies with there being a port sometimes and not others.
There is a strong case for the non-existent state being west of the
Mississippi River, assuming that the Federal Communications Commission of
the Simpsons' universe mirrors the real world FCC. Springfield's local
radio station uses the call letters KBBL. In the episode "Colonel
Homer" the town also has a country music radio station KUDD.
"K" as the first call letter usually indicates a radio station
west of the Mississippi River, whereas "W" as the first call
letter usually indicates a radio station east of the Mississippi River.
Most of the exceptions to this rule (such as station KDKA in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania) were assigned call letters before this convention was
Springfield is near a junction of five states (in real life, no such
junction exists), yet it borders the ocean; it has a canyon, a desert, and
mountains. It boasts the tallest mountain in the United States. (In the
episode "King of the Hill," Bart claims the Murderhorn is more
than 4 miles higher than Springfield's elevation. The actual highest
mountain in the United States, Mount McKinley in Alaska, rises less than 4
miles above sea level.) Sometimes it snows in Springfield, and the town
once experienced a hurricane. Its ocean coast has an oil platform close
offshore. Springfield's western side (which is three times the size of
Texas) is a vast oil field. Springfield is also 2,000 miles away from
Arlen, Texas, which Hank Hill said in a brief cameo. A road sign seen in
another episode showed Springfield is 678 miles away from Mexico City,
although this would place Springfield within Mexico.
The flag of Springfield's state showed (prior to a redesign contest) a
Confederate Battle Flag floating on (or sinking into) a body of water in
front of a sunrise, paralleling the controversies surrounding the state
flags of Mississippi and Georgia (The flag needed to be redesigned because
they live in a "northern state.") The state bird is the
potbellied sparrow; the state pasta is bowtie. The state slogan is
"Not Just Another State," and the longtime governor is Mary
Bailey. The capital of Springfield's state is named "Capital
City," and boasts its own Major League Baseball team.
Several episodes indicate that Springfield has an ocean coastline,
although this conflicts with other clues. One episode showed jellyfish
washing up on Springfield Beach. In another episode Bart, Homer, and the
Junior Campers float out to sea during a rafting trip. They are rescued by
floating towards an unmanned oil rig which nevertheless features a failing
Krusty Burger restaurant. Offshore oil rigs in the United States are found
off the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico and California. The episode "New
Kids on the Blecch" established that oceangoing warships visit and
dock at Springfield's harbor.
While the name of the state has never been mentioned, Homer
Simpson's driver's license shows that the state's abbreviation is
"NT". According to producer/director David Silverman,
Springfield is in the made-up state of "North Takoma" (a play on
North Dakota, perhaps as well as the north end of the city of Tacoma,
Washington). The two-letter abbreviation NT is legally used to refer to
Canada's Northwest Territories, or Australia's Northern Territory, but it
is clear Springfield is in the U.S.. U.S. flags are everywhere in
Springfield; note the flag in the opening credits.
After the Simpsons are expelled from Florida, Marge and Homer mark that
state on a map, which shows only two states remaining that still welcome
the Simpsons: Arizona and North Dakota.
Episodes frequently make fun of the fact that Springfield's state has
never been revealed, by adding further conflicting descriptions, obscuring
onscreen map representations, and interrupting conversational references.
The revelation that Springfield was once entirely in the telephone area
code 636 and that chaos erupted when half the town was switched to the new
area code 939 does not clarify the situation; area code 636 is in
Missouri, while 939 is in Puerto Rico. In one episode, someone refers to
"south of the border" and Homer responds "You mean
Tennessee?" (Tennessee is directly south of Kentucky.) In another
episode, Superintendent Chalmers refers to Springfield Elementary School
as "the most dilapidated in all of Missouri," and shocks
everyone (viewers and characters alike) by this disclosure, before
continuing with "and that's why it was shut down and moved here,
brick by brick."
In the "Behind the Laughter" episode, a narrator describes
the Simpsons as a "northern Kentucky family." In reruns however,
this was changed to southern Missouri, purposely adding to the confusion.
There are in fact Springfields and Shelbyvilles in both Kentucky and
Missouri. However, this episode featured the Simpson family as actors
"playing" roles of themselves, and the events depicted on the
episode are not recognized as being part of the series' set continuity.
The couch gag sequence of The Simpsons episode entitled
"The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" (FABF08, first aired March 14,
2004) again left the location of Springfield something of a mystery. The
sequence featured a "zooming out" from the Simpson household to
a satellite view, then a solar system view, and so on in a parody of the
1977 documentary short Powers of Ten. The sequence contained plenty of
cloud cover, but put Springfield somewhere in the Midwest, probably near
the Mississippi River. It should be noted, however, that couch gags cannot
be considered canon. Also, in the Treehouse of Horror segment
"Starship Poopers" in the episode "Treehouse of Horror
IX", where it is revealed that the alien Kang is Maggie's father, a
similar zoom-out sequence is also used. This one, however, places
Springfield in Florida. It should be noted that the Treehouse of Horror
episodes have no continuity with the rest of the series and are not
In the episode "Marge vs. the Monorail", monorail salesman
Lyle Lanley proclaims "I've sold monorail systems to Brockway,
Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook! And, boy, it put them on the map!"
He then holds up a map of the U.S. where Brockway, Ogdenville and North
Haverbrook are the only cities shown. Marge then later drives to nearby
North Haverbrook (where everybody resents there being a monorail there,
despite the sign at the city limits saying "Where the Monorail is
KING!"). The map shows North Haverbrook in the Midwest, approximately
Iowa. However, in another episode, Marge is seen driving to Ogdenville,
which adds confusion. Ogdenville was shown in the southwest, approximately
In one episode, Chief
Wiggum reported his location by noting the exact moment when the Sun
was directly over his position, suggesting that the state lies at least
partly in the tropics (Hawaii is the only tropical U.S. state; it should
be noted that the show has invented new states).
The episode "New Kids on the Blecch" establishes that
Springfield is only a few minutes' sail from New York City by ship, while
the episode "Viva Ned Flanders" (and other episodes in which
characters visit Las Vegas) establishes that Springfield is within an easy
day's drive of Las Vegas by car. Also, in an episode where Homer joins the
US Navy reserve, a map shows his submarine's route leaving Springfield on
the US Pacific coast.
In the episode "The Springfield Files," Mulder tells Scully
that there has been "another unsubstantiated UFO
sighting in the heartland of America," referring to Homer's close
encounter with an alien; so, for that episode, Springfield was presumably
somewhere in the Midwest.
Homer suggests that Springfield is within a state bordering the Great
Lakes. He said:
Oh, why did I take it [the wedding ring] off? ...Oh, right! To see
if I could skip it across Lake Michigan.
Another fact that adds to the confusion is the mention of a central
highway called Highway 401 in several episodes. There is a central highway
named Highway 401 in the Province Of Ontario, Canada which passes through
the City of Toronto. This has also lead to speculation of Toronto being
the inspiration to Springfield; however as mentioned above, the countless
pieces of evidence of Springfield being in the United States automatically
disprove this theory. In the episode "Poppa's Got A Brand New
Badge," the character Fat Tony drives into downtown Springfield past
a highway identification sign that very closely resembles United States
Interstate signs, and bears the route number 95. The real I-95 is a major
north-south route along the east coast of the United States. It should be
noted however, that this was a parody of "The Sopranos", which
takes place in New Jersey, through which I-95 runs.
The zip code of Springfield on Hans Moleman's drivers' license is
90701, which would place Springfield near Artesia, California.
References to other states
- Grampa Abe Simpson would sooner be deep in
the cold, cold ground before he'll recognize "Missoura"
(Missouri), stated while explaining why his flag only has 49 stars.
- In a hobo retelling of the story of Huckleberry Finn, Huck/Bart
passed two signs on the Mississippi River: "Now leaving
Missouri" and "Now entering Missoura"
- Chief Wiggum
once mentioned that Texas was the only state that might possibly
prosecute a baby, but the jurisdiction Springfield is in will not.
- Bart and Lisa want to travel to Alaska and Hawaii after Homer wins
free plane tickets (eligible for the 48 contiguous states only).
- Principal Skinner says that selling a boy is only legal in
Springfield and Mississippi.
- Dr. Hibbert says he should move back to Alabama after realizing the
corruption in Springfield.
- West Springfield is three times the size of Texas.
- In one episode, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie all take a trip
to Dayton, Ohio, possibly a reference to voice actor Nancy
- Marge told her address on the phone as "742 Evergreen Terrace,
Springfield...." and then she said, "O Hiya Maude, Come on
In!" (Ohio = O Hiya)
- When Bart is helping Milhouse's mother answer Christmas letters, she
mentions that one person lives in Mechanicsburg, a city in Ohio.
- Chief Wiggum
says "We have a saying around here: 'Let Michigan deal with
- It was mentioned that Springfield Elementary was once the
worst-performing school in Missouri, until it was "moved brick by
brick to here."
- Adding to the general confusion, Homer takes an exit marked "To
New Jersey, Texas, Michigan, and Oregon" while driving to the
Edison Museum with Bart. Those states being, of course, nowhere near
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