‘Simpsons’: Is Springfield a Real Place?

In 2021, it’s nearly impossible to come across somebody who has never seen an episode of The Simpsons.

One of the first big hits for the then-new Fox network, the animated series has been on TV since 1989, meaning an entire generation of Americans never experienced life without the likes of Bart and Homer being part of the public consciousness.

It’s a comedy so there’s not usually much to think about when you watch The Simpsons, but there is one aspect of the long-running show that has bugged viewers for decades — where do the Simpsons live?

We all know they live in Springfield, but is it based on a real Springfield? And, if so, what state is it in? Let’s investigate.

What is ‘The Simpsons’ about?

Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Marge Simpson and Maggie Simpson visit The Empire State Building
Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Marge Simpson and Maggie Simpson visit The Empire State Building | Noam Galai/Getty Images

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The Simpsons is the longest-running scripted primetime series in American television history, so chances are you know what it’s about. On the off chance you don’t, here’s a quick rundown of the show’s premise.

The adult-oriented cartoon revolves around the titular family, which includes parents Homer and Marge and children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. They have a couple pets, dog Santa’s Little Helper and cat Snowball II, and Grampa Simpson makes regular appearances. Homer works at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, while Marge doesn’t work (other than holding short-lived jobs in some episodes).

Bart is a troublemaker and younger sister Lisa is a brainiac goody-two-shoes, and baby Maggie is, well, a baby.

The fictional setting of ‘The Simpsons’

Yardbarker named the program’s Springfield as the fourth most-memorable fictional TV town. How could it not be high on the list? Viewers have been visiting the eclectic community for more than three decades. The town has a long, storied history.

It was founded in 1800 by a group led by namesake Jebediah Springfield. Springfield seems to have everything in it, from the aforementioned power plant to professional baseball team the Springfield Isotopes, and several colleges and universities. It’s also home to tourist attractions and landmarks like Krustyland and Five Corners, which is said to be the only location in America where five states meet, a location that doesn’t actually exist in the real world.

Over the years, the show has dropped hints about what state Springfield is in, but they usually don’t make sense in reality or are contradictory to other clues that have been dropped as to the town’s location. One such nonsensical clue is when the Simpsons’ neighbor, Ned Flanders, told Bart in The Simpsons Movie that Springfield’s state is bordered by Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky. 

Is Springfield a real place?

Now comes that the part that people have been wondering for decades, is Springfield a real place?

While the actual setting of the show is likely fictional based on all of the conflicting and deceiving information that has been given on the show over the years, that doesn’t mean that Springfield isn’t based on a real place. NPR writes that it is based on the town of that name in Oregon.

That’s not surprising given that creator Matt Groening is a native of Portland, Ore. Groening revealed the information about Springfield’s location in an interview, crediting classic sitcom Father Knows Best as his inspiration. Groening said watching Father Knows Best as a kid, it “took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown.”

He admits to realizing it was fictitious town when he grew up, but he also knows that Springfield is one of the most common city names in the U.S. So he used that as the Simpsons’ hometown, thinking that once the show became popular people would have similar reactions as he had watching Father Knows Best, thinking it’s “their Springfield.”