Fake TV Town Locations: An Investigation

Fake TV Town Locations: An Investigation

Television is one of the most visceral forms of escapism, with the best TV shows building a world so robust that it feels like it’s a slice of our own. A little hobby of mine is trying to figure out where, exactly, some shows take place within our world’s geography — even if these towns are stand-ins for real-life cities. By paying attention to mentions of real-world locations, post codes, phone numbers, and distances to other cities, you can get a pretty clear idea as to where some of TV’s most famous towns are actually located.

Quahog, Rhode Island – Family Guy

Family Guy dives into the history of Quahog quite a bit in Season 2 Episode 12, titled “Fifteen Minutes of Shame.” Colonist Miles “Chatterbox” Musket was thrown overboard en route to the now United States and was brought to shore by a magical clam to found Quahog — indicating that the town is based along the shoreline.

The most damning piece of evidence as to Quahog’s location in Rhode Island is the presence of the Providence skyline in the background. Providence’s One Financial Plaza, 50 Kennedy Plaza, and Superman Building can be seen within the skyline behind Quahog, and their order in relation to each other suggests that the town is a suburb located northwest of Providence. This fact contradicts the previous information that Quahog is a beach-front town.

But a zoom-out scene at the end of Season 7 Episode 11 “All Dogs Go To Heaven” more specifically places Quahog south of Providence, south of Pawtuxet River and along the water of the Providence River.

Hawkins, Indiana – Stranger Things

Hawkins appears to be modelled after a run-of-the-mill Midwest suburb, but there are some clues throughout the show — especially in Season 2 — that help us place the potential location of Hawkins.

In season 2 episode 7, Eleven takes a bus to Chicago to find Kali, her long-lost sister. Let’s entertain the idea that Hawkins has a direct bus route to Chicago. According to Google Maps, Chicago is a 3-hour and 11-minute drive from Fort Wayne and a 2-hour and 55-minute drive from Indianapolis. Eleven heads out on her trip in the daylight, and gets off the bus in Chicago at night, so a 3-ish hour bus ride feels like enough time for the sun to go down, giving us some vague positioning information for where Hawkins could be.

Meanwhile, in season 2 episode 5, titled “Dig Dug,” Joyce’s new love interest Bob along with Mike help decipher a map of Hawkins that Will has drawn. Bob briefly mentions the location “Tippecanoe,” which could be a reference to Tippecanoe River in Indiana. Tippecanoe runs through the north half of the state, and passes by a town called Rochester, which appears to have a lot of the characteristics of Hawkins. It’s a small town with several lakes and wooded areas, which we saw throughout Hawkins in the rest of the series.

Gotham City – Batman

Gotham City is an easy one, because it’s directly seen 0n a map in the comics. I regret to inform you that Gotham City is not a stand-in for New York City or Chicago, but is actually a completely nonexistent city located in southern New Jersey. A map printed in a Batman comic book illustrates this, and appears to be confirmed by a map of the United States as it exists in the DCU. Batman is a Jersey Boy, and as a Jersey Boy myself I can’t help but laugh at the fact that Gotham City is located in the state’s swamplands.

Becca’s Island – The 100

The 100 is pretty honest about where its post-apocalyptic locations take place. For example, TonDC is ruined Washington D.C. while Polis is pretty clearly Baltimore. A pivotal location introduced in the show’s second season, however, is a little less clear — the island of pre-apocalypse tech tycoon Becca Franko.

We know that Becca’s Island is, well, an island, as characters are forced to take boats across expanses of water to reach it throughout the series. A scene in Season 4 Episode 3 “The Four Horsemen” shows a glimpse of a map generated by Raven Reyes that illustrates where some of the most important series locations, including Becca’s Island, are. According to the map, Becca’s Island is located far off the eastern coast of New Jersey on an island that doesn’t exist. Becca Franko has Elon Musk levels of money in The 100 universe, so it’s not a stretch to suggest that she could’ve bought a plot of water in the Atlantic Ocean and built her own island? Maybe?

Pawnee, Indiana – Parks and Recreation

Some speculation points to Pawnee, Indiana serving as a fictionalized version of Muncie, but YouTuber loststates published a video in 2011 attempting to deduce the location of Pawnee. Loststates based their investigation on information published on the in-universe town website, which states that Pawnee is 161 km from Terre Haute and 145 km from Indianapolis. This gives two potential locations for Pawnee, but canonically, Pawnee is located in the southern part of the state, narrowing it down to northwest of New Albany.

Twin Peaks, Washington – Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is the mysterious logging town that is the main setting for the mystery series of the same name. While most of these towns are approximates, Twin Peaks’ location is completely canon. FBI agent Dale Cooper, who is called in to investigate a high school student’s murder, explicitly states in a memo to his secretary Diane during his introduction that Twin Peaks is 8 km south of the Canadian border and 19 km west of the Idaho state line.

Beacon Hills, California – Teen Wolf

The majority of Teen Wolf’s action takes place in the mystical town of Beacon Hills, where supernatural creatures seem to outnumber the humans 100:1 by my best guest and the town’s infrastructure has everything from a veterinary clinic to a nature preserve to an abandoned mall all within a bike/car ride of each other — but that’s a topic for another article.

Beacon Hills is a little difficult to pin down as the series makes very few mentions to any real world counterparts, but the basic geography and climate of the city probably rules out a majority of southern California (desert/beaches) and northern California (rural and flat). In season 6 episode 11 “Said the Spider to the Fly,” Malia Tate’s flight would depart from San Francisco International Airport, indicating that the town is nearby San Francisco. Meanwhile a zip code shown in the episode “Silverfinger” — 95351 — strengthens this theory as the code corresponds to suburb of Modesto.

Jericho, Kansas – Jericho

The television show Jericho is a forgotten gem of 2000’s drama starring a young Skeet Ulrich playing Jake Green, who returns to his hometown of Jericho, Kansas shortly before a nuclear holocaust wreaks havoc on 23 major U.S. cities.

The series alludes to Jericho’s location in a variety of ways. In the pilot episode, some residents are able to see a mushroom cloud rise from Denver, Colorado, and later it is confirmed throughout the series that Jericho is located in northwest Kansas. Some of the most direct confirmation we get over Jericho’s whereabouts are in season 1 episode 3 titled “Four Horsemen,” where a map places Jericho’s location at the same place as Ness City, Kansas — a small town about 161 km east of the Colorado border.

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