Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Astronomer studies Simpsons moon, deduces Springfield is not in America

The Simpsons has always had fun with the location of its fictitious Springfield, to the point where the name was specifically chosen for its ubiquity (though it isn’t even in the top 10 most common town names; only 35 states have a Springfield, while a whopping 46 have a Riverside). While the show has made it clear that the town exists in no earthly dimension—the state borders Ohio, Maine, Kentucky and Nevada, as per The Simpsons Movie, a geographical impossibility unless Quimby pulled off some truly cromulent gerrymandering—that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating as though the unknown state was a mystery that could be solved. (A chalkboard gag once read that it was “in any state but yours.”)

Theories abound about the supposed location of the fictional town that purposefully isn’t set anywhere; some claim Oregon, pointing to these comments from Matt Groening, who says the name was based on a Springfield in his home state, while The Huffington Post offers “proof” that it is in Illinois. There’s also some proof that it’s in South Dakota, based on the fact that Rep. Bob Arnold—the crooked congressman in “Ms. Lisa Goes To Washington”—evidently had both Springfield Forest and Mt. Rushmore in his district.


Over at Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog, astronomer Phil Plait offers a new theory: Springfield isn’t in the United States at all, but is instead located in the southern hemisphere, based on “evidence” in the recent episode “The Musk Who Fell To Earth.”

In the episode, which sees Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk staying with the family because we are far from the show’s Golden Age, there’s a moment where Musk sees a crescent moon where the tips point to the right, which, given that the scene is set in the early evening, would only be possible below the equator. “I don’t even know how to react to this information,” Plait writes, speaking for everyone. “It’s as if… my whole world has been turned upside down.”

While Plait’s Simpsons credentials are somewhat questionable—he calls “The Musk Who Fell To Earth” “a good episode” and marvels “at how funny the show was even after all these decades”—the science appears sound. So either this is a particularly subtle non-clue about Springfield’s non-location, or some animator made a blunder and got fired, or a wizard did it. No matter what, the government should provide the family one of those specially modified moons that causes its crescent tips to point the correct, American way.

Share This Story