Now in its 26th season, FOX’ “The Simpsons” is America’s longest-running sitcom, as well as the country’s longest-running animated program and scripted prime-time series.
The titular family lives in the commonly named town of Springfield, and for years, fans of the show have tried to figure out which of the country’s many Springfields it was intended to be.
Even after series creator Matt Groening said in an interview with Smithsonian Magazine that Springfield, Oregon — in his home state — served as the inspiration for him to pick the name, fans haven’t been deterred from debating where the characters in the show live.
The name of Portland, Oregon, for instance, may have been inspired by the name of Portland, Maine, but that doesn’t mean Matt Groening lives on Casco Bay.
In fact, one particularly dedicated Internet sleuth, who pored through dozens of episodes of the show looking for signs of where the Simpsons live, came away convinced the program actually takes place here in Maine.
In a post that has been viewed nearly 270,000 times on the website FunnyJunk.com, user jurassicparkerr makes a list of all 33 states that have towns called Springfield, then systematically eliminates them as he comes across clues in different episodes of the show.
A number of states are crossed off the list as he finds episodes in which the Simpsons leave their home state and visit other states or pass by road signs indicating other states are still ahead.
Among those out-of-state destinations are New York, Florida, Michigan, Texas, New Jersey and, interestingly, Oregon.
In another episode, titled “Much Apu about nothing,” thick-headed patriarch Homer Simpson is corrected by his brainy daughter, Lisa, after he can’t find his hometown on a map — the states he points to, and which Lisa calls incorrect, include Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
He also limited his search to states where it snows in the winter, as it does in “The Simpsons,” and eliminates Massachusetts after Homer makes a disparaging remark about the state in the episode “30 minutes over Tokyo.”
While that’s not the entirety of this Internet detective’s investigation — you can read the entire post here — perhaps one of the most convincing pieces of evidence comes when, in the episode “Two bad neighbors,” Lisa remarks that George Bush has a residency in “this state.”
With the former president’s home state of Texas already eliminated, that tidbit gives another boost to the candidacy of Maine, where the Bush family famously has a summer compound in Kennebunkport.
The writer of the post dismisses the scene in “The Simpsons Movie,” released in 2007, when neighbor Ned Flanders takes Bart to a high vista and points out the states they can see from there — a geographically absurd list that includes Maine, Nevada, Ohio and Kentucky.
“Just because he says ‘Maine’ doesn’t mean it can’t be in Maine,” he reasoned.
It’s probably worth pointing out here that the Springfield in the television show looks very different than the Springfield in Maine — the Maine town has a population of about 400 people, while The Simpsons’ hometown appears much larger, with a nuclear power plant and professional baseball team.
But this fun investigation is pretty compelling, you have to admit.