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D’oh!: Simpsons’ Springfield Not in Jersey

Matt Groening spills the beans on home state of fictional Springfield.

Worst pop culture geography reveal ever? 

Since The Simpsons started airing, the state hosting its dysfunctional hamlet Springfield has been both a mystery and a running joke. After decades of hints and misinformation, the mystery and hilarity over the statehood of the Simpson’s Springfield crescendo-ed in a quick visual gag in The Simpsons Movie showing the four states that border Springfield: Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky.

That joke came on the heels of a national promotional contest in 2007 where towns named Springfield from across America competed in a chance to be declared the Simpsons’ hometown. Springfield, N.J., residents made a fun video recreating the show's opening credits for a contest for which Springfield would host the Simpsons' movie premiere. Lacking a resident named Disco Stu, a history of monorail disasters or a meltdown-prone nuclear power plant run by a diabolical millionaire, Springfield, N.J., didn’t get the award.

In 2010, Springfield, N.J., got another chance to vie for animated association when Good Day New York visited  to celebrate the cartoon's 20th anniversary. They made a good case, presenting an elected official named Bart and his wife, Lisa. Plus, the First Aid Squad featured a captain named Apu. 

This week, Simpsons creator Matt Groening (rhymes with “complaining”) revealed the home state of the show’s Springfield: Oregon. The news should come as a surprise to few fans of the show. Groening embedded autobiographical elements to the show, including naming the show’s Pater Familias after his own father, Homer Groening. He also has sisters named Lisa and Maggie. His mother was not only named Marge, but also shares the birth name “Wiggum” with the TV show’s police chief and his son, Ralph.

Groening grew up in Portland, Oregon, so if it wasn’t for all the geographical obfuscation the show engaged in, the location would have been obvious. Speaking with Smithsonian Magazine, he said the town’s name was inspired by ‘50s TV show Father Knows Best, which took place in a Springfield that Groening, as a child, assumed was in his home state until he realized that Springfield was one of the most common names for American towns.

“In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield’” Groening told Smithsonian. “And they do.”

Now, only Oregon can think it's their Springfield, which has led to some gloating. This morning, Oregon Newspaper the Eugene Register-Guard ran a gleeful cover page headline proclaiming the Simpsons as Oregonians.

It's tempting to react to that with a hearty "boo-urns." But really, the proper response should be "ha-ha." Springfield, NJ is officially not the home of the Simpsons. That’s perfectly cromulent. It’s still a great town. It's definitely better than the riot-prone, toxic hellhole the Simpsons live in. 

So, in the end, everything is still coming up Milhouse for Springfield, NJ.

In your face, Shelbyville. 

Lenny April 11, 2012 at 06:55 PM
No where in the Smithsonian article is the TV show My Three Sons mentioned (and it wasn't a fifties show - it ran from 1960-1972, plus it took place in Los Angeles). The article does say that Springfield came from Father Knows Best, which did air in the fifties and did take place in a Springfield. What article were you reading?
Adam Bulger (Editor) April 11, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Hi Leonard. Evidently I got my Nick at Night reruns confused. Sorry about the mistake. It's been corrected in the text.
Maura H. April 12, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Adam: D'OH!
Denise Du Vernay April 14, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Groening did NOT actually say where the Simpsons live; he merely discussed how he was inspired to name the town Springfield because of "Father Knows Best" and because he grew up in Portland, Ore. (Nothing in the interview was news to anyone who's listened to the DVD commentaries). Smithsonian chose an attention-grabbing, but very misleading, headline. Trust me; I'm a Simpsonologist.
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