Fictional city


A painting of the mythical city of Atlantis

A fictional city refers to a town, city or village that is invented for fictional stories and does not exist in real life, or which people believe to exist without definitive proof, such as Plato's account of Atlantis.[1]

Cultures have always had legends and stories of fictional cities, and appear commonly in stories of early mythology. Some such cities are lost (Atlantis), hidden (Agartha, Shambhala[2]), destroyed (Ys[3]) or can only be reached by difficult means (Asphodel Meadows[4]).

During the mid to late 16th century, several expeditions were made by various groups of people in order to locate what they believed to be a city rich with gold; El Dorado. In 1541 Gonzalo Pizarro, governor of Quito, Ecuador, banded together 340 soldiers and about 4000 natives and led them in search of the fabled city. That same year, Philipp von Hutten led an exploring party from Coro on the coast of Venezuela. Despite having been disproven by Alexander von Humboldt during his Latin-America expedition (1799–1804).[5] There are some people who still believe El Dorado is yet to be found.

Other fictional cities appear as settings or subjects in literature, movies and video games. Most superhero and secret agent comics and some thrillers use fictional cities as backdrops, although most of these cities exist only for a single story, episode or an issue of a comic book. There are notable exceptions, such as Metropolis and Smallville in Superman, Gotham City in Batman, Stephen King's Castle Rock and Emerald City which appears throughout Frank L. Baum's Oz Books and appears in several film adaptations and animated films.


Fictional cities often deliberately resemble, parody or even represent some real-world analogous location or present a utopian or dystopian locale for commentary. Variants of cities' names sometimes make it clear what city is the real basis, for example, Las Venturas from the video game Grand Theft Auto series based on Las Vegas, and includes a number of notable city landmarks including casinos. By making use of fictional towns, as opposed to using a real one, authors have a much greater freedom to exercise their creativity on characters, events, and settings while simultaneously presenting a somewhat familiar location that readers can recognize. A fictional city leaves the author unburdened by the restraints of a city's actual history, politics, culture and can allow for a greater scope in plot construction and also avoid vilifying any actual group of people. Fictional crossovers tend to be like this, some works of fiction will set in fictional city to another. In Fanfiction, fan-created or fan-made fictional (fan-made/fan-created) cities are not considered canonical unless they are authorized. Although cities based in real life usually have enough evidence to locate the real-world inspiration, writers sometimes are deliberately ambiguous in the locale such as the unlocatable Springfield from The Simpsons television program.[6]

Notable examples

These are cities from various works of fiction, legend, and other narratives that are good examples of notable fictional cities.

Name Origin Notes
Gotham City Batman #4 (Winter 1940) A fictional American city that is the home of Batman, and the principal setting for all Batman comics, films, and other adaptations. Writer/artist Frank Miller has described Gotham City, generally portrayed as a dark, crime-ridden locale, as New York City at night. It was originally strongly inspired by Toronto, Ontario's, history, location, atmosphere, and various architectural styles, and has since incorporated elements from New York City, Detroit, Pittsburgh, London and Chicago. Anton Furst's designs of Gotham for Tim Burton's Batman (1989) have been influential on subsequent portrayals: he set out to "make Gotham City the ugliest and bleakest metropolis imaginable."[7]
Emerald City The Wizard of Oz The Emerald City is the fictional capital city of the Land of Oz based on L. Frank Baum's Oz books, first described in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The city is sometimes called the City of Emeralds for its extensively green architecture.
Sunnydale, California Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sunnydale, California is the fictional setting for the U.S. television drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Series creator Joss Whedon conceived the town as a representation of a generic California city, as well as a narrative parody of the all-too-serene towns typical in traditional horror movies.

Sunnydale is located on a "Hellmouth": a portal "between this reality and the next" and convergence point of mystical energies.[8]

Springfield The Simpsons Springfield is the fictional town in which the American animated sitcom The Simpsons is set. A mid-sized town in an undetermined state of the U.S., Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society.[9] The geography of the town and its surroundings are flexible, changing to address whatever an episode's plot calls for.[10] Springfield's location is impossible to determine; the show is deliberately evasive on the subject, providing contradictory clues and impossible information about an actual geographic location.
Castle Rock Stephen King Castle Rock, Maine is part of Stephen King's fictional Maine topography and provides the setting for a number of his novels, novellas, and short stories. Built similarly to the fictional towns of Jerusalem's Lot (featured in the novel 'Salem's Lot) and Derry (featured in the novels It, Insomnia, and Dreamcatcher), Castle Rock is a typical small New England town with many dark secrets.
Walmington-on-Sea Dad's Army Walmington-on-Sea is a fictional seaside resort that is the setting of Dad's Army, including the BBC Television sitcom, the BBC Radio 4 series and two feature films. Walmington is on the south coast of England, which, following the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk during the Second World War, found itself on the front line against Hitler.
Kakariko Village The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Kakariko Village (カカリコ村, Kakariko-mura) is a fictional village of The Legend of Zelda Series that appears in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Four Swords Adventures, Twilight Princess, A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild. Kakariko is often portrayed as a prosperous small town.

See also


  1. ^ Nesselrath (2005), pp. 161–171.
  2. ^ The Tantra by Victor M. Fic, Abhinav Publications, 2003, p.49.
  3. ^ YsThe Legend of the Sunken City in Welsh and Breton Tradition, James Doan, Folklore, Vol. 92, No. 1 (1981), pp. 77–83
  4. ^ W.H.D. Rouse, trans. The Odyssey: The Story of Odysseus. New York: The New American Library, 1949.
  5. ^ Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America by Alexander von Humboldt
  6. ^ Richmond, Ray (2007-05-11). "Springfield of dreams". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-06-13.
  7. ^ Anton Furst, Derek Meddings, Visualizing Gotham: The Production Design of Batman, 2005, Warner Home Video.
  8. ^ Welcome to the Hellmouth (1.01) introduces the Hellmouth, which is referred to numerous times throughout the series. The entrance to the Hellmouth is seen under the school in The Zeppo, Doomed, and Conversations with Dead People, and throughout the second half of season seven.
  9. ^ Turner, p. 55
  10. ^ Turner, p. 30

External links

Media related to Fictional towns at Wikimedia Commons