Places in Superhero TV Shows You Didn’t Know Actually Existed


The characters we love all live in very real cities


September is upon us and that means our favorite shows will once again grace our screens. We’ve spent enough time apart from our favorite crime fighters and superheroes. What do you think have they been up to in the few months we haven’t seen them? How are the cities they protect doing?


Sitting on our sofas or lying on our beds as we watch the likes of Jim Gordon or Barry Allen cut through their respective cities, we may think we’re worlds apart. But actually, we’re not. The characters we love all live in very real cities. Here are some of those fictional places you didn’t know actually existed.


1. Metropolis – Toronto, Canada

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Truth be told, Superman was sent to Earth from the planet of Krypton to be the protector of the city of Metropolis, a city that has often been likened to the Big Apple. However, it has its roots a little more north than good ol’ New York City.


Superman co-creator Joe Shuster was born in Toronto, Canada, and lived there until he was 10 years old. There was no denying on his part that the skyline of Metropolis was modeled after the buildings that outline this city on the Great White North.


The Daily Planet or that publication Clark Kent works for? It roots from the very real Toronto Star, the newspaper a young Shuster used to deliver to the doorsteps of his neighbors.


2. Smallville – Hutchinson, Kansas

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Clark Kent wasn’t always Superman. Before he became a superhero, he was first a boy who grew up in a small town in Kansas. Smallville, Kansas, to be exact. By all means, Smallville is a fictional town. But at least for a day a few years ago, it was very real.

The city of Hutchinson, Kansas was officially known as “Smallville, Kansas—the Home of Clark Kent” for one day back in 2013. In the hearts of some of its citizens, it will always be so.


All that happened because of three Hutchinson natives. They have argued that their hometown may just be the same as Clark Kent’s, since there are so many similarities between Hutchinson and Smallville that various comics and the now-defunct Smallville series have provided them with. These include everything from population to location, down to some landmarks that resemble the establishments the young Superman was said to have frequented in his heyday, like the Talon, which is eerily similar to Hutchinson’s own, historic Fox Theater.


We haven’t been there personally, but they might just be right.


3. Central City – Kansas City, Missouri


There are many very real Central Cities out there. However, the Central City that Barry Allen speeds through the streets of may just be Kansas City, Missouri.


The current Flash comic books, as well as the CW show and the animated series Young Justice, have already firmly pointed out that Barry Allen’s Central City is located on the edge of the state of Missouri. What leads us to believe that Kansas City, Missouri is indeed the Central City is its proximity to the state of Kansas, which is just a body of water away.


4. National City – Los Angeles, California

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


There is a real National City in California. It is located in the San Diego metropolitan area, and is just a stone’s throw away from Mexico. However, the National City that Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, has sworn to protect is more like a famous California city a few hours away from the real-life National City.


What other city has a port, a tech company and a worldwide media company, all the while remaining resistant to the occasional wildfire and frequent earthquakes? National City is, no doubt, an alternate take on nothing less than the City of Angels itself, Los Angeles, California.


5. Starling City – San Francisco, California

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Staying on the Western seaboard, another DC superhero is believed to call yet another famous California city home. The billionaire playboy Oliver Queen dons a hood at night and calls himself Arrow, the protector of the coastal Starling City.


Known simply as Star City in the comics, Starling City is believed to be modeled after downtown San Francisco. Aside from its distinct coastal location, other telltale signs that liken Starling City to San Francisco include its many landmarks such as the Star Bridge, which can basically be exchanged for the famous Golden Gate Bridge which connects San Francisco to the other cities in the Bay Area.


6.    Gotham City – New York City, New York

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Frank Miller, the comic book master himself, has quite frankly put it that if “Metropolis is New York City in the daytime, Gotham City is New York at night.” More specifically, Batman writer and editor Dennis O’Neill has pinned Gotham City as “Manhattan below 14th Street at 3AM, November 28 in a cold year,” and nothing less than the more sinister areas of the famous metropolis.


New York City has been likened to the hometown of Bruce Wayne so much so that it has earned itself the nickname of Gotham, even before the Gotham City we know came to exist. Basically, even then, calling a place Gotham meant it must be filled to the brim with crazy people or at least people who pretended to be. And boy must Gotham be packed with them then, given all the bad guys Batman, and those before him, have had to face—maybe even Batman himself, too.


7.    Arkham Asylum – Danvers State Hospital, Massachusetts

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Arkham Asylum, where all of Batman’s foes are sent to rot, is based on the fictional Arkham Sanitarium in the works of acclaimed horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Arkham Sanitarium, on the other hand, is based on a very real institution in the state of Massachusetts: the Danvers State Hospital or the Danvers Lunatic Asylum which opened in 1878.


Known as the birthplace of the prefrontal lobotomy, Danvers State Hospital gained infamy as its patients’ numbers grew and its staff was unable to care for them, leaving many to die and rot away under their noses. It completely closed in 1992, leaving its looming gothic towers and expansive underground tunnels, as well as its patients’ disturbing rooms, abandoned for almost a quarter of a century.