One of the main ingredients of a long-running show, whether animated or live-action, is the family home. Some of the most iconic residences on TV exist only on paper. One of the advantages of animation as a creative medium is that the possibilities are pretty much endless, bound only by what the animators can come up with. Some of our favorite TV homes make very little sense at all, but that doesn't make them any less enjoyable to watch. This collection looks at what the real values of these fictitious homes might actually be.
For the purposes of this list, the nearest real-life equivalents were used to base estimates on. For the more grounded shows, this was reasonably straightforward, while the productions set in the distant past, future, or underneath nuclear test sites required a bit more creativity to get to the bottom of.
- 1736 VOTES
Location: Arlen (fictional), TX
One of the more grounded items in this list, Hank Hill’s modest three-bedroom ranch in a small Texas town should be well within his means. Arlen is a fictional locale whose size and precise location sometimes change. One episode puts the population at 145,300, while another has it at only 1,454. The location is similarly contradictory.
Arlen could really be just about anywhere within the vicinity of Dallas, although Richardson has been mooted as the main source of inspiration. A similar single-family home in Richardson wouldn't be overly pricey for someone as frugal as Hank Hill.
- Photo: Buena Vista Television2533 VOTES
Location: Bluffington (based on Richmond, VA)
The fictional town of Bluffington doesn't mention a specific location, but is loosely modeled after creator Jim Jinkins’s hometown of Richmond, VA. Bluffington is very much a company town in the pocket of the wealthy Bluff family. It probably has a pretty dark past, depending on how closely American history in Doug’s world follows real life. There’s also something quite unsettling about Bud Dink when you revisit the show as an adult and the little dual-income-no-kids reference went completely over your head as a child.
Race doesn’t seem to apply in Doug’s world, given the wide array of colors used for characters, but the purple characters do seem to be better off than most. Surprisingly, a light-hearted children’s cartoon doesn’t actually get into the minutiae of its world’s social and political dynamics.
Using Bluffington as a proxy for Richmond, the Funnie residence shouldn’t break the bank even in today’s red-hot housing market. A modest three-bedroom Cape Cod on a sizable lot in that neck of the woods shouldn’t be too far north of $250,000.
- Photo: Nickelodeon
Location: Bikini Atoll
A fast-food worker being a homeowner is probably the least realistic aspect of a show about talking marine fauna that cook burgers underwater. As a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob’s pay varies wildly over the course of the show, from envelopes of cash weekly to mere pennies annually. Although Bikini Bottom would technically come under the supervision of the US, the Department of Labor probably wouldn’t be able to do very much about Mr. Krabs's blatant violations, so minimum wage ordinances would be difficult to enforce.
Bikini Bottom’s location directly underneath a test site for nuclear weapons means the area would still have dangerously high levels of radiation, which might go some way in explaining the existence of an advanced underwater society. But in terms of land value, the area is effectively worthless, which means that the home’s value would only derive from its structure. A pineapple.
SpongeBob is supposed to be an Aplysina fistularis (yellow tube sponge), meaning the pineapple he resides in would have to be an unusually large one. It’s probable the pineapple itself originated from the Philippines, from which a 26-pound (12 kg) carton ships for roughly $10. If we assume the pineapple is twice the size of a regular one, then it works out at about $1.66 wholesale. Factoring in the mark-up, renovations, and the fact a mortgage company wouldn’t authorize a loan greater than four times SpongeBob’s meager income, we’re probably only looking at about $4 total.
- 4501 VOTES
Location: Quahog (fictional), RI
In the words of a news segment in an early episode, the Griffins are a “lower-middle-class Irish Catholic family.” Lois comes from a wealthy background but turned her back on the family fortune to be with Peter, whose own background was far less affluent. The finances of the Griffins vary wildly from episode to episode, but money troubles never seem too far away. The show is set in a fictional Rhode Island town; its coastal location would make either Providence or Cranston the nearest real-life equivalents.
A similar four-bedroom Cape Cod would fetch somewhere north of $300,000 in Cranston. It would be difficult but not totally impossible for Peter and Lois to cover the mortgage on his salary in a brewery and her part-time teaching work.
- 5609 VOTES
Location: Springfield, OR
The Simpsons have been on the air so long that the family’s finances have gone from a joke to a fantasy for audiences. Decades of stagnant wages and soaring home prices make Homer’s cushy lifestyle achieved on the back of so little effort almost seem like a cruel joke today. This was touched upon in a 1997 episode, but the gulf has only widened in the quarter-century since.
The four-bedroom residence at 742 Evergreen Terrace is approximately 2,200 square feet. The property has a basement, attic, and generous front and back yards. The location of Springfield was deliberately vague for many years, but finally settled in 2007 with the release of the movie. Show creator Matt Groening presented Springfield, OR, with a plaque proclaiming it to be the "real Springfield." An equivalent property in the "real" Springfield would fetch at least $400,000.
- Photo: Hanna-Barbera Productions6347 VOTES
Location: Orbit City
Value: $6,000,000 (2062 price)
There are some bleak theories about why the futuristic Jetson family lives so far above the Earth's surface. Stories that range from a wasteland caused by nuclear war (the show debuted in the same era as the Cuban Missile Crisis) to environmental collapse or even a zombie apocalypse are certainly entertaining, but they're all just plain wrong. We do, in fact, see the Earth's surface in the show - as early as the seventh episode, to be precise.
The same socioeconomic conditions that plague our present all seem to be apparent in the Jetsons' time, too. Despite the future having apparently automated every single menial job out there, and having found a way to mine the endless riches of asteroids, there are still homeless people living on the Earth's surface. George Jetson's sinecure white-collar job above the surface is far removed from those problems.
The family has a plush, spacious home in the Skypad Apartments building in Orbit City. The buildings aren't actually as high up as you might think; as one episode reveals, no building is allowed to be more than 2,200 feet off the ground. The real world's tallest building is actually higher than that. The show is supposed to take place in 2062, meaning we're closer to that era than when the show debuted back in 1962.
We can safely assume that Orbit City is a desirable and affluent area in the future and will be priced accordingly. Because it's clearly been influenced by Seattle's Space Needle, we'll use higher-end apartments in the Emerald City as a rough guide.
Inflation is prone to fluctuations, but if we imagine a steady 3.5% annually for the next 40 years, a 2062 dollar would be worth $4 in today's terms. So George Jetson would probably be forking out about $6,000,000 for his very high-rise apartment in his own time - or about $1,500,000 today.