The 7 Worst Fictional Towns In America
Each year various news organizations look at factors like public schools, crime rate and diversity to come up with definitively numbered lists of the best and worst places to live in America. Having grown up in a town that's one of the best is obviously bad news because it proves that contrary to all that, "Man if I could only get out of this place" talk during high school, the problem was you. If, however, you were in the enviable spot of growing up in one of the bottom feeders, well, you can go back to having sex with that microwaved jelly donut because, fuck it, you're a product of your environment.
But even if it turns out your town wasn't the school of hard knocks you'd always thought it was, you still might have an excuse. That's because you probably spent quite a bit of your time in one of these seven towns, many of which are worse than anything they can throw at you in Battle Mountain, NV (The worst town in America according to The Washington Post).
Cabot Cove (Murder She Wrote)
At first, Cabot Cove doesn't seem all that bad. It's an idyllic coastal community of only 3,000, so you can't complain about the atmosphere. Also, for a town in the typically unwashed state of Maine, the townsfolk are relatively attractive, consistently looking (and for some reason acting) like they just stepped off the set of a soap opera.
However, none of that changes the fact that if you lived in Cabot Cove from 1984-1996, there was a pretty good chance that someone was going to murder your ass. With a body count of up to eight per episode, Cabot Cove experienced an outbreak of no less than 800 murders during the time that Jessica Fletcher lived there. And the crimes tended to be local on local, meaning that over half of the population was involved in a murder in a twelve year span. (Hear that, Camden, NJ?)
In a small town like Cabot Cove, you'd think that the limited suspect pool would have enabled the cops to solve murders pretty quickly. But time after time, the Cabot Cove PD would arrest the wrong person, falling for clearly planted clues like a suspect's hat being left at the scene of the crime, and ignoring obvious culprits like the guy in the corner laughing maniacally while steepling his bloody fingers.
Sure, Jessica Fletcher would set the cops straight in the end, but not before the cops would tell her to "leave this one up to the professionals." And just imagine what happened when the swinging queen of crime fiction was off on one of her many vacations. (Where people coincidentally were also always getting murdered.) If you live in Cabot Cove, you're either going to commit murder, get murdered, be falsely accused of murder, or you're a shit-stupid cop. Take your pick.
Smurf Village (The Smurfs)
With its uniform blue skin tone, Smurf Village may very well feature the least diverse population of any town in the universe. As for demographic statistics that people outside of college admissions offices care about: the male to female ratio is a cross between the worst keg party you've ever been to and a daycare center in mainland China. And the fact that there's only one female doesn't just suck for the guys either-we'd imagine that every day was about as relaxing as a walk through the prison yard at San Quentin for the perky blond Smurfette. Let's just say she probably had to lock her door when it was closing time at the local bar.
Commentators have often wondered about the drugs the show's creators must have been on, but when you get down to it, the village was a very conservative, somewhat Fascist environment. Everyone held the same values, everyone used the same language, and with its insistence on substituting "smurf" for every other word, their native tongue may very well have been the most annoying and down right confusing code of communication ever created (Other than Hawaiian. What the fuck's with all the vowels, Hawaii?) In Smurf Village, "My husband's smurfing" could mean anything from "My husband's eating" to "My husband snapped and now he's hunting smurfs!" Unfortunately, there's no way to know because Smurf language is about as clear as a Door's song.
Oh, Also, It's Basically a Cult:
If Papa Smurf had emerged from his house one episode and told everyone that he was actually the reincarnation of Christ, and that they had missed the passing comet they were supposed to catch so all Smurfs had to kill themselves, we're not sure if we would have batted an eyelash.
Hill Valley (The Back to the Future Trilogy)
Talk about a lack of initiative! After the clock tower was struck by lightning in the '50s, the local government never bothered to repair the town's most conspicuous plot device, er, landmark.
The attempted murder of Doc Brown by a gang of Libyan terrorists probably puts Hill Valley' rate of terror-related crime above that of any other small town in America. And if you think small towns react rationally to terrorism, we would like to direct your attention to the empty ammunition racks at the Pikeville, KY WalMart any day after the terror alert level jumps from yellow to orange.
Also of note, a band of Libyan terrorists has plutonium, which we're pretty sure is bad news no matter where you live.
Crime and Punishment:We have to disregard Biff's futuristic casino-fueled dystopia, because by the end of the trilogy, it seems like Marty and Doc had pretty much prevented it from ever happening. However, even in the '50s, Biff was getting away with murder. Well, technically he was getting away with attempted vehicular homicide and aggravated sexual assault. First, he attempts to run Marty down with his car. When that fails, Biff tries to rape Marty's mother in the back of her car on prom night. Not only is Biff never prosecuted for either of these heinous acts, but George McFly goes so far as to hire Biff to do work around the house later in life, apparently adhering to the age-old rule of thumb: keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer, give the guy who tried to rape your wife in high school a job that requires he have a key to your house.
Springfield (The Simpsons)
It used to be that the horrendous Dr. Nick Riviera was the bad doctor and the giggly Dr. Hibbert was the town's resident healer. However, like all Simpson's characters, Hibbert has recently become a goofy, barely coherent caricature of himself. Whereas he used to chuckle at inappropriate times while still getting his work done, laughing is pretty much all he's been doing lately. Such lapses in focus can't be good for a community that lives in the shadow of a twin stack nuclear reactor. To see a symptom of the poor state of health in the town, one must only look at the horrific outbreak of jaundice that seems to have seized the uniformly yellow skinned citizenry.
While they can be a lot of fun to look in on, it doesn't seem like Springfield's citizens have a hell of a lot to watch on TV. By all indications, the only shows on the tube are a mouse killing and torturing a cat (which is apparently hilarious to the populace), a horrible talk show starring a children's clown and a baseball team that tends to suck. Oh, there's also Channel Ocho, but c'mon.
We're not just talking about the terrible way that Grandpa Simpson is treated. Getting older seems to get pretty bad pretty fast around Springfield. In most towns, it takes until at least your 14th or 15th year to start feeling like your hometown has lost its magic. For Springfield, it only took nine seasons.
Related: The Evolution of Homer J. Simpson
Amity Island (Jaws 1-4)
Every time body parts wash up on the shores of this beach community, the medical examiner seems to want to blame a boating accident. This of course raises the important question: Who the fuck is driving these boats, and how many accidents are they causing each year? We're assuming that the statistics aren't great when the first thing the medical examiner thinks when faced with a steady stream of human chum washing up on the shore is improper water skiing technique.
Also endangering public health is the family of fucking enormous, man-eating sharks that hangs out off-shore each year. The sharks that live in the waters off of Amity Island differ from most breeds in that if you piss them off, or if someone you're related to pisses them off, they will follow you to the Bahamas and try to eat you and all of your relatives.
So, y'know, not the ideal vacation destination.
Good news, vacationers! You're on an island the size of Nantucket that is constantly being menaced by sharks. But that shouldn't worry you because your police chief is terrified of the ocean! Also, your mayor tends to respond to shark attacks with comments like, "It could have been anything!" and "Nobody tells me to close the beaches just because a shark is eating tourists like they're animal crackers." So, at least you're in good hands.
Bayside (Saved by the Bell)
Bayside fails the first question people tend to ask when relocating to a community: How are the public schools? The principal of Bayside High, Mr. Belding, is by all evidence the dumbest person to ever put on a suit. In most episodes, he seems to be more desperate for approval than the teenage girls he's supposed to be guiding. If he were to find out Zack was throwing an after-prom party, Mr. Belding would be more likely to offer Preppie a handie for an invitation than he'd be to break it up. To get an idea of how annoying it would have been to go to Bayside under Mr. B's rule, think back to every annoying teacher you've ever had that wanted to be your friend more than he wanted to be your teacher. Now imagine if that teacher were a total pussy.
With this sort of emotionally needy loser at the helm, it's no surprise that the students never seem to be in class. Or, when they do go to class, the teachers forgo any sort of rigorous lesson plan in favor of class projects like bake-offs and physical challenges.
It's Zack's World, You're Just Living in It:
Bayside citizens have a pretty profound metaphysical problem (in addition to the fact that their entire town relocated from Indiana to California between the first and second seasons). If you live in Bayside, and you're not Zack Morris, you're living in a time space continuum that is controlled by the whims of a 14-year-old brat in a turtle neck. This is because Zack Morris inexplicably has the ability to freeze the universe simply by calling a timeout. Sure, while the cameras were on, he only used this power to make witty asides. But you have to assume that an ambitious, morally flexible prick like Zack would have figured out a way to take advantage of all those frozen suckers by the time graduation rolled around.
We'd like to imagine that the adult Zack would have shown Bayside what Biff could have done with that Sports Almanac if Biff wasn't so very clearly retarded. (Quite frankly, we've always been a little skeptical of the idea that Biff was smart enough to off-set chaos theory.) In other words, don't even think about pissing off Zack. If you don't think he'll use his powers for pure spite, than it's probably time you asked your mom why your little brother has a blond pompadour, Slater.
Gotham City (Batman, Various DC Comics)
When asked to sum up Gotham City, the guy who wrote Batman described it as "Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November." And as anyone who's ever lived in Manhattan will tell you, the month of November is basically your cover charge for getting to live in New York the rest of the year. The wind barrels down the alleyways like it's genuinely pissed off at you, the homeless population multiplies like someone fed them after midnight and exhaust-stained water clings to every square inch of the city. The only thing that gets you through are memories of cold beers at warm, summer beer gardens.
In Gotham there are no beer gardens and it's never July. Just cold, dark, November all year long. So it's not entirely surprising that the city's favorite past time seems to be putting on clown makeup and killing people.
Crime is so high that a guy with no special powers (other than a preternatural lack of embarrassment when wearing a black leather unitard) can stumble upon crime after crime just by cruising around the city. With Superman and Spider-Man, their super powers explain their ability to always be where the action is. Batman, on the other hand, is basically just a really good bouncer at a really shitty bar. If Superman stops five muggings in a night, it's reasonable to believe that those were the only five muggings in Metropolis that night. If Batman stops five muggings, those are muggings that just happened to be going on when he strolled by. In other words, if you're walking around Gotham at night, and for some reason aren't dressed in your bat costume, you could conceivably get mugged five times.