There are many rivalries in the universe of The Simpsons, and one of the oldest and most intense ones is that between Springfield and its neighbor town Shelbyville – and here’s why their citizens hate each other. Created by Matt Groening, The Simpsons had its beginnings as a series of animated shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, and after three seasons, it was developed into a half-hour prime time show, making its official debut on Fox in 1989.

The Simpsons follows the daily adventures of the title family, their closest friends, and a couple of enemies from the fictional town of Springfield. The series has been around for so long that the history of the town has been explored a couple of times (while its exact location continues to be a mystery), and with that, a big revelation was made: its long-time rivalry with the neighbor town of Shelbyville. Conflicts between the citizens of these towns have been at the front and center in a couple of episodes, but why exactly are Springfield and Shelbyville rivals?


It all goes back to the founding of these cities. Springfield was founded in 1796 by Jebediah Springfield, whose real name was Hans Sprungfeld, and was a very dangerous pirate who once attacked George Washington with an ax in an attempt to steal all his money. Hans later changed his name to Jebediah Springfield and fled to Maryland in 1795. The following year, he led a group of pioneers who misinterpreted a passage in the Bible and left Maryland to find “New Sodom”. Among those pioneers was his partner Shelbyville Manhattan, who had different ideas for the town they were about to found: Shelbyville wanted a town where men were free to marry their cousins, as he considered his cousins “so attractive”, and believed that was the point of their whole journey to found a new town. Jebediah, on the other hand, wanted a town devoted to chastity and abstinence, and so they parted ways.

Shelbyville and those who supported his ideas left Jebediah’s group and founded their own town, calling it “Shelbyville”, while the rest founded Springfield, right next to it. Since then, the citizens of these towns have held a strong rivalry, manifesting in different ways. Shelbyville’s history and its rivalry with Springfield were told by Grandpa Simpson in season 6’s episode “Lemon of Troy”, where Bart and friends began a war with the kids from Shelbyville over their beloved lemon tree. Lisa has pointed out a couple of times that the towns often try to outdo each other – for example, Springfield built a mini-mall purposely larger than the one Shelbyville built, but they have also done their best to hurt the other, as happened when Shelbyville made the world’s largest pizza, and so Springfield burned their city hall.

With The Simpsons showing no signs of stopping soon, the series will surely continue to show how far the rivalry between Springfield and Shelbyville can go, though it wouldn’t hurt to show a bit more of the history of each town, mostly the relationship between their founders before their opposite ideas sent them on different directions.

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