True Detective season 4’s filming locations were good – but season 5 can do better

True Detective has been set in Louisiana, California, Arkansas, and Alaska. Season 5 should scout these locations for new settings ripe with mystery.

True Detective recently finished its fourth season with True Detective: Night Country and has already been renewed for an upcoming fifth season. It is currently the highest-rated season of True Detective since the first season, with an approval rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to Season 1’s 91%. If the showrunners have learned anything from the viewers by returning to the first season format, it’s that toeing the supernatural line alongside the crime story is what viewers want.

In the past seasons of True Detective, the setting has been as strong a character as the people, so choosing a fitting location for the next crime story is crucial in matching the tone of Seasons 1 and 4. Even if the cases have solutions based on reality, the superstitions and culture of the environment only add to the tense feeling the show creates for characters and viewers alike. The show’s stories seem to be rooted in the US. While that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of crime investigations in another country, there are plenty of US locations to pick from for future seasons, each with fresh, eerie atmospheres and dark histories that would fit right into the show.

Where is True Detective: Night Country Filmed?

True Detective: Night Country's Liz and Evangeline work in Alaska

True Detective: Night Country takes place in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska during their “days of night.” This is when Alaska experiences the sun going down for months due to Earth’s axis tilting it away from the sun. It certainly looks like the wintery, dark setting of the US’s 49th state, so viewers may be surprised to learn Season 4 of True Detective wasn’t filmed in Alaska but in Iceland. The show was filmed in Reykjavik to capture the vast, barren Alaskan tundra. It created the town of Ennis by filming in the towns of Akureyri and Dalvík.

While filming in Alaska would have added to the authenticity of True Detective: Night Country, showrunner Issa Lopez said the specific area in Alaska they would need to shoot in was “above the Arctic Circle where the night expands into months—doesn’t have the infrastructure.” This choice was also made for practical reasons, as Lopez also noted that had they filmed in Alaska, their cameras and other filming equipment would not work because the temperatures would be so cold at the time they’d be shooting. However, the creators did go to Alaska beforehand to experience the location and do research for the show. The only places filmed on a soundstage were the police station, Liz Danvers’s house, Peter Prior’s house, and the ice caves. The ice caves were inspired by the ones in Vatnajokull Glacier and were made from melting plastic sheets over rocks to give them their natural shape.

Where Should True Detective Film Next?

Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) looking perplexed as she examines evidence in True Detective: Night CountryCentralia, Pennsylvania, US Was Creepy Enough To Inspire Silent Hill

Smoke rising over the town from the fires burning in the underground mines of Centralia, PA

Centralia, Pennsylvania, has grown a reputation with gamers already, as it was part of Christophe Ganz’s inspiration for the setting of his movie adaptation of the 2006’s Silent Hill (It has often been misbelieved that Centralia inspired the video games as well, which it did not). Centralia, Pennsylvania, was originally a small mining town with a tunnel system that ran below it, and coal drove its economy. In 1962, the town turned one of the mines into a landfill, but their method for getting rid of the trash there was to burn it. This appears to be what started Centralia’s infamous underground fires that spread throughout the rest of the mining tunnels. Try as they might, they could not stop the burning and the mines had to be shut down due to the high levels of carbon monoxide created.

The effects of this fire would not be realized until 20 years later when Centralia’s streets began to heat up to dangerous temperatures, roads and homes began to collapse, smoke began to rise up out of the cracks, and the townspeople reported health problems connected to the environment. One boy barely escaped with his life when the ground suddenly collapsed beneath him pulling him down. Congress decided to buy out the residents’ houses, but many were upset at how the government treated their situation and refused to leave. As of 2024, it’s reported that only five people still live in Centralia.

True Detective is known for digging up information from the past to connect to current investigations. Like with Rust Cohle and Marty Hart in Season 1, part of this season would need to be set in the past since most of the buildings and homes have been torn down, and the burning is less noticeable now. It would also need to be filmed in a different location to recreate the smoke and burning, like how Season 4 was shot in Iceland instead of Alaska.

The dangerous environment and upset of Centralia’s people over what happened would provide plenty of great fictional motives for True Detective’s next narrative. With how quickly the residents had to leave and the current town is practically abandoned, it’s also the perfect area for a fictional villain to try to get away with a crime unnoticed. Centralia was also once home to the secret society, the Molly Maguires. Pennhurst Asylum (which is supposedly haunted) is only two hours from Centralia, giving more historical material for True Detective’s writers to work with.

Yellowstone and Other National Parks Have High Missing Persons Rates

The welcome sign to Yellowstone National Park

A lush forest setting is something True Detective hasn’t traversed yet, making a national park like Yellowstone a fresh location with plenty of land to investigate. There is already an area within Yellowstone called the “Zone of Death” that has been on their radar. While most of Yellowstone is within the Wyoming borders, parts also spread into Montana and Idaho. The “Zone of Death” is the part of Yellowstone in Idaho, named so because it’s possible someone could commit murder there and walk away free with no conviction. While the area in Montana falls within a populated district, Idaho’s territory lies entirely in the wilderness, meaning by law there could be no jury able to form from the area the crime would be committed.There have also been many missing persons cases in Yellowstone and other national parks. While many of these are due to unfortunate accidents or hikers not following safety precautions, some of these missing persons cases defy logic. David Paulides, investigator and author of the Missing 411 books and documentary, has extensively researched missing cases with unusual circumstances. These cases include a two-year-old disappearing from a busy trail whose remains were found four years later 550 feet above the trail, clothing intact with no blood but lying inside out, and a single tooth found on a log.

An older Rust Cohle and Marty Hart stand in front of an evidence board in True Detective

Theories about what happened to these people range from murder to animal attacks to feral humans living in and being protected by the park to alien abductions. Just as True Detective Season 1 had the lore of The King in Yellow and Season 4 had the Innuit folklore woven around its mystery, these theories would fit right in with the True Detective format of mixing supernatural superstitions with crime investigations. A national park would be a gorgeous setting to film. Still, it also features the threat of rugged terrain, injury, getting lost, and wild animal encounters without any supernatural forces at play or crime being committed. Setting True Detective Season 5 in a park like Yellowstone would only help the tension and stakes of the story.

True Detective: Night Country’s showrunner Issa Lopez has teased doing another season to continue Night Country’s story, but nothing has been decided as of yet. She is also excited about the opportunity a fresh tale would bring. If Night Country does get a continuation, it may not be until after a new crime story gets a chance. Season 5 doesn’t need its setting to be the same as in previous seasons, but it does need to match the feeling of Seasons 1 and 4 to have a chance at the same success. The right setting can lead to a plethora of crime possibilities that could happen there, allowing the show’s writers to grow the narrative around that. All they need to do is pick the right one to win fans over yet again.



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