True Detective: Is Ennis an Actual Town in Alaska?

Image Credit: Michele K. Short/HBO

In HBO’s ‘True Detective: Night Country,’ a small town becomes the playground for dark and sinister forces that threaten to dismantle its relative peace and quiet. It all starts when eight scientists from a nearby research station go missing, and the cops have no clue what happened to them and why. As the investigation picks pace, it turns out that the case is tied to the things happening in the town, which also ties into a cold case of a woman who had strong ties with the fabric of the town. The show creates an extremely realistic setting, leaving the audience wondering whether there is a real town like Ennis.

Ennis is a Fictional Alaskan Town in Night Country

‘True Detective: Night Country’ is written by Issa Lopez, who also created the fictional town of Ennis, which is somewhere 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The town is a perfect setting for a whodunit as almost the entire story takes place under the cover of night in the winter, where darkness and ice rule the landscape. It also welcomes the visitors with: “Welcome to the End of the World,” which spells a sense of doom and gives the audience a sense of what they are getting into.

Image Credits: Michele K. Short/HBO

In real life, there is a town by the name of Ennis in Ireland, but it has no connection with the fictional Ennis is Alaska in the HBO series. The name is most probably a coincidence, but the choice of the setting is entirely intentional. When called to work on the fourth season of ‘True Detective,’ Lopez decided to do something that was previously unexplored, not just when it came to crime but also in terms of the setting and culture. The previous seasons of the show were set in Louisiana, California, and Arkansas. Lopez flipped the map and landed on Alaska as the place that would act a complete opposite in terms of previous locations.

The Alaskan setting also worked well for the story because Lopez wanted to keep the sense of mysticism, with the supernatural being an important hook of the story. She got that atmosphere, and the background with Ennis was perfect for that. Even though Ennis is fictional, Lopez wanted to make it the quintessential Alaskan small town and to make it feel authentic not just in terms of the geography but also the culture; she dove into research, getting to know as much about the place as possible.

Setting the story in Ennis also gave her a chance to bring that “end of the world” feeling, at least geographically, giving the audience a taste of the isolation and the loneliness that envelopes the town, especially during its long nights when everything is dark and cold. Considering how much work was put into it, it’s clear that Ennis, even though fictional, comes quite close to feeling like a real town.

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