How Edmonton Fits Into American TV Culture


Over the years, Edmonton has gained a reputation for its arts and culture, its grand hockey history, and, of course, that giant mall, amongst other things. Although we're far from the Paris' and New York's of the world, in terms of recognizability, we've been at least mentioned in some capacity - good or bad - in numerous non-Canadian TV shows since the early 1980s. 

If you're anything like me, your ears perk up whenever you hear "Edmonton" mentioned on a television series or in a movie, or perhaps even on CNN, no matter the context. We just don't get to hear our humble hometown being talked about all that often on international television or in Hollywood movies. Or do we? Here are some of the American programs that have at least mentioned Edmonton in some capacity at some point (in chronological order)...

- The Young and the Restless (1981)
"And this is Wayne, out of our Edmonton operation," said one of the characters on an episode of the CBS soap opera, which originally aired on November 12, 1981. He was introducing Edmonton Oiler Wayne Gretzky, who made a bizarre cameo on the show, which is said to be one of his personal favourites. "Sure could use some of your class around home, Nikki," Gretzky said to co-star Melody Thomas Scott, who then asked Wayne, "Are you just visiting, Mr...?" He cuts in, "Call me Wayne. Everybody does." The 20-year-old Gretzky, who was only in his third year in the NHL at the time, was cast as a "mafia goon" in the episode, which allegedly aired on the same day as Elizabeth Taylor's infamous cameo on another soap opera, General Hospital

Wayne Gretzky on The Young and
the Restless (SKIP TO: 1:05)

- Cheers (1987, Season 5, Episode 17)
In an episode titled "Never Love a Goalie, Part 2," the character of Eddie LeBec (played by Jay Thomas) - who is dating Rhea Perlman's character, Carla, and plays for the Boston Bruins - mentions the Oilers as part of the real life Stanley Cup championships for the 1986-87 NHL season, in which the Bruins play the Oilers. The episode originally aired on NBC on February 5, 1987. 

Jay Thomas as Eddie LeBec on Cheers

- Roseanne (1990, Season 2, Episode 23)
In an episode titled "Fathers and Daughters," right around the 7-minute mark, the character of Darlene (played by Sara Gilbert) reminds her father (John Goodman) that the hockey game is on later that night, in which the Chicago Blackhawks play the Oilers. You can check out the episode on Amazon Prime. 

Darlene (Sara Gilbert) on Roseanne

- Unsolved Mysteries (1993, Season 6, Episode 10)
This legendary mystery and paranormal docuseries featured a segment that highlighted two separate cases from Edmonton. The first focused on three-year-old Mandy Tremblay, who went missing on May 26, 1992 and was later discovered left for dead in a remote field, about nine miles from her home. She miraculously survived the ordeal. The second case shed a light on the abduction and murder of six-year-old Corrine "Punky" Gustavson. The case, which was also profiled on an episode of America's Most Wanted, was eventually solved 11 years later, in March 2003, when DNA evidence led to the arrest of Clifford Sleigh. You can stream the series on Amazon Prime. 

Corrine "Punky" Gustavson

- The Norm Show (1999, Season 1, Episode 1)
In the pilot episode of the ABC sitcom The Norm Show, it is revealed that the lead character of the series, played by Quebec-born Norm Macdonald, is a social worker who once played with the Edmonton Oilers. This is brought up at around the 3-minute mark of the episode "Norm and the Prototype," which aired March 24, 1999. A young character in the scene, known as Billy, suddenly recognizes Macdonald's character during an appointment: "Wait a second, you're Norm Henderson, the hockey player. You were with the Oilers." The entire episode is available on YouTube.

The pilot episode of The Norm Show, which
mentions the Edmonton Oilers (SKIP TO: 2:56)

- The Bachelor (2005, Season 7)
During the 7th season of this ABC reality series, not one but TWO of the female contestants competing to "win the heart" of bachelor Charlie O'Connell were from Edmonton: 25-year-old swimsuit model and former SUNshine girl Kim Choma and 23-year-old marketing co-ordinator and model Jenny Adams. The season also happened to feature 30-year-old L.A. realtor Geitan Villeneuve, who was born in Grande Prairie and lived in Edmonton for 8 years. O'Connell, who is an actor and the brother of fellow actor Jerry O'Connell, ended up "selecting" Texan Sarah Brice as his partner. However, Kim made it far enough in the season that O'Connell visited her family in Edmonton, meeting up with her first at West Edmonton Mall, where they rode the famous rollercoaster. They later went for drinks at a bar called Sapphire, where Jenny - who was sent home two episodes prior - showed up with a "friend," Jason, who happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Kim. "Living in a town like Edmonton, it's not that big," Jenny says to the camera. "We always run into people that we know." 

Kim Choma (The Bachelor)

- Cold Case Files (2006, Season 5, Episode 4)
"It scared the hell out of Edmonton," said Edmonton Journal reporter David Staples in the beginning of the episode titled "Snatched/ A Detective's Promise." "People altered their behaviour ... it changed the city forever." Half of the episode - which aired on A&E on January 21, 2006 - was dedicated to the murder of six-year-old Corrine "Punky" Gustavson, who was abducted on September 6, 1992. The case shook the whole city back in 1992 and became one of the most infamous murders Edmonton had ever experienced. It had previously been highlighted on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. You can watch the episode on Netflix. 

"It changed the city forever."

- Everybody Hates Chris (2008, Season 3, Episode 15)
In the episode known as "Everybody Hates Gretzky," Chris' older brother Drew (played by Tequan Richmond) finds out that Wayne Gretzky is in town and wants to get his autograph. He buys and wears an Oilers jersey because he thinks it might help him with his mission, but it reads "#98 Gritzky" instead of "#99 Gretzky." As it turns out, Gretzky is not at the hotel where they thought he would be. 

Chris (Tyler James Williams) (left) and Drew
(Tequan Richmond) in Everybody Loves Chris

- Weird or What? (2010, Season 1, Episode 7)
One of the three segments on the 7th episode of this docudrama series - hosted by William Shatner on the Discovery Channel - featured the story of Erika Nordby, a 13-month old girl who wandered off and was eventually found "frozen stiff" outside in the middle of an Edmonton winter, wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a diaper. The temperature that early morning was around -28°C (-11°F). The story made headlines around the world, because Erika had been clinically dead for two hours, yet recovered without any brain damage or the need for amputation. However, she did suffer from severe frostbite and had to undergo skin grafts on her fingers and toes. "It's like being in a state of suspended animation," said Dr. Allan DeCaen, the physician who led the ER team at Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital. Erika's story is available in the YouTube clip below, starting around the 16-minute mark. 

Weird or What? featuring the story of
Erika Nordby (SKIP TO: 16:00)

- South Park (2011, Season 15, Episode 3)
During an episode titled "Royal Pudding" (aired on May 11, 2011), in which the "Princess of Canada" is kidnapped, the Canadian Prime Minister asks distraught Canadians to head home in order to open their so-called "Box of Faith," which includes a video recording issuing a call to arms for all Canadians who are in fighting condition to "meet by the tree in Edmonton." You can stream the episode on Crave. 

The South Park episode that references Edmonton

- Dateline NBC (2011, Season 20, Episode 1)
Lloydminster-born Keith Morrison narrates the two-hour episode of Dateline that profiles Mark Twitchell, the Edmonton-born indie filmmaker and convicted murderer who was inspired by the fictional character of Dexter Morgan (from the TV series Dexter). Twitchell was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 for killing Johnny Altinger, whom Twitchell lured by posing as a woman on the dating website "Plenty of Fish," in 2008. The episode, titled "Deadly House of Cards," originally aired on September 16, 2011. 

Mark Twitchell

- 48 Hours (2012, Season 25, Episode 15)
Just five months after Dateline NBC aired an episode set around the case of Edmonton's Mark Twitchell, 48 Hours covered the convicted murderer on an episode entitled "Screenplay for Murder," which aired on CBS on February 11, 2012. Twitchell was sent to prison for murdering Johnny Altinger in 2008, in a fashion that mimicked a short horror film he made prior to the murder, called House of Cards. It told the story of a man who is lured from a dating website into the killer's garage, where he is tied to a table and then killed with a butcher knife. Twitchell had previously tried to murder a man named Gilles Tetreault in this same fashion, though he fought back and got away and eventually wrote a book about his ordeal, The One Who Got Away (2015). Unfortunately, Tetreault never reported the incident to the police, which likely would have prevented the death of Altinger. 

Johnny Altinger

- How I Met Your Mother (2013, Season 8, Episode 23)
The episode titled "Something Old" begins with a flashback scene in which the character of Robin (played by Vancouver's Cobie Smulders) is walking through New York's Central Park with her father, Robin, Sr. (played by Ray Wise), when she utters: "New York City's the best, eh?" Her father responds, "I despise it ... it's like Edmonton minus the arts and culture." You can find the episode - which originally aired on May 6, 2013 - on Netflix. 

A scene from How I Met Your Mother

- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2013, Season 14, Episode 22)
In an episode titled "Brief Interlude," which aired on May 15, 2013, Kerry Butler plays Ariel Randolph, a Canadian mother who is beaten and raped after a night of drinking while on a personal trip to New York City. At around the 13:40 mark, a detective announces that Randolph is a 32-year-old podcaster and blogger "from Edmonton." Edmonton is mentioned again multiple times by her husband, Nat, who was played by Richard Thomas. The episode is available to watch on YouTube for $1.99. 

Richard Thomas playing an Edmontonian on
an episode of Law & Order: SVU

- The Goldbergs (2014, Season 2, Episode 3)
The character of Vic (played by Cedric Yarbrough), Murray's friend and co-worker from Canada, wears an Edmonton Oilers jersey at a hockey game in the episode titled "Facts of Bleeping Life," in which the Oilers were playing the home team Philadelphia Flyers. This particular episode aired on October 8, 2014 on ABC. The Oilers are again mentioned in the 4th episode of season 4, titled "Crazy Calls" (2016). 

Cedric Yarbrough wearing an Oilers jersey
in an episode of The Goldbergs

- The Price Is Right (2015)
In April 2015, a Palmdale, California EMS dispatcher named Brenda Jo Philippe won herself a $7,519 (USD) trip to Edmonton during an episode of the CBS game show The Price Is Right, including a stay at downtown's Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. However, when the prize was unveiled on the show, a photograph of the Rocky Mountains was shown on the screen. Philippe won the trip after she played the game Squeeze Play, eventually declining the hotel stay and opting for an RV trip across Banff and Jasper instead. 

The Price Is Right featuring a woman
who wins a trip to Edmonton

- Z Nation (2015, Season 2, Episode 3)
As the show's main characters escape Cheyenne, Wyoming, on their way to California, they encounter a convoy en route to Edmonton, during the episode titled "Zombie Road," which aired on the Syfy network on September 25, 2015. "We're on our way to Edmonton, trying to outrun the fallout," says the character of Sam Custer (played by William Sadler), at around the 7:15 mark of the episode. Near the 8:22 mark, another character asks Sam, "What's in Edmonton?" Sam responds, "Peace. Tranquility. And freezing temperatures," before pulling out an Edmonton postcard that reads: "Land of Peace and Tranquility." "Zombies hate the cold," he explains. "We're gonna be safe there ... My job is to get everybody to Edmonton." The show is available on Netflix. 

"Things will be better in Edmonton." 

- Modern Family (2016, Season 7, Episode 10)
After the character of Cameron (played by Eric Stonestreet) invites his upstairs neighbours - who are originally from Canada - down for lunch, we learn (at around the 14:30 mark) that one of them is from Edmonton. "I remember my first crush, it was at summer camp," says the character of Carol (played by Kate McDaniel). "I lived in Toronto and he was from Edmonton, so it was very star-crossed." The episode was titled "Playdates" and originally aired on ABC on January 6, 2016. 

The "Playdates" episode of Modern Family

- Angie Tribeca (2016, Season 1, Episode 1)
Less than two weeks after Edmonton was name-dropped on Modern Family, it was randomly mentioned in the Steve Carell-directed pilot episode of the cop spoof series Angie Tribeca, airing on TBS on January 17, 2016. At the 5-minute mark, the show's title character (played by Rashida Jones) arrives at a house with her new partner, Det. Jay Geils (played by Chicago's Hayes MacArthur), where they both get out of an SUV, at which point she says, "After that he says, 'Are you serious? No one gets syphilis anymore." Geils replies, "For the record, I just asked if you'd ever been to Edmonton." You can watch the episode on YouTube for $1.99. 

Hayes MacArthur and Rashida Jones in
the pilot episode of Angie Tribeca

- Altered Carbon (2018, Season 1, Episode 5)
Set 550 years in the future (in the year 2579), Edmonton is home to an illegal cloning facility in the episode titled "The Wrong Man," which premiered on Netflix on February 2, 2018. It's probably not just a coincidence that the show's co-showrunner and executive producer, Steve Blackman, is from Edmonton, where he studied at Ross Shepard High and then the University of Alberta. The scene that name-drops Edmonton is right around the 26-minute mark, spoken by the character Carnage (played by Ontario-raised Matt Frewer). 

Matt Frewer as Carnage in Altered Carbon

- The Good Place (2018, Season 3, Episode 8)
At around the 12:18 mark of the episode titled "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By," the character of Doug Forcett (played by Michael McKean) reveals that he is headed to Edmonton in order to make a donation to the Canadian Mollusk Association (mollusks are snails, btw), while Ted Danson's character pretends to be a reporter from Calgary. You can watch the episode, which originally aired on NBC on November 15, 2018, on Netflix. 

Michael McKean as Doug Forcett in The Good Place

- Robot Chicken (2020, Season 10, Episode 14)
In a skit titled "I, Gritty" - part of the episode "Petless M in: Cars and Couches of the Road" - the Philadelphia Flyers' mascot Gritty attacks his rival, the Edmonton Oilers' mascot Hunter, in a style similar to ice skater Tonya Harding had her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, attacked in 1994. "You always hated Hunter, didn't you?," asks a stop motion police detective during Gritty's interrogation. The episode aired on Adult Swim on June 28, 2020. 

"I, Gritty" segment of Robot Chicken

- Edmonton is allegedly also mentioned in episodes of the shows Mom and The Ranch, but I was unable to track those down. If you know any others, please leave a comment or find my on Twitter! Oh, and one more show...

- Jeopardy!
And finally, here are some of the Edmonton-centric questions that have appeared on Jeopardy! over the years: 

1. Episode 482 (October 14, 1986)
Category: "Ice Hockey"
Question ($300): "Edmonton struck oil when they signed him in 1978 at age 17."
Answer: Wayne Gretzky

2. Episode 691 (September 14, 1987)
Category: "Starts with 'E'"
Question ($600): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

3. Episode 1396 (October 1, 1990)
Category: "Alberta"
Question ($300): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

4. Episode 1789 (May 14, 1992)
Category: "Newspapers & Magazines"
Question ($1,000): "The Edmonton Bulletin, founded in 1880, was this Canadian province's first newspaper."
Answer: Alberta

5. Episode 1886 (November 16, 1992)
Category: "Sports"
Question ($200): "In 1988 after 8 seasons as the NHL's MVP, this center was traded by Edmonton to the L.A. Kings."
Answer: Wayne Gretzky

6. Episode 2055 (July 9, 1993)
Category: "Sports"
Question ($100): "In the mid-1980s this team from Edmonton won the NHL's Stanley Cup 4 years out of 5."
Answer: The Edmonton Oilers

7. Episode 2704 (May 9, 1996)
Category: "Sports"
Question ($200): "This Disney-owned hockey team earned its first victory October 13, 1993, defeating Edmonton 4-3."
Answer: The Anaheim Mighty Ducks

8. Episode 2782 (October 8, 1996)
Category: "World Travel"
Question ($200): "The city of Edmonton in this Canadian province staes a fringe theatre festival every summer."
Answer: Alberta

9. Episode 2842 (December 31, 1996)
Category: "Newspapers & Magazines"
Question ($400): "This Canadian province's largest newspaper is the Edmonton Journal."
Answer: Alberta

10. Episode 2862 (January 28, 1997)
Category: "Sports Stars"
Question ($200): "On March 23, 1996 this 15-year-old American won the women's world figure skating title in Edmonton, Alberta."
Answer: Michelle Kwan

11. Episode 2893 (March 12, 1997)
Category: "Canadian Capitals"
Question ($200): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

12. Episode 3174 (May 21, 1998)
Category: "Canadian Cities"
Question ($200): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

13. Episode 3207 (July 7, 1998)
Category: "Question: Marks"
Question ($800): "Check him twice, he won the NHL's MVP Trophy in 1990 with Edmonton & in 1992 with the New York Rangers."
Answer: Mark Messier

14. Episode 3254 (October 29, 1998)
Category: "A Prairie Primer"
Question ($200): "The largest cities in Canada's 'Prairie Provinces' are Edmonton & Calgary in this one."
Answer: Alberta

15. Episode 3277 (December 1, 1998)
Category: "1988"
Question ($400): "This Edmonton Oiler was traded to the L.A. Kings with Mike Krushelnyski & Marty McSorley."
Answer: Wayne Gretzky

16. Episode 3380 (April 23, 1999)
Category: "Canadian Born"
Question ($500): "This pioneering pop-media theorist born in Edmonton, Alberta, coined the phrase 'The medium is the message.'"
Answer: Marshall McLuhan

17. Episode 3483 (October 27, 1999)
Category: "Hockey Teams"
Question (Final Jeopardy!): "This National Hockey League team regularly practices for fans at the world's largest mall."
Answer: The Edmonton Oilers

18. Episode 3537 (January 11, 2000)
Category: "Canadian Capitals"
Question ($1,000): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

19. Episode 3605 (April 14, 2000)
Category: "World Geography"
Question ($200): "London is this country's tenth most populous metropolitan area; Hamilton & Edmonton are larger."
Answer: Canada

20. Episode 3731 (November 20, 2000)
Category: "Travel"
Question ($800): "A haunted castle full of mummies is a new attraction at the West Edmonton Mall in this Canadian province."
Answer: Alberta

21. Episode 3768 (January 10, 2001)
Category: "Retired Jerseys"
Question ($100): "Edmonton Oilers No. 99."
Answer: Wayne Gretzky

22. Episode 3972 (December 4, 2001)
Category: "Canada Leftovers"
Question ($1,200): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

23. Episode 3984 (December 20, 2001)
Category: "Team Name's the Same"
Question ($800): "Edmonton & a former Houston team."
Answer: The Edmonton Oilers

24. Episode 4507 (March 23, 2004)
Category: "Sportsmen"
Question ($2,000): "8 days older than Wayne Gretzky, this Edmonton teammate of Gretzky's was playing with the Rangers in 2004."
Answer: Mark Messier

25. Episode 4602 (September 14, 2004)
Category: "Canadian Provincial Capitals"
Question ($1,200): "Alberta."
Answer: Edmonton

26. Episode 4873 (November 16, 2005)
Category: "A Very Special Pulitzer Prize"
Question ($2000): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

27. Episode 5377 (January 15, 2008)
Category: "'E' for Effort"
Question ($600): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

28. Episode 5398 (February 13, 2008)
Category: "Official Canadian Province Things"
Question ($800): "Petrified wood is the official stone of this province whose capital is Edmonton."
Answer: Alberta

29. Episode 5507 (July 15, 2008)
Category: "I Need a Farm Vacation!"
Question ($1,600): "If I tire of snowshoeing at Ohlers' Acres in this Canadian province, I'll take a side trip to the West Edmonton Mall."
Answer: Alberta

30. Episode 5641 (March 2, 2009)
Category: "His Pro Team Right Before..."
Question ($2000): Unknown
Answer: The Edmonton Oilers

31. Episode 5846 (February 1, 2010)
Category: "It's a Mall World"
Question ($600): "The West Edmonton Mall is this province's top tourist attraction."
Answer: Alberta

32. Episode 5879 (March 18, 2010)
Category: "Born in East LA"
Question ($2,000): "Baton Rouge, LA.-born Brandon Hamilton starred as a cornerback for the Edmonton Eskimos in this sports league."
Answer: Canadian Football League (CFL)

33. Episode 5967 (July 20, 2010)
Category: "1984"
Question ($600): Unknown
Answer: The Edmonton Oilers

34. Episode 6347 (April 3, 2012)
Category: "AP Male Athlete of the Year"
Question ($400): "1982: Edmonton Oilers center."
Answer: Wayne Gretzky

35. Episode 6493 (December 5, 2012)
Category: "Canadian Capitals"
Question ($800): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

36. Episode 6627 (June 11, 2013)
Category: "Another Black Friday"
Question ($400): "July 31, 1987: One of these cuts a swath of destruction through Edmonton."
Answer: A tornado

37. Episode 7171 (November 16, 2015)
Category: "Sports Dynasties"
Question ($1,000): Unknown
Answer: The Edmonton Oilers

38. Episode 7185 (December 4, 2015)
Category: "Canadian Landmarks"
Question ($400): "At 5.3 million sq. feet, the West Edmonton Mall in this province is the largest shopping mall in North America."
Answer: Alberta

39. Episode 7314 (June 2, 2016)
Category: "In the Canadian Province"
Question ($800): "The West Edmonton Mall, which boasts a water park, an amusement park, an ice palace, as well as, you know, a shopping mall."
Answer: Alberta

40. Episode 7916 (January 28, 2019)
Category: "Geograph'E'"
Question ($1,200): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

41. Episode 7972 (April 16, 2019)
Category: "Canadian City Nicknames"
Question ($800): Unknown
Answer: Edmonton

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