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The most memorable movies and TV shows set or filmed in Northeast Ohio in the last 30 years

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1:19 pm, April 12, 2010

Over the past 30 years, Northeast Ohio has been featured on screens big and small.


  • The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004): “Moon over Parma, send your love to me tonight…” Clevelanders tuned in to see the antics of Drew and Mimi over the nine years the show was on the air as the gang brewed Buzz Beer and dealt with Cleveland winters. Cleveland Rocks, as a theme song, didn't hurt, either.

  • Third Rock from the Sun (1996-2001): The show about domestic aliens took place in fictional Rutherford, Ohio, but the gang ventured to Cleveland, as in an episode where Dick (John Lithgow) goes to a sci-fi convention.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003): Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) lived in fictional Sunnydale, Calif., on top of a Hellmouth, or a gateway to the demon realms. Another Hellmouth was located in Cleveland, according to the show's mythology.

  • Ed (2000-2004): The title character (Tom Cavanagh) was a bowling alley-owning lawyer in his fictional hometown of Stuckeyville, Ohio, believed to be near Youngstown.

  • Hope & Faith (2003-2006): Cleveland-area mother of three Hope (Faith Ford) had to learn to live with her sister, Faith (Kelly Ripa), after Faith lost her job as a Hollywood soap star.

  • How I Met Your Mother (2005-present): Although the series is about dating in New York, the main character, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is a Shaker Heights native. He can occasionally be spotted in a Shaker Wrestling or Cleveland Indians T-shirt.

  • The X's (2005-2006): The short-lived Nickelodeon show was about a Cleveland-based family of spies who bicker as they work to save the world.

  • 30 Rock (2006-present): While the show, of course, takes place in New York, there was a memorable episode when Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) ventured to our fair city. While Liz decides not to move to Cleveland with her boyfriend, a lawyer, the show spawned the phrase “Flee to the Cleve,” as uttered by Alec Baldwin.

  • Greek (2007-present): The show takes place at fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University, in a town much like Oxford, Ohio. The group drinks beer from Sandusky and Cleveland gets an occasional mention, as well.

  • Crime 360 (2008-present): The reality TV program features homicide detectives in different cities, including Cleveland.

  • Glee (2009-present): The popular new show about an Ohio glee club takes place in Lima, but characters have made mention of trips to Cleveland.

  • Hot in Cleveland (in development): Although it hasn't yet made it on the air, the show starring Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli, among others, is set to show on TV Land this summer. It's about three women from Los Angeles who decide to stay in Cleveland after their plane makes an emergency landing.


  • Raging Bull (1980): The movie about real-life middleweight boxer Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) features a fight in Cleveland against Jimmy Reeves (Floyd Anderson).

  • One Trick Pony (1980): More concert than film, singer Paul Simon chose Cleveland as his location because of its status as the rock ‘n' roll capital of the world.

  • Those Lips, Those Eyes (1980): You'll see a lot of Cleveland Heights' Cain Park in this movie about a summer at a musical theater in the 1950s, written by Cleveland native David Shabar.

  • The Escape Artist (1982): Shot all around Cleveland, including downtown near City Hall and in the Flats, this was a Francis Ford Coppola production about the son of a great escape artist trying to follow in his father's footsteps and learning much along the way.

    A Christmas Story (1983): Do we need to say anything about this beloved Cleveland classic?

  • Stranger than Paradise (1984): Willie (John Lurie) and Eddie (Richard Edson) go to Cleveland to track down Willie's cousin Eva (Eszter Balint) who is visiting from Hungary and has left Eddie in New York to see an aunt in Cleveland. Filmed here, in part.

  • Howard the Duck (1986): Cleveland physicist Dr. Walter Jenning (Jeffrey Jones) and his assistant Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins) bring human-size duck Howard (Ed Gale, Chip Zien and others) to Cleveland in an experiment gone awry. The gang (with singer Beverly Switzler, played by Lea Thompson) has to stop an alien invasion.

  • Light of Day (1987): Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett starred as members of local band the Barbusters in a plot that had them dealing with their mother's illness. It was shot, in part, in Cleveland.

  • Major League (1989): Every discussion of Cleveland-themed movies must include Major League, a sendoff of the pennant-less Indians that features Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert) and Willie Mays Hays (Wesley Snipes) in the best American Express commercial ever seen. It spawned two sequels, Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors, though the latter moved the story to Minnesota.

  • Air Force One (1997): This Harrison Ford thriller made good use of Cleveland locations. The outdoor nighttime shots of the military invading a palace were filmed at Severance Hall. In some shots you can see part of adjacent Case Western Reserve University's Thwing Center. Scenes depicting the interior of the palace were filmed inside the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. There is also a scene in a narrow hallway that was filmed in the Courthouse Law Library.

  • Welcome to Collinwood (2002): The movie about the perfect heist gone terribly, terribly wrong was shot on location.

  • Antwone Fisher (2002): Based on a true story, Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) works through a difficult Cleveland childhood with his psychiatrist as the title character begins his first romantic relationship and learns to deal with his anger. It was directed by, and also starred, Denzel Washington.

  • American Splendor (2003): The prize-winning film about Cleveland native and comic book writer Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) shows how Mr. Pekar went from a file clerk at the V.A. Hospital to a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman.” It was also filmed here. American Splendor won the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at the Sundance Film Festival.

  • Against the Ropes (2004): The boxing movie, which was also filmed, in part, in Cleveland, was panned by critics. It featured Meg Ryan as boxing manager Jackie Kallen who starts her career as an assistant to a Cleveland boxing promoter. The movie was a fictionalized version of the real Ms. Kallen's life.

  • The Oh in Ohio (2006): The movie features Parker Posey and Paul Rudd as a couple unable to satisfy each other sexually when they decide to look for other ways — and people — to meet their needs. Filmed in and around Cleveland.

  • Spider-Man 3 (2007): Lots of the webbed hero's scenes swinging through the streets of New York actually were filmed on Euclid Avenue.

  • The Rocker (2008): Robert “Fish” Fishman (Rainn Wilson), drummer for the Cleveland band Vesuvius, is kicked out right when Vesuvius gets signed. But his nephew, who is playing at the prom, needs a drummer for his band, A.D.D. Eventually, A.D.D. ends up opening for Vesuvius.

  • The Soloist (2009): Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (Jamie Foxx) was a real-life Clevelander who went to Juilliard before ending up homeless in Los Angeles. The movie was filmed here, in part.

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