Short Circuit movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Short Circuit filmed?

1986

About Short Circuit

Following the story of Number “Johnny” Five, a military robot that’s gained sentience after being struck by lightning, Short Circuit is a funny and heartwarming film that holds a place in the hearts of many of us.

The story starts when Number Five (voiced by Tim Blaney) is struck by lightning in his home, Nova Laboratories. This jump-start causes him to come to life, something that scientists, Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) and Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens) didn’t think was possible.

Although the pair work for Nova Labs, they want their artificially intelligent robots to be peaceful beings, rather than the military weapons that many of the lab’s donors want the robots to become. Once Number Five comes to life, he realizes that this is not the life for him and escapes.

After jumping off a bridge and parachuting down across town to escape his pursuers, he lands on top of a food truck owned by Stephanie (Ally Sheedy), who mistakes him for an extra-terrestrial. Stephanie brings Number Five home with her and then calls Nova Labs to pick him up, but is soon convinced that Number Five is not going back without a fight.

Number Five is convinced that if he returns, he’ll be reprogrammed and killed, so it’s up to him and Stephanie to evade capture and convince Newton and Ben that Number Five is indeed alive!

Short Circuit was so beloved by audiences that it had its own sequel only two years later, with even more car chases, robot fights, and pithy one-liners – all the things that made audiences fall in love with the movie the first time around!

Even now, people love to rewatch Short Circuit, introduce it to friends and family, and recite the iconic lines back to each other.

City Locations

Astoria, Oregon

Location Types

American, Retro, NatureScapes, House

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Bus, Classic Car

Short Circuit Locations

Short Circuit was predominantly filmed around Astoria, Oregon. This gave the Short Circuit production team enough to work with in terms of suburban scenery, wild spaces for the more military-style scenes, and space to redesign as Nova Laboratories.

Astoria, Oregon was actually a super popular filming location for family movies in the late 80s and early 90s, with the city being used as a filming location for both The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop. This is in large part to the way that Astoria looks like a lot of different cities, especially suburban Californian cities that were popular locations at that time.

In addition to the city of Astoria itself, Short Circuit was also filmed out on the Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT as it’s more commonly known. This was for the iconic end scene where Number Five tries to convince Newton that he is actually alive and to try and reprogramme him would be murder. You can actually see Vasquez Rocks in the shot, which has been used in a huge array of films and TV shows over the years!

Crosby explains robots scene in Short Circuit

Bonneville Dam, Columbia River Gorge

Towards the start of the film, we see the thought behind the robotics program at Nova Labs, and Newton and Ben’s real intent. As scientists, they’re just pushing the limits of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The military sees robots that could be killing machines in war zones. Those are two very different purposes.

When asked about the origins of the project, Newton jokes, ”Originally I had non-military purposes in mind. I designed it as a marital aid.” Classic Newton.

The filming location for Nova Labs is used throughout the movie as a home base for Ben, Newton, and the military goons that want to exploit Number Five and the other robots. In reality, Nova Labs is the Bonneville Dam, Columbia River Gorge, Washington, located just over the state border.

You’ll find the lab building itself, just off Evergreen Highway. Immediately, you’ll recognize it as the spot where all the buses park outside the lab. With this filming location being so far out of the city, you’re going to have to drive, but as there are a lot of great hikes in this area, there is also plenty of parking.

Stephanie meets Number Five scene in Short Circuit

West Marine Drive

When Number Five first escapes from Nova Labs towards the start of the movie, he’s in hot pursuit. This leads to a stand-off on the Astoria bridge, where Number Five makes the choice to leap off and parachute down the river towards the city.

He comes to land on top of an unsuspecting food truck, owned by a very startled Stephanie, who automatically assumed that Number Five is an extra-terrestrial. Naturally, she invites him to her house to rest and make a plan.

“Why don’t you come to my house?”. That’s obviously a completely normal thing to do.

The spot where Number Five lands on Stephanie’s food truck can be found along West Marine Drive, Astoria, Oregon. This faces Youngs Bay and it’s also where you can find the Gas Station location that’s featured in the film.

If you’re traveling via public transport, you can get the number 10 bus which stops along this road, or you can cycle or drive it. It’s a decent road with expansive views of the bay, so it’s well worth dropping by to check out yet another Short Circuit filming location that’s right in the heart of Astoria, Oregon.

Number Five steals the van scene in Short Circuit

185th Avenue & NW Germantown Road, Beaverton

During the course of the film, Number Five either gets captured or cornered quite often, but somehow he always manages to escape. In this particular scene, we see Number Five having just been captured by Newton and Ben, who have deactivated him so they can transport him back to Nova.

Somehow, Number Five reactivates himself and steals the Nova van, leaving Ben and Newton stranded on the side of the road. He also remembers that he has a tracker on him which is how they found him the first time. During the drive, he looks down and sees a flashing and beeping box – the tracker.

“Uh, oh”, he says, and promptly throws the tracker out of the van.

The scenes that follow revolve around Number Five careening along the streets, not really able to drive, but trying to get back to Stephanie’s house. It’s less the Fast and the Furious, and more of a bumper car vibe.

For these scenes, the Short Circuit production team used 185th Avenue & NW Germantown Road, Beaverton, Oregon. This corner in particular is where Number Five does his very last-minute turn down a side road – apparently now realizing where he is!

You’ll find this road in between highways 26 and 30, and to reach it, you’re definitely going to have to drive.

Number Five tries to get gas scene in Short Circuit

West Marine Drive 710-842

Given how much running around Number Five does throughout the film, it’s no wonder that he’s running out of juice. As he can’t go back to Nova for fear of being reprogrammed, Number Five decides to try out some alternative methods of fuel.

First on his list? A gas station. Unfortunately, no one at the gas station has ever seen a robot, much less knows how to recharge one.

“Need input”

Number Five rolls up and asks for help, but no one knows what to do.

This particular gas station can be found at West Marine Drive 710-842, Astoria. It’s right along Youngs Bay, so for a gas station, it’s pretty picturesque! So, if you’re in need of a fill-up, why not check out a Short Circuit filming location at the same time!

The nearest bus stop is a couple of roads back and is served by the number ten route, but you can easily pull in off highway 202 to check out this Number Five hotspot!

Stephanie tries to take Number Five back scene in Short Circuit

197 Hume Avenue

When Stephanie finds Number Five, her first instinct is to send him back to Nova to be tuned up and sorted out. She tells Number Five who spirals into a series of synonyms for disassembled.

He then spots a grasshopper which he mimics, jumping across Stephanie’s lawn, before accidentally squishing the bug. Here, he gets his first taste of existential crisis and realizes what a return to Nova labs might mean for him.

Number Five: “Grasshopper disassembled”

Stephanie: “Yeah dead, as a doorknob”

Stephanie’s beautiful bridge-side home can be found at 197 Hume Avenue, Astoria, Oregon. It was recently bought by a movie enthusiast who plans to turn it into a film-based museum. These plans haven’t come to fruition yet, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to see the inside of Stephanie’s house.

As this road is located just off Astoria’s main road, it’s fairly close to the number 24 bus stop. From here, you just walk around the corner and can see the house on top of the hill, just like in the movie! It has beautiful views over the Columbia River so if you can stand on the road outside, you should be able to get the iconic sweeping view!

Number Five steals Stephanie’s van scene in Short Circuit

Cascade Locks

After having his minor existential crisis over the dead grasshopper, Number Five does the rational thing and tries to escape by stealing Stephanie’s food truck. She soon gets in the passenger seat, but it’s still Number Five at the wheel.

As they careen through the streets, bashing parked cars, driving on the wrong side of the road, and losing half of Stephanie’s mobile kitchen in the process, the pair come up to a low bridge. You can see what’s about to happen, but you still can’t look away.

Despite Stephanie shouting, “Look out!”Number Five still continues onwards, leaving the top of the van on the road behind them.

This iconic Short Circuit filming location can be found along Southwest Portage Road at Cascade Locks. This is just across the water from the Nova Lab filming location so you can easily make a day trip to both. With the number of hikes and outdoor adventures in the area, if that’s your thing, you can combine a Short Circuit filming location with a long weekend break.

You can access Cascade Locks via bus from Vancouver, Washington, or you can drive. There are plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants in the area if you want to have a day trip or make a weekend out of it!

Conclusion

Being so beloved by audiences all over the world, it’s no wonder that Short Circuit has stood the test of time. In addition to getting a sequel that was equally well-received, Short Circuit is still popular in a nostalgic way even now. So much so that the film was even discussed on Conan a few years back by Aziz Ansari (Master of None, Parks and Recreation).

Short Circuit is one of those films that can just instantly make you happy. It’s got slapstick humor, plenty of innuendo, great one-liners, and enough heart to hold it all together. It’s what makes it a great film for the entire family. It might not be the most thought-provoking film in the world, but that’s not what it was created to do.

If you’re looking for a film that’s going to be easy to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon, that’s a little bit on the nostalgic side, then Short Circuit is definitely going to be the film for you.