Frequent Filcher

Carmen Sandiego flew far enough to go 69% of the way to the dang moon

Published September 19, 2023

Should you meet a bookish person, and should you wish to see if they were born between the years 1976 and 1984, you should see how they react to the phrase “Do it, Rockapella.”

Throughout the first half of the 1990s, the kids’ game show “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego” locked down the 5 p.m. slot on PBS stations nationwide. It locked down seven Emmy awards across its five seasons. But most importantly, it locked down a permanent place in the consciousness of the era’s young nerds, thanks to its frankly fantastic vocal-jazz theme song, rendered by the I-guess-‘90s-cool quintet Rockapella. Just check this shit out:

Maybe that scratched a nostalgia itch for you, or maybe you just became an instant fan (there are no other options). Regardless, Questionist had to dig deeper. We had to find out: Just how far did Carmen travel over the course of that theme song?

So we fired up the super-scientific, and we found out: 165,888 miles (or 266,971 km, as they’d say in most of the places she visited). Like the subhed says, that’s enough miles to go more than two-thirds of the way to the moon. When you consider that they made 296 episodes of the show… well, if she made the same journey every time they sang the song – just go with it – that’s a touch over 49 million miles. The closest Mars has ever been to Earth was 34.8 million miles, so, sorry Elon. Carmen’s already been there, and she’s almost halfway back.

Back here on our blue marble, the shortest leg of Carmen’s itinerary is 516 miles from Amsterdam to Milan, as many a drunken soccer fan knows from flying it during the UEFA Champions League (Dutch club Ajax has played Inter and AC Milan a total of 17 times in that competition).

The longest? The distance from the largest city in Bali to the largest city in Ohio is exactly 10,000 miles. And we’re sure the residents of one of the world’s most quintessentially beautiful beach islands are just dying to see the sights of Columbus (remember, Bali people: it’s THE Ohio State University. They will cut you.)

And the most fun to say? Readers, it is our pleasure to inform you that the capital of Bonaire is named Kralendijk, and the capital of Zimbabwe is Harare. Not that this knowledge will make the 7,077-mile flight any more pleasant … 

The full data set is below. Enjoy!
Kiev to Carolina (Charlotte)5,1958,361
Carolina to Berlin4,4987,239
Berlin to Belize4,6337,457
from Belize on a slow boat to China (Shanghai)7,58012,198
China to Seoul536862
Seoul to Antarctica (South Pole)8,81014,178
Antarctica to Red Sea (Jeddah)7,70112,394
Red Sea to Greenland4,9167,912
Greenland to Mekong (Vientiane)6,59710,617
Mekong to Nashville8,64613,914
Nashville to Norway (Oslo)4,3366,979
Norway to Bonaire (Kralendijk)5,1138,229
Bonaire to Zimbabwe (Harare)7,07711,389
Zimbabwe to Chicago8,50813,693
Chicago to Czechoslovakia4,5467,316
AND BACK!4,5467,316
Chicago to Pakistan (Karachi)7,55712,162
Pakistan to Scandinavia (Stockholm)3,3365,368
Scandinavia to Perth8,35513,446
Perth to Lima9,27514,927
Lima to Botswana (Gaborone)6,66210,721
Botswana to Thailand5,6819,143
Thailand to Milan (via Amsterdam)6,2191,008
Milan to Mali (Bamako)2,4884,004
Mali to Bali8,57413,798
Bali to Ohio10,00016,093
Ohio to Oahu4,5037,246

No, you have too much free time.