During the early 1990s, creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey were working on two shows simultaneously: Northern Exposure, and the civil-rights-era family drama "I'll Fly Away." The two shows had writing and production offices in the same building, across the hall from each other. In the 2013 book Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, David Chase (who was a writer and executive producer on "I'll Fly Away") talked about how much he had disliked the other Brand/Falsey show being made across the hall from his show: "The people who worked on Northern Exposure thought they were curing cancer and reinventing drama.... To me it was so precious, so self-congratulatory. It strained so hard for whimsy. We'd go to the Emmys every year and they'd get these awards and we'd get nothing. It wasn't that we really wanted these Emmys, but that show was being celebrated to the hilt and I felt it was a fraud at its core." But after both Brand and Falsey left "Northern Exposure," Chase took over, and he was its showrunner from late 1993 until the end of its run in 1995. Chase said that he "did it for the money."
The mural for Roslyn's Cafe in the opening credits is an actual cafe. The apostrophe and an S was added in since the show is supposed to take place in Cicely, Alaska. After the show was completed the apostrophe and the S was removed from the mural.
Paul Provenza was originally hired to take over the role of Dr. Joel Fleischman after Rob Morrow left the show. The difference in his appearance was to be attributed to Fleischman getting a new haircut, which according to Janine Turner's character, Maggie O'Connell, "suited him". This idea was decided against, as not to alienate Morrow's fans. So Paul Provenza became a new doctor, Phillip Capra. The series only lasted one more season after their Morrow's departure.
A calendar for "Clicquot Club" ginger ale can be seen hanging in Dr. Fleischman's office in some of the episodes. The calendar features a caricature of a woman with a bundled baby on a bicycle, and the slogan "Refreshment Coming Your Way" appears next to it. The page of the calendar is stuck on January 1942. The ginger ale was sold from the 1920s until the 1960s when it went out of business.
Wendy Schaal, the actress who played Tammy (Shelley's mother) was born in 1954. While in the series, Tammy supposedly had Shelley at a young age, Cynthia Geary (the actress playing Shelley) was born in 1965 making the actresses have only an 11 year age difference.
Wisconsin singer-songwriter Justin Vernon named his project "Bon Iver" after the episode where people wish themselves "bon hiver" (good winter) after the first snowfall. He refers several time to the series as his favourite tv show (he got his left arm tattooed) and he said that he cried for about four hours after the series ended.