For over twenty-eight years, The Simpsons kept viewers glued to their screens and will do so for many more years. Never has there been a show so interwoven with pop culture, while at the same time influencing it. Hundreds of famous guest stars visited the town, Apu had octuplets long before Nadya Suleman made it fashionable and Lisa went through four Snowballs before settling on Snowball V.
A show that has been on the air for so long has a long and rich history. Let’s see if you know these facts about the show!
44. Not your average Stone-Age family
In 1997 The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as longest-running prime-time animated series when it aired their 167th episode, The Itchy, Scratchy and Poochy Show. This episode dealt –not so coincidentally- with the problems of a show getting stale in it’s long run and trying to keep it “fresh” by introducing a new character.
43. The Jet-soooooons
When Matt Groening asked Danny Elfman to compose the theme song for The Simpsons, he gave him a cassette tape with a few songs to inspire Elfman to write something similar. Among the songs on the tape was the theme of The Jetsons, selections from Nino Rota’s Juliet Of The Spirits and a Remington electric shaver jingle by Frank Zappa.
42. Life repeats art
According to Danny Elfman, he got the idea for the theme song while driving his car and had to rush home to commit it to tape. The whole process from idea to finished theme only took him three days.
41. Dialing it back a bit
The telephone number at Moe’s Tavern is 764-8437, or SMITHERS, as was revealed in the episode Homer, The Smithers. Mr. Burns tries to call Smithers, but has no clue as to what’s the correct phone number and dials SMITHERS. He ends up being the aim of Moe’s wrath.
40. One down, two to go!
The primary cast has a clause in their contract to provide their vocal talents for three movies based on the franchise.
39. You are here.
The location of Springfield is never revealed. Whenever they locate the town on a map, the audience never gets to see the map. Whenever someone says it out loud, the sound is muffled or masked by noise. In the “Behind The Music” episode, Troy McClure reveals the state, but there are several versions of the episode, each with a different state name.
38. Ivy Leech
Lawyer Lionel Hutz claims to have a law degree from Princeton, but unlike many other Ivy League schools, Princeton does not offer a law degree.
37. Who Shot Mr. Burns?
When the sixth season ended with Who Shot Mr. Burns Part One, the network had a competition to have the fans guess who the shooter was. Viewers could call a phone number and the winner would be animated in one of the future episodes or could choose a cash prize that was to be divided between all the winners.
However, when season seven premiered with Who Shot Mr. Burns Part Two, no one had guessed the right answer. The network picked out one (wrong) answer and contacted the viewer to share the good news. The viewer did not watch the show and asked for the cash prize instead of being animated.
36. Ice to see you!
If you edit all the scenes from the McBain movies that were shown throughout all the seasons, they add up to a coherent mini movie!
35. Collect the set!
The Simpsons has a huge Frasier connection.
Frasier star Kelsey Grammer performs the voice of Sideshow Bob Terwilliger. In later episodes, Sideshow Bob’s brother Cecil gets introduced, who’s voice is performed by David Hyde Pierce, who played Frasier’s brother. Season 19 would introduce the patriarch of the Terwilliger family, Dr. Robert Terwilliger, played by John Mahoney, who also played the father of the brothers in Frasier.
34. Thank you, come again!
When The Simpsons Movie premiered, 20th Century Fox made a deal with convenience store chain 7-Eleven to transform twelve of their shops into Kwik-E-Marts. The real Kwik-E-Marts sold products that were sold in the fictional Kwik-E-Mart, such as Squishees, Buzz Cola and Krusty-O’s.
33. Tricky Dicky
Milhouse’s name has a presidential origin. When creator Matt Groening had to come up with a name for the character, he thought it had to be most unfortunate name for a kid, so he chose the middle name of former president Richard Nixon. Groening would refer to the name later on in his comic strip Life In Hell as a ‘no longer recommended’ baby name.
32. Barney the neighborsaur
Barney Gumble, Homer’s best friend and fellow barfly, was inspired by The Flintstones’ Barney Rubble. Just like in the Flintstones, Barney was intended to be the neighbor of the Simpsons, but that idea changed when Ned Flanders became part of the neighborhood.
31. Worst… name… ever!
Comic Book Guy’s real name is Jeff Albertson. The writers of the show made it a running gag to keep a few of the supporting characters nameless, so they waited until season 16 to reveal the name. Showrunner Al Jean remarked: “That was specifically done to make people really mad. We just tried to pick a generic name. Creator Matt Groening stated that he had originally intended him to be called Louis Lane, but Groening was not present when the writers chose the name.
30. Entrance denied
People banned for life in the comic book store are: Bart Simpson, Milhouse Van Houten, Sideshow Bob Terwilliger, Nelson Muntz, George Lucas, and Matt Groening.
29. It takes one to know one!
Matt Groening based Comic Book Guy on himself: He stated: “He’s the way I think I look to other people.”
28. Sticking to what you know
Although most cast members perform multiple voices for the show, Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) and Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel) only perform one voice on a regular basis.
27. Black Widdow-er
After Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel) passed away in 2013, they didn’t recast her part. Not recasting her part would make Ned Flanders a widow twice over.
26. You might remember him from such movies as …
It also wouldn’t be the first time that the producers would not recast an actor. When actor Phil Hartman was murdered in 1998, the producers did not recast for Hartman’s recurring characters of actor Troy McClure and lawyer Lionel Hutz.
25. Breaking the charts
In 1990, ‘Do The Bartman’ topped the UK and Australian Singles Chart, but was never released as a single in the U.S.A.. The song was written and produced by Michael Jackson and Bryan Loren, while the music video was directed by Brad Bird, a Simpsons alumni who would later direct The Iron Giant for Warner Bros. and The Incredibles for Pixar.
24. Stretch and squash
The couch gags at the beginning of the show offer the makers of the show more flexibility in the length of episodes.
Bart’s best friend Milhouse was created for a line of Butterfinger commercials that were being aired during The Tracey Ullman Show. Although he was present in the premiere episode, it would take until the third season for this poor unnamed friend to get his name.
22. The man in the Clownish Mask
The resemblance between Homer and Krusty does play a part in the psychology of the show, or as Matt Groening would put it: “The satirical conceit that I was going for at the time was that The Simpsons was about a kid who had no respect for his father, but worshiped a clown who looked exactly like his father.”
21. Back from the dead
Psychotherapist Dr. Marvin Monroe was killed off in the 7th season, although he reappeared eight seasons later, stating he had just “been very sick”. The character was ‘dead’ for a while because of the strain the character’s voice has on actor Harry Shearers’ throat.
20. Scarred for life
On the DVD commentary of the fifth season episode “Some Enchanted Evening”, Matt Groening states that the original idea behind the character was that he was born with the name Marilyn Monroe and was “very caught up over that”, which is the reason why he became a therapist.
19. ..was it the “hoyven,” or the “maven,”?
Professor Frink borrows his name from Simpsons writer John Frink, who’s been writing for the show for more than 17 years.
18. Not so smrt after all
In Homer’s “I Am So Smart” song, Dan Castellaneta spelled S-M-R-T wrong by accident, but the producers thought it was so funny that they kept it in the show.
17. Average Maggie
In the opening credits, the cash register shows $847.63 when Maggie is “scanned”, a figure that was taken from a survey that said that this was the average monthly cost of caring for a newborn baby. But during the episode The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase, the credit sequence is spoofed and paused while the machine reads “NRA 4EVER”.
16. Annoyed grunt
The writers never write “D’oh!” in their scripts, but always refer to it as “annoyed grunt”. Homer’s trademark expression is the frustrated “D’oh!”. When Matt Groening asked Dan Castellaneta to create an annoyed grunt for Homer, the only thing Dan could think of was “D’ooohh…”, but Groening thought it was too long to say for the average episode running time, so Castellaneta shortened it drastically.
15. But do they match the drapes?
Marge Simpson was featured as a centerfold Playboy in 2009.
14. Stuffing in cameo’s
Maggie’s stuffed bunny is Binky, the main character from Matt Groening’s comic strip ‘Life In Hell’. Binky has many appearances in The Simpsons in different forms.
13. The Futuramsons
Futurama’s Bender appears in eleven episodes, with his biggest role in Simpsorama (2014), which is a crossover of The Simpsons (1989) and Futurama (1999 to celebrate The Simpsons 25th anniversary. Bender and the rest of the Planet Express crew travel back from the future to dispose of Homer in spoof on the movie Terminator.
12. All in in the family
Many of the characters names are family and relatives of show creator Matt Groening, including Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie, which are the real names of his parents and younger sisters. The family name Wiggum comes from Groening’s mother’s maiden name.
11. Embiggen the mind
Over the years The Simpsons entered pop culture on many levels, but also invaded the scholarly field. Words like “cromulent” and “embiggen”. In the episode Lisa, The Iconoclast; Ms. Hoover tells Ms. Krabappel that embiggen is a perfectly cromulent word. Since then the word cromulent is used in academic articles and Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English says that cromulent is an adjective meaning “fine” or “acceptable.”
10. They were short shorts
The Simpsons started out as shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show, where it grew from thirty-second segments that aired between comedy sketches. Actors Julie Kavner and Dan Castellaneta were regulars on the show, while Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith were brought in to provide voices specific for the animation. Tracey Ullman sued Fox to earn a share of the show’s merchandise-related profit, but failed in her attempt to do so.
9. Every Permit Approved
Before the Supreme Commander of the EPA Armed Forces and the Head of the Dome operation Russ Cargill became the main antagonist in The Simpsons Movie, the writers were thinking of bringing back Hank Scorpio as a villain.
8. Loop de loop
With no end of the show in sight, showrunner Al Jean wants to end the final episode with the Simpson family arriving at the Christmas Pageant where the series premiere began. This would make all the seasons of The Simpsons one continuous loop.
7. Serving time
The Fox Broadcasting Company owns the rights to the show until 2082.
That being said, it doesn’t hold the writers back to poke fun at the network (it is stated in the show’s contract with Fox that they may do so) on many occasions. At one point, the Simpson family even recommended viewers to switch channels to competing networks.
6. Distinguishable yellow
Show creator Matt Groening admitted that he and his team chose yellow as the skin color to distinguish themselves from an oversaturated market and to attract the attention of channel hoppers.
5. The shape of things to come
While designing the characters, Matt Groening purposely gave each character a different shape so that they could be recognized by their silhouette. He had the basic designs for the main cast ready in a few minutes while waiting outside Producer James L. Brooks’ office.
James L. Brooks.
4. So much Do’h!
The main voice actors made $30,000 per episode until 1998, when they got a raise and earned $125,000 per show. Since 2004, they started earning $400,000 per episode until FOX demanded that the show would lower their production costs. The voice actors took a severe 45% reduction in pay and Harry Shearer was not set to return as he didn’t agree with the deal. Shearer wanted to take a 70% pay cut, but with a small percentage of the back end profits. After holding out for months, Shearer agreed to return for the same deal as the other main cast.
3. African or Asian?
The episode where Bart wins an elephant is based on an real life incident where a Price Is Right contestant was offered $4,000 or a gag prize of an elephant. The contestant – like Bart- chose the elephant.
2. Tapped Out!
It is not unusual for the show to feature a band as guest stars, but the visit of the band Spinal Tap to Springfield is worth remembering. The band has its origins as a fictional heavy metal band from an ABC sketch show called The T.V. Show, starring Rob Reiner. Later the band would gain fame through the movie/mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, but has since occasionally performed real concerts.
The Simpsons and Spinal Tap are connected through voice actor Harry Shearer, who plays a lot of characters is The Simpsons (Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers and many others), but also plays Derek Smalls, the bass player from Spinal Tap.
1. Homie The Clown
Krusty the Clown was originally intended to be Homer’s secret identity, but but the idea was dropped for being too hard to pull of in the continuity of the stories and because the writers were too busy developing the series.
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