It seems hard to believe that The Simpsons has been running for nearly 30 years at this point, isn't it? It's by far and away the longest-running Western scripted TV show, beating South Park by 8 seasons. Over the years, we've come to love its characters, whether those of the titular family or any of the legion of secondary characters. It's an institution, in a way, and not just in the United States. In the UK when I was growing up, I fondly remember waiting until Friday night, as this was when there was a Simpsons double bill. It was magical.
Whether you believe that the show is in decline or not, it's not an exaggeration to say that its creators have provided us with hundreds of hours of entertainment. Quite the achievement for a show that sprung from the mind of a counterculture cartoonist in the 1980s. Due to its huge run and many, many episodes, there are going to be many things that even the most keen-eyed fans never noticed. In this article, we've pulled together 30 of the most interesting, weird, and funny facts from the show. Whether you want to know what the show is like around the world, who the only five-fingered character is, or what lengths fans have gone to to honor the show, you'll find it here. Are you a keen fan of The Simpsons? Have we missed out a fun bit of trivia that you noticed? Our comments are always open, so let us know!
27 Maggie's Price
You know the intro to The Simpsons off by heart, don't you? What you might not know is that it's chock full of hidden details. When Maggie is scanned by the supermarket cashier, there's a price that flashes up. Most people wouldn't think it's worth paying attention to, but it hides a pretty cool reference to the real world. The price the cashier rings up is $847.63. This was the estimated cost of raising a baby, per month, back in 1989.
26 The Comic Book Guy And The Bumblebee Man Have Names
It's not uncommon for TV writers to not give their characters names if they're not particularly important. As such, they often come to be known by fans and creators alike by a nickname, usually their defining characteristic, such as The Simpsons' Squeaky-Voiced Teen. Two other such characters, Comic Book Guy and Bumblebee Man, do actually have names. The Comic Book Guy's full name is Jeffrey Albertson. The Bumblebee Man, meanwhile, bears the name Pedro Chespirito.
25 God Is The Only Character With Five Fingers
Have you ever noticed that Simpsons characters only have four fingers on each hand? This isn't something exclusive to the show. Throughout history, animated characters have, more often than not, had four fingers, including Disney characters, the Flintstones, and Looney Tunes characters. However, The Simpsons did make an exception for one particular character: God. In the episode Homer The Heretic, God makes a brief appearance at the very end of the episode, and is seen to have five fingers on each hand.
24 D'oh Has Been Added To The Dictionary
When it comes to catchphrases, it's hard to get much more famous than Homer's simple "d'oh!" Sure, "eat my shorts" comes close, but I'd say Homer's has entered the popular lexicon to a far greater extent. While in the original script it was simply written as "annoyed grunt," voice artist Dan Castellaneta made it his own. It's even been added to that great tome of English words, the Oxford English Dictionary, where it will live, ostensibly, forever. That's pretty darn impressive for a cartoon.
23 Why They Are Yellow
Have you ever stopped to wonder why the Simpsons are yellow? It sounds strange when you first hear about it, doesn't it? Are these characters going to look like they have severe jaundice? Then you watch it and don't ever even notice it. At least not consciously. See, the animators counted on your subconscious noticing and kind of doing a double-take. They reasoned that the characters needed to be yellow to catch the attention of channel surfing viewers. That's why. Nothing more.
22 Only One Character Speaks In Every Episode
Due to The Simpsons' massive runtime and huge number of episodes, it's natural that not every character is going to have an equal amount of speaking time. Homer is the only character to have lines in every single episode to date. In terms of sheer numbers, Marge and Bart follow Homer with the most lines of dialogue, while Mr. Burns is next up, followed by Lisa, who speaks 5 percent of the dialogue in the episodes she stars in. She is followed by Principal Skinner, who speaks 3 percent, and Moe with 2.3.
21 The Length Of The Couch Gag
The couch gag is a legendary part of what makes The Simpsons work as well as it does. A fantastic little visual gag to begin the episode works wonders to put us in a good mood. Did you know, however, that the couch gags vary in length fairly dramatically? I can't say it's something I'd ever really noticed, but they do. This is dependent on one factor and one factor alone: the length of the episode as a whole. The show needs to be the same time each episode, and as such, the couch gag is either chopped or extended.
20 Homer Was Supposed To Be Krusty The Clown
Have you ever noticed how Homer's head shape and general appearance greatly resembles Krusty the Clown (and Radioactive Man)? There's a reason for that, and it's not just coincidental. Bart respects and admires Krusty in a way that he doesn't his father, and this was going to be part of a big (and probably heartwarming) twist. Homer was going to be revealed to be Krusty the Clown, and to have been the object of his son's respect all along. Unfortunately, the idea proved too complicated to do in the show's early days, and the idea was scrapped.
19 Only One Episode Aired In The 80s
Believe it or not, this is the fact that shocked me the most while I was researching this article. I tend to think of The Simpsons as being a very 80s show, but that is far from the truth. Only one episode aired in the 1980s, and even that was by a nosehair. Episode 1 of season 1, Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire, the heartwarming Christmas special, aired on December 17, 1989. The following episode, Bart The Genius, would not air until January 14, 1990.
18 Kamp Krusty Was To Be The Basis Of A Movie
It seems strange now, but Kamp Krusty, a stellar episode in the show's fourth season, was actually going to be the basis of a Simpsons movie. Producer James L. Brookes saw the show's script and liked it so much he rang the writing staff and suggested it be turned into a movie. There was only one problem: the episode ran short. It was only 18 minutes long, and thus the Kamp Krusty song was lengthened by a number of verses to pad it out.
17 "Itchy And Scratchy Land" Was A Reaction To FOX
The Simpsons has never been a show to do what the network tells them. The sixth season episode Itchy And Scratchy Land, which sees the family's trip to said theme park go horribly wrong, was a direct message to FOX. Strict censorship laws had been put in place, and the network didn't want The Simpsons to include any more Itchy and Scratchy cartoons. They were having none of it. They made the episode as violent as possible and threatened to go to the media if FOX cut anything. That's how you handle overreaching networks!
16 "Who Shot Mr. Burns'" Ending Was A Closely Guarded Secret
"Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Parts one and two are two of my favorite Simpsons episodes. Bridging the gap between Seasons six and seven, the episodes are laced with red herrings throughout, making it a genuine chin-scratcher of a mystery. As it turns out, and sorry if I'm about to blow your mind, Maggie is the culprit, accidentally shooting Mr. Burns after catching his gun when it fell out of his holster. Only one animator, David Silverman, knew this at the time, while the rest of the animators were as clueless as the rest of us.
15 Matt Groening's Voicework Appears In The Show
Matt Groening is very obviously crucially important to the show, being its creator and all. However, did you know that his voice actually appears in the show. Or, well, he makes noises that appear in the show? Who or what do you think it is that he voices? If you said the sound of Maggie sucking on her pacifier, then you'd be right on the money. He didn't provide them alone though, the producer Gabor Csupo, who worked on the show's early days, also provided the sounds.
14 A Fan Has Created "The Homer" Car In Real Life
It's one of the most classic moments in Simpsons history. Homer's long-lost brother, Herb Powell (voiced by Danny Devito), takes Homer in and lets him design a new car for his company. Herb reasoned that Homer was the ideal average person to design a car with mass appeal. He didn't bank on Homer being everything but average. The result was a monstrous car with two bubble domes. Surely nothing like this could be done in real life, right? Well, no! A fan morphed a 1987 BMW into The Homer, complete with a dome and squishee holder.
13 FOX Owns The Rights For A Very, Very Long Time
I'm going to level with you here. I do think The Simpsons has been in a steady decline since around 2000. Before that, almost every episode was a banger, while now, there's maybe a hit rate of 1 in 5, if that. That being said, there seems to be no enthusiasm to end the show among its writers, or, as it turns out, its network. FOX own the rights to The Simpsons far, far into the future, until the year 2082. Can you imagine if the show is still running by that point?
12 Moe's Telephone Number
A hallmark of early Simpsons episodes, Bart's prank phone calls to Moe inspired countless playground jokes. If you ever cared to notice, the telephone number for Moe's Tavern is actually one number longer than a usual phone number. One would imagine this is to stop pranksters ringing some poor schmo and plaguing him with phone calls, or to keep a kid from having the same fate as Jimbo in New Kid On The Block. This is a pretty common thing to do with phone numbers in popular media, and likely one reason most movie phone numbers start with 555.
11 Do The Bartman
Now, it's hard to exaggerate just how big The Simpsons was at the very height of Simpsonsmania. In the early 90s, the show was everywhere. It wasn't like Family Guy, South Park, or even Bob's Burgers is today. This was an extent of fame that other shows can only dream of. One product of this was the pop hit Do The Bartman. It's worth watching the music video even now, just as a historical relic. What's slightly less well known is that none other than Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, co-wrote the tune.
10 Homer Simpson: GPS Star
Have you ever looked at the market for GPS voices? There's an astonishing array of voices available for your car's GPS unit. Burt Reynolds, Brian Blessed, Mr T, Roger Moore, Spongebob, the list goes on. The most popular voice pack? None other than Homer Simpson. In 2012, Homer was inducted into the Guinness Book of Records for this achievement, with his voice having been downloaded 128,500 times since it became available in 2009. Why you'd want Homer giving you directions at all is another question.
9 The McBain Clips Make Up A Semi-Coherent Movie
Everyone who watches The Simpsons knows McBain, right? The muscled action hero played by Rainier Wolfcastle is a glorious throwback to Arnold Schwarzenegger and the overblown films of the 1980s. We only ever get to see clips of his films, but they do actually make a somewhat coherent film when spliced together. It's a really nice touch that I'm confident 99 percent of the audience never notice. Check out the whole movie here. It's well worth a watch, and is an absolutely hilarious parody.
8 Nancy Cartwright Didn't Originally Audition For Bart
How surprised were you when you found out that Bart was voiced by a woman? I remember finding it very strange when I was a child. However, it may surprise you to learn that Nancy Cartwright, the famed voice of Bart, did not originally audition for the role of the spiky-haired demon. She was originally going to audition for the role of Lisa, but found Bart's character more interesting. She auditioned for him instead, and Matt Groening offered her the role on the spot.
7 Pete Townshend Did Not Voice Himself
We were talking about big guest stars earlier, and standing alongside McCartney as one of the biggest names to appear in The Simpsons is Pete Townshend. The guitarist of The Who appeared in the episode A Tale Of Two Springfields, and end up destroying the wall separating old and new Springfield. Those who are fans of The Who and have heard Townshend speak may have recognized that it wasn't quite right. It was a little different from Pete's usual voice. That's because he wasn't voiced by the man himself, but rather his brother, Paul Townshend.
6 Groening Sourced Characters' Last Names From His Hometown
Matt Groening is a native of Portland, Oregon, and sourced many of the show's characters' last names from the city's street names. For example, the murderous Bob Terwilliger's name comes from Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard. Montgomery Burns' name is a mashup of two Portland places, Montgomery Park and Burnside Street. The city's awful Mayor Quimby is named for Northwest Quimby Street, Milhouse's last name comes from North Van Houten Avenue. There are also, for the religiously minded, Northeast Flanders Street, and Northwest Lovejoy Street.
5 Principal Skinner's Prisoner Number
When Principal Skinner flashes back to his Vietnam experiences, I'm sure the last thing you paid attention to was his prisoner number, am I right? Number 24601, which was his designation in the Vietnamese POW camp, is a number shared by many famous prisoners throughout popular fiction. Most famously, it is the prisoner number of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. It was also the prisoner number given to Sideshow Bob during his time inside, making this entry something of a double dip!
4 Marge And Homer's French Voices Are Married
Despite the Simpsons being the quintessential dysfunctional TV family, there's never any doubt of the level of love shared between Homer and Marge. The two have been through thrills and spills over numerous episodes, but they always work out in the end. They both dearly love each other and their entire family. However, did you know that this love spilled into the real world on the French version of the show? Philippe Peythieu and Veronique Augereau met while auditioning in 1989 and were married in 2001.
3 A Producer's Statue
Out of all of the Simpsons staff, only one, John Swartzwelder, remains something of a mystery. Swartzwelder is something of a recluse, making very little contact with the press, being almost entirely absent from social media, refusing to be on commentary tracks, and more besides. Despite this, he is a comedy god to many fans, and has undoubtedly made many marks on The Simpsons over the years. One of these marks is very literal. In the episode Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily, a horseback statue of Swartzwelder can be seen outside the courthouse.
2 No Doubt Make A Cameo Appearance In "Homerpalooza"
Do you remember No Doubt? They were Gwen Stefani's ska-punk band before she moved into pop for her solo act. Well, in the episode Homerpalooza, they are one of a number of rock bands who make an appearance. The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, and Sonic Youth all have speaking parts, but No Doubt do not, appearing briefly in a shot behind Homer. Why did they appear? Well, Gwen Stefani's brother, Eric Stefani, was working as an animator on the show, and decided to add them in.
1 Paul Is Alive
It never fails to amaze me just how famous some of The Simpsons guest stars were, even when it hadn't been on the air all that long. James Brown, Aerosmith, Dustin Hoffman, and more all made appearances. In the episode Lisa The Vegetarian, Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda guest star. At the end of the episode, Paul sings Maybe I'm Amazed, while reading the label for some lentil soup. At the end, he slips in, "oh by the way, I'm alive," a reference to the "Paul is dead" conspiracy.