Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Simpsons’

7 minute read

By Jonny Hughes

The Simpsons, arguably the most popular animated series of all time, has been running for a staggering 31 seasons. So it’s fair to say that Matt Groening’s iconic sitcom makes for some pretty fantastic trivia.

There are a few obvious facts floating around which everybody knows by now. However, we bring you 10 lesser-known facts which are sure to raise a few eyebrows and impress your friends. 

10. Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, and Patty Were Named After Groening’s Own Family

Whilst waiting in the lobby to pitch an animated version of his Life in Hell comic strip for The Tracey Ulman Show in the late 80s, Groening realized that this would require rescinding the publication rights for his life’s work. This saw him quickly formulate a new idea, which was that of a dysfunctional family. In a rush, he named the characters of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, and Patty after his own parents, sisters, and aunt. Instead of using his name for the son, he used an anagram of the word “brat”.

This family became known as The Simpsons, They first appeared in a short on The Tracey Ulman Show on April 19, 1987. Many of the other characters that came to appear on The Simpsons were named after streets in Groening’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, including Flanders, Terwilliger, Lovejoy, and Quimby. Source: Consequences of SoundSource: Photo via 20th Television

9. Paul McCartney Agreed to Do the Show on the Condition Lisa Remained Vegetarian Forever

There are hundreds of fantastic celebrity guest appearances throughout the show’s history.

A memorable one was that of Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda McCartney in “Lisa the Vegetarian”. Although not the first Beatle to appear on the show, McCartney appeared in a hilarious episode and an important one in terms of Lisa’s development.

In the episode, Lisa becomes troubled by eating meat and is consequently mocked, particularly by her father Homer. She sabotages his BBQ and runs away, where she discovers that Apu is a vegan, who then introduces her to Paul and Linda. They convince her to commit to vegetarianism, but to also tolerate those who disagree with her. This results in her and Homer making amends.

Fun fact: Paul McCartney only agreed to do the show if Lisa remained a vegetarian for the rest of the show’s run, which she has.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

8. From Seasons 1 to 20, the Cash Register in the Opening Credits Read $847.63

The opening credits to The Simpsons is perhaps the most well-known sequences in all of television. However, there has always been much debate about one particular scene.

The scene in question is when Marge and Maggie are checking out at the supermarket, and Maggie is inadvertently scanned with the rest of the groceries. As she is scanned, something flashes on the price register which is too fast to spot. From season one to 20 of the show, the register read $847.63 which was the monthly cost of raising a child at the time. Since 2009, the price doubles from $243.26 to $486.52 after Maggie is scanned. Source: MashableSource: Screenshot via 20th Television

7. Nelson’s “Ha-Ha!” Was Inspired by Actual Events

The Simpsons has provided us with many brilliant and highly quotable catchphrases. One fan-favorite is bully Nelson Muntz’s “ha-ha!”, which he uses to mock the other citizens of Springfield.

Nelson’s immediately recognizable laugh and delivery came to Groening after he was led away to be strip-searched at an airport. As he was being led away, a young boy laughed at him in a manner similar to what we now recognize as Nelson’s signature laugh. Groening stated that he found the little boy’s mocking laugh to be the humiliating part of the entire incident. This laugh is now used by people all around the world when somebody goes through something embarrassing — and this is all thanks to an unknown young boy.

Another interesting fact about Nelson is that he is named after the wrestling hold of the same name.,_Nelson_Muntz.png Source: WikipediaSource: Screenshot via 20th Television

6. The Show Is Credited With The Popularization of the Word “Meh”

Whilst you often hear many catchphrases from the show in daily life, what you may not know is that The Simpsons is credited with the popularization of the word “meh.” Although it may have been around before, the show made it a frequent utterance for certain characters — often Homer or Bart — to show indifference. From there, it soon gained popularity in our modern lexicon. It became such a common saying that BBC News deemed it one of the 20 words that defined the 2000s.

The show first used “meh: in the 1994 episode “Sideshow Bob Roberts”. Following that episode, it soon became a commonly used word in other episode scripts.

Another less prominent example of a word being popularized by The Simpsons is “yoink”, which people say whenever they grab something near somebody else. Many people say this without knowing that it came from the show!

Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

5. When Arranged Chronologically, the McBain Clips Form a Coherent Mini Film

Often when characters on the show are watching television or in the video store, there will be scenes shown from the movies of Springfield resident and muscular Austrian action star Rainier Wolfcastle, who is a very close parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The character that he plays is McBain, and these clips are parodies of many classic action films such as Die Hard.

Interestingly, if you play the clips that are shown on the show in chronological order, they form a mini-movie with a full storyline that feels lifted from your typical action movie. While the clips appear to be unrelated at first glance, fans of The Simpsons are somewhat fanatical and have gone through and stitched the clips together to show that they are not random at all.

4. The Show Was Written Without Interference From Fox

The Simpsons has never shied away from ripping on the Fox Broadcasting Company, which formerly produced the show. Sometimes, these jabs have been quite damning.

Considering that the show was created for the Fox Broadcasting Company and they owned the rights to The Simpsons before the sale to Disney, you would think that the writers would stay clear of insulting the network. And if they did, it would be rejected by Fox. However, there was a specific clause in the contract for the show that the network was not allowed to make cuts, exert creative control, or give notes about episodes. This allowed the creators to write without interference from Fox and they can, therefore, poke fun at the network as much as they like.

Guess we’ll have to see if this lack of interference continues now that Disney owns the show. Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

 3. “Poochie” Was the Writers’ Response to Fox Suggesting They Add a Character to the Simpson Family

One time that Fox did interfere resulted in a memorable episode that was actually a jab at them for interfering with the show.

Fox suggested that The Simpsons add another character to the family in a bid to freshen things up. While this is a common move for sitcoms, it’s one that often does not work.

The writers cleverly retorted by adding the character of “Poochie” to their famous “show within a show” The Itchy & Scratchy Show in the season 8 episode “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”. The producer for Itchy & Scratchy tells the writers to add a new character in a bid to regain viewers. Poochie is their creation, but everyone finds him annoying and it takes away from the Itchy & Scratchy‘s trademark violence. Poochie is consequently killed off.

While made to show Fox that they know best, The Simpsons writers also made a dig at Quantum Leap‘s infamous series finale in the process. Source: AV ClubSource: Screenshot via 20th Television

2. Krusty Was Originally Going to Be Revealed as Homer in a Twist

Aside from the clown makeup and hair, it is clear that Homer and Krusty the Clown look very similar and even have similar personalities at times. What you may not know is that their similar design came down to an idea in the planning stages of the show, where a twist would reveal that Homer was, in fact, Krusty.

The idea of having Homer be Krusty was dropped as it became too complex during development stages. The satirical conceit that Bart had no respect for his father, but idolized a clown that looked like him was a theme on the show. However, that theme became less important as time went on. This theme is also used with the superhero Radioactive Man whom Bart worships, but not his father who works in a nuclear power plant.

A more touching theory on this idea is that Homer was, in fact, Bart’s idol all along. Bart just never realized it.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

1. “D’oh!” Has Never Been Scripted

The most popular and quoted catchphrase to emerge from The Simpsons is without a doubt Homer’s “D’oh!”. Homer uses it when something goes wrong.

“D’oh” has become so popular and widely used that it was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001. Also, the spoken word is a sound trademark of 20th Century Studios.

Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, came up with the catchphrase. He was inspired by Jimmy Finlayson’s catchphrase from Laurel and Hardy. However, the writers have never actually written the word into a script. Instead, the phrase “annoyed grunt” is used. This direction soon became a queue for Castellenata to use “D’oh!” Funny enough, this is reflected in a few episode titles, including “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious”, “E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)”, “I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot”, and “G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)”.

Source: Screenshot via 20th Television

Jonny Hughes


Jonny Hughes has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2015.