The Simpsons, arguably the most popular animated series of all time, has been running for a staggering 27-and-counting 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, but today we bring you 10 lesser known facts which are sure to raise a few eyebrows and impress your friends. Whilst most agree that The Simpsons is not what it used to be, it still demands admiration for permeating popular culture in a way quite unlike any other TV show before or since.
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 to James L. Brooks 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” – Bart. This family became known as The Simpsons, and they first appeared in a short on The Tracey Ulman Show on April the 19th, 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.
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, but one of the most memorable was that of Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda McCartney in “Lisa the Vegetarian” (Season 7, Episode 5). 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, which results in her and Homer making amends. A great episode aided by McCartney, he only agreed to do the show if Lisa remained a vegetarian for the rest of the show’s run, which she has.
8. From Seasons 1 to 20, The Cash Register In The Opening Credits Read $847.63
The introduction (and theme tune) to the show is perhaps the most well known sequences in all of television, but there has always been much debate about one particular scene. This 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 1 to 20 of the show, the register read $847.63 which was the monthly cost of raising a child (at the time). Since 2009, when a new opening sequence was produced (in high definition and with improved graphics, more characters, and new jokes), the price doubles from $243.26 to $486.52 after Maggie is scanned. There has always been a lot of debate over this sequence in the iconic opening, but now you know the facts.
7. Nelson’s “Ha-Ha!” Was Inspired By Actual Events
The Simpsons has provided us with many brilliant and highly quotable catchphrases (more on the most popular one later), but 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 creator Matt 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 worst part of the entire incident. It 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.
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.” It may have been around before, but the show made it a frequent utterance for certain characters (most often Homer or Bart) to show indifference and soon it 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 the word in the 1994 episode “Sideshow Bob Roberts”, and 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!
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 (perhaps just separate parodies from different McBain movies), 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. See for yourself:
4. The Show Is Written Without Interference From Fox
The Simpsons has never shied away from ripping on the Fox Broadcasting Company, which produces the show, and sometimes this has been quite damning. Considering that the show is created for the Fox Broadcasting Company and they own the rights to The Simpsons until 2082, you would think that the writers would stay clear of insulting the network, and if they did that it would be rejected by Fox. However, there is a specific clause in the creator’s contract that the network is not allowed to make cuts, exert creative control, or give notes about episodes. This allows the creators to write without interference from Fox (not many shows get this kind of treatment) and they can therefore poke fun at the network as much as they like. While Fox would probably rather that the writers didn’t do this, they can’t mind too much considering how successful The Simpsons has been for them over the years.
3. “Poochie” Was The Writers’ Response To Fox Suggesting They Add A Character To The Simpson Family
One time that the network did interfere resulted in a memorable episode that was actually a jab at Fox for interfering with the show, and the writers’ commenting on how they know what is best. Fox suggested that the show add another character to the family in a bid to freshen things up; a common move for sitcoms but one that often does not work (known as “Cousin Oliver Syndrome” after The Brady Bunch attempted the same thing). The Simpson’s 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 show’s producer tells the writers to add a new character in a bid to regain viewers. Poochie is their creation (notably voiced by Homer) but everyone finds him annoying and it takes away from the Itchy & Scratchy‘s trademark violence. He is consequently killed off, and The Simpsons writers made their point while also taking a dig at Quantum Leap‘s infamously terrible series finale in the process.
2. Krusty Was Originally Going To Be Revealed As Homer In A Twist
It is clear that Homer and Krusty the Clown look very similar (aside from the clown makeup and hair) 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, but 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. Another (and more touching) theory on this idea is that Homer was in fact Bart’s idol all along, but he just never realized it.
1. “D’oh!” Has Never Been Scripted
The most popular and quoted catchphrase to emerge from The Simpsons (and there are a lot) is without a doubt Homer’s “d’oh!” which he uses when something goes wrong and is even used by other members of the family at times. It has become so popular and widely used that it was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001, and the spoken word is a sound trademark of 20th Century Fox. Dan Castellenata, the voice of Homer (amongst others), came up with the catchphrase, having been 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!” and this is reflected in a few episode titles – “G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)” (Season 18) being just one example.