The Simpsons. The show we’ve all come to know and love, or hate. It’s been around since 1989 and is still as popular as ever. It was in 1997 when the show became more popular than The Flintstones, making it the “longest-running prime-time animated series in America.” There was even a house built in 1997 that resembled exactly the same as the Simpsons’ home. Some people think that the Simpsons can even predict the future. For example, in 1995, an episode of The Simpsons gave Lisa a look into the future of 2010 with a joke showing the Rolling Stones touring around in wheelchairs. Funnily enough, in real life, the Rolling Stones did their most recent tour in 2014 and are still around, with the band members being about 70 years old.
This article explores some of the crazy behind-the-scene facts about the Simpsons that you never would have guessed. Find out more about what sort of predictions The Simpsons has made into the future—why Matt Groening decided to make all the characters an ugly bright yellow, why they killed off Maude Flanders, what the price of Maggie on the cash register actually meant, where some of the characters are originally from, who personally hates the show, and pretty much everything else you need to know about The Simpsons.
15. What Does Bart Really Write On The BlackBoard?
Though it might seem like common knowledge that Bart Simpson writes a new message on the blackboard for each episode during the opening credits, you might not have taken enough notice of some of the funny things he writes. Here’s a short list of some of the classic lines featured by Bart on the blackboard, entertaining us all in each episode with his naughty humor:
“I am not a 32 year old woman”—this one features clever irony as Nancy Cartwright, the voice for Bart Simpson, was 32 years old at the time of the episode.
“I will not call my teacher ‘Hot Cakes’”
“I will not trade pants with others”
“I will not drive the principal’s car”
“I will not pledge allegiance to Bart”—This one made me laugh.
14. How Was The Simpsons Family Named?
How was the Simpsons family named, and who were they based off? Many of you would know that Matt Groening was a spur-of-the-moment guy and didn’t create the names for the Simpsons family until he was waiting in an office for a meeting about to start with James L. Brooks to discuss his idea of The Simpsons. He quickly just gave all the characters the same names as his family members, except for Bart, because he didn’t want to name a character after himself, so he used an anagram for the word brat to the name Bart.
Later, when he had to give grandpa Simpson a first name, he couldn’t decide what to name him so he asked his writers Wallace Wolodarsky and Jay Kogen, to think up a first name for the grandma. Without even realizing it, the name they came up with (perfect, they thought for an old man) was Abraham, the name of Matt Groening’s real grandpa!
13. Who Are The Real Voices Behind The Characters?
The mystery behind a cartoon is the voice behind the character. In fact, Fox and the production crew initially thought it would be best to keep the voices a secret, keeping the recordings closed, and refusing to publish photos. In the end, they had to reveal who played each role as the network believed the actors deserved credit for their work. And credit they received! Over time, all of the main cast members have won Emmy awards for outstanding voice performances.
You might be surprised to know that most of the voice actors on The Simpsons actually play numerous different characters. For example, Nancy Cartwright not only plays the voice of Bart and Maggie Simpson, but also the voice of Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Kearney, Rod Flanders, and DataBase! Thought her voice sounded familiar? She also voiced Chuckie in our childhood favorite Rugrats and Rufus the Rat in Kim Possible. The sucking sound that Maggie makes is actually the creator’s voice, Matt Groening.
12. What Was The Price Of Maggie On The Cash Register?
Have you ever noticed the amount that appears every time Maggie gets scanned on the cash register? Believe it or not, in 1989, this price was based off of research that indicated the cost of raising a baby per month as $847.63. So every time they scanned Maggie on the cash register, it was actually a well-researched move. Though over time, when they scan Maggie on the cash register, the figure on the register changes. In Season 20 in 2009, her price seemed to diminish dramatically. They started scanning groceries showing the value at $243.26 and once they scan Maggie through, the price only doubles to $486.52. Do you think the Simpsons were trying to say that as a society, we’ve begun to value babies and children dramatically less than we did in, say, 1989? The cost of groceries and living certainly hasn’t gone down!
11. Why Are The Characters Yellow—?
Have you ever wondered why The Simpsons characters’ skin color is as bright as the sun or a banana, while no one in real life is actually yellow? Well, the story is that Matt Groening wanted the characters to be bright yellow rather than a natural skin tone color so that whenever anyone was flicking through TV channels, they would know instantly that they had passed The Simpsons because of the bright yellow color. He wanted to grab viewers’ attention within seconds. He basically just wanted the show to be unique and very easily recognizable. I think we can all agree that his plan was quite genius. I couldn’t think of a person that wouldn’t instantly recognize the Simpsons family. Even my mum who thought it was too rude for me to watch as a child, knew what it was. Maybe it’s too easily recognizable for some.
10. Simpsons Across The World
Have you ever wondered if The Simpsons is the same all around the world? According to an article, certain words change across different countries. “If you watch an episode dubbed in French, Homer’s signature “D’oh!” is translated to “T’oh!.” The Spanish version, however, translates it to “Outch!” It’s not just words that differ, but even the food is changed for other countries! People watching The Simpsons in other countries aren’t necessarily getting the full ‘American’ experience seeing Simpsons in its raw nature. “In Arabic episodes, Homer drinks soda as opposed to beer, and he eats Egyptian beef sausages instead of hot dogs (to coincide with Islamic customs).”
9. Who Complained About The Simpsons?
Former US President George Bush said that The Simpsons was to blame for society’s problems. He wished people in the world would act a bit more like The Waltons. If you have no idea what The Waltons is, then we have you covered. The Waltons is a TV show based on the 1930’s and 1940’s with a family living through World War II and the Financial Depression. It looks about as dorky and glum as Little House on the Prairie.
Revealed in an interview with People Magazine, The First Lady Barbara Bush took it even further by saying, “The Simpsons is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”
8. Mystery Behind The D’oh
The Famous “D’oh” from The Simpsons is so well-recognized that you can now find it in the Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English dictionaries, added in 2001 and defined as “Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also (usually mildly derogatory) implying that another person has said or done something foolish.”
Matt Groening believed that the spelling should simply be “Doh” not “D’oh.” According to an article in a website, “Dan Castellaneta, the voice behind Homer, told The Hollywood Reporter that in the script it’s written as annoyed grunt.”
This famous sound (word) actually was based off the long ‘d’ooohhh’ from Laurel and Hardy films when Jim Finlayson expresses an exasperated groan. Matt Groening just asked that the groan be shorter in The Simpsons to help speed up the show.
7. Who Draws The Cartoons?
Have you ever tried to draw like a child and actually sucked at it? I can never seem to draw those big adorable eyes with the long-looking spider/octopus bodies that kids do so well. Well, The Simpsons animators came across the exact same problem. In fact, in the ‘Angry Dad’ episode where Bart draws a cartoon, the animators actually struggled to draw a cartoon that would look like Bart or any child had actually drawn it. So, one of the animators ended up getting their own son to draw the cartoon for the show.
In creating each Simpsons episodes, you would be surprised how little computers are used for these as most of them are tediously drawn by hand. Lucas Gray, animator for The Simpsons, said that the viewers would not believe the difference in the level of quality of drawing a cartoon over having this created on the computer. The biggest thing viewers will spot with computer animations is the lack of feet or hands.
6. Are The Characters Original?
Matt Groening wrote a comic strip named ‘Life in Hell’ that was published from 1977 to 2012, featuring the same stuffed bunny that Maggie owns as the main character in The Simpsons.
Have you ever realized that the clown named Krusty, and Homer Simpson, are almost identical? All you need to do is add some makeup and a wig to Homer to make the same clown as Krusty. Krusty the clown was based off Rusty Nails, a clown on TV in Portland. It might seem ironic, but Rusty was a very happy clown bursting with life. So we’re not sure how Krusty is based off Rusty other than the similar name choice and that they both look like clowns.
Do you remember the original Star Trek series featuring Kang and Kodos, the Klingon warrior and the mass murder? The two alien characters in The Simpsons were actually named after these Star Trek characters.
5. Fox Threatened To Cut The Show
To our complete horror, Fox actually threatened to cut The Simpsons back in 2011. They announced that under their current contract, they were struggling with finances and wouldn’t be able to continue the production of The Simpsons without making some serious changes to salaries. “For the negotiations, the studio requested that the cast members accept a 45% cut of their salaries so that more seasons could be produced after season 23, or else that season would be the last. In the end, the studio and the actors reached a deal, in which the actors would take a pay cut of 30%, down to just over $300,000 per episode, prolonging the show to its 25th season. As well as the actors, everybody involved in the show took a pay cut.” Seems like it would have been a financially dumb move to cut the show considering how popular it has remained. Still, $300,000 for one single episode is a lot of money. Imagine all the money that has gone into The Simpsons with over 28 seasons.
4. Who Actually Wrote The Show?
Even though The Simpsons only runs for a short 22 minutes each episode, it actually takes the creators six to eight months to make a single episode. It’s a massive process to write and draw the show. There have been numerous different writers of the show over time, keeping it fresh and appealing. At present, there has been up to 126 people writing or co-writing the show. Matt Groening not only wrote/produced The Simpsons, but also Futurama. David Samuel Cohen also wrote The Simpsons and was the head writer/executive producer for Futurama. Interestingly, Conan O’Brien, comedian and TV host, known best for his late night shows, was actually a producer of The Simpsons in 1991-1993 and wrote four episodes.
3. Process Of Writing The Script Is So Boring
Not only does it take a massive amount of time to write each episode and numerous writers and animators to create the show, but it also takes long, tedious and boring hours. Even though you might imagine that writing such a comedic show would be the most hilarious and amusing job out there, you couldn’t be more wrong. Even though they have a whole host of Harvard-educated writers of comedy sitting in a room together, it’s apparently one of the most quiet and boring rooms to sit in. The writers are very serious while sitting quietly writing and thinking up their humor.
2. Why Was Maude Killed?
Maggie Rosewell was the voice actor for Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, and Miss Hoover. Ever wondered why the character Maude Flanders, had to die? Well, they decided to kill her off, when Maggie asked Fox for a pay rise. This wasn’t a very crazy demand. Maggie had moved from L.A. to Denver with her family and had to fly back to L.A. every week for recording. She was getting paid about $1,500 to $2,000 per episode and she asked this to be raised to $6000, mostly to cover her expensive flights and the effort taken to get there. She felt she was pretty important in the show and that she deserved this. She was offended when Fox only offered her a raise of $150. Yeah, pretty offensive, when the main cast members were all being paid around $125,000 per episode. So Maude Flanders was killed in the “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” episode. Maggie mustn’t have had bitter feelings for too long as she later worked for Fox by recording voices from home in Denver.
1. Can The Simpsons Really Predict The Future?
Can The Simpsons predict the future? How do they always know what’s going to happen? Are the writers just really good guessers? For example, in the episode ‘Bart to the Future’, made in 2000, Dan Greaney wrote the episode with Donald Trump becoming President of the United States. In the episode, Trump brings the country into total financial doom and Lisa Simpson and Bart have to save the day and get the country out of total deficit. In the episode ‘Lemon of Troy’, a lemon tree is stolen causing strife between Springfield and Shelbyville. Seems like an unlikely scenario, doesn’t it? In 2013, a robbery took place in suburbia Texas, where thieves actually stole a lemon tree out of someone’s yard! An episode in 1999 predicted the invention of the “tomacco,” a tomato-tobacco hybrid that is totally addictive. An episode in 1990 predicted a three-eyed fish that was found in real life in Argentina way back 2011. Apparently, it only had three eyes because of mutations caused by a nuclear plant affecting the water.
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