The Simpsons have been a classic American family for over two decades now. The series, created by Matt Groening, is a cartoon meant for adults but has been enjoyed by families everywhere — whether the humor was intended for (or was appropriate for) family units or not. Many of us grew up watching the Simpson family endure ridiculous shenanigans, and many of us identified with the family on a hilariously relatable level: we were rebellious troublemakers that struggled in class but had the class clown act down, like Bart; we had nerdy sisters whom we were always compared to like Lisa, which just made us want to rebel more; there was always the younger sibling who would steal the spotlight but was just cute enough to get away with it, like Maggie; there was the hardline dad that we were forced to take directives from, even if he was a total dolt like Homer; and we had the compassionate and loving mom whose directives made a lot more sense, like Marge. Their family was ours, and that’s why the show was as successful as it was.
However, not everything in the show is entirely relatable — sometimes, the family would get into utterly ridiculous situations, including alien abductions and showdowns with robot armies and the like. But sometimes, the ridiculousness is what made the show so funny: they confronted their preposterous storylines head on and acknowledged them in a tone that said, “We know. Just roll with it.”
There were some occasions, though, that we couldn’t roll with it — things that were too ridiculous or that seemed like the writers forgot important details about their own characters. Here are fifteen times that The Simpsons made no sense, but nobody noticed.
15. Bart and His Inability to Grapple with Puberty
This is just a huge problem with Bart’s character writing as a whole. Bart is young. He hasn’t hit puberty yet, but it’s not too far around the corner. He’s at that age where girls and romantic/sexual interest is something that they’re beginning to take interest in, but it’s confusing and taboo and conflicting. Bart, however, seems to be diving into puberty head on: he has an old “Playdude” magazine that he hides under his bed, he gets crushes on girls at school and older babysitters regularly, and he’s been known to be the type that looks up girls’ skirts. Yet, when his best friend Milhouse gets goosebumps over his crush (Lisa), Bart chides him and warns him of cooties and asks him frequently when Milhouse tries to steal a kiss from Lisa, “How could you ever do that?” Bart seems utterly incapable of understanding puberty and romantic interest, so much so that it doesn’t make sense.
14. Lisa Being Unable to Identify a Dead Rabbit
There’s an episode of The Simpsons where Marge and the kids are walking past shops, and they stop when they see a peculiar sight in the window. Dead rabbits that have been stripped of their fur are hanging from hooks in the display, and Lisa, horrified, asks her mother, “Mom, are those rabbits dead?”
HOLD ON, HERE. We all know Lisa is a genius. Her IQ is impressively high (though listed as three different numbers throughout the series all in the range of 155-165), and she always makes the highest marks in her class. Do they expect us to believe that Lisa couldn’t identify a dead bunny when it was stripped of its fur and dangling lifeless from ceiling hooks? It’s a small problem to get aggravated over, but we’re infuriated by it! It had to be a moment of lazy writing at its finest, and we’re peeved that Lisa had to dull down her intelligence so writers could increase dramatic effect.
13. Homer’s Flabby Strength
Homer is fat. Sorry to say, but it’s true. If you thought there was anything to look up to when observing Homer’s physique, fitness, lifestyle, habits, or diet, you were WAY WRONG. The man eats about a box of donuts a day, loves greasy Krusty McRib burgers, starts and ends his day with Duff beers, and sits at a console all day napping. Yet, Homer is somehow remarkably strong. There is one episode in particular where Homer is sword-fighting someone with motorcycles. Yes, motorcycles. The writers of the episode did it as a preposterous joke; of course he couldn’t really lift that! But they make him remarkably strong and energetic in most episodes! There’s absolutely no way that this flabby man could be as strong as the writers insist he is. By all rights, Homer ought to have a heart attack by age 35 from all of his poor eating habits.
12. Krusty the Clown Should Have Been Fired Ages Ago
Krusty the Clown is no public access entertainer. It’s not like this is a guy filming funny sketch comedy shows for kids out of his garage and putting them on YouTube. Krusty the Clown is a performer who is known the world over in The Simpsons’ Universe and who spends his days waltzing about the rich and famous. He’s been serenaded by Bette Midler, the victim of assassination attempts, and has economic empires off his shows and theme parks. He’s the Simpsons equivalent of Pee Wee Herman or The Wiggles! But Krusty is a bitter, drunken, addicted old man who hates his life and has no desire to hide that from his audiences. Half of Krusty’s appearances on TV include him ranting at his juvenile audience and hacking up a smoker’s lungs. Why hasn’t he been fired? Even in this ridiculous world, he should’ve gotten the boot a long time ago.
11. Same for Willie, the Groundskeeper
Willie isn’t a public icon like Krusty the Klown is. He doesn’t have a financial empire to throw away or sustain, he doesn’t have a fan base, and he doesn’t have people that look up to him. Willie is merely a Scottish groundskeeper for Bart and Lisa’s elementary school. However, the children actively fear Willie when they aren’t playing pranks on him. The Scot (who is often portrayed as a very offensive stereotype, like a drunken Scot) has quite the temper and will scream at the children for doing things like playing on the grounds of the school (which is kind of what the grounds are for), and he’s gotten into several fights throughout the series that end in bloody bouts. Yet, he’s always kept his job under Principle Skinner. Why and how? We have no clue. But the kids fear him so much, their nightmares include Willie as a sort of Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy Krueger.
10. Mr. Burns’s Ability to Dance
Mr. Burns, Homer’s boss at the nuclear power plant, is a decrepit old man. He’s practically a dinosaur. Most times we see him, he’s craned over his desk with a slightly hunched back built from years of work. In one episode, he even has a minor trip and fall that hospitalizes him for a long time. Yet, in many episodes, he’s able to miraculously recover all of his strength, flexibility, stamina, and coordination for remarkable feats! There’s one time he takes Marge’s mother ballroom dancing and is twirling her around the dance floor like he’s twenty years old! Another time, when coaching Homer’s company softball team, he’s giving the team signals that are so elaborate and ridiculous, he’s practically doing yoga poses while the team is on base! Mr. Burns’s physical state is a total conundrum. All we know is that if he ever does break down completely, Smithers will gladly take care of him.
9. Homer’s Many Jobs
Like every cartoon sitcom these days, writers want to pull in comedy around changing work situations. It’s definitely relatable, especially in our volatile economic times where corporate employees are shifted around, laid off, and fired constantly, forcing people to find work in places they’d perhaps never thought to look before. So Homer has had a lot of jobs, most of which he’s had little to no training and preparation for. Besides his job as a console monitor at the nuclear power plant (essentially a job that a machine can do — and did at one point), he’s been an astronaut, an account executive, an acrobat, an ambulance driver, an attack dog trainer, a wrestler, a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a bodyguard, a car designer, a circus performer, a door to door salesman… and a million other things. But he always manages to get his job back at the nuclear power plant when things go awry, even if his job was eliminated or if he was replaced. How? Through convenient writing.
8. Homer Is a Known Idiot That Everyone Listens To
Homer is a known idiot. Not only do we know it; everyone knows it. When a man in love with Marge tells her so, she admits that she knows but that it doesn’t matter because she loves him anyway. His kids know he’s an idiot but accommodate him out of love. His boss knows he’s a dummy but doesn’t need him to be immensely talented to sit at a console all day. His friends know him as an idiot but enjoy laughing at his expense. EVERYONE KNOWS HE’S STUPID, but in times of peril they often come to Homer asking for advice. Whhhhhhhy would you go to Homer? Most of their situations are resolved through advice from people around Homer, like Marge or Lisa, but never from Homer’s assistance — or if Homer’s advice does pan out, it’s usually due to serendipity or damn good luck — never due to sound help. If you ever have a problem, never go to Homer for help.
7. Mr. Burns Never Remembers Homer or His Family
We’ve already talked a little bit about how Mr. Burns’ age is played down at times for convenient writing. He’s able to complete physical acts that blow audience members away because how should a man that’s unable to stand upright be able to complete such physical tasks? Well, that’s not the only thing about Mr. Burns that makes no sense. Mr. Burns has almost died and has suffered severe physical and financial injury all at the hands of Homer Simpson and his bumbling family. Maggie shot him and almost killed him; Homer jeopardizes his power plant on a regular basis; Bart and Lisa have even caused problems in foiling Mr. Burns’s plans! Yet, Mr. Burns never seems to remember any of these instances and always gives the family more chances at bringing him to ruin. Either he’s so old he’s demented or crazy, or the writers really don’t care about his character!
6. The McBain Movies That Make N0 Sense
Do you remember the McBain movies? They were tiny little sub-story plotlines in The Simpsons that mocked modern action movies. They combined elements of the Die Hard movies with the ridiculous Arnold Schwarzenegger stereotype action hero and employed some of the best of the worst one-liners (our favorite: “Ice to see you again,” as the presumed dead McBain bursts forth from an ice sculpture with an automatic weapon in his hands). However, the McBain movie series makes absolutely no sense when you watch the clips of the movies in order without The Simpsons interrupting it. McBain seems to kill the same drug-lord in both the first and second movies, and McBain seems to be avenging his partner’s death before his partner has even been killed. We’re not criticizing too much because these McBain movies were some of the best parts of the episodes they were featured in, and they totally hit the nail on the head when criticizing modern action films — but at least make them make sense. It would have hardly taken more effort.
5. The Five Corners of the Treehouse
It’s rumored that the design of the tree house is a sort of inside joke with the writers of the Simpsons. Almost every time we’re in the tiny tree house, it looks a little different and has different abilities to serve different purposes. For example, when the tree house was turned into a mini casino and seemed to be five times its size once you got up the ladder. Or when Bart was desperately seeking out Milhouse and searched five corners of the tree house when looking for him. No matter what episode you’re considering, the inside of the tree house has never matched what the outside dimensions appear to be. We get it if it’s kind of just a gag that works because no one knows what the inside of the tree house really looks like and it’s basically a Harry Potter “Room of Requirement” for the writers — it just seems like a very lazy plot hole that no one ever talks about.
4. The Layout of Their House
Speaking of layouts of homes in The Simpsons… well, the layout of the family house doesn’t make sense. There are some solid constants about the house: we know where the garage is and that the front door opens to a hall with the staircase; the dining room is to the right, a sitting area to the left; a family room is in the back that opens to a backyard, and it’s next to a kitchen, which has a door into the garage and dining room; but everything else is kind of confusing and ambiguous. Above is a picture of what a Reddit user imagined the inside of the upstairs to be, but anyone who watches can remember Bart’s (not Lisa’s room) being at the top of the stairs, and Maggie’s room (not Bart’s) being at the end of the hall. Plus, there’s a downstairs bathroom somewhere? It’s all very confusing and makes no sense.
3. The Lack of Aging… Ever
We get that it’s a cartoon and that writers have the luxury of aging their characters at their own pace — it’s kind of one of the major benefits to doing an animated television series rather than a live-action show. But The Simpsons has been running for two and a half decades now, and this family is exactly the same age (supposedly) as they were when the show started running. We’ve seen important milestones indicating time of year, like school years ending and birthdays and holidays, but never does time seem to progress or move forward unless we catch an episode about time jumps to the future. At least in shows like Family Guy, characters slowly age (Meg has gotten into college after an abundance of years of being in high school; Stewie has had some birthdays, as has Lois), but the Simpson family never ages.
2. The Family’s Financial Situation
Homer works at a nuclear power plant. He’s no scientist or manager — he’s a total grunt, monitoring a console to make sure that the plant isn’t going to totally melt down. In 2005, CNN evaluated the salaries of many TV dads and household figures to try to figure out where everyone stood. The list estimated that Homer probably made (at the absolute maximum) $65,000 before taxes every year. Yet, in almost every episode, he embarks on some escapade that must cost the family thousands of dollars! Some fans theorize that Homer’s odd jobs here and there (the ones we discussed earlier, from astronaut to professional musician) have filled his bank account enough that he has the ability to frivolously spend, though the family will likely declare bankruptcy in old age. However, we just don’t believe it makes sense that they haven’t already been in such financial trouble! Homer should be BROKE.
1. Um, Their Skin is Yellow?
And we get to the fundamental problem of the Simpsons: color choice. When we all started watching The Simpsons, we made some basic assumptions that anyone makes when watching a show for the first time. In order to “suspend reality” enough to buy into the story, we have to accept basic truths of the universe. For The Simpsons, that included: they’re a dull but successful middle class family; they live in ambiguous and flexible spaces; and Caucasian people are yellow skinned. This actually caused a big problem in elementary schools for a while! Children would color in skin yellow when they were describing someone as “white,” a problem that teachers had to combat with skin tones like “peach” and “nude.” Crayola had to combat the problem by creating a set of crayons that was specifically made for skin colors around the world. Thanks for making race problems even more confusing, Simpsons!