It’s rare to see a comic animated TV series carry such an immense social impact like The Simpsons has provided for twenty-seven years. No one could have imagined a dysfunctional, yellow colored family comprised of a bumbling, idiotic father, a stereotypical sitcom mother, a rebellious son, an intelligent daughter, and an infant who can’t speak; would become the longest running American animated program, the longest running American sitcom and the longest running American scripted Prime-Time television series.
The Simpsons characters are all uniquely enjoyable in their own right, but the character who has had a major influence in comedy and culture is none other than Homer J. Simpson. Homer is iconic, he is the flagship character The Simpsons have focused on over the years and is a huge part of the success the show has had for over 25 years. However, Homer didn’t start out as the star of the show, for the first four seasons the show focused heavily on the antics and adventures of Bart. A change was made when creators noticed the admiration fans had for Homer. Homer turned out to be a staple of American TV culture, and his character has received numerous accolades. In 2010, Entertainment Weekly named Homer “the greatest character of the last 20 years.” Furthermore, he was placed second on TV Guide’s 2002 Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters, and fifth on Bravo’s 100 Greatest TV Characters (he is one of only four cartoon characters on that list).
The Simpsons left a lasting impression on animated television, and they set the bar to newer heights after receiving so much success in a prime TV slot. The Simpsons led a 90’s boom of animated Prime-Time shows such as Family Guy, South Park and King of the Hill. Even with the declining quality in recent years compared to its “Golden Age” (first ten seasons), The Simpsons are still one of the top shows on network television.
15. Why are The Simpsons Yellow?
The Simpsons can often be identified by their color, as no other sitcom in the world has its characters the same color as the blazing sun. The reason behind them being this color was told by creator Matt Groening himself in various interviews. Groening wanted to get the attention of channel surfers by having bright yellow characters.
Matt also discussed the fact that the animators’ sketches of his creation turned bright yellow. After seeing Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie colored yellow, Groening recalled that it just “looked right”, keeping the yellow color scheme the same.
14. Location of Springfield
Even after more than 25 years, fans still have no idea where Springfield really is. It borders states all over the US, it has coastlines, mountain ranges, deserts, and oil fields.
Groening cleverly chose the name Springfield, which is the most common state name in the United States, appearing in 22 states. However, it was later revealed that this in fact was not the reason why the name Springfield was chosen. Groening selected the name in memory of the TV show Father Knows Best, which also used Springfield as a fictitious name. Hard not to think of the Simpsons when hearing the word Springfield, isn’t it?
13. Bart’s Prank Calls
One of the most recurring antics throughout the series is Bart prank calling Moe. These hilarious moments seem timeless and still after 25 years, fans haven’t gotten sick of this long standing feud between the two characters. Throughout the years, the number Bart dials has never changed; whenever Bart prank calls Moe he calls 764-84377. When typed on an old style phone, these numbers spell out none other than the word “Smithers”. Coincidence? Probably not. Groening is known to put in several hidden snippets in during the show’s 25 year run.
12. Homer Was Almost Krusty
Ever wonder why Homer and Krusty the Clown look very similar? The similar looks between the characters was meant to be a key element for Bart; he hates Homer but idolizes Krusty.
In the planning stages of the show, the writers suggested a later twist that would reveal Homer was really his son’s idol, Krusty. Though, the idea was scrapped as the writers thought it was too complicated for the show and wasn’t the direction the comical series wanted to head towards. Can you imagine Homer as Krusty? Talk about a plot twist!
11. Maggie’s First Word
Throughout the entire series the only audio that was needed for Maggie was a sucking noise that Groening provided himself. Though finally, in the tenth episode of season four, Maggie spoke her first words. For this moment the executives wanted a major star to provide the voice-over for her coveted first words. The producers settled on Elizabeth Taylor, paying her a large sum of money to say the word, “daddy”.
10. Maude Flanders’ Death
In episode fourteen of the eleventh season, Maude Flanders was killed off the show. This was a major turning point due to the fact that reoccurring characters usually never get killed off The Simpsons. The reason for her death was first reported as a ratings booster, which was successful, as this episode was the highest rated show on the network the week it aired. However, it was later revealed that the actual reason to the killing of Maude was because voice actress Maggie Roswell, left the show over a pay dispute. She has since returned to the show, but sadly dear old Maude hasn’t.
9. Full “McBain” Movie in Show
All the McBain clips shown through the early years can be placed together to create a short movie. This is one of the cooler Easter eggs in The Simpsons, but according to producer Al Jean, this wasn’t intended at all. The moments were just meant to be send ups to action cliches. Linked together they form a cliche action packed three minute short film. Watching the film, it’s hard to believe that this was never intended, as it was so well done. This is yet another example of how much deeper this show really was.
8. Salary of the Voice Actors
The brilliant voice overs is one of the main reasons this show has stayed relevant all these years. The voices bring The Simpsons we love to life. Most of the voice actors play multiple characters in The Simpsons, and as you might expect they are well compensated for their work. During the golden age of The Simpsons, the voice actors were getting a mere $30,000 an episode. The salary has gone way up since then to $400,000, thanks to the growing popularity of the show and well timed strikes.
The salary has recently gone down to $300,000, as the show has lost popularity over the years with more fans tuning out due to repetitive programming. Even with this cutback though, the voice actors make over 6 million a season.
7. Reason Lisa is a Vegetarian
One of the biggest stars to ever guest star on on the show was Sir Paul McCartney. Paul and his wife Linda, agreed to guest star the episode “Lisa the Vegetarian” on one condition, that the writers maintained Lisa’s vegetarianism throughout the rest of the series. Those were big demands, but the writers complied and till this day Lisa is still a vegetarian.
McCartney also agreed to make writers use his song “Maybe I’m Amazed” during the closing credits. The writers used the song and added a little twist by overlaying it with a recipe for lentil soup said backwards. This is yet another example of how clever the writers really are.
6. God is the only Character with Five Fingers
One of the most noticeable traits of The Simpsons characters (besides them being yellow) is that they only have four fingers. Many thought this was merely a mistake that Groening never corrected because it was unique. Groening later revealed: “it is easier to draw, that is a lot of pencil mileage if you add another finger”.
Nevertheless, one character on The Simpsons does sport five fingers and that is God himself. Groening never gave any insight as to why God has five fingers rather than four, but it seems like they went the extra mile to draw the Lord an extra finger.
5. Smithers was Originally Black
Waylen Smithers was originally black for the first ever Simpsons episode. Rather than being racially motivated, the color of Smithers was a result of an error, as he was always intended to be yellow. Groening explained in an interview with TMZ: “He was always yellow, and then they painted him wrong once. That’s all…At the time, we didn’t have enough money to do retakes, so when there were glitches and mistakes, they stayed that way.”
4. The Characters’ Ages
The Simpsons are currently running their 27th season and in all that time, one constant of the show has been the ages of each family member. Bart and Lisa have remained students at Springfield Elementary, while baby Maggie hasn’t matured enough to ditch the pacifier. In the show Bart is 10 years old, Lisa is 8, and Maggie is 1. Homer and Marge’s ages have also been revealed in the show, Homer is 36 years old and Marge is 34.
3. An Episode Wasn’t Shown For Five Years
One episode of The Simpsons wasn’t aired for five long years. The episode entitled “The City of New York vs Homer Simpson” heavily depicted the World Trade Centers. Since the World Trade Centers were significant in the episode, it was taken off syndication in many areas after the events of 9/11. The episode has since returned, though it should be noted that some parts have been edited out. One edited scene was of two men arguing across Tower 1 and Tower 2, where a man from Tower 2 says: “They stick all the jerks in Tower One!”
2. “D’oh” Wasn’t Scripted
Considered one of the most iconic catchphrases in television, Homer’s classic “D’oh” was never intended to be in the show. The voice actor, Dan Castellaneta (who does Homer) came up with the catchphrase himself. Using inspiration from the comedy duo act Laurel and Hardy, Dan used Jimmy Finlayson’s catchphrase. This phrase is so culturally popular that it made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary.
Fun Fact: Scriptwriters are yet to write the catchphrase into the show. To this day, whenever the phrase is used, it’s written as “Annoyed Grunt”.
1. The Simpsons Were Originally Rabbits
This iconic series almost had a drastic change even before it aired its first episode. The Simpsons family were originally intended to be rabbits. Groening explained this potential switch on BBC in an interview, “I was going to do something completely different but then thought to myself, I’ll do humans instead of bunny rabbits, which was my original idea. And then I just drew them really quickly.” Turns out Groening made the right decision as it seems…
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