[[quoteright:200:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/matt_groening_bart_simpson_909.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:200:The man himself.]]

Matt Groening (1954) started off in 1977 as a underground cartoonist, best known for his comic strip LifeInHell. Influenced by {{Peanuts}}, UndergroundComics and cult artists like FrankZappa, CaptainBeefheart and TheFugs the comic is perhaps Groening's most personal work. Its central characters are two gay little men called Akbar and Jeff and a white rabbit family. The cartoons already poked fun at topics that Groening would later attack in his animated shows: politics, religion, school, family, work, relationships and modern society in general. The comic became a cult success and by the mid 1980s Groening was approached by Creator/JamesLBrooks to make an animated TV adaptation of "Life In Hell". Initially Groening agreed, until he learned that he would lose the rights to the comic strip. So instead, he came up with a totally new concept, which became TheSimpsons.

TheSimpsons started off in 1987 as extremely short cartoons used as bumpers before and after commercials during the TraceyUllman Show. Despite being crudely animated and a lot of EarlyInstallmentWeirdness the segments caught on with the American public. By 1989 Groening got the chance to turn the series into a full length prime time animated series, something that hadn't been done since TheFlintstones in the 1960s. The show quickly became a critically lauded mainstream success, especially thanks to BreakoutCharacter Bart Simpson. It became the first prime time cartoon series since TheFlintstones to become popular both with children and adults. Its clever satire, edgy subversiveness, hilarious gags and beyond all that recognizable emotional depth were praised. Its cult success paved the way for other adult cartoon series such as BeavisAndButthead, WesternAnimation/SouthPark and FamilyGuy. Yet, the show wasn't without its critics. Especially in the early years many parents and educators complained about certain scenes they deemed to be offensive or unsuitable for children. Even president GeorgeHWBush attacked the series during the 1992 Republican National Convention by claiming that "the American family should be a lot more like TheWaltons and a lot less like TheSimpsons." Only a week later TheSimpsons reacted by letting Bart say: "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're all praying for an end to the depression too." Coincidence or not, but Bush lost the elections later that year.

TheSimpsons continued its succesful run and is still on television to this day, despite claims that the show isn't as good as it used to be. In 1999 Groening launched another animated series , {{Futurama}}, around a totally different concept. Set in the far future, "Futurama", mostly spoofs every science fiction or future dystopia concept in a similar satirical way like TheSimpsons. The program never reached the same amount of immediate popularity that TheSimpsons did and was thus cancelled by FOX until ComedyCentral revived the series a few years later. Still, its audience keeps growing and will probably be VindicatedByHistory later.

Also worth mentioning: his entire work is very fit for analysis of the EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory kind. The themes can be interpreted in several ways, though, for the record: Groening is a liberal (in the American sense of the word) and identifies himself as agnostic.

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!!Works of Matt Groening:
[[index]]

* LifeInHell
* TheSimpsons
* {{Futurama}}
* OliveTheOtherReindeer

[[/index]]
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!!Tropes used in his works:
* AmbiguouslyGay: Akbar and Jeff in LifeInHell, Smithers, Lenny and Carl in TheSimpsons.
* AmusingInjuries
* AndKnowingIsHalfTheBattle: Always parodied.
* AnimationAgeGhetto: Subverted. Though The Simpsons and Futurama "can" be watched by children there are a lot of subversive moments or otherwise adult themes that in most cases will just confuse them or fly over their heads.
* AnimationBump: Compare some of the older Simpsons episodes to the newer ones, and you can clearly see this in effect.
* ArtEvolution: Groening has never been a great artist from a technical point of view. He can only draw people with bug-like eyeballs and huge overbites. The early Simpsons cartoons look very ugly because his animators used to trace his own drawings instead of modefying them. In time the Simpsons' art became impressively better, though "Life in Hell" hasn't evolved that much.
* ArtisticLicense
* ArtShift: Also done regularly.
* AuthorAppeal: A lot of the stuff referenced in his comics and animated cartoon shows is semi-autobiographical. Little winks to his childhood friends can be found, as well as references to his own personal favorite artists. His recurrent mocking of RichardNixon is an enjoyment that stems from a personal dislike.
* BadPresent
* BerserkButton: Groening really hates RichardNixon and thus poked fun at him several times in his work. In "Futurama" Nixon is President of Earth, but ridiculed whenever he appears. In an interview Groening expressed pleasure "in kicking Nixon from beyond the grave".
** Groening is also not very fond of AdolfHitler jokes or otherwise racist jokes. Despite sometimes allowing a few of them in his work he mostly discourages his writers to make jokes about this topic.
** And he especially hated {{Hanna-Barbera}} animation when he first got started as a cartoonist.
* BilingualBonus:
** Happens regularly in TheSimpsons
** In "Futurama" a fictional alien language is used in backgrounds so that fans can decipher it.
* BitingTheHandHumor: Especially the Creator/{{Fox}} network.
* BlackComedy
* BoardingSchoolOfHorrors: "Life in Hell" even has a volume called "School is Hell".
** Also a prominent theme in TheSimpsons.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Happens occasionally.
* BreakthroughHit: He's a big animation name primarily thanks to ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.
* BrickJoke
* ButtMonkey:
** Binky and Bongo in LifeInHell
** Bart, Homer, Millhouse, Moe, Smithers, Hans Moleman, Lenny, Gil, Squeaky Voiced Teen, Scratchy, Martin Prince, Principal Skinner, Granpa, George Bush Sr. in TheSimpsons
** Fry, Zoidberg, Richard Nixon in Futurama.
* CatchPhrase
* ChildrenAreInnocent: Usually subverted (Bart Simpson, anyone?) Will still be played straight on occasion.
* CorruptChurch: Religion, philosophers and people trying to get rich by selling cheap truths are a frequent target.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Mr. Burns in TheSimpsons, Mom, owner of Momcorp in {{Futurama}}.
* CorruptPolitician: Always corrupt or not to be trusted.
* CrapsaccharineWorld
* CrapsackWorld
* CreatorBacklash: Groening was so opposed against the Simpsons episode "A Star Is Burns" that he took his name off the episode. He felt that producer James L. Brooks simply wanted to make a commercial for his other animated series ''WesternAnimation/TheCritic'' by letting Jay Sherman and Homer Simpson meet.
* CreatorCameo: Done regularly.
* CrossOver
* CreditsGag
* DarkerAndEdgier:
** "Life in Hell" handled themes that most mainstream cartoon strips never tackled with.
** "The Simpsons" went in the air at a time when most TV animation was aimed at children and thus very safe and formulaic. It immediately attracted attention because of its subversive content, often featuring themes that you wouldn't see or hear in mainstream animation.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: "Life In Hell" is published in black and white.
* DenserAndWackier: Both "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" evolved to this point.
* DerangedAnimation: Not so much in drawing style, but certain plots and scenes are really off the wall.
** TheItchyAndScratchyShow is probably the most deranged Groening's work ever got.
* DesperatelyLookingForAPurposeInLife: A theme in his entire work.
* DistinctiveAppearances: Groening has a theory that characters are made memorable by a recognizable silhouette. He implies this rule with his own characters as well, specifically Bart Simpson's hairline to name one.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Many plots of TheSimpsons and Futurama are actually parodies of certain films, TV shows, novels or historical events.
** A lot of HiddenMessages can be found as well.
** Innuendos and allusions to drugs and sexual topics can be spotted too.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness:
** The early "Life in Hell" cartoons had a different tone. It features the rabbit Binky bickering about all of his life's problems. Only when Groening changed him into a victim of society the cartoon became successful.
** The early "Simpsons" are hardly recognizable at all. Their physical designs were very ugly, the animation was amateuristic and many jokes were still very cartoonish and generic. It did have an edginess and subversions, but only in the second season did the satirical component finally start to blossom.
* EccentricTownsfolk
* ExecutiveMeddling: Groening's artistic vision often clashes with the executives of Fox. Still, there aren't that many scenes in both TheSimpsons or LifeInHell that have been censored. Most of Fox's complaints are ignored. Groening has always been lucky that TheSimpsons was so succesful, so the show was never ScrewedByTheNetwork, a fate that the less popular {{Futurama}} did have to cope with.
* FantasyForbiddingFather: In a strange case of DoNotDoThisCoolThing Groening's own father was a cartoonist and amateur film director yet he discouraged his own son to become a cartoonist himself.
* FatBastard: Homer Simpson at his worst counts for this.
* FourFingeredHands
* FreeRangeChildren: Both in "Life in Hell" and "The Simpsons" the children are far more mature than their respectable ages.
* FreezeFrameBonus: Both in "The Simpsons" and "Futurama".
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: See above.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Very good with this!!
* HalfwayPlotSwitch
* HeyItsThatVoice: Both "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" have featured a lot of celebrities lending their voices in special guest appearances.
* HiddenDepths: To a lot of people "Life in Hell", "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" appear to be just your typical cartoon series, but they are far more mature than one would expect from a children's medium.
* HumansAreBastards
* HumansAreMorons
* HypocriticalHumor
* InCaseYouForgotWhoWroteIt: His signature is on every piece of merchandise from the shows he created.
* IgnoredEpiphany
* KidsAreCruel
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
* LongRunner: All of his three best known series are still in syndication, whether this is good or not. Apart from "Life In Hell", which ended in 2012.
* MediumAwareness: In both "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" a lot of jokes are made about television and animation clichés and conventions.
* MoralDilemma
* MoralDissonance: Trying to do the good thing is usually avoided by his characters. And even when they try to there's always a chance that their efforts won't be rewarded in the way that they would want to. They even fail more often than they win.
* MutuallyFictional: In "The Simpsons" Matt Groening once voiced himself as "the creator of "Futurama"". In the world of "Futurama" he solely exists as the creator of "The Simpsons".
* MyCountryRightOrWrong and MyCountryTisOfTheeThatISting: In his entire work Groening shows the darker side of The AmericanDream.
* NoPronunciationGuide: Groening's name is pronounced "GRAY-ning", not "Groaning".
* ANuclearError: Especially in "The Simpsons" Groening's anti stance against nuclear power is made clear. From an interview: "That's why Homer works at a nuclear plant - so we can continue to make points about the nuclear industry."
* OffModel: Especially in his early work.
* OneOfUs: Where to start? He may be the ultimate geek, enjoying underground comics, underground music, animated cartoons, comic strips, B-movies, exotica, cult novels, as well as 20th century classical music, jazz, blues, reggae, arthouse stuff,... As a child he watched awful TV shows and got in trouble often for doodling during lessons. His tutors and parents often told him he was wasting his time, but as he puts it: "All this stuff was preliminary research for the TV shows I would later make." Among the many things he absolutely adores are Music/FrankZappa, Music/CaptainBeefheart, Music/TheFugs, Music/TheBeatles, WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes, Creator/LaurelAndHardy, Creator/MontyPython, Radio/TheGoonShow, ''Franchise/{{Godzilla}}'', Creator/RobertCrumb, ''Westernanimation/{{Peanuts}}'', Creator/LeeScratchPerry, Music/AugustusPablo, Music/BobMarley, Music/IgorStravinsky, LyndaBarry, Creator/DanielClowes, Creator/WaltDisney, Creator/CarlBarks, WesternAnimation/BettyBoop and ''WesternAnimation/{{Popeye}}, ''Olivier Messiaen, Creator/JDSalinger, PhilipKDick, Creator/IsaacAsimov, Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000, WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy, Creator/StanleyKubrick, Creator/QuentinTarantino, Creator/YmaSumac, Creator/JuanGarciaEsquivel, Creator/TheCoenBrothers, Creator/FWMurnau, Creator/DianeArbus, Creator/JackieChan, Music/FelaKuti, Music/PereUbu, Music/TheResidents....
* ParentalBonus
* PoliceAreUseless: Chief Wiggum in "The Simpsons"; URL and Smitty from "Futurama" seem more competent, but are prone to PoliceBrutality. Usually averted when a main character (Marge Simpson, Phillip J. Fry) becomes a police officer, though this situation does not last long due to StatusQuoIsGod.
* PunbasedTitle
* QuestForIdentity: A big theme in his entire work.
* ReferenceOverdosed: Most will fly over the general public's head.
* RuleOfFunny
* RunningGag: Several!
* SadistShow
* ScaryAmoralReligion: The absurdities and inconsistencies of religion, the people who preach it and those who practice it are a frequent target.
* SceneryPorn: A lot of comedy and hidden messages can be found in the background of a scene. Some of them can only be spotted when freeze framing the video.
* ShoutOut: Several!
* TheSmurfettePrinciple:
** Sheila from "Life in Hell" is "basically Binky in drag", as Groening admitted himself.
** Kirk and Luann Van Houten in "The Simpsons".
** Chief Wiggum and his wife in "The Simpsons".
* TheSouthpaw: Bart Simpson is actually left-handed just like Matt Groening is. [[WordOfGod Marge Simpson started out as this, but she trained herself to use her right hand also because she was being insulted for being a lefty, which means that she's now ambidextrous.]]
** In the episode "WhenFlandersFailed" it turns out that Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns and Moe are alle left handed, including a large group of citizens of Springfield as well.
* SphereEyes
* TakeThat: His work pokes fun at everybody, from all kinds of the political, economical, cultural and sociological spectrum.
* TakeThatAudience
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Groening once said in a Rolling Stone interview that he wanted to become a composer like FrankZappa, but lacked enough musical talent.
** Originally LifeInHell would be Groening's first animated show, but he feared he would lose the rights to his own syndicated comic strip and/or that if it failed it would damage the comic strip's reputation. So he came up with TheSimpsons instead.
* WriteWhoYouKnow:
** Several names of characters in TheSimpsons were derived from streetnames in Groening's hometown Portland, Oregon: Terwilliger, Lovejoy, Flanders, Kearney, Van Houten, Quimby, Burnside,... There is even an Evergreen Terrace!
** Other names were burrowed from family members (Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, Patty), friends (Dolph) or characters from TV shows he used to watch (Krusty was based on TV clown Rusty Nails, for instance).
** A lot of jokes and scenes are winks to Groening's own childhood. The theory that ComicBook/RichieRich and WesternAnimation/CasperTheFriendlyGhost are the same character in ''The Simpsons'' episode "Three Men And A Comic Book" was something Matt and his school friends used to wonder about.
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