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

'''Matthew Abram Groening''' (born February 15, 1954) began in 1977 as a underground cartoonist, best known for his comic strip ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell''. Influenced by ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'', UndergroundComics and cult artists like Music/FrankZappa, Music/CaptainBeefheart and Music/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 ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.

''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' started off in 1987 as extremely short cartoons used as bumpers before and after commercials during ''The Creator/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 ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' in the 1960s. The show quickly became a critically lauded mainstream success, especially thanks to BreakoutCharacter Bart Simpson. It was the first prime time cartoon series since ''WesternAnimation/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 ''WesternAnimation/BeavisAndButthead'', ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', and ''WesternAnimation/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 UsefulNotes/GeorgeHWBush attacked the series during the 1992 Republican National Convention by claiming that "the American family should be a lot more like ''Series/TheWaltons'' and a lot less like The'' Simpsons''." Only a week later ''The Simpsons'' reacted by rerunning an episode and, before the episode proper began, 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 election later that year.

''The Simpsons'' continued its successful run and is still on television to this day, though most people say that the show isn't as good as it used to be. In 1999 Groening launched another animated series, ''WesternAnimation/{{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 ''The Simpsons''. The program never reached ''Simpsons''-level popularity and was thus cancelled by FOX until Creator/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]]

* ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell''
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''
* ''WesternAnimation/OliveTheOtherReindeer''

[[/index]]
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!!Tropes used in his works:
* AmbiguouslyGay: Akbar and Jeff in ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell'', Smithers, Lenny and Carl in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.
* AmusingInjuries
* AndKnowingIsHalfTheBattle: Always parodied.
* AnimationAgeGhetto: Subverted. Though ''The Simpsons'' and ''Futurama'' ''"can''" be watched by children there are many 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 modifying them. In time ''The Simpsons''' art became impressively better, though ''Life in Hell'' hasn't evolved that much.
* ArtisticLicense
* ArtShift: Also done regularly.
** The ''Simpsons'' episode "Brother from the Same Planet" had a cameo of ''WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy'', animated by animators of that show themselves.
** In "Lady Bouvier's Lover," Homer imagines his children becoming pink creatures with five fingers on each hand. Cue to Bart, Lisa and Maggie suddenly transforming into realistically drawn white people for a second.
** In "The Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie," several old Itchy & Scratchy cartoons from the 1920s and 1940s are animated in a different style mimicking cartoons from that time period. This happened again in "The Day the Violence Died", when the first Itchy the Mouse cartoon from 1919 was seen and a parody of ''WesternAnimation/SchoolhouseRock'' was broadcast on TV.
** The episode "HOMR" has a parody of ''WesternAnimation/DaveyAndGoliath'', also done in their typical claymation style.
** Bart tells a scary story, "Dark Stanley", in the episode "Yokel Chords", which is also animated in a different, more macabre style.
** In "How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window?" the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon ''Dog Gone Hellody of 1933'' is a stylistic parody of ''Disney/PlutosJudgementDay''.
** "Angry Dad: The Movie" has stylistic parodies of ''WesternAnimation/TheTripletsOfBelleville'', ''WesternAnimation/{{Persepolis}}'', WesternAnimation/WallaceAndGromit'', and ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'', all animated in their respective styles.
** The couch gag of "What to Expect When Bart's Expecting" has a stylistic parody of the claymation cartoons of Art Clokey, even with a cameo of ''WesternAnimation/{{Gumby}}''.
** Several couch gags have been animated by guest animated directors, including Creator/JohnKricfalusi, Creator/SylvainChomet, Creator/BillPlympton,...
** The ''Futurama'' episode "Reincarnation" has stylistic parodies of the Fleischer cartoons, early computer games and anime.
** The ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' episode "Simpsons Guy" involves the Griffins getting lost in Springfield.
* AuthorAppeal: A lot of the stuff referred to 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 and topics. His recurrent mocking of UsefulNotes/RichardNixon is an enjoyment that stems from a personal dislike.
* BadPresent
* BeliefMakesYouStupid: Several jokes in Groening's work poke fun at the absurdities and inconsistencies of religion.
* BerserkButton: Groening really hates UsefulNotes/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 fond of UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler jokes and otherwise racist gags. He discourages his writers to write jokes about these topics, but has let a few good ones pass.
** And he especially hates {{Hanna-Barbera}} animation.
* BilingualBonus:
** Happens regularly in ''The Simpsons''.
** 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 ''The Simpsons''.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Happens occasionally.
* BreakthroughHit: Groening's a big animation name primarily thanks to ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.
* BrickJoke: Used often.
* ButtMonkey:
** Binky and Bongo in ''Life in Hell''.
** Bart, Homer, Millhouse, Moe, Smithers, Hans Moleman, Lenny, Gil, Squeaky-Voiced Teen, Scratchy, Martin Prince, Principal Skinner, Grandpa, Richard Nixon, George Bush Sr. in ''The Simpsons''.
** Fry, Zoidberg, Richard Nixon in ''Futurama''.
* CapitalismIsBad and CorruptCorporateExecutive: Mr. Burns in ''The Simpsons'', and Mom, owner of Momcorp in ''Futurama'' act as the [[BigBad primary antagonists]] of their respective series. On the other hand Groening himself isn't exactly poor either thanks to his shows' CashCowFranchise.
* CatchPhrase: His work has several ones.
* ChildrenAreInnocent: Usually subverted (Bart Simpson, anyone?) Will still be played straight on occasion.
* CorruptChurch: Religious people, philosophers and frauds trying to get rich by selling cheap truths are a frequent target. Reverend Lovejoy is the most self-evident example.
* CorruptPolitician: Always corrupt or not to be trusted. Major Quimby in ''The Simpsons'' and Nixon in ''Futurama'' are perhaps the most prominent examples.
* CrapsaccharineWorld
* CrapsackWorld
* CreatorBacklash: Groening was so opposed to 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 have a CrossOver.
* CreatorCameo: Done regularly.
* CrossOver: References to Groening's other works are often made.
** In the fall of 2014 two crossover episodes will be made between ''The Simpsons'' and ''Futurama'' and ''The Simpsons'' and ''Family Guy''.
* CreditsGag
* DarkerAndEdgier:
** ''Life in Hell'' handled themes that most mainstream cartoon strips never tackled.
** ''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.
* DifferentInEveryEpisode:
** Bart Simpson writes a different line on the blackboard at the start of most episodes.
** CouchGag: The Simpsons run to their couch in front of the TV, but usually do something different.
** The Church of Springfield has a different 'topic for today' on its billboard whenever it gets in frame.
** ''Futurama'' has a different line beneath its opening credits every episode.
** When ''Futurama'' aired on FOX there was always a different segment from a classic animated cartoon seen on the giant television screen.
* 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 ''The Simpsons'' and ''Futurama'' are actually parodies of certain films, TV shows, novels or historical events.
** A lot of [[PublicSecretMessage Hidden Messages]] can be found as well.
** Innuendos and allusions to very adult stuff can be spotted too.
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing:
** Bart Simpson is a cool, rebellious troublemaker with no respect for authority. The character has been criticized often for being a bad role model for children.
** Bender the robot has no sense of morality or ethics, goes around insulting everybody while drinking beer and smoking cigars. Yet as Matt Groening explained: "He can't be a bad role model for children, because he's a robot!"
** Groening himself is also a good example. He often got in trouble as a kid for disobeying his teachers, drawing cartoons in class and enjoying subversive comics, books and music. His parents and teachers often told him that he was wasting his life with watching TV and drawing cartoons...even though Matt's father was a cartoonist and amateur filmmaker himself! Yet, [[ItWillNeverCatchOn despite all the discouraging messages]], Matt Groening did manage to become rich and successful from his drawings.
* 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.
*** In some of the earliest episodes Barney has yellow hair and Smithers is Afro-American. Barney's hair color was changed, because the makers felt that only the Simpsons should have the same hair color as their skin. Smithers' skin color became yellow (aka 'white') because the idea of a black character acting as a servant to someone else felt a bit racist.
*** In the first season there are several [[OutOfCharacterMoment out-of-character moments]]. For instance: Homer feeling embarassed about his family and Lisa being nothing but a DistaffCounterpart of Bart.
* EccentricTownsfolk: Especially in ''The Simpsons'' you have a real sense of a community of odd people.
* ExecutiveMeddling: Groening's artistic vision often clashes with the executives of Fox. Still, there aren't that many scenes in both ''The Simpsons'' or ''Life in Hell'' that have been censored. Most of Fox's complaints are ignored. Groening has always been lucky that ''The Simpsons'' was so successful, 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.
* FollowTheLeader: Matt Groening's TV shows have paved the way for several subversive TV sitcoms, sketch shows and animated series for adults that would never aired without the success of ''"The Simpsons"''.
* FourFingeredHands
* FreeRangeChildren: In both ''Life in Hell'' and ''The Simpsons'', the children are (sometimes) far more mature than their respectable ages.
* FreezeFrameBonus: Both in ''The Simpsons'' and ''Futurama''.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: See above.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Very good with this!!
* GrandparentalObliviousness: Grandpa and Mr. Burns in ''The Simpsons'' can be quite senile and forgetful. Professor Farnsworth in ''Futurama'' too.
* HalfwayPlotSwitch: The setups of many episodes often result in a totally unexpected ending.
* HeyItsThatVoice: Both ''The Simpsons'' and ''Futurama'' have featured many 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: Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: All his animated series have hundreds of characters, all whom appear regularly in the series.
* LongRunner: All of his three best known series are still in syndication, for better or worse. 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: His characters regularly face moral dilemmas. Sometimes they just do whatever they please. Other times they do follow their conscience.
* 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.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Subverted! Celebrities who provide a special guest voice in his TV shows will usually be mocked in a certain way. Celebrities who are satirized by having one of the cast members imitate their voice don't come off too well either.
* NoPronunciationGuide: Groening's name is pronounced ''"GRAY-ning"'', not ''"Groaning"''.
* ANuclearError: Especially in ''The Simpsons'' Groening's antinuclear stance 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, ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'', Creator/LeeScratchPerry, Music/AugustusPablo, Music/BobMarley, Music/IgorStravinsky, LyndaBarry, Creator/DanielClowes, Creator/WaltDisney, Creator/CarlBarks, ''WesternAnimation/BettyBoop'' and ''WesternAnimation/{{Popeye}}'', Creator/OlivierMessiaen, Creator/JDSalinger, Creator/PhilipKDick, Creator/IsaacAsimov, ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'', ''WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy'', Creator/StanleyKubrick, Creator/QuentinTarantino, Creator/YmaSumac, Creator/JuanGarciaEsquivel, Creator/TheCoenBrothers, Creator/FriedrichWilhelmMurnau, Creator/DianeArbus, Creator/JackieChan, Music/FelaKuti, Music/PereUbu, Music/TheResidents...
* ParentalBonus: Parents will enjoy and understand the majority of his work better than children would.
* 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, Philip J. Fry) becomes a police officer, though this situation does not last long due to StatusQuoIsGod.
* PunbasedTitle: Most episodes of the animated series have a hidden pun.
* QuestForIdentity: A big theme in his entire work.
* ReferenceOverdosed: ''The Simpsons'' and ''Futurama'' are full of references to both 'high' and 'low' culture. The chance that everybody will 'get' every single reference of joke is particularly low. Even Groening doesn't get all the stuff his writers come up with.
* RuleOfFunny: Certain illogical situations happen because of this rule.
* RunningGag:
** ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell'':
*** Binky is frequently locked away in a dungeon and scolded by his teachers through a small window in the prison door.
*** Akbar and Jeff have many [[AmbiguouslyGay jokes about their supposed homosexuality]].
** ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
*** Homer does something stupid and shouts "D'oh!" after realizing this.
*** Mr. Burns is unable to remember Homer's name.
*** Bart makes a phone call to Moe under a false alias, usually a bawdy pun, yet Moe only realizes this after the entire bar laughs at his stupidity.
*** Maggie is unable to stand up straight for long and usually falls down flat with a thud.
*** Grandpa has a tendency to fall asleep halfway through a sentence, yet he just never falls over, but just keeps standing upright while snoring loudly.
*** Homer takes advantage of Ned Flanders' kindness.
*** Patty and Selma insult Homer.
*** Comic Book Guy reviews everything with disdain, while using the phrase [[WorstWhateverEver "Worst... ever!"]]
*** Mrs. Krabappel and Nelson Muntz both laugh at other people's misery.
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'':
*** Professor Farnsworth announces he has "Good news", yet it is usually exactly the opposite.
*** The robot "Malfunctioning Eddie" always explodes in shock.
* SadistShow: Groening once described animation as "creating a world full of characters who hurt each other just because you want them to."
* ScaryAmoralReligion: The absurdities and inconsistencies of religion, its purveyors, and its practitioners are frequent targets.
* 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: See ReferenceOverdosed.
* SeniorSleepCycle: Grandpa in ''The Simpsons'' and Prof. Farnsworth in ''Futurama''.
* 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 ''Simpsons'' episode "Recap/TheSimpsonsS3E3WhenFlandersFailed" it turns out that Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns and Moe are all left handed, including a large group of citizens of Springfield as well.
* SpecialGuest: His TV shows frequently have celebrities voicing themselves or playing a character. According the ''Guinness Book of Records'', ''The Simpsons'' has even become the TV show with the most celebrity guest appearances ever!
** Groening voiced himself in a few ''Simpsons'' episodes.
* SphereEyes: A trademark.
* TakeThat: His work pokes fun at everybody, from all kinds of the political, economical, cultural and sociological spectrum.
* TakeThatAudience
* TalkingAnimal: Usually avoided, but Bongo, Binky and Sheba in ''Life in Hell'' and Nibbler in ''Futurama'' are exceptions.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Groening once told ''Rolling Stone'' that he wanted to become a composer like Music/FrankZappa, but lacked enough musical talent.
** Originally ''ComicStrip/LifeInHell'' would be Groening's first animated show. Producer James L. Brooks had interest in adapting it into a TV series, but Groening 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 ''The Simpsons'' instead.
* WriteWhoYouKnow:
** Several names of characters in ''The Simpsons'' were derived from streetnames in Groening's hometown of UsefulNotes/{{Portland}}, Oregon: Terwilliger, Lovejoy, Flanders, Kearney, Van Houten, Quimby, Burnside,... There is even an Evergreen Terrace! The Springfield Elementary School resembles Groening's own elementary school.
** Other names were burrowed from family members (Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, Patty, Wiggum), 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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