main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Comic Book: The Simpsons

After its success in prime time TV, The Simpsons spawned into Comic Book territory with its own series based on the show. The comics were created by Bongo Comics. Simpsons Comics, The main title was launched in November, 1993 and is still ongoing. There have also been several spin-offs such as Bart Simpson, Treehouse of Horror, and Radioactive Man.


  • Ascended Fangirl: This fan's picture gave her a job offer from Bongo Comics.
  • Ascended Meme: "Boo-tleg," A story in Bart Simpsonís Treehouse of Horror #15, features a bootleg Black Bart who had plans to sell shirts of himself at a flea market.
  • Art Shift: Treehouse of Horror, an annual series of Halloween comics inspired by the televised Simpsons episodes of the same title.
    • Issue 15 is the most blatant example. Just about every writer and illustrator who worked on that issue have made names for themselves in the independent comic book field.
  • Badass Normal: One story involves the power plant exploding, giving everybody superpowers - except for Bart, who was grounded at the time.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Most of Lisa's swimsuits are midriff-baring.
  • Big "NO!": Bart at the very beginning of the first Bartman story, after having just learned that he's going to have to go to summer school.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The Treehouse of Horror issues are darker and more disturbing than the most recent episodes have been, even when they act as parodies of existing movies and film franchises.
  • Brick Joke: In the fourth installment of the main comic, Milhouse is reading a newspaper. It's mentioned in a small column on the front page that the actor who portrays Scratchy the Cat at the Krustyland amusement park has mysteriously disappeared, but none of the characters notice this, as they're too concerned with reading about the baseball game later that day. Not until Bartman #3 do we learn not only that the disappearance was a kidnapping, but that it ended up creating a citywide crisis in Springfield that now only Bartman and Radioactive Man can resolve.
    • In the very first issue, Mr. Burns' scientists warn him against messing with dangerous experiments by reminding him about "Project Q" (sealed in a vault that absolutely must not be opened until the year 10,000 A.D.). About thirty issues later, Homer becomes amnesiac and, believing that he's actually Radioactive Man, accidentally releases it to wreak havoc on the nuclear plant.
    • An in-story example occurs in "The Greatest D'oh On Earth" when the Simpson family (minus Bart, who's been grounded) go to the circus. Homer is refused admittance because twenty years earlier he had attended the same circus and taunted one of the clowns by throwing peanuts at him - and the actor playing the clown now works at the ticket booth!
    • "In the Name of Lava" has one of these. Near the beginning of the story, Bart asks Homer if he's got lava insurance (as part of a prank which leads the townspeople into thinking the world's going to end), to which he responds that he doesn't even have car insurance. At the end, when the dam bursts and the two are left adrift with the family car, Bart reminds him that he doesn't have car insurance.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: During the trial of Homer Comic Book Guy for the selling and distributing of obscene horror history comics Bart is able to act as their lawyer, he then has the entire jury replaced since they are not A jury of the defendants peers since they know nothing about comics and thus cannot truely understand the case. The jury is reformed with geeks who drop the obscenity charges, but charge them with a bunch of petty grievences they have against Comic Book Guy.
  • Call Back: To "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" in "Marge the Sellout" and to "Boy Scoutz n' the Hood" in "Breaking Bart".
  • The Cameo: Pee-wee Herman (although never mentioned by name) is the freak-show handler in "The Greatest D'oh On Earth." (It's something of an in-joke, since Pee-wee portrayer Paul Reubens grew up with several families of circus performers as his next-door neighbors, and of course appeared in Big Top Pee-wee.)
    • Jimmy Carter appears in a flashback in "Marge the Sellout", building a home for Marge's old prom date Artie Ziff.
      • Hillary Clinton, J.K. Rowling and Condoleeza Rice all appear in Lisa's dream urging her to try her hardest to gain admission to a good university in "Nobody's Purrfect".
  • Canon Foreigner: Apu's nephew Jamshed, for one.
  • Crossover: The four-part "Futurama Simpsons Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis".
    • The early days of the comics had When Bongos Collide, a three-issue storyline crossing over all three of the then-running Bongo titles: Itchy & Scratchy Comics, Simpsons Comics and Bartman. Interestingly enough, this storyline involved a plot device similar to the one in the Futurama/Simpsons crossover, with a device that brings fictional characters into the real world — hence Itchy and Scratchy are running loose in Springfield, and Bartman teams up with Radioactive Man.
    • Later on, a series of Bartman stories that saw him targeted by a villain called "the Canker" somehow tied into an earlier Simpsons Comics story about Ned Flanders being abducted and replaced by Kang and Kodos (who were teamed up with Sideshow Bob, who revealed that he was the man behind the Canker), aided by henchmen who showed up in a seemingly innocuous Rainier Wolfcastle/McBain strip. The Bongo titles were actually surprisingly good at this sort of thing.
  • The Chessmaster: Bart at the beginning of "The Prime of Miss Lisa Simpson" when he had all the teachers deported
  • Crying Indian: When garbage is littered all over the park we see a tearful Apu.
  • Cultural Translation: Parodied in "The Simpsons Comics Internationale!" with supposed examples of The Simpsons as adapted by other cultures. The issue presents a Bart Simpson manga, a story from Mexico, and a Belgian comic that mixes elements from both Tintin and The Smurfs.note 
  • Cutaway Gag: In "A Brand New Burns: Part Two", when Homer swears to save Mr. Burns from his encapturement in a Mexican sweatshop, Marge reminds him about the last time he rescued something. Cue flashback to him pulling a poor dolphin with a net around him out of the water at the beach. It's revealed that he put him in a hot tub still flailing around desperately with a net around him, insisting to Marge that if he cuts it, he'll escape.
  • Darker and Edgier: The storyline of "They Fixed Homer's Brain" is far more serious and emotional than any other issue in the series.
  • Dissimile: In the first issue of Simpsons Comics, Burns contemplates becoming a giant and says, "I'll be like the Jolly Green Giant, only not green, and not jolly!"
  • Downer Ending: "Nobody's Purrfect" ends on one of these. About to start a new life after being ridden of her obsession with cats, Eleanor Abernathy reverts back to normal when some kitties start chasing after her when she picks a nice sweater up from the garbage can. Even worse, the blue cat's wink at the end makes it seem like they planned it.
  • Driven to Suicide: A man is shown about to jump off a bridge in "Ralph Wiggum's Day Off". Luckily, Ralph cheers him up and he decides not to do it.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: One early issue focuses on the mystery of who stole a sculpture of a puma (the Springfield Elementary mascot) from the school. The mystery must be solved before Principal Skinner returns from a trip. Given a dozen suspects with increasingly bizarre motives, Lisa deduces that Skinner took it with him to protect it.
    • Sounds pretty straightforward, but there was actually a twist. Convinced that the sculpture actually contained hidden jewels that would make the school (and possibly the community) rich, Martin Prince (who in this adventure is humorously portrayed as an erudite mob boss) had intended to have resident thug Jimbo Jones and his lackeys steal the statue and bring it to him, whereupon he would chip away at the paint to uncover the jewels. When Skinner takes the statue, Martin suspects that Jimbo and the other henchmen have double-crossed him and are keeping the puma for themselves. (It's all for naught, though, because when Martin finally removes the paint, all he finds is "nothing but worthless plaster.")
  • Fake-Out Opening:
    • In the very first Simpsons comic story from 1994, "The Amazing Colossal Homer," we see a looming shot of Homer in the very first panel and think he's become a giant (because both the cover of the book and the title of the story have led us to expect that). But it turns out we're just viewing a normal-sized Homer from the point of view of the bathroom floor; his turning into a giant comes later.
    • An even funnier example was at the beginning of "Be-Bop-A-Lisa." We think at first that we are seeing Edna Krabappel and Groundskeeper Willie in the middle of an amorous embrace....but then we turn the page and realize that it's just two of Bart's friends parodying Edna and Willie for a school talent show.
    • In fact, the Fake-Out Opening quickly became a staple of the comic. For a long time, nearly every issue had one, some of them being... rather forced.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: In "They Fixed Homer's Brain", Homer becomes intelligent after taking a special pill during his job as a guinea pig for medical research. He becomes miserable while being smart, but decides to have a more complete surgery for Lisa's sake when the pill starts wearing off. Lisa stops him from having the treatment so he doesn't sacrifice his happiness for her sake, and he goes back to his normal dim-witted self.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: "Ned Simpson" is about Homer and Ned switching bodies.
  • Gigantic Gulp: In one issue, Bart, Lisa, Martin and Milhouse find giant squishee cups the size of children while exploring the Kwik-e-Mart; Squishzilla. Apu later explains that they weren't used because they were so heavy when filled that no one could carry them away.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Kearney is revealed to be wearing pink underpants in Bartman #1, after his shorts slip off while he's hanging from a catwalk in a factory. (On the other hand, since Kearney and his fellow goons are legitimately threatening, this could be an example of Real Men Wear Pink.)
  • Grounded Forever: In one issue Bart says that if he doesn't find the school puma by the next day, he'll be doing detention till he's 80.
  • Hilarity Ensues: One strip in a Bart Simpson comic has Bart trick Milhouse into thinking he's invisible when he loses his glasses. He ensures his "friend" that hilarious hijinks are bound to ensue if he takes advantage of it,, then thinks to himself that he should stop reading the program descriptions in TV Guide.
  • I Am Spartacus: In one issue, Grampa becomes a vigilante (El Grampo) and when Chief Wiggum tries to arrest him, the other members of the Springfield Retirement Castle claim to be the real El Grampo. They donít do this because they care about Grampa but because they think that pretending to be El Grampo will result in their families paying attention to them. The whole thing turns out to be one of Grampaís nonsensical stories.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: The genetically engineered doughnuts Mr. Burns tried to give to his workers instead of pay, of course since they were intentionally designed to be addictive this isn't too surprising.
  • Ironic Echo: A rather short version. In one comic, Bart is assisting Comic Book Guy at a comic convention, and is stuck running the booth while Comic Book Guy is away. A worker comes around to collect the booth toll, and Bart honestly - if a bit rudely - says "I don't know nothin'. Talk to Comic Book Guy." The worker instantly decides to take the booth toll in trade by swiping Bart's Radioactive Man comic, and when Bart protests, the worker just yells back "I don't know nothin'! Talk to Comic Book Guy!"
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: One issue has Homer win Smithers off Mister Burns and he and Marge fight for Homer's approval.
  • Peeling Potatoes: According to one of his war stories, Grampa was so good at peeling potatoes that he became a war hero.
  • Power Perversion Potential: In the strip listed under Hilarity Ensues, Milhouse (with the encouragement of Bart) goes into the girl's bathroom when he thinks he's invisible - only it's not for the same reason as most examples of this trope are - he does it to scare the girls and even announces his presence to them. Of course, they can see him and run out screaming, trampling on him in the process.
  • Product Promotion Parade: Spoofed in a "Chocobots" strip, which provides the image for that page.
  • Reference Overdosed: The "A Brand New Burns" two-parter. What else would you expect from a story revolving around famous billionaires?
  • Saw "Star Wars" Twenty-Seven Times: In "Bart Simpson and the Krusty Brand Fun Factory", Grandpa says he has seen When Animals Attack 37 times.
  • Sequel Episode: "Sandwiches Are Forever" is this to "You Only Move Twice".
  • Serious Business: Maligning history with horror comic books that take people like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus and turning them into murderous merpeople and cannibal onion men respectively is a punishable offense by law in Springfield.
  • Show Within a Show: The "Radioactive Man" comics. Some of them were printed by Bongo, with the conceit that they're the actual comics enjoyed by Bart and friends in The Simpsons (for example, an issue allegedly from the 1970s features a letter from young Marge Simpson). This also lets the writers parody comic book tropes and well-known stories (to illustrate, an issue dated from the 1990s might parody the comic book "Dark Age").
  • Space Is Noisy: An exception in a science fiction movie featured in one issue. Homerís nerdy friend Doug gets involved in the production of Saturnforce 3000. To keep the science realistic, he removes all sound from the space scenes. Everyone hates the movie, except for Comic Book Guy who declares it a triumph.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Bartman is always pulling this on Milhouse, in an obvious Shout-Out to the Batman/Commissioner Gordon relationship.
  • Stylistic Suck: The "Boo-tleg" story from Treehouse of Horror #15 is about people dying from the poisonous bootleg candy Apu has stocked at the Kwik-E-Mart. To cover up the deaths and to avoid losing money Apu just has the dead individuals replaced with shoddily made bootleg clones.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: One story had Mr. Burns try to save money by giving his employees delicious and highly addictive donuts in lieu of pay. This backfired when A: it was costing him millions to manufacture the donuts, and B: the workforce became obese, spent more time eating the donuts instead of doing their jobs, which caused productivity to drop significantly. By the end of the story Burns had to reinstate regular pay, but kept the donuts with their fat content and addictive quality reduced.
  • Trap Door: Mr Burns has one in his office, just like in the show.
  • Two-Part Episode: "A Brand New Burns", in which Mr. Burns gets kidnapped at a hospital and put in a sweatshop for billionaires, and Homer tries to save him with terrible results.
  • Two-Timer Date: The plot of "Springfield's Typical Teen-ager".
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: A hell of a lot of the content and jokes made no sense at all to children and was geared towards adults.
  • We Care: Used in at least one Simpsons comic with "Globex Corporation - We Dominate Because We Care", the company from the TV episode "You Only Move Twice."

The Simpsons MovieWesternAnimation/The SimpsonsThe Itchy & Scratchy Show
Robin SeriesComics of the 1990sTransformers Generation 2
Just a PilgrimU.S./Canadian ComicsFuturama
Sky SurfingImageSource/Comic BooksProduct Promotion Parade

alternative title(s): Simpsons Comics
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy