Couch Gag / The Simpsons

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The Simpsons is the Trope Namer for the Couch Gag trope, where the original opening sequence had several couch gags. Sometimes they just skip straight to the driveway and do the couch gag, or some other abridged opening:

  • Bart writes something different in detention each episode.
  • Lisa plays a different solo on her saxophone. The solos are often recycled across several episodes — some were reused more often than the (in)famous "chorus line" couch gag. Since the show's switch to High Definition, some episodes have featured Lisa playing another instrument such as a trumpet or violin instead.
  • The literal 'couch gag', the family gathering on the couch in a (usually) humorous animation. (This is also the only gag that's never cut in syndication, though many of the first episodes to be syndicated saw their original couch gags get replaced with the one where the Simpsons find an identical family already sitting on the couch.)
  • The HDTV opening introduced in season 20 introduced five additional couch gags:
    • Something different flies in front of the Simpsons logo (but it's usually a three-eyed crow).
    • When the head of the Jebediah Springfield statue falls on Ralph's head, he will usually make a muttering noise, but early in the gag's tenure he would actually say something, such as "I see stars!" or "It's dark!"
    • Early on, when Bart ran over him, Barney would also sometimes exclaim something (such as "BART!") instead of belching.
    • A billboard across the street from Springfield Elementary advertises something different each episode.
    • The Simpsons' wall-mounted HDTV falls off the wall in some episodes, and does not in others.

Other gags are used occasionally during the ending credits:
  • The Gracie Films Vanity Plate at the end of the episode sometimes undergoes a Logo Joke where it has different sound effects playing besides just the "shh" and the little jingle that plays. Once in a blue moon, the 20th Century Fox plate would also be affected.
    • The most regular appearing one is a shriek and minor-key organ variation of the jingle which follows some of the Halloween episodes.
    • A gunshot is inserted here for "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1."
    • Another has Grandpa Simpson saying "Oh, sorry."
    • The fourth clip show has Snake cursing the "Gracie music dude."
  • The song or sound played during the credits may vary based on the theme of the preceding episode:
    • Throughout the credits of "Bart Star," Homer, drunk with power from being made Head Coach of the pee-wee football team, 'cuts' several people when their names appear,note  and when the woman does her shush he said "You're cut too, Shushy!"
      • Similarly, the army colonel from "G.I. D'oh" assigns everyone in the credits to "front line infantry!"... except Kiefer Sutherland himself, who is assigned to the Coast Guard.
    • In "The Mansion Family", Homer crying about the people in the credits being rich (except for one name, for which Homer momentarily stops crying to comment, "Oh, he's poor"). At the Gracie Films logo, Homer angrily exclaims, "Don't shush me, you rich bastard!"
    • Sometimes the closing theme is rendered in a different musical motif based on the theme of the episode (such as an ice rink organ after a hockey-themed one), or an instrumental performed by a 'special musical guest' (past bands to interpret the theme during the end credits include NRBQ, Sonic Youth, Brave Combo, Fall Out Boy and Yo La Tengo).
  • The Halloween specials also generally feature gags within the credits, with puns on the names in the credits ("Matt Groaning" or "Bat Groening" being almost inevitably featured).

For some episodes, the entire opening is changed:

Sometimes the writers enjoy meta-humor about the blackboard gags:
  • In "Skinner's Sense of Snow," Bart complains that he's written on the board so often that his wrist sounds like a cement mixer (and rotates his wrist to prove his point).
  • For "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo," the tenth-season finale, Bart writes "I'm so very tired."
  • For "Simpsons Tall Tales," the twelfth-season finale, Bart writes "I should not be twenty-one by now," which he would be if an actual ten-year-old boy had played him when the series began.
  • For "The Parent Rap," Bart writes "Nobody reads these anymore."
  • For "Bonfire of the Manatees," Bart writes "Does any kid still do this anymore?", as a reference to how Writing Lines has gradually become a Discredited Trope.
  • For "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadaaaass Song," the 100th episode, heavily advertised by Fox, Bart writes "I will not celebrate meaningless milestones."note 
  • In the opening for "Homer the Heretic," Bart writes "I will not defame New Orleans." The previous episode, "A Streetcar Named Marge," had featured a song about how horrible New Orleans was, in a spoof of the song from the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Bart's writing on the board was intended as an apology to those who were offended.
  • Similarly, "Homer Scissorhands" had a guest star whose name was misspelled in the credits; the following episode, "500 Keys," had Bart writing the correct spelling on the blackboard over and over.
  • "Half-Decent Proposal" had "I will not bite the hand that feeds me Butterfingers." Marge's crusade against refined sugar in "Sweets and Sour Marge," just two episodes earlier, sees Chief Wiggum disposing of the town's supply of Butterfingers in a fire, only for the fire to reject them. "Not even the fire wants them," comments Wiggum. This was an inside joke about the show's long history of Simpsons characters (particularly Bart) appearing in Butterfinger ads. This was written around the time the contract with Butterfinger ended; it should come as no surprise that the company did not offer to renew the contract.
  • When Matt Groening announced that Springfield, Oregon was the inspiration for Springfield, that week's episode ("Beware My Cheating Bart") opened with the words "Now entering Oregon" next to the main title, while the chalkboard gag read "The true location of Springfield is in any state but yours."
  • The Simpsons Movie has Bart writing "I will not illegally download this movie."
  • In "Take My Life, Please," the first HD episode, Bart writes "HDTV is worth every cent."
  • In "Barting Over," we see Bart writing "I will not" and then abruptly stopping before destroying the chalkboard with an axe.
  • The 500th episode, "At Long Last Leave," featured Milhouse writing "Bart's earned a day off" on the chalkboard while Bart smugly looked on.
  • "Black-Eyed, Please" has Bart writing on a whiteboard in marker, the phrase being "Sorry I broke the blackboard."
  • In "Four Regrettings and a Funeral", as a tribute to the late Marcia Wallace (the actress who provided Mrs. Krabappel's voice), Bart writes "We'll really miss you, Mrs. K." exactly one time with a sad look on his face. Grab the hankies.
  • In "Married to the Blob", Bart writes "Judas Priest is not death metal" on the chalkboard, a reference to the numerous Internet complaints about that description of the band as such in the previous episode, "Steal This Episode".
  • In "Trash of the Titans", where the eponymous Couch Gag would be, Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie end up running into Bart's classroom, where they find Bart writing, "I will not mess with the opening credits." (A similar gag was present in "MyPods and Boomsticks", except there, the setting was the living room, and Bart was writing, "I will not bring the chalkboard home.")
  • In the Tonight Someone Dies episode "Clown in the Dumps", Bart writes "Spoiler alert: Unfortunately, my dad doesn't die."
  • In "The Kids Are All Fight", featured Lisa writing on the blackboard, "I will not pay my sister to do my punishment" while Bart watches.
  • In the 25th-season premiere "Homerland", Bart writes, "25 years and they can't come up with a new punishment?"
  • "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs", the first episode after The Simpsons Movie ran in theaters, had Bart writing, "I will not wait 20 years to make another movie."

    Other Couch Gags of Note 
This could take a while ... maybe enough for a chorus line!

  • Recent episodes now have had gags done by guest animators:
  • Many chalkboard gags satirize current or meta-related events in real life:
    • "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish": "It's potato, not potatoe."note 
    • "Dead Putting Society": "I am not a 32-year-old woman."note 
    • "Homer the Heretic": "I will not defame New Orleans."note 
    • "Homer's Barbershop Quartet": "I will never win an Emmy."note 
    • "Secrets of a Successful Marriage": "Five days is not too long to wait for a gun."note 
    • "Lisa's Sax": "I no longer want my MTV."note 
    • "The Trouble with Trillions": "I will not demand what I'm worth."note 
    • "Natural Born Kissers": "I was not the inspiration for 'Kramer'."note 
    • "D'oh-in' in the Wind": "No one cares what my definition of 'is' is."note 
    • "Mayored to the Mob": "'The President did it' is not an excuse."note 
    • "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday": "I will not do the Dirty Bird."note 
    • "Little Big Mom": "I will not create art from dung."note 
    • "A Tale of Two Springfields": "I will not plant subliminal messagores."note 
    • "Lisa the Tree Hugger": "I am not the acting President."note 
    • "New Kids on the Blecch": "I will not buy a Presidential pardon."note 
    • "Bye Bye Nerdie": "I will not scare the Vice President."note 
    • "She of Little Faith": "I do not have a cereal named after me."note 
    • "Half-Decent Proposal": "I will not bite the hand that feeds me Butterfingers."note 
    • "The Sweetest Apu": "I will never lie about being cancelled again."note 
    • "Homer of Seville": "The Wall Street Journal is better than ever."note 
    • "The Squirt and the Whale": "South Park — we'd stand beside you if we weren't so scared."note 
    • "Judge Me Tender": "End of Lost: It was all the dog's dream. Watch us."note 
    • "500 Keys": "It's Kristen Schaal, not Kristen Schall."note 
    • "Replaceable You": "It's November 6th—how come we're not airing a Halloween show?"note 
    • "Homer Goes to Prep School": "I will obey Oscar® campaign rules from now on."note 
    • "Love Is a Many-Splintered Thing": "I was not nominated for 'Best Spoken Swear Word'."note 
    • "Four Regrettings and a Funeral": "We'll really miss you Mrs. K."note 
    • "Married to the Blob": "Judas Priest is not death metal."note 
    • "How Lisa Got Her Marge Back" has Principal Skinner writing "Never lose a bet to Bart Simpson" on the chalkboard while Bart watches.
  • The Couch Gag for "A Test Before Trying" was done in the style of a movie trailer, depicting the family running to sit on the couch against all odds.
  • "Barthood"'s Couch Gag is done by rotoscoping, done in the style of Rotoshop (the software used for Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, two films directed by Richard Linklater). Homer fears that they'd be "Roto-Rootered" for the entire episode, and Bart complains about feeling sick from it, leading Lisa to write the gag off as "a noble experiment that failed".

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