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. 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 sometimes he will 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.
- 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!"
- 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:
- When the show was first put into syndication in 1994, many episodes from Seasons 1 to 5 used the couch gag from "Rosebud" (where the Simpsons find duplicates of themselves already on the couch). All episodes afterward usually retained their original couch gags.
- On the original airing of "Springfield Up", the opening sequence is cut (among other edits) in order to fill up time for the premiere of a new trailer for The Simpsons Movie. Subsequent airings use the couch gag from "Ice Cream of Margie (with the Light Blue Hair)" (wherein the family are depicted as cockroaches).
- For the episode "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs", the first episode of the regular TV series following the release of The Simpsons Movie, almost every element of the opening was changed to reflect events of the movie such as Springfield in ruin, the silo still lashed to the top of Homer's car, and Spider-Pig/Harry Plopper waiting for them on the couch.
- For the episode "To Surveil with Love", the opening credits were completely replaced by an animated music video set to "TiK Tok", though the gathering-on-the-couch gag still appears at the end.
- A live-action version of the sequence, originally made as a promo on British TV network Sky1 (which, perhaps not coincidentally, was also a NewsCorp property), was eventually used as an actual show opening on the season 17 episode "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife".
- Probably the most infamous of the couch gags was the one for "MoneyBART", storyboarded by subversive and reclusive street artist Banksy. It started with the typical intro (with 'Banksy' written over several billboards and walls, and Bart writing "I must not write on the walls", all over the room) ending with all the Simpsons on the couch. It then panned out to a stereotypical Korean sweatshop animating the show, with small barefoot children washing the cells in biohazardous material, kittens being ground up to stuff Bart Simpson plushies which are then carted off by a starving panda and packed in boxes sealed with the tongue of a dolphin head, and a person making Simpson DVDs by smashing out the center holes on the horn of a dying unicorn chained to a wall. Then the camera pans out to reveal the sweatshop being inside the 20th Century Fox logo, which has a decrepit, prison-esque look, finally panning out to the Simpsons' TV.
- If an episode is too short, a very long couch gag will start to play to fill time. Three noticeable examples include one where the family performs a chorus line while the living room turns into a circus,note one where the camera zooms out of their house and into outer space and keeps going until it zooms out of Homer's head again, and one where Homer is seen evolving from a single-celled organism.
Sometimes the writers enjoy meta-humor about the blackboard gags.
- In the episode "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 10th-season finale, Bart writes "I'm so very tired."
- For "Simpsons Tall Tales", the 12th-season finale, Bart writes "I should not be twenty-one by now," which he would be if he had been played by an actual ten-year-old boy 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; needless to say, 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, Bart writes "We'll really miss you, Mrs. K." 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 25th-season premiere "Homerland", Bart writes, "25 years and they can't come up with a new punishment?"
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