In the commentary for "The Crepes of Wrath", the writers note that the bit about adding antifreeze to wine was a parody of an incident where some wine was found contaminated with antifreeze, but that, obviously, the contamination wasn't deliberate. Except that the contamination was discovered when a winery started listing antifreeze as a business expense, and it was very deliberately added to make the wine sweeternote This is definitely dangerous, though not as dangerous as it sounds. Ethylene glycol is indeed poisonous, but when mixed with sufficient quantities of ethanol, it passes harmlessly into urine..
While the writers may have known that a torus is one of the contenders for the shape of the universe, Homer certainly didn't know that when he told Stephen Hawking about his theory of a doughnut-shaped universe.
Abe Simpson once recalls his father talking about America being the greatest thing since sliced bread. He then says that sliced bread had been invented the previous winter. It was just meant as an old joke, but given that he served in WWII and sliced bread was invented in 1928, the writers were surprisingly accurate with this one.
After Phil Hartman's death in 1998, his characters (Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure) were retired after the remaining episodes Hartman had recorded aired, only appearing in crowd scenes after that before ultimately being retired from the show altogether in season 12.
With Marcia Wallace's death in October 2013, the producers announced that the same thing is to happen to Mrs. Krabappel once the remanining episodes Wallace had recorded have aired.
This did happen to Lunchlady Doris when Doris Grau died, but years later, Tress MacNeille took over as the voice of her.
Adored by the Network: Perhaps a bit too much, to the point that some of the show's remaining fansnote as opposed to the ones who stopped watching after whatever season they last felt was a good season, like seasons 5, 7, 8, 9, or 10 want it to end so as to preserve the humor and not let it fall into Seasonal Rot.
The show has rapidly been losing this status due to a lot of factors: money (new episodes are now a net loss for FOX), other cartoons becoming popularnote Family Guy and Bob's Burgers, particularly. American Dad! is leaving for TBS in 2014 and The Cleveland Show got canceled in 2013, and FOX planning to revamp the Sunday night line-up). FOX refused to renew the show in 2011 until the cast and production staff agreed to pay cuts, and is now only renewing the series in one-season installments (renewals have previously been for two or more seasons at a time), with the renewal for Season 26, set to run from Fall 2014-Spring 2015, coming unusually late, in October 2013. In Summer 2013, while renewal talks were ongoing, Fox was courting cable networks to run Simpsons reruns (including the possibility of creating a cable network that airs nothing but The Simpsons and Simpsons-related documentaries). Fox's contract with their local affiliates prevents them from even offering the show to other networks while new episodes are in production, so going to cable or creating a dedicated Simpsons channel would mean the end of the series.
Cash Cow Franchise: Sales of merchandise, DVDs, and overseas syndication rights have grossed as much as $750 million a year.
"The Principal and the Pauper" has been controversial among the staff. Showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, as well as writer Ken Keeler, continue to defend this episode, but they appear to be in the minority. Groening has denounced it as one of his least favorite episodes, while Harry Shearer condemned it for mangling Principal Skinner's character. Shearer also alleged that even years after the fact, the writing staff acts like the episode never happened.
Fan Nickname: "Jerkass Homer" is the nickname that fans of the classic episodes give to post-Flanderization Homer. Lampshaded in "Mommie Beerest" when Homer says, "Duh, that's me! Jerkass Homer!" and again in "E. Pluribus Wiggum" with "Jerkass Homer brand cigars."
Frank Welker voiced Santa's Little Helper, Snowball, most of the animals and several humans from 1990-2002, at which point he left due to the voices reportedly starting to strain his throat (Welker as Santa's Little Helper was later replaced with Dan Castellaneta). His fellow The Transformers star, Chris Collins/Latta was also originally cast as Moe Szyslak and Mr. Burns, but was rejected and replaced with Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer, respectively.
The current voice of Minnie Mouse (Russi Taylor) is the voice of the purple-haired twins (Sherri and Terri) and fourth-grade nerd, Martin Prince.
Magnum Opus Dissonance: Ken Keeler has said that "The Principal and the Pauper", widely regarded as one of the worst Simpsons episodes, if not the worst, has been his best work in television, even though he has done more favorably received episodes on Futurama.
"Saddlesore Galactica"note That really weird, really derivative episode from season 11 about the magic elves as horse jockeys has been cited by many fans as the point in which the show stopped being realistic and started slavishly following in the footsteps of South Park and Family Guy and is often cited as one of the worst episodes ever. The DVD commentary, on the other hand, cited this episode as a piss take against wacky adult cartoons like South Park and Family Guy (and a piss take against the show itself recycling old stories and the fans who complain about them, hence the part where the Comic Book Guy points out that the Simpsons taking in a horse as a pet has been done before, with Homer asking if anyone cares what he thinks) and is often hailed as a brilliant work of surrealism and fourth-wall breaking.
Old Shame: On the DVD commentary for "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", the writers said they felt really bad about the line "They put all the jerks in Tower One!" after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.
The episodes "A Star is Burns" and "The Principal and the Pauper" have been cited as Matt Groening's least-favorite episodes (and the least-favorite episodes of a lot of fans).
The season one finale episode "Some Enchanted Evening"note The one where Homer and Marge have a romantic evening out while Bart, Lisa, and Maggie try to foil a female fugitive who had been hired as their babysitter — which in fact was supposed to be the show's first episode — caused Matt Groening a lot of grief in terms of overseas animation and coloring issues. There has been a long-standing rumor stating that if the following episode, "Bart the Genius" didn't come out well (which, fortunately, it did), then the show would at best have been held back until the 1990-91 television season, and at worst cancelled outright.
The Other Darrin: From seasons 11-13, all parts originally played by Maggie Roswell were played by Marcia Mitzman-Gaven, as Roswell was in the middle of a pay disputenote Roswell lived in another state and it was costing her a lot to be flown out just to record lines.
Doris Grau, the original voice actress for Lunchlady Doris, died during production of the season seven episode "Team Homer"note The episode where Homer creates his own bowling team while Springfield Elementary is put on a mandatory dress code after Bart's "Down with Homework" T-shirt causes a riot at school and was relegated to background scenes before being put out of sight — until the season 18 premiere episode, "The Mook, The Chef, The Wife, and Her Homer," where Lunchlady Doris returned, now voiced by Tress MacNeille.
Lampshaded on season 10's "Homer to the Max", when Homer comments that network TV loves airing cartoon shows because the producers pay the voice actors next to nothingnote which was true then, as the voice actors were in contention with FOX executives over money, and FOX threatened to have everyone in the cast fired and replaced with sound-alikes and Flanders (voiced by Karl Wiedergott for the sake of that joke) comes in and adds, "Plus, they can replace the actors and no one can tell the diddly-ifference."
Maggie Simpson has been "voiced" by Nancy Cartwright most of the time, but Elizabeth Taylor provided her first word of "daddy" in "Lisa's First Word" note which the staff came to regret, because they had to go through a lot of takes to get Taylor's "Daddy" to sound like it's coming from a one-year-old child and not a 20-year-old seductress.
Russi Taylor voices her in Bart's fantasy in "Bart Vs. Thanksgiving" and does her crying sounds in "Bart on the Road."
Artie Ziff was voiced by Jon Lovitz in "The Way We Was", "Half-Decent Proposal", "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner", and the recent Treehouse of Horror episode "Bart and Homer's Excellent Adventure,"note The story where Bart travels back to when Homer and Marge met in detention in 1974, and changes history to make it so that way Artie Ziff ends up with Marge. However, for his short appearance on "The Front" (which would be a foreshadowing to the events in "Half-Decent Proposal"), series regular Dan Castellaneta voiced Artie Ziff.
Mary Bailey (the governor of whatever state Springfield is in) was originally voiced by Maggie Roswell in "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", while she was voiced by Tress MacNeille in "Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade".
Lurleen Lumpkin was originally voiced by Beverly D'Angelo in "Colonel Homer" (and later reprised her role in "Papa Don't Leech"), but was voiced by Doris Grau in "Marge vs. The Monorail" (justified because Lurleen Lumpkin's life had gone to Hell after Homer traded her to a new manager, which included drug addiction, repeated trips to rehab, and homelessness).
Mona Simpson was voiced by three women: Glenn Close (in the three episodes which prominently feature her — including the Inception parody, "How I Wet Your Mother"), Tress MacNeille ("D'oh-in' in the Wind") and Maggie Roswell ("Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?", which featured a Mona Simpson that did not look like the one from later episodes).
Troy McClure, usually voiced by Phil Hartman, was briefly voiced by Dan Castellaneta in "Bart's Dog Gets an F" while Santa's Little Helper is "channel-surfing".
Russi Taylor usually voices Martin Prince, but in some early appearances, he was voiced by Jo Ann Harris.
In "The Tell-Tale Head", Jimbo Jones and Dolph Starbeamnote the bully with the red hair over one of his eyes had their voice actresses switched (Jimbo was voiced by Tress MacNeille while Pamela Hayden voiced Dolph). In all other episodes, Jimbo is voiced by Pamela Hayden (meaning that he shares a voice actress with Milhouse van Houten) and Dolph is Tress MacNeille. Pamela Hayden also voiced Dolph on a brief scene in "New Kid on the Block," when Kearney tries to hit on Laura, and Laura implies that Dolph and Kearney are gay (Dolph's only line in that episode was, "That chick's messin' with our minds.")
Fat Tony is usually voiced by Joe Mantegna, however in "A Fish Named Selma" he was voiced by Phil Hartman.
Several characters who were voiced by guest stars on their first appearance were later turned into recurring characters with a member of the regular cast taking over their voices. These include:
Akira, the Japanese waiter at Springfield's sushi restaurant, was initially voiced by George Takei (in "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Bluefish"), and afterwards by Hank Azaria.
Mrs. Glick, an elderly woman from the Simpsons' neighborhood, was originally played by Cloris Leachman (in "Three Men And A Comic Book") and then by Tress MacNeille.
Sylvia Winfield, a next-door neighbor to the Simpsons in early seasons, is initially voiced by Tracey Ullman and later by Maggie Roswell.
Roger Meyers Jr. was first voiced by Alex Rocco in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" note season two episode where Marge protests against cartoon violence after Maggie hits Homer with a mallet, then by Hank Azaria in "The Front" note season four episode where Bart and Lisa use Grampa Simpson's name to write "Itchy and Scratchy" episodes after watching a bad episode and claiming that they can do better while Homer goes to night school to make up a lost remedial science credit, "Lady Bouvier's Lover" note season five episode where Grampa Simpson dates Marge's mom — who falls for Mr. Burns — while Bart steals Homer's credit card to get an animated cel of Itchy and Scratchy, which turns out to be a poorly-made knock-off, and "Itchy & Scratchy Land" note season six episode where The Simpsons go to a theme park based on Itchy and Scratchy. However, Rocco returned to the role in "The Day the Violence Died" note season seven episode where Bart befriends a homeless man who is actually the original creator of Itchy the mouse who had his work stolen from him by Roger Meyers' dad, and "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" note season eight episode that introduced the fandom to Poochie the dog and provided a lot of TakeThats against whiny cartoon fans who immediately declare that a show is ruined forever if one change is made to it and Executive Meddling in the form of TV writers resorting to gimmicks to keep a moribund show alive.
Manjula, Apu's wife, was voiced by Jan Hooks when she first appeared as an adult in "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", and continued to be played by her for several years afterwards, but eventually Tress MacNeille took over the role (she had already voiced Manjula in her very first brief appearance as a child in a flashback in "Much Apu About Nothing").
Short Run In Peru: Al-Shamshoon, the Egyptian dub of the show, only lasted for 52 episodes, of which just 34 made it to air despite casting major Egyptian actors to do the voices. The poor reception was probably due to omissions and rewrites in the localization, such as cutting all pork and alcohol references, including all scenes at Moe's Bar, and giving Springfield a large Arab population.
The Other Marty: Christopher Collins originally voiced Moe in "Some Enchanted Evening" and Mr. Burns on "Homer's Odyssey," but his track was never actually used for the final cut of those episodes, and was replaced with Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer.
Show Accuracy/Toy Accuracy: For years merchandise almost always had Bart with a blue shirt instead of an orange one. This was done to deter counterfeiters (and possibly as a reference to the Tracy Ullman Show episodes).
Shown Their Work: Though the show does like to warp facts for laughs or to make an Idiot Plotnote as seen in "Bart vs. Australia" with the toilet flushing clockwise vs. counterclockwise because of the Coriolis effect. The Coriolis effect is real, but it has no influence over how water drains, so the whole plot is really just an excuse for Bart and the Simpson family to wreak havoc in another country, there are times where the writers do exhibit some signs that they know something. In "The Spy Who Learned Me", Homer sustains a concussion on the job. Smithers states that Homer must be given time off, in compliance with contemporary research. In recent years, sports leagues have legislated whole sets of precautionary and disciplinary rules involving players who suffer head injuries.
The "Robot Richard Simmons" scene from "Burns' Heir" was cut because the writers and test audience thought it wasn't all that great, but apparently, it was a rave at animation conventions and guest lectures at colleges.
Richard Simmons originally wanted to voice himself, but declined when he discovered that he would be voicing a robot version of himself.
"Kamp Krusty" and "Bonfire of the Manatees" were originally supposed to be plots for The Simpsons Movie, but the writers didn't know how to make them compelling enough for 90 minutes (and already had enough problems making them compelling for 30 minutes, which is why "Cape Feare" has the Overly-Long Gag of Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes).
Hank Scorpio, the Villain of the Week from Season 8's "You Only Move Twice", was such a One-Scene Wonder that the writers seriously considered casting him as the Big Bad for the film. The writers decided against it because they found that he was way too likeable.
The episode where Homer meets a big, bald mental patient who looks, acts, and is voiced by Michael Jackson (under a pseudonym due to contractual stipulations) was supposed to have a sequel where that same big, bald mental patient now thinks he's Prince and encourages everyone in town to be free and open with their sexualities. Because Prince refused to do it (after penning the script, which was considered too out-there for network TV), that script is now the only Simpsons episode that has been written, but never produced.
Before his death, Phil Hartman had pitched the idea of doing a live-action movie about his washed-up B-movie actor character on the show, Troy McClure.
Marge was initially planned to become The Alcoholic out of boredom during "You Only Move Twice", having nothing better to do in a house that can clean itself. This was deemed too depressing, so in the final episode, in a Development Gag she just takes occasional sips of wine while the viewer is assaulted by Scare Chords and dramatic closeups.
The writers originally considered having Skinner wear a toupee, but it was dropped as Groening thought toupee jokes were cheap and predictable. Despite this, one image from "The Simpson's Guide to Springfield" (specifically one relating to King Toots) did have Skinner's top hair fly off in a similar manner to a toupee when covering his ears from Willie's bagpipe playing. Also, one of the blackboard punishment gags is, "The principal's toupee is not a Frisbee."
William H. Macy was picked to voice Frank Grimes for the infamous season eight episode "Homer's Enemy," but due to scheduling conflicts, Hank Azaria's beforehand recorded voices were used instead.
In 1994, Groening envisioned a live-action Krusty Spin-Off starring Castellaneta. The pilot script (co-written by Michael Weithorn) would've seen Krusty get a talk show based in L.A. The project never moved beyond the writing stage due failed contract negotiations with FOX. Purportedly, another reason it was shelved is a subplot would involve Krusty's house being built on stilts and slowly being eaten by beavers, but Groening out found that it wold be prohibitively expensive to use either animatronic or trained beavers and lost interest.
Matt Groening once said that in the final episode, Marge was going to be revealed to have rabbit ears under her hair. This was scrapped due to inconsistencies and being deemed to surreal. This gag appears in the arcade game when Marge gets shocked.
Some other ideas that were dropped early on included Kang and Kodos being aliens that only Homer could see and the season six episode "Homer the Clown" actually being about Homer revealing that he is Krusty the Clown (as opposed to going to a clown college where he gets a job as a Krusty impersonator who appears at events that the real Krusty wouldn't touch with a ten-foot clown pole). The Kang and Kodos concept was dropped for being too surreal and the Krusty idea was phased out, as it would have royally screwed up the continuity, not unlike Principal Skinner's past as Armin Tamzarian or the entirety of "That '90s Show."
Back when The Tracy Ullman Show was searching for someone to do animated fillers, Matt Groening initially wrote material based on Life in Hell. When he realized that the licensing could have cut into his publishing rights, he immediately drew up a crudely-drawn family, named it after his family, and voila, that's how the longest-running, most influential and memorable series on American TV came to be.
There was supposed to be a season seven episode that dealt with racism called "Homer vs. Dr. Hibbert," but the writers ditched it after realizing how heavy-handed and preachy it was.
An episode parodying Scientology was drafted for season eight, but never produced as the writers feared that it would upset cast members who were Scientologists (such as Nancy Cartwright). Kinda funny, considering that South Park did a Scientology episode ("Trapped In The Closet") that did what the unmade Simpsons episode feared would happen (i.e., piss off a Scientologist who was a cast member on the show [Isaac Hayes, in South Park's case note Contrary to rumors, he wasn't outraged by it that he ended up quitting. Rather, he was a little annoyed by the portrayal).
Season eight's Very Special Episode "Homer's Phobia" was supposed to be called "Lisa Goes to Camp" in which Lisa finds an interest in kitschy collectibles and Bart gets into it too, only for Homer to worry about Bart's sexuality. The "Homer worries about Bart's sexuality" part was still there, but the rest of the story was changed to the story of Homer befriending the John Waters-esque antique store owner.
"Homer's Phobia" would have been the first Banned Episode in the show's history. Back in the 1990s, producers were wary over sitcom writers doing episodes dealing with homosexuality and homophobia, and when they saw the original script for "Homer's Phobia," they told the writers that they couldn't do it. It wouldn't be until FOX got a change in management that the episode would be made, albeit with some changes in dialogue for censorship reasons.
"Rosebud" originally had several darker scenes in Bobo's backstory, such as Bobo being involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination, and two more scenes before the robotic Burns finds Bobo, the first where Canadian troops invade and destroy Washington DC and find Bobo, the second where the earth is overrun by giant Redwoods and spotted owls. The scenes of Bobo's backstory, such as the one with JFK, were cut because the writers felt they were in poor taste, while the ending scenes were cut for time.
The original plot for "Insane Clown Poppy" dealt with Homer finding out he had a daughter with another woman out of wedlock. Al Jean didn't like this idea and they decided to make it Krusty's daughter instead.
Flanderization: Ned Flanders used to be only mildly religious, in that he was a typical "good American" who enjoyed going to to church on Sundays in earlier seasons; now he's a Bible-thumping Overprotective Dad. Other characters have been hit with it over the years.
Retirony: On the season 12 episode, "Homer vs. Dignity" (a.k.a, the one where Homer gets raped by a panda), Chief Wiggum tells his financial advisor that he's not going to save his money for the future because, like all cops on TV shows and movies, he'll be killed in the line of duty days before he retires.
Possibly counts as a Trope Codifier as well, since Wiggum constantly laments various people and things being "only two days til retirement".
Stupid Sexy Flanders: It feels like Ned Flanders is wearing nothing at all! Nothing at all! Nothing at all!
Think Unsexy Thoughts: Homer used this mantra whenever he was alone with Mindy (a new coworker he was infatuated with because she's basically his Distaff Counterpart, only with red hair, a slim figure, and the voice of Michelle Pfeiffer).
She used this as a mantra when in an elevator with Homer.
In Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade, when they get the new satellite dish and we get a shot of it going from the Earth to outer space, it's implied that they live in Springfield, Illinois, just shortly southwest of what looks like Lake Michigan.
However, recently Matt Groening stated that Springfield is in Oregon.
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Marge asks this of Lindsay Naegle, who is one of four such recurring characters in the series. Naegle's answer: She's a sexual predator
You Might Remember Me from...: Such trope pages as this one. Troy McClure (a washed-up B-list celebrity with an alleged sexual fetish for fish) would always introduce films, documentaries, and even two behind-the-scenes Simpsons episodes (the 138th episode spectacular and the episode featuring three pilots for spin-off shows) with this trope phrase and two fictional titles of movies/TV shows/specials, etc he's been in (such as "The Erotic Adventures of Hercules," "Zombie in the Endzone," "Mommy, What's Wrong With That Man's Face?" "2 Minus 3 Equals Negative Fun," "Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly," "Here Comes the Metric System," "five fabulous weeks of The Chevy Chase Show," "Alien Autopsy," "Smoke Yourself Thin," and "Get Confident, Stupid!")