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YMMV: The Simpsons

  • Acceptable Targets: The elderly.
    • In the first several seasons both political parties, with jokes about how Republicans were Evil and Democrats were Incompetent. The bashing of conservatives versus the lionization of democrats is relatively new.
    • Arby's Restaurant is also considered fair game.
    • Hell, almost everything is acceptable at one point or another.
  • Accidental Aesop: Homer's Enemy: "Don't let your jealousy consume you and prevent you from accepting apologies from people who genuinely want to befriend you". The intentional Aesop is "Being the Only Sane Man actually sucks".
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Homer's Enemy. Even though Frank Grimes has worked extremely hard in his life, he also comes off as a myopic pedant and a hard worker working for all the wrong reasons- Considering how he attempts to work and function in a society that is possibly morally and ethically broken beyond repair and is just asking for it, and how he looks at what Homer and his family has as "normal", and is pure straight out jealous of him, he also reeks of Epileptic Trees of self entitled, self pitying, and uninsightful idiots that believe that playing the same Idiot Ball game of materialistic society will make them the kings of the Idiot Ball, instead of saying "Screw the money, I have standards." Plus it also doesn't help that Springfield was mentioned and is constantly shown in infamous light in all of America, episodes PRIOR to his employment in "America's Crudbucket." Even though Homer is portrayed as stupid, Grimes' brand of stupidity got him what he deserved.
  • Anvilicious: Most of the later plots/subplots involving Lisa (though the only episode that had Lisa as a Soapbox Sadie that most fans don't object to is "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy," as the family calls her out on her activist behavior and she doesn't win in the end).
    • Some argue that the show becomes this when it discusses politics, though for others it may be a case of Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
    • One of the worst Soapbox Sadie Lisa episodes was "Lisa the Skeptic", in which Lisa was extremely emphatic that religion and science cannot coexist, despite her consistently showing religious beliefs from the past (earlier) episodes.
  • Base Breaker: Really depends on the writer (and what season you watch).
    • Homer Simpson. He's a lovable not-too-bright jerk with a heart of gold or a Villain Protagonist-cum-jerkass with no respect for anyone, not even his own family.
    • Marge is this, mostly due to her constant meddling and interfering in things that aren't her business and never learning from her mistakes. Whether she makes up for this by being a decent mother and the show's occasional voice of reason is debatable, as is whether her negative qualities are funny or even tolerable.
    • Lisa, due to her constant preaching over moral issues and jerkass behaviour and yet acts like she's got the moral high ground. Her Flanderization and Creator's Pet status certainly didn't earn her any fans.
    • Comic Book Guy, after Flanderization turned him into a Straw Fan. The debate is over whether or not he's actually funny as one.
      • Many fans' problem with him is that most of the writers apparently believe every single fan is like him. That or they use him as a way to ignore valid criticism of the show's quality.
      • That, and some of his deflections are a blatant Take That to anyone who dislikes the recent seasons.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Homer's "The Land of Chocolate" Imagine Spot in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk".
    • In "Simpson Tide", in the middle of UN negotiations, the Russian ambassador reveals that the Soviet Union never broke up, and was only pretending to have dissolved. Cut to Red Square, where the floats in a parade all abruptly stop, and open up to reveal they were concealing tanks, Germany is no longer untied, and Lenin rises from the dead, moaning "must... crush... capitalism".
    • In "The Cartridge Family", the episode where Homer buys a gun, he brings it into the Kwik-E-Mart, which causes Apu to believe that he is going to rob him. He denies this, but then fantasizes what life would be like if he did rob the store, which somehow leads him to become a State senator (sitting in a rocking chair and sporting a monocle, no less) and for Marge to be a go-go dancer as a 60s-inspired jaunty tune nonsensically plays.
  • Bizarro Episode: The "Treehouse Of Horror" episodes are this by design. "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", "Saddlesore Galactica" and "Moe Goes from Rags to Riches" may also count.
    • Apart from having a title in Spanish, El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of our Homer in English) is mostly centered around Homer tripping from eating extremely hot peppers.
    • "Missionary: Impossible" is mostly set on a remote island, and ends with the reveal that it was all a Show Within a Show on FOX.
    • "Das Bus": The whole episode is a Lord of the Flies parody set on a tropical island, and ends with James Earl Jones saying there isn't really an ending, so let's just say Moe saved them.
    • "Behind the Laughter", the 11th Season finale: It turns out the Simpsons were all actors playing themselves on the show, and that they had nearly broken up and stopped work on the show.
    • "Simpsons Bible Stories": The episode ends with the Apocalypse descending upon Springfield. As the Flanders ascend to Heaven, the Simpsons literally go to Hell.
  • Broken Base: The first two seasons. Were they really the "good old days" of the show or just so rife with Early Installment Weirdness and horrid art and bizarre animation that it's hard to watch them again and take them seriously, considering how much the show has changed?
    • When exactly did the show stop being watchable (if at all?): after the first five seasons (when the original writers left or were promoted to producers), after the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter, after "You Only Move Twice", after "Homer's Enemy," when Mike Scully took over as showrunner, when the 1990s officially ended, when shows like South Park, Futurama, and Family Guy made the scene, after "Saddlesore Galactica," after Maude got Killed Off for Real, after "Homer vs. Dignity"'s panda rape, when Al Jean took over in season 13 and made it worse than seasons 9 to 12, after "The Boys of Bummer" aired, after the movie came out, when "That '90s Show" aired, or when the show switched to high-definition?
      • Latin American viewers are divided in regards about the new voice actors (changed in 2004).
    • In the same vein, should the show keep making new episodes? Many fans who don't like the new seasons still don't want to see it go off the air, and some of the people who do like them would rather see FOX or Matt Groening Mercy Kill the series before it stops being good.
    • "Homer's Enemy" (the episode with Frank Grimes): Brilliant deconstruction of the show's absurdity, or painfully and humorlessly dark? The only thing fans agree on is that the episode is only accessible to long-time viewers.
    • Season 8 is felt to be better than Seasons 9-24 but worse than Seasons 1-7, whether it's Seasonal Rot or fun despite its flaws is debated. Seasons 9 and 10 are either considered flawed but better than later seasons, or the moment the show went downhill. The only thing fans seem to agree on is that Season 9 is the better of the two (and probably where the series should have ended).
      • Speaking of the later seasons, Seasons 11 through 25 are generally agreed to be worse than seasons 1 through 8, but beyond there's little consensus on how they compare to each other.
    • Who was the better showrunner: Al Jean or Mike Scully? For Jean's episodes as showrunner, which were better: Seasons 13-16 when he tried to emulate Seasons 1-8, or Seasons 17-24 when the show has turned into a watered-down Family Guy and South Park?
    • Over "Saddlesore Galactica", bordering on Love It or Hate It. Many fans hate this episode and call it one of the worst ever, but a fair number enjoy it because it spoofs the Flanderization and absurd plots that started to crop up in Season 9. The other "meta" episodes, like "Behind the Laughter", are also divisive-some fans think the self-referential humor is just obnoxious and dull, while others like that the show has a sense of humor about itself, but none of them are as controversial as "Galactica".
    • In "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," a focus group asks kids if they'd prefer Itchy and Scratchy to have more down-to-earth plotlines like people have every day or wacky, far out adventures with robots and magic powers. The kids answer enthusiastically to both options. The writers commented that at the time they felt stuck between these two avenues of the fanbase, with half the fans wanting the show to stay grounded in reality, others wanting it to get crazier and crazier.
  • Canon Sue: Lisa, to some people. Suffice to say, she can be a divisive character. It doesn't help that every instance when she's shown as flawed or in the wrong is a blatant attempt to get the viewers to feel sorry for her.
  • Crazy Awesome: Groundskeeper Willie, a drunk, insane Scottish janitor who fistfights with animals and apparently thinks movies are real.
  • Creator's Pet: This is mainly the reason why Lisa has hit this status, as Matt Groening has said that she's his favorite character, and does everything he can to prevent her from looking bad, even if Homer and Bart, as well as most of the characters have become complete losers.
    • Marge also falls into this, since many of the male characters give her a lot of respect and often bend to her whim, along with the fact that she nearly always gets her way. Much like Lisa, she's also frequently portrayed as the only sane person or a victim, even if she's obviously in the wrong or doing the right/less wrong thing for the wrong reasons.
  • Creator Worship: Matt Groening gets little of the blame for the series' decline (having only a "Creative Consultant" credit for most seasons) while James L. Brooks gets none (likewise having no real involvement in the series for most of its run). Al Jean and/or Mike Scully usually get blamed for running the show into the ground (or any outside circumstances, like hiring writers who can't capture the magic of the early seasons, excessive celebrity cameos, or Phil Hartman's death, which means no more Troy McClure or Lionel Hutz appearances).
  • Crowning Music of Awesome:
  • Designated Hero: Lisa, especially when an episode focuses on her activism: She often gets involved in morally ambiguous causes, or joins activist groups for the wrong reasons, and acts like an insufferable holier-than-thou Jerkass even if she knows she's wrong.
    • Homer used to be a well-intentioned moron, but has been an outright Jerkass for the last 10 or so seasons, in part because he's become much crueler towards his family.
    • Mona Simpson: She abandoned her family to live on a hippie commune and never even acknowledges her responsibility for what she did, or the legal danger she puts her family in by staying with them.
  • Designated Villain: Bart, in later episodes; Homer, in a lot of the Mike Scully episodes where he's written as a childish jerk.
  • Dork Age: The earlier seasons ruthlessly mocked sitcom conventions, but the more recent ones generally play them straight, and the remaining satire tends to be in the form of blunt exposition, rather than being worked into the script.
    • The episodes from Mike Scully's time as showrunner (Seasons 9-12) are accused of this due to Flanderization, crazy off-the-wall plots (and for some, too much focus on Homer), and, in Season 11, the show trying to be just like more "in-your-face" satirical cartoons like Family Guy and South Park just to keep up. There were also issues with tone: Some of the episodes, including the infamous "The Principal and the Pauper" and "Saddlesore Galactica", tried to mock their own absurdity, but the parody was so subtle that it came across as Flanderization and bad writing.
    • Al Jean's time as showrunner, Seasons 13-present: His first few seasons were attempts to imitate Seasons 3 through 7, but to some the show became a milder clone of Family Guy and South Park around Season 17. The heavy reliance on recycled plots, dated pop-culture references, and celebrity cameos throughout hasn't helped. Depending on the Writer characterization has also become a problem, especially with Homer and Bart: characters' personalities have been reduced to whatever the plot of the week requires.
      • This might be a consequence of the show's age, but reusing plots has also become a problem: Homer's health, the Simpsons' teetering marriage, and Lisa's Wangst have all been beaten to death over the years, but keep coming back regardless.
  • Double Standard: Lisa can be just as petty and mean as Bart, but generally gets rewarded for her behavior, and the show usually tries to justify her actions, while he gets punished. The good side of this is that whenever Lisa gets punished, it's usually an awesome episode because it stands out.
  • Ear Worm: "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" from the episode "Dude, Where's My Ranch?"
    • Duff Beer for me/Duff Beer for you/I have a Duff/You have one too
    • Moe, Moe, Moe! How do you like me, how do you like me? Moe, Moe, Moe! Why don't you like me, nobody likes me...
    • See my vest/see my vest/made from real gorilla chest/See this sweater/there's no better/than authentic Irish Setter...
    • Overlapping with Stylistic Suck is Kirk Van Houten's demo tape. Can I borrow a feeling?/Could you lend me a jar of love?/Hurtin' hearts need some healin'/Take my hand with your glove of love!
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Sideshow Bob. Originally he was going to be a one-shot villain, but has kept coming back. He has been voted the 66th greatest villain of all time. It helps that Kelsey Grammer is his voice actor.
    • Hank Scorpio has one hell of a following despite being in only one episode. It doesn't hurt that he was an Affably Evil super-villain who viewed his employee's concerns over his own making him an all-around likable character.
    • And let's not forget Ralph Wiggum, whose one-liners are considered some of the funniest lines in the show.
    • Crazy Cat Lady for the win! It's amazing what you can do with what is basically an exaggerated character stereotype.
  • Evil Is Cool: Hank Scorpio is a fan favorite villain for being a criminal mastermind who was also a Benevolent Boss to Homer.
    • Mister Burns is one of the most evil characters in the show, but being Born in the Wrong Century and taking joy in his wickedness has provided some really interesting quirks that make him stand out to other antagonists, especially in the early seasons.
  • Fan Favorite: Homer, without question.
    • In the early days of the series, Bart was popular with the kids.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many, given the show's longevity and fans' strong preference for the older seasons:
    • "The Principal and The Pauper", for messing with continuity: "Principal Skinner" is revealed to be a street punk named Armin Tamzarian, who began impersonating Skinner when sent to deliver the news of the real Skinner's death in Vietnam to his mother.
    • "That 90s Show", also for continuity snarls: The episode "documents" the Simpsons' lives in the 90s, in the process eliminating Seasons 1 through 11 from the show's canon and rewriting how Homer and Marge got together. The episode may have been upgraded to Canon Discontinuity, since newer seasons rely on the old canon where Homer and Marge got together in the late 70s-early 80s.
    • "Homer Vs. Dignity", for the panda rape scene and recycled plots.
    • "Brother From Another Series" realized that Bob had nowhere to go as a villain after trying to nuke Springfield, and gave him a pretty graceful sendoff, featuring his redemption and reconciliation with Bart. Later Bob episodes largely ignored this, and Bob suffered major Villain Decay as a result, leading some to declare it "the last Sideshow Bob episode."
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Seymour and Edna, to the point where "Nedna" received a lot of backlash.
  • Flame Bait: Ask any internet forum which of The Simpsons, South Park, Futurama, and Family Guy is the best — or better yet, ask them when The Simpsons stopped being worth watching. You'll be surprised how many people think the show is still good after all these years.
  • Franchise Zombie: Matt Groening said The Simpsons would be around a couple more seasons, but couldn't guarantee anything beyond that because Seasonal Rot was becoming a real concern and he wanted the series to end on a high note. That was in 1999.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: It has its own page.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Lisa. She's a Base Breaker in the United States, but Lisa is very popular with Japanese audiences, due to her studiousness and Buddhism. Promotional material for The Simpsons in Japan even portrays her as the main character.
    • The show is extremely popular abroad-French Canadians love the seriesnote .
    • In South America, this is the only non-Latin show to air nowadays in over-the-air channels (aside from occasional Brazilian soaps). The Simpsons Movie confirmed the show's popularity, being the highest-grossing movie of 2007 in Argentina, as well in the rest of the region, bringing back audiences to theaters after decades.
      • Note that the "classic" Latin American dub (until season 15) was notable among imports for replacing most North American-centric references to more localized ones (as well as translated names). This largely ended after the (infamous) voice actor "switcheroo", with more recent episodes becoming less popular.
  • Growing the Beard: Seasons 2 and 3, as the show became funnier and the characterization improved while the animation issues from Season 1 were resolved.
    • Late season 2 onward especially, as the show became less and less Bart-centric and embraced the idea of being a wider ensemble piece.
  • Hell Is That Noise: That horrifying background music at the end of "Rosebud" when a cyborg Mr. Burns and his faithful robot dog Smithers run off into the sunset in the year 1,000,000 A.D., which was also used at the beginning of "Bart's Girlfriend" when the kids try to ditch going to church (and a Jewish kid named Schlomo ditching his violin lesson).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "Fear of Flying", Homer didnít want Marge to go to therapy because he thought it would turn her against him. In "Specs and the City", he finds out that she is in therapy and he is her biggest complaint.
    • In "Lisaís First Word", Bart spent the entire episode resenting Lisa because he felt that his parents were disregarding him as she was getting all the attention. Eventually, he is about to run away until Lisa says her first word, "Bart". Then comes "Lisaís Sax" where that is exactly what happens.
    • In "Beyond Blunderdome" guest star Mel Gibson is genuinely shocked when audiences react badly to his ultra-violent climactic blood bath ending to his remake of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (see What an Idiot! below). A few years later Gibson's life and career would spiral out of control when he couldn't cope with general audiences reacting badly to his very bloody 2004 Crucifixion film The Passion of the Christ, seriously damaging his reputation in the process as he suffered a serious nervous breakdown complete with alcohol relapse and the end of his long standing marriage to Robin Moore.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The Flaming Homer/Moe episode centers around a mixed-drink spiked with cough syrup. Flash forward a few years and we have Purple Drank.
    • In an earlier season, after Maude dies Ned goes on a date with Edna Krabappel, who only dates Flanders to get back at Principal Skinner. Come Season 23, the two (Ned and Edna, not Edna and Skinner) are now married. however Edna was killed off in 2013.
    • The season 11 premiere "Beyond Blunderdome" had Mel Gibson (voicing himself) and plays on the idea that he is so admired by the public that it makes him uncomfortable. With The Passion of the Christ and news about his anti-Semitic and sexist remarks, it looks as if Mel's got his wish. It's both funny and depressing.
    • In the Treehouse of Horror short "Clown Without Pity", a naked Homer runs screaming from his bathtub to escape a harpoon-wielding demonic Krusty the Clown doll and passes by Patty, Selma, and Marge as they have lunch together. Patty puts down her fork and says, "There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality." Years after this throwaway joke in a non-canonical Halloween episode, Patty came out of the closet.
    • A similar situation happened in "Itchy and Scratchy Land" where John Travolta is shown reduced to working as a bartender in a 70s themed bar. The episode was released in the same year that Pulp Fiction came out, which single-handedly resurrected Travolta's career with a scene set in a retro-themed diner.
    • Despite the touching undertones and Bart earning his happy ending, the fact that Bart is still in the fourth grade after all these years makes the events from "Bart Gets an F" seem senseless.
    • In "You Only Move Twice" Homer is disappointed when his Benevolent Boss, Hank Scorpio, gives him the Denver Broncos as a gift instead of the Dallas Cowboys. The Denver Broncos are seen practicing on the Simpsons' front lawn, and are portrayed as bumbling and laughably bad at football. The NFL season after this episode aired the Denver Broncos would win the Super Bowl, and then do it again the season after that.
      • After the 2014 Super Bowl where the Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks by an embarrassing score of 43-8, the clip of Homer bemoaning owning the team received renewed interest online.
    • In "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie", Bart watches a trailer for the fictitious Star Trek film Star Trek XII: So Very Tired, which lampoons the increasing age of the TOS cast. In May 2013, the 12th Star Trek film, Star Trek Into Darkness, got released and also features the TOS crew, albeit played by much younger actors.
    • The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase is a lot funnier when you realize that (a) Matt Groening originally had a Simpsons spin-off planned called Tales of Springfield (it was rejected and reworked as the season seven episode "22 Short Films About Springfield"), and (b) Seth MacFarlane (Matt Groening's friend and professional rival) created a spin-off of his Simpsons knock-off animated sitcom: The Cleveland Show.
      • The Chief Wiggum, PI segment is based on the premise of a successful TV show creating a spinoff featuring "exciting, sexy adventures" amid the "colorful backdrop" of The Big Easy. 17 years later, cue the debut of NCIS: New Orleans.
    • In the Season 2 episode "Three Men and a Comic Book", Homer and Bart discuss how The Cosby Show was being taken off the air to keep it from becoming stale, and joke about how they would "run that sucker into the ground" if they were in Cosby's position. More than 20 seasons later, The Simpsons is still on the air and, in some viewers' eyes, feels as if it's been run into the ground.
    • Matt Groening criticized the episode "A Star is Burns" because he promised his sitcom would be different from others and one of the sitcom conventions he hated is the crossover episode that plays out like a 20-odd minute advertisement for another show, even removing his name from the credits in protest. Since then, The Simpsons has had an X Files crossover ("The Springfield Files"), a brief scene in "Hurricane Neddy" where Jay Sherman ends up in a mental hospital endlessly saying his catch phrase "It stinks!", a 24 crossover ("24 Minutes"), and two upcoming crossovers: a Terminator parody featuring the characters from Futurama and a Family Guy parody where The Simpsons bond with The Griffins.
      • The Family Guy one is actually a double length episode of Family Guy (even though it's set in Springfield instead of Quahog!), and not a parody. Preview stills have shown Bart teaching Stewie to use a skateboard, and Homer and Peter fighting in the street over which beer brand is better (Duff, as Homer regularly drinks at Moe's, or Pawtucket's, the brand served at the Drunken Clam and who Peter works for).
    • The 1996 episode "Two Bad Neighbors," in which former president George H.W. Bush moves next door to the Simpsons, includes a scene where Homer tries to trick Bush into opening his door by propping up two cardboard cutouts of his sons Jeb and "George Bush, Jr." According to the Season 7 DVD commentary, the writers (and the mid-90s audience) had no idea at the time that there actually was a George Bush, Jr., and figured that Homer was just being stupid by making up a name on the spot.
    • "How would you like it if twenty years from now, someone made fun of things you did?"
    • Remember that Bonestorm commercial that started out with a couple kids playing a fighting game where you fight a tank? Enter Akatsuki Blitzkampf, a Japanese doujin fighting game where one of the bosses is literally a tank.
    • Remember Yvan Eht Nioj? Well it seems Katy Perry may or may not have devised a similar plan for the marines...
    • Back in the very first Treehouse of Horror, Bart makes a comment on the first Friday the 13th film, saying that "it's pretty tame by today's standards." In wake of much more controversial adult animated shows like Beavis and Butt-Head, South Park, and Family Guy, The Simpsons has often been thought of as "tame" by modern audiences.
    • In the old Konami arcade, one of the enemies are donuts in the Dream Land level. Cut to the Season 9 episode "Simpson Tide", it begins with Homer's dream he's on the Planet of the Donuts.
    • The scene in Homerpalooza when Homer, worried about being out of touch with the music scene, revisits his old favourite record store ('Good Vibrations', since renamed to 'Suicide Notes'). When he mentions the Us Festival being sponsored by 'That guy from Apple computers', the Gen X cashier holds up a music CD and sardonically asks "What computers?" - Amusing at the time as an example of Homer being out of touch. Funnier still decades later, after the rise of iTunes, the iPod, the iPhone...
    • "And the secret ingredient is... love? Who's been screwing with this thing?"
    • In "Lisa's Sax", a parody bumper for The WB had Michigan J. Frog lamenting on how nobody watches the network. In 2006, The WB went off the air.
    • The episode "Trouble With Trillions" had Homer, Burns and Smithers landing in Cuba at the same time Fidel Castro is considering the possibility of abandoning Communism. About fifteen years later, Washington and Havana restored diplomatic ties, with many pointing that socialism in the island may have its' days counted once the embargo is lifted.
      • The fact that Castro took the trillion dollar banknote while leaving the trio to their fates contrasts with many Cuban exiles and Tea Party supporters who have decried the detente as the deal was ambiguous regarding any important changes to Cuba's political system.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Smithers' relationship with Burns can be seen in this context. Originally, Smithers' character was supposed to be an exaggeration of the Yes-Man (the sycophantic worker who always sucked up to his boss) and was later his personal servant when Burns was shown more at home than in his office at work, but then came gags like Smithers going to The Maison Derriere just to please his parents — and being disappointed in it — in "Bart After Dark," Smithers cringing and moaning as female strippers gyrate all around him in "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love," Smithers imagining Mr. Burns jumping out of a cake in only a sash and seductively singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. Smithers" (as seen in "Rosebud"), Smithers having a computerized version of Mr. Burns on his desktop that says, "You're quite good at turning me on" (as seen in "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy"), Smithers' vacation at an island of men in "Homer the Smithers," and the "flying in through the window" fantasy (as seen in "Marge Gets a Job"), and soon, you have obsessive viewers wondering if Smithers is gay and in the closet or if he has a massive crush on his boss, regardless of gender.
      • Considering that recent episodes have Smithers openly admitting that he's gay (something that was even a plot point in one episode), it's probably the former.
    • Karl from Season 2 and Carl and Lenny.
  • I Knew It: There were quite a few people who called out that Krusty's father would be the one to die in the Season 26 opener, particularly due to Al Jean specifically saying that he was "an Emmy-winning" character, and Jackie Mason had been one of the few guest stars to win an Emmy for the show.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Bart, Homer, Lisa and Grandpa Simpson. Depending on the Writer, Nelson Muntz, Moe, and Milhouse sometimes qualify.
    • Mister Burns, whenever he tries to atone for what he's done (he usually gets rejected).
    • Frank Grimes is another example. He's had a god-awful life after being abandoned by his parents, was such a No Respect Guy that everyone laughed at his funeral, and has had to work with Homer's stupid antics.
  • Love to Hate: Sideshow Bob and Mister Burns are incredibly sinister and Laughably Evil.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sideshow Bob. He's devious, brilliant, manipulative, and of course funny. Though they always fail, his plans have included faking his own death and guilting Bart into coming to see his corpse so he can burn him in the cremation oven, impersonating a man about to be released from prison to escape and move in next to the family, stealing a nuclear bomb and holding the town hostage, rigging an election to become mayor of Springfield, and hypnotizing Bart into being a suicide bomber to kill Krusty. Those last two plans in particular are notable because they worked: his election scam was uncovered after he won the election, and his suicide bomber plan had him intervene when he was overcome with newfound love for Krusty.
    • Considering he's managed to outsmart Sideshow Bob at nearly every turn, Bart Simpson himself could very well qualify.
    • Hank Scorpio, no doubt. SPECTRE might've been able to actually accomplish something if they took some management lessons from this guy.
  • Magnum Opus: The entire show is this for most of the cast & crew, especially Matt Groening.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Sideshow Bob in all of his appearances tried to kill Bart, but he finally crossed the line when he decides to get people to hate Bart while he's on trial, fake his death, and, with the help of his whole family, burn Bart alive in a coffin being pushed into a furnace. Fortunately, he is caught and, along with the rest of his family, is sentenced to 87 years in prison.
      • He may have crossed it earlier in "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", when he tries to atom-bomb the entire city just so he can get rid of television.
    • Snake tries to run over Bart when he's with Eddie and Lou in a ride along. He ended up getting thrown through the windshield as his car caught in the narrow alleyway and stopped mere inches before he can hit Bart.
    • The kindergarten teacher's treatment of Bart, as seen in "Lisa's Sax". She is why Bart is the way he is today note . To specify, the teacher basically wrote off Bart as a lost cause because he didn't catch on to things as quickly as the other kids (fortunately, the kindergarten teacher who appeared on "Sideshow Bob Roberts" when Bart is forced to repeat kindergarten as per Sideshow Bob's mayoral order isn't the same one from "Lisa's Sax," meaning that the one from "Lisa's Sax" either quit her job, retired, was fired, or was let go due to the school's many budget cuts).
    • Mr. Burns also gets one when he blacks out the sun at the end of Season 6. Even Smithers thinks he's gone too far.
    • In Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble, Homer accidentally caused his father to make his kidneys burst because he wouldn't stop to let him go to the bathroom (even though that's physically impossible). When he's forced to give up one of his kidneys, he runs away in fear of dying. He later seemingly decides to face up to his fear and give one of his kidneys. However, he finally crossed it when he ran away from the hospital again, this time hoping that his father would die.
      • Jerkass Has a Point: His fear were pivoted by the fact Dr. Hibbert (and everyone else) outright lied to him about the dangers of the operation so he'd agree. When they can't make him donate willingly, he outright steals his kidney while he's unconscious. While it's Dirty Cowardice at its finest, would you trust your body in the hands of a quack that deceives and outright mutilates you without your consent?
    • The winemakers in "Crepes of Wrath" after they poured anti-freeze in the wine, and forcing Bart to drink it.
    • Patty and Selma have always hated Homer and made it clear since day one that they do (mostly because he's fat, ugly, and unworthy of being Marge's husband and the father of her children), but they crossed this line when they attempted to murder him when Homer and Marge were going to remarry in the later seasons. And outside of being blackmailed to pay for the wedding by Bart and Lisa, they suffer no repercussions.
      • In episodes such as "Mother Simpson", they are actually in glee when they believe Homer has actually kicked the bucket (even buying a tombstone just to add insult to injury, with the epitaph, "We are richer for having lost him"). They hate Homer to the point of wishing death upon him.
    • Lisa may have had one in "On A Clear Day, I Can't See My Sister": In retaliation for one of Bart's pranks, she takes out a restraining order against him and gleefully uses it to make his life a living hell even after he stops bugging her, forcing him to live in the yard and leaving him with permanent nerve damage.
      • Some people think she had one in "The Man Who Grew Too Much" when, during the confrontation with Sideshow Bob, she made a comment that could be interpreted as not caring about his life and only agreeing to save it for Marge's sake:
    Sideshow Bob: Now, Bart, I promised I wouldn't hurt you.
    Bart: *to Lisa* You did that for me?
    Lisa: More for Mom, but yes.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Dr. Marvin Monroe's very raspy voice. Which is why Matt Groening and the audience never liked the character.
  • Never Live It Down: Lisa's profile quote in the arcade game: "Embrace nothingness!" She only said it once in the actual show but many fans know her best for saying just that.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Hank Scorpio. Many fans love him even if they don't like Season 8, and he was so popular that the writers even considered making him the Big Bad of The Simpsons Movie.
    • When Marge joins the police, one of her fellow cadets is a twitchy Gun Nut who screams "Forget about the badge! When do we get the FREAKIN' GUNS?!"
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: With few exceptions, most Simpsons games are terrible. The arcade game and The Simpsons: Hit & Run, however, are regarded as classics, and the 2007 multi-platform game, despite camera issues has some some genuinely hilarious moments.
    • Also averted with the pinball machine The Simpsons Pinball Party, which pinball fans commonly regard as one of the 21st century's best.
  • Relationship Sue: Weirdly, a season 25 episode gives one to Comic Book Guy. Kumiko is a pretty Japanese manga creator who loves how outspoken he is. They get married by the end of the episode.
  • Scapegoat Creator: Everything wrong with the show post-Season 8 tends to be blamed on the showrunner: Mike Scully for seasons 9-12 and Al Jean for seasons 13 to the current one.
    • Scully also gets accused of ruining the show after season 12, either because he became an producer starting with Season 13, or because he did so much damage as showrunner that the show couldn't be saved.
    • A Vocal Minority of fans, especially those who think Seasonal Rot set in around Season 6 or 7, point the finger at the writing staff who left the show after season five (or in the early part of it, as "Cape Feare"note  is the last episode written by the original writers).
  • The Scrappy: As mentioned in Unintentionally Unsympathetic, Lisa might be the Only Sane Child with the whole townspeople being filled with idiotic jerks. But her alienation is often of her own doing with her self-righteous attitude and forcing others to fall in her beliefs.
    • Even Dr. Marvin Monroe's voice actor, Harry Shearer wanted the character removed from the show, mostly because of his annoying raspy voice which actually damaged Shearer himself.
  • Seasonal Rot: The general consensus is that the show stopped being good after either season nine or season ten (usually season nine, because, despite Mike Scully running the show, season nine did have some good episodes), but season ten was when Phil Hartman died (meaning no more Lionel Hutz or Troy McClure) and when it became obvious the writers were running out of ideas, though season eight is often cited as the last time The Simpsons created good episodes (though a lot of people feel that some of season eight's episodes weren't all that great, except for "You Only Move Twice", the episode with Hank Scorpio).
    • Very few fans like Season 11, and many feel it was the show's worst. The infamous episodes "Saddlesore Galactica" note  and "Kill The Alligator and Run"note  are felt to be the point where the show went past the point of no return. The rest of the season also relies heavily on bizarre plots and nonsensical twist endings.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: In the early days, this cartoon was criticized for being a kids' cartoon (even though the only reason Matt Groening made the show bright and colorful was to grab their attention, not make it a kids' show) that dealt with a lot of smutty and controversial content. These days, it barely (but occasionally) raises a blip on the Moral Guardian's radar, thanks to South Park and Seth MacFarlane's cartoons being far more shocking and controversial.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: "Homer's Phobia" points out that it's okay to be gay and homosexuals are people too. It also makes a note that overcoming prejudices is a gradual process that people can not realistically expect to occur overnight.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Seasons 10 to the present for some fans.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The Simpsons has a lot of one-shot characters that are quite popular, such as Jessica Lovejoy, Allison Taylor, Alex Whitney, Colin, and every guest spot child character. Many fans are unhappy that they only got a single appearance.
    • Also, Hank Scorpio. The man was a genuinely nice, down-to-earth... James Bond supervillain. He's every bit as awesome as he sounds, and "You Only Move Twice", the episode in which he appears, is generally regarded as the best episode of Season 8. He could have been a great recurring villain or Deal with the Devil character (he offers Homer a job in "You Only Move Twice"), especially as Mr. Burns became senile and ineffectual in the later seasons, but no luck.
    • Samantha Stanky is a good example to apply to this trope. Not only could she have been the one true Love Interest for Milhouse (and end Milhouse's embarrassing attempts to win Lisa over), but she could have been a second best friend for Bart, making the three of them a trio, and by possible association, the first true friend Lisa would ever have. Sadly, Samantha's prudish father sent her to an all-girl convent school, where she is locked away from the outside world, and hasn't been seen or referenced since.
    • After regaining his wealth and reconciling with Homer, Herb Powell could've been the Big Good of Springfield, given his status in contrast to Mr. Burns' Big Bad. He could've also been an excellent benefactor in helping the Simpson family in any of their recurring financial jams. However, by the time the writers decided to get Danny De Vito involved with the Simpsons again (now on the onset of the Great Recession), he was given one off-screen line confirming that he was poor again.
    • Mr. Bergstrom could've been the one teacher who cared about Lisa's education. However, as a substitute teacher constantly on-call by other schools, he had to leave, while Ms. Hoover would remain as Lisa's teacher a respond to her zest for learning with apathy.
    • The Nahasapeemapetilon Octuplets themselves could've been given individual quirks that distinguish them from each other (if they would get older and receive more screen time). However, any future incarnation would involve all eight of them working at the Kwik-E-Mart as eight mini-Apus, and being bossy and rude to any of their employees.
    • Even though Ling Bouvier was able to be adopted from China by Selma, both Patty and Selma are shown more frequently than her own baby (bring to question, who is watching their baby?). In terms of possible use, Ling could've served as a playmate for Maggie.
    • Maude Flanders deserves a special mentioning. Given Ned Flanders' reputation as the nicest neighbor in Springfield, and Marge's constant pleading for Homer to be on good terms with him, one would think that Marge and Maude would get along better than their husbands. Unfortunately, Maude is shown as nothing more than an overprotective mother and a religious fundamentalist who is more on par with the gossipy Helen Lovejoy, and has been critical and disapproving of Marge on separate occasions (including hiring by the Yakuza to stomp out her pretzel business). By Season 11, the writers decide to kill Maude off, mainly due to the dispute with her voice actress Maggie Roswell.
    • Mona Simpson. She loves Homer and regrets abandoning him, in contrast to unrepentant Eeyore-Jerkass Abe, so she could have provided a different perspective on his childhood, and her history of activism & radicalism could have made her an interesting partner or foil to Lisa.
    • Ruth Powers and her daughter Laura were introduced in season 4 as the Simpsons' new neighbors. Laura acted as Bart's crush and become something of an older sister to him at the end of her first appearance. In the next season, Ruth had her own episode where she became good friends with Marge and went on an adventure with her. They could have played a larger role in many Simpson's adventures, but aside from a few cameos, Ruth herself only made an appearance a decade later.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A lot of fans think that new episodes (and some old ones, like the one where Homer is blackmailed by Patty and Selma over a bad investment while Bart becomes a ballet dancer) are wasted, because typically they spend 5 or 10 minutes setting up things that seem that they will be the main plot of story, but later they are forgotten and rest of the episode has nothing to do with the beginning, while in older episodes the main plot was set during the beginning of the episode, not the middle of it.
    • The episode "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" starts with Marge yelling at Homer for not going to Lisa's award ceremony, Homer decides to prove her wrong and wants to make sure that he is in the auditorium before anyone else. This seems to be the main plot of the episode, but then it is forgotten and the main plot is about Marge and a bank robber and has nothing to do with Homer getting to Lisa's ceremony.
    • "Homer The Whopper" could have been a funny episode about the making of a superhero movie in the vein of "Radioactive Man", but instead focuses on the overused plot of Homer sticking to another diet (and failing it), with all the movie stuff happening in the b-plot.
    • The episode where Maude dies. It could have been a Tear Jerker Crowning Moment of Heartwarming episode (and it was a little bit, especially when Flanders briefly denounced his faith in God and met Rachel Jordan after going to church), but more than half of it was Homer setting up Ned with horrible new girlfriends (even though Homer wasn't being a jerkass about it; he was genuinely trying to help Ned out).
    • Mona Simpson's death, for similar reasons as Maude's: Her death comes out of nowhere and lacks gravity, especially since the funeral was off-screen, and it is quickly forgotten as the story progresses-the rest of the episode focuses on the Simpsons sabotaging Mr. Burns' rocket launch (a plot that could have easily been done without her death).
    • Many viewers felt that the first act plot of Season 19's "Husbands and Knives", starring Jack Black as the owner of the new comic book store across the street from The Android's Dungeon, was superior to the rest of the episode, which focused on Marge starting a franchise of women's gyms and Homer getting plastic surgery in fear that his newly-rich wife will run off with another man.
    • The episode "Simpsorama" didn't make a single comment about the different skin tones of the cast. While the Family Guy crossover already did this, it still feels strange that nobody seemed to notice, considering that Fry lived in that time period and nobody was portrayed as yellow.
      • Fry didn't get to do much in that episode. We even didn't get to see the events unfold when Professor Farnsworth asked him to team up with Homer in a nuclear powered experiment.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Some of the criticism of Seasons 9-present comes from the extremely high expectations fans had after the first 8 seasons.
  • Toy Ship: Mary Spuckler almost married Bart, due to the Spuckler family's backwards marital traditions.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: The Scully era (namely the episodes "Saddlesore Galactica" and "The Tale of Two Springfields") got routinely scathing reviews and a good amount of a Broken Base, but it has gotten praise by some as a brilliant surrealist, experimental take on all the cliches The Simpsons was dishing out. Some art critics have even called it a genuinely good work of post-modernism.
  • Uncanny Valley: The grotesque animation style of the early era episodes (including the Tracy Ullman shorts) and in some episodes in which the Simpsons are depicted in another medium (claymation, live-action, as drawn by John Kricfalusi, as drawn by Bill Plympton, CGI, Lego, Robot Chicken-style stop-motion, etc)
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Lisa often appears this way. Her constant whining about being ignored by her family and having no friends gets really annoying when you realize that she goes all Soapbox Sadie on everyone who doesnít share her interest while constantly reminding everyone who does share her interest that she is better than them. Even her complaints about being neglected fall under when you realize that her family repeatedly drop everything to help her when she is in trouble. Even Bart who Homer and Marge neglect in favor of her.
    Burns: So, what do you think of today's popular music scene?
    Lisa: I think it distracts people from more important social issues.
    Burns: My God, are you always on?
    • Frank Grimes from Homer's Enemy was supposed to be what happens when a normal person exists in the Simpsons universe, but went out in a jealous rage in front of Homer and his family even though he tries to reconcile with him. Furthermore, Frank is far from a "real" person in that his life is just exaggerated misery after misery, such as his parents abandoning him and waving goodbye all the way to losing a sweet position in the power plant to a dog. And Homer's annoying tendencies and stupidity were amped up a lot more than he usually was as if the writers were specifically trying to make Homer so obnoxious the viewers would have no choice but to sympathize with Frank (and even then Homer, and almost every other character except Mr Burns is sympathetic towards Frank, just his frustration towards Homer goes over their heads). But it's hard to feel sympathy when Frank is overly wound up already. Also, despite Homer's increased stupidity and obnoxious behavior, he was the only one who cared about Frank's well-being.
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • Bart is gaining shades of this due to his increasing Straw Loser/Butt Monkey role in recent episodes. Nelson as well for the same reason (and his incredibly crappy life has become more prominent), specially after he Took a Level in Kindness. Not to mention Milhouse.
    • Lisa was once this (and, in a lot of viewers' eyes, still is) ever since she went vegetarian and became a Soapbox Sadie.
  • Values Resonance:
    • "Bart The General" from Season one (despite the cruddy animation) still holds up its Aesop of "Violence begets more violence" (which Bart did mention at the end of the episode) and "Bullying is a major cause for concern in schools".
    • There's also "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" from Season 2, which is about media censorship, Moral Guardians being responsible for mediocre entertainment, and hypocrisy over censorship (Marge wanting Michaelangelo's David to be seen, despite hating cartoon violence and her anti-violence group branches out into censoring nudity because it's considered "indecent" by their standards).
    • Season 6's "Homer Badman" (where Homer is accused of sexually molesting a babysitter by a protest group and the resulting media circus makes Homer out to be a pervert) is, much like the movie Network, still considered a spot-on satire against how scandals (particularly ones centered on sexual abuse and corrupting young, innocent victims) are sensationalized by the media for the sake of ratings, despite that it was written long before the phenomenon was common. The writers acknowledged this in the DVD commentary, even arguing that things have gotten worse since this episode originally aired.
    • Season 7's "Much Apu About Nothing" is relevant today due to the growing concerns on illegal immigration and Arizona's laws.
    • "Citizen Kang", a short from the Season 8 Treehouse of Horror, is a troubling indictment of the American two-party system (and how nobody cares about third-party and fringe candidates) that still holds up today.
    • "Bart Star" from Season 9 looks very relevant today, thanks to childhood obesity being a problem and parents getting too involved with their children's extracurricular activities, particularly sports.
      • "Boys of Bummer," for all its hatred, is the same way, only replace "childhood obesity" with "bullying" and "suicide."
    • "Lard of the Dance" from Season 10, which is about the ongoing societal pressure that forces young girls to grow up too fast (usually by wearing makeup and provocative clothes or getting involved in drugs and sex before they're mentally and emotionally ready to deal with the consequences).
    • "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" is still relevant in its portrayal of how politicians use the media and elaborate photo ops (such as going somewhere that screams, "The American Dream" and showing people that they're just like them) to get undecided voters on their side.
    • "Last Exit to Springfield" (the episode where Homer blindly leads his workers to strike against Mr. Burns after Burns takes away their dental plan, which Homer needs so he doesn't have to pay for Lisa's braces out-of-pocket) is still relevant due to issues with unions and union laws. Even the 19th-century kid's line about how unions will become too corrupt and the Japanese will eat American companies alive has some weight to it these days with many people fearing that China will overtake America because of America's debt to that country.
    • "The PTA Disbands" is still fresh in 2012 due to budget cuts in American public schools, American parents worrying that their children aren't getting a good education, and home-schooling (Milhouse getting tutored at home during the strike) being an option for educating children.
    • "Homer's Phobia" and "There's Something About Marrying" have aged well, thanks to gay marriage, gay rights, and homophobia still being around and still being points of contention for a lot of people.
    • Despite Homer's line about "blowing smoke in [the President's] stupid monkey face" coming off as racist because of a black President (who got re-elected, though the episode in question was during Bush's presidency), "Weekend At Burnsie's" still holds up, since marijuana use and the push to have it legalized in a lot of states is still an issue.
    • "The Cartridge Family", which deals with gun rights, still remains extremely relevant, especially after the numerous mass shootings in the U.S and many other countries. since 2011-12 (though the scene of Bart playing William Tell with Milhouse with Homer's gun might be in bad taste these days). A part of its appeal is that the writers portrayed both sides of the argument even stating that the "real" aesop is "people like Homer shouldn't own guns".
    • In "Kamp Krusty" Kent Brockman refers to the anarchy at the camp as worse than Iraq and Afghanistan. While he was referring to the Gulf War in the 1990s and the Afghan War in 1979, this line holds up today with the War on Terror (though that was completely unintentional), the Arab Spring/Syrian Civil War and mos recently the Ukranian/Eastern Europe crisis.
    • "Radioactive Man" from season seven can be seen as this due to super hero movies being box office draws, as well as some of the highest grossing films over the past decade.
      • This is referenced in "Steal This Episode" and "Married to the Blob" when they see the new Radioactive Man movie that's a parody of The Dark Knight Rises and when Milhouse mentions he played Fallout Boy.
    • In DVD commentaries, the writers acknowledged their surprise that "Lisa the Beauty Queen" actually predates a lot of the modern-day disgust towards child beauty pageants.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Kang and Kodos are brother and sister.
  • Wangst: In later seasons. From all directions.
  • Weird Al Effect: Some of their various political parodies may fall into this for newer viewers who weren't around (or were too young to remember) to witness them.
    • In "Bart vs. Australia", there is a parody of Crocodile Dundee with a man going "think that's a knife? THIS is a knife". For newer viewers, the film from which the meme came is not so familiar, and therefore many people think back to this series instead.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit: A common complaint about the newer seasons is their over-reliance on using current events and pop-culture for laughs a la South Park and Family Guy, such as Mr. Burns' endorsement of Mitt Romney for President in 2012. Making things worse, these references tend to be dated the first time they appear on the show. Anvilicious political commentary has also become more common, almost all of it bashing Republicans.
    • Any episode involving a musician or band popular during the time the episode aired. "New Kids on the Blecch" with *NSYNC and "Lisa Goes Gaga" from season 23 come to mind.
    • This trope is blatant in season 15's "Co-Dependent's Day" when the family goes to see Cosmic Wars: Episode I, and it's a parody of the disappointment of Episode I. It would've been relevant in 1999 or 2000, but this episode was released in 2004. It also creates a Celebrity Paradox because Star Wars has been referenced by name dozens of times, and parodied.
    • In season 17's "See Homer Run", they did a parody of the California 2003 recall election... in 2005. It wasn't just a throwaway gag, it was the plot of the whole episode.
    • "Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson", a 2012 episode whose plot is a Take That at Glenn Beck's Fox News show... which had been cancelled the previous summer (not to mention the fact that South Park had done essentially the same thing in fall 2009, when Beck's show was generating far more buzz, and The Daily Show had done so repeatedly since November of 2009.)
    • Newer Treehouse of Horror episodes have become this as the pop culture they parody are already a few years old and spoofed into oblivion. "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" which aired in 2012 and spoofed Paranormal Activity, which was released in 2009 and "Treehouse of Horror XXII", aired in 2011 and spoofing Avatar, which was also released to theatres in 2009 come to mind.
    • "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" was an episode from 2000 about Homer discovering the Internet and using it to start a gossip page. This came maybe 2 or 3 years after the Internet had become mainstream, and a solid decade after computers had.
    • The Season 25 premiere, "Homerland", is a full episode parody of Homeland.
      • From the same season, Homer sings about "swag", of all things. While it's supposed to be a parody of older people trying to prove they are still relevant, it didn't quite have the result the creators were probably hoping for.
      • The season also had an episode simply titled YOLO, which aired in November 2013, LONG after "YOLO" stopped being relevant (and for those who want to point out that Saturday Night Live — another long-running comedy whose quality in recent episodes has been called into question — did the same on the season 38 episode hosted by Adam Levine and the season 39 episode hosted by Drake, the former was making fun of the "YOLO" fad with a music video about Paranoia Fuel and the latter was Drake [the episode host] apologizing for starting "YOLO" in the first place).
    • The season 25 episode "You Don't Have to Live Like A Referee" features a parody of Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials. Jared was in his prime in the early 2000s and hasn't been prominently featured in advertising since 2008.
  • What an Idiot: Has its own page.
  • The Woobie: Has its own page.
  • Writer Cop Out: Many people were excited for the premiere of Season 26, which had been hyped up for featuring the death of a major character. The character in question turned out to be Hyman Krustofski, a Satellite Character at best. A lot of people were colored disappointed by this and felt misled. The event was been compared to Family Guy's infamous "Life Of Brian" arc in terms of being a ratings stunt.

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