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 sweeter.note 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.
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.
In "Homer at the Bat", when baseball player Steve Sax is falsely arrested for murder, he asks if he gets one phone call, to which Lou responds, "You watch too many movies". While that line was meant to show the Springfield P.D. to be corrupt and incompetent, it's actually very truthful as the whole "one phone call" thing that's often showcased in movies and TV shows is very much a Hollywood myth. Whether or not you get a phone call is entirely up to police discretion.
After Phil Hartman's death in 1998, his characters (Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure, plus several One Shot Characters) 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. They still show up in the comics since a voice actor is not needed.
With Marcia Wallace's death in October 2013, the producers announced that the same thing is to happen to Mrs. Krabappel once the remaining episodes Wallace had recorded aired. She was later Killed Off for Real off-screen because it would have been even more awkward to explain her absence otherwise from scenes involving the school or Ned Flanders.
This did happen to Lunchlady Doris when Doris Grau died, but years later, Tress MacNeille took over as the voice of her.
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., and FOX revamping the Sunday night line-up. It's up in the air whether FOX will continue running new episodes of The Simpsons on their parent channel or channel hop to FXX, like Seth MacFarlane did with American Dad! to TBS.
In the United Kingdom, every network that had the rights to the show aired a lot of episodes soon after its BBC premiere. Not as much now, but there were some weeks in 2000 where 30+ episodes would be aired in a week.
After the show, along with 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, were acquired by The Walt Disney Company, showrunners have stated that Disney has been very supportive of the show, including ideas for more movies and spin-off series. Disney+ also heavily highlights and markets the show as one of their biggest marquee titles, and the short lived theatrical release of Onwardcame with a Simpsons short proceeding it.
Advertised Extra: To hype up "Pranksta Rap" promotional material for the episode prominently featured guest star 50 Cent. He ended up only appearing in one scene.
Approval of God: Doug McClure's daughter told executive producer Mike Reiss that her father was a big fan of the show, loved the character of Troy McClure, and would jokingly be called Troy McClure by his daughters.
"The Simpsons 138th Spectacular" was directed by David Silverman under the pseudonym "Pound Foolish".
In-show example: At the end of the power plant commercial, Mr. Burns is credited as "Alan Smithee".
Groening hated the episode "A Star Is Burns" accusing it of being nothing more than an advertisement for The Critic and after failing to have the episode cancelled, he attacked the episode in an interview calling it an abomination to The Simpsons. In turn, he refused to have his name in the credits.
Author Appeal: Mike Scully is a big fan of NRBQ, so a handful of episodes during his tenure as showrunner featured songs from the band (including one which was specially written for the show). He joked on the audio commentaries they were the "unofficial house band" of seasons 9-12.
Awesome, Dear Boy: The famously reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon guest-starred twice on the show, which was the first time a recording of his voice had ever been publicly released. Whilst he wanted to do the show in part because his son was a big fan, he also declined to perform a line where he called Homer a "fat-ass" because Homer was his role model and he didn't want to be seen to speak ill of him.
Because of the 9/11 attacks, the episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" was pulled from syndication, as the episode centered on Homer waiting by the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. When the episode returned from being banned, some prints cut out all the scenes of Homer at the Twin Towers, making the episode incoherent and very short. Other syndicated prints just edit out the line, "Sorry, they stick all the jerks in Tower One" and cut out the part where after Homer finally finds a bathroom in the second tower, he screams after seeing his car get towed (though that may have been a typical syndication cut — the kind where parts considered superfluous or too long are cut to make room for commercials). The original uncut episode is on the season nine DVD (with commentary from the writers on how the episode is now in bad taste thanks to 9/11, but it still has its moments that have stood the test of time). In the United Kingdom, this episode was planned to air on BBC Two for the first time on 28 September 2001, but ultimately was never shown on the BBC at all. Channel 4 (who won the rights to terrestrial broadcasts of the show from the BBC) and Sky One have both broadcast a censored version that removes as much of the Twin Towers as possible.
The later episode "New Kids on the Blecch", which aired seven months before the 9/11 attacks, was also temporarily pulled, and later edited to remove a scene involving the destruction of a tower (in this case, it was MAD headquarters).
The episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" was also pulled from syndication after Hurricane Katrina because of its references to New Orleans being a horrid, run-down hellhole. In the UK, Channel 4 did unknowingly air this episode around the time of Hurricane Katrina and ended up issuing a public apology for it after being barraged by complaints. For some reason BBC Two aired this episode once and once only, presumably for similar reasons.
The episode Stark Raving Dad, famous for its guest spot by the late Michael Jackson, was pulled from circulation following the broadcast of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland and two new allegations therein of grooming and sexual abuse by Jackson. It is the only episode to be left out entirely on Disney+. It did return to circulation on FXX in Fall 2019, but It was left off the network's 30th anniversary marathon that December.
In the UK, the episode "The Cartridge Family" was omitted from the Sky One broadcast because it showed a violent, town-wide soccer riot, addressed the issue of gun controlnote This issue is taboo in the UK, especially in light of the Dunblane Primary School massacre which happened a year and a half before the episode aired. The Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1997, which banned handguns in the UK, was enacted in February 1997., and contains scenes of characters irresponsibly using firearms (particularly the scene where Bart finds Homer's gun in the refrigerator and uses it to play William Tell with Milhouse). BBC Two had no qualms about showing the episode uncut; when Sky One regained the broadcast rights for this episode in the mid-2000s, they finally showed this episode uncut on September 26, 2005. The episode was available on a PAL VHS called "The Simpsons: Too Hot for TV," which featured a lot of episodes considered too risque for British TV.
Sky One also partially banned the episode "Weekend at Burnsie's" due to scenes of Homer being assaulted by animals (the crows pecking Homer in the eyes and the drug dog biting Homer in the crotch when he was a teenager) and, of course, the drug themes (Homer smoking marijuana for medical purposes). In contrast, Australia and America have aired the episode, but with higher ratings than normal (in Australia, this episode is rated M and in America, the rating is TV-14, though it does run with a TV-PG rating in syndication, even though it's not edited for content). Sky have since shown this episode on very few occasions (12/22/02 at 10:30 PM, 10/6/02 at 9:00 PM), but only after 9:00 pm with no promos about the episode.
Episodes involving lighthearted looks at medicinal use of drugs do seem to draw Sky's ire: "The Good, the Sad and the Drugly" (with its subplot about Lisa being put on anti-depressants after she freaks out over Internet articles predicting that Springfield will be a barren wasteland in 50 years) was also banned. It did air on April 26th, 2009 at 8:00 PM, with an encore on April 30th at 7:00 PM.
Similarly, Sky never runs "Whiskey Business" before the watershed (as it would be impossible to remove Moe's suicide attempt without rendering the whole episode pointless).
In an attempt to prevent controversy from Japanese viewers, Fox never aired the episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" in Japan or put it on the season 10 DVD set due to scenes that mock Japanese culture and society (The Simpsons having a seizure while watching a robot anime, Homer tossing the Japanese emperor into a sumo thongs Dumpster, and The Simpsons appearing on a sadistic Japanese game show).
Season 13's "Blame It on Lisa" was banned in Brazil for the same reasons why Japan banned "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" (stereotypical depiction of the country).
The episode "E Pluribus Wiggum" caused controversy in Argentina because of Carl and Lenny's exchange about Argentine president Juán Perón making dissidents "disappear"note The comment is a reference to the Dirty War in Argentina, a period of military dictatorship (1976-1983) during which as many as 30,000 Argentines disappeared, but the period and the disappearances occurred during it actually began two years after Peron's death. and saying his wife, Eva, is Madonna. FOX Latin America has never aired the episode, skipping from "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind" to "That '90s Show" when rerunning the series in order. For anyone living in Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, or Mexico, the episode has aired there uncut and dubbed in the respective Spanish dialect. It wouldn't be until 2016 when the episode finally aired on FOX LA.
Banned in China: Some episodes have been skipped over in other countries due to jokes against the country that really bordered on offensive:
On TVNZ, skipped all Itchy and Scratchy stuff.
"Goo Goo Gai Pan" was banned in China because of Homer's line about Mao Zedong being a "little angel who killed 50 million people" and the scene parodying the Tiananmen Square incident, which any mention of in China will get you in major trouble.
"Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" was banned in Japan for the "Battling Seizure Robot" scenenote which parodied the infamous Pokémon episode that gave a large number of children seizures due to the constant blinking lights and the part where Homer tosses the Japanese emperor into a sumo thong Dumpster,
"E Pluribus Wiggum" was banned in some Latin American countries due to Lenny and Carl's dialogue about Argentinean leader Juan Peron where it is stated that he disappeared his political dissidents. The comment is a reference to the Dirty War in Argentina, a period of military dictatorship (1976-1983) during which as many as 30,000 Argentines disappeared, but the period and the disappearances occurred during it actually began two years after Peron's death.
"Blame It On Lisa" was banned in Brazil for depicting the country as a run-down slum where everyone is into soccer and the children's shows are more risque than what airs in America.
The show as a whole is banned in Myanmar because of its violence, ability to cause fear, illegal/harmful behavior, disrespectful language and a cast with a yellow-looking skin color, which they perceived as an Asian stereotype and being related to the NLD.
"Looking For Mr. Goodbart" was banned in Russia for a scene where Homer and Comic Book Guy end up in church while playing "Peekimon Get", being too similar to a real life incident in St. Petersburg.
"Cowabunga!": Although Bart admittedly said it once in a Tracey Ullman short, and twice in early episodes ("The Telltale Head" and "Bart Gets An F"), it was far from a Catchphrase (it's more associated with the 1980s version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). The reason people think it's a Catchphrase is because lots of merchandise has him saying it. This is reflected in the DVD commentaries now and then. In fact, on the commentary for "Bart Gets an F," the writers actually express surprise when he does say it — thinking they never had him say it at all. Lampshaded in "Behind the Laughter", which shows T-shirts with him saying "Good grief, man", "You bet your sweet bippy, man", and "Life begins at conception, man". "Cowabunga" also came up in that episode, too. After Bart says it for the show, the cameras cut and Bart complains that he's never said the word before in his life.
Bart also never said he's "an underachiever and proud of it". Someone else, a school psychiatrist, said something to this effect in "Bart Gets An F": "I think what we have here is a classic case of what lately is referred to as 'fear of failure'; as a result, Bart is an underachiever, and yet he seems to be how should I put this proud of it?" Note that this is a skilled professional honestly attempting to determine why Bart is such a bad student, not a cry of rebellion. (Given Bart's reaction when he initially flunks the history final, it's painfully obvious that "proud" is about the last word you'd ever use to describe how he feels about underachieving.) There's a Call-Back in "Skinner's Sense of Snow", where the students break into the school records and Bart finds a permanent record that describes him with this very phrase.
Cast the Runner-Up: Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith auditioned for both Bart and Lisa. For Smith, the casting director believed her distinctive voice was too high for Bart, and offered her Lisa instead. Cartwright, meanwhile, originally intended to audition for Lisa, but when offered the choice between the two, and chose Bart because she liked his mischievous characteristics more.
The Cast Showoff: Several episodes make use of Kelsey Grammer's singing voice. According to Grammer, Sam Simon asked him if he could still sing when offering him the part.
The Character Died With Her: In the episode "The Man Who Grew Too Much", Edna Krabappel was stated to have died following the death of Marcia Wallace. After Ned Flanders' dream about him and Edna doing the tango, he looks at the picture of Edna and remarks sadly, "I sure do miss that laugh." Nelson the school bully replies "Ha-ha! I miss her, too."
Children Voicing Children: So far, there have only been two instances of child characters being voiced by actual children in the series. The first was with Bart's teenage love interest Laura Powers, who was voiced by then 16 year old Sara Gilbert. The second was with Bart's unofficially adopted brother Charlie who was voiced by then 9-year old Jordan Nagai.
In the Brazilian Portuguese dub of the show, Barts first voice actor, Peterson Adriano, started voicing him when he was 11 years old.
"A Star Is Burns" didn't sit well with Matt Groening, who felt it played out like a 20-minute ad for The Critic. This is the only Simpsons episode not to have Matt Groening's name in the credits.
"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. Matt Groening, Al Jean, and most of the writers have openly criticized the episode, but none were more vocal than Harry Shearer, who condemned it for "tossing (Principal Skinner's character) in the trash can for no good reason", which might have been a catalyst for his dissatisfaction of the show's Dork Age. Shearer also alleged that even years after the fact, the writing staff acts like the episode never happened.
Nelson Shin of AKOMdisowned the sweat-shop couch gag of Korean animation studios, created by graffiti artist, Banksy, in the episode Money Bart.
Hank Azaria has been vocal about his disappointment in the show's notoriously dismissive response to the Apu controversy in 2018,note It was a late addition to the episode that he wasn't able to have any input on. and thinks the role should be recast with an actual South Asian actor.
Matt Groening expressed disappointment about the removal of Apu, as he loves the character.
Creator's Favorite: Lisa is Matt Groening's favorite character as seen here and here. Although in this interview he says that his favorite is Homer. He also has mentioned some of the secondary characters as his favorite, like Comic Book Guy, Apu and Ralph Wiggum.
Matt Groening and Harry Shearer both disliked Dr. Marvin Monroe, with Shearer saying that voicing the character strained his throat and Groening finding his voice annoying. Groening has also said that Database, one of the nerdy kids in the "Superfriends" club at Springfield Elementary, is one of his least favorite characters.
While not hated outright, writer Bill Oakley once noted Marge was the most difficult character of the Simpson family to write episodes for, to the point her limelight roles were often handed to junior staff as test of their writing skills.
For similar reasons to Shearer, Hank Azaria's least favourite voice to do is Duffman, as it hurts his throat.
Creative Differences: Klasky-Csupo company animated the shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show and the first 63 episodes. Gabor Csupo wasn't pleased when Gracie Films demanded they put one of their own producers to oversee the animation and production since then shifted to Film Roman, with Klasky-Csupo moving on to create Rugrats.
Cross-Dressing Voices: Probably the most famous example in modern American animation: Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson (and most of his male classmates as well, like Ralph Wiggum, Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders, and Kearney Zzyzwicznote the bald bully who's actually somewhere in his 20s to 30s, yet looks high school-aged and has been held back in elementary school for years). Other examples include: Pamela Hayden as Jimbo Jones, Milhouse van Houten, and Rod Flanders; Russi Taylor as Martin Prince and Uter the German exchange student; Tress MacNeille as Dolphnote the bully with red hair who hangs with Jimbo and Kearney; and Jo Ann Harris as the first voices of Wendell the sick kid and Bart's nondescript friends from the early episodes, Richard and Lewis.
Averted in some languages (Brazilian Portuguese, Czech and Hungarian), where Bart has a male voice actor (however, in the Czech dub at least this trope is still present, because Marge is voiced by a male actor also).
The Danza: Doris Grau did the voice of Lunchlady Doris. Also a case of Descended Creator due to Grau working as a script supervisor from 1989 to 1993.
A housing developer built a near-replica of the Simpson house in Henderson, Nevada (just outside Las Vegas) in 1997, and Fox gave it away in a widely-publicized contest. The winner, a retired grandmother from Kentucky, elected to take a cash payment instead of keeping the house. After the exterior was repainted to better fit the rest of the neighborhood, it sat vacant for three years (with some looting of the interior), before a woman who worked for the developer's company bought it and moved in, and did some more remodeling, though the house's cartoony inspiration is still recognizable from the outside. To discourage unwanted attention, the house has been blurred on Google Street View, but plenty of pictures of it exist online.
Homer's head being used as a bowling ball in Hell (and his head cracks open, revealing a note that reads, "I.O.U. One Brain. Signed, God"). Had the scene actually been used, it would explain why Homer's head and body were separated when he was brought back to the mortal realm for the trial.
Bart trying to sell his soul to the Devil for a Formula-One race car, and changing his mind.
Lionel Hutz returning with a pizza box, thinking he lost the case. When Marge tells him they won, he reveals that the pizza box was empty.
Other deleted scenes from "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" include: the Robo-Richard Simmons episode from "Burns' Heir", Homer and his estranged mother eating care package food and Homer telling his mom that he works at the nuclear plant and his incompetence is actually a plot to take it down from the inside from "Mother Simpson," and Apu showing The Simpsons a Bollywood movie on "Homer and Apu".
There was a scene deleted from "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" where, during the bus ride to the Super Bowl, Bart watches Principal Skinner drinking beer and comments that it feels weird to see it. Skinner tries to assure him that he's actually drinking non-alcoholic beer, but one whiff shows him otherwise. He initially freaks out over losing his inhibitions, but then he takes it in stride and loosens up... until Superintendent Chalmers drives by with Agnes as his passenger.
"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."
Similarly, "Zombie Simpsons" for the post-classic seasons.
Foiler Footage: Several different resolutions to the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" plot were shot, including a full alternate summation where Smithers goes through his whole Motive Rant, and it's explained how all the clues could have added up to Smithers being the culprit.
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.
Harpo Does Something Funny: All scripts read (Annoyed Grunt) whenever Homer says "D'OH!" There's also "(frustrated murmur)" for Marge's "Hmmm..." and "(Frink noises)" for Professor Frink's mumbling.
He Also Did: John Swartzwelder is best known for being the show's most prolific writer. He's also the author of several comedy novels. Another prolific writer for the series, Jon Vitti, wrote the screenplay for The Angry Birds Movie. Then there's also Conan O'Brien, for whom his early years writing for the show are his "he also did".
Hostility on the Set: As described in John Ortved's book, there was an incident when showrunner David Mirkin and writer Bob Kushell got into an argument about the episode "A Star is Burns", saying it hurt the integrity of the series. Mirkin replied, "That's why you're an asshole." Stunned, Kushell proceeded to chew out Mirkin in front of the writers present and stormed out. He was convinced he was going to be fired for it, and although he wasn't, he wasn't given any writing assignments either. Kushell also mentioned that many writers came up to him privately and thanked him for standing up to Mirkin.
Many fans on the Internet correctly predicted that the character who would die in "Clown in the Dumps" would be Krusty's dad Rabbi Krustofski, since this show doesn't have the guts to kill off a major character (unless the voice actor quit or died and a replacement can't be found).
Krusty, the show's most prominent Jewish character, is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, the only non-Jew among the threemen in the main voice cast.
In one part of "Stark Raving Dad," "Michael Jackson" points out that he's a vegetarian and he doesn't drink, which prompts Homer, who likes to eat pork chops and drink Duff Beer, to ask him "Are you sure you're not here voluntarily?" Dan Castellaneta, Homer's voice actor, is himself a vegetarian who doesn't drink.
I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: The French Canadian dub features the voice talents of Gilbert Lachance (as Krusty and Professor Frink, among others), Hubert Gagnon (as Homer and Grandpa) and Johanne Léveillé (as Bart). Said trio of voice actors previously worked together on the French Canadian dub of The Raccoons. note Gilbert as Bert/Benoît, Hubert as Ralph/Charles, and Johanne as Melissa/Mélissa.
Only 12 of the 48 Tracy Ullman shorts were released on the now out-of-print Best of the Simpsons VHS tapes released between 1997 and 1999. The very first short, "Good Night" has been the only one ever released to DVD note it's available as a bonus feature on the Complete First Season DVD boxset and it's quite unlikely the shorts will see a complete DVD set.
In a lot of places, season 20's DVD is No Export for You - it only received region 1 (America) and 4 (Australia and New Zealand) releases, not region 2 (Europe and Japan).
As of July 2017, all episodes are available through the US iTunes store for purchase. However, they're mostly the stretched-to-widescreen upconverts from the FXX broadcast, all except the first 9 episodes of season 20, as they were produced in HD already, but Fox never stretched them for iTunes for some reason. This doesn't really ruin the viewing experience, as the stretching just has it fill a 16:9 screen, but if you want the episodes as originally produced, you're out of luck.
There's one episode which somehow squeaked through edited: "The Telltale Head". It's missing a brief bit towards the end where Bart says that taking the origins of Springfield for granted was a crime too (though, according to Word of God, that scene was just shoehorned in by the FOX executives who wanted that episode of The Simpsons to have a moral — as if "Don't do something stupid just to impress some bad people" isn't enough of a moral). In a bizarre subversion, this scene is seen in syndication.
The original version of "Marge Gets a Job" where Mrs. Krabappel mentions that Bart faked Tourette Syndrome hasn't been seen since the first airing (as a real viewer with Tourette's threatened to sue the show if they didn't edit the scene). While the syndicated version has the original line, but not the scene of Bart snarling and barking and calling Krabappel a witch, the DVD version has "Tourette Syndrome" replaced with "rabies," but kept in Bart barking and snarling (even though rabies and Tourette Syndrome are not the same thing — plus, if you can lip read, you can tell that Krabappel's original line was "Tourette Syndrome").
Ken Keeler has said that "The Principal and the Pauper", widely regarded as one of the worst Simpsons episodes, if not the worst episode of any show in American television history, has been his best work in television, even though he has done more favorably-received episodes on Futurama, with then-showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein also defending the episode. These days, Keeler and other writers have purposely forgotten that this episode existed.
"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.
Let's not forget about the production errors of the original animation of "Some Enchanted Evening", which was disliked by the show's producers (christened by James L. Brooks as "Shit"), but Gabor Csupo of Klasky-Csupo believed that all the errors are blamed on the writing.
Writer Ian Maxtone-Graham blames himself for the show's downfall, as he admitted in a 1998 interview that he had barely seen the show when he was hired. Despite his claims, he wrote "Homer vs New York", the last episode to score more than 90% on IMDb. He also wrote four episodes that made IGN's list of the ten best episodes after season 13.
The stretch of classic season 4 episodes that fans usually consider the show's peak were actually not all that well-liked by the show's staff at the time. James L. Brooks, among others, hated "Brother from the Same Planet". The voice actors (particularly Yeardley Smith) weren't thrilled with "Marge vs. the Monorail", feeling that it drifted too far away from the show's established style. The writing staff considered "Last Exit to Springfield" to be only So Okay, It's Average.
"Homer at the Bat", considered one of the greatest episodes of all time, had one of the worst table reads for any episode. Al Jean described it: "We had two table reads on the same day, which we hadnt done before or since. And it was the second script read and no laughs. Just complete dead silence."
On Halloween 1994, Fox aired the second through fifth Treehouse of Horror episodes in a special marathon called "The Simpsons Halloween Scare-a-Thon".
In August 2014, reruns of the show aired on the FXX cable channel, starting with a 12-day, 552-episode marathon of all past episodes. The episodes now air on the channel every day (barring Wednesdays and Saturdays) in four-to-six hour blocks, mostly mixing the modern, high-def episodes with the early, crudely-drawn pre-HD digital ink and paint episodes. Sundays and Thursdays are usually devoted to themed episode blocks (such as Sideshow Bob-centric episodes, Musical Episodes, and so on), with the Sunday theme usually matching the theme of the episode premiering on FOX that night (like when "Clown in the Dumps" aired, they aired episodes centered on Krusty the Clown).
McLeaned: Maggie Roswell left over pay disputes, as her pay wasn't covering the travel expenses to get to the recording studio (she lived out of state). Maude was killed off in response. Roswell was eventually brought back to voice her other characters, but Maude remains dead.
The 200th episode was Season 9's "Trash of the Titans", and 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."
The 300th episode was Season 14's "Strong Arms of the Ma", but Fox advertised the 302nd episode, "Barting Over" as the 300th. The latter episode lampshades it when Lisa tallies the number of Homer's schemes at 300, Marge notes she thought it was 302. Lisa quickly shushes her.
The 500th episode, Season 23's "At Long Last Leave", had a couch gag that showed all the previous 499 couch gags, all continuing to pan skyward as they play out until it stops with the multiple incarnations of the family sitting at their couch, forming a mosaic "500", which breaks apart to reveal Homer strangling Bart, both of whom are wearing tuxedos. In addition, the chalkboard gag is Milhouse writing "Bart's earned a day off" and the opening logo includes a caption declaring "The most meaningless milestone of all!", referencing the chalkboard gag from the 100th episode. Also, Lisa's playing a sousaphone for some reason. The gag for the 499th episode was a surprise 500th episode party. When Lisa points out the error, Moe replies, "Well, guess what? Fox isn't doing this again."
The 600th episode was Season 28's "Treehouse of Horror XXVII", which tied with Gunsmoke as the longest running American scripted primetime series (recognized by one of the joke credits, which reads "We're coming for you, Gunsmoke"), and acknowledges this at the end of the opening sequence, where Frank Grimes warns that you'd be forced to watch a marathon of all the episodes in Hell.note Likely a cheeky reference to FXX's 600-episode Simpsons marathon later that year.
A commercial for "Homer at the Bat" depicts Barney and Wade Boggs engaging in a burping contest.
Also from Season 3, a commercial for "Colonel Homer" has this scene when Bart and Lisa are in Lurleen Lumpkin's recording studio (this promo can be viewed on the Season 3 DVD as a special feature through the episode menu):
Lisa: I never thought I'd see another woman in Dad's life.
Bart: What are you talking about? There's Sara Lee, Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker...
Homer: It's like you hate me, your own husband, whom you're contractually obligated to like!
On the deleted scenes audio commentaries, the show's creators have mentioned several times when a "weaker" joke will be cut for time, only for Fox to unknowingly use it prominently in the episode's promos.
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 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 and if the commentaries and back stories are any indication, everyone (except perhaps Klasky-Csupo) was ashamed at how the first version of the episode turned out, from an animation standpoint. 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 canceled outright.
The staff came to regret casting Michael Jackson on "Stark Raving Dad" when child sex abuse allegations against him were first brought to light in 1993. It got to a point where Bart made a quip about Jackson being a lie parents make to scare kids in "Bart Sells His Soul". Not until the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland did they go to great lengths to get "Stark Raving Dad" pulled completely.
Hank Azaria has spent a lot of time personally apologizing to South Asian fans since the release of The Problem with Apu, saying he feels he owes it to every single person of the race in the country.
Most of the Latin American Spanish dub's original cast returned to reprise their characters beginning with Season 32, after the series' change of owner and an intervention by showrunner Al Jean; notably, Humberto Vélez and Patricia Acevedo returned as the voices of Homer and Lisa; on the other hand, Nancy McKenzie wasn't able to return as Marge.
In a retroactive example, following the strike and the voice actor changes detailed below, Marina Huerta, Bart's original voice, reclaimed her role from Claudia Motta starting with Season 16.
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.
Likewise, a handful of characters originally voiced by tertiary voice actor Karl Weidergott (including Ricky Ricardo in "Little Big Mom" and Muk Mu in "The Burns and the Bees") would be replaced with Chris Edgerly in their reappearances, with somewhat expanded roles.
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.Additionally, 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.
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).
In "The Telltale 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."), and for his appearance in "The PTA Disbands".
Fat Tony is usually voiced by Joe Mantegna, however in "A Fish Called Selma" he was voiced by Phil Hartmannote The producers didn't contact Joe Mantegna because they thought he wouldn't be willing to come in to record such a small role. Mantegna got in touch afterwards saying that he enjoys playing Fat Tony so much that he'll always make time for the character..
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:
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").
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, who usually did the role whenever an episode didn't didn't have him as a focal point.
The Latin American Spanish dub became infamous for replacing the entire cast when the original studio (Audiomaster 3000) closed after season 15. The new studio, New Art Dub, wanted to lift a clause where only actors that worked in the studio could do voiceover there, in order to sign up independent voice actors; this caused many of the actors that worked there to go on strike against the new studio, and several of those who lent their voice to The Simpsons got banned from the studio and from participating in any Fox-produced material only a couple voice actors survived the strike. Starting with Season 16, in terms of the eponymous family, Humberto Vélez was replaced with Victor Manuel Espinoza in the role of Homer, Nancy McKenzie was replaced by Marina Huerta for Marge, and Patricia Acevedo was replaced by Nallely Solis for Lisa.
In a retroactive example for the Latin Spanish dub, Marina Huerta was Bart's original voice actor before being replaced by Claudia Motta starting with Season 9. However, reception was positive, since most LA fans will argue that Motta gave Bart a more lovable voice. This came back after the recasting of Season 32, where Motta reclaimed her role as Bart from Huerta following the strike detailed above, where Huerta replaced Motta starting with Season 16.
While several of the original voice actors from the LA Spanish dub returned to reprise their roles starting with Season 32, Marge's original voice actor, Nancy McKenzie, wasn't able to return. Instead, Claudia Motta replaces her and Marina Huerta in the voice of Marge.
Homer's voice actor in the European Spanish dub, as well as the dub's director, Carlos Revilla, passed away in 2000 after recording the eleventh season. He was replaced in both capacities by Carlos Ysbert.
Marge's voice has also been changed twice in this dub (and by extension, Patty and Selma's voices too), and it is often attributed to the first two voice actresses that played Marge complaining about their voices hurting while playing her.
Many of the secondary characters have had their voices changed throught the series. Characters in the early seasons sound much more different than in later seasons. An outstanding case is Milhouse, whose voice has changed three times in this dub.
On June 20, 2020, it was announced that non-white characters will no longer be voiced by white actors, citing the Black Lives Matter protests. Beginning in season 32, the following replacements have taken place:
Carl and Lou (both usually voiced by white actor Azaria) would be voiced by Alex Désert, who is black.
Beginning with "Now Museum, Now You Don't", Bumblebee Man (also originally voiced by Azaria) would be voiced by Eric Lopez, who is Cuban-American.
Starting with "The Dad Feelings-Limited", Tress MacNeille would be replaced by Japanese-American actress Jenny Yokobori as the voice of Kumiko Nakamura-Albertson.
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.note Had Collins kept the roles, they eventually would've had to become The Other Darrin, since he died in 1994.
Out of Holiday Episode: The 700th episode, Manger Things premiered on March 21, 2021, nearly three months after the holiday season.
Out of Order: Several episodes have aired differently from their production order.
Most infamously was the actual show pilot "Some Enchanted Evening", which was delayed due to multiple animation disagreements. The Christmas Special "Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire", the eighth episode in the first season production wise, was aired first instead. This has the result of several key characters' introductions being more fleeting (they have proper Establishing Character Moments in episodes produced before), as well as an anti-climatic couch gag, the pilot has a standard "sit on couch" scene where no antics occur, setting up for the situations getting wilder in the episodes that were meant to follow it.
"When Flanders Failed" and "Stark Raving Dad" were leftovers from Season Two that aired with Season Three. It's more obvious with the former which uses the Season Two intro arrangement.
An In-Universe case occurs when the producer of Itchy & Scratchy insists that the writers make a new dog character.
Meyer: The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog; I dunno, something along the lines of, say... Poochie, only more proactive. Krusty: Yeah! [Myers & Krusty leave] Oakley: So, Poochie okay with everybody? All:[reclining in their chairs]Yeah...
Protection from Editors: In a very unusual situation for mainstream American television, the creators had this luxury from the very beginning. Since Fox was such a green, under-budgeted network at the time the show debuted, James L. Brooks was able to secure a clause in the contract which ensured that executives were not permitted to interfere with the creative process. Though Fox still sends show notes, they can be - and quite often have been - ignored completely.
The episodes "Million Dollar Abie" and "The Boys of Bummer" both involve a member of the Simpson family (Grampa and Bart respectively) becoming a pariah over a sports-related mishap, to the point they attempt suicide. Though in the former's case, it only took over the first act, whereas the latter became the episode's main dilemma.
The episodes that focus on Homer and Marge's marriage crisis, Homer getting a job, Bart getting a new girlfriend, and Lisa wanting to be popular (usually when she befriends a one-time character). They're the most used plots in this show.
"Bart Sells His Soul" had Moe remake his bar into Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag to make more money. Later episodes had him remake the bar into a swanky hipster joint, and an English style restaurant, although the conflicts addressed in each episode are subtly differed, and the bar usually was only the starting point.
The subplot for "Realty Bites", where Snake tries to kill Homer when he buys his car at a police auction, was previously used in The Flintstones episode "Fred's Second Car".
Sideshow Bob's brother, Cecil, is voiced by David Hyde Pierce, essentially turning them into evil cartoon versions of Frasier and Niles.
The Japanese dub has a curious relationship with the Gundam franchise, since basically almost all the animated adaptations, including side-stories and games, had two or more voice actors who also worked in this series:note The list also include voice actors who voiced special guests.
Bart and Milhouse keep their voice actresses in almost all flashforwards, though this is subverted in several flashbacks.
Adults like Homer and Marge also possessed the same voice when in flashbacks to when they were kids. Although one episode did make fun of this by having a young Homer singing in a choir with an appropriate sounding child voice, before his voice suddenly breaks and his adult voice abruptly emerging and singing terribly.
Fox briefly moved the show to Thursdays early in its run, against the juggernaut of The Cosby Show. The commentaries point out that this is an inexplicably common tactic that always harms the newer show, and "I think it's much to the show's credit that it didn't kill us; it only hobbled us for a bit."
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.
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 Tracey Ullman Show episodes). Lampshaded in "Pokey Mom", when Homer asks Bart where his blue shirt is, and Bart replies "I don't have a blue shirt."
The episode "Black Widower" begins with the Simpson family watching a parody of Dinosaurs, and Bart comments, "It's like they saw our lives and put it right up on screen!", a reference to the criticism Dinosaurs recieved at the time for being accused of being a rip-off ofThe Simpsons. Dinosaurs would later fire back in the episode, "Dirty Dancin'", wherein Earl complains about the TV line-up consisting of nothing but shows involving idiot fathers, following the success of "Totally Ineffectual Dad", and that the other shows are just cheap rip-offs. Baby then says, "Don't have a cow, man!", Bart's Catchphrase at the time.
The Simpsons did a joke showing Peter Griffin from Family Guy among a crowd of successively stupider Homer Simpson clones. Family Guy fired back with a gag indirectly pointing out that by the same logic, Homer was a stupider clone of Fred Flintstone. In a later episode, Peter appeared on a Wanted poster for plagiarism. This time Family Guy turned their response Up to Eleven, with a gag that started with Quagmire raping Marge and ended with him murdering the entire Simpsons family.
Remember Homer's "I am so smart! I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!" line in "Homer Goes to College"? Dan Castallaneta actually did indeed misspell "smart", then ad-libbed "I mean S-M-A-R-T!" It was just so "Homer" that they left it in.
Nancy Cartwright ad-libbed "Eat my shorts" during an early table read, based on a prank she'd participated in while in her high school marching band. She was as surprised as anyone when it was not only put in the show but became one of Bart's most iconic lines.
Troubled Production: The pilot episode, "Some Enchanted Evening" went so badly wrong that it nearly killed the show before it even began. The big problem was that the key members of the production team didn't appear to be talking to each other. Matt Groening and James L. Brooks imagined a show with unique designs and color schemes, but characters who were animated in a realistic way. Animation director Kent Butterworth (and apparently the people at Klasky-Csupo) on the other hand thought it should be animated in a whacked-out, over the top style with little regard paid to keeping the characters on model. And nobody appeared to have told the Korean animators anything at all, meaning they were let loose on the episode with wildly inconsistent results. The end product, while sometimes defended by animation enthusiasts as how the show should have been animated, wasn't what the producers or Fox wanted at all, and the plug nearly got pulled on the series. Fortunately the second episode, "Bart the Genius" did fit what the producers were looking for, and so they reshuffled the episode order and kicked off the series with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," while "Some Enchanted Evening" got substantially re-animated and booted to the end of the season.
There is a notorious story surrounding the first time the staff saw "Some Enchanted Evening". In one scene, Bart and Lisa watch a Happy Little Elves cartoon. For some reason yet to be determined, Butterworth had decided to have a bear tear off one of the elves's heads and drink its blood. Needless to say, this did not go over well with the production crew.
"Stark Raving Dad", 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 Episode 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.
An episode called "Thirtysimpsons" was written for season 3, but never produced. It would have been a crossover with thirtysomething. Bill Oakley also revealed that there was an season 8 episode that would have parodied Scientology with Lisa joining the religion. The script was written by George Meyer, but the episode was never produced due to fear of the Church of Scientology suing, as well as potentially offending cast members such as Nancy Cartwright (though that didn't stop Trey Parker and Matt Stone from doing the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet", which not only got them in trouble with Scientologynote or rather, Tom Cruise, but also led to Isaac Hayes leaving the show).
"Homer's Phobia" was also going to be called "Lisa Goes to Camp," where Lisa gets into kitsch culture, and Bart does the same thing, only for Homer to worry that Bart will end up gay.
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.
There are unused scripts titled "Homer's Sexual Fantasy", "Homer Privately Tells Bart That He Loves Him Best", "Homer the Narcoleptic", "Amusement Park" and "Homer's $1000 Suit". Nothing is known about their plots.
Word of God: Per Matt Groening, Homer and Mr. Burns are very distant relatives.
Write What You Know: "Marge Be Not Proud," the episode where Bart gets busted shoplifting a video game, was based on Mike Scully's own experience getting caught shoplifting.
Write Who You Know: The Simpsons are named after Matt Groening's Real Life relatives, except Bart, whose name was chosen as an anagram of "brat". Other characters (such as Flanders) are named for streets near where Matt Groening grew up. Krusty the Klown was based on a real clown called Rusty Nails, who Matt Groening said kind of frightened him as a kid.