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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • In the first several seasons, both political parties, with jokes about how Republicans were evil and Democrats were incompetent. The bashing of Republicans versus the lionization of Democrats is relatively new, although this is largely because the series can actually get away with such content now. As a case of Author Appeal, Matt Groening has always been quite vocal about his dislike of the Republican Party outside the show.
    • As with all of Groening's work, Richard Nixon is a popular target.
    • Conservatives in general get this, to the point where John Wayne is revealed to have been sent to Hell at the end of one "Treehouse of Horror" story.
    • Family Guy, which the newer seasons get compared to or jokingly accuse of ripping off the show.
    • Arby's. Whenever the restaurant is mentioned, it's always in a mocking tone. In Treehouse of Horror XXVIII, however, it’s just sickening and sad.
    • Anything that has to do with newspapers and magazines, especially since "E Pluribus Wiggum".
    • Aside from the constant potshots at Rupert Murdoch, the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News and the series' current owner Disney, TV networks, executives, and companies with a bad streak will be mercilessly mocked, as with The WB in "Lisa's Sax" or NBC in "The Fool Monty".
    • With the exception of some of Lisa's activism, usually portrayed as reasonable and noble, any feminists or "social justice" types on the show are usually portrayed as overzealous, illogical/unreasonable or easily-offended Straw-(wo)men... especially in later seasons.
    • The elderly are almost always shown to be some combination of angry, ignorant, or completely senile.
  • 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".
    • The DVD Commentary for "Trash of the Titans" states that the episode's Green Aesop was entirely unintentional.
    • Ned's overprotective treatment of his sons and their sheltered behaviour gives the lesson that kids need experience away from their parents from time to time in order to grow as people and learn hard lessons in wisdom for their adulthood. As flawed as Homer and Marge are, Bart, Lisa, and eventually Maggie will grow into well-adjusted, if not, reasonably flawed adults themselves. While Rod and Todd have warped views of the world and are vastly unprepared for adulthood due to their naivety and religious fundamentalism. Being overprotective can be just as damaging as being negligent.
    • Pitting your children against each other is one of the more subtle but particularly odious forms of child abuse. We see the results of it in the form of Bart and Lisa both of whom has developed into an Attention Whore. Bart wants positive attention, but will settle for negative attention as that is much more preferable than outright Parental Neglect. Since all they needed to do with her is shower her with praise Lisa by contrast has developed an Inferiority Superiority Complex. Not only is she shown to need constant positive reinforcement. She believes that Second Place Is for Losers, fearing that if she isn’t the most successful child she will be treated as The Un Favourite like Bart.
    • Your vulnerabilities and problems don’t absolve you of responsibility of being a parent. The show often uses the precocious nature of the children and childish nature of the adults to place them on even ground, to the point of showing Adults Are Useless. However Bart and Lisa are 10 and 8 respectively, and if Marge and Homer refuse to take their role as parents seriously. They can’t then get upset or act surprise when the two act their age.
  • Accidental Innuendo: One fan theorized that part of the show's popularity comes from how the spherical design of the characters' eyes look like breasts.
  • Adorkable:
    • Lisa Simpson, as smart as she is, is still a little girl, so she does have her moments of adorable dorkiness. She really loves her Malibu Stacy doll and on her Christmas list, she listed "pony" over and over again.
    • Milhouse has Nerd Glasses and is a naive, socially awkward boy who suffers some of the worst luck out of all charaters. Not to mention about his crush on Lisa Simpson.
    • Homer Simpson at times, at least when not being a complete jerk. He's awkward, not that smart, but his goofiness and love for Marge make him lovable. Also, just look at him when he was a child.
    • Ralph is an oblivious and innocent kid with a huge imagination who tends to make weird and inappropriate comments all the time. Despite his frequently stupid and odd behaviour, his father adores him.
    • Waylon Smithers is an older guy, but he counts due to his adorable vibe, his Nerd Glasses, and his traits of a perfect way of completing Mr. Burns.
    • Dr. Nick Riviera; he has a very happy-go-lucky personality and being so enthusiastic about his profession, despite the fact he is a quack.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • Current showrunner Al Jean, when asked about the show's decline in quality, recalled someone saying the show declined in Season 2:
    Al Jean: Well, it's possible that we've declined. But honestly, I've been here the whole time and I do remember in season two people saying, "It's gone downhill." If we'd listened to that then we would have stopped after episode 13 [of Season 1]. I'm glad we didn't.
    • The show itself at the time seem like it would distant to fail, as it was an cartoon aimed at adults back when animated series were still mostly aimed at children, was a mid-season replacement, and moved to the same time-slot as The Cosby Show, which was considered suicide for any show at the time to compete against. Instead, it became a rating success overnight, got widespread acclaim, and has become the longest running sitcom and animated series in American television.
  • 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 have noted this was also a time when Groening used her as a mouthpiece for his views.
    • One of the worst Soapbox Sadie Lisa episodes is "Lisa the Skeptic", in which Lisa is extremely emphatic that religion and science cannot coexist, despite her consistently showing religious beliefs from the past (earlier) episodes.
    • "Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy" basically has the lesson that reboots are unpopular mostly because its detractors are regressive towards socially-conscious changes and that it's okay for feminists to resort to vandalism and crime to further their cause.
  • Archive Panic:
    • If you watched all 600+ episodes back to back, it would take you almost two weeks. That's not including the movie or the comic along with its spin-offs which have been running since 1993.
    • When the show began airing in syndication on FXX in 2014, they aired all of the then-552 episodes in a non-stop, 12-day marathon called "Every Simpsons Ever."
  • Badass Decay:
    • Originally, Mr. Burns was a powerful Corrupt Corporate Executive who compensated for his lackluster physical strength with a strong mind, capable of terrorizing all of Springfield while facing very little in terms of consequences. In the later seasons, Burns is little more than a doddering old man who can't do anything without Smithers' help and often fails victim to humiliating defeats, to the point that in one episode, he tries to stomp on an ant, and the ant pushes him over.
    • Bart has lost the distinct edge and attitude he was popularized for and is often helpless when faced with Homer's strangling. Best shown in The Simpsons Movie, where he spends most of it desperately wanting Ned Flanders to be his father instead.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Marge is this, mostly due to her constant meddling and interfering in things that aren't her business (even using emotional warfare) and rarely 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. Her self-righteousness was strongest on the earliest seasons (wrecking Homer's chances of succeeding a number of times because she considered it immoral), to the point Lisa became the show's "morality voice" to avoid the Simpson marriage from crumbling every other week. Her character being associated with several aspects of the "Karen" stereotype in the late 2010s/early 2020s only made things more divisive.
    • Lisa. She's either loved for being a smart, sensitive, progressive-thinking young girl or hated for being a preachy, occasional Author Avatar in Matt Groening's various Wars on Straw who gets everything benefiting her regardless of her words or deeds.
    • Bart seems to have become this as he became flanderized into a full-blown sociopath. He's either considered an unlikable brat or a Jerkass Woobie.
    • Comic Book Guy, after Flanderization turned him into a Straw Fan. The debate is over whether or not he's actually funny as one.
    • Sideshow Bob. While many still enjoy his suave and Evil Is Cool moments, others have grown tired of him and think he's outstayed his welcome. It doesn't help matters that the show giving him such a detailed life and extended family has lead to some fans not finding him mysterious or threatening anymore. His severe Motive Decay and subsequent Flanderization haven't helped in this regard either. However, he was genuinely scary in Treehouse of Horror XXVI and the beginning of "Cape Feare".
    • Apu has become an extremely divisive character over the years, especially among Indian-Americans. Some say he's an enjoyable character whose stereotypical traits are no worse than any of the other stereotyped characters on the show, while others think he's a full-blown Ethnic Scrappy who doesn't even remotely resemble a real Indian person, a criticism that has also been applied to the show's other non-white characters such as Judge Ron Snyder or Dr. Nick Riviera.
    • Manjula and the octuplets. While she was seen (at first) as being Happily Married to Apu and the babies are impossibly cute (and possibly seen as wasted characters), they also get dislike due to always appearing nagging and complaining, and eventually due to their presence turning Apu from a quirky and lovable character into a miserable sad-sack whose only schtick now is "complain about my family".
    • Herb Powell. Some love him for being the Cool Uncle to his nephew and nieces and for being voiced by Danny DeVito. Others dislike him due to him blaming Homer for ruining his company, refusing to acknowledge the fact his company was already falling apart because of his own fault. Those not fond of Herb view his later reconciliation with Homer in "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" as undeserved, and his subsequently becoming broke again as Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: The Season 20 episode, "How The Test Was Won", is better known as "the episode in which Marge makes out with Lindsey Naegle".
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Homer's "The Land of Chocolate" Imagine Spot in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk".
    • Homer eating the Joe Millionaire promo in "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington".
    • 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 united, 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.
    • "Homer Loves Flanders" has Homer being conned out of some money by Bart who deceived him into believing he had tickets to a football game. He was instead given a wig coupon, which then leads to an Imagine Spot featuring him wearing a "Marge" wig, imitating her voice and muttering to himself, "I don't need her at all anymore." note 
    • In "The Front", the episode ends with a 30-second short called "The Adventures of Ned Flanders", a throwaway non-sequitur about the Flanders. This came about as the episode was short on runtime as written and needed something, anything to get it to the length needed.
    • Homer's encounter with the giant spider in "[1]".
    • In "Fear of Flying", Homer is banned from Moe's. A man in a nice suit and top hat, who otherwise looks exactly like Homer, enters and introduces himself as "Guy Incognito." The patrons, thinking that it's Homer in a Paper-Thin Disguise, beat him up and toss him out of the bar. As it turns out, it actually was a different person as Homer happens to walk by and see the unconscious doppelgänger. He comments on it before getting distracted by a dog with a puffy tail and the issue is never brought up again.
    • "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say D'oh" featured a live-action performance by the Ned Flanders-inspired band Okilly Dokilly through the credits. There is absolutely zero context in the episode for this appearance and it disappears just as abruptly as it appears.
    • Bart imagining Homer melting in “Brother From The Same Planet”. Some have questioned why this scene wasn’t in a Treehouse of Horror episode, considering how disturbing it is. While we get that Bart was pissed, Homer melting just came right the fuck out of nowhere, and still manages to scare many a viewer.
  • Bizarro Episode:
    • Apart from having a title in Spanish, "El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" 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 PBS pledge drive 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.
    • "The Man Who Came to Be Dinner", where the Simpsons go to a crappy Disney-like theme park and ride a space attraction that takes them into outer space and Homer becomes the main course for Kang and Kodos.
    • "Saddlesore Galactica" became quite notorious for this, featuring the family yet again taking home a large animal (a horse, for the second time), magical jockeys and Lisa complaining to President Clinton about the school getting second place in a band contest.
    • The same for "A Tale of Two Springfields", which had the town divided in two because one half of it got its telephone prefix changed (and not even in a logical way).
    • The "Treehouse of Horror" episodes are this by design since they are non-canon Halloween episodes.
    • "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" starts with Homer starting an internet blog to expose mysteries. It soon devolves into nonsense including Homer being taken to a faraway island and replaced with a German double.
    • "Moe Goes from Rags to Riches" is a story told by Moe's bar rag, which is sentient and can speak.
  • Broken Base:
    • Were the first two or three seasons part of the show's classic era or just so rife with Early Installment Weirdness (and the first season's horrid art and bizarre animation) that it's hard to watch them again and take them seriously, considering how much the show has changed?
    • Latin American viewers are divided in regards about the dubbed version, which changed almost completely in the sixteenth season. Some consider the voices, while nowhere as good as the originals, aren't that important, while others consider this ruined the series beyond repair.
    • 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. Also, there are some people who just stay for the Treehouse of Horror episodes and/or the occasional obscure cultural references.
    • "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.
    • Which season is the last classic-era season? Seasons 8, 9, or 10?
      • Season 8 is felt to be better than Seasons 9-24 but worse than Seasons 1-7, whether it's Seasonal Rot or flawed but still fun is debatable. 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 probably where the series should have ended.
      • Seasons 11-onward are generally agreed to be worse than seasons 1 through 10, but beyond that, there's little consensus on how they compare to each other.
    • Who was the better showrunner? For the classic era: Is it Al Jean & Mike Reiss, David Mirkin, or Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein? For the post-classic era: Is it 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-present when the show has turned into a watered-down Family Guy and South Park?
      • Mirkin may have an advantage here, as his showrunnership took place in Seasons 5-6, bang in the middle of what is generally considered to be the classic era. Those two seasons probably receive less criticism than any of the others.
    • Over "Saddlesore Galactica". 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 self-referential humor is just obnoxious and dull (and thus a Franchise Original Sin), 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.
    • What was the last "classic episode"? While most would agree that the quality of the series declined in season 9, with 10 being the last classic season, there are still episodes beyond them deemed "classic" and thus essential viewing. Contenders include: Season 11's "Behind the Laughter" and Season 12's "Trilogy of Error". Whether any episode from these post-classic and HD era can reach up to the heights the classics achieved is another debate.
    • With the departure and subsequent replacement of long time series composer Alf Clausen with Hans Zimmer and his company Bleeding Fingers Music in season 29. Fans are split as to whether the music is as good as the previous seasons, or if it's marginally worse in comparison.
    • The switch over to computer animation. While some believe that the show looks more polished, others find the original, hand-drawn animation style to be much more charming.
    • "Stark Raving Dad" becoming a Missing Episode as of 2019. While allegations of child molestation, one resulting in a court trial that ended in a not guilty verdict, had been leveled by multiple parties against Michael Jackson from 1993 onward, the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland (focusing on two of the alleged victims' detailed stories of abuse and manipulation) was the tipping point for the Simpsons producers, who now feel that Jackson's motives for appearing on the show were not what they believed them to be. Especially after the show's streaming move to Disney+, which was how many people first found out that the episode was no longer available anywhere aside from the Season 3 DVD set, there is a debate between fans who feel that the producers have a right to choose to drop the episode, and those who feel Jackson's presence was/is no worse than that of other controversial guest stars (i.e. Mel Gibson, Ted Nugent, etc.) and/or do not believe the documentary in the first place and feel a classic episode is being unnecessarily locked up.
    • Was the "Viva Ned Flanders" episode good or bad? Some people think the plot of Homer and Ned going to Vegas was funny, but others think it was too nonsensical the revelation that Ned is sixty.
      • Hell, even Ned’s age in general. He looks like he’s in his 30s but apparently went to school with Krusty, who is older than the now-39-year-old Homer (in Treehouse of Horror VIII, Ned is 35—way past the life expectancy in colonial Salem, but the episode is of course non-canon).
    • Is "Brick Like Me" the writers' love letter to the LEGO franchise or is it a forced 25-minute advertisement to the recently-launched LEGO Simpsons range? The fact that LEGO is referred directly and not as a parody brand borders on the later part, and the CGI animation used heavily throughout the episode arguably does not help.
    • The much longer couch gags that have become increasingly prevalent since the show moved to being produced in HD, sometimes eating up well over a minute of the episode. Some fans consider them to be pure padding, but others regard them (especially the ones produced by guest animators) as actually more entertaining and creative than most of the actual episodes themselves.
    • "The Principal and the Pauper" is a big one. Many, if not most, viewers (and some of the production people) hate it for the revelation that Skinner was an impostor, but a few people defend the episode and like it for its comedy, claiming the haters are irrational and just don't like change. There are even base-breaking moments within the episode: some people feel that the jokes about Skinner saying out-of-character things (e.g. the famous line "Up yours, children!") are the only redeeming quality of the episode, whereas other people think they're just lazy writing. And the ending, where the "real Skinner" is rounded out of town and the citizens pretend he never existed— is that a good parody of Status Quo Is God, or is it overly mean-spirited and/or the writers belatedly realising that they made a bad choice? Another thing fans argue about with this episode is whether or not it's canon: Lisa calls Skinner, "Principal Tamzarian" in "I (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot", but another episode has Skinner in utero, and when Matt Groening complained about the episode, he claimed that it can be dismissed as non-canon.
    • "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" has few people who find it great but there is a conflict between those who hate it and those who think it's just okay. A common point of conflict is whether the Black Comedy jokes were truly funny, or if they were just tasteless.
    • In 2020, it was announced that the show's non-white characters (supposedly including Dr. Hibbert, Bumblebee Man, Dr. Nick, Apu, Carl, Lou the cop, Manjula, and Cookie Kwan) would no longer be voiced by white actors. Fans are split about whether this was a good way to address the show's Values Dissonance or if the Grandfather Clause should have stayed in effect.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • In the mostly disliked "Boys of Bummer", Marge yelling at the whole town of Springfield for their horrible treatment of Bart for simply LOSING A BASEBALL GAME has been said to be one of the (if not the only) few good things about the episode.
    • After several seasons of watching Principal Skinner be belittled and yelled at by Superintendent Chalmers for not being able to contain Bart Simpson's rampages, it can be extremely gratifying to see Principal Skinner finally snap at him in "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts", telling Chalmers that he should just teach Bart himself if he thinks it's such an easy job. Chalmers' stunned reaction and the teachers outright cheering for Skinner can make this even better.
    • For those who see Lisa as a Spoiled Brat who always gets what she wants at the expense of others, watching her own plan completely backfire on her in "A Father's Watch" can be satisfying.
  • Crack Pairing: A few crack Epileptic Trees about Maude and both Marge and Helen have appeared over the years.
  • Crazy Is Cool: Groundskeeper Willie, an insanely angry Scottish janitor who fistfights with animals, fought actual space invaders with a shotgun, and apparently thinks movies are real.
  • 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, having an "Executive Creative Consultant" credit for the entire series).
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • In "The Man Who Came to Be Dinner", a shallow Take That! at Disney involves a Mickey Mouse stand-in saying "My cartoons weren't good, they were just first", when anyone who's familiar with Felix the Cat, the early animations by Windsor McCay, or even the history of animation in general would know for certain that Mickey Mouse is not the first cartoon character, not even the first to become popular.
    • In "That '90s Show", a billboard in 1998 depicts Amy Rose with her design from Sonic Adventure, which wasn't released in North America until the following year.
  • Delusion Conclusion:
    • One fan theory is that Homer is unconscious and dreaming the whole thing.
    • Another popular theory states that the first seasons of the show actually happened — but eventually, Homer dies, and the remainder of the adventures are a Dying Dream of him slowly slipping away. The evidence given includes Homer's conversation with God at the end of Season Four's "Homer the Heretic"; when he asks for the meaning of life, God replies that he'll have to wait until he dies, and when Homer whines that he wants to know now, the Almighty replies "You can't wait six months?" Sure enough, six months later, the episode "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" aired, which features Homer falling into a coma after Bart plays a prank on him. The "Homer is Dead" theory explains that the Simpson patriarch actually dies during this episode. It's commonly used as a justification for the show becoming Denser and Wackier over the years — the early seasons were more grounded in somewhat realistic plots, but as Homer's mind falls away further and further, increasingly bizarre events begin to occur.
    • Yet another theory suggests that the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes are all the result of nightmares being experienced by the eponymous family, as evidenced by the lack of continuity and the supernatural elements not featured in the main series. Especially since the segments on “Treehouse of Horror II” were their (candy-induced) nightmares.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Homer used to be a well-intentioned moron (though strangling Bart was a Running Gag since season 1), but from Seasons 9-12, when Mike Scully ran the show, he becomes an outright Jerkass towards his family and friends, a trait that is still sometimes present, depending on the episode.
    • The use of Recycled Script also makes Lisa this, as she will often be presented as in the right or get a happy ending, yet when someone else does the exact same thing they are treated as a jerkass and shunned for it.
    • Marge’s status as the show's Designated Victim means that no matter the situation, she's treated as the wronged party. There are many situations where Marge goes along with Homer’s plans, does the same thing as him or something worse, yet she will always be treated as the victim or at least sympathetic, if it’s not outright ignored or Played for Laughs. What makes this worse is that there are episodes where Marge is clearly shown in the wrong only for the plot to go through a Shocking Swerve or Halfway Plot Switch, so not only are her actions forgotten, but she usually ends up getting exactly what she wanted.
    • In general, many characters have been treated as in the right solely by virtue of being pit against Homer, even when they've acted just as standoffish, careless or hypocritical or play as much part in the episode's dilemma (this was more prone to occur in the earliest seasons, in later ones at least, Homer was allowed to pull a Jerkass Has a Point sometimes). Herb Powell for example blames and disowns Homer for bankrupting his company with a bad car design, despite it being as much his own fault for his bad management and putting him in charge unsupervised in the first place. When Herb later guilt trips the family into funding him, they agree and side with the idea it was completely Homer's fault. Even after Herb becomes a millionare again, he refuses to accept partial blame for his past endeavour and only reluctantly even forgave Homer despite helping him.
  • Designated Villain:
    • The other girls, especially Sherri and Terri, in a lot of the "Lisa has no friends" episodes. They're often treated as shallow or straight up evil for kissing up to Lisa whenever she has something they want despite not actually liking her... but Lisa does exactly the same, trying to suck up to other girls that she only ever has contempt for simply because they're in a group, sometimes expressing this in the exact same scene. Lisa is never once called out or addressed for this and isn't subject to the disproportionate treatment the other girls get in a lot of other episodes for the apparent crime of not liking Lisa. Not to mention the twins and Janey in particular have occasionally done something nice or supported her such as in "I'm Spelling As Fast As I Can", yet Lisa's never done anything for them. As a result, it can make the other kids (even the usual Nice Girl, Allison) come off entirely justified whenever they rebuff Lisa. By this metric, the Treehouse of Horror XXVII segment “BFF RIP” actually seems logical by comparison.
    • Bart is Made Out to Be a Jerkass any time he is shown to be superior to Lisa at anything, to the point where giving up his talent for her is a recurring plotline. He's been given a What the Hell, Hero? with Marge blaming him for the consequence of Lisa's jealous antics, which ultimately convinces him to stay crippled by the end of the episode. Even when Bart is superior only because of prior knowledge, Lisa is still presented as justified in her resentment and he as wrong for retaliating, and he's also presented as wrong when the reverse is true and he resents Lisa when she proves to be superior in something he's good at.
  • 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, Lisa or Moe), 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 (though the writers saw it more as taking the piss out of those types of shows.) 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 to some.
    • 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 (coincidentally around the time that the former show was Un-Canceled). 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.
    • As a consequence of the show's age, reusing plots has also become a problem: Homer's terrible health, his and Marge's teetering marriage, and Lisa's Wangst have all been beaten to death over the years, but keep coming back regardless.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Homer and Bart. Sometimes fans will excuse their actions when they were in the wrong, often when Homer or Bart hurt Lisa in some way, simply because they dislike Lisa or prefer Homer and Bart to other characters. It also applies to later seasons independently of Lisa — Bart often causes problems for himself or exudes an aura of Brilliant, but Lazy, but fans sometimes think the universe of the show or the writers just aren't cutting him a break.
    • Sideshow Bob gets this from some of the fandom. While he is canonically a bit of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, many fanworks gloss over his deliberate attempts to murder or otherwise harm people and turn him into a straight-up good guy with a heap of Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Many Lisa-focused plots have this as they often require ignoring or even an outright sacrifice of someone else's happiness (that person usually being Bart). There are even episodes where people are heavily injured and even killed, but ignored because Lisa got what she wanted. (It works the other way, too, with plenty of episodes that have had happy endings for everyone except Lisa, sometimes directly at her expense.)
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Indian-Americans have a complicated relationship with Apu. Many have had to endure bullying in the form of people doing his stereotypical voice in front of them, while numerous actors have complained about having to endure thousands of auditions where they'd be asked to do some variation on the voice. Comedian Hari Kondabolu, who described the character as "a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of of my dad," famously released a documentary on the subject, The Problem With Apu, in 2018, where he and other performers of Hindi descent discuss their feelings about the show and the character, as well as the general lack of representation of Indians in American media that allows characters like Apu to be the only representation they get. Hank Azaria, who was aware of the controversy but declined an interview for the documentary (stating that he didn't want to speak on behalf of everyone working on the show), eventually said that he was willing to retire the character. Meanwhile, episodes which attempted to address this, such as "Much Apu About Something"note  and "No Good Read Goes Unpunished,"note  were both dismissed by these critics as petty and dismissive, while Matt Groening outright stated that he doesn't find Apu offensive at all.
    • As this early 2020 article has stated as of late, the show will no longer have non-white characters voiced by white voice actors.
    • The Brazilians in “Blame It On Lisa”. The episode has so many stereotypes about Brazilians that the Brazilian government complained, culminating in an apology being issued.
    • Bumblebee Man is actually Norwegian (despite his appearance) and speaks a very butchered “Spanglish”.
    • Speaking of Norwegians, the residents of Ogdenville are of Norwegian descent. When they arrive in Springfield, many people, including Homer, are hateful towards them. Marge even becomes shocked at Maggie saying “ja”.
    • The Canadians get this too. When Lisa meets Justin Trudeau, she temporarily gains this exaggerated Canadian accent. A Canadian version of Ralph Wiggum is wearing a dead seal. There is some self-deprecating humor as well, with the Newfoundlanders and the Québécois claiming that they always get made fun of.
    • In contrast, Scotland actually likes Groundskeeper Willie.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Mr. 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. He makes a pretty cool Treehouse of Horror villain as well, particularly in II, IV, and XII.
    • Sideshow Bob. He's voiced by Kelsey Grammer and his plans tend to be well thought out and the only reason he loses is someone outgambits him in some way, but he comes pretty close to succeeding. His younger brother Cecil makes the cut too for being just as devious and cultured and being voiced by David Hyde Pierce.
    • The all-powerful Kang and Kodos, who've managed to conquer the Earth a decent number of times.
    • Hank Scorpio is a fan favorite villain for being a criminal mastermind who was also a Benevolent Boss to Homer.
    • The Springfield Mafia. While they’re not exactly the smartest cookies in the jar, they are pretty badass. The death of the original Fat Tony is an iconic scene as well.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Sideshow Bob has amassed a fair number of fangirls through the years, mostly due to his voice. The fact that he's a reasonably young man with a lot of charisma and acting talent doesn't hurt. If you’re into palm-tree haired evil potbellied guys with abnormally large feet, even for a cartoon character.
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    F-L 
  • Fandom Heresy: Not unlike the whole "prequels vs. the original series" debates, defense of any later episode will come across as this.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • The Simpsons is one of the media franchises most well-known for having multiple foreign dubs in the same language, most notably two different Frenchnote  and Spanishnote  versions. However, due to the drastically different voice casts and approaches to Woolseyism between regional versions, the American and European fans are often at each other's throats about whose dub is superior.
    • The rivalry that pretty much all regions of fans have with fans of Family Guy and (to a lesser extent) South Park.
    • One sprang up with the Bojack Horseman fandom when "Mad About The Toy" beat out "Free Churro" for the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Nedna is literally a fan-preferred couple: Fox held a vote to see if they should break up or become an Official Couple. Nedna won (but not before Marcia Wallace died, leaving Ned Flanders a widower once again).
    • Nelson/Lisa is generally considered a better future outcome than Milhouse/Lisa, by fans and voice actors alike. So much so that in The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Nelson and Lisa spend significantly more time referencing their relationship than Milhouse does expressing his crush.
    • Bart/Laura Powers is very beloved due to the chemistry between the two's rebellous prankster personalities, and hearing Laura's promise of how she'd date Bart once he grew up a bit more in "New Kid on the Block" was icing on the cake. Even Bartkira, a 2014 fanwork combining the story of AKIRA with the aesthetics of The Simpsons, was more than happy to pair Bart/Laura together as the main duo. In addition to this, several of Bart's future love interests are considered uninteresting and bland, adding even more support to the pairing.
    • Milhouse/Samantha Stankey. Much in the vein of Bart/Laura, Milhouse/Samantha is especially adored due to the love the two shared in "Bart's Friend Falls in Love", and out of spite in regards to future seasons forcibly portraying him as a hopeless loser by having him go after The One That Got Away and winning her back against all odds.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: In "Large Marge", Marge is not happy when a plastic surgeon gives her breast implants meant for one of Mayor Quimby's female interns and she spends the whole episode fretting about them (while all the men drool and ogle at them), which of course means they're gone by the end of the episode. This one probably doesn't need any further explanation.
  • First Installment Wins: Some fans treat "Mother Simpson" as the only time Mona Simpson appears, as they feel her later appearances cancel out its very powerful Tear Jerker ending.
  • Genre Turning Point: It's impossible to overstate how revolutionary this show was. Not only was it one of the first mainstream western cartoons to be specifically written for adults, it was the Trope Codifier for animated sitcoms. In addition to that, the show's Laugh Track-free, subversive, and often meta humor had massive influence on sitcoms in general, animated or not.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Lisa. She's a Base-Breaking Character 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. Bart on the other hand, is widely disliked there for his rebelliousness.
    • The show is extremely popular abroad, due to the extensive Woolseyisms involved in each foreign dub.
      • French Canadians love the series; it's one of the only foreign shows airing in French Canada to not only be dubbed into Canadian French, but to extensively use colloquial Québécois French accents and slang as opposed to the Standard French typically used in French-Canadian dubs.
      • In South America, this is pretty much the only non-Latin show to air nowadays in over-the-air channels (aside from the occasional Brazilian or Turkish 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 keeping the original references.
  • Growing the Beard: Handled in a variety of aspects.
    • While not considered bad, the first season seems jarringly different than other seasons to more recent viewers, due to the show's slower pace, Homer's voice, the quirks of the animation style, etc. The show starts solidifying their character designs in the second season and ramping up the visual humor, which hit its stride by the third season. The reason was largely financial: the initial Tracey Ullman shorts were done on the cheap (starting with a two-man animation team, one of whom was Matt Groening), and improved as more funding was added. The first season was a half-length trial - with the second season, they got a full whack of funding and were able to set down a regular writing and production cycle and firm up the designs.
    • The series' unique storytelling style (with the first third of the episode dwelling on a long series of possible plotlines before finally revealing the main story) was already developing during the third season, which many consider the beginning of The Simpsons' "golden era" ("Bart the Murderer" is a prime example, as Bart has a progressively worse and worse day until he runs into The Mafia, which then becomes the main story).
    • The fourth season saw an increase of Rapid-Fire Comedy while pathos was phased out. At the same time, the characters gradually adopted their "classic" characterizations.
    • Depending on who you ask many fans will consider Season 20 onwards to be the show Regrowing the Beard after a bad case of Seasonal Rot, or the show succumbing to Seasonal Rot after it re-Grew the Beard between Season 15 to 20, or the show just maintaining its long Seasonal Rot.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "Brush with Greatness", as Ringo Starr is responding to fan mail from the 1970s, he says, "I don't care if it takes me another 20 years. I'm going to answer every one of them." In October 2008, Starr announced he'd no longer accept any more fan mail.
    • In "Fear of Flying", Homer didn’t want Marge to go to therapy because he thought it would turn her against him. In "Specs in the City", he finds out that she is in therapy and he is her biggest complaint.
    • In "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", which first aired in 1991, Bart is told by the devil he's not due to end up in hell until the next time the Yankees win the pennant (their last World Series appearance at the time being in 1981). The Yankees won the pennant in 1996, which could mean Bart's had a short life.
    • In "Lisa's 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 "Lisa's Sax" where Bart being disregarded by his parents as Lisa gets all the attention is exactly what happens. Taken even further when Marge eventually admits she sees all of her children as Replacement Goldfish, making Lisa a serious case of the Middle Child Syndrome.
    • In "Beyond Blunderdome" guest star Mel Gibson is genuinely shocked when audiences react badly to the ultra-violent climactic bloodbath ending to his remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. 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.
    • "Bart of Darkness": Bart worrying that Maude might be dead doesn't seem so funny now that Maude really is dead.
    • Dr. Hibbert's whole situation of being the anti-Cliff Huxtable in light of the Real Life sexual crimes that Bill Cosby has been accused of doing, especially in "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister", where Hibbert makes a reference to dealing with a sexual harassment lawsuit.
    • Seeing what a cool, heroic guy that Jebediah Springfield, the town's founder, is portrayed as in "The Telltale Head" is this after his true identity is discovered in "Lisa the Iconoclast": as a conman and a scoundrel who tried to kill George Washington.
    • In "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays", while the Springfieldians are taking away every kid friendly aspect in Springfield, they changed the Toys R Us. Moe switches the backwards "R" into a normal "R", making the children cry. In 2018, Toys R Us went out of business (in the UK and the US respectively, international subsidiaries still operate), making real-life children, whether current or former, sad just like the kids in Springfield.
    • In "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", Manjula blithely remarks that if her and Apu's marriage doesn't work out, they can always get a divorce, and in the very next season there's a Valentine episode where Apu dotes on Manjula. And then in the next season they had octuplets, which strained their relationship to the point where Apu had an affair, which completely changed Manjula's character into a bitter, hateful shrew who seemingly only exists to make Apu miserable...and yet they stay together, seemingly just so the writers can milk their broken marriage for Cringe Comedy.
    • Homer has gotten Bart in trouble twice by telling him that being cool and following peer pressure is the most important thing in the world. Once in "The Telltale Head" and another in "Bart's Not Dead". Only once did Homer have a Heel Realization for his actions, even though the latter case put Bart's life in danger.
    • From seasons 1 to 19 the show would always have an intro before the couch gag consisting of Homer pulling his car to the driveway and almost gets run over when Marge pulls up to the driveway. Not so funny anymore when Marge really did hit Homer with her car in "Brake My Wife Please".
    • "Lisa the Beauty Queen" has Lisa rebel against Laramie Cigarettes despite sponsoring the "Little Miss Springfield" beauty pageant because she doesn't want to be the symbol for them and give other kids the idea that smoking is good and "Homer The Moe" has a scene where Homer puts a cigarette in Lisa's mouth and lights it. "Smoke On The Daughter" negates her good intentions in the former and make the joke from the latter tough to watch by having Lisa smoke and the episode ends without her quitting. She instead takes nicotine patches.
    • The ending of "Principal Charming" gets even more depressing knowing that not only would Seymour's other major love interest, Edna, would eventually marry Ned Flanders before passing away, but Patty has since come out of the closet, meaning they'll never get back together.
    • At the end of "Goo Goo Gai Pan", Selma says she'll bring Ling back to visit China when she's a spoiled American teenager. Come "The Changing Of The Guardian" where Selma and Patty have done the opposite of spoiling Ling forcing her to do various activities (lasso, art, playing music) at once and tell Homer and Marge not to compliment her so as not to make her lazy.
    • At the beginning of "Bart's Friend Falls in Love", Milhouse's Magic-8 Ball responds to Bart asking if he and Milhouse will be friends when they're old men, or even after leaving high school, solely in the negative. Since then, several episodes set in the future have shown Bart and Milhouse sharing precious few scenes together (and barely even talking to each other during those scenes), implying they really did drift apart over the years.
    • The end of "The Girl Code", The AI Conrad tells everyone that they shouldn't need an app to tell them whether or not they should post something that they shouldn't on social media. This same episode has Homer getting fired due to an ill-advised post that Marge made. During the time of the episode airing and since then, there have been a lot of people, especially celebrities, losing things like endorsements and JOBS because of posts they have made in the past or in the present.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In "Worst Episode Ever", jokes are made about Comic Book Guy's single status, when Dr. Hibbert comments after he has a heart attack that the job of running a comic store is something he'd call "The Professional Widowmaker" except the owners are never married. Flashforward to Season 25's "Married to the Blob" and Comic Book Guy does end up Happily Married.
  • Hollywood Homely: Selma and Patty are presented as being extremely unattractive in the show, but they don't look substantially different from their sister Marge, who's considered to be beautiful.
    • Smithers; this becomes a plot point in the episode "Flaming Moe." While Smithers is usually shown to be a merely average-looking, (if not mildly pudgy ) middle-aged man, in this episode, he's denied entry from a popular gay club for not being attractive enough.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: It's been mentioned on more than one occasion that Lisa's butt is apparently much bigger than most kids her age. This is despite the fact that the viewers can see that she pretty much has the same body type as most of the other kids.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The recurring Break Up to Make Up plot between Homer and Marge from the early seasons was revived after Homer Took a Level in Jerkass during the Al Jean years. While it was supposed to make the audience wonder why someone would put up with him, Marge increasingly became portrayed as extremely vindictive, to the point where she began looking like the abusive one at times.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Bart, Homer, Lisa and Grandpa Simpson. Depending on the Writer, Nelson Muntz, Moe, and Milhouse sometimes qualify.
    • Mr. Burns, whenever he tries to atone for what he's done (he usually gets rejected). There are also subtle hints throughout the show (such as in 'Homer's Night Out' and 'Burns' Heir') that despite his profound corporate greed and love of money, he's secretly a bitterly lonely old man who's despondent that he never got married or started a family of his own. He's also shown to not have many friends aside from Smithers; in 'Lady Bouvier's Lover,' only one person shows up to his wedding- and whenever the citizens of Springfield assume Mr. Burns has died, his death is always publicly celebrated.
    • 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 had to work with Homer's stupid antics.
    • Selma. She's pretty aggressive, but she is a lonely woman, who does show herself to have a heart several times, and even Homer does sometimes experience her Hidden Heart of Gold.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some episodes are mainly watched for the crossovers with other shows:
    • "Mathlete's Feat" features a crossover Couch Gag with Rick and Morty, which was praised for staying true to the latter show's edgier tone.
    • Similarly, "My Way or the Highway to Heaven"'s Couch Gag is a crossover with Bob's Burgers and is considered one of the most iconic parts of the episode thanks to the latter characters' hilarious dialogue.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Bart. Marge too, must run in the family.
  • Love to Hate: Sideshow Bob and Mr. Burns are incredibly sinister and Laughably Evil.

    M-S 
  • Magnificent Bastard: Springfield has many citizens and many villains – but despite so much competition the following still manage to leave their mark of devious charm:
    • "Homer the Vigilante": Molloy is a resident of the Springfield Retirement Castle who moonlights as the Springfield Cat Burglar. When Homer, head of the new Neighbourhood Watch, was interviewed by Kent Brockman, Molloy phoned in to taunt Homer that he would steal the Springfield Museum's Zirconia and succeeds despite Homer's efforts. When arrested, Molloy gracefully returns all his stolen goods before being put in jail, where he tells Homer and Chief Wiggum about where he hid all his stolen loot, leading to the whole town hunting for it. When the location Molloy described is found, all that is present is a note saying Molloy lied and used the time they spent searching to escape. An archetypical Gentleman Thief, Molloy remains memorable despite his only appearance and relatively humble goals.
    • "You Only Move Twice": Hank Scorpio is the president of the Globex Corporation whose passions include his employees' wellbeing, fun runs and world domination. Threatening the UN with a Doomsday Device, Scorpio holds the world ransom while at the same time becoming friends with new hire Homer Simpson, actually managing to make Homer productive. Executing the escaping Mr. Bont after Homer tackles the agent and successfully repelling an attack on his lair, Scorpio amiably parts with Homer when the latter decides to return to Springfield for the sake of his family. Conquering the East Coast, Scorpio gives Homer the Denver Broncos as a farewell gift and assures him they will always be friends. Emulating the best aspects of the classic Bond villains he parodies, Scorpio also cares just as much—if not more—about his employees' happiness than he does about conquering the world. The height of Affably Evil and perhaps the show's most successful villain, Hank Scorpio is a beloved character years after his single episode.
    • "The Wandering Juvie": Gina Vendetti is a troubled pre-teen, who got into a juvenile correctional facility by shoving Snow White off a building. She easily manipulates Bart by tricking him into going along with her by playing a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, using her wits to outsmart the Warden of the facility and escape using a disco ball connected to a rope and a blacksmith to remove their cuffs. Despite constantly hurting Bart both mentally and physically, she truly loves him, and has no family to speak of and when caught she confesses everything get Bart set free. Troubled, and intelligent with a Hidden Heart of Gold, Gina showed herself to be among the most clever of Bart's girlfriends.
    • "The Debarted": Donny is a troubled orphan from Shelbyville who quickly befriends Bart Simpson. Having been asked by Chalmers and Principal Skinner to infiltrate Bart's gang of friends, Donny takes the heat for one of Bart's pranks, tricks him into accusing Milhouse, and helps Skinner stay one step ahead of Bart at any given time. When Groundskeeper Willie sells Bart out, Donny has a Heel Realization and decides to stop Skinner and Chalmers. Troubled, calm, and a surprisingly good planner, Donny got the best of both Bart and Skinner.
    • "The Book Job": Neil Gaiman, the King of Fantasy Books, is a Con Man who regularly heists his way to the top. Overhearing the main crew coming up with their book idea, Gaiman decides to steal it for himself and integrates himself into the group. Pretending to be a fool, Gaiman secretly strikes a deal with Moe the Bartender. When the publishing company changes their book to be about vampires, Gaiman plays on their pride of authorship, costing them their millions, and convinces them to swap the company's flash drive with one holding their original book. While Lisa is successful in swapping the flash drives, it is revealed that Gaiman had replaced theirs with one that gave him the credit, before escaping to Shelbyville and double-crossing Moe by poisoning him. Hammy, snarky, and smarter than he at first appears, Neil Gaiman is able to heist his way onto the bestseller list once again, despite not even being able to read.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: A strange thing about Apu is that while he has been criticized by Indian-Americans or rather South Asian Americans (since even Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who aren't Indians are confused for the stereotype and accent), Apu is well-liked in India itself for the fact that Apu was one of the few Indian-origin characters in American TV, and that he was in the context of his time, non-stereotypical i.e. not defined entirely by religion, not overtly submissive, and generally shown with the same flaws and quirks as any Springfielder, compared to most Indian characters in Western media.
    • Many people in the LGBT community have a soft spot for Smithers, despite some of his more questionable misdeeds. It helps that he was an explicitly gay television character during a time when it was almost entirely unheard of, he's more of a Straight Gay rather than an outlandish stereotype, and in spite of his quirks, he's rather Adorkable and a relatively sympathetic character.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Since he became showrunner in Season 9, Mike Scully gets blamed for "The Principal and the Pauper" during that season. Except Scully was never involved in it. It was a left-over episode from Season 8, with Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein as showrunners, Steven Dean Moore was the director, and Ken Keeler was the writer.
    • Mike Scully also gets heavily blamed for the decline in quality of the show in general. It was not all his fault, however, as most of the Simpsons writing and production talent had been leaving, with a massive exodus after seasons 7 and 8, with many more leaving after 9. Many left to start production on Futurama, others left for other Fox shows, and others left for other animation studios and creative ventures altogether. Scully also had to deal with the deaths of prominent script supervisor, and Lunchlady Doris voice actress, Doris Grau, and prominent recurring star Phil Hartman, who many considered to be part of the show's lifeblood. There was also the simple fact that Scully was handed a show with 8 seasons under its belt and this is a recipe for decline for any showrunner.
    • Lisa sometimes gets this from the fans, being blamed for Marge and Homer's bad parenting when fans feel they favor her over Bart. In "Lisa's Sax", many felt that Bart's unhappiness at school was shoved aside in favour of nurturing Lisa's gift. While the episode supports this to an extent, it's not really Lisa's fault as she was a toddler at the time and not consciously trying to steal their parents' attention.
    • Subverted with the claims from fans of classic animation that the show led the industry to move away from Deranged Animation in favor of the more conservative style of TV animation that became the norm from the 1990s onwards, with said fans even pointing to the rejection of the original, more cartoonish version of "Some Enchanted Evening" as proof that the show was trying to kill off that kind of animation. In actual fact, TV animation had for the previous quarter-century been the Limited Animation of studios like Hanna-Barbera and Filmation, with classic-style animation actually having a comeback in the early 1990snote . However, the popularity of The Simpsons did ensure that shows like Family Guy and King of the Hill would become de jure once the "classic animation" resurgence crashed at the end of that decade, but said crash was more to do with studio politics amid lack of audience interest and the emergence of CGI animation than anything to do with The Simpsons.
  • Moe:
    • Maggie, the adorable Cute Mute baby who is always sucking on her pacifier (though she has a dark side).
    • Lisa, being a smart, caring, and idealistic Adorably Precocious Child.
    • Ralph, one of Lisa's classmates, qualifies due to his innocence and being a Cloudcuckoolander.
    • Ironically the character named Moe definitely averts this trope.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: This show started off as animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. Although Ullman was a solid hit for the then-budding Fox network, it is today almost entirely forgotten outside the context of being The Simpsons' parent show (and even then, you'd be lucky to find many people aware of the show's origins outside it being mentioned in the show itself).
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The heavenly choir at the beginning of the opening sequence.
  • My Real Daddy: While Matt Groening and James L. Brooks get the bulk of credit for creating the series, John Ortved in his book The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History argues that co-developer, producer and writer Sam Simon deserves at least an equal share of the credit for making the series as good as it was. Simon worked on the series for only the first four seasons but for contractual reasons he kept receiving credit and royalties from the show until his death from cancer in March 2015. Fans also credit director and animator David Silverman, who has been involved with The Simpsons since the early The Tracey Ullman Show shorts, for establishing and refining the show's visual identity. Silverman has been responsible for handling some of the show's most unique and challenging scenes, such as Homer's chili-induced hallucinations.
  • Narm Charm: The plentiful amount of Recycled Animation seen in the earlier seasons. Realizing the limited budget the show had back then and being able to pick out when a certain scene was reused (and badly dubbed over or otherwise ill-fitting) from a previous episode is something of an unofficial game for fans. One example includes both "Saturdays of Thunder" and "Radio Bart" from season three featuring a top-down view of Homer bragging about Bart to Marge while they're laying in bed together with the latter episode's Looping Lines being pretty obvious.
  • 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.
    • Similarly Bart said "Cowabunga" in only a couple of instances in the original Tracey Ullman shorts and the second season, despite it being slapped on endless merchandise of the character. DVD commentary reveals the creative team were surprised he even said it in the actual series at all.
    • The townspeople are untrusted by fans ever since "Boys Of Bummer" premiered, despite them apologizing for treating Bart badly to the point Bart was nearly Driven to Suicide, especially since Bart took 78 tries just to see him get his confidence back. One particular case is Chief Wiggum for driving Bart back to the crowd for losing the game and was the one who taunted Bart into jumping off.
    • In "Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble", some fans can't forgive Homer for causing Abe's kidneys to burst just so he could watch a TV show. Especially since Homer repeatedly runs away from the kidney transplant that would save Abe's life.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The first act break of Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes has Homer being shot at, with the bullet coming towards his head and him screaming. Since it's a foregone conclusion that Homer will not be hit (being that he's one of the main characters), it's more funny than frightening.
  • Older Than They Think: Many of the commonly cited examples of how "The Simpsons predicted" various things are actually cases of the show simply doing then-topical jokes about things that still happen to be relevant today. Autocorrect had been a common word processing feature for a while when the "Eat Up Martha" gag was written, and it was specifically a swipe at the infamously lousy handwriting recognition function on the Apple Newton.note  The gag about Donald Trump becoming President in "Bart to the Future" was a reference to his short-lived campaign for the Reform Party nomination in 2000.
    • Years before the controversial Armin Tamzarian storyline, Barry Sonnenfeld faced similar outrage over his Uncle Fester/Gordon Craven storyline in the 1991 film The Addams Family. Originally, Sonnenfeld wanted to reveal that Uncle Fester was, in fact, a stranger named Gordon Craven all long, and the family would still accept him as their Uncle Fester, even after finding out that he's an imposter. However, the cast despised this revelation and forced Sonnenfeld to change the ending so that Gordon turned out to be the real Uncle Fester, after all.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
  • Opinion Myopia: Even so much as suggesting latter-day episodes have a bit of spark in them is an incredibly easy way to provoke the steadfast feelings of fans of the older episodes. (But, of course, it actually works both ways: for those who tend play up the "Zombie Simpsons" ideology, there are also those who may deny any kind of flaws in the newer episodes whatsoever.)
  • Padding: The show's creative team readily admit that they do this, because episodes often don't end up timing out properly once all the elements get put together. This is why things like the Overly Long Gag and the Halfway Plot Switch became show staples. Bart's Prank Calls to Moe were specifically designed as standalone bits that could be dropped into an episode's storyline if they needed to fill time.
  • Periphery Demographic: The Simpsons is very popular amongst vaporwave fans and artists.
  • Polished Port: The XBLA and PSN port of the arcade game is basically arcade perfect.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • With few exceptions, most Simpsons games are terrible, or at the very least, very difficult. The arcade game and The Simpsons: Hit & Run, however, are regarded as classics, Bart's Nightmare is fairly decent, and the 2007 multi-platform game, despite camera issues, has 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.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
  • Sacred Cow:
  • The Scrappy: Everyone in this show is a Base-Breaking Character in some way, but these are the characters just about everyone hates.
    • Marvin Monroe is hated by almost everyone, mostly because of his annoying raspy voice, but also for his judgmental stance. His voice actor, Harry Shearer wanted the character removed from the show because voicing him actually damaged Shearer himself. And even Matt Groening hated his annoying voice, which is why he was removed from the show.
    • The Crazy Cat Lady gets a lot of heat for having one joke (it's in the name) that keeps getting used long after it stopped being funny.
    • Rich Texan as well, for the same reason — his one joke is that he's a tired Texan cowboy stereotype.
    • The Yes Guy is a similar one-joke character. His entire shtick consists of an exaggerated "Yeeeeeeeees" pronunciation in a parody of radio/TV comedian Frank Nelson. He was introduced in season 10 and his (admittedly infrequent) appearances quickly lost their humor.
    • While Ned is a fan-favorite and some people really hated the episode where his wife Maude was killed off, few people like their sons, Rod and Todd Flanders, since they are little more than a boring, overly sheltered pair of goody-two-shoes, whose life is always Played for Laughs, leaving little development or depth to either of them.
    • Miss Hoover is generally disliked for being an extreme case of an Apathetic Teacher with no sense of humor. Plenty of fans call her the most boring character in the show.
    • Gil Gunderson. He was introduced in "Realty Bites" as a parody of Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross, but soon became a recurring character. While occasionally amusing, Gil's never developed beyond being a Straw Loser despite receiving several focus episodes and is often depicted as a moocher (especially in "Kill Gil"). It doesn't help that he occasionally works as an incompetent attorney, which led many to label him a Replacement Scrappy for Lionel Hutz.
    • Jenda, Bart’s future wife, many fans find her a flat, pretty boring and disappointing character. Worse, still, the Jean-era episodes canonize her as Bart's future wife when the role could have gone to almost anyone else and it would have been more interesting like Jessica, Sherri or Terri. Most of Bart's other love interests (particularly Mary Spuckler in her later appearances) are also often derided for being too vindictive of him.
    • Poochie is this In-Universe in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", Poochie is a new Itchy & Scratchy character voiced by Homer, who is Totally Radical (and in Itchy's face) even in his post-episode aesops. No-one except Homer likes him, and is hastily canned, leading to the Shoo Out the New Guy trope.
    • Shauna is disliked and for a lot of good reasons. She's given an episode not long after her first appearance when plenty of other characters go to waste, only talks in a flat Valley Girl voice. She gets an undue amount of screentime despite only serving as either a creepily sexualized teenager or dragging down Jimbo. Not helping is that her first starring role had her sexually abuse Bart and not face any punishment for it. If anything she's given far lighter treatment than the rest of the Springfield Elementary students.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The general consensus is that the show stopped being good after either seasons eight, nine or ten. The tipping point is usually contingent on what season that one started watching the show, and what style of humor you enjoyed from it.
      • There is a very small, somewhat Vocal Minority that believe the show stopped being good after season five, and that the show should have ended around that point. While such a claim is absolutely insane to many fans, the style of humor and focus of the show did change somewhat noticeably around that time. Most of the original writing staff left after season 4 ended, and the new showrunner for seasons 5 and 6, David Mirkin, was far more focused on more outrageous jokes and situations. If one watched the show from the very beginning, and enjoyed the show for its more subtle comedy and down-to-earth relatability, such a shift might turn off said viewers. However, even THESE viewers will almost always claim season 6-10 were far superior in quality to those afterward.
      • Season 8 is often cited as the last time The Simpsons created consistently good episodes, although 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, and "Homer's Enemy", the episode with Frank Grimes. Despite this, almost NOBODY claims that this season should not be part of the classic era. Part of this was from the showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein experimenting with various ideas, as they (wrongly but understandably) believed the show was on its way out.
      • Season 9 is usually cited as the last good season, because, despite Mike Scully running the show and featuring the infamous episode "Principal and the Pauper" (which actually was a leftover season 8 episode), season nine did have some good episodes like "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" and "The Cartridge Family".
      • Season 10 is cited by some as the beginning of the Seasonal Rot, with others calling it the last good season (classic examples include "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" and "Lisa Gets an "A""), as it was during the time Phil Hartman died (meaning no more Lionel Hutz or Troy McClure) and when it became obvious the writers were running out of ideas, in part due to Matt Groening working on Futurama, which debuted midway that season.
    • Many fans feel that Seasons 11 and 12 were the show's worst, with heavy reliance on bizarre plots, nonsensical twist endings, and tons of special guest stars. The season 11 finale, "Behind the Laughter", is considered the era's bright spot, but season 11 also featured three commonly-cited "worst episode ever" candidates: "Saddlesore Galactica", "Kill the Alligator and Run" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge".
      • Despite this, there are some people who, despite admitting their lower quality, will STILL include the entire Scully era in the "classic era".
    • Seasons 13 to 20, when Al Jean succeeded Mike Scully as showrunner, are considered the era when the show turned into a Franchise Zombie. The common complaints are that it often fell victim to We're Still Relevant, Dammit!, started imitating the humor styles of South Park and Family Guy, and recycled plotlines from older episodes.
    • Season 21 onwards, with Matt Selman becoming Jean's assistant, have become controversial for following a similar path to the Scully years. Some observers felt there was an uptick in the show's quality in seasons 19 & 20, with the writers seemingly re-energized by The Simpsons Movie to try out new ideas and polish up the scripts. This made the Denser and Wackier turn in season 21 quite jarring.
    • Parodied in Don Hertzfeldt's Couch Gag, which depicts the characters in the year 10,535 as hideous, incoherent mutants capable only of voicing Catch Phrases, demands that you buy merchandise, and the occasional bit of Surreal Horror.
    • The foreign dubs went downhill in different seasons, depending on the language.
      • French viewers tend to see the rot only occurring around seasons 19-20, considering season 12 to 16 to be classic, regular Simpsons. This is due to 1) these seasons being aired a lot in french TV and 2) Superlative Dubbing, as after season 19 and the movie, a major cast member Michel Modo (who voiced Seymour Skinner, Mr. Burns and Krusty the Clown notably) died and his replacement(s) never stood up to his incredible performance, allowing the French viewers to actually start seeing, in their eyes, the show declining in quality. Bart's actress recast was more a subject of Broken Base because of the replacement's very similar voice.
      • The European Spanish dub went downhill after season 11, when Carlos Revilla (who voiced Homer and directed the dub) died.
      • The Latin Spanish dub went downhill after season 15, when the entire cast went on strike. This compounded with the quality decline of the show itself, as the original cast added several beloved jokes that were not part of the original version (such as "a la grande le puse Cuca" and "El parque de diversiones del futuro, en donde nada puede malir sal").
      • The Italian dub went downhill after seasons 22 and 23. First, Bart and Marge were recast, then Tonino Accola (Homer's voice actor) died.
      • The Hungarian dub went downhill after episode 29.14, when Jozsef Szekhelyi (Homer's voice actor) died and Balazs Simonyi (Bart) quit the series.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Hoo boy, the impact this show had on pushing television content and what can be done with animated shows makes it the equal to, if not surpassing, Seinfeld itself. With the significant rise of more mature television The Simpsons can seem almost quaint and hard to understand the immense backlash. These days, it barely (but occasionally) raises a blip on the Moral Guardian's radar, thanks to Matt & Trey's South Park and Seth MacFarlane's cartoons being far more obscene across the board.
    • In the early years, this cartoon was criticized for being a cartoon with some language, shocking violence and smutty content (Groening never intended it to be targeted towards kids, the bright colors was intended to be attention grabbing). But such moments are actually few and far between, many episodes played out similar to the typical live action sitcom. It was more the animated styled violence (like Homer choking Bart) that confused many people, as that would be hugely inappropriate if it wasn't animated.
    • The animated family sitcom formula is Older than You Think (several references are made to The Flintstones as a predecessor), but the show banked on the family being the center of a surreal town with a colorful population and Loads and Loads of Characters that can drop in, drop out or even take the focus of an episode itself. The Rapid-Fire Comedy that they refined can be seen emulated in shows ranging from Scrubs to Malcolm in the Middle to Arrested Development to The Office (US) (Michael Scott is basically Homer Simpson, which made sense since creator Greg Daniels use to be a writer for the show).
    • The characters, specifically Bart and Homer, were seen as bad role models and horrible people in general. In reality, a lot of effort is made so that they seem relatable but have their own failings. Bart loves playing pranks and picks up some bad language from Homer but is subject to being bullied and can be sensitive in his own way, an early episode "Bart Gets an F" has him try studying for a test, STILL failing and slowly have an emotional breakdown. Homer can be aloof, lazy and inattentive to his family but also deals with a stressful, soul sucking job; he also adores his family more than he lets on and is often more excited for family outings than the kids.
    • The depiction of them as a Dysfunctional Family in an animated sitcom was seen as an assault on traditional family values, with George H. W. Bush famously even commented how the American family needs to be more like The Waltons rather than The Simpsons. But the show itself was intended to be a Deconstruction of the typical sitcom family, specifically The Cosby Show in showing attentive parents with only minorly inconvenient kids. Homer was designed to be a hard working dad who got burned out at work during the day and just wanted to have a beer and watch TV at home, only to get interrupted by troublemaking kids. Bart was a troublemaking, prank pulling kid with a potty mouth who nonetheless had issues with being bullied at school. The Itchy and Scratchy cartoons were a parody of the outlandish violence seen in classic Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry, with even a reference to The Flintstones trying to remind audiences that the show is not as revolutionary as was claimed. The show itself started exaggerating various facets of its own style, but with many other animated shows taking the real life situations, violence and language to more extreme levels, it's hard to catch on to why this was controversial.
  • Shallow Parody:
    • There's something resembling an anime parody on the Season 12 episode "HOMR". While at an animation convention, Bart and Lisa watch a Japanese cartoon (which Bart refers to as "Japanimation", a term which hasn't seen much use since The '80s) in which a robot-wolf-like creature captures a female warrior who turns into a prawn and destroys the robo-wolf, who then turns into a pair of wind-up shoes and walks away. So the point Al Jean (the episode writer) is making is "Ha-ha-ha, anime is weird" (which Bart and Lisa lampshade). Oddly, it seems more like a parody of American science fantasy cartoons from the '80s (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983), Thundarr the Barbarian etc.) than actual anime. Same thing with the "Battling Seizure Robots" parody from Season 10's "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" (though that's more of a reference to that infamous Pokémon episode "Electric Soldier Porygon", which was banned after viewers suffered seizures).
    • Of course, there is a homage counterbalance — one of the couch gags is Japan-themed and adds Ultraman (complete with his famous attacks) and Jun the Swan among other things.
    • As the title implies, Season 23's "The D'oh-cial Network" is established as a parody of a certain 2010 film. The similarities are more or less restricted to: Lisa starting a Facebook Expy networking site, use of Radiohead's "Creep" (used in the trailer, not the actual film), and a cameo by Armie Hammer. It seems like the writers watched a trailer for The Social Network before penning this one.
    • The parody of The O.C., which DOES get the title, theme song and general age ("young") of the characters right, but only featured two lines of dialogue ("-I can't believe you cheated on me! -Well, that's how it goes down in the O.C.") followed by a montage to the main theme, with some guys (one of whom is dressed in a Snoopy suit) walking cheerfully down the street, visiting an amusement park and withdrawing some money from an ATM while being held at gunpoint by the guy in the Snoopy suit. What any of this has to do with the series is a mystery.
    • In a sort of crossover with the Robot Chicken entry above, the Couch Gag for "The Cad and The Hat" uses a poor parody of South Park in the "it's funny because they're children and they swear" way of parodying the series, despite being made long after the show already abandoned the joke for current events and socio-political satire. Said gag also includes a rather poor, and incredibly out of place, parody of the California Raisins singing about how bad they are to the tune of the Marvin Gaye hit turned jingle, "Heard it Through the Grapevine".
    • Speaking of South Park, a early parody of the show in the episode "The Bart of War" mostly depicts the show as being revolved on just fart-jokes and Bloody Hilarious, despite the former being only use in the Terrance and Phillip scenes of the show and the later not even being the main source of humor. Plus, when OJ Simpson is seen going on a killing spree, he was seen killing Cartman instead of Kenny, implying that the writers didn't even watched the show.
    • Twice the series has lampooned Twin Peaks, and while the joke works fine in "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part II", the episode "Lisa's Sax" has Homer flipping channels to see an old man ballroom dancing with a horse in a moonlit meadow with a traffic light hanging from a tree behind them. The man comments "This is some damn fine coffee you got here in Twin Peaks." It was as if that episode's writer only knew two things about Twin Peaks: it's strange and the phrase "damn fine coffee" gets repeated a lot.
    • One episode has a Precious parody that consists solely of jokes about how fat the lead actress is. This may be somewhat explained seeing that the movie's subject matter (child molestation, incest, and domestic violence) is far too messed-up for this show.
    • A parody of Tintin in "Husbands and Knives" references the moon rocket from "Explorers to the Moon", the isle of "The Black Island", Captain Haddock, Thompson, Thomson, Snowy and Tintin's Belgian nationality. Apart from the general tone and style, the series isn't satirized at all.
    • The Rin Tin Tin parody in "Old Yeller Belly" is equally shallow. All we see is Rin Tin Tin biting Adolf Hitler in the ass. First of all: the Rin Tin Tin movies were popular during the 1920s and early 1930s, before Hitler took power. Secondly, the series never became political, so it seems that Hitler just makes a cameo appearance here because both he and Rin Tin Tin appeared in black and white movies. And because having Hitler randomly pop up and taking a shot at old-time Hollywood (Rinty is referred as filmdom's first "gay dog") always make good material for a cheap laugh, right?
    • One episode featured an Itchy and Scratchy episode that parodied House. During the brief short, the writers demonstrate knowledge of the following things about House: it's a show about a doctor, and the theme song is "Teardrop." Although seeing as this is Itchy and Scratchy, this may have been intentional.
    • There's a Treehouse of Horror episode that parodies Twilight. Despite Twilight being a parodist's wet dream, the only things it parodies are a few scenes that seem to have been taken from the first film's trailer and a gag about Milhouse being a were-poodle. No sparkly vampires, no baseball, no creepy romance, no classism, no preachiness, no shirtlessness... hey, he stopped a bus and leaped through the trees; that happened in Twilight, right? And then Dracula shows up for some reason (namely, the writers didn't know enough about the series to fill seven minutes and they need filler), never mind that Dracula is usually considered diametrically opposed to Twilight. And no, before you ask, they don't fight - the difference between classical vampires and Twilight vampires never even gets acknowledged. Basically, for this one, they hadn't even seen other parodies of Twilight. Oh, and the Edward-expy randomly yells "You're tearing me apart!" rather out of nowhere. Not even towards Lisa.
    • Another Treehouse of Horror has a parody of Dexter. All it takes from said series is a song similar to its theme tune and that it's about a guy who doubles as a killer.
    • As with many Harry Potter parodies, the one on "Treehouse of Horror" seems to know little about the series except that it involves a Wizarding School; aside from that, they got the villain's name ("Voldemort" → "Montymort") and the fact that he has a pet snake. Interestingly, later "normal" episodes have a Book Series Within A Show that parodies it a bit better, with their own versions of of Dumbledore and Snape. (And yes, the latter kills the former.)
    • Their "Bartman Begins" parody is just as bad. They don't even try to spoof Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Instead they present a general recapitulation of the character type, promiscuously drawing from various Batman media. The campy villains and bizarre decision to set the story in 1933 (six years before Batman even existed!) are bad enough, but worst of all is their making Ba(r)tman a Sociopathic Hero. He avenges his parents' murders by killing all criminals, even nonviolent ones - and, in some cases, people who simply look like criminals! He shoves them into exposed electrical wiring purely out of spite, and they die instantly; this is something that Batman, even at his angriest and most antisocial, has NEVER done. Oddly enough, it actually functions far better as a spoof of Frank Miller's Batman or DC Extended Universe Batman, the latter of which didn't yet exist. (Of course, it's Bartman, not Batman...)
    • One episode that pits Bart using Karate against an Israeli girl who uses Krav Maga makes it very clear, going by the over-the-top showey movements and yelling of the girl, that they don't have even the slightest clue what Krav Maga actually is or what it looks like.
    • Another episode had a parody of Fibber McGee and Molly consisting only on lame puns and jokes about alcoholism, none of which were featured in the actual show.
    • The show's parody of Pokémon GO has Marge saying that it includes "stabbing and killing and maiming"... which, of course, aren't actually things you can do in GO. It contains no more violence than the main series games, which is already very little to begin with.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: The debate over whether Edna Krabappel would've been better off with her original boyfriend Principal Skinner or her later husband Ned Flanders is a hot topic in some circles.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Believe it or not, the post-Seasonal Rot episodes have their fans, even though their positive comments will often draw negative comparisons to the earlier seasons by fans of those seasons.

    T-Z 
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: How longtime fans and animation students felt about the Title Sequence that has been in use since the LABFXX production season (i.e. season 20 starting from "Take My Life, Please"). Two main instances stand out. The first one is Marge's animation during the supermarket scene, which went from elaborate movement to a simple turn of her head. It's understandable in context (her time was shortened in order to add in Gerald and Maggie fist shaking), but still. The second one is Homer getting hit by Marge's car and bursting through the door in the garage instead of him screaming at the sight of the car and running away from it via the same door.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Some of the criticism of the newer seasons comes from the extremely high expectations fans had after the first 8-10 seasons.
    • In an unusual way, this ended up crossing with Follow the Leader. Classic-era Simpsons successfully juggled a bunch of different comedy approaches, sometimes in a single episode. The animated shows that followed in its wake often emphasized one particular approach that The Simpsons pioneered. Family Guy picked up on the fast-paced gags and pop culture parodies, South Park picked up on the topical satire and irreverence, and King of the Hill picked up on the dry wit, layered storytelling, and comedy-with-a-heart. It's not a coincidence that the much-vilified Scully years (Seasons 9-12) were the first period that The Simpsons had to compete with all three of those shows, and with three different competitors all successfully copying one particular Simpsons trademark, The Simpsons faced a huge identity crisis.
  • Toy Ship: Mary Spuckler almost married Bart, due to the Spuckler family's backwards marital traditions. She's also the only one of his many love interests to be featured prominently in more than one episode.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: The Scully era (namely season 11-12 with the episodes "Saddlesore Galactica" and "A 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 earliest episodes (including the Tracey 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)
    • The real-world celebrity cameos can come off as this, as they're always drawn as realistically as possible which clashes with the semi-abstract designs of the main and recurring cast.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Since the writers enjoy playing fast-and-loose with morality and Sympathetic P.O.V., viewers might agree with characters who are not supposed to be seen in the right.
    • Bart, if you think about all the crap he goes through. Sure, he's a troublemaker and brat, but Homer strangles him constantly, he often feels ignored and useless in the face of Lisa's accomplishments, he's picked on at school, blamed for things other people have done, and of course Sideshow Bob keeps trying to kill him.
    • Homer can get this treatment as well (specifically if you don't consider him a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk Villain Protagonist [particularily in the later seasons], this even is used to justify his traits): Freudian Excuse, a menial job, being called out by everyone each time he does something wrong, and (earlier on) having Always Someone Better as a neighbor. One example of Homer being Unintentionally Sympathetic is "Homer's Enemy". Here we are supposed to side with Frank Grimes, but Homer spends the entire episode being nice to the guy (it's just that Frank's frustration towards Homer goes over his head) and yet Frank is a rude Jerkass to him out of anger that Homer's life is better than his, culminating in him attempting to humiliate Homer (which fails).
    • Edna Krabappel was supposed to be the bitter, cranky teacher who yelled at Bart for every misdeed of his, but over time it was hard not to pity her when you realized how bitter and lonely she was.
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • While the audience finds them lovable, it's made clear that most of the populace finds the Simpsons troublesome and/or dangerous. In the episode "Simpson Safari", this subtle exchange occurs:
      Homer: The Simpsons are going to Africa!
      Family: Yay!
      [In Africa, two tribesmen dance around a fire. Suddenly, one of them stops]
      Tribesman: What is it, N'gungo?
      N'gungo: Evil is coming.
      Tribesman: What shall we do, N'gungo?
      N'gungo: [puts his mask on the other tribesman's head] You are N'gungo now! [runs away screaming]
    • Milhouse is treated as a Butt-Monkey in-universe, but his fans treat him as a woobie.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • The Mike Scully era (1997-2001). Back when he was the show runner, a lot of fans thought it was a major decline in quality due to the change of tone that resulted. But now, some people consider his first two seasons (seasons 9 and 10) part of the classic era (and others are even willing to include his ENTIRE tenure in the classic era), most likely due to Al Jean having the show runner position longer than the Scully, Oakley/Weinstein, Mirkin, Jean/Reiss, and Brooks/Groening/Simon years combined (15 years and counting). The fact the show has done quite a few outlandish episodes since Matt Selman became co-showrunner has helped the Scully era to look better.
    • Several of the show's most beloved episodes like "Kamp Krusty", "Itchy and Scratchy Land" and "Treehouse of Horror V" were heavily criticised when they first aired, but are now fondly remembered as part of the show's golden era.
    • The voice actors all agreed that "Marge vs. the Monorail" was one of the worst episodes they had ever done. Nowadays, it's often remembered as one of the best by fans.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Kang and Kodos are brother and sister. Arguably justified as they are Starfish Aliens.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The first season's intro opened with a stratus cloud breaking away and dissolving into "The Simpsons" logo. The CGI effects from that era still hold up, even three decades later.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: Has its own page.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: This series has been thought of by some as being a children's show, despite the fact that it has dealt with adult subjects like animal abuse, child abuse, politics, alcoholism, sex, religion, class inequality, and juvenile delinquency, but back when it first aired, a lot of people didn't accept it as an adult cartoon because of how simplistic the animation and art was, and trashed it for corrupting the younger generation due to the subject matter and having Bart Simpson (who, back then, was written as a more destructive, 1990s spin on Dennis the Menace) as the main focus of the stories. It also didn't help that Simpsons merchandise back then were sold as children's toys.
    • The Simpsons was even, in 1991, declared by Channel 4 to be the Greatest Kids' TV Show ever, despite not actually being a kids' show.
    • Word of God says it was never meant to be a kids' show and the bright color scheme was meant as an attention-grabber for FOX executives and viewers who just happened to be channel surfing.
    • Even actual children's shows referenced The Simpsons as if they were in the same category. When The Fairly OddParents aired Channel Chasers, they parodied The Simpsons in a way only viewers would recognize...only some of it was cleaned up, like changing Flanders from a Christian to a bearded hippie and making the Barney Gumble expy a gross, belching slob instead of a drunk, though he does go inside a place called "Mike's" (a parody of "Moe's Tavern") when he gets hit with radioactive slime and becomes a superheronote .
      • Before this, the characters made a cameo appearance in the celebrity version of the Sesame Street segment "Monster In The Mirror".
    • At one point, The Simpsons even aired on Cartoon Network in the Philippines. No, not Adult Swim, daytime Cartoon Network.
    • This was done in-universe in the very first Treehouse of Horror, even though the subjects mentioned weren't actually for children.
      Homer: Oh, no, Marge! Come on, please!
      Marge: Homer, I'm not sleeping with the lights on. They're just children's stories. They can't hurt you.
    • Not helping is that Simpsons shorts were playing before Ice Age 4: Continental Drift and Onward.
    • Even This Very Wiki has made this mistake, as at one point, the Parental Bonus page contained examples from The Simpsons.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: "Bart-Mangled Banner"note  was criticized for being so heavy-handed against Republicans and conservatives that Seth MacFarlane could rewrite it as a Family Guy episode by just changing the names and no one would be able to tell the difference.
  • Writer Cop Out: Due to being a Long Runner in Seasonal Rot, this would be eventual.

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