30 years ago on April 19, 1987, the Tracey Ullman show introduced an animated short titled “Good Night.” It was that day that the ubiquitous, yellow-tinted Simpson family first hit the airwaves. Perhaps thirty years ago, creator Matt Groening did not expect the shorts to become so popular that it would eventually overshadow and outlive the preceding show it set its foundations upon. Although The Simpsons emerged from humble beginnings as a series of crudely drawn shorts, it soon exploded in popularity, creating its own show which has been on air since 1989. Today almost everyone can recognize the famous family considered “America’s First.” To celebrate 30 years of The Simpsons, here are 30 facts.
- Homer’s catchphrase in the shorts was not originally “d’oh!” but rather “let’s all go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes!”
- The Simpson family are all named after Matt Groening’s family, with the exception of Bart, instead being an anagram of “brat.”
- The reason for the sloppy looks of the earliest shorts is due to the fact that Groening designed the family on a whim and assumed the animators would just clean up the designs of the family. But they didn’t, they merely traced over his drawings.
- The Simpson family were almost rabbits, as Groening drew them often for his comics, but he wanted to go a different route instead. At one point he considered Marge’s hair hiding rabbit ears, but the idea was quickly scrapped.
- In 1997, The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as the longest-running prime-time animated series in the US.
- Krusty the Clown’s resemblance to Homer is partly intentional. Groening wanted Krusty to be Homer’s alter-ego, as he found it ironic considering Bart loved Krusty but disliked his father’s attitude. However, like Marge’s rabbit ears, this idea was also thrown into the bin.
- The Simpson family were designed so they could be easily identifiable in silhouette.
- The reasons for the bright yellow skintones is that while channel-surfing, one could catch a flash of yellow and know that The Simpsons was on.
- Coincidentally or not, there is a 1939 novel titled “The Day Of The Locust,” featuring a character named Homer Simpson, but he has little in common with the yellower, more famous Homer.
- Originally the episode “Some Enchanted Evening” was slated to be the pilot episode, but due to problems with how the animation was handled, it had to be entirely redone and was pushed to the end of the season, therefore “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire” became the show’s pilot on December 17, 1989 instead.
- In the original introduction, when the cashier scans Maggie through the register, she costs $847.63, the average one-month price for raising a baby in 1989.
- Bart has nine points in his hair, Lisa and Maggie have eight.
- Many of the supporting characters are named after streets that Groening grew up around in his hometown in Oregon.
- The first completed script was for the episode “Homer’s Odyssey”.
- Homer’s middle name is Jay, Marge’s is Jacqueline, Bart’s is JoJo, Lisa’s is Marie, and Maggie’s is Evelyn.
- It took composer Danny Elfman two days to compose the opening theme.
- The couch gags shown in the introductions are a trick used to make the show longer or shorter.
- While to all of us Homer certainly says “d’oh!”, in the scripts it is always written as “annoyed grunt”.
- It takes 6 months to make a single episode of The Simpsons.
- Homer, being Homer, once had a theory that the universe might be shaped like a donut. It seemed silly back then, but scientists today claim the theory has some validity in that the universe may be shaped like a three-dimensional torus, in other words, a donut.
- A child that was Bart’s age when The Simpsons first aired would be around the same age as Homer today.
- Former First Lady Barbara Bush criticized the show, calling it dumb. A letter written by Marge was sent to the White House, which was so heartfelt it prompted Mrs. Bush to write an apology in reply.
- The reason behind the name of the town of Springfield, was that there are many towns named Springfield in the US, keeping the true location vague.
- According to a map shown in an episode, Springfield is shaped much like medieval Constantinople.
- Mr. Burns’ assistant, Mr. Smithers, was originally drawn black (with dark skin). He was changed to being white (yellow skin) after animators feared the controversy that would surround a subservient black character working for a white (or yellow) man.
- There have been more celebrity appearances than episodes of The Simpsons to date.
- Homer is the only character to have dialogue in every episode.
- The writers made Moe the bartender’s last name Szyslak only so he could be a suspect in the two-parter episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, as all the suspects either had the initials M. S. or W. S.
- In the early 90s, school officials banned t-shirts with Bart on them, fearing that he was a bad role model.
- Maggie’s pacifier-sucking noise is created by Matt Groening himself.
However famous the show is, having continued for 30 years and 28 seasons the quality has gone down considerably according to many fans, including Ryan McMullen who says, “Although the earlier seasons were great, the show, to me, went downhill sometime after the movie.” The Simpsons movie, which premiered in 2007, may be one of the reasons for the show’s declining quality.
Although the show may have lost its touch over the years, The Simpsons continues to be a strong influence on our society and is culturally impactful. Almost every American can recite some lines from the show, and has their favorite episodes as well. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, it is clear that The Simpsons will never truly die out as a phenomenon.
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons