The Simpsons began as a short animated film shown on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. It was such a huge success that Matt Groening and James L. Brooks decided to make an animated series out of it. In 1989 the first season was aired and since then, The Simpsons has become an iconic show. So far, 618 episodes have been broadcast on Fox, and The Simpsons is the longest American sitcom and the longest American animated show ever. And it's still kickin'! Last year, it was renewed for two more seasons, which means that there are going to be at least 30 seasons overall.
Even if you've watched all 618 episodes, there are definitely some smaller details you might have missed. Thankfully, you don't need to re-watch all of those older episodes -- you can just read below about some of the things you didn't know about the show.
15 The Price Of Maggie
In the introduction to each episode, Marge is buying groceries at the supermarket. By mistake, the cashier takes Maggie and scans her along with other purchases. But have you ever noticed that the price on the cash register changes after they swipe Maggie? In the earlier seasons of the show, the price for Maggie was $847.63. This wasn't just some number taken out of nowhere. Matt Groening says that it was the average monthly cost of raising a baby in 1989.
But in the season 20 (which aired in 2008), the total for Maggie changed. If you're attentive enough, you'll see it. At first, the total worth of groceries is $243.26 and when Maggie is scanned, the number doubles and becomes $486.52. I guess what they meant by that was that having a baby doubles your expenses.
14 Why Are They Yellow?
Have you ever wondered why most of the characters in The Simpsons have yellow skin? Surprisingly, it's not because yellow is the favorite color of the animators. It was Matt Groening's idea to use the bright color to attract the attention of channel surfers. As he said in his interview for BBC, "When you're flicking through channels with your remote control, and a flash of yellow goes by, you'll know you're watching The Simpsons." Smart, right?
However, there was a minor drawback in choosing this color. The show was banned in Burma, because for some reason yellow and red colors can't be used in movies in that particular country.
13 Everyone Else Has Four Fingers, But God Has Five
You've probably noticed by now that all of the characters in The Simpsons only have four fingers on each hand, along with four toes on each foot. In one of the episodes, they even mentioned that having five fingers was gross! We don't know why exactly the animators decided to draw the characters' hands like this, but it was probably just an easier way to do the animation. Or maybe it was another way to differentiate these characters from other cartoons. But there is one interesting fact about these characters and their phalanges. Only two characters were given the complete set of ten fingers. Can you guess who they were? **We'll wait...** It was God and Jesus.
It's unclear why the animators decided to add an additional finger to each of God's hands. Whether it was to highlight his supremacy or not, it was an interesting way to show that God differs from all other humans in Springfield.
12 Smithers Wasn't Always Yellow
In the third episode of the first season of The Simpsons, Smithers appears for the first (and only) time as a brown man. It wasn't the intention of animators or Matt Groening to make him black. It happened due to a mistake in the animation stage.
Groening went on to explain the mishap to TMZ, where he said "He was always yellow, and they painted him wrong once. At the time we didn't have enough [money] to do retakes, so when there were glitches and mistakes it stayed that way." He then reiterates, "He was never 'black'." It's surprising that Smithers was a different color ONE time in a 30-minute episode back in the '80s and people are still talking about it. There aren't many characters who aren't yellow in the series, so maybe they could have left Smithers the way he was — just to show some diversity in an all yellow cast.
11 This Was First Lady Barbara Bush's Reaction To The Series
Not everyone is a fan of The Simpsons. And, as it turned out, in the beginning of the show's broadcasting, the presidential family wasn't one of them. For example, President George Bush Sr. once mentioned that The Simpsons was the cause of all social issues in the United States. His wife, First Lady Barbara Bush, went farther and told People that "The Simpsons is the dumbest thing I've ever seen." Damn Barbara!
The show's creators decided not to leave this critique unanswered and wrote a letter to the First Lady on behalf of the one and only, Marge Simpson. In this letter, Marge was politely asking Mrs. Bush to be less judgmental and described her feelings about the criticism. Mrs. Bush reacted to it as any First Lady should — she apologized for her words and said that Marge was setting a great example for all Americans.
10 Great Travelers
Indeed, the Simpsons are one of the most well-traveled families in the United States. Over the course of the show, they visited over two dozen states and traveled to over 24 foreign countries. But did you have any idea that the Simpsons family visited every single continent on the planet? They've even been to Antarctica in season 23!
Now, let's look back to see what countries were visited by these unlikely travelers thus far: While the family was in Africa, they've been to Egypt, Tanzania, and Morocco. When the fab five traveled to Europe, they went to Italy, the UK, France, Iceland, and many other countries. Then, once they reached Asia, they went through countries like China and Japan. While in South America, the gang hit up Brazil, Peru, and even Ecuador! In North America, they visited Mexico, Cuba, Canada, and (of course) the USA. And they've also been to Australia! Damn, if the Simpsons family can travel this much, maybe we should take the hint.
9 The Secret Of The Couch Gag
All fans of The Simpsons love the show's intro for the couch gags. They're always different and comical. One can never guess which gag the animators will offer in the next episode, and it's kind of fun to reminisce about them all. Some of them are so great that they seem to be more interesting than the episodes themselves! But do you know why the creators came up with these gags and why they make each one different in their own right?
The gag is used to adjust the running time of the show. In order to make the necessary length of the entire episode, the gag is made longer or shorter — depending on how long or short the episode itself is. This actually explains why some gags are way longer than the others. Like, does anyone else remember "Lisa's First Word" or "Cape Feare"?
8 The Truth About Milhouse van Houten
Milhouse Van Houten is one of our favorite characters from The Simpsons. We know that he's the friend of Bart and the admirer of Lisa. We also know that he's a nerdy, insecure, and gullible guy — but at the same time, a very sweet and gentle boy. People often take advantage of his naivety and other students typically bully him in multiple episodes. We can't abstain from feeling sorry for the guy, but we love him at the same time for always choosing to be his true self.
At times, even if we think we know someone very well, some facts appear more complicated than anticipated. Like, did anyone else know that Milhouse's middle name is Mussolini? And in case you couldn't tell from his name, he comes from Italian descent and speaks fluent Italian! What a heartthrob!
7 Michael Jackson Guest Starred In Season Three
One of the most major appearances in The Simpsons was Michael Jackson's — which was carefully hidden from the viewers. If you remember, there was an episode in season three, where Homer goes to a mental health hospital (due to Bart's pranks) and meets a man who says he's Michael Jackson. This man dances in Jackson's style and sings in his exact voice. Later, he and Bart write a song as a present for Lisa's birthday. But in the end of the episode, this man says that his real name is Leon Kompowsky and just tells people that he's Michael Jackson to make others and himself happier.
The voice for Leon Kompowsky was credited as John Jay Smith. However, it later turned out that Michael Jackson voiced the character's dialogue and asked to use a fictional name for credits!
6 Homer's Secret Identity
At first, creators of The Simpsons wanted to make Krusty the Clown Homer's secret identity. It's because of this that the characters look so much alike. Homer is the spitting image of the clown without his makeup on (plus that blue hair). After playing around with this idea, Matt Groening and others eventually decided to give up on this story line due to the complications it would bring the show. They have a point, though. How would that even work out?
We must say that this plot twist would be super interesting, though, whether it would have worked or not. It certainly would make Bart actually use his brain for once. Throughout the series, Bart shows a complete opposite attitude towards Homer and Krusty. While he doesn't really respect his own father, he literally worships the clown. It would be interesting to see Bart's reaction upon learning that Homer was his idol all along.
5 A Couple Of Words About McCartney's Participation
In the episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" of season seven, Lisa visits a petting zoo, befriends a lamb, and later refuses to eat meat after realizing that it once was a living creature. Lisa feels pressure from her family and from society about her new change in diet, and at some point, Lisa runs into Apu and shares her worries with him. He introduces her to Paul and Linda McCartney, who explain to her that she can learn to understand others and follow her principles at the same time. In the ending credits, McCartney sings a song "Maybe I'm Amazed" which, if played backwards, introduces Paul's recipe of lentil soup!
Interestingly, Paul and Linda agreed to voice their characters on the show on the condition that Lisa remains vegetarian throughout the series. The crew sticks to their agreement to this day - Lisa is still meat-free.
4 The Show Is A Great Source Of Idioms
The Simpsons is one of the greatest sources of idioms and catchphrases in today's media. Multiple words and expressions that first appeared in the show have become popular vernacular and many of them were even added into dictionaries. For example, in 2001, Homer's famous expression "D'oh" had been added into the Oxford Dictionary (it's written without an apostrophe due to Matt Groening's request). It is defined there as, "Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish."
Other words that were popularized by this show are "cromulent" (which means 'fine' or 'acceptable'), "embiggen" (means 'to make greater') and, of course "meh." Considering The Simpsons contributed to the English language is a great feat for sitcoms everywhere.
3 All The Voices Of Maggie
Even though it seems that Maggie is a character of very few words, it turns out that she was voiced by two different people! The dummy sucking noises we usually hear from this eternal infant were recorded by Matt Groening himself. But in the episode "Lisa's First Word" (season four, episode 10), Maggie takes out her dummy and pronounces her first word, "Daddy." This word could have been uttered by anyone really. Both male and female voice actors can totally nail the baby girl voice. But they went out and found one actress to say just one word in the entire episode: Elizabeth Taylor.
Later in the series, Liz Taylor also made a guest appearance as herself and we've been swooning over her ever since.
2 The Connection To 'Friends'
Did you have any idea that there was a major connection between these two awesome TV shows? That one major connection is one of the greats, Hank Azaria. Azaria voices a number of characters in The Simpsons, including Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum, and many others. In Friends, this actor initially auditioned for the role of Joey Tribbiani and ended up not getting the role (frankly, we can't see him as Joey at all). But he was later offered to play Phoebe's boyfriend, David the romantic scientist (remember the guy who moved to Minsk and would keep on coming and going?). The way this actor can transform himself into so many personalities is always amazing to see.
Apart from Hank Azaria, Dan Castellaneta (who voiced Homer) and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns and Smithers) also had guest appearances in some of the episodes in Friends.
1 Plans For The Final Episode
Even though there are at least two more seasons ahead, ideas for the final episode of The Simpsons have already popped up online. For example, Al Jean (screenwriter and producer of the series) has played with the idea of having the characters to arrive to a Christmas pageant. Ironically enough, this is exactly how the very first episode began. If the animators do follow through with this idea, it will create a continuous loop for the entire show (!!).
Even though it's only an idea and we don't know if the animators and creators of The Simpsons will want to roll with it, we still think it would be a great way to finish this iconic show. After all, if you watch this finale, the first (and the most logical) thing you'll want to do will be to start watching it all over!