Back when The Simpsons made its television debut in December of 1989, the idea that the series would still be on the air in 2019 would have been pretty unfathomable. Despite that, earlier this year the series was renewed for two more seasons which means that unless something major changes, The Simpsons will air its 700th episodes.
At one time considered to be the most hilarious show on TV by many people, The Simpsons clearly has declined from its zenith but the series has still cemented its place in pop culture history. Remarkably enough, however, even though the series is beloved most people know very little about the show’s production. With that in mind, it is time to look at this list of 15 things that really happened behind the scenes of The Simpsons.
15 Unsuccessful Lawsuit
As any serious Simpsons fan should know, the show’s main characters debuted as a part of short videos that aired during The Tracey Ullman Show. As a result, Ullman herself felt she should be entitled to a part of the money the animated show has made. This led to her suing for a portion of the money made from Simpsons merchandise but she lost in court.
14 A Different Debut
In a truly unusual move, The Simpsons debuted in 1989 with a Christmas special. As it turns out, that wasn’t supposed to be but the episode that was supposed to air first was drawn so poorly that it had to be reanimated from scratch. In order to make that work, series producers moved the Christmas episode up in the order and the original pilot served as the first season’s finale.
13 An Extremely Important Person Voiced Maggie’s Sucking Sound
If you are anything like us, when Maggie Simpson is brought up you can hear her sucking away at her soother in your mind. While that sound is burned into many people’s psyches, what they may not realize is that Simpsons creator Matt Groening is the person who got into a sound booth and made the noise that Maggie is known for.
12 The Unusual Deal Fox Agreed To
Eventually able to become a TV powerhouse, the Fox TV network meant so much that Disney chose to buy it. However, when The Simpsons debuted it was just starting out and desperate for content. For that reason, The Simpsons’ producers convinced Fox to put it into their contracts that they would have almost no input into the show’s writing. As a result, The Simpsons has gotten away with mocking Fox for years.
11 True to Their Word
In one of the greatest examples of The Simpsons’ ability to attract stars, early on music legend Paul McCartney lent his voice to an episode in which Lisa Simpson became a vegetarian. Even though the show often drops character developments like that in the next episode, producers promised McCartney that Lisa would remain a vegetarian so that has been the case ever since.
10 The Original Plan For Krusty
Even though The Simpsons is animated in a pretty simple way, most of the show’s notable characters look different enough that people can recognize their silhouette. Despite that, Homer Simpson and Krusty the Clown look alike in a lot of ways. As it turns out, that is an intentional choice as originally the plan was to reveal that Krusty was Homer in makeup but that concept was soon dropped.
9 Almost At An End
During the production of The Simpsons’ 25th season, Fox claimed the show had simply become too expensive to produce. Based on that idea, they claimed the show would end with that season if several people involved with the series didn’t take a serious pay cut. Originally they asked the series’ main voice actors to take a 45% decrease but eventually settled at 30% instead.
8 Big Star, Single Word
The Simpsons may be best known for making people laugh, but the fact remains that the series can be really good at subtle storytelling. For instance, the episode in which the show focused on the birth of Maggie arguably is among its best. On top of revealing how much Homer is inspired by his love for his youngest child, that episode also had Elizabeth Taylor voice Maggie’s first word, Daddy.
7 An Underage Contributor
For the most part, The Simpsons’ trademark animation style has remained the same. However, during the Episode “Angry Dad” Bart created an online cartoon series that makes fun of Homer’s often explosive temper. As it turns out, convincingly animating a cartoon that looked childish was difficult for the show. As a result, one of the series’ animators had his young son draw that sequence.
6 Two of the Show’s Head Honchos Briefly Had a Feud
During The Simpsons’ sixth season, the show had a crossover with another series named The Critic at the request of Fox executives. As a result, series creator Matt Groening had his name removed from the opening credits for the first and only time in protest. That greatly angered series executive producer James L. Brooks who approved the episode so he told the L.A. Times: "I am furious with Matt," and “his behavior right now is rotten”.
5 Big Plans for Troy McClure
Easily one of the funniest people in the world during his life, fans of The Simpsons were always delighted when Phil Hartman lent his voice to Troy McClure or Lionel Hutz. Evidently a big fan of voicing McClure particularly, at one point Hartman hoped to buy the movie rights to that character so he could make a live-action film about him.
4 No Time At All
Whenever people put together lists of the greatest TV theme songs of all-time, there is a very good chance that The Simpsons’ opening tune will make an appearance. Amazingly enough, that classic song was written by composer Danny Elfman in just three days' time. That is pretty incredible given the lasting effect of that famous piece of music.
3 Poochie Was a Dig At Fox Executives
At one point Fox executives tried to convince the Simpsons’ writers and producers to add a new member to the main family as they thought it would boost ratings. Instead, the writers mocked the request with the episode “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” which introduced the animated dog and Roy, a character who lived with the family during that episode alone.
2 An Amazing Coincidence
As many people know, Matt Groening named Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson after members of his immediate family. Unlike those other Simpson family members, Groening allowed writers Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky to give Grandpa his first name. Amazingly enough, however, they decided to call him Abraham which they didn’t know at the time was the name of Groening’s real-life grandfather.
1 Mind-Boggling Reason A Character Met Their Untimely Demise
Given The Simpsons’ massive success, you’d think that Fox would pay their voice talent well. However, the actor who played Maude Flanders, Maggie Rosewell, was paid just $2,000 per episode she worked on. Then several years into the series’ run, she asked to be paid $6,000 per episode as she’d moved away and traveling to the studio cost money. Instead, producers reacted by having Maude meet her untimely demise.
Sources: nme.com, latimes.com, cbr.com, telegraph.co.uk