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How The Simpsons Evolved Over Time

Updated June 12, 2019 87.3k views17 items

The Simpsons manages to be both timeless and a throwback - it's been on television for 30 years. Some critics might claim The Simpsons isn't good anymore, but it's evolved with the times and influenced countless modern animators.

Starting as short animated sketches, the family first appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show in the late '80s. The characters' colorful complexions and minimalist features were something of a mistake, though. When creator Matt Groening originally drew the designs, he assumed animators would improve upon them. The animators kept Groening's preliminary sketches, however, giving the world the Simpsons they now know and love.

While recent Simpsons seasons may pale in comparison to the show in its heyday, the characters certainly look a whole lot better than they did in the 1980s.

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  • Homer Simpson
    Photo: Fox / Fox
    Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Homer was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his father, Homer Groening. After appearing for three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show, the Simpson family got their own...  more
    • Played By: Dan Castellaneta

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  • Marge Simpson
    Photo: Fox / Fox
    Marjorie Jacqueline "Marge" Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons and part of the eponymous family. She is voiced by Julie Kavner and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Marge was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his mother Margaret Groening. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, the Simpson family received their own series on Fox, which...  more
    • Played By: Julie Kavner

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  • Bart Simpson
    Photo: Fox / Fox
    Bartholomew JoJo "Bart" Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons and part of the Simpson family. He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright and first appeared on television in the Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed Bart while waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. While the rest of the characters were named after Groening's family members, Bart's name was an anagram of the word brat. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson...  more
    • Played By: Nancy Cartwright

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  • Lisa Simpson
    Photo: Fox / Fox
    Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child of the Simpson family. Voiced by Yeardley Smith, Lisa first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed her while waiting to meet James L. Brooks. Groening had been invited to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the elder Simpson daughter after his younger sister Lisa Groening. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family were moved to their own series on Fox, which...  more
    • Played By: Yeardley Smith

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