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Things We Learned About 'The Simpsons' (Thanks To Fans)

November 19, 2020 1.4k votes 265 voters 33.8k views16 items

List RulesVote up the most fascinating facts shared by 'Simpsons' fans.

Ever since they first premiered on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, the Simpson family has been a major part of popular culture. The Simpsons has now been on the air for 32 seasons and counting, making it the longest-running primetime series and the longest-running animated series in history. By the end of its 32nd season, it will have had more than 700 episodes.

That's a lot of episodes, to be sure, and most fans would be hard-pressed to remember them all. Fortunately, there are some who don't mind watching more than 250 hours of cartoons to delve into the nitty-gritty details of what makes The Simpsons an enduring cultural icon. 

This list highlights some of the most interesting details about The Simpsons, as discovered by the fans. Check them out below, and if you find something you didn't already know, be sure to give it an upvote!

  • 1

    When The First Lady Criticized The Show, Marge Wrote Her A Letter

    Photo: Fox

    In 1990, First Lady Barbara Bush said that The Simpsons was "the dumbest thing I've ever seen." Given that she's a staunch conservative, it's not unusual for her to have that kind of opinion, but it didn't go unchallenged. Following her comment, the series sent a letter to the First Lady "from" Marge Simpson, as if it were one American mom writing to another - and her opinion changed.

    In the letter, Marge wrote that "I recently read your criticism of my family. I was deeply hurt." She went on to write, "I always believed in my heart that we had a great deal in common. Each of us living our lives to serve an exceptional man. I hope there is some way out of this controversy."

    Soon after, the First Lady wrote back, saying, "How kind of you to write. I am glad you spoke your mind; I foolishly didn't know you had one." She added that the Simpsons looked like a nice family, finishing with "Please forgive a loose tongue," adding a P.S. of "Homer looks like a handsome fella!"

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  • 2

    'The Simpsons' Saved Two People's Lives

    Photo: Fox

    The third season episode "Homer at the Bat" has been credited with saving two people's lives. This was due to the scene involving Homer choking on a donut. There was a poster explaining the Heimlich maneuver on the wall behind him, which his friends and coworkers completely ignored.

    In May 1992, Chris Bencze saved his brother's life by performing the Heimlich maneuver, which he learned from watching the episode. In December 2007, 10-year-old Aiden Bateman managed to save his friend Alex Hardy's life, having learned the life-saving technique from the episode.

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  • 3

    Paul McCartney Agreed To Appear Only If Lisa Became A Vegetarian

    Photo: Fox

    It's well-known these days that Lisa Simpson is a vegetarian, but because the series has been on for so long, many people may not realize her dietary choices were made by none other than Paul McCartney. He made an appearance on the series in 1995's "Lisa the Vegetarian."

    McCartney's only requirement for making the unprecedented appearance was that Lisa would avoid eating meat "in perpetuity." McCartney discussed his stipulation in an interview with GQ:

    We were a bit worried that she would be a vegetarian for a week, then Homer would persuade her to eat a hot dog. The producers of the program assured us that she would remain that way, and they kept their word.

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  • 4

    Fox Isn't Allowed To Get Involved In The Creative Process

    Photo: Fox

    Fox has a history of messing around with its shows - just ask any Firefly fan how the network mucked up the series. Fox was also responsible for messing with Futurama. But when it comes to The Simpsons, there's not a lot the network can do to interfere with the show.

    This is due to a specific clause in the show's contract with the Fox network that prevents it from interfering with content. The clause was negotiated by James L. Brooks, and it's because of the clause that the series hasn't held back from criticizing Fox over the years.

    The network isn't allowed to give the writers or producers "notes" or suggestions on things to change, which has left the writers with a great deal of creative freedom. While the clause isn't conclusively why the series has lasted more than three decades, it certainly hasn't hurt. Harry Shearer spoke about the clause and the people at Fox in an interview with CityBeat:

    You have to live with all sorts of contradictions. I think that Fox has been indisputably a force for evil in the world. But The Simpsons exist totally through a series of flukes. Chief of which was that, because the network was such a fledgling joke network back then, they gave Jim Brooks a contractual provision that there would be no network interference in the broadcast of The Simpsons. They could do censor notes, but there'd be no show notes.

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