As Matt Groening’s sitcom celebrates its quarter-century, we list 25 surprising facts about the show
The Simpsons family is celebrating its 25th anniversary Photo: Fox
1. God and his son Jesus are the only characters on The Simpsons to have a full set of five digits
They also have five toes on each foot. Everyone else in the Simpsons universe has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, and four toes on each foot.
2. Simpsons creator Matt Groening made the characters yellow to grab the attention of channel surfers
“When you’re flicking with your remote control and a flash of yellow goes by, you’ll know you’re watching The Simpsons,” he said.
3. Groening also designed the Simpson family to be immediately identifiable in silhouette – hence their distinctive hairstyles and head-shapes
4. Homer Simpson is the most downloaded sat-nav voice in the world
He’s more popular than the likes of Darth Vader, Ali G and Brian Blessed
5. Matt Groening got many characters’ surnames from streets in his hometown
The likes of Lovejoy, Quimby, Flanders, Kearney, Terwilliger and Burnside are all real-life street names in Portland, Oregon.
6. There is a specific clause in the creators’ contract that the network can’t give notes, make cuts or exert creative control over episodes – meaning the producers have free rein to poke fun of FOX itself
Hence the network HQ being a few well-dressed people in a trailer on a hill, Krusty saying, “You’re Fox! You’re known for taking chances on crap!” and the slogan: “Fox News: not racist, but no.1 with racists”.
7. Homer is the only character to have dialogue in every episode
8. Over the course of multiple seasons, the brief clips of actor Rainier Wolfcastle’s action hero McBain form a coherent four-minute mini-movie, spoofing 80s action films
According to producer Al Jean, this wasn’t intentional. However, fans have stitched the clips together to prove it’s possible
9. In 1990, First Lady Barbara Bush criticised The Simpsons as “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen”
Marge wrote a personalised letter to her, in character, politely telling her not to be so judgmental and explaining that her family tried their best. Mrs Bush apologised for her “loose tongue” and complimented Marge for setting a good example to the rest of the country.
10. Matt Groening himself is the “voice” of Maggie Simpson’s dummy-sucking noise but Elizabeth Taylor delivered Maggie’s actual first word: “Daddy!” in 1992
11. Mr Burns’ assistant-cum-carer Waylon Smithers was originally black
Groening had always intended for him to be white but a colour blunder occurred at the animation stage, meaning he was black when he first appeared. They were going to leave Smithers like that until someone pointed out that a black subservient character might cause controversy.
12. Bart’s bespectacled best friend Milhouse Van Houten’s middle name is Mussolini
13. When Maggie is scanned at the supermarket checkout in the original opening credits, the till reads $847.63 – the monthly cost of raising a baby in America in 1989
After 20 seasons, when the sequence was redone for HD, Marge’s groceries add up to $243.26. When Maggie is added and scanned, she doubles the total to $486.52.
14. When Bart makes prank calls to Moe’s Tavern, he dials the number 764-84377, which is one digit longer than a normal American number
On a phone keypad, the number spells out ‘Smithers’.
15. Paul and Linda McCartney agreed to appear in the episode ‘Lisa the Vegetarian’ on the condition that the writers maintained Lisa’s vegetarianism for the rest of series
She’s still meat-free to this day. Macca also agreed to let them use Maybe I’m Amazed over the closing credits, overlaid with a recipe for lentil soup said backwards – sending up accusations that the Beatles put hidden messages in their songs. The recipe concluded with the aside, “Oh, and by the way, I’m alive”, in reference to the conspiracy theory that McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by an imposter.
16. The actors who dub the voices of Homer and Marge in the French version of The Simpsons, Phillipe Peythieu and Veronique Augereau, married in real life
They met during auditions and wed a decade later.
17. The length of the credits sequence couch gag is dependent upon how long the episode is
If producers need to fill time during a shorter episode, they’ll make an extended couch gag. If the episode’s over-running, they’ll do a quick-hit visual one.
18. Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie and Patty were named after Matt Groening’s real-life parents, sisters, and aunt
The name Bart was chosen because it’s an anagram of “brat”.
19. Homer was originally intended to be revealed as Krusty the Clown, hence their similar appearance
The idea was that Bart doesn’t respect his father but worships someone who looks just like him – leaving the way open for a twist that Homer was his son’s idol all along. This was later abandoned, deemed too complicated for the show in its early days.
20. Michael Jackson co-wrote and co-produced Bart Simpsons’s pop-rap single Do the Bartman, uncredited
It topped the UK charts for three weeks in 1991.
21. The ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns?’ episode ran a competition for fans to guess
However, no-one gave the correct answer: Maggie Simpson.
22. Fox owns the rights to The Simpsons for another 68 years, until 2082
23. Lisa’s email address is smartgirl63_\@yahoo.com, while Homer’s isChunkyLover53@aol.com
It’s genuinely registered and messages from fans get a response. One of the regularly changed automated replies is:
Dear Internet Nerd,
You’ve reached Homer Simpson’s electric mail dealie. I’m not here to answer it right now, so please send a six-pack of Duff to 642 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield USA.
24. Bart’s hair always has nine points
25. “D’oh!” is written in scripts as “annoyed grunt”
Dan Castellaneta, the voice behind Homer, improvised the sound based on Jimmy Finlayson’s exasperated “Dooooh!” in the Laurel & Hardy films. Because the original Tracey Ullmann Show shorts had a one-minute running time, Matt Groening asked Castellaneta to speed it up – hence “d’oh!” was born.