The Simpsons

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The Simpsons

Clockwise from top left: Homer, Marge, Maggie, Santa's Little Helper (dog), Bart, Snowball II (cat) and Lisa.
Genre Animation/ comedy
Picture format NTSC ( 480i)
Running time 21–23 minutes
Creator(s) Matt Groening
Developer(s) James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Sam Simon
Executive producer(s) Al Jean
James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Sam Simon
Starring Dan Castellaneta
Julie Kavner
Nancy Cartwright
Yeardley Smith
Hank Azaria
Harry Shearer
Marcia Wallace
Pamela Hayden
Tress MacNeille
Maggie Roswell
Russi Taylor
Marcia Mitzman Gaven
Country of origin Flag of United States United States
Original channel Fox
Original run December 17, 1989–present
(renewed through 2007–2008)
No. of episodes 385 ( List of episodes)
Official website
IMDb profile summary

The Simpsons is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Network. It became one of the first hits for the network, and is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed television shows in the history of the medium. The television series is a spin-off of a series of animated shorts originally aired on The Tracey Ullman Show.

The series is a satirical parody of the " Middle American" lifestyle epitomized by its title family. It lampoons many aspects of the human condition, as well as American culture, society as a whole and even television itself, being famous for its frequent use of self-referential humor, and meta-references. The Simpsons itself has had an impact on popular culture. Catchphrases have been used in real life and the annoyed grunt d'oh has been accepted into the English dictionary. The show has been cited as an influence on many adult-oriented animated series in the late 1990s, such as King of the Hill, South Park and Family Guy.; and there are countless other kid-oriented animated shows which singular humor that owe The Simpsons a debt of gratitude, such as Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, SpongeBob SquarePants and others. Although it in recent years has been accused of a decline in quality, it still remains a highly rated show.

The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom, as well as the longest-running American animated program, to date. Since it debuted on December 17, 1989, the show has aired 385 episodes (see list of episodes) in eighteen seasons. As of March 20, 2006, the show has been renewed through its nineteenth season, which would air in 2007–2008. The eighteenth-season finale will be the 400th episode, and the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons franchise will be celebrated in 2007. A feature-length movie is currently being produced, to be released on July 27, 2007.


Groening first conceived of the Simpsons in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. He had been called in to pitch a series of animated shorts, and had intended to pitch his Life in Hell series. When he realized that animating Life in Hell would require him to rescind publication rights for his life's work, Groening decided to go in another direction. He hurriedly sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family. He named the characters after his own family, choosing "Bart" since it is an anagram of "brat."

The Simpson family first appeared in animated form as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, with the first short, "Good Night," airing on April 19, 1987. The family was crudely drawn, because Groening only handed over sketches to the animators, believing that they would clean them up, but instead they just traced over his drawings.

In 1989, The Simpsons was adapted into a half-hour series for the Fox network by a team of production companies that included what is now the Klasky Csupo animation house. Due to the fledgling position of the Fox network, Jim Brooks obtained an unusual contractual provision that the network could not interfere by providing show notes. Groening has been quoted as saying that his goal in creating the show was to "offer an alternative to the audience, and show them there's something else out there than the mainstream trash that they are presented as the only thing." The first full length episode shown was " Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" in place of the intended first episode, " Some Enchanted Evening." The latter had to be reanimated after the creators saw the poor quality of the final animation, and was eventually shown as the final episode of the first season.

The Simpsons was one of the first true hit TV series for the Fox network; it was the first Fox show to appear in the top thirty highest-rated shows of the season. The show had several episodes watched by over 20 million people and on occasion over 30 million people. Ullman filed a lawsuit, claiming that her show was the source of The Simpsons success and therefore should receive a share of the show's profit. Eventually the courts ruled in favour of the network.

It sparked controversy, as Bart Simpson was portrayed as a rebel who caused trouble and got away with it. Parents' groups and conservative spokespersons felt that a character like Bart provided a poor role model for children. George H. W. Bush railed, "We're going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like The Waltons and less like The Simpsons." The Simpsons t-shirts - among others, one featuring Bart with the legend "Underachiever ('And proud of it, man!')" - and other merchandise were banned from some public schools in several areas of the United States. The Simpsons merchandise, however, sold very well. During the first 14 months it generated $2 billion in revenue worldwide.


Executive producers

List of show runners throughout the series' run:

  • Season 1–2: Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, & Sam Simon
  • Season 3–4: Al Jean & Mike Reiss
  • Season 5–6: David Mirkin
  • Season 7–8: Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein
  • Season 9–12: Mike Scully
  • Season 13–present: Al Jean

Groening, Brooks, and Sam Simon have been executive producers during the entire run, and now basically function as creative consultants. There is a more involved position on the show, which is known as show runner. The show runner serves as head writer and is in charge of every aspect of the show's production for the entire season. Show runners are billed as executive producers in the episode credits. Runners often stay on for multiple seasons, though they usually break their planning down by season. As of season 5, the show runner receives the first credit on the closing credits.

Voice actors

With one exception, all episodes list only the voice actors and not the characters they voice. Fox and the production crew wanted to keep the identities a secret during the first seasons, and therefore closed most of the recording sessions and refused to publish photos. They eventually revealed which characters the actors did in the episode " Old Money."

There are six main cast members on The Simpsons. Dan Castellaneta performs the voices of Homer Simpson, his dad Abraham Simpson, and Krusty the Clown, among others. Julie Kavner performs the voices of Marge Simpson, her sisters Patty and Selma, and mother Jacqueline Bouvier. She occasionally, but rarely, plays other one-shot characters. She has been known to refuse to perform Marge's voice in public, to maintain the mystique of the character. Nancy Cartwright performs the voice of Bart Simpson and other children from the school. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, is the only main cast member who regularly voices only one character, though she occasionally voices one-shot characters. The two male actors who don't voice members of the title family play a majority of the male townspeople. Hank Azaria voices recurring characters like Moe, Chief Wiggum, and Apu. Harry Shearer provides voices for Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Dr. Hibbert, and many others.

Along with the main cast, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Marcia Wallace, and Maggie Roswell, are regular guest cast members, who voices several recurring characters. From the 1999 season to the 2002 season, Maggie Roswell's characters were voiced by Marcia Mitzman Gaven, because of a pay dispute. Karl Wiedergott has made many appearances in minor roles but does not voice any recurring characters. Recurring "special guest" cast members include Albert Brooks, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Jane Kaczmarek, Jan Hooks and Kelsey Grammer. Brooks, Hartman, and Lovitz have voiced several characters. Grammer, Hooks, Kaczmarek, and Mantegna only voice one character each.

The main cast has been involved in much-publicized pay disputes with Fox on more than one occasion. In 1998, they threatened to strike, forcing 20th Century Fox TV to increase their salary from $30,000 per episode to $125,000. The actors were supported in their action by series creator Groening. As the revenue generated by the show continued to increase through syndication and DVD sales, the main cast stopped showing up for script readings in April 2004 after weeks of unsuccessful negotiations with Fox. They asked for $360,000 per episode, or $8 million for a 22-episode season. On May 2, 2004, the actors resolved their dispute with Fox after reaching an agreement.


The writing team divides seasons into two parts. For each half season there will be developed and pitched approximately 16 story ideas. These are mostly written by one or two writers. The 16 story ideas get developed into 12 scripts. Since it takes six to eight months to produce an episode of The Simpsons, it is very rare for the show to comment on spontaneous current events, though they sometimes reference planned events such as the Olympics or World Series.

The final scripts are developed during group rewriting sessions. In those sessions they can add and delete jokes, insert scenes, and call for rereadings of lines by the show’s company of vocal performers. The leader of those sessions is George Meyer, who has been with the show since the beginning. Long time writer Jon Vitti explains that even though he will get the script credit for an episode the best quotes are usually made by George Meyer.

John Swartzwelder is the most prolific writer on The Simpsons staff, personally writing 59 episodes. Another notable writer was Conan O’Brien, who wrote four scripts before he became the host of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. English comedian Ricky Gervais is the only celebrity ever to have guest written an episode, although there have been other guest writers, such as Spike Feresten, a Seinfeld writer famous for " The Soup Nazi" episode.

The writing staff has included a significant number of Harvard University alumni, and the school is often referenced in the series. Conan O'Brien once served as the president of the Harvard Lampoon and Bill Oakley once served as vice president.


Overseas animation studios involved:

AKOM—202 episodes

  • Exclusively produced the first two seasons of the series.
  • Produced various episodes throughout the run of the series.

Anivision—55 episodes

  • Produced animation for episodes from seasons 3–10.

Rough Draft Studios—122 episodes

  • Produced animation for episodes from season four onwards.

U.S. Animation, Inc.—2 episodes

  • Jointly produced " Radioactive Man" with Anivision.
  • Produced " The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular"

Toonzone Entertainment—2 episodes

  • Produced " The Fat and the Furriest" and " She Used to Be My Girl".
* The numbers are based on Speedy Boris Official Site

The Simpsons has been animated by many different studios over the past 18 years, both domestic and overseas. Throughout the run of the animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, the animation was solely produced domestically at Klasky Csupo. Due to the increased workload, production was being subcontracted to overseas studios for the half hour show, usually in South Korea. While character and background layout is done by the domestic studio, inbetweening, coloring and filming is done by the overseas studios. Throughout the years, different overseas studios have animated different episodes, even episodes within the same season. Klasky Csupo was the domestic animation studio during the first three seasons of the half-hour series, but during season four, Gracie Films made a decision to switch the domestic production to Film Roman, which continues to animate the show to this day. The last episode to be animated by Klasky Csupo was " Kamp Krusty", in production order.

After season 13, production was switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint. The first episode to experiment with digital coloring was " Radioactive Man" in 1995, and again during season 12 with the episode " Tennis the Menace", but after seeing the results, Gracie Films decided to hold off for two more seasons. "Tennis the Menace," being already completed, was broadcast this way.


Original episodes of The Simpsons are shown on the Fox network in the United States, and are widely distributed internationally. Past seasons have been widely syndicated since 1994. In foreign countries, it is sometimes necessary to adjust the material to suit local culture or humor. Arabic-speaking countries are an example of this, in which they cut out or modify references to alcohol, pork and non-Muslim religions. The animation in The Simpsons makes the show more frequently dubbed in foreign countries rather than subtitled.


Primary characters

Homer Simson: Homer Simpson is a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and a generally well-meaning buffoon. He is the father of the Simpson family. His best friends are Lenny and Carl.

Marge Simson: Marge Simpson is for the most part a stereotypical American housewife and mother.

Bart Simpson: Bart Simpson is a ten-year-old troublemaker who thinks of himself as a rebel. Lisa Simpson is an extremely intelligent eight-year old middle child who is often involved in left-wing activism and loves playing the saxophone.

Lisa Simpson: Lisa SImpson is a 8 year old girl. She is very smart and often fights with Bart.

Maggie Simpson: Maggie Simpson is a baby who, for the most part, simply sucks on a pacifier and doesn't speak.

Pets: The family has a dog and cat, Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II respectively, and have also had several other one-shot pets. Despite the fact that numerous yearly milestones, such as holidays and birthdays, clearly pass, the Simpsons do not physically age, indicating some form of a floating timeline.

Other kids: Millhouse is bart's best friend. Jenny is Lissa's Friend. Nelson and Jimbo are school bullies. Ralph is a kid in the fourth grade who is stupid.

The Simpson lifestyle was initially fairly consistent with a one-income, middle class family. For example, in the first season episode " There's No Disgrace Like Home", Homer must pawn the family’s rabbit-eared television for $250 to afford a family therapy session. In other early episodes, Homer can only afford a very low-quality used RV, can't afford cable television, and must scrimp and save to get the family dog a $750 life-saving operation. As the seasons have progressed, however, the lifestyle has been shown to be more flexible to the needs of any given episode or comedic situation: In the episode " The Day the Violence Died", Homer pulls $750 out of his wallet to casually give to Bart. The family now often makes extravagant purchases or vacations with little or no regard to cost, while at other times they still have financial problems.

Throughout the series, the Simpson family's religion has been a form of Protestant Christianity. The most important deviation from this came when Lisa became a Buddhist in the episode " She of Little Faith". Bart and Homer later became Roman Catholic in the episode " The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star".

Secondary characters

The show has a vast array of quirky supporting characters, including co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, and local celebrities. Originally, many of these characters were planned as one-shot jokes, or to fill a function in the town; a number of them gained expanded roles, and some have subsequently been the subject of their own episodes. Matt Groening stated that the idea for the many different recurring characters of The Simpsons "was very much inspired by the sketch comedy show SCTV, with all the SCTV characters in Melonville interacting" and this made the town seem like its own little universe.


The Simpsons is set in a fictional American city of Springfield. The state in which it is located has never been made clear, and it is not actually intended to exist in any specific state. Nevertheless, throughout the show's history, fans have tried to determine where Springfield is by taking the town's characteristics, surrounding geography and nearby landmarks as clues. As a response, in more recent episodes, the show has been intentionally deceptive about the state, and nearly every state and region in the U.S. has been both suggested and ruled out by conflicting "evidence". Groening has stated that Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the city he grew up in, and the name "Springfield" was chosen because it is a common city name, appearing in more than thirty states. The geography of Springfield and its surrounding areas are seen to be "flexible" and have been shown to contain coastlines, deserts, vast farmland, and tall mountains, or whatever a story or joke requires.



The show routinely mocks and satirizes show business conventions and personalities. Krusty the Klown has an enthusiastic following among Springfield's kids, but offstage he is a jaded, cynical hack, in poor health from a long history of overindulgence, gambling and substance abuse. He will endorse any product for a price. Kent Brockman is a self-important, spoiled TV news anchorman with little regard for journalistic ethics. Even Rupert Murdoch, whose corporate empire includes The Simpsons' broadcasting network, has been spoofed in a couple of episodes. In fact, ridiculing the Fox network has become a running joke.

The show has been rife with political satire over the years, often lampooning current and former U.S. presidents as well as other world leaders. Some examples include: George H. W. Bush was portrayed as a cantankerous nemesis to Homer in " Two Bad Neighbors", Al Gore's seemingly banal personality being ridiculed, Bill Clinton claiming to have engaged in bestiality in Homer to the Max, the Republicans shown as interested in homosexuality and also as a set of sadists who plan things in a haunted castle and the United Nations frequently shown to be an incompetent and bickering organization.

Some social conservatives have come to embrace the show. One of the main explanations is that The Simpsons portrays a traditional nuclear family among a lineup of television sitcoms that portray less traditional ones. The show has toyed with the possibility of extramarital affairs, with the show always strongly affirming Homer and Marge's marriage in the end. Social conservatives and some evangelical Christians have also pointed to the positive role model of devout Christian Ned Flanders, whose fretfulness is occasionally ridiculed but whose decency never wavers despite constant provocation from Homer. In several episodes, God actually intervenes to protect the Flanders family, invoking such Christian concepts as Divine Providence. As compared with the Simpson family, the Flanders family is relatively well-off and less dysfunctional, although they are quirky in their own way, with over-the-top devotion and their fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. It is notable that in more recent episodes, many of Flanders' religious comments have been contextualized and emphasized ironically, clearly intending to portray his "blind faith" as unjustifiable.

There are many episodes of The Simpsons which are less pleasing to social conservatives; for example, in " Homer's Phobia", Homer overcomes homophobia and befriends a gay man, and the episode " There's Something About Marrying" promotes acceptance of gay marriage. Lisa Simpson, the most intelligent member of the Simpson family, is portrayed as an unabashed liberal.


The format of a Simpsons plot has changed somewhat over the years. A character or group of characters is usually placed in a problematic situation which they must solve or learn to accept. Initially, these situations were usually simple, realistic moral or social situations with realistic resolutions, similar to standard sit-com plots. For example, in an episode from season one, Bart is being beaten up by a bully and must learn to stand up for himself. Subsequent plots have tended to be much less ordinary, and increasingly often, less realistic.

Besides decreasing realism, as the show progressed, it became increasingly common to have the main plot issue result from a relatively unrelated first act scenario. For example, in " Hurricane Neddy", the entire first act revolves around a hurricane hitting Springfield in a scenario reminiscent of the movie Twister; only at the first act break do we learn that Ned Flanders’ house has been destroyed, leading to the episode's main plot of Flanders having a mental breakdown. The description of the 2003 episode " Dude, Where's My Ranch?" offered to Shaw Cable subscribers reads: "After David Byrne turns Homer's anti-Ned Flanders song into a monster hit, the family vacations at a dude ranch, where Lisa falls in love". This phenomenon is commonly termed " plot drift".

It became increasingly common for the resolution of the episode to be secondary to the humor of the situation itself, often leading to a convenient deus ex machina ending. Episodes " Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" and " The Principal and the Pauper" are two examples of this, though each is aware of and even lampoons its deus ex machina. Originally, major changes in The Simpsons universe would generally be undone by the end of an episode. Occasionally, more in recent episodes, the writers have allowed some plot points to become permanent, including certain deaths, births, and marriages.

The Simpsons' sometimes uses another plot structure. This structure comprises of three short stories, often with an overarching story that "bookends" the segments. It is mostly used in The Simpsons Halloween episodes, but it is also used for regular episodes; typically when redoing classic stories with the Simpsons characters.

The plots of many episodes focus on one particular character, or the relationship between two characters. Common plots have involved: Homer getting a new job or attempting a get-rich-quick scheme; Marge attempting to escape the monotony of keeping house by finding employment or taking up a hobby; Bart causing a large problem and attempting to fix it, cover it up, or ignore it entirely; Lisa embracing or advocating the merits of a particular cause or group. Episodes have focused on the problems of secondary or tertiary characters, which is usually solved with the help of a member of the Simpson family.

When the whole family is part of the plot, they will often go on vacation. This has recurred often enough that it is self-parodied with Homer saying, "The Simpsons are going to (wherever they are going)!" whenever they go on a trip. With all the vacations the Simpsons have been on, they have visited every continent on Earth except Antarctica.

The show occasionally uses an A-story/B-story breakdown such as in " Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", which follows Homer and Bart's trip to the Super Bowl, while following the B-story of Marge and Lisa's having nothing to do at home. According to the DVD commentaries, the more limited time constraints on episodes has resulted in less use of this structure.


Opening sequence

The Simpsons opening sequence is one of the show's most memorable hallmarks. Almost every episode opens with the camera zooming through the show's title towards the town of Springfield. Then we follow the members of the family on their way home. Upon entering their house, they settle down on their couch to watch television. The series' distinctive theme song was composed by musician Danny Elfman in 1989, after Groening approached him requesting a "retro" style piece. This piece, which took two days to create, has been noted by Elfman as the most popular of his career.

One of the most unique aspects of the opening is that there are several segments that are changed from episode to episode. Bart writes something different on the chalkboard. Lisa sometimes plays a different solo on her baritone saxophone and something different happens when the family enters the living room to sit on the couch. The latter is often the only one of the three gags to survive the process of shortening the opening for some syndicated episodes and for later episodes which needed extra time. This concept of rotating elements has been subsequenty used both by Groening in Futurama, and by others, such as a newspaper headline in American Dad! and a morse code message in Jericho.

Halloween episodes

An annual tradition is a special Halloween episode. " Treehouse of Horror" started a tradition of three separate, self-contained stories in each Halloween episode. These pieces usually involve the family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting and often parodies or pays homage to a famous piece of work in those genres; they always take place outside the normal continuity of the show. Although the Treehouse series is meant to be seen on Halloween, in recent years new installments have premiered after Halloween. This is due to Fox's current contract with Major League Baseball's World Series.

Recurring jokes and catchphrases

There are many running gags on The Simpsons, many of which have been retired during the series. The Simpsons has perhaps most entered the public consciousness in the form of the numerous catch phrases of its characters. Such catch phrases include Homer's famous annoyed grunt " D'oh!", Mr. Burns' "Excellent..." and Nelson Muntz's "Ha-ha!". An interesting phenomenon occurred with Bart's catchphrases. His now trademark " ¡Ay, caramba!", "Don't have a cow, man!" and "Eat my shorts!" were featured on t-shirts in the early days of the show's run; however, the latter two phrases were rarely actually spoken on the show itself until after they became popular through merchandise, and the use of many of these catchphrases has declined in recent seasons.

Recurring jokes are also used. In one example, Bart often made prank calls to Moe's Tavern asking for someone with a suggestive name such as "Amanda Huggankiss", "Al Coholic", "Seymour Butts" or "Mike Rotch". Another is the Krusty Brand - a line of often poorly made and potentially dangerous products endorsed by Krusty the Clown, who will apparently endorse almost anything. In one memorable clip, Bart mentions the Krusty Home Pregnancy Test, which warns that it may 'cause birth defects'. Or such as the annual Simpsons' " Treehouse of Horror" Halloween Specials, the names in the credits will be parodies of the actual ones such as, "Bat Groening," "Chains Hell Brooks," etc.

The show has been known for both sign gags and so-called VCR gags. A sign gag is a text sign on the show that has amusing content. The names of commercial establishments, and the message signs in front of the school or church are common forums for sign gags. The show premiered in the prime of the popularity of VCRs, and being animated, the writers made frequent use of what they termed VCR gags or freeze frame gags. These are images that are on the screen too briefly to be identified normally, but would be visible if a viewer recorded the show and paused at the appropriate frame. Freeze frame gags often included sign gags.

Guest stars

Many episodes feature celebrity guests contributing their voices to the show, as either themselves or as fictional characters. Guests playing themselves were especially used during seasons 7-13, often as a cameo without a significant plot connection. Guests playing fictional characters were mostly used for other seasons. In the early seasons, some celebrities, such as Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman, would guest star using a pseudonym.

Cultural impact

Impact on language

Many of the characters, concepts and catchphrases from The Simpsons have become common knowledge in modern society. A number of neologisms originated on The Simpsons have become a part of the universal lexicon, the most famous of which is Homer's saying: "D'oh!," which is referred to in scripts, as well as four episode names, as "annoyed grunt". So ubiquitous is the catchphrase that it is now listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, but without the apostrophe. A much earlier use of the same expression, often similarly used to denote expectation, was established in the long-running British BBC radio series The Archers, where it was used, almost as a catch-phrase, by the character 'Walter Gabriel' (voiced by actor Chris Gittings). Dan Castellaneta has explained that he borrowed the phrase from James Finlayson, an actor in early Laurel and Hardy comedies, who pronounced it more stretched-out and whiny. Castellaneta was told by the show's director to shorten the noise, leading to the famous grunt in the TV series.

Other Simpsons expressions that have entered into popular use include the word "excellent" – drawn out as a sinister and nasal "eeeexcelllent…" in the style of Charles Montgomery Burns — Homer's triumphant "Woohoo!" and Nelson Muntz's mocking "HA-ha!". Groundskeeper Willie's description of the French as " cheese-eating surrender monkeys" was used by conservative National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, a fan of the show, in 2003, after France's opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq, and quickly spread to other journalists. The show's creators take pride in having passed on schoolyard rhymes to a new generation of children who otherwise may not have heard them.

Impact on television

The Simpsons was the first animated program in prime time since The Flintstones era. During most of the 1980s, animated shows were seen as being for kids and the animation was too expensive to get quality suitable for prime time television. The Simpsons changed this perception. The use of Korean animation studios doing inbetweening, coloring and filming made the episodes cheaper. The success of The Simpsons and the lower production cost made television networks take chances on other animated series. This led to a boom in new animated shows for prime time in the 1990s, such as South Park, Family Guy, King of the Hill, Futurama and The Critic.

The Simpsons also had an impact on live-action shows. Malcolm in the Middle, which debuted January 9, 2000 in the time slot right after The Simpsons, was largely inspired by this show. The actors acted like they were cartoon characters. It featured some of the same editing, the use of sight gags and it did not use a laugh track like most sitcoms.

Impact on music

Several bands have names referencing themes, characters, or places from The Simpsons. Some examples are Noiseland Arcade, I Voted For Kodos, Rex Banner, Evergreen Terrace, Daddy's Soul Donut, Jebediah, The Canyoneros, Pinmonkey, Fall Out Boy, Vote Quimby, Stupid Sexy Flanders, Hot Rod Circuit, Poindexter, Maggie Speaks, Malibu Stacy, Worker & Parasite, Laszlo Panaflex, Mr. Sparkle, and the Rory Calhouns. The Bloodhound Gang made an entire song using only Ralph Wiggum quotes. On the album Bite Back: Live At The Crocodile Cafe the Built to Spill song Big Dipper is credited as Allen the Cowboy.

Critical reactions and achievements


The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 23 Emmy Awards, 22 Annie Awards and a Peabody. On January 14, 2000 the Simpsons were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In its 1998 issue celebrating the greatest achievements in arts and entertainment of the 20th century, Time magazine named The Simpsons the century's best television series. In that same issue, Bart Simpson was named to the Time 100, the publication's list of the century's 100 most influential people. He was the only fictional character on the list. In 2002, it made the top 10 on TV Guide's list of the greatest shows of all time. In 2000, Entertainment Weekly magazine TV critic Ken Tucker named The Simpsons the greatest television show of the 1990s. Furthermore, viewers of the UK television channel Channel 4 have voted "The Simpsons" top of two polls, 2001's 100 Greatest Kids' TV shows, and 2005's 100 Greatest Cartoons, with Homer Simpson voted first place in 2001's 100 Greatest TV Characters.

Run length achievements

On February 9, 1997 The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones with the episode, " The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" as the longest-running prime time animated series in America. In 2004 it replaced The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952 to 1966) as the longest-running sitcom, animated or live action, ever in the United States. In October 2004, Scooby-Doo briefly overtook The Simpsons as the American animated show with the highest episode count. In April 2005, Scooby-Doo was cancelled again, finishing with 371 episodes, while The Simpsons reclaimed the title with 378 episodes as of the end of their seventeenth season. Scooby-Doo has been renewed again under a new name, airing on Kids WB in 2006, giving it another chance to catch up to The Simpsons. It must be noted, however, that Scooby-Doo has experienced several incarnations, while The Simpsons' record comes as a continuous production.

2007 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Simpsons franchise, since the show originally began as skits on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. With its nineteenth season (2007-2008), through which the show was renewed in 2006, the series will be one season behind Gunsmoke's US entertainment record of 20 produced seasons; however, Gunsmoke's episode count of 635 episodes far surpasses The Simpsons, which would not reach that mark until its twenty-ninth season, under normal season lengths.{uncited}

The Simpsons holds three other records. As it is technically a spin-off of The Tracey Ullman Show that makes it the longest-running American TV spinoff. It features the longest-running unaltered television series opening credit sequence; although each sequence contains different elements, and has been shortened over the years, the basic format of the opening and theme music have never changed. It is the longest-running series to have never experienced either a major change in cast members or the addition/removal of major characters (Gunsmoke, by comparison, underwent several such changes during its run).{uncited}

While The Simpsons has a record number of episodes for an American animated show, some foreign animated shows, especially Japanese anime series like Dragon Ball (combined with Dragon Ball Z), Doraemon, and Pokémon, have more episodes than The Simpsons, though they have had to retitle their official show names (ie Dragonball and Dragonball Z, Doraemon and Doraemon +, and Pokemon and Pokemon:Advanced Generation) too. Another anime series, Detective Conan ("Case Closed" in America) has slightly more episodes than The Simpsons despite premiering seven years later. This is because the standard Japanese season is every six months, making 26 episodes a season and 52 episodes a year. An American season will air either 20-26 (after season 1, The Simpsons has aired between 21-25 episodes a season) episodes a year or only 13 episodes.

Criticism of declining quality

For many years, most critics' reviews of new Simpsons episodes praised the show for its wit, realism, and intelligence. But gradually starting in the mid-90s, the tone and emphasis of the show changed, possibly due to turnover in the writing staff. Some critics began calling the show tired. By 2000, a segment of long-term fans had become disillusioned with the show, including its movement from more character-driven plots to what they perceived as an overemphasis on zany antics.

In 2003, to celebrate the show's 300th episode " Barting Over," USA Today published a pair of Simpsons related articles: a top-10 episodes list chosen by webmaster of The Simpsons Archive fansite, and a top-15 list by The Simpsons' own writers. The most recent episode listed on the fan list was 1997's " Homer's Phobia"; the Simpsons' writers most recent choice was 2000's " Behind the Laughter." In 2004, Harry Shearer criticized the show's sliding quality in an interview: "I rate the last three seasons as among the worst, so Season 4 looks very good to me now." In April 2006, The Onion A/V Club published a feature article on the best quotes from The Simpsons; the most recent entry on the list was from 1999's " Mom and Pop Art."

Despite this criticism, The Simpsons has managed to maintain an audience and attract new fans, although the first season had an average of 13.4 million viewers alone in the U.S, compared to the 17th season, which ended with an average of 9.2 million viewers. In an April 2006 interview, Matt Groening said, "I honestly don't see any end in sight. I think it's possible that the show will get too financially cumbersome...but right now, the show is creatively, I think, as good or better than it's ever been. The animation is incredibly detailed and imaginative, the stories do things that we haven't done before, so creatively there's no reason to quit."

It might also be noted, as commented by the writing staff on several of the box set DVDs audio commentaries, that there was similar outcry about declining quality in the early years. After the generally down-to-earth first two seasons, when seasons three and four came along, with more ambitious storylines, some fans sited that the series had dropped in quality. Again, as noted on the DVD commentaries, many now regard the third and fourth seasons as the show's "golden era".



There have been made numerous Simpson-related publications over the years.


So far, nine comic book series have been published by Bongo Comics since 1993: The Simpsons, Futurama, and Bart Simpson comics are also reprinted in the UK, under the same titles, with various stories from the other Bongo series reprinted in the main Simpsons comic. The comics have also been collected in book form; many other Simpsons books such as episode guides have also been published.


Music is prominently featured in The Simpsons, with virtually all members of the cast breaking into song at least once during the course of the series. Perhaps the best known song is " Do The Bartman," which was released as a single and became an international success. The Simpsons Sing the Blues and The Yellow Album contained cover versions of songs, as well as some originals (including "Do The Bartman"). Songs in the Key of Springfield and Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons are CD collections of original music featured in the TV series. In the United Kingdom, "Deep, Deep Trouble" (also from The Simpsons Sing the Blues) was released as a follow up to "Do The Bartman", and again was a hit.

Board games

The Simpsons has also been used to make special editions of well known games, including Clue, Scrabble, Monopoly, Operation, Treehouse of Horror Monopoly and The Game of Life. In addition to those they have also released a few trivia games, which include the games What Would Homer Do? and Simpsons Jeopardy!. There has also been released various card games such as trump cards and The Simpsons Trading Card Game.


Many episodes of the show have been released on DVD and VHS over the years. When the first season DVD was released in 2001, it quickly became the best-selling television DVD in history (although it would later be overtaken by the first season of Chappelle's Show). The eight DVD volumes (as of August 2006) rank as the best-selling television DVD series of all time. In particular, these DVDs have been released in North America ( Region 1), Europe ( Region 2) and Australia/New Zealand/Latin America ( Region 4). Seasons 1-7 have also been released in Japan ( Region 2).

Video games

With the popularity of The Simpsons, especially among children, it was only natural for the video game industry to turn to the characters and world of Springfield, with the early games starring Bart Simpson. While critical and public reaction has been mixed, several of the Simpsons games did very well commercially. Some of the early notable games includes Konami's arcade game The Simpsons and Acclaim Entertainment's The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants. More modern games include The Simpsons Road Rage and The Simpsons Hit & Run. Electronic Arts is now making Simpsons games for next-gen consoles, one of them being rumoured to be based on the upcoming movie (see below)

At least two Simpsons pinball machines have also been produced; one after the first season, and the other still available. The popularity of The Simpsons has also resulted in several unofficial Simpson mods for the video games Doom, Counter Strike and Duke Nukem 3D.


Many posters involving Simpsons characters are available for purchase, as well as posters that have been included for free in the Simpsons comic books. One of the most famous Simpsons posters shows nearly the entire cast of characters which have made an appearance throughout the show. Many of these posters are spoofs of famous images; for example, one poster shows Bart swimming naked underwater staring at a dollar bill, similar to the cover of the Nirvana album Nevermind. On another poster Homer is screaming, similar to the painting The Scream by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch.

Action figures

Many characters are available to buy in figurine form, and each figure comes with an accessory. For example, Bart comes with his trademark slingshot and Homer comes with a donut. Toys have also been made of automobiles from the Simpsons, such as the family's car and the school bus, as well as familiar sets from the show, including Principal Skinner's office, Apu's Kwik-e-Mart, and Homer's workstation at the power plant.


Talk about a possible feature-length Simpsons movie has been going on since the early days of the series. James L. Brooks had originally thought that the story of the episode " Kamp Krusty" was suitable for a movie. It became however a regular episode after difficulties were encountered in trying to expand the script to feature-length. Other rumors about a live-action movie were hoaxes. It is now confirmed that an animated Simpsons movie is in the works. It is being produced by 20th Century Fox, Gracie Films, and Film Roman, and is scheduled to be released July 27, 2007. The movie will be produced alongside the series, despite long-time rumors that a movie would enter production only when the series had reached its end.

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