25 years ago today, The Simpsons was first broadcast as a cartoon short on The Tracy Ullman Show in America. So in honour of a quarter-century of the Springfield clan, we present 50 facts about the funniest TV show in history.
1. In the opening scene, Maggie used to ring up on the cash register as $847.63 because in 1989, that was the estimated price of raising a baby for one month.
2. However the 20th season of the show, which kicked off in 2009, swapped the price of her worth. The groceries start at $243.26, but Maggie doubles the total to $486.52.
3. Whenever Bart prank calls Moe’s Tavern, he dials the number 764-84377 (which is one digit longer than an American phone number need be). It spells out “SMITHERS”.
4. Ever wondered why the Springfield residents are all yellow? Creator Matt Groening told the BBC: “An animator came up with the Simpsons' yellow and as soon as she showed it to me I said: 'This is the answer!' because when you're flicking through channels with your remote control, and a flash of yellow goes by, you'll know you're watching The Simpsons.”
5. If you watch an episode dubbed in French, Homer’s signature “D’oh!” is translated to “T’oh!”.
6. The Spanish version, however, translates it to “Ouch!”.
7. In Arabic episodes, Homer drinks soda as opposed to beer, and he eats Egyptian beef sausages instead of hot dogs (to coincide with Islamic customs).
8. While the characters on the show are a digit short of a full, human-like hand, only one character has ever been given five fingers – God.
9. If you watch the episode ‘Lisa The Vegetarian’ and listen to the music in the closing credits, Paul McCartney sings ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ – but this version contains an added background sound – Macca reading the recipe for lentil soup, played backwards. The very last line is said to be: “Oh by the way, I'm alive.”
10. Comic Book Guy’s real name is Jeff Albertson, and Bumblebee Man goes by the name of Pedro (or at least we assume so – he wears a bowling shirt with that name on it in an episode).
11. It takes between six to eight months to create each episode.
12. Lisa has celebrated her 8th birthday on two different episodes.
13. Ever wondered who the voice behind Maggie’s ‘sucking’ sound is? That would be the show’s creator, Matt Groening.
14. US President George Bush once blamed the Simpsons for society's problems, claiming that American families should be less like The Simpsons and more like The Waltons.
15. Barbara Bush was once quoted saying “The Simpsons is the dumbest thing I've ever seen”. You can read a reply from 'Marge' here.
16. The word “d’oh” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 (although it’s spelled “doh”, which is said to be Groening’s spelling of choice). The word’s defined as: “Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also (usu. mildly derogatory): implying that another person has said or done something foolish.”
17. But where did “d’oh!” come from? Dan Castellaneta, the voice behind Homer, told The Hollywood Reporter that in the script it’s written as “annoyed grunt”. He based the sound off of Jimmy Finlayson’s “Dooooh!” in the Laurel And Hardy films.
18. While the show's introduction generally sticks to the usual supermarket/skateboarding/couch stunt, its creators broke a trend for an episode, replacing it with a cover of Ke$ha's 'Tik-Tok'. Her response? A simple Tweet of “Wooo!!”.
19. Until 1998, the six main voice actors for the show earned $30,000 per episode. From then until 2004, they earned $125,000 per show. Today, they get a whopping £400,000 per episode.
20. In 1990, ‘Do The Bartman’ topped the UK Singles Chart. The song was written and produced by Michael Jackson and Bryan Loren, and performed by Nancy Cartwright (the woman behind Bart’s voice).
21. Many of the characters’ last names are taken from street names in Groening’s hometown of Portland, Oregon.
22. One piece of Simpsons merchandise, a T-shirt reading “I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?" was apparently banned in from public schools.
23. Principal Skinner’s prisoner number in Vietnam was 24601, the same prisoner number as Twin Peaks’ Hank Jennings and Les Miserables’ Jean Valjean.
24. Krusty’s former sidekick Sideshow Bob also has that very same prisoner number, which can be seen on his letters to Selma (back when they were married for a short period of time).
25. Sideshow Bob’s real name is Robert Underdunk Terwilliger.
26. The length of the opening scene couch gag is dependent upon how long the episode is. If they need to fill space for a shorter episode, they’ll make an extended couch gag.
27. In 1989, it took just two days for Danny Elfman to compose the show’s now famous theme tune.
28. If you string together clips of Rainier Wolfcastle playing McBain from ‘90s episodes, they actually make a somewhat coherent story.
29. The reason Groening called the town Springfield was because there are dozens of different cities with that name in the States (keeping fans guessing as to which state the Simpsons live in).
30. While Lisa’s first word was “Bart” and Maggie’s was “Daddy”, the first words out of young Bart’s mouth were “Ay caramba!”.
31. The two alien characters, Kang and Kodos, are named after characters from Star Trek: The Original Series (where Kang is a Klingon warrior and Kodos is a mass murderer).
32. Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice of Bart, first tried out for Lisa's voice.
33. The inspiration behind Krusty The Clown? A TV clown in Portland named Rusty Nails. However, despite the ominous name, Rusty was a joyful, upbeat clown. Not remotely like Krusty, then.
34. Milhouse Van Houten's middle name is Mussolini.
35. Springfield hillbillies Cletus and Brandine have 44 children. Some of their names? Crystal Meth, Incest, Dubya, Normal-Head Joe and Mary WrestleMania.
36. Frasier’s Kelsey Grammer is the voice behind Sideshow Bob, while Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce (who plays Niles) provides the voice for Cecil, Sideshow Bob’s brother. Their father, Dr. Robert Terwilliger, is voiced by John Mahoney (who plays the father on Frasier).
37. The episode ‘Angry Dad’ features a comic/cartoon drawn by Bart. However, none of the show’s animators could make their drawings look like they were created by a child, so one of them got their son to do them.
38. When The Who’s Pete Townshend was included as a character on the show, it was actually voiced by his brother Paul Townshend.
39. Maggie’s stuffed bunny is actually the main character from Matt Groening’s comic strip ‘Life In Hell’.
40. If you’re ever at Springfield Elementary, remember this: Bart’s locker combination is 36-24-26. (Those are also the numbers recited in AC/DC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’.)
41. Thinking about opening your own business? Can’t think of a name for it? Take some inspiration from The Simpsons: The French Confection (a pastry shop), Louvre: American Style (a museum), Helter Shelter (a soup kitchen) and The Fryin' Dutchman (a seafood restaurant).
42. Inside the Springfield Police Station is a map of the city – which is shaped like medieval Constantinople.
43. There are plenty of animals in the show: Patty and Selma’s iguana is named Jub Jub, Krusty’s monkey is called Mr. Teeny, Homer’s helper monkey went Mojo and Mr. Burns’ fighting monkey was called Furious George.
44. In 1997, a house was built in Clark County, Nevada that is an exact replica of the Simpsons’ home. It was initially built as a grand prize for a contest run by Fox and Pepsi, and the winner could choose to either stay in the house or receive a $75,000 prize. Unfortunately the house, which cost $120,000 to build, was stripped of its Simpsons-esque décor.
45. In 1997, the show surpassed The Flinstones as the longest-running prime-time animated series in America.
46. Bus driver Otto is said to have a “Big Daddy” Ed Roth tattoo on his butt.
47. Despite his youthful looks, Ned Flanders is actually 60 years old.
48. From 1991-1993, comedian and TV host Conan O’Brien was a writer and producer for the show, and has been credited as writer/co-writer for four episodes.
49. To promote The Simpsons Movie, American convenience store 7-Eleven transformed some of its shops into Kwik-E-Marts, selling Simpsons merchandise such as Buzz Cola, Squishees and Krusty-O cereal.
50. As you likely already know, most opening credits feature a unique message written on the school blackboard by Bart. A few previous messages have included: “I was not touched ‘there’ by an angel”, “Pork is not a verb” and “I will not whittle hall passes out of soap”.
You can watch 'The Simpsons' every week on Sky One