In May of 1990, The Simpsons debuted on televisions everywhere. Since then, the series has spanned over 29 seasons, several TV specials, and a full length movie. Not only that, but The Simpsons has become one of the most recognizable television series to date. Even the series’ creators admitted to making the main characters yellow so they’d stand out while viewers would be flipping through channels — just one cosmetic strategy that seems to have worked well but fans had no clue about. And that’s just one of secret most fans don’t know!
While many devoted fans have kept up with new and interesting facts about The Simpsons, quite a few have gone overlooked. Said facts tend to hold information on aspects that the producers wouldn’t necessarily want you to know, or just things that you never dared think about. So to make everything transparent, we’ve compiled together 15 dark secrets that may interest everyone from the diehard fans who have watched every episode of every season, to the casual viewers of one of television’s most lasting and perpetually relevant phenomenons.
15. MATT GROENING IS MAGGIE SIMPSON
An interesting secret involving Matt Groening is that he voices a character on the series. Technically, it’s not as much as a voice as it is a sound. To be clear, being that she has no true voice (an ongoing gag in the show, even when she is seen to be grown up), Groening provides the sucking sounds for Maggie Simpson.
What we can’t fail to mention here is that Groening had help with Maggie’s sucking sounds. Gabor Csupo, one of the early producers on The Simpsons assisted in creating the sounds. Csupo initially helped create the sounds but wound up departing from the series in 1992, leaving Groening to pick up the slack. Of course, Maggie’s sucking hasn’t changed much so Groening hasn’t had to do much since Csupo’s departure.
14. U.S. PRESIDENT BLAMED THEM FOR THE ECONOMY
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush took to the airwaves with a message to all Americans, a message intended to persuade the American people to be more like The Waltons rather than like The Simpsons. The reason for Bush’s emphasis on The Simpsons was that he blamed liberals for the recession at the time. Because the series was supposedly geared towards liberal audiences, Bush felt that The Simpsons’ influence was contributing to the recession.
To address the accusations, Matt Groening had Bart Simpson respond in the episode following Bush’s speech. Bart’s response was as follows: “Hey, we’re like the Waltons. We’re praying for an end to the Depression, too.” The quote wasn’t meant to strike back at Bush but to show Americans that series’ producers were aware of society’s problems, even though The Simpsons had nothing to do with the recession.
13. A SIMPSONS SHIRT WAS BANNED IN SCHOOL
Back when The Simpsons first started to became popular, fans went crazy for all kinds of merchandise. From t-shirts to pins, everything and anything Simpsons related was a keepsake. One of the most controversial was a t-shirt. It read “I’m Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?”. The shirt drew a lot of controversy after children began wearing them to school, which called for a a nation-wide ban.
Once a ban was instituted, some students still found their way to school with the controversial shirts on. In response, the schools forced children to turn their shirts inside out or change clothing. Parents were divided over the issue but eventually obliged to the schools’ requests, thus making the ban permanent.
12. ALIENS NAMED AFTER A CONVICT
On The Simpsons, there are two well known aliens, Kang and Kodos. They’re both original creations from Matt Groening but named after characters from another TV series. Kang was named after a Klingon and Kodos got his name from a mass murderer. Well technically, he’s a character who “is” a mass murderer.
The Simpsons’ Kodos is actually modeled after Kodos the Executioner from Star Trek: The Original Series. On that show, Kodos was a human politician who turned into a villainous dictator after killing four thousand of his colony’s inhabitants. That act alone defined who he’d be from that point on. Though, we don’t know how The Simpsons‘ version of Kodos relates because we’ve yet to see him kill anyone. Of course, we should be vigilant for when he earns his namesake.
11. MILHOUSE IS… MUSSOLINI?
Even though Milhouse Van Houten has been on The Simpsons since the beginning, fans probably don’t know that his middle name is Mussolini. He’s half Italian on his mom’s side and has an interesting grandmother who may or may not have ties to Italy’s most infamous dictator.
Milhouse’s grandmother, Nana Sophie Mussolin, grew up in Italy and then moved to America after a WWII soldier impregnated her. The reason Nana Sophie might be related to Benito Mussolini is because she holds his last name and grew up around 1922, the time when Mussolini ruled over Italy. Since she left Italy around 1945, Nana Sophie was definitely present for his rule. Who knows, she may even be one of his children. In turn, that would make Milhouse a distant relative of Benito Mussolini.
10. A REPLICA OF THEIR HOUSE WAS BUILT (THEN DESTROYED)
It’s been some time since anything has been said about the real-life Simpsons house, and that’s because the house was torn down before anyone could live in it. Since the contest winner opted out of ownership and took a cash prize instead, the house eventually got torn down.
At the time, contest winner Barbara Howard lived across the country and didn’t want to move to Nevada just to live in a replica of The Simpsons house, so taking the cash prize made the most sense. That resulted in the property’s rights reverting back to 20th Century Fox. One would expect the studio to start another contest for a new applicant to win the house, but instead, the studio decided to strip the house down and sell it piece by piece.
9. HOMER CAN’T DRINK (IN ONE PART OF THE WORLD)
Unlike most dubbed versions of The Simpsons, the Arabic version was a show all its own. The Simpsons, or Al-Shamshoon as its known in Egypt and surrounding countries, was similar in nature, just slightly different from the original. For instance, Homer wasn’t allowed to drink beer or eat pork. Instead, Homer drank soda and ate beef products. As well, any mentions of Moe’s Tavern were also scrubbed from the Arabic version of The Simpsons.
Al-Shamshoon differed from The Simpsons in other ways, too. The biggest was the main character roster. Their character archetypes didn’t change in any way but their names did. Bart was changed to Badr, Marge to Mona, and Homer to Omar. These changes being done to resonate better with the audience they were shown to. Unfortunately, said changes didn’t go over so well, what with Al-Shamshoon being cancelled after only 34 episodes.
8. THEIR GOD IS US
Out of all the characters on The Simpsons, the God character is the only one who possesses five fingers. This distinction between God and humans is never discussed and we can only assume it’s because God is a superior being. Considering God’s physical manifestation on the show is more evolved than its universe’s humans, the creators definitely intended to place him / it atop a pedestal.
As far as the purpose of giving God five fingers goes, that’s anyone’s guess. Although, hints have been dropped here and there about how many digits humans would have on The Simpsons. For example, an early episode depicted Lisa reading a magazine talking about how humans would grow a fifth finger in the next million years, so there’s definitely some significance in the fingers. The question is, what?
7. ACTOR REFUSES IMAGE LIKENESS
During the episode “Simpson and Delilah”, Homer befriends his new secretary, Karl (Harvey Fierstein). Having gained favor with Mr. Burns, Homer gets a secretary to assist him in all of his new duties. Unfortunately their friendship doesn’t last long due to Karl getting fired.
The reason we bring Karl up is because the character’s likeness was supposed to be based on noted American character actor, Harvey Fierstein. But because Fierstein felt that Karl wasn’t a good representation of the homosexual community, the design based on his own likeness was scrapped altogether. The final product turned out to be a blonde haired, middle-aged man, vastly different from what Fierstein actually looks like. Although the question of why Fierstein allowed his voice to be used but not his likeness has never been uncovered.
6. A HIDDEN MICHAEL JACKSON
In case you don’t remember, Michael Jackson took on a guest role in an episode titled “Stark Raving Dad.” It was the Season 3 premiere wherein Jackson played a fictional version of himself. Well technically, he played a mental patient by the name of Leon Kompowsky, a character who believed he was the “real” Michael Jackson.
The controversy with Jackson’s part in “Stark Raving Dad” was that he didn’t want his name listed in the end credits roll. Even though Jackson was the one who pushed Groening and Jean to get involved with the show, he didn’t want his name in the credits. Instead, Jackson was credited as John Jay Smith, an alias of his own choosing. Jackson never gave a reason as to why he picked the name and that’ll always remain a mystery.
5. A FAKE MICHAEL JACKSON
Another interesting tidbit about Michael Jackson’s guest role in “Stark Raving Dad” was that he didn’t actually perform any of the songs sung by his character. Kipp Lennon, a well known musical talent of the time, was recruited to sing Jackson’s part. Since Jackson was only contracted for his voice, not singing abilities, someone else had to sing for him and it was believable.
Additionally, Lennon was brought on because Jackson wanted to play a joke on his brothers. Jackson thought it would be funny to make them believe that an impersonator could sing like him, so he wanted someone with a voice indistinguishable from his own to sing. However, rumor has it that Jackson actually recorded versions of the songs sung in the episode. And those recordings were meant to be used. But in the end, it was Lennon who wound up singing “Happy Birthday Lisa”.
4. MARGE SIMPSON: COVERGIRL
As strange as it is to hear, a Simpsons character was in fact plastered across the cover of Playboy. Marge Simpson to be precise. She can be seen posing in some very suggestive positions on both the cover and several pages in the magazine. All of the images are quite revealing but none of them seem to depict Marge fully “in the buff.” This surprised everyone because the magazine is still known for its contentious photographic content, regardless of its relatively recent shift.
Now, the reason why Matt Groening decided not to detail a full-on Marge hasn’t been “uncovered,” but we can presume it’s because that…angle of Marge’s character has never been shown on The Simpsons. If a sensational image of Marge Simpson were to crop up anywhere, it would only be a matter of time before curious fans start photo-shopping Marge’s bits onto other female Simpsons characters. Fortunately, Groening thought ahead and didn’t allow for that to happen. Not that the internet hasn’t forged ahead on that path anyway.
3. KRUSTY WAS HOMER?
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matt Groening revealed that his original idea for Krusty the Clown was to have him be Homer’s secret identity. Apparently, each character’s design was made similar so that Home could pass for Krusty if his identity was ever revealed. But in the end, Groening decided the dual identity would be too convoluted so it was dropped.
While the Homer / Krusty angle was left out of the plot, it would’ve made for an interesting dynamic between Bart and Homer. They haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything, but Bart finding out that Homer is his childhood hero might’ve changed their relationship. Then again, Bart and Homer have always had the same love-hate relationship so Homer moonlighting as Krusty probably wouldn’t have changed a thing.
2. THE SIMPSONS ENDING
According to longtime Simpsons’ showrunner, Al Jean, he has an interesting idea for how the series should end. Apparently, he wants the series finale to go back to the Christmas pageant in the first episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.”
This scenario appealed to Jean because The Simpsons running in a never-ending loop would mean that the series would last forever. By going back to the first episode, there would never be an end to the series. And to be honest, Jean’s vision would be a fitting way to close out the series. Think about it: an infinite loop, that’s just brilliant. How else would you close out a series that no one wants to end? Luckily, The Simpsons doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.
1. THE TROY MCCLURE LIVE ACTION FILM
Before meeting his tragic end, Phil Hartman had some high hopes for his recurring character on The Simpsons. Hartman provided the voices for both Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure, but McClure was the character he most resonated with. Hartman even thought of taking the Troy McClure character to further heights: specifically, he wanted to bring the character to the big screen!
What Hartman intended to do was turn Troy McClure into a live-action character. Hartman had his sights set on buying the character, then pursuing a live-action film all about Troy McClure. No one knows if Hartman wanted to star in the film himself but that’s something he never revealed to anyone. Because Hartman died before the spin-off could make any real headway, there’s no telling exactly what he had planned.
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