Well, 2020 has been a hell of a year eh? Aside from killer viruses, another thing that keeps infecting my news feed are stories of how The Simpsons have predicted numerous huge and small world events, mainly due to some believing the show creator, Matt Groening is a time traveller. There are almost countless articles from sites all over the globe pointing out several ‘predictions’ that have been on the show that have seemingly come true. I read them with interest, only to find that a lot of people don’t know what a prediction is, or think that a prediction and a coincidence are the same thing.
I’ve decided to try and gather as many of those supposed predictions as I can find in an attempt to try to explain why they’re not what they seem. So here it is, my The Simpsons (not) predictions article.
The Coronavirus Pandemic
May as well start with the biggest news story of the year. 2020 saw this whole pandemic shit really hit the fan. But apparently, The Simpsons already predicted it back in 1993. It was season four and the episode, Marge In Chains where this prediction is found and the story is often headed with this image:
I’ll have more to say about this picture later, but for now, what this episode was about and the prediction. So, the episode Marge in Chains tells the story of Marge who is imprisoned for thirty days after accidently shoplifting some bourbon. However, the episode starts out with Homer buying a ‘juice loosener’ (“It’s whisper quiet”) gadget from a home shopping network on TV. These gadgets are made in Osaka, Japan. On the production line, one of the workers with the flu coughs into the box bound for Homer. So this flu virus makes its way from Japan to America where it infects the residents of Springfield.
So first things first… that image up there ^^^. It’s not even from this 1993 episode, it’s actually taken from the The Fool Monty episode from season twenty-two, 2010. Already we’re hitting a bit of a bump in this prediction. Then, the image has also been edited and someone out there has just lazily plastered the word ‘coronavirus’ over the pic:
Still, idiots on the interwebs don’t bother looking into facts when they have social media telling them what to think. But even so, this coronavirus pandemic originated from China, not Japan. It’s also not a flu virus. Then, coronavirus isn’t exactly new, it was first discovered in animals back in the 1920s, though it wasn’t officially given the name of ‘coronavirus’ until 1968. I really don’t think The Simpsons can predict something that already exists… that’s not a prediction is it? Just as a quick aside, this whole ‘predicting’ something that already exists will be a theme of this article. So what we have here is an episode that showed a flu virus being spread and not coronavirus, and the flu spreading is something that’s been going on for a long while now. Plus the country of origin was wrong, and the infection rates and scale were nothing like coronavirus either. So The Simpsons got absolutely nothing right. That’s really is far from a prediction eh?
Well, from one disgusting and debilitating disease to another.
Donald Trump Elected President
Yes, I can do satire too. Anyway, The Simpsons supposedly predicted that Donald Trump would become President of the United States. This one comes from season eleven, episode seventeen called, Bart to the Future from 2000. In this episode, Bart has his future told to him by a Native American (or as they should be called, Americans). The future shows Bart as a forty year old lay-about, a slacker who’s music career never took off. Often mooching off his friends and family, mainly his now POTUS sister, Lisa.
So Lisa is sitting in the Oval Office and is talking to her staff. This is when she utters the following line:
“We’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.”
So Lisa became President after Donald Trump, and this was said in 2000, while Trump didn’t become POTUS until 2016. Prediction? I really don’t think so. I mean, I could be really picky and point out that The Simpsons never state who this Trump president that preceded Lisa was. They don’t specify it was Donald… but that would be too easy. See, Trump may have announced his intention to run for President in 2015 for 2016… but that wasn’t the first time he mentioned it. In fact, he originally announced a presidential campaign back in 1999. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that 1999 is before the 2000 date the episode in question was aired. Is it not at all possible that the Bart to the Future episode quote was meant as a joke and not a prediction? In fact, Trump had been toying with the idea of running for president as far back as 1989, sometimes in a jokey way, sometimes more serious. Again, couldn’t The Simpsons ‘prediction’ have been nothing more than just a joke. The fact the joke came true is not a prediction, it’s a coincidence. In fact, the creator of the show, Matt Groening said:
“Back in 2000 Trump was, of course, the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time and that’s still true.”
There you go, confirmation it was just a joke, Groening himself had stated as much. The name was used as an ‘absurd placeholder joke’ and nothing more and a joke that just became a coincidence. But still on this subject, there’s another famous image from The Simpsons that people also like to use to claim as being a prediction.
This particular image, that I have not labelled with dates, that’s just how I found it from a Google search. I mean yeah, that’s pretty damn spooky and even cynical me would have to admit that’s impressively accurate… but it’s not strictly true. Yes The Simpsons featured a moment where Donald Trump is riding an escalator and according to (some of) the internet, this was from the year 2000 and the actual event with the real Trump occurred in 2015. But as I said, that’s not strictly true. See, Trumptastic Voyage, which is where the image comes from, wasn’t an actual The Simpsons episode at all and nor was it from 2000 either. It was actually just a short YouTube clip directed by David Silverman, who is a The Simpsons animator and director. The clip was made and released in 2015… the same year as the real event the clip was based on emerged. So not a prediction then? In fact, Trumptastic Voyage was made specifically to poke fun at the real footage when it was later revealed that Trump (or his people) had paid actors to pose for his phot-op. Hence why in The Simpsons clip/image, people are standing there holding placards saying ‘paid’.
So let’s summarise this ‘prediction’ then. Even the creator of the show has said that the Lisa Simpson line in the Bart to the Future from 2000 was nothing more than a joke. A joke that became a coincidence and a coincidence isn’t a prediction… it’s a coincidence. Then the Trump/escalator image has been tampered with to make people think it came from 2000 when it was in fact from a short YouTube clip made specifically to highlight the incredulous real footage. No predictions then.
Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime Show
This was actually the reason why I wanted to write this article to begin with. I found the prediction claim on a site (Looper ,who get more things wrong than they do right) that Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl show was undeniably similar to an episode of The Simpsons from 2012. So I’ll just quickly summarise for those not in the know. Lady Gaga did a halftime Super Bowl show in 2017 that featured her wearing a typically Gaga-esque outfit. Look, here’s the show so you can see for yourself. And here’s a still from the mentioned The Simpsons episode.
So in the episode, Lisa Goes Gaga, often cited as one of the worst episodes ever, Lady Gaga performs a gig where she flies about on a wire in an outrageous costume. Comparing with the Super Bowl show I linked to… yup, there’s a few strikingly accurate similarities. How about a little comparison pic?
The hair is different, as is the outfit, but that’s still a very close prediction eh? Well no, not at all. First thing’s first, Lady Gaga is known for her costumes, so ‘predicting’ she would wear something like that is not much of a prediction is it? That’s like ‘predicting’ that the glass of water in front of you will feel wet if you poured it over yourself. Less a prediction and more stating the bloody obvious really. But let’s move on to the finer details. I don’t think we can really claim The Simpsons predicted that Gaga would do an elaborate live performance, I mean, that’s what she does. Just as with the outfit, it’s too obvious to call it a prediction. But the flying about on wires?
See, the main thing about this ‘prediction’ is that the episode in which Lady Gaga was in was from 2012, season twenty-three. The Super Bowl halftime show was from 2017. Using my rudimentary knowledge and understanding of time and maths, 2017 is after 2012, by around five years, if I were to hazard a guess. So if The Simpsons episode came first and the carefully designed and choreographed Super Bowl halftime show came later… where’s the prediction? Let me put it another way. I’m pretty sure that Lady Gaga would’ve known about and even saw the episode of The Simpsons in which she was in (call it a hunch). So if she would’ve known about the episode, is it not at all possible that she drew inspiration from said episode for her Super Bowl performance? It’s not a prediction is it, that’s just copying or being influenced by something that already existed.
Roy Horn Mauling
So before I get into this one, I guess you may want to know who Roy Horn was? Siegfried & Roy were magicians who were massively popular and known for their performances with white lions and tigers. The Simpsons featured their own in-universe parody of Siegfried & Roy called, Gunter & Ernst. In 1993, the episode called $pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) from season five depicted Gunter & Ernst performing at Monty Burns’ casino. During said performance both of the magicians get mauled by Anastasia, their white tiger after it becomes upset for being captured and forced to perform.
Ten years later in 2003, that mauling became a reality when Roy Horn of the real duo was attacked by their own white tiger, Montecore. Siegfried & Roy were performing at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas when Horn went off script to make the tiger do a trick for the audience. Montecore bit the sleeve of Horn’s costume and would not let go. After which, Roy Horn fell backward and Montecore the tiger stood over him, bit into his neck and dragged him off stage. Horn survived the attack, but was left with lasting injuries before dying in 2020 during the whole coronavirus pandemic (that The Simpsons definitely didn’t predict).
Yeah, it’s eerie that the show had a small gag where a captured wild white tiger attacked it’s ‘masters’ during a performance in a casino… but is it really a prediction? If you do performances with wild tigers, there is a chance that one of them will snap and attack. The more performances you do, the greater that chance of attack becomes. Plus there was the fact that it has been said that Montecore didn’t actually attack Roy Horn, more so that the tiger was actually trying to protect and even save his life by dragging the magician off stage. Much like how big cats carry their young to protect them.
A sentiment Horn himself said was true as apparently, Roy Horn suffered a stoke during the performance and that was why he fell backward, then Montecore grabbed him (as it would with it’s young) and dragged him to safety. It’s just that there is a difference between a human’s neck and a young tiger’s one that Montecore wouldn’t have been aware of. So no, I don’t see this as a prediction as performing with wild animals is dangerous and an attack could happen any time, it’s called ‘playing the odds’. Plus the fact that it is believed that Montecore was trying to save Roy Horn and not harm him. While in The Simpsons version, it is explicitly spelt out that the tiger attacked out of anger, plus both performers were attacked too… the ‘prediction’ is not at all accurate, and so it’s not a prediction. The only thing that comes close is the fact both incidents occurred during a casino performance… but seeing as Siegfried & Roy were famed for casino performances, it’s not that impressive really.
George Floyd’s Arrest/Death And Kobe Bryant’s Death
So I’ve got a double dose of disrespect coming up now. First, if the whole coronavirus thing has been 2020’s biggest news story, then surely the abhorrent killing of George Floyd is a close second. I really don’t think I need to re-tread this story, everyone is already well versed in what happened by now. Yet did you know that The Simpsons very accurately predicted Floyd’s death before it even happened and in 1996 too?
No, of course it didn’t, but that didn’t stop people for making out it did. The above images were circulating on social media for a while after George Floyd died. If it’s shared on social media then it has to be true… at least that’s the mentality of way, way too many idiots. I mean, we even have an episode title and date to back up the claim. Episode 146: The Day Violence Died, which aired March 17, 1996. First, let’s look at that episode. Yup it’s real and yes it did air on March 17, 1996. Season seven for those wondering. However, those images above are not from said episode. In the episode, it’s the 75th anniversary on in-universe cartoon, Itchy & Scratchy. Bart and Lisa discover a homeless man, Chester who claims to be the creator of Itchy from the famed cartoon. The siblings team up to help Chester to claim the royalties he is owed… nothing to do with George Floyd. Even so… 1996? Twenty-four years before anyone knew who George Floyd was? Think about it for a second, that’s not a prediction, that’s outright witchcraft.
The images above were actually drawn by a fan called Yuri Pomo and originally showed up on his Instagram. Yes the images are real too… just not from the episode in question or even official The Simpsons work. Yuri Pomo claims he drew the images as a way to raise awareness of the incident and he never once claimed it was from The Simpsons himself… and he didn’t. It was others who found the images and just attached the claim that they came from the episode, The Day Violence Died. Even more so, whoever started the claim must’ve done some serious homework as they not only got a title of an episode correct, but also the original air date spot on too. So, someone purposely went out of their way to a make this false claim seem genuine… what a prick! Which erroneous information leads me to the second part of this ‘prediction’.
Kobe Bryant was a much loved basketball player in the U.S. Adored and respected by a great many fans. He also died in a tragic helicopter crash in January of 2020. People claimed that The Simpsons also managed to predict this tragedy too back in 2017… no they didn’t. To be honest, I’m not really 100% sure how this one even started. I did manage to find a Twitter user making the claim.
Yes Kobe Bryant did appear on The Simpsons back in 2011 in the episode, The Falcon and the D’ohman. But a helicopter death was never mentioned at all. Again, this one is just some sick prick making up lies to spread over the interwebs. Sadly, just like the George Floyd one, people believed and shared it. Both complete bullshit and have since been proven false many times over… and yet some people are still sharing them as fact. I did think about not including either of these as they are both clearly fake claims and not actual ‘predictions’ made by The Simpsons, but it’s the fact they are still being shared today as being accurate and attributed to The Simpsons is why I chose to include them after all.
Autocorrect And Handheld Devices
So, there are a few technology predictions that people claim The Simpsons made, which have since come true. The first of which I aim to cover is how the show predicted autocorrect and iPads, etc. This is from the episode Lisa on Ice, 1994. The kids are attending a school assembly when prissy boy, Martin Prince makes a comment on how Principle Skinner’s new report card system is a good idea. School bully, Kearney then tells Jimbo to make a note on his Apple Newton to ‘beat up Martin’, which autocorrects to ‘eat up Martha’.
Yes this did happen in an episode… but it wasn’t a prediction of anything. The handheld device featured, the Apple Newton, really did exist at the time, released in 1993. It was an early PDA (personal digital assistant) from Apple and a precursor to the iPad. So they didn’t predict handheld devices, they just made fun of one that already existed. As for the autocorrect claim, that was an actual thing on the Newton. Again, The Simpsons didn’t predict it, it already existed. In fact, the whole joke of the autocorrect not working was also factual as the Newton’s handwriting recognition was terrible. Here’s a newspaper clipping from 1993 (before the episode) pointing out how bad the autocorrect was on the Newton. It’s not a prediction, it was a joke about a bad piece of hard and software that just didn’t work as it was meant to.
Smartwatches And FaceTime
Another tech prediction is smartwatches, this is from the 1995, Lisa’s Wedding episode. Like the previously mentioned Bart to the Future one, this episode is also a vision of the future and tells the story of a grown up Lisa meeting a man called Hugh Parkfield. The two fall in love and arrange to be married. In fact, Hugh’s proposal to Lisa is where the smartwatch prediction comes from. Hugh has an elaborate fireworks display set-up to ask Lisa to marry him, it goes wrong, so he has to call in plan b… which is just a cow with a ‘marry me’ message stuck to it, being pushed into Lisa’s view. But to call plan b into action, Hugh uses his watch and talks into it.
So a pretty accurate prediction? I mean, smartwatches didn’t exist until 2014, so The Simpsons were well ahead of the curve there. Of course not. Movies and T.V. shows have been using a similar communication devices for years, decades before The Simpsons did it or even existed. Just off the top of my head, this guy used to talk to his car via his watch…
The Jetsons, Dick Tracy, Inspector Gadget, Star Trek… I could go on. All of them used watches as communication devices and more, and all of them years before the Lisa’s Wedding episode of The Simpsons too. Even The Flintstones featured a smartwatch… and they were from the stone-age! Cant get much older than that can you?
Also from the same episode, we have a FaceTime prediction. This shows up when Lisa calls Marge to tell her about her getting engaged to Hugh. Mother and daughter talk on a phone with a screen so they can see each other… which is what we now call FaceTime. I grabbed the following image form an IGN article outright claiming The Simpsons invented FaceTime.
See, the claim is right there in the pic, along with the IGN watermark. IGN state The Simpsons invented FaceTime. No they didn’t. Just as with the whole smartwatches thing, movies and T.V. shows have used screens as communication for decades, particularly with the sci-fi genre. Does no one remember the 2015 scenes from Back to the Future II when Marty is fired for pulling of a scam with Needles? He has two conversations via a screen in a few minutes… and that was back in 1989. But you can go even further back than that. If anyone ever claims The Simpsons predicted or invented some kind of tech we use today, always do a quick check with Star Trek first, cos they pretty much nailed all of it back in the 60s… including FaceTime. Even so, video calls, or ‘videotelephony’ as it was called, dates back even before Star Trek. Again, that’s not a prediction, that’s referencing something that already existed. Oh, and I think the word videotelephony needs to come back into popular usage instead of FaceTime.
Disney Buy Fox
In the 1998 episode, When You Dish Upon a Star, Homer becomes an assistant to Hollywood couple Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. While working for the stars, they are visited by famed director, Ron Howard. Homer takes the opportunity to pitch his movie idea to the director. As Homer himself describes it, it’s a film about a “killer robot driving instructor that travels back in time for some reason”, oh and it also features a talking pie. To be honest, that sounds better than most films Hollywood churn out these days. Anyway, things don’t work out between Homer and his new showbiz pals and the episode ends with Ron Howard pitching new movie ideas to Brian Grazer of 20th Century Fox. Outside of the studio, we see the following image.
A poster claiming that 20th Century Fox is a division of Disney, and this was back in 1998. Then in 2019… Disney actually did buy 20th Century Fox. So The Simpsons predicated that Disney would buy out Fox over two decades before it really happened. But here’s the thing, Disney had already gotten their wallet out before this episode existed. Back in 1995, they acquired Capital Cities/ABC media for $19 billion. There had been murmurs of Disney wanting to snap up other studios at the time too, including Fox. That is exactly what the joke was in reference too, the fact Disney were trying to buy out other companies. Of course, Disney would go on to buy other big names like Marvel and Lucasarts before they purchased Fox in 2019. Even The Simpsons writer and producer, Al Jean said this about the Fox acquisition:
“I predict people will make far too much of this mere coincidence.”
There’s that keyword in that quote… coincidence. That’s all it is, it was a quick throwaway joke about how Disney were snapping up companies at the time. I mean, you could probably make a random guess at Disney buying up some other big name right now, give it a decade or so and it’ll probably come true. Not because you ‘predicated’ it, but because the changes are very high.
Censorship of Michelangelo’s David
Back in 2016, those crazy Ruskies attempted to censor one of the world’s most famous pieces of art, Michelangelo’s David. Here’s an archived story from the BBC on that very topic. The short version is that a replica of the famed statue was to be put on show in St Petersburg, however, quite a few people became a tad upset over the fact the statue displays his wing-dang-doodle. The main outrage came from the fact that where the statue was being placed was near a church and a school. So residents were concerned that children could see the stone nudity.
So in order to protect sweet and innocent eyes, a campaign was launched to ‘dress David’… seriously. But here’s the thing, The Simpsons already covered (no pun) this issue back in 1990. It was the Itchy and Scratchy and Marge episode. In it, Marge launches a censorship campaign against the popular in-universe cartoon due to it’s violence. Later, Marge realises how wrong censorship is when Michelangelo’s David is brought to Springfield museum and residents (spurred on by Marge’s censorship campaign) protest about the statue’s nudity. The episode even used the following image to show the ridiculousness of the issue.
There’s no arguing the similarities of this prediction, but the big problem is that censoring of David is not a new thing, not in 2016 when the statue upset the Russians and certainly not when The Simpsons ‘predicted’ as much in the episode either. The truth is that David (and other art) had been the subject of censorship for years, decades, centuries even. I mean, just off the top of my head, here in the U.K. in the sixties, seventies and eighties, we had the ultimate snowflake/Karen. Yes, decades before the world was ruined by the rise of the snowflakes, we had Mary Whitehouse the Queen of snowflakes. Whitehouse went on a decades long campaign to censor T.V. and movies… often very successful too. One joke from Monty Python’s Flying Circus showed one of their famed animations trying to remove a censoring fig leaf from the statue.
Then, when the fig leaf is wrestled away, it reveals Mary Whitehouse complaining about the smut on the screen, you can see the animation right here. The fact that The Simpsons creator and staff are self-confessed fans of Python leads me to believe that their take was simply a Python reference more so than a ‘prediction’. But if that’s still not good enough for you, I mentioned earlier how art (and Michelangelo’s David) had been subjected to censorship for centuries and they were, as this archived article proves. Not long after it was first sculpted, David was censored in 1504… which was a couple of years (give or take) before both Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Simpsons even existed. The Victoria and Albert Museum even have/had a specially made fig leaf that was used to cover David’s naughty bits to protect the eyes of Queen Victoria in 1857. The truth is that Michelangelo’s David has been the subject of censorship for a long, long, long time and many, many times too. So it’s not so much that The Simpsons predicted it, more like a case of life imitating art, imitating life.
Phil Hartman’s Murder
This one is quite a big and rather macabre prediction to cover, it’s also one that is extremely personal to The Simpsons creators and staff. Phil Hartman was one of the most beloved and respected voice actors on the show. Everyone who worked on The Simpsons loved him and always spoke very highly of Phil Hartman as a performer and a friend. He was responsible for voicing some of the most popular characters on the show too. Hartman lent his vocals for several one-time characters like Lyle Lanley, the con man who sold Springfield a monorail, one of the better and classic episodes. He also voiced Moses, God… and Charlton Heston. But perhaps his most famous characters were Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure.
Luckless lawyer Lionel Hutz was clueless and desperate for cases, most of which he lost. Still, he had a long ‘professional’ relationship with the Simpsons family and always (badly) represented them… when he wasn’t busy repairing shoes. Then there was Troy McClure, you may remember him from such medical films as, Alice Doesn’t Live Anymore and Mommy, What’s Wrong With That Man’s Face? He was a down on his luck actor, a Hollywood has-been desperate to make it big again, now reduced to small side projects just to put food on the table.
As long as The Simpsons has been going, both Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure are two fan favourite characters, despite not being in the show since 1998. This was due to Phil Hartman’s characters being retired after he was murdered. It was on the 28th of May, 1998 when Phil Hartman’s wife, Brynn Omdahl shot and killed Hartman while he slept in his bed. After confessing to the murder to a friend, she locked herself away in a bathroom of their home, then turned the gun on herself and committed suicide. Not wanting to dwell on married couple’s strained relationship, the news was a huge shock, not least for those working on The Simpsons at the time. Yet some people believe that they show predicted Phil Hartman’s murder in the end credits of an episode.
It was season nine and the All Singing, All Dancing from 1998 episode where said prediction lies. The baisc premise for this episode is basically a clip show, but one featuring many of the various songs from previous episodes, all wrapped up in a story about the family watching Paint Your Wagon. At one point in the episode, Snake holds the Simpson family hostage at gunpoint because he hates musicals and threatens to kill them.
Of course, it all works out in the end and Snake leaves the family alone and the credits roll. But as the credits do roll, Snake fires his gun to shut off the music that is playing. The sound of the gunshots from Snake sound off at the exact point when Phil Hartman’s name appears in the credits. And so, this is why some people believe that the show predicated Hartman’s murder, which tragic event occurred just a few months after this episode originally aired in 1998. Just to show how stupid this theory is, I really need to go back to that whole Matt Groening being a time traveller thing. So let me see if I have this right… Matt Groening, who was a close and personal friend of Phil Hartman, knew his friend was going to be murdered and did nothing about it, except for sneaking in a sound effect during the credits of an episode? Time travel theory aside, does that sound like the kind of thing a friend would do?
This is one of those coincidence things I’ve mentioned several times already. Yeah it’s spooky and yeah it makes for an interesting tit-bit… but it’s no prediction. Of all of the ‘predictions’ the show has supposedly made over the years, this is perhaps the only one that (if true), they could’ve directly stopped from happening, but didn’t?
There are more ‘predictions’ I may call out as being utter bullshit some other time. Seriously, there’s dozens of them. But for me, I just don’t buy any of these ‘predictions’ at all. Most of them were not even predictions to begin with, some had to be edited by fans to make them seem more accurate, others were just mild coincidences and nothing more, most of them were jokes regarding events and things already well known about at the time. None of them specify a time and date, which is really what makes a prediction accurate and noteworthy. See, a prediction is a very specific thing. Let’s say I pick the lottery numbers and win the jackpot, that’s not a prediction, that’s an extremely lucky coincidence. But let’s say not only did I pick the winning lottery numbers, I tell people what order they would come out of the machine correctly too, that would be a prediction. Point being that a coincidence and a prediction are not the same thing, and that is what most of these The Simpsons things really are, a coincidence.
The Simpsons has been going for thirty-one years, it has (as of writing) just shy of seven-hundred episodes. When you have that much content, that many jokes and references… some of them are bound to come true just based on the laws of averages alone. Have you ever noticed how no one ever writes articles on the ‘predictions’ The Simpsons haven’t got right and only concentrate on the very small % of ‘predictions’ that have? Because they’re not predictions.
If you want to see two Northern men get drunk and discus this very same issue, then please give this YouTube video a view.
Anyway, that’s it for me this year. See you in 2021.