Depending on how old you are, The Simpsons are either that obscene show from the 90’s that President George H. W. Bush rightfully dismissed by saying families should be “More like The Waltons and less like The Simpsons“, the show that defined your childhood/adolescence and for a time was the greatest scripted television show ever, OR it’s that old show you see the end of when you DVR Family Guy. Regardless of your age, you’ll know that The Simpsons is a legendary television show. At some point this upcoming season it’ll surpass Gunsmoke as the television show with the most episodes (the record being 639) and The Simpsons starting the season with 618. With each season having 22 episodes, that means it’ll surpass Gunsmoke with its season finale. It also surpassed Gunsmoke’s record for the most seasons on television over a decade ago (the record was 20, which was a tie between Gunsmoke and Law & Order. With that many episodes of a show about a suburban family and the adventures they get into, there’s bound to be a ton of different topics covered (just ask South Park).
Some of those adventures have led The Simpsons characters to either travel to, joke about or dream about the future. It’s in those instances that something truly strange has happened. In many episodes where the future is referenced and even in some “regular” ones about the present, the writers have eerily predicted the future so many times that a list of 15 examples isn’t enough to really nail them all down. So, instead, we’ll cover the 15 most interesting, eerie, sad and amazing. Because here at BabbleTop.com, we like to bring our readers on a roller-coaster of emotions. It’s just how we do.
17. Auto-Correct Hell
In the episode Lisa on Ice from 1994, school know-it-all Martin says “How innovative, I like it!” to Principal Skinner’s “Academic Alerts” idea, which prompts Kearney (one of the bullies at Springfield Elementary) to ask one of his friends, fellow bully Dolph, to take a note on his Apple Newton. Dolph writes “Beat up Martin” on his Apple Newton, which was an early version of a P(ersonal)D(igital)A(ssistant) that didn’t work correctly in real life or on The Simpsons, where it converts Dolph’s handwritten message into “Eat up Martha”. Anyone who’s used any personal assistant on their smart phone has had a similar experience since these phones entered our lives (beginning their dominance over our lives) around ten years ago. While this joke was a reference to the shoddy nature of the disaster that was the Newton, it was a precursor to the Auto-Correct era that we lids on Tuesday.
16. Smart Watch
Another gem from season six of the Simpsons that involves technology and Apple (See? Creepy!) comes from episode 19 titled Lisa’s Wedding. After Lisa chases a rabbit into a fortune-teller’s tent at a Renaissance Fair, the fortune-teller begins to tell her the story of her future which brings the audience to a not too distant future (because essentially the future in that episode, which aired in 1995, would’ve happened in 2010 as it was 15 years in the future). In that episode, which is rife with Back to the Future 2-esque predictions, Lisa ends up getting engaged to her college sweetheart, Hugh Parkfield (A snooty Brit who looks down on Lisa’s family). During Hugh’s proposal to Lisa, Hugh sets off fireworks that end up spelling out “Will You Do Me the Honor of Taking My Hand in Holy Matri—“, so he goes for plan B, a Donkey with a sign on it. To get the Donkey to come from behind a bush he flips his watch open and speaks into it, a lot like “Smart” watches today.
15. Robot Librarians
Another spot on prediction from Lisa’s Wedding involves libraries and robots, not unlike the plot of the next Wachowski Sister box-office disaster titled Who Keeps Green-Lighting Our Stuff? Part I of VII (But We’ll Only Make Part I). In the episode, after Lisa chases a ra… Wait, you know that already. So, as you also know, Lisa gets engaged to her college sweetheart. They first interact at the library after Lisa is already annoyed by Hugh as he keeps beating her to things (like taking the last soy based snack, taking the elevator, etc.). When he ends up taking the last copy of Ecosystems of the Marsh (A book that Lisa needs) they end up arguing and seeing which can read faster than the other, which leads to them making out in the library, as people do. The Librarian that checked the book out to Hugh says to another Librarian that she doesn’t understand how they’re kissing now after hating one another at first, her co-worker answers back “Of course you don’t, you’re a robot” and her head melts after she sheds a tear. While we haven’t reached a level where our robots can shed head melting tears, there are libraries where robots can retrieve books for people. The University of Chicago spent nearly $100 million dollars on a space aged library that has 3.5 million volumes and 50 foot high shelves. Because of the sheer amount of books and the height of the shelves, robotic arms retrieve the requested material. Just don’t tell them they’re robots when they question the paradoxes that human emotion can create unless you’re looking to melt some steel.
14. More Testicles Mean More Iron
Springfield Elementary is a dump. The Simpsons writers, most of which went to Ivy League Schools, have never stepped foot in a Public School. That doesn’t mean they don’t know how to highlight the plight that many of the schools had in a hilarious way that some may consider snarky, but others realize is both hilarious and brilliant at the same time. For those of us that went to Public School’s in the late 80’s through the early 00’s, some of the jokes that they used were especially poignant. One of those jokes came in the form of the school’s lunch lady. In season 5, in their 100th episode titled Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song, Bart forgets that it’s show-and-tell day and in lieu of bringing another geode to school he decides to bring his dog Santa’s Little Helper. The dog gets into the school’s air ducts and the only way to get him out is to grease up Groundskeeper Willy. That job falls to Lunchlady Doris, who is shown making some sort of soup with assorted horse parts. While that sounds disgusting and something that would only happen in countries that have festivals that involve dog meat, it actually ended up happening in 2013 in restaurants including Taco Bell across the UK. The Food Standards Agency there tested the DNA of the “Ground Beef” in multiple restaurants and found that there was horse DNA in the beef that was supplied across Europe. Neigh-t! While they said that people shouldn’t panic as 99% of their meat “wasn’t horse” that means that 1% is and that’s Horse S#%t! Or is it hooves? I thought Taco Bell was Glue-ten free? Okay, That’s enough trying to be punny! Although, next time you go to Taco Bell you could order either the number two… or the Triple Crown?
Remember that famous commercial Apple ran during the 1984 Super Bowl where the woman threw a hammer through a big screen? It’s looking like that screen is from Apple which garners them yet another spot on this list from season six’s Lisa’s Wedding. In that episode, after Hugh proposes to Lisa, she uses her video phone to call her mother, Marge. The gag here is that Lisa makes her promise that her father, Homer, won’t ruin the wedding and Marge agrees while crossing her fingers. Because it’s a video phone, you get the idea. Those of us old enough to remember actual phones that we plugged into walls that had buttons you pressed or even dials you… dialed (hence the term), also remember that we were always waiting for video phones to be invented. There were even a few video phones that came out back then but because of the lack of fiber optics, it was like watching a bunch of pixels fight one another. So, The Simpsons took advantage of the fact that people assumed that video phones would be the norm by 2010, and while they did actually exist by then, they’re really only used when people were on vacation and missed their children or for business calls. Most people rarely use the phone to actually talk in the first place, let alone get to the point where they want someone else to see them while they’re at home.
12. Baby Translator
A character that has been mostly forgotten after being a major part of the first two seasons (he had a voice only appearance in Season 24), Herb Powell aka Unky Herb (voiced by Danny DeVito), was an incredibly successful business man and older paternal half-brother of Homer Simpson. Before meeting the Simpson family, and namely Homer, he was the CEO of Powell Motors. Of course, Homer ruined that for him by inventing the world’s worst (best?) car that ended up costing the company a fortune and left Powell essentially homeless during his first appearance in Season Two. He returned as a hobo in the season finale of Season Three and ended up with an amazing idea, The Baby Translator. At the time and even as of the writing of this article, translating a baby’s gibberish into intelligible words seems impossible (because babies are idiots (see: Peak-a-Boo)). However, there are multiple apps on both Android and Apple devices that claim to be able to decipher a baby’s cries in order to figure out what they need. Considering babies only have about a handful of wants (tired, not tired, hungry, gassy, etc.) they have a pretty good chance of getting it right, but it doesn’t seem possible outside of the realm of cartoons.
11. Farmville in VR
Season Nine of The Simpsons is widely considered to either be the last great season of The Simpsons, its turning point towards mediocrity or the first bad season of The Simpsons since Season One. While some of the episodes are a bit more hit and miss than the preceding seasons (no one looked forward to a “Lisa” episode but those still had their moments and still felt fresh, sharp and on-point) and the animation started to look different, Episode 12 is still one of the great ones. One of the issues people have had with newer seasons of The Simpsons is that they went from having celebrity guests on the show that played other people to having them on the show as themselves in what feels like thinly veiled advertising (not counting Season Four’s Krusty Got Kancelled, which is an out-and-out classic because Johnny Carson really could lift a car over his head). Episode 12 is titled Bart Carny and it’s about Bart going down one of the few career paths that would make sense for him if he ever ended up aging past 10 years old. The main Carney in the show is voiced by Ernest himself, Jim Varney. It is during Bart’s time at the fair that he walks by a couple kids playing a “Yard Work Simulator” wearing VR goggles while holding pretend hedge trimmers. The idea of someone essentially playing a game that was more of a chore than a game seemed ridiculous back in 1998, but is essentially the norm in 2017. It actually wasn’t long after this episode aired that games like The Sims became popular. These games require people to basically just go through the motions of an avatars life for hours a day.
10. The Case of the Stolen Lemon Tree
And the award for strangest entry on this list goes to… The Lemon of Troy, another Season Six gem. There are people out there, especially on YouTube that type numbers into these anti-Illuminati calculators and regardless of the number, it ends up essentially “proving” that Hollywood worships a goat-headed deity named Baphomet (the devil, essentially). So, I’m sure that somewhere in the Bible Belt there’s someone getting all worked up that The Simpsons’ sixth season had so many dead on predictions about the future and really, after compiling this list, it’s hard to argue against that. This episode is another classic about the rivalry between Springfield and Shelbyville in the present and the past. The crux of the story is that Springfield loves its lemon tree, so when it ends up getting stolen by a gang of youths (and one of their dads), Bart and his friends go into the Bizarro-world that is Shelbyville (it has yellow fire hydrants?). So what happens in this episode that ended up happening in the future? The lemon tree theft! No, but according to Crime Tracker 15 from NBC15 in Madison, Wisconsin, someone stole a couple’s lemon tree off of their front steps. Now, Wisconsin’s climate can’t actually support a citrus tree, so the couple left it in a semi-large pot so it could be moved into their home in the winter. Someone ended up stealing the tree and if it’s anything like The Simpson’s episode they’re probably from Minnesota.
9. Hamburger Ear-Muffs
Our first entry from outside the sweet spot that was Season’s Three through Nine, comes from Season 10 episode The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace. World famous inventor and hater of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Alva Edison, was known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park”, so you know this episode is going to be about one of three things (Edison, inventing or light bulbs). It turns out, it touches on all three! Homer hears on the radio that the average life expectancy for men is now 76.1 years old, and begins to panic about his life and what he’s accomplished as he’s 38.1 years old and thus literally halfway to the average age of death for men (while he ignores that he’s had multiple heart attacks and open heart surgery, let alone a ton of concussions and other maladies). This episode is infamous among Simpsons trivia geeks as one of the jokes ends up with Marge telling Homer he’s actually 39, despite the fact that he’s been 38 for the rest of the run of the show. Outside of that, this episode is known for an invention created during the show. Because of Homer’s mid-life crisis he ends up idolizing Edison and decides to become an inventor. However, it’s not his inventions that ends up on this list, but rather an idea he comes up with after Professor Frink tells him that he can take something that already exists and find a new use for it (since he’s too lazy to read the books Frink gives him), Homer’s excited response is “Hamburger Earmuffs!” as he drops the books and runs out of frame. Professor Frink then goes over to his refrigerator/cabinet and puts on his already created hamburger earmuffs. Perhaps this is more of a self-fulfilling prophecy but you can literally buy hamburger earmuffs on Amazon. If they do exist then the real question ends up being… How did they solve the Pickle Matrix?!?!?
While Season 11 gave us one of the worst episodes in show history (see below), it also gave us the semi-classic episode titled E-I-E-I-Doh, an episode that didn’t feel like the episodes in seasons three through nine but still had some hilarious and classic moments. After Homer essentially glove slaps his way into a duel he can’t win, he flees Springfield with his family and begins farming Scarlet Pimpernel style. He can’t seem to get anything to grow until he spreads every seed he has onto his field and fertilizes it with plutonium that he gets from Lenny at the power plant. The product is a tobacco/tomato hybrid that is deemed “Tomacco” and becomes extremely popular. So much so, that Laramie Cigarettes offers to buy the rights to the plant for $150 million dollars. Homer finds that amount insulting, because he’s Homer, and rejects it (he wanted $150 BILLION). Meanwhile, numerous farm animals have become addicted to Tomacco and end up eating his entire field, save for one plant. The Laramie execs end up with the final plant but their helicopter crashes when a Tomacco fiend sheep sneaks onto their helicopter and presumably eats everyone. Sadly, this story ended up resonating when numerous crops in Japan, that were close to a nuclear power plant, ended up becoming mutated. It seems like Tomacco is the plant equivalent of Blinky the three eyed fish. Luckily in this instance, there were no addicted/mutated farm animals preparing to take over the world…. Yet.
7. Blinky Lives?
Blinky the three eyed fish has pretty much become synonymous with The Simpsons at this point. He first rose to prominence in the fourth episode of the Second Season, after Bart catches “him” during Mr. Burns attempt to run for Governor of the State of (?). He actually appeared well before that in the third episode of the First Season, in the episode titled Homer’s Odyssey. There is clearly more than one Blinky as he is cooked and almost eaten during Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish, by Mr. Burns who is trying to prove to the media and voters that the mutated fish from his reservoir is safe to eat. Burns ends up spitting out the chunk o’ Blinky and losing the election, but nothing is done about the pond that keeps creating these three eye creatures (Blinky has appeared as other animals as well and even on Futurama). He appears in the background frequently 15 times (including some couch gags at the beginning of the show) and has been a staple of the show ever since the second season. This has to be the freakiest prediction as a literal three eyed fish, with THREE eyes pretty much in the exact same place was caught by a fisherman in Argentina. The watering hole where the fish was caught receives water from a nearby nuclear power plant, so, if you ever wondered where Springfield actually was… It’s in Argentina.
6. Bloody Billboard
The very touching episode from season four of The Simpsons is titled Itchy and Scratchy The Movie. In it, Homer and Marge attend parent teacher night at Bart and Lisa’s school and while Lisa’s teacher is enamored with her (and tells this to Homer), Marge meets with Bart’s teacher, Mrs. Krabappel, who is so fed up with Bart’s behavior that she makes Marge write on the chalkboard a la Bart in the intro to the show. Afterwards, she meets with both Homer and Marge and says that Bart is essentially at a turning point in his life and could either end up a male stripper (one of the best cut-aways that they ever had, before Family Guy stole them) or a Supreme Court Justice. It all depended on whether or not they can get Bart to behave better at this point. During the car ride home Marge convinces Homer that he isn’t tough enough on Bart (despite the child abuse) and essentially things escalate to the point that Homer says that he’ll make his punishment stick the next time Bart screws up. Of course he does, big time, by not watching Maggie, his baby sister as she crawls into the car and drives it into the prison, freeing convicts. Homer’s punishment is to tear up Bart’s ticket to the Itchy and Scratchy movie, something he’s looked forward to more than anything in his life. There’s a billboard for the movie that sprays blood everywhere (on cars, passersby, etc.) and it’s just one of the sight gags this episode has (“I regret nothing!”). Strangely enough, this billboard was copied and used in real life, 17 years after The Simpsons episode. The ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi constructed an eerily similar billboard in Auckland, New Zealand that sprayed blood everywhere for the Quentin Tarantino movie, Kill Bill. They must have gotten the idea from that episode, but still. It counts!
5. Voting in Springfield
Before the 2008 campaign, the most political thing that The Simpsons did was have Homer fist fight George H. W. Bush (who was his neighbor at the time, which in retrospect made no sense: if the Simpsons are lower middle class why was a hyper-rich ex-President moving into an amazing house across the street? Oh yeah, it’s a cartoon) and essentially murder both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole by putting them in tubes and ejecting them into the vacuum of space while two aliens (Kang and Kodos) walked around holding hands because everyone knows it’s the best way to exchange long protein strands. That changed during the 2008 campaign when Homer actually went into a voting booth and attempted to vote for Barack Obama. Now, I’m not even sure if that was a good or a bad thing for Obama. Sure, it could be interpreted as the writers/owners of the show showing their support for the then Senator, or, considering the fact that Homer Simpsons literally has a crayon stuck in his cerebral cortex, the fact that he voted for a Democrat could be construed the other way. Regardless, what actually ended up happening was that when Homer attempted to vote for Obama, the machine registered his vote as one for his 2008 opponent, John McCain. The writers were referencing the fear that a lot of people had when voting machines changed from physical pieces of paper (with hanging chads and all) to push button, touch screen nothingness. That fear manifested itself in 2010, during Obama’s re-election when he faced Mitt Romney. In a video that is still live on YouTube, a voter is showing how he attempted to vote for Obama by, you know, pushing on his name only for the machine to register that he was voting for Romney. The video was legit and NBC confirmed that the machine was “taken out of service”, I wonder if it was delivered to 742 Evergreen Terrace?
4. Don Mattingly’s Sideburns
Homer Simpson is getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame without his Wonder Bat, this year. It’s all due to the Classic 1992 episode Homer at Bat. That episode was essentially a who’s who of famous baseball players at the time with people like Ken Griffey Junior, Steve Sax, Jose Canseco and of course Don Mattingly. According to Deadspin, Mattingly had recorded his lines a month before he was benched as a Yankee because the owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, told the coach to bench all players with “unkempt hair”. The craziness here is that throughout the entire episode with Mr. Burns as the head coach of the nuclear power plant’s softball team, Burns keeps screaming at Mattingly to “cut [his] sideburns”. By the end of the episode, his sideburns are in hardcore negative mode, but that’s not good enough for Burns and Mattingly doesn’t get to play. As he walks away, dejected, rocking the worst hair cut since rat tails were allowed, he mutters: “I still like him better than Steinbrenner”. Many people assumed that this was a reference to the above benching, as Simpson episodes take a full nine months to produce but the Deadspin article put that to rest and made this one of the craziest instances of The Simpsons predicting the future… I’m still waiting on Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw, however.
3. Lard of the Dance
In defense of the shows/seasons after Season Nine,… The first episode of Season Ten is a real winner. Titled Lard of the Dance, it involves another get rich quick scheme between Bart and Homer that involves eventually stealing grease from Springfield Elementary. Little did they know it was Grounds-keeper Willies’s “retirement grease”. An amazing fight ensues that ends up interacting with Lisa’s story-line which is, admittedly, a weak-point and a harbinger of things to come. One of the things that people complained about the “new” Simpsons back then was that they got away from real problems and started getting involved in zanier situations that would never happen. When they used to have situations about Bart and Lisa playing hockey against one another, or figuring out whether or not Homer was a sexual predator, it’s hard to see the family ending up hanging out with Lady Gaga. The thing about the grease episode? It’s probably one of the most salient episodes when it comes to predicting the future while also being tied to some form of reality at the time (unlike future shows with melting robots), as grease theft has become a legitimate issue. Not only is grease theft an issue, but the method used in the episode is the same as what the thieves (dubbed “vultures” or “gypsies”) use, meaning the tube shown above (although that’s not grease, Homer). The grease is valuable thanks to the bio-diesel industry that sort of exploded in the early 00’s. While more cars can use a mix of bio and real-gasoline these days, the days of the thought of everyone running their car on the grease or corn from their morning bacon or local farmer seems to be a thing of the past.
2. Siegfriend and Roy’s Inevitable Mauling
Former magicians/tiger trainers and Las Vegas staples Siegfriend Fischbacher and Roy Horn were ripe for parody while they were performing their objectively amazing show in Las Vegas for years. Everything was going smoothly (all jokes aside) until Horn was bitten on the neck and dragged off-stage by a seven-year-old tiger named Montecore in 2003. To this day both Fischbacher and Horn (who live together) believe that Montecore was attempting to protect/help Horn as he had tripped and fell over before Montecore ran over and dragged him offstage by the neck (something a parent would do to its cub in the wild if it fell over whilst performing in front of a bunch of tourists who just can’t wait to tell people about their trip to Vegas!). Either way, Horn suffered a near fatal stroke because of the damage to his neck and almost died. However he, like Montecore, survived and regained the ability to walk and talk but was unable to continue his magic show. The eerie thing about it is that in an episode of The Simpsons ten years earlier in 1993 (in the tenth episode of Season Five), Springfield welcomes legalized gambling which also brings along with it the faux-Siegfried and Roy act, named Gunter and Ernst, which ends with one of them getting mauled by the end of the episode. The writers of the episode are aware of articles like these, that point out or imply that they have some sort of collective ability to foresee the future (some people literally think all of this is planned that far ahead of time and “programmed” into our subconscious). When asked about that in relation to the Roy Horn mauling, one of the writers dismissed the idea, and claimed that it was only a “matter of time”. He’s right. You swim with sharks long enough you’re going to get bit.
1. President Trump
Since the surprise upset in last November’s Election in which Donald Trump ended up winning the Presidency of the United States, there’s been one lingering question… How are they going to air the episode titled Bart to the Future from Season 11 (way back in 2000)? In the Episode (Which is widely considered to be one of the worst in show history), we see Bart’s future thanks to a Native American who Bart runs into at a Casino. In that future, which happens to be in the year 2030, Lisa has become the first female “Straight” President (another prediction?) and during what appears to be her first cabinet meeting (with Milhouse!), she learns that the “Budget crunch” she inherited from President Trump has essentially left the country entirely broke. Outside of the fact that Trump would be 93 years old in 2030, the episode shows how absurd the idea of Donald Trump becoming President was back in the day. In regards to that “Joke”, Simpsons creator Matt Groening said:”We predicted that he would be president back in 2000 – but (Trump) was, of course, the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time, and that’s still true. It’s beyond satire.” It becomes beyond satire when it ends up being true and that’s what happened in this case and that’s what makes it the number one co-inky-dink on our list. And while the writers have put the kibosh on any sort of magic here, it’s still really amazing to see how many times the show that had the best run of any television show ever, predicted things we’re seeing now. I’m sure that the episodes leading up to their 700th mark will give us a ton more to talk about in a year or two.