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Time and time again, The Simpsons has proven itself almost frighteningly impressive when it comes to making left-field predictions about the future, from Donald Trump's presidency to Nobel Prize winners. The animated hit can now give itself a four-fingered pat on the back for having foreseen Disney's mega-billions takeover of 20th Century Fox. What's more, The Simpsons called it back in 1998, almost 20 years ago.
This latest example of Simpsons prophecy comes from the pretty excellent Season 10 episode "When You Dish Upon a Star," which featured such guest stars as Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger and Ron Howard. After the Hollywood stars befriended Homer (who crash-landed in their secret home in a most unbefriendable way), he quickly lost their trust after spreading the news about where Baldwin and Basinger were staying. It all escalated to ridiculous heights, of course, with Homer getting a court order to stay 500 miles away from any and all celebrities; not that he stayed faithful to that. In any case, it was the stinger at the end of the episode that warrants our attention today:
How about that? The joke may seem like one of the craziest entertainment predictions that The Simpsons could have made, but it wasn't all that strange at the time. It was in 1995 that Disney announced it was buying up ABC for $19 billion, and since Simpsons episodes are written far in advance of their airdates -- what with the animation process and all -- that giant acquisition was probably still fairly newsworthy when that visual joke was first conceived. And at the time, the clean-image Disney buying out 20th Century Fox probably sounded like a truly ludicrous idea. Little did they know...
Within the episode, the Disney gag sets up an epilogue scene where Ron Howard is pitching a movie idea to his producer partner Brian Grazer. But when his first idea falls through, Howard goes back to a concept that Homer had brought up earlier in the episode, involving a robot driving instructor who goes back in time for some reason, with a talking pie serving as the robot's best friend. So maybe don't be so surprised if the first Disney and Fox collaboration put into development is a movie about a time-traveling robot driving instructor and his crust-covered best friend.
As a fun fact, the blackboard gag in "When You Dish Upon a Star" had Bart writing "butt.butt is not my e-mail address," after the original "butt.com" had to be removed when it was discovered that was a legitimate website. So in a sense, The Simpsons also quasi-predicted the onset of customized domain names. (At this time, "butt.butt" is not a working website.)
The Simpsons is currently on winter hiatus, so it's currently unable to predict things that'll happen in 2037. But it'll be back on Fox on Sunday, January 7, at 8:00 p.m. ET. Check out some of Bart Simpson's other most prophetic blackboard gags, as well as what predictions showrunner Al Jean wishes would come true, and then head to our 2018 midseason premiere schedule to see what else is hitting the small screen soon.