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The Simpsons has been Fox's most recognizable primetime anchor for nearly as long as it has aired, and has influenced countless shows across the television-scape. While the show has long embraced and often parodied a plethora of TV tropes across its first 31 seasons, official crossover episodes and scenes are very few and far between. Beyond all the complications involved that make animated TV crossovers something of a rarity, one of longtime writers and executive producers shared why Simpsons crossovers are a little weird to him anyway.
During The Simpsons' [email protected] panel, moderator (and voice of Lisa Simpson) Yeardley Smith brought in several different mega-fans to present questions to the panel of writers and producers. One of the fans asked if The Simpsons' creative team had any plans to bring in references to more recent Fox animated series like Duncanville and Bless the Harts. After showrunner Al Jean gave his answer (seen further down), writer and EP Matt Selman explained why it's a little weird to bring the Simpsons family together with characters from other shows.
Yeah, we’ve done mini-crossovers with Bob’s Burgers before, which is such a great show. One thing that’s always a little weird to me, though, is that the Simpsons are yellow in the show, right? And we’re all used to that. But then when they stand next to someone who is a more natural human skin color, from pink to brown to whatever, the Simpsons look like mutants. And you’re like, ‘What? I spent my whole life writing for freaks? This is insane. Get those normal people out of there. Keep it yellow.’
Whenever NBC makes triple-crossovers happen for Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med, or when Grey's Anatomy and Station 19 mix things up on ABC, it's not such a weird thing, since all the characters are normal human beings that looks natural enough next to one another. That's not exactly the case for The Simpsons, whose characters ensemble was designed and colored specifically not to look like anything else on TV.
In order to bring The Simpsons together with other TV characters, one must create another suspension of disbelief on top of others already needed to accept this show's non-aging characters across three decades. It might not seem like that big of a deal to fans who aren't thinking about such things and just want to see Rick and Morty and The Simpsons getting a full-length crossover, but the writers in charge of the characters and storylines do adhere to a specific kind of logic. And in most cases, having more traditional-looking humans such as King of the Hill's core family in Springfield just makes the town's characters stand out in weird ways. (Granted, Bart and Lisa's hair-skulls should weird everyone out already, but I digress.)
All that said, The Simpsons obviously has delivered crossover moments on occasion, such as the Rick and Morty couch gag, not to mention sending its titular family over to Family Guy for a delightfully silly mash-up. But let's not forget that one of those crossovers was with The X-Files, in which David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson voiced Simpsons-ized versions of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, and were not specifically modeled after their live-action selves. Not to mention the one with Futurama, a show also created by Matt Groening that features its own share of distinct-looking characters that would stand out in other crossovers.
For those wondering if there actually is a chance that Duncanville characters could show up in The Simpsons in some way, Al Jean offered up an optimistic answer for fans. In his words:
Probably. Duncanville is run by Mike and Julie Scully. Mike still works here; they both worked here for years and are great, so we’re really happy about that. It really is kinda like a big family. People come and go to all these shows, to Family Guy [and others]. We’d love them all. I mean, I’m really thrilled to be part of that lineup.
So while it doesn't sound like anything is officially in the cards just yet, The Simpsons could very well give audiences a shout out to Duncanville, or perhaps even the yet-to-be-seen characters from Fox's upcoming animated show The Great North. That would be some stealth advertising if they showed up on The Simpsons first. Plus, then everyone could say "The Simpsons did it first," and it would be 100% correct.