If you haven't yet watched The Simpsons' new Star Wars short on Disney+, be warned that details will be shared below.
As one of the most enjoyable displays of corporate cynicism to come out of The Simpsons in a while, Disney+'s newest short Maggie Simpson in "The Force Awakens from Its Nap" packs a smorgasbord of excellent Star Wars sight gags and barbs into its three-minute runtime. But considering everything that was on display, fans probably wondered why The Mandalorian in particular fueled so few of the references, since it was responsible for Force-launching the streaming platform.
As it turns out, there are more or less two big reasons why The Simpsons creative team held back on The Mandalorian moments in The Force Awakens from Its Nap. As showrunner and executive producer Al Jean explained it to CNN, one of the reasons was specifically due to a restriction from Lucasfilm execs. In his words:
Grogu is the most popular character created anywhere in fiction in the last year, and you don't want to overexpose him. So they let us do a little tribute to him but not a big reference, which I think is great.
Since the short takes place in a Star Wars-centric preschool, one might have thought it to be the perfect opportunity to unleash a hailstorm of Baby Yoda jokes on viewers. But because LucasFilm apparently wants to keep official Grogu appearances to a minimum outside of The Mandalorian (and possibly other upcoming projects), the powerful little bugger didn't even get to make an authentic cameo. Rather, after Maggie was "killed" by BB-8, which imploded Disney's stock value, Maggie was resurrected in the form of Baby Yoda in a clear jab at Disney's overt reliance on the cutesy character as a marketing gold mine.
All hail Maggru! Or would it be Goggie? Baby Magda? Either way it goes, it was a solid elbow-nudge referencing the fact that the Star Wars franchise habitually brings characters back after their death, whether it's through prequels, flashbacks or Force Ghosts. Just look at all those Force Ghosts. Not that The Simpsons is a stranger to such creative decisions, with the currently airing season having reused old dialogue to pay homage to the late Marcia Wallace's Mrs. Krabappel, with the actress having passed away back in 2013.
Beyond Baby Yoda, Maggie Simpsons in The Force Awakens from Its Nap did indeed plan to feature another big reference to The Mandalorian, but it was eventually cut out of the final product. Here's Al Jean's explanation on that.
There was a scene where we had the parents picking up the kids, and the Mandalorian was one of them. What happened was once we hit on it as a story between Maggie and BB-8, we just eliminated everything that wasn't pertinent to that story.
One could say there are plenty of brief moments in the Simpsons short that aren't necessarily pertinent to Maggie Vs. BB-8, so I'm not convinced that the joke wouldn't have worked anyway. But it's understandable why they'd want to leave out a pick-up scene, since that would probably have undercut the Baby Yoda-esque ending. Although I would have taken a post-credits moment of Mando as the only parent left in the parking lot, honking the horn on the (now-destroyed) Razor Crest.
Though it's a shame that The Simpsons' latest short is so...short...but fans can take comfort in knowing more are definitely on the way, with James L. Brooks having revealed in January that the show struck a new deal with Disney to produce a variety of animated shorts that tie into some of the company's mega-franchises. So yes, we're gonna get some presumably glorious Simpsons MCU bits, so let's hope they bring some guest voices to some of these rather than keeping to mostly dialogue-free Maggie adventures.