I don’t know if, back in 1989, anyone could have ever predicted that The Simpsons would still be airing 25 years later, and that a network called FXX would pony up $750 million dollars to secure rerun and digital rights to the classic series. Yet here we are in 2014, mere days before FXX will begin airing its record-breaking 12-day-long Simpsons mega-marathon. It’s no mystery that a large bulk of the series’ output over the years has been in homage to nearly every nook and cranny of the worlds of arts, sports and entertainment, but it may surprise you to learn that Matt Groening and his revolving door of writers and showrunners may have dabbled in some black magic.
Well, that’s probably not true. But the series has often referenced and poked fun at things that were still years away from happening, almost to a disturbing degree. And no, I’m not talking about Stephen King’s Under the Dome. Here are ten of the most weirdly prophetic blackboard gags the show has used since its inception, and the real life events they predated. (Speaking of inception, they also did a gag about that, although it was well after the film came out.)
”Homer’s Night Out” March 25, 1990Not that anyone would ever think Bart would actually call Mrs. Krabappel an endearment as flip as "hot cakes," but maybe he tried it on his third grade teacher in the past. In any case, this was still six full years before the notorious relationship began between Shorewood Elementary School teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her then 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau. The tabloid-worthy case took Letourneau to prison while pregnant in 1997, and while it seemed like a match made in the weirdest kind of hell, the couple are actually still married and raising their two children together. Not that they were alone or anything; this case was the first of seemingly thousands of teacher-student relationships revealed in the 17 years since. I bet Jimbo Jones would have totally gone to town with Mrs. K.
"Burns' Heir" April 14, 1994Bart has always been known as a bit of a hellion, so it's no surprise that The Simpsons would want to let him be the mouthpiece for some of their occasionally anti-religious views. And what better place to do it than in the Pledge of Allegiance, which students all over the country say every morning in respect to our great nation. While many have had a problem with the addition of "under God" to the Pledge in the mid-20th century, the battle over its necessity came to a head in the 2000s, where atheist Michael Newdow was at the center of cases like Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, where he tried to get the phrase removed from the pledge due to a theistic conflict of interest, going so far as to repeatedly push the Pledge Protection Act through Congress, where it failed to pass the Senate every time. Can you imagine what would have happened if Bart Simpson would have been used as a spokesperson for that case?
“Bart the Murderer” October 10, 1991These seemingly innocuous words were written just under eight years before Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold fucked up an entire generation of school students with their deadly actions at Columbine High School in April 1999. Though guns played the biggest part in their heinous attack, the duo had put together a slew of homemade explosives after some light Internet research, starting a domino effect in which bullied teens all over the country decided that guns, bombs and murder would be a fine way to exact revenge. Thankfully, most cases where explosives are involved get nipped in the bud before mass amounts of life are taken, but it's still a hideous trend that needs to go away. So no cherry bombs in the toilets, please.
“The Front” April 15, 1993Snake oil salesmen have been around a hell of a lot longer than The Simpsons, I cannot deny. But the infomercial boom of the 1980s birthed an army of pseudo-science wheelers and dealers the likes of which the world had never seen before. (Kevin Trudeau, you know who you are.) And as the 1990s wore on and the Internet and self-help books both became as ubiquitous as air, a new swarm of foolhardy placebo-pushers were let loose, no longer needing to even show their faces on TV to jack people of their critical thinking skills. Books like How to Cure Almost Any Cancer at Home for $5.15 a Day and The Miracle Cure: How Cancer Dissolves in a Month will only manage to "cure" people of the money in their wallets. But if Bart had a cream that got rid of nerdiness, I'd buy it in an instant.
“Lady Bouvier’s Lover” May 12, 1994Back when sports broadcasts started threatening viewers with their mighty consent laws, it was to wonder why anyone would ever want to bootleg live sporting events in the first place. And then came the Internet, which made uploading and downloading any broadcast in TV history as easy as hitting a few buttons and waiting around. Granted, we now have DVRs and other systems that allow for easy recording and storing of programs, but that hasn't stopped people from making a large chunk of sports history retrievable in a moment's notice. Not that I know anything about it. I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, the NSA can prove everything.
“Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming” November 26, 1995Not the most likely of predictions, but Bart knows all. Back in January in McLoud, Oklahoma, former Marine Brad Davis got extremely drunk and got into a fight with his stepfather Denver Lee St. Clair. The brawl ended when Davis pulled St. Clair's underwear up and over the older man's head, somehow getting them wrapped around his throat. St. Clair died due to asphyxia and blunt force trauma, and Davis was then arrested and charged with homicide. Atomic wedgies may not be explosive, but they're certainly deadly.
“Lisa’s Sax” October 19, 1997This was 1997, when MTV's The Real World and Road Rules were still something resembling cultural phenomenons, the network was still years away from Jackass, Teen Mom and Cribs defining its formerly music-centered approach to attracting youthful viewers. There were still music videos being played in 1997, even if some of them had to be seen on Beavis and Butthead, and none of them were introduced by Carson Daly. Bart didn't know just how lucky he had it.
“Marge Simpson in ‘Screaming Yellow Honkers’” February 28, 1999I have come to accept that some people are just grammatically incapable, with minds that don't understand how to spell or when comma placement should be utilized. But that got exacerbated a billion-fold with the onset of social media and amateur blogs ruling people's lives. Back in 1999, you might have needed to sit in a classroom to get a sense of how this country's grammar problem was growing, but now it only takes around 10 seconds on Twitter or Facebook to find the most egregious phrasings and word abbreviations known to man. And while one would hope the comments beneath these thoughts would be calm corrections, it usually only gets worse. Can we get Weird Al's "Word Crimes" as mandatory learning yet? He was on The Simpsons before, so it's all good.
“Little Big Mom” January 9, 2000Art is everywhere and everything, at least according to some people. While there were certainly artists working within the medium of "poop art," before Bart wrote these words, the niche style has exploded over the past decade or so. You can find shit-takes on famous works or art, or just random images from the artists' heads. (Or wherever they keep their inspiration.) Even when the project itself isn't actually made out of feces, some artists spend their time creating perfect facsimiles of a poop pile. And I say to myself, "What a wonderful world."
“Once Upon a Time in Springfield” January 10, 2010Okay, so this one isn't oddly prophetic, since they probably already had their contract extensions in line at this point. But once you start replacing "2012" with any other year in the future, it becomes slightly more mysterious. The Simpsons is forever. We are not.
BONUS: “He Loves to Fly and He D’ohs” Septempber 23, 2007It's somehow already been seven years since The Simpsons Movie hit theaters. Will this one be proven false by the next to entries in the Simp-ology, or was Spider-Pig just a one-time thing?