The Simpsons Showrunner Offers Thoughtful Response To The Show's 'Prediction' Of Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The Simpsons couch
(Image credit: 20th Television)

The Simpsons has been known over the course of its 33 seasons to make some pretty wild predictions. The animated Fox series saw Richard Branson traveling to space, the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney and even Donald Trump’s presidency. Most recently, however, fans have been pointing out that the show seems to have predicted the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean offered his take on the show’s supposed glimpse into the future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion on Ukraine last week. Hundreds of military and civilians have been killed, with hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine fleeing the country. Al Jean of The Simpsons offered some thoughtful insight into the reference made in 1998’s “Simpson Tide,” telling THR this instance doesn’t entirely fall in the “prediction” category. 

In terms of predictions, there are two kinds we have: The trivial, like Don Mattingly getting in trouble for his hair in ‘Homer at the Bat.’ And then there are predictions like this. I hate to say it, but I was born in 1961, so 30 years of my life were lived with the specter of the Soviet Union. So, to me, this is sadly more the norm than it is a prediction. We just figured things were going to go bad.

It seems like Al Jean saw conflict with Russia as more of an inevitability than a prediction, saying it was a situation “where we reference something that has happened happening again — we hope it wouldn’t, but sadly, it does.”

In the Season 9 episode “Simpson Tide” — which aired in 1998, seven years after the fall of the Soviet Union — Homer joined the Navy and started an international incident with Russia, which revealed that the Soviet Union’s dissolution had been a ruse. Al Jean said even back then it wasn’t hard to imagine trouble with Russia would come again in the future.

Historical aggression never really goes away, and you have to be super vigilant. In 1998, when this clip aired, it was maybe the zenith of U.S.-Russia relations. But ever since [Russian President Vladimir] Putin got in, almost everybody has made it clear that he’s a bad guy and bad things are going to happen.

As fans started to point out the supposed prediction made by The Simpsons in 1998, the show’s official Twitter page posted a photo that showed the famous animated family each holding a Ukrainian flag.

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So this instance might not really count as a prediction, but it would also be fair to say that many of the predictions and chalkboard gags that have proven prophetic are inspired by educated guesses from its obviously smart writers. While the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is definitely not one The Simpsons wants to take credit for, Al Jean has spoken about a couple of predictions he’d love to see come to fruition, and the road to world peace is among those.

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.