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10 surprising facts about The Simpsons you didn’t know

The Simpsons gather around the family television.
20th Century Studios

Few things in life are certain beyond death, taxes … and that The Simpsons may outlive all of us. The series debuted on Fox in 1989, and it’s been running ever since. The animated sitcom is currently in its 35th season, and it’s already been renewed for season 36. In the unlikely event that season 36 turns out to be the end of the show, The Simpsons would finish its run with 801 episodes. That’s not even counting The Simpsons Movie that came out in 2007.

The Simpsons paved the way for other animated hits like Family Guy and South Park, both of which are over two decades into their respective runs as well. But few other shows have had the longevity or the cultural impact as The Simpsons. Even though the show’s popularity isn’t what it once was, The Simpsons still has a very large fan base. That can make it difficult to find fresh trivia about the show, because many of its die hard followers already know almost everything about The Simpsons that there is to know.

Regardless, we’ve done our best to assemble this list of the 10 surprising facts about The Simpsons that you didn’t know.

Many Simpsons names came from streets in Portland

Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders in The Simpsons.
20th Century Studios TV

Residents of Portland, Oregon, have known this for a long time, but the names of several of the show’s supporting characters were taken from streets in the city. Flanders Street provided the last name of Homer’s neighbor, Ned Flanders. Additionally, Burnside Street, Lovejoy Street, Van Houten Avenue, and Quimby Street share their their respective names with Mr. Burns, Reverend Lovejoy, Millhouse Van Houten, and Mayor Quimby, respectively.

Even the name of the street of the Simpson family’s home, Evergreen Terrace, is a real street in Portland. But you won’t find the real Simpsons house there.

There’s a real-life version of The Simpsons’ house

The Simpson family home from The Simpsons.
20th Century Studios

The famous Simpsons house at 742 Evergreen Terrace may not be in Portland, but it’s still standing in Henderson, Nevada. It was built in 1997 as part of a promotional campaign for the show by Pepsi and Fox. The house was designed, built, painted, and decorated to be as close to a real-life adaptation of the Simpsons’ home as possible. Even Bart’s treehouse was recreated in the backyard.

Ironically, the winner of the Simpsons’ house decided to take the cash prize instead of the house itself. The home is still around to this day, although the current owners have had it blurred on Google Maps in order to discourage tourist drop-ins and to preserve their privacy.

The Simpsons’ most prolific writer retired to self-publish novels

John Swartzwelder's likeness appears in The Simpsons.
20th Century Studios TV

Casual Simpsons fans probably don’t pay too much attention to the show’s writing credits. But among the hardcore fans, John Swartzwelder is a Simpsons legend who wrote 59 episodes across the show’s first 14 seasons, although his final episode was held back for season 15. Swartzwelder’s likeness has appeared in the series a few times, and he returned briefly in 2007 to contribute to The Simpsons Movie.

Swartzwelder is notoriously reclusive, and he rarely grants interviews. Since his retirement from the show in 2003, Swartzwelder has devoted his efforts to his self-published humor novels, most of which revolve around his original character Detective Frank Burly. Swartzwelder also sells his novels through his official site.

Michael Jackson co-wrote Do the Bartman

Do the Bartman - Music Video - Director's Cut [4K Scaled]

Unless you lived through Simpsons mania in the early 1990s, you may never get a sense of what it was like when The Simpsons were everywhere. In 1990, just a year after The Simpsons premiered, a spinoff novelty album, The Simpsons Sing the Blues, arrived in stores. The lead single from that record, Do the Bartman, was co-written by one of the show’s biggest fans: Michael Jackson.

Jackson went on to lend his voice to the show’s third season premiere, Stark Raving Dad, where he played a man named Leon Kompowsky who believed that he was Michael Jackson. Jackson also wrote the song Happy Birthday Lisa for the episode, although the singing vocals were provided by Kipp Lennon.

Because of sexual abuse allegations against Jackson, Stark Raving Dad was pulled from syndication and from streaming. The only way to get a legal copy now is to track down the out-of-print DVD set for The Simpsons season 3.

The Simpsons has changed the English language

Homer Simpson cries out in fear on The Simpsons.
20th Century Studios TV

Prior to The Simpsons, D’oh! was not recognized as an actual word, although it does predate the show by several decades. Dan Castellaneta’s use of the word as Homer’s “annoyed grunt” turned it into a commonplace term. In 1998, the Oxford Dictionary of English added D’oh! to its pages, exclamation point and all.

The Simpsons also created the words chocotastic and cromulent, while popularizing previously little-used terms like craptacular, embiggen, unpossible, meh, and yoink. That’s an unexpected side effect of the show’s cultural reach.

There’s an Arabic dub of The Simpsons

Al Shamshoon (The Simpsons arabic dub intro)

The Simpsons is also popular around the world, but most of the foreign versions of the show aren’t that different from the series we have in America. However, the Arabic dub of The Simpsons, Al-Shamshoon, made several changes to appeal to audiences in the Middle East.

The names of the main characters were changed, so Homer became Omar, Marge became Maon, and Bart was known as Badr. All references to pork and alcohol were edited out of the series, and Springfield was renamed Rabeea. Despite the effort made to make the series acceptable to a new audience, Al-Shamshoon failed to catch on and only 34 of the adapted episodes were aired.

Over 200 Simpsons action figures have been made

The Simpsons: World of Springfield Complete Figure History & Review

Amazingly, it took 10 years before Playmates made the first serious attempt to turn The Simpsons into a toy line. In December 1999, Playmates introduced its World of Springfield collection, which produced over 200 action figures before ending the run in 2004.

While the extended and eccentric supporting cast of The Simpsons were prominently featured, the family members were still the focus. Homer turned out to be the most popular, with 23 variant figures, followed closely by Bart’s 15 variants. Jakks Pacific is even producing a new Simpsons toy line later this year, so every obscure resident in Springfield may eventually get an action figure of their own.

The Simpsons has inspired 25 video games

The Simpson family fights together in The Simpsons Arcade Game.
Konami

The Simpsons may not have been around for the original video game craze in the 1980s, but they arrived just in time to break out at the arcade in 1991. The firstSimpsons video game was created by Konami as a side-scrolling beat ’em up that only loosely resembles the show that it was inspired by. It even features some cameos by the bunnies from series creator Matt Groening’s comic strip Life in Hell. Most of the 24 games that came after it were released for home consoles like the NES, Sega Genesis, and more.

Since the show’s peak in popularity during the ’90s, the release of Simpsons video games has slowed down considerably. The last major non-mobile title, The Simpsons Game, was released in 2007, around the same time as the movie. Since then, The Simpsons Arcade Game has been rereleased as a standalone cabinet by Arcade1Up, but no new titles are on the horizon.

The Simpsons have crossed over with multiple shows

Mulder and Scully shadow Homer Simpson in The Simpsons.
20th Century Studios TV

During the sixth season of The Simpsons, Groening was so incensed about the episode A Star Is Burns that he took his name off of it. Groening was upset that the episode featured a crossover with The Critic, a short-lived animated series starring Jon Lovitz as film critic Jay Sherman. The show had a single season on ABC before Fox picked it up for season 2, and The Simpsons was used to promote the new addition to the network’s lineup.

The irony is that A Star is Burns is a great episode that happens to have one of The Simpsons‘ most well-known lines: “I was saying Boo-urns.” Since then, The Simpsons has featured the stars of The X-Files, 24, and Futurama on the series as they reprised their roles for crossover episodes. Rick and Morty‘s titular duo made cameo appearances in a Simpsons couch gag when they accidentally killed the iconic family. And the Simpsons even guest-starred on two episodes of Family Guy.

The 40th anniversary is sooner than you think

Bart, Maggie, and Lisa Simpson in a short from The Tracy Ullman Show.
20th Century Studios

The 40th anniversary of The Simpsons TV series will happen in 2029, but the actual 40th anniversary of the franchise will be two years earlier in 2027. That’s because the characters first made their debut in a short on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987.

Fox gave The Simpsons their own show based on the popularity of those shorts, and the rest is history. Tracey Ullman took issue with that, and filed a lawsuit against Fox in 1992, arguing that she deserved a share of the show’s profits since the characters were featured on her series. But that didn’t stop Ullman from guest-starring in the second season of The Simpsons. For the record, Ullman’s lawsuit was rejected by the courts.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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