During its three decades on the air, The Simpsons has become famous for its social commentary, its impressive roster of celebrity guest stars and, of course, its zany sense of humour.
Interestingly, though, in recent years it’s also proved to be something of an oracle.
Fans of The Simpsons have pointed out a number of things featured in episodes of the animated sitcom that have, in later years, come to fruition in the real world.
Perhaps the most famous of these so-called Simpsons “predictions” is Donald Trump’s presidency, which the show first joked about in Bart To The Future (2000).
The episode – which aired 20 years ago – included a sequence set in the future, which saw Lisa taking over as US leader from an off-screen “President Trump”, more than a decade before the then-reality star would beat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
As the iconic moment (in an episode which, incidentally has frequently been listed among the show’s worst ever) reaches its 20th anniversary, here are some more “predictions” that The Simpsons called years before the would ever happen in the real world...
The three-eyed fish (1990)
Blinky the three-eyed fish became one of the show’s most iconic symbols in its early years - so much so that it’s actually one of the tokens in a special Simpsons version of Monopoly.
Blinky first appeared in the season two episode Two Cars In Every Garage And Three Eyes On Every Fish, having mutated as a result of nuclear waste from Mr Burns’ power plant.
In the end, Marge served Blinky to Mr Burns for dinner, in front of Springfield’s press, ultimately sabotaging his run for governor.
But while Blinky was intended as a joke, a three-eyed fish was actually discovered in Argentina in 2017, found near – you guessed it – a nuclear power plant.
Our verdict: Blinky was probably more of a cautionary tale than a prediction, but we still think we can say that The Simpsons called this one (even if the discovery of a three-eyed fish near a nuclear plant is far from call for celebration).
The baby translator (1992)
In the episode Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes?, Homer is reunited with his half-brother Herb Powell, having brought his hugely successful car company to its knees in a previous series.
The second part in the Herb Powell saga sees him getting back on his feet with the invention of a baby translator, throwing out such lines as ”lavish attention on me”, “entertain me” and the classic “I’ve soiled myself, how embarrassing”.
Sure enough, an app was developed in 2015 that actually claimed it could tell you what a baby was specifically crying for.
Our verdict: This definitely qualifies as a Simpsons prediction, although we’d be interested to know whether or not the episode was actually an inspiration for the invention itself.
The Super Bowl (1992, 1993 and 1994)
This is one of The Simpsons’ most immediate predictions, but also the most impressive.
In 1992, the episode Lisa The Greek sees Homer growing close to Lisa when she begins correctly guessing the results of various sports games, which he then places bets on.
When Lisa finds out, she’s hurt, telling Homer that if the Washington Redskins win the Super Bowl, she no longer loves him, and if the Buffalo Bills do, she does.
Ultimately, it’s the Buffalo Bills who win, just as they did in real-life just days later.
Even more spookily, the following two years the episode was re-dubbed with the two teams competing in the Super Bowl, and Lisa guessed correctly on both of those occasions too.
Our verdict: What can we say? Three definite Simpsons predictions.
If you thought Autocorrect fails were a recent invention, one actually appeared in The Simpsons way back in the mid-1990s, when Dolph’s Newton changes his memo to “beat up Martin” to “eat up, Martha”.
Almost 20 years later, it was revealed that Apple’s engineers used this gag as their inspiration to really nail their Autocorrect software when they first launched the iPhone.
In fact, Apple’s former director of engineering for iOS claimed that when developing the iPhone keyboard, the team used to specifically refer to Autocorrect fails as “eat up, Marthas”.
Our verdict: It probably doesn’t quite count as a prediction when the episode actually inspired the event itself, but it’s close enough.
Facetime and smart watches (1995)
The futuristic episode Lisa’s Wedding – which, hilariously, is set in 2010 – includes a scene in which a 23-year-old Lisa rings home to tell her parents the exciting news of her engagement using a “picture phone”.
Now, granted, Facetime doesn’t quite look how The Simpsons envisaged it (surely rotary phones were already on their way out in the 90s, why would they suddenly make a comeback 15 years later?), but they weren’t exactly a mile away from the mark.
Later, in that same episode, Lisa’s then-fiancé Hugh is seen using his watch as a phone, pre-empting the Apple watches that would become popular more than 20 years on.
Our verdict: TV and watch-communication weren’t exactly the wildest predictions, but we have to hand it to The Simpsons yet again, because it did predict them both.
Disney buys 20th Century Fox (1998)
A throwaway gag in the 1998 episode When You Dish Upon A Star included the above scene, poking fun at Disney’s ever-growing power in the entertainment world by suggesting they’d acquired 20th Century Fox.
Well, in March 2019 that’s exactly what happened, with Disney buying 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures (it was recently reported that both would be renamed following the merger).
The Simpsons has poked fun at Disney countless times over the years – making it even funnier that the animated yellow family are now one of the star attractions of the corporation’s streaming service.
Our verdict: Yep, a definite Simpsons prediction.
Toys R Us shuts down (2004)
When Toys R Us went into administration in 2018, many suggested this was another case of The Simpsons making an accurate prediction, based on a scene from the episode Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples And Teens And Gays.
The moment in question sees Springfield’s childless adults going on a rampage, smashing up a ball pit in Krusty Burger and turning the backwards “R” in the Toys R Us logo around, much to the younger generation’s upset.
Our verdict: We have to be honest, this one is a reach. First of all, Toys R Us didn’t go into administration after any sort of riot, and even if it did, the residents of Springfield don’t actually shut the shop down, just alter its logo.
Faulty voting booths (2008)
The 2008 Treehouse Of Horror special fell right around the time of the Obama vs. McCain election in the US, so the show took the opportunity to poke fun at the ongoing saga.
At the beginning of the episode, Homer is seen entering a booth and trying to register a vote for Obama, only for the machine to do the exact opposite (“six votes for President McCain”).
The scene ends, ridiculously, with Homer being sucked into the machine and killed, which we’re happy to say was not the part that ended up coming true.
However, four years later, several voting machines would end up being recalled in the US, after votes were registered for Mitt Romney when citizens were trying to re-elect Obama.
Our verdict: Obviously this was intended as a satirical gag, so we’re not sure how much we can call it a prediction, even though we can’t deny an element of it did end up coming true.
Bengt R. Holmstrom wins the Nobel Prize (2010)
Back in 2016, your friend and ours Bengt R. Holmstrom, the Finnish economist, earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to Economic Sciences.
Six years prior, his name appeared on The Simpsons when the kids of Springfield ran a sweepstake for that year’s Nobel Prize, with Millhouse backing Holmstrom for the win.
Our verdict: It did take six years for it to come true, but The Simpsons’ prediction – or, rather, Millhouse’s – was dead on this time around.
America beats Sweden at curling in the Winter Olympics (2010)
The Simpsons was clearly on a bit of a roll in 2010, calling not just a future Nobel Prize winner but an Olympic victory for the USA.
In the 2010 episode Boy Meets Curl, Homer and Marge join a curling team with Principal Skinner (and his iconic mother, Agnes) eventually bagging a gold medal for the US, ahead of Sweden.
Eight years later, and the USA would do just that at the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Our verdict: The USA’s Winter Olympics win was genuinely a surprise, particularly over Sweden, so we have to call this one an actual Simpsons prediction.
Game Of Thrones ending (2017)
The Simpsons dedicated an entire episode to quest sagas like Game Of Thrones and Lord Of The Rings back in 2017, with the series premiere The Serfsons.
While the episode was largely dismissed for being gimmicky (the entire thing is set in an alternate universe called Springfieldia) it did capture people’s attention two years later, when one scene was awfully reminiscent of the divisive Game Of Thrones series finale.
Our verdict: A dragon recklessly destroying everything was a bit of an easy shot, but they did kind of predict it, so we’ll give this a half-point.
And finally, one thing The Simpsons did not predict...
When reports of the coronavirus outbreak first surfaced in 2020, many fans on social media began drawing parallels between the pandemic and the Simpsons episode Marge In Chains, in which much of Springfield is struck down by the fictional Osaka flu.
However, this was dismissed by the episode’s writer, Bill Oakley, who branded the comparisons “gross”.
“I don’t like it being used for nefarious purposes,” he explained. “The idea that anyone misappropriates it to make coronavirus seem like an Asian plot is terrible. In terms of trying to place blame on Asia — I think that is gross.”
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