The Simpsons has an uncanny knack of predicting the future, so much so, that Disney Plus has launched a dedicated collection to the show’s soothsaying ways.
The list contains 13 episodes in total which have seemingly predicted world events years and sometimes decades before they actually happened.
From the fall of JCPenney earlier this month to Trump’s presidency to even ‘predicting coronavirus’, it seems as though every major news story as of late has already played out in some form in the fictional land of Springfield.
But there are a whole host of news events that the show seemingly predicted – so what else did the creators of The Simpsons already know about?
The coronavirus pandemic
Back in 1993, a sketch showed a mysterious fever sweeping the town, which many fans have since likened to the spread of coronavirus.
‘Marge In Chains’ saw Springfield residents struck down with the ‘Osaka Flu’, after a sick factory worker in Japan coughs into boxes used to ship a juicer ordered by many Springfield residents, including Homer.
A cloud is seen emerging from every box, with the town subsequently coming down with the mysterious flu over the following weeks.
While many fans were quick to draw parallels between the episode and the current pandemic, the co-writer of the episode in question has dubbed the idea that the animated show predicted coronavirus as ‘gross.’
He told the Hollywood Reporter: ’I don’t like it being used for nefarious purposes. The idea that anyone misappropriates it to make coronavirus seem like an Asian plot is terrible.’
Fans have drawn other links between the events in Springfield and the current pandemic, highlighting another episode where newsreader Kent Brockman delivers his news bulletin from home, saying: ‘This is Kent Brockman reporting from my own home in accordance with the new curfew for anyone under 70.’
And then of course, there’s Tom Hanks’ cameo in the 2007 Simpsons Movie which saw him self-quarantine – a reference which fans have been quick to liken to his recent situation after he was diagnosed with coronavirus back in March and was forced to self-isolate.
During the scene in question, The Forrest Gump star advertises a ‘new’ Grand Canyon.
Appearing in the ad, he claims ‘the US government has lost its credibility so it’s borrowing some of mine.
‘This is Tom Hanks saying if you see me in person, please, please leave me be,’ he continued.
Donald Trump becoming the US President
It seems the show predicted Trump’s presidency, a whole 16 years before he entered the Oval Office.
In the episode ‘Bart to the Future’, which aired in March 2000, Lisa becomes US President and comments on the ‘budget crunch’ from her predecessor – none other than Donald Trump
Speaking to Milhouse, who has grown up to be Secretary Van Houten, she says: ‘We’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.’
Simpsons creator Matt Groening told The Guardian that placing Trump in the White House was the most ‘absurd’ cameo they could think of.
‘We predicted that he would be president back in 2000 – but [Trump] was of course the most absurd placeholder joke name that we could think of at the time, and that’s still true. It’s beyond satire,’ he said.
Who else could become the US President? Arnold Schwarzenegger, if the show is anything to go by.
Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl
The Simpsons seemed to know Lady Gaga was fated to perform at Super Bowl before she did, when, in 2002, they featured the pop star performing during the coveted half-time slot.
Even weirder still, the episode – named ‘Lisa Goes Gaga’ – showed the pop princess flying through the air in a harness before landing on stage.
Which is pretty much what Gaga did in 2017, when the Just Dance singer jumped from the roof of the NRG stadium in Houston, Texas.
Needless to say, she was also using a harness.
Admittedly, this one is less of a prediction and more of a flying reference to a then-unknown condition.
Back in a 1997 episode, ‘Lisa’s Sax’, Marge attempts to coax a sick Bart out of bed, telling him to read a book named ‘Curious George and the Ebola Virus.’
To which he replies ‘I already did,’ pointing to a drawing on the wall which shows a pile of dead bodies.
While the condition was known inside the medical or scientific community, it wasn’t widely known, so the reference seems oddly prescient, considering the 2014 outbreak which shook the world.
Faulty Voting Machines
When Homer tried to cast his vote for Obama in the 2008 ‘Treehouse of Horror XIX’ episode, he finds the voting machine rigged, and is left with no choice but to vote for John McCain.
After trying to unsuccessfully register his vote six times, he then decides to vote for the opposition candidate as a test, and lo and behold, his vote goes through.
Four years later, in 2012, some voters in Pennsylvania reported having the same issues, when a ‘momentary glitch’ in voting machines switched votes from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney.
The legalisation of cannabis in Canada
In October 2018, Canada legalised the recreational use of cannabis – another news story that show creator Matt Groening seemed to predict, some 13 years before it happened.
That’s right, all the way back in 2005, in the show’s ‘Midnight RX’ episode, Homer, Ned and Apu took a trip to Winnepeg where they met Ned’s doppelgänger passing around a spliff.
‘It’s legal here,’ said Canadian Ned, urging actual Ned to have a ‘puff on a reeferino’.
JC Penney’s demise
Recently, fans of the show freaked out yet again at the thought the show predicted the fall of JCPenney, which earlier this month filed for bankruptcy.
In 2007 episode ‘Please Homer, Don’t Hammer ‘Em’, the Simpsons family is walking through a mall when Marge excitedly exclaims: ‘Ohhh! A JCPenney’s…’
As the family walks closer to the store, it soon becomes clear it’s derelict, with the sign in tatters, prompting Marge to conclude: ‘…used to be here.’
FIFA officials being arrested on corruption charges
In 2014 episode, ‘You Don’t Have to Lie Like a Referee’ Homer is asked to be a World Cup referee, only to be later arrested for corruption charges.
He originally refereed honestly, but soon gave into bribery offers from gangsters who wanted to fix the World Cup game between Brazil and Germany so that Brazil were crowned winners.
In another scene, an official is in the middle of explaining the corruption to Homer when he is swiftly handcuffed and taken away by the police.
The episode mirrors reality in two instances: first, Brazil lost the World Cup to Germany in 2014, and secondly, FIFA officials were embroiled in their own corruption scandal in 2015.
In 1997 episode, ‘The City of New York vs Homer’ there is a fleeting reference to the twin towers and date of 9/11, leading many conspiracy theorists to say the show had anticipated the 9/11 attacks.
In the scene in question, the show cuts to a brochure stating ‘New York at $9 a day,’ with the twin towers clearly visible behind the nine, making it look as though it reads 9/11.
Bill Oakley, an executive producer on the show at the time, told The New York Observer in 2010: ‘$9 was picked as a comically cheap fare. I will grant that it’s eerie, given that it’s on the only episode of any series ever that had an entire act of World Trade Centre jokes.’
The horse meat scandal
Remember the 2013 horse meat scandal, when DNA was found in beef products across the UK?
Well, that storyline had played out in The Simpsons some 19 years before, in the 1994 episode, ‘Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song’, when Lunch Lady Doris mixed ‘assorted horse parts’ into the school’s lunch pot.
Discovery of the Higgs boson particle
In a 1998 episode of the show, ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace’, Homer seemingly predicted the mass of the Higgs boson, more than a decade before physicists at CERN worked it out.
The episode shows Homer scrawl an equation on the chalkboard which, if solved, according to science author Simon Singh, tells us the mass of a Higgs boson ‘that’s only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is’.
Singh told The Independent: ‘That equation predicts the mass of the Higgs boson.
‘If you work it out, you get the mass of a Higgs boson that’s only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is. It’s kind of amazing as Homer makes this prediction 14 years before it was discovered.’
We’ll leave the exact science to the particle physicists, but it is worth noting that the co-writer of that part of the episode, David Cohen, has a background in maths and reportedly consulted other people in the field.
So it wasn’t a totally random guess.
Disney’s takeover of Fox
Every episode of The Simpsons is now available to stream on Disney Plus, after the new streaming service acquired 20th Century Fox last year.
And while the move surprised some, especially after bosses previously said they would rather cancel the show than alter its legacy, it may have came as less of a surprise to some eagle-eyed fans.
That’s right, in 1998 episode, ‘When You Dish Upon a Star’, the show joked that 20th Century Fox had fallen under the Umbrella of Disney, with a scene showing that Fox studio is now ‘a Division of Walt Disney Co.’
Siegfried and Roy Tiger Attack
During 1993 episode ‘$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling),’ magicians in a Siegried and Roy-esque show got attacked by their normally-loyal tiger in Monty Burns’ casino.
Ten years later, in 2003, Roy was similarly attacked by one of their white tigers during a live performance in Las Vegas.
He survived the attack but became partly paralysed as a result of his injuries.
Roy sadly died from coronavirus earlier this month at the age of 75.
Daenerys Targaryen’s plot twist in Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones season eight episode five is possibly one of the most criticised 90 minutes of the entire series (forgetting the show finale, of course).
The episode showed Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) descent into fury and madness, culminating in her deciding to torch down King’s Landing.
And while the scene shocked fans at home, The Simpsons seem to have once again, called it.
In a 2017 episode, The Serfsons, the family overlook a village being destroyed by a dragon in a scene eerily similar to the Game of Thrones scene which followed two years later.
Star Wars Episode 7
All the way back in 2009, the show seemingly predicted there would be a Star Wars Episode 7 and an Alvin and the Chipmunks movie when they featured a cinema billboard showing promotional pictures for each film.
The shot in question featured in the episode ‘Homer The Whopper’ and did the rounds back on 2015 after it was spotted by a sharp-eyed Imgur user.
In 2015, the two movies – which were decidedly not in the works back in 2009 – competed against one another at the US box office.
Weird or what?
The show even predicted autocorrect functionality all the way back in 1995 in episode ‘Lisa On Ice.’
In the episodes, Dolph tries to write out a memo to ‘Beat up Martin.’ which then comes out as ‘Eat up Martha.’
It doesn’t sound like much – but in 1995, mobiles were hardly mainstream, and definitely did not feature autocorrect functionality.
However, it’s arguable that the show didn’t predict autocorrect fails, and instead had an instrumental role in refining them.
According to Nitin Ganatra, Apple’s former director of engineering for iOS applications, the team looked to The Simpsons for inspiration when trying to ‘nail’ their keyboard.
He told Fast Company: ‘In the hallways [at Apple] and while we were talking about the keyboard, you would always hear the words “Eat Up Martha,”
‘If you heard people talking and they used the words “Eat Up Martha” it was basically a reference to the fact that we needed to nail the keyboard. We needed to make sure the text input works on this thing, otherwise, “Here comes the Eat Up Marthas.”‘
Bengt Holmström winning the Nobel Prize
In 2016, when Bengt Holmström and Oliver Hart were announced as joint winners of the prize in Economics for 2016, fans once again noticed that The Simpsons had already called it.
That’s right, in 2010 episode ‘Elementary School Musical’, Holmström appeared on the nominee list of the Nobel Peace Prize
The episode in question saw Krusty the Clown tricked into thinking he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize so he could fly to Europe where he is arrested for all the crimes he has committed.
In one scene, the show cuts to a sheet of paper showing each character’s choice for the Nobel Prize in each category with Bengt Holmström appearing as Milhouse’s pick.
U.S. beating Sweden for an Olympic gold medal
The show’s’ Boy Meets Curl’ (2010) episode saw Homer and Marge join the US curling team and lead them to victory against Sweden.
Fast forward to 2018 when the men’s US curling team beat Sweden in Pyeongchang.
Weird coincidence or what? Especially considering Sweden had only lost two out of ten games in the run up to the match, so the US team’s win was no given.
Frankly, the list goes on, begging the question… how has the show managed to predict the future on so many occassions?
Writer Al Jean told BBC’s Radio 1 Newsbeat: ‘If you make enough predictions then 10% will turn out to be right.’
‘We are sort of futurologists in that we write 10 months ahead, so we’re trying to guess what is going to happen,’ added writer Stephanie Gillis.
So whether you want to catch up on the eery predictions from times past, or want to get an idea of what the future could hold, find The Simpsons on Disney Plus, where all series are now streaming.
Here, you can also watch their curated The Simpsons Predicts collection.
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