"The Simpsons" is one of the most beloved TV shows of all time, and for good reason. Fans have delighted in the antics of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and the rest of Springfield's kooky residents since 1989. But the real strength of the series isn't the characters, but its ability to poke fun at a wide swath of topics without discrimination. Whether you're talking about politics, sports, history, pop culture, or social issues, "The Simpsons" has probably tackled it.
Because of the vast number of its targets, sometimes things that happen on "The Simpsons" later occur in real life. Some of these predictions fall well within the realm of possibility, such as when the episode "Elementary School Musical" depicted prominent economist Bengt R. Holmstrom as a Nobel Prize recipient, only for Holmstrom to win the award six years later. For this list, however, let's look at some of the more outlandish predictions made by "The Simpsons" that, against all odds, came true.
Voting Machine Shenanigans
The opening to season 20's "Treehouse of Horror XIX" is a bit surprising because it doesn't feature anything horror-related — at first. The sequence takes place on Election Day 2008, when Barack Obama went up against John McCain for president of the United States. Homer arrives at his official polling place and marvels at the high-tech (for its time) digital voting machine. He places a vote for Obama, but the machine counts it for McCain instead. Frustrated, Homer selects Obama again, but the device changes his vote to McCain once more. Homer keeps trying until the machine becomes sentient and sucks him inside. Then, it spits out Homer's dead body, which a clueless Jasper adorns with an "I Voted" sticker.
While there haven't been any reports about voting machines eating voters, a very similar incident occurred during the 2012 presidential election. According to MSNBC, an electronic voting machine kept changing a person's vote from Obama to Mitt Romney (the voter even recorded video of the glitch); it was removed from service, recalibrated, and put back in use. Luckily, it showed no signs of life or an appetite for human flesh during the process.
A Prescient Presidential Prediction
In "Bart to the Future" the Simpsons visit a Native American casino, where the manager shows Bart what will happen if he doesn't stop his troublemaking ways. In the future, Bart is a lowlife who's struggling to maintain a career in music with Ralph. Because of their carefree lifestyle, they're kicked out of their house, prompting Bart to go to his sister for help. Of course, the intelligent and hardworking Lisa is the president of the United States. Just before Bart barges into the White House, Lisa has a meeting with her staff, during which she says, "As you know, we have inherited quite a budget crisis from President Trump."
What seemed like a throwaway gag in 2000 became a reality in 2016 when billionaire and reality TV star Donald Trump became president of the United States. To a lesser extent, the Simpsons made another accurate prediction about Trump in the 2015 short "Trumptastic Voyage," which sees Homer go on a mystical journey into Trump's hair. During this psychedelic trip, the date on a Trump campaign poster changes from 2012 to 2016 to 2020 to 2024; in November 2022, Trump announced his intent to run for president in 2024.
Censoring Michelangelo's David
After Maggie hits Homer with a hammer, Marge realizes that the Simpsons' youngest family member was inspired by the hyper-violent cartoon "Itchy & Scratchy," which Bart and Lisa watch religiously. So begins Marge's quest in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge," a takedown of media censorship that pulls no punches. When the studio dismisses her pleas to tone down the violence on "Itchy & Scratchy," Marge gathers a group of concerned parents and successfully convinces the series' creators to make the cartoon more family-friendly. However, the organization that Marge started then sets its sights on Michelangelo's "David" due to its nudity. As an artist herself, Marge isn't so keen on censoring such an important piece of history.
It may seem odd that anyone would find the famous statue tasteless, but as the BBC reports, pretty much that exact thing happened in Russia in 2016. Before an exhibition featuring a replica of Michelangelo's piece debuted in St. Petersburg, organizers surveyed residents about whether they should put clothes on it. A woman even wrote a letter that said, "How could you put this bloke without any trousers on in the center of St Petersburg, next to a school and a church?" Won't someone puh-leeze think of the children?!
Disney's Big Purchase
In the fifth episode of 1998's season 10, Homer accidentally crashes into the house of Hollywood A-listers Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, who consider Springfield a place where they can get some privacy. In order to convince Homer to keep their secret, they hire him as their assistant, and they all become close with one another. Baldwin and Basinger's friend, Ron Howard, even gets in on the fun. In typical Homer fashion, though, he blows the celebrities' cover, so they cut ties with him. Later, Howard has a meeting at 20th Century Fox – which, as a sign out front reveals, is a division of the Walt Disney Co.
The Walt Disney Company is notorious for the seemingly endless number of networks, studios, and other media businesses it owns. And considering the writers of "The Simpsons" were never shy about taking jabs at their own network, that little gag seems like an obvious one to make. As everyone knows, Disney and 20th Century Fox merged in 2019, making not only Fox but "The Simpsons" a Disney property. Luckily, the House of Mouse doesn't harbor any hard feelings about the numerous times that the series has made fun of it.
In "Boy Meets Curl," Homer has to stay at the nuclear power plant later than usual, ruining the plans he had with Marge. They think that a night at the ice rink will make up for it, but are disappointed when it's reserved for curling. However, Homer and Marge decide to give the sport a try and discover that they're naturally gifted at it. Soon, they join Principal Skinner and his mother Agnes in a mixed doubles team, participating in the Winter Olympics as part of a demonstration. The four perform so well that they make it to the Olympic games in Vancouver, British Columbia. Even though Marge injures her right shoulder, she still helps the team beat Sweden to win the gold medal (it's revealed that Marge's years of homemaking have made her ambidextrous).
"Boy Meets Curl" aired in 2010, but it accurately predicted the outcome of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, where the United States beat Sweden — the very team that Homer, Marge, Skinner, and Agnes defeated — in the men's curling competition, earning the USA's first-ever gold medal in the sport. If you want to make a career out of sports betting, watch more episodes of "The Simpsons." Or maybe the U.S. Olympic teams should just draft more members from America's favorite TV family.
Homer Simpson, The Accidental Physicist
Feeling that he hasn't achieved as much as he should've at his age, Homer is inspired by Thomas Edison in the 1998 episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" to quit his job at the nuclear power plant and become an inventor. Considering his lack of scientific knowledge, mathematical expertise, and intelligence, it's no wonder that his first few inventions are total failures; the world simply has no use for a rifle that shoots makeup, an uncontrollable electric hammer, and a reclining chair with a toilet built into it. Despite the many complex calculations that Homer makes on his chalkboard, he still can't realize his inventions without causing explosions in his basement.
However, as easy it is to laugh at Homer, those equations are smarter than they seem. Years later, they turned out to predict a major development in the world of physics. According to the Independent, Simon Singh, the author of "The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets," stated that one of Homer's equations predicted "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." François Englert and Peter W. Higgs won the Nobel Prize for researching the elusive particle, but we kind of think Homer should get a trophy, too.
Don Mattingly's Rebellious Hair
In "Homer at the Bat," the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team is in trouble. While most of the employees are reluctant to sign up after the disastrous previous season, their minds change when Homer reveals his "Wonder Bat," which he made himself. The team goes on a winning streak, with only the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant's softball team standing in the way of the championship. Mr. Burns, eager to win a bet against the rival plant's owner, drafts professional baseball players to the roster, much to the chagrin of his employees. One of them is Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly, who Mr. Burns ultimately fires for not shaving his sideburns, despite removing the hair from most of his head.
"Homer at the Bat" is filled with standout moments from the impressive cast of Major League Baseball players who appear as themselves, including Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, José Canseco, Darryl Strawberry, and Mike Scioscia. Further, Mattingly actually was benched for keeping his hair long, according to ABC News. Interestingly enough, while the episode aired in February 1992, it was actually written before the incident, which took place in July 1991; the hirsute ballplayer confirmed that "everyone thought [the 'Simpsons' team] wrote it in later, but they didn't."
Forecasting FIFA Fallout
The episode "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee" sees the children of Springfield compete in a speech contest where they're supposed to talk about their heroes. Because Lisa's first choice for a subject, Marie Curie, is taken by Martin Prince, so she bases her speech on Homer, relating how he ejected her from a soccer game he refereed despite being her father. Lisa's speech goes viral, leading to Homer becoming the referee for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Touched by the fact that she thinks of him as a hero, Homer is determined to referee the games as honestly as possible, even turning down multiple bribes to help Brazil win. Because of Homer's integrity, Germany wins the World Cup.
Once again, "The Simpsons" proves to be a bettor's dream. Airing just a few months before the actual World Cup, this episode accurately predicted Germany's victory over Brazil with a fair amount of accuracy; the only major difference is that Germany beat Brazil during the semifinals (Argentina was their final opponent). "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee" also predicted another, more felonious FIFA-related happening: The Guardian reports that, in 2015, numerous delegates of Fédération Internationale de Football Association were arrested for accepting bribes totaling more than $100 million. You've got to be pretty scummy when Homer Simpson is more virtuous than you.
Where No Ordinary Slob Has Gone Before
In the 15th episode of season 5, "Deep Space Homer," Homer feels down about not winning the Worker of the Week award at the power plant. He watches TV to cheer himself up, only for it to get stuck on coverage of a NASA space shuttle launch. Later, Homer gets drunk and calls NASA to complain about their launches ruining his TV experience. It just so happens that NASA is desperate to boost its launches' ratings, and decides to send a civilian to space in a bid to increase interest. Homer competes against Barney for a chance to join the crew, and wins when Barney's insatiable thirst for alcohol takes him out of the running.
Sending Homer to space had the potential to become a "jump the shark" moment for "The Simpsons," but writers pulled it off perfectly, turning "Deep Space Homer" into one of the series' best episodes. But as zany as the plot is, it actually entered the realm of reality when, in 2013, 25-year-old engineer Oliver Knight won the Lynx Space Academy competition to join a space mission to space. Luckily, his recognition was not stolen by an inanimate carbon rod.
A Three-Eyed Fish Out Of Water
In "Two Eyes in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish," the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant attracts negative publicity after Bart and Lisa catch a three-eyed fish nearby. Because of accusations that the waste from the plant caused the fish to mutate, governor Mary Bailey orders a thorough investigation of the plant, leaving Mr. Burns with an expensive fine. In retaliation, Mr. Burns runs for governor in the upcoming gubernatorial race, and creates a media campaign to convince the public that three-eyed fish was not the product of his power plant, but rather old-fashioned evolution.
It seems that Blinky has a real-life counterpart. In 2023, ZME Science covered a story about some men who caught a wolf fish with an extra … well, something … near a nuclear power plant in Córdoba, Argentina. As one of the fishermen, Julien Zmutt, explains, "We were fishing and we got the surprise of getting this rare specimen. As it was dark at that time we did not notice, but then you looked at him with a flashlight and saw that he had a third eye." This may sound gross, but fish eyes are considered a delicacy around the world, so really a three-eyed fish only democratizes access to this unique luxury.
A Greasy Scheme
As "Lard of the Dance" kicks off, summer's over, which means it's time for Bart and Lisa to begin another year at Springfield Elementary School. However, when Homer learns that you can make money selling grease, he pressures Bart into quitting school to join his budding business. While they make a bit of money from the grease from some bacon, they realize they need to go bigger to bring in real cash. So, they shovel grease directly from the local Krusty Burger into their car. Later, Bart convinces Homer to steal grease from the school he's supposed to be enrolled in. However, little do they know that Groundskeeper Willie has been saving that grease for his retirement.
Believe it or not, used grease can actually be sold for good money. However, it goes without saying that stealing it isn't worth the risk. In 2022, NBC10 Boston covered a story about three men from New York who were busted for stealing grease from the New Chief Wok restaurant in Salem, New Hampshire. It's a bizarre crime that revealed a whole underworld involving grease. Salem Police Capt. Jason Smith said that grease theft was "on the rise. The individuals we spoke to said they had to come to New England because everyone in New York City is already stealing grease from the restaurants there."
All Those Super Bowl Predictions
In "Lisa the Greek," Lisa bonds with Homer over football. The two love spending time with each other so much that Homer even calls Sunday "Daddy-Daughter Day." Because of Lisa's superior intellect, she correctly guesses the winner of each game, helping Homer win a lot of money from his bets with Moe. Wanting to continue Daddy-Daughter Day after the Super Bowl, Lisa proposes to Homer that they go for a hike once football season is over, but Homer declines, stating that they'll resume their tradition when the new season kicks off. Lisa realizes that Homer only wants her around to help him win bets, and says that Washington will win the Super Bowl, but only if she loves him; if Buffalo wins, then it's a sign that they should go their separate ways.
If audiences had taken Lisa's prediction seriously, they would've made a nice chunk of money — at Super Bowl XXVI, which aired three days later, Buffalo beat Washington. It would've been smart to pay attention to Lisa's predictions for the next two Super Bowls, as well. According to Time, during re-airings of this episode Lisa's dialogue was redubbed to reflect the current Super Bowl matchups. As a result, her predictions came true three years in a row. So, why hasn't ESPN given Lisa a job yet, exactly?
Read this next: Every Time Futurama Predicted The Future
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