13 Morally Messed Up Things ‘The Simpsons’ Downplayed

The Simpsons has been on the air for over 30 years and as such has lived through some major changes. For better or worse, the characters, the town of Springfield, and even the writing have evolved over the decades to adapt to shifts in America’s social, political, and moral landscape. It had to–it was created as a satire of the average American family, so if it didn’t it would have lost it’s relevance long ago.

Nonetheless, and regardless of the social mores of the time certain episodes aired, there have been times where the show has ignored some morally questionable things and played them off as jokes. Yes, whether or not something is morally acceptable is ultimately up to the individual, but that’s why we brought the issue to Ranker readers. After deliberation, and thousands of votes, voters believed these to be some of the most morally messed up things The Simpsons ever did.

1. Child Abuse

Homer's Consistent Abuse of Bart

Photo: FOX

In the real world child abuse is horrific. It’s no less questionable in cartoons, though animated shows and films can get away with more in general. On The Simpsons, nary an episode goes by without Homer grasping for Bart’s perfectly choke-able throat with that signature catchphrase, “Why you little…,” followed by Bart’s delightful hacking sounds.

2. Alcoholism

Alcoholism Is Fun!

Photo: FOX

Beer is the lifeblood of Homer J. Simpson. Well, beer and donuts – but mostly beer. If he’s not melted into the couch in front of the TV, you can bet Homer is sitting in a barstool at Moe’s Tavern, drinking away his woes.”To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems!”

3. America’s Failing Education System

America's Failing Education System

Photo: FOX

Springfield Elementary remains a shining example of America’s continually dismal public education institutions. After waves of budget cuts, the school has struggled to pay teacher salaries, keep an up-to-date library (the only books they have are the ones banned by other schools), or even provide nutritional lunches for students (unless you don’t mind the taste of newspaper and old gym mats). No wonder Mrs. Krabappel needs a smoke break.

4. Medical Malpractice

Dr. Nick: Making Medical Malpractice Fun

Photo: FOX

One thing’s for sure: we’d all hate to wake up after a major surgery to discover the doctor left a scalpel inside our intestinal lining. But somehow medical malpractice doesn’t seem so bad when it’s coming from good ol’ Dr. Nick Riviera. Swindling, maiming, and giving all-around horrible medical advice are par for the course for this quack physician. But let’s be honest, with a degree from the Hollywood Upstairs Medical College, what would you expect?

5. Child Labor In Kamp Krusty

The Horrible Conditions of Kamp Krusty

Photo: FOX

Just a few days at Kamp Krusty is enough for Bart and Lisa to learn it isn’t the magical wonderland they thought it’d be. The cabins are infested with vermin, the lake is filled with jagged rocks and debris, and the only thing to eat is Krusty Brand Imitation Gruel. Perhaps worst of all, the camp’s “arts and crafts” time is nothing more than a child labor sweat shop where the campers are forced to stitch together knockoff wallets while perennial bully/counselor/slave driver Kearney plays a harrowing drum beat.

6. Profiting From Addiction

Addiction Is for Chumps

Photo: FOX

For the entirety of The Simpsons’s glory years, Barney Gumble was best known as Springfield’s lovable belch-machine/town drunk, but toward the end of Season 11, Barney finally decided to turn his life around and sober up. Of course, that decision would heavily cut into Moe’s profits, so Moe took matters into his own hands, taking advantage of Barney’s addictive personality to get him hooked on coffee instead.

7. Radioactive Waste In The Drinking Water

Photo: FOX

Let’s face it, heartless billionaire Mr. Burns has done more than his share of morally abhorrent things over the years: running over Bart, cattle prodding people, blocking out the sun, forcing Don Mattingly to shave his non-existent sideburns, and countless other things. But, above all else, Burns is guilty of running a faulty nuclear power plant, rife with incompetent workers, health hazards, and radiation leaks. It’s no wonder the aquatic life of Springfield have sprouted a third eye.

8. The Unfortunate Life And Death Of Frank Grimes

The Unfortunate Tale of Frank Grimes

Photo: FOX

A cornerstone of the American dream is that hard work pays off, but The Simpsons made it a point to put the kibosh on that notion. Life wasn’t easy for Frank Grimes, who was abandoned by his family at the tender age of four, never got to go to school, and was injured in a silo explosion (the recovery was long and painful).

As such, Grimey had to earn everything the hard way and prided himself on that. Of course, watching his lazy coworker, the brainless couch potato Homer Simpson, breeze through life drove him up a wall. After all, Homer’s got a beautiful wife, a genius daughter, a dream home, and had even been to outer space and toured with the Smashing Pumpkins! Eventually, Grimes’s imaginary feud with his self-declared archenemy came to head. In a fit of madness, Grimes began manically impersonating Homer and grabbed a pair of high-voltage wires, electrocuting him.

9. Identity Theft And Impersonating A Soldier Who Was Believed Dead

The True Story of Principal Skinner

Photo: FOX

Principal Skinner isn’t the man we all thought he was. The real Seymour Skinner was an army sergeant who was captured in Vietnam and spent five years in a PoW camp before being sold to a Chinese shoe-making sweatshop. One of the men under Skinner’s command was Armin Tamzarian, who was tasked with reporting Skinner’s disappearance to his mother, Agnes. But when Agnes mistook Tamzarian for her Seymour, Armin assumed Skinner’s identity and became the school principal we all know and love. Convoluted? You bet! When the real Skinner finally returned to Springfield, the townspeople tie him to a train car, opting to keep the more familiar Principal Skinner instead. In fact, Judge Snyder declares nobody ever mention this debacle again “under penalty of torture.”

10. Animal Abuse

Animal Abuse Is Fine, Right?

Photo: FOX

An entire holiday dedicated to celebrating animal cruelty – a great joke or one step too far? Every May 10, the people of Springfield celebrate Whacking Day by driving snakes to the center of town and beating them to death with sticks and clubs. Fortunately, the barbaric practice came to an end thanks to Lisa and the smooth, sultry voice of Barry White.

11. Using Pet Pelts For Fashion

Video: YouTube

If you were upset when that dentist killed Cecil the Lion in 2015, Mr. Burns’s walk-in closet is sure to make you see red. After Santa’s Little Helper impregnates another greyhound, the Simpsons Clan are tasked with finding a new home for the resulting litter of 25 adorable puppies. The furballs soon end up in the hands of Mr. Burns, who has some devious plans for them, namely, to turn them into a greyhound fur tuxedo! And that’s not all, Monty springs into a song-and-dance number bragging about his clothing made from the hides of other innocent creatures, including: a gorilla vest, gopher loafers, and albino rhino slippers.

12. Violent Children’s Cartoons

Violent Children's Cartoons

Photo: FOX

While the PTC or any number of angry parent-led groups out there might object to such gratuitous brutality, that hasn’t stopped The Simpsons from glorifying violence in children’s animation with the side-splittingly hilarious Itchy & Scratchy cartoons. From playing xylophone on exposed rib bones to shoving sticks of dynamite in the ears to good old-fashioned decapitation, nothing delights the children of Springfield more than over-the-top cartoon bloodshed.

13. Exploitation Of The Freezer Geezer

Exploitation of the Freezer Geezer

Photo: FOX

When local senior citizen, Jasper Beardly, was accidentally frozen in suspended animation in Kwik-E-Mart’s freezer, Apu wasn’t sure what to do. That is, until the icy old-timer became a popular sight with customers. As a result, Apu opted to exploit Jasper’s unfortunate frosty state, dubbing him “Frostillicus” and transforming the Kwik-E-Mart into a special interest shop dealing with weird items and oddities.