9 Interesting Things About The Simpsons Even Super Fans Don’t Know

'The Simpsons' Saved Two People's Lives

Ever since they first premiered on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, the Simpson family has been a major part of popular culture. The Simpsons has now been on the air for 32 seasons and counting, making it the longest-running primetime series and the longest-running animated series in history. By the end of its 32nd season, it will have had more than 700 episodes.

Fans of the series have heard countless amounts of trivia about Springfield and its residents, but these are among the absolute coolest and most insider stories we’ve heard.

1. ‘The Simpsons’ Saved Two People’s Lives

'The Simpsons' Saved Two People's Lives

The third season episode “Homer at the Bat” has been credited with saving two people’s lives. This was due to the scene involving Homer choking on a donut. There was a poster explaining the Heimlich maneuver on the wall behind him, which his friends and coworkers completely ignored.

In May 1992, Chris Bencze saved his brother’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver, which he learned from watching the episode. In December 2007, 10-year-old Aiden Bateman managed to save his friend Alex Hardy’s life, having learned the life-saving technique from the episode.

2. When The First Lady Criticized The Show, Marge Wrote Her A Letter

When The First Lady Criticized The Show, Marge Wrote Her A Letter

In 1990, First Lady Barbara Bush said that The Simpsons was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” Given that she’s a staunch conservative, it’s not unusual for her to have that kind of opinion, but it didn’t go unchallenged. Following her comment, the series sent a letter to the First Lady “from” Marge Simpson, as if it were one American mom writing to another – and her opinion changed.

In the letter, Marge wrote that “I recently read your criticism of my family. I was deeply hurt.” She went on to write, “I always believed in my heart that we had a great deal in common. Each of us living our lives to serve an exceptional man. I hope there is some way out of this controversy.”

Soon after, the First Lady wrote back, saying, “How kind of you to write. I am glad you spoke your mind; I foolishly didn’t know you had one.” She added that the Simpsons looked like a nice family, finishing with “Please forgive a loose tongue,” adding a P.S. of “Homer looks like a handsome fella!”

3. Matt Groening Began Working On ‘The Simpsons’ In High School

Matt Groening Began Working On 'The Simpsons' In High School

Matt Groening began putting The Simpsons together after James L. Brooks contacted him about creating an animated segment for The Tracey Ullman Show. However, the artist didn’t just whip up the family on the spot. Groening had created several elements of the series and its characters while still in high school.

Groening wrote a novel about a character named Bart Simpson in school, which he explained in an interview with Smithsonian Magazine: “I had this idea of an angry father yelling ‘Bart,’ and Bart sounds kind of like bark – like a barking dog. I thought it would sound funny. In my novel, Bart was the son of Homer Simpson,” which he explained was also his father’s name. “I thought Simpson was a funny name in that it had the word ‘simp’ in it, which is short for ‘simpleton’ – I just went with it.”

4. James Earl Jones Ate A Cookie While Voicing Alien Chief Serak

James Earl Jones Ate A Cookie While Voicing Alien Chief Serak

Since the series’ second season, the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episodes have offered a fun escape from the series’ normal canon. When the first episode aired, there was a concern of frightening the audience, so Marge breaks the fourth wall to address parents and warn them of the episode’s scary nature.

In that first episode, James Earl Jones provided the voice for several characters, including a moving man in “Bad Dream House,” the narrator in “The Raven,” and the alien chef, Serak the Preparer, in “Hungry are the Damned.”

To voice Serak, Jones chewed on a cookie as close to the microphone as he could get. This helped create the drooling sounds the aliens are well-known for making whenever they speak. Jones returned to the series for the 1994 “Treehouse of Horror,” voicing Maggie in an alternate-universe sketch.

5. Michael Jackson Loved ‘The Simpsons’ And Voiced A Character

Michael Jackson Loved 'The Simpsons' And Voiced A Character

Back in 1991, a character named Michael Jackson appeared in the episode “Stark Raving Dad.” Despite the fact that he looked nothing like him, fans believed the voice was truly that of the King of Pop. Of course, that wasn’t confirmed in any way by the series or by Jackson, as he wasn’t listed in the credits.

The casting became a TV urban legend, but after 26 years of speculation, Matt Groening finally confirmed what the fans had speculated all along. During an appearance on The Weekly, he was asked about it, and he said, “You don’t have to put it in quotes. We really did have him.”

After nearly three decades, it was finally confirmed, but interestingly, Jackson voiced the character but didn’t sing his songs. That was due to a contractual requirement between Jackson and his record label. As far as his credit went, “he didn’t want credit for it,” according to Groening.

Jackson was a huge fan of The Simpsons, and he was more interested in taking part than anything else. In addition to his appearance, he came up with the title for the song, “Do the Bartman,” which he also provided backup vocals for and produced.

6. The Real Location Of Springfield Is In Any State But Yours

The Real Location Of Springfield Is In Any State But Yours

One of the longest-running gags on the series is that it takes place in Springfield, a city that actually exists in 25 states, leaving viewers to wonder where exactly the city is in the real world. Because the city has everything from deserts to insanely high mountaintops and just about every biome in between, the show leaves it up to the viewer, but Matt Groening finally confirmed the inspiration for the town name in 2012.

During an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Groening was asked about the generic nature of Springfield, which he explained:

Springfield was named after Springfield, OR. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show Father Knows Best took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the US. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.

After the interview, the episode that aired on April 15th, 2012, included a chalkboard gag that had Bart write, “The true location of Springfield is in any state but yours.”

7. A Contract Dispute Resulted In A Character’s Permadeath

A Contract Dispute Resulted In A Character's Permadeath

Back in Season 11, Maude Flanders was slain in an episode titled “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily.” It was Homer’s fault, as he begged for the T-shirt cannon to be fired his way, only to bend over at the last second. Maude was hit, and she fell over the back of the bleachers, ending her life.

While the on-screen situation was the result of Homer’s actions, Maude’s demise came as a result of Maggie Roswell’s demand for more money. Roswell had been with the show since the beginning, but in 1994, she moved to Denver to be with her family.

The move required her to travel to Los Angeles twice a week to record Maude’s lines and the other characters she voiced (Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and Luann Van Houten). The expense was taking a toll, so she asked for a raise in 1999, but Fox refused. She quit the show as a result, and Maude was permanently “retired.”

8. Paul McCartney Agreed To Appear Only If Lisa Became A Vegetarian

Paul McCartney Agreed To Appear Only If Lisa Became A Vegetarian

It’s well-known these days that Lisa Simpson is a vegetarian, but because the series has been on for so long, many people may not realize her dietary choices were made by none other than Paul McCartney. He made an appearance on the series in 1995’s “Lisa the Vegetarian.”

McCartney’s only requirement for making the unprecedented appearance was that Lisa would avoid eating meat “in perpetuity.” McCartney discussed his stipulation in an interview with GQ:

We were a bit worried that she would be a vegetarian for a week, then Homer would persuade her to eat a hot dog. The producers of the program assured us that she would remain that way, and they kept their word.

9. An Episode Dissuaded A City From Using A Mine As A Landfill

An Episode Dissuaded A City From Using A Mine As A Landfill

Usually, people say that art imitates life, but in the case of The Simpsons’ 200th episode, “Trash of the Titans,” the opposite is true. In the episode, Homer becomes the sanitation commissioner of Springfield. He initiates a plan to shove all of the town’s trash (and some other communities’ rubbish) into a mine – to disastrous effect.

A few years later, in Canada, the Toronto City Council deliberated over a similar proposal. The Adams Mine is an abandoned open-pit iron ore mine in the Boston Township of the District of Timiskaming. The proposal on the table was to use the mine as a landfill, so then-councilors Jack Layton and Olivia Chow played the episode to the council.

The gambit worked, and in 2003, the proposal was permanently taken off the table, which effectively means that an episode of The Simpsons helped deter the Toronto City Council from making a decision that could have potentially led to an ecological disaster.