The Simpsons began as a series of animated shorts aired on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, a dysfunctional family providing a satirical look at American values. 30 years, 28 seasons and a stunning 618 episodes later, The Simpsons is still going strong.
The show is of such cultural importance that there practically no one in the world who doesn’t know Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge and Maggie. From modern television to internet memes to the lexicon of the 21st century, there’s very little in this world not influenced in some way. And with that comes a multitude of people obsessing over the show, as well as what it could mean. This means a lot of fan theories have hit the web, most of which are completely bonkers.
1. There is more than one Hans Moleman
A Redditor put forward the theory that Hans Moleman isn’t just a person, but a group of identical people. This starts off as an explanation for the show’s running gag about the character suffering seemingly fatal events but returning in later episodes. But things get weird when he adds new evidence to the theory:
“In the episode where it is discovered that Springfield is the world’s fattest town, a ball of people roll down a street – in the ball you can see two ‘Moleman’-s. The theory is that Moleman DOES die – there are just multiple Molemen. This would explain why he is sometimes seen living in the retirement home and sometimes not, and it also explains the sheer number of occupations Moleman had throughout the series.”
Another Redditor supposed that “They are a race of human-mole hybrids that live under Springfield. In their gradual attempts to take over the world they are taking up jobs one by one in Springfield”. This is backed up in the episode “Hello Gutter Hello Fadder”, where Homer glimpses “The Fortress of the Moles” in the sewers.
2. The Simpsons are secretly rich
In season eight, Homer is given the Denver Broncos as a gift from Hank Scorpio, his previous boss. While he isn’t too happy about it, the team is worth $1.94 billion as of 2016, leaving Homer to rake in the cash over the years:
“This source of income gives Homer the means to do whatever he wants, spend as much time out of work as he wants, and so on. The only reason he remains stingy is because 1. He’s an idiot, and 2. He does not care much for the Denver Broncos, and doesn’t keep track of their worth.”
3. Homer knows he’s a cartoon
As the show’s episode count got higher and higher, it became less and less grounded in reality. And as things move on, Homer himself seems to care less about his effect on the world around him. According to this Redditor, he knows a secret no other Springfielder does:
“In the season 4 episode of The Simpsons, having decided he doesn’t need to go to church to remain faithful, Homer has a day dream in which God sits with him in the Simpsons’ house. At the end of the episode, he sees God again, and asks him what the meaning of life is. God goes to answer him, but we cut to the closing credits. So what does God say? God tells Homer he’s a cartoon.
Homer, in this moment, learns that there are almost never lasting consequences for his actions. He can quit his job, go to space, ignore his kids and wife, whatever he wants. He’s in a status quo forever. This explains why Homer has become a bit crueller in the later years of the show. He’s lost some empathy and knows he’s basically untouchable now.“
It’s also noteworthy that if “God” in The Simpsons relays a message from the writers, it may explain why he is the only character to have five fingers …
4. Grandpa Simpson is a time-traveller
This is one of the weirdest ones out there. Springfield shows changes in the geography of the town, important life-changing events are immediately forgotten, and history itself is different in some ways. Redditor Dataforge claims that it is down to Grandpa, who has a time travel device similar to what Homer made in Treehouse of Horror V.
5. The Simpsons is seen through the eyes of Ned Flanders
According to this theory, the world of The Simpsons is actually pretty normal. The only reason things seem exaggerated or ridiculous is because it is seen through the eyes of “neighbor-ino” Ned Flanders. Redditor Anomalocaris explains how Ned’s sense of superiority changes the way he sees things, seeing the family as “losers, unsuccessful, uncivilised. Homer is a dumb ape without a raise since he got his position, Marge is frustrated, Bart is a monster, Lisa is wasting her potential.”
“It seems obvious that Ned Flanders resents their secularism and feels much superior to them. In the series the Flanders are always shown as a perfectly happy family. Flanders sees Homer as an uncivilized baboon that hates him. He tries to be nice to them but he ends up being passively aggressive by giving them his stuff (he thinks he is loaning them but he never said so).”
This also goes to explain how Homer can hold down a complicated job he seems far too dumb to understand, or why Marge stays with him despite how neglectful a husband he can be. And this could extend to the other Springfielders, who leave the Flanders as the only relatively normal family in the whole town. Ned sees himself as the patient man keeping everyone in check, but in reality he’s just got one hell of a superiority complex.
6. Homer has been in a coma for 20 years
In the episode Homer the Heretic, God lets it slip that Homer has only six months to live. Six months later, Homer is hospitalised after a particularly explosive April Fool’s Day prank by Bart, eventually falling into a coma. This Reddit user’s idea is that Homer never did wake up, but is in a vegetative state, imagining the stories past this point:
This is why the characters don’t age. Homer remembers Bart, Lisa, and Maggie as 10, 8, and 1 year old, so they will always appear that way in his dreams. He is subconsciously aware of time passing, so his mind will often “update” his memories so that the year they occurred matches up with the age he thinks he is”
To provide further evidence to this point, the user compares the kind of plots that occurred before and after the coma episode. Before 1993 the stories are more grounded in reality, whereas after 1993 Homer is launched into space, Mr. Burns captures the Loch Ness Monster, and celebrity cameos become more frequent. According to the theory, this is simply “Homer’s imagination running wild”, dreaming up wacky adventures “with no real world restrictions”.
“The massive amounts of celebrity appearances are easily explained as well. People in comas can sometime hear what people in the same room are saying. While Homer wouldn’t physically react, his mind processes that information and includes it in his dreams.”
7. Krusty is a terrible clown on purpose
Ever wonder why Krusty’s career seems to be so successful despite being such a terrible entertainer? As this Reddit post posits, this all comes down to the act being a work of satire. In the vein of Stephen Colbert’s parody of a Republican political commentator, Krusty’s act is to satirise the role of the family entertainer:
“He regularly abuses his sidekicks, he plays overly-violent cartoons in each of his shows, he lets a ton of “adult” material regarding his gambling, addictions and womanizing slip out while he’s on the air. And he does all this on purpose because it’s what makes his character so funny in the Simpsons world”
Krusty’s comedy comes from the juxtaposition between the adult and childish, something he has learned from being in the business for decades (he is shown to be performing before coloured TV). The character that the fans love is this persona of “the unfunny clown who’s sick of the business and all the crap he has to put up with.“
The cameos on his show are always guests that only adults would care about (Bette Midler, Robert Frost, Hugh Hefner), because his real audience are adults and the more mature children who understand his comedy. The same goes for his hosting of fancy events, the chain-smoking monkey and the ultra-violence of Itchy & Scratchy. Krusty lives the act all his life, doing deplorable things, while everyone watching is in on the joke.
8. Mr. Burns pretends to forget who Homer is
One of the ongoing jokes in The Simpsons is that Mr. Burns never remembers Homer’s name, despite the fact he has employed Homer for years and has had numerous interactions with him and his family. This theory claims that he’s actually messing with him on purpose, due to the Burns family’s intense rivalry with the Simpson family throughout history. The Redditor explains:
“It starts, from what I remember, pre-civil war, when Eliza Simpson, frees Virgil, (Monty) Burns’ father’s slave. This is just the beginning of fights that occur between the families, including the fight about Bobo the teddy bear between Maggie and Burns, Numerous fights between Mona Simpson and Burns, The fight between Burns and Bongo, when the plant was first announced, Burns calling a Assassination attempt on Grandpa so he could get the Hellfish money, and who can forget Who Shot Mr. Burns. It is like Romeo and Juliet.”
The second reason is that he is getting revenge on Homer personally for all his drinking, slacking off, and various incidents he’s caused. He’s required to have a Safety Inspector so he can’t get rid of him. Burns tries to get his revenge by messing with him, and eventually blaming him for the shooting in “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”
9. Bart is a secret Stonecutter
In the episode Homer the Great, we meet the secret organization named The Stonecutters. It turns out that you can become a Stonecutter by saving the life of an existing member, just like Bart did by donating blood to Mr. Burns in the episode “Blood Feud”. This Redditor explains why when Homer begins to talk about the secretive group with his family, Bart makes fun of his conspiracy:
“What’s interesting about his statement isn’t his sarcasm, which Bart is known for, but it’s worth noting that when he says the word conspiracy he gives Homer a wink possibly implying a subtle attempt to throw Homer off the trail of discovering the secret. Later on in the episode after Homer is found out to be the Chosen One, he’s sitting at home having a philosophical debate with Lisa about divine power. When Homer says ‘Take the girl away!’, Bart immediately grabs Lisa and takes her away. He even gives Homer a sort of bow after doing so.”
To back this up, it has been noted that this could explain how Bart never gets expelled from school, as Principal Skinner is a member himself. There are meant to be hundreds of Stonecutters members, while we only see some, explaining why Bart wasn’t in attendance at any of the meetings. When Grandpa claims to be a Stonecutter, it is Bart who tells everyone at the table to listen up. Add that up with the promise of power, good times, and an easy way through life – and it all sounds pretty enticing to a 10-year-old boy.
10. The tesseract theory
This is probably the most complicated theory on this list, and one that has spread across the internet in increasingly complex ways, dating back to 2007. The theory is that the town of Springfield is trapped within a “space-warping tesseract”, one which causes a number of strange changes to the time and space:
“The town has been observed to shift its location to anywhere in the lower 48 states, seemingly at random. Sometimes it shifts several times in one day, other times it will remain in the same place for weeks before suddenly moving. It is also capable of being in more than one place at a time. This is how it was able to border Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky. The town’s internal geography is also in a constant state of flux, thus allowing for the church to be next to the bar one day and someplace else another day, or the Simpson home to be next to the power plant on one occasion and miles away from it on others. Some structures have spontaneously appeared for brief periods and then disappear forever.”
The town is stuck in a time loop, with no one ageing and the same school grades being repeated over and over. While outside of the town, time moves on as usual. An example of this is when Sideshow Bob moves to Italy and has a family, before meeting The Simpsons again, none of whom have aged. It also accounts for episodes like “That ’90s Show”, which updated Marge and Homer’s high school years to occur in the late 80s rather than the 70s. Weird stuff.
11. Bart will create The Simpsons
This out-there theory actually proposes a possible ending to the series, as well as redefining what we’ve seen so far. It begins noting that Simpsons Matt Groening based the family on his own, naming them after his parents and siblings, while his character (Bart) is an anagram for “brat”.
Throughout the series we see Bart’s passion for comedy in his admiration of Krusty, Johnny Carson and MAD Magazine. He shows an affinity for writing and animation as he wins an Emmy for an episode of Itchy & Scratchy with Lisa, and creates an Academy Award-winning short based on his popular “Angry Dad” animated series. Bart discovers that the other children find him funny, and chooses this as a pursuit rather than a regular career.
He follows his dreams of comedy writing and animating, “destined to mirror his real life counterpart and create the record shattering sitcom based on his adventures with his family.” Another user added to this theory, claiming that if this was truly to be a mirror image of reality, the show Bart creates would actually be called “The Groenings”. What an ending that would be.
Whether or not you actually believe in any of these, it is all in good fun, and personally I find it endlessly entertaining to head down the rabbit hole with the obsessed fans behind these outrageous theories. With no end in sight for the show, we may even see some of them come to life.
It’s only a show with as much cultural impact that inspires as many fan theories as this. If you wanted any further evidence of its power, see how The Simpsons predicted the Trump presidency 16 years before it happened.