the simpsons
[Photo via Fox]

It seems like every week some social media post goes viral for claiming an old episode of The Simpsons predicted the future. The trend started a couple of years ago when fans discovered the show nodded at a Trump presidency all the way back in 2000. Since then, it feels like every episode of The Simpsons has been picked apart in search of the smallest details that might have hinted at a future event. And while imagining that the writers of The Simpsons possess psychic abilities is amusing, in reality, it’s more probable that humanity has always, and will always, make the same laughable mistakes we see in the show. 

Read more: 10 ‘Simpsons’ band cameos that’ll make you wish you lived in Springfield

Three-eyed mutant fish

Mutated animals show up all the time in episodes of The Simpsons, from the laser-eyed squirrel in “Marge Vs. The Monorail” to Blinky, the three-eyed fish Bart catches in “Two Cars In Every Garage And Three Eyes On Every Fish” in season 2. Of course, these animals’ misfortune is always traced back to Mr. Burns’ nuclear power plant and his repeated disdain for environmental protection laws. When the writers introduced Blinky the three-eyed fish in 1990, it’s safe to say they didn’t actually believe three-eyed fish would be swimming around in our lakes and streams. 

However, in 2011, 21 years after the episode’s original air date, a fisherman caught a three-eyed fish near a local power plant in Argentina. More sightings have occurred as well, including a three-eyed catfish caught off the Hamilton Avenue Bridge in Brooklyn and another Blinky look-alike caught in Canada’s Lake Nippissing. While some may say this is just a classic case of The Simpsons predicting the future, it seems more like we haven’t cleaned up our pollution act in the past 20 years.

President Trump

The Simpsons joking about a Trump presidency all the way back in 2000 is all too eerie today. The episode “Bart To The Future” from season 11 depicts a peek into the futures of the Simpson kids, with Bart becoming a DeVry dropout/professional slacker and Lisa becoming the “first straight female president,” as the show puts it. A scene from the episode shows Lisa sitting in the Oval Office with her cabinet as they discuss what to do with the budget crunch they’ve inherited from President Trump. Yes, Donald Trump becoming president was at one point just a throwaway line in an episode of The Simpsons. On a lighter note, fans have recently pointed back to the episode for another reason. The purple pantsuit and pearls Lisa wears as president almost perfectly mirrors Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Day outfit. Let’s just hope it’s only amusing coincidences like this one that continue to unravel in our reality. 

Siegfried & Roy’s tiger attack

While The Simpsons depicted Las Vegas duo Siegfried & Roy getting attacked by their tiger back in 1993, we can’t say the real-life attack that happened a decade later was all that surprising. In 2003, Montecore, Siegfried & Roy’s white tiger, grabbed Roy by the neck during a show and dragged him offstage. And although Roy survived, he did suffer major bleeding. But flash back to 1993 in The Simpsons’ episode “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Legalized Gambling),” where the people of Springfield decide to legalize gambling to boost their economy. When Mr. Burns opens his casino, a parody of Siegfried & Roy named Gunter & Ernst performs. A quick flashback shows the duo out hunting a white tiger in the jungle for their act, only for the tiger to maul them during the performance. 

Horsemeat where there shouldn’t be horsemeat

simpsons
[Photo via Fox]
Springfield Elementary is notorious for a lot of things, but the cafeteria run by lunch lady Doris stands above all else. The show repeatedly mocks underfunded public schools—specifically underfunded school lunches—with running jokes that the food is made from circus animals, shredded newspaper and old gym mats. Unfortunately, one school lunch joke just happened to play out in real life. In the episode “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” from season 5, one cut scene shows Doris preparing lunch by grabbing into a barrel titled “assorted horse parts, now with more testicles.” Similarly, in 2013, a horsemeat scandal erupted all over Europe when French meat-processing firm Spanghero were accused of using horsemeat in their products. 

The 2014 Ebola outbreak

While The Simpsons didn’t by any means predict the 2014 Ebola outbreak, one scene from “Lisa’s Sax,” which aired in 1997, makes an eerie nod to the disease that would become an epidemic 17 years later. In the episode, Marge offers to read the book Curious George And The Ebola Virus to Bart. In the scene, Marge holds up the cover of the book, which clearly shows Curious George sick in bed with the virus. To be clear, Ebola did exist in 1997, but it wasn’t as widespread or as well known as it would later become in 2014.

2021’s unpeaceful transfer of power

Shortly after the Capitol riots of Jan. 6, Twitter erupted with posts of a screenshot from the episode “Treehouse Of Horror XXXI” that shows Homer sitting on his rooftop with an apocalyptic Springfield engulfed in flames behind him. At the bottom, the date reads, “January 21, 2021.” Fortunately, this year’s Inauguration Day didn’t at all unfold like Homer’s. Yet, fans still flocked to this screengrab shortly after the riots in their superstitious fear that The Simpsons predicts the future. While this episode, which aired Nov. 1, 2020, didn’t by any means accurately predict how Inauguration Day would turn out, the writers were just doing their job by mocking and exaggerating the current political climate. The world didn’t end, and America didn’t engulf in flames, but in all honesty, it felt pretty close to that. 

Homer’s kitchen grease get-rich-quick scheme

What’s a Simpsons episode without one of Homer’s get-rich-quick schemes? A staple of the show’s earlier seasons, Homer’s schemes have involved selling sugar door to door, charging kids to bounce on the family’s trampoline and even demanding an outrageous fee for the neighborhood kids to sit on top of Bart’s elephant, Stampy. In the episode “Lard Of The Dance” from season 10, Homer comes up with the scheme of stealing kitchen grease from restaurants and selling it for profit. Years later in 2013, it was reported that a man in New York City was, you guessed it, siphoning kitchen grease to sell it for a profit. Apparently, this scheme has been around for a while and is probably here to stay because used cooking oil, or yellow grease, is used in biodiesel, a biofuel in high demand. With the demand for biofuel climbing, it’s estimated that around $75 million in grease is stolen each year.

Censoring Michelangelo’s David

In the episode titled “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” from season 2, Marge bars Bart and Lisa from watching Itchy And Scratchy, a violent children’s cartoon featured on The Krusty The Clown Show. This then leads to Marge forming the organization SNUH, aka Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding, and Helping. But when a traveling exhibition of Michelangelo’s David stops in Springfield, the members of SNUH push Marge to protest the artwork due to its nudity. Marge refuses, calling the artwork a masterpiece, while soon realizing her own hypocrisy of censorship. Twenty-six years after “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” aired, the episode’s events unfolded in reality as a woman from St. Petersburg, Russia complained that a replica of Michelangelo’s David was too inappropriate for display, given the artwork’s nudity and its location of display being too close to a local school. A vote was then held to decide if the artwork should be clothed.  

“Osaka Flu” hysteria

Saying The Simpsons predicted the COVID-19 pandemic with the “Osaka Flu” from the episode “Marge In Chains” would incredibly understate the severity of the current pandemic. However, the episode does show that humanity hasn’t learned much when it comes to disease outbreaks. As the flu hits Springfield, residents begin to panic, begging Dr. Hibbert for a vaccine and eventually breaking out into an angry mob that tips over a truckload of killer bees. Similarly, in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, the world watched as people panicked and bought entire stocks of toilet paper from grocery stores. 

Ducking autocorrect

Way before the iPhone or the iPod, there was the Newton, a short-lived, digital personal assistant developed by Apple in the early ’90s. In the episode “Lisa On Ice,” which aired a year after the Newton’s original release, the device’s failure is depicted in a small joke involving notorious Springfield Elementary bully Kearney. When Kearney opens his Newton and asks it to remind him to “beat up Martin,” the device mistakenly translates Kearney’s request as “eat up Martha.” Not only did this episode mock the main reason for the device’s failure, but it would also be the start of the autocorrect era, which, almost 30 years later, has iPhone users groaning in anger at their phones.