With hundreds of wins and nominations from different award-giving bodies spanning across over 30 years, Fox’s The Simpsons has established itself as one of the world’s best animated sitcoms ever. But aside from its hilarious storylines, witty social commentaries, and bold controversial themes, there’s another thing that makes the Matt Groening-created series truly one of a kind, and that is its supposed ability to predict the future. Coincidences or not, below are 30 things that were featured in the show and then eventually happened in real life.
2014 World Cup winner and 2015’s FIFA corruption scandal
In 2014’s season 25, episode 16 (You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee), Homer ends up becoming a FIFA referee, mainly due to the referee shortage caused by massive corruption within the organization. Though he was tempted to favor one of the teams in that year’s World Cup finals, he decided to call the game fairly, which ultimately resulted in Germany’s win.
Surprisingly, four months after the episode originally aired, Germany really emerged as the 2014 World Cup champion. Sadly, The Simpsons also turned out to be correct on the alleged corruption within FIFA, as a number of the organization’s employees were arrested in 2015 following accusations of bribery, fraud, and money laundering.
America’s gold win in curling
With their newly discovered love for curling, Homer and Marge try out for the U.S. Olympic team and end up participating at the 2010 Vancouver Games in season 21, episode 12 (Boy Meets Curl). Despite the odds against them, the husband and wife, together with their whole team, manage to beat Sweden and bring home the gold medal.
Though the U.S. didn’t score any medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the country won a gold medal in the men’s tournament at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
Annual mass killing of snakes
Originally aired in 1993, season 4, episode 20 (Whacking Day) introduces Whacking Day, a fictional annual holiday, in which Springfield residents drive snakes into the town square and then fatally club them.
Two decades after the episode originally broadcast, the first-ever Python Challenge was held in real life. During the annual event, people wade into the Florida Everglades to decrease the number of Burmese pythons, whose overpopulation threatens the diversity of the Floridian wildlife.
A brief gag in season 6, episode 8 (Lisa on Ice) sees bully Dolph writing the memo “Beat up Martin” on his Apple Newton. The text, however, translates to “Eat up, Martha,” a clear critique of the PDA’s poor handwriting recognition. Interestingly, this 1994 one-off joke helped Apple design the iPhone keyboard.
In 2013, Fast Company interviewed dozens of Apple employees, both current and former, for an oral history of the company’s design. One of the interviewees was Scott Forstall, Apple’s former senior vice president of iOS software. One of his main tasks was to “nail the [iPhone’s] keyboard,” and he actually looked to The Simpsons for inspiration.
“In the hallways [at Apple] and while we were talking about the keyboard, you would always hear the words ‘Eat Up Martha,’” added Nitin Ganatra, Apple’s former director of engineering for iOS applications. “If you heard people talking and they used the words ‘Eat Up Martha,’ it was basically a reference to the fact that we needed to nail the keyboard. We needed to make sure the text input works on this thing, otherwise, ‘Here comes the Eat Up Marthas.’”
In season 3, episode 24 (Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?), Homer is awarded $2,000 in compensation after radiation from the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant causes him to become sterile. In an attempt to help his half-brother, Herb, regain his wealth, Homer loans him the $2,000, which Herb uses to develop a new product that translates baby babbling into speech that parents can understand. Herb’s invention becomes a huge success, allowing him to regain his fortune.
Several years after the episode first aired in 1992, a number of “Cry Translator” apps came out, which analyze a baby’s cry to translate needs.
Bengt R. Holmstrom winning the Nobel Prize in Economics
Season 22, episode 1 (Elementary School Musical) features a freeze-frame gag that shows Lisa and her group of friends filling out a predictions sheet for the 2010 Nobel Prize announcements.
Though Milhouse would lose out on his prediction that Bengt R. Holmstrom would win the Nobel Price in Economics that year, the Finnish economist ended up earning the honor in real life, six years after the episode first aired.
Blood splatter movie stunt
Season 4, episode 6 (Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie) shows a shot of a billboard advertising for the titular film featuring Scratchy getting his head cut off and spurting a blood-like liquid into unsuspecting open cars.
In 2008, 16 years after the episode first aired, the pulp fiction movie Kill Bill: Volume 1 was advertised in New Zealand with a billboard similar to that of Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie featured in The Simpsons episode. The said Kill Bill billboard sees Hatorri Hanzo (Uma Thurman) wielding a samurai over her shoulder. From it spewed spatters of blood at a wide angle, drenching the far end of the billboard, the edge of the building, the sidewalk, as well as cars parked on the street and the roadway itself.
Disney’s acquisition of the 20th Century Fox
The star-studded season 10, episode 5 (When You Dish Upon a Star) wrapped up with an establishing shot showing the iconic 20th Century Fox logo with the phrase “A Division of Walt Disney Co.” below it. The Simpsons is of course produced by 20th Century Fox, so when the episode was originally aired back in 1998, that ending shot was simply a harmless little joke for the show’s parent company.
Donald Trump’s presidency
In season 11, episode 17 (Bart to the Future), the second time The Simpsons gave viewers a peek into the future, Lisa becomes the first “straight female” president of the United States. In a cabinet meeting, she casually mentions that Donald Trump is the country’s president before her. “As you know, we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump,” says Lisa, before finding out from her cabinet members that America is practically broke after the former administration decided to invest in the nation’s children.
Since the episode first aired in 2000, Lisa’s line was initially just a reference to Trump attempting a run as a Reform Party candidate. But her words gained much more validity when Trump officially became the 45th president of the country in 2017.
Featuring the first guest appearance of theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, season 10, episode 22 (They Saved Lisa’s Brain) puts Hawking and Homer together in one room. Sharing discourse over beers at Moe’s Tavern, Hawking tells Homer: “Your theory of a doughnut-shaped universe is intriguing. I may have to steal it.”
Though there has been a real theory that the universe is shaped like a donut since the ‘80s, it only became popular in 2003, four years after the episode originally aired.
Primarily set in 1990, season 9, episode 3 (Lisa’s Sax) is a flashback episode that explains how Lisa got her saxophone. In one of the scenes from the 1997 installment, Marge attempts to cheer up a forlorn Bart with a reading of Curious George and the Ebola Virus.
Though the disease was first identified back in 1976, the largest Ebola outbreak to date started 16 years after the episode first broadcast. It was an epidemic in West Africa that lasted from December 2013 to January 2016, with 28,646 cases and 11,323 deaths.
Filing a lawsuit against an all-you-can-eat restaurant
With an insatiable hunger, Homer avails an all-you-can-eat deal in a seafood restaurant in season 4, episode 8 (New Kid on the Block) of The Simpsons. But after getting kicked out of the establishment while still hungry, Homer sues the eatery for false advertising.
In 2017, 25 years after the episode originally aired, Albert Flemming from Massachusetts sued Golden Corral Corporation for $2 million for false advertising after he was thrown out of one of the chain’s restaurants after spending more than seven hours on site and eating a whopping 50 pounds of food all by himself. Despite advertising an all-you-can-eat buffet, the manager reportedly lost patience at Flemming and told him that his meal would be free but he had to leave. After suing the company, the complainant confirmed that he had been offered a significant amount of money by the restaurant, but he was convinced that he could get more if he goes to court.
Food with horse meat
First aired in 1994, season 5, episode 19 (Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song) features a quick shot of Lunchlady Doris adding horse parts to a typical Springfield Elementary lunch. Nineteen years later, health officials in the United Kingdom discovered that several beef products contained horse meat.
The country’s Food Standards Agency revealed in 2013 that a number of products sold by Bird’s Eye, Taco Bell, and catering supplier Brakes had been found to contain horse DNA. Some of these products were Birds Eye’s Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese and Beef Lasagne; Brakes’ Spicy Beef Skewer; and Taco Bell’s Ground Beef.
Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance
Lady Gaga visits Springfield in season 23, episode 22 (Lisa Goes Gaga). In the installment, all Springfield residents are in a state of depression, with Lisa being one of the most depressed persons in the city. To teach Lisa the meaning of happiness, Gaga goes out her way and puts up a one-of-a-kind performance.
In 2017, five years after the episode first aired, Gaga performed at the Super Bowl halftime show, and many noticed that her wire-based, spark-filled act had an uncanny resemblance to one of her performances in The Simpsons episode.
Malfunctioning voting machines
In the cold open of season 20, episode 4 (Treehouse of Horror XIX), which was a nod to the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Homer goes into a booth to vote for Barack Obama, only for the voting machine to count it for John McCain.
While there had been no reports of such voting machine malfunction during the 2008 election, a 2012 viral video showed a voting booth in Pennsylvania practically doing the same thing, but this time, with Obama and Mitt Romney.
Inspired by a Zorro movie, 1999’s season 11, episode 5 (E-I-E-I-D’oh) starts with Homer slapping people with a glove and challenging them to duels to get whatever he wants. When a Southern gentleman accepts Homer’s request for a duel, Homer and his family run off to the old farm he previously lived in with his parents and breed a dangerously addictive but successful tobacco/tomato hybrid called “tomacco.”
Four years after the episode first aired, mutant tomatoes became a real thing when various fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, turned into horrific hybridized produce.
NASA sending an ‘Average Joe’ into space
In season 5, episode 15 (Deep Space Homer), NASA selects Homer, an ordinary man, to participate in spaceflight to spark public interest in space exploration and boost low ratings of the launches. In 2013, almost 20 years after the episode originally aired, the grooming products brand Lynx held a contest that turned an “Average Joe” into an astronaut.
One of the 23 winners from across the world was Oliver Knight, an operations engineer who beat his three rival British finalists in a series of in-depth interviews and rigorous testing in Cape Canaveral. “This is a dream come true,” Knight said of his win in an interview a year before his trip to space. “I’m counting down the days now until take-off and will keep training to ensure I’m as fit as possible.”
NSA spying scandal
In 2007’s The Simpsons Movie, the animated franchise brought the viewers to the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA) as Marge discussed her plan to reveal government secrets to the public. Inside the agency’s headquarters was a room full of monitors, with several staff members monitoring phone calls in an attempt to catch the country’s most wanted.
Five years later, former computer intelligence consultant Edward Snowden leaked highly classified information from the NSA, including numerous global surveillance programs run by the NSA itself and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments.
Siegfried and Roy tiger incident
Mr. Burns built a casino in Springfield in season 5, episode 10 ($pringfield) of The Simpsons. Aside from different types of gambling, Mr. Burns’ Casino also features a number of performances, including a tiger act from Gunter and Ernst, who are a clear analog of the real-life Siegfried and Roy duo known for their performances with white big cats. Gunter and Ernst’s performance in the episode ends in tragedy when their white tiger Anastasia attacks them.
Almost 10 years after the episode first aired, Roy Horn, one-half of the Siegfried and Roy duo, was attacked by their seven-year-old white tiger named Montecore during a show at The Mirage, a casino resort in Las Vegas. The attack severed Horn’s spine, resulted in massive blood loss, and severely injured other parts of his body, permanently impairing his motor and verbal abilities.
Smartwatches with voice recognition only came out in 2013. But in season 6, episode 19 (Lisa’s Wedding) of The Simpsons, which first aired in 1995, a character named Hugh Parkfield is seen calling an audible by talking into his watch following his botched wedding proposal for Lisa.
Lisa’s Wedding is The Simpsons first foray into the future. The time jump was set up when Lisa visited a mysterious fortune teller at the Renaissance Fair who told her about her future courtship in 2010 with Hugh who she would meet at college. Aside from smartwatches, the episode featured several technology jokes that ended up coming to fruition in real life several years later.
Stealing used cooking grease for quick cash
In season 10, episode 1 (Lord of the Dance), which originally aired in 1998, sees Homer and Bart working together to get their hands in the grease recycling business. But like many of Homer’s get-rich-quick schemes, it’s something that one cannot be proud of, as it basically involves stealing used cooking grease from various food establishment and selling it to make a profit.
The modus operandi is so ingenious that delinquents have eventually started to use it in real life. In 2013, the New York Post reported that theft of used cooking grease from New York City restaurants had risen in previous years due to the demand for “yellow grease” — a valuable ingredient in biodiesel. Haulers reportedly pay around $2 a gallon to turn them into diesel fuel, animal feed, or even jet fuel. According to the report, thieves were often armed with a hose and a souped-up vacuum or lawnmower engine to drain dry massive metal drums loaded with used cooking grease.
Super Bowl winners
Season 3, episode 14 (Lisa the Greek) is The Simpsons’ first-ever football-centric episode. In the installment, which originally aired just two days before Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, Lisa correctly predicts the win of the Washington Redskins against the Buffalo Bills.
In 1993, the show’s creative team decided to dub in the names of that year’s competing teams, and they were once again correct with their prediction of the Dallas Cowboys beating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. The Simpsons continued the re-dubbings with moderate success over the next few years. But in 1995, the show featured another accurate prediction of the San Francisco 49ers winning against the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.
The Albuquerque Isotopes
While 2001’s season 12, episode 15 (Hungry, Hungry Homer) didn’t feature a prediction of sorts, it unbelievably inspired a real-life event a year later it first aired. In the installment, Homer goes on a hunger strike to protest his baseball team the Springfield Isotopes’ move to Albuquerque.
Then about a year later, the Calgary Cannons minor league team relocated to New Mexico. To determine the team’s new name, the Albuquerque Tribune ran a poll, and the majority of fans voted for the name Albuquerque Isotopes.
The Beatles replying to fan mails decades later
Season 2, episode 18 (Brush with Greatness) revealed that Marge had sent a painting to her celebrity crush Ringo Starr back when he was in high school. Then decades later, Ringo finally sent back a response to Marge as part of his vow to reply to all fan mails he received several years ago.
The episode became a foreshadowing of sorts when Barbara Bezant and Lyn Jeffries received a reply from Paul McCartney in 2013 after sending him a mixtape 50 years earlier. According to BBC, the two ladies from Essex, England recorded a message to the then Beatle in 1963 and sent a tape to the London theatre where the band was playing. Decades later, the recording turned up at a car boot sale and the women were reunited with the recording on The One Show. McCartney wrote to them to thank them for their “lovely tape” and said, “better late than never.”
The censorship of Michelangelo’s ‘David’
A satire of censorship issues, 2012’s season 2, episode 9 (Itchy & Scratchy & Marge) sees Maggie attacking Homer with a mallet. Blaming the fictional animated series The Itchy & Scratchy Show for Maggie’s action, Marge tries to get the hyper-violent cartoon show to be more docile. She, however, later realizes how censorship could cut both ways when the town attempts to protest the nudity of Michelangelo’s “David.”
Fast-forward to 2016, Michelangelo’s “David” became a hot-button issue when Russians voted on whether or not to cover the statue’s genitals with clothes.
The Higgs-Boson Particle
In season 10, episode 2 (The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace), Homer decides to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Edison and make his life worthwhile after realizing that his life is half over and has not accomplished anything yet. One quick shot from the 1998 installment sees the Simpson patriarch scribbling profusely on a chalkboard, which shows a math equation at the bottom.
More than a decade later, real-life scientists discovered the Higgs-Boson particle, aka the “God particle,” and were surprised to find that its mass was similar to Homer’s discoveries in the episode.
The sale of ferrets as toy poodles
In season 13, episode 22 (Poppa’s Got a Brand New Badge), Fat Tony is seen gluing cotton balls to ferrets to pass them off as toy poodles. The 2002 episode seemed to have inspired real-life criminals, as there had been reports of gullible bargain hunters getting scammed by people who sold ferrets as toy poodles, over a decade after the episode originally aired.
In 2013, the Daily Mail reported that one retired Argentinian man compulsively purchased two toy poodles at a very low price. But when the buyer took the “dogs” to a vet for their vaccinations, he found out that they were actually ferrets that had been given steroids at birth to increase their size and then had some extra grooming to make their coats resemble a fluffy toy poodle.
Season 6, episode 19 (Lisa’s Wedding) features an establishing shot of Big Ben with the joke thrown in of it now having a digital face. But on the lefthand side of the shot, a pointed skyscraper that doesn’t seem to fit in with the original London skyline can be seen.
In 2012, 17 years after the episode originally aired, the construction of the Shard was completed. A 72-story skyscraper located in Southwark, London, the Shard not only has a similar shape to the mysterious building seen in the episode but also sits in the same place in comparison to Big Ben.
In season 2, episode 4 (Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish) Bart catches a three-eyed fish in a river downstream of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. After an inspection, the plant is found to have violated several safety protocols, prompting Mr. Burns to run for governor to prevent the plant from being closed. In an attempt to attract the common voters, Mr. Burns has a televised dinner with the Simpsons but Marge sabotages his political stunt and dooms his campaign by serving him the head of Blinky, the three-eyed fish.
In 2011, over two decades after the episode first aired, fishermen caught a three-eyed wolf fish in Chorro de Agua Caliente, a reservoir that receives water from a nuclear plant in the province of Córdoba in Argentina.
Also in season 6, episode 19 (Lisa’s Wedding), The Simpsons predicted the emergence of video chats. The episode was first broadcast in 1995, several years before video chats have become one of the most vital modes of communication in the real world.
Throughout the said episode, the style of communication is visual via a screen, not by phone. In a world that runs on Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, and FaceTime, this is one of the many predictions that the show’s writers had to see to believe.