Though episodes of The Simpsons run for only about 25 minutes each, every installment of the Fox animated sitcom is chock-full of hilarious moments and funny social commentaries. But in addition to the controversial themes it tackles, caricature characters it introduces, and witty dialogues it delivers week in and week out, the long-running series also places humorous signs all over the fictional town of Springfield to evoke more laughter from viewers within the confines of its short running time. Most of those signs are blink-and-you-miss-it visuals, so if you’re not one of those vigilant, eagle-eyed fans, browse the list below to see some of those little nuggets of comedy gold.
#1 Die vs. Diet
A lot of people probably have the same hilarious reaction as Homer Simpson whenever they’re told to go on a diet. Based on the meme above, it’s pretty apparent that the Simpsons patriarch is more afraid of following a diet plan than dying per se.
#2 Wild park slogan
The zoo’s slogan “Wild Animal Kingdom: born free, then caged” may be a funny joke at first glance, but if you come to think of it, the wild park’s catchphrase is actually sad, as the idea it displays can’t get any more real.
#3 Springfield Hospital’s slogan
Hospital taglines are supposed to bring comfort and peace of mind to patients, but Springfield Hospital’s “quality care or your autopsy is free” slogan is hilarious and scary at the same time.
#4 Bloodbath & Beyond gun shop
This gun shop’s name clearly reveals The Simpsons’ stance on gun control. Some people may find the name Bloodbath & Beyond an exaggeration, which makes the sign a bit humorous. But gun-control advocacy groups would definitely agree that the moniker Bloodbath & Beyond perfectly sums up the consequences of lenient gun control laws.
#5 ‘Free Beer’ missing-person poster
The Simpsons knows that people rarely take a minute to check out a missing-person poster, so when Lisa Simpson goes missing in an episode, the sitcom shows us how a missing-person notice should look like, and it involves huge bold print of the words “FREE BEER!”
#6 Fox News’ tagline
While many people would find this pretty spot-on, the funnier thing about this sign is the fact that Fox, the broadcaster of The Simpsons, allows the series to attack the network with such strong claims. With The Simpsons being one of the most successful shows on Fox, it’s likely that the network tolerates this kind of gutsy humor against itself for the sake of money.
#7 Child psychiatry slogan
Partly due to the stereotypical portrayal of child psychiatrists in media, common people would easily laugh at this sign. But in reality, child psychiatrists actually encourage imaginary friendships as they’re a sign of positive developmental progress in kids.
#8 ‘Keep Out’ sign
While all kinds of humor are present on The Simpsons, the show is probably best known for its self-referential jokes just like this sign. Such gags prove that some of the most amazing comedy series are those that are brave enough to make fun of their own creations.
This sign is accurate to a fault and that’s what makes it so funny. While parent/teacher nights usually see parents and teachers blaming one another for the students’ unacceptable behavior, the meeting gives both parties the opportunity to listen to each other’s sides. This likely leads to the realization that both parents and teachers have their own shortcomings, and working together is the only way to better the welfare of the children.
#10 Oedipus Rx pharmacy
If you know your Greek Mythology, then you would appreciate the clever mind behind this pharmacy signage. Inspired by Sophocles’ Athenian tragedy Oedipus Rex ― in which Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his own mother ― the pharmacy sign wittily features a scratched out “Pop” in the establishment’s slogan.
#11 Where do humans really rank on the food chain?
While many people believe that humans are at the top of the food chain, the photo above will make you question that claim. Though the animals featured in the illustration don’t really consume humans as part of their regular diet, all of them are actually capable of killing a huge chunk of the human population through illnesses that originate from them. And with a recent report from a WHO scientist that COVID-19 comes from bats, the illustration just got more real than ever.
#12 First Church of Springfield announcement
The announcement “No shoes, no shirt, no salvation” from the First Church of Springfield brims with hypocrisy, revealing that the church doesn’t operate as a religious institution but as a business that alienates a particular social class who doesn’t have enough money to adhere to an implicit dress code.
#13 Springfield Heights Promenade slogan
The mall’s “Our prices discriminate because we can’t” slogan is hilarious because it’s actually an admission that the establishment does discriminate. It’s called refuge in audacity ― a case in which someone does something illegal or socially unacceptable but try to be discreet about it, so either no one knows what they’ve done, or no one completely cares.
#14 Springfield High School gymnasium announcement
This announcement will definitely raise your eyebrows. Due to obvious health hazard, hosting a professional ballet performance at a school gymnasium amid an ongoing gas leak is downright alarming. While it’s possible that Springfield High School is moving forward with the ballet event so it can pay for the gas leak repair, it still doesn’t change the fact that the school will be endangering the lives of many if it won’t postpone the dance show.
#15 Beef-flavored chicken
Who would want to eat beef-flavored chicken when they could have the real thing? A beef-flavored chicken may sound absurd at first, but it actually makes sense. Though beef contains iron and zinc that are not found in chicken, chicken is much better for one’s cardiovascular health, as it has less cholesterol and saturated fat than beef. Also, chicken is more environmentally friendly than beef, so sustainability-conscious people would definitely love to taste this beef-flavored chicken.
Animals are meant to be in their natural habitat, and that’s what The Simpsons is trying to emphasize in this pretty straightforward banner at the entrance to Springfield Zoo. Though some zoos really take good care of the animals under their wing, that doesn’t take away the fact those animals are forced into prison-like cages for human entertainment.
#17 Yearbook office tagline
The Simpsons always nails the catchphrase game, and this one is no different. Giving the yearbook office the tagline “immortalizing your awkward phase,” the sitcom certainly knows the real reason why people do not dare to open their school annual several years after their graduation.
#18 Community center announcement
A candy convention and a candy-shaped rat poison convention taking place in the same building and at the same time is a public health hazard, which is made worse by the room numbers on the community center signage looking nearly the same. If you take into account the exclamation point, room “1!” and room “11” can be very confusing and can easily be interchanged.
#19 Stoner’s Pot Palace
Otto Mann is tricked by the name of this pot store, which clearly has a double meaning. A victim of what seems to be a form of false advertising, Otto thinks that Stoner’s Pot Palace caters to drug users like him, but the establishment is actually a store that sells cooking pots and other kitchenware.
#20 ‘Do Not Touch’ sign
Featured in the Treehouse of Horror VI episode of The Simpsons, this “Do Not Touch – Willie” sign was posted by Groundskeeper Willie for the heater control panel of Springfield Elementary School. But with the name Willie being a slang term for the male genitalia, the sign has a completely different meaning for green-minded folks.
#21 ‘Do if for her’ plaque
This plaque has the most touching backstory among all the signs included in this list. In the 1995 episode And Maggie Makes Three, it was revealed that Homer quit his job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to work at Barney’s Uncle Al’s bowling alley. But after finding out that Marge was pregnant with Maggie, Homer begged Mr. Burns to give his job back at the plant. Mr. Burns agreed, but he placed a large “Don’t forget: you’re here forever” plaque near Homer’s desk to remind him that he’d be stuck there all his working life. When Maggie was born, Homer used her photos to alter the message in the plaque to “Do it for her.”
#22 Krusty’s one-year sobriety special billboard
Just seeing Krusty’s name near the word “sobriety” is already a joke. Krusty the Clown is addicted to alcohol and drugs such as Percodan, Pepto-Bismol, and Xanax, so finding out that the entertainer’s one-year sobriety special gets canceled is actually not surprising to many.
#23 In ‘N’ Out ear-piercing shop slogan
While the shop’s “If it dangles, we’ll punch a hole in it” slogan is definitely attention-grabbing, we don’t think a lot of people will have the courage to have their ears pierced at this boutique.
#24 Pregnancy counseling leaflet
Pregnancy counseling leaflets are supposed to be reassuring, but this one is the complete opposite of that. With the title So You’ve Ruined Your Life, this brochure is probably one of the most unsympathetic pregnancy counseling pamphlets ever made.
#25 Memorial plaque for a real tree
The Simpsons is also amazing at meta-jokes, and this one is a perfect example. Memorial plaques are usually placed at the foot of a tree to commemorate a person or an event, so coming across a commemorative tree plaque dedicated to a real tree is just next-level meta-humor.
#26 Springfield Nuclear Plant slogan
With nuclear plants producing radioactive wastes that can remain dangerous to human health for thousands of years, anti-nuclear organizations have been trying to shut them down. Sadly, due to the government’s slow and lengthy appeals process, many of them are still operating and endangering the lives of many.
#27 Pest control company logo
This clever logo has the company name A Bug’s Death ― a play of words referencing the 1998 Pixar movie A Bug’s Life ― inside a leaf-shaped frame. Adding more humor to the sign is an image of a tongue-out, seemingly dead Flik, who is the main protagonist of the film.
#28 ‘No Escaping Please’ sign
Adding the word “please” to a phrase or sentence can make a huge difference, but can the polite expression still work its magic when used in signs inside jails? In the image above, an inmate appears to have taken aback after seeing a “No Escaping Please” sign. But will he abandon his escape plan just because he saw the word “please”? Probably not.
#29 Trump’s slogan
This screengrab from the show’s Back to the Future episode, which inadvertently predicted Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency, displays the slogan “America you can be my ex-wife!” Since Trump allegedly cheated on both of his ex-wives, the funny catchphrase implied that America would also be duped by him.
#30 U2 Moving Crew billboard
This billboard for U2 Moving Crew company is filled with puns inspired by the Irish rock band U2. The slogan “We move in mysterious ways” is a nod to the group’s 1991 song Mysterious Ways. While the four men featured in the advert are based on U2 band members Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, and Larry Mullen Jr.
#31 Why having a good doctor is really important
Last but not least, this billboard exemplifies why it’s important to have a good Doctor. You know, the kind that wants to make sure you live through his treatments so that you pay his bills.