Does The Simpsons predict the future?


Fact Box

  • Billed as the longest-running animated series on television, The Simpsons debuted in 1987 as an animated short on Fox’s The Tracey Ullman Show. Created by cartoonist Matt Groening and set in the fictional town of Springfield, the show “centers on a family with all the dysfunctions of the modern era but the demographics of the 1950s.”
  • In 1999, Time magazine named The Simpsons the best TV show of the 20th century.
  • The Hollywood Reporter reveals that as of June 2023, there have been 31 instances in which The Simpsons have correctly predicted the future.  
  • University of Albany math professor Matt Zaremsky conducted a study about The Simpsons’ ability to predict the future, and his research concluded that the show “has roughly a 1.6% rate of success.”

Gina (No)

In exploring whether or not The Simpsons predicts the future, one must take a scientist's approach and utilize something called statistical analysis. Most people link this methodology with big corporations working on growing their customer base or increasing their bottom line. However, The Simpsons successfully uses it to make it seem like they are predicting the future when that is not the case. Instead, as we all do, the show's writers examine the past, look for patterns, and employ imagination and creativity to foretell events. After all, as this 2014 study illustrates, there are 'close ties between episodic memory, imagination and predicting the future.' 

Notably, the more creative one is, the more adept one is at exploring millions of things that could happen. And it's no surprise that The Simpsons has had 24 writers who are Harvard graduates, as there is a correlation between intelligence and creativity. William Irwin, writer of The Simpsons and Philosophy, says, 'When that many smart people produce a television show, it's bound to make some startling predictions.' 

The comedy genre also plays a role in The Simpsons' accuracy, as humor gives writers creative freedom to 'go off the rails,' with the funniest scenarios being the most illogical. Monty Python, a 70s comedic phenomenon, was also known to 'predict the future.' 

But The Simpsons isn't as accurate as some would suggest. The show has missed the mark many times, with such plotlines as boy band NSYNC employing a method of mind control, the colonization of Mars and Venus, Big Ben utilizing a digital display, and Willie Nelson swimming across the English Channel. The Simpsons is funny entertainment, not a prophetic tool.   

Elisa (Yes)

The Simpsons has 'predicted' the future too many times at this point for it to be considered a coincidence. As the saying goes, 'Once is chance, twice is coincidence, and third time's a pattern.' 

There are an endless amount of noted predictions in the show, and while 'most' of them can be explained away, not all of them can. For example, Trump's presidency was predicted at a time when no one would believe that the business tycoon and reality star could be elected to the highest office in the land. Predictions like these 'freak' people out due to their accuracy and show that they are more than just good guesses at what lies ahead. 

So, if The Simpsons really is predicting the future, the question is how. And the answer may be too unbelievable for some. First, we must understand that some scientists say time travel is possible. In fact, Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2 shows time travel is feasible--at least in one direction.. That is perhaps why so many people believe that The Simpsons creator Matt Groening employs this method to gain knowledge about the future that he then works into the show. Seriously

Another hypothesis that has gained popularity in the conspiracy realm in recent years is called The Yellow Cube Theory. To summarize, The Simpsons is seen as the 'original' timeline to keep time itself intact, as numerous timelines take place in a 'many-worlds theory.' This may sound 'out there,' but the idea has some traction, as seen in this Reddit discussion

In the end, if the Simpsons really could predict the future, would they want to reveal their secret to anyone? Besides, who even knows if time exists at all--anything is possible.

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