When a television show has been on the air for nearly three decades like The Simpsons has, you'd expect a few instances of life imitating art. But when it comes to the long-running animated FOX hit, the show hasn't just inspired the future, it's predicted it accurately an eerie number of times.
Some of the show's predictions are huge -- we're talking about the show's prediction of the recent Disney/Fox merger and Donald Trump's presidency -- and some of them are more subtle, but the frequency with which the satirical cartoon accurately peeks into the future is mind-blowing. While there are many instances where the show more inspired events rather than predicted them, there are a lot of times when events on The Simpsons described events, both mundane and completely outlandish, that ended up becoming reality years in the future. We've compiled those moments here in all of the times The Simpsons has predicted the future.
The most recent example of something predicted on The Simpsons coming true is the Disney/Fox deal. While that deal became official on Thursday, back in 1998 during tenth season episode "When You Wish Upon a Star" Home makes friends with Alec Baldwin and then-wife Kim Basinger. The episode briefly features a sign outside of Fox's studio proclaiming "20th Century Fox, A Division of Walt Disney Co." Almost 20 years later, Disney bought 21st Century Fox.
Earlier this year, Lady Gaga performed the half-time show at the Super Bowl, including an elaborate stunt where the singer is lowered into the stadium on wires. The jaw-dropping performance was eerily familiar to Simpsons fans as, in 2012 during the show's 23rd season episode "Lisa Goes Gaga," the singer performs in Springfield carrying out a similar stunt. Of course, there was one major difference. Lady Gaga's Super Bowl performance didn't include the flame-throwing bra top that she wore on The Simpsons.
Back in 2000, the season 11 episode "Bart To the Future" features Bart being shown his future by a Native American. In that future vision, Lisa Simpson has been elected President of the United States and early in her presidency she talks to her inner circle of advisors, explaining to them that "we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump." In the episode, Lisa is downplaying the situation, as it turns out on The Simpsons, Trump crippled the economy and Bart ended up being the only person who could save it.
In 1998's "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," Homer Simpson decides to try his hand at becoming an inventor. During the episode, Homer is seen writing a formula on a blackboard but ends up being more than that. The formula ended up being eerily similar to the mass of a Higgs boson particle -- a particle that wasn't even discovered until 14 years after the episode airs. Homer's equation actually predicted the future discovery's mass.
During 2013's "Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson," Homer appears on the news and on the ticker running at the bottom of the screen there's a note that "Europe puts Greece on eBay." Two years later, Greece's economy had completely tanked, creating an economic crisis where European creditors demanded severe austerity measures before Greece could get any additional funding. It's not quite selling the nation on eBay, but it's close enough.
Remember back in 2014 when the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was all over the news leading to those signs at the doctor's office asking if you've travelled to that region recently? Turns out The Simpsons sort of predicted that. In 1997's "Lisa's Sax" Marge is shown reading Bart a book entitled "Curious George and the Ebola Virus" with a sick Curious George grimly lying in bed.
In 2003, German magic duo Siegfried & Roy's career was brought to a sudden end when Roy Horn was mauled by one of his white tigers while on stage during a show in Las Vegas. A decade earlier in "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)" a stand in for Siegfried & Roy -- on the show the parody of the duo is called Gunter and Ernst -- make an appearance at Mr. Burns' casino. The performance is cut short when the pair's white tiger mauls them.
In 2007's The Simpsons Movie, the Simpsons go on the run after severe pollution results in Springfield being enclosed in a large glass dome. While on the run, Marge chastises Lisa's concerns about spies. The comment sparks an alarm in a NSA building where a sea of workers are listening in on the conversations of private American citizens. Marge's comment results in the family being arrested by the feds.
Six years later, Edward Snowden released thousands of classified NSA documents revealing that the NSA was, in fact, engaging in some questionable surveillance tactics and programs.
In 2013 it was revealed that some beef sold in Europe had been contaminated with horse meat. Almost twenty years previously in "Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song" The Simpsons made a joke featuring Lunch Lady Doris getting meat out of a huge barrel labelled "Assorted Horse Parts: Now with More Testicles" that she in turn cooked for school lunch.
During the 2008 Halloween special, Homer attempts to vote for Barack Obama using an electronic voting machine. However, the machine malfunctions and casts his vote for John McCain instead. Four years later during the 2012 election, an electronic voting machine in Pennsylvania had to be taken out of service when it was filmed casting votes for Mitt Romney despite Obama's name being selected.
In 2015, 14 people connected to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA,) the governing body for soccer were indicted on charges of corruption by the FBI. Just one year earlier in "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee," the executive vice president of the "world football federation" approaches Homer to be a referee for the World Cup. The vice president is then arrested for corruption, but the creepy prediction doesn't stop there. German wins the World Cup in the episode, just like they would in real life.
In 2011's "Elementary School Musical" Lisa and her friends sit up late to hear the winners of the Nobel price. When audiences get a look at Martin's betting card it reveals that Milhouse had selected Bengt R. Holmstrom to win the Economics prize. In 2016, Holmstrom actually won that price with Oliver Hart for their work on something called "contact theory."
In 1999's "E-I-E-I-D'oh!" the Simpson family movies to a farm where Homer uses plutonium to make the crops grow faster and larger. He, instead, ends up with a highly addictive cross between tomatoes and tobacco (Homer calls them ToMacco.) Flash forward to 2013 where mutated vegetables -- including weird tomatoes -- were found growing near a nuclear power plant in Japan.
In 2013 thieves dug up and stole a lemon tree in a Houston, Texas suburb. That would probably just be a blip of weird news except in 1995's Simpsons episode "Lemon of Troy," the kids of Springfield end up waging war against the kids of nearby Shelbyville after those pesky Shelbyville kids dug up and stole Springfield's town lemon tree. Seriously.
In the 1995 episode, "Lisa's Wedding," we see 23-year-old Lisa in 2010 as well as her fiancé. In one scene, he is seen talking into his watch. Twenty years after the episode aired (and five years after the events of the episode) on April 24, 2015, Apple released the Apple Watch. Also featured in the episode? Lisa and Marge talk on phone with video screens with Lisa reminding her mother that she's on a "picture phone" when Marge crosses her fingers while making a promise. Another Apple innovation, FaceTime launched on June 24, 2010 meaning that not only did The Simpsons predict the future, they got it right down to the year.
The episode would also feature a concert poster revealing the Rolling Stones were still touring in 2010 as well as robot librarians. The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library in Chicago is actually managed by an automated robotic retrieval system.
In 1998's "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," Professor Fink makes an interesting fashion choice by wearing hamburger earmuffs. While we're not certain exactly when they were available on Amazon initially (the oldest review appears to be from 2013," it turns out that Professor Fink's earmuffs ended up becoming a novel reality. They're not available on Amazon now, but there are seven customer reviews for the product meaning that there are at least seven lucky people out there who are able to rock Professor Fink's unusual Simpsons style.
In 1991's "Brush with Greatness," Marge sends former Beatle Ringo Starr a portrait she's painted of him. Determined to respond to every single piece of fan mail he's ever received, the episode shows Starr responding to the gift years later. Something similar happened in real life to real life Beatles fans. In 2013 two women received a letter from Sir Paul McCartney thanking them for a reel-to-reel tape that the women had sent him all the way back in 1963. While it's unclear if the tape had originally ever reached the Beatles, it was acquired by a historian who brought the women together after decades for a television show where they were presented the letter from Sir Paul.
That weirdly addicting Facebook game that lets players virtually take care of a farm, FarmVille was released in 2009. Eleven years prior, though, The Simpsons predicted that virtual games would be a thing. In 1998's "Bart Carny," one of the carnival games the citizens of Springfield are seen playing is something called "Yard Work Simulator." The players are shown wearing virtual reality-style headsets that, along with gardening tools, are hooked up to a nearby computer as they pretend to be taking care of the yard while others look on and wait their turn to maintain the virtual hedges.
In 1992, Homer's half-brother Herb comes up with the idea of a baby translator in "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" Flash forward 21 years. In 2013 the app Cry Translator was released. The app claimed to be able to translate a baby's cry to help parents find out what the child is upset about so that the parent or caretaker can address the need, thus restoring peace and quiet. How effective Cry Translator is up for debate, but one thing that we can all agree on is that The Simpsons did it first.
When it aired in 1998, Homer and Bart's grease recycling antics in "Lard of the Dance" seemed a little silly. After all, they were stealing grease from Krusty Burger to sell. But, as is a theme here, The Simpsons weren't too far from reality. In 2013, New York restaurants saw an increase of the theft of grease. The thefts were so organized that businesses started hiring private investigators to figure out who it was that was stealing the grease. And it wasn't just New York establishments who had issues with grease theft. Other cities, including St. Louis, reported such thefts as well.
The three-eyed fish (his name is Blinky) has been a gag on The Simpsons since the 1990s, though the most notable appearance of the mutated Blinky species came in 1990's "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish." Bart catches a three-eyed Blinky fish in the very polluted river and said fish is then served up to Mr. Burns who is running for governor. Mr. Burns isn't able to eat the fish which causes him to lose the election. In real life, fishermen in Argentina caught a three-eyed fish in 2011 in a reservoir that happens to receive water from a nuclear power plant.
Is there anything more annoying than trying to type out a text message only for Autocorrect to keep changing what you're writing and often getting it wrong? Well, long before that was a daily annoyance in our lives characters on The Simpsons were having the same struggle. 1994's "Lisa On Ice" featured Dolph using the personal digital assistant Apple Newton. Dolph was trying to write "Beat up Martin" only for the device to change it to "Eat up Martha." The show's gag apparently ended up a joke that employees at Apple would say to each other while developing Autocorrect for the real world.
Michelangelo's David is notorious for being naked and in 1990's "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge" that nudity raised concern when a copy of the statue was brought to Springfield. Citizens wanted the statue to put on some pants for modesty's sake. In 2016, when a copy of the statue was brought for display to Saint Petersburg, Russia, people actually started a campaign for the statue to get clothes, there, too. The so-called "Dress David" wanted not only for the statue to be clothed, but asked what clothes the statue should wear.
In another future-themed episode, 2005's "Future-Drama" saw Bart and Lisa heading to prom. Marge takes a photo of them and is then instantly able to turn that photo into a cake. Now, science isn't quite to the point that you can snap a photo and instantly get cake, 3-D printers do allow people to turn their ideas on paper to real, physical items quickly and somewhat inexpensively. Maybe instant cake is the next evolution.
1993's "Whacking Day" episode saw Springfield's residents participating in an annual "snake whacking" where citizens rounded up snakes, drove them into the town square, then beat them to death. It sounds pretty brutal, but 20 years later, Florida decided to launch a somewhat similar campaign. While it wasn't quite a situation of rounding up and beating down snakes, the 2013 Python Challenge was a competition in which hunters competed to see who could kill the largest number of pythons. Pythons cause a lot of environmental problems in Florida and the initiative was designed to combat that, though the means by which the snakes were to be dispatched probably didn't include beating them.