The Simpsons Showrunner Reveals the Prediction That Most Shocked Him

Over the course of more than three decades, The Simpsons has offered audiences a number of absurd scenarios and premises, so when fans look back through more than 700 animated episodes, they've found a number of instances in which offhanded jokes or references ultimately become a reality. While those involved with the series know that these satirical jokes are made as educated guesses and aren't entirely surprised by those events becoming a reality, showrunner Al Jean recently noted that he's still unsettled by a brief shot in the 1997 episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" which felt eerily ominous following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

In the episode, Barney drunkenly leaves the Simpson family car parked at the World Trade Center, forcing the family to head to Manhattan to recover the automobile, which has earned dozens of parking tickets. The episode sees Homer spending much of his time in front of the towers as he waits for a parking official, but one shot in particular sees Bart holding up a brochure for a trip to the city that will only cost $9, which also features the silhouette of the World Trade Center, eerily creating an image that appears as "9/11."

When speaking with about the predictions that most surprised him, Jean detailed, "There was one crazy cell where Bart held up a brochure that is 'New York on $9 a day,' the World Trade Center, this was 1996, was in the background, so it looked like a '9/11,' that was insane, and of course unplanned and a terrible coincidence. That's the one where I go, 'What was that? That was bizarre.' Most of the other things are educated guesses. Donald Trump was running for president and we predicted Lady Gaga's halftime show by looking at her earlier costumes, so that was not that hard."

Given the nature of the entire episode and the significance of the World Trade Center, the episode was removed from syndication in 2001, though ultimately returned in 2006.

Longtime writer Bill Oakley previously addressed the nature of Simpsons predictions, noting that most of the predictions are related to the cyclical nature of history and those jokes lampooning previous events that eventually take on new meaning.

"There are very few cases where The Simpsons predicted something," Oakley detailed to The Hollywood Reporter back in 2020. "It's mainly just coincidence because the episodes are so old that history repeats itself. Most of these episodes are based on things that happened in the '60s, '70s, or '80s that we knew about." 

Season 33 of The Simpsons currently airs on Sunday nights.

What prediction has been most surprising to you? Let us know in the comments below!