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With over five hundred episodes and a full-length feature film under its belt, The Simpsons has changed the face of the world forever. Award-winning and critically acclaimed, the program delivers solid messages about family, society, and the environment. The series, steeped in irreverence, enjoys a far more colorful history and has had a greater impact on the world than most television shows. The Simpsons has given us phrases such as "D'oh!" and "Meh," which have become a part of everyday language for many people. Enormously influential towards many other animated and live-action prime time programs, the television show is the longest-running sitcom of all time.



The Simpson family, who reside in the fictional American community of Springfield, include Homer, a father who gives bad advice and works as the safety inspector at the local power plant; Marge, a loving mother and wife who tries to keep peace in the family; Bart, a hell-raising 10-year-old; Lisa, a philosophical 8-year-old who loves to play the saxophone; and Maggie, the baby, who communicates by sucking her pacifier.

The family owns a dog, Santa's Little Helper, and a cat, Snowball II. Despite the passing of yearly milestones such as holidays and birthdays, the Simpsons do not physically age. Springfield itself is filled with many unique characters including relatives, co-workers, friends, teachers, townspeople, and local celebrities.





James L. Brooks, Simpsons executive producer, writer, and creative consultant
In need of filler material for Fox Broadcasting Company's "The Tracey Ullman Show", Pauly Platt, a fan of Matt Groening's "Life in Hell" comic strip, suggested that Groening be brought in to work on the program. The Simpson family was created in less than fifteen minutes while Groening waited in the foyer to James L. Brooks' office. He named the characters after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name. The show first appeared on April 19th, 1987 as a series of thirty second spots. Groening submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the drawings would be cleaned-up in production. However, the animators only re-traced his drawings, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in these shorts.



Screen capture from 1989's pilot episode, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"
Response to the Ullman shorts was so positive that in 1989 work began on adapting The Simpsons into a half-hour series for Fox. Brooks negotiated a provision in the contract with Fox that prevented the station from interfering with the show's content. Groening has said that his goal in creating the series was to offer the audience an alternative to "the mainstream trash" that they were watching on television. The Simpsons was originally set to debut in the fall of 1989 with the episode "Some Enchanted Evening". However, during the first screening of the episode, the producers discovered that the animation was so horrible that most of the episode needed to be redone. The producers actually considered aborting the series if the next episode, "Bart the Genius", turned out just as bad, but it only suffered from minor problems. The producers convinced Fox to move the debut to December 17th, 1989, and aired "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" as the series' pilot episode. The show then premiered as a regular series on January 14th, 1990. The Simpsons would go on to become Fox's first television series to rank among a season's top 30 highest-rated shows.



A 1990 Topps sticker featuring Bart
The show was controversial from the very beginning. Many parents and conservatives characterized the rebellious Bart as a poor role model for children. Simpsons merchandise and t-shirts were banned in several United States public schools. In October 1990, U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush called The Simpsons "the dumbest thing [she] had ever seen." In January 1992, U.S. President George H. W. Bush made a speech in which he said: "We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons." The Simpsons' writers rushed out a reply which aired three days later before a re-run of "Stark Raving Dad" in which Bart stated "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're praying for an end to the Depression, too."

Due to the new show's success, Fox decided in 1990 to change The Simpsons' time slot. The station moved the show from 8 PM on Sunday night to 8 PM on Thursday night where it would compete against NBC's top-rated "Cosby Show". The Simpsons' producers were against the move because the show had been in the top 10 while airing on Sunday and they felt that the move would badly hurt its ratings. "The Cosby Show" beat The Simpsons every time during the 2nd season and The Simpsons indeed fell out of the top 10. It would not be until 1992's "Homer at the Bat" episode that The Simpsons would finally beat "The Cosby Show" in the ratings. The show remained on Thursday night until Season 6, when it was moved back to Sunday night.





Matt Groening, Simpsons creator, writer, executive producer, and creative consultant
Groening and Brooks have served as executive producers during the show's entire history, and are also creative consultants. Sam Simon, who was a creative supervisor for the first four seasons, also receives an executive producer credit despite not having worked on the series since 1993. The Simpsons' show runner acts as head writer and supervises the show's production for at least an entire season. Show runners in past years include Groening, Brooks, and Simon (Seasons 1-2), Al Jean and Mike Reiss (Seasons 3-4), David Mirkin (Seasons 5-6), Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (Seasons 7-8), and Mike Scully (Seasons 9-12). Al Jean resumed show runner duties in Season 13 and has held the position ever since.

The show's writing team consists of sixteen writers who propose episode ideas each December. The main writer of each episode pens the first draft. Group re-writing sessions develop final scripts by adding or removing jokes, inserting scenes, and calling for re-readings of lines by the show’s voice actors. The leader of the group sessions is George Meyer, who has developed the show since the first season. Each episode takes approximately six months to produce from beginning to end. Credited with sixty episodes, John Swartzwelder is the most prolific writer on The Simpsons' staff. One of the best-known former writers is Conan O'Brien, who contributed to several episodes in the early 1990s before departing.



Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum, Nelson Muntz, and others
The Simpsons has six main voice actors. Dan Castellaneta performs Homer, Grampa, Krusty, Barney and other male characters. Julie Kavner speaks the voices of Marge, Patty, and Selma, as well as several minor characters. Nancy Cartwright performs the voices of Bart, Ralph, Nelson, and other children. Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa, is the only cast member who regularly voices only one character. There are two actors who do not voice members of the family but play a majority of the male townspeople; Hank Azaria voices recurring characters such as Moe, Chief Wiggum, and Apu, and Harry Shearer provides voices for Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, and Ned Flanders, among others. Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Marcia Wallace, Maggie Roswell, and Russi Taylor voice the many other supporting characters. Guest stars with frequent roles include Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob), Joe Mantegna (Fat Tony), Phil Hartman (Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz), Jon Lovitz (Artie Ziff), and Albert Brooks (Hank Scorpio).

Seasons 1, 2, and 3 were animated by Klasky-Csupo, who also worked on the Ullman shorts. In 1992, the show's production company, Gracie Films, switched domestic production to Film Roman, who continues to animate the show to this day. Additional animation is done overseas in South Korea by AKOM, Rough Draft Studios, and Anivision. In 2002, production switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint.

Simpsons episodes began to be broadcast in high-definition with the premiere of "Take My Life, Please" on February 15th, 2009. The title sequence of the show was also redone in HD - the first full, permanent revamp of The Simpsons' opening titles since its premiere in 1989.





Playmates Toys' successful line of Simpsons action figures
The series has spawned an abundance of merchandise bearing the likenesses of Groening's creations. In the early 1990s, one would have to look far and wide to find a place where there was not a Simpsons mug, beach towel, t-shirt, board game, watch, puzzle, or backpack with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie proudly telling the world that the owner is a Simpsons fan.

Collections of original music featured in the TV series have been released on the albums "Songs in the Key of Springfield" and "Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons". Several songs have been recorded with the purpose of a single or album release. The best known single is "Do the Bartman", which was co-written by Michael Jackson and became an international success. By 1996, among entertainment properties, total sales of Simpsons merchandise worldwide was second only to "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".

After an oversaturation of Simpsons merchandise on the market in the early 1990s, starting in 2000 Fox attempted to revive production of items featuring OFF. Several lines of Simpsons action figures by Playmates Toys hit store shelves, a few Simpsons video games such as "The Simpsons Road Rage" and "The Simpsons: Hit & Run" were released, and Simpsons episode collections began to be released on DVD. The Season One DVD is the second best selling television DVD of all time, behind the first season of "Chappelle's Show".



The Simpsons has been honored with numerous Emmy Awards, Annie Awards, Genesis Awards, a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Musical or Comedy" in 2002, and many more accolades. The show has been nominated for the "Outstanding Animated Program" Emmy every year except 1993 and 1994. In 1996, The Simpsons became the first animated series to win a Peabody Award, and won it "for providing exceptional animation and stinging social satire, both commodities which are in extremely short supply in television today." 2007's The Simpsons Movie was nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe.



The Simpsons receive their star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame, January 14th, 2000
On January 14th, 2000, The Simpsons received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard. Also in 2000, Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker named The Simpsons the greatest television show of the 1990s. In 2002, the series ranked #8 on TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" and in 2007 it was included in Time Magazine's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time". Furthermore, in 2008 the show ranked #1 on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 100 Shows of the Past 25 Years" and Empire Magazine named The Simpsons the greatest TV show of all time.

In February 1997, The Simpsons surpassed "The Flintstones" as the longest-running prime-time animated show in the United States. In 2004, the series replaced "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (1952 to 1966) as the longest-running American sitcom. In 2009, The Simpsons surpassed "Gunsmoke" as America's longest-running scripted TV series in prime-time. Lastly, on February 19th, 2012, The Simpsons aired its 500th episode.



In 1999, Time Magazine named The Simpsons the best TV show of the 20th century, and with good reason. The series has transformed the way the television industry and audiences perceive animation and comedy in general. Evidenced by the proliferation and success of new animated series which appeal to adults, The Simpsons has become the standard against which all others are measured. It's safe to say that without the show there would never have been a "South Park" or a "Family Guy." Many people claim that the Fox network itself would not exist today if it weren't for OFF. In the meantime, new episodes of the series continue to receive strong ratings on Fox, 2007's long-anticipated Simpsons Movie was both a critical and financial success, and the future of the world's favorite yellow family remains bright. Who says that all good things must come to an end?