“The Simpsons” is America’s longest-running animated series, having just aired episode 514 this past Sunday. Each episode is written, then shipped off to several different studios internationally to be produced and sent back. So it goes without saying that there are countless mistakes in the show’s animation, such as colors changing and objects appearing and disappearing. But those are bound to occur in any animated series. The continuity we are referring to in this piece has to do with the stories themselves. Obviously, in a show where characters are supposed to be perpetually the same age for years, continuity can only go so far, and could even affect the show negatively if followed too strictly. But just for laughs, here is our list of the show’s biggest continuity offenders.
The Simpsons’ Address
Yes, ask most fans of the show where the Simpsons live, and they will surely blurt out “742 Evergreen Terrace.” But in the earlier seasons, their address varied from episode to episode, but almost always still resided on Evergreen Terrace (with 430 Spalding Way in the “Kamp Krusty” episode being the exception). In another early episode entitled “Homer’s Triple Bypass,” 742 Evergreen Terrace doesn’t belong to the Simpsons, but local jailbird, Snake (watch on hulu).
The Age Issue
Bart Simpson is always 10 years old, even if it's his birthday in an episode. It’s the same with Lisa, as she is always 8. However, several other characters ages have ranged throughout the seasons, with Maggie Simpson being anywhere from 1 to 2 years old, and Homer and Marge being anywhere from 36 to 40. Grandpa Simpson’s age has always fluctuated, though it was once revealed that he is over 80. Mr. Burns has been specifically stated as being both 81 and 104 in different episodes, though it has also been implied that he may be anywhere from 118 to 123. Those are just a few of many examples.
Via flashback, the series has shown Homer going bald in a variety of ways. Most recently in an episode entitled “Homer Scissorhands,” it was revealed that Homer began losing his hair in high school, perhaps from loving and brushing it too much. A previous episode entitled “And Maggie Makes Three” showed him pulling out more and more of his hair each time Marge told him she was pregnant. And before this, in the episode “Marge on the Lam,” it was revealed that Homer once volunteered for an army experiment just to get out of dinner with his sisters-in-law. The experiment involved being injected with a serum that would cause hair loss, along with giddiness and the loss of equilibrium to boot. Oh, that Homer.
Righty, Not So Tighty
This one’s really not that big of a deal, but dammit, it’s canon! Ned Flanders opens up a left-handed store in the episode “When Flanders Failed.” But he has been seen doing things predominantly right-handed before. The same goes for other supposed lefties in the town, including Bart Simpson, Principal Skinner, Moe and Mr. Burns.
Bart has been revealed to have a number of allergies over the years, including ones to butterscotch, imitation butterscotch, glow-in-the-dark monster makeup and shrimp. You would think, then, that these allergies would be avoided as one-off jokes in later episodes. But alas, this does not seem to be the case. In the episode “The Frying Game,” Bart claims to have eaten “so much shrimp. ” In “A Milhouse Divided,” Marge tells Bart that due to him only having three cavities at the dentist (his best checkup ever), she is going to make him her specialty dish: butterscotch chicken.
Santa’s Little Helper
Nitpicky? Sure. But that’s what a good list is all about. In the pilot episode entitled “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” we are introduced to the Simpsons’ beloved dog, Santa’s Little Helper. However, in the later episode “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” (which is a flashback episode), we see Santa’s Little Helper burying something in the backyard. This was long before they ever owned him.
This one has countless examples, seeing as how Homer has been fired from his job at the nuclear plant so many times that … well, we’d say it’s not even funny, but it actually is. However, most times it is never shown how Homer gets his job back. It seems to just show up when the story needs it again. The best exchange on the matter comes from the episode “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily,” where Bart catches Homer secretly videotaping his neighbor, Ned Flanders, who recently lost his wife, Maude.
Bart: Why are you taping Flanders, dad?
Homer: You’ll see.
Bart: Do you even have a job anymore?
Homer: I think it’s pretty obvious that I don’t.
Dr. Nick Riviera: Dead?
Speaking of dead Maude Flanders, she is one of the rare instances where the show has killed off a character for good. What made this death stick is the fact that we saw it happen. And this show, unlike "South Park" or "Family Guy," doesn’t mysteriously revive characters after they have been killed. Or so we thought — until “The Simpsons Movie,” where Dr. Nick Riviera is seen getting impaled by a giant glass shard near the end of the film. He did not appear on the show again until the episode “Lost Verizon,” where his sudden revival was never even touched on. According to executive producers James L. Brooks and Al Jean, the character only fainted, and didn’t die, in the film. Another famously dead character, Dr. Marvin Monroe, was also mysteriously revived in the episode “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife.” But, why?
In an episode titled “Days of Wine and D’oh’ses,” the show’s local drunk, Barney Gumble, finally gets himself off the hooch. This was (presumably) just for this episode, as Moe the Bartender seemingly tricks Barney back into drinking at the end (but apparently Barney just became addicted to lattes). In any case, Barney remained sober for several seasons until he was seen relapsed on the side of the road in the episode “I’m Spelling as Fast as I Can.” Since then, he tends to vary from drunk to sober every time we see him, but appears as “drunk Barney” in the opening theme song.
“That ‘90s Show” Episode
This, to many a Simpsons fan, is considered one of the worst alterations of continuity the show has ever produced. Sure, once you cool off from your initial rage, it’s not the worst episode ever, but it does alter the past of the show with a new story that is not nearly as endearing. Without going into too much detail, the plot claims that Homer and Marge didn’t get married right out of high school or have Bart as quickly, either. Instead, Marge went to college on Homer’s dime and fell for her instructor, leaving Homer. Homer, distraught, then started the grunge music movement with his band, Sadgasm, until Marge realized she had made a huge mistake and went back to him. It’s best to think of this episode as either a prequel to the classic episode “I Married Marge,” or to forget it entirely.
Ethnicity and Hair Color
We said we wouldn’t point out mistakes in color, but these cases deserve a mention. Characters such as Waylon Smithers, Hans Moleman, Judge Snyder (referred to in “Bart Gets Hit By A Car” as Judge Moulton) and twins Sherri and Terri have all been depicted as having different skin colors at certain times (usually the earlier episodes). In that same ballpark, both Chief Wiggum and Moe the Bartender had black hair early in the series, but have since changed to blue and gray respectively.
Next: Hilariously Bad Simpsons Drawings
Ralph Wiggum’s Voice
We are clearly just taking it too far on purpose at this point, but listen to Ralph in this clip below from “Lisa’s Pony.” Our work here is done.