Every now and again, something will happen in this world of ours that already happened in a different world. That would be the universe of The Simpsons, the iconic Fox sitcom that some consider the greatest television show of all time. On numerous occasions, we’ve shouted “The Simpsons did it!” to actual current events. The latest in a long line of creepy coincidences involves a classic Season 4 episode that somehow managed to predict the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of so-called “murder hornets” in one fell swoop.
After 31 seasons and well over 600 episodes, here are a few other times when The Simpsons predicted the future…
Every Time The Simpsons Predicted the Future
1. The Coronavirus and Murder Hornets (Season 4, Episode 21)
When did it happen in real life? December 2019 – who knows?
We’re used to The Simpsons predicting the future at this point, but perhaps not with this much specificity. The series somehow managed to predict the events of 2020 way back in 1993. The episode “Marge in Chains” features Springfield’s residents panicking over a dangerous new Asian superflu dubbed Osaka Flu. When an angry mob confronts Dr. Hibbert for a cure, he tells them anything he could offer “would only be a placebo.” So, naturally, the mob starts rioting looking for the placebo, which results in a truck full of killer bees being overturned. Even writer Bill Oakley had to admit the show called that one.
Dangerous new diseases, hysterical mobs, and deadly, stinging insects? That’s 2020 in a nutshell.
2. The Ending of Game of Thrones (Season 29, Episode 1)
When did it happen in real life? May 12, 2019
The Simpsons kicked off its 29th season with “The Serfsons,” a fantasy-themed episode where Springfield is re-imagined as a medieval dystopia. Naturally, the episode took some potshots at Game of Thrones and even featured a cameo from Jaime Lannister himself, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. But we really didn’t expect it to wind up predicting the climax of that HBO series two years ahead of time. “The Serfsons” features a scene where Homer accidentally sets a dragon loose and it begins torching the entire town, basically foreshadowing the destruction of King’s Landing in the shocking and controversial GoT episode “The Bells.”
3. Two Eerie Football Predictions (Season 26, Episode 16)
When did it happen in real life? July 13, 2014 & December 3, 2015
This 2014 episode managed to predict two completely separate world events, both connected to the glamorous world of football (no, not the American version). First, it accurately predicted Germany and Brazil would face off in the 2014 World Cup final. Maybe that’s small potatoes, considering both countries are famous for having great football teams. But even more impressive is that this episode managed to predict the 2015 FIFA corruption case, even going so far as to show the VP of the fictional “World Football Federation” being arrested by the feds.
4. Donald Trump Becomes President (Season 11, Episode 17)
When did it happen in real life? November 8, 2016
In the episode “Bart to the Future” we get a glimpse of a future wherein Lisa is President of the United States. And wouldn’t you know, there’s a joke about how Lisa’s tenure is being hampered by a budget crisis caused by President Trump. At the time, it seemed like a silly and ridiculous notion. We could all have a laugh at the idea of Donald Trump being President. Then… he was actually elected. Yeah.
5. Disney Buys Fox (Season 10, Episode 5)
When did it happen in real life? December 14, 2017
In “When You Dish Upon a Star” there’s a sign gag in the episode that features the 20th Century Fox logo with the words “A Division of Walt Disney Co.” slapped on it. Cut to 20 years later, and the Disney juggernaut has purchased Fox, which just so happens to be the company that produces The Simpsons. Here’s hoping that isn’t the only pop-culture prediction from this episode that comes true. We’d love to see Ron Howard direct a movie about a killer robot driving instructor whose best friend is a talking pie.
6. Siegfried & Roy’s Tiger Attack (Season 5, Episode 10)
When did this happen in real life? October 3, 2003
This one’s sad. In the world of The Simpsons, they have an analog to Siegfried & Roy called Gunter and Ernst. They’ve appeared infrequently, but one time Gunter was attacked by their white tiger, Anastasia. It was a harmless joke at the time, but a decade later fiction became reality when Roy Horn was attacked by Montecore, the tiger the real-life duo used in their act.
7. Homer Predicts the Mass of the Higgs Boson (Season 10, Episode 2)
When did this happen in real life? 2012
Homer Simpson is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He has, however, had brief moments of brilliance. For example, when he became an inventor he made an impressive scientific discovery 14 years before actual scientists managed to do it. According to Simon Singh, who wrote the book The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Homer’s prediction for the mass of the Higgs boson particle wasn’t that far off (775 giga-electron-volts compared to the actual 125 giga-electron-volts). Apparently that’s quite close. We’ll have to take Singh’s word for it.
8. The Simpsons Impacts the Design of the iPhone (Season 6, Episode 8)
When did it happen in real life? 2007 and beyond
Here’s a case of The Simpsons making a joke in the present that ended up resonating into the future. Dolph has an Apple Newton, an archaic PDA, that he tries to write “Beat up Martin” into. The Newton changes it to “Eat up Martha,” much to the chagrin of Springfield’s bullies. Apparently this moment was so impactful on Apple that it frequently referenced it when designing the keyboard for the iPhone. Of course, anybody who’s ever cursed autocorrect while texting knows that Apple did not quite achieve their goal.
9. A Real-Life Whacking Day (Season 4, Episode 20)
When did it happen in real life? 2013 and 2016
Whacking Day is a Springfield tradition where everybody drives snakes into the center of town to club them to death. Homer loves it, Lisa is against it, and in the end, it turns out that the whole thing started as an excuse to beat up the Irish. That wasn’t the case in Florida, one hopes. In 2013 and 2016, down in the Everglades, they sanctioned actual snake-whacking events in an attempt to curtail the presence of the Burmese python, an invasive species. They just called it the “Florida Python Challenge,” because they evidently lack the imagination of Springfield down in the Sunshine State.
10. Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish (Season 2, Episode 4)
When did it happen in real life? 2011
Blinky is one of the more-iconic images from the world of The Simpsons. The three-eyed fish was first found by Bart in the episode “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish,” where it’s strongly intimated the fish was mutated by the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Life imitated art when a three-eyed fish was found in a reservoir in Argentina in 2011. Yes, the reservoir was being fed water from a nuclear power station. Unlike Blinky, the real three-eyed fish is not a cutesy cartoon, but a terrifying nightmare.
11. Milhouse Predicts a Nobel Prize Winner (Season 22, Episode 1)
When did this happen in real life? October 10, 2016
It shouldn’t be surprising that Lisa, Milhouse, Martin, and Database had a Nobel Prize betting pool. This was in 2010, and Milhouse’s prediction for economics was Bengt R. Holmstrom. The whole storyline was just leading up to a gag about Krusty the Clown winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but there was a shrewd prediction slipped in. In 2016, Holmstrom did win the Nobel Prize in Economics alongside Oliver Hart. It may have been a few years late, but eventually, everything did indeed come up Milhouse.
12. A Lemon Tree Gets Stolen (Season 6, Episode 24)
When did this happen in real life? June 6, 2013
The adjoining cities of Springfield and Shelbyville have a longstanding rivalry stemming from the latter’s desire to keep cousin marriage legal. This rivalry once led to some kids from Shelbyville stealing Springfield’s lemon tree. Perhaps inspired by this episode, some monster stole a lemon tree out of a woman’s yard in Houston. Seriously, they ripped it right out of the ground and took off with it. The woman told local reporters that the thief must have been stupid, because they didn’t realize it was too late in the season to replant the tree. Yeah, stupid like a fox.
13. The Simpsons Invent FaceTime (Season 6, Episode 19)
When did this happen in real life? June 24, 2010
And finally, while Star Trek gets a lot of credit for predicting future technology, The Simpsons holds its own as well. For example, in “Lisa’s Wedding” Marge and daughter have a video conversation on their “picture phone.” It’s a technology that is strikingly similar to FaceTime.
Nor is this the only piece of 21st Century technology foreshadowed in “Lisa’s Wedding.” That episode also features characters wearing smartwatches, while the futuristic London skyline features a fictional skyscraper that looks an awful lot like The Shard (which didn’t even begin construction until 2009).
Of course, in that episode Lisa’s fiancé Hugh Parkfield mentions how Britain saved the United States in World War III. Here’s hoping that’s a prediction from that episode that doesn’t come to pass…
And there you have it, a bunch of times The Simpsons eerily got a future event right. What other times did The Simpsons see the future? Let’s discuss in the comments!