As the FXX Network continues to air every episode of The Simpsons ever made (that’s a total of 25 seasons and over 550 episodes, in case you were wondering), here is a collection of hidden surprises, inside jokes, and other “Easter eggs” to look for as the marathon rolls on.
1. Principle Skinner is actually Jean Valjean from Les Miserables.
In season five, Principle Skinner’s Vietnam War POW number is revealed to be 24601, which is the exactly the same as Jean Valjean’s prisoner number. And four years later, viewers learn that Principle Skinner was actually a former criminal who, just like Jean Valjean, stole another man’s identity and then became an upstanding member of society, during the episode “The Principle and the Pauper.”
2. The writers are “math geeks” – and it shows.
The writers for The Simpsons are more than just funny — several of them are actually math whizzes, which has led to a number of complex math jokes being inserted into the popular series. For example, in Season 10’s “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace,” Homer very nearly successfully disproves Fermat’s last theorem.
3. Matt Groening’s signature is all over Homer’s head.
The initials of The Simpsons co-creator Matt Groening is clearly seen on the side of Homer’s head…Homer Simpson’s lone hair makes the M while his ear is clearly the G. This was actually toned down in later years, but is still evident today, even if not quite as clear as in the earlier seasons.
4. Maggie’s scanner price in the opening credits is deliberate.
In the original opening credits of The Simpsons, when baby Maggie is scanned at the grocery store check-out, her price pops up as $847.63. At that time, that was the average amount it cost to have a baby per month in the U.S.
5. Divine Hands
All characters in The Simpsons have four fingers on each hand… except for God and Jesus.
6. There is a hidden McBain movie in The Simpsons.
Rainier Wolfcastle is the Arnold Schwartzennegger-type action star who has been on The Simpsons since the second season. He often plays a character named McBain, a hardcore detective action hero. Intermittant clips of McBain can be seen when the Simpsons engage in their favorite past time — watching TV. If those clips, only a few seconds long at a time, are pieced together, they actually form an entire McBain movie, with a structured narrative.
7. Need a recipe for lentil soup? The Simpsons have you covered.
The season seven episode “Lisa the Vegetarian” featured a cameo with Paul McCartney, who, at one point, says, “In fact, if you play ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ backwards, you’ll find a recipe for a ripping lentil soup.” And, of course, with The Simpsons being the type of show that it is, if the version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” that’s featured in the closing credits is played backwards, Paul McCartney can be clearly heard in the background, quietly reading a recipe for lentil soup.
8. Where’s Waldo? Apparently in Springfield!
The Where’s Waldo books appear frequently in The Simpsons. Homer usually grows incredibly frustrated when trying to actually find Waldo. But Waldo himself makes several real-life appearances on the show. He shows up in the sixth season, in the episode “Bart’s Comet.” Waldo squeezes into Flanders’ bomb shelter with the rest on Springfield. He appears in a later episode, as well… Homer is avidly searching for Waldo on the side of a cereal box while Waldo himself walks casually by the window.
9. Frink rules!
In one of the “Treehouse of Horror” segments (which will also be aired during The Simpsons marathon), Homer finds himself in an alternate universe where he is rendered in 3D. There are a number of objects that fly around during this segment, including a hexadecimal sequence that reads as 46 72 69 6E 6B 20 72 75 6C 65 73 21. Translated into the American Standard Code for Information Exchange (ASCII), those numbers read “Frink rules!”
Frink is a recurring character on The Simpsons — a genius scientist with an IQ of 197, and very popular with viewers. This Easter egg was probably intended for hardcore Frink fans who may share some of his more intellectual interests.
10. The First Church of Springfield sign is always changing and always funny.
Much like whatever lesson Bart Simpson writes on the chalkboard during the opening credits, the sign outside the First Church of Springfield always changes and always lends a bit of humor… if you are quick enough to read it!
There are plenty more instances of hidden Easter eggs and long-running jokes in the 25 seasons The Simpsons have aired. What is surprising, however, is how smart many of these jokes are, considering the show “stars” Homer, who is anything but intelligent! Then again, many of the writers are actually Harvard graduates… which is why you see so many disparaging jokes about Yale and Princeton.
[Images via Mental Floss, What Culture and The Guardian]