21 times “The Simpsons” predicted the future

From legal pot in Canada to the Trump presidency, "The Simpsons" has a track record of being TV seers.

<p>Fox/Disney+</p>  Homer and Marge laying in bed with virtual reality glasses in the season 28 episode

Fox/Disney+

Homer and Marge laying in bed with virtual reality glasses in the season 28 episode 'Friends and Family'

Throughout 35 seasons — with more to comeThe Simpsons has served up hundreds of thousands of jokes. More than a few of those gags have paid off in real life by turning out to be eerily (or at least semi-) prophetic, seemingly staring into a crystal ball.

Maybe it's an odds game: Relentlessly parody pop culture over many decades, and maybe you'll stumble onto a combination of topics that correctly foresees the future just by chance. Green Day plays a concert on a barge and sinks. The Rolling Stones start a rock & roll fantasy camp. David Hasselhoff becomes mind-controlled by aliens at Oktoberfest. Keep combining and, at some point, you land on Lady Gaga flying over an audience on cables or a President Donald Trump.

Whether it's luck or uncanny foresight, here are 21 times The Simpsons predicted the future.

Hairy situation

FOX Mr. Burns (right) benching Don Mattingly in 'Homer at the Bat'
FOX Mr. Burns (right) benching Don Mattingly in 'Homer at the Bat'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 1992 episode "Homer at the Bat," then-Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly (voiced by himself) — who was recruited to the nuclear plant's all-star softball team — was benched by the ruthless Mr. Burns (Harry Shearer) because of his sideburns.

What happened in real life: Six months before the episode aired, ruthless Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ordered the team's manager to not play anyone who didn't adhere to his clean-cut policy — and Mattingly was benched for not trimming his hair. Even though the episode appeared to be winking at what happened to the baseball legend, Mattingly recorded his Simpsons role a month before his real-life benching occurred.

Hip-hop meets the symphony

<p>20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection</p> Clockwise from left: Sen-Dog, B-Real, Deejay Muggs and Homer Simspon in 'Homerpalooza'

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

Clockwise from left: Sen-Dog, B-Real, Deejay Muggs and Homer Simspon in 'Homerpalooza'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 1996 episode "Homerpalooza," Homer joins the titular musical festival as a sideshow "freak" for his unusual ability to take cannonballs to the stomach. Touring with him is the hip-hop group Cypress Hill, who accidentally orders the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) to perform "Insane in the Brain" and other hits for their set.

What happened in real life: Fast forward to July 2024, Cypress Hill fulfilled the prophecy by joining the LSO for a one-night concert of their 1993 album, Black Sunday, at the Royal Albert Hall. "We’ve played a lot of historical venues throughout our career and stuff like that, but nothing as prestigious as this," Louis "B-Real" Freese told BBC. "We salute The Simpsons because if they had not written that episode, we probably wouldn't be doing this." Plus, the bandmates even extended an invitation to Peter Frampton — who originally tried to book the LSO for his act in "Homerpalooza" — though they never got a response.

Virtual vision

<p>Fox/Disney+</p> Mr. Burns using virtual reality glasses in 'Friends and Family'

Fox/Disney+

Mr. Burns using virtual reality glasses in 'Friends and Family'

What happened on The Simpsons: In this 2016 episode "Friends and Family," Mr. Burns and his assistant Smithers (Harry Shearer) run into Professor Fink (Hank Azaria), who's wearing virtual reality glasses. Intrigued, Mr. Burns takes the VR tech home and attempts to program a virtual family — hiring the Simpsons (sans Homer) as his guinea pigs. Jump to a few years later, and most Springfieldians are now attached to their virtual reality glasses, living their lives through digital lenses 24/7.

What then happened in real life: On Feb. 2, 2024, Apple released their latest cutting-edge creation: the Apple Vision Pro, a mixed-reality headset where digital media merges with the world in front of you. While we may not see everyone sporting these headsets just yet, there are already testimonies of people incorporating the device into their daily routines.

Super Bowled over

Fox Homer and Lisa watching football in 'Lisa the Greek'
Fox Homer and Lisa watching football in 'Lisa the Greek'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 1992 episode "Lisa the Greek," Homer (Dan Castellaneta) exploits Lisa's (Yeardley Smith) uncanny ability to predict the outcomes of NFL games. When she discovers what he's up to, she is so upset that she's only able to make this Super Bowl prediction: Washington will win if she still loves her dad, and the Buffalo Bills will prevail if she no longer does. Not surprisingly, Washington wins.

What happened in real life: A few days after the episode aired, Washington defeated Buffalo in Super Bowl VXVI. The following year, Fox aired a repeat of the episode just days before Super Bowl XXVII, and it was redubbed with an update of the two competing teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Bills, with Dallas replacing Washington in the equation. (Dallas defeated Buffalo.) The Simpsons went for the three-peat the next year, when those two teams returned to the big game, tweaking a few lines to reflect the rematch. Once again, Dallas bested Buffalo. Since then, the episode has been redubbed a few times and shown before the Super Bowl — and has been right most of the time.

Tiger trauma

FOX Ernst being attacked by a white tiger in '$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)'
FOX Ernst being attacked by a white tiger in '$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 1993 episode "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)," the Springfield equivalent of magicians Siegfried & Roy are attacked by a white Bengal tiger during one of their shows.

What happened in real life: In 2003, Roy Horn was attacked by a white Bengal tiger during a Siegfried & Roy show, leaving him partially paralyzed and ending the long-running act.

Grease grifters

FOX Homer and Bart stealing grease from Krusty Burger in 'Lard of the Dance'
FOX Homer and Bart stealing grease from Krusty Burger in 'Lard of the Dance'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 1998 episode "Lard of the Dance," Homer recruits Bart (Nancy Cartwright) to help him make money by stealing grease; they try to steal grease from Krusty Burger, as well as from Bart's school.

What happened in real life: The rising price of oil created a black market for grease, and as noted in a 2008 New York Times article, restaurant grease thefts have spiked; the article opened with the story of a man who stole 300 gallons of grease from a Burger King.

Future phone

FOX Lisa (right) talking to Marge on Picture Phone in 'Lisa's Wedding'
FOX Lisa (right) talking to Marge on Picture Phone in 'Lisa's Wedding'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 1995 episode "Lisa's Wedding," a visit to a fortune teller transports Lisa to 2010, when she's talking to Marge (Julie Kavner) via her phone's video chat feature, called Picture Phone.

What happened in real life: Yes, other Hollywood depictions of the future had predicted similar technology over the years, but guess what year Apple overlord Steve Jobs announced the breakthrough videotelephony product known as FaceTime? 2010.

Future formula

FOX Homer solving an equation in 'The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace'
FOX Homer solving an equation in 'The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace'

What happened on The Simpsons: The 1998 episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" shows aspiring inventor Homer standing next to a chalkboard that boasted a massive equation.

What happened in real life: The equation on the chalkboard was impressively close to predicting the mass of the Higgs boson, a.k.a. the God Particle, when it was discovered in 2012. "If you work it out, you get the mass of a Higgs boson that's only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is," Simon Singh — author of the 2013 book The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets — told The Independent in March 2015. "It's kind of amazing as Homer makes this prediction 14 years before it was discovered." (For the record, Simpsons writer-producer David X. Cohen — who has a physics degree from Harvard and a computer science degree from Berkeley — asked his friend David Schiminovich, an astrophysics professor at Columbia, to write the equation.)

Pandemic mayhem

<p>Fox/Disney+</p> Kent Brockman reporting about the Osaka Flu in 'Marge in Chains'

Fox/Disney+

Kent Brockman reporting about the Osaka Flu in 'Marge in Chains'

What happened on The Simpsons: Airing in 1993, this season 4 episode "Marge in Chains" sees Springfield's citizens infected by a germ-infested Juice Looseners package from Osaka, Japan, resulting in an outbreak of the "Osaka Flu." As the townspeople clamor for a cure, a mob outside the hospital topples a truck they believe to contain a placebo antidote — only to unleash crates of killer bees.

What then happened in real life: In 2020, the world faced the global pandemic of COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, which originated in Wuhan, China. And in the U.S., there were multiple sightings of the extremely deadly Asian giant hornets. During this period, this Simpsons episode circulated on social media (tampered by a few digital modifications), with various media outlets surmising the series to have predicted these events. However, episode writer Bill Oakley clarified to The Hollywood Reporter that the Osaka Flu was inspired by the 1968 Hong Kong Flu.

Obama drama

FOX Homer using an electronic voting machine in 'Treehouse of Horror XIX'
FOX Homer using an electronic voting machine in 'Treehouse of Horror XIX'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2008 episode "Treehouse of Horror XIX," which aired prior to that year's presidential election, Homer attempts to vote for Barack Obama on an electronic voting machine, but the machine registers his vote for John McCain. Six times, actually.

What happened in real life: In 2012, news outlets including MSNBC reported that an electronic voting machine was revealed to be swapping votes from Obama to the then-Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Spies like U.S.

FOX The NSA listening to conversations in America in 'The Simpsons Movie' (2007)
FOX The NSA listening to conversations in America in 'The Simpsons Movie' (2007)

What happened on The Simpsons: In 2007's The Simpsons Movie, the family is on the run, and Marge assures Lisa on a train, "It's not like the government is listening to everybody's conversation." The NSA is then shown to be operating a massive surveillance operation with endless rows of agents at their monitors, listening to all of America's conversations, including the one between Lisa and Marge.

What happened in real life: In 2013, as first reported by The Guardian, former CIA employee Edward Snowden leaked classified information from the NSA about the organization's global surveillance programs, which were much more far-reaching than had been reported.

The sport of corruption

FOX Executive VP of World Football Federation (right) getting arrested in 'You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee'
FOX Executive VP of World Football Federation (right) getting arrested in 'You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee'

What happened on The Simpsons: The 2014 episode "You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee" mocked corruption inside FIFA — Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governing body for international soccer — and culminated with the executive VP of the FIFA-like World Football Federation getting arrested for corruption.

What happened in real life: In 2015, an FBI/IRS investigation resulted in the arrests of high-level FIFA officials and associates for wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering. Between two indictments that year, 30 FIFA officials were indicted, and eventually, 27 pleaded guilty.

Greece frightening

FOX Homer (right) talking to newscasters in 'Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson'
FOX Homer (right) talking to newscasters in 'Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2012 episode "Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson," Homer is a guest pundit on a cable news show. On the ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen, the news alert reads: "Europe puts Greece on eBay."

What then happened in real life: Greece — having received bailout loans in 2010 and 2012, so there was a basis for this joke — defaulted on a third bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2015. It became the first more economically developed country not to be able to make a payment on an IMF loan, leading stock markets to tumble amidst fears of Greece exiting the Eurozone.

Underwater disaster

<p>Fox/Disney+</p> Homer in an underwater submersible in 'Homer's Paternity Coot'

Fox/Disney+

Homer in an underwater submersible in 'Homer's Paternity Coot'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2006 episode "Homer's Paternity Coot," Homer discovers his biological father, Mason Fairbanks (Michael York), who introduces him to the legend of a lost emerald treasure in the ship wreckage of Piso Mojado. As they search for the jewels via submarines, Homer becomes separated from Mason, getting stuck in a barrier reef and losing oxygen in the underwater vehicle.

What then happened in real life: On June 18, 2023, five tourists hopped aboard OceanGate's Titan submarine to explore the Titanic wreckage in the Atlantic Ocean. With the craft's communications failing within the first two hours, the submersible imploded upon descent, resulting in their instantaneous deaths. Interestingly enough, one of The Simpsons writers told the U.S. Sun that he made the dive with OceanGate three times, saying: "Every time, communication was an issue."

First Prize

FOX Martin showing the betting pool for Nobel Prize winners in 'Elementary School Musical'
FOX Martin showing the betting pool for Nobel Prize winners in 'Elementary School Musical'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2010 episode "Elementary School Musical," Martin shows the four-person betting pool on the Nobel Prize, and Milhouse predicted that Finnish MIT economics professor Bengt Holmstrom would win in his field, while Database bets on Dutch synthetic organic chemist Ben Feringa winning in chemistry.

What happened in real life: Neither won that year, but both Holmstrom and Feringa won their first Nobel Prize in 2016.

A jump on Trump

FOX Lisa in the Oval Office in 'Bart to the Future'
FOX Lisa in the Oval Office in 'Bart to the Future'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2000 episode "Bart to the Future," a peek into the future showed Lisa Simpson as President of the United States, telling her staff, "As you know, we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump," before she is told by Secretary of State Milhouse Van Houten that America is broke.

What then happened in real life: In 2016, Trump was elected president. Three years into his term, America wasn't broke, but the stock market did experience some of its biggest single-day losses during the coronavirus pandemic. (And to be fair, he had considered runs for POTUS back when the episode was written.)

Fated Gaga

FOX Lady Gaga flying over a crowd in 'Lisa Goes Gaga'
FOX Lady Gaga flying over a crowd in 'Lisa Goes Gaga'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2012 episode "Lisa Goes Gaga," Lady Gaga flies over the audience whilst attached to cables.

What happened in real life: At the 2017 Super Bowl, a cabled Gaga made her halftime show entrance by descending from the stadium's roof (minus the sparkler-shooting brassiere). At the time, her set was the most-watched musical performance in Super Bowl history.

Merger mania

FOX A giant sign of 20th Century Fox in 'When You Dish Upon a Star'
FOX A giant sign of 20th Century Fox in 'When You Dish Upon a Star'

What happened on The Simpsons: The 1998 episode "When You Dish Upon a Star" featured Homer becoming the personal assistant to Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. More importantly, it offered up a small gag at the end of the episode that 20th Century Fox was now "a division of Walt Disney Co.," according to the giant sign out front of the studio.

What happened in real life: In 2017, Disney reached terms to purchase 21st Century Fox — which includes 20th Century Fox Film and Television studios — for $52 billion. The acquisition was completed in 2019.

Belated Beatles

<p>Fox/Disney+</p> Ringo Starr reading fanmail in 'Brush With Greatness'

Fox/Disney+

Ringo Starr reading fanmail in 'Brush With Greatness'

What happened on The Simpsons: The season 2 episode "Brush With Greatness" explores Marge's artistic past. In the Simpsons' attic, Bart finds her old paintings of the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr (voiced by Starr himself), and Marge reveals she once sent him a portrait for his judgment but never received a response. Encouraged by Lisa, Marge enrolls in a painting class at Springfield Community College and ends up winning the college art show. But just as she's about to give up painting again, an encouraging letter from Ringo finally arrives, reigniting her passion.

What then happened in real life: Though not Starr, another Beatles member made a similar gesture. In May 2024, singer-songwriter and bass guitarist Paul McCartney responded to a woman from Brooklyn named Adrienne, who proclaimed her love for him in a video street interview from 60 years prior. "Hey, Adrienne. Listen, it's Paul. I saw your video," he said in a video shared on TikTok and Instagram. "I'm in Brooklyn now. I'm in New York. I finally got here. We got an exhibition, a photo exhibition. Come along and see it." This followed a previous instance where he replied to two women from Essex who had sent him a mixtape five decades earlier.

Olympic glory

20th Century Fox Marge and Homer winning gold medals in 'Boy Meets Curl'
20th Century Fox Marge and Homer winning gold medals in 'Boy Meets Curl'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2010 episode "Boy Meets Curl," Homer and Marge form a mixed curling team and against all odds, win the gold medal, with Sweden claiming the silver.

What then happened in real life: At the 2018 Winter Olympics, the U.S. men's curling team pulled off an improbable comeback and claimed the gold medal, with Sweden winning the silver. To be fair, the U.S. team won a bronze at the 2006 Games, and when the prediction was made, curling had only been back in the Olympics since 1998.

Reefer madness

FOX Homer (left) watching Ned Flanders being offered Canadian pot in 'Midnight Rx'
FOX Homer (left) watching Ned Flanders being offered Canadian pot in 'Midnight Rx'

What happened on The Simpsons: In the 2005 episode "Midnight Rx," Homer, Ned (Harry Shearer), Apu (Hank Azaria), and Grampa Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) visit Canada, where Ned, who is offered some "reeferino," is surprised to learn that pot is legal in Canada.

What then happened in real life: In 2018, Canada legalized recreational marijuana. Okily tokily!

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