1 9 8 9 – Current (USA)
The Simpsons made its debut as 60-second animated bumpers for The Tracey Ullman Show, with the first short airing on 19 April 1987.
The shorts were then expanded into a full-length 30-minute television spin-off by 20th Century Fox, first airing on 17 December 1989.
In the (fictional) town of Springfield, Homer Simpson works as a safety inspector at the nuclear power plant. Homer is a lazy, balding slob of a man – and none too bright – who spends his spare time guzzling beer at Moe’s Tavern and bowling at Barney’s New Bowlerama.
Marge is his wife, the family peacemaker and a gentle, caring woman with an enormous blue beehive hairdo held together by a single bobby pin.
Their children are trouble-maker and underachiever Bart, an obnoxious misfit with spiked hair who masks his intelligence with sarcasm; ultra-smart saxophone-playing feminist, Lisa; and baby Maggie who never talks and always has a dummy (pacifier).
In addition to the central family, The Simpsons has a huge cast of semi-regular and recurring characters – family, friends, coworkers, city officials, and local personalities.
Among the most popular are Homer’s father, Abraham, who lives at the retirement home; Marge’s twin older sisters, Patty and Selma; their next-door neighbours the Flanders; Mr Burns, Homer’s despicable boss; Moe, who runs Homer’s favourite tavern; Apu, the Kwik-E-Mart clerk; Milhouse, Bart’s best friend; and Bart’s favourite TV personality, Krusty the Klown. The real cartoon violence on The Simpsons took place on episodes of The Itchy and Scratchy Show, a cat (Scratchy) and mouse (Itchy) cartoon on Krusty’s show in which the mouse routinely mangled, disembowelled, or blew up the cat.
In February 2000 Maude Flanders was killed off (Maggie Roswell, who had done the voice, had left the series) when she was hit by a balled-up T-shirt at the new racetrack, lost her balance and fell over the railing to her death.
Celebrity guest voices (and characters) have included Jackie Mason, Tony Bennett, Penny Marshall, Ringo Starr, Danny DeVito, Larry King, Cloris Leachman, Elizabeth Taylor, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, and Johnny Carson.
The Simpsons is just the second animated show to air in primetime since The Flintstones went off the air 23 years earlier. The other was Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which aired from 1972 to 1974.
Marge Simpson/Patty Bouvier/Selma Bouvier
Ned Flanders/Charles Montgomery Burns/Principal Seymour Skinner
Moe Szyslak/Chief Wiggum/Apu
Krusty the Clown