Aah, The Simpsons. Like food, it's been around forever, some people obsess over it while others take it for granted, and you often find yourself gorging on it while drunk at 3 a.m.
And also like your food, there's a lot of weird shit in The Simpsons that you might not want to think about. For instance, the innocent residents of Springfield may just be living a horrific multidimensional existence caused by the cast of The Simpsons' sister show, Futurama. No, really; consider this ...
#6. Real People And Fictional Characters Overlap In Springfield
Straight off the bat, The Simpsons has a weird grip on what's real and what's not. For starters, Springfield is visited by more real-life celebrities than a Hollywood rehab center. George Bush Senior moves in across the street, Mel Gibson becomes Homer's bestie, and Andre Agassi once showed up literally just to say, "I'm Andre Agassi." In 2016, The Simpsons mainly serves as a residual-generator. Every famous person in the known universe, no matter how poorly their career is going, can count on that sweet, sweet $3 Simpsons check each month.
But they somehow also exist alongside fictional characters. Over the years, we've seen them interact with characters from The Flintstones, Rick And Morty, King Of The Hill, The Muppets, 24, The X-Files, Cheers, American Dad, South Park, The Critic, Bob's Burgers, The Cleveland Show, and Family Guy.
"KEEP YOUR ANIMATORS AWAY FROM MY WIFE!"
To complicate things further, people like Alec Baldwin and Ricky Gervais have appeared as themselves and as in-universe characters. There was also that episode where Homer befriends a guy named Ray, who happens to look and sound exactly like Ray Romano -- and they somehow discuss Everybody Loves Raymond as a series, because even in a cartoon, the most fantastical thing we can imagine Ray Romano doing is talking drolly about himself. The boundary between reality and fiction is as strained as Moe's will to live. There's a reason for this, so bear with me here.
#5. The Simpsons And Futurama Have A Weird Relationship
Nowhere is that line more blurred than when it runs between The Simpsons and Futurama. Both are somehow aware of each other as TV shows at the same time: Uter is seen wearing a Futurama T-shirt ...
... Bart spaces out in class after watching too much TV and hallucinates Bender ...
... and evil overlord Matt Groening appears as "the creator of Futurama" at a convention.
And, going the other way, there is a pile of Bart Simpson dolls on a giant garbage ball ...
... the sewer mutants cobble together a hot air balloon made out of Macy's Day Parade floats, including pieces of Bart ...
... and figures and plush toys appear in other episodes.
Clearly there's a whole lot of paradoxin' going on here. But it gets worse when you realize that, at other times, they even share the same universe. A universe where, it seems, both The Simpsons and Futurama are simultaneously TV shows and not TV shows.
Fry shows up on the couch at one point ...
... and in one Simpsons episode set in the far-flung future of 2013, Bender appears in a car with Homer and Bart ...
... And in Futurama, a heart carved into the wall near the entrance to Robot Hell reads "HS + MB" -- who else but Homer Simpson and Marge Bouvier? While Fry's dog, Seymour, is looking for his owner in that episode that made you cry more over a cartoon pet than any of your real ones, he passes a mini-golf course with a suspiciously familiar sign.
It's well known that Homer and Marge conceived Bart in exactly that location, and they even tried to re-create it later to rekindle their passion. But by far the most extreme example of the two sharing a universe is the crossover episode "Simpsorama."
#4. They've Crossed Over Twice, And It Makes No Sense
For those who missed it: The opportunity to bring characters from these two iconic shows together is squandered as the Planet Express crew is sent back in time to kill Bart, because a lame prank of his ends up threatening life a thousand years in the future.
"Fox is supposed to be the one threatening our existence."
So how can they understand each other to be fictional and yet exist side by side at the same time? And why the shit does nobody question why the Simpsons are yellow?
Well, it all leads back to the first time they crossed over. What's that? You didn't know they'd crossed over once before? Jeez, try reading a book sometime.
The "Infinitely Secret Crossover Crisis" is a comic book miniseries that was first published in 2002, and it's a way more interesting story than the episode. The Futurama crew find themselves trapped inside a Simpsons comic, put there by those big floaty brains who previously transported them into book worlds. Once there, they break the heavy news to the Simpsons that they are, in fact, fictional characters. Then, in trying to get home, the crew accidentally destroys the boundary between universes, sending all of Springfield tumbling into the real world, circa 3000.
In the sequel, the people of New New York do what anyone would do in that situation: They decide that fictional characters aren't people and thus have no rights, and they enslave them. Of course, the "fics" won't stand for this and revolt, releasing every fictional character from every book ever written.
Eventually they patch things up, and the fics are sent back to their books -- all, that is, except the Simpsons. The story kinda wraps up without showing how they get home. Their book is destroyed, so where do they go?
Well, Futurama has time-travel episodes like other sitcoms have mother-in-law-comes-to-stay episodes. So it makes sense that Professor Farnsworth would just send them back to the time their series was set. Back where they kinda-sorta belong and out of his purely metaphorical hair.
"Good news, everyone! I AM GOD!"
Which then explains how the crossover episode can exist as well as the comic -- in the alternate timeline this creates, the Simpsons are now living in the same world as Futurama, just a thousand years earlier.
There's just one problem: If every fictional character ever created was released, there must have been hundreds of versions of the Simpsons let loose -- one for each issue of the comics, plus whatever other books the characters have appeared in. So where did all these extras go? Back in time, of course, in a big, sweaty, yellow orgy of a paradox.