But let's just be clear: this show has given us some of the funniest moments in television history. Bart was named one the 100 most important people in the 20th century. The Sunday Times once declared Homer Simpson "the greatest comic creation of our time."
But it Only Exists Because...
When producer James L. Brooks asked Matt Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts, The Simpsons wasn't his first choice. He hadn't even thought of it yet; he originally intended to adapt his Life in Hell comic strip:
Somehow "Jeff is the greatest comic creation of all time" just doesn't have the same ring.
However, while sitting in the lobby of Brooks's office, it suddenly occurred to Groening that for the shorts to be made, he would have to give up the copyright to his most beloved creation. Panicking, he picked up a yellow notepad and quickly "made up these other characters [he] didn't really care about." The result:
At first they were a family of inbred circus freaks.