The Simpsons McBain Saga Shows Audiences Used To Be Blind
It's Simpsons week at Cracked. We'll have more cromulent facts for you every day.
In 2011, Simpsons fans made a discovery. We'd always been familiar with the character Rainier Wolfcastle (a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his own in-universe movie character McBain (a parody of several different action heroes, from McClane to Riggs to Bond). But it turned out that if you laid end-to-end the clips from the various McBain movies, which had appeared in Simpsons episodes over the course of a couple seasons, they made one coherent story.
First, we see McBain getting violent with his captain while planning to pursue the villainous Senator Mendoza. Then, Mendoza's men kill McBain's partner, who was just two days from retirement—this is the most famous clip, and it made people widely aware of the movie trend of cops dying right before retirement (a trend that, believe it or not, never actually existed, other than in parodies). In later clips, McBain seeks revenge, invades a meeting of Mendoza's crew but gets captured, then comes back and finally kills Mendoza in an explosive fashion.
When someone put the clips together in 2011, the video and all its many mirrors went viral. Everyone was excited about the discovery. We at Cracked wrote about it too, giving it half an entry on a longer list. At the time, we took it as more proof that the writers of Golden Age Simpsons were geniuses.
Now, looking back at the discovery a decade later? You're more likely to think: Wow, how blind were audiences in the '90s not to pick up on this when the episodes originally aired? And how blind were we, not to notice this anytime in the following 20 years, watching reruns?
We're a lot sharper today when it comes to noticing hidden jokes and other details. Partly, that's because of the way we access TV episodes now, able to binge whole seasons or freely pause. Partly, it's because of the cottage industry of web articles and videos dissecting every episode and even every trailer. But mostly, it's because of how fandoms have evolved.
If McBain were introduced today, on a weekly show that's as popular now as The Simpsons was then, fans would immediately turn McBain, the captain, and the unseen Mendoza into memes. We'd recognize the ongoing story as soon as another episode aired a clip and would eagerly await its conclusion. That means writers find it a lot harder to hide Easter eggs, but we imagine they prefer having their work so thoroughly appreciated.
This fact came from the One Cracked Fact newsletter. Want more like this, straight from your email inbox, without any ads or popups? Join here:
To look at the epic Mendoza sage, check out: