69 of the Best Matt Groening Moments on His 69th Birthday
It’s hard to believe that 38 years ago, Matt Groening was just a simple cartoonist with a syndicated comic strip. Until one day, a TV producer called him up and offered him a chance to adapt his work for television. Groening didn’t want to lose the rights to his comic-strip characters, so he mostly ad-libbed a pitch about an animated cartoon family named The Simpsons.
That pitch only became the biggest TV show in human history. And ever since, Groening has been able to make pretty much anything he wants, and if anyone questions it, he can point to his closet full of awards and his Great Pyramid-sized pile of branded merchandise and say, “Oh, I think I know what I’m doing here.”
Well, today is Groening’s 69th (nice!) birthday, and to honor our favorite geek elder, we’d like to share our favorites from the infinite list of memorable moments his myriad creations have provided us over the years…
The First ‘Life in Hell’ Comic
Groening’s first published work as a cartoonist, from the September/October 1978 issue of Wet Magazine.
Fry and the Slurm Factory
Bender: (Holding the Z-Ray device) What should we point it at first?
Fry: I don’t know, try it on me. (Zap) Ow, my sperm!
Bender: Wow, neat! Mind if I try that again? (Zap)
Fry: Huh... Didn’t hurt that time.
The First ‘Simpsons’ Short
Where it all began, on the April 19, 1987 episode of The Tracey Ullman Show.
Homer Jumps the Gorge
What The Simpsons did for the family sitcom and Futurama did for sci-fi tropes, Disenchantment does for the fantasy genre — that is, lampoon the ever-living crap out of it.
‘The Simpsons Movie’
The Problem with Popplers
Lrrr, Ruler of Omicron Persei 8, addresses the crowd right after eating an environmental activist: “People of earth... Oh, that hippie’s starting to kick in! We’ve all learned an important lesson today. I realize now that... Dude... My hands are huge! They can touch anything but themselves…”
Roswell That Ends Well
Futurama takes the “Grandfather paradox” of time travel to its extreme:
‘Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off’
‘The Telltale Head’
The first of only four Simpsons episodes where Groening is credited as co-writer.
Homer’s Erotic Photoshoot
Stupid Sexy Flanders
One of the most heartbreaking final scenes of any TV episode, ever.
Homer Kills Zombie Flanders
War Is the H-Word
Henry Kissinger, brokering peace with the Ball Planet: “Please, gentlemen, we must put an end to the bloodshed. We have all seen too many body bags and ball sacks.”
Mulder and Scully Visit Springfield
‘Some Enchanted Evening’
Another rare Simpsons episode co-written by Groening.
Marge and Homer at the Fair
Homer: See, Marge, I told you they could deep-fry my shirt.
Marge: I never said they couldn’t, I said you shouldn’t!
‘How to Be a Sensitive Poet’
‘Everything’s Coming Up Milhouse!’
How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back
A Terrifying Message from Al Gore
Gore had some incredible guest star appearances on Futurama, so the show’s creators returned the favor by having Bender help Gore promote his film An Inconvenient Truth.
Stupid Anti-Pimping Laws
Bender: Wait, you mean people will pay good money for romance? Hmm, I think I have a scheme so deviously clever that—
(Smash cut to courtroom)
Judge: $500 dollars and time served.
Bender: Stupid Anti-Pimping Laws! Well, pay the man.
Hookerbot: Bender honey, we love you.
Bender: Shut up baby, I know it.
A Season Three Simpsons episode co-written by Groening.
Drunk Bart at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The shot of the English-themed fish-and-chips restaurant blowing up during the Springfield St. Patrick’s Day parade was edited out of the episode in the U.K. until just a few years ago.
The Day the Earth Stood Stupid
Sideshow Bob: Convicted of a crime I didn’t even commit. Ha! ‘Attempted Murder’? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for Attempted Chemistry, do they?
‘22 Short Films About Springfield’
Also co-written by Groening.
‘I Have Misplaced My Pants’
Belle: Are you wearing a grocery bag?
Homer: I have misplaced my pants.
Shut Up and Take My Money!
EyePhone Salesman: Okay, it’s $500, you have no choice of carrier, the battery can’t hold a charge and the reception isn’t very—
Fry: Shut up and take my money!
Where No Fan Has Gone Before
The time that Futurama reunited the cast of Star Trek, and took plenty of potshots at Shatner. What’s not to love?
‘Fans Want to Know’
‘I, For One, Welcome Our New Insect Overlords’
‘Space Pilot 3000’
The Futurama pilot, co-written by Groening, still remains one of the best written such episodes in TV history, as well as one of the best episodes of the series. They planned things so well that they included Easter eggs referencing an episode in Season Four where they go back to the events of the pilot.
Death! By Snu Snu!
No TV and No Beer
Bender Gets Kicked Out of Luna Park
Bender: Well, I’m gonna go build my own theme park... with blackjack... and hookers! In fact, forget the park!
Homer Enters the Real World
Olive, the Other Reindeer
Executive produced by Groening, and not only featuring Homer’s voice actor Dan Castellaneta as the evil postman, but if you look closely, all the letters he carries in this scene are addressed to Bart Simpson.
All Glory to the Hypnotoad!
Settling ‘Futurama’ Scores
Groening co-wrote the first episode of Futurama’s Comedy Central run. And, of course, he wasn’t gonna pass up the opportunity to slam Fox for canceling the show in the first place.
‘Me Fail English? That’s Unpossible!’
Quite unpossibly Ralph Wiggum’s best line ever.
Money Can Be Exchanged for Goods and Services
Headache with Pictures
Fry: Hey wait, I’m having one of those things... You know, a headache with pictures!
Leela: An idea?
More from ‘Life in Hell’
Grandpa’s Sex Tonic
Disco Stu Doesn’t Advertise
The Simpsons’ take on Edgar Allan Poe for Halloween.
Another Groening-penned episode of Futurama, this time so he could stick it to the censors.
Grandpa’s Onion Story
Planet of the Couches
Probably the most elaborate couch gag ever created for The Simpsons, because it was designed to be viewed in VR using Google Cardboard headsets.
Stoned in the Gutter
Bender: Hey! Do I preach to you when you’re lying stoned in the gutter? Noooooo…
Homer Fights George Bush
After President George H.W. Bush decided to blame The Simpsons for the downfall of American values, The Simpsons responded by devoting an entire episode to making Bush’s life a living hell.
Fry Fights Zoidberg
One of the goofiest fight scenes in animated history.
‘Oh, I’ve Wasted My Life’
It’s All Connected, Exhibit A
Okay, so, Groening exists within The Simpsons universe as the creator of the comic Life in Hell…
It’s All Connected, Exhibit B
...And Bongo the one-eared rabbit cameo’d in an episode of Futurama, implying that the Life in Hell characters exist in the Futurama universe...
It’s All Connected, Exhibit C
...Professor Farnsworth’s time machine from Futurama appeared briefly in Disenchantment, proving that those two shows exist within the same universe...
It’s All Connected, Exhibit D
...And The Simpsons exists as a TV show within the Futurama universe, as well as Groening as the show's creator...
It’s All Connected, Exhibit E
...But then they did a Simpsons/Futurama crossover, showing that both shows do exist in the same universe. That means Futurama and Disenchantment are real, while Life in Hell and The Simpsons are both real and a figment of Groening’s imagination. But Groening exists in The Simpsons universe, meaning he created... himself? Is this one of those “can God make a stone so big that He Himself cannot lift it” situations?