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27 Years of Movie References in ‘The Simpsons’

A side-by-side comparison of the show and the movies that it mimics.

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After running for 27 seasons, The Simpsons has entered into the “ultra marathon” realm of TV series production. As a creator keeping a show going for that long, you’ve got to find ways to keep things interesting. One of Matt Groening and crew’s tactics has been to sneak a multitude of cultural references into their episodes, specifically ones from movies.

In this video, Celia Goméz edits together these cartoon allusions alongside their actual movie counterparts in a fast-paced compilation featuring references to 27 different films.

As it happens, these three minutes’ worth of clips barely scratch the surface. Two years ago, the website Next Movie compiled an exhaustive string of Simpsons movie allusions spanning 10 seasons and 40 minutes’ worth footage. In fact, The Simpsons is more than just an incidental cartoon survey of film history. Websites like simpsonsforssteachers.wikispaces.com catalogue all of the show’s general historical references, sifting them into categories like US history, world history, politics/government, sociology, psychology and economics. The cartoon has inspired numerous academic papers and even an entire book on the subject (Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics.) Marketplace cobbled together these economics “lessons” into another surprisingly informative collection of clips.

That said, Goméz’s video does the unique service of lining the cartoon up against the film, making apparent The Simpsons cartoonists’ meticulous concern for mimicking the films’ frames, even down to their composition. It’s a few pages of the Simpsons encyclopedia, with all sorts of lessons to unearth.

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