Fans frequently draw attention to the show’s eerily accurate predictions of future events ranging from the rare discovery of a three-eyed fish to the outcomes of major sporting events. While some of these claims prove to be mere coincidences or outright hoaxes, others make a strong argument that the show’s writers rank among the most reliable psychics ever known.
If you want to try and get a glimpse into your own future, our top 10 psychic readers, like Keen or California Psychics can help you with that. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at 10 times The Simpsons predicted the future.
1. The Debate Over Whether to Censor Michaelangelo’s David
Season 2, Episode 9: “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge”
While censorship is a hot topic these days, The Simpsons made it a central issue all the way back in season 2. In “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge,” Marge accuses The Itchy & Scratchy Show of encouraging violence in children and successfully convinces the show to censor itself. When a traveling exhibition brings Michaelangelo’s sculpture David to Springfield, residents urge Marge to protest the statue because of its nudity, but she can’t bring herself to do it.
The episode accurately posits that censorship is a slippery slope, yet its choice to focus on the statue of David was especially prescient. Nearly 26 years later in 2016, residents of St. Petersburg, Russia, debated whether to cover up a replica of the statue over concerns it might pervert young children. Clearly, The Simpsons saw something in David that the rest of us didn’t.
2. The Washington Redskins Win Super Bowl XXVI
Season 3, Episode 14: “Lisa the Greek”
In season 3, episode 14, “Lisa the Greek,” Homer tries to earn some cash gambling when he learns that Lisa can predict who will win football games. He and Lisa bond by watching the games together, but when the season nears its end he loses interest in spending time together, and Lisa begins to think he doesn’t care for her. Spitefully, she predicts that if Washington wins the upcoming Super Bowl XXVI then she will still love her father, but if Buffalo wins then she won’t.
Luckily, Washington wins the match, and together Homer and Lisa get in some good daddy-daughter bonding time. The episode aired January 23, 1992, several days before the actual Super Bowl XXVI, which Washington ended up winning.
3. Siegfried and Roy Tiger Attack
Season 5, Episode 10: “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)”
You don’t have to be a genius to guess that if you hang around with wild animals long enough there’s a chance you might get bitten. Still, the whole world was stunned when Roy Horn of Siefried and Roy was attacked on stage by a seven-year-old white tiger named Mantacore. The attack happened in 2003, but The Simpsons predicted a similar event nearly 10 years earlier in the episode “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling).”
In one scene, two entertainers named Gunter and Ernst are attacked by a white tiger named Anastasia after the animal remembers how the duo captured her in the wild. The duo were clearly meant to parody Siegfried and Roy, and, unfortunately, this was one prediction that the series got all too right.
4. The 2013 Ebola Outbreak
Season 9, Episode 3: “Lisa’s Sax”
This next Simpsons prediction is simultaneously one of its most cynical and most obvious. In the third episode of season 9, “Lisa’s Sax,” Marge tries to get a sick Bart out of bed by encouraging him to read a book called Curious George and the Ebola Virus. This one scene has convinced some fans that the episode foreshadowed the 2013 Ebola virus outbreak, which ended up killing 28,616 people.
This claim would be more impressive if not for the fact that Ebola virus first appeared in 1976, and several outbreaks occurred before “Lisa’s Sax” aired in 1997. At the same time, you have to give credit where credit is due. Now if only the show’s writers could figure out some predictions about the future of the coronavirus.
5. Thieves Steal Cooking Grease
Season 10, Episode 1: “Lard of the Dance”
“Lard of the Dance” is the first episode of the tenth season of The Simpsons. In the episode, Homer realizes that he can make some easy money by stealing and selling grease. However, he runs afoul of Groundskeeper Willie when he attempts to swipe grease from Springfield Elementary School’s kitchen.
When the show’s writers conceived of the episode’s plot, there’s likely no way they could have imagined that Homer’s get-rich-quick scheme would spawn a series of copycat burglars. Yet, sure enough, the rising price of cooking oil prompted a string of robberies beginning around 2012 that saw several restaurants pilfered of their grease. Talk about a slick operation.
6. Disney Buys 20th Century Fox
Season 10, Episode 5: “When You Dish Upon a Star”
Season 10 of The Simpsons is positively brimming with content that predicts the future. However, the season’s most tongue-in-cheek prediction came in the form of a brief joke in episode 5, “When You Dish Upon a Star,” when you can briefly see the words “20th Century Fox: A Division of Walt Disney Co.” emblazoned across a TV screen.
When the episode aired in 1998, the writers could not have known that Disney would complete a $52.4 billion deal to acquire 20th Century Fox approximately 20 years later. The deal serves as yet another example of the animated series’s uncanny acumen for predicting the future.
7. Donald Trump Is Elected President
Season 11, Episode 17: “Bart to the Future”
One of the most striking Simpsons predictions to date took place in episode 17 of season 11, “Bart to the Future.” The episode follows Bart as he has a vision of his future in which he is a wannabe rock star and Lisa is the president of the United States. During one scene, President Lisa mentions in passing that her administration “has inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.”
This one line correctly foreshadowed Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign all the way back in 2000. To be fair, Trump first ran as a third-party candidate back in 2000, but at the time he barely garnered any attention. Fast-forward 16 years later, and it becomes difficult to question the show’s powers of foresight.
8. Rigged Voting Machines
Season 20, Episode 4: “Treehouse of Horror XIX”
The “Treehouse of Horror” episodes are a major reason why some people consider The Simpsons to be one of the best psychic TV shows ever made. Case in point, in the opening scene of “Treehouse of Horror XIX," Homer attempts to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 US presidential election. However, the voting machine is rigged so that every vote goes to John McCain, and when Homer tries to report the problem, the machine kills him.
Looking back on that episode, it’s astonishing to think about how much the topic of rigged elections has come to dominate the public discourse in the United States. Since 2008, numerous controversies have cropped up, ranging from worries about machines rigged to vote for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election to claims that Joe Biden and his followers “stole” the 2020 presidential election from former president Donald Trump. As terrifying as it is, “Treehouse of Horror” seems to be onto something about US politics.
9. Bengt Holmstrӧm Wins The Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences
Season 22, Episode 1: “Elementary School Musical”
It’s no secret that The Simpsons has some of the brightest writers in entertainment industry. However, it may also have some of the most omniscient. For example, in season 22, episode 1, “Elementary School Musical,” Lisa, Millhouse, Martin, and Data each wager who will win the Nobel Prize in various categories. Millhouse chooses Bengt Holmstrӧm to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and while the show depicts Jagdish Bhagwati as the winner, Millhouse is the one whose bet ultimately pays off.
The MIT economist won the top prize in economics in 2016 for his work in contract theory. Given the level of competition for the award, it’s conceivable that Millhouse scheduled a detailed horoscope reading before making his choice. Either that, or he asked a really talented economist for an inside tip.
10. Germany Wins the 2014 World Cup and the FIFA Corruption Scandal
Season 25, Episode 16: “You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee”
Occasionally, The Simpsons doubles down on its predictions and packs them in like sardines in a can. One example where this occurred is in the sixteenth episode of season 25, where Homer gets a job refereeing for the World Cup in Brazil. Despite his best efforts to referee honestly, gangsters approach him and ask him to fix the match.
This episode originally aired in 2014, a whole year before the media outlets reported that top-ranking officials at FIFA were under investigation for corruption. To top it all off, The Simpsons accurately predicted that Germany would win the 2014 World Cup. While in reality Argentina made the final match instead of Brazil as the show forecasted, having two accurate predictions in the same episode is downright spooky.
The Simpsons first premiered on December 17th, 1989. Over 30 years and 724 episodes later, more than a few of the events parodied in the show have come to pass in real life. While you’ve just learned about ten times The Simpsons predicted the future, many fans assert there are more examples out there.
While it’s unlikely that you’re going to discover any earth-shaking news by combing through old episodes of the series, and it probably won’t replace the personal insights you might gain from an online fortune teller, the show has been right before. So here’s hoping the next Simpsons prediction that turns out to be true is a good one.