For this post, I’d like to be experimental. I’m writing a post about one of the most beloved TV shows of all time: The Simpsons.
Let me start by saying that I love The Simpsons. It was very influential on me as a kid and continues to be influential during my adult years. However, I’m not afraid to be critical about the show sometimes, whether it’s about the later episodes, the show’s attempts to try and stay relevant, or the numerous plot holes that emerge due to the damned floating timeline, which is the main issue of this post.
This post is heavily speculative, and should not be taken as canon. I’m simply trying to establish a more realistic canon, hopefully fixing some of the plot holes which pervade later seasons.For this timeline to be accurate, let’s assume the following:
- The Simpsons timeline starts at December 17th 1989 (which was when the pilot episode aired)
- Homer starts the show at 33 years old, and his birthday is April 24th, 1956
- Marge starts the show at 32 years old, and her birthday is March 18th, 1957
- Bart starts the show at age 9, and his birthday is January 9th, 1980
- Lisa starts the show at age 8, and her birthday is September 21st. 1981
- Maggie starts the show at only 7 months old, and her birthday is May 12th, 1989
Also, only certain relevant episodes will be taken into account in this timeline, which means all “clip shows” and “flashback episodes” will not be accounted for. Lastly, since the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes are officially non-canonical anyway, they won’t be counted.
Now, without further ado, it’s time to re-write some history.
Early years (1989-1992)
Given that the first season is set between 1989 and 1990, this is the only season of the Simpsons that fits perfectly with the more realistic timeline. Any episodes after “Some Enchanted Evening” follow the floating timeline, which allows the characters to stay the same age while the rest of the world changes. Since my alternative timeline is trying to be more realistic, I’m ignoring this fact entirely. Let’s imagine what would happen if the characters were allowed to age.
Let’s start in 1990, at the beginning of Season 2. By this point, Bart has already turned 10, and Lisa is still 8 years old (since I assume “Bart Gets an F” is set in the middle of 1990, before Lisa’s birthday in September). Many of us remember this for some of the greatest episodes of the show’s history (some of my favourites are from Season 2). More importantly, it is established that Mr. Burns is 81 years old.
A day after Bart’s 11th birthday, the events of “Bart Gets Hit by a Car” take place. In this episode, Mr. Burns accidentally runs Bart over with his luxury car, while Homer ties to squeeze as much money as he can from the hilariously failed lawsuit, yet Homer and Marge inexplicably remain together. Much of Season 2 fits very well. Let’s move on to Season 3.
In season 3, the year is 1991. By this point, Bart is now 11 years old, and Lisa is about to turn 10. Season 3 starts with “Stark Raving Dad” (the episode’s US airdate of September 19th is my basis for Lisa’s birthday, which is said to be two days after the time episode’s plot begins), in which Homer accidentally wears a pink shirt to work and is admitted to a mental hospital with a man who thinks he’s Michael Jackson. At this point, Bart should now have moved on to the 6th grade (after moving on to the 5th grade by passing the exam in the beginning of Season 2), Lisa should now be in the 4th grade, and Maggie should already have learned to walk. Sideshow Bob tries to take revenge on the Simpson family by murdering Aunt Selma, and is once again foiled by Bart.
Pretty much every episode checks out, but one episode in particular is important. In “Separate Vocations”, Bart and Lisa take their aptitude tests, and the results surprise them in different ways. Since it makes absolutely no sense that Bart and Lisa would take their tests simultaneously, I’m only focusing on Lisa. Lisa had always prided herself on being smarter than everyone else, with ambitions of being an award-winning jazz musician. When her aptitude tests results return as “homemaker”, she becomes incredibly despondent, eventually becoming incredibly cynical enough to hang out with the bad girls. In the official version of events, Lisa is caught stealing books, but Bart takes the fall to save her future. But this is my version of events, and in reality, I think that a decidedly different outcome would occur.
I think that Lisa would have continued her downward spiral, and eventually realise that only suck-ups get good grades, and starts thinking for herself, at the cost of getting progressively lower grades. Bart’s life, meanwhile, takes a decidedly positive turn. After the Soapbox Derby, Bart begins to bond with Homer, and even has dreams of becoming a rock star. In my timeline, Bart continues practicing the guitar until he starts being really good at it.
The times they are a-changin’ (1993-1995)
Next, it’s time for me to deal with what I see as episodes that offer potentially major timeline changes which are ignored by the official canon in order to preserve the status quo. After the summer vacation at Kamp Krusty, and Homer’s stint as Mr. Plow, I’d like to start this segment of the timeline at 1993, in the middle of what would be season 4. By this point, Bart would be 13 years old, and Lisa would be 11 years old.
In this point of the timeline, dumbass Homer accidentally leaves Bart in the rain after his soccer game, and Bart hires a “Bigger Brother” named Tom to get revenge on him. Homer reacts by being a “Bigger Brother” to a young boy named Pepi. Afterwards, Homer and Bart’s bond is mended, and a new bond between Tom and Pepi develops. In this timeline, the events of “I Love Lisa” are ignored because:
- Ralph will have been held back a few grades, or transferred to a special needs school.
- As far as my timeline is concerned, Lisa has already become too cynical to believe in Valentine’s Day.
However, there is still a speck of Lisa’s moralism left during the events of “Whacking Day”, where she and Bart expose Whacking Day as an excuse to beat up the Irish, and that’s about all I can say about season 4.
The first major change I would add to this version of the Simpsons timeline concerns Sideshow Bob, and the events of “Cape Feare”. In the episode, Sideshow Bob is released from prison and sets out to kill Bart Simpson. By this point, Maggie is 4 years old and can talk. Bart is still 13 years old, but Lisa had recently turned 12. In the official ending of Cape Feare, Sideshow Bob is apprehended by the Springfield Police Department, and presumably taken to jail. In my more realistic timeline, Sideshow Bob is apprehended by the police, but since Springfield still has the death penalty, Sideshow Bob would be sentenced to death by electrocution. What? Do the writers honestly think that Sideshow Bob would be given another chance after all that? I don’t think so.
Taking a brief break from Bart and Lisa, I now turn my attention to “The Last Temptation of Homer”, which is set near the end of 1993. By this point, Homer is 37 years old, Marge is 36 years old, and the cracks in there marriage are deepening, but appear to have been ignored for quite some time. Naturally, this opens the door to temptation. Enter Mindy Simmons, an attractive, 35-year-old woman who was recently employed by the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant in order to comply with government policy. The way I see it, Mindy is a better woman for Homer than Marge ever could be. They have a lot in common, and Homer is attracted to her like crazy. The only problem, however, is that Homer is married, and for some reason I won’t understand, a devoted husband. In the episode’s official ending, Homer breaks it off with Mindy, and never sees her again. In my timeline, Homer merely informs Mindy of his desire to remain faithful with Marge, but would like to stay friends with Mindy, and give her his number so they can still talk to each other.
Not long after that episode, a new casino is opened by a now 84-year-old Mr. Burns in late 1993, after . When that happens, Springfield’s economy gains a significant boost, but Marge develops a gambling problem, at the cost of ignoring her family, which almost crumbles. However, Homer manages to get Marge to see the error of her ways, and stop gambling at the casino.
At this point, I should discount “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” from the timeline, because by the time the episode is set (April 1994), Bart would 14 years old, and nearing the end of his time in middle school. This would effectively make the plot of the episode completely implausible, which means Principal Skinner still runs Springfield Elementary. Lisa would also be in middle school, which she would have started in September 1992.
After ignoring the rest of Season 5, it’s time I moved on to Season 6, which starts in September 1994. By this point, Homer would be 38 years old, Marge would be 37 years old, and Maggie would be 5 years old, and starting her first day in school. Bart is now 14 years old, and starting his first year in high school, and Lisa is now 12 years old (but should turn 13 a few weeks after), and is still in middle school.
Before I continue, I should point out that in my hypothetical timeline, Season 6 is rife with potential timeline errors. In order to resolve this, I’m ignoring the following episodes.
- Lisa’s Rival (rendered impossible unless Allison is a new student in middle school)
- Another Simpsons Clip Show (since clip shows are irrelevant to the timeline)
- Sideshow Bob Roberts (due to the aforementioned death penalty some five paragraphs ago)
- And Maggie Makes Three (because its version of the past conflicts with my timeline)
- Bart’s Comet (because Bart should now be in high school)
- Lisa’s Wedding (because it tells a false version of the future)
I’d like to start this part of the timeline with “Bart’s Girlfriend”. In the episode, Bart falls in love with Reverend Lovejoy’s daughter, Jessica Lovejoy, who turns out to be a real bad girl. In the official version of the episode, she is 10 years old, just like Bart would be in the official version. In my timeline, Jessica and Bart are both 14 years old by this point. Other than that, there is no real difference. As the episode goes on, Jessica begins manipulating Bart, and after she’s caught stealing money from the collection plate, she breaks up with Bart.
There are only three more episodes in the sixth season that I’d like to highlight – “Round Springfield”, “The Springfield Connection”, and “Who Shot Mr. Burns”.
Let’s start with “Round Springfield”. The year is 1995, and Bart and Lisa are still teenagers (with Bart having turned 15). After three years of being cynical and depressed about the world, I believe that this is the point that turns a 13-year-old Lisa around, mainly because of her idol and mentor, “Bleeding Gums” Murphy. He was the man who made Lisa feel better by teaching her to display her emotions through music. In my timeline, Lisa may have given up on school, but she never gave up on jazz, which is why she was crushed when her mentor died. She vowed to make sure his name was known throughout Springfield, and when she succeeds, her long time depression finally comes to an end. From 1995 onwards, her grades begin to improve once more.
In “The Springfield Connection”, a 38-year-old Marge becomes a police officer to bring some excitement into her life. Homer initially begins to like the idea, until Marge arrests him for parking illegally. In the official version of the episode, Marge finds that that the Springfield Police Department is too corrupt, and resigns. In my version of the timeline, Marge becomes aware of the corruption, but stays in order to try and clean up the force.
Believe it or not, I’m not done yet–not by a long shot. In fact, it’s time to move on to the next segment of this post, which deals with what I believe is the most important episode in the entire Simpsons canon.
Who Shot Mr. Burns? (1995)
Picture this for a moment. The year is 1995, and Mr. Burns was already unpopular despite his vast wealth. After the local elementary school strikes oil, Mr. Burns attempts to take financial control over the entire town so that all the money will go to him. Naturally, he becomes the most hated person in town, and he becomes so blinded by his lust for power over the town that he fires Smithers when he tries to make him see the light. But then, at the end of part one, Mr. Burns is shot, and collapses on the town’s sundial, with the assailant remaining unknown.
In the official version of events, Mr. Burns miraculously survives the gunshot, and the culprit is identified as Maggie, who accidentally fires Mr. Burns’ gun after it fell into her hands. This is obviously bullshit, so I’ve come up with an alternative, more realistic ending.
In my version of events, Mr. Burns dies of his gunshot wounds, because at the age of 86, he’s too frail to survive. In my opinion, the real culprit is Waylon Smithers.
Think about it for a good. long moment. The evidence is everywhere. Everyone in town had a reason to kill Mr. Burns, but I think Smithers had the biggest reason to kill him. He served Mr. Burns faithfully for many years, and he got fired for staying true to his beliefs. Desperate, frustrated and angry, he decides to do the only thing he can do: he uses the artificial cover of darkness to kill Mr. Burns without being detected. Fearing that he would eventually be caught, he tries unsuccessfully to frame Homer for the crime. However, a 13-year-old Lisa manages to put the pieces together, and eventually discovers that Mr. Smithers did it.
Rather than shoot Lisa on the spot, he realizes that it’s too late, and decides to turn himself in, hoping to at least get a lighter sentence. He is eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in late 1995, though the death of Mr. Burns has severe repercussions for everyone involved.
The aftermath (1995-2000)
With nobody to take Mr. Burns’ place, the plant is shut down after government investigation. This of course means that everyone who ever worked in the plant gets fired, including Homer, who is now jobless. This is bad for his already poor family, and only adds further strain to Homer and Marge’s failing marriage.
In a related subject, Marge successfully campaigns to clean up the Springfield Police Department, which results in Chief Wiggum being relieved of his position, and Marge taking his place. This of course means that Marge is more successful than Homer ever could be, and due to it being obvious that Homer is too self-centered to care about her dreams, she finally divorces him in 1996, after having been married since 1979, when Bart was conceived.
In 1996, Mayor Quimby becomes so unpopular because of his years of corruption, that he loses the next mayoral election to an unnamed Republican opponent, who succeeds in tapping to the public desire for change. After Quimby’s exile, Springfield becomes a slightly better place to live in.
After Homer and Marge’s divorce, Marge successfully gains custody of the kids, leaving Homer, who is now 40 years old, to live as a bachelor. He gives Mindy a call and starts a new life with her, where they move to Capital City.
Over the next two years, Bart lives out the rest of his high school years as a free-thinking rebel who has become friends with Nelson, who used to bully him a lot. With Milhouse, Nelson, and Richard (the gray-haired kid in Bart’s class), he begins concentrating on forming the rock band of his dreams, and graduates from high school in 1998.
Lisa, meanwhile, develops a romantic relationship with Nelson, which at first cause serious strains between Bart, Nelson and Lisa. Nonetheless, Nelson consistently proves to Lisa that he is a good person, and Lisa herself continues pursuing her dreams of being a jazz musician, and graduates from high school in the year 2000. In addition to that, she helps Maggie through her years in elementary school, and a strong sisterly bond develops between the two.
What now for the Simpsons?
At this point, I’ve pretty much ignored every single episode after Season 6, using my imagination to pick up the pieces. In my opinion, the outcome should look something like this.
Homer dies recently at the age of 57, due to a heart attack brought on by years of poor dieting. He is survived by his second wife, Mindy, who has unfortunately become just as fat as Homer was 20 years ago. Marge runs for mayor in the year 2001 as a Democrat candidate, believing she can make Springfield a better place. She succeeds, and runs for state governor after losing the mayoral election in 2011. She never forgot about Homer, regardless of his flaws. She is now 56 years old.
Bart never got into college, but he does successfully form the rock band of his dreams, and eventually lives the fast life of a rock star, and becomes a local legend by his current age of 34. Thankfully, he’s still alive, but he undergoes much of the classic dark sides of the rock and roll lifestyle. Lisa decides not to go to college after learning that it would mean having to repay student loans for much of her life. She does, however, succeed in becoming the jazz musician, and in the year 2007, she marries Nelson. She is now 32 years old. Maggie, meanwhile, goes to college and becomes a successful businesswoman who is constantly grateful to her big sister for her success. She is now 24 years old, and still single.
Obviously this is purely the speculation of a childhood fan (namely myself), but I feel that this is how the timeline could have gone if The Simpsons didn’t run on a damned floating timeline. Besides, anything’s better than the convoluted mess that the show’s creators have caused by trying to prolong the life of the show.