Every episode in season one is written by now-familiar names to comedy fans — Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder, George Meyer, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, etc. — except one: the pilot, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” It was penned by illustrator Mimi Pond, who never worked with the show again.
James Earl Jones’ unmistakable voice has been heard on The Simpsons many times (“Oh, let’s say…Moe”), but it was nearly a lot more: the original script for “Krusty Gets Busted” had Sideshow Bob being voiced by The Lion King star. Kelsey Grammer is grateful that didn’t work out.
In “Bart’s Dog Gets an F” (and many episodes to come), the noises for the titular pup, Santa’s Little Helper, were provided by Frank Welker, who’s also the voice of Megatron, Fred Jones (from Scooby Doo), Futurama‘s Nibbler, Jabberjaw, and Inspector Gadget‘s Doctor Claw.
Tony Bennett was the first Simpsons guest star to appear as himself.
Super Bowl XXVI was played between the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills. The Simpsons not only had to get the teams right in “Lisa the Greek,” which aired a few days before the big game, but the outcome. The next year, when Dallas pummeled Buffalo, the Redskins were replaced with the Cowboys.
To make “Black Widower” (a.k.a. the episode where Sideshow Bob tries to kill Selma) more exciting and mysterious, the writers reached out to Thomas Chastain, the head of the Mystery Writers of America, to help them drop clues throughout the episode.
Weirdly, residents of New Orleans didn’t appreciate their city being reduced to a “home of pirates, drunks, and whores.” Where’s the GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO? A TV critic for the Times-Picayune got his hands on “A Streetcar Named Marge” before it aired, and published the out-of-context lyrics to “New Orleans.” The local Fox affiliate received dozens of complaints and things got so out of control that the then-president of the network had to release a statement, telling viewers that if they watch the episode, they’d “realize that the song is in fact a parody of the opening numbers of countless Broadway musicals.”
“The Front” was based on something that happened on Tiny Toon Adventures, of all places. That show’s executive producer Steven Spielberg was so impressed by a script that some random kids wrote, he asked the actual Tiny Toon staff to develop it into an episode. Inspired by the story, Adam I. Lapidus sent a script to The Simpsons, and it was turned into “The Front.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone were supposed to appear as themselves in “$pringfield (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling),” to mock their overpriced salt factory Planet Hollywood, but the plan fell through at the last second.
After a young Mr. Burns loses his cherished stuffed bear in “Rosebud,” Bobo is handled by Charles Lindbergh, Hitler, and a team of Antarctic explorers. But a part of Bobo’s history was cut at the last second: the time he was in Dallas to witness the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Mere hours before Springfield is going to by crushed by “Bart’s Comet,” Kent Brockman announces, “Over the years, a news reporter learns things that for one reason or another, he simply cannot report. It doesn’t seem to matter now, so the following people are gay…” The names listed belong to Simpsons staffers, who had to sign a release that they wouldn’t sue the show for fake “outing” them.
Jon Vitti wasn’t happy that he had to write a clip show episode, so for the aptly-titled “Another Simpsons Clip Show,” he left his name off. “Penny Wise” is credited on the script.