How and When Did ‘The Simpsons’ Begin?

Created by Matt Groening, The Simpsons began as a series of animated cartoon shorts commonly known as ‘Bumpers’ on the Tracey Ullman show, a variety show hosted by the Fox Broadcasting Company. The first short was released on April 19, 1987, and the segment received so much praise that a full animated series premiered on December 17, 1989, as a Christmas special on FOX with regular airing starting from January 14, 1990.

The Simpsons is considered among the longest-running American animated television series and the longest-running scripted Prime Time TV show in US history.

With James Brook, a veteran television and movie producer as the executive producer of the series, and Matt Groening, and Sam Simon as the writers, the show was slow to find its footing but exploded in popularity a year after it started airing establishing Fox as a serious competitor in the Television broadcast industry.

The Origin Of The Show

Matt Groening conceived the idea of creating The Simpsons Family while he was sitting in James L Brooke’s office lobby. To add a more personal touch to the characters he named them after his own family. The character “Bart” is named after Matt himself, you see the entire satirical depiction of American life and relate to it but there is an added humor from the display of American culture and society and how people live in and around it.

Matt was raised in Portland, Oregon which was near a town named Springfield. He claimed he enjoyed the show ‘Father Knows Best’ as a child because he could picture the show Springfield as the one he lived close by to.

In addition to Rocky and Bullwinkle, Matt grew up watching all the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Roadrunner. Although he also watched The Flintstones, he was aware that he could make a better show. To emulate the characters from such vintage cartoons, he kept his character design straightforward.

After creating the ‘Life in Hell’ comic strip, Matt was approached by producer James L. Brook for creating a series of animated shorts. Following this Matt came up with the idea for The Simpsons, a funny depiction of the American way of living, represented by the Simpsons, a Dysfunctional family of two parents Homer and Marge, and three children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, each with their special traits. The show is set in the fictional city of Springfield and parodies the culture and society in America.

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On the conception of the idea of the show, Groening believed that Simpson was a funny name as it sounded a lot like “simpleton”.

The Characters And Premise

The Simpsons is a family of five that resides in Springfield an imaginary ‘Middle America Town’. The family consists of Homer, the father who works as a safety inspector at the town’s nuclear power plant, which contrasts his lax and irresponsible nature. Marge Bouvier is supposed to represent a typical American mother. Bart, the eldest of the three kids, is a ten-year-old boy who creates a lot of trouble; Lisa, an innovative eight-year-old and Maggie, a newborn who rarely speaks.

Even though the family is shown to be dysfunctional, many of the episodes focus on the character’s relationships and frequently demonstrate that the characters care for each other. The family also has a dog, named Santa’s little helper, and a cat named Snowball who is replaced by Snowball II in future seasons.

The show boasts a huge cast of secondary characters like Homer’s co-workers, the school principal and teachers, their neighbors, etc. Many of the side characters were meant to be a one-time joke but ended up gaining fully-fledged personalities and stories because of their popularity.

For the first four seasons of the series, Bart is considered to be the protagonist because most of the episodes revolve around his practical jokes and mischievous behavior. Post season 4, the spotlight is shifted to Homer as the scope of humor and joke are much wider because of his personality.

The show is based in a fictional American town named “Springfield”. Matt said that he chose the name Springfield because it was one of the most popular city names in the US. This would make everyone believe that the show is set in their own Springfield, and this proved to be a hugely successful strategy.

How and When Did ‘The Simpsons’ Begin

Production Of The Show

The Cheif Producer of the Tracey Ullman Show, James L. Brooks, wanted to include an animated cartoon in his broadcast, so he requested Matt Groening to submit some ideas after he read Matt’s comic, Life in Hell.

Matt Groening decided to submit Life in Hell for airing but decided against it when he realized that he would have to give up the rights to the comic. As a result, Groening created the now-iconic characters on the spot, based on his own family.

The Simpson aired a total of 48 one-minute episodes as Shorts. James noticed the popularity of the series slowly grow and wanted to convert the format of the show from a short form to a prime-time TV show.

 A half an hour episode takes a total of eight months to be completely produced. The first step is the script for the episode which then flows into Studio Film Roman to be animated, and then the actors have to record their lines.

Regulars on The Tracey Show, Dan Castellaneta, and Julie Kavner are cast as the voices of Homer and Marge respectively. First interested in the part of Lisa, Nancy Cartwright got cast in Bart’s role. Many others joined the show as it started expanding, with over 450 characters in the show now.

The Success Of The Simpsons Show

The Simpsons, with its mischievous golden boy Bart as its early main character, splashed yellow all over the colorless and dull American TV.  The show’s early seasons are very different from the “classic” setup that many have come to love and adore. The show mostly focuses on Bart, but Homer is still portrayed as a loving but strict parent in contrast to the extroverted playboy.

The first breakthrough for the series came as a blast in the popularity of Bart as a character, with his instantly recognizable face and super catchy phrases, the popularity of the show and its merchandise sky-rocketed.

The first few seasons of the series served as the foundation of what’s to come. They were riddled with shaky animation, wonky-looking designs, and trembly voiceovers, but despite the flaws, the show is considered super entertaining and sharply funny.

In the early seasons, the show established itself as an opportunity violator, never holding back from making fun of anyone be it an authoritative figure, a celebrity, or a normal family. This style of comedy resulted in great success, and the popularity of the show only grew further, and The Simpsons soon became the best television program.
As an accomplishment of the show, The Simpsons was named the 20th century’s best television series by Time Magazine. On January 14, 2000, the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The show has earned 35 Primetime Emmys, 34 Annie Awards, and 2 Peabody Awards since it started airing.


Considered an Icon of the nineties, The Simpsons has left a huge mark on US Prime-Time TV and has shaped the future very different from what it would have been without it. In the 33 years since The Simpsons Started airing, it has hugely affected other shows like Family Guy, King of the Hill, Futurama, and the pop culture surrounding it.

The voices of the characters are widely recognized and their catchphrases have generated millions of dollars in merchandise. In addition, the show expanded into comic books, video games, and, in 2007, a full-length movie. The Emmy Award-winning Matt Groening continues to serve as an executive producer and creative consultant for the program.


When Did The Simpsons Originally Start?

The first short of Simpsons first aired on April 19, 1987, and the first-ever full-length episode aired on December 17, 1989.

Has The Simpsons Ended?

No, FOX has renewed The Simpsons for two more seasons. Following the airing of season 33, the show has been renewed for a 34th season.

Who Created The Simpson?

Cartoonist Matt Groening created The Simpsons which showcases American society and how humans deal with it, with a touch of irony and satire.

Is The Simpsons The Longest-Running TV Show?

Since it aired on December 17, 1989, going by the number of episodes and seasons, a total of 746 episodes have been broadcasted, making it the longest-running American Sitcom, animated series, and the longest scripted Primetime television show.

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