Five of the Worst Times ‘The Simpsons’ Betrayed Its Own Canon

The sloppiest retcons and laziest anachronisms in the loose canon of ‘The Simpsons’
Five of the Worst Times ‘The Simpsons’ Betrayed Its Own Canon

Some pieces of the characteristically contradictory Simpsons canon deserve to be sealed away from the world under penalty of torture — but anyone who’s still watching the show in 2024 is probably a sucker for punishment.

The floating timeline of The Simpsons was designed to accommodate all kinds of anachronisms and plot holes that get quietly pushed under the rug every time the end credits roll. At this point, Homer is almost canonically younger than the show itself, and, in the past 34 years and counting, he and his family have seen seismic shifts in the established facts of their universe as well as changes to their own backstories that still have fans scratching their heads and wondering how the hell a childless Marge was supposed to have gone to college when Homer knocked her up so soon after high school.

Since it’s hard to write 760 episodes of TV about a town and a family that never changes without a few incidental inconsistencies, most of the retcons and canon adjustments of The Simpsons are easily accepted and left as an interesting footnote on the wiki — but not all of them. Sometimes, drastic changes to important aspects of a character’s bio shake our view of the Simpsons’ world like an earthquake. Here are the worst canon contradictions in Simpsons history, starting with…

Eddie Muntz Didn’t Skip Out On Nelson – He Was Kidnapped By the Circus

Nelson Muntz’ bully backstory didn’t need any elaboration — his dad walked out on him and his cigarette-chiefing mom, leaving behind burly genes and an Oedipal anger that turned him into the secretly sensitive troubled child with whom we (and Lisa) fell in love. However, in Season 16’s “Sleeping with the Enemy,” Eddie Muntz isn’t a deadbeat dad so much as a Shanghai’d carney who was snatched up by the circus who thought that a man undergoing a serious allergic reaction was a perfect fit for their freak show.

Homer Forgot That the Frenchie Tried to French His Wife

In Season One’s “Life on the Fast Lane,” Marge comes dangerously close to breaking her wedding vows when the seductive bowling instructor Jacques catches her at a moment of tension in her marriage. An embroidered wrist guard tips Homer off to the potential funny business triggering a minor meltdown in his mind — one that was conveniently wiped before Season 34’s “Pin Gals” brought Jacques back into Marge’s life when Homer hires him to be her bowling coach, none the wiser about the frog’s feelings toward his wife.

Mona Wasn’t As Estranged A Mother As We Thought

The reunion of Homer and his mother Mona after 27 years apart in the Season Seven episode “Mother Simpson” led to some of the most heartfelt moments in the entire series, including the gut-wrenching conclusion when she, once again, leaves his life for good. However, almost 27 years after “Mother Simpson” broke our hearts, the writers of the Season 33 episode “Mothers and Other Strangers” ruined the reunion by establishing that, between Mona’s original disappearance and her re-emergence in “Mother Simpson,” she ran into Homer at least twice — once when he was 16, and once when her grandson Bart was born. 

Homer and Marge Broke Up So ‘The Simpsons’ Writers Could Do Their Shitty Nirvana Parody

The emergence of Homer and Marge’s early relationship is carved into TV history — but not into stone, apparently. The early seasons clearly establish a relationship timeline with the emotional beats that serve as the foundation of Marge and Homer’s relationship in the current day, but in “That ‘90s Show,” the writers decided to ditch a delicately developed connection to force a separation during which Marge had a fling with a snobby professor and Homer went through his god-awful grunge phase.

Seymour Skinner Is Armin Tamzarian

This list simply wouldn’t be complete without an acknowledgement of the most infamous and egregious example of Simpsons writers torching our trust in their ability to build the world of the show. Many Simpsons fans consider Season Nine’s “The Principal and the Pauper” to be the beginning of the end of the Simpsons Golden Age. The rest of them simply agreed to Judge Snyder’s terms and never spoke of it again.

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