We witnessed this phenomenon most recently when fans noticed similarities between Vice President Kamala Harris' outfit during the inauguration and a Lisa Simpson's outfit from 2000.
Over its 32 years and 32 seasons of existence, Fox's The Simpsons has served as more than just the foundation of modern comedy. As the longest-running sitcom in US history, the timeless series has time and again featured moments that later manifested themselves in real life with freakish accuracy. We witnessed this phenomenon once again recently when social media users noticed similarities between Vice President Kamala Harris' outfit during the inauguration and Lisa Simpson's outfit in an episode from 2000 titled "Bart to the Future." Harris and Lisa's matching purple jackets and pearls were too much of a coincidence for fans who believe in the show's prescient abilities.
Yeah, everything that ever will be has already been on “The Simpsons”. But this is a bit on the nose. pic.twitter.com/SOHKyIzHjn— Phil Hagen (@PhilHagen) January 21, 2021
So as we marvel at creator Matt Groening and his team's apparent ability to foresee everything from Vice President Harris' Inauguration Day outfit to the Trump presidency, here's a look at 14 times episodes, plotlines, and throwaway jokes from The Simpsons came to fruition in the real world:
HOW DO THE SIMPSONS ALWAYS PREDICT THIS SHIT pic.twitter.com/vHt4YAIJYn— 『CKT』Kairy Luminess ➐ (@kairyluminess) January 19, 2021
Actor Tom Hanks appeared as a host during a virtual concert celebrating Joe Biden's inauguration, which aimed to keep with the president's theme of national unity in a time of crisis. Eagle-eyed fans soon called back to The Simpsons Movie from 2007 which featured Hanks in a cameo role, pitching a proposed new Grand Canyon at Springfield. "Hello. I'm Tom Hanks. The US government has lost its credibility, so it's borrowing some of mine," he says in the film. At the end of the scene, he adds, "If you're gonna pick a government to trust, why not this one?"
Lord...the Simpsons have done it again. Somebody on their writing team MUST be from the future! They totally predicted 2020! pic.twitter.com/cqxX9faJwz— A High-born Nubian 🤴🏾 (@UrsineNoir) May 6, 2020
While most of us were quite unprepared for what 2020 had in store for us, The Simpsons had predicted at least two things about the past year in a 1993 episode. According to TIME, the nearly 30-year-old episode Marge in Chains depicted an unprecedented flu sweeping across Springfield and a swarm of killer bees that could be likened to the murder hornets we were warned of last year.
In another instance of a Simpsons storyline coming to real-life fruition, Team USA’s men’s curling team defeated Sweden in a shocking upset at the 2018 Olympics.
Disney announces it has reached a deal to acquire 21st Century Fox, as predicted by a Simpsons episode that first aired on November 8, 1998. pic.twitter.com/kzloJQHeM8— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 14, 2017
A 1998 episode titled When You Dish Upon A Star featured a sign at the Fox studio lot that depicted the company as "A Division of Walt Disney Co." Cut to 20 years later, and Disney announced that it reached a deal to acquire $66.1 billion-worth of Fox on Dec. 14, 2017.
Years before Lady Gaga probably even thought about descending from the roof of Houston's NRG Stadium for the halftime show of Super Bowl LI, her Simpsons doppelgänger performed a song for Springfield residents while suspended in the air.
This is a direct Simpsons quote from March 2000 in a future where Lisa was president— Mike M (@MikeMarFF) December 8, 2016
Once again, The Simpsons is always right pic.twitter.com/992UUp8bI6
In the same episode that "predicted" Vice President Harris' Inauguration Day ensemble, viewers learn that Lisa inherited "quite a budget crunch" from her predecessor, Donald Trump. "The country is broke?" she asks her aides in one scene. "How can that be?" Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, writer Dan Greaney explained that the joke was meant as a warning to the country. "That just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom," he said. "It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane."
In one of their episodes from 2010, The Simpsons showed Milhouse betting on MIT professor Bengt Holmström to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Surprisingly, he did win after 6 years.
A 1995 episode transported viewers 15 years into the future to 2010 where wristwatch communication technology existed. However, the show's future society was a little ahead of its time, as modern voice recognition-enabled smartwatches weren’t rolled out until 2014.
The NSA as portrayed in The Simpsons Movie (2007) pic.twitter.com/7g8piC7x7H— Asher Wolf (@Asher_Wolf) February 8, 2015
Six years after The Simpsons Movie — which featured the NSA locating Marge and the kids by listening in on one of their conversations — hit theaters, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the government mass surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet records.
Homer discovered the Higgs boson. pic.twitter.com/QAXhNIgMmF— Michael (@MikeblendswelL) May 21, 2016
While the existence of the Higgs boson or "God particle" wasn't confirmed by physicists until 2012, a 1998 episode showed Homer standing in front of a blackboard with an equation that predicted the mass of the yet-to-be-discovered particle.
In a 2008 episode that featured a bit inspired by the presidential election, a voting machine records Homer's voter for Obama as John McCain several times. When Obama ran for a second term in 2012, video footage emerged of a Pennsylvania machine switching a vote from Obama to one for his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.
In a 1994 episode, Lisa on Ice, Dolph uses an Apple Newton - a digital assistant. When he tries to write ''Beat up Martin'', the machine changes it to "Eat up Martha" which could mark the very beginning of the now infamous autocorrect fails. Nitin Ganatra, Apple's former director of engineering for iOS applications, revealed in 2013 that the Simpsons' gag was often referred to while developing the software for the iPhone’s keyboard.
A 1993 episode featured German magicians Gunter and Ernst — a clear Siegfried and Roy reference — performing a routine during which they are attacked by their tiger. This bit tragically came to fruition 10 years later when Roy Horn was mauled on stage by a white Bengal tiger.
The iconic three-eyed fish was a symbol throughout The Simpsons of the massive pollution the town was facing and how badly it affects nature. Those messages turned sentient in 2011 when fishermen caught a three-eyed wolf fish in a reservoir that feeds near a nuclear plant in Argentina.