The Simpsons is an animated sitcom that first aired on December 17, 1989 and continues to air to this day, making it the longest running non-news U.S. primetime series ever. The series revolves around the core Simpson family and the expansive supporting cast which surrounds them in the fictional city of Springfield.
Though the episode Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire was the first appearance of the family in a 30-minute format, the concept behind the series debuted in a much shorter form on The Tracey Ullman Show. Series creator and Life in Hell cartoonist Matt Groening was called in to pitch a version of Life in Hell that could be animated and broadcast, but once Groening realized that this would require him giving up publishing rights to his comic strip, he quickly sketched out what would become the first incarnation of the Simpson family and named them after his own family. His idea was accepted by James L. Brooks as a suitable replacement for what he was originally supposed to pitch and he was told to go forward on the shorts.
In the first season of Ullman's variety show, a more crudely drawn version of the Simpsons appeared as bumper segments alongside a quickly forgotten animated short which was left in the proverbial dust after The Simpsons began to gain popularity. In the beginning, these shorts were written entirely by Groening with the aid of several animators from Klasky-Csupo. The shorts would continue to be broadcast until the end of the third season when FOX allowed Groening and Brooks to develop the shorts into a full series.
The series quickly blew up in popularity, particularly during the early 1990s when "Bartmania" swept the country, leading to the extreme merchandising of the characters, particularly Bart and Homer. The first season of the series drew an average of 13 million viewers in the United States alone, a number that allowed the fledgling FOX network to catapult into the big leagues, although the series suffered when executives programmed it against the wildly popular Cosby Show. However, the popularity of the series wasn't seen as a positive force in television. President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush openly criticized the program, saying that they wanted families to be "more like The Waltons and less like The Simpsons."
On July 27, 2007, the first feature-length Simpsons movie was released theatrically after being in creative limbo since the season four episode, Kamp Krusty, which was originally considered as the plot of a full movie.
Groening originally created the family as an alternative to what was being displayed on the typical American sitcom family in that the Simpsons are a functional dysfunctional family. In an early interview with Entertainment Weekly dating back to 1993, Groening commented that his goal was to offer "an alternative to the audience, and show them there's something else out there than the mainstream trash that they are presented as the only thing." As a result, while the series at its core is a simply story about a family in American society, there are deliberate messages being delivered with their adventures.
Homer's employment in a nuclear power plant gives writers the ability to comment on environmental issues, Springfield Elementary is used as a backdrop of looking at education in America, Reverend Lovejoy and his church allow for religious discourse which at one point even included Homer having a conversation with a suspiciously five-fingered god in Homer the Heretic. However, the series is not technically topical like South Park due to the time it takes to produce an episode, instead it examines broad social messages, usually through the eyes of Homer or Bart.
Some have observed the social content and philosophy of the series as nihilist, due to the overwhelming corruption and incompetence of those who run the town. Mayor Joe Quimby is a womanizer, the police force is frequently ineffective, Rev. Lovejoy is often portrayed as bored and indifferent towards his congregation and corporate owners like C. Montgomery Burns are shown as out for greed and greed alone. However, beneath the somewhat bleak outlook, those beneath that specter are shown as unique and nuanced people who reflect average Americans rather than cartoonish caricatures.
For reasons of size, only the most prominent character voiced by each actor is listed in this table. For a full listing of Simpsons characters, see the character listing.
|Dan Castellaneta||Homer Simpson||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25|
|Julie Kavner||Marge Simpson||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25|
|Nancy Cartwright||Bart Simpson||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25|
|Yeardley Smith||Lisa Simpson||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25|
|Hank Azaria||Moe Szyslak||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25|
|Harry Shearer||Charles Montgomery Burns||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24||25|
|Season numbers in red indicate a recurring or guest role in that season.|
|Pamela Hayden||Milhouse Van Houten||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24|
|Tress MacNeille||Agnes Skinner||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||17||19||20||21||22||23||24|
|Russi Taylor||Martin Prince||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24|
|Marcia Wallace||Edna Krabappel||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24|
|Maggie Roswell||Maude Flanders||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||24|
|Marcia Mitzman Gaven||11||12||13||14|
|Jo Ann Harris||Additional Voices||1||2||3||4|
|Kelsey Grammer||Sideshow Bob||1||3||5||6||7||8||12||14||17||19||20||21||23||24|
|Phil Hartman||Troy McClure||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10|
|Doris Grau||Lunchlady Doris||2||3||4||5||6||7|
|Jon Lovitz||Additional Voices||2||3||4||6||8||13||15||18||24|
|Frank Welker||Santa's Little Helper||2||3||5||6||7||8||11||12||13|
|Joe Mantegna||Fat Tony||3||6||7||8||10||11||12||13||14||16||17||18||20||21||22||24|
|Maurice LaMarche||Additional Voices||6||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||24|
|Karl Wiedergott||Additional Voices||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22|
|Jane Kaczmarek||Constance Harm||13||14||15||16||18||21|
|Terry W. Greene||Additional Voices||14||16||17||22||24|
|Kevin Michael Richardson||Additional Voices||21||22||23||24|
|Chris Edgerly||Additional Voices||22||23||24|
|Season One||December 17, 1989||May 13, 1990||13|
|Season Two||October 11, 1990||July 11, 1990||22|
|Season Three||September 19, 1991||August 27, 1992||24|
|Season Four||September 24, 1992||May 13, 1993||22|
|Season Five||September 30, 1993||May 19, 1994||22|
|Season Six||September 4, 1994||May 21, 1995||25|
|Season Seven||September 17, 1995||May 19, 1996||25|
|Season Eight||October 27, 1996||May 18, 1997||25|
|Season Nine||September 21, 1997||May 17, 1998||25|
|Season Ten||August 23, 1998||May 16, 1999||23|
|Season Eleven||September 26, 1999||May 21, 2000||22|
|Season Twelve||November 1, 2000||May 20, 2001||21|
|Season Thirteen||November 6, 2001||May 22, 2002||22|
|Season Fourteen||November 3, 2002||May 18, 2003||22|
|Season Fifteen||November 2, 2003||May 23, 2004||22|
|Season Sixteen||November 7, 2004||May 15, 2005||21|
|Season Seventeen||September 11, 2005||May 21, 2006||22|
|Season Eighteen||September 10, 2006||May 20, 2007||22|
|Season Nineteen||September 23, 2007||May 18, 2008||20|
|Season Twenty||September 28, 2008||May 17, 2009||21|
|Season Twenty-One||September 27, 2009||May 23, 2010||23|
|Season Twenty-Two||September 26, 2010||May 22, 2011||22|
|Season Twenty-Three||September 25, 2011||May 13, 2012||22|
|Season Twenty-Four||September 30, 2012||May 19, 2013||22|
|Season Twenty-Five||September 29, 2013||—||—|
|The Simpsons Movie||July 27, 2007|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
- Characters: A listing of characters in the series
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
|The Complete Thirteenth Season||August 24, 2010||3||purchase|
|The Complete Twentieth Season||January 12, 2010||2||purchase|
|The Simpsons Movie||December 18, 2007||1||purchase|
|Title||Release Date||Music By||#|
|Songs in the Key of Springfield||March 18, 1997||Alf Clausen||39|
|Go Simpsonic With The Simpsons||November 2, 1999||Alf Clausen||53|