The Simpsons is notable for parodying events that have taken place within the real world. It should come to no surprise that certain episodes, either whole or in part, have parodied true crimes. Recently Fox has announced that the network will be picking up the series for its record-breaking 30th season, officially making the show the longest running program in television history. In honor of this accomplishment, we’re going to take a look at episodes based on real life crimes.
Who Shot Mr. Burns?
It was the two part murder mystery cliffhanger that kept kids across the country on edge for an entire summer. Who Shot Mr. Burns? Was it Apu, the unassuming owner of the Kwik-e-Mart? Was it that Spanish television guy who was always dressed in a bumblebee suit? Was it Marge? All summer long viewers could use their touch-tone phones to call in their vote in hopes of winning prizes, but even more than that, they could have the satisfaction of catching an attempted killer.
The secret was later revealed that it was baby Maggie. Mr. Burns’ gun dropped from the holster in his vest, landing on the baby’s lap as he reached for a lollipop the tyke had been eating. The curious baby picked up the gun and fired it into Burns’ chest.
While there doesn’t appear to be any documented cases of people being shot while attempting to steal candy from children, plenty of careless gun owners have been shot by children for failing to secure loaded weapons.
A case in 2014 states that a Texas man had been asleep when his loaded gun slipped out of his pocket, straight into the hands of a 3-month-old infant. The man then attempted to wrestle the gun away from the baby, causing the gun to discharge and shoot the man in the face. The man was last reported to be in critical condition. No word if the man had died as a result of the incident.
Moe, the local tavern owner, finds himself in financial trouble after attempting to impress a lady friend. Desperate for cash, Moe enlists Homer to steal his car and commit insurance fraud. As expected, the plan was a colossal failure and Homer was arrested.
Though the show portrays insurance fraud in a comedic light, “cash for crash” schemes and other forms of insurance fraud cost companies millions of dollars annually. These costs are then passed on to the consumer in the form of increased premiums.
The state of Louisiana has been hit particularly hard by these types of scams and has since enacted a statewide crackdown. As recently as October 2016, two women were placed under arrest for filing fraudulent claims.
The problem also isn’t limited to the United States. The Crown Court prosecuted eight UK men for pulling off a series of fraudulent claims for vehicle damage and personal injuries. The men were able to collect nearly £40,000 (over $50,000) in the scams that they were tried for in October of 2016.
Homer’s mother, Mona “Sunny” Simpson is introduced to the series after Homer attempts to fake his own death. Homer, who was under the impression that his mother had died when he was a child, learns that his mother had been a political activist who was forced to go on the run after she was caught breaking into a lab run by none other than Mr. Burns.
Though Mona Simpson is a fictional character, according to the fan-powered Simpsons Wiki, she was based on Bernardine Dohrn, a prominent member within the Weather Underground organization who staged politically motivated bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.
Her crimes were also based on real crimes committed by various activist movements, including organizations like the Animal Liberation Front. These organizations, known as “eco-terrorists” by the government, were notorious for breaking into laboratories and freeing the animals used for testing. The result of these protest crimes cost facilities thousands of dollars in damages, including lost research.
The Telltale Head
It’s nearly a right of passage for high school and college kids across the country to pull pranks on rival schools. Most of the time these pranks are harmless, but the pressure to out-do the last guys is always on, and there have been times where these pranks have crossed into serious incidents of property damage and theft.
In the episode titled The Telltale Head, Bart steals the head of the town’s beloved Jebediah Springfield statue. Eventually Bart’s conscious gets the best of him and he confesses to the vandalism of the statue. Bart and Homer later return the head. Though Bart faces no real legal consequences for his crime, plenty of young people have found themselves in serious trouble for pulling similar pranks.
In 2010, five Calvin College students were facing up to five years in prison for stealing the head of a giraffe off a highway billboard. The head became a cult sensation within the area, even spawning a Facebook fan page. Eventually tips led investigators to a home in Southeast Grand Rapids and the five young men believed to have been behind the prank were placed under arrest. No word on what the terms of the students’ official sentencing were.
Also in 2010, two former University of Oregon students were suspected in stealing a giant replica head of sportscaster Lee Corso. The students said they spotted the head after it was left behind on “gameday,” which ESPN had been covering on the campus. One of the men hid the head in some bushes, before a second friend arrived in his car. Taking the giant head on a joyride back to their home in Eugene, the two former students had second thoughts about keeping it and instead decided to drop the head off at the home of a University of Oregon Employee. Arrangements were later made to return the head to ESPN’s studios.
In 2013, a longtime prank war between Duke University students and their rivals at North Carolina University literally came to a head, when North Carolina students stole the head of a Duke University blue devil mascot. The students then placed the blue devil head on a pike for the visiting team and their fans to view while entering the football stands. No word if any charges were pressed in the prank, but a Duke University spokesman did confirm that one of their mascot heads were missing at the time of the prank.
In the episode Simple Simpson Homer assumes his new identity as “Pie Man” and acts as the town’s vigilante, throwing pies into the faces of criminals. Homer eventually decides to retire his Pie Man alter-ego when Mr. Burns holds him captive and attempts to use Pie Man to throw a pie in the face of the Dalai Lama. Later in the episode, Homer, dressed as Pie Man, swears to return whenever there is evil and injustice afoot.
While there is no “Pie Man” many people have taken on their own superhero identities in order to fight against the crimes plaguing their cities. Many of these people simply work as activists who act as a bridge between their local law enforcement and their community, but some take the job very seriously and have put their lives in danger facing off with violent criminals.
One such crusader is the Bradford Batman, who in 2013 apprehended a man wanted for various charges and marched him into the West Yorkshire police station. The man was taken into custody and the city of Bradford can rest easy knowing there is one less criminal running loose on the streets.
In Seattle, a man calling himself Phoenix Jones was credited with stopping an attempted murder. The hero spotted three suspects pistol-whip and kick another man multiple times. Jones sprang into action and raced towards the fight, knocking the gun out of one of the men’s hands. He was also able to corner one of the suspects until police arrived.