The Simpsons is making all kinds of headlines as of late, with every episode ever being aired back-to-back on the FXX network. To announce this marathon, they’ve aired this commercial, with a post-apocalyptic theme—illustrating, of course, that with everyone busy watching The Simpsons, no one would get any actual work done, and societal collapse is therefore inevitable:
This isn’t the first time the topic has come up on the show. Naturally, with as long a run as this show has (it is the longest continuously-running animated show, ever), it was bound to happen: the show has referenced the possibility of the end of the world, numerous times. In this article, I break down the top five times the Simpsons has done this—in chronological order.
Lisa the Skeptic
Season 9, Episode 8
November 23, 1997
Lisa protests the building of a new megamall, due its construction on top of a site where fossils were discovered. She convinces Sid, the owner of the site, to allow her and the entire Springfield Elementary to conduct an archeological dig. Events delve into the supernatural when she discovers the bones of what appear to be an angel:
Before long, the angel disappears from the Simpson house where it being kept and shows up at the other end of town, with a dire message: The End Will Come at Sundown!
Ned Flanders: Reverend, I’ve gotta admit, this doomsday warning has me just a smidge twitterpated!
Reverend Lovejoy: Oh, now, be calm, Ned. But be afraid also, tremendously afraid, for the day of reckoning is upon us!
At sundown, with the entire town gathered in front of the angel, it becomes obvious what has happened as a voice announces, “Prepared for the end. The end—of high prices!” and the grand opening of Heavenly Hills Mall commences. Of course, Lisa is none too pleased, as she confronts Sid:
Lisa: You planted a phony skeleton for me to find. This was all a big hoax!
Sid: Not a hoax, a publicity stunt!
An interesting plot point: even though Lisa was skeptical during this episode, when the entire town was gripped in fear of the possible end, it affected her as well.
Treehouse of Horror X
Season 11, Episode 4
October 31, 1999
In the third segment, titled “Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die,” the Simpsons tackle the Y2K bug head-on. The biggest fears are realized as the date being read incorrectly by the computers as 1900 instead of 2000 leads to massive computer failure and widespread destruction. Lisa sets up the exposition:
Lisa: “Even a single faulty unit could corrupt every other computer in the world!”
Homer: “That can’t be true, honey. If it were, I’d be terrified!”
Because of the date on Homer’s machine not being set properly (a fine Y2K compliance officer he made), Lisa’s explanation comes true. Across the country, machines start to malfunction. This is bad enough, as cars start to smash into each other without functioning traffic lights and other disasters ensue. To make matters worse, the town of Springfield resorts to looting even as Reverend Lovejoy warns that Judgment Day is upon them, and for them to repent their sins.
Things take a turn for the worse as the machines also somehow become sentient and overthrow their human masters. Electric razors, waffle makers, and even icemakers all weaponize themselves and go on the attack. The traffic lights even shoot red, greed, and yellow lasers:
Soon, they find an envelope marked “Top Secret” with information about a classified government plan, “Project Exodus”, where they intend to evacuate the planet. Lisa is allowed on board the spacecraft, since she was selected to be the ship’s proofreader, but Homer and Bart are denied entry. They find another, unguarded, ship and sneak onboard.
Homer: “I can’t believe I destroyed the earth.”
Bart: “Are you still talking about the earth?”
Just when they think they’re saved, it turns out only the other ship (with Marge and Lisa) is safe. Their ship, however, is headed for the sun. As Homer points out, “The sun? That’s the hottest place on earth!”
Thank God, It’s Doomsday
Season 16, Episode 19
May 8, 2005
The Simpsons go to the movies, and see the film Left Below (naturally, homage the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye). As the character in this fictitious film explains, “It’s the Rapture! The virtuous have gone to heaven, and the rest of us have been… left below.”
Homer worries that this movie will haunt him for the rest of his life. Sure enough, in the following days, Homer becomes utterly consumed with the idea that the Rapture is upon them. He begins to interpret anything and everything that happens around him as ominous signs of the end times. He soon goes to a Christian bookstore to read up on the Rapture:
Homer: The Rapture is nigh. These books will help me figure out how nigh! This whole deal is scientifically proven.
Homer calculates that the Rapture will occur will occur at May 18, at exactly 3:15 PM. He begins walking around Springfield, holding a sign proclaiming “The End is Near”, and telling TV reporter Kent Brockman, “God loves you! He’s going to kill you!”
Lisa remains just as skeptical as ever.
Lisa: “Dad, we love you, but we just don’t think the world is coming to an end! Yet… A hundred years, global warming, we’re goners!”
Homer convinces the town of their impending doom, as they all have a pre-Rapture party, shortly before they decide to head for the hills. The hill is Springfield Mesa, 15 miles north. After waiting patiently, for seconds—then minutes—then hours—they all decide to go home.
“Wait for it… Wait for it… Wait for it…”
Homer is now the laughingstock of the town, when he has a brilliant revelation—he must have miscalculated! He crunches the numbers and this time insists that the Rapture will occur the following day (same time, of course). This time, he heads to Springfield Mesa alone.
To his amazement, he is actually right this time. He goes to heaven and is given the tour. Selflessly, he wonders about his family back on earth. He checks it out on the TV, and sees that everyone is being tortured through the period of Tribulation:
Disturbed, Homer convinces God to put off this whole Rapture thing for a couple more years so he can have a chance to save his family, first. Initially reluctant, as doing so would mean turning back time, Homer points out:
Homer: “Superman did it!”
God returns everything back to normal as he announces, “Deus Ex Machina!” Homer wakes to find everything back the way it was.
Treehouse of Horror XXIII
Season 24, Episode 2
October 7, 2012
The scene starts with a flashback to the city of Chichen Itza, at the height of the Maya civilization. As the Mayan priest [played by Reverend Lovejoy] explains:
Priest: According to our Mayan calendar, the world will be destroyed at the end of the thirteenth baktun.
Mayor Quimby: Unless we appease the gods anger with a human sacrifice.
Though they were attempting to fatten up a stand-in for Homer Simpson, Marge saves him, and tricks Moe Szyslak into getting sacrificed instead. This, in turn, angers the gods, who really will destroy the world on the thirteenth baktun (in 2012) as a result.
Fast forward to Springfield, present day, where the Mayan Gods come down to Earth, find the modern version of Homer Simpson, and flatten him—as well as the rest of planet!
Homer Goes to Prep School
Season 24, Episode 9
January 6, 2013
After taking the kids to a fun zone (a kind of miniature indoor theme park), panic ensues when a child escapes and the entire facility goes on lockdown. The mothers and children are all okay, but the fathers all erupt into violence. Homer sees them all as very barbaric, and—as the music to the original Planet of the Apes plays—he philosophizes, “Deep down we’re all savage apes!”
Upon returning back to the daily grind, however, Homer finds that he is a bit shaken up over his ordeal. He begins to see apes everywhere!
He goes to Moe’s tavern, depressed. “I guess despite all our so-called civilization, anarchy lurks around every corner like a racially diverse street gang on a network cop show.”
Homer encounters a newcomer, Lloyd, who tells Homer he just experienced WROL—Without the Rule of Law. He explains that anarchy and the end of civilization are coming soon to America. Homer counters:
Homer: “America can’t collapse. We’re as powerful as Ancient Rome!”
Lloyd shows the impressionable Homer an online video, using his tablet. The vid explains how modern society is like a house of cards that will collapse at any moment, and shows a futuristic post-apocalyptic nightmare world that is to come (copyright “You’re All Gonna Die Productions”). Homer exclaims:
Homer: Oh, my God! This unsourced, undated video has convinced me beyond any doubt!
Lloyd introduces Homer to the world of Preppers. After initially refusing to join them (confusing them with preppies) Homer decides to become part of the group. They promise to teach him the skills he needs to survive any potential crisis.
They show Homer their secret bunker and give him some tips on prepping. They explain that they need to stock up early, because when the disaster strikes, the sheeple will clean out every supermarket in town.
Lloyd: “We all know America’s collapse is about three months away.”
Herman: “Six weeks at most!”
Lloyd: “There’s always one alarmist.”
Homer spends all his time at work watching prepping videos online, ignoring his job duties at the nuclear power plant, creating an EMP leading to a power failure crisis that affects all of Springfield. Lloyd cheerfully exclaims, “This is it—bugout time! Everyone but us is doomed. I am so jazzed!”
The Simpsons hang out with the preppers in their bunker, but they don’t stay long. The Preppers are not interested in helping others, which is what Homer and Marge are all about. The Simpsons take all the food and supplies to the people of Springfield, only to discover that the power came back on after a few days, and everything’s going to be just fine after all.
Marge: Everything’s normal. The world didn’t end!
The final shot: A meteor full of brain-eating zombies about to crash into the earth!