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The Simpsons shorts

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The Simpsons shorts
Season 1

The Simpsons in the Ullman shorts

The Simpsons shorts is a series of one-minute shorts that ran on the variety show The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, before the characters spun off into their own half-hour prime time show called The Simpsons. The shorts were created by cartoonist Matt Groening in the lobby of James L. Brooks's office. He had been called in to pitch a series of animated shorts, and had intended to present his Life in Hell series. When he realized that animating Life in Hell would require him to rescind publication rights for his life's work, Groening decided to go in another direction.[1] He hurriedly sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family, and named the characters after his own family.[1] Bart was modeled after Groening's older brother, Mark, but given a different name which was chosen as an anagram of "brat."[2]

The title card of the shorts. Bart would hum "Da-da-da-da" to a tune, and then slingshot a stone at the camera, before cutting to the short.

The stories were written and storyboarded by Matt Groening.[3] The family was crudely drawn, because Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up; instead they just traced over his drawings.[1] The animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo,[4] with Wesley Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators for the first season.[3] After season one it was animated by Archer and Silverman.[3] Gyorgyi Peluce was the colorist and the person who decided to make the characters yellow.[3]

The characters are voiced by the same people known from The Simpsons. Dan Castellaneta performed the voices of Homer Simpson, Abraham Simpson, and Krusty the Clown. Homer's voice sounds different on the shorts compared to most episodes of the half-hour show. His voice was in the beginning a loose impression of Walter Matthau, but it became more robust and humorous on the half-hour show, allowing Homer to cover a fuller range of emotions.[5] Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith performed the voices of Marge Simpson, Bart Simpson, and Lisa Simpson respectively.

The shorts were featured on the first three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show. By the fourth and last season of The Tracey Ullman Show the first season of the half-hour show was on the air. In the two first seasons the shorts were divided into three or four parts, in the third season they were played as a single story. Tracey Ullman filed a lawsuit, claiming that her show was the source of The Simpsons success and therefore should receive a share of the show's profit. Eventually the courts ruled in favor of the network.[6]

Only a few of these shorts have been released on DVD. "Good Night" was included on The Simpsons season 1 DVD. Five of these shorts were later used in the clip show episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" on the half-hour show, which was released on the season 7 DVD. These five shorts were "Good Night", "The Perfect Crime", "Space Patrol", "World War III", and "Bathtime". Another twelve of the shorts have seen release on the VHS series, The Best of The Simpsons (one on each tape, in-between the two episodes).Groening announced in 2006 that all of the shorts will be available on mobile phones,[7] however 6 years after the announcement, the shorts have yet to appear in the mobile streaming network.

There are many cut scenes from syndication.


Season 1: 1987[edit]

# Picture Title Original airdate Prod. code
1 - 1 00 01 Good Night.png "Good Night" April 19, 1987 MG01
Marge and Homer say goodnight to their kids but all does not go to plan. Bart philosophically contemplates (first time and last) the wonders of the mind, Lisa hears Marge say "don't let the bed bugs bite" and fears that her bed bugs will eat her, and Maggie is traumatized by the lyrics of "rock-a-bye-baby"
2 - 2 00 02 Watching TV.png "Watching Television" April 26, 1987 MG02
Bart and Lisa quarrel over what channel they should watch. Repeatedly Maggie comes up to the television and changes the channel. The only thing they eventually agree on is to stop Maggie changing the channel. Later Homer is saying a speech about family matters and stops when the show comes back on.
3 - 3 00 03 Bart Jumps.png "Bart Jumps" May 3, 1987 MG03
Homer makes several attempts to have Bart jump into his arms. Each time Bart jumps Homer is distracted and fails to catch him.
4 - 4 00 04 Babysitting Maggie.png "Babysitting Maggie" May 10, 1987 MG04
Marge puts Bart and Lisa in charge of babysitting Maggie. They totally ignore her, and she gets electrocuted, falls down the stairs and chases a butterfly onto the roof only to fall off the roof.
5 - 5 00 05 The Pacifier.png "The Pacifier" May 17, 1987 MG05
Bart and Lisa take Maggie's pacifier away to stop her from sucking on it. Maggie has an entire drawer full of them and refuses to kick the habit.
6 - 6 00 06 Burp Contest.png "Burp Contest" May 24, 1987 MG06
Bart, Lisa and Maggie compete in a contest to see who can make the most disgusting burp. Marge objects several times, but to no avail.
7 - 7 00 07 Eating Dinner.png "Eating Dinner" May 31, 1987 MG07
Marge serves the family dinner and the family sits down for the meal. Marge insists that the family should have table manners, but their crude eating habits are hard to stop.

Season 2: 1987 - 1988[edit]

# Picture Title Original airdate Prod. code
8 - 1 00 08 Making Faces.png "Making Faces" September 22, 1987 MG09
The kids make faces, intending them to be scary whilst ignoring Marge's warnings that they would be permanent if they keep doing them.
9 - 2 00 09 The Funeral.png "The Funeral" October 4, 1987 MG14
The family attend a funeral of Uncle Hubert although Bart and Lisa prove to be disruptive. Homer decides not take them to another funeral ever again, at their dismay.
10 - 3 00 10 Maggie's Brain.png "Maggie's Brain" October 11, 1987 MG10
Bart and Lisa wonder what Maggie is thinking, looking at her in her crib.
11 - 4 00 11 Football.png "Football" October 18, 1987 MG08
Homer promises to reward the kids frosty chocolate milkshakes if Bart can catch a football thrown by him. Bart fails numerous times to catch it, falling down a cliff and finally catches the football with his mouth, which also becomes stuck in there.
12 - 5 00 12 House of Cards.png "House of Cards" October 25, 1987 MG12
Bart attempts to build a house of cards although each set he assembles keeps falling apart due to disruptions, including Lisa and Maggie's noises.
13 - 6 00 13 Bart's and Homer's Dinner.png "Bart and Homer's Dinner" November 1, 1987 MG15
Homer and Bart have dinner together while Marge, Lisa and Maggie are watching a ballet. They eat a mixture of fish nuggets and pork-a-roni or "fish pork-a-roni", which Bart cannot stomach.
14 - 7 00 14 Space Patrol.png "Space Patrol" November 8, 1987 MG13
The kids play "Space Patrol" while Homer and Marge are out. Lisa plays as a superhero and Maggie as her sidekick with pans on their heads while Bart plays an alien warlord with a vase covering his whole head, getting stuck in there. Lisa eventually smashes the vase off Bart with a croquet mallet although some of it remains on his neck, strangling him while Lisa and Maggie hide before Homer and Marge come home.
15 - 8 00 15 Bart's Haircut.png "Bart's Haircut" November 15, 1987 MG18
Bart must have a haircut as his hair is at a considerable length. He is shaven bald, much to his dismay, in a barbershop. After an unsuccessful attempt to have the cut hair glued back on his head, he unveils his haircut to the family, who cannot help laugh at it despite promising not to.
16 - 9 00 16 World War III.png "World War III" November 22, 1987 MG20
Homer wakes up the family early in the morning, having them believe there's an emergency, such as World War III which urges them to go to their bomb shelter. They become irritated despite his reason to have them do it to practice for a nuclear drill, failing each time to get to safety quickly if there were a real emergency. They then convince Homer that there is an emergency, which he is alarmed by and rushes to the bomb shelter and the family lock him in, believing it for the best.
17 - 10 00 17 The Perfect Crime.png "The Perfect Crime" December 13, 1987 MG16
Bart believes stealing freshly baked cookies as "the perfect crime". His attempts to steal them fail until finally, he eats most of them and Homer and Marge find the tray empty. As the only witness, Maggie leads them to Bart and he is full of the cookies and considers that there is no perfect crime while Maggie eats one.
18 - 11 00 18 Scary Stories.png "Scary Stories" December 20, 1987 MG17
Bart tells Lisa and Maggie scary stories while in the dark and they come true.
19 - 12 00 19 Grampa and the kids.png "Grampa & the Kids" January 10, 1988 MG19
Grampa tells the kids stories such as times when he was their age. They eventually stop paying attention to him and he tries to regain their attention by faking his death.
20 - 13 00 20 Gone Fishin.png "Gone Fishin'" January 24, 1988 MG11
Homer and Bart go to the lake on a fishing trip. At lunch, Homer has a Bologna sandwich, although Bart has forgot to take some along. He uses bait instead as Bologna. They then head through rapids and down a waterfall.
21 - 14 00 21 Skateboard.png "Skateboarding" February 7, 1988 MG21
Bart teaches Lisa and Maggie how to skateboard although they outperform his skills each time.
22 - 15 00 22 Pagans.png "The Pagans" February 14, 1988 MG22
The family's car breaks down on the way to church and the kids decide to be pagans.
23 - 16 00 23 The Closet.png "The Closet" February 21, 1988 MG23
Bart hides in a closet to avoid chores although he gets trapped in it and attempts to break out. He eventually does although the family had gone out to get frosty chocolate milkshakes.
24 - 17 00 24 Aquarium.png "The Aquarium" February 28, 1988 MG24
Homer takes the kids to an aquarium while Bart misbehaves with the sights.
25 - 18 00 25 Family Portrait.png "Family Portrait" March 6, 1988 MG25
The family have trouble taking a good photo for a family portrait.
26 - 19 00 26 Bart's Hiccups.png "Bart's Hiccups" March 13, 1988 MG26
Lisa and Maggie attempt to cure Bart's hiccups to no avail.
27 - 20 00 27 Money Jar.png "The Money Jar" March 20, 1988 MG27
Marge forbids the kids to steal money from the money jar. They each decide whether it is right or wrong to do it, with their shoulder angel and devil convincing opposite decisions. Bart's shoulder angel and devil both convince him to take money, although he does not take any as there is only $1 in the jar, being insufficient to his needs.
28 - 21 00 28 The Art Museum.png "The Art Museum" May 1, 1988 MG29
The family visit an art museum, which Bart and Lisa misbehaves with some of the exhibits.
29 - 22 00 29 Zoo Story.png "Zoo Story" May 8, 1988 MG28
The family go to a zoo, finding a gorilla family mirroring their appearances. The gorillas throw their excrement at Homer's face after repeatedly teasing them, offering a peanut, which he does not have, to one.

Season 3: 1988 - 1989[edit]

# Picture Title Original airdate Prod. code
30 - 1 00 30 Shut Up Simpsons.png "Shut Up Simpsons" November 6, 1988 MG30
Homer, the kids and Grampa start a chain reaction on each other which develops as one says to another to stop it, such as Lisa telling Maggie to stop squeaking a toy. They all reconcile, except Lisa and Maggie who end up strangling each other.
31 - 2 00 31 The Shell Game.png "The Shell Game" November 13, 1988 MG35
Bart attempts to steal cookies from the cookie jar, and he is forbidden to take any. He takes a handful, although Lisa alerts Homer and Marge. Bart quickly puts most of the cookies back in although one remains out. He covers the solitary cookie with a bowl before they enter the kitchen. He then gets away with it, outsmarting Homer and Marge by a shell game with the cookie in the bowls, although is outsmarted by Maggie doing the same.
32 - 3 00 32 The Bart Simpson Show.png "The Bart Simpson Show" November 20, 1988 MG38
Homer forbids the kids to watch The Itchy & Scratchy Show for it being to violent. Bart then produces an imaginary, makeshift program in the TV by removing parts of it, leaving the frame, and performing behind it. Calling it "The Bart Simpson Show", which is mainly about Bart himself. Lisa, Maggie and an angered Homer know that it is not a real show and Homer then strangles Bart.
33 - 4 00 33 Punching Bag.png "Punching Bag" November 27, 1988 MG33
Homer and Marge want the kids to play friendly, much to their reluctance. Bart punches a punching bag although Lisa then punches it after having it drawn Homer's head on it. Homer and Marge can hear the punching bag's sounds and Homer wants Marge to stop it. When she leaves, the sound becomes louder and more rapid. Homer then goes to the room to find Marge also punching it. Lisa then accidentally has the punching bag hit Homer and knock him out.
34 - 5 00 34 Simpsons Christmas.png "Simpson Christmas" December 18, 1988 MG40
In a style of The Night Before Christmas, Bart tells a story of Christmas to the family.
35 - 6 00 35 The Krusty the Clown Show.png "The Krusty the Clown Show" January 15, 1989 MG39
The kids get to watch The Krusty the Clown Show live although Bart suspects that Krusty is an imposter and unsuccessfully exposes him.
36 - 7 00 36 Bart the Hero.png "Bart the Hero" January 29, 1989 MG34
During a jog forced on by Homer, Bart accidentally stops a criminal from escaping a robbery in a candy store as he intended to buy a candy bar and mistook the criminal as the clerk. He is then interviewed and is offered $10,000, much to Homer and Lisa's delight as they view the news back at home although Bart turns the money down and wants it to be paid in candy bars which shocks Homer.
37 - 8 00 37 Bart's Little Fantasy.png "Bart's Little Fantasy" February 5, 1989 MG41
The kids are forced to clean their room because Homer and Marge are the parents and they are the children. While Lisa and Maggie clean, Bart tells a story for them about where the children were the parents and vice versa. Having Bart, Lisa and Maggie, the parents, forcing Homer and Marge, depicted as children, to clean up their room. In a similar scenario, Homer tells a story while Marge cleans the room. Bart's story is cut short when the real Homer and Marge decide to have him mow the lawn if he will not clean.
38 - 9 00 38 Scary Movie.png "Scary Movie" February 12, 1989 MG37
Bart convinces Lisa and Maggie to watch a Space Mutants film although she intended them to watch a Happy Little Elves film. Bart says that he would hold their hand if they are afraid of the film for its scary nature. Although Bart is the only one afraid, seeing a character from the film looking like an alien version of him while Lisa and Maggie hold his hands to calm him down.
39 - 10 00 39 Home Hypnotism.png "Home Hypnotism" February 19, 1989 MG32
Homer is so fed up of the kids' dysfunctional behaviour that he purchases a book of hypnotism to make them better behaved. While the hypnotism process works, the outcome does not modify their behaviour and they revert back to their normal dysfunctional selves while Marge tells Homer not to modify their behaviour again.
40 - 11 00 40 Shoplifting.png "Shoplifting" February 26, 1989 MG31
Bart is caught in an attempt to shoplift candy from a store. While the store manager tells the security guard that he would call Bart's parents, Bart eats all of the stolen candy and is noticed by the guard. Homer and Marge picks up Bart along with Lisa and Maggie who were also in the store, very disappointed at him, and that he does not understand his lesson that stealing is a crime.
41 - 12 00 41 Echo Canyon.png "Echo Canyon" March 12, 1989 MG36
The family visit a canyon and are able to produce echoes. Lisa makes one while also expressing her opinion on it, much to Homer's dismay. The family notice Bart on a boulder of a cliff, he falls off it as the boulder heads down the gorge, narrowly avoiding hitting the family. Homer is angered at Bart and chases him while the two speaking make echoes down the canyon.
42 - 13 00 42 Bath Time.png "Bathtime" March 19, 1989 MG44
Bart is forced to take a bath. While doing so, he imagines he is in a watery world and is confronted by a squid shaped like Homer. He calls for help. Homer opens the bathroom door although water gushes out as Bart had forgot to turn off the water, overfilling the bath and enraging Homer while Bart dries himself.
43 - 14 00 43 Bart's Nightmare.png "Bart's Nightmare" March 26, 1989 MG45
The cookie jar has only one cookie in it so someone has eaten most of them. Bart has eaten most of the cookies and he has become overweight because of them. He then has a nightmare of each of the family not wanting him to have the cookies and Homer blaming him as he breaks a cookie jar in the nightmare inadvertently. Bart is woken up by the family, knowing that he had a nightmare, and is offered a cookie, much to his fear.
44 - 15 00 44 Bart of the Jungle.png "Bart of the Jungle" April 16, 1989 MG46
The kids behave in their dysfunctional behaviour outside as they kept on irritating Homer. They decide to behave like they are in a jungle, using Homer's ties. Homer notices that his ties have been stolen and sets out to get the kids. They swing away with additional ties as vines while he chases them, until he is caught by a tie as a makeshift trap, dangling him upside down. Homer wants to be freed from it although Lisa warns him that they will kill them after doing so. The kids decide to leave him trapped there until later on.
45 - 16 00 45 Family Therapy.png "Family Therapy" April 23, 1989 MG47
The family go see a family therapist as requested by Homer, tricking Bart and Lisa by saying that they were going to buy frosty chocolate milkshakes to prompt them to come. Homer says to the therapist that they do not laugh any more although their dysfunctional behaviour also interrupts the session. Bart constantly eats mints provided and spits them out back in the bowl as ordered by Homer, disgusting the therapist and Lisa. Lisa kicks the therapist's shin for berating Bart, Homer berates the therapist for berating Lisa after she kicked his shin and Bart shoots darts at him as well as Lisa cutting some of his tie off. The therapist angrily, yet calmly, tells the family to leave him room, slamming the door before they burst out laughing, somehow being cured.
46 - 17 00 46 Maggie in Peril.png "Maggie in Peril (Chapter One)" April 30, 1989 MG42
Bart and Lisa are responsible for keeping an eye on Maggie while Homer and Marge are away. She plays with a ball which interferes with her two older siblings, and Bart kicks it over their fence. Maggie then goes to retrieve it by climbing out of her crib using other toys and using Bart's skateboard to follow the ball. The ball heads to a sewage system as Maggie continues to follow it, using the skateboard as a raft when on the water in the sewers. It leads to a waterfall and she grabs a branch over it. She caught the ball as it headed to the waterfall, holding it on one hand while holding the skateboard in another and having her pacifier holding the branch. It then snaps off, leaving Maggie falling down the waterfall and the episode on a cliffhanger.
47 - 18 00 47 Maggie in Peril II.png "Maggie in Peril (The Thrilling Conclusion)" May 7, 1989 MG43
Bart tells some important details of the previous short as it had ended abruptly. Bart and Lisa were reading while Homer ordered them to look after Maggie before he and Marge left for shopping. Although Bart does not tell what happened to Maggie as he, along with the rest of the family, were unaware of her situation and the story continues.

Maggie plunges down the waterfall and emerges out fine from it. The skateboard goes up a rock like a ramp, sending her in the air and landing on a small cliff. She heads through a circus and has a bunch of balloons in her hand. Marge squints on a view of Maggie from the car although she cannot recognize her and Homer squints on Marge in disbelief. Maggie then lets go of a balloon one at a time to float lower before letting go of the remaining balloons and rolling down the house's roof and going back down to her crib via a tree's branch and the skateboard lands back with Bart and Lisa. The family then check on Maggie, with Bart and Lisa noticing the skateboard landed, seeing her playing with the ball and both are relieved.

48 - 19 00 48 TV Simpsons.png "TV Simpsons" May 14, 1989 MG48
Homer wants to watch a big bowling tournament, having the kids stop watching an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon. He then convinces them to fly a kite to give something for them to do. They do so, although the kite gets stuck on the television antennae, interfering its signal. Homer tries to remove the kite and asks the kids to call him when the signal is back to normal. The signal remains irregular as he struggles to remove it and in a fit of rage, tears parts of the kite before falling down the roof. The signal goes back to normal while they watch an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon.


  • Bart is the only character to appear in every short.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 BBC. (2000). 'The Simpsons': America's First Family (6 minute edit for the season 1 DVD) (DVD). UK: 20th Century Fox.
  2. Paul, Alan. "Matt Groening" (Interview)Flux Magazine Issue #6. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Cagle, Daryl. The David Silverman Interview. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2006-12-29.
  4. Deneroff, Harvey. "Matt Groening's Baby Turns 10"Animation Magazine, Vol. 14, #1, pp. 10, 12. 
  5. Brownfield, Paul. "He's Homer, but This Odyssey Is His Own"Los Angeles Times. 
  6. Spotnitz, Frank. "Eat my shorts!"Entertainment Weekly, p. 8(1). 
  7. Groening's repeats u-turn (via the Wayback Machine) (2006-08-06). Retrieved on 2007-01-11.