In the third segment of "Treehouse of Horror VI," viewers saw Homer Simpson enter into... the third dimension.
While Homer was there, various equations and polygons were seen floating behind him. For a brief moment, viewers could see the equation above, which appears to disprove Fermat's Last Theorem (which states that no three positive integers a, b, and c can satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than two.)
Curiously enough, if you plug the equation floating behind Homer into a standard calculator, those numbers check out. So, did Homer Simpson actually solve an equation that's been eluding the mathematicians for nearly 400 years? Well... no. A scientific calculator would tell you that, if you take a y-root of 12 of each side of the equation, you're off by about 0.00000004. But, good try, Mr. Simpson.
2. Simpsons Writer Checks in to Calmwood Mental Hospital
In season eight's "Hurricane Neddy," when the family visits Ned in a mental institution, they walk past a paranoid-looking man with long hair and a mustache. That is the animated likeness of John Swartzwelder, the most prolific writer in the history of The Simpsons. Swartzwelder himself is a recluse who has seldom been seen or photographed in real life (...no, seriously. We're not kidding about this.) So, it makes sense you may find him living here at Calmwood Mental Hospital.
Later on in the episode, when Ned checks out with a clean bill of health, a background character holds a sign that reads, "Free John Swartzwelder!"
You fight that good fight, John.
3. Rapidly-Scrolling "Rock Bottom" Text Contains a Hidden Message
When Homer was falsely accused of groping a woman's rear end in "Homer Badman," he was slammed by the tabloid news show, Rock Bottom. After his subsequent vindication, Rock Bottom apologized to Homer in a rapidly-scrolling list of corrections. To anybody watching, it just looked like a blur of text.
But, in 1994, if you were the kind of person to record every episode of The Simpsons on video tape and then re-watch them on your VCR (a person such as the writer of this article), then you would have found in that blur of text dozens of extra jokes, including, "The Cheers gang is not a real gang," "Styrofoam is not made from kittens," and, "If you are reading this you have no life."
In Season seven's "Much Apu About Nothing," Apu casually mentions that he got his Ph.D at the Springfield Heights Institute of Technology. In the episode's DVD commentary, the writers pointed out that the institution's initials (S.H.I.T.) were a deliberate attempt on their part to sneak a dirty word past the Fox censors. Mission accomplished.
5. Mr. Burns Shows his Age When Answering the Phone
Every time Mr. Burns picks up a telephone, he answers with the same greeting, "Ahoy-hoy."
Aside from just sounding funny, "Ahoy-hoy" was actually the original greeting that Alexander Graham Bell proposed people use when answering their telephones. In spite of that recommendation, though, Thomas Edison's suggestion of "Hello" ended up becoming the norm.
So, just how old is Mr. Burns? Apparently, old enough to have been one of the earliest adopters of the telephone back in the late 1800's.
When Lisa becomes a vegetarian, she speaks to Paul and Linda McCartney inside Apu's garden (in the shade). There, Paul tells Lisa that he shares her passion for animal rights, adding, "if you play Maybe I'm Amazed backwards, you'll hear a recipe for a really ripping lentil soup."
At the end of the episode, Paul's song Maybe I'm Amazed plays over the end credits, and what do you know, recorded backwards over the track is a real recipe for lentil soup. When it's finished, Paul adds one more tidbit: "Oh, and by the way, I'm alive."
In the season 13 episode "I Am Furious (Yellow)," Bart creates a crude webseries based on Homer, called "Angry Dad." When choosing an actor to record the lead voice, Bart comes across a man we've never seen before in Springfield. This mysterious voice actor is, in fact, a dead ringer for the real-life voice actor for Homer, Dan Castellaneta. Turns out, he can belt out a convincing Angry Dad, too.
In season 7's "Radioactive Man," the kids are thrilled to hear that a film version of their favorite superhero is in the works. To find out more information, Comic Book Guy logs on to his favorite Usenet message board: alt.nerd.obsessive.
This was a dig at the real-life Usenet forum alt.tv.simpsons, in which Simpsons fans (including this writer) regularly congregated every week to nitpick each new episode. Hours later, a real-life alt.nerd.obsessive forum was created and flooded with active users.
In the 2006 episode "Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play," for a brief moment at Springfield Stadium you can see a "guess tonight's attendance" game on the Jumbo-Vision screen.
Those three choices (8,191, 8,128 and 8,208) are far from random. In fact, they represent a prime number (a number that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself), a perfect number (whose divisors add up to itself), and a narcissistic number (where it is the sum of its own digits each raised to the power of the number of digits).
...It's about this time that we should tell you that Simpsons head writer Al Jean graduated from Harvard at the age of 20, and that the entire Simpsons writers room is full of math geeks.
12. Grover Cleveland Spanked Grandpa on Two Non-Consecutive Occasions
In season 7's "Two Bad Neighbors," former president George H. W. Bush moves into the house across the street from the Simpsons. There, he tries to provide his own point of light to Springfield by volunteering to do what nobody else would: spank Bart Simpson.
As far as Homer was concerned, this aggression could not stand. However, Grandpa Simpson tried to calm tensions by recounting, "When I was a pup, we got spanked by Presidents till the cows came home. Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions."
As high school history teachers would tell you, Grover Cleveland was the only US president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office. I guess we should have paid more attention in class.
In the mini-story anthology episode "Margical History Tour," a Viennese concert hall has separate entrances for "fops" and "dandies." What's that all about? Well, in 18th century Europe, a fop was the word to describe a man who was overly-attentive to his appearance, wore wigs, used powder and make-up, and did not wash regularly. Dandies, on the other hand, wore high collars, tail-coats, and bathed often.
These two classes of aristocrats hated each other, hence why separate entrances have been installed at this concert hall to avoid confrontations.
In season 10, the Simpsons went to Japan. There, they attended a sumo wrestling competition at Tokyo's aptly-named Sumo Stadium. In the establishing shot, we see that two wrestlers are headlining: "Sakatumi" and "Nakadowna." Sound out their named phonetically, and you have yourself an extra joke.
15. Lisa Spills the Beans on Some Celebrity Cameos
In the classic episode "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie," Lisa tells Bart of the cinematic tour de force she just witnessed, recounting, "You wouldn't believe the celebrities who did cameos! Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson... Of course, they didn't use their real names, but you could tell it was them."
This is a sly nod to previous Simpsons episodes "Lisa's Substitute" (where Dustin Hoffman provided a guest voice under the pseudonym Sam Etic) and "Stark Raving Dad" (where Michael Jackson appeared under the moniker of John Jay Smith). This was the writing staff's way of confirming those two previous celebrity guest appearances without breaking any specific confidentiality agreements.
In season nine's "Bart Star," while Homer coaches Springfield's pee-wee football team, there is one quick shot of Rod and Todd Flanders, wearing the jersey numbers of "66" and "6." Standing together, they combine to read, "666."
Confirmed: The Flanders family worships the devil.
In 1991, German investors purchased the power plant in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk." At a press conference announcing the acquisition, Mayor Quimby invokes JFK's famous West Berlin address, saying "Ich bin ein Springfielder!" In the crowd, a nervous Homer is temporarily assuaged by this statement, muttering, "Mmm... Jelly donuts."
To understand this, you must know that, back in 1963, a false rumor was spread that Kennedy actually misspoke in his German statement and called himself a "Berliner" -- a traditional German fried pastry with marmalade filling. Homer apparently also mishears Mayor Quimby, thinking he's made the same mistake.
In season 4's "Duffless," Lisa imagines a cruel depiction of Bart and giggles. When Marge asks what she's laughing at, Lisa covers with, "Oh just something I saw on Herman's Head."
This is in reference to the fact that Yeardley Smith (the actress who voices Lisa) was, in fact, a regular on Herman's Head, along with fellow cast member Hank Azaria. I guess it makes sense that she'd also be a viewer of the show.
This was a tricky one, because I thought I understood this joke when it first aired. In several episodes (including this screenshot from season 13's "Jaws Wired Shut"), the family watches films at the Springfield Googolplex Theatres.
For those that are not aware, a "googol" is the number ten to the one-hundredth power (that is, the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes). I thought that was the only joke of this theater name, until I recently learned that the word "googolplex" is actually a mathematical term in and of itself. The word represents the number ten to the power of googol (that is, the number 1 followed by a googol of zeroes.)
A googolplex is a number so large that, as one website so eloquently put it, it has "far more zeros that you could fit on a piece of paper the size of the observable universe."
20. Homer Sets Up a College Fund at Lincoln Savings and Loan
In the flashback episode "Lisa's First Word" (set in 1984), Homer is quite proud to tell infant Lisa, "I've already started you a college fund at Lincoln Savings and Loan!"
For those of you who aren't experts on the 1980's savings and loan crisis, Lincoln Savings and Loan was an institution at the heart of the Keating Five scandal in which five U.S. senators were accused of corruption. When the company went bankrupt in 1989, thousands of investors lost their life savings.
Hope you weren't intending on going to an Ivy League school, Lisa...