Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘The Simpsons’ Drops Long-Running Joke From the Series: ‘Times Have Changed’

‘The Simpsons’ Drops Long-Running Joke From the Series: ‘Times Have Changed’

The Simpsons‘ current showrunners have decided to drop a long-running joke that has been part of the series since it first debuted. When the animated sitcom first burst onto screens, it brought an unprecedented edge to primetime animation. Beneath its cartoon facade, the show catered to a slightly more sophisticated audience. As the years rolled on, some gags, characters, and scenarios fell out of sync with evolving social norms. Consequently, astute fans have noted when jokes that were once staples dropped away.

One gag in particular has been there since the very beginning. In Season 1 of The Simpsons, Bart’s attempts to annoy Homer often led to comical moments of Homer muttering, “Why you little…!” and strangling his son. Bart’s eyes would bulge and his tongue would loll out as Homer grits his teeth.

Sure, this wouldn’t play very well in live-action. It’s tough to imagine Andy Taylor grabbing Opie and wringing his neck. However, in animation, it didn’t offend, circa the 90s. Still, in recent years, Homers has choked Bart less often. In its 35th season, The Simpsons finally address the reason why Homer no longer regularly makes his son gasp for air. This revelation comes in the form of a line spoken by Homer himself in Episode 3.

A Recent ‘The Simpsons’ Episode Put the Joke Out to Pasture

In the episode “McMansion & Wife“, the Simpsons greet a new family who has moved into the neighborhood. When one of the newcomers compliments Homer on his firm handshake, the animated dad quips, “See, Marge, strangling the boy paid off.” Homer then chuckles before adding, “Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.”

A fan of the show posted the footage in question on Twitter.

The fan that posted the footage didn’t seem too concerned with the official change. “I just found out that, after over 30 years, The Simpsons has finally retired their long-running gag of Homer strangling Bart,” they wrote. “Took them long enough,” they added. In response, fellow fans of the show praised Homer for acknowledging his troubling behavior towards Bart. “I knew my man Homer was gonna learn,” one fan replied.

While The Simpsons received praise for acknowledging the conclusion of a long-running joke, the show faced criticism regarding its treatment of the character Apu. The long-running character, an Indian shop owner, was voiced by white actor Hank Azaria. The casting decision and the portrayal of the character were subject to significant backlash, particularly highlighted in Hari Kondabolu’s 2017 documentary, The Problem with Apu.