15 Facts About the First Episode of The Simpsons

FOX
FOX

On December 17, 1989, The Simpsons premiered on FOX. Nearly 30 years later, the Simpson family and their fellow Springfield residents are still going strong. Let's look back at where it all started—"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire."

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO PREMIERE IN SEPTEMBER.

The Simpsons was originally planned to premiere earlier in the fall of 1989, but because of animation problems, the series began on December 17 with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire." The original pilot, "Some Enchanted Evening," later aired as the season finale.

2. MARGE WAS SUPPOSED TO GET DRUNK.

According to Al Jean, the original premise of the episode was that "Homer was worried that Marge was going to get drunk at a party and get him in trouble at the office."

3. IT'S LACKING THE SERIES' NOW-FAMOUS OPENING SEQUENCE. 

The episode lacked the now-famous opening sequence, which was added in the second episode, "Bart the Genius," because creator Matt Groening thought a longer opening sequence would mean less animation.

4. GWEN STEFANI'S BROTHER PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN ITS CREATION.

One of the layout artists for "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was Eric Stefani, brother of Gwen Stefani and a founding member of No Doubt.

5. BARNEY LOOKED A BIT DIFFERENT.

In the first episode, Barney had yellow hair, which was the same color as his skin. This was later changed because the people behind the show thought that only members of the Simpson family should have yellow hair.

6. LISA REALLY WANTED A PONY.

Lisa asks for a pony six times on her Christmas list (it's her first line in the series). She would later get her pony in the season 3 episode "Lisa's Pony."

7. PART OF IT WAS INSPIRED BY MATT GROENING'S SECOND GRADE SCHOOL REPORT.

According to the DVD commentary, the "Santas of many lands" portion of the Christmas pageant was inspired by a second grade report Matt Groening did on Christmas in Russia.

8. IT DIDN'T INVENT THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF "JINGLE BELLS."

Additionally, Groening claims that this episode has been incorrectly credited with creating the "alternate version" of "Jingle Bells." (Bart sings, "Jingle Bells/Batman Smells/Robin Laid an Egg...")

9. IT WAS ONLY THE SECOND ANIMATED SERIES TO AIR IN PRIMETIME SINCE THE FLINTSTONES.

The Simpsons was just the second animated show to air in primetime since The Flintstones went off the air 23 years earlier. (The other was Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which aired from 1972-1974.)

10. THE IDEA WAS CONCEIVED UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL.

According to executive producer James L. Brooks, "The Simpsons series began like many things begin: with an animator getting drunk at a Christmas party ... We were already doing Tracey Ullman, and David Silverman, who was with us then and would go on to direct The Simpsons Movie, cornered me and poured out his heart about what having a primetime Simpsons show would mean to animators."

11. LISA WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A "LITTLE HELL-RAISER."

The Simpsons in 'The Town'
Fox

According to Al Jean, in the original shorts, "Lisa was supposed to be this little hell-raiser like Bart, but their character differentiation was wider when we went to full series."

12. YEARDLEY SMITH AUDITIONED FOR BART.

Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa, originally auditioned for Bart. "That lasted a good eight or nine seconds," Smith recounts, "It was like: "Cut, cut, cut! You sound too much like a girl!"

13. A SECOND CITY PERFORMANCE GOT DAN CASTELLANETA AN AUDITION.

Dan Castellaneta was invited to read for Homer Simpson after Tracey Ullman saw him perform a sketch comedy bit about a blind, crippled comedian at Second City in Chicago.

14. IT WAS MILHOUSE'S FIRST APPEARANCE, BUT HE ALREADY EXISTED.

"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" is the first time Milhouse appeared on the show; however, he was featured in a Butterfinger commercial in 1988.

15. SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER WENT MISSING.

Because "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was originally meant to be the eighth episode, Santa's Little Helper is mysteriously absent from the next episode ("Bart the Genius"). According to DVD commentary, the creators of the show received letters of praise for heightening the awareness of the abandonment of racing dogs even though they didn't know it was a real problem when they created the episode.

Peter Dinklage Can't Say Benevolent in This Game of Thrones Blooper Reel

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

There are many adjectives one might use to describe HBO's Game of Thrones. While hilarious isn't usually one of them (though the series certainly has its moments of levity), that's the best way to describe the Game of Thrones blooper reel below, in which some of your favorite throne-seekers momentarily break character—and Peter Dinklage has a problem pronouncing the word benevolent. (Warning: profanity ahead!)

Ralph Fiennes Almost Turned Down Voldemort Role in Harry Potter Movies

WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. HARRY POTTER PUBLISHING RIGHTS (C) J.K.R.
WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. HARRY POTTER PUBLISHING RIGHTS (C) J.K.R.

Ralph Fiennes has earned Oscar nominations for Schindler's List and The English Patient, but his best-known role might be his performance as He Who Must Not Be Named, otherwise known as Voldemort, in the Harry Potter film series. While the movies introduced Fiennes and his work to a new generation of moviegoers, he recently revealed that he almost said no to the project altogether.

We first saw Fiennes as Voldemort in the fourth film in the series, 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and he continued to play the Dark Lord of the Harry Potter universe until the series' conclusion in 2011.

Though fans would argue that it was the role Fiennes was born to play, saying "yes" was not an immediate decision for the celebrated actor.

"The truth is I was actually ignorant about the films and the books," the actor recently admitted while appearing on The Jonathan Ross Show when asked about his relationship to the Potterverse prior to taking on the role. "I was approached by the production. Mike Newell was directing the film that they wanted me to be in ... the first time Voldemort was going to appear physically."

"Out of ignorance I just sort of thought, this isn’t for me," Fiennes continued. "Quite stupidly I resisted, I was hesitant. I think the clincher was that my sister Martha—who has three children who were then probably about 12, 10, and 8—said, 'What do you mean? You’ve got to do it!' So then I rewound my thinking."

Potterheads everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Fiennes's sister—and her kids.

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