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Quarantined cruise ships and a global pandemic: 12 times The Simpsons predicted the future.

Forget your horoscopes and forget old mate Nostradamus because The Simpsons have proven quite accurate at predicting world events long before they happen.

In its 600 episode (and counting) series run, the show has spanned 31 seasons since its debut in 1989.

From an eerie reference to September 11 to Disney’s ironic acquisition of 20th century Fox, here are the 12 moments in which the show predated history.

1. Coronavirus cruise ship quarantine.

Episode:  Season 23, Episode 19 – ‘A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again’.

Year predicted: 2012

When did it come true: December 2019 / 2020

What happened?

In this 2012 Simpsons episode, a very bored Bart sells everything he owns to fund a family holiday on a cruise ship.

Once on board, Bart enjoys the cruise so much that he becomes depressed at the thought of returning to his normal life.

In an attempt to extend the family holiday, Bart pranks the entire ship, playing an emergency message from a military officer (from a straight-to-DVD movie), which announces that all crew and passengers must stay on the ship indefinitely as a deadly virus has started spreading around the world. (Sound familiar?)

Over the next 12 days, the ship falls into disrepair and chaos as the food supply slowly starts to run out.

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Yep, The Simpsons predicted the coronavirus cruise ship quarantines. (You can watch a clip from the episode here.)

Over the last few months, a number of cruise ships have been forced to quarantine themselves, or change their schedule to prevent the spread of the virus.

2. Coronavirus scares.

Episode:  Season 4, Episode 21 – ‘Marge In Chains’.

Year predicted: 1993

When did it come true: December 2019 / 2020

What happened?

In this early Simpsons episode, the ‘Osaka Flu’ sweeps Springfield, with many people now accrediting the cartoon for predicting the current outbreak of coronavirus.

Before we get too deep into this conspiracy theory, there are a few differences. Namely, the fictional ‘Osaka Flu’ originated in Japan (it’s literally in the name) after a factory worker coughs on a package which is sent to the US. The coronavirus started in China’s Wuhan province and it’s only transferrable via human-to-human contact.

Since this episode in 1993, there have also been several other outbreaks such as the Zika virus, Ebola, not to mention SARS and the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009.

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.

3. Kobe Bryant's death.

Episode: Season 4, Episode 21 - ‘Marge In Chains'.

Year predicted: 1993

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When did it come true: 2020

What happened?

Fans are saying the timing of the events in the episode are suspicious. In the same episode as the 'Osaka Flu' outbreak, there's a news bulletin which mentions a helicopter which spins out of control before it crashes. It's a throw-away part of the episode but some have linked this to the helicopter accident that killed famed basketballer, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi Bryant.

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.

4. Donald Trump's presidency.

Episode: Season 11, Episode 17 - 'Bart to the Future'.

Year predicted: 2000

When did it come true: Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 9, 2016

What happened?

One of the show's most damning predictions, for sure. Back in 2000, The Simpsons aired an episode which placed Donald Trump as President of the United States, in which he runs the country into a debt crisis.

“People have somewhat forgotten, but he was talking about running for president then,” said Al Jean, one of the show's original writers. “So it wasn’t somebody totally out of the blue. It was a guy who was a punch-line name and had presidential aspirations.”

On the bright side, the episode also shows Lisa becoming his successor to the Oval Office, so there may be hope for us yet.

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Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.

5. Autocorrect Fails.

Episode: Season 6, Episode 8 - 'Lisa on Ice'.

Year predicted: 1994

When did it come true: Around 2005

What happened?

The Simpsons' school bully, Dolph can be credited with the first autocorrect fail. He goes to write "beat up Martin", for it to come out as "Eat up Martha". Apparently Apple executives were so traumatised by the mistake, the phrase 'Eat Up Martha', was immortalised among engineers and developers.

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.
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6. An eerie reference to 9/11.

Episode:  Season 9, Episode 1 - 'The City of New York vs Homer Simpson'.

Year predicted: 1997

When did it come true: September 11, 2001

What happened?

In a rather eerie coincidence, in this episode of The Simpsons, Homer holds up a brochure that shows an advertisement of New York. However, with an outline of the World Trade Center in the background, the date of the infamous September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks can be seen on the front cover.

Speaking to The New York Observer in 2010, Executive Producer, Bill Oakley agreed that it was a strange connection.

“$9 was picked as a comically cheap fare,” he said. “And I will grant that it’s eerie, given that it’s on the only episode of any series ever that had an entire act of World Trade Centre jokes.”

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.

7. The London Shard.

Episode: Season 6, Episode 19 - 'Lisa's Wedding'.

Year predicted: 1995

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When did it come true: 2009

What happened?

The fact that The Simpsons could predict the exact shape and location of the infamously iconic London monument is pretty impressive.

Construction for the actual Shard began in 2009, 14 years later.

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.

8. Disney buys 20th century Fox.

Episode: Season 10, Episode 5 - 'When You Wish Upon a Star'.

Year predicted: 1998

When did it come true: March 20, 2019

What happened?

The two production companies have always been competitive but this gag legitimately came true.

In 2017, Disney acquired 20th Century Fox (which also produced The Simpsons) in a deal estimated to be around US$52.4 billion (AU$78 billion). You can now watch all of the episodes of the show on Disney Plus, making this scene extra awkward.

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.
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9. Lady Gaga's half-time Super Bowl performance.

Episode: Season 23, Episode 22 - 'Lisa Goes Gaga'.

Year predicted: 2012

When did it come true: 2017

What happened?

Is this life imitating art? We think so. When Lady Gaga guest-starred on the animated series in 2012, the show had her performing a concert in which she flew around the air in a silver outfit. Five years later, the singer borrowed elements of this performance for her Super Bowl halftime show. Lady Gaga also flew through the air (on a harness), also wearing a silver outfit.

10. The 'tomacco' plant.

Episode: Season 11, Episode 5 - 'E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)'.

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Year predicted: 1999

When did it come true: 2003

What happened?

In this case, Rob Bauer, the creator of the tomacco plant was inspired by the series.

In The Simpsons, Homer grows a rather quirky cash crop which combines the appearance of a tomato with the addictive qualities of a tobacco plant. It has a goopy brown centre and tastes disgusting but it's addictive after the first bite. The town of Springfield quickly becomes hooked.

Bauer's creation is less problematic. The Oregon man grafted a tomato plant onto tobacco roots and his plant managed to grow fruit. Despite this, Bauer told Wired it was probably poisonous due to the lethal nicotine content.

via GIPHY

11. Rumours of Greece leaving the EU.

Episode: Season 23, Episode 10 - 'Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson'.

Year predicted:  2013

When did it come true: 2017

What happened?

Unlike The Simpsons' more spooky predictions, this one was more factually relevant.

The country had considerably suffered in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis from 2007 to 2008, and the official Greek government debt crisis began in 2009. By 2012, the worsening recession even resulted in the International Monetary Fund extending an extra €8.2 billion of loans.

To be clear, the European Union has never tried to off Greece from the EU. However, in 2017 the leader of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, Christian Lindner, did state that Greece should consider leaving the Union due to their mounting debts.

Simpsons predict future
Image: 20th Century Fox.
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12. The 2013 horse meat scandal.

Episode: Season 5, Episode 19 - 'Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song'.

Year predicted: 1994

When did it come true: 2013

What happened?

Almost two decades before the actual horse meat scandal, The Simpsons made a gag about the Springfield Elementary lunch ladies using 'assorted horse parts' in their cafeteria. Then, in 2013, global headlines revealed that companies in the UK and Europe had been using horse meat in their products which had been relabelled as beef or pork. While there wasn't an associated health implication, it did call into question consumer trust. UK grocery chain, Tesco, was one of the retailers affected and its market value dropped by €360 million (AU$585 million).

Feature Image: 20th Century Fox.

Do you have a favourite episode of The Simpsons? Tell us in a comment below.

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