Although South Park took the TV crown as most biting cartoon satire from The Simpsons long ago, America's favorite yellow family has been it at for nearly three decades. As such, the number of historical references, nods to famous films, and other Easter eggs is almost impossible to count. Perhaps most bizarre is the sheer number of times The Simpsons has in some way predicted the future, snippets that have ranged from totally harmless to overwhelmingly disturbing.
Unfortunately, a seed planted in 2000 is close to pushing the latter end of that spectrum into untold territories — a 16-year-old episode predicted that Donald Trump would eventually become president. The premonition takes place in "Bart to the Future," a classic episode in which Bart gets a peek at his depressing adult life. In it, Lisa has become the first "straight female" president of the United States, taking office immediately after the term of a certain infamous real estate tycoon.
"As you know, we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump," President Simpson remarks to her staff, which includes Milhouse. He then pulls up a line chart diving straight down and tells her the country is "broke."
Catch the line at 2:21 in the video below:
Dan Greaney, the writer credited on the episode, isn't too excited about how close the prediction is to coming true. "It was a warning to America," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "And that just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane."
That's a pretty good explanation for why the decision was made to have Trump tank the country before Lisa takes office. As Greaney tells it, "What we needed was for Lisa to have problems that were beyond her fixing, that everything went as bad as it possibly could, and that's why we had Trump be president before her."
So what should we take away from this strange coincidence and the increasing likelihood that Trump will at least become the GOP nominee? Well, the reality can be a bit deflating, but it's just a reflection of one aspect of American culture, not the whole picture. "The Simpsons has always kind of embraced the over the top side of American culture ... and [Trump] is just the fulfillment of that," said Greaney.