During the third and fourth seasons of The Simpsons, the show hit its peak with some of its most memorable episodes. And this culiminating in the show airing its first clip show on Thursday, April 1, 1993. Clip shows are often seen as cheats in the sitcom world as they are usually low-budget productions that have the cast sitting around recalling events from previous episodes. The Simpsons would parody this trope in later years.
But there has been some fan theories arising over the years with some people speculating that Homer has been in a coma or even died. In the Oct. 8, 1992 episode titled “Homer the Heretic,” Homer stays at home every Sunday instead of going with his family to church. This results in him actually meeting God during what we presume is a dream sequence. (God also has all five fingers.) In the end, the house catches on fire with Ned Flanders (who surprisingly isn’t in church) helping rescue Homer. As the show ends and the credits roll, we see Homer walking with God who mentions that he will die in six months.
Well, six months later, the episode titled “So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show” aired on April 1, 1993. While the first part of the show seems a basic episode where Homer pulling pranks on Bart, the young underachiever decides to shake up the last can of Homer’s Duff beer so it will explode. But he uses a paint shaker machine. And he turns the heat up so much that it causes the natural gas to spread in the house. So, when Homer opens it up, the tap sparks and the house explodes.
Homer ends up paralyzed with Bart who was close to the blast zone unscathed. But Homer sees a candy machine and goes over to it but tips it over on him and ends up in a coma for six weeks. But what exactly happened? Some people have theorized that Homer either is in a coma or has been on life support and the clip show is his whole life flashing before his eyes.
This, people have explained is due to a drop in the shows quality in the later 1990s, that all we saw were visions in Homer’s mind which explains how his character became more cartoonish. But it was actually due to many of the original writers going off to do other things. Al Jean and Mike Reiss went on to work on The Critic. And Conan O’Brien got his own late night TV talk show. And the show brought in Ian Maxtone-Graham who went on record saying he hadn’t watched much of the show before starting in 1995 and Mike Scully who became the show runner in the late 1990s essentially turning the show into a more cartoonish fare.
Sam Simon, who had helped developed the show, had left to focus on other projects, even though he got a deal on marketing and merchandise for the rest of his life that made the one Jack Nicholson got for doing Batman in 1989 look like peanuts. And Matt Groening decided that he was going to focus on Futurama instead. Groening would later object to the Critic cross-over show and the infamously bad “Principal and Pauper” episode where we learn Seymour Skinner is actually an imposter.
Jean who returned to The Simpsons after the failure of The Critic has denied the theories that Homer is in a coma or even died as some have suggested. Shows just run out of ideas after a while. Most get the hint and end after four or five seasons now. Yet, other shows tough it out, like ER, which don’t even have the original cast members by the time of the final season. Grey’s Anatomy and Law and Order: SVU are still on.
The Simpsons have retconned so many things that by now, their characters weren’t technically alive when the shorts began airing on The Tracey Ullman Show. But a new legion of fans have discovered the show. I don’t think it’ll ever return to its heyday of the early to mid-1990s.
What do you think? Has Homer been in a coma this whole time? Please comment.