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Happy 500th Episode: Five Ways The Simpsons Changed the World

The Simpsons, 500th Episode

Homer Simpson, historically important snacker figure?

You don't get to be TV's longest-running sitcom, with 22-plus years, and, as of tonight, 500 episodes on your resume, without leaving an impression—or five. 

Here's how The Simpsons changed our world, sprinkle donut by sprinkle donut:

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1. It's Responsible for Just About Every Top-Rated Show on TV Today: By which we mean, of course, American Idol and all those American Idol-esque shows: The Voice, America's Got Talent and Dancing With the Stars. The deal is The Simpsons, after premiering on Fox in December 1989, became the then-fledgling network's first mainstream Nielsen success. It led to other early hits (Married…With Children, Beverly Hills, 90210, etc.), which led to football, which kept the network around long enough to launch Idol, which became a phenonenom, which begat the golden era of the prime-time talent show. So, basically, next time you watch anything, say a bit of thanks to Homer and family.

2. It's Responsible for Just About Every Top-Selling Artist in Music Today: Would another network have picked up Idol if Fox hadn't been around because The Simpsons hadn't been around? Maybe—or maybe not. Would Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson have become stars if Idol hadn't been around? Maybe—or maybe not. Just to be on the safe side, next time you listen to anything—well, you know what to do.

3. It's Responsible for Just About Every Doo-Dad in Your Office Cubicle:  In a 2010 survey, The Simpsons was named the most successful TV-licensing brand of all time. Matt Groening's crew reportedly celebrated the title by tossing back cans of Duff Energy Drink, available at online stores near you.

4. It's Responsible for Just About Every Other Word Out of Your Mouth: "D'oh!" "Ay carumba!" "Woo-hoo!" The list of catchphrases goes on and on and on.

5. It's Responsible for You, You Geek: The Simpsons was comic culture before comic culture was all or before Comic-Con was cool. It was Adult Swim before there was Adult Swim. It was Conan O'Brien's employer before O'Brien brought his brand of weirdness to late night. It was, and is, part of you. And not just because you're probably noshing from a bag of Simpsons Fruit Snacks while reading this.    

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