How Do You End ‘The Simpsons’?

     December 6, 2016

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The Simpsons is an American institution. Recently renewed through Season 30, it’s almost hard to believe that the series will one day end after having debuted in 1989 as its own entity from creator Matt Groening. Prior to the series itself, The Simpsons first hit the scene as a series of animated shorts on the short-lived The Tracey Ullman Show. While not exactly displaying the animation and character work that we know from the show at this point, the Ullman debut gave us the groundwork for the characters we’d grow to know and love over time.

But with such a large pedigree of nearly 30 years under its belt, how can one simply end the adventures of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie in a satisfactory way? Series finales for television shows have always been something of a mixed bag with standouts such as Six Feet Under, mixed-response entries such as Seinfeld, and flat-out disasters like Dexter. Here we’ll study episodes that could have potentially fit the bill as series finales (even though they weren’t) and explore different possibilities for wrapping up the series in a nice “THRILLHO” bow.

Sunrise, Sunset

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Image via Fox

The Simpsons had been enjoying an insane marathon of all the show’s episodes, which were played in their chronological order, on FXX in preparation for their 600th episode extravaganza. While some may argue that the series has overstayed its welcome with such a long shelf life, it continues to garner the number of viewers needed to maintain its longevity at Fox. The Simpsons began its series as a Christmas special (“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”), airing the story of the family getting their dog Santa’s Little Helper after the pooch is kicked out of a greyhound race track. Homer, in an attempt to earn extra money for Christmas, doubles as a Mall Santa, which Bart discovers during his spy mission to learn what his father had been doing at night. The Holiday Special sets the stage for the series and longtime Simpsons writer Al Jean actually had somewhat of an ingenious idea as to how to tie the series finale into it.

Chatting with CNN, Jean stated:

“However, there is an ending I’ve always had in mind, which was, I thought it would be cool if in the last episode they’re getting ready to go to a Christmas pageant, and they go to the Christmas pageant that opens up the first episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” so the entire series is a loop with no end. That would be my way of concluding the run, but nobody has asked me for it yet.”

This would make for an excellent way to cap off the series, and as Jean said, it would be great for syndication as it would create a continuous loop rather than giving us a definitive ending.

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