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Do The Simpsons And Futurama Take Place In The Same Universe?

In 1989, The Simpsons evolved beyond a set of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show to become one of the most successful animated series of all time. It wasn't long before creator Matt Groening's nuclear power plant family became the voice of a generation with children and adults alike communicating in the language of Simpsons references. The show became so ubiquitous that over a decade later South Park dedicated an entire episode to the writers' meta-frustration with The Simpsons using up every conceivable plot for an animated TV comedy.

Ten years later, Groening would start again with a new partner: David X. Cohen. The two mad geniuses created another generation-defining cartoon series: the beloved-canceled-revived Futurama. While this sci-fi sophomore effort would struggle in ways The Simpsons never did (it was canceled twice and stayed canceled after seven seasons), Futurama also quickly entered the cultural lexicon where it remains to this day.

In some ways, Futurama was actually edgier than The Simpsons – and often funnier, too. Let's face it, Bender's (voiced by John DiMaggio) catchphrase — "bite my shiny, metal ass" — is probably funnier than Bart Simpson's (Nancy Cartwright) "eat my shorts."

Both shows are masterworks of animated comedy, and since they come from the mind of the same creator and feature similar animation styles, there's a question that's always been hanging out there in the Groening ether: Do The Simpsons and Futurama exist in the same universe? The answer is ... complicated.

The Simpsons are only a TV show in Futurama's world

Futurama didn't waste time hiding Simpsons Easter eggs on the show. On Futurama's very first episode, "Space Pilot 3000," we find out that, in the future, people travel by way of pneumatic tube. When man out of time Philip J. Fry (Billy West) tries out the 31st century tech, he very briefly comes face-to-face with a familiar, fishy friend: Blinky. Blinky is the three-eyed fish found in the waters around the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant on The Simpsons.

So, that's it! The Simpsons and Futurama are in the same universe, right? Hold on because it's a little more complicated than that.

When Futurama references The Simpsons, there's a very specific way in which it's done. On the episode "My Three Suns," Bender wears a sash covered in badges, and one of the badges is Homer Simpson's (Dan Castellaneta) face. On "A Big Piece of Garbage," Bender finds a pile of Bart Simpson dolls. On "Mars University," Bart and Homer dolls are available to win at a carnival. There is a Bart head seen in the background of "The Luck of the Fryrish," and you can see Bart's face as part of a patchwork hot air balloon made from cartoon characters (including Bullwinkle and Jon Arbuckle) in "Leela's Homeworld."

Simply put: The Simpsons appears to be a cartoon people watch on Futurama. There's even an episode called "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences" where bender asks the head of Matt Groening when a second Simpson's movie is coming out.

So, that's it! The Simpsons is only part of the Futurama universe in the sense that it is a cartoon that people on Futurama watch, right? Hold on another second because it's even more complicated than that.

The Simpsons are both a TV show and real people

If you were to ask a casual Simpsons and Futurama viewer for a gut response as to whether or not The Simpsons existed in the same universe as Futurama, they would probably point out that the characters on The Simpsons are yellow and the Futurama cast isn't. Slam dunk. Case Closed. Skin tone analysis for the win.

Not so fast. On the Futurama episode "The Tip of the Zoidberg," Fry does, in fact, turn yellow due to a cartoon-related illness called "Simpsons Jaundice." Is it possible that the everyone on The Simpsons is jaundiced and suffers from an ultimately benign liver dysfunction that creates excess bilirubin? Maybe its yet another side effect of Springfield's proximity to the most poorly regulated nuclear power plant on the planet?There's literally nothing saying that's not possible, so maybe!

So the skin issue can be easily reconciled when it comes to Simpsons-Futurama shared universe hypothesis. But a negative doesn't prove a positive, so how's this for proof: There was a crossover event on The Simpsons in which the Futurama cast appears. On the episode "Simpsorama," Bender travels back in time when a mixture of Bart's spit, a lucky rabbit's foot, and nuclear waste inside of a time capsule causes a delayed atomic bunny apocalypse in the 31st century. Bender has been sent back in time to dispatch the Simpsons, but he loves them, and so Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and Professor Farnsworth also travel back in time to help with the murders.

The crossover event establishes proof that The Simpsons is Futurama's past. In fact, the episode even briefly features an appearance by Fry's dog Seymour — the one Fry accidentally abandoned in the past. That means not only are Futurama and The Simpsons in the same universe, but Fry is even originally from the same time period as The Simpsons. Boom. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now.