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The Major Simpsons Episode You Likely Forgot Guillermo Del Toro Directed

The three-decade run of Matt Groening's "The Simpsons" is a fantastic feat for any TV show, let alone an animated sitcom. The show is such a pillar of pop culture that it has often helped the careers of some who have worked on it. Already with a writing credit for "Saturday Night Live," and before he eased us into the late-night hours with laughs, Conan O' Brien wrote for "The Simpsons." David X. Cohen also worked on the series before co-developing "Futurama" with Groening (via IMDb).

But "The Simpsons" isn't just a one-way path to other avenues in Hollywood. The series has also pulled in countless celebrity guests during its many seasons, usually in the form of actors and artists lending their voices to a character. But in 2013, the series switched gears and let one noteworthy auteur sit behind the director's chair for part of an episode. 

Guillermo del Toro is known and revered for his work on films such as "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Shape of Water," the latter of which earned him awards for best director and best picture along with two other Oscar wins for the production. Yet along with his vast collection of work in film, there is also one major "Simpsons" episode del Toro co-directed.

Del Toro directed the couch gag for Treehouse of Horror XXIV

Many of Guillermo del Toro's films have played within the realms of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror — so his familiar background in those genres made him a perfect fit for the "Treehouse of Horror" event on "The Simpsons." The annual Halloween episodes place the Simpson family and the city of Springfield into some hilarious parodies of the same genre that del Toro often artistically visits. During Season 25 of the series, del Toro got the chance to direct the couch gag for "Treehouse of Horror XXIV." 

With one look at the opening, it's easy to feel the filmmaker's presence in his homages to horror (via AniDom YouTube). Del Toro welcomed the opportunity to bridge the animated series with some of Hollywood's most well-known macabre movies and his own film work. "The Simpsons titles are so iconic, and yet they've never been riffed in this vein," del Toro said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I really wanted to land the connections between the [show's] set pieces and the titles and some of the most iconic horror movies, and intersperse them with some of my stuff in there for pure joy." 

His opening couch gag is filled with humorous nods to some of the most iconic Hollywood horror and fantasy films, including Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and the 1943 "Phantom of the Opera" along with the other classic movie monsters. But direct references to del Toro's films like "Hellboy" and "Blade II" also make their way into the opening via some wacky cosplay from Groundskeeper Willie and Carl. And perhaps in one of the most fitting pairings, del Toro transforms Mr. Burns into the fearsome Pale Man from "Pan's Labyrinth." The opening is worth multiple viewings just to catch its massive number of Easter eggs.