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The Only Disney Character The Simpsons Isn't Allowed To Spoof Anymore

The House of Mouse has some strict rules for America's favorite family. As one of the longest-running shows on television, "The Simpsons" hasn't shied away from parodying and commenting on various aspects of pop culture. While some episodes of "The Simpsons" have been controversial, the series is also well known for chiming in on dominant cultural conversations. For example, "The Simpsons" recently featured a raunchy "Bridgerton" parody based on one of Netflix's most popular original series. If it's popular, there's a strong chance that "The Simpsons" writers' room will aim to parody it. And over the show's three-decade reign, no company has been as popular as Disney.

Prior to Disney's purchase of 20th Century Fox, the studio behind "The Simpsons," the animated series frequently mocked Mickey Mouse and Disney's clean-cut image. Bart notably wore faux-mouse ears in "The Simpsons Movie" and playfully referred to himself as a "mascot for an evil corporation." A few years later, in the Season 26 episode "The Man Who Came To Be Dinner," the family visit "Diz-Nee-Land" for a disastrous family trip. These are just a few instances where the series has cheerfully parodied Disney without consequence.

Now that Disney owns "The Simpsons," the parent company is singing a different tune. While parodies aren't off limits, there's one sacred character who won't be getting the satirical treatment.

The Simpsons isn't allowed to spoof Mickey Mouse

To commemorate the second anniversary of the launch of Disney+, the studio enlisted "The Simpsons" to create a celebratory short film. Titled "The Simpsons in Plusaversary," the self-aware film shows Disney's iconic characters like Tinker Bell, Cinderella, and Daffy Duck populating Moe's Tavern. Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) tries to get inside the party but isn't allowed due to his supposed lack of popularity on the streaming service. Eventually, Goofy invites the Simpson patriarch in as his plus-one.

Despite the plethora of characters present for the shindig, many Disney devotees may have noticed one notable absence. To some, it would seem that Moe completely forgot to send an invitation to Mickey Mouse. However, there is actually a much more interesting story going on behind the scenes.

Disney isn't messing around when it comes to key IP

According to The Motley Fool, Disney has gone to great lengths to protect its characters over the years. Indeed, prior to the company's purchase of Fox, many speculated that Disney would lose out on its squeaky clean image as a result of the acquisition (via Los Angeles Times). Up until Disney+ became the home of Netflix's Marvel shows, stateside Disney+ only featured projects that were PG-13. So how was Goofy, a beloved Mickey Mouse-adjacent character, able to drink with Fox's most notorious animated character?

When Variety spoke with veteran "The Simpsons" producer Al Jean, the outlet was able to confirm that Goofy drinking was a non-issue as the character is an adult with children. As for why Mickey didn't show up? Disney made the actual character off limits for the short. However, "The Simpsons" team came up with an alternative way of nodding to the iconic character, instead portraying Bart (Nancy Cartwright) in a Mickey Mouse costume. Jean joked, "Mickey actually doesn't exist, so we have Bart playing Mickey and telling everybody to get back to work."