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The Simpsons Joke That Actually Saved The Lives Of Two Children

It's not controversial to claim that "The Simpsons" is funny. After more than 30 years on the air, after all, it better be. The secret behind the longevity of "The Simpsons," however, lies in the sheer range of the jokes. Each episode guarantees visual gags, character-based humor, and long-running jokes sure to satisfy the biggest "Simpsons" devotees. Moreover, there's the speed at which they're hammered out; no other show matched the rapid-fire punchlines on "The Simpsons" until perhaps "30 Rock."

In a rare interview with The New Yorker, "Simpsons" scribe John Swartzwelder revealed the secret behind writing zingers for one of television's funniest shows. "We just tried to make ourselves, and each other, laugh," he said. "Comedy writers. That was the audience. Luckily, a lot of other people, both kids and adults, liked the same jokes we liked."

The writers behind "The Simpsons" may have been pros at eliciting belly laughs, but one joke, in particular, became surprisingly important in an actual life-or-death situation.

A throwaway Heimlich maneuver joke had a lasting impact

Some of the finest "Simpsons" jokes aren't even spoken aloud, instead packing a punch in some punny text or visual gag. In the Season 3 episode "Homer at the Bat," Homer is choking on a donut while his peers ignore a handy Heimlich maneuver poster in the background, the contents of which show a man choking on a whole lobster. Instead, they notice a softball sign-up sheet, kicking off the events of the rest of the episode.

It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it detail that barely serves the rest of the plot. Thankfully, a couple of enterprising young fans were paying close attention. In 1992, the same year the episode aired, a 10-year-old in Auburn, Washington, saved his younger brother from choking on an orange, using the info he had learned on "The Simpsons," as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Thanks to the powers of syndication, another young viewer applied the same knowledge in 2007 when his buddy ended up on the wrong side of a ham sandwich. "It just came into my head and I did it," he told the Sunday Express.

"Homer at the Bat" remains one of the series' most beloved episodes, though not for its role in imparting medical wisdom. Rather, the sports-centric episode featured a number of the day's biggest baseball stars, including Darryl Strawberry, Don Mattingly, and José Canseco, which helped it beat out "The Cosby Show" in the ratings for the first time (via The Washington Post). For two young fans, however, the episode proved to be life-saving.