Eerie Predictions The Simpsons Have For 2024

It's fair to say that after all these years, "The Simpsons" has become a repetitive shell of its old self, as the sharp satire, grounded realism, and familial warmth of the animated sitcom's "golden era" have oftentimes taken a back seat to ridiculous episode plots, cheap, minimum-effort gags, and a tendency to play fast and loose with continuity. But the show still produces its share of modern-era gems, and much like it did in long-ago seasons, it can somehow "predict" certain events, trends, and innovations years before the fact. 

Much of this can be chalked up to sheer coincidence. But many of these coincidences tend to be eerily prescient, may they be related to lighter-hearted developments such as the results of sporting competitions or serious front-page news about geopolitical strife and the U.S. presidential elections. So what does "The Simpsons" have to say about 2024, what has already happened in the current year at the time of writing, and what might happen before the year is over? Let's take a look at some of the more notable — and more obscure — "predictions" for 2024 the series has offered throughout its nearly four decades on television.

World War III

One can say that "The Simpsons" was predicting future events even before it became a full-blown weekly program. From 1987 to 1989, the wacky antics of Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) and his dysfunctional clan entertained viewers of "The Tracey Ullman Show" in a series of shorts. One of these sub-two-minute clips was November 1987's "World War III," in which the dopey but (usually) well-meaning patriarch repeatedly wakes up his family in the middle of the night and directs them to their bomb shelter to see how prepared they are for the titular global conflict. It takes a while, but Marge (Julie Kavner) and the kids wise up to Homer's tactics, and by the end of the short, he's locked up in the bomb shelter as revenge for his seemingly pointless drills.

That wasn't the only time "The Simpsons" referenced World War III, and it might not even have been the funniest. But it's no laughing matter to take stock of the various international conflicts that are still ongoing as of press time; the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Palestine conflict are just two that immediately come to mind. To be clear, no one has officially declared that we are in the midst of a third world war, but it's hard to argue with those who believe we might be close to one.

An Elite Eight matchup between two ACC rivals

In a "Simpsons" episode that sees Homer and Marge ostensibly closer than ever before to finally separating after many years of close calls, the scene in question from the Season 27 premiere "Every Man's Dream" may seem like a throwaway. But it somehow foresaw two head-to-head competitors in the 2024 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Elite Eight, and the exact date on which they faced off.

In one of Homer's dream sequences, it is March 31, and the family is celebrating one month of sobriety for Homer. Marge rattles off a list of accomplishments her husband pulled off in his month of teetotaling, including an incident-free March Madness; at that point, Homer is shown representing two Atlantic Coast Conference rivals, wearing a Duke T-shirt and holding a North Carolina State pennant in his right hand. He smiles smugly as Lisa (Yeardley Smith) then declares that she's gone back to eating meat and baby Maggie can finally talk. That's where the whole scene is revealed to be a dream, as Maggie sings the first line of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" ... only for this clearly adult female rendition to segue into a punk version of the classic song, with Homer fast asleep at a hipster bar.

After the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina State Wolfpack squared off in an Elite Eight game on March 31, 2024, it didn't take much time for fans on X, formerly known as Twitter, to point out how "The Simpsons" predicted both the matchup and the date. Sure, it might not have been the big championship game, but Homer's wishy-washy support for two ACC teams in that Season 27 dream sequence was an uncanny hint of things to come.

A baby translator

Homer's half-brother, disgraced automotive executive Herb Powell (Danny DeVito), has no one to blame but himself for going from riches to rags; after all, he entrusted the design of his supposedly game-changing car for the common man to his dopey sibling, despite everybody warning him that it was a bad idea. In the Season 3 finale of "The Simpsons," the aptly-titled "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?," a now-broke and homeless Herb shows up at his estranged brother's doorstep, asking that Homer lend him $2,000 so he can develop a baby translator. Reluctantly, Homer loans Herb the cash, and by the end of the episode, the baby translator is a huge hit, allowing Herb to get his life back on track.

When "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" first aired in 1992, a machine that could accurately translate baby talk into everyday speech seemed rather farfetched. But thanks to artificial intelligence (more on that divisive topic in a bit) and a layered form of deep learning technology, such a contraption now exists, and it's called the Maxi-Cosi See Pro. Zoundream, the company behind this new baby monitor, unveiled the machine at CES 2024 and released it in North America just a few days later, on January 16, 2024. While it's hard to tell whether the Maxi-Cosi See Pro is as accurate as Herb Powell's baby translator, it's definitely spiffier looking than the clunky doohickey that impressed Springfield's cartoonishly clueless parents three decades prior.

AI replaces humans in the workforce

While "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" is an example of "The Simpsons" predicting how AI could be used for good, the Season 23 episode "Them, Robot" highlights one of the present-day gripes people have with the technology: It has the potential to cost people their jobs.

The episode starts with Mr. Burns (Harry Shearer), in an attempt to save some money in operational costs, firing everyone at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant except Homer and replacing the human workers with robots. Homer tries to make the artificial intelligence-driven machines more self-aware, teaching them how to play baseball and how to react to situations like humans do. But when this somehow results in the robots preventing Homer from drinking beer, all hell breaks loose in Springfield, and it's the former nuclear plant employees who stop the robots from taking over the city, thus forcing Mr. Burns to rehire them ... as temps. (That's just as much gratitude as you can expect from the curmudgeonly, penny-pinching billionaire.)

The world has yet to see something remotely close to a robot takeover, but the mere fact that Mr. Burns replaced almost everyone with machines hits a lot closer to home these days than it did when "Them, Robot" first aired in 2012. Statistics show that close to 5,000 U.S. employees lost their jobs to AI between May 2023 and February 2024 (via Fortune), and that's just a modest estimate. Scarier yet, various industries could be disrupted going forward by the rise of such technology, and that could mean even more AI-related layoffs in the years to come.

Donald Trump running for president in 2024

When "The Simpsons" aired the 2015 short "Trumptastic Voyage," it had been 15 years since the show gave viewers the ultimate example of a joke predicting the future. That, of course, was the bit from the Season 11 episode "Bart to the Future" that mentions President Lisa Simpson inheriting the budget crisis caused by her predecessor, a certain real estate magnate named Donald Trump. As for the newer short, it shows Homer standing right behind Trump while riding an escalator, then touching the then-Republican presidential hopeful's hair in hopes of curing his baldness. Instead of growing some luxurious locks of his own, Homer gets pulled into the future 45th U.S. president's big head of hair, and as he floats through the strands and follicles, a Trump campaign sign is visible, with the year changing in increments of four from 2012 to 2028.

Not long after Trump announced in November 2022 that he would be running for president in the 2024 election, former "Simpsons" showrunner and longtime producer Al Jean took to X and shared a screenshot of the exact moment where the campaign sign reads "Trump 2024." With the brief caption "As predicted in 2015," Jean shouted out the show's apparent clairvoyance, though, at the time of publication, it's still too early to determine whether or not Trump will be successful in his bid to become the first U.S. president since Grover Cleveland (and second overall) to serve non-consecutive terms in office.

The Denver Broncos' ineptitude

Season 8, Episode 2, "You Only Move Twice," is rightfully a fixture of best "Simpsons" episodes lists, and much of it has to do with Hank Scorpio (Albert Brooks), Homer's energetic, friendly new boss who turns out to be a bigger supervillain than Mr. Burns over at the old nuclear plant. When Homer decides to quit his job at Globex and move back to Springfield for the sake of his family, Scorpio leaves the Simpson patriarch with a parting gift. While he can't fulfill Homer's boyhood dream and give him the Dallas Cowboys to own, Scorpio sends the Denver Broncos to his doorstep at Evergreen Terrace, and they're portrayed as a team of bumbling, incompetent oafs.

In reality, the Denver Broncos finished an impressive 13-3 in the 1996 NFL regular season — the current one at the time "You Only Move Twice" aired. But since we're talking 2024 predictions here, the Broncos portrayed way back in Season 8 of "The Simpsons" are closer to their real-life, present-day equivalents. Denver's quarterback rotation includes Zach Wilson, a monumental bust as the second-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, as well as career backup Jarrett Stidham and unproven rookie Bo Nix. Pro Football Focus predicts the latter two will battle it out for the Broncos' No. 1 QB job in 2024, but either way, the outlet has Denver's projected starting quarterback(s) ranked dead last in the NFL, giving many fans who watched "You Only Move Twice" some serious déjà vu as they look forward to a rough 2024 campaign.

Advances in holographic technology

Donald Trump's presidency isn't the only prediction the aforementioned "Bart to the Future" served up when it originally aired in 2000. The episode, which largely centers on a vision of Bart's life as a penniless loser in the year 2030, includes a brief moment where an adult version of Springfield Elementary bully Nelson Muntz (Nancy Cartwright) appears in hologram form as he invites Bart and Ralph Wiggum (Cartwright) to play at his club. Bart and Ralph get heckled offstage after playing a "Captain Bart original" — actually a blatant rip-off of the late Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" — and only escape serious injury thanks to a forcefield blocking the beer bottles hurled by angry patrons.

Fast-forward to 2024, or six years before a majority of the events of "Bart to the Future," and a company known as Holoconnects is offering something not far removed from Nelson's holographic invite. The company, which presented its Holobox device at CES 2024, promises to go beyond the novelty and gimmickry associated with the technology, stating in a press release that it's "reshaping advertising, transforming healthcare with detailed patient assessments, and enhancing hospitality experiences." Now that's certainly more practical than a bar owner asking a pair of talent-deprived ne'er-do-wells to play at their venue.

The Apple Vision Pro

Later seasons of "The Simpsons" have seen the world of consumer electronics play a major role in several episodes — heck, the show even has its own stand-ins for Apple and Steve Jobs, right down to the enigmatic tech figure's "uniform" of a black turtleneck. However, neither "Mapple" nor "Steve Mobbs" are involved in Season 28's "Friends and Family," which has Mr. Burns testing a set of virtual reality glasses designed by Springfield's resident mad scientist, Professor John Frink (Hank Azaria). The episode ends with a flash-forward to a few years into the future, where several characters, including the likes of Comic Book Guy, Principal Skinner, Dr. Nick Riviera, and Homer and Marge themselves, envision their ideal situations while wearing the glasses.

That episode aired in 2016, a good eight years before Apple released a near-lookalike gadget called the Vision Pro. Not long after its February 2024 launch, people were pointing out how "The Simpsons" apparently predicted the real-life device,  which users can control with their voice, eye movements, and hand commands, similar to how the "Oculus Frink" works in "Family and Friends." Just one more thing, though, pun not intended — do not call the Vision Pro a VR, or even an augmented reality (AR) device in the presence of an Apple employee, as the company insistently refers to it as a "spatial computer" despite its obvious use of both forms of technology.