Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: There was an unaired episode of the Simpsons where Bart dies.
Beyond simple behind the scenes bloopers that happen on the set of pretty much every television show that there is, there is a long history of television shows and other creative works making alternate episodes or alternate versions of their works just for their own personal amusement. For instance, there was an R-Rated version of Genndy Tartakovsky’s kids show Dexter Laboratory that was never intended to actually air (I featured the story of “Dexter’s Rude Removal” in a TV Legend here). And Mort Walker would often do explicit versions of his Beetle Bailey comic strips for his own amusement (which I featured in a Comic Book Legend here). So if Matt Groening and the staff of The Simpsons did a special one-off episode of the series where Bart Simpson died, it would not be that shocking. But does such an episode really exist? Read on to find out the truth behind “Dead Bart”!
Here is the much-passed around description of how “Dead Bart” was discovered…
You know how Fox has a weird way of counting Simpsons episodes? They refuse to count a couple of them, making the amount of episodes inconsistent. The reason for this is a lost episode from season 1.
Finding details about this missing episode is difficult, no one who was working on the show at the time likes to talk about it. From what has been pieced together, the lost episode was written entirely by Matt Groening. During production of the first season, Matt started to act strangely. He was very quiet, seemed nervous and morbid. Mentioning this to anyone who was present results in them getting very angry, and forbidding you to ever mention it to Matt. I first heard of it at an event where David Silverman was speaking. Someone in the crowd asked about the episode, and Silverman simply left the stage, ending the presentation hours early. The episode’s production number was 7G06, the title was Dead Bart. The episode labeled 7G06, “Moaning Lisa”, was made later and given Dead Bart’s production code to hide the latter’s existence.
And here is a description of the episode:
The episode was about the Simpsons going on a plane trip, near the end of the first act, the plane was taking off. Bart was fooling around, as you’d expect. However, as the plane was about 50 feet off the ground, Bart broke a window on the plane and was sucked out.
At the beginning of the series, Matt had an idea that the animated style of the Simpsons’ world represented life, and that death turned things more realistic. This was used in this episode. The picture of Bart’s corpse was barely recognizable, they took full advantage of it not having to move, and made an almost photo-realistic drawing of his dead body.
Act one ended with the shot of Bart’s corpse. When act two started, Homer, Marge, and Lisa were sitting at their table, crying. The crying went on and on, it got more pained, and sounded more realistic, better acting than you would think possible. The animation started to decay even more as they cried, and you could hear murmuring in the background. The characters could barely be made out, they were stretching and blurring, they looked like deformed shadows with random bright colors thrown on them. There were faces looking in the window, flashing in and out so you were never sure what they looked like. This crying went on for all of act two.
Act three opened with a title card saying one year had passed. Homer, Marge, and Lisa were skeletally thin, and still sitting at the table. There was no sign of Maggie or the pets.
They decided to visit Bart’s grave. Springfield was completely deserted, and as they walked to the cemetery the houses became more and more decrepit. They all looked abandoned. When they got to the grave, Bart’s body was just lying in front of his tombstone, looking just like it did at the end of act one.
The family started crying again. Eventually they stopped, and just stared at Bart’s body. The camera zoomed in on Homer’s face. According to summaries, Homer tells a joke at this part, but it isn’t audible in the version I saw, you can’t tell what Homer is saying.
A video snippet from the episode has made the rounds on the internet over the years…
So, is this a legit episode thrown together by the Simpsons crew to amuse themselves?
No, it is not.
The hoax began years ago at creepypasta, a popular internet horror site, where the intention is for contributors to tell “internet horror stories.” The idea is to essentially create a scary meme that will be passed around the internet as if it were true (a reference to “copypasta,” which is a term for those long blocks of texts that people always e-mail to each other).
Here is the Creepypasta wiki entry for the episode. They really did a great job on this one, as it has been accepted as true by a whole lot of people.
The above video is just spliced together clips from various Simpsons episodes. The episode never existed and the whole thing is an intentional hoax.
The legend is…
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