Does a social media post accurately summarize the events portrayed in an episode of "The Simpsons" -- that a solar superstorm struck Springfield, causing an electromagnetic pulse that led to a complete shutdown of the town and internet access? No, that's not true: The 2013 Simpsons episode mentioned in the social media post -- Episode Nine of Season 24 -- does not feature a solar superstorm. The fictional event that caused the blackout in the Simpsons' town of Springfield stemmed from Homer Simpson neglecting his job at the local nuclear power plant, according to a Simpsons fan site, unofficial episode transcript and show review.
Some predictions for 2024 via Simpsons
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of the writing of this fact check:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Dec 29 16:17:22 2023 UTC)
This fact check focuses on the misrepresentation of the plotline of Episode Nine, Season 24 of "The Simpsons," entitled, "Homer Goes to Prep School." It originally aired on January 6, 2013. The scope of this fact check does not extend to the prediction of a solar superstorm, as predictions cannot be fact-checked before events occur.
The episode plot summary from simpsons.fandom.com, an "encyclopedia for everything related to The Simpsons," says of Homer Simpson:
Studying how to become a survivalist, he neglects his job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and as a result, an electromagnetic pulse blacks out all of the power in Springfield.
A long-running meme of Simpsons' predictions highlights events that appeared in an episode of "The Simpsons" and later were mirrored by events that truly happened. There have also been some false prediction memes spun off from this format; past Lead Stories debunks of a few of these false claims can be found here.
In this most recent case, the prediction is for a 2024 solar storm, which the specified 2013 "Simpsons" show never predicted, as an unofficial transcript and reviews of the show reveal. The episode also didn't indicate that 2024 was when the electromagnetic pulse mentioned in the story would occur.
This episode has been the subject of earlier conspiracy tropes.
One video on YouTube supposed that it predicted a "September 24th Blackout and Comet Impact," though the video did not specify a year.
In 2022, when German politician Friedrich Merz put the date for the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine as September 24, 2022, rather than February 24, 2022, Spanish and German-language articles reported that QAnon had latched onto the old "Simpsons" "prediction," and had tied a vague apocalyptic meaning to Merz's gaffe. Lead Stories debunked the suggestion that Merz's error was an intentional warning.
It seems the meme's prediction goalposts have moved again, now suggesting that Episode 9, Season 24 of "The Simpsons" indicates the year 2024, rather than the date September 24.
But the plotline of this episode is a matter of record. The cause of the electromagnetic pulse in the fictional story was not a solar storm but a problem at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant caused by Homer's failure to tend to his job. Even if there really is a solar storm in 2024, it will not have been "predicted" by this "Simpsons" episode.
Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims about "The Simpsons" can be read here.