Did a ‘Simpsons’ Episode From 1993 Predict the Coronavirus?

Whenever there’s a tragedy, people always find dubious “predictions” of it in popular culture. People have claimed a novella from the 1890s predicted the sinking of the RMS Titanic. People have claimed the X Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen predicted the September 11 attacks. Now, people are claiming a 1993 Simpsons episode predicted the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The episode in question is called “Marge in Chains.” It does center on a disease. But does it have anything to do with the coronavirus?

The Simpsons characters at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel | Paul Redmond/WireImage

Details from ‘The Simpsons’ you might have missed

Images have circulated on social media showing Kent Brockman, the news anchor from The Simpsons, with the words “CORONA VIRUS” on the screen. This would be an extraordinary coincidence if a Simpsons episode mentioned the virus. However, no Simpsons episode ever did

“Marge in Chains” is about a fictitious disease called the “Osaka flu.” Simpsons screenshots have been edited to make them appears to mention the coronavirus. People who didn’t remember the small details of the episode were understandably fooled by the doctored images. Claims “Marge in Chains” mentioned the virus are fabricated. However, could there still be parallels between the episode and the ongoing pandemic?

Some of the elements of the episode differentiate it from the current pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China before spreading to other parts of the world. In contrast, the flu outbreak from “Marge in Chains” begins in Osaka, Japan and spreads through an infected package.

A ‘Simpsons’ writer gets candid

Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Homer Simpson, Marge Simpson, and Maggie Simpson visiting The Empire State Building | Noam Galai/Getty Images

Bill Oakley, one of the writers of “Marge in Chains,” dismissed any perceived parallels between current events and the episode. He said the “Marge in Chains” drew some inspiration from some of the viral outbreaks from the 1980s. He also said the first act of the episode was inspired by Albert Camus’ classic novel The Plague.

Oakley didn’t just dismiss claims The Simpsons predicted the coronavirus. He also dismissed many claims the show predicted anything. “I would say in general when people say The Simpsons has predicted something it is just that we were satirizing real life events from years before and because history keeps repeating it just SEEMS like we were predicting things.”

Nostradamus allegedly predicted the coronavirus as well

Nostradamus | Rainer Binder/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The Simpsons writers aren’t the only ones who allegedly predicted the coronavirus. Nostradamus, a French poet who many regard as a prophet, allegedly predicted the rise of the coronavirus as well. A post circulated online saying Nostradamus predicted a “queen of the east” would rise, kill many, and destroy the world economy.

Some claim the queen from this prophecy represents COVID-19. To bolster their claims, proponents of this view say Nostradamus predicted the queen would arrive in a country with seven hills. Italy is home to Rome, a city built on seven hills, and Italy is particularly affected by the coronavirus. The only problem with this supposed prophecy is that it is a modern fabrication, not an actual Nostradamus prophecy.

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