‘The Simpsons’: Homer’s Theory of a Doughnut-Shaped Universe Has Merit, Per Cosmologists

The popular animated series The Simpsons is known for its record-breaking long run, the many celebrities who have made guest appearances, and the strange way the show seems to predict the future at times. But something it isn’t associated with is complex scientific theories. However, according to some cosmologists, Homer Simpson might have hit on one theory that makes sense. 

Homer Simpson
Homer Simpson | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

‘The Simpsons’ has had a jaw-dropping 31-year run

The Simpsons debuted its first episode on Dec. 17, 1989. The show, featuring the now-iconic yellow-skinned characters, started life as a handful of animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987.

When the series moved to its own half-hour time slot, people had no idea how popular it would turn out to be. In fact, when Dustin Hoffman voiced Lisa’s substitute teacher in the second season, he wasn’t sure he wanted his name associated with a cartoon. Instead, his role was listed as played by “Sam Etic” in the closing credits. 

That hesitation to be known as a guest star on The Simpsons didn’t last long as the series rocketed to popularity. Over its 32 seasons, people as famous as Elizabeth Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Cruise, and Prince have made their way to the streets of Springfield. But despite all the luminaries who have appeared on The Simpsons, Homer remains a bigger part of the show than all of them put together. 

Homer Simpson and his doughnuts

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Homer, the underachieving patriarch of the Simpson family, loves many foods, including potato chips, pizza, cheeseburgers, fries, and of course a Duff beer to wash it all down. But his favorite thing to eat is doughnuts. 

Homer’s love for doughnuts runs so deep that in one episode he’s sent to Hell to be force-fed doughnuts by an angry demon. Unfortunately for the demon, Homer doesn’t really mind. And eternity in Hell doesn’t sound that bad to him, as long as there are doughnuts. 

Homer has sold his soul for one last bite of a doughnut, injected doughnuts into his veins, and even rejected an alternate reality where he was rich and happy because he thought there were no doughnuts there. But among his many doughnut-centered adventures, the one that seems most outlandish was a conversation he had with a world-renowned theoretical physicist. 

Stephen Hawking and the doughnut-shaped universe

Stephen Hawking was a widely respected theoretical physicist. Before he died in 2018, he impressed the world not only with his intelligence but also with his unexpectedly good sense of humor. One example of that was when he appeared on The Simpsons during season 10.

Hawking arrived in Springfield to set things straight after Mensa members took over the town. At the end of the episode, after Hawking stopped the chaos and unrest, Homer invited him to have a beer at his favorite bar. As they drank their beer, Hawking remarked to Homer that he found his theory of a doughnut-shaped universe “intriguing” and that he might even steal the idea. 

Is it possible that Homer was right about the shape of the universe? According to the science journal Nature, “Cosmologists have suggested various ‘wrap-around’ shapes for the Universe: it might be shaped like a football or even a weird ‘doughnut.’ In each case, the Universe would appear to be infinite, because you would never physically reach its edge — if you traveled far enough in any direction you would end up back where you started, just as if you were circumnavigating the globe.”

However, other cosmologists have refuted this theory, saying a shape like a doughnut would create certain patterns in the sky that they haven’t found. Still, a doughnut-shaped universe still is a possibility in the eyes of experts. Now humanity just has to hope that Homer doesn’t eat it.