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It takes a special set of circumstances for a TV show to go on forever. The list includes: solid profits and/or consistent acclaim; a succession plan for aging/uninterested actors; and a writers’ room that keeps cranking out quality material. You can argue The Simpsons have had all three.

Then there are shows that people are baffled to see getting renewed, year after year. High up on that list sits Cops, the police-focused reality show that’s been on the air since 1989 — the same year The Simpsons debuted on the very same network (Fox).

It took until 2020 for Cops to air its last bust. Prior to its 33rd season, the Paramount Network announced it had canceled the program after years of dwindling ratings. (Cops moved from Fox to Spike TV in 2013. Paramount now owns Spike TV.)

That news was greeted with a shrug and a chuckle by most people, many of whom were unaware Cops was still airing new episodes. Indeed, the show’s formula and tone got old fast. And I’d argue the best thing about it was The Simpsons‘ spoof of it in 1992.

‘The Simpsons’ weighed in on ‘Cops’ with ‘Homer’s Triple Bypass’

'Simpsons' character Chief Wiggum stands with a donut
Attendee samples doughnut with “Chief Wiggum” at the celebration of the 600th episode of “The Simpsons” on October 14, 2016 . | Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

To understand how long both The Simpsons and Cops have remained on the air, I’ll take you back to December 17, 1992. That’s when the classic animated show did its send-up of Cops. It came in the episode titled “Homer’s Triple Bypass” (season 4 episode 11).

The main plot of “Homer’s Triple Bypass” revolved around exactly what you’d expect: Homer’s poor health and brush with mortality. And you recall how timeless The Simpsons is, as the focus goes on the expense of quality medical care (and the Simpsons’ painful experience trying to get it).

But before getting into that the episode starts with a little TV. At home on the couch, Homer’s watching Cops: In Springfield. And after seeing Chief Wiggum and the gang botch a few routine calls, Springfield’s most-wanted man clowns Springfield’s finest when he escapes their clutches.

He makes his getaway because Springfield cops busted down Reverend Lovejoy’s door instead of his. (The cows outside didn’t clue in Wiggum to where the “cattle rustler” suspect lived.) “What in God’s name are you doing?” Lovejoy asks. At that moment, the suspect peels out. “Close but no donut, cops,” he scoffs.

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The Simpsons
The Simpsons | Fox

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Simpsons writers always go the extra mile, and their Cops spoof was no exception. In a Pynchon-esque show of dedication, the writers wrote a new verse to the Cops reggae theme song, “Bad Boys,” which was released by Inner Circle in 1987.

In this case, the song’s title and theme got changed from “Bad Boys” to “Bad Cops.” “Bad cops, bad cops,” a chorus sings. Then we get the matching verse. “Springfield Cops are on the take / But what do you expect for the money we make? / Whether in a car or on a horse / We don’t mind using excessive force! Bad cops, bad cops.”

After the suspect flees the scene, Chief Wiggum calls in his description for his colleagues on the force. “Put out an APB for a male suspect driving a … car of some sort. Heading in the direction of, uh … you know, that place that sells chili. Suspect is hatless — I repeat, hatless!”

From there, we don’t hear from the boys in blue until Homer lands in the emergency room. In the waiting room, we see Chief Wiggum waiting. The officers with him explain that Wiggum’s jaw locked when trying to take a bite of a giant sandwich. Cops never looked better.