The Simpsons Retconned Its Most Reliable Future

The Simpsons Retconned Its Most Reliable Future

The Simpsons never shows the same future for the main characters twice, but some details reliably stayed the same… until season 34, that is.

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Warning: Spoilers for The Simpsons season 34, episode 9.


Usually, when the show depicts the future of its heroes, The Simpsons pairs Lisa with Milhouse, but season 34 contradicted this version of events. The fate of the Simpson family’s members is always subject to revision. Since the anarchic cartoon has little in the way of consistent canon, The Simpsons can (and does) change the future of its characters from episode to episode. However, some elements of their futures stay the same between outings.

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For example, while The Simpsons has many different versions of Lisa’s future, she tends to end up romantically involved with Milhouse – even when she is the President. However, much like The Simpsons season 34 changed Homer and Grampa and their difficulties with each other, The Simpsons season 34, episode 9 “When Nelson Met Lisa” offered an alternative ending for Lisa’s love life. In this episode, Lisa ended up with Nelson after a thwarted marriage to Hubert Wong, and Milhouse was even present in the episode to offer a fourth-wall-breaking note about how unusual the storyline’s conclusion was for The Simpsons.

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Why Lisa Usually Ends Up With Milhouse

Milhouse in The Simpsons

Ironically, the first time The Simpsons mentioned Lisa’s future love life was the only other time she didn’t end up with Milhouse. In The Simpsons season 6, episode 19 “Lisa’s Wedding,” Lisa instead ended with a blue-blooded British aristocrat who she eventually dumped. However, that Simpsons episode’s stellar celebrity cameo from Mandy Patinkin aside, 6 out of the ten episodes of The Simpsons that depict the family’s future have included Lisa dating Mulhouse – and 2 of the remaining outings don’t mention her romantic life at all. Milhouse and Lisa are seemingly more likely to end up together even in a show with an elastic canon like The Simpsons, presumably because they have known each other since childhood.

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Lisa and Nelson in The Simpsons season 34

That said, the fact that The Simpsons often depicts this doesn’t mean the show is attached to the idea. The Simpsons has changed a lot about the show’s approach to storytelling in recent seasons and, much like The Simpsons season 34 dropped topical satire in favor of character focus, “When Nelson Met Lisa” contradicted the plots of these outings with a sweet story of Nelson and Lisa rekindling their childhood romance. Interestingly, although the episode discarded the story seen in numerous earlier Simpsons episodes that were set in the future, “When Nelson Met Lisa” still relied on another classic outing of the series for its plot.

“When Nelson Met Lisa” referenced the story of The Simpsons season 8, episode 7, “Lisa’s Date With Density” numerous times, even including clips from the classic outing during Lisa and Nelson’s reunion. This was an unusual choice, since Milhouse’s fourth-wall-breaking aside about being left behind showed that The Simpsons episode was simultaneously abandoning and relying on the show’s canon. Referencing classic Simpsons episodes is a risky strategy but, since “When Nelson Met Lisa” also offered a fresh take on Lisa’s future love life, it was easier to ignore The Simpsons episode’s reliance on fan nostalgia.

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