The lost fortune of the Simpsons

10th October 2018

By Kurt Wood

Whenever we find ourselves in a tricky situation, our default setting is to ask ourselves: what would Homer Simpson do? Nine times out of ten, problem solved. But, take it from us you do not want to ask that question when it comes to your finances. And don’t go swapping in any other Simpson, they’re as hopeless as each other.

How hopeless?  Well, let’s just say ill-advised forays into the grease-selling business and the impulsive splashing-out on a doomed swimming pool, were possibly some of their smarter moves, so let's just say we'd hate to see their credit report.

Don’t believe us? Well, with Homer turning 70, we got to wondering how much he’d have to retire with if the Simpsons’ near-misses had been major windfalls.

To find out the answer we went through all 639 episodes of their 29 seasons and calculated every instance when the Simpson family nearly come into money – from Lisa declining a $12m pay-out because it was immorally gained, to Rainier Wolfcastle stealing Marge’s screenplay and turning it into a Hollywood blockbuster.

And when the scripts didn’t include actual numbers, we used secondary data and estimates to reach a figure. For example, when Homer is denied a Christmas bonus in the very first episode, nobody says how much the bonus was worth, so we used the average bonus for someone with Homer’s job title in 2017.

And in the couple of instances when a near-fortune couldn’t be quantified, we left them out of the calculation – which means the grand total could be even higher.

This after all, was not a task to be sullied by a slapdash approach.

So with no further-ado, here, season-by-season, is the lost fortune of The Simpsons.

Season 1

The Simpsons’ financial bad luck runs deep and in the very first episode, Homer is denied a Christmas bonus (estimate £9,077 ($11,867) and loses his meagre earnings from his job as a mall Santa betting on Santa’s Little Helper.

Total lost in season 1: £9,077 ($11,867)

Running total: £9,077 ($11,867)

Season 2

The biggest single loss in season 2 is $500,000 (£382,468), in “Bart Gets Hit By a Car” - and it’s all because of Marge’s unfailing honesty.

Total lost in season 2: £488,048 ($638,025)

Running total: £497,125 ($649,892)

Season 3

Homer’s stupidity and jealousy get the better of him in season 3’s biggest losses: $500,000 (£382,468) in “Flaming Moe’s” and $997,000 (£762,640) in “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?”

Total lost in season 3: £1,179,664 ($1,542,175)

Running total: £1,676,789 (2,192,067)

Season 4

Simpsons’ financial losses this season are down to the incompetent and crooked lawyer Lionel Hutz. But a loss is a loss and we’re including it

Total lost in season 4: £26,112 ($34,136)

Running total: £1,702,901 ($2,226,203)

Season 5

Season 5 ramps up the near-windfalls. First Homer discards a $16m Stradivarius violin and then fails spectacularly to land a reward of $1m for returning Mr Burns’ beloved teddy bear, Booboo.

But there’s worse to come, with one of their biggest ever losses coming in “Burns’ Heir”, when Bart turns down the chance to inherit Burns’ $16.8bn dollar fortune.

Total lost in season 5: £12,866,534,475 ($16,820,428,500)

Running total: £12,868,237,375 ($16,822,654,703)

Season 6

Into season 6’s and their most notable loss, occurs when Mr Burns earns $10m (£7,649,350) from the racing prowess of Santa’s Little Helper’s puppies, which the Simpsons, kindly or foolishly (depending on your perspective) donate to him.

Total lost in season 6: £7,725,996 ($10,100,200)

Running total: £12,875,963,372 ($16,832,754,903)

Season 7

In “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish”, the state department takes away Abe Simpson’s valuable paintings. It’s not stated how much the entire collection is worth, but two paintings – Portrait of a Young Man and Madonna and Child – have a combined estimated value of around $104.5m (£79,935,707).

Total lost in season 7: £79,935,708 ($104,500,000)

Running total: £12,955,899,080 ($16,937,254,903)

Season 8

Principles once again get the better of profit in season 8. After realising that her new business venture with Mr. Burns isn’t as ethical as she believed, Lisa turns down 10% of the $120m (£91,792,200) profit he makes from selling it.

And it’s bad news for Homer’s blood pressure when he’s informed that 10% of $120m isn’t $12,000, as he initially believed.

Total lost in season 8: £11,070,139 ($14,472,000)

Running total: £12,966,969,219 ($16,951,726,903)

Season 9

The season that boasts the single biggest missed windfall for the Simpsons, when Homer’s plan to equally split a $1tn note with Mr. Burns and Waylon Smithers goes awry, when Fidel Castro steals it. “What trillion-dollar note?” he childishly replies, when asked to give it back.

Total lost in season 9: £254,724,476,955 ($333,001,466,732)

Running total: £267,691,446,174 ($349,953,193,635)

Season 10

Homer’s inadvertent genius for inventing almost nets him a few million but unfortunately he leaves his innovations behind at the Thomas Edison museum. When they’re discovered the next day and recognised for their brilliance, it’s Edison’s heirs who take the credit – and the profits.

Total lost in season 10: £1,537,519 ($2,010,000)

Running total: £267,692,983,693 ($349,955,203,635)

Season 11

Homer turns his hand to farming in season 11. After a slow start, he lands on the idea of using nuclear sludge from the power plant to kick-start things and creates the potentially profitable: Tomacco, an incredibly addictive hybrid of tobacco and tomatoes.

When the execs at Laramie Cigarettes become interested in buying, Homer refuses to accept their $150m offer. Big mistake, as it’s not long before Homer’s Tomacco-crazed farm animals destroy the whole crop, but not before the Laramie executives steal the last-remaining plant for their experiments.

Total lost in season 11: £267,807,723,946 ($150,000,005)

Running total: £267,195,775,946 ($350,105,203,640)

Season 12

As ever, the biggest loss in season 12 comes when a Simpson decides there are more important things than money. In “Homer vs. Dignity”, Mr. Burns offers Homer $1m to throw rotten shrimp at the citizens of Springfield during a Christmas parade.

Homer decides he’d rather be a good role model for Lisa than a millionaire. (Although it’s just two episodes later when Homer and Bart almost earn a tidy profit scamming the elderly…)

Total lost in season 12: £768,561 ($1,003,900)

Running total: £267,808,492,507 ($350,106,207,540)

Season 13

Artie Ziff, one of Springfield’s richest and strangest residents, returns in “Half-Decent Proposal” and offers Homer $1m (£765,575) to spend a strictly non-sexual weekend with Marge – “no funny business”, as he puts it.

Unsurprisingly, Homer’s not A-OK with the idea, and the transaction doesn’t work out.

Total lost in season 13: £765,575 ($1,000,000)

Running total: £267,809,258,082 ($350,107,207,540)

Season 14

Homer turns to prayer in season 14’s biggest near-miss, when he realises he gets literally anything he wants just by praying for it. This gift almost nets him $1m in a lawsuit against, ironically, the Church.

Total lost in season 14: £834,477 ($1,090,000)

Running total: £267,810,092,559($350,108,297,540)

Season 15

Just a few modest losses, by The Simpsons standards in season 15. The most memorable being when Mr. Burns, fails to realise the value of something and gives Homer a rookie Joe DiMaggio card rather than actual money. Homer takes it to Comic Book Guy who offers him “everything he’s got” for what is an incredibly rare and expensive card.

Now, this website estimates the annual revenue of the Android’s Dungeon, so we’ve generously used that as a stand-in for “everything [Comic Book Guy’s] got” - $105,740.

However, as Joe DiMaggio rookie cards have sold for as much as $288,000, Homer still missed out on a tidy sum.

Total lost in season 15: £224,513 ($293,260)

Running total: £267,810,317,072 ($350,108,590,800)

Season 16

In season 16, both Bart and Homer have run-ins with Hollywood. In “Fat Man and Little Boy”, the rights to Bart’s t-shirt designs are sold to the Walt Disney company, who will “turn each one into a movie”. But thanks to some clever lawyer-ing up on their part, Bart isn’t entitled to just a single cent.

In the episode we see 31 unique Bart Simpson t-shirt designs, so we can assume there will be at least 31 movies. Purchase rights are generally 2-3% of a film’s budget, and the average movie budget is £100m. So, multiplied by 31, that means Bart misses out on a conservative $62m.

Total lost in season 16: £48,996,800 ($64,000,000)

Running total: £267,859,313,872 ($350,172,590,800)

Season 17

Season 17’s significant near-fortune comes when Marge (of all people) steals a $1m (£765,575) Faberge egg. But her conscience gets the better of her, and she returns it.

Total lost in season 17: £765,637 ($1,000,081)

Running total: £267,860,079,509 ($350,173,590,881)

Season 18

In another run-in with Hollywood, the Simpsons miss out on the big bucks when Rainier Wolfcastle steals Marge’s idea for a script.

We don’t find out exactly how much the script is worth, but speculative screenplays usually earn at least $1m for big blockbusters, so it’s fair to assume Marge would have gotten at least that much.

Total lost in season 18: £765,575 ($1,000,000)

Running total: £267,860,845,084 ($350,174,590,881)

Season 19

This is the first, of four, seasons in which the Simpsons don’t almost-make extraordinary amounts of money.

Total lost in season 19: £0 ($0)

Running total: £267,860,845,084 ($350,174,590,881)

Season 20

The biggest near-miss this season is a winning lottery ticket that Homer would have bought if it wasn’t for Bart’s antics. Lenny gets the winning ticket instead.

Total lost in season 20: £39,810 ($52,000)

Running total:  £267,860,884,894 ($350,174,642,881)

Season 21

Yet again, Homer nearly makes a fortune from Hollywood. To mock Bart’s complaints about school, he sarcastically calls Hollywood and asks if they’d be interested in paying a million dollars for a script about a boy who doesn’t enjoy school. To his surprise, they are interested, but Homer can’t be bothered to write the script.o

Total lost in season 21: £2,342,660 ($3,060,000)

Running total: £267,863,227,554 ($350,177,702,881)

Season 22

In this season, the Simpsons actually gain from the movie industry when Bart’s “Angry Dad” cartoon wins a number of awards, but they lose out on potential earnings when they cut up their Oscar and share it with all their animators.

Total lost in season 22: £1,180,555 ($1,542,050)

Running total: £267,864,408,109 ($350,179,244,881)

Season 23

In season 23, the Simpsons, obviously fed up with Hollywood, turn to the publishing industry. They sell a manuscript for $1m (£765,575), but Neil Gaiman takes all the credit.

Total lost in season 23: £765,575 ($1,000,000)

Running total: £267,865,173,684 ($350,180,244,881)

Season 24

Season 24 is all about gambling. Lisa goes all-in on a poker site for $413,762 (£316,766), but she loses And then Homer misses out on $50,000 (£38,279) when Carl flees with a winning lottery ticket that was supposed to be split equally between Homer, Lenny, Carl and Moe.

Total lost in season 24: £351,982 ($459,762)

Running total: £267,865,525,666 ($350,180,704,643)

Season 25

Homer gets his comeuppance for refusing to tell the Van Houten family that the painting he bought from them is actually much more than they realised, only for it to be revealed later as a worthless forgery.

Perhaps having learnt his lesson, Homer makes a moral amends in the next episode, when, as the referee of the World Cup Final, he turns down a $1m (£765,575) bribe to ensure Brazil win.

Total lost in season 25: £842,148 ($1,100,020)

Running total: £267,866,367,814 ($350,181,804,663)

Season 26

One of those rare season with no near-windfalls for the Simpson family.

Total lost in season 26: £0 ($0)

Running total: £267,866,367,814 ($350,181,804,663)

Season 27

Small change by the Simpsons’ standards in season 27, with Homer failing to win $5,000 at poker, and then having to return the $5,000 he gets selling a car that isn’t registered in his name.

Total lost in season 27: £7,656 ($10,000)

Running total: £267,866,375,470 ($350,181,814,663)

Season 28

No near-fortunes for the Simpsons in this season either.

Total lost in season 28: £0 ($0)

Running total: £267,866,375,470 ($350,181,814,663)

Season 29

Perhaps the writers have finally taken pity on the hapless finances of the Simpsons: as this is the second season in a row with no lost fortunes.

Total lost in season 29: £0


Which gives us a grand total of…

£267,866,375,470 ($350,181,814,663)

Which would have made them the richest family in America, and the third riches in the world.

Split equally between the five members of the family, each Simpson would be worth £53bn each, ($69bn), meaning Homer would only be the 7th richest man in the world, after Zara co-founder Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Bernard Arnault, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.


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