• The unique humor and densely packed writing of
    The Simpsons
    would be hard to translate to live-action.
  • The show’s anarchic humor and ability to swerve between silly slapstick and sophisticated satire would be limited in a more realistic live-action adaptation, offering no benefits to compensate for the loss.

While The Simpsons staging a live-action adaptation might seem like a fun novelty, there is a diverse array of reasons why this would be a bad idea. The Simpsons is one of the most successful TV shows in the medium’s history. During the show’s so-called Golden Age from seasons 3-12, the series accrued massive critical acclaim and cultural significance thanks to its influential writing style. However, even when the critical reputation of The Simpsons waned, the show remained a perennially popular series that influenced countless imitators and helped shape the adult animation industry. Despite this, The Simpsons never made the leap to live-action.

While The Simpsons season 34 was a critical comeback for the series because the outing embraced bold new ideas, these concepts didn’t include a live-action outing. There are a lot of good reasons for this since The Simpsons wouldn’t necessarily benefit from a medium shift. Moving from animation to live-action can be a fun experiment for long-running shows, but it is also a costly endeavor that must be justified artistically and financially. However, The Simpsons wouldn’t gain anything from a live-action take on the series, which explains why the show hasn’t pursued this approach.

7 The Simpsons Is Too Ambitious For Live-Action Adaptation

Bart jumps from a water tower in The Simpsons

The primary reason that The Simpsons wouldn’t work in live-action is the show’s style. Admittedly, Futurama characters like Leela and Zoidberg would be even harder to translate to the format than the cast of The Simpsons, but the unique humor of The Simpsons makes the earlier hit even harder to adapt. The infamously dense, gag-heavy writing of The Simpsons would be hard to translate to live-action without it feeling obnoxious and loud. Similarly, scenes that feel perfectly paced in animated comedies can become too broad and overstuffed in live-action. While cartoons allow for constant visual stimulation, this can be exhausting in live-action works.

6 The Simpsons Created A Visual World of Its Own

Marge Simpsons as real life character generated by AI

Even though the show rarely gets much credit for its animation, The Simpsons does have a striking visual palette that wouldn’t easily lend itself to a live-action adaptation. The yellow skin, exaggerated character designs, and recognizable Springfield locales of the show all give The Simpsons an iconic look that would be uncanny and unsettling if faithfully replicated in live-action. However, if a live-action version of The Simpsons didn’t keep the show’s familiar visual world, the series could feel like a cheap, low-effort cash-in. Thus, it would be hard for the show’s creators to win here.

RELATED: The Simpsons Characters In Live-Action Art Get A Major Glow-Up (& Look Surprisingly Normal)

5 The Simpsons Wouldn’t Benefit From Live-Action

Sad Bart Simpson and The Simpsons family

The reason that South Park’s live-action adaptation has never happened is that the series doesn’t benefit from changing formats, and the same is true for The Simpsons. While it is undeniable that the sight of the Simpson family played by human actors would have some novelty value, that is about the extent of the adaptation’s appeal. The Simpsons uses its animated status to its advantage with gags that defy reality and gravity regularly. In contrast, the series would have nothing to gain from a more realistic makeover, meaning the creators of The Simpsons aren’t compelled to pursue the approach.

A more realistic and ground version of The Simpsons would limit the show’s anarchic humor, but the shift between mediums wouldn’t offer any benefits to ameliorate this loss. As kid-friendly as The Simpsons can be, the show’s most impressive achievement is its ability to swerve between silly slapstick and sophisticated satire in the same scene. This relentless pace wouldn’t be possible in a live-action adaptation which is why so few existing sitcoms have garnered comparisons to The Simpsons. As such, the show would only lose ground if The Simpsons made the switch.

4 The Simpsons Has A Familiar Adult Animation Problem

Rick and morty will avoid why old simpsons fans stopped watching

While it is hardly as R-rated, violent, or profane as South Park or Rick and Morty, The Simpsons is still a cartoon that relies on over-the-top violence for punchlines from time to time. Images like Homer strangling Bart wouldn’t be funny in a live-action adaptation, meaning the show would need to tone down its darker side. One of the reasons The Simpsons/ Futurama crossover failed was because the show’s subtly different tones didn’t gel well, and a live-action version of The Simpsons would demand that the show alter its entire sense of humor thanks to the limitations of the format.

3 The Only Way A Live-Action Simpsons Episode Could Work

3D Homer

There is one way that a live-action episode of The Simpsons could work, but this would require a story that featured a lot of meta-humor discussing the show’s format shift. If it was a story that was actively about The Simpsons entering the real world and struggling to adjust to it a la Barbie or Enchanted, then this live-action adaptation could succeed. That said, one early Halloween special segment already explored this as a one-off gag at the end of The Simpsons season 7, episode 6, “Treehouse of VI.” As such, this could feel too familiar for long-time viewers.

2 The Simpsons Couldn’t Keep Its Current Cast In Live Action

The Simpsons cast and characters

Since The Simpsons has some of the funniest side characters in cartoon history, the show would need to keep its large ensemble cast in a live-action adaptation. However, this would be prohibitively difficult for numerous practical reasons. For one, there are thousands of named characters in the world of The Simpsons and almost no show could afford to maintain a cast this large. For another, almost all of the show’s actors play multiple roles at once. Not only would the current voice cast of The Simpsons be unable to keep their roles as they are the wrong age, but they also wouldn’t be able to pull double duty.

1 The Simpsons Can’t Keep Its Elastic Canon In Live Action

Bart, Homer, Lisa, Maggie and Marge Simpson standing in front of their house, looking vaguely worried

The Simpsons has an infamously “elastic” canon that allows the show to rewrite events and backstories without warning. While The Simpsons uses real-life history to inspire some of the show’s jokes, the show plays fast and loose with the histories of its characters. However, this would not be an option in a live-action adaptation. Unless The Simpsons were to recast its heroes regularly, the fact that the show’s characters never age would become an issue quickly. As is, The Simpsons has been able to keep the same main cast members for decades, but their ages would be set in stone by a shift to live-action.

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