The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening, was originally a series of animated shorts that first appeared on the Tracy Ulman Show on April 19, 1987. The shorts revolved around a family of five: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. These little cartoon interludes were such a huge hit with viewers that in 1989, the Simpsons shorts were adapted into a half-hour series for Fox. The first episode was called "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" and shows how the family dog, Santa's Little Helper, saves an otherwise ruined Simpson Christmas. Other characters that are introduced in that first episode are Marge's sisters Patty and Selma, Bartendar Moe (though in later episodes, Moe's hair changes color from black to gray/blue) and local drunk, Barney. We also hear for the first time the voices of Wayland Smithers and Monty Burnes, though they don't make an appearance.
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Controversial and cutting edge from the start, The Simpsons' success has lead the show to a groundbreaking 20th season. Though there has been some criticism regarding the decline of the show's comedic writing from its early years, the continuing success of the Simpsons brand is hard to deny. The movie version, which debuted just last year, opened to an ethusiastic and profitable reception (grossing $526,622,545 worldwide), and the DVD collections of seasons past have repeatedly topped best-sellers lists--not to mention the vast amount of Simpsons merchandise that's sold around the globe. The eternally youthful Simpson family, adored by generations of fans, are simply iconic.