FACT CHECK: Did ‘The Simpsons’ Predict The Coronavirus Outbreak?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 13,000 times claims to show screen grabs from a 1993 “The Simpsons” episode that supposedly predicted the coronavirus outbreak.

Verdict: False

Three of the images come from a 1993 episode featuring a fictional disease called the “Osaka Flu,” while upper-left image comes from a different episode released in 2010 and has been altered to include the words “corona virus.” Neither episode focuses on a coronavirus spreading from China.

Fact Check:

Some viewers believe the animated comedy series has accurately predicted future events on a number of occasions, including The Walt Disney Company owning 20th Century Fox and Donald Trump becoming president, according to Business Insider.

The viral post allegedly shows four screen grabs from a 1993 episode that predicted the outbreak of the novel coronavirus: a news anchor character with a “Corona Virus” graphic behind him and a man coughing while another watches, along with Homer Simpson and the school principal character reacting to clouds of germs around their heads.

“The Simpsons scares me,” reads the caption. “This episode aired 27 years ago in 1993 #CoronaVirus.” (RELATED: Did The Kaiser Permanente CEO Die Just Days After Getting A Flu Shot?)

Through a reverse image search, the Daily Caller discovered that three of the meme’s panels do indeed come from a 1993 episode of “The Simpsons.” But that episode, titled “Marge in Chains,” depicts Springfield residents dealing with a fictional illness called the “Osaka Flu” that spread from Japan after a sick factory worker coughed into a box.

The upper-left panel actually comes from a 2010 episode in which media outlets released a “House Cat Flu” to boost their viewership numbers. It has been digitally altered to replace the words “Apocalypse Meow” with “Corona Virus” in the graphic behind the news anchor character.

Yet, while those episodes do depict viral disease outbreaks, it is inaccurate to say “The Simpsons” predicted the novel respiratory virus that has so far spread from China to 23 other countries. The episodes depict outbreaks of fictional influenza viruses, and neither originated in China.

The coronavirus outbreak likely started in a wet market in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province, Business Insider reported. There have been 20,630 confirmed cases around the world as of Feb. 4, with 20,471 of them occurring in China and 159 in other countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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