On the FOX animated television series The
Simpsons, the opening credits sequence features a visual joke usually
involving the Simpson family's living room couch; this is the primary element
that changes between opening sequences. A typical gag features the family
running into the living room only to find that the couch is missing, or to find
that it is entirely occupied by a very fat man.
The first episode of the series, Simpsons
Roasting on an Open Fire (episode 7G08), did not feature a couch gag. The
second episode, Bart the Genius, features the first ever couch gag. When
the family sits down on the couch the pressure from the five causes Bart to pop
into the air. During the shot of the television set following the couch shot we
see Bart falling back down in front of the TV.
In all, ten episodes do not feature couch
gags. Most of these are Halloween specials. Two couch gags feature in five
episodes each. One of these involves the family forming a chorus line with a
group of dancers. The background falls away to reveal unicyclists and elephants
in a large stage show. This gag was often used when episodes were in danger of
being too short. The extra length of the gag compensated for a shorter episode.
This has become less common in later seasons as the required length for each
episode has reduced. The other much-used gag shows the family in miniature
climbing onto the couch. Maggie is lifted up. In syndication, however, a common
couch gag that replaces other gags is where the family runs up to the couch,
only to see another version of themselves, as the two families look at each
other in perplexion.
One of the more memorable couch gags involves
the Simpsons arriving to find The Flintstones sitting on the couch — a nod to
The Simpsons' antecedent.