08/09/2009 10:02 | By Patrick Goss: Editor - Tech & Gadgets

Great gadgets of The Simpsons

Patrick Goss takes a look at the gadgets that have helped make The Simpsons such a legendary television programme.


Great gadgets of The Simpsons (© Pic The Simpsons movie. Matt Groening/The Simpsons ™ and © 20th Century Fox)

The Simpsons Movie: Matt Groening / The Simpsons ™ and © 20th Century Fox

When it comes to quality television The Simpsons is in a class of its own – featuring the greatest dysfunctional yet lovable family in television history, the bet supporting cast ever assembled and, most importantly, the kind of gags that have seeped into the public consciousness.

The Simpsons has already assured its place in the annals of great TV, and one of the things that has helped keep it fresh is the plethora of inventions, gadgets and crazy ideas that the writers have thrown in, be it for a quick gag or an entire plot.

So Tech & Gadgets is celebrating The Simpsons’ impact with a gallery of some of those finest zany gizmos, some from the ‘canon’ shows and the odd one from the Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials.

Homer Simpson: The Simpsons Movie (© Pic: Matt Groening / The Simpsons ™ and © 20th Century Fox)

Professor Frink’s Death Ray

Professor Jonathon "John" Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr. to give his full name is The Simpsons’ resident inventor. When it comes to gizmos, Frink is the king – although his opening entry in our great gadgets was not one of his most successful. Frink attempts to get grandpa Abe Simpson to invest in his device, turning it on him to demonstrate (“Hey it feels warm…kinda nice!”) explaining: “Well it’s just the prototype, with funding I am confident this baby could destroy an area the size of New York.”

Monty Burns’ trapdoor

“Exxxxcellent!” Monty’s lack of patience for those stood in front of his oversize desk is legendary, and his trapdoor (operated as is proper by a large red button) is testament to this. Homer, however, rarely seems to have too much problem – variously being too fat, in the wrong place or finding it’s been removed for safety violations. Interestingly, Burns himself was a victim when Bart got control of the button and poor old Lenny also took a tumble down the black hole. Another of Monty's more similar devices is the vacuum tube that dispatches people to Morocco. 

Homer’s Make-up gun

Whilst trying to emulate Thomas Edison, Homer showcases his four best inventions to his doubtful family. One of these ham-fisted efforts is the makeup gun; a double barrelled blast into the face of beauty. Marge is the first target and is given a heavy covering of makeup. Homer’s response: “Oh, I had it set on whore.”

Homer Simpson: The Simpsons Movie (© Pic: Matt Groening / The Simpsons ™ and © 20th Century Fox)

Frink’s matter transporter

One of the ‘Treehouse’ episodes, and a brilliant spoof of the film The Fly, sees Bart trade heads with a fly after wandering into a matter transporter. Homer is the person who snaps up the invention from Frink at a yard sale paying 35c after bartering Frink down from $2. Frink: “I must warn you this device carries an extremely high case of catastrophic… Homer (interrupting): “Alright! I SAID I’d take it!” Fortunately, the family get on brilliantly with the fly headed Bart – laughing as he consumes a mound of sugar for dinner.

Frink’s AT 2000 Automatic-dialler

Frink’s first patent is again mis-used by Homer, who sets the device to ring everyone in the neighbourhood asking for cash. When the machine dials Frink, he reacts furiously – activating the machine’s escape mechanism and waiting for it to stand up and escape. Homer is less than delighted and tries to wrestle it to the ground.

Homer’s Electric Hammer

The electric hammer is another of Homer’s cobbled together inventions. Believing that he has finally got a useful invention (extra legs on his chair to stop it falling over backwards) Homer is dismayed to find that Edison got there first. Intending to use his hammer to smash the original and claim credit for himself, Homer changes his mind after finding out that Edison felt he was in the shadow of Leonardo Da Vinci and leaves his own invention in the workshop/museum. News announcer Kent Brockman subsequently reveals that Edison had also invented an electric hammer which will make his heirs millions.

Frink’s intra bovine ice-cream maker

In his own words: “Hi. I’ve created the first intra-bovine ice-cream maker. It makes use of all four stomachs, the first rock-salt, then sugar, cream and of course FREON…so cold it BURNS me.”  Mootilda (the cow carrying the invention) easily makes a chocolate ice cream but baulks at Marge’s request for a swirl of chocolate AND vanilla, kicking Frink when he objects.

The Simpsons' Yellow Album

Homer’s Time machine toaster

In another Treehouse of Horror episode, Homer inadvertently invents a Time Machine which causes all manner of problems when he absent-mindedly kills a mosquito changing the future. Several attempts to change things back suddenly creates a perfect world where Bart behaves and everything is great; until Homer finds out that nobody knows what a donut is. As Homer screams and pops off to try again it starts to rain donuts. 

Frink/Homer’s Hamburger earmuffs

As Homer tries to invent things he finds that he is racing to complete hamburger ear muffs against Professor Frink. Frink, however, is confident that he has the upper-hand, saying: "Hey, WAIT! - oh, easy there, Frinky. These babies will be in stores while he's still grappling with the pickle matrix. Goyvinglaving!"

Time-stopping stopwatch

Bart and Millhouse get hold of a watch that stops time through an old ad in a comic book. After causing chaos with their pranks – stealing principal Skinner’s trousers etc - they finally find themselves in trouble and facing an angry mob. Chief Wiggum fires at the terrible twosome and stopping time to save themselves breaks the watch leaving the duo in a world where only they are still active. 15 years later the pair manage to follow the simple instructions in the manual and restart time. Needless to say, this is another Halloween special segment.

What are your favourite Simpsons gadgets? Should the baby translator have made it in? Have your say on our message boards…

First three pictures are taken from The Simpsons Movie © 20th Century Fox.

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