1. The Neapolitan Ice Cream Thief is revealed years later

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It's always fun to see Homer Simpson's ceaseless stupidity getting in the way of his bottomless gluttony. That's why every fan of the show can recall his classic reaction to finding his Neapolitan ice cream missing that crucial third: "Mmmm, chocoloate... D'OH!"

No one would blame you for guessing that Homer just forgot he gutted each of the boxes in the freezer himself. After all, this is the same moron who buys Neapolitan instead of a tub full of chocolate. But two seasons later, a brief moment in "Bart Gets an Elephant" shows us the true perpetrator.

When you think about it, as long as it wasn't Homer sleep-eating (still very possible), the chocolate thief really couldn't be anyone else. 

2. The crashed ambulance left on a cliff for 17 years

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The Simpsons has historically veered wildly from somewhat grounded to full-blown Looney Tunes, but sometimes it finds a sweet spot right in the middle. There's no better example of this hilarious fusion than in season two's "Bart the Daredevil," which features Homer's ill-fated leap over Springfield Gorge. It ends badly, of course.

Though he made a Wile E. Coyote-like fall, Homer's injuries are disturbing in their severity. After he's airlifted up (with a few extra bonks on the noggin), the episode careens from realism and embraces its cartooniness, as the ambulance Homer is in instantly crashes into a tree five feet ahead.

This moment so encapsulates special brand of Simpsons slapstick that it's become one of the most memorable scenes in the series. The show itself has referenced and parodied the original Springfield Gorge sequence multiple times, including 2007's The Simpsons Movie. 

Did you catch that right at the end? Here, let's do a side by side comparison. 

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Yep, that's the exact same ambulance from 1990, still abandoned on the cliffside in 2007. Granted, it's not as though 17 years has passed in Springfield, which seems to be frozen in some weird always-present-tense timewarp. Then again, this is the city with an everburning tirefire -- it's not hard to believe they'd forget about a wrecked emergency vehicle on one of their treasured landmarks. 

3. Hans Moleman isn't lying about his age

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After nearly three decades on the air, The Simpsons has built up a huge stable of side and supporting characters. Though some of the citizens of Springfield have been fleshed out well enough to earn their own episode storylines, others are better served for quick one-liners. Hans Moleman is one of these characters. 

When Hans shows up in the episode "Duffless," it's only to warn others about the dangers of alcohol, which apparently will make 31 year-olds look like they drank from the wrong grail. The joke comes, you laugh, and you move on. But it was actually set up three episodes prior in "Selma's Choice," when Hans visits the DMV. 

It's hard to catch here, but we get a lot of information on Hans Moleman via his driver's license. Let's freeze frame it:

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Apart from the zipcode seemingly confirming that The Simpsons takes place in Los Angeles, we also see Hans Moleman's birthday: August 2, 1961. And since both episodes aired in early 1993, that lines up with Hans' claim of being 31 years old. 

It's not super significant, but at the same time it's impressive that a silly joke was foreshadowed in a background detail three episodes before it happened. David M. Stern is credited as the writer for both episodes, so we might have him to thank for this lovely bit of canon that was subsequently obliterated by post-classic Simpsons.

4. A familiar face in the unemployment line

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Most of the people in the unemployment line at the end of season nine's "Realty Bites" would probably be considered simple cameos as opposed to continuity-tinged easter eggs. Among those waiting for that sweet, sweet government handout are washed-up country singer Lurleen Lumpkin and Mr. Burns' estranged son Larry. But then there's the bearded guy in the blue hat, who is not-so-secretly the real-life Simpsons writer George Meyer.

It would be as simple as a self-depricating cameo if Meyer hadn't appeared in the Poochie episode a full season beforehand. 

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When cartoon-Meyer calls out the flashy and substanceless pitch for a new character on Itchy and Scratchy, he realizes quickly that he no longer has a job. And there's not much of a better reason to be at the unemployment office in the next season.

5. The entire McBain movie hidden throughout several seasons

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This one's been circulating for an eternity in internet years, but it's beloved for a reason. The little snippets of McBain movies sprinkled in various episodes are already fantastic action movie parodies of their own, but seeing them stitched together to form a singular, coherent mini-movie is kind of incredible

You can catch the whole thing on YouTube, but what doesn't come across there is the fact that the segments were aired out of order, sometimes years apart. It's not clear whether there was some grand plan all along, or everyone was just winging it and it worked out like a beautiful mistake. Knowing The Simpsons, it's probably a mixture of both. 

The only segment that is really where it should be is the earliest known point in the movie, back when McBain made his first appearance in season two. 

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This is a good spin on the typical hard-nosed chief vs loose canon cop trope, but there are a couple of important details here. First, remember McBain's boss -- he shows up again in a minute, despite being thrown out a window shortly after this exchange. But the real key here is Senator Mendoza, the villain of the "film."

The next scene in chronological sequence doesn't come until the following season. It might be the one you remember best. McBain's partner Skowie is in a diner bragging about how he's only two days away from retirement, he's going to watch his daughter graduate from college soon and to top it all off, he just bought a boat to sail around the world with his life (christened the "Live-4-Ever"). Because nothing else could ever happen in this situation, Skowie is immediately gunned down by an assassin. His last words to McBain are "Get Mendoza." Cue rage-filled scream. 

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For the next scene we have to jump back to season two, just after the initial McBain appearance. How do we know the order of the scenes? Well...

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Unless McBain lost another partner to assassination in the same movie (still very possible), we have to assume this scene is talking about the untimely murder of Skowie. 

It seems like McBain is ready to crash Mendoza's party, and he does just that -- in two years time, during season four. 

Just take a minute here to enjoy some of the best, dumbest animated violence ever aired on television. 

Anyway, when he finally Mendoza -- the maniacal cop-killing drug kingpin -- McBain sees no reason not to accept a suspicious salmon puff. 

There's a big break in the action here -- we don't see what happens after McBain wakes up after biting into his obviously booby-trapped hors d'oeuvre. But judging by the final scene of the movie, Mendoza has left his archenemy for dead. 

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Oh, right. This moment, which is the climax of the entire McBain movie, aired in season two -- just a handful of episodes after the very first McBain appearance. Each segment since has been filling in the gaps of what is assuredly a wonderful megamovie. 

At least we have the pleasure of seeing Mendoza get got. 

There have been plenty of McBain moments since (at one point he guards crates of UNICEF pennies from those dastardly Commie Nazis), but these are the only ones you can say are from the same movie. 

6. The Home Wreckers bowling team earned their title

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There are a lot of gimmicky bowling teams in season seven's "Team Homer," but the cheekiest might be The Home-Wreckers. It's not just a name -- these people literally almost broke a home during their romantic entanglements with Homer and Marge Simpson. From the left (top image), there's Jaques (season one), Mindy (season five), Lurleen (season three) and Princess Kashmir (season one). 

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This is really an especially good set of cameos more than anything, but it's fun to think about how this group got together. Is there some sort of support group for the lives of those the Simpson family have ruined?  Hopefully the ladies find comfort knowing that there are other people out there who inexplicably fell under the oafish spell of Homer J. Simpson.

7. The Michael Jackson Expressway is more than a one-off joke

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Every episode of The Simpsons is its own little thing, and no one expects anything from one episode to affect the other. When Mr. Burns, angry at The Ramones, orders Smithers to "Have the Rolling Stones killed," we chuckle and move on, assuming nothing will actually happen to Mick or Keith. Our dismissal of the threat was even justified when The Rolling Stones showed up in a 14th season episode. 

The same should have gone for Mayor Quimby's announcement regarding the renaming of Springfield's The Dalai Llama Expressway. When he declares that stretch of road will henceforth be known as The Michael Jackson Expressway in season three's "Stark Raving Dad," Quimby doesn't know that the King of Pop isn't visiting town. It's not long before everyone finds out that the special guest is merely Leon Kompowsky, a patient at the local mental hospital who thinks (and sounds like) he's MJ. 

That revelation should have put the kibosh on the renaming plans, but maybe the checks were signed and the wheels were already in motion, because it shows up for a split-second later on in the same season. 

You're looking at the trail of Santa's Little Helper as seen in "Dog of Death." This is the part where the Simpson mutt hitches a ride on the dog shelter truck, so it goes by pretty fast. Here's a better look.

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Once again, Springfield's deplorable city infrastructure has given way to another morsel of continuity porn.

8. Homer dreams a magic beer that becomes reality

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Anyone familiar with the Flaming "Moe" knows that Homer will experiment with just about any alcoholic beverage you can throw at him. Which is why it's not exactly surprising to see Homer ask about some imaginary candy-infused beer called "Skittlebrau" back in season nine. "I'm afraid you must have dreamed it," Apu says, consoling the only customer dumb enough not to realize there's a discount supermarket next door.

But when times get tough late in season 10, the Simpson family does in fact resort to going to the 33 Cent Store. Lo and behold, what do they have on the shelves?

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Behind the That 70s Show mugs is none other than Skittlebrau. Maybe Apu just wasn't aware of/didn't stock the beer, or he stole Homer's idea and sold it to low-end grocery outlets. Either way, I'm sure Homer would forgive Apu in exchange for five cents off expired baby food.

9. The Treehouse of Horror predicts the future

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Though they're a wonderful Halloween tradition, the Treehouse of Horror episodes are explictly non-canon. Officially speaking, Marge isn't a vampire, the school faculty isn't eating its students and Homer didn't shoot Zombie Flanders. That being said, Treehouse of Horror III was seemingly prophetic when it panned over Springfield's pet cemetery. Alongside Lisa's cat Snowball I, a lobster lays buried in a grave, "Eaten by mistake." 

It sort of sounds like what happens in "Lisa Gets an A," doesn't it?

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The main plot of this episode revolves around Lisa's struggle with cheating on a test. But the B-plot centers on Homer and his new pet lobster, Pinchy. Since you know that crustacean ain't makin' it to the next episode, Pinchy either has to be set free or something horrible has to happen to the poor little guy. Simpsons writers understandably went with the latter, the incident in question being Homer accidentally killing Pinchy by giving his snappy little friend a boiling hot soak in the bathtub. Homer devours his friend on purpose, but it was only because he didn't want to waste good food; Pinchy was ultimately eaten because of a mistake. 

10. A minor joke set up over eight whole episodes

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Nobody looks for long Arrested Development-style setups in The Simpsons, but maybe we should start. Most people probably saw the above offhand visual gag about Moe ordering mail order brides partway through season nine and didn't think much more of it. Those people also probably didn't notice that it was directly referenced eight episodes later.

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This isn't a huge mindblowing easter egg, but it's a pretty neat nugget for hardcore fans to find on repeated rewatches. Plus, it implies that there are these unseen exploits and unaired adventures for each of these characters between episodes, which if we're being honest, has been a really big boon to my Milhouse/Nelson slashfiction.

11. The Tale of Tom Landry's Hat

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Season eight's "You Only Move Twice" is undoubtedly one of the all-time best Simpsons episodes. It has everything, from Albert Brooks as the friendly upper-management Bond villain Hank Scorpio, to the Hammock District down on Third, to the sugar in Hank Scorpio's pockets. Homer is so happy with his new life in a new town that he buys himself a souvenier -- the hat worn by famed football coach Tom Landry. It's a funny bit, if a little random -- until you realize Tom Landry's hat was already seen a season earlier. On Tom Landry's head.

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If you're going to draw Tom Landry, you're probably going to draw his hat. The one in The Simpsons is just like the one he wore in real life; he was so known for this fedora that its image is literally carved into his tombstone. Still, it's kind of great to see the hat on Landry's noggin in animated form a year before "randomly" making its way into the possession of the Simpson family. 

In the decade(s(!)) since its first appearance, Tom Landry's hat has shown up in numerous episodes. "Bart Star," where Homer coaches a pee-wee football team, is a highlight of season nine. 

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Landry's hat shows up in yet another sports-related story, but instead of a classic or even well-liked episode, it's in one of the worst. 

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Season 11's horseracing-themed "Saddlesore Galactica" is widely considered to be one of the low points of the series, but uh, at least it has the hat?

Landry passed away -- no joke -- one week after that episode first aired. It's probably for the best that the hat was retired for a while. The famous fedora was nowhere to be seen for 15 seasons. Then Marge donned the honored headgear while coaching her fantasy football team.

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It's comforting to know that even though Tom Landry is no longer with us, his memory lives on in an expensive piece of merchandise belonging to a family who doesn't recognize or respect its monetary value.


Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.