Hannibal, Huck, and Homer Simpson

Simpsons characters in Mark Twain's Universe



When Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in 1885, the Concord Library Committee determined that it was "the veriest trash," and banned the book from its shelves.  Similarly, when "The Simpsons" first debuted in 1989, Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, recalls that the show was at first "incredibly shocking: The PTA was up in arms, parents couldn't believe it."   Although Thompson now feels that "The Simpsons" is "quaint" by comparison to other television shows, he argues that it "the greatest comedy in the history of television."  Most importantly: "I would put this in an American comedy hall of fame along with Mark Twain."

Perhaps it's no surprise, as Matt Groening cited Mark Twain as one of his early influences in a 1993 interview. Certainly, "The Simpsons" and Twain both had great success in satirizing a wide number of targets.  And they are each among the most popular and best loved humor and satire sources of their day.  It was only a matter of time before the creators of "The Simpsons"–who never run out of targets to lampoon–would insert Mark Twain's stories into their funny world, creating a marriage of two comedic legends. 

So, for their 12th-season finale, "The Simpsons" chose to portray three American tales.  Their third tale had to do with the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  The familiar Simpsons characters are transplanted into 1840s Missouri, where familiar but deliberately twisted events occur.