The Simpsons has done it once again. On July 11, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson traveled to the edge of space as a passenger onboard a test flight for his company to win the so-called "billionaire space race" against Jeff Bezos. Though the trip was brief, it allowed for Branson to experience several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth. If the bizarre story seemed oddly familiar, it could be because you're a fan of The Simpsons, as the long-running animated sitcom saw this coming back in 2014.
In the The Simpsons season 25 episode "The War of Art," Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) meets art forger Klaus Ziegler (Max von Sydow), who boasts about how his forgeries have fooled art galleries worldwide. He manages to convince Lisa that what's important is that, forgery or not, his art has brought pleasure to people all over the world. A cutaway then shows Richard Branson floating in a spaceship, smiling as he looks upon the painting rather than down at Earth through the window.
Fans know that The Simpsons has become well known for "predicting" future events in various episodes throughout the years. One particularly famous example is when the series called that Donald Trump would become president of the United States in the 2000 episode "Bart to the Future," 16 years before it became a reality. Other prediction examples include Disney's acquisition of Fox, the Siegfried and Roy tiger attack, Lady Gaga's acrobatic Super Bowl halftime show, and Kamala Harris' inauguration outfit.
The Simpsons' writers and creators are not wizards, at least they claim not to be. Producer Al Jean has suggested that having so many great people working on the series over the years has produced countless "predictions" of real-world events, and when there are that many, at least a small portion are bound to come true.
"I predict people will make too much of our great predictions," Jean told the New York Times in 2018. "When that many smart people produce a television show, it's bound to make some startling 'predictions.'"
"There's a category I would call plausible predictions, which Trump would fall under," Jean added of the Trump presidency prediction. "People have somewhat forgotten, but he was talking about running for president then. So it wasn't somebody totally out of the blue. It was a guy who was a punch-line name and had presidential aspirations."
We can also predict that The Simpsons isn't going anywhere for a while. Back in March, Fox gave the long-running sitcom yet another renewal, guaranteeing another two seasons and at least 750 episodes overall. It is the longest-running American animated series and the longest-running American sitcom, and with no end in sight within the near future, there's a good chance that both of these records will never be stopped by the time The Simpsons ends its legendary run.
If you want to go back to check out any classic episode of the series, The Simpsons is streaming on Disney+. If you want to watch the episode featuring Richard Branson in space, you can find "The War of Art" in season 25.