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Fact Check: The Simpsons Did Not Predict Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 12, 2024

(Photo: Brandon Giles / U.S. Coast Guard)

(Photo: Brandon Giles / U.S. Coast Guard)

A fabricated image of characters from the animated television series The Simpsons viewing a collapsed bridge and a large ship has been widely shared on social media with the false suggestion that the show predicted the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge in March.

The image shows signs of having been made with AI and an executive producer for the series told Reuters that the image is fake as the show never had an episode where a container ship hits a bridge.

The Francis Key Scott bridge, which stood at the entrance to the Baltimore Harbor in Maryland, collapsed on March 26 after it was hit by a cargo ship that lost steering control when its power failed.

Facebook posts shared the fake Simpsons image of characters from the show watching a bridge falling as a cargo ship sinks in the foreground. Captions include: “I guess we just need to start watching the Simpsons to find out what’s gonna happen. Of course, they predicted the bridge collapse” and “Hollywood programing. You do know who created Hollywood don’t you?”

One social media post specified that the supposed prediction comes from two episodes of the show: episode 8 of season 35, in which a red bridge is seen briefly (timestamp 15:58), and “the 1996 Hank Scorpio episodes,” referring to a character who blows up a bridge (timestamp 15:00 - 16:00) in episode 2 of season 8.

But the plot of the Hank Scorpio episode has no similarities to the events of March 26 as there is no evidence of a planned attack on the bridge. U.S. President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the incident was an “accident” and ruled out any “intentional acts.”

Matt Selman, an executive producer and showrunner for The Simpsons, said in a message to Reuters on platform X that there is no episode in which a container ship hits a bridge.

Selman also addressed the fabricated scene in an X post, referring to a popular meme about the show predicting events, writing: “Sadly #TheSimpsons ‘predictions’ are now meaningless. People so desperately want to believe in the show's ‘magic powers’ (or are just very lazy) that they ignore that obviously fake images of the so-called predictions cannot be traced to any actual episode - like this nonsense.”

The image itself “shows some signs of likely AI synthesis,” said Siwei Lyu, a professor of computer science and engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo. One example is a part of the sinking ship in which the lines are not straight or connected. “This is unlikely in real comics as straight lines are usually done right,” he said in an email.

False. The image of characters from The Simpsons watching a bridge collapsing after being struck by a ship is fabricated.


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