What The Simpsons Has Taught Us About Elon Musk, Electric Cars and Autonomous Driving

Last Friday, we reminded you to tune in to The Simpsons on your local FOX network on Sunday evening to watch Tesla CEO Elon Musk make a very special guest appearance on the world’s longest-running scripted animation series.

We've seen the episode and here's our take on it.

We’ve seen the episode and here’s our take on it.

Almost immediately after the show aired, we saw a flurry if interest on line from Tesla fans, some hailing it as comic genius, some laughing along with it in spirit it was presumably meant in, and some even getting broody and dark about how yet again, Elon Musk and electric cars were ultimately cast as evil and terrible by an oil-loving, Republican-voting conspiracy.

If you don’t mind, we’re going to leave those reactions well alone, but after a week we’ve finally seen some snippets from the show in question. And having lived with the Simpsons since its premiere back in the 1980s, we’re going to share five quick things that we learned about the Elon Musk, electric cars and autonomous vehicles that inhabit the fictional world of Springfield.

Disclaimer: in case you hadn’t guessed, this is a semi-satirical piece. In the spirit of Episode 12 of Season 26 of The Simpsons, we’re going to laugh along with those funny yellow people of Springfield and cover this as if it were actually news. Think of this as our silly Friday piece to end the week with a smile. At no point should you assume anything below this line is true anywhere but the wonderful world of Springfield, USA. 

Elon Musk needs Homer Simpson

In the episode in question, Elon Musk finds himself wandering the world in one of his own SpaceX crafts in search of ideas. Happening upon the Simpsons’ family garden, Musk explains that he needs someone to inspire him in order to carry on inventing cool things.

And the incoherent, low-IQ, alcohol-addled brain of Homer Simpson seems to be just that, because as soon as Musk starts to hear Homer daydream about white meatballs he realises that the overweight middle-aged dad is is perfect muse.

The Tesla Model S Hasn’t Reached Springfield

Eventually, after submitting an idea to Mr. Burns detailing how he can improve plant efficiency at the Springfield Nuclear Plant, Elon Musk ends up providing everyone in the town with self-driving cars that look suspiciously like a Toyota Prius but very unlike the Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X.

Yes, we'd be surprised too. Elon Musk is in Springfield!

Yes, we’d be surprised too. Elon Musk was in Springfield!

Despite alluding to the Tesla Model S at the start of the show when Lisa gushes about how Musk ‘perfected the electric car,’ we don’t actually see a Model S, Model X or even a Tesla Roadster throughout the show. [Ed: If we had to guess, we’d suggest that’s because the Simpsons is a) a fictitious series and b) because it avoids any nasty copyright problems with the Tesla board.]

We can all look forward to autonomous cars with collapsing wheels

While the self-driving cars on this week’s show weren’t obviously Teslas, they all had collapsable, hidden steering wheels which could be activated by a master password, allowing them to be driven like any non autonomous car.

They’re a little like the steering wheels in Men In Black II, popping out of the dash and unfolding right before your eyes. We want one.

When Elon has an idea, Tchaikovsky plays in his head.

We’re not sure if it’s actually Elon’s favourite piece of music, but every time he has an idea in The Simpsons universe, the first five horn chords of Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto in Bb plays in his head.

A truly monumental piece of music, it has long been associated with feelings of euphoria and passion. But as far as we can think, it’s the first time we’ve seen it applied to Musk.

Perhaps most shocking? Elon Musk rides in Homer's old gas-guzzling sedan.

Perhaps most shocking? Elon Musk rides in Homer’s old gas-guzzling sedan.

It’s an unusual choice but it certainly seems to fit. A lot better than some we could have imagined. And we’ve a musical graduate in our midst.


When Bart steals… or rather ‘borrows’ his mother’s new autonomous-driving, all-electric car, he starts tapping away at the dashboard in order to gain access to the car’s pop-out steering wheel and non-autonomous driving mode.

Mocked by his sister Lisa, who tells him that he’ll “never guess Elon’s master password,” Bart smiles and types in “ELON RULEZ.”

To her amazement, it unlocks the car, and lets them both take a completely illegal joyride through Springfield.

So if you’re one of the many people trying to hack their Tesla Model S, maybe you should try that master password too, because as you know, everything you see on TV is real…

Missed it?

If you’ve missed the show, there’s still time to catch if you’re in the U.S. online, while those outside of the U.S. will just have to wait a little bit longer to watch the show. Or use a proxy service like we did in the interests of Journalistic fun.


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  • Lab Three

    And just where do you think the robust energy is going to come from to fuel electric cars? Experts know wind and solar just won’t cut it as a “robust fuel source”.nSo don’t be “fuelish”!

    • Michiel Mitchell

      how much more robust can one get, than the SUN??? So you are saying the smart thing is to stick with oil??? Did you know a gas banger waists 70%+ of all the energy you pay for, to put in it’s fuel-tank, on things that don’t actually move the car forward…. and that an electric car, is 80%+++ efficient,exactly the opposite, so even if we where to use coal and oil to produce all our electricity, it would still beat the pants off of anything internal combustion can muster, just because it is just so much more efficient… bring out an ICE that is 80%+ efficient and you might have an argument… problem is, the Oil-Overlords do not want you to be efficient with consuming what they are making their Trillions with…

      • Lab Three

        Solar is great but not robust. Recently I watched a NOVA which is produced by ultra liberal PBS. They (not me) in the show, explained that all the solar power plants put together was not equal to one coal fired plant. NOVA said solar and wind were not nearly adequate to fulfill our energy needs. I use solar power myself. I also own a windmill. It’s too bad these energy sources are not adequate to produce more power efficiently. What really makes you look dumb in my eyes is that I never said I was against electric cars.nYou do need to find a robust way to produce clean energy. Now the moon is full of He3 isotope. It makes this fantastic cold fusion energy with no dangerous byproducts. nThe (evil ) Russians are already planning on putting a permanent mining operation on the moon to retrieve He3. China has similar plans. So while your ultra liberal low IQ school system is filling your minds with eco-mush, the communists are beating US to the moon to grab this He3 . Think! Even the communists are beating US. We are turning into a nation of lazy, weak in math and science. Most students are all brainwashed against hard working people of corporate America. The joke is these hard working capitalist pay your taxes so your lazy liberal brainwashing school teachers can fill you with liberal propaganda mush. nBTW: I am a corporate CEO who founded a small ten million dollar scientific instrument company. What big thing do you plan to do with your life?

        • EVcine

          YOU ARE A MORON !! PBS is a right of centre pro warnpro oil network for and by the rich with Oil companies sponsoring their operas from Lincoln Center for the past 35 years. Solar energy can produce as much power as a nuclear power plant if you use the land that all nuke plants have to have as a safety zone to fill with panels, turbines etc you will get the same amount of power combined with batteries you are sorted. GEO-THERMAL can replace all fracking and coal.

          • Esl1999 .

            PBS is right of center? Come on now, surely you don’t believe the pro war… oh wait. Now that I think about it. It is rather suspicious that they inform us of historical wars. “Information station”, MY ASS!

        • Esl1999 .

          I knew all those 1950’s sci-fi movies were right. Thanks for the info.

  • someguy47

    It’s a shame that an episode that is getting so much attention was so unfunny! It could have been so much better.

  • D. Harrower

    Actually, the collapsible steering wheel reminded me of Sly Stallone’s Demolition Man. “Self-drive on!”

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