‘The Simpsons’ image showing bridge collapse is an invention, not a show

The claim: Image shows predicted ‘Simpsons’ ship crashing into Francis Scott Key Bridge

An Instagram post from March 27 (direct link, archive link) shows an image of “The Simpsons” characters watching a cargo ship crash into a bridge.

“Although The Simpsons, undefeated,” reads the text included in the publication.

The post received more than 7,000 likes in six days.

Fact Check Summary: Several false claims about Baltimore Key bridge collapse debunked

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Our rating: Modified

The image is fabricated, possibly with generative AI. It’s not from any episode of “The Simpsons.” The show did not predict a ship crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, according to one of the showrunners behind the series.

The Simpsons showrunner denies claim on social media

The animated series “The Simpsons” has often been credited with predicting historical events, but those claims are often wrong. Such is the case with the claim that the show predicted the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Match 26.

“The Simpsons” co-showrunner Matt Selman addressed the claim in a Publication of March 28 in X, formerly Twitterin which he republished the viral image with the following caption:

“Unfortunately the ‘predictions’ of #TheSimpsons now make no sense. People so desperately want to believe in the ‘magical powers’ of the show – or are just too lazy – that they ignore that the obviously fake footage of the so-called predictions cannot be attributed to any real episode – like this nonsense.”

As Selman says, there is no episode of The Simpsons with a story that matches the post image or the Baltimore bridge collapse.

Hive Moderation, an AI detection tool, rated the image as 100% likely to be generated by AI.

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There are other signs of manufacturing as well. The original drawings show that the Lisa Simpson character has eight spikes in her hair, but the Instagram image shows her with 10. Her father Homer also appears to have more spikes in his hair in the Instagram image than is typical in the program.

Walter Scheirer, an engineering professor at the University of Notre Dame whose research focuses primarily on the recognition problem, told USA TODAY that the cartoon was likely created with a “generative AI model.”

“There are notable problems with the cartoon that would not normally be present in a human-drawn illustration,” Scheirer said. “For example, the character on the bottom left is missing pupils in his eyes. Furthermore, the various objects in the scene are poorly represented, too small, or simply too abstract to interpret. These are all characteristic artifacts of an AI-generated image.

USA TODAY has previously debunked false claims that “The Simpsons” have predicted events such as a solar superstorm in 2024, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the collapse of the Silicon Valley bank, a claim that used an altered clip to make it appear as if the prediction happened.

USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Our data verification sources:

  • Walter Scheirer, March 29, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • Michelle Johnson, March 29, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • @mattselman, March 28 x publication

  • Hive Moderation, March 29, Fabricated Image of The Simpsons

  • Simpsons Wiki, accessed April 1, Lisa Simpson

  • The Simpsons, May 8, 2013, Facebook post

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This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: The Simpsons Didn’t Predict the Freighter and Key Bridge Accident | Fact Check

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