We know that fans of The Simpsons are a fun, imaginative, and creative bunch.
And now redditor Hardtopickaname has put forward a fairly crazy theory about the series.
He argues that Homer has been in a coma for the past 22 years of the show – and that everything that has happened since has only occurred in his head.
OK, hear him out.
The theory goes that in October 1992, the episode "Homer the Heretic" first aired, a key scene of which has Homer talking to God.
He then quotes this exchange between Homer and God:
Homer: God, I gotta ask you something. What's the meaning of life?
God: Homer, I can't tell you that.
God: You'll find out when you die.
Homer: I can't wait that long!
God: You can't wait six months?
Homer: No, tell me now!
God: Well, OK. The meaning of life is…
Six months later, in April 1993, the episode "So It’s Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" was broadcast.
In this episode, Bart's exploding beer prank lands Homer in hospital, where an argument with a vending machine soon puts the man in a deep coma.
Then, at the very end, Homer wakes up and starts choking Bart, but the writer thinks this recovery was too sudden and convenient.
Instead, he argues, Homer never woke up from that coma, and everything in the show beyond that point has been in Homer's imagination.
This is why the characters don't age. Homer remembers Bart, Lisa, and Maggie as 10, 8, and 1 year old, so they will always appear that way in his dreams. He is subconsciously aware of time passing, so his mind will often "update" his memories so that the year they occurred matches up with the age he thinks he is (eg. That 90's Show contradicting other flashback episodes).
To back his theory up, he points to the tonal differences in plots before and after the April 1993 coma episode.
Before, the plots of the show were more grounded and mundane – such as Lisa's crush on her teacher and Homer and Marge's marital problems.
After the coma episode, plot devices see Homer travelling into space, Marge getting breast implants, Maggie shooting Mr. Burns, and Homer going to work for supervillain Hank Scorpio.
The redditor believes these fanciful narrative twists are the result of Homer's overactive imagination "with no real world restrictions".
He also suggests that the endless stream of celebrity cameo appearances in the show over the past 20-plus years are proof of Homer's unconscious state.
People in comas can sometime hear what people in the same room are saying. While Homer wouldn't physically react, his mind processes that information and includes it in his dreams.
The redditor then finishes his theory on a philosophical note.
Recalling Homer's original conversation with God, and his questioning of what is the meaning of life, this theory surmises that the meaning of Homer's life was to entertain.
What do you make of this, Simpsons fans?
Al Jean, show-runner of The Simpsons, has reacted to the Homer coma theory, telling TMZ:
"It would mean back in 1993 we would presume the show was going on for years and years more and right before we left, threw this hidden monkey wrench in for all our successors. I’m afraid it goes with the 'Dead Bart' episode in the intriguing but false file.”