Thank you, Reddit. Once again you’ve cooked up something small, but glorious. Apropos of nothing yesterday, “dongxipunata” posted the above image to the r/Oculus subreddit. It tracks the eight (and counting moments) that VR appeared on The Simpsons, beginning with 1993’s unanimously beloved “Marge vs. the Monorail”—the year after Lawnmower Man hit theaters—and continuing through 2014’s not-entirely-beloved episode “Days of Future Future.”
When we first saw this, we admit, we assumed that dongxipunata had used Simpsons image-search engine Frinkiac to compile the list. However, searching for “virtual” proved fruitless, and “VR” turned up little more than an episode of Itchy & Scratchy, so we’re just gonna say the redditor in question knows magic.
Regardless of the image’s provenance, though, it holds up a mirror to what was actually going on vis a vis the abortive VR craze of the ’90s. Virtual-reality research at the time led to mainstream awareness, which led to speculative fiction like Snow Crash, which in turn led to a host of ’90s movies and TV shows that had fun with the concept—from The 13th Floor to Mad About You to Murder She Wrote. Of course, nothing came of attempts to productize the technology that first go-round, and it wasn’t until the Oculus Rift first popped up in 2012 that VR became a watchword once again. (That doesn’t explain the 2011 episode, but since it was one of the Simpsons’ futuristic holiday episodes, it’s a little less curious.) Of course, you know what that means: we’re fast moving toward inevitable episode titles like “Brockulus Rift” and “D’oh! Crash.”