Did you fire up Disney Plus (opens in new tab) in the hope that you’d be able to enjoy a cromulent slice of The Simpsons? They’re there – all 30 seasons – but what most would call ‘classic’ Simpsons look decidedly different. That’s because the streaming service is using the more modern 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the 4:3 ratio used by the non-HD era of The Simpsons.
Originally airing in 4:3 from 1989 to 2009, the show changed into a HD 16:9 format with season 20’s “Take My Life, Please,” complete with a new opening. It’s stayed that way ever since.
As pointed out by writer Tristan Cooper on Twitter, certain jokes are even being cut out by the aspect ratio changes. A visual gag from season 4 episode “Duffless” which sees Duff Lite, Duff Dry, and ordinary Duff coming from the same vat of beer is essentially missing from the Disney Plus version.
All the classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+ are in cropped widescreen format -- this means you miss out on tons of great visual jokes, like how Duff, Duff Lite and Duff Dry all come from the same tube. pic.twitter.com/cTy9adulFlNovember 12, 2019
That’s not all. Other visual moments, background characters, and even how the characters look have all been affected by the move to 16:9 for seasons 1-19. The network FXX originally got around this with its ‘Every Simpsons Ever’ marathon by putting up borders so the screen stayed 16:9 but the actual episode was intact in the middle at 4:3. That isn’t currently available as an option on Disney Plus.
Star Wars has also received some tweaks on Disney Plus – Greedo now says “Maclunky” (opens in new tab) before being shot by Han Solo, a change apparently requested by George Lucas. So, if you want to watch The Simpsons as it was originally intended – it might be best to swerve Disney Plus (at least for now) and crack open the boxsets.
Mmm... nostalgia. Take a trip down memory lane with the 25 best Simpsons episodes (opens in new tab). Or, while you’re here, why not check out the best movies on Disney Plus. You can sign up to Disney Plus here (opens in new tab), complete with a seven-day trial.