You Might’ve Missed The Simpsons’ Meanest Disney Joke (Despite It Happening In The Golden Age)
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You Might’ve Missed The Simpsons’ Meanest Disney Joke (Despite It Happening In The Golden Age)


  • The Simpsons has a history of mocking Disney, including a subtle nod at the studio’s cult-like following in season 9’s “The Joy of Sect.”
  • The show’s satire of Disney continued with episodes parodying Mary Poppins, the company’s litigious side, and even featuring an evil corporation mascot resembling Mickey Mouse.
  • Despite Disney’s acquisition of Fox, The Simpsons still references the company, but recent jokes focus more on its success rather than controversial aspects.



Although The Simpsons was not always subtle in its mockery of Disney, the long-running show hid one particularly cold diss in a Golden Age outing. The Simpsons makes fun of everyone and everything, so it isn’t surprising that the series has aimed some satirical jabs at Disney over the decades. However, it is equally fair to note that The Simpsons had a particular talent when it came to mocking Disney. The Simpsons parodied the sentimental family sitcoms of the 1980s so that the show could satirize the hypocritical “family values” underpinning these shows.

While the likes of The Cosby Show depicted happy families hugging and learning from their mistakes, The Simpsons embraced cynicism and dark humor to mock these sitcoms. While The Simpsons season 36 may choose a different route, most of the show’s outings have prized irreverence over sincerity and humor over sentimentality. This meant that politicians were a prime target for the series thanks to their constant allusions to family values. However, it also meant that the famously wholesome Disney and its many famous projects were a perfect target for the show’s subversive wit, including during the Golden Age of The Simpsons.

The Simpsons Season 9 Mocked Disney With A Cartoon Cult

The Simpsons writers admitted the Leader donned a subtle Disney nod

Despite how often The Simpsons made fun of Disney, one of the show’s sharpest pokes at the studio was surprisingly subtle. In The Simpsons season 9’s “The Joy of Sect,” an opportunistic cult called the Movementarians brainwash most of Springfield including Homer, Bart, and Lisa. Their figurehead, the Leader, is initially only glimpsed as he passes in a limousine. The Movementarian’s Leader is first seen waving a white glove from a car window. The writers confirmed in a commentary that the first appearance from The Leader is a subtle jab at Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and other classic Disney characters.

The Golden Age of The Simpsons features so many jokes that viewers are bound to miss some of them on first viewing, but this gag is particularly obscure. In the DVD commentary for “The Joy of Sect,” Lisa’s voice actor Yeardley Smith asked whether the Leader’s glove wave was a nod to classic Disney cartoons and the writers replied by saying they never miss a chance to mock the House of Mouse. The scene also doubled as a reference to the controversial spiritual leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a divisive religious figure who infamously owned a collection of Rolls-Royce cars.

The Simpsons Season 9 Episode 13 Mocked Many More Real-life Figures

The Movementarians allowed the show to parody an array of celebrities and news stories

The Leader blows on a comb and a napkin in The Simpsons

Part of the reason that viewers would be likely to miss this Disney reference is because of the sheer number of pop culture references featured in “The Joy of Sect.” As a story about cults, “The Joy of Sect” mocks Scientology, the infamous Heaven’s Gate cult, Jim Jones, and Rajneesh in particular, but also takes aim at the Unification Church. As if this weren’t enough, the episode also parodies Michael Jackson via The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns character.

Burns’ doomed attempt to start a cult of his own riffs on Jackson’s announcement video for HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, while the iconic British cult series The Prisoner is referenced when Marge attempts to escape the cult. Amidst all of these gags, a minor jab at Disney seems pretty harmless. However, the underlying message of comparing the Leader to Mickey Mouse is that Disney is another cult that expects slavish devotion from its followers. This mockery of media monopolies is then reinforced later in the episode when the Simpson family brainlessly repeats the Fox network’s slogan as they watch TV.

The Simpsons Has A Long History of Mocking Disney

Sherry Bobbins, Diznee, and The Simpsons Movie all mocked the studio

When ‘The Joy of Sect“ playfully implied that Disney might qualify as a cult thanks to their devoted following and massive profits, this was far from the first time The Simpsons satirized Disney. In season 8, episode 13, “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious,” the creators flirted with danger by parodying Mary Poppins with the suspiciously similar character Sherry Bobbins. Although parody is protected from copyright infringement law, it would not have been a major shock if this had raised an issue. However, The Simpsons already mocked Disney and its lawyers with an earlier gag.

In season 4, episode 4, “Lisa the Beauty Queen,” Disney’s lawyers attempt to shut down a carnival held at Springfield Elementary School since it used a Disney trademark without the company’s permission. Principal Skinner beat up the corporation’s lawyers, shutting down the case, but this was not the last time the show mocked Disney’s litigious side. The company “Diz-Nee“ appears in numerous episodes, consistently hawking substandard entertainment and education. Meanwhile, in The Simpsons Movie, Bart donned a bra on his head and, noting how much he looked like Mickey Mouse, said that he was the mascot of an evil corporation.

Why The Simpsons Stopped Making Fun of Disney

Disney’s acquisition of Fox changed the show’s Disney jokes considerably

An in-universe meme of Homer knocking over Reverend Lovejoy beside an image of Loki in The Simpsons

Technically, The Simpsons still makes fun of Disney, but the sort of “jokes” that the show now makes at the corporation’s expense aren’t the same. These recent gags are more akin to the show’s fawning, uncritical portrayals of celebrities like Elon Musk or Lady Gaga. Like The Simpsons season 35’s cringe-worthy Taika Waititi cameo, recent jokes about Disney are more concerned with how successful and beloved the company is than its many controversies. This was best epitomized in season 33, episode 14, “You Won’t Believe What This Episode is About – Act Three Will Shock You!”

This episode of The Simpsons featured a joke about how Marvel’s output was much more successful than DC’s work. Since Marvel and The Simpsons are both owned by Disney, this gag didn’t seem like a subversive mockery of the show’s parent company. Another season 33 story saw Homer say that he was desperate to see more from the Avatar franchise’s cinematic universe mere hours before Avatar: The Way of Water’s trailer dropped. These gags saw The Simpsons promote Disney’s products instead of mocking the company’s brand and reputation.


The Simpsons

Tress MacNeille , Julie Kavner , Harry Shearer , Pamela Hayden , Nancy Cartwright , Hank Azaria , Dan Castellaneta , Yeardley Smith

Release Date
December 17, 1989



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