The Simpsons

celebrates 30 years on the air this week - yes, casual fans, it's STILL on the air - but what did TV's most recognisable cartoon family look like back when they first hit screens?

First, a clarification: The Simpsons as we know it, in its enduring half-hour sitcom format, debuted in December 1989. But for two years before that, the Simpson family appeared on variety program The Tracey Ullman Show in bite-sized sketches, many lasting less than a minute.

In these early days, the Simpsons were still finding their feet: The animation was crude, the voices less polished than what we're used to.


The humour was more basic too, in part due to the compact nature of the shorts. In the very first Simpsons sketch, which made its debut on the April 19, 1987 episode of The Tracey Ullman Show, Homer and Marge do their best to tuck in their three children for the night.

Their soothing words and bedtime stories go awry, and so the couple end up sharing their bed with their terrified kids.

The rudimentary nature of the animation was a happy accident: Simpsons creator Matt Groening submitted rough sketches, assuming they would be cleaned up in production.

They weren't - and his crude drawings made it all the way to TV.

There was little indication that this squabbling family would go on to form the basis of one of the most acclaimed TV shows of all time - 30 years later, The Simpsons is both the longest-running American sitcom and the longest-running American cartoon ever.

Groening was downunder last year where he treated fans to a rare rundown of his favourite scenes from the show - check out his full list here.