Fans of The Simpsons have been horrified to discover the dark inspiration behind one of its most popular episodes.
The animated sitcom is well known for riffing off of real life events and celebrities, with very little out of bounds.
In the 2004 episode “Marge vs Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays” Springfield comes under siege from the town’s childless adults.
They attempt to destroy everything related to children, including the local Toys R Us, which they vandalise by turning the R around to that it faces the correct way.
This leaves the nearby kids devastated, with Milhouse Van Houten (voiced by Pamela Hayden) among the most visibly distraught.
After fans began commenting that the scene was ‘haunting’ and ‘heartbreaking,’ the more eagle-eyed started looking into the matter in more details, reports The Sun.
They were shocked to discover the shot from the episode was based on a famous scene from 1943 film, Divide And Conquer, a propaganda film that dealt with the Nazi conquest of Western Europe in 1940.
Showrunner Al Jean has since confirmed the connection after fans began posting side-by-side pics of the moment.
This scene shows the departure of the defeated French army from the Marseilles harbour as France is taken over by the Nazis.
On top of Milhouse’s distraught expression, the surrounding characters’ costumed are even based on the original scene.
Baffled by the choice to use such sensitive material in a sitcom, one Twitter user wrote: “The insanity of this.”
A second asked: “Why did they do this …? Are they comparing the closing of Toys ‘R Us to the occupation of France?”
While a third chimed in: “I found it funnier when I didn’t know it was a reference to a real life event, if I’m honest.”
Meanwhile a fourth pointed out: “There’s a decent amount of subtle Nazi jokes in The Simpsons.
“The one with Bart talking about mailmen like: ‘Who knew people in brown suits could be so much trouble,’ comes to mind.”
The furore comes after fans were floored to discover Homer’s real age from a close-up shot of his driver’s license.
Elsewhere, one of the show’s writers reflected on the show predicting the coronavirus pandemic.
This story originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission