How the Internet Made ‘Graggle Simpson’

There is an abundance of evidence that Homer Simpson is, was and always has been a character of The Simpsons. There’s footage, of course — of Homer recounting his “d’ohs” days and donuts – but there are also toys, dusty VHS tapes and video game appearancesnot to mention Homer’s eternal existence in the popular consciousness.

Likewise, there’s evidence aplenty that Graggle Simpson is, was, and always has been a character The Simpsons. There is movie, Of course. There are also toys, dusty VHS tapesAnd video game appearances. And Graggle is loved. In recent weeks, the lizard-like yellow dude has appeared in viral tweets and TikTok — people are complaining that the character has disappeared from the show and are campaigning for his return with hashtags like #BringBackGraggleSimspon.

There’s only one snag in the Grag: he isn’t, wasn’t, and never was a character in The Simpsons; he did not appear once in all 728 episodes. Where does Graggle Simpson really come from? Why is he currently he is everywhere? And how is there so much evidence of the existence of him?

Graggle Simpson was forged in the flames of the 2chan imageboard in October 2015. An anonymous user added the character to a screenshot of The Simpsons, and it stayed there until January 2021. Then, another anonymous user – this time on 4chan – published tradition for the stretched blob. He called him “Yellow Matt” and said he was a “self-inserted character” by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

This is when a YouTuber known as Simian Jimmy stumbled upon the post. She migrated the image to Twitter, changed the character’s name to “Gumbly” and claimed the character was a new addition to The Simpsons – solid proof that the show had jumped the shark. “I don’t know why Gumbly was the first name that came to mind, but I may have subconsciously linked the character design to Chewy since they’re both just naked, skinny, one-colored dudes,” Iowa resident Simian Jimmy now says. His post blew up and people started using Gumbly with Photoshop more and more simpsons scenes.

“It didn’t put much time or effort into it — every time I look at it I feel like it’s obvious it’s fake, but now I’ve seen my picture all over the internet,” says a 21-year-old Florida resident who used Paint 3D to add Gumbly to a scene from season 13 of The Simpsons. In response to Simian Jimmy’s tweet, she shared the image from her Twitter account @RayDibb and finally earned 4,000 likes. From there, Gumbly then quickly spread to YouTube, where Aaron Murphy, a 21-year-old California creator who runs the Nightbane Games channel, put it in the 2003 video game The Simpsons: hit and run.

“The Graggle meme is kind of a game: try to pretend as much as possible,” says Murphy; his Hit and run video earned over 40,000 views. Murphy thinks Graggle is popular because of our cultural appeal lost media And creepypasta stories. “The idea that The Simpsons it originally featured a character named Graggle, but he was soon completely wiped off the face of the earth to the point where no one remembers him, it’s really fun and challenging,” he says.

But that – Simian Jimmy, @RayDibb and Murphy thought – was that. A good, fast and clean joke shared with strangers on the internet. The end. For over a year, Gumbly has rested soundly in the quiet corners of the Internet. Then came Facebook.

This May, Gumbly was resurrected and renamed “Graggle” by a 26-year-old Australian using the Facebook username Yeliab Ressap. After browsing the internet and seeing an image of an alleged concept art for “Yellow Matt”, Yeliab Ressap posted a photo of the character with the caption: “NEW MANDELA EFFECT JUST LAUNCH – THIS UNIVERSE HAS NO GRAGGLE SIMPSON.” (A “Mandelà effect“It’s a false memory shared by multiple people.)

“I just wanted a dumb word and that was the first thing that came to mind,” says the Facebook user who came up with the name “Graggle” (he hadn’t actually heard of the character being nicknamed Gumbly when he came up with the name). Within a week, his post had a thousand shares. Then it spiraled. “Some people have accused me of being a government agent because of how quickly it got off the ground, but here I am saying I am not a government agent. It’s just the nature of the internet.

Yeliab Ressap’s post was captured and shared on Instagram and Twitter, garnering over 70,000 likes on the latter site. When Jackson (aka @CalmDownLevelUp), saw a 25-year-old from Seattle this chirp, she knew it was her time to shine. She had first seen Gumbly in 2021 and thought the meme was so funny that “I created a folder in my phone called ‘Evidence of Gumbly'”. When she saw Yeliab Ressap’s post, “it had been a year since I last saw him. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, Gumbly!’ This is my chance to respond with all my images.”

One of Jackson’s tweets, characterized four of the Photoshopped images had garnered, earned over 3,500 likes by the end of May. She started pretending that she sincerely believed that Graggle was real simpsons character. “I just think it’s funny that people get upset, it’s just a fun thing to enlighten people with,” Jackson says. “You hear so much in the news about fake news and Russian disinformation… It’s a very satirical take on these things being in the news all the time.” At the end of our phone call, Jackson confesses, “I was trying to think of lies to tell you. I was going to try to enlighten you, but I couldn’t think of anything.”

Yeliab Ressap’s post changed the fortunes of Graggle born Gumbly, but TikTok is the app that gave him wings. People took the photos Jackson had collected, as well as @RayDibb’s photoshop, and started creating video montages. A video of “recovered footageof the character has 418,000 views; a tear of By Murphy Hit and run movie has almost a million. As Graggle becomes more and more mainstream and evidence of his existence mounts, some people seem to really fall in love with the gag. A TikToker has taken it upon himself to do this debunk its existence (although of course they could just add another meta layer to the joke).

Though Graggle – in one form or another – is now seven years old, no one I talk to thinks he’s a dying meme. “I actually think it’s still very underground,” Jackson says. Yeliab Ressap thinks Graggle’s simplicity is key: “It allows people to take it, make it their own, and run with it.” “I feel like it will be around for as long as The Simpsons they’re around,” says Murphy. “He Who knows, maybe he’ll come back in 2023 with a new name, something like Grunky.”

@ameliargh