Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar and Bojack Horseman’s Raphael Bob-Waksberg used The Simpsons to craft short stories about the long-running series.

The Simpsons has had an undeniable impact on pop culture, especially in animation. In fact, two of the most prolific cartoon creators of the last decade, Bojack Horseman‘s Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar, were impacted enough by the series to make their own tragically moving short stories, using the world and characters of The Simpsons to explore unique concepts in the poem “Ode to Maude” and the short story “Don’t Cry For Me, I’m Already Dead,” which are both heart breaking in their own ways.

Ode to Maude

Bojack Horseman, which aired its sixth and final season in 2020, was frequently a dark and self-reflective look at life and overcoming the tragedies that can otherwise risk overwhelming someone. This is the kind of emotional energy Bob-Waksberg affords to The Simpsons as well, especially in “Ode to Maude.” In July of 2016 — as reported by AV Club — Bob-Waksberg tweeted out a fifteen-part Twitter thread that has come to be referred to as “Ode to Maude.”

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The poem centers around Marge Simpson, and it opens by asking who the wife and mother of three would actually consider her best friend. The poem suggests that, without even realizing it, it may have been Maude Flanders, her now-deceased neighbor.

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The poem paints a picture of Marge and Maude over the years, illustrating a connection even their husbands are unaware of. The poem also wonders if Marge sees Maude as a cautionary tale, and it ends on a quiet night before Maude’s death.

Unable to sleep, Marge steps outside for fresh air, feeling alone in the universe. She notices Maude next door, experiencing a similar night, with Maude whispering it’s, “not the calm before the storm that frightens me. It’s the calm that follows.” It’s a quiet mediation on what could have been a fundamental and crucial relationship for both women lost to time, and it suggests a meaningful place for Maude in the heart of at least one Simpson.

Don’t Cry For Me, I’m Already Dead

Sugar, who previously worked on Adventure Time, created the smash-hit Steven Universe for Cartoon Network in 2013. She’s also the mind behind the graphic novel Pug Davis. Another piece of her comic work includes the short story “Don’t Cry For Me, I’m Already Dead.”

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As reported on by Multiversity Comics, the story focuses on two brothers, Jim and Alan. Growing up together and remaining best friends into adulthood, their relationship is defined by their constant quoting of The Simpsons’ episodes at each other. One day Alan is caught in a terrible car accident that leaves him with severe frontal lobe damage. Only Jim is able to communicate with him in any real way, with Alan expressing himself in Simpsons quotes.

The brothers get a little more time together, but it isn’t long before the doctors inform Jim that his brother has begun bleeding in his brain, and there’s nothing they can do to save him. The pair have one last conversation, recreating a sequence from Season 3’s “Treehouse of Horror II,” which ends with Alan asking his brother if he, “can go now.” As befitting the highly emotional beats and themes of loss that were prevalent in Steven Universe, “Don’t Cry For Me, I’m Already Dead” is a heart-wrenching story that uses The Simpsons’ fandom to explore a shared family bond while confronting a serious tragedy with something that’s otherwise comical.

The Simpsons stars the voices of Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria. New episodes air Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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