There is an abundance of evidence that Homer Simpson is, was and always has been a character in The Simpsons† There are images, of course – of Homer recounting his days of “d’ohs” and Donuts – but there are also toys, dusty VHS tapes and appearances in video gamesnot to mention Homer’s eternal existence in the popular consciousness.
Likewise, there is an abundance of evidence that Graggle Simpson is, was, and always has been a character in The Simpsons† there is film material† naturally† There are also toys† dusty VHS tapesand appearances in video games† And Graggle is loved. In recent weeks, the lizard yellow dude has been popping up in viral tweets and TikToks – 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 problem in the Grag: he’s not a character in The Simpsons† he has not appeared once in all 728 episodes. Where did Graggle Simpson really come from? Why is he everywhere now? And how is there so much evidence that he exists?
Graggle Simpson was forged in the fires of the imageboard 2chan in October 2015. An anonymous user added the character to a screenshot of The Simpsons, where he stayed until January 2021. Then another anonymous user – this time on 4chan – followed suit. posted lore for the stretched blob. He called him “Yellow Matt” and said he was a “self-insert character” of Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
That’s when a YouTuber is known as Simian Jimmy came across the mail. He migrated the image to Twitter, changed the character’s name to “Gumbly” and claimed the character was a new addition to The Simpsons — concrete evidence that the show had jumped the shark. “I don’t know why Gumbly was the first name that came to mind, but maybe I unknowingly associated the character design with gumby because they’re both just naked, skinny, monochromatic guys,” Iowa resident Simian Jimmy says now. His post exploded and people started Photoshopping Gumbly more and more Simpsons scenes.
“I didn’t put a lot of time or effort into it — looking at it I feel it’s obvious it’s fake, but I’ve seen my photo all over the internet now,” says a 21-year-old Florida resident who uses Paint 3D used to add Gumbly to a scene from Season 13 of The Simpsons† In response to Simian Jimmy’s tweet, he shared the photo to his Twitter account @RayDibb and ended up earning more than 4,000 likes† From there, Gumbly quickly spread to YouTube, where Aaron Murphy, a 21-year-old California creator who runs the Nightbane Games channel, put him in the 2003 video game The Simpsons: Hit & Run†
“The Graggle meme is kind of like a game — try to fake it as much as you can,” Murphy says; to be Hit & Run video earned over 40,000 views† Murphy thinks Graggle is popular because of our cultural fascination with lost media and creepy pasta stories† “The idea that The Simpsons originally a character called Graggle, but he was soon completely wiped off the face of the earth to the point where no one remembers him, is really funny and thought-provoking,” he says.
But that – thought Simian Jimmy, @RayDibb and Murphy – was that. A good, quick, straightforward joke shared with strangers on the internet. The end. For over a year, Gumbly rested deep in the quiet corners of the… internet† Then came Facebook.
In May, Gumbly was resurrected and renamed “Graggle” by a 26-year-old Australian who uses the Facebook username Yeliab Ressap. After surfing the internet and seeing a photo of an alleged piece of concept art for “Yellow Matt”, Yeliab Ressap posted a photo of the character with the caption, “NEW MANDELA EFFECT JUST OUT – THIS UNIVERSE HAS NO GRAGGLE SIMPSON.” (A “Mandela effect” is a false memory shared by several people.)
“I just wanted a stupid word and that was the first thing that came to mind,” says the Facebook user of the name “Graggle” (he hadn’t actually heard the character nicknamed Gumbly when he came up with the name). Within a week, his post had a thousand shares. Then it spiraled. “A few people have accused me of being a government agent because of how quickly and quickly it got off the ground, but here I am saying that I am not a government agent. It’s just the nature of the internet.”
Yeliab Ressap’s post was screened and shared on Instagram and Twitter – on the latter site, it earned more than 70,000 likes. When Jackson (aka @CalmDownLevelUp), saw a 25-year-old from Seattle this tweet, he knew it was his time to shine. He had first seen Gumbly in 2021 and found the meme so funny that, “I made a folder in my phone called ‘Evidence of Gumbly’.” When he saw Yeliab Ressap’s post, “It had been almost a year since I’d seen him. And I thought, ‘Oh my God, Gumbly!’ This is my chance to comment with all my photos.”
One of Jackson’s tweets† of four of the photoshopped images he had accumulated and earned over 3,500 likes by the end of May. He started pretending he really believed that Graggle was a real one Simpsons character. “I just think it’s funny that people get angry, it’s just funny to stir people up,” Jackson says. “You hear so much in the news about fake news and Russian disinformation… It’s a very satirical look at those things that are in the news all the time.” At the end of our conversation, Jackson confesses, “I tried to think of lies to tell you, I was going to try to ignite you, but I couldn’t think of anything.”
Yeliab Ressap’s post changed Graggle née Gumbly’s fate, but TikTok is the app that gave him wings. People took the photos Jackson collected — as well as @RayDibb’s photoshop — and started making video montages. A video of “recovered imagesthe character has 418,000 views; a rip from Murphy’s Hit & Run film material has almost a million. As Graggle becomes more and more mainstream and the evidence of its existence grows, some people really seem to fall for the joke. One TikToker took it upon itself to unmask his existence (although of course they could just add another meta layer to the joke).
Although Graggle – in one form or another – is now seven years old, no one I speak 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 away with it.” “I have a feeling he will be there as long as… The Simpsons are nearby,” Murphy says. “Who knows, maybe he’ll come back in 2023 with a new name — something like Grunky.”