On April 14, 1996, exactly 25 years ago, the Simpsons episode “22 Short Films About Springfield” first aired. The episode won instant critical praise including a Cheer from TV Guide (the column didn’t acknowledge animation very often), and it still ranks within the Top 10 on internet “best-of” lists, whether they’re written by freelancers or sourced from fans.
It not only has staying power as a full episode but as a meme centered around one of its best bits, Principal Skinner trying to convince Superintendent Chalmers that the Krusty Burger he just bought was his own cooking. “Steamed Hams” is famous to the point that I had to use it in the title for this article instead of the episode’s actual name because people would recognize it quicker.
But believe it or not, even though “22 Short Films” has been watched, rewatched, cross-examined and dissected every which way, there is one part of it that no one has ever seen outside of the Simpsons staff. The episode originally included appearances from Krusty and Ralph Wiggum, together in one scene, but the bit was cut for time. They were on an airplane sitting together, and we may never know why, because the full scene has never been released anywhere. All we have are recovered animation cels like this one:
Here's a cel from a deleted 22 Short Films About Springfield scene which Josh Weinstein has posted the script pages for. Might have mentioned this before but I have a strong (probably false) memory of seeing an animatic clip of this scene which I haven't been able to find since. pic.twitter.com/uzIwSsHOST
— Simpsons Production Art (@SimpsonsArt_) April 14, 2021
A portion of the scene DID get out in the form of a promo clip Fox used to promote the episode. This is as much as anyone’s been able to glimpse:
So why’s it there but nowhere else? According to Josh Weinstein, who was co-showrunner during the season “22 Short Films” was produced, “The promo dept would usually get the episodes in advance, before we had finished the final edits/mixes, etc. so this cut was clearly a later stage cut where we were faced with making a painful cut to get the episode to time.” The DVD commentary mentions this cut was made “at the last minute” but the scene itself was not included on the disc.
The existing scenes from the episode, along with every other Simpsons episode, are streaming now on Disney+.