The longest running animated series in television history has given Americans (mostly) and the world (partly) something to laugh about since the late '80s. To be exact, they appeared in all their grainy glory in 1987 in shorts on "The Tracey Ullman Show" and in half-hour nuggets on Fox in 1989. Somehow, through the evolution of the middle class family and the de-evolution of American culture, they have stayed smart, relevant and humorous for years...or have they?

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Are the best days of Homer, Lisa, Bart, Marge and Maggie over, and we're simply waiting for the show to jump the shark completely? Or was "The Simpsons Movie" the proverbial valley of the series and we can only anticipate a glorious uphill climb back into the hearts and minds of millions that grew up watching the show who have filled their once sacred Simpsons' spot with The Daily Show and other cynical yet sassy comedic romps? No. There was no valley in the past four years...

Oh, what a way to grow up. Watching the hilarious skews of modern culture through the yellow world of Matt Groening helped infuse a smart but goofy sense of humor in millions of children born between 1975 and 1995. Homer Simpson provided the goofs whereas Lisa and others usually added the smarts. Mixed together, it was a blend of self-deprecation and self-awareness and complete insanity. This training in the "art of being a funny-enough human being" would only occur if their parents would let them watch. The lucky ones grew up with their own language of anecdotes and catch phrases. Ah, the good old days.

The Simpsons were once the pinnacle of the happy medium that straddled two areas: the just-this-side-of-ok for kids' and the still-enjoyable-for-adults humor. That line seems to no longer exist, save for "Shrek" films. Take stock of the way cartoons have either pandered to the youngest common denominator or ignored them altogether - that's the Nickelodeons versus the South Parks. Nowadays, the niche "The Simpsons" once filled is still empty.

A Once Great Show Is Now Unbelievable, Bland & Sad

ONCE filled is the key here. The show was great in the past. The first season or two of any series starts out a little off, but with these five mustardy family members, each season built upon the previous in plot arrangement, comic timing, and social commentary. It's debatable as to which seasons were the best. It should not be debated that the most recent years can't hold a burnt out match to seasons 3-8, much less a candle. The wit is waning, the storylines are becoming desperate and unbelievable even for a cartoon, and sides are aching a lot less. Episodes have become so bland or ineffective at inducing a guffaw that it's sad. Like watching Abraham Simpson try to stay awake throughout an entire episode.

In the '90s, there would be conversations among tweens, teens, college students, young adults, young parents, old parents, and even grandparents about the show. "D'oh!" was a normal part of our vernacular, and "Don't have a cow, man," had successfully replaced any allusion to "Frankie says RELAX." Thank Jeebus for that. The social fabric of the nation looked much brighter with all the yellow that was woven within. Failing English became unpossible, drumming one's fingertips became evil and Phil Hartman's genius was proven to transcend even the guise of animation. The enormously successful pop band Fall Out Boy owes its unique moniker to the show - Radioactive Man's sidekick was Fall Out Boy, played unwillingly by Milhouse Van Houten in one episode. Those of us who took more to the cynical side of the show's humor are still wondering why Matt Groening isn't milking the Jiminy Jillickers out of them for using such a stand-out name. Well, he's probably bathing in money the children of the '90s spent on "The Simpsons Sing the Blues" and other paraphernalia.

Groening has cashed in when he could on this monumental series. T-shirts, board games, books, videos, and finally, in 2007, "The Simpsons Movie." It wasn't worthy to end the series, which says a lot about what has happened to the series. They can't even live up to the hype they've gradually built up under themselves. The episodes used to be unique, cohesive, and hilarious. The show hasn't put out a Conan O'Brien epic non-failure like the "Monorail" episode in such a long time. The die-hards still enjoy the older episodes on reruns yet cringe when the new ones are aired on Sundays. The magic waned slowly, but it's time to tie it to a tree and show it some mercy.

What do you think? Should "The Simpsons" be put to rest for good? Let us know in the comments!

Story by Kate Kostal

Starpulse contributing writer