This “Simpsons” Meme Engine Is D’Oh Good

Where D’oh! and great UX meet.

I want you to imagine a world, a better world, where all you need to do is type a word like “bacon” or “beer” or “butt” to see where those topics appear in any Simpsons episode.


Now stop imagining, because Frinkiac does just that. Developed by Paul Kehrer, Sean Schulte, and Allie Young, Frinkiac is a search engine that parses three million frames from the show, captured from the first 15 seasons of The Simpsons, to find just the meme you’re looking for.

It feels like magic, but the technology isn’t all that high tech. Frinkiac isn’t using Google’s Deep Dream algorithms to distinguish what’s in every frame to pull Itchy and Scratchy citations up on demand. Instead, the engine simply looks at the closed captions associated with each frame, treating them like tags.

For the most part, it works. But even when you get oddball frames that seem unaffiliated with your search, the system is designed to compensate well. You just tap any image to see the closed caption that got you there. (If nothing else, it’s fun trivia to see when, across 15 seasons of the show, some character mentioned your keyword.) And then, awesomely, there’s a frame-by-frame slider at the bottom of the page, so you can pick a slightly different frame in the scene if you prefer.

Once your selection is made, you can add the closed caption to the image as text, like an auto-meme, or you can type whatever you like instead. Share the thing around Twitter and Reddit. Age 50 years. And tell your grandchildren stories of how back in the day when YOU wanted to Simpsons meme something, you had to remember the moment, go to YouTube, take a screengrab, and open Photoshop. In the meantime, peruse the slideshow above for a few of the best Simpsons design memes we could find.

All images via Frinkiac


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.