The Actual Reason The Simpsons Are Yellow

It's science.

When Matt Groening was creating The Simpsons, he wanted the family to stand out, so he decided to make the characters a weird color. "An animator came up with the Simpsons' yellow and as soon as she showed it to me I said: 'This is the answer!'" Groening once told the BBC. "When you're flicking through channels with your remote control, and a flash of yellow goes by, you'll know you're watching The Simpsons." And though the family is among the most iconic TV characters in history, they're not the only yellow characters out there. From Spongebob to Tweety, yellow is the color of some of the most famous cartoon characters.

And there's a reason this color is so popular, as YouTube user ChannelFrederator outlines in a new video: It has to do with color theory. A television uses the red-green-blue color wheel rather than the standard red-yellow-blue model. With the RGB scale, yellow and blue are complementary colors. That's why characters like Spongebob stand out so well against a blue background. Yellow is also the most visible color in the entire visual spectrum because of how the cones in our eyes process light and the order in which the signals for red green and blue light reach our brain. This is why taxis and warning signs are yellow.

Additionally, yellow also works well for a psychological perspective. In this case, yellow is a warm color that most often conveys joy and optimism. Think about how depressing Spongebob would be if he were blue or red.


This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for
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