As it approaches the record for longest-running comedy on television (only Ozzie and Harriet Nelson lasted longer), The Simpsons, Fox's animated theater of the absurd, marks its 300th episode tonight.
Here are a few signposts along the show's invasion of popular culture:
1988: Cartoonist Matt Groening's characters are unveiled in a series of vignettes on Fox's The Tracey Ullman Show. The Simpsons makes its debut the next year, climbing into the top 15 in weekly ratings.
1990: Newspapers begin convening therapists to ask them whether Homer and Marge Simpson are good parents. Fox signs licensing agreement with Mattel.
1992: Fox moves the show from Sundays to Thursdays; it beats The Cosby Show in the ratings. President George H.W. Bush proclaims American families should be "a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons."
1997: With its 167th episode, the show passes The Flintstones to become the longest-running prime-time animated show.
1999: In its end-of-the-century issue, Time magazine proclaims The Simpsons the best show in the history of television.
2001: Homer's "D'oh!" is added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
2003: Fox announces a deal to renew the cartoon for two more seasons, meaning it could become the second-longest-running show in TV history, behind Gunsmoke.