The Simpsons family isn’t the only one with inconsistent ages, and there’s a plot hole in the Flanders family about the ages of Rod and Todd.
The Simpsons has been around long enough to not be safe from plot holes, and the ones that have bothered fans for years are those related to the ages of the characters. The members of the Simpsons family are not the only ones whose ages are inconsistent, as there’s also a plot hole regarding Rod and Todd Flanders and who is the oldest one. Created by Matt Groening, The Simpsons began as a series of animated shows in The Tracey Ullman Show, and after three seasons, it was developed into a half-hour prime time show, premiering on Fox in 1989.
Since then, millions of viewers have followed the daily adventures of the Simpsons family in the fictional town of Springfield, alongside some of their closest friends and a couple of enemies as well, such as Sideshow Bob and Mr. Burns. Right next to the Simpsons’ house are the Flanders family, consisting of Ned and Maude Flanders and their children Rod and Todd, who are the complete opposite to Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson. Just like Ned, the rest of his family is very devoted to Christianity and church, to the point where Rod and Todd have had a very different upbringing and education from the rest of the children in Springfield (for example, they had never watched The Itchy & Scratchy Show until Bart and Lisa lived with them). But one thing they have in common with the Simpsons is that the ages of Rod and Todd are quite inconsistent.
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It’s implied that Rod is the eldest son of Ned and Maude due to his appearance, as he’s taller than his brother, but in various episodes, it has been suggested or even directly said that Todd is the oldest, despite his shorter and more child-like appearance. In season 2’s episode “Dead Putting Society”, the commentator says Todd is 10 years old, and in season 7’s “Bart Sells His Soul”, the Flanders celebrate Rod’s “big ten-oh”, and given that the characters in The Simpsons aren’t supposed to age, this would mean that either both Rod and Todd are 10 years old or at least there’s a small age difference between them. However, in season 6’s “Homer Badman”, among the corrections made by the TV show Rock Bottom is the claim that “the older Flanders boy is Todd, not Rod”.
Later on, in season 8’s episode “My Sister, My Sitter”, Lisa tells Rod and Todd a story about a robot named Todd who had a brother named Rod, who was two years older than him. Taking the “big ten-oh” celebration into account, this would mean Rod is 12 years old, but there’s yet another inconsistency brought by one of the many flashbacks The Simpsons has had. In season 4’s “Lisa’s First Word”, both Flanders kids were shown to be born before Lisa, who in the present timeline is eight years old. Now, Bart is 10, and Todd appeared to be younger than Bart. On the other hand, the official website of the series states that Todd “is the youngest and most impressionable member of the happy Flanders clan”, even if other media and the show itself have said the contrary.
Though this type of mistakes in cartoon shows, especially those that have been around for years, are common and can be attributed to the many liberties that animated shows bring and mistakes from the writer’s, the inconsistencies in Rod and Todd’s ages have a different explanation. In the DVD commentaries for the show, the writers opened up about not being sure which Flanders kid was Rod and which one was Todd, thus making way for a lot of confusion. In addition to that, writers during the first seasons of The Simpsons had different mnemonics to identify the taller and thus older brother: while some had that Todd started with T and was Taller, others saw Rod was long like a rod and so taller than his brother. Although the Rod and Todd age plot hole is not one that affects their arcs nor those of the Simpsons family, it’s a funny example of both writers and viewers being confused over which Flanders kid is who and thus who is the oldest.
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