A punchline for more than 100 years, the Chicago Cubs’ historic World Series drought has made its way into a number of iconic small screen moments. Frankly, we’re all hoping the jokes come to a definitive end in 2016 (Go Cubs Go!), and just in case that happens, we’ve compiled a list of the most memorable pop culture references and predictions from the last century. Enjoy the jokes while you can — hopefully, just a few more days.
If you’re on the air for nearly three decades and feature as many pop culture references as “The Simpsons,” the Cubs are bound to come up a few times. And they have, both as a four-word joke and a more elaborate unveiling of the only way the Cubs could actually win. Yet the most pertinent reference comes in the above clip when guest voice Stacy Keach explains to Homer what it’s like to be a Cubs fan.
“Saturday Night Live”
Though more famous for their “Daaaaa Bears” catch phrase, Bob Swerski’s super fans included a later shout-out to the “Deeeee Cubs” from Bart Swerski (Horatio Sanz), Bob’s nephew. Appearing on “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update, Bart lamented the Cubs’ devastating 2003 playoff loss to the Florida Marlins. It was an unfortunate turn of events since the super fans typically celebrate greatness, like Da Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl and Da Bulls’ six titles in the ’90s.
A more well-known (and much funnier) “SNL” Cubs reference came in the form of Will Ferrell’s bonkers Harry Caray impersonation. Over-the-top yet right in line with Caray’s unfiltered version of broadcasting, Ferrell kept the schtick going after the Cubs announcer’s death — long after. Check out the video above for his latest performance, on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“Parks and Recreation”
After a time jump to spring 2017 in its final season, “Parks and Recreation” also took a trip to its neighbor state’s largest city — and predicted the Cubs would win the World Series this very year. When Andy (Chris Pratt) and Tom (Aziz Ansari) went in search of Tom’s ex-boo in Chicago, Lucy (Natalie Morales) took the group by Wrigley Field on a tour the Windy City. While boasting the benefits of Midwestern living, she concluded her case with, “And obviously everybody’s in a good mood because of the Cubs winning the Series.” Here’s hoping you’re right, Lucy.
This one’s a bit of a doozy. When trailers aired for the 2012 NBC drama “Revolution” (about a post-apocalyptic future without electricity, let alone Major League Baseball), one shot showed the stars walking past a run-down Wrigley Field sporting a declaration that the Cubs had won the World Series in 2012. Seeing this, the organization reached out and asked the reference be removed. The version that aired cut the sign promising an end to the championship drought, and the Cubs kept on losing…until now?
No one deserves what happened to poor Steve Bartman. Cubs fans worldwide channeled their collective frustration over the 2003 collapse toward the ultimate “wrong place at the wrong time” guy. Bartman’s instinctual decision to reach for a foul ball angered Cubs outfielder Moises Alou in the moment, and he seemed to blame Bartman for failing to snag a pop up that drifted just out of play. Cubs fans followed suit, blaming Bartman for a monumental collapse that all seemed to start with his gaffe (though it, in fact, began before that). Soon the headphone-wearing white dude faced more harassment and ridicule than anyone could endure. It’s nice to think, then, that a truly evil individual — like Stewie Griffin — made Bartman do it, thus absolving him from blame altogether. But then we cycle back to the fact he didn’t deserve any blame to begin with, despite the loads of references (like in “Family Guy” above) that undoubtedly plague him to this day.
This NBC drama went to a truly dark place in its second episode by taking on the Curse of the Billy Goat. As legend tells it, goat owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave the 1945 World Series because of the odor coming from his pet. Infuriated, Sianis shouted the Cubs “ain’t gonna win no more,” and they haven’t won a pennant since. In “Chicago Fire,” two characters fight over a goat being part of the department’s logo, similar to how Chicago fans can’t agree on how to treat goats: Should we hate them or worship them? Keep them out or invite them in? Stand by our fateful decision or beg forgiveness? For the record, this Cubs fan tends toward the latter.
Despite taking place in a North Sheffield apartment building overlooking Wrigley Field, Jason Bateman and David Krumholtz’s short-lived sitcom never had time to take advantage of its unique location; a location that’s very real, in case you haven’t looked beyond the bleachers during Cubs games.
This ’90s Chicago-based medical drama didn’t make any bold predictions, but it did feature Adam Arkin and Mandy Patinkin hitting golf balls off home plate inside Wrigley Field. And that was just in the first season! They had five more years to revisit the Cubbies, but I guess their debut was too hard to top.
Awash with Chicago references, the TBS sitcom featuring more sports references than most went so far as to cast a real-life Cubs player (Mike Fontenot) to appear in a cameo during the Season 3 finale. Beyond that, the character Mike Callahan (Jamie Kaler) actually worked for the Cubs during the show’s first season. That’s commitment.
This Chicago-based comedic gem often referenced its local sports clubs, but the best nod to the North Side came when Max (Adam Pally) imitated the unofficial animal of the city when he was hibernating during the winter. While referred to as a bear, only a baby cub would be so completely incapable of eating honey.
Despite multiple characters with roots in Chicago, there haven’t been any significant callbacks to the Cubs. That being said, star and real-life Chicagoan Jake Johnson (who plays Nick Miller) penned a touching ode to his hometown ballclub for Grantland in 2015, and he’s been avidly supporting the team this season, too. He more than deserves the shout-out, and we’re betting — win or lose — Nick will bring up the Cubbies trip to the title game in an upcoming episode.
Notable Film References:
“About Last Night”
“Back to the Future”
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
“Rookie of the Year”
“Taking Care of Business”
The Chicago Cubs will host the Cleveland Indians Friday through Sunday, Oct. 28-30, on Fox.