We recently hit the 30th anniversary of a Simpsons classic, “Homer at Bat.” It’s a star-studded episode from the third season that comes near the beginning of the show’s creative peak, when it was operating at rarely matched stratosphere of TV comedy. And as ScreenRant notes, it’s greatest contribution to society is undoubtedly the lives it’s saved.
The episode opens with a brief gag in which Homer is kicking his day off at work with a donut binge. He accidentally scarfs down too many pastries and his co-workers are pretty nonplussed, suggesting this is a fairly common occurrence. Lenny points out a poster depicting the Heimlich Maneuver …kind of.
You can probably see where this was going. Not longer after the episode aired, The Orlando Sentinel told the story of 10-year-old Chris Bencze, who saw his brother choking, remembered the Simpsons poster and became a hero.
That was in 1992, but it wasn’t the last time “Homer at Bat” would save a life. In 2007, British newspaper Sunday Express (Press Reader) reported that Aiden Bateman walked in on his friend choking on lunch. Bateman said the Simpsons poster from “Homer at Bat” “just came into my head, and I did it.” He saved his friend’s life.
Simpsons isn’t the only show to use the Heimlich for a gag, nor is it the only show credited with saving a life because of a Heimlich joke. In 2019, an Arizona man found an unresponsive woman on the side of the road. The only thing he could think of to do was chest compressions to the beat of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” a trick he picked up from the iconic Office “First Aid Fail.” He kept her alive long enough for emergency services to show up.