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The Opening sequence is one of the most notable hallmarks of The Simpsons. Each episode opening differs from episode to episode, usually with a different Chalkboard Gag, Couch gag, Saxophone Solo, and Billboard gag (post Season 19).
 Season 1
We fade into a dark blue screen. The "Ahh Chorus" synthesizer pad plays and the yellow text, "The Simpsons" materializes out of a mist. Singers intone "The Simpsons..." (NOTE: Season One's theme music was a bit cruder, and more... staccato [for lack of a more descriptive term] than the version used later.) The camera zooms, and we move through the letter "P" into the swoop. We fly over the power plant and tire yard, toward downtown Springfield. We move up the street past "Painless Dentistry toward the purple colored elementary school. (NOTE: Season One's swoop is relatively crudely animated, and was redone. The difference in perspective is especially noticeable, for instance in the power plant's cooling towers -- which looked quite flat in Season One's opening.) We move through the school window and see Bart writing "I WILL NOT WASTE CHALK" on the class chalkboard, as a punishment. In the classroom, the walls are either purple or blueish violet, and three pieces of stick-figure art hang next to Bart. He pauses and strikes a thinking pose, as the bell rings. Then, Bart grins and leaves the class---bursting out the front doors of the school and skating past a grassy field with trees in a crudely drawn background. Then it cuts to the Power Plant, where Homer hears the quitting whistle, gleefully removes his mask, and leaves the building not realizing the rod he accidentally took. Behind him, there is a bald man behind him eating a sandwich with tongs. The caution sign over Homer's head has two holes on the right side, both blank. The next shot shows Marge and Maggie checking out at a supermarket. Marge reads "Mom Monthly" in the check out line. Maggie is inadvertently scanned along with the groceries. The cashier rings her up at as $847.63 and Maggie is mistakenly packaged. Marge wonders where Maggie is. She pops out of one of the shopping bags, and Marge sighs in relief. Then it cuts again to the school, where the band is practicing. People in the room (right to left):
African-American boy, brown haired boy playing bass violin (back row), blond girl with pigtails (front row), Largo, thin, curly haired girl (back row), blue haired girl, yellow haired boy,
Back row: Lewis (cymbals?) ready to crash, small pupiled African-American boy, a well groomed boy playing tuba, thin girl with purple hair playing French horn (on shoulder?), bulgy eyed boy holding blue trombone, nasty looking buck-toothed boy with green trumpet, large girl with bulgy eyes and a large nose holding a trumpet(?), hidden student, Lewis (again?), Beethoven's bust on cabinet, Front row: red head girl in pigtails playing clarinet (front of Lewis), boy with green glasses playing clarinet, thin girl, with a large nose playing a green horn, nerdy boy wearing glasses and a green shirt playing horn, red head girl wearing a Lisa-like dress playing clarinet, Milhouse playing horn, Sherri & Terri playing flutes, and Lisa playing sax.
(GOOF: Sherri and Terri are huge compared to Milhouse and Lisa)
Lisa interrupts the rehearsal and plays a loud saxophone solo (the Simpsons theme song). Mr. Largo stops the band and points Lisa out of the door, due to her non-conforming playing. As the other students look on, she dances her way out of the classroom as she continues playing. On their way to their house at 742 Evergreen Terrace, the members of the family weave dangerously through traffic and in between fellow Springfield citizens. Homer is shown first, driving down the street, and uncomfortably discovering the rod in his back. He pulls it out and throws it from the window. It bounces near Moe's. The rod bounces away and the dust clears. Bart comes by on skateboard, with pursed lips in a half grin. His right foot sticks off the board, as he grabs the lamp post to help him make the corner. He skates past a pet store, and a TV store with many Krusty's which he turns and faces. In passing, he grabs the bus stop sign and takes it with him. On a passing bus, a sign says "Can't get enough of that wonderful Duff." The people in the bus include:
Bored bus driver, (first seat) dark skinned man looking out at camera, and primmed up Bart-looking man, (second seat) red haired, white skinned lady, (third seat) man rolling his eyes, woman with light blue hair, (fourth seat) tall, spindly woman with light blue hair and a pointy nose, (last seat) stocky man with purple hair. The people waiting take off and chase the bus as a smiling Marge and Maggie round the corner in a red sedan. (NOTE: When the people pass by the pet store, a tree appears. On the other half of the tree, the background is completely different when Marge and Maggie pull in.)
Inside the car, Maggie is shown steering the wheel. With tires screeching, the car passes by a farm and makes a tight curve. As the car approaches another road, Maggie steers again, and the car makes another turn. The camera cuts back to Maggie, revealing that the wheel to be just a toy for her, as the camera pans out to show Marge driving. As the camera is zooming out, Maggie looks at Marge, then back at the road. Then, they both look at each other, and honk the horn. The camera cuts to a slightly low shot of Lisa, wobbling back and forth on her bike, with a large stack of books in the bike basket and her saxophone case behind her. She hits a bump, and all the books fly into the air, and then land safely back in the basket. She makes a turn (to our left) down the street past a couple of trees, and finally arriving at the house. She jumps off her bike in the driveway, grabbing her books and instrument case. The bike moves into the garage, the door already opening for Homer's car, as Lisa runs to the door. Homer's car comes from left to right, makes the turn into the driveway and stops. From the right, Bart one-hops his skateboard across Homer's car. Homer gets out just in time to see Marge's car. He screams a short scream silently, and runs into the garage as her car pulls in behind. Looking over his shoulder frightened, he opens the door. Upon entering their house, they speed towards the living room couch. In the living room, the couch is brown, a mouse hole is seen and the painting is a crooked nature painting of a pond. The family now sits; Bart is squeezed off, up into the air and out of frame. As the theme song ends, the camera cuts to the TV set and show the credits (Created by: Matt Groening. Developed by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon.). The TV set (close-up) is orange-brown, with an antenna to the top left. Bottom of TV: Dials (3) are green and there are two buttons. Bart falls over the TV on the "developed by" screen.
 Season 2-20
The sequence once again opens with the show's title zooming in on the camera. But this time, the sky has a much brighter blue color, with several cumulus clouds which part, as the text appears. Flying through the loop, we focus on one purple cooling tower. We see the power plant, welcome sign, and Springfield Prison behind the plant. We fly over the power plant and tire yard, toward downtown Springfield. "Painless Dentistry" is replaced with "Candy Dandy" as we move towards the Springfield Elementary School, which is now orange instead of purple. The infamous streetlamp glitch happens as we move toward the school—it snaps violently to the right (this is only in a handful of episodes in seasons 2-20). The sequence of Bart writing the Chalkboard Gag is also redone. The walls are now dark-green and Bart's chalk does not squeak in later episodes of the second season and beyond. (NOTE: The final use of the chalk squeaking was in the episode "Homer Defined".) There is a clock showing 3:00 PM, and a wastebasket stands to Bart's right. A portrait hangs on the right side of the blackboard, and bookcase full of books sits behind him. Bart stops writing for a second and glares at the chalkboard. When the bell rings, he grins, runs out of the classroom, and skates out of the school, flying gleefully past the flagpole. (NOTE: The episode "Little Orphan Millie" has Bart laughing as he runs out of the classroom.) Bart also passes a three-story glass and concrete building, a four-story orange building, and some trees and bushes. The animation used during this scene is much smoother and the perspective problem is solved. (NOTE: In "Barting Over", when the camera shifts to its sight at the school, part of the end credits music is playing until Bart runs out of the classroom, after chopping the chalkboard an axe.) The next shot shows Homer leaving the power plant, with the small uranium bar stuck on his back. In this scene, the bald man is replaced with Mr. Burns and Smithers, looking at a layout plan when the end-of-shift whistle blows. Mr. Burns puts his watch up to his ear and shakes it, as if he believes it has stopped. The caution sign over Homer's head has a green light on top, and a red light on the bottom.
It then goes to the Grocery store, where Marge is reading the "Mom Monthly" magazine. The background is more orange than red, as in the first season opening sequence. Maggie's hands are also now straight on her side rather than put in triangle position and as she is checked out the cash register flashes $847.63. (NOTE: Some episodes like "Barting Over" had more sounds of the cash register in the background as the other items, before Maggie are checked out.) Back at the school, Lisa is shown at band rehearsal, with a slightly deeper sax solo (either the Simpsons theme or a different tune).
Next, Homer is seen driving and throwing the rod out of the window, but does not bounce near Moe's. Bart skates in with a big grin, past a store with an "Open" sign as he turns into a corner. He makes a better turn, with both feet on the board. He passes Helen Lovejoy, carrying bags from the Springfield Mall, passes a book store, dodges to the right, passes Apu Nahasapeemapetilon walking a small barking dog. Bart then dodges left, passes Moe Szyslak, holding a towel and standing in his doorway, passes an approaching Barney (who belches) on his left, passes Jacques Brunswick (who's walking right) carrying a bowling ball and dodges left. TV screens with Krusty appear in the window. Bart looks for a minute, then grins again. He passes Bleeding Gums Murphy, who's facing the street with his sax around his shoulder. Bart, then passes Clancy Wiggum standing on the corner, who yells and shakes his bation at Bart. (NOTE: The episodes, "Little Orphan Millie" and "Husbands and Knives" has some voices accompanying the people Bart skateboards past.) The town square, with the Jebediah Springfield statue is seen in the background. Marge's car comes from the right and turns on to the street that Bart crossed. In this version and beyond, the car is orange, and a low shot of the car approaching is moved after the second time Maggie steers. In the next scene, Lisa's bike sequence is removed. Instead, the camera very quickly pans over a static landscape shot of various Springfield locales and a mix of both familiar and relatively unknown characters. The zip-pan to the right shot includes: the highway, Milhouse throwing a baseball, kids playing in a yard, Nelson and thugs with kid in trashcan, Richard and Lewis, Jimbo threatening Martin, old folks in rocking chairs, Patty and Selma suntanning with cone bikini tops, Kent Brockman reporting, Sherri and Terri holding hands, Herman, Grampa and Jasper holding a book, the retirement castle, man reading the retirement castle sign, old folks walking out (like those that Marge sees holding hands in 7G11), man holding thumbs up, Lou and Eddie behind a barricade, Marvin Monroe holding a clipboard, Wendell with his head out of the bus ready to vomit, Dr. Hibbert comparing notes with Monroe, two blond girls, cat-eye glass girl in street, Otto next to broken down bus, a bucktoothed boy from orchestra in street, a mountain on the background, a bluebird that Maude sees, Flanders house, Ned and Todd holding another bluebird,
The Simpsons all arrive home at the same time. This time there is oil stain, and Homer arrives home first. Also, after Bart lands on the car roof with his skateboard, the garage door opens and Homer gets out glaring at Bart, slamming the door. He quickly dodges Lisa on her bike and yells, "D'oh!", as she takes her bike up to the front door. He steps back out and screams as Marge's car approaches. He looks over his left shoulder, then his right as he runs into the garage. (NOTE: During Marge's view, the car still happens to be red from the first season.) This is followed by the Couch Gag. In the living room, the rabbit ears are more sophisticated and the painting is a crooked sailboat pic. The TV set is blueish purple. Dials on right of set: two on top, blue speaker below, on top of the TV a VCR and rabbit ears on top.
 Prototype Version
The original prototype version of this opening, as used on Season Two episodes, had the music slightly similar to the first season music. Homer's scream is more high-pitched and the school band performs a slightly distorted version of the theme. In "Bart Gets an "F"", the colors are darker and brighter. During the rest of the show (until Season 20), starting with "Simpson and Delilah", the colors remained the same, except for the music and Bart's chalkboard gag, which was constantly using high color saturation. This would not change, until "When Flanders Failed" of Season 3. Later, the episode, Saturdays of Thunder would introduce the full version of the current theme music (outside of the US).
 Short versions
Starting with this opening, there have been shorter versions. On "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish", the camera goes from the "P" of the title card to the classroom with Bart's chalkboard gag. After the bell rings, the scene shifts to Homer at the Power Plant, thus skipping Bart skating out of the front doors of the school. After Lisa's sax solo, the scene goes straight to the driveway, where Homer pulls in. This was often shown on Season Three episodes. (NOTE: On the full versions of the opening, when Bart begins to run out of the classroom, the camera immediately pans out of the window of the school. However, when Bart runs out, the camera stays in the classroom, before it cuts to Homer.) On "Lisa's Substitute", the camera goes from the "P" to the driveway scene. This version, the shortest of them all, was used on a jumble of episodes and the reruns of the episodes with the longer openings. On "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", the opening is almost the same as the first short version, beginning with the opening going through the "P" of the title card to Bart's classroom. However, this version goes from Bart running out of the classroom to the Driveway scene. This was often shown on almost all of the seventh season episodes. A shorter version, as shown on "The Sweetest Apu", has the scene shift from Bart exiting the classroom to Marge's view of Homer running from the car and into the house. On "Barting Over", the opening cuts from Lisa's sax solo to Maggie driving. On "Homer's Paternity Coot", the opening shortens the car sequence. On "Million-Dollar Abie", the opening goes from Lisa's sax solo to the driveway scene. On "G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)", the opening skips the first part of the driveway and starts with Homer screaming and dodging Marge's car. On "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", the opening is much like the seventh season opening, except that there is a different shot of the clouds, the town swoop across town is shown (with a modified text), and there are a mix of couch gags from 8F18, 9F02, 9F10, 9F09, 8F09, 1F02, 2F31, 2F09, 2F06, 1F17, 2F11, and 9F08, as the full version of the theme song continues to play.
 Season 20, starting with Take My Life, Please
This new HD sequence opens with the show's title zooming in on the camera while moving forwards through cumulus clouds. A crow with three eyes passes by as the chorus sing the title. It continues to zoom in on the town where Jimbo Jones and Kearney Zzyzwicz saw off the head of the Jebediah Springfield statue in front of the town square (a reference to The Telltale Head, when Bart cut it off) . The head then falls off on Ralph Wiggum, about to eat an ice cream. Panning behind Ralph, the camera passes by Android's Dungeon and a Lard Lad Donut Statue (where the crow lands) on the left and a new Billboard gag, that changes every episode, on the right. The scene continues to zoom in through a window of Springfield Elementary, where Bart is writing the Chalkboard gag. (NOTE: The newest opening spends a lot more time on the previous gags, so the pan to the Springfield Elementary School to Bart's classroom is quicker, with slightly less time to read the gag before it's all in view.) In the classroom, the portrait on the wall is of Homer as an astronaut. The bell rings and Bart zooms out of the school, onto his skateboard, and lands into a pile of leaves Groundskeeper Willie just finished raked up. As Bart jumps off the pile, Barney Gumble is revealed under the pile and belches. The next scene shows Homer getting ready to head back home with a uranium bar stuck on his back. In the background, Lenny Leonard and Carl Carlson were putting up the number 3 over the number 2 on a sign that says 'Days Without An Accident.' However, they fall off the ladder as they hear the whistle for the end of the shift.
The next shot shows Marge and Maggie, with Selma Bouvier and Patty Bouvier, checking out with the groceries. The items on the conveyor belt include Tomacco juice and Mr. Sparkle power clean detergent (labeled in katakana). When a box of Krusty-O's is scanned, the total amount on the register changes from $236.60 to $243.26, which means the price of the cereal is $6.66. Maggie is inadvertently scanned too, which doubles the register total to $486.52, and she is mistakenly packaged with the groceries. Marge looks mildly concerned but smiles well as Maggie pops out of the bag. Maggie then sees Baby Gerald and angrily shakes her fist at him as Gerald does the same. During Lisa's sax solo, more "common" characters are shown in the orchestra. Recognizable characters include (back row, right to left) Wendell, Database, Martin Prince, Jr., Richard, and Lewis, and (front row, right to left) Janey, Milhouse, Sherri and Terri (playing video games), and Lisa. Also, Largo dismisses Lisa earlier, showing her longer. At the end of her solo, she ducks inside briefly for a flourish and smiles. This part may be of variable length, and a split second longer than the previous opening. Also, there is an additional picture of Bleeding Gums Murphy on the wall.
Meanwhile, after Homer discards the uranium bar, it lands on Otto Mann (this time there is no dust when the rod bounces away.) Otto, not knowing what it is, eats it. Bart skateboards by and turns the corner with a muted whoosh. He passes Sideshow Bob, who tries to kill Bart by swinging a sword, Helen Lovejoy, Apu and his eight children, Moe (at Moe's), Comic Book Guy, Disco Stu (who protests, sometimes audibly), a window of HD televisions showing Krusty, Crazy Cat Lady (a.k.a. Crazy Cat Lady), the Rich Texan, who shoots his guns) and once again, Clancy Wiggum who waves his nightstick. Hans Moleman peeks out the manhole in the street, but Marge's car slams it shut with a clang as it passes by. In this scene, Grampa is seen in the passenger seat during the Marge reveal (but not until then), with Maggie in the middle. When they honk the horn, he wakes up confused and loses his false teeth as he was sitting right next to them in the car. The camera very quickly pans over the same static landscape shot of various Springfield locales and a mix of both familiar and relatively unknown characters like the last opening, but this time it includes a lot more characters, even God and the Devil. The new shot includes:
Agnes, Skinner, Chalmers, Milhouse playing ball with Richard and Lewis, Willie on his tractor, Ralph playing on Frank Grimes' grave, Martin about to be beaten by the three bullies, Squeaky-Voiced Teen, Quimby and Miss Springfield wearing each others' sashes, Chazz Busby, the sea captain holding a 3-eyed fish, Patty and Selma still sunbathing in those suits, Cletus and Brandine with Plopper, Kang and Kodos in a UFO, Burns and Smithers, Kent and a cameraman, Sherri and Terri still playing video games, Krusty smoking on a wall with "El Barto" graffiti, Bumblebee Man and Luigi watching the UFO, Eddie and Lou at the bus roadblock, Snake stealing Lou's gun, Fat Tony with Legs and Louie burying someone, Miss Hoover changing the flat tire on the broken-down bus, Wendell still leaning out of the bus (sick), kids in front including Janey, Dr. Hibbert with a clipboard (but no Monroe), Duffman, Jessica Lovejoy, Mr. Teeny and Sideshow Mel, God (whose head is off-screen) fighting the devil (who's standing on a tower), and finally Rod and Todd playing in their yard.
During the driveway scene, there is oil stain on the pavement. Also, the main change is that instead of running away from Marge's car and screaming, Homer is hit with the car and flattened on the hood; instead of running through the door, he is hurled grunting through it by inertia, leaving a Homer-shaped hole. Upon entering their house, the couch gag follows. The living room is mostly the same, but the TV is now a widescreen HD model, with the bent rabbit-ears still on top. Again, a widescreen set, with four unmarked buttons on the right, speakers below. A VCR or some unit is on top still. As the theme song ends, the television showing the opening credits falls off as if it was hung on the wall. Also, unlike the previous opening sequences, there is no cut to black; the episode begins immediately.
 Other versions
 Live action
It was the second time they had done so, the first being in September 2000 as part of a weekend celebrating the 10th anniversary of the show premiering in the UK. Except for the very first shot in which the logo appears out of the clouds, every piece of the opening is present in this version, with even multiple chalkboard and couch gags filmed. Attached to the end of this sequence is the message "Come home to The Simpsons on Sky One." A version was also made for cinema distribution. Because the live action sequence was made in the UK, there are some slight cultural differences, such as Homer and Marge driving on the left in a right hand drive car, and the actor playing Chief Wiggum wearing a British police uniform.
The sequence was used instead of the regular opening titles on the episode "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife", first broadcast on FOX on March 26, 2006 with the images during the driving scenes mirrored so that the cars appeared to be driving on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left side of the car.
 Treehouse of Horror IX
Another fall afternoon at Springfield Elementary finds Bart Simpson engaged in his after-school punishment. This time, he has to write "The Simpsons Halloween Special IX." Instead of the usual chalk, Bart chooses to write the message in blood (dipping the brush into a jack-o-lantern bucket when it's time for a refill). When the bell rings, he tosses the brush down and gleefully runs out of the building. At home, Homer pulls into the driveway. Bart skateboards in from the right, jumps the retaining wall, and bounces off the roof of Homer's car only to land with a thud in the driveway. Lisa races in on her bike and slams into Bart's broken body. The impact launches her from her bike, and Lisa is firmly lodged into the wall of the garage, just above the door. Marge and Maggie cheerily drive in, beeping their horn, but Homer is too slow in getting out of the way. He becomes a permanent hood ornament for Marge's car. Meanwhile, in the Simpson living room Freddie Krueger and Jason Voorhees wait vainly for the family to arrive. Freddie glances at his watch, and says they should have arrived by now. Jason just shrugs and takes things in stride.
A Christmas-themed version was animated for "Kill Gil: Vols. 1 & 2" and later re-aired with "The Burns and the Bees". It begins with two lines of instrumental "O Christmas Tree" and then the normal theme music begins. This version is similar to the normal version, except for several key differences:
In the end, the family sits on the couch and the camera then pulls out to reveal that the family was reflected in a Christmas ornament, which rests on a Christmas tree.
 The Simpsons Movie
The sequence was completely remade for The Simpsons Movie and features the orchestrated version of "The Simpsons Theme" as adapted by Hans Zimmer, which is slightly different from the first track of The Simpsons Movie: The Music CD. The pre-sequence scene is displayed in a 16:9 television aspect ratio, with black matte bars at either end of the screen. As the sequence begins with the "The Simpsons" logo appearing out of the clouds, Professor Frink flies past in one of his inventions carrying a banner marked "MOVIE" and saying "Moo-vie! On the big screen!!" (at the very beginning of the DVD version he says "Moo-vie! On the small screen!!") When he hits the bar on the left side, both it and the one on the right nudge out of view so that the image fills the entire screen.
Instead of going through the P of "SIMPSONS," the camera goes through the O of "MOVIE" as the banner falls loose. The camera zooms in on the town, with several major landmarks popping-up. The camera then zooms in to Mr. Burns, who is holding a toothbrush in his bathroom with Smithers who gives him toothpaste, the extra weight of the toothpaste causes frail Mr. Burns to collapse. The camera then zooms past Moe's Tavern into the Kwik-E-Mart where Apu is secretly changing the expiration date on one of his products from 2006 to 2008. Next the camera cuts to Springfield Elementary where Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney are hoisting Martin Prince, Jr. up a flagpole by his underwear and saluting it as if it were a flag. The camera then zooms through the window where Bart is writing lines for detention ("I will not illegally download this movie") before finishing with Green Day who are hosting a concert at Lake Springfield, playing their version of the theme song and using a teleprompter to get its "lyrics" right.
 The Simpsons Movie callback
For "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs," the first new Simpsons episode to air after the release of The Simpsons Movie, a callback sequence was animated. The sequence begins with Bart writing lines on the chalkboard, writing "I will not wait 20 years to make another movie". The school bell rings and he skates outside the door, showing the residents of Springfield restoring the town after the events of the movie. The multi-eyed creature from the movie is seen jumping onto Bart's shoulders, but is hit by a wrecking ball into a billboard of "Burns' Constructions", suggesting that Mr. Burns is attempting to regain his lost wealth by making money from the incident. The camera then pans on a large shard of glass, a piece from the destroyed dome. Bart rides on the piece, and weaves in between characters from the movie; President Schwarzenegger, Colin, Moe Szyslak (in his "Emperor" attire and shouting "Hey!"), Russ Cargill, and the Medicine Woman, who waves her hand in a similar manner to Chief Wiggum and shouts "Why you...".
The family arrives home to 742 Evergreen Terrace, which is shown to be still under construction. Homer's car arrives with the Pig Crap silo strapped on top. The family arrive to sit on the couch, where Plopper the pig is currently sitting, with the "Spider-Pig" tune being played in the background. Homer then grabs Plopper and proclaims that the pig is his "summer love".
 Tik Tok
In the Opening of "To Surveil With Love" the Simpsons characters Lip synced to Ke$ha's "Tik Tok" as part of the "Fox Rocks" event on the FOX channel. This is the first canonical episode that does not feature the original theme song in the opening sequence in any capacity, in the show's history. The sequence features the characters performing actions that relate to the lyrics of the song.
 500th episode
The screen showing "The Simpsons", also read "500th episode", and below that "The most meaningless milestone of all!". During Bart's chalkboard gag, Bart is replaced with Milhouse, while Bart is watching. After the couch gag, it zooms out to lots of pictures of couch gags, reading "500". It breaks like glass, and Homer is seen choking Bart.
 Parodies within the show
The opening sequence is parodied in several episodes of The Simpsons:
In Season 22, the cash register reads $486.22, for there being 486 episodes at the end of Season 22.