On April 19, 1987, 30 years ago this week, the Simpsons made their first television appearance. Created and illustrated by Matt Groening, the characters appeared as part of a series of animated sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show that producer James L. Brooks commissioned as a segue in and out of commercial breaks. The first short, “Good Night,” was less than two minutes long, the first of nearly 50 created for the show. During their early appearances, the Simpsons family looked similar to their final versions, but more crudely drawn, because Groening had hastily sketched them before a pitch meeting with Brooks, and the show’s animators kept them as-is.
The Simpsons went on to get its own series on FOX, premiering on Dec. 17, 1989. The show quickly met with critical acclaim and went on to break numerous records. TIME named it the 20th century’s best television series. And since the show was renewed for a 29th and 30th season, it is expected to break the record for most scripted episodes for a television series.
One of the show’s defining features is its wealth of illustrious guest stars. The Simpsons holds a Guinness World Record for “Most Guest Stars Featured in a TV Series,” with 712 as of May 2016 — a number that’s increased by dozens since that date. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the iconic family’s first appearance, TIME looks back at 30 of the show’s best celebrity cameos.
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