A chalkboard gag, sometimes called a blackboard gag, is a running visual joke that occurs during the Opening sequence of many episodes of The Simpsons. In this gag, Bart Simpson is writing a strange phrase on the chalkboard repeatedly; when the school bell rings, he immediately stops writing and runs out of the classroom. The phrase is usually in the form of an admonishment, implying that Bart has been assigned this task as punishment in detention for some misbehavior left partly to the viewer's imagination. The chalkboard gags are usually written in upper case.
Some of the gags have been shown to reference crimes in the United States.
In the early days of the series, a chalkboard gag was used in almost every episode, but, as commercial time has increased, they have gradually disappeared. They are now shown as rarely as twice per season. The producers of the show have mentioned that they may soon disappear altogether. However, they seem to be making a comeback as there were eight chalkboard gags during season 17 including three in a row during the last three episodes of the season. The fourth season, the eleventh season and the twelfth season are the only seasons to use chalkboard gags in each episode (excluding the Treehouse of Horror series).
A chalkboard gag was also used in The Simpsons Movie. Bart can be seen writing "I will not illegally download this movie" on the chalkboard at school. As a followup, the chalkboard gag on the Season 19 premiere episode which immediately follows The Simpsons Movie, shows Bart Simpson writing, "I will not wait 20 years to make another movie."
References in The Simpsons
- In "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie", Marge writes "I will try to raise a better child" on the chalkboard in Bart's classroom as a punishment by Ms. Krabappel.
- In "Skinner's Sense of Snow", Bart says that he had written on the chalkboard so many times that his hands sound like a cement mixer.
- In "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays", Bart Simpson asks for a detention but Ms. Krabappel said they all got tired of that years ago, referencing the reduced number of gags in the openings.
- In "Bart the Murderer", Bart Simpson is inspired by Fat Tony and attempts to bribe Principal Skinner. In the next scene, Bart Simpson is seen writing "I will not bribe Mr. Skinner" on the chalkboard, monitored by the principal himself.
- In "Adventures in Baby-Getting", Bart Simpson mentions the gag when Lisa asks what he does on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then Bart Simpson asks if she has any ideas because he is running out.
- In "Lisa's Date with Density", Lisa writes on the chalkboard as punishment and questions, "How does Bart do this every week?" She does this again second time was in "Grift of the Magi". When Bart Simpson finds out, he says "The ironing is delicious."
- In "Simpsons Bible Stories", Bart Simpson is shown writing on a chalkboard in ancient Egypt during Lisa's dream.
- In White Christmas Blues and I Won't Be Home for Christmas, the opening sequences show an elf Bart writing on a chalkboard.
- In Dad Behavior 600 Episodes.
References in other media
Since the chalkboard gag was one of the highlights of The Simpsons, the chalkboard gag has even been featured in other television shows. They include:
- The chalkboard gag appears in the South Park episode, Cartoon Wars Part II. Bart writes in the alleyway "I hate Family Guy" repeatedly in chalk.
- In a parody of The Simpsons intro on Histeria!, Loud Kiddington is shown having to write "I do not need a megaphone!"
- In the Pilot for Invader ZIM, Dib repeatedly writes, "ZIM is not an alien" on the chalkboard a lot. Phrases like "My hand hurts" and "ZIM dissects farm animals" were also on the chalkboard.
- In The Fairly OddParents! episode Channel Chasers, one of the shows Timmy, Cosmo, Wanda, and Timmy's adult doppelganger end up in. Timmy parodies Bart and starts out by writing on the chalkboard: "This is the sincerest form of flattery" and then exits Wintergreen Elementary School (parody of Springfield Elementary School).
- In the UK, when Channel 4 promoted it will first show the Simpsons, there was a chalkboard that shows what's next and later'. See 
- In Kid vs. Kat, episode, "Coop D'Etat", when Miss Brannigan put in detention to Coop Burtonburger for a month due to Science Center's catastrophe (which actually was caused by Kat), she forces him to Coop to write on the chalkboard: "I will not make space artifacts", 10,000 times.
- In "The Simpsons Guy" crossover episode of Family Guy, Stewie Griffin writes "I will not think about Bart anymore" on a blackboard in his room.
- In the October 13, 2016 installment of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Jimmy crosses over to the Simpsons universe and writes "I will not make celebrities read mean tweets" on the chalkboard.