One of the longest running rumours amongst Simpsons fans was that Bart was depicted with a blue shirt in merchandise to ward off bootleggers, or at least to make it easier to spot fake Simpsons merch. If Bart was wearing anything but blue, then Fox would know - ostensibly - that something was up. The lack of a definitive answer from the showrunners has meant that other theories have cropped up too, with some speculating that, at the height of Bartmania, the character was given a blue shirt to further distinguish him from his siblings Lisa and Maggie.
Both theories have always seemed a little tenuous though, and, as with black Smithers and dark-haired Moe, the real answer is probably a lot less exciting.
As per YouTube channel Rebel Taxi, before The Simpsons fully aired, Fox were supposedly desperate for merchandise. Like the aforementioned mistakes, early designs were sent off to studios and merchandising companies and they eventually made it into finished animation and related media. Blue shirt Bart was one of the earliest images of the character, dating all the way back to The Simpsons' days on the Tracey Ullman show, which resulted in most of his merch featuring a blue shirt. However, that doesn't necessarily explain why these companies persisted with the design throughout the nineties, by which point there was no mistaking that Bart always wore orange.
Seriously, Blue shirt Bart was everywhere. He was in toys, video games and even in the treasured episode guides that released towards the end of the nineties. One in particular, 'A Complete Guide to our Favourite Family', was published in 1997 and blue shirt Bart is right there, slap-bang in the middle of the family, taunting us all with his continued existence.
Weirdly, blue shirt Bart was eventually retired, but it would take years for it to happen. He made frequent appearances in the beloved Simpsons comic from Bongo which finally came to a close in 2018. But, other than that, blue shirt Bart has all but faded from existence, exiting the spotlight with about the same amount of explanation and fanfare that accompanied his introduction all those years ago.
Given the blue shirt was a consequence of Fox's rush to get Simpsons merchandise out the door, it seems so odd that it became a staple in and of itself. Of course there was merchandise of Bart sporting his traditional orange top, but it's still weird how his blue counterpart kept going way past the point everyone would've known it was a mistake.
Do you remember Bart's blue shirt? Let us know in the comments below!