Claim: A 'Dear Abby' advice column was pulled because it included a letter taken from an episode of The Simpsons.
Origins: One attribute we here at snopes.com have in common with advice columnists is that we both receive a fair amount of rather bizarre mail — most of it sent in earnest, but some of it sent by pranksters trying to see if they can trick someone into publishing their bits of inventive fiction. We probably have a bit of an advantage over the advice columnists in that the false and the apocryphal are as much our stock in trade as the true and genuine — we deal with the kinds of things people believe to be true; whether or not folkloric tales are actually true is usually irrelevant. Columnists, on the other hand, generally prefer not to be doling out advice to readers seeking
answers to phony, contrived problems.
The bogus biographical bug bit advice columnist "Dear Abby" in March 2004, when Universal Press Syndicate pulled her upcoming
(Despite Universal Press Syndicate's having rescinded the column, a few newspapers chose to run it anyway.)
In a column titled "Wife meets perfect match after husband strikes out," Abby proffered advice to a woman who signed her letter "Stuck in a Love Triangle."
But "Stuck" decided to spite her selfish husband by keeping the ball and learning how to bowl, leading to her meeting Franco
who was "kind, considerate and loving" — at the local lanes. One thing led to another, they fell in love, and Franco proposed, putting "Stuck" in a quandary: "I no longer love Gene. I want to divorce him and marry Franco. At the same time, I'm worried that Gene won't be able to move on with his life. I also think our kids would be devastated. What should I do?"
Abby's solution was for "Stuck" to admit her infidelity to her husband: "To save the marriage, he might be willing to change back to the man who bowled you over in the first place."
"Stuck"'s dilemma may sound so familiar to some readers — it was taken directly from the plot of a first-season episode of the animated TV series The Simpsons ("Life on the Fast Lane," also known as "Jacques to Be Wild," first aired
This wasn't the first time a prominent advice columnist had been tripped up with a recycled plot. In 1994, a mischievous reader (all right, I'll confess — it was me) sent Abby's sister, Ann Landers, a letter based upon a well traveled
Last updated: 1 May 2014
Hollingsworth, Heather. "Dear Abby Yanks Column That Mirrors Simpsons Episode." Associated Press. 8 January 2004. Majors, Dan. "D'oh! A Hoax Trips Dear Abby." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 9 March 2004.