A new episode of “The Simpsons” revealed just what happened to Homer Simpson’s pet pig, Plopper.

What happened in the episode?

The episode, “Pork and Beans,” has the family matriarch Marge Simpson become addicted to a Japanese philosophy trend that involves disposing of objects that the family does not feel emotionally attached to. One such item includes Homer’s pet pig, Plopper, who is revealed to have been living as a pet in the family’s backyard this whole time. The pig’s absence up to this point is seemingly explained with Marge having been the only one who remembers to take care of him.

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After a series of failed events to keep Plopper, including converting him into a therapy animal, the pig is attacked by hounds, and recurring series villain Mr. Burns adopts Plopper to avoid a lawsuit, but, in the end, Homer is able to rescue his beloved pet. Whitney Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You” is notably featured in the episode’s ending, in which Homer and Plopper finally reunite.

The episode aired on January 8, 2017, as part of the show’s 28th season. The episode was notably the first episode to air this year, which was highlighted by the tagline, “Goodbye and Good Riddance, 2016!”

Plopper first appeared in the franchise within the theatrically released, “The Simpsons Movie.” In the film, he was a pig intended for slaughter that the family patriarch Homer Simpson rescued.

A small scene involves Homer pressing Plopper onto a wall in order to imitate superhero "Spider-Man," chanting, “Spider-Pig,” and a later sequence with the pig dressed as "Harry Potter" as part of a parody, “Harry Plopper,” were both heavily used in promotion for the film’s release. Despite his heavy use in advertising, the character was believed to have been killed off, as his last scene in the film featured him falling down a sinkhole. A cut sequence would have reportedly revealed that Plopper survived the incident, and was grouped together with the other family pets.

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Hasn’t Plopper appeared before this?

Plopper has appeared on the show a few times since his appearance in the movie. Some appearances were part of dream sequences, such as in a "Snow White" parody, in which Plopper functions as the pig whose heart is nearly carved out in place of the princess.' Other appearances usually featured him being owned by characters other than the Simpsons themselves, such as one episode where he was employed as a truffle finder. This could have been used to suggest that these were other pigs that merely resembled Homer’s pet.

Plopper has also appeared in the show's infamous "couch-gag" openings.

Plopper’s first official return to the series was considered to be his appearance in the 2015 episode, “Puffless,” in which he helped Maggie rescue a group of animals she befriended. In subtitles given within the episode, his name is listed as “Spider-Pig.” That said, the recent episode later explained that the pig is called by both names.