The Simpsons has been my favorite show pretty much for as long as I can remember so I wanted to make a list of what I think are the 50 Best episodes of the Simpsons in it’s long history. Yes, we all know that it has been bad or inconsistent for the last decade or so but even with that in mind the show still has amongst the best catalog of anything that’s been on television.
How I Spent My Strummer Vacation, Season 14: This is one of the few later season episodes on the list but it’s pretty damn good. Homer gets taped for a Taxicab Confessions like show for Springfield while he’s drunk and says some bad things about the family. Instead of just remaining angry at Homer, Marge and the kids send him to a one week Rock n’ Roll camp featuring many famous musicians. I like that it isn’t too over the top and wacky like many episodes were around this time period and still are and it is thoroughly enjoyable. The guest stars don’t feel like they were there for no reason and actually made me laugh especially Keith Richards when he yells, What? Who said that?”
22 Short Films About Springfield, Season 7: Take some inspiration from Pulp Fiction and mix it with mid 90’s Simpsons writing and you have pure gold. I love this episode because we get to peak into the lives of other Springfield residents and learn that while not much goes on it’s still hilarious and insane. The stories are weaved together beautifully, I love the story about the tall man in the Volkswagon and Superintendent Chalmers eating at Principal Skinner’s house and Skinner lying about Aurora Borealis being organized in his kitchen.
Bart vs. Australia, Season 6: Sure it isn’t an accurate picture of what Australia is like but that is exactly the point. Every possible stereotype about Australia is perpetuated in this episode and that’s what makes it so good. Bart begins to call different countries to find out which way their water goes down the drain due to his argument with Lisa about the Coriolis Effect and ends up defrauding an Australian family out of “500 dollar-edoos”. To make peace between the United States and Australia Bart has to go and apologize to the Australian Parliament and get kicked in the butt by a giant boot, which as we all know is one of Australia’s proudest traditions. From top to bottom Bart vs. Australia is funny as hell and one of the best Simpsons episodes ever.
The Springfield Files, Season 8: After a night of drinking and Moe takes away his car keys for blowing a Boris Yeltsan rating in the breathalyzer, Homer encounters an alien on his way home. The story of his encounter soon spreads and Agents Mulder and Scully are sent to Springfield to investigate. The guest stars in this episode are great and include David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Leonard Nimoy. They service the plot well and are funny such as Mulder’s speedo wallet picture and Nimoy just running off to his car while he’s supposed to be narrating the story.
Das Bus, Season 9: Pretty much Lord of the Flies if it featured the children of Springfield Elementary. While not a top 10 episode from this list it does have some really funny jokes in it. Skinner’s question to the kids if they want to be like the real UN or just squabble and waste time? Plus Bill Gates ‘buying out’ Homer’s internet business is absolutely classic.
Worst Episode Ever, Season 12: Yes, a Comic Book Guy episode has made the list. When Comic Book Guy suffers a heart attack he enlists Bart and Milhouse to run the store and it is going great until Milhouse orders thousands of copies of the comic book called Biclops. Biclops is pretty much just a dork like Milhouse and fails to sell but then the boys stumble upon a stash of secret videos owned by Comic Book Guy and charge admission to view them. I think that the relationship plot between CBG and Agnes Skinner is kind of lame and takes the episode down some this episode is still very funny and a gem amongst the crap that was aired in the 2000’s.
In Marge We Trust, Season 8: Marge becomes the Listen Lady and answers phone calls at the church to help solve people’s problems after Reverend Lovejoy has lost the passion for his job. Meanwhile, Homer and the kids find a box from Japan with Homer’s face on it and try to figure out the mystery of the image. What I like about this episode is that it develops Reverend Lovejoy’s character and shows how he went from being an idealistic youthful reverend to one that really doesn’t care that much (mostly because of Ned Flanders stupid questions and complaints). Also, the Mr. Sparkle subplot is funny and there is a fight with baboons on a moving train, so that automatically improves the show.
Radioactive Man, Season 7: “My eyes! The goggles they do nothing!” Milhouse gets cast as Fallout Boy in the new Radioactive Man movie and really doesn’t want to live his life in the spotlight. This episode is a great parody of the film industry as well as the old Batman shows from the 60s.
Homer’s Phobia, Season 8: The family meets John (guest star John Waters) and immediately takes a liking to him until Homer finds out that John is gay. Homer then worries that Bart will become gay due to John’s influence and tries various ways to make sure he’ll turn out heterosexual. The episode had to make the list for the gay steel mill scene alone which is one of the best jokes ever on the show. Beyond that it is well crafted and funny throughout and John Waters is an excellent guest star.
Homer’s Enemy, Season 8: Although he was just a one time character Frank Grimes was an excellent addition as the hard working guy who had to struggle for everything versus Homer who does next to nothing and enjoys a comfortable family life. Grimes despises Homer and cannot fathom how anybody likes the man and it eventually drives him insane.
Homer to the Max, Season 10: Homer changes his name to Max Power because a TV show features a character named Homer Simpson who is a bumbling idiot. While the storyline lags at certain points it does have great jokes like the Max Power song and Homer’s new names for Marge.
King Size Homer, Season 7: Mr. Burns introduces a calisthenics program at the power plant and Homer wants to get out of having to participate so he comes up with a plan to be legally classified as obese and be able to work from home. There are lots of great jokes in this one with Homer at the computer trying to order a Tab and his consultation with Dr. Nick to become obese.
Marge vs. the Monorail, Season 4: The town’s mob mentality gets them swindled by Lyle Lanley into building a monorail. Marge’s usual worrying turns out to be correct in this episode and she helps to save the day. The Monorail song is my favorite part of this episode.
Radio Bart, Season 3: Bart gets some crappy gifts for his birthday including a Superstar Celebrity Microphone from Homer which he eventually finds a purpose for in playing pranks on the town. He tricks the town into thinking a boy has fallen down the well and when he realizes that his name is on the microphone, Bart goes to the well and tries to retrieve it becoming stuck himself. This episode features Sting and a great song called Sending Our Love Down the Well.
You Only Move Twice, Season 8: “I’m from Canada they say I’m a bit slow eh?” Homer gets a job for Globex Corporation and his boss (Hank Scorpio) while a very nice guy personally turns out to be a super villain in the James Bond vein. The family having moved from Springfield to Cypress Creek all struggle to adapt except for Homer who has never flourished at his job more than working for Hank Scorpio. The episode is loaded with spoofs of James Bond and the family is each given their own story lines within the broader story. I wonder if Homer still owns the Denver Broncos?
The Joy of Sect, Season 9: This show features a few of my favorite jokes in the show’s history including Homer yelling, “Out of my way Jerkass.” and The Batman theme changed to fit the leader of the Movementarians. Its funny that the rest of the town was so easily brainwashed but Homer who had no ability to pay attention could only be swayed by chanting nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh lea-der!
Homer at the Bat, Season 3: With a complete team of MLB stars providing guest voices we get a story involving the Nuclear Power Plant softball team and Mr. Burns trying to insure victory by bringing in a group of professional ringers. The baseball players all undergo various mishaps like Ken Griffey who after drinking some brain tonic Mr. Burns had given him has his head swell up to gigantic proportions. The only player who survives the mishaps is Darryl Strawberry who plays Homer’s position and hence keeps Homer on the bench. This is an awesome show with jokes about the movie the Natural and the great Talkin’ Softball song.
The Last Temptation of Krust, Season 9: CANYONEROOOOOOOOOOO!
Deep Space Homer, Season 5: Before this aired I was already a fan of The Simpsons but after I saw this episode 7 year old me fell in love with the show. Homer inadvertently gets selected to try out for a NASA mission in which an average man will get to go into space and only wins the opportunity be the two greatest words in the English language de-fault. There are so many classic lines in this episode such as Kent Brockman and his reporting on ants. It really is just about the perfect show and easily amongst the best that the crew has ever produced.
Kamp Krusty, Season 4: The kids head off to Kamp Krusty which is actually a pretty miserable place where the kids are fed poorly and forced to sew wallets to line the pockets of Mr. Black the head of the camp. Bart starts a revolution amongst the campers and seizes control forcing Mr. Black and his goons to flee.
Bart After Dark, Season 8: With Lisa and Marge off to Baby Seal Beach to clean oil off of rocks…dozens and dozens of rocks, Homer and Bart are left home alone. Bart breaks a gargoyle belonging to an older woman and finds out that she runs a burlesque house out of her home. At Homer’s insistent Bart starts to work at the burlesque house and we are shown where all of Springfield’s perverts congregate.
Homer the Great, Season 6: Lenny and Carl keep having access to all these little privileges and Homer wants to find out why so he follows them and discovers they are in the Stonecutters. The Stonecutters are the secret society of Springfield and Homer is determined to be apart of the group. This is an episode with another memorable song “We Do” and provides lots of laughs both in Homer’s trying to gain access and his memories of being excluded from clubs such as the No Homers Club.
Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment, Season 8: A law prohibiting the sale of alcohol is discovered to be on the books for many years in Springfield and after Bart gets drunk on St. Patrick’s day it is finally enforced. With the supply of alcohol getting low Homer hatches a clever scheme to keep it flowing. With heavy bootlegging going on Chief Wiggum is fired and replaced by the humorless Rex Banner who becomes an unwelcome thorn in the side of Homer. This episode is great with the one time character Rex Banner, the town’s overreaction to Bart’s drunkeness, and the use of catapult.
Bart the Daredevil, Season 2: This is a pretty early episode in which Bart becomes a daredevil after seeing Lance Murdock perform stunts. Bart quickly becomes quite an attraction around the town and he then decides to jump the Springfield Gorge on his skateboard which then becomes the episodes conflict when Homer sees it as too dangerous an attempt. The episode is most memorable for Homer accidently getting on the skateboard and falling into the gorge.
Cape Feare, Season 5: “Nobody who speaks German could be an evil man.” Some of the Sideshow Bob episodes haven’t been all that great but this one is definitely a classic. The Simpsons get placed in the witness protection program to protect Bart from Sideshow Bob who plans to kill him. Everything goes according to plan until Bart stalls Bob long enough by make him sing the score of the HMS Pinafore. This one has some great lines like “The Bart The” and some nice physical comedy with Bob stepping on a bunch of rakes
Duffless, Season 4 : After getting pulled over by the cops for driving under the influence Homer is asked by Marge to give up alcohol for a month. Also the kids participate in the science fair at Springfield Elementary with Lisa comparing Bart’s intelligence to a Hamster.
A Fish Called Selma, Season 7: Troy McClure gets his very own episode in which he and Selma get married to resurrect his flat lined movie career. Phil Hartman really shined in this episode as McClure from his attempts at sex with Selma to the great Planet of the Apes musical that featured the song Dr. Zaius.
Homer Alone, Season 3: My favorite part of this episode is when after losing Maggie, Homer calls the missing child hotline and while on hold the play Baby Come Back by Player. It starts out as a Marge centered episode but really develops into how Homer isn’t very competent as raising children without Marge.
Homer: Bad Man, Season 6: Homer gets accused by the babysitter of sexual harassment and a media circus breaks out painting Homer to be guilty without fairly hearing his side of the story. The starting scene at the Candy convention is awesome because Homer steals the gummy Venus de Milo and blows up the convention center with pop rocks and soda. We also get a talk show hosted by a bear named Ben and a made for TV movie starring Dennis Franz as Homer. “He believes the shower curtain gives him sexual powers.”
Hurricane Neddy, Season 8: A hurricane hits Springfield and does almost no damage except to the Flanders house who of course was the most prepared out of all the panicky idiots that inhabit Springfield. This makes Ned begin to question his faith in God and he eventually snaps when the town attempts to rebuild his house and screws it up. This episode explores Ned as a character and reveals that he is so nice because he was apart of a experimental program where as a child he was spanked by a psychologist for an entire year and hence unable to express any rage beyond his usual nonsensical speech. I love in this episode that Ned’s parents were just ‘lousy Beatniks’ and we get to see that he was a terrible child and now is the super Christian moralizer.
Last Exit to Springfield, Season 4: Homer becomes the union leader for the power plant after fear of losing the dental plan and having to pay for Lisa’s braces out of pocket causes him to speak up and demand that they not concede the dental plan. This episode is fantastic from the plot to the top notch jokes that seem to hit every few seconds. It’s chock full of classic moments such as “Dental Plan! Lisa needs braces!”, Homer thinking Mr. Burns is coming on to him, the Godfather II sequence, and of course Lisa’s beautiful strike song. A classic that represents why The Simpsons is one of the best shows ever.
Last Temptation of Homer, Season 5: Michelle Pfeiffer guest stars as the power plant’s new female employee Mindy and Homer immediately becomes infatuated with her. As the title suggests Homer’s temptation is whether to have an affair with Mindy or stay faithful to Marge.
Life On the Fast Lane, Season 1: Speaking of possible affairs, this episode deals with Marge and a French bowler named Jacques played by Albert Brooks. Homer’s continuing insensitivity and selfishness pushes Marge to consider violating her vows which makes Homer more and more afraid that he will lose his wife for good. This isn’t one of the funniest episodes ever made but it is a really good character piece and served to help connect the audience to the family in the series’ first season.
Mr. Plow, Season 4: Homer starts a snow plow business and quickly finds himself in competition with Barney who dubs himself the Plow King. The episode is very entertaining and is most memorable for the TV ads each of them used to promote their plow companies like the Mr. Plow theme song, the artsy plow commercial and Barney landing Linda Ronstadt to sing his jingle.
Natural Born Kissers, Season 9: Homer and Marge learn that to spice up their love life they need to have sex in places where they may get caught. Of course they keep pushing their boundaries and take off in a hot air balloon naked and land in a packed football stadium. Bart and Lisa have a story where they roam the town with a metal detector and find an alternative ending to Casablanca.
Rosebud, Season 5: Citizen Kane if it involved Mr. Burns and his childhood teddy bear named Bobo. Rosebud really brings some human qualities into the Mr. Burns character instead of just being the evil billionaire, I mean he still is evil in this episode but it’s more pathetic than menacing. I love the fact that Hitler once owned Bobo and blamed him for Germany’s defeat in World War II, hilarious.
Selma’s Choice, Season 4: It’s a Selma episode but at least she’s not getting married in this one, just trying to have a baby. She eventually realizes what a mistake it would be after taking Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens where Lisa drinks the apparently hallucinogenic water on the parody of the It’s a Small World ride. Homer provides my favorite quote of this one about artificial insemination, “Boy I don’t know. You’d have to be pretty desperate to make it with a robot.”
A Streetcar Named Marge, Season 4: Marge stars in the Springfield version of A Streetcar Named Desire and finds inspiration for her character from her marriage with Homer. There are lots of great musical numbers in this episode especially the song about New Orleans. Maggie also leads a revolt at her new day care center that is run by followers of Ayn Rand.
Lisa the Iconoclast, Season 7: “I don’t know why it’s a perfectly cromulent word.” Lisa uncovers the secret history of the town’s founder Jebediah Springfield aka Hans Sprungfeld while researching a school project. Homer is the only person in town that believes Lisa because he wants to be right for once in his life. I really like this episode because it develops the relationship between father and daughter, gives an awesome back story to the town’s founder, and a fight with George Washington.
Stark Raving Dad, Season 3: This is the episode guest starring Michael Jackson under an assumed name and playing Leon Kompowsky, a big white guy who pretends that he is the pop star. Stark Raving dad provides plenty of laughs such as Homer being put into a mental hospital for wearing a pink shirt.
Homerpalooza, Season 7: Homer tries to get back into the current music scene after learning that the classic rock he listens to is no longer cool. He then ends up getting hit in the guy with an inflatable pig shot out of the canon and joins a music tour as a freak attraction.
Who Shot Mr. Burns? Parts 1+2, Seasons 6 and 7: Yeah it was gimmicky as all hell and I remember hearing about the mystery all summer on TV that year but both of the episodes are genuinely funny and a decent mystery to boot. Plus I get a song led by Tito Puente about Mr. Burns which I love to sing.
‘Round Springfield, Season 6: Bart gets hospitalized after eating a jagged piece of metal that came with every box of Krusty-O’s and while visiting her brother in the hospital Lisa discovers her friend Bleeding Gums Murphy is in there too. This episode is both funny and touching as Lisa learns to cope with death while still being a child.
Homer’s Barbershop Quartet, Season 5: I think everyone has heard the great Baby On Board song and the rest of this episode is funny as hell. My favorite part is Homer asking George Harrison where he got the brownies from.
A Star is Burns, Season 6: The town hosts a film festival and Jay Sherman from The Critic is called in to host it. Ok so it’s a crossover with The Critic and that should be kind of lame but this episode is funny. The films at the festival are all classic with Pukahontas, Man Get Hit By Football, and A Burns For All Seasons directed by Senor Spielbergo and starring Tommy Tune as Smithers.
Bart of Darkness, Season 6: The Simpsons get a pool during the summer and Lisa becomes popular while Bart breaks his leg and is confined to his room. One night while messing around with the telescope Lisa gives him, Bart witnesses what he believes to be a murder at the Flanders house. “I’m a mur-didly-urderer.”
Lisa’s Rival, Season 6: Lisa his a new classmate Allison who is seemingly better than her at everything so she enlists Bart to help her sabotage Allison’s diorama. Ralph Wiggum has classic lines like “I bent my Wookie.” and “My cat’s breath smells like cat food.”
Bart’s Comet, Season 6: Bart discovers a comet while doing astronomy work for Skinner and it is heading right for Springfield. Naturally the town panics and comes up with a half-assed plan of shooting the comet with a missile which blows up the only bridge out of town instead. My favorite part is when the town kicks Flanders out of his own bomb shelter and Homer storms out saying how disappointed he is in everyone and then yells especially his children right in Rod and Todd Flanders faces. “The following people are gay.”
Brother From the Same Planet, Season 4: Homer forgets to pick up Bart from soccer practice despite the whole world around him giving him hints on what he is forgetting to do. So, after the two have a falling out Bart joins a program for disadvantaged kids and gets fighter pilot Tom as his ‘bigger brother’. Jealous of Bart spending time with Tom Homer gets his own little brother named Pepe out of spite. What’s funny is that both Bart and Homer lie to their new father and son respectively and sets the stage for a fight between Tom and Homer at Marine World.
$pringfield, Season 5: This episode is one of my personal favorites and revolves around the story of Springfield legalizing gambling. The family naturally has their roles in the new business, Homer is a blackjack dealer and Marge becomes addicted to gambling and neglects the family. Mr. Burns as owner of the casino descends into a Howard Hughes like lunacy and threatens to shoot Smithers if he doesn’t get into his small model airplane dubbed the Spruce Moose. Also great in this episode, Robert Goulet appearing at Bart’s tree house casino and Homer’s explanation of the gambling monster that has a hold on Marge called Gamblor.