The Simpsons is celebrating more than 30 years of hilarity, having long-cemented itself in the hearts of millions of people worldwide. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie (not forgetting Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball II) are icons of television.
You often find repeat showings on TV channels, and you can also enjoy all 30 seasons-plus on Disney+. But what are the best episodes of The Simpsons? In this article, we list the best The Simpsons episodes in order of transmission.
NB: To help you find the best The Simpsons episodes you’ll find the season and episode numbers next to the titles.
1. Moaning Lisa (S01E06)
Lisa finds a way to channel her mental health struggles after meeting Bleeding Gums Murphy. This establishes her love of the saxophone.
The best episodes of The Simpsons have heart, alongside a hearty dose of humor. The show bravely tackles depression, just six episodes into Season 1—which is why it makes our list, marginally pipping ‘Round Springfield (effectively Moaning Lisa’s sequel).
2. Bart the Daredevil (S02E08)
Bart is inspired by stunt performer, Lance Murdock, to risk jumping Springfield Gorge. Things don’t go to plan, leading to a much-loved scene in which Homer accidentally attempts the jump.
The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, once named this his favorite episode of the show.
3. Lisa’s Substitute (S02E19)
This Lisa-centric episode will resonate with anyone whose passion for learning was exacerbated by an enthusiastic tutor. Dustin Hoffman’s Mr Bergstrom is sensitive and thoughtful, and the pay-off is beautiful.
Several cast members (including Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa) have named it among their favorite episodes of all time.
4. Homer at the Bat (S03E17)
Homer at the Bat stars nine Major League Baseball players, in a logistical production nightmare. It was worth it, signalling the start of a golden age. Terry Cashman tops this masterpiece off with the earworm, Talkin’ Softball, which, he admits, gets more requests than his 1981 hit, Talkin’ Baseball.
It’s also saved lives: two people who used the Heimlich Manoeuvre in real life credited seeing it in this episode!
5. A Streetcar Named Marge (S04E02)
This packs an emotional punch by testing the relationship between Marge and Homer. But there’s one core reason you need to watch this episode: Maggie’s parody of The Great Escape and The Birds.
Jon Lovitz is superb as Llewellyn Sinclair, and Alfred Hitchcock also makes an appearance.
6. Marge vs. the Monorail (S04E12)
You’re humming that song already, aren’t you?
Springfield has money to waste and is talked into building a completely unnecessary—and highly dangerous—monorail. Of course, Homer is employed as its conductor. But is there a chance the track could bend?
7. Last Exit to Springfield (S04E17)
The Nuclear Power Plant goes on strike and Homer must negotiate terms with Mr Burns. Its mix of sentiment, frivolity, and wordplay makes this, perhaps, the perfect episode of The Simpsons.
All together now: “Dental plan! Lisa needs braces.”
8. Cape Feare (S05E02)
It’s the greatest Sideshow Bob episode: the one with the rakes.
The sequence was padded out to fill airtime, and became a comedy classic, referenced in several of Bob’s subsequent appearances. Let’s not overlook Bob’s singing the score to the HMS Pinafore, sending Bart to Heaven before sending him to Hell…
9. Bart’s Inner Child (S05E07)
Bart becomes a self-help idol as Springfield follows his advice for a care-free life: “I do what I feel like”.
Bart’s Inner Child is full of underappreciated gags and irreverence, like Bart bizarrely calling himself Rudiger. Homer’s “tramapoline” antics kick off the episode in style.
10. Burns’ Heir (S05E18)
After witnessing the destruction he causes, Mr Burns names Bart as an heir to all his fortunes (including a gift certificate for Blockbuster Video).
This includes Homer’s iconic line, “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” You can find the robotic Richard Simmons cut scene in The Simpsons’ 138th Episode Spectacular.
11. Itchy and Scratchy Land (S06E04)
In a pastiche of every disaster movie—specifically Billy and the Cloneasaurus (aka Jurassic Park)—the family cause havoc at Itchy and Scratchy Land and must stop a robot revolution.
The “Bort” license plates scene has gained a cult following, and, with its spoofing Disneyland, is particularly pleasing to watch on Disney+.
12. Homer Badman (S06E09)
The Simpsons gives us a startling examination of sexual assault, Cancel Culture, and how Scottish people all videotape strangers.
Made in 1994, Homer Badman is increasingly relevant, but still packs in plenty of laughs. Try to pause to see the full list of Rock Bottom corrections. Remember: Licking an electrical outlet will not turn you into a Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger.
13. Homer the Great (S06E12)
Yes, it’s the Stonecutters, everyone’s favorite parody of the freemasons.
Grampa is a member (he’s also an Elk, a Mason, a Communist, and the President of The Gay and Lesbian Committee), so Homer is admitted. And his power quickly grows.
14. And Maggie Makes Three (S06E13)
What is your personal favourite underrated Simpsons gag? Mine is the moment in “…And Maggie Makes Three” in which Homer says they’ll have to stop buying quilted toilet paper and Bart wordlessly punches the wall in a momentary fit of rage. pic.twitter.com/wuW2pjJLu6
— Entropy in the UK ✴️🏴 (@rollerska8er) April 20, 2020
This flashback episode finds Homer in his dream job: working in a bowling alley. So why doesn’t he still work there? And where are all the photos of Maggie?
It’s a touching tale which ends on a beautiful note.
15. The PTA Disbands! (S06E21)
Springfield Elementary’s teachers go on strike, egged on by Bart. He comes to regret it when the townsfolk, including Marge, start teaching classes instead.
Every scene has a quotable quip and will leave you in fits of laughter, purple monkey dishwasher.
16. Mother Simpson (S07E08)
Glenn Close plays Homer’s mother, who turns up after Homer fakes his own death. Homer enjoys having her back in his life—then must question why she vanished in the first place.
There are a lot of tearjerkers on this list. Mother Simpson’s ending is probably the pinnacle.
17. Lisa the Iconoclast (S07E16)
Jebediah Springfield was firmly established as an icon of the town in The Telltale Head (1990). But sometimes, as Lisa discovers, history lies.
Lisa the Iconoclast introduced the words “Embiggen” and “Cromulent”, which are now in the dictionary. Don’t forget: A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
18. The Day the Violence Died (S07E18)
Bart meets Chester J. Lampwick (Kirk Douglas), a homeless man who claims he invented Itchy. Can they successfully sue Itchy and Scratchy Studios?
And if they do, what happens to Bart’s beloved cartoon?
19. Much Apu About Nothing (S07E23)
“Immigants: I knew it was them! Even when it was the bears, I knew it was them!”
Immigrants are blamed for a tax hike, and Springfield elects to vote on Proposition 24, forcibly deporting illegal citizens. This includes Apu, and the Simpsons realize the horrible consequences of their actions.
Of course, this discussion of ethics, xenophobia, and politics is raised after a bear wanders through the town.
20. You Only Move Twice (S08E02)
Homer gets a new job that involves the Simpson family relocating to the idyllic Cypress Creek. His employer is Hank Scorpio, a loveable and caring boss who is also a supervillain.
You can see why You Only Move Twice is often listed as the best episode of The Simpsons ever. It’s full of genius sight gags and puns, beautifully pastiches the James Bond franchise, and features” Albert Brooks as one of the most popular guest characters.
21. Bart After Dark (S08E05)
Bart gets a job at a burlesque house, which Marge takes issue with. Its arguments about personal freedom and fickle public outrage are as apt today as they were in 1996.
“We Put the Spring in Springfield” won the Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics. It really is catchy.
22. El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer) (S08E09)
Hallucinations caused by the Merciless Pepper of Quetzalacatenango makes Homer question whether Marge is really his soulmate.
The illusionary sequence, which included 2D computer animation, was primarily animated by David Silverman, who wanted the scenes to look exactly as he’d imagined.
23. The Springfield Files (S08E10)
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their X-Files roles for this hilarious send-up of the 1990s sci-fi series. Homer thinks he spots an alien, but will the world (and his family) believe him? It’s a love letter to sci-fi shows, includes the “Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down” gag, and stars Leonard Nimoy.
Keep watching the skis!
24. Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment (S08E18)
Prohibition comes to Springfield, leading Homer to concoct a scheme to keep the alcohol flowing. Meanwhile, Replacement Chief of Police, Rex Banner (Dave Thomas), is brought in to track down the elusive Beer Baron.
This flawless story concludes with the iconic line, “To alcohol! The cause of—and solution to—all of life’s problems.”
25. Homer’s Enemy (S08E23)
“Homer’s Enemy” is considered to be one of the darkest episodes of the show, and it split critical opinion. It is a favorite of several members of the staff, including @thatbilloakley , @Joshstrangehill and Matt Groening, but it is one of the least favorites of @MikeReissWriter.
— Daily Simpsons History (@dailysimpsons) May 5, 2019
Finally, someone competent notices how inept Homer is at his job. Can Frank “Grimey” Grimes make everyone else see how misplaced Homer is at the Power Plant?
Homer’s Enemy splits opinion. Yes, it has lots of great gags (“Pigs tend to chew. I’d say he eats more like a duck”), but it’s deceptively dark.
26. The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson (S09E01)
Made before 9/11, there’s a poignant beauty to this episode, which finds Homer reluctantly visiting New York to retrieve his car from between the Twin Towers. It was taken out of syndication for several years. However, its cheeky affection and warmth for the city makes for a compelling season premiere.
“You’re Checkin’ In” is an award-winner and will loop around in your brain, appropriately, like a drug.
27. Simpson Tide (S09E19)
Homer joins the naval reserve and accidentally causes an international incident. This is as crazy as The Simpsons gets.
This was the last episode Al Jean and Mike Reiss acted as executive producers together, and it’s brilliant.
28. Mayored to the Mob (S10E09)
A riot at the Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con results in Homer becoming Mayor Quimby’s bodyguard. This puts him at odds with Fat Tony and the mob.
Mark Hamill guests and inspires us all to use the forks.
29. Brother’s Little Helper (S11E02)
Bart goes on an insane rampage after getting addicted to an experimental drug to treat hyperactivity.
Then-President Bill Clinton held the first White House conference on Mental Health in response to this hilarious-yet-thoughtful episode.
30. HOMR (S12E09)
We began with a Lisa episode; we end on one too, albeit seemingly about Homer.
A crayon lodged in his brain has led to his sub-standard intellect. When it’s removed, he no longer says things like “liberry” or “tomorrie”. His increased IQ lets him reconnect with Lisa but puts him at odds with a world which displays a distinct strain of anti-intellectualism.
And That’s the End of That Chapter
Yes, we probably missed your favorite. There are so many to choo-choo-choose from! So feel free to suggest your picks for the best The Simpsons episodes in the comments.
And after watching every Simpsons episode listed here, you should check out some more of the best movies and TV shows on Disney+.
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