DTK's Top 10 Simpsons Episodes and Why They Still Hold Up Today
I will not make a cliché top 10 list.I will not make a cliché top 10 list. I will not make a cliché top 10 list.
What is there to say about The Simpsons that hasn't already been said? Articles, YouTube videos, and shows on The Simpsons has made for the most popular and relevant cartoon of the last century. Although the show began in the late 80's to early 90's, its unique brand of satire is capable of holding up today. The show is currently in its 26th season.
It constantly refers to its own existence, with classics like "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" or "Behind The Laughter" focusing on highlights from previous episodes in a comical "in-depth" manner. It's a constant reminder of how we behave, think, and laugh, but with a ridiculous twist. In short, The Simpsons may be yellow, have 4 fingers and an overbite, but it reminds us how human we can all be. Here is our top 10 list of the best & most relevant Simpsons episodes to date.
1. "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)" - Season 5, Episode 10 - Written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein, Directed by Wes Archer
Kicking off the list is the story of how Springfield agreed to build a casino to help out with the town’s terrible economic situation. Naturally, Mr. Burns becomes in charge of this, and Homer gets a job as a card jockey. Marge becomes addicted to gambling, Mr. Burns becomes a hermit, Bart opens his own tree house casino, and Lisa gets no help from Marge for her project. The family dissolves, and Marge admits to her addiction, showing us the dark side of legalized gambling.
Favourite line: Homer - "No Lisa, you're not a monster. The only monster here is the gambling monster that has enslaved your Mother. I call him Gamblor! We must save your mother from his neon claws!"
2. "Homer at the Bat" - Season 3, Episode 17 - Written by John Swartzwelder, Directed by Jim Reardon
Homer and his power-plant co-workers enlist in the company's softball team. Even though the team had a poor record in the past, Homer's secret weapon - homemade bat - gets the team to the championships. Mr. Burns learns of the team's near perfect season, and bets with their future rival's team owner 1 million dollars. The episode, which centers on the million-dollar game, see’s Mr. Burns hiring 9 superstar softball players to win. Unfortunately, all but one falls victim to unfortunate circumstances. Between the mathematically incorrect hypnotist and Homer's rivalry with Darryl Strawberry, it's non-stop softball themed laughter. In the end, Homer wins the game. Irony is the main focus here, and reminds us of its presence constantly.
Favourite line: Homer - "No no no, I don't want you to see me sitting on my worthless butt". Bart - "We've seen it, dad".
3. "Simpsons Tide" - Season 9, Episode 19 - Written by Joshua Sternin & Jeffrey Ventimilia, Directed by Milton Gray.
After gross incompetence, Homer is fired from the plant and enlists in the Naval reserve. Bart gets hooked on an earring trend, and enters a parent-child struggle with Homer. The episode focuses on patriotism and “serving your country" a common topic in American culture. Approaching topics like the navy or the military is risky business for the most part, but The Simpsons pulls it off in the most delicate way possible. Homer accidentally shoots his captain out of a torpedo launch, and is stuck with responsibility of the submarine. The crew get into some trouble, and eventually Homer is let off with a slap on the wrist. The winners here are the writer's, who are able to make the naval reserve look like a walk in the park and a potentially terrible place at the same time.
Favorite line: Grandpa - "My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist but he is not a porn star!".
4. "22 Short Films About Springfield" - Season 7, Episode 21 - Written by A lot of people, Directed by Jim Reardon.
“22 Short Films” includes, as the title reveals, 22 Shorts about Springfield's residents, further developing the characters we know and love today. Every story is more absurd than the last, with cops constantly referencing Pulp Fiction, the real life problems of Bumble Bee Man, Apu's 5 minutes of partying, and much more.
Favourite line: Superintendant Chalmers - "Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely in within your kitchen?"
5. "30 Minutes Over Tokyo" - Season 10, Episode 23 - Written by Donick Cary & Dan Greany, Directed by Jim Reardon.
In terms of traveling, the family doesn't usually travel as one. After a robbery, they find themselves broke, and saving for a cheap trip. Finally, the Simpsons head to Japan. The writer's takes on Japanese culture were so offensive that the episode never aired in Japan! Due to more money issues, Home and the gang end up stranded in Japan, experiencing stereotypical Japanese bits incorporating western interpretations of Japanese technology, food, and tradition.
Favourite line: Wink - "Mr .Simpson we'll cut you down as soon as you answer one question about Japan". Homer - "Is the answer Japan?". Wink - "Actually, it is".
6. "Cape Feare" - Season 5, Episode 2 - Written by Jon Vitti, Directed by Rich Moore.
Sideshow Bob makes his return by sending letters to Bart, with "I'm going to kill you" written in blood. Bart descends into paranoia quickly after, suspecting that everyone is out to get him. Personally, I can listen to Kelsey Grammar as a maniacal killing machine all day. Sideshow Bob is granted parole, and due to police incompetence, the family has to relocate to "Terror Lake" out of fear for Bart's safety. This is Sideshow Bob's first official attempt at killing Bart, which is a staple in The Simpsons anthology. The Simpsons has a set of villains, from Mr. Burns to Snake, but none really play the "killer" until Sideshow Bob shows up. Bart foils Bob's plans once again by distracting Bob long enough for him to get caught. However, Kelsey Grammar/Bob delivers a wonderful rendition of "H.M.S. Pinafore". Fear is truly the name of the game here, and it's delivered in such a comical way. Luckily, this isn't the last time we encounter Sideshow Bob and his terrifying orchestral theme music.
Favourite line: Blue Haired Lawyer - "What about that tattoo on your chest, doesn't it say Die Bart Die". Sideshow Bob - "No that's German for "Thee Bart Thee". Judge - "No one who speaks German can be an evil man".
7. "Behind The Laughter" - Season 11, Episode 22 - Written by Tim Long, George Meyer, Mike Scully & Matt Selman, Directed by Mark Kirkland.
A fictional show called Behind the Laughter covers the story of the Simpsons family in a cable TV-style, mimicking a reality TV show. The episode highlights events from the previous 11 seasons. We get to see just how much the writers are willing to break the 4th wall in order to show their dominance as the most beloved cartoon on television (well, at least at the time). “Behind The Laughter” also demonstrates to us the casual complications of celebrity life, such as Lisa's tell-all book about the family and how it tore them up from the inside. This episode further develops the characters, allowing them to see what they’re like off set (even though this is technically non-cannon).
Favourite line: Homer - "Lets just say that fame was like a drug. But what was even more like a drug were the drugs."
8. "Deep Space Homer" - Season 5, Episode 15 - Written by David Mirkin, Directed by Carlos Baeza.
It's pretty common for Homer to feel inadequate at his job, but this time that inadequacy crosses the line from reasonable to ridiculous. Mr. Burns assigns the “worker of the week” award to an inanimate carbon rod, an award that only Homer has yet to win among all his co-workers. After an aggressive call to NASA, Homer & Barney find themselves training to become the "blue collar" astronauts, part of a plan to get the public into space launches. Of course, it becomes a complete disaster, and Homer still doesn't get the proper respect he deserves outside of his family. Still, this is easily one of the most memorable episodes to date. The surreal nature of an "anybody" going into space mixed in with the theme of wanting to be appreciated makes it less outlandish. For many, it’s an unforgettable television moment.
Favorite line: Homer - "Default? The Two sweet words in the English language! De-fault! De-fault! De-fault!"
9. "Maggie Makes 3" - Season 6, Episode 13 - Written by Jennifer Crittenden, Directed by Swinton O. Scott III.
When it comes to memorable episodes, many will quote this one for its emotional factor. The episode begins with Homer telling the tale of why there are no pictures of Maggie in the family photo book. As the story develops, we quickly learn of Maggie's unwanted welcome into the Simpsons lives. Homer is forced out of his dream job and a better life. The simultaneous regret and blessing that Homer feels after the arrival of Maggie shows us the importance and impact of the 3rd Simpson’s child. The writers truly went all out with this one, reminding us that this cartoon "sitcom" is much more than punch lines and quotable phrases. It’s a heartfelt script that will make you come back to the show year after year to relive those emotions.
Favourite line: Mr Burns - "I ought to be defending myself but I am paralyzed with rage and soothing island rhythms."
10. "Last Exit to Springfield" - Season 4, Episode 17 - Written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky, Directed by Mark Kirkland.
Union troubles are very much a common topic these days, with protests happening on a regular basis. This episode starts off with Mr. Burns attempting to take away his employees dental plans, right when Lisa needs corrective braces. The one-liners and quotable bits don't stop, and it's hilarious. Homer finds himself as head of the union in a struggle to retain their dental plan, and in traditional Simpsons style, the mishaps are back to back. It single-handedly holds on as the best Simpsons episode, in my opinion at least. To say more would be to ruin it for those who haven't watched it. I'm sure most fans would agree.
Favourite line: The entire episode.