The Simpson family

Our 56 Favorite “The Simpsons” Episodes

With the help of my friend, Lauren, we chose are favorite “The Simpsons” episodes

The Simpsons — among the few shows that is heralded as the greatest show ever — is nearing 700 total episodes and 32 years on television.

That’s insane. For years, the show was hard to stream fully. Within the last five years, Simpsonsworld — thanks to a rights deal with FX — made it possible for anyone with an FX subscription to watch The Simpsons’ entire run. Within the past year, that changed as Disney bought FOX (the channel the show airs on) and launched Disney+, a streaming service for all of Disney’s properties.

Now, The Simpsons is the easiest its ever been to stream. For superfans of the show, like my friend Lauren and myself, the days of quarantine and stay-at-home orders have made us utilize Disney+ as much as possible. The Simpsons is an amazing distraction to the utter depressing news cycle we hear every day.

Where to begin? You could start at Season 1, Episode 1. Or, you can follow this guide. Lauren and I pooled together our 30 favorite episodes (for the 30 complete seasons that have aired) and combined our lists to make a giant, fantastic Simpsons playlist.

Follow this guide and, by the end, you will be going back and watching every single episode.

NOTE: There are 56 total episodes, as we had 4 of the same episodes in our list. They are marked with **. Also, we noted our top 5 episodes in the quick, episode write-ups.

Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington — Season 3, Episode 2

Lisa wins an essay contest, winning her a trip to Washington D.C. Her faith in government is tested when witnessing a congressman accept a bribe, but ultimately (when the congressman is jailed) sees the good and power in government.

While packed with laughs, this is an episode that cuts at something more real — the ins and outs of politics and its effects on the average person — than the usual cartoon humor we see on the show. Anytime The Simpsons deals with real places — as opposed to the made-up Springfield in which the show takes place — is always a welcome adventure.

The episode title is a reference to the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Bart the Murderer — Season 3, Episode 4

When Bart has a bad day at school, he stumbles upon a mafia bar and becomes a favorite for mafia boss Fat Tony. When Principal Skinner goes missing, Bart is blamed for his murder.

An early example of how the show mixed in greatness: great voice-acting from Nancy Cartwright (Bart), a script by John Swartzwelder (one of the most prolific Simpsons writers) and guest appearances from Phil Hartman — who plays Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz.

A Streetcar Named Marge — Season 4, Episode 2

Marge gets the role of Blanche DuBois at a community theater’s rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire, which acts as a metaphor for Marge and Homer’s marital strife.

You can’t go wrong: a great guest performance from Jon Lovitz, a controversial song about New Orleans and one of creator Matt Groening’s favorite episodes.

New Kid on the Block — Season 4, Episode 8

Bart falls in love with his new neighbor, Laura (voiced by Sara Gilbert).

Written by Conan O’Brien, this episode is notable because I, too, had a crush on Sara Gilbert. I can relate, Bart. It is fun to see Bart shy away from his normal confidant and brash self and become much more like a pre-teen kid. Also, a peak Moe Szyslak episode.

Marge vs. the Monorail — Season 4, Episode 12**

A monorail comes to Springfield and ushers in one of the all-time great episodes of television. Also written by Conan O’Brien, this episode features singing, dancing, and Leonard Nimoy.

At the time, this episode was not the major favorite it is today. This episode is constantly in top Simpsons lists throughout the internet.

This is in Lauren’s top 5

Homer’s Barbershop Quartet — Season 5, Episode 1

A trip down memory lane, as Homer reminisces about his time as a member of the barbershop quartet group The Be Sharps. The episode features fun musical numbers, some cool Beatles references, and George Harrison as himself (the first Beatle to make an appearance on the show).

Underrated joke: Quimby’s “Ich bin ein Springfield Swap Meet Patron” quote which poked fun at John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Cape Feare — Season 5, Episode 2

We are about to see a lot of seasons 5–9, so be prepared.

“Cape Feare” is a parody of the movie Cape Fear and follows Slideshow Bob’s plot to kill Bart after being released from jail. (Bart was the one who put him there in the first place.) The episode features great gags that callback horror films from the campy to the classic.

For instance: Slideshow Bob stays at the Bates Motel (Psycho) and Homer wears Jason’s hockey mask (Friday the 13th).

Home Goes to College — Season 5, Episode 3

Another Conan episode!

Homer returns to college to study nuclear physics — which is useful for someone who works at a nuclear power plant. The episode features great callbacks of classic comedies such as Animal House and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This was also Conan’s last solo writing credit for the show, as he got the Late Night gig mid-way through this season.

Also, neeeeeeerd.

Treehouse of Horror IV — Season 5, Episode 5

The Simpsons Halloween episodes are easy choices. They are full of gags, jokes, parodies, and callbacks. Pop culture junkies must watch the Halloween episodes. Each episode is usually cut up into three smaller stories that have nothing to do with one another. All the more fun!

That said, the fourth iteration of their Halloween special is among its best. The segments include Homer selling his soul to the Devil for a donut, Bart seeing a demon on a bus, and a re-telling of Dracula.

Marge on the Lam — Season 5, Episode 6

The Boy Who Knew Too Much — Season 5, Episode 20

Bart of Darkness — Season 6, Episode 1

When a heatwave grips Springfield, Bart ends up breaking his leg while diving into a pool. From there, the episode dives into one of the series most adored parodies: Rear Window.

Though the series has grown richer in its visual humor as the animation has grown more sophisticated, “Bart of Darkness” is a prime example of the show using its enhanced ability for visual gags.

Treehouse of Horror V — Season 6, Episode 6

Again, an easy choice. There was an effort to limit the Halloween episodes, but this had to be on the list.

The segments include the Simpsons staying at a hotel much like the Overlook in The Shining, Homer time traveling and Maggie talking, and the local elementary school eating kids for lunch! Each segment features a prime Groundskeeper Willie gag, and also Alex’s favorite visual joke of the series.

This is in Alex’s top 5.

Bart’s Girlfriend — Season 6, Episode 7

Bart falls in love, again. But, this time it is with Reverend Lovejoy’s daughter Jessica — voiced by Meryl Streep. Bart soon realizes there is more to meets the eye with the lovely Jessica. (I miss the crush on Laura).

Streep is often cited as a top guest appearance on the show. Does that surprise anyone?

Homer Badman — Season 6, Episode 9

After attending a candy convention, Homer drives the babysitter home. It's during that trip that he is accused of sexual assault by the babysitter. Though, a videotape proves Homer’s innocence.

A peak Dan Castellaneta performance as Homer Simpson, this episode is often among the show’s best episodes in fan polls. Also, a great Dennis Frantz guest appearance!

This is in Lauren’s top 5

Homer the Great — Season 6, Episode 12**

Homer joins the secret society known as the Stonecutters.

This is an all-time classic episode and was picked both by Lauren and myself. Written by the great John Swartzwelder, this episode is packed full of jokes and great visual humor.

Plus, “We Do”.

This is in Alex’s top 5.

Lisa’s Wedding — Season 6, Episode 19**

Another episode chosen by both of us, this sees the Simpsons of the future — where Lisa is engaged to a charming British man named Hugh Parkfield (Mandy Patinkin). It is also nice to see the Simpsons out of their usual element, and going to the future (thanks to Lisa visiting a fortune teller) makes for a fun adventure.

Two Dozen and One Greyhounds — Season 6, Episode 20

Sign humor is a Simpsons trademark, and this episode delivers.

Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily — Season 7, Episode 3

King-Size Homer — Season 7, Episode 7

Homer decides to get workman’s comp by becoming overweight and an iconic iteration of Homer Simpson is born. Filled with witty dialogue, cartoony gags, and tons of heart, this episode is among most critics’ favorite episodes.

Scenes From the Class Struggle in Springfield — Season 7, Episode 14

A Fish Called Selma — Season 7, Episode 19

This episode features perhaps the greatest parody song of all time!?!?!

Homerpalooza — Season 7, Episode 24

The most 90s Simpsons episode?

The Simpsons and the world of music festivals collide when Homer joins one as a side act and becomes in love with the lifestyle. Featuring guest appearances from The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, and Peter Frampton — the episode is full of great pop-culture references of the era.

And perhaps a top 10 gif?

You Only Move Twice — Season 8, Episode 2

A Milhouse Divided — Season 8, Episode 6

The episode deals with Milhouse’s parents getting a divorce. One of the few times where the subject matter is filled with deep insight into the characters.

This is in Lauren’s top 5.

Lisa‘s Date with Density — Season 8, Episode 7

Lisa goes on a date with the school bully Nelson. People are not who they seem — or are they?

El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer) — Season 8, Episode 9

The most visually stunning and greatest guest star performance the show has ever had. I’ll leave it at that.

This is in Alex’s top 5.

The Springfield Files — Season 8, Episode 10

The two defying shows for FOX in the 1990s were The Simpsons and The X-Files. In “The Springfield Files”, those worlds collide. The town of Springfield thinks it is being visited by aliens, so the FBI (Mulder and Scully!!) come to investigate.

Perhaps one of the best Groundskeeper Willie moments in the entire show.

This is in Alex’s top 5.

Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious — Season 8, Episode 13

Homer’s Phobia — Season 8, Episode 15

Homer befriends a gay man and believes he’s the coolest man alive. A great guest appearance from John Waters.

Homer vs the 18th Amendment — Season 8, Episode 18**

Another episode we both picked in our top 30, Springfield sees the banishment of alcohol. To do so, the new chief of police Rex Banner lays down the law like it is 1920.

Grade School Confidential — Season 8, Episode 19

This episode is in Lauren’s top 5

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson — Season 9, Episode 1

Treehouse of Horror VIII — Season 9, Episode 4

The first two were my picks. This was on Lauren’s list. This is it for the Halloween episodes, we promise.

The stories include Homer becoming the Omega Man, Homer transforming into a fly, and a take on the Salem Witch Trials. There is nothing better than The Simpsons parodying history. (Note: the opening segment where a “Fox Censor” was stabbed to death had trouble getting past the real-life censors at FOX. Who knew!?)

The Cartridge Family — Season 9, Episode 6

An episode about gun control. As timely as ever, sadly.

The episode has Homer buying a gun, though against the wishes of Marge. The episode was intended to showcase gun ownership in a neutral way, but many have pointed to this episode as The Simpsons getting political.

This episode is in Lauren’s top 5

Lisa the Skeptic — Season 9, Episode 8

The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace — Season 10, Episode 2

Homer, in the middle of a mid-life crisis, decides he wants to become an inventor. Inspired by Thomas Edison, he begins inventing and finding purpose in his life.

A fun Homer episode, there are great history and pop-culture nuggets plugged throughout the episode. Plus, William Daniels (Feeney!) makes an appearance.

When You Dish Upon a Star — Season 10, Episode 5

Mayored to the Mob — Season 10, Episode 9

The episode features a great character design on Homer, as Homer becomes Mayor Quimby’s bodyguard.

The Computer Wore Menace Shoes — Season 12, Episode 6

I’m Goin’ to Praiseland — Season 12, Episode 19

With the right mix of comedy and heart, “I’m Going to Praiseland” features Ned Flanders dealing with the loss of his wife, Maude. How? He builds a Christan-themed amusement park.

The Homer-Ned relationship has changed from a simple neighbor relationship to a friendship — perhaps loosely defined. But, again, this is an example of the show flexing its more human emotions despite being a cartoon.

Children of Lesser Clod — Season 12, Episode 20

Homer is “like Mike”?

Jaws Wired Shut — Season 13, Episode 9

Tales From the Public Domain — Season 13, Episode 14

More pop culture parodies! Yay!

This episode features the Simponized re-tellings of the Odyssey, Joan of Arc, and Hamlet.

A Star is Born Again — Season 14, Episode 13

My Mother the Carjacker — Season 15, Episode 2

Helter Shelter — Season 15, Episode 5

Diatribe of a Mad Housewife — Season 15, Episode 10

I am a sucker for a Marge story. She is an interesting character — someone full of love, support, and independence. This episode deals with her wanting to write a romance novel, even though Home grows jealous.

The episode has fun, new settings as the audiences sees into the mind of Marge when she narrates her story.

Margical History Tour — Season 15, Episode 11

Anytime The Simpsons do straight-up parodies and re-imagining of history, I am totally into the episode. No episode does it better than “Margical History Tour”, where Marge tells the kids three stories of history: Henry VIII; Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea; Mozart and Salieri.

This is in Alex’s top 5.

Sleeping with the Enemy — Season 16, Episode 3

Marge’s Son Poisoning — Season 17, Episode 5

Bart becomes a “momma’s boy”, despite being teased at school.

Again, anytime the show can join together two characters who do not normally have episodes about each other is a plus. Plus, when they can marry the right amount of humor and heart, the episodes are always a winner.

My Fair Laddy — Season 17, Episode 12

A Groundskeeper Willie episode? You can’t turn away.

Dial “N” for Nerder — Season 19, Episode 14

Lisa the Drama Queen — Season 20, Episode 9

Moonshine River — Season 24, Episode 1

The Simpsons visit New York City, again, when Bart realizes all his love interests from previous seasons are there. The episode features mega star-power: Ken Burns, Zooey Deschanel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Al Roker, among others.

A fan of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the episode parodies the movie (the title is from the film’s most well-known song “Moon River”) with some great visuals.

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Just a guy who likes telling great stories, however and whenever I can. Click the Twitter icon to follow or e-mail me at ambauer93@gmail.com

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Alex Bauer

Alex Bauer

Just a guy who likes telling great stories, however and whenever I can. Click the Twitter icon to follow or e-mail me at ambauer93@gmail.com

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