The 10 best episodes of The Simpsons, ranked

The animated show is one of the most beloved TV series of all time

Louis Chilton,Patrick O'Donnell
Friday 20 March 2020 17:58
Comments
Guillermo del Toro creates couch gag for The Simpsons

Six hundred and seventy-two episodes. Thirty years. One family. The Simpsons has occupied the televisions screens of millions across the globe for three decades.

Since its initial appearance as a short on The Tracy Ullman Show in 1987, The Simpsons has accumulated billions of dollars through merchandise sales, video games, a hit movie and, of course, the 1990 hit single “Do the Bartman”. The show soon evolved into the one of most successful franchises of all time.

Cynicism would be easy in light of the show’s decline in quality and popularity, yet at its creative apex, the misadventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are unmatched even in today’s crowded animated comedy landscape. Peter Griffin and Hank Hill rode Homer’s coattails; with The Simpsons truly defining the trials, tribulations and quirks of American suburbia for a generation.

We may earn commission from some of the links in this article, but we never allow this to influence our content.

Now, with almost the entire back catalogue of Simpsons episodes available to stream on Disney+ in the UK, it will be easier than ever to get your fix.

Watch The Simpsons on Disney+, subscribe here for a free trial.​

Here is a ranking of the top ten Simpsons episodes.

10. You Only Move Twice – Season eight, episode two

Great Simpsons episodes are defined by their guest stars. This episode is no exception.

Homer is offered a job with the elusive Globex Corporation, resulting in the Simpsons moving to idyllic Cypress Creek. Albert Brooks plays Hank Scorpio, Homer’s affable new boss, a precursor to today’s faux friendly manager stereotype. Scorpio also happens to be a hammy villain worthy of Bond’s early rogues gallery.

Homer’s crisis of faith comes from his family’s failure to assimilate outside of Springfield rather than Scorpio’s dastardly deeds. POD

9. Brother From Another Series – Season eight, episode 16

Throughout The Simpsons’ golden years, the episodes featuring Kelsey Grammer as would-be homicidal clown sidekick Sideshow Bob were consistent high points.

“Cape Feare” and “Sideshow Bob Roberts” are also strong contenders for any best-of list, but the top prize has to go to “Brother from Another Series”, which inverted the usual Bart vs Bob formula and made a villain of Sideshow Bob’s brother Cecil, voiced by Grammer’s Frasier sibling David Hyde Pierce. LC

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

8. Marge vs The Monorail – Season four, episode 12

Springfield is a town that is easily duped.

In “Marge vs The Monorail”, con man Lyle Lanley (clue’s in the name) serenades the townspeople with promises of new jobs and an improved transport service with his monorail proposal. Contrary to her peers, Marge suspects Mr Lanley is not who he appears to be.

Lanley is voiced by the late Phil Hartman, voice of the beloved Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz. His monorail pitch to Springfield is one of the show’s best musical numbers. POD

7. Homie the Clown – Season six, episode 16

Krusty the Clown has always been one of The Simpsons’ strongest recurring characters, and Homie the Clown gives him the chance to shine. Here he’s at his most washed-up, and drowning in so much gambling debt to the mob that he opens up his own clown college to help pay it off.

Naturally, Homer signs up for the college after falling prey to a well-placed advertising billboard, and winds up trapped in a zany Mafioso plotline of mistaken identity and baggy clown pants. LC

6. Lisa vs Malibu Stacey – Season five, episode 14

Woke before woke existed, Lisa Simpson symbolises the liberal pariah in middle America. Ostracised for her activism and mocked for her sincerity, Lisa is the family’s social conscience.

Lisa takes aim at the sexist depiction of her favourite toy, Malibu Stacey, questioning the Barbie substitute’s effect on young girls. Rarely shy of social commentary, The Simpsons critiques the superficial and damaging consumerism endemic in America culture. POD

5. Mr Plow – Season four, episode nine

A typically impulsive decision to buy a plow truck turns into a fruitful business for Homer in this classic episode. But when rival barfly Barney Gumble sets up a rival “Plow King” service, the scheme starts to go disastrously wrong.

Mr Plow also features exquisite cameo appearances from country singer Linda Rondstadt and the late Adam West. LC

4. Homer the Smithers – Season seven, episode 17

Homer steps into the shoes of Mr Burns’ toadying assistant Waylon Smithers for this consistently hilarious episode. Chosen as a holiday replacement by Smithers because his irrepressible incompetence would disqualify him from taking over full time, Homer inadvertently causes his geriatric employer to discover new reserves of self-sufficience – rendering Smithers’ job redundant.

Burns and Smithers were a perennial highlight throughout the classic Simpsons years, and Homer the Smithers features a host of brilliant moments from each of them. LC

3. 22 Short Films About Springfield – Season seven, episode 21

The Simpsons’ supporting cast is the crème de la crème in television.

An homage to Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, this episode showcases a day in the life of Springfield’s zany residents in a series of interconnected vignettes. From Apu closing the Kwik-E-Mart for a five-minute party to Dr Nick proving himself as the town’s top quack, 22 Short Films About Springfield conveys why these characters resonate with audiences.

Forever immortalised in meme, this episode features the seminal ‘‘steamed hams’’ scene. Principal Skinner cooks and ruins a meal for Superintendent Chalmers, leading the disgraced educator to serve Krusty Burgers, which he attempts to pass off as ‘‘steamed hams’’. POD

2. Summer of 4 Ft. 2 – season seven, episode 25

One of the best Lisa-focused episodes in the series’ whole run, Summer of 4 Ft. 2 sees the bookish young Simpson successfully reinvent herself while on a family holiday to Ned Flanders’ beach house.

Despite being one of the season’s most moving, sentimental episodes, it also contains a host of top-shelf gags, including Homer’s “you got the dud” face, which found new life as an internet meme. LC

1. Last Exit to Springfield – Season four, episode 17

Whacky escapades aside, The Simpsons works best when depicting the reality of the average American family.

When Mr Burns challenges the plant’s trade union and revokes their proposed dental plan, Homer inadvertently ends up leading the strike so Lisa can get braces. Reflective of the cross many parents carry for their children, Last Exit to Springfield presents the show at its best. POD

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in