It’s the longest-running scripted comedy in America, and for some, it’s the greatest comedy series of all time. And now we’re counting down the very best of the best. These are the top ten best episodes of The Simpsons ranked. While many would say this series has overstayed its welcome, the fact is the show has to be doing something right to last for more than 30 seasons. Moreover, The Simpsons is the show that paved the way for adult animation as we know it. Without The Simpsons, we wouldn’t have shows like Family Guy or Bob’s Burgers, and we certainly wouldn’t have Futurama. Add to the fact that it’s the most streamed show on Disney Plus, and you have to acknowledge it is still a fan favorite.
Aside from all that, The Simpsons has some of the most impressive, relevant, and rewatchable episodes of any series that has ever existed. And we’re going to celebrate some of those episodes right now. Here are the ten best episodes of The Simpsons ranked from ten to one, one being the greatest.
10. Cape Feare (Season 5, Episode 2)
This episode is the third to feature the Sideshow Bob as the main villain, eager to kill Bart for twice foiling his schemes. It also features several plot points and shots directly inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, one of the iconic director’s best works.
Sideshow Bob trying to kill Bart is a frequent occurrence on The Simpsons. But this one stands out as a relevant tribute to a popular movie of the time and for its memorable gags, including a hilarious bit in which Bob is repeatedly injured by stepping on a surrounding circle of rakes that smack him in the face. And because Bart can outwit his enemy by appealing to his ego with an H.M.S. Pinafore performance, you also have to give this episode credit for showing us that Bart is more intelligent and clever than people think.
9. Deep Space Homer (Season 5, Episode 15)
Feeling as though he hasn’t done anything to respect or admiration, Homer enrolls in a program at NASA to send an average, blue-collared citizen into space. While he can only make it in by default, Homer ends up being crucial in saving the crew from a life-threatening situation, albeit one that he causes. This episode features one of the funniest segments of the series in which Homer clears up a mess of potato chips suspended in lack of gravity to the tune of Johann Strauss II’s waltz “The Blue Danube.” Its unforgettable jokes, its references to films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Right Stuff, and voice cameos from Buzz Aldrin and James Taylor make this one of the most beloved episodes of The Simpsons.
8. Homer at the Bat (Season 3, Episode 17)
Homer’s homemade bat makes him the star of the Nuclear Power Plant’s softball team, but his fame is short-lived when Mr. Burns brings in Major League Baseball players to win a million-dollar bet. These players include Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, and future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., and Ozzie Smith. However, when a series of ridiculous misfortunes and a bizarre call by Mr. Burns gets all the ringers removed from the big game, Homer is brought back in and makes the winning hit (delivered with his head).
The Simpsons has dabbled in the world of sports many times, but none has been quite as memorable and iconic as this episode. It’s so iconic that Homer Simpson has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a comedic documentary was released to commemorate the softball season. This one is a true classic.
7. Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish (Season 2, Episode 4)
In this episode, Mr. Burns comes under fire from the government when it’s revealed that his plant is causing animal mutations, specifically a three-eyed fish. To get power in his favor, he chooses to run for governor himself, which causes a divide in the Simpson household. The episode is an excellent take on Citizen Kane, which is often referenced in the series with Mr. Burns in the place of the power-hungry tycoon. It’s a great exploration of the political process, and it touches on issues that remain relevant to this day.
6. Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Season 6 Episode 25 and Season 7 Episode 1)
In this episode, Mr. Burns’ villainy goes to a series of extremes, including stealing oil from the school and blocking out the sun to make his plant Springfield’s only power source. He angers many people and wrecks a few lives in this process, so when he gets shot, everyone in town is a suspect. Viewers spent the summer wondering who the mysterious shooter was, and the show even got John Walsh to host a Springfield’s Most Wanted special to investigate the clues. The writers did a great job keeping people in suspense, and very few people would have guessed that an accidental shot from one-year-old Maggie Simpson was the answer to the mystery (spoiler for those living under a rock for the last two and a half decades).
5. Mr. Plow (Season 4, Episode 9)
Homer crashes his car in a blizzard, and he makes the seemingly crazy decision to buy a snowplow. But that crazy choice ends up paying off when he starts his own business as Mr. Plow and becomes a town hero. However, when Barney Gumble decides to start a competing business as the Plow King, a jealous Homer puts his best friend in a dangerous situation he has to rescue him from. Dan Castellaneta won his second Emmy for voicing Homer and Barney, and former Batman Adam West got his career revived through a cameo. The Mr. Plow jingle is an ear-worm you won’t be able to get out of your head, and Linda Ronstadt’s jingle for the Plow King is another memorable song. This is easily one of the best Homer-centric episodes, and that is saying a lot.
4. You Only Move Twice (Season 8, Episode 2)
Homer is offered a new job in the planned community of Cyprus Creek, moving the family away from Springfield. Homer is instantly happy with a job where his boss, Hank Scorpio, treats him like a valued team member. However, the family suffers numerous grievances making them hate the town. Bart is placed in a remedial class, Lisa is allergic to everything in the area, and Marge feels useless in a self-cleaning home. Also, Homer is completely unaware that his boss is a supervillain. The family’s grievances are portrayed in hilarious ways. The references to the James Bond series are done beautifully. And Albert Brooks gives great vocal work to Scorpio, one of the best one-time characters in the show’s history. This is easily one of the best episodes of The Simpsons.
3. Marge vs. the Monorail (Season 4, Episode 12)
When the town acquires $3 million from Mr. Burns due to environmental violations from the plant, Marge tries to convince the town to use the money to repair Main Street. However, con artist Lyle Lanley convinces the town to give him the money to build a monorail, which makes so much sense in a tiny town. The most unqualified man is chosen to be the conductor, to make matters worse. Yep. You guessed it. Homer. And as if that’s not bad enough, Marge’s investigations reveal that Lanley’s history of monorail-building has destroyed at least one town. And once the Springfield monorail sets off on its first voyage, dangerous chaos ensues.
This is one of the most acclaimed episodes of The Simpsons for how it perfectly portrays the absurdity of the people of Springfield. The “Monorail” song is one of the most unforgettable songs from the series, Leonard Nimoy’s guest appearance is beyond entertaining, and the episode is full of some of the most quoted jokes from The Simpsons. For example, Marge opens a monorail compartment to find a family of possums, to which Homer replies, “I call the big one Bitey.” Nearly 30 years later, that one does not get old.
2. The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show (Season 8, Episode 14)
When Krusty the Clown’s ratings drop due to Itchy & Scratchy’s drop in popularity, the showrunners decide to introduce a new character, Poochie the Dog, who Homer wins the opportunity to voice. The new character generates excitement but is panned as a one-dimensional and gimmicky disappointment upon his TV premiere. This leads to a decision to kill the character off, much to Homer’s grievance.
This is one of the best episodes of The Simpsons due to its hilarious mocking of the TV industry in general. But it’s even better as it’s The Simpsons making fun of itself. Like the fictional show Itchy & Scratchy, the show has been on the air for years. It consistently has to fight to stay relevant while dealing with pesky creative interference by network representatives. It’s a little sad that the episode reigned too true, given the decline in quality The Simpsons has undergone for the same reasons the episode is touching on. But while we may complain, Bart gives a perfect speech to Comic Book Guy in this episode that should probably give us cause to put a sock in it.
1. Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4, Episode 17)
Fed up with union demands, Mr. Burns takes away the plant employee’s dental plan, just in time for Lisa to need braces. This drives Homer to speak up against Mr. Burns, which leads to the union making them their new president. You know the whole thing about The Simpsons struggling to stay relevant? This episode remains relevant after 29 years, touching on workers’ rights and the greediness of corporations. But politics aside, the show is also filled with memorable jokes and relevant pop culture references, such as Lisa’s reaction to her grotesque braces directly based on the Joker’s reaction to his face in 1989’s Batman. This episode is funny, rewatchable, and culturally important. These traits easily make this the best episode of The Simpsons.
Say what you want about the series now, but ranking the ten best episodes of The Simpsons is quite a challenge, with several other episodes being candidates for this list. Do you think that there were other episodes of The Simpsons that should have been included? Let us know on The Nerd Stash Facebook page and @TheNerdStash on Twitter.