After 500 plus episodes of The Simpsons, it would be impossible to nail down the five best and most definitive episodes of this show. However, since we firmly believe that no one can tell us what to do or put baby in a corner, we are trying it regardless. Several of us have picked our favorites and we present them to you now. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of our writers cannot count.)
Jason Dooley‘s Top Five Episodes of The Simpsons:
1. “Lisa the Iconoclast” (Season 7, Episode 16): Lisa’s my favorite character, and “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man” might be the best seven words in the history of television.
2. “MoneyBART” (Season 22, Episode 3): As a baseball fan and a math geek, it doesn’t get any better than Lisa’s experiments with sabermetrics.
3. “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace” (Season 10, Episode 2): For the chalkboard in Homer’s basement alone, this episode is a math and science nerd’s answer to pop culture heaven.
4. “Treehouse of Horror VI” (Season 5, Episode 5): The first “Treehouse,” with the crazy take on Poe’s “The Raven” is an obvious classic, but I love this one for the “Homer^3” segment, which features references to famous math problems like p/np and Fermat’s Last Theorem.
5. “The Springfield Files” (Season 8, Episode 10): Mulder and Scully in Springfield? Sign me up.
Kevin Hall‘s Top Five(ish) Episodes of The Simpson – given in chronological order:
1. The War of the Simpsons (Season 2, Episode 20): In what I consider the first truly classic moment from The Simpsons, Homer must choose between healing his marriage or catching a legendary fish. Marge rattling off the long list of Homer’s flaws is one of my favorite TV moments of all time.
2. Season 4: Look, in the battle for “Best Season in Sitcom History,” it comes down to the fourth seasons of *Seinfeld* and *The Simpsons*. There were far too many to include separately, and, honestly, if a TV show can provide this many classics in such a short amount of time, I have to honor it as a whole, although these individual episodes stand out:
- A Streetcar Named Marge (Season 4, Episode 2)
- New Kid on the Block (Season 4, Episode 8): the IMBD.com description of “Homer sues an all-you-can-eat buffet” is enough to get me laughing. The following exchange from the lawsuit between attorney Lionel Hutz and Marge Simpson elevates the laughter to tears:
Marge: Well, we pretty much went straight home.
Lionel Hutz: Mrs. Simpson, remember that you are under oath.
Marge: We drove around until 3 in the morning looking for another open
all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant.
Lionel Hutz: And when you couldn’t find one?
Marge: (crying) We … went … fishing.
Lionel Hutz: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do these sound like the actions of man who had ALL he could eat?
- Marge vs. the Monorail (Season 4, Episode 12)
- Mr. Plow (Season 4, Episode 9): This. Just this.
- I Love Lisa (Season 4, Episode 15)
- Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4, Episode 17)
- Whacking Day (Season 4, Episode 20)
3. Rosebud (Season 5, Episode 4): How a parody of *Citizen Kane* some 50 years after its debut manages to feel fresh is a testament to the genius writers on *The Simpsons*.
4. Bart vs. Australia (Season 6, Episode 16): I doubt this makes the “best of” list for most fans of *The Simpsons*, but this holds a special place in my heart because it led to my love of the show. While I had been familiar with Homer and his family, I had never really watched an episode until a geography professor at the University of Kentucky played this to teach us about the Coriolis effect. It’s worth noting that I remember absolutely nothing else about that class, but it remains an important piece of my college education. Also, “I see you’ve played knifey-spoony before.”
5. Girly Edition (Season 9, Episode 21): As a former newspaper editor, this take on broadcast news and mass media hits hilariously close to home. Add in Homer’s use of Mojo the helper monkey, and you have 22 of the funniest minutes to ever air on television.
Nathan Gifford‘s Top a-little-over 5 Episodes of The Simpsons – given in alphabetical order:
1. “22 Short Films About Springfield” (Season 7, Episode 21): There are several reasons that this episode is on my list. The interaction between Lou and Wiggum talking about the differences between McDonald’s and Krusty Burger is a well done parody of the burger talk from Pulp Fiction. (There is also another parody later in the episode that is done perfectly that involved Wiggum and Snake tied up in a basement.) There is also the Skinner/Chalmers bit. To this day, I will still refer to hamburger’s as ‘steamed hams.’ However, the biggest reason that this episode is in my Top 5 is the line from Chief Wiggum when he is carrying his doughnut’s across the street and sees Snake: “Doughnuts, I got doughnuts. I got….hey, I know you!”
2. “A Star is Burns.” (Season 6, Episode 18): Mr. Burns puts on a film festival. The fact that Jay Sherman from “The Critic” guests stars is the icing on the cake for this episode. While this particular episode has been a point of contentions for fans of the show and Matt Groening himself, the pompousness of the film festival is captured deftly. (Not to mention Senor Spielbergo being in it.)
3. “Homer The Heretic.” (Season 4, Episode 3): This is really the first episode that struck me as being about more than just a little comedy show. When Homer decides to not go to church anymore, he is seen as a pariah to some and hero to others. (Of course Flanders does not like it. Stupid Flanders.) The message of community is an important one. (Interesting note: All characters in The Simpsons, like most cartoons, are drawn with only four fingers. Deities are drawn with five though.)
4. “Lisa’s Rival”/”I Love Lisa” (Season 6, Episode 2/Season 4, Episode 15): I really cannot differentiate between which one I like better, plus Kevin got to list more than five so I will too. Each of these episodes are on the list because of Ralph. I have long said that of the two characters on this show, the ones that I can identify with the most are Ralph and Milhouse. Ralph shines here, mostly in “I Love Lisa” with the Valentines Cards, but also in “Lisa’s Rival” solely for the “I bent my Wookie” line.
5. “Radioactive Man” (Season 7, Episode 2): This episode was made before our recent glut of superhero based movies and should have served as a warning to the makers of Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, and Batman & Robin but did not.