Whether you like “The Simpsons” or not, this show has definitely left a footprint on our pop culture. I n certain ways, we can recall the most memorable jokes, stories, and overall hilarity featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and all the residents of Springfield even if one has only seen a few episodes.
With “The Simpsons” having reached their 500th episode, it seems like a good time for this mega-fan to review the series. Although I could go on and on about my favorite episodes, I’ve chose to narrow down my list by focusing on each family member, original stories, Halloween specials, and Springfield itself along with honorable (or d’ohonorable) mentions.
Favorite Homer Episode:
Among all the Homer episodes, the ones that stand out to me are when Homer leaves the Springfield Nuclear Plant to get a new job, and his career as a snow plow driver tops the l ist. N ot o nly d oes t his s tory highlight Homer’s idiocy (buying a snow plow at a car show when he was supposed to get something for Marge), but it demonstrates his spontaneity to just do whatever he wants regardless of consequences.
Looking back, it’s hard not to remember this episode without hearing Homer’s jingle (“Call, Mr. Plow…”) play i n y our head. Additionally, this episode offered a comedic look at business competition between Homer and Barney, the Plow King, as they hilariously try to stay on top. D’ohonorable Episodes: “Homer Goes to College” and “The Trouble with Trillions.”
Favorite Marge Episode:
“Marge in Chains”
In a family like the Simpsons, we have an idea of who everyone is but don’t truly understand their role until they leave. This is what happened to Marge when she forgets to pay for a bottle of bourbon at the Kwik- E-Mart and goes t o j ail. Without Marge, Homer and the kids realize how much she did for them from simple things like cooking dinner to dealing with odd problems like an alligator in the toilet.
More so, with Marge out of the picture, we saw how much she means to the community as a lack of her marshmallow squares leads to chaos.
I’ve always seen Marge as the glue keeping this family together through thick and thin and this episode just proves my case. Plus, this is a situation everyone has experienced before, giving us a new outlook on our families in the end.
D’ohonorable Episodes: “Brush with Greatness,” and “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.”
Favorite Bart Episode:
“Marge Be Not Proud”
Usually, our first thoughts of Bart are of a troublemaker. However, this episode shows that isn’t always the case as he grasps the difference between right and wrong and builds a conscience after trying to steal a video game. Sure, Bart has played pranks and drove his parents and teachers crazy, but here we see a different side to Bart as he grows up and learns the consequences of his actions from the store security guard to his mother. It’s a big change for him.
The episode also developed Bart and Marge’s mother-son relationship as he experiences regret for his actions and, Marge wonders about what happened to her baby. It shows parents dealing with their kids growing up as well as kids learning from their mistakes.
While this episode still shows a wily Bart, we also get a sense of the good kid he can be.
D’ohonorable Episodes: “Three Men and a Comic Book” and “Lost Verizon.”
Favorite Lisa Episode:
Lisa continues to be the strong independent thinker of the Simpsons. She’s always searching for her identity and this early “Simpsons” episode approached that well. T he story featured a depressed Lisa looking for her niche in life and finds it in the Blues with mentoring from saxophonist Bleeding Gums Murphy.
It’s sometimes hard to express one’s inner feelings at a young age yet the show did well to try to encapsulate this dilemma as Lisa sings a bluesy tune about her problems at home to Bleeding Gums. (Plus, this is where Lisa’s love of jazz and the blues came into the spotlight).
Overall, Marge’s message to her that you should be yourself and not listen to what everyone says to do was nicely presented and is still a motivation to Lisa as she chooses to do things she believes in. D’ohonorable Episodes: “Lisa the Vegetarian” and “She of Little Faith.”
Favorite Maggie Episode:
“And Maggie Makes Three”
Since Maggie doesn’t speak much, there aren’t many episodes with her as the star and she is mostly featured in side stories but one that stands out is the story about Marge’s pregnancy with Maggie and Maggie’s birth.
While she doesn’t appear until the end, it’s about the events surrounding the arrival of this soon-to-be Simpson. Though this new child means Homer has to leave his dream job at the bowling alley for the power plant, it also shows how much joy a baby can bring to one’s world.
One stand out moment is when we discover that while the family albums don’t have many pictures of Maggie, Homer has brought plenty to keep him happy at work. T his installment shows what life was like before Maggie and how much this family wouldn’t feel complete without her.
D’ohonorable Episode Mentions: “A Street Car Named Marge” and “Four Great Women and a Manicure.”
Favorite Original Story: “Simpsons Roasting Over an Open Fire”
This was the episode that began the series record setting run. T his introduction to the Simpsons was terrific, giving viewers a look at their dysfunctional aspects as well as love that binds t hem. Within t his first tale, we fully understood who each family member was: the idiotic-yet loving Homer, the caring Marge, the outspoken Lisa, the troublesome Bart and the silent Maggie.
From Homer dressing as Santa to raise money for his family to Bart getting a tattoo saying “mother” but only getting as far as “moth,” it is clear to see now that these wild antics were only an appetizer for the next two decades.
Even today, by the end of the show when the dog Santa’s Little Helper enters the family, it genuinely feels like this family had always been a welcomed guest on America’s TV’s.
D’ohonorable Episodes: “Trilogy of Error” and “How the Test Was Won”
Favorite Treehouse of Horror:
“Treehouse of Horror V”
“The Simpsons” annual Halloween specials are always a treat, but the fifth installment stands out for the best spoofs and wildest adventures. The best of the three tales is “Time and Punishment,” where Homer accidentally creates a time machine after fixing the toaster.
While the various worlds he visits are all hilariously frightening, the spotlight is when Homer first goes back and recalls advice about time traveling that his father gave him before his wedding.
The other stories that succeeded were a fantastic spoof of The Shining called “The Shinning” and “Nightmare Cafeteria,” where the Springfield Elementary faculty becomes cannibals.
D’ohonorable Episodes: “Treehouse of Horror” (featuring spoofs of “The Raven” and Amityville Horror) and “Treehouse of Horror XX” (featuring spoofs of 28 Days Later and Sweeney Todd).
Favorite Springfield Tale:
“22 Short Films About Springfield”
While the Simpsons are Springfield’s most famous residents, it’s easy to forget that there are more residents in this town. I love this episode because it allowed these various characters to be showcased in shorts or quick stories and made me really appreciate this community.
Some of the best moments included Principal Seymour Skinner hosting a nerve-racking dinner for Superintendent Chalmers, Nelson getting humiliated, and a Pulp Fiction s poof w ith C hief W iggum, Snake and military expert Herman.
This episode offered a round viewpoint of the people in Springfield and the lives they lead that the viewer hadn’t previously seen.
D’ohonorable Episodes: “A Star is Burns” and “Who Shot Mr. Burns: Parts 1 and 2.”
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