Best Simpsons episode?
December 14, 2005 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Please help me identify the apotheosis of Simpsons episodes.

I seek the funniest, most zeitgeist-reflective episode of the Simpsons. Help me Metafilter!
posted by killdevil to Media & Arts (80 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The medical marijuana episode.
apotheosis (great word) the scene, Homer's smoking buddy sees Marge, and tells Homer "your mom is so hot!"
posted by hortense at 5:33 PM on December 14, 2005

Given the show's 16-years-and-counting run, the "zeit" has changed, and the "geist" along with it.

I'm going to vote for Bart the Fink (wherein Bart gets Krusty in trouble with the IRS after exposing Krusty's "secret, illegal" bank accounts) and You Only Move Twice (wherein Homer and family move to a new town so Homer can work for industrialist/philanthropist/super-villain Hank Scorpio) as the most persistently funny episodes and those whose humour and references haven't become really dated (yet, at least).

I love almost all episodes between season 3 and season 9 of the show, so I'm sure I'll think of more soon as well.
posted by chudmonkey at 5:36 PM on December 14, 2005

Also, can you tell us why you're asking or share you own thoughts as well?
posted by chudmonkey at 5:38 PM on December 14, 2005

The Guatemalan Insanity Pepper episode (3F24 "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer") is legendary; I think the crayon-in-Homer's-brain episode (BABF22 "HOMR") rivals it. "Treehouse of Horror XI" is also laugh-packed.
posted by nicwolff at 5:40 PM on December 14, 2005

"You only move twice" is a good one.

Lisa the Treehugger and Homer to the Max also.

There are so many..
posted by fire&wings at 5:40 PM on December 14, 2005

For me, it's season four's Last Exit to Springfield, where Homer leads the plant workers to strike over their dental plan.

You Only Move Twice is a close, close second.
posted by ewagoner at 5:41 PM on December 14, 2005

Homer gains weight to qualify as an at-home worker, messes up almost destroying the plant, his body ends up plugging a large valve, Bart says something like: "and I find it ironic that for once, Dad's butt prevents the release of noxious gas"
posted by scheptech at 5:43 PM on December 14, 2005

The one where the Flanders take care of Bart and Lisa and attempt to baptize them (aka "Home Sweet Homediddily-Dum-Doodily") (more here).

Two reasons... first, "saxomaphone" (funny on so many levels)

second, it was from Season 7, which I think was the last "good" season (IMO).
posted by starman at 5:44 PM on December 14, 2005

Off the top of my head, You Only Move Twice and Marge .vs. The Monorail. Never a missed beat. Those two are like nonstop hammers of comedy trained expertly on your brain.
posted by zerolives at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2005

Deep Space Homer.
posted by corpse at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2005

Last Exit to Springfield is great...

My personal favorite is Marge vs. the Monorail, a brilliant commentary on misguided public works projects, penned by Mr. O'Brien.
On preview: D'oh!
posted by Brian James at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2005

I could do this ALLLLLL night, but Bart the Murderer (wherein Bart becomes errand-boy and subsequent scapegoat for Fat Tony and his gang) is also a very reflective episode, in terms of its exploration of the glamour of crime and ethics. Fat Tony's metaphor about stealing bread to feed your family as explanation for his stealing of cigarettes for resale is classic!
posted by chudmonkey at 5:48 PM on December 14, 2005

Cape Feare. 9F22. No question.
posted by Triode at 5:52 PM on December 14, 2005

The gay steel mill episode (Homer Phobia).

"Hot thtuff, coming through!"
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:56 PM on December 14, 2005

Damn you, Dipsomaniac, and your speed-posting skills.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2005

My pick is New Kid on the Block, in which Bart develops a crush on new neighbor & Homer sues the Fryin' Dutchman (all you can eat seafood restaurant).

It includes the Jimbo "good lookin rebel who plays by his own rules" bit, as well as all the Sea Captain you could ever want, and two of my all-time favorite Lionel Hutz lines:

Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film, 'The Never-Ending Story'.
I don't use the word hero very often, but you are the greatest hero in American history.

But the true apotheosis of Simpsonia imo is the court scene, in which the interrogation of Marge is a masterstroke. It includes this gem:

Isn't it true that your husband consumed a ten-pound bag of flour when no other food was available?

This is my favorite episode because the funny keeps coming at you, usually tumbling over itself before you can even wind down from laughing at the previous funny.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:03 PM on December 14, 2005

A hearty 2nd for New Kid on the Block and shame on me for not mentioning an episode featuring Phil Hartman yet. He brought so much to The Simpsons, and totelevision during the '90s in general.
posted by chudmonkey at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2005

Homer Bad Man! (the sexual harassment one...with the gummy venus de milo...that alone is genius.)

Treehouse of Horror V is my favorite halloween episode.

Another vote for monorail.

And the one where Lisa goes vegetarian.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 6:09 PM on December 14, 2005

In my experience, the episode everyone remembers was the monorail story. There are some episodes of sitcoms that everyone seems to remember more than others -- like the parking garage episode of Seinfeld, or the episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Chuckles the clown dies -- and for The Simpsons, I think it's the monorail episode.

But I haven't watched The Simpsons in at least five years, so that's an outsider's view.
posted by cribcage at 6:15 PM on December 14, 2005

Selma's Choice, for the one line that never, ever, ever fails to send me into choking paroxysms of laughter:

posted by Gator at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2005

I'm pretty fond of Selma's Choice though I'd have trouble arguing against any of the others mentioned. In fact, I think I need to start watching more Simpson's again.
posted by Good Brain at 6:21 PM on December 14, 2005

zeitgeist-reflective? The one where Homer uses the internet and makes a website.
posted by easternblot at 6:22 PM on December 14, 2005

Gotta second Deep Space Homer. The Vulcan mating ritual seals it for me. I would also accept the Treehouse of Horror with Maggie saying "This is truly a disturbing universe" in James Earl Jones' voice. Also seconding starman's disapointment with later seasons, and qualifying my $0.02 by admitting by unfamiliarity with seasons 8+.
posted by Eothele at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2005

Homer vs. NY is beautiful, beautiful.
posted by Scoo at 6:32 PM on December 14, 2005

easternblot: the episode you mention actually only uses the internet as the means to the main plot. The theme of that episode is journalistic integrity. Combining the fact that journalistic integrity isn't really a hot-button social issue and the fact that the episode ends with a bizarre homage to the TV series The Prisoner, the episode actually seems more a departure from the zeitgeist than inline with it.
posted by chudmonkey at 6:36 PM on December 14, 2005

And the one where Lisa goes vegetarian.

"I'm a level 5 vegan. I won't eat anything that casts a shadow."

posted by PurplePorpoise at 6:36 PM on December 14, 2005

Homerpalooza. It contains so many great lines, like "I used to be with it, but they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it and what it is is weird and scary to me."
posted by jrossi4r at 6:49 PM on December 14, 2005

The one where Marge becomes a cop.

The one with the gummi Venus de Milo.

(Sorry, didn't mean to write those in the form of Friends episode titles.)
posted by etc. at 6:53 PM on December 14, 2005

I'm afraid I don't know the name of the episode, but one if my favorites entails Homer and Bart on a father/son rafting trip. While they're getting the rafts ready, the pirate says:

"Tis a fine vessel!"

At which point the thing sinks . . .

"Arrrr . . . . I don't know what I'm doin'."

It kills me every time. I've always found it a perfect encapsulation of the general state of the world.
posted by aladfar at 6:56 PM on December 14, 2005

I'll add Sideshow Bob Roberts (wherein a consortium of republican baddies chooses Sideshow Bob as their mayoral candidate in opposition of incumbant Joe Quimby) to the mix, as it's one of the first episodes to address the political/electoral system, and arguably the best. When Sideshow Bob's own campaign ads blast Quimby for being too soft on criminals, including "two-time attempted murderer Sideshow Bob", the commentary on poltical opportunism is rich and thick.
posted by chudmonkey at 7:01 PM on December 14, 2005

And the one where Lisa goes vegetarian.

"You won't eat our meat but you'll gluuuuuue with our feet!

That was an awesome episode.
posted by whatzit at 7:28 PM on December 14, 2005

All this demonstrates perfectly what I've been saying for years: stop watching the Simpsons NOW and just relive Seasons 3 and 4 over and over -- absolute perfection. I can't bear to watch current episodes, haven't been able to for at least 5 years -- and before that I was just tying to hang in there.

"It's just a little airborne, it's still good, it's still good!"

"Lisa needs braces. Dental plan. Lisa needs braces. Dental plan."

"Can't talk. Coming down."

"Give me 700 Krusty Burgers!"

"Y-E-S. Y-E-S. Y . . . . Hey Mrs. Doesn't Find Me Attractive Anymore, I just improved my productivity 300%!"

"Ingredients: salt, artificial honey roasting agents, pressed peanut sweepings"

My ability to correlate any life experience with a Simpsons scene is very annoying to those around me. Partially because I keep backing up further in the episode so that I can tediously set the scene up ...

Ah, Metafilter, eases the pain ...
posted by intermod at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2005

Nobody's mentioned "Trilogy of Error" yet? How can you all despise poor Linguo so?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:00 PM on December 14, 2005

I love:
"Boy Scoutz N the Hood" ("Floor pie!", the all syrup squishy, "Money can be exchanged for goods an services.")
"In Marge We Trust" (Fishbulb!, "They could start slacking any minute!")
posted by Alison at 8:05 PM on December 14, 2005

Missionary: Impossible.

Homer: Well, if you'll excuse me, I've got some civilization to spread like butter on the English muffin that is these people, with all their little nooks and crannies ...

Bart: Dad, are you licking toads?

Homer: I'm not *not* licking toads.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:06 PM on December 14, 2005

Selma's Choice is wall-to-wall goodness. As my mother puts it, it was back before you could even hope to describe a Simpsons episode as "the one about the ----." It has Duff Gardens, with the seven Duffs; the old sandwich that nearly kills Homer; Selma's video dating tape in which she ties a cigarette into a knot with her tongue; and on and on.

After that, the union episode and Sideshow Bob for Mayor, as of course already mentioned.
posted by Aknaton at 8:09 PM on December 14, 2005

I'm obviously not as versed as many above, but my two favorite Simpson's scenes, which still occasionally cause me to laugh out loud:

- Mr. Burns & Smithers pop out of a tank as they and the army have Homer's house surrounded (?) and Mr. Burns pops in a cassette tape of victory music which immediately segways to ABBA's Waterloo (Smithers had taped over it!)

- The Planet of the Apes musical and the line "Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius" to the tune of Amadeus Amadeus.

Maybe someone can help me out with the episode names or seasons?
posted by jacobsee at 8:21 PM on December 14, 2005

My favorite episode ever is A Fish Called Selma. It's a little atypical because it doesn't really focus on the immediate Simpson family at all, but it is hilarious from beginning to end.
posted by peep at 8:25 PM on December 14, 2005

Cape Feare - Original broadcast version. In the reruns they removed a dozen or so rakes from the rake scene. That or the Treehouse of Horror with "Citizen Kang" in which the drooling aliens take over the election from Clinton and Dole.

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
posted by mzurer at 8:28 PM on December 14, 2005

can i just vote for "Mom & Pop Art" it has 2 of my all time favorite lines:

"My shoes are soaked but my cuffs are bone dry. Everything's coming up Milhouse!"
"Not the Reischtag!!"

probably use both of those on a weekly basis.
posted by ShawnString at 8:32 PM on December 14, 2005

In Planet Simpson, Chris Turner lists the following (in order of airdate) as key episodes, but claims "Last Exit to Springfield" as best overall and most zietgeisty (Entertainment Weekly also says this):

-"Marge vs. the Monorail"
-"Last Exit to Springfield"
-"Deep Space Homer"
-"El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestra Jomer"

The latter is my favourite. Start-to-finish laughs, Johnny Cash as the Space Coyote, short shorts, and trippy dream sequence. Plus "Marge, we're missing the cookout!"

I have argued that the last good episode is the Party Posse one, which is not as great as the aforementioned, but does have the N*Sync guest spot, Lt. L.T. Smash, and "Everybody Hates Raymond!" "Well, we stayed up all night, but it was worth it."

The one where Bart and everyone invades Shelbyville is also awesome, maybe because I just saw it. "So this is what it feels like...when doves cry!"
posted by SoftRain at 8:34 PM on December 14, 2005

"Twenty dollars! I wanted a peanut!"

I love that episode because there is not a second that is not perfectly funny and perfectly absurd.
posted by jokeefe at 9:02 PM on December 14, 2005

My vote would be Homer and Apu.

Second call would be Bart vs. Australia.

Disparaging the boot is a bootable offense.
posted by Caviar at 9:10 PM on December 14, 2005

The one when Burns runs for Mayor and Marge makes him eat the 3 eyed fish always stood out to me as the episode where the Simpsons took it's place beside Archie Bunker, Twain, Vonnegut, The Onion and Bill Moyers as fearless American icons holding a mirror up to our scabs. I suppose the Daily Show qualifies now as well but they all owe their wide acceptance to the aforementioned trailblazers.
posted by any major dude at 9:11 PM on December 14, 2005

No, no it's Lisa's Sax.

"Michael Jackson still was black...those were the days!"
posted by sevenless at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2005

After seeing it again recently, I've got a soft spot for "Magician of Evergreen Terrace" - where Homer attempts to beat Edison's number of inventions...

Homer: You look at this table, and what do you see? Just a table. Now a creative person like me looks at this table and sees all kinds of creative things. But no tables!
Marge: Homer, that's not a table, that's our dryer.

That almost sums up the Homer/Marge relationship ...
posted by oliyoung at 9:20 PM on December 14, 2005

I like Lemon of Troy, where Bart and friends declare war on Shelbyville over a stolen lemon tree.

featuring the quote: "Stupid... STUPID LIKE A FOX!"
posted by atom128 at 9:21 PM on December 14, 2005

The hockey episode was a personal favorite.
posted by cloeburner at 9:48 PM on December 14, 2005

I'm going to have to second Homerpalooza...

Frampton: God. Homer Simpson wrecks my pig, Cypress Hill steals my orchestra, and Sonic Youth's in my cooler! Get out of there, you kids!
posted by hototogisu at 9:53 PM on December 14, 2005

the Insanity Pepper one by far...!
posted by joshgray at 10:05 PM on December 14, 2005

"Dad, why did you take me to a gay steel mill?"

The day after I saw that episode for the first time, my boss (who was gay) and I had a meeting with some potential clients, who worked in the steel industry. It was very difficult to maintain my compusure.

"You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press 1."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:14 PM on December 14, 2005

"First you get the sugar, then you get the money, then you get the women..." -Homer
posted by ThFullEffect at 12:46 AM on December 15, 2005

Yeah, Homer Badman for sure! "SEE YOU IN HELL, CANDYBOYS!"
posted by bifter at 1:21 AM on December 15, 2005

Homer Badman is surely one of the greatest - just packed full of jokes and weirdness.
posted by adrianhon at 1:42 AM on December 15, 2005

How come nobody has mentioned the Flaming Homer!?
posted by salmacis at 2:29 AM on December 15, 2005

I never tire of seeing "Bart's Road Trip". Perfection.
posted by essexjan at 3:25 AM on December 15, 2005

Mr Plow or Marge Vs The Monorail
posted by TheDonF at 3:29 AM on December 15, 2005

Another vote for Marge vs. the Monorail, with an honorable mention for the episode in which Marge gets addicted to gambling while Mr. Burns goes crazy, Howard-Hughes-style (I can't remember the title).
posted by Prospero at 4:54 AM on December 15, 2005

I think Alison has it. Besides her quotes, half of mine came from that one episode.

Flaming Homer? Homerpalooza?! Bah.
posted by intermod at 5:08 AM on December 15, 2005

Rosebud, the one with the Bobo the bear. I find it really funny, showcasing Burns humanity, Marges greed, a freaky ending, and wacky hijinks trying to steal the bear. Plus the immortal line "64 slices of American Cheese". The mere notion of going blind from eating cheese cracks me up.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 5:38 AM on December 15, 2005

"Boy Scoutz N The Hood" is definitely the apothesis of the Simpsons. This thread above is good evidence, insofar as several of the quotes that people gave without knowing the episode's title were actually from that episode.

It is particularly great because it embraces the mini-act structure of a typical episode so well, and every mini-act is perfect on its own.

What's amazing is how much there is in those 22 minutes, including, in addition what was mentioned earlier: the arcade sequence with Martin playing the "My Dinner with Andre" game, the squishy made entirely out of syrup / "New York, New York" homage, "weaseling out of things is important to learn, it's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel" ... Bart's infactuation with "the knife" ... Homer's use of the water on the raft.
posted by MattD at 6:29 AM on December 15, 2005

There is no single greatest Simpsons episode. Seasons 3, 4, 5 and 6 have so much good stuff and are so consistently good that it's impossible to narrow down to one episode.

That said, no one has mentioned "Homer the Great"? The stonecutters episode is certainly up there.

Other favorites include:
Lisa's Substitute
Homer the Heretic
Marge vs. the Monorail
Last Exit to Springfield
Boy-Scoutz N the Hood (for the dialogue between Homer and his brain: "$20?" "But I wanted a peanut." "$20 can buy many peanuts." "Explain how." "Money can be exchanged for goods and services." "Woohoo!")
Lisa's Rival (in the b-plot Homer goes into the sugar business)
You Only Move Twice
El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer
Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment
posted by andrewraff at 6:37 AM on December 15, 2005

I loved the Marge's Fear of Flying episode. I felt like it when they best mastered the "plot-shifting-four-or-five-times." Trick

Plus, it had that great "Guy Incongnito" joke.
posted by piratebowling at 6:48 AM on December 15, 2005

One more vote for Selma's Choice.

It just has so much going for it, so many plot lines, so many gags, just too good.

Oh, Sandwich, how can I stay mad at you?"
Potato Chips shaped like stuff
Beer Goggles
"Lisa, drink the water!"
"I can feel the music"
"Homercles cares not for beans!"
"Oh, I'm not a doctor."

God, I love that episode.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:54 AM on December 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'm changing my vote to Bart Sells His Soul.

There were some good, even great episodes after that. Some of them have been mentioned above. But this was really the last hurrah of the unending winning streak and thereafter, the episodes became hit or miss. Lisa the Vegetarian was a good episode after that, but the Halloween episode that year was lackluster (if there's anything that hits the zeitgeist, it's that spending too much on the hip 3D effects often comes at the expense of the story), and the absolutely abysmal King Size Homer was the first time it entered my head that I might want to turn off a Simpsons episode in the middle.

But Bart Sells His Soul has a classic act structure, Bart familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda, Alf pogs, the soul dream sequences, and stink lines and everything.

Plus, the perfect gem of comedic timing:

Milhouse: [sly] Pleasure doing business with you.

Bart: Any time, chum...p.

posted by Caviar at 7:33 AM on December 15, 2005

I'm surprised nobody has nominated 22 Short Films About Springfield.

But my favorite line of all Simpsons time --

Homer: Operator! Give me the number for 911!
posted by soiled cowboy at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2005

I have an affection for some of the softer Simpsons episodes. I still get misty when I watch "Lisa's Substitute" (guest voice by Dustin Hoffman) and I do hold out hope that Bart will grow up to be a Supreme Court Justice (Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie").

That said, "Cape Feare" and "Itchy and Scratchy Land" (I can't believe no one has mentioned that one yet!) are among my top favorites.

Announcer: Attention, Marge Simpson: your son has been arrested.... Attention, Marge Simpson: we've also arrested your older, balder, fatter son.

Booth man at Euro Itchy and Scratchy: [French accent] Hello? Itchy and Scratchy Land open for business. Who are you to resist it, huh? Come on. My last paycheck bounced. My children need wine.

Plus, Bort license plates, John Travolta as a bartender and TGI McScratchy's, which is now what my husband and I call any chain restaurant.
posted by Sully6 at 7:57 AM on December 15, 2005

Joy of Sect, You Only Move Twice, and, of course, Homer the Great.

C'mon, people. Who keeps the metric system down?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:19 AM on December 15, 2005

I'm with Triode-- Cape feare was the last (and only?) episode written by the great Conan O'Brien
posted by markovitch at 8:26 AM on December 15, 2005

The X-Files episode was also Conan, I think.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:27 AM on December 15, 2005

Fortunately there's no right answer to this question. Except this one: Brother From the Same Planet.

Oh, my god. "Higher, Dad! Higher!" The starfish and the shark made me think, the show is unstoppable.
posted by precipice at 8:54 AM on December 15, 2005

I'd vote for either Lisa the Vegetarian or Bart Sells his Soul.

"That colored chalk was forged by Lucifer himself."

Best line ever, (don't remember which episode) Grandpa: "The metric system is the tool of the devil. My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and thats the way I likes it!!"

There was a great article somewhere about a year ago that asked simply, "When did the Simpsons become a cartoon?" It related the demise of the Simpsons to the more outlandish storylines of the last few seasons. Homer became more of an idiot/clown rather than a slow-witted father type, etc. Anyone know where that article could be found?
posted by sciencejock at 9:24 AM on December 15, 2005

In terms of zeitgeist, I'm thinking of the 10 minute Halloween episode where the aliens do away with Clinton and Dole, become their body doubles, reveal their identity as aliens during the presidential campaign and then enslave the population of earth to build a giant ray-gun.

Good lines:

Citizen of Springfield (paraphrased): I'll vote for a third party!
Kodos: Go ahead. Throw your vote away! (laughter)


The Simpson family, suffering torment at the hands of their alien overlords and Homer says:

Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!

Pretty much sums up American politics.
posted by quadog at 9:52 AM on December 15, 2005

Coming soon to ask metafilter: What's your favorite color?

I mean sheesh...
posted by Rhomboid at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2005

Lisa is a nut.
She has a rubber butt.
And everytime she turns around
It goes 'putt putt'.

Also it kills me every time someone (especially Moe) says "WAHHHHHHHH?"
posted by jockc at 10:38 AM on December 15, 2005

So many good episodes! I remember when Simpsons were can't miss. For me, the show jumped when they killed Maude Flanders.

One of my favs is You Only Move Twice with supervillian Hank Scorpio.

Hank: By the way, Homer, what's your least favorite country: Italy or France?
Homer: France.
Hank: [chuckles] Nobody ever says Italy. [sets the coordinates of a giant laser gun.]
posted by 6550 at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2005

All right, just one more:

"Don't cry for me, I'm already dead."


Oh how I love that episode.
posted by jokeefe at 4:33 PM on December 20, 2005

« Older Freelancing?   |   What anime is this? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.