We all know why we are here, so let us not mince words, waste time or...uh...oh no...my perspicacity!
Here are the Top 10 Episodes of The Simpsons of all time.
10) A Fish Called Selma- Season 7
An episode that largely focuses on non-Simpson characters, 'A Fish Called Selma' shows actor Troy McClure (you may remember him from such films as Gladys the Groovy Mule and Hitler Doesn't Live Here Anymore) trying to resurrect his career and shake some less than savory rumors about his sexual preferences. Through a Simpsons swing through, he takes Selma out for dinner and a 'for the press' romance begins between the two as Troy has 'come back from the gutter and brought someone with him'.
Look. We all know why we are here: what is the best film reference in The Simpsons of all time: the hit Broadway play, "Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off"...but what many forget are the staggering number of stellar Troy McClure (and other character) one-liners, and endlessly quotable segments throughout the episode. One of my personal favorites is: "My good looks paid for that pool, and my talent filled it with water!"
9) Treehouse of Horror V- Season 6
This remains the gold standard of Simpsons' Halloween episodes: the three segments are varied as always, however there is not a weak one in the bunch, and they are gloriously tied together by killing Groundskeeper Willie as he tries to help:
'The Shinning', which is the second best film reference The Simpsons ever made, riffing beautifully off of the brilliant Kubrick film as Bart has the...shin, and will be able to call Willie if Homer goes crazy while the family is looking after Mr. Burns' summer home (where there is no beer and no TV...)
'Time and Punishment', where Homer gets his hand caught in the toaster, and, after smashing it off, accidentally turns it into a time machine, and thanks to the butterfly effect--this is a riff on A Sound of Thunder after all--and sneezing on a T-Rex, Homer is sent through many alternate realities, including a featured one where Flanders is the surreal, dystopian ruler of the world.
'Nightmare Cafeteria', is somehow the weakest of the three, and it is still amazing. Thanks to budget cuts, the food at Springfield Elementary is even more terrible than ever, so the staff settle on eating detention students, say Sloppy Jimbos' or Uterbraten. This segment is thankfully just a nightmare of Bart's, who awakes to be reassured that he has nothing to fear...except that gas that turns people inside out...
8) Deep Space Homer- Season 5
NASA is facing a funding cut, due to the public's lack of interest in space travel, so the logical thing that needs to happen is a to send a 'regular guy' up in the next shuttle mission, and that of course falls to Homer (after a tight competition with Barney Gumble).
This is an episode that remains incredibly solid throughout, the entire 'inanimate' story thread (from Homer showing what inanimate means, to the heroic rod), the oddly hilarious NASA scientists, the cameos (especially James Taylor, who in real life, is a real hard ass) and the almost throwaway gags involving the ants, 'Deep Space Homer' is a real standout episode, that is now horribly dated by the idea that NASA does anything with shuttles.
7) Marge vs. The Monorail- Season 4
What an episode this is. Written by Conan O'Brien, with guest stars Leonard Nimoy and Phil Hartman as The Music Man of our story, Lyle Lanley, 'Marge vs. The Monorail' is a gigantic, sarcastic tribute to one of the great American musicals. After being caught dumping nuclear waste in a park, Mr. Burns pays a fine of 3 million dollars to the town of Springfield, who, after a catchy song about why a Monorail (in this small town) makes sense, decide to build a solar-powered monorail system, whose conductor is...of course...Homer.
What an episode this is, filled with classic Conan-style humor, and never letting up. To narrow down what makes this episode as good as it is is impossible; this is one of the most complete episodes of The Simpsons there has ever been. While it is not the best episode of all time (it is seven on this list), it deserves to be in consideration, just does not have some of the pure, standout, hilarious moments the next six do.
6) Homer's Phobia- Season 8
I have been a champion of this episode for a long time, and I personally think that it gets overlooked and underrated on lists like these. Needing some money after Bart damages the gas line, Marge decides to sell an old family heirloom at a kitsch shop (managed by John Waters, of course). Homer takes a shine to John until he finds out that John is gay, and the homophobic Homer then begins to worry that Bart is gay. This begins an odyssey of Homer learning that there is nothing so different or wrong with being gay (and that there are more gay people around than he things)...ending with him being saved by a robotic Japanese Santa...
Perhaps people forget how chalk-solid with one-liners, jokes, and meta references to the show (and John Waters' work) this episode has in it--most seem to forget the interaction between John and Smithers in the crazy 50s cafe, but no one ever forgets the steel mill.
That steel mill/industrial club is just the best crack of expectation, that even when you know the "surprise", you are just so happy to see it again, and again.
5) El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)-Season 8
It is the annual chili cook-off where Homer always gets drunk and embarrasses Marge in front of the whole town, so to go, Homer promises not have any beer. However, he did not promise that he would not eat the Merciless Peppers of Quetzlzacatenango! Grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum, which bring on dramatic hallucinations and leaves him into a fantasy world with a space coyote (voiced brilliantly by Johnny Cash) to discover his soul mate.
There are so many quotable moments in this episode that it is impossible to put them in here, but this is an episode that closes in on perfect. This is completely focused on Homer and his relationship with Marge, which does not often work this well, but the use of the surrealist fantasy world to break apart what could have ended up being just another 'Homer and Marge fight' episode. The introduction of Earl and the cargo ship of hot pants, not to mention the space coyote and tortoise, this episode breaks ground on being hilarious, fantastical and demonstrating the strength of the bond between Homer and Marge, that recent Simpsons episodes continue to attempt to recapture in their relationship, but always, always, fail.
4) Cape Feare- Season 5
Without a doubt, the greatest Sideshow Bob episode: after proving that no one who speaks German could be evil, and getting paroled, Bob threatens to kill Bart repeatedly, sending the Simpsons into the Witness Relocation Program. They head for Terror Lake as the Thompsons, listening to the complete works of Gilbert & Sullivan, but Bob has strapped himself under the car and followed them to their rake filled new home where Bart must figure out a way to stall Bob long enough to have a chance...
This parody of Cape Fear (obviously) is ridiculous; the rake sequence (which was originally just put in to pad a slightly short episode), the amazing scene at the WRP where Homer is trying to learn to be Mr. Thompson, and (my inner musical geek is going to come out here) hearing Kelsey Grammer sing sections of H.M.S. Pinafore is brilliant. This is the last episode that many of the original writers worked on, and it is one of the absolute best episodes of all time which throws away a reference to Psycho. Makes no mention of it, it just happens and it is gone.
Besides, who does not like a drive in the ol'cactus patch.
3) The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson- Season 9
Barney, serving as the designated driver on what turns out to be the worst night for him to be DD ever, vanishes with Homer's car for a month. Eventually Homer gets a letter from the City of New York that his car is illegally parked in the borough of Manhattan, so thanks to Bart and has wad of bills, Homer is forced to return to the city he loathes. There, everyone but Homer has a magical day, including a musical tour through the Betty Ford Center (you know, the Broadway smash 'Kickin' It'), while Homer is stuck at World Trade Plaza with his car, no bathroom, and a whole lot of problems.
The flashback to the New York of the 1970s (pimps and CHUDS and all), the trip through New York for Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, Homer's fight to get out before the sun goes down, and again...that musical...man...this is one of those episodes that gets better with every watch as there are so many little jokes and moments to catch, as long as you do not stumble across an edited version that gets rid of half the subway sequence, or cuts down on Flushing Meadows.
There was a time, after 9/11 where this episode was not shown (out of a completely understandable respect for the events of that day), but thankfully we are now back to seeing this episode on broadcast, and you owe it to yourself to watch it again if you have not in a while.
2) You Only Move Twice- Season 8
The greatest boss ever, the greatest super villain of all time, and easily the greatest one-off character The Simpsons ever had.
Homer gets a new job at the Globex Corporation and moves the family to Cypress Creek, a town that is just perfect. Homer has a better salary, and the best job of all time (working for a James Bond villain), but unfortunately the family has some problems with their new situations...
This episode is entirely made by Hank Scorpio, and for the Bond film fan, there is so much here to wrap your head around that this is easily one of the best episodes ever made. However, perhaps to some of your surprise, it is not #1. That is because the non-Scorpio stories are good, but they are not amazing...
1) A Streetcar Named Marge-Season 4
'A Streetcar Named Marge' is the best episode of The Simpsons of all time. Here's why:
--It has the best balance of A and B story of any episode, and it is not close. There are two distinct stories here: Marge starring as Blanche DuBois in a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire, and Maggie starring in a The Great Escape parody that ends in a The Birds reference at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.
--Jon Lovitz's voice work here, as both the stereotypical (and scarily prescient) directer of Oh, Streetcar! Llewellyn Sinclair, as well as his sister who is the head of the Ayn Rand School for Tots is spectacular, and his best work on the series.
--The music is spot on, and to think that they were a necessity as the Tennessee Williams estate would not allow the writers of The Simpsons to just have the play in an episode, but they were legally able to write songs based on the play...there is a chance that, if the copyright was not enforced, we never would have heard "can't you hear me yell-a, you're putting me through hell-a..."
--This episode gets better every time you see it, because the references, throw away jokes and incredible interlocking parodies are impossible to catch the first time, which is a hallmark of really excellent Simpsons episodes. Plus, if you know A Streetcar Named Desire, or have seen the Marlon Brando film version, this elevates itself well beyond itself in terms of parody, as the drawn out parallels between the play and Homer and Marge's relationship burst through.
When I was younger (and did not know the play) I still loved this episode, but now? Not even close.
There you have it folks, the Top 10 Simpsons episodes of all time, and the conclusion of our Top 25!
Let us know what you think in the comments below, and maybe it is time to track down, settle in, and watch some of your classic favorites, or re-watch this list in order. You will not be disappointed.