The 10 Greatest ‘Simpsons’ Stories

Ah, The Simpsons. You can’t imagine the television landscape without it, can you? But it’s probably been a while since you’ve sat back and watched the most beloved episodes of the classic series. You know, the super-witty, super-quotable, embedded-in-the-public-consciousness ones. These ones! Hopefully my ideas will be intriguing to you and you will wish to subscribe to my newsletter.

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Lisa the Vegetarian (season 7, episode 5)

Lisa with Paul and Linda McCartney
(Fox Television Animation)

An episode that changed The Simpsons forever. Lisa gets guilt-ridden over eating a lamb and decides she wants to be a vegetarian. Everyone mocks her, and vegetarian food options are hard to find, but she sticks to her guns.

This episode features Paul and Linda McCartney, and they agreed to appear only on the condition that Lisa remained a vegetarian for as long as the show went on. So she’s still one to this day!

22 Short Films About Springfield (season 7, episode 21)

The "Steamed Hams" segment of "22 Short Films About Springfield"
(Fox Television Animation)

A episode that diverted attention away from the Simpson family and towards the wider world of Springfield and its inhabitants. We check in with Moe, Principal Skinner, Reverend Lovejoy and more in a series of shorts, arranged around a plot where Lisa gets gum in her hair. (Which happens thanks to Bart, of course.)

This episode gave the world one of the most enduring Simpsons memes of all time: steamed hams!

Marge vs the Monorail (season 4, episode 12)

The cast of Marge vs the Monorail
(Fox Television Animation)

This episode got mixed reviews when it first aired in 1993, which is really hard to believe now. These days it’s considered not only one of the best episodes of season 4 but one of the best episodes period. Some of it is down to the ridiculously catchy “Monorail Song”, some of it is down to the guest appearance of Leonard Nimoy, and some of it is down to the great visual gags. I always crack up laughing at the final one, Springfield’s “elevator to nowhere.”

Last Exit to Springfield (season 4, episode 17)

Lisa Simpson in "Last Exit to Springfield"
(Fox Television Animation)

An episode so good that it’s studied on some university courses! “Last Exit to Springfield” veers about from cynical to heartwarming as Homer becomes president of the power plant’s labor union. He thwarts Mr Burns and his heartless capitalistic ways by simply, well… being Homer Simpson. And in the process he manages to get Lisa out of having to wear a hideous pair of braces.

Like many of the best Simpsons episodes, this one contains a great song. So we’ll march day and night by the big cooling tower/They have the plant but we have the power!

Itchy & Scratchy & Marge (season 2, episode 9)

Homer and Marge looking at the Statue of David
(Fox Television Animation)

Marge learns an important life lesson in this episode. She’s horrified by the violence in the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons and decides to start a campaign to censor them, SNUH (Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding, and Helping). She achieves her goal… but before long things get out of hand. A statue of Michelangelo’s David comes to Springfield and SNUH expect Marge to decry the statue’s nudity. She realizes she may have been a little hypocritical.

Thank god such a wacky scenario could never happen in real life!

Homer’s Enemy (season 8, episode 23)

Frank Grimes and Homer Simpson
(Fox Television Animation)

One of the most controversial Simpsons episodes, at least among fans of the show. “Homer’s Enemy” brings us the character of Frank Grimes, the only man in Springfield who can understand just how lazy and incompetent Homer Simpson really is. Many darkly comedic scenarios ensue, and by the end of the episode, well… you’ll see. Even if this episode is considered a bit out of the ordinary, it got people talking, and thus it earned its place on the list of best Simpsons stories.

Who Shot Mr Burns (season 6, episode 25 – season 7, episode 1)

The residents of Springfield looking at a collapsed Mr Burns
(Fox Television Animation)

I’m cheating a little here since this is technically two episodes in one. But it had to be on this list! This very silly take on Dallas’s infamous “Who Shot J.R?” arc sees someone attempt to kill Mr Burns, but who? There’s plenty of suspects, especially considering that Burns blocked out Springfield’s sun in order to sell the townspeople more electricity. Was it Homer who did the deed? Was it Smithers? Was it… Maggie?

Now, most people know who shot Mr Burns, so ingrained into pop culture is this story, but it’s still a great ride.

And Maggie Makes Three (season 6, episode 13)

Marge, Homer and Maggie
(Fox Television Animation)

Sometimes, the best Simpsons episode are the ones where they forget the cynical humor and go for heartwarming moments instead. And this episode contains one of the most beloved ones of those.

The Simpsons examine a old family photo album, which spurs Homer on to talk about Maggie’s conception and birth. He was working his dream job at a bowling alley when Marge became pregnant, and was forced to go back to his old job at the power plant to provide for the baby. Mr Burns stuck up a mocking sign for him that read “Don’t forget: You’re here forever” but Homer stuck up photos of Maggie around it until it said “Do it for her.” Awww.

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Bluefish (season 2, episode 11)

Marge and Homer celebrating
(Fox Television Animation)

What would you do if you only had 22 hours to live? Well, if you’re Homer Simpson, you do things very differently from how a normal person would.

Poor Homer unwisely eats fugu, a venomous pufferfish that needs to be carefully prepared, from an poorly managed sushi bar. Fearing his end is near at hand, he sets about making good memories for his children and reconciling with his father. Alas, all doesn’t go to plan. But you didn’t really think they’d kill Homer Simpson off, did you?

Bart Sells His Soul (season 7, episode 4)

Milhouse taunting Bart with a piece of paper reading "Bart Simpson's Soul"
(Fox Television Animation)

Bart doesn’t believe in the concept of the human soul, so he sells his to Milhouse for five bucks. And then weird things start happening. Bart finds that cats hiss at him, automatic doors don’t open for him anymore, and he no longer finds joy in pranking his father. Has he really lost his soul? How’s he going to get it back?

This is one of the favorite episodes of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and another Simpsons episode that’s been used as a teaching aid. It deserves all the accolades, it’s a masterpiece.


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Author
Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.