Back in December 1989, Matt Groening’s brand new animated sitcom The Simpsons debuted on Fox, with the world completely unaware about exactly what the series would turn into. Quickly becoming a hit, it achieved rave reviews from audiences, allowing it to become the pop culture phenomenon that it’s regarded as today.
Along with the launch of new streaming service Disney+ in the UK, came the opportunity for subscribers to stream every single episode of The Simpsons between the very first season, and Season 30. That’s a heck of a lot of content, so if you’re not considering watching from start to finish, where should you begin? Here are – in my humble opinion – the seven best episodes of The Simpsons.
7. Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1 and Part 2 – Season 6, Episode 25 and Season 7, Episode 1
Okay, so I’m cheating right from the jump, but you can’t watch just the first or second part of the Who Shot Mr. Burns? saga: you need to enjoy the entire thing! This was the first two-parter ever developed as part of the show, and saw every resident of Springfield with an axe to grind against the villainous Nuclear Power Plant owner. When Mr. Burns was found shot outside the city hall, every person in town became an immediate suspect. Exactly who pulled the trigger will surprise everybody, however…
6. Flaming Moe's - Season 3, Episode 10
Aerosmith are amongst the celebrities that head to Moe’s Tavern when he steals from Homer the recipe for a brand new drink that goes down a storm. Banishing the long-time drinker from the venue, Homer plots a plan of revenge that ends with him bringing Moe’s reign of success to an end – right as Moe was planning on handing over half of all profits to Homer!
5. The Springfield Files - Season 8, Episode 10
With the huge success of The X-Files came a lot of attention for the show's stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, so when they agreed to appear in an episode of The Simpsons in their roles as agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, we imagine Fox couldn't believe their luck. Numerous references to the series are scattered throughout, in an episode where Homer believes he's discovered an alien in Springfield.
4. Homer's Phobia - Season 8, Episode 15
Though at first this episode may seem as if it’s born entirely out of ignorance, it’s actually got an incredibly important message of acceptance and equality at its heart. John Waters voices Homer’s new friend John, but is almost shunned by the Simpson family patriarch when Homer discovers he is gay. Worried that he may have an influence over his son Bart, Homer begins to distance himself from John, but when he realises the error of his ways, he accepts him as anybody should. A great learning moment!
3. Homer the Great – Season 6, Episode 12
When Homer discovers that there's been a secret society hiding right under his nose in Springfield, and that nearly every single man in the city is a part of it except him, he makes it his mission to become a part of the organisation, known as the Stonecutters. Led by a man named Number One (voiced by Patrick Stewart), the episode sees Homer cause chaos upon his arrival, destroying the Stonecutters' Hallowed Sacred Parchment and being kicked out of the group, before his birthmark actually sees him hailed as the "Chosen One".
2. Lisa’s Wedding – Season 6, Episode 19
Despite being packed full of comedy and utter stupidity at times, The Simpsons still has tender moments that will stick with us forever. One of those comes at the end of Lisa’s Wedding, where Lisa vows never to take her family for granted after experiencing a vision of the future which is less than rosy. The final scene is a genuine tearjerker, as Lisa and her father Homer walk away from the visiting carnival hand in hand.
1. Mr. Plow – Season 4, Episode 9
“Mr. Plow, that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow!” Anybody who’s seen this episode of The Simpsons will have that catchy little phrase stuck in their mind forevermore. The episode sees Homer enjoying a new life of self-employment, as the titular Mr. Plow, clearing up driveways for Springfield residents and raking in the cash. When former friend Barney gets wind of the money-maker however, he puts Homer out of business by stealing the idea for himself.
The Simpsons Seasons 1-30 are available now to stream on Disney+.