The 35 Best 'The Simpsons' Episodes of All Time, Ranked

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34 seasons with 750 episodes and counting, The Simpsons isn't just a television show; it's a cultural institution. Never has a show managed to stay quite so relevant for quite so long—remaining topical and evolving with the times for decades. Given its longevity, it can be near impossible to determine what the best Simpsons episodes are, but we narrowed it down to 35 of our picks for the show's best moments.

RELATED: The 21 Best SpongeBob Episodes, Ranked

35. "A Fish Called Selma"

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20th Century Studios

Season 7, Episode 19

  • IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
  • Standout quote: "I hate every ape I see from chimpan-a to chimpanzee"

To be honest, the biggest appeal of this episode is the fake Planet of the Apes musical that stars Troy McClure (who you may remember from such films as...).

The musical performance of "A Fish Called Selma" became one of the show's most well-known gags, and in a show that has aired for nearly four decades, that's certainly saying something.

34. "Rosebud"

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Season 5, Episode 4

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "Look at all the wonderful things you have, Mr. Burns: King Arthur's Excalibur, the only existing nude photo of Mark Twain, and that rare first draft of the constitution with the word 'suckers' in it."

One of the sporadic episodes that provide a human side to the villainous Mr. Burns, "Rosebud," a parody of Citizen Kane, sees Burns try to get his childhood teddy bear back from Maggie Simpson.

While it's difficult ever to feel bad for him, it was nice to see that there actually exists a bit of humanity in the heart of Burns. Also, this episode features a great cameo and gag from The Ramones, who were big fan of the show.

33. "The Cartridge Family"

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Season 9, Episode 5

  • IMDB Rating: 8.2/10
  • Standout quote: "This gun has made me lose everything... my family, my friends, everything but my precious, precious gun."

It's hard to inject any semblance of humor into the gun control debate but leave it to The Simpsons to give it a shot (no pun intended.)

After a soccer riot, Homer buys a gun to protect the family, but it becomes increasingly obvious that he's not well-suited to own one. The scene where he buys the gun provides the best gags of the episode and I still laugh at the "shooting down police helicopters" line every single time I see it.

32. "The Last Temptation of Homer"

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Season 5, Episode 9

  • IMDB Rating: 8.5/10
  • Standout quote: "Stop that! I love my wife and family. All I'm gonna use this bed for is sleeping, eating, and maybe building a little fort."

In an episode that tests the limits of Homer and Marge's relationship but ultimately ends on a heartwarming note, Homer becomes attracted to a new coworker and nearly cheats on Marge.

While it's far from the only episode that reexamines Homer and Marge's marriage, "The Last Temptation of Homer" shows just how much they care about one another.

In a complete aside from the rest of the plot, this episode features one of the show's funniest gags involving poor Hans Moleman.

31. "Homer’s Phobia"

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Season 8, Episode 15

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "There's only two kinds of guys who wear Hawaiian shirts: gay guys and big fat party animals. And Bart doesn't look like a big fat party animal to me!"

When Marge befriends a gay store owner named John (voiced by John Waters in a brilliant guest spot), Homer becomes concerned that the man is influencing Bart a bit too much. This episode confronts Homer's homophobia and aims to change what he thinks a man should be, all in increasingly hilarious ways.

Homer's effort to make Bart more of "a man" is foiled, but he eventually learns that his fears are unwarranted when John helps him out of a dangerous situation.

Plus, this episode also gives us the gay steel mill sequence, which is another hall-of-fame Simpsons moment.

30. "Two Bad Neighbors"

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Season 7, Episode 13

  • IMDB Rating: 8.5/10
  • Standout quote: "I'm going to punch George Bush in the face."

I can only imagine what the writers' room must have been like for this episode.

"Okay, so we're going to have Homer get into a bare-knuckle brawl with George Bush in a sewer."

Giving us a look at how Homer would react to a former President spanking his son, the episode devolves quickly into the two men menacing each other in different ways, leading to a climatic showdown.

Thankfully, when another former President moves in next door, cooler heads prevail.

29. "22 Short Films About Springfield"

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Season 7, Episode 21

  • IMDB Rating: 8.9/10
  • Standout quote: "I said, 'steamed hams.' That's what I call hamburgers!"

Many great episodes of this show gave us memes, but "22 Short Films About Springfield" gave us "steamed hams," which has become one of the internet's best memes.

This episode is a series of vignettes and short stories that take place all over Springfield. While this is the sort of entry that could potentially buckle under the weight of all those storylines, "22 Short Films About Springfield" is able to interconnect them, even if those plot threads can be a little loose.

28. "Itchy & Scratchy Land"

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20th Century Studios

Season 6, Episode 4

  • IMDB Rating: 8.6/10
  • Standout quote: "Attention, Marge Simpson. Your son has been arrested...We've also arrested your older, balder, fatter son."

Although intended to be relaxing, family vacations tend to become unnecessarily stressful for a variety of reasons. For the Simpson family, that stress is amplified quite a bit because they are forced to fight an army of killer robots.

As Marge is forced to deal with the arrests of her son and husband, the Itchy and Scratchy robots become sentient and attempt to kill the park visitors.

27. "Lemon of Troy"

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Season 6, Episode 24

  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Standout quote: [as the group is sneaking into the car impound lot to recover the lemon tree, Trojan Horse style] "No one in history has ever done anything this clever!"

The rivalry between Springfield and its neighbor Shelbyville is well-known around these parts. The townsfolk are mirror opposites of the citizens of Springfield, complete with a Bizarro Homer and Bart.

When Shelbyville steals Springfield's prize lemon tree, Homer and the gang embark on a quest to get it back. The gags involving the town's rivalry are endless, with each one better than the last.

26. "Last Exit to Springfield"

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Season 4, Episode 17

  • IMDB Rating: 9.0/10
  • Standout quote: "Lisa needs braces...DENTAL PLAN...Lisa needs braces...DENTAL PLAN...Lisa needs braces...DENTAL PLAN"

Homer leads the nuclear power plant's union to go on strike when the company's dental plan doesn't cover Lisa's new braces. He unexpectedly becomes President of the union and, naturally, things don't go as planned.

We get some amazing gags this episode, including a Godfather parody and 1000 monkeys writing a novel, "Last Exit to Springfield" has consistently been ranked on a number of different lists ranking the best episodes of the series.

25. "Mother Simpson"

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20th Century Studios

Season 7, Episode 8

  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Standout quote: "Remember, whatever happens, you have a mother, and she's truly proud of you."

In a series that is legendary for its humor, it's in the sentimental moments where it often hits the hardest. When Homer's long-lost mother reappears, they attempt to reconnect, leading to an emotional ending that tugs on the heartstrings.

It's one of the series' best endings, as Homer waves goodbye as his mom leaves again, fading into him on the hood of his car, sitting in silence as he looks at the stars.

24. "Flaming Moe’s"

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Season 3, Episode 10

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "People today are healthier and drinking less. You know, if it wasn't for the junior high school next door, no one would even use the cigarette machine."

When Homer's secret recipe for a new drink is stolen by Moe, who uses it to be super successful, Homer becomes incredibly resentful and begins plotting to bring Moe down.

It's as hilarious as it is absurd, with Homer finally getting his revenge (falling on Aerosmith in the process) and Moe losing out on a fortune. Both lovable losers end where they began: At the bottom.

23. "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show"

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Season 8, Episode 14

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "Note: Poochie died on the way back to his home planet."

In an effort to boost his show's ratings, Krusty adds a third character, Poochie, to the Itchy & Scratchy Show. Poochie is voiced by Homer, who is excited at the prospect of becoming famous by way of his voice acting.

Things don't go well, and in a send-up of network TV, Poochie is quickly killed off, much to Homer's dismay.

22. "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

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Season 1, Episode 1

  • IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
  • Standout quote: "I can't believe it, but it looks as though television has betrayed me."

The episode that started it all, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," premiered in December 1989 and tells the story of how the family came to adopt their dog, Santa's Little Helper. As many episodes of the series are, it's hilarious and heartfelt and also shows how much, despite all his buffoonery, Homer cares about his family.

21. "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish"

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Season 2, Episode 11

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "I want to share something with you. The three little sentences that will get you through life; Number One: 'Cover for me.' Number Two: 'Oh, good idea, boss!' Number Three: 'I was like that when I got here.'"

Another episode that's heavier on the drama than the laughs, "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish," sees Homer going through what he believes will be his last day alive. After mistakenly eating a poisonous blowfish, Homer learns to accept his fate and gives a tearful goodbye to his family as they sleep.

He sits down in a chair, trying to listen to the Bible on tape, and, seemingly, passes away. However, Marge wakes him up in the morning much to his and her joy.

For a show that is as funny as The Simpsons is, it knows how to deliver the emotion when it needs to. "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish," is tragic and incredibly sad, but we are all as happy as Homer is when we discover that he has, indeed, survived the night.

20. "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)"

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Season 7, Episode 1

  • IMDB Rating: 9.0/10
  • Standout quote: "You never know what people are capable of. I never thought I could shoot down a German plane. But last year, I proved myself wrong."

Most people, myself included, cannot stand a cliffhanger, but leave it to The Simpsons to pull one off beautifully.

In a parody of the Dallas storyline, "Who Shot JR?", the citizens of Springfield attempt to get to the bottom of who shot Mr. Burns due to his evil plan to steal from the town. Homer becomes one of the prime suspects, but as the plot unravels, this story genuinely becomes an interesting whodunit.

19. "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)"

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Season 6, Episode 25

  • IMDB Rating: 9.2/10
  • Standout quote: "Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun. I shall do the next best thing: block it out."

The town discovers oil underneath Springfield Elementary School, and as everyone begins debating how the newfound wealth should be used, Mr. Burns plots and steals the oil for himself. Burns' drilling operation is the cause of much grief for the entire town, and after he is shot at a town hall meeting, everyone becomes a suspect.

18. "Homer the Great"

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Season 6, Episode 12

  • IMDB Rating: 9.0/10
  • Standout quote: "Welcome to the club, Number 493. You have become a member of the ancient and noble society of Stonecutters, who since ancient times have always endeavored to shatter the stone of ignorance, to bring forth the light of truth... now, let's all get drunk and play Ping-Pong!"

After joining a secret society that, according to their song, controls everything from the British Crown to the Oscars, Homer is discovered to be their Chosen One.

The idea of a secret society in Springfield that contains basically every main character plus an alien is hilarious enough, but Homer being their savior makes it that much better.

17. "Bart After Dark"

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Season 8, Episode 5

  • IMDB Rating: 8.3/10
  • Standout quote: "Thanks a lot, Marge. That was our only burlesque house."

Bart accidentally destroys part of an old gothic house and, as punishment, is forced to work for the woman who owns it, named Belle. It's soon discovered that it is, in fact, a burlesque house frequented by many of the town's male residents.

Marge leads a crusade to destroy the house leading to a showdown that ends as any good showdown does, with a musical number.

"Bart After Dark" also created one of the internet's most well-known memes: Grandpa walking out the door.

16. "King-Size Homer"

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Season 7, Episode 7

  • IMDB Rating: 9.0/10
  • Standout quote: "Hey, buddy, you gotta slow your car down and let me in, because I'm a big fat guy and I can't go anywhere! Because there could be some poison gas, I... I mean there's really going to be poison gas, and everybody's going to be dead, especially me!"

Devising a plot to take advantage of disability benefits and work from home, Homer increases his weight to over 315 pounds. Despite initially enjoying the benefits of remote work, things turn disastrous as his marriage suffers and he nearly causes a meltdown from not paying attention.

In one of the series most hilarious sequences, Homer hijacks an ice cream truck on his way to the nuclear power plant, hoping to prevent a meltdown.

15. "Homer the Heretic"

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Season 4, Episode 3

  • IMDB Rating: 8.9/10
  • Standout quote: "I'm not a bad guy! I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I'm going to hell?"

Another episodic tribute to Homer's laziness, "Homer the Heretic," sees him skipping out on Sunday church as his family continues to go.

On his first Sunday without church, he cherishes his time by sleeping late, watching TV, eating junk food, and doing his best Risky Business impression.

He converses with God in a dream about the merits of attending Mass, and it's only after a near-death experience that he agrees to start heading back to church on Sundays.

14. "Homer Badman"

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Season 6, Episode 9

  • IMDB Rating: 8.9/10
  • Standout quote: "Simpson scandal update: Homer sleeps nude in an oxygen tent which he believes gives him sexual powers!"

At the onset of the #MeToo movement, the plot line of "Homer Badman" feels as if it was pulled straight from the headlines like an episode of Law & Order: SVU (although much less dark.)

When Homer is accused of groping his kids' babysitter as he was reaching for a piece of candy, he becomes the center of a media frenzy. He's proven an innocent man by a videotape from Groundskeeper Willie, but only after being labeled a monster in the press.

Although played to a hilarious effect, scenes like this one show how much information and events can be twisted to fit narratives and agendas.

13. "Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment"

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Season 8, Episode 18

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "To alcohol! The cause of—and solution to—all of life's problems."

After Bart accidentally gets drunk at the St. Patrick's Day parade, the resulting controversy results in alcohol being outlawed in Springfield. Unwilling to take this sitting down, Homer becomes the "Beer Baron," a bootlegger who supplies the town with booze.

In a parody of The Untouchables, Homer goes up against a relentless Treasury agent determined to bring him down.

12. "And Maggie Makes Three"

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Season 6, Episode 13

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "Dear Lord, the gods have been good to me. As an offering, I present these milk and cookies. If you wish me to eat them instead, please give me no sign whatsoever."

Given the fact that she can't talk, Maggie is the most overlooked member of the Simpson clan, but in "And Maggie Makes Three," she finally takes center stage. Marge and Homer explain to Bart and Lisa why there aren't any photos of Maggie around the house, leading to them telling the story of Maggie's birth.

In the flashback, Homer is on the verge of being able to leave the nuclear power plant to work at a dream job, but when Marge gets pregnant, he returns to his old work station. Mr. Burns "awards" him with a plaque saying "Don't forget, you're here forever."

The ending is one of the series's purest and most poignant moments with Homer explaining that all the photos of Maggie are where he needs them most: At his workstation.

11. "Deep Space Homer"

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Season 5, Episode 15

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "The only danger is if they send us to that terrible Planet of the Apes. Wait a minute... statue of liberty... that was our planet. You maniacs, you blew it up. Damn, you! Damn, you all to hell!"

NASA learns how bad their TV ratings have become for their space launches and decides to send an ordinary citizen into space. The competition comes down to between Homer and Barney, with Homer only winning after Barney somehow becomes drunk on non-alcoholic champagne.

Homer makes about as good an astronaut as you'd expect, nearly destroying the space shuttle. While terrifying for those involved, it leads to some of the series' funniest moments.

10. "The Springfield Files"

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Season 8, Episode 10

  • IMDB Rating: 9.0/10
  • Standout quote: "I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to speed around the city, keeping its speed over fifty, and if its speed dropped, the bus would explode! I think it was called... 'The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down.'"

When Homer claims to have been visited by an alien in the woods of Springfield, FBI agents Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in guest roles) arrive to investigate.

It's a crossover episode of sorts, as it effectively weaves The X-Files into a Simpsons storyline to hilarious effect. As it turns out, the "alien" is just a heavily medicated Mr. Burns who promises death and destruction, not the peace and love the alien version promised.

9. "Hurricane Neddy"

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Season 8, Episode 8

  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Standout quote: "Now calm down, Ned-dily-diddly-diddly-diddly... they did their best, shoddily-iddly-iddly-diddly... gotta be *nice*, hostily-iddly-diddly-iddly...

[snapping completely]

Ah *hell* diddly-ding-dong-crap! Can't you morons do anything right?!"

A hurricane strikes Springfield, and the normally mild-mannered Ned Flanders's house (and no one else's) is destroyed. The townspeople try to help out and rebuild his home, but their cavalcade of collective failures causes him to finally snap. He goes temporarily insane, landing himself in a mental institution.

As it turns out, this wasn't his first visit to an asylum and we dive a little deeper into the backstory of one Ned Flanders and his relationship with his parents.

8. "Mr. Plow"

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Season 4, Episode 9

  • IMDB Rating: 8.8/10
  • Standout quote: "Call Mr. Plow, that's my name, that name again is Mr. Plow."

Homer might be on the lazy side, but that's never stopped him from embarking on a variety of side hustles outside of his work as a nuclear safety technician. In "Mr. Plow," he starts a snowplow business and gets into a heated rivalry with Barney, the Plow King.

As with most of his side hustles, the gig was short-lived, as the work dried up after the seasons changed and Homer, as he usually does, moved on.

7. "Homer's Enemy"

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Season 8, Episode 23

  • IMDB Rating: 9.3/10
  • Standout quote: "I would die a happy man if I can prove to you that Homer Simpson has the intelligence of a six-year-old."

To us, Homer Simpson has always been the lovable oaf that we root for. This is not the case for Frank Grimes, Homer's new coworker who loathes Homer with every fiber of his being.

Homer attempts to become friends with "Grimey," but continues to drive him further and further away. The ending is rather dark and tragic, but you can't help and laugh at the complete absurdity of the entire situation.

6. "Treehouse of Horror V"

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20th Century Studios

Season 6, Episode 6

  • IMDB Rating: 9.2/10
  • Standout quote: Homer: Well, what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was thinking along the lines of... No TV and no beer make Homer something, something. / Marge: Go crazy? / Homer Simpson: Don't mind if I do! [goes crazy]

The "Treehouse of Horror" series has provided some of the best and funniest moments throughout the show's entire run, and no TOH episode did it better than the fifth entry.

Containing 'The Shinning,' 'Time and Punishment,' and 'Nightmare Cafeteria,' "Treehouse of Horror V" is the series at its very best. "The Shinning" alone is enough to cement this at the best "Treehouse of Horror," but combine that with two other hysterical stories, and this episode was a no brainer inclusion on this list.

5. "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"

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Season 9, Episode 1

  • IMDB Rating: 9.0/10
  • Standout quote: "New York is a hellhole! And you know how I feel about hellholes!"

An episode that was pulled from syndication for years due to much of the story centering on Homer's story involving his car at the World Trade Center, "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" is an all-time classic.

After Barney is forced to be the designated driver, he steals Homer's car and leaves it in New York City. After a bad experience there, Homer has vowed never to return to the Big Apple, but after he's coaxed by his family, they head to New York.

While Marge, Lisa, and Bart have a great day, Homer's day involves dealing with parking tickets, a car boot, bathroom issues, and doing everything he can to escape the city he calls a hellhole.

4. "Cape Feare"

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Season 5, Episode 2

  • IMDB Rating: 9.2/10
  • Standout quote: "Very well, Bart. I shall send you to Heaven before I send you to hell."

The long-running storyline of Sideshow Bob, Krusty's former sidekick voiced by Kelsey Grammer, is a Simpsons' classic. In this spoof of Scorsese's Cape Fear, the Simpsons flee to a lakeside town in order to keep Bart safe from Sideshow Bob, who was recently released from prison.

This leads to Kelsey Grammer's finest moment as the character, in which he sings the entire score of the H.M.S. Pinafore. When you combine this with the rakes gag, Homer continuously scaring Bart, and the FBI's attempts to give Homer a new identity, "Cape Feare" is a must-watch any time you're on a series binge.

3. "You Only Move Twice"

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Season 8, Episode 2

  • IMDB Rating: 9.2/10
  • Standout quote: "But Homer, on your way out, if you want to kill somebody, you would help me a lot."

The Simpsons is full of an endless list of classic characters, but when it comes to people who only appear once, Hank Scorpio is at the top of the list.

In this episode, Homer is offered a new, better-paying job at another nuclear plant in a town that is also much nicer than Springfield. Hank Scorpio, on the surface is a great boss but is actually a James Bond-esque supervillain bent on taking over the world.

Any scene with Scorpio becomes hysterical almost instantly, which when combined with Homer's general goofiness, makes "You Only Move Twice" one of The Simpsons very best episodes.

2. "Marge vs. the Monorail"

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Season 4, Episode 12

  • IMDB Rating: 9.1/10
  • Standout quote: "And that was the only folly the people of Springfield ever took on... Except for the Popsicle stick skyscraper, and that 50 ft magnifying glass, and the escalator to nowhere."

Down to the final two of this ranking, we are truly splitting hairs as to what constitutes the best episode of The Simpsons. That being said, "Marge vs. the Monorail" has pretty much everything you need to make a classic: A musical number, guest stars, Homer acting like a buffoon, and more.

When a traveling conman arrives in Springfield and coaxes the town into building a faulty monorail, Homer becomes the conductor. If you were introducing the show to someone new, "Marge vs. the Monorail" is one of the best places to start.

1. "Homer at the Bat"

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Season 3, Episode 17

  • IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
  • Standout quote: "I'm afraid all of those players have retired and, uh... passed on. In fact, your right-fielder has been dead for a hundred and thirty years."

I won't hear any arguments against this. "Homer at the Bat" is the very best episode of The Simpsons, and that is not an opinion; that's a fact. How it is rated less than a 10/10 on IMDB is a mystery, but it is a mistake that needs to be fixed.

In an effort to bolster the rankings of the nuclear power plant's softball team, Mr. Burns hires major league baseball players such as Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, José Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry, and Mike Scioscia, who all guest starred as themselves.

It provides some of the most absurdist humor in the series, such as Boggs getting knocked out by Barney in an argument over British prime ministers and Smith getting lost in another dimension. Nothing makes sense, but everything comes together tightly in a perfect half hour of television.

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