There are countless good episodes of “The Simpsons”. From Homer failing miserably at his attempts to build a Barbeque, to Ned and Homer’s rivalry reaching such a point that they force their sons to fight it out in a game of mini-golf, “The Simpsons” is more than a meaningless animated laugh.
Nearly all the early episodes – many of the listed are from Seasons 2-10 – convey a special message.
But, if I had to pick 15 that I’d watch over and over again, these would probably be the ones I pick.
So, let’s see which episodes made the cut.
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NUMBER 5: And Maggie Makes Three (Season 6, Episode 13)
An emotional and empathetic thrill-ride, And Maggie Makes Three teaches us that family is our most important asset, and it gives children an appreciation for the sacrifices that parents make for us every day.
It’s a flashback story, explaining Maggie’s birth, the lead up, and giving backstory to Homer, really well actually. It’s one of the better flashback episodes that The Simpsons ever did, and it’s very emotional. Homer’s backstory is both makes you laugh (to be expected), and makes you feel for Homer. Not always feeling sorry for him, either, but feeling really happy for him.
The best thing about And Maggie Makes Three is the ending. When asked why there are no pictures of Maggie in the family photo album, Homer replies “I keep them where I need it most.” The plaque in his office, given to him by Burns, that says “Don’t forget, you’re here forever”, is covered by photos of Maggie; the letters are rearranged to say “Do it for her”. It’s one of the best endings to any episode ever.
NUMBER 4: The Raven — Treehouse of Horror (Season 2, Episode 3)
Why is this the only Treehouse of Horror segment on the list? Because it’s the best one by a mile.
On a rainy Halloween night, Lisa recites Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven to Bart. We are then thrown into the world of the poem itself, with a lonely homer sitting in front of a fireplace. Then The Raven (Bart) interrupts the peace, and the story goes on.
It’s a fascinating, thoughtful, and beautiful poem. Poe, thought of as the master of horror/thriller poems, constructed one of his most chilling poems in January 1845 – that’s right. 1845. 4 years later, Poe died in somewhat mysterious circumstances, but that’s beside the point. Poe wrote this gem in 1845, and seems to be so relevant to any time. It’s the story of mourning, and remembrance, done ever so well.
The Simpsons did it great justice. With a chilling voice-over from James Earl Jones, and a brilliant depiction of the mourner’s room and the events, The Raven makes for a quick yet thoughtful, and emotion-inducing ride.
I’m considering putting it higher…oh, but I can’t. The other 3 are so good as well!
NUMBER 3: Cape Feare (Season 5, Episode 2)
Has there ever been a better intro to a character in any episode?
I’m of course referring to the chillingly beautiful pan sequence, from Bart’s room, across the Springfield sky, and to Springfield State Prison. It is a beautiful sequence, and the timing of the cuts in tandem with the lightning is so well done. And the music, oh, the music. Divine.
Cape Feare, a kind of parody of the 1962 and 1991 films starring Gregory Peck and Robert De Niro repsectively, tells the tale of Sideshow Bob’s release from prison and stalking of The Simpsons. Bart recieves death threats in the form of letters, unbeknownst to Bart, written in Sideshow Bob’s blood. The situation forces the family to relocate, coinciding with Bob’s release from prison, as he follows them out to their new home, Terror Lake.
It’s a great episode, for sure. They decided to use Leonard Bernstein’s original score from the film, in the episode, cut up in little sections. It worked perfectly. The score is fantastic, and the story is fascinating. Sideshow Bob is a brilliant villain, largely because he is so likeable. The eerie character study and feuding rivalry between Bart and Bob is highlighted in Cape Feare, and due to it’s success in this episode, was used time and time again.
Of course, for Bob, Bart comes second to rakes.
NUMBER 2: Mother Simpson (Season 7, Episode 8)
To say the ending comes with 20 used Kleenex’s doesn’t do it justice.
When watching Mother Simpson, one only hopes that the ending which eventuates doesn’t – that makes no sense, so let me rephrase: When you watch Mother Simpson, the last thing you want to see is her leaving again, because the relationship has been so hard done by, it doesn’t deserve to be kicked down one more time. Well, that’s what happens. The ending adds an incredible amount of emotion to the story; it’s one of the few episodes where Homer is the one we feel really, really sad for.
It shares all the characteristics of a normal Simpsons episode PLUS the emotion, which kind of makes it a super-episode. I guess by now, you’ve realised that I’m one for the emotional side, which doesn’t coincide with my normal personality, actually (I basically live off the tears of other people).
It’s gut-wrenching viewing. Here, I’ll link you to the end theme, which could bring a tear to your eye alone. Listen HERE.
Don’t be afraid to let it all out when watching this one. You’re not alone.
NUMBER 1: Lisa’s Substitute (Season 2, Episode 19)
When Lisa’s teacher Ms. Hoover contracts a dangerous illness, a substitute, Mr. Bergstrom (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) comes in to replace her while she’s gone. Lisa quickly develops and affection (non-sexual, you sickos) for her new teacher, and the relationship grows. Meanwhile, Bart is involved in the race for class president.
This is the closest thing to a perfect episode I’ve ever seen.
It has brilliant, interesting narrative. The story is wholly original, and keeps us interested. The jokes are flowing, especially involving Ms. Hoover’s unfortunate condition. Bart’s side story is a little subdued, appropriately too, so that the focus is nearly all on Lisa’s touching story. The ending will bring a grown man to tears, and his wife will almost certainly be upset at his constant sobbing. Everything is just so strong.
We feel so much for this sub teacher who we’ve only just been introduced to. Just look at this final conversation between Lisa and Mr. Bergstrom. Such depth:
MR. BERGSTROM: But they need me over in the projects of Capital City.
LISA: But I need you too.
MR. BERGSTROM: That’s the problem with being middle-class; anybody who really cares will abandon you for those who need it more.
Maybe one of the elements that makes this such a good episode is the realistic dialogue. (Oh, and you can watch that teary goodbye HERE)
Lisa’s Substitute is more than just another episode. It’s one of a kind.
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Who knew a series that most don’t take seriously could have such a profound effect on one person (me)?