Wherever you look in the streaming ear, you’re likely to find a great animated series to watch. Some of those series are serious, while others are basically sitcoms with animated characters. That latter category is entirely indebted to The Simpsons, the longest-running scripted series in TV history.
The difference between The Simpsons and many of the other great comedies in TV history (animated or no) is that The Simpsons at its best was always pushing its own limits. Although the show has famously had its ups and downs over the years, few shows in TV history can stand up against what The Simpsons was doing when the show was at its best. Generations of viewers grew up with Homer, Marge and their family, and they grew to love the characters, even if they didn’t reliably tune in every week. In its way, the show has become an institution.
Given the enormous back catalog of episodes, though, it can be hugely intimidating to try to start the show today if you’ve never seen an episode. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with this rundown of the very best stories that Springfield has to offer. On a show as great as The Simpsons, narrowing a list down to just 10 titles is almost impossible. These episodes are great, but there are certainly others that are just as worthy of inclusion. With that said, here are the best Simpsons episodes that you can stream online.
Conan O’Brien wrote a relatively small number of Simpsons episodes, but they’re all universally fantastic. “Homer Goes to College” is his best and his last, full of one-liners and collegiate tomfoolery. The references are subtle and smart, with shout-outs to movies like Animal House and shows like Star Trek.
This episode from the stellar season 6 sees the Simpson clan head to a theme park named after the two brutally violent characters featured on Bart and Lisa’s favorite TV show, hosted by Krusty the Clown. It’s a spoof on Disneyland, with the park’s animatronic hosts ultimately turning on their guests. It also offers one of the funniest scenes in the show’s history.
The two major plotlines in this amazing episode involve Lisa cheating on a test and Homer raising a pet lobster named Pinchy. Lisa learns some humility and becomes briefly addicted to video games while Homer becomes so close to his crustacean that it becomes a member of the family. This episode was so hilarious and off the wall that it even managed to piss off the Catholic church.
A thoughtful parody of James Bond culture, “You Only Move Twice” sees the Simpson family pack up for Cypress Creek, a seemingly perfect development where Homer takes his dream job. Alas, it doesn’t go according to plan, with Marge taking to day drinking while living in a self-cleaning house and Homer realizing his new boss, the unrivaled Hank Scorpio, is a supervillain. There’s even an ongoing reference to HAL 9000 from Kubrick’s genius 2001: A Space Odyssey.
A major highlight of season 4, this episode functions like a musical. Homer somehow lands a job as a monorail conductor, clad in a cape no less. Phil Hartman’s hilarious con-man Lyle Lanley is one of the main reasons this episode has stood the test of time. Another Conan O’Brien joint, “Marge vs. the Monorail” even features a pop-in by Leonard Nimoy.
One of the first episodes to pack in a full serving of celebrity cameos, Homer at the Bat sees the nuclear power plant’s recreational softball team injected with a much of ringers from the big leagues. Featuring Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry, and more, it’s entertaining from start to end and showcases Mr. Burns as a hilariously antiquated baseball coach.
You may be catching on to the theme here that if Homer is at the forefront of an episode, it tends to be among the funnier installments. This trip-y chapter sees Mr. Simpson eat a mysterious pepper in a local chili cook-off before hallucinating and hanging out with the likes of dessert turtles and a coyote voiced by Johnny Cash. Homer’s gut-first approach to life is on full display here, and the results have rarely been funnier.
In the last episode of season 7, the Simpsons decided to make a trek to the beach. Always eager to exploit the generosity of neighbor Ned Flanders, the family uses his house on the coast for a getaway. There, Lisa aims for a new, cooler persona while Bart gets envious. Ever sharp, the episode features nods to classic films like American Graffiti and Adventures in Wonderland, among others.
This episode puts the Bart vs. Sideshow Bob feud on a pedestal. It’s a parody of the movie it’s named after and includes some great homages to Alfred Hitchcock. The densely packed episode features everything from electric eels and a witness protection program to sex changes and Kelsey Grammer’s theatrical prowess as the voice of Bob. And it all somehow works perfectly together.
If you only watch a single season, season 5 might be it. This feel-good episode comes from that storied year, with guest appearances by David Crosby and George Harrison on top of a remarkably good Springfield quartet led by Homer called the Be Sharps. The episode has it all, from incredible performances by the likes of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu to a hysterical scene at Moe’s Tavern featuring Yoko Ono.
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