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From college to the barbershop, here are the 10 best Simpsons episodes of all time, ranked

These early episodes of The Simpsons are all the proof you need that the show deserves its extended run

The Simpsons
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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 not) 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.

The Simpsons
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The best episodes to watch right now

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 best Simpsons episodes and 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.

Homer Goes to College
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10. Homer Goes to College

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.

Itchy and Scratchy Land
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9. Itchy & Scratchy Land

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.

Lisa Gets An A
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8. Lisa Gets an “A”

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.

You Only Move Twice
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7. You Only Move Twice

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.

Marge vs. the Monorail
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6. Marge vs. the Monorail

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.

Homer at the Bat
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5. Homer at the Bat

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.

El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer
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4. El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer

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.

Summer of 4 Ft. 2
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3. Summer of 4 Ft. 2

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.

Cape Feare
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2. Cape Feare

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.

Homer’s Barbershop Quartet
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1. Homer’s Barbershop Quartet

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.

The Simpsons
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History of The Simpsons TV show

As we know, The Simpsons is a cultural phenomenon and the longest-running American TV sitcom. It has a rich and fascinating history. Here’s a deep dive into its journey:

  • 1987: Matt Groening, inspired by his own family, doodles the Simpson family during a meeting with James L. Brooks. He names them after his own family, replacing his name with Bart.
  • 1987-1989: The Simpsons appears as crudely animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. These shorts establish the quirky personalities and dysfunctional dynamics of the family.
  • 1989: The success of the shorts leads to a Christmas special and then a full-fledged half-hour prime-time animated series on Fox. This marks a significant shift in American TV, paving the way for adult-oriented animated comedies.
  • 1990s: The Simpsons reaches its peak, becoming a cultural touchstone. The show’s sharp wit, satirical humor, and relatable characters resonate with audiences worldwide. It tackles contemporary issues and parodies pop culture, and it offers clever references for all ages.
  • 2000s: The series continues running, but there’s a noticeable shift in humor, with some fans feeling the golden age magic is fading. Some storylines become more repetitive and character development stalls.
  • 2010s: The show faces criticism for relying on guest stars and dated references. There are concerns about The Simpsons fatigue and the quality of newer episodes.
  • 2020sThe Simpsons attempts to adapt to changing times, addressing social issues more directly and introducing diverse characters. The series’ longevity remains impressive, and it still garners a dedicated fan base.

And there you have it, the best episodes of The Simpsons and a little history about the series. If you’re looking for other great TV episodes to watch, you can check out our lists of the best shows on Netflix, the best shows on Hulu, and the best shows on Peacock.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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