The moment fans of The Simpsons have been waiting years for is finally here.
The streaming service Disney+ has launched in the UK, meaning for the first time, we have more than 600 episodes of the classic show at our fingertips.
And let’s face it, given the current situation, we’ve probably never been more in need of it.
Whether you’re a Simpsons fan keen to revisit the long-running show, or you’ve just always wanted to get into it, this is our handy guide of 30 episodes of The Simpsons to check out first.
And trust us, it was tough to narrow it down to just 30...
1. Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire (season 1, episode 1)
Yes it’s a Christmas special, but in all honest, we could probably all do with a bit of festive cheer right now, couldn’t we? Plus, Simpsons On A Roasting Fire is the very first episode, and as first episodes go, The Simpsons’ actually does a pretty good job of introducing the main family, not to mention a few other key Springfield residents.
Best line: “He’s pathetic! He’s a loser! He’s... a Simpson” – Homer
2. Lisa’s Substitute (season 2, episode 19)
Dustin Hoffman – under an alias, no less – gave The Simpsons its biggest A-list cameo to date (at that point, at least) when he voiced Lisa’s substitute teacher Mr Bergstrom. He captured both her heart and ours, frankly, and gave the show one of its biggest ever tear-jerking scenes with that “you are Lisa Simpson” moment.
Best line: “Whenever you feel like you’re alone, and there’s nobody you can rely on, this is all you need to know...” – Mr Bergstrom
3. Homer Alone (season 3, episode 15)
After two and a half series of putting up with her family’s constant nonsense, Marge finally catches a break in Homer Alone, spending the ultimate self-care weekend at Rancho Relaxo. Homer caring for Maggie is obviously hilarious, as are Bart and Lisa as they spend the weekend with aunts Patty and Selma, but seeing Marge devoting time to herself (calling for a bottle of tequila on room service, no less) is the stuff of Simpsons gold.
Best line: “Woah oh! Someone smells stiiiinky! Oh, it’s me” - Barney Gumble
4. Homer At The Bat (season 3, episode 17)
Of course, an episode centred around baseball, packed full of cameos that were at the top of their game in *checks notes* 1992, sounds like a tough sell to UK viewers in 2020, but trust is when we say this episode is a must-see. Even if the sports references go totally over your head, it’s worth it for Mr Burns’ coaching and the glorious final scene alone.
Best line: “We’ll tell you, mom” – Bart, four seconds after Marge asks him to tell her when Homer “stops scratching himself”
5. Black Widower (season 3, episode 21)
Sideshow Bob makes a string of appearances in The Simpsons (his best is coming later down this list), but Black Widower definitely holds a special place in our hearts. Not only is it chock full of gags – and shudder-worthy moments, thanks to Selma – but there’s also some real tension as Bart races against time to save his beloved(-ish) aunt.
Best line: “After trying four times to explain it to Homer I explained it to mom and we were on our way” – Bart
6. A Streetcar Named Marge (season 4, episode 2)
The Simpsons always does a superb job with musical numbers, and Oh Streetcar! – their musical theatre version of A Streetcar Named Desire – is a particular stand-out. And while the songs are obviously the highlight of this episode, and Julie Kavner’s resigned performance as Marge is also excellent, we have to give credit to whoever came up with Maggie’s Great Escape-inspired B-story too.
Best line: “I’m sure you won’t enjoy it. There’s nothing about bowling in the play. Oh wait, there is” - Marge
7. Lisa’s First Word (season 4, episode 10)
The constant rivalry between Bart and Lisa is something anyone with a sibling can relate to, but Lisa’s First Word – the second of the show’s fantastic flashback episodes – is a reminder that there’s a lot of love there too... even if he did once creep into her room and cut all of her hair off. This episode is worth sticking around until the very end for, when none other than Elizabeth Taylor gives Maggie Simpson her first ever word.
Best line: “You know Maggie, the sooner kids learn to talk, the sooner they talk back. I hope you never say a word” – Homer
8. Marge vs. The Monorail (season 4, episode 12)
Around The Simpsons’ 30th anniversary last year, we asked around HuffPost staff members for the episode they thought was the most iconic, and this was one that came up more than any others – and there’s a reason for that. Marge vs. The Monorail has got everything you want in a 10/10 Simpsons episode: a top-notch musical number, laugh-out-loud throwaway gags and running jokes, plus a fantastic celebrity cameo (who knew Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy would become so synonymous with monorails?).
Best line: “I shouldn’t have stopped for that haircut” – Sebastian Cobb
9. Selma’s Choice (season 4, episode 13)
An episode that kicks off with a family funeral and ends with a trip to Duff Gardens – with an out-of-date sandwich, a cameo from an iguana and even a trippy sequence after Lisa drinks the water on an It’s A Small World-esque boat ride (the birth of the “I am the lizard queen!” meme, no less) all thrown into the mix. Yep, this episode truly is a ride, and who doesn’t love when Patty and Selma are given the opportunity to take centre stage?
Best line: “I’m not pouting. I’m mourning. Stupid dead woman” - Homer
10. I Love Lisa (season 4, episode 15)
A Valentine’s Day episode that really shows the ups and downs of romance, as we see Lisa giving a card to Ralph Wiggum, only for him to end up falling in love with her. Obviously, her “I choo-choo-choose you” card and the above screenshot are huge Simpsons moments to come from this episode, but on a non-comedic note, it’s always a treat to hear Yeardley Smith playing Lisa in those rare moments she’s struggling with not being in the right.
Best line: “Now for my favorite part of the show! What does that say? ‘Talk to the audience’?! Oh god, this is always death” – Krusty The Klown
11. Last Exit To Springfield (season 4, episode 17)
Frequently named by fans and critics as the best episode of The Simpsons ever produced, Last Exit To Springfield doesn’t let up for even one second, only stopping the laughs (“Dental plan! Lisa needs braces!”) for heartwarming moments (Lisa’s protest song is still one of our favourite scenes from a character we have no end of love for). From the Big Book Of British Smiles to Homer getting confused over Mr Burns’ “backdoor shenanigans”, it’s hard to pick a favourite moment, and that’s why Last Exit To Springfield is the perfect Simpsons offering for both long-time fans and those who’ve never actually seen an episode before.
Best line: “Smithers, I’m starting to think Homer Simpson is not the brilliant tactician I thought he was” – Mr Burns
12. Marge In Chains (season 4, episode 21)
When an outbreak brings Springfield to a standstill (sound familiar?), a misunderstanding leaves a stressed-out Marge in prison for shoplifting. If that first bit sounds a bit “too real”, trust us when we say this episode still brings enough of the laughs to take your mind off the real world for 20 minutes.
Best line: “Where can we get these placebos?” “Maybe there’s some in this truck!!” – The people of Springfield, as they’re struck down by the Osaka flu
13. Cape Feare (season 5, episode 2)
We’re just going to say it... Cape Feare is the best episode of The Simpsons ever made. There are so many quotable lines and stand-out jokes, ranging from the clever to the totally absurd (“bake ’em away, toys!”, “no one who speaks German could be an evil man”). Which other TV show would spend so much time allowing a minor character to step on not two, not three but nine rakes one after the other, only for them to then deliver an impromptu Gilbert And Sullivan medley? We should also note that the fact the comedy shines so brightly is particularly praise-worthy when you also consider Cape Feare is one of the show’s most sinister offerings ever.
Best line: Not actually a “line”, but that rake sequence is just perfect, and Kelsey Grammer’s shudder is never not funny.
14. The Last Temptation Of Homer (season 5, episode 9)
The thought of watching Homer contemplate cheating on his beloved spouse, Marge, doesn’t exactly sound like a laugh-a-minute episode, but it’s done in such a brilliantly Simpsons way (“whatsamatter, Homer? Ain’t you ever seen a naked chick riding a clam before?”), you can’t help but enjoy it. From Marge’s smeared selfie t-shirt to the Barry Manilow interpolation at the very end, The Last Temptation Of Homer delivers on both laughs and heart. Classic Simpsons.
Best line: ”*gasp* So am I!” – Millhouse, responding to Bart’s discovery that he’s a “geek”
15. Lisa’s Rival (season 6, episode 2)
By the time The Simpsons was in its sixth year, the guest stars were coming in thick and fast, with Winona Ryder doing a great job as Alison, who managed to outdo Lisa in every area she considered herself special. Watching high-achiever Lisa struggling with her new-found sense of inadequacy (“Jeremy’s... iron?”) makes for a really interesting watch, and the fact they both end up being bested by Ralph makes for a really sweet ending.
Best line: “I always thought I had the tallest hair, but that trip to Graceland really opened my eyes” – Marge
16. Treehouse Of Horror V (season 6, episode 6)
There’s probably a separate article to be had in the best Treehouse Of Horror specials, when The Simpsons does its yearly Halloween celebration with episodes made up of three shorter stories. This is probably the definitive one, though, thanks largely to the show’s fantastic ode to The Shining. The whole thing is just perfect, with plenty of nods to the classic horror film. The other two stories also bring the laughs (particularly Nightmare Cafeteria, another example of Treehouse Of Horror brilliance), before the finale sees an inside-out version of the family performing a number from A Chorus Line. Naturally.
Best line: “That’s odd. Usually the blood gets off at the second floor” – Mr Burns
17. Fear Of Flying (season 6, episode 11)
Like Last Exit To Springfield and Cape Feare, Fear Of Flying doesn’t stop for breath, cramming a lot of Simpsons brilliance into the space of 20 minutes. The most effective Simpsons episodes are the ones that take you on a total journey, and that’s exactly what Fear Of Flying manages, opening with Homer searching for a new place for a bevvie (“this lesbian bar doesn’t have a fire exit!”) and ending with Marge moving on from her issues with her father (“you might even say he was an American hero” “let’s not go nuts”).
Best line: “Sure, I will tell you about father. Father Christmas. That’s what they call Santa Claus in England. They drive on the wrong side of the road there – now that’s crazy! People are always talking about how small England is but you could not fit it all in here. Not by a long shot!” – Marge
18. And Maggie Makes Three (season 6, episode 13)
If ever you need proof that The Simpsons delivers every bit on the emotional front as it does on the laughs, you can point to the last two minutes of And Maggie Makes Three. We’ve already spoken about how great The Simpsons’ flashback episodes are, and this is yet another triumph from start to finish, but those last moments, where it’s revealed that Homer keeps all of his photos of Maggie at work, are just flawless.
Best line: “I should be resisting this, but I’m paralysed with rage… and island rhythms” – Mr Burns, as Homer plays his head like a bongo
19. Lisa’s Wedding (season 6, episode 19)
Having perfected the art of the flashback, The Simpsons producers tried something different in their sixth series, setting a story in the future. The episode is hooked around Lisa’s wedding to a rather stuffy British man, Hugh, who she meets – where else? – at the library. The format allowed the show to really play around with minor characters and imagine where they’d be 15 years in the future (a cryogenically-frozen Mr Burns is a particular highlight). Watching Lisa’s Wedding back now also makes for a good unintentional laugh, as the futuristic episode is set... in 2010.
Best line: “Oh, Millhouse doesn’t count” – Marge to Lisa, on why she should still wear white to her wedding
20. Who Shot Mr Burns? (season 6 episode 25 and season 7, episode 1)
Another case of The Simpsons bringing both comedy and high drama, with this light-hearted take on Who Shot J.R.?, the show played with the idea of a two-part episode for the first time. By leaving viewers to believe that anyone in Springfield could have been responsible for Mr Burns’ shooting, the writers created a genuinely suspenseful cliffhanger, and precisely no one could have predicted who the culprit would actually turn out to be...
Best line: “The town’s sundial will be useless” – Smithers tries to convince Mr Burns against blocking out the sun
21. Lisa The Vegetarian (season 7, episode 5)
In exchange for appearing on the show, Paul and Linda McCartney made it a condition that Lisa would remain a vegetarian for the rest of the show, and producers have stayed true to their word. This episode explores the origins of Lisa’s vegetarianism via some very cute farm animals, a conga line and, of course, a suckling pig flying over Springfield, set to the former Beatle’s hit Maybe I’m Amazed.
Best line: “I’m sorry, honey, I just got swept up on the rhythm” – Marge, after chanting “you don’t win friends with salad” with Homer and Bart
22. King-Size Homer (season 7, episode 7)
King-Size Homer has a fairly simple (though not entirely PC) premise, with Homer deciding to deliberately gain 61lbs so he can register as disabled and therefore work from home. The plan goes about as well as you’d think, but the episode did give us some of the most quotable Simpsons lines ever (“Let me have my dignity, I just want to watch Honk If You’re Horny in peace” and “I’m washing my fat guy hat” being just two of our faves), not to mention a truly iconic outfit in Homer’s muumuu. Homer grappling with his oh-so-90s computer is also a stroke of genius, even if it isn’t the most up-to-date humour in 2020.
Best line: “I wish I had my reaching broom” – Homer
23. Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield (season 7, episode 14)
And speaking of iconic Simpsons outfits, can we please just take a moment to appreciate Marge in her Chanel suit? Yes, Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield is essentially a 20-minute love letter to Marge in this suit, but seeing her come into her own only to end up flying too close to the sun (that scene where she yells at Lisa is particularly heartbreaking) before finally coming to her senses is honestly more compelling than you’d imagine.
Best line: “I hope she didn’t take my attempts to destroy her too seriously” – Marge’s snooty new friend Susan
24. A Fish Called Selma (season 7, episode 19)
We’re not sure what was happening in season seven, but The Simpsons seemed determined to give their staple characters makeovers, with “movie star Selma” being among the best. The late Phil Hartman truly owns this episode as Troy McClure, who seems chipper on the surface (not least during the legendary Planet Of The Apes musical sequence) but is apparently hiding a dark – and, indeed, fishy – secret.
Best line: “That’s too funny! I can’t remember when I’ve heard a funnier anecdote! Okay, now you tell one” – Troy McClure
25. Bart On The Road (season 7, episode 20)
Bart’s roadtrip with fan-favourite characters Millhouse, Martin and Nelson allows for some excellent moments, including the group picking up a hitch-hiker, seeing Andy Williams and, of course, trying on some wigs. We have to say, though, Bart On The Road is a great example of Lisa stealing the show even when she’s not involved in the main storyline, with her bonding session with Homer proving every bit as watchable as the central plot.
Best line: “This has purple stuff inside. Purple is a fruit” - Homer
26. Summer Of 4 ft. 2 (season 7, episode 25)
But seriously, if we’re going to talk about season seven make-overs, then Lisa in Summer Of 4 ft. 2 wins out. Given the opportunity to reinvent herself on summer holiday, the episode sees Lisa finally discover some friends who get her, outshining Bart for the first time, and bringing hope to outsiders everywhere in the process.
Best line: “Like y’know, whatever” – Lisa
27. You Only Move Twice (season 8, episode 2)
You Only Move Twice is The Simpsons at its absolute zaniest, and with the fast-talking charmer (and apparent supervillain) Hank Scorpio, the show found one of its greatest ever one-time characters, complete with his very own Bond theme over the closing credits.
Best line: “I’ve been so bored since we moved here, I found myself drinking a glass of wine every day. I know doctors say you should drink a glass and a half, but I just can’t drink that much” – Marge
28. Bart After Dark (season 8, episode 5)
There’s a lot we could say about this episode, but let’s just leave it at We Put The Springfield and call it a day. Seriously, what a number.
Best line: “Why Joseph, I had no idea” “Come on now, you were working here” – Mayor Quimby and his wife have it out in song form
29. Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious (season 8, episode 13)
The Simpsons had flirted with Disney parodies before this episode – most notably in the musical number See My Vest and in various explorations of the Itchy And Scratchy franchise – but this marked the first time the show ever devoted an entire episode to one. And what an episode this is, with Sherri Bobbins providing a string of toe-tapping musical numbers and bringing some cheer to Springfield. When The Simpsons start to drag her down, off she flies on her umbrella (before meeting a very un-Disney end). And how brilliant that this episode has ended up on Disney+, of all places.
Best line: “I’ve been singing you songs all day, I’m not a bloody jukebox, you know” – Sherri Bobbins
30. Homer’s Enemy (season 8, episode 23)
In this season eight offering, the show pondered the unthinkable question “what would it actually be like to have Homer Simpson in your life?”, and wasn’t afraid to show just how unpleasant a reality that would be. This episode (in particular its ending) is a lot darker than many past Simpsons episode, and is a divisive one among both fans and the show’s cast and crew, which is why it’s essential viewing, even if it ends up not being to your particular taste.
Best line: “Hmmm... Nitzy....?” – Marge, unafraid to settle when it comes to her personalised number plate.
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