25. Theres No Disgrace Like Home (Season 1, Episode 4)When Mr Burns favour is curried by a loving family at a company picnic, Homer uses the last of their money to buy family therapy, which he hopes will cure his eternal woe. An early insight into the true depth of their dysfunction, this episode introduces Dr Marvin Monroe as the therapist faced with the daunting task of fixing the Simpsons. Its an early milestone on the Simpsons journey; cementing the fact that, despite their inability to function as a family unit, they are in fact bonded at the core by a deep love and understanding, even if its not so apparent on the surface. Stand Out Gag: Homer sits, depressed, in Moes Tavern.Homer: You know, Moe, my mom once said something that really stuck with me. She said, "Homer, you're a big disappointment," and God bless her soul, she was really onto something.
24. Life on the Fast Lane (Season 1, Episode 9)After Homer buys Marge a bowling ball (aptly named Homer) for her birthday, she becomes angrily determined to take up the sport in order to spite him. This unwittingly leads her into the sights of the French bowling instructor Jaques. Hes debonair, patient and nurturing (basically everything that Homer isnt), and for a minute there it looks like Jaques might just bowl marge off her feet. Its one of the early episodes to examine the many frailties of Homer and Marges marriage. Sure Homer is a slob, hes reckless and self-involved. But hes also fiercely loyal at crunch time and always does the right thing in the end. Its clearly that which Marge is after and their Officer and A Gentleman role reversal at the bottom of the episode cant help but leave a warm, fuzzy aftertaste. http://youtu.be/l5clADPeRgU
23. Bart The Daredevil (Season 2, Episode 8)After witnessing a brutal failed motorbike stunt at a monster truck rally, Bart decides he wants to become a daredevil. Despite injuring himself pretty rapidly, he persists to the dismay of Homer and the others, and is determined to jump the Grand Canyonesque Springfield Gorge on his skateboard. At the last minute, Homer dissuades him from the jump and they reconcile; but of course, Homer is stood on the board as part of one of his symbolic gestures and suddenly finds himself careening toward the gorge in Barts place. Homer often ruins heartfelt family moments with his buffoonery, but for me this is still one of the more heartfelt moments, and its maybe more spectacularly ruined than any other: http://youtu.be/E4FQREDgG64
22. Homer Defined (Season 3, Episode 5)Im sure I dont have to re-iterate the severity of a nuclear meltdown; when Homer fails to notice a rising warning meter its up to him alone to stop it from happening. After he uses the old eenie-meenie-mynie-mo method to decide which button to press and it actually halts the meltdown, hes branded as a hero by the whole town, but suffers guilt at the knowledge that he simply lucked out. Of course come the credits hes exposed as the incompetent that he is, and the phrase to pull a Homer gets printed into the dictionary to describe an occurrence of dumb luck. It has all the ingredients of a great Simpsons episode; silliness and mayhem in heaps, but rich character development and exposition. Its episodes like this that have helped to define Homer Simpson as one of Americas best loved idiots. Stand Out Gag: Homer panics, as the Nuclear reactor threatens meltdown. Homer: Okay. Okay, think back to your training! Trainer: Now, Homer, this may very well save your life one-day. This... Homer? (Homer is playing with a Rubik's cube.)Homer: Yeah? Trainer: Please, pay attention. This button here controls the emergency override circuit. In the event of a meltdown, push this button and only this button. (Homer is still trying to solve the Rubiks Cube). Homer: Ooh, a side! Trainer: Simpson! Homer: What? Trainer: You see which button I'm pushing? Homer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Push the button. Got it Homer [to the Rubiks Cube]: Stupid cube, this is all your fault!
21. The Last Temptation of Homer (Season 5, Episode 9)Another episode where Simpson fidelity hangs in the balance (yep, marital discord is a repeated theme); this one sees Homer smitten with a beautiful new employee at the power plant, Mindy. Shes crass, forward, loves beer and junk food and oddly, she has a big thing for Homer too. When Burns sends them to an energy conference together, Homers faith is tested to its limit. Its almost the reverse of the Jaques situation from Life on the Fast Lane, and of course its just as satisfying to see Homer beat back temptation as it is Marge. With a heartfelt message about monogamy at its core and a renowned guest star performance from Michelle Pfiefer as Mindy, The Last Temptation of Homer won the ratings race the night it aired, as well as garnering high praise from both audiences and critics. Stand Out Gag: As usual, Homer is sat in Moes. Homer: Moe, I need your advice. Moe: [uninterested] Yeah.Homer: See, I got this friend, Joey Joe-Joe Junior... Shabadoo?Moe: That's the worst name I ever heard. [a man runs crying out of the door] Barney: Hey, Joey Joe-Joe!
20. I Married Marge (Season 3, Episode 12)
The early backstory episodes of the Simpsons, those that explore the lives of the family before the beginning of the on-going story, are some of my personal favourites. When Marge suspects she may be pregnant again, Homer takes the opportunity to recount the tale of their marriage, and the subsequent birth of Bart. Episodes like this help to flesh out the Simpsons Universe, giving events no matter how ludicrous - a sense of existence in time and space. They convey a sense that theres been a Springfield since before we knew about it, and therefore a sense that life will continue for the Simpsons even after the show finally ends. Lets be honest, thanks to this episode (and others like it) the Simpsons are as real as any family we might gawp at on a reality TV show, and usually convey a far more positive sentiment. http://youtu.be/neuMyI8M5fc
19. The Homer They Fall (Season 8, Episode 3)This is most certainly one of the best sports-themed Simpsons episodes available (there are a few dotted throughout, some great some not so much). After Homer absorbs a vicious beating, Moe, revealing himself to be a failed prize fighter, suggests he takes up boxing. Homer works his way up the rankings, his style to let his opponent pummel him until theyre exhausted, before finally being offered a shot at heavyweight champ Drederick Tatum (a thinly veiled Mike Tyson parody, whos gone on to cameo on numerous occasions). Moe is one of the more popular Simpsons characters, out of a cast of hundreds, and its thanks in part to episodes like this. Obviously Homer is a central character, but The Homer They Fall reveals much more about Moe; with a long-running show like the Simpsons, even tertiary characters are given deep, rich backstories. http://youtu.be/ONFVIfrPQxc
18. Barts Comet (Season 6, Episode 14)After ruining Principal Skinners weather-balloon (hilariously), Bart is forced to assist him in his amateur astronomy. When Bart inadvertently discovers a meteor thats heading for Springfield - appropriately dubbed The Bart Simpson Comet the town is cast into a panic. Ned Flanders grants the Simpsons a place in his bomb shelter, but soon the rest of the townspeople demand entry as well. And there isnt quite room for everyone. Homers relationship with Ned Flanders is somewhat outrageous; Homer often actively screws him over, even in the face of Neds overwhelming kindness. But why does Ned put up with it, in fact why does anyone? Barts Comet wasnt the first episode, in which Homer ultimately risks his life for another, and it certainly wont be the last but for me, its certainly one of the warmest, yielding satisfying insights into the Americas longest running neighbourly relationship. Stand Out Gag:Homer: Get out of there. My family needs to use your bomb shelter. Ned: I kind of figured this might happen, so I built the shelter big enough for both our families. Homer: No deal. Out.
17. Bart of Darkness (Season 6, Episode 1)There are plenty of Simpsons parody episodes, but Bart of Darkness is easily one of the most loved and well-remembered. Its the hottest day of the summer and the Simpsons family, desperate to keep cool, buy a back yard pool and soon their house becomes the local hotspot for the towns children. When Bart falls from the tree-house and breaks his leg in a botched attempt to jump into the pool, hes forced to spend the summer in jealous isolation his room with only Lisas telescope for company. Its an almost note-perfect skit on the late, great Alfred Hitchcocks Rear Window, and a parody of Jimmy Stewart actually appears in this episode to commemorate it (Grace, cmere. Theres a sinister looking kid I want you to see). The gags themselves are laid on heavily, and consistently hilarious, but also the idea that Ned might actually have murdered Maude makes for succulent, exciting drama. Stand Out Gag:Bart: I'm telling you, Ned Flanders murdered his wife! Homer: But why? She's such a fox! [Marge shoots Homer a look] I mean, what's on Fox tonight? Something ribald, no doubt...
16. Homers Barber Shop Quartet (Season 5, Episode 1)Despite Homers status quo as an unmotivated slob, hes done more in his life than even the most successful billionaire; Homers Barber Shop Quartet details one of the more popular of these past adventures. At a local swap meet, Bart and Lisa discover an L.P album by the Be Sharps that has Homers face emblazoned on the front. Homer then recounts the story of his jaunt into professional musicianship; its a parody of the Beatles rise to fame and George Harrison even cameos during the groups reunion performance on the roof of Moes.; Homers Barber Shop Quartet is an infinitely watchable and consistently gleeful reminder that, in the Simpsons, anything can happen, or can have happened in the past - a fact that the writers constantly derive gags out of. Stand Out Gag:Bart: Man, that's some story! Lisa: But there are still a few things I don't get. Like, how come we never heard about this until today? Bart: Yeah, and what happened to the money you made? Lisa: Why haven't you hung up your gold records? Bart: Since when could you write a song? Homer: There are perfectly good answers to those questions. But they'll have to wait for another night. Now off to bed!
15. Flaming Moes (Season 3, Episode 10)After Homer accidentally discovers a alcoholic beverage (with Krusty brand cough syrup as the key ingredient), which is greatly enhanced when it is set alight, Moe steals the idea dubbing it the Flaming Moe instead of Flaming Homer. When the new drink turns Moes into a celebrity hotspot, Homer is consumed with jealousy and reveals the cough syrup as the secret ingredient, souring a deal that would earn them both half a million dollars. As discussed in The Homer They Fall, over the years Moe has become one of the Simpsons best loved tertiary characters. His often tumultuous relationship with Homer has been explored in depth across the series, but it largely began with this episode, Flaming Moes - which is one of the first Simpsons episodes to feature the disgruntled bartender in a central role. Its an early gem from the Simpsons that has featured in best Simpsons lists on popular sites like IGN, Entertainment Weekly, AskMe.com and AOL. Stand Out Gag: Bart attempts one of his legendary crank calls to Moes. Moe: Flaming Moe's.Bart: Uh, yes, I'm looking for a friend of mine. Last name Jass. First name Hugh. Moe: Uh, hold on, I'll check. (to the bar clientele) Hugh Jass! Somebody check the men's room for a Hugh Jass! Hugh: Uh, I'm Hugh Jass. Moe: Telephone. (Hands over the receiver)Hugh: Hello, this is Hugh Jass. Bart: (Surprised) Uh, hi. Hugh: Who's this? Bart: Bart Simpson. Hugh: Well, what can I do for you, Bart? Bart: Uh, look, I'll level with you, Mister. This is a crank call that sort of backfired, and I'd like to bail out right now. Hugh: All right. Better luck next time. (hangs up) What a nice young man.
14. Homer the Great (Season 6, Episode 12)Homer discovers that many of his friends are members of a shadowy Freemason style group known as the Stonecutters. When they wont let him join, Homer becomes depressed revealing that hes been getting left out of social situations his whole life. But even when hes discovered as the prophesized chosen one to lead the group, his inane antics soon cause unrest amongst the lesser members. If youve ever been ostracized from a group before (a more common occurrence than one might think) then itll be easy for you to relate to this episode. Like all of us, Homer just wants to be liked, to be accepted for what he is, and in a way Homer the Great is an episode in which Homer is at his most poignantly vulnerable. And with Patrick Stewart in one of my personal favourite guest star roles, its easy to see why its featured highly on this list. Stand Out Gag:Marge: Oh, Homer, don't start stalking people again. It's so illegal. Remember when you were stalking Charles Karault because you thought he dug up your garden. Homer: Well, something did.Marge: I don't want you stalking people tonight. Homer: All right, fine. I'll be right back. I'm just going outside... to... stalk... Lenny and Carl... D'oh!
13. The Boy Who Knew Too Much (Season 5, Episode 20)When Bart forges a dentist note to get out of an extra-long school day, Principal Skinner pursues him across Springfield, determined to prove his truancy. After ducking into one of Mayor Quimbys parties to escape, Bart witnesses the apparent assault of a French waiter by the Mayors nephew Freddy. Thanks to Freddy Quimbys fiery demeanour the whole town are convinced of his guilt and only Bart knows the truth- but revealing it will be damning evidence of his truancy, and earn him months in detention. Despite this though, Bart cant see an innocent man suffer (that isnt Homer). Barts a little terror of that theres no doubt, but its episodes like this that remind us of the good thats at his core. Stand Out Gag:Lionel Hutz interviews Dr. Hibbert at the trial of Freddy Quimby. Dr. Hibbert: Well, only one in two million people has what we call the "evil gene". Hitler had it, Walt Disney had it, and... Freddy Quimby has it.Lionel Hutz: Thank you, Dr. Hibbert. I rest my case. Judge Snyder: You rest your case? Lionel Hutz: What? Oh no, I thought that was just a figure of speech... Case closed.
12. Lemon of Troy (Season 6, Episode 24)Lemon of Troy is the point where Springfields neighbouring town of Shelbyville, and the intense rivalry that exists between the two, is first properly explored. When some Shelbyville kids steal Springfields prized Lemon tree, its up to Bart and his friends to cross the town borders and take it back. Its a hilarious episode that poses Shelbyville as an alternate Springfield; in fact, the head of the Shelbyville kids, Shelby, is a spitting image of Bart, and his father is also the image of Homer, albeit with a little more hair. In Lemon of Troy theres a real sense that in an alternate universe theres a show based on their exploits instead of the Simpsons. http://youtu.be/P8urQgD_TDk
11. Bart Sells His Soul (Season 7, Episode 4)When Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for the paltry sum of $5 he soon notices disturbing changes; Santas Little Helper will no longer embrace him and the automatic door to the Kwik-e-Mart wont open. When he attempts to get his soul back, he finds its been sold and he pursues it desperately across Springfield. Ive been trying to focus on main plots so far in this article, but the sub-plot to this episode deserves a special mention; Moe turns his bar into a family restaurant, named Uncle Moes Family Feedbag with hilarious consequences. Bart Sells His Soul received high praise from audiences and critics alike, as well as from the theological community, who were in admiration of the episodes thoughtful, introspective examination of the nature of the human soul. Matt Groening himself cites this episode as one of his personal favourite; little wonder then that it places so highly on this list.
10. Homer Loves Flanders (Season 5, Episode 16)Another Ned themed episode (obviously-a-diddly), Homer Loves Ned places admirably as the first entry in the top ten. Its further proof that Homer does not do things by half. When Ned hooks Homer up with prime football tickets, Homer decides to put his unfounded grudge on hold and become friends with Americas favourite God-botherer. But of course, soon, Homer begins to take their friendship too far; to the point of stalking (the Terminator 2 skit in this episode is to my mind one of the funniest cultural references the Simpsons has ever done). This episode has stuck in my mind since I first saw it way back when. Its from what I like to think of as the golden age of the Simpsons; that period when there was no such thing as a filler episode, when every moment we were watching seemed funnier than the last. Homer Loves Flanders is a perfect representative of this golden age just check out that Terminator parody again, and I challenge you not to laugh: http://youtu.be/G7X5s5vacIU
9. Grampa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy (Season 6, Episode 10)When Homer and Marges sex-life is on the rocks, Homer gets help from the unlikeliest of places. Abe Simpsons wild-west style rejuvenation tonic puts the boing back in Homers pants and his passion for Marge is reignited. After shifting bottles of the stuff on the whole town, Homer sees the products potential and he and Abe go on the road as Simpson & Son to sell as much of it as they possibly can. But soon trouble arises, when Homers resentment toward his childhood arises as a major bone of contention. Its a tender episode that examines Homers relationship with his father in greater depth than others before it. Ive not always had the easiest relationship with my own father over the years, and so this episode has a special place in my heart (in fact its probably why I love the Simpsons so much in general); come the end, Homer realises that he loves his father, even if he isnt always emotionally available and conversely, Abe loves his son too. Lovely stuff! Stand Out Gag: Homer: Ooh, mama! This is finally, really happening. After years of disappointment with get-rich-quick schemes, I know I'm gonna get rich with this scheme...and quick!
8. Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment (Season 8, Episode 18)In this episode, Springfield suffers the greatest crisis Homer has ever known; an old prohibition law is re-enacted, making all booze illegal. To make matters worse, comically incompetent Police Chief Wiggum is replaced by the single-minded Rex Banner, whose only mission is to make sure the alcohol ban is enforced. Of course, Homer cant survive without booze can he? Before long he finds himself at the centre of a bootlegging business that caters to the alcoholic needs of the entire town. Its a clever look at alcoholism that doesnt just take the side of the non-drinker; it recognises that alcohol, while it may in many cases lead to addiction and can generally be taken as a negative, its also an inherent part of our society (encapsulated by the gag that the episode ends on: To Alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of lifes problems). A great sentiment, that doesnt pander, but instead presents a mature, objective argument thats considerate of both sides. Stand Out Gag: Marge: Why do you have so many bowling balls? Homer: Ah, I'm not gonna lie to you, Marge So long! .
7. And Maggie Makes Three (Season 6, Episode 13)One of the few later series episodes to appear in this list, The City of New York vs. Homer follows the Simpsons family to New York city, after Barney leaves his car on the plaza of the then standing World Trade Centres twin towers. While Homer must wait across awhole day for a parking attendant to release his car, Marge and the Kids take in the sights. Unfortunately, Homer is in the bathroom when the attendant arrives, and in a rage he drives away with the clamp still attached, unleashing a characteristic mayhem on the City that never sleeps. Fictional towns and boroughs like Shelbyville, Brockway and Ogdenville serve to flesh out the Simpsons universe, but sending the family to New York City helps to solidify the characters into the our world, and into an instantly recognisable, real-world location. The City of New York vs. Homer has widely been regarded as one of the best of the bunch by fans and critics and its musical number Im Checkin In even netted the show two awards. Stand Out Gag: Homer: All right, New York. I'm coming back. But you're not gonna get this! [Homer throws his wallet into the lit fireplace] Lisa: Dad, our baby pictures are in there. Homer: Don't you start!
5. Homers Enemy (Season 8, Episode 23)We all love Homer Simpson; everything he says and does is pure Homer, but theres no way to predict what hell say or do next. But can you imagine meeting someone like Homer in real life? This episode places, in essence, a real person into the Simpsons universe. Frank Grimes essentially suffers none of the short-sightedness or inability to learn that characterizes most Springfield natives. Hes motivated, hard-working and observant and when introduced to Homer takes an immediate disliking, thanks to his abundance of flaws. Poor Frank doesnt get a break once in this entire episode, and youll probably already know how he meets his fate by the end. Its no surprise it features in the top 5. Its a dark episode, one of the darkest outside of the Treehouse of Horror vignette episodes in fact, and has been cited as a high favourite for many of the shows top level creators (including Groening himself, as well as Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein), and even the Office creator Ricky Gervais, love him or hate him. http://youtu.be/dVcFjbI5DlA
4. Homie the Clown (Season 6, Episode 15)Ive found it particularly difficult to rank these top five; by this point, I have an affinity for each one almost equally. Homie the Clown is, simply put, hilarious from start to finish. When Krusty creates a clown college to alleviate spiralling debt, Homer is unable to put the advertisement out of his mind. Of course it wouldnt be a Simpsons episode unless he enrolled, but after he graduates, the local mob (led by Fat Tony) mistake him for the real Krusty, whos overdue on a gambling debt. Many of the episodes that Ive included in this top 25 have earned their place thanks to character development, strong dramatic or emotionally resonant storylines, or sharp social commentary, but Homie the Clown roundly trounces them on the strength of its gags alone. It maintains a constant chuckle, peppered with a generous helping of belly laughs and must be considered one of the funniest Simpsons episodes around. And here I though clowns were supposed to be scary http://youtu.be/0edCAOkdXgU
3. You Only Move Twice (Season 8, Episode 2)The concept of this episode is to my mind one of the best in the entire 23 series to date. When Homer takes a job at the Globex Corporation and moves his family into a new, futuristic house, he finally finds himself happy, with a friendly, supportive boss in Hank Scorpio. As the Simpsons adjust to their new environment, Homer, ignorant of his surroundings, fails to realise that Hank Scorpio is in fact a Bond-esque villain bent on world domination. This is another episode that for me maintains a constant level of satisfying humour throughout, complimented by moments of riotous hilarity. It exposes the true depth of Homers ignorance; even during the attempted torture of a clear Bond parody, Homer is still blind to his nice bosss villainous nature. Since its original airdate, You Only Move Twice has been massively rated by its critics and fans, and IGN even gave it the accolade of best episode of season 8. http://youtu.be/A0yxfVFDD-0
2. Itchy and Scratchy Land (Season 6, Episode 4)Maybe I was right at just the right age when I first caught Itchy and Scratch Land, but for me theres only one finer episode (and thats obviously up next). When the Itchy and Scratchy theme park opens for business, Bart and Lisa are desperate to go. Persuaded by their pestering, Homer and Marge agree to take them.. When the Itchy and Scratchy animatronic parade robots are driven into a bloodthirsty by a comically unexplained programming flaw, the Simpsons are left alone in the park to fight a horde of murderous cat and mouse robots. Itchy and Scratchy Land is the most unnecessarily dangerous and violently themed amusement park I think Ive ever seen, in reality or fiction. Its a fantastic setting that that slyly indicts parks like Disneyland and the like, and allows for a truly satisfying storyline, both dramatically and comically. As always, early Simpsons is first and foremost for subtle (and sometimes not so subtle, but consistently funny) social commentary and satire.
1. Homer Badman (Season 6, Episode 9)And here we have it; my number one Simpsons episode of all time. Let me stress again how difficult this list has been to order and it was with much deliberation that Homer Badman ended up in the top spot, but in my eyes, its earned it. When Homer persuades Marge to accompany him to a candy convention, they leave the kids with a babysitter; a strong feminist woman with a vague intolerance for men. After stealing a priceless Gummi Venus de Milo (in one of the funniest single set-pieces in the entire series lifespan See you in Hell, candy boys!), Homer takes the babysitter home, only to notice that the decadent sweet is stuck to her behind. Innocently grabbing it, she takes this contact as an unwanted sexual advance and turns the entire town against him. Soon, the Simpsons front lawn is turned into a media circus; each company seeming to have decided on Homers guilt without a shred of evidence, which of course makes up the townspeoples minds for them. Its only when Groundskeeper Willie admits to secretly taping the whole thing that Homers innocence is proven. I can watch this episode again and again, with its fantastic range of settings, its thick and fast gag structure and its absolutely flaming core indictment of media sensationalism. There are a few gags in Homer Badman that Id cite as high favourites (Ive mentioned one above, but I feel the poorly re-edited interview between Homer and tabloid show Rock Bottoms presenter Godfrey Jones deserves a mention). Of course, in a bittersweet ending, Homer watches the Rock Bottom report on groundskeeper Willie and immediately judges him without thought; its a clever way of saying media sensationalism is unfortunately here to stay. Stand Out Gag: [Homer's TV interview] Homer: Someone had to take the babysitter home. And that's when I noticed that she was sitting on her  Homer: sweet can. So I grab  Homer: her  Homer: sweet can. Ooh, just thinking about her  Homer: can  Homer: I wish I had another  Homer: sweet s-s-s-s-s-s-s-weeet... [Godfrey Jones looks at Homer with distaste]Godfrey: So Mr. Simpson, you admit you grabbed her can. What do you have to say in your defense? [A badly freeze-framed image of Homer fills the screen]Godfrey: Mr. Simpson, your silence will only incriminate you further. [The freeze frame begins to slowly zoom closer] Godfrey: No! Mr. Simpson, dont take your anger out on me! Get back, get back! MMr. Simpson, NOOOOOOOOOO!
So there are our top 25 Simpsons episodes. How do you feel about it? Of course, there are far greater than 25 episodes that are worthy of discussion and theres no doubt that someone out there is going to feel unrepresented. As usual drop us a line and make it known if we missed any.