Disney+ is now live in the UK and with it comes over 600 episodes of the longest-running animated show of all the time, The Simpsons.
Now while having every single outing featuring Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge and Maggie at your fingertips is an exciting prospect, it could also be an intimidating one. With over three decades of stories to (Mister) plough through, where do you start…?
But never fear, the RadioTimes.com team is on hand to recommend 15 of the very best Simpsons episodes (in no particular order) now streaming on Disney+ – this lot are certain to provoke a belly laugh or two, and maybe even cause you to shed the odd tear…
If you haven’t already signed up to Disney Plus you can still get free trial or subscribe for either £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year’s subscription.
1. Homer the Great
Season six, episode 12
Homer stumbles across a secret society in Springfield, the Stonecutters, and ends up becoming their glorious leader after a birthmark sees him hailed as the “Chosen One” whose arrival was foretold by the ancient scriptures.
‘Homer the Great’ is a perfect Simpsons episode, a shining example of everything the show does so well – there’s brilliant one-liners (“Remove the stone of shame… attach the stone of triumph!”), amazing pay-offs and recurring gags (“Sorry, no Homers!”), a superb guest performance (from Patrick Stewart as Stonecutters leader Number One) and moments of real heart (Homer reconciling with his family at the end).
Plus, it features one of the show’s finest ever Homer moments, in which he tries to lie about stalking Lenny and Carl and ends up accidentally spilling the truth. Pure gold. – Morgan Jeffery
2. Marge vs. the Monorail
Season four, episode 12
How to spend $3 million? That’s the nice problem facing Springfield, after Mr Burns pays a hefty fine for dumping nuclear waste in the town.
Ignoring Marge’s sensible-but-dull suggestion to fix the potholes on Main Street, the crowd gathered in the town hall meeting are won over by charismatic salesman Lyle Lanley, who convinces them to invest in a high-speed monorail. But Marge and Lisa smell a rat, and set out to expose the fraudster in this episode that is often considered by fans and critics to be one of the greatest – and also features Leonard Nimoy as a guest star. – Helen Hackworthy
3. Who Shot Mr Burns?
Season six, episode 25 / Season seven, episode 1
What a TV event this was back in 1995 as people swapped theories and mulled over clues and waited for the second episode of the two-parter to finally air! This classic whodunnit sees Springfield’s evil Mr Burns turn his villainy up a few notches, giving everybody a motive to want him dead – and then he’s shot off-screen by a mystery assailant. Who pulled the trigger? You’ll have to watch to find out. – Eleanor Bley-Griffiths
4. Radioactive Man
Season seven, episode two
As another example of The Simpsons being so ahead of its time, ‘Radioactive Man’ has only gained in relevance since the superhero genre exploded in popularity. Bart is delighted when a film crew arrives in Springfield to film an adaptation of his favourite comic book, but misses out on the role of sidekick Fallout Boy to best friend Milhouse.
This is a superb episode showcasing their friendship as well as making some pointed jabs at Hollywood’s expense, with the triumphant return of the show’s resident Schwarzenegger parody: Rainier Wolfcastle. – David Craig
5. Lisa’s Wedding
Season six, episode 19
It’s rare that a TV show can count a fantasy / ‘What if?’ episode among its finest, but there’s certainly an argument to be made that ‘Lisa’s Wedding’ deserves a spot in the pantheon of all-time-great Simpsons outings.
Lisa meets a carnival fortune teller and learns about her future romance with university student Hugh Parkfield, voiced by Mandy Patinkin, but what starts out as a fairly fanciful story ends up becoming one of the show’s most affecting episodes ever, as the differences between Lisa and Hugh become apparent.
If the final scene, which sees Lisa reaffirming her love for her dopey but adoring dad Homer, doesn’t have you crying happy tears, then you’re a stone-cold brute. – Morgan Jeffery
6. Last Exit to Springfield
Season four, episode 17
Is there a better Simpsons episode than power plant-strike story ‘Last Exit to Springfield’? Well, that depends on your point of view – based on this list alone, everyone has their favourites – but an awful lot of people think this episode should take the crown.
Entertainment Weekly have called it “virtually flawless”, the BBC called it “the show’s best-ever episode” and MSNBC described it as “the episode that every self-respecting Simpsons geek must be able to recite verbatim.” Not bad for a story about union politics.
From Mr Burns’ Grinch impression, Lisa’s endlessly catchy protest song and the sheer surreal genius of Homer’s slow realisation (“Dental plan….Lisa needs braces!”), this episode has it all. The Simpsons has never been better. – Huw Fullerton
7. Dancin’ Homer
Season two, episode five
In this early classic, Homer gets a taste of fame after becoming an unlikely hero as the mascot of the Springfield Isotopes baseball team. But when he is asked to step up to the big league, even the advice of the Capital City Goofball – a marcotting great – is not enough to impress the fans in the big smoke and the family are forced to return home. However, it turns out that Homer’s friends in Moe’s Tavern are enthused by this depressing story of missed opportunities and broken dreams.
Packed full of good gags, this is a Homer-centric episode that carefully treads the line of absurdity, but without falling into the surreal adventures he often embarks on in later seasons. – Tim Glanfield
8. Lisa the Iconoclast
Season seven, episode 16
A two-pronged assault on the funny bone, ‘Lisa the Iconoclast’ reaps plenty of laughs from its A-plot, which sees the precocious young Simpson uncover some horrifying truths about town founder Jebediah Springfield, infuriating Donald Sutherland’s local historian Hollis Hurlbut. (“You’re banned from this institution – you, and your children, and your children’s children… for three months!”)
But it’s the B-plot which is actually this episode’s richest comedy seam, as loudmouth Homer finds his calling, replacing Ned Flanders as Springfield’s town crier. (“Mmm… he’s embiggened that role with his cromulent performance!”) – Morgan Jeffery
9. Bart Sells His Soul
Season seven, episode 4
Many of The Simpsons’ finest moments have come from the show’s more sensitive side and ‘Bart Sells His Soul’ is a great example of that.
Confident in his belief that spirituality is a myth, Bart trades his soul to Milhouse for five dollars – only to discover some disturbing side effects of that decision. What follows are some genuinely unnerving moments as he desperately tries to get his soul back, marking one of the few times the spiky-haired troublemaker actually learns a meaningful lesson.
In the equally genius subplot, Moe reopens his squalid bar as a welcoming restaurant called Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag. It goes about as well as you would expect. – David Craig
10. And Maggie Makes Three
Season six, episode 13
Homer has some explaining to do when Lisa and Bart wonder why there’s no pictures of Maggie in the family album….
Back in 1993, Homer spectacularly quit his job at the Power Plant in a bid to follow his dream of working at a bowling alley. But when he finds out Marge is pregnant with Maggie, he is forced to quit his job and return to work for Mr Burns. Of course, tyrannical Burns made Homer pay for his disloyalty and after making him beg for his job back, he placed a large plaque by his desk which read: “Don’t forget: you’re here forever”.
It all builds to a hugely touching reveal at the end. Full of heart, humour and emotion, we beg you not to cry at this one. – Helen Daly
11. Homer’s Triple Bypass
Season four, episode 11
Every now and then, The Simpsons blindsides you with a tearjerker and ‘Homer’s Triple Bypass’ is one such example.
After years of catastrophic eating habits, Homer requires major surgery on his heart which could quite possibly kill him. He shares a heartfelt moment with Bart, Lisa and Maggie by his hospital bedside, as he faces the prospect of not being around to see them grow up. It’s powerful to see such a jokey character deal with a story so emotionally-charged and reminds us that through all his mistakes, Homer is a family man at heart. – David Craig
12. Two Dozen and One Greyhounds
Season six, episode 20
“Like my loafers? Former gophers / It was that or skin my chauffeurs / But a greyhound fur tuxedo / Would be best…”
Love is in the air for Simpsons family pet Santa’s Little Helper, who falls for She’s the Fastest, a racing greyhound from the local dog track. In a scene rather less romantic than Lady and the Tramp, the pair share a plate of spaghetti and some time later, 25 adorable puppies arrive.
However, after chewing through the Simpsons’ sock supply and ruining a dinner party by popping out of the turkey waiting to be carved, an alternative home needs to be found for the pups. Enter Mr Burns, who may or may not have a sinister motive… – Helen Hackworthy
13. Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes On Every Fish
Season two, episode four
From the brilliant season two of the show, this particularly satirical episode is a pastiche of Citizen Kane layered with commentary on the American political system and environmental issues. It’s also very, very funny.
When Bart catches a three eyed fish in the lake outside the Springfield Nuclear Plant, “Blinky” makes the papers and forces the incumbent governor of the state to hit polluting Mr Burns hard. Burns responds by running for governor himself, prompting an ad-campaign with a tagline “Only a moron wouldn’t cast his vote for Monty Burns!” and culminating in a PR opportunity of dinner with The Simpsons. However, Marge serves a dish that puts a Charles Montgomery Burns finds hard to swallow. – Tim Glanfield
14. You Only Move Twice
Season eight, episode two
The Simpson family uproots their life when Homer bags a new job in the picturesque Cypress Hill. What he doesn’t realise is that his new boss, Hank Scorpio, is an international super villain. To be fair, he’s still a great deal friendlier than Mr Burns. ‘You Only Move Twice’ has become a firm favourite with fans, owing to its frantic tone and a superb guest performance from the legendary Albert Brooks. Definitely one for the Bond fan in your life. – David Craig
15. 22 Short Films About Springfield
Season seven, episode 21
Let’s face it, ’22 Short Films About Springfield’ deserves its spot on any list of best-ever Simpsons episodes purely for the segment in which Principal Skinner hosts Superintendent Chalmers for an “unforgettable luncheon” – the ‘Steamed Hams’ skit is two minutes and 45 seconds of pure joy, from “Delightfully devilish, Seymour!” to “No, mother, it’s just the Northern Lights!”.
But this unusual episode, made up off 22 shorts exploring daily life in Springfield, has so much more to offer, from Chief Wiggum, Lou and Eddie’s Pulp Fiction-spoofing discussion about the differences between McDonald’s and Krusty Burger to bully Nelson having the tables turned on him by an extremely tall man in a very small car. “Blow them kisses!” – Morgan Jeffery
The Simpsons is streaming now on Disney+ UK. You can sign up to a free Disney+ trial, or buy an annual subscription for £59.99 or £5.99 a month.