Some say Friends is the most popular TV show the world has ever seen. Others would argue Game of Thrones deserves that title. But with more than 600 episodes under its belt, celebrities queuing up for a cameo and the most recognisable (yellow) faces on the small screen, surely the accolade should go to The Simpsons, which has been keeping us entertained for more than 30 years.
Now it will be easier than ever before to spend time with Homer and Marge, as the show’s full back catalogue is available on Disney+.
It’s all the excuse we need to indulge in some Simpsons nostalgia, and we’ve been reminiscing about the show’s best cameos. From Ricky Gervais to Glenn Close, the great and the good of the showbiz world are clambering to get on the show, but which superstar made the biggest impact with their appearance?
Here’s our guide to the top 11 cameos in Simpsons history…
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11. Paul McCartney
Season seven, episode five – ‘Lisa the Vegetarian’
It’s a testament to the quality of the cameos in this show that this Beatles star doesn’t even make the top 10. Paul and wife Linda pop up to help Lisa become a vegetarian, and would only agree to be in the show if Lisa remained veggie for the whole run of the series.
10. Meryl Streep
Season six, episode seven – ‘Bart’s Girlfriend’
Meryl Streep is brilliant at whatever she does, that’s a given. In The Simpsons she stars as Bart’s manipulative girlfriend Jessica. At first she has a good influence on him as he starts to improve his behaviour to impress her. But soon it turns out that she’s not all that she seems…
9. Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Season four, episode 22 – ‘Krusty Gets Kancelled’
The Chillis are on hand to help Krusty on the career comeback trail (alongside Hugh Hefner and Bette Midler bizarrely). Krusty does make a special request that the band tones down their sexy lyrics though and they happily oblige.
8. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Season 14, episode two – ‘How I Spent My Strummer Vacation’
In the brilliantly titled episode, ‘How I Spent my Strummer Vacation’ the family takes Homer to a ‘Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp’ as a treat. It’s run by the Rolling Stones, who teach him about music alongside Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Lenny Kravitz. The episode culminates in Mick and the gang chasing Homer across the stage in a fire-breathing devil’s head when he tries to steal the show…
7. Dustin Hoffman
Season two, episode 19 – ‘Lisa’s Substitute’
Although his name doesn’t appear on the credits, Dustin Hoffman’s appearance is a terribly kept secret. He plays Lisa’s charismatic supply teacher, Mr Bergstrom who becomes the object of her affections and changes her life.
6. Ringo Starr
Season two, episode 18 – ‘Brush with Greatness’
Both Paul (number 11 on this list) and George Harrison also pop up in The Simpsons, but it’s Ringo’s appearance that’s the most memorable. Marge was a big Beatles fan in her youth and sent a painting to Ringo. Years later, still sorting through his fan mail, he replies to her and encourages her to pursue her interest in art once again. Unfortunately for everyone this leads to her painting Mr Burns nude at a life drawing class…
5. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny
Season eight, episode 10 – ‘The Springfield Files’
Appearing in the show when The X-Files was at its peak, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny transport Mulder and Scully to Springfield, where they undertake the latest in a long line of paranormal investigations. Homer has seen an alien and Mulder and Scully run tests on him in this inspired crossover episode.
4. Johnny Cash
Season eight, episode nine, ‘The Mysterious Voyage of Homer’
When Homer eats too many spicy chilli peppers he ends up hallucinating. This triggers a psychedelic trip in the desert where meets a space coyote, voiced by Johnny Cash, who tells him to find his soulmate. Who, of course, is Marge.
3. Patrick Stewart
Season six, episode 12
As if playing Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard weren’t iconic enough, Patrick Stewart throws in a legendary Simpsons appearance too. Homer tries to join a secret society called The Stonecutters, led by Number One, played by Stewart, who uses all of his Shakespearean voice training to make the character ridiculous and hilarious.
2. Mark Hamill
Season 10, episode nine, ‘Mayored to the Mob’
It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself and Star Wars star Mark Hamill is always game. This cameo is brilliant fun. Homer is acting as bodyguard to Mayor Quimby and they attend a performance of Guys and Dolls. The best moment is when Mark replaces the lyrics of ‘Lucky be a Lady tonight’ with ‘Luke be a Jedi tonight’ and tells Homer to “use the forks”.
1. Stephen Hawking
Season 10, episode 22 – ‘They Saved Lisa’s Brain’ (first appearance)
Celebrities, music legends and Hollywood stars are all very impressive, but casting a genius is a whole new level. Stephen Hawking appears in the show four times, including as a drinking buddy for Homer, and was first cast for an episode in which Lisa joins Mensa. When he died, Simpsons show runner Al Jean paid tribute by saying that Hawking had “a sense of humour as vast as the universe.”