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Another Top 20 List: The Top 20 The Simpsons Episodes From The First 13 Years, Part II

Updated on December 5, 2013

The Top 10

And now we finally come to the Top 10 best episodes from the first 13 years of The Simpsons. Sure, the first 20-11 episodes were special in their own way, but the top 10 are all iconic episodes that will live on long after The Simpsons has been canceled--which hopefully is at least another five years away. The bulk of the introduction happened during the first half of this list, so why don't we just go ahead and return where we left off?

Homer Simpson going something something.
Homer Simpson going something something.

#10. Treehouse of Horror V (Season 6)

As I was making this list there were many episodes of ToH I thought of including, chiefly among them being VI with the Homer2 final act. However, I feel that V had the strongest overall acts, beginning with The Shinning, Time and Punishment, and ending on Nightmare Cafeteria. I will admit, however, that whenever the ending credits came on--and the whole family is dancing to A Chorus Line with their skin turned inside out--I always turn the channel. Whether that's a testament to a good, scary episode or not, is definitely up to the viewer to decide. Interestingly, the song they dance to, 'One', is also the song playing at the end of the first segment, The Shinning, on Homer's handheld television. Another small piece of trivia is that the third act, Nightmare Cafeteria, did not showcase Homer Simpson at all--a first for ToH episodes.

Favorite Quote:

Homer: "Well what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I'm thinking along the lines of "No Beer and No TV Make Homer... something something."

Marge: [fearfully] "Go crazy?"

Homer: "Don't mind if I do!"

Lisa Simpson with her new friends.
Lisa Simpson with her new friends.

#9. The Summer of 4 Ft. 2 (Season 7)

This episode holds particular meaning to me as I always had trouble watching it because I really identified with Lisa during that stage in my life. And the ending where Lisa's new-found friends decorate the family's car is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. The Beach Boys' song, 'All Summer Long' is now inextricably interlinked with this episode as well. I'm still trying to find glowing seashells however.

An interesting, but ultimately worthless piece of trivia is that Lisa, being aged 8, would be approximately 50.3 inches tall according to the average height for girls her age. This translates to 4 Ft 5 inches, which is very close to the title, which is even more interesting considering the unrelated title was a parody of a movie about the year 1942 (Summer of '42).

Favorite Quote:

Homer: "SWEET, MERCIFUL CRAP! My car!"

#8. Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood (Season 5)

The best part about this episode is that it reintroduced the world to the talented Ernest Borgnine. I'm kidding of course, as I still have no idea who he is. However, he did do a very good job voice acting, especially considering he was 74 at the time of the episode, a record still held 20 years later. As for the episode itself, it is one of a very few episodes I always must watch whenever its on, regardless of how tired I may be. There are just too many classic lines and allusions to both movies and musicals ("Springfield, Springfield"/"New York, New York"). And it's always nice to see Homer try to be a good father, even if it means popping a hole in their boat and dooming Borgnine by swiping his pocketknife.

Favorite Quotes:

Homer: 'Marge, don't discourage the boy. Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals, except the weasel."

Ned: [to Homer] "Want me to zinc your sniffer?"

Homer "Mr. Plow" Simpson sensually displaying his jacket.
Homer "Mr. Plow" Simpson sensually displaying his jacket.

#7. Mr. Plow (Season 4)

I'll start out by saying two thing; 1) this episode has just about the catchiest, most-quoted jingle associated with The Simpsons of any episode, and 2) it really made me upset that Barney was so uncharacteristically mean to Homer. It's a great, great episode--especially considering it was almost entirely written by one man, Jon Vitti. Perhaps there's just something fulfilling about seeing Homer, a perpetual failure, finally hit upon a job he does well. It's happened before of course, but it's still quite uncharacteristic of him. Which is made all the more aggravating when it's his own friend who stabbed him in the back. Ah, so much drama for a 22 minute cartoon! It's like a modern day Julius Caesar. Et tu, Barne?

Favorite Quote:

Linda Ronstadt: [singing] "When the snow is a fallin', there's a man you should be callin'. That's KLD-796. Let it ring. Mr Plow is a loser, and I think he is a boozer, so you'd better make that call to the Plow King."

#6. Lemon of Troy (Season 6)

The title is an homage to Helen of Troy, as the Springfieldian Lemon Tree is a tree that launched a thousand vengeful boys into enemy territory--Shelbyville--for its retrieval. This mirrors Helen of Sparta's seduction and capture by Paris of Troy. I suppose that means Helen is Springfield in this version then. After which the Springfield gang leaves their RV in the impound lot as a ruse much akin to the Trojan Horse. I'm not entirely sure though, because Greek mythology is incredibly confusing. An interesting bit of trivia is that the RV Flanders uses is the one referenced in 'Call of the Simpsons', way back in Season 1. I guess that means all you need to make a successful Simpsons episode is to have good, out-of-copyright source material and a few details updated for modern audiences. Actually, didn't I just describe how every single Treehouse of Horror episode is written?

Favorite Quote:

Milhouse: "Step over this line and say that. I'll kick your butt... at Nintendo."

Seymour Skinner with pee bucket on head.
Seymour Skinner with pee bucket on head.

#5. Skinner's Sense of Snow (Season 12)

Wait. S-Season 12? That can't possibly be right! The title is a reference to a book no one read--danish mystery novel 'Smilla's Sense of Snow'--which incidentally has absolutely nothing to do with the episode. An interesting piece of trivia is that one of the books burned by Bart and the gang is Johnny Tremain. If this book sound familiar, it's because this is the book Bart read in Season 4's Whacking Day and actually enjoyed. There are so many quotable lines and memorable scenes--from the awful movie, 'The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, But Then Was', to a dodgeball bag tied around Skinner, to the whole exchange between Ned and Homer as they are trying to save the children.

Favorite Quote:

Skinner: "Well, I see you Scotsmen are thrifty with courage, too!"

Willie: "OK Skinner, that's the last time you'll slap your Willie around. I quit!"

#4. Hurricane Neddy (Season 8)

This episode is reminiscent of another episode, 'The Principal and the Pauper', in that it retcons a beloved character's back story. Unlike 'The Principal' however, this episode was widely acclaimed for how it dealt with the reason behind Ned's often nonsensical blathering--ie. "Okely, dokely". This episode features one of the best scenes in a Simpsons episode where, after the townspeople unsuccessfully try to rebuild Ned's house, Ned goes completely nuts and insults everyone in town. In later seasons it becomes less uncommon to hear Ned swearing, but at this point in the series this was the first time.

Favorite Quote:

Ned: "Calm down, Nedilly-diddly-diddly-diddly-doodly, they did their best, shodilly-iddly-iddly-diddly. Gotta be nice, hostiddly-iddly-diddly-diddly... Aw, hell-diddly-ding-dong-crap! CAN'T YOU MORONS DO ANYTHING RIGHT?!!!!"

#3. Colonel Homer (Season 3)

From See My Vest to Flaming Moe's, these songs and many more have solidified The Simpsons' reputation as more than just a mere cartoon. However, one episode stands above the rest in providing memorable songs intertwined with a humorous and also heartfelt story. Many times during Colonel Homer I have wished that the songs included in it were real and that I could listen to the full song, not just the 10 seconds included. A fun bit of trivia is that this is Matt Groening's (yes, that Matt Groening) first, last, and only episode he is credited with writing. As for favorite quotes I could probably just list every song in the show. Seriously, Beverly D'Angelo should cut an an album with full lyrics! This episode has a rather forgettable sequel in Season 19 with The Dixie Chicks, though it too contains a catchy tune.

Favorite Quotes:

Homer: "Marge, you make it sound so seamy. All I did was spend the afternoon in her trailer watching her try on some outfits."

Homer: "Marge, it takes two to lie... one to lie and one to listen."

Bart defending Lisa and Milhouse against the local savages.
Bart defending Lisa and Milhouse against the local savages.

#2. Das Bus (Season 9)

An interesting bit of trivia is that Das Bus in German means The Bus. The episode's title is a reference to Das Boot, a 1981 movie about World War II. Yeah, some of the titles don't make a whole lot of sense. It is a rare episode where both the A and the B-stories are both equally good. From Homer starting up his own internet company--Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net--a parody of the internet craze to the children being stranded on a deserted island a la Lord of the Flies, this episode is full of allusions and memorable quotes.

This episode has even become study material in colleges for some odd and inexplicable reason. Still, I watched The Simpsons' version of Poe's The Raven in an English course so perhaps it isn't as outlandish as it seems.

Favorite Quotes:

Chief Wiggum: "Good luck, Ralphy. If your nose starts bleeding, it means you're picking it too much. Or not enough."

Narrator [James Earl Jones]: "So the children learned how to function as a society, and eventually they were rescued by, oh, let's say... Moe."

Ah, The Memories -- A Collage

Before we get to the number 1 best episode of The Simpsons, I think it's important to first remember all the episodes that may not have been so lucky. And what better way to do that then through a collage, showcasing the worst episodes of the first 13 years? It's important to remember The Simpsons' failings as well as their accomplishments, so we can more fully appreciate them. I'm not going to bother writing anything about each picture--perhaps I'll save that for an article about the Top 20 Worst Episodes--but true fans will be able to pick out the episodes.

Oh, the memories! The horrible, horrible memories!
Oh, the memories! The horrible, horrible memories!
The Be Sharps. From left to right: Seymour Skinner, Barney Gumble, Homer Simpson, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.
The Be Sharps. From left to right: Seymour Skinner, Barney Gumble, Homer Simpson, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

And a 1..

And a 2..

And a.. #1 Homer's Barbershop Quartet (Season 5)

Would it be alright if the only reason I like this episode so much is because of the incredibly catchy song, Baby on Board? What other 22 minute cartoon showcases a brand-new song that could easily be a Top 50 hit on the Billboard charts? It of course doesn't hurt that I've always been a pretty avid fan of barbershop quartets such as The Dapper Dans who sang the actual songs for this episode overlaid with the actors' voices. Another great thing about this episode is all the parodying of The Beatles, as well as a guest cameo by George Harrison himself. Of course, Ringo Starr had already made an appearance in Season 2's Brush With Greatness and Paul McCartney finally made his first appearance with Season 8's Lisa the Vegetarian. There are more references to The Beatles in this single episode than there are references to The Beatles anywhere else in the entirety of the series.

Favorite Quotes:

Homer: "Baby on board, something something, Burt Ward...this thing writes itself!"

Excerpt from Baby on Board: “I'm telling you it's mighty nice / Each trip's a trip to paradise / With my baby on board!”

Closing Remarks

For those who are interested in statistics, the breakdown of episodes on this list from each Season is as follows:

# in the Top 20
# in the Top 20

Until next time when I review the Top 20 episodes from the last 13 years! Thanks for reading and, as always, I look forward to your comments below.


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