The Top ‘Simpsons’ Moments That Became the Top ‘Simpsons’ Memes
These days, everyone has a meme for every moment and every situation. But even among such ubiquity, certain memes — especially those inspired by The Simpsons — still stand above all the rest. While many memorable Simpsons bits live on in an endless stream of memes on Simpsons Shitposting pages — FWIW: my favorite is probably Sugarposting — the moments below have spawned memes that have crossed over into the mainstream and become shared by people who only have the faintest understanding of The Simpsons.
Lisa at Dinner
Episode: “Bart Gets an ‘F,’” Season 2, Episode 1
The Moment: Lisa bashfully shares the news that she got an “A” on her vocabulary test at dinner.
Why It Became a Meme: This is one of those memes that originated from a somewhat unusual single frame that’s taken out-of-context and reused to illustrate another point entirely. Because Lisa is staring at her empty dinner plate with a half-grin, it usually expresses emptiness, hunger or a lack of something existing.
Homer Peeking Out Window
Episode: “Homer to the Max,” Season 10, Episode 13
The Moment: When Homer is ridiculed by everyone in Springfield for sharing his name with a bumbling character on TV, he holes himself up in the attic, becoming increasingly paranoid and spending a lot of time looking out the window.
Why It Became a Meme: Another meme taken from a split-second shot, this one is taken less out-of-context and is usually shared by people who are expressing their lack of (or nervousness in) participation in something. At the height of the pandemic, Homer Peeking Out Window was especially relatable.
Episode: “Bart the Genius,” Season 1, Episode 2
The Moment: Skinner catches Bart and his friends spray-painting a derogatory rendering of the Springfield Elementary principal.
Why It Became a Meme: Interestingly, Skinner appears to have a smug appearance in the meme, but he never actually says “pathetic” in the episode, despite the meme’s oft-accompanied text. Pathetic is often used to ridicule something already trivial, which the internet is particularly good at.
I, For One, Welcome Our New Insect Overlords
Episode: “Deep Space Homer,” Season 5, Episode 15
The Moment: When Homer is an astronaut, the news cuts to a live feed from inside the spacecraft to check on him. Unfortunately, he’s accidentally set loose a bunch of insects inside the craft, and one of the floating ants moves right in front of the camera just as the feed goes live, causing Kent Brockman to come to the conclusion that the craft has been conquered “by a master race of giant space ants” and that he’s looking forward to them conquering Earth, too.
Why It Became a Meme: It’s all about reaching a conclusion based on an absolutely absurd deduction and calmly willingly to cooperate with any existential threat that might accompany it. The phrase alone — specifically the “I, for one” — is often more than enough for the meme to work. Ken Jennings famously used a variant of it when the computer Watson defeated him on Jeopardy in 2011. Is this the future of memeing? I, for one, welcome our new meme overlords.
It’s the Children Who Are Wrong
Episode: “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” Season 5, Episode 20
The Moment: Bart plays hooky from school, and Principal Skinner knows it. And so, Skinner ventures out to try and find out where Bart might be instead. When Skinner fails to find him at the Springfield History Museum and the 4-H Club, he ponders, “Am I so out of touch?,” before reassuring himself, “No. It’s the children who are wrong.”
Why It Became a Meme: In a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand other people’s points-of-view, it seems like less and less of us are willing to admit we’re “out-of-touch,” and rather, the people we have a problem with are the ones “who are wrong.” It’s the Children Who Are Wrong perfectly captures the absurdity of that conclusion.
Old Man Yells at Cloud
Episode: “The Old Man and the Key,” Season 13, Episode 13
The Moment: When Grampa Simpson needs a photo for his driver’s license, he asks Patty Bouvier (a DMV employee and Marge’s sister) if he can use a recent photo of him that was used in the newspaper, cutting to a shot of the article featuring the headline “Old Man Yells At Cloud,” with a picture of Grampa doing just that.
Why It Became a Meme: Like Pathetic, Old Man Yells at Cloud is another meme that’s used to make fun of people being livid at something completely trivial. It’s been directed at Clint Eastwood for talking to a chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, people being angry about Starbucks holiday mugs and numerous different Karens.
It’ll Happen to You
Episode: “Homerpalooza,” Season 7, Episode 24
The Moment: Grampa Simpson is told by his son Homer, a teenager “rocking out” to disco with Barney, that he wouldn’t understand what they’re doing because he’s not “with it.” Grampa responds prophetically, “I used to be with it. Then they changed what it was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what is it seems weird and scary to me. And it will happen to you.”
Why It Became a Meme: This quote would also qualify for any list of the best pieces of truth that The Simpsons has ever offered. Not only did Homer learn the truth of it in the episode itself when his kids are into alternative music and his music is viewed as “dinosaur bands,” fans of the show have learned it in the nearly three decades since this episode first aired. TikTok? Dabbing? Bad Bunny? What the hell is going on these days?
That’s the Joke
Episode: “A Star Is Burns,” Season 6, Episode 18
The Moment: In his latest film McBain: Let’s Get Silly, action star Rainier Wolfcastle’s titular character becomes a stand-up comic. When his observational “joke” fails to land, McBain responds blankly, “That’s the joke.” (He then opens fire on the crowd when they heckle him.)
Why It Became a Meme: As the saying goes, everyone’s a comedian, especially on the internet, so the meme is often used to lampoon any lame attempt at humor. It’s become so popular that sometimes it’s only necessary to type out “thatsthejoke.jpg.”
Lisa Giving a Presentation
Episode: “Bye, Bye, Nerdy,” Season 12, Episode 16
The Moment: Lisa gives a presentation to a group of scientists explaining the reason bullies prey on nerds is due to a pheromone imbalance rather than emotional issues.
Why It Became a Meme: Another split-second frame that makes a perfect blank slate to fill in with text. (See the similar “Jim Halpert Pointing to Whiteboard” Office meme and Steven Crowder’s “Change My Mind” meme). Even if your opinion is stupid, you’ll score some cred by using a pop-culture moment to get your point across.
Homer Disappearing into Bushes
Episode: “Homer Loves Flanders,” Season 5, Episode 16
The Moment: Homer creepily walks through the bushes to ask Ned Flanders, his new best friend, if he wants to hang out. When Flanders turns him down, Homer stares blankly at Flanders’ unexpected response and slides back into the bushes.
Why It Became a Meme: Many people have had awkward speechless moments in their life, and Homer Disappearing into Bushes captures that feeling in a creative, surreal fashion. Former Simpsons writer/showrunner David Mirkin takes credit for the bit, basing it on his “frequent childhood behavior of actually walking through peoples’ hedges pretending I was dimension hopping.”
The meme has been meta-referenced multiple times in other episodes of the show. But I really topped this list with it because it was the only Simpsons meme that my wife — who is neither a Simpsons fan nor much of a social media user — recognized.