A Very Valentine’s Day Timeline of Homer and Marge Simpsons’ Relationship
Like most relationships, the marriage between Homer and Marge Simpson isn’t a simple one. It’s had its fair share of ups-and-downs, and it’s been as difficult and complicated as it has been great and fulfilling — if for no other reason than it resides within a television series, The Simpsons, that’s been on the air for more than 30 years, leading to inevitable retconning and continuity issues.
Still, their love story isn’t an impossible one. It’s all there on-screen; it just zigs and zags a bit — and again, rewrites itself in spots. That doesn’t mean it always works, it just means that through it all, Homer and Marge have somehow managed to stay together for almost 20 years now, or 50, depending on how you chose to look at it, which is an incredible marital accomplishment by any measure.
Here’s how they got here — with all the butterflies and heartburn along the way…
When They First Meet — Without Realizing It
Episode: “The Way We Weren’t,” Season 15, Episode 20
Original Air Date: May 9, 2004
The Love Story: The episode doesn’t explicitly state what year their meet-cute takes place, but the use of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” implies the summer of 1967, which would still work within the initial timeline first established in the show (more on that below). Homer attends a boys summer camp when he’s 10 and ends up meeting Marge in the kitchen of a neighboring summer camp for girls. They fall for each other and go on a date where they share their first kiss, but fate prevents them from meeting again that summer.
So how did the show retcon them meeting in high school for the first time? That summer, Marge had burned her hair on an iron, dyed it brown and straightened it. Homer also had an eye patch from a switchblade accident. To say nothing of the fake name he gave Marge (Elvis Jagger Abdul-Jabbar), while Marge never tells Homer her name. So, Marge and Homer only realize they met as kids when Homer later tells the story to Bart and Lisa.
Meeting for the First Time All Over Again
Episode: “The Way We Was,” Season 2, Episode 12
Original Air Date: January 31, 1991
The Love Story: It’s 1974, and Homer and Marge are seniors in high school, but have never met (again, at least knowingly). Homer falls in love when Marge shows up in detention for burning a bra in a protest on school grounds. Homer pretends he needs a French tutor in order to get to know her better, so she takes him under his wing. When he asks her to prom, she gladly accepts, but immediately recants when he admits to lying to her about needing a tutor. She attends the prom with valedictorian Artie Ziff (played brilliantly by Jon Lovitz) but ends the date when he tries to go a bit too far with her. Marge picks up Homer, who’s walking home alone from the prom, and she tells him that she should’ve gone with him instead.
Dealing with the Ups and Downs of Love
Episode: “Dangerous Curves,” Season 20, Episode 5
Original Air Date: November 9, 2008
The Love Story: This episode jumps to various points in Homer and Marge’s relationship and the present day. In 1988 (a time shift from the earlier chronology), they’re still dating and madly in love and having to deal with being forced to sleep in separate bedrooms while staying at the Flanders’ cabin. Meanwhile, in 2003, Homer and Marge are dealing with a strain in their marriage when Homer is caught flirting and Marge regrets marrying him. They eventually get over both of these strifes, of course.
The episode is a parody of the 1967 film Two for the Road, but the reference may have been lost to modern audiences and the execution left many fans unsatisfied.
Their First Break-Up
Episode: “That ‘90s Show,” Season 19, Episode 11
Original Air Date: January 27, 2008
The Love Story: Homer and Marge have been dating for about 10 years. Marge has just been accepted into Springfield University and develops feelings for one of her professors. Homer is a part of an R&B group that becomes a grunge band when Homer starts dealing with his anger over Marge’s wandering eye. They break up for the first time. Homer’s group gets big and Marge dates her professor, but she dumps him when he reveals he doesn’t want to ever get married. Homer deals with addiction, but he and Marge reunite and conceive Bart on the mini-golf course, retconning the brief buildup to Bart’s conception in 1991’s “I Married Marge” (see below).
The number of creative liberties this episode takes — shifting the timeline of their relationship, the first mention of Marge going to college, making Homer part of an R&B group and grunge band in the 1990s after the show already established him as part of a barbershop quartet years prior, etc. — makes this one of the most heavily criticized flashback episodes.
Homer and Marge Move in Together
Episode: “3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage,” Season 29, Episode 13
Original Air date: March 25, 2018
The Love Story: “3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage” appears to ignore the drama from “That ‘90s Show” (which aired a decade earlier) as well as other established show canon: Now, before Marge and Homer get married, they live in an apartment in Capital City (even though the Simpsons lived in the Lower East Side of Springfield at this time in “Lisa’s First Word” and visited Capital City for the first time in 1991’s “Dancin’ Homer”). Also, Marge has a career (as a photographer), and Homer works at a startup called Flashmouth. The focus of this episode is more about the shift in their lives after they have a child. Bart causes both of them to lose their jobs, and after receiving advice from Reverend Lovejoy (who also lives in Capital City at this time now?), they decide to have Lisa. A lot happens in this episode, and most of it isn’t great.
Homer and Marge Get Married and Have Bart
Episode: “I Married Marge,” Season 3, Episode 12
Original Air Date: December 26, 1991
The Love Story: In 1980, Marge and Homer have been dating for six years. He works at a mini-golf course, and at the end of a date, Bart is conceived when Homer and Marge have sex in the golf-course castle. They get married at “Shotgun Pete’s” and live with Patty and Selma. Homer looks for a new job with better pay, but after their items get repossessed and he fails to get steady work, he decides to leave Marge until he becomes someone he feels she deserves. He eventually convinces Mr. Burns to give him a job at the power plant in a “feisty yet spineless” impromptu interview, and he returns to Marge just in time for Bart’s birth.
Homer and Marge Have Lisa
Episode: “Lisa’s First Word,” Season 4, Episode 10
Original Air Date: December 3, 1992
The Love Story: When Marge gets pregnant with Lisa (circa 1983), the family moves from their apartment in the Lower East Side of Springfield (not Capital City) to their familiar house on Evergreen Terrace. This episode is more about two-year-old Bart dealing with the arrival of Lisa than Homer and Marge, but it’s still relevant to the timeline of their relationship. Plus, we get Maggie’s first word (spoiler: it’s “daddy”), voiced by Elizabeth Taylor no less.
Homer and Marge Have Maggie
Episode: “And Maggie Makes Three,” Season 6, Episode 13
Original Air Date: January 22, 1995
The Love Story: Around 1993, Homer quits his job at the nuclear power plant and gets his dream job at a bowling alley. To commemorate this momentous occasion, Homer and Marge conceive their third child. Most of the episode is Marge trying to keep the pregnancy a secret, but when Homer finds out, Marge convinces him he needs to ask for a raise at the alley or get his job back at the plant. In one of the most memorably sweet endings of a Simpsons episode, we see Homer keep all his pictures of Maggie at work, “where he needs the most cheering up,” proving his love for his children is the only thing that may rival his love for Marge.