The Best ‘Simpsons’ Episode for Every Simpsons Family Member
Springfield, of course, is overflowing with classic characters. But one family obviously sits at the heart of all of them — the eponymous Simpsons clan. From Homer and Marge, to Bart, Lisa and Maggie, to Grampa, to Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball II, they’re the nucleus the rest of the town orbits around.
So here then is the very best Simpsons episode for each member of the Simpsons family…
Best Episode: “Last Exit to Springfield”
Why It’s His Best: I’ve previously argued that this might be the greatest episode of The Simpsons overall, so it should come as no surprise that it’s also Homer’s best episode. On top of many classic Homer lines — e.g., “Dental plan” / “Lisa needs braces,” “Where’s my burrito? Where’s my burrito?” and “Find the bathroom alright?” / “Uhhhh… yeah” — it’s a great example of where Homer is absolutely clueless in every situation but somehow everything still manages to work out for him and the cause he’s fighting for.
Best Episode: “Bart Sells His Soul”
Why It’s His Best: Milhouse snitches on Bart after fearing for his soul, and after debating the existence of a soul, Bart ends up “selling” his to Milhouse for five bucks. After dealing with unusual repercussions, including also losing his sense of humor, Bart prays to God for the return of his soul, which he eventually gets. This is one of Bart’s deeper stories, concluding that the belief in a soul is more important than whether a soul actually exists. As a bonus, it also includes one of Bart’s his finest pranks — replacing the church’s opening hymn with “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (read as “In the Garden of Eden”).
Best Episode: “Moaning Lisa”
Why It’s Her Best: Having a serious episode about depression in the first season was risky, but the writers went ahead and did it anyway. No matter how much Marge tells her to put on a happy face, Lisa just can’t shake her sadness — until she meets the man who ends up becoming her idol, blues musician Bleeding Gums Murphy, who helps her express herself through music. Ultimately, Marge comes around too, telling Lisa, “If you want to be sad, honey, be sad. We’ll ride it out with you.”
Best Episode: “Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield”
Why It’s Her Best: Marge has always had a hard time fitting in with any particular group of people outside of her immediate family. But when she decides to fix up an old Chanel suit she finds at an outlet mall, she gets the attention of an old classmate from high school, who invites her to her country club. Marge sees a chance to finally climb the social ladder, ignoring catty remarks from other members, as well as her own family’s awkwardness. The pressure gets to her, though, and she begins criticizing Homer, Bart and Lisa for being the same family they’ve always been. Fortunately, she eventually learns the error of her ways and channels Groucho Marx, deciding that she “wouldn’t want to join any club that would have this me as a member.”
Best Episode: “A Streetcar Named Marge”
Why It’s Her Best: Maggie charms us in a number of episodes — “And Maggie Makes Three” and “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily” among them — but there’s only one in which she is able to show us just how bad ass she can be without ever saying a word. When Marge wins the leading role in a local play, Maggie is placed in a daycare that’s modeled after Ayn Rand’s beliefs and pacifiers are banned. After a few failed attempts, Maggie manages to seize all the babies’ pacifiers in a daring coup a la The Great Escape. The sequence was so memorable that it spawned a theatrical short sequel The Longest Daycare in 2012.
Abraham “Grampa” Simpson
Best Episode: “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish’”
Why It’s His Best: For the longest time, Grampa was simply a character the writers would use to make a joke about senility or pen a rambling rant (“as was the style at the time”), but this episode gives him a great backstory: He’s a heroic sergeant in charge of the Flying Hellfish, a military unit that entered into a tontine for stolen German artwork during World War II. Much of the episode is an adventure with Bart and Grampa hunting for the artwork in an effort to prevent Mr. Burns from taking it all for himself.
Grampa still has plenty of bumbling moments, but in the end, he saves Bart from drowning, overpowers (the albeit incredibly weak) Mr. Burns and gets the artwork (which is turned over to the U.S. government). The episode finally shows Bart — and us — that maybe Grampa isn’t a crackpot and deserves more respect after all.
Grandma Mona Simpson
Best Episode: “Mother Simpson”
Why It’s Her Best: Before Season Seven, we only got a glimpse of Homer’s mom in a flashback; in all official sources, it’s implied she died years ago. Finally, in the 136th episode, she gets a proper introduction. We come to understand that Mona didn’t actually die but has been on the run from the government for 25 years. The episode tackles her complex abandonment of her son and Homer coming to terms with his mother being back in his life. Played perfectly by Glenn Close, there’s no doubt that Mona loves her son and the last two-and-a-half decades have been just as hard for her as they have been for Homer. At the episode’s close, Homer has to once again say goodbye to Mona as she continues her fugitive life, and it concludes with maybe the most touching scene in the show’s history.
Santa’s Little Helper
Best Episode: “Bart’s Dog Gets an ‘F’”
Why It’s His Best: Santa’s Little Helper spends most of this episode being more of a hellion than even Bart, and Homer considers getting rid of him unless he can pass obedience school. He nearly blows it until he and Bart have a serious heart-to-heart. SLH realizes that he not only has to be a dog, but he has a responsibility to remain a Simpson. Miraculously, he begins to understand Bart’s commands and passes his class. Good boy!
Best Episode: “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds”
Why It’s Her Best: “GET THAT CAT OUTTA THE WAY!”