The 12 Best ‘Godfather’ References on ‘The Simpsons’

The 12 Best ‘Godfather’ References on ‘The Simpsons’

The first two Godfather films are considered among the finest pieces of cinema ever, while the third is undoubtedly a movie named The Godfather Part III. The trilogy may also be the most often referenced and parodied movies across The Simpsons’ three-decade run.

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That said, the creative crew didn’t always get to do the Godfather gags they wanted. In Season One’s “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge,” Alex Rocco, who played Moe Greene in the first film, guest starred as studio boss Roger Meyers, and director Jim Reardon reportedly looked for a way to shoot Meyers in the eye as a reference to Greene’s death. This obviously didn’t happen — for the betterment of the show, considering some of the later stories the character would be part of. Still, for every axed Godfather reference, several more broke through. Such as…

‘Bart the Murderer,’ Season Three, Episode Four

This entire episode is a loving parody of mobster movies, so it’s a bit odd that it doesn’t have more references to The Godfather. Two that standout, though: Fat Tony is, of course, voiced by Joe Mantegna, who played Joey Zasa in Part III. And for serving a “flat, flavorless Manhattan” to him at his club, Tony receives “the kiss of death” from a visiting mob boss, referencing Part II, where Michael Corleone kisses his brother Fredo after his betrayal, marking him for execution.

‘Lisa’s Pony,’ Season Three, Episode Eight

Lisa wakes up to find a pony in her bed, the same way that Jack Woltz wakes up to find the severed head of his favorite horse in his bed in the first Godfather film. This wasn’t the first severed-horse-head reference on The Simpsons — and they would go on to do it again twice more — but “Lisa’s Pony” is, without a doubt, the most pitch-perfect one and a direct parody of the ghastly scene. Composer Alf Clausen even recycled the same musical chords used in the film.

‘Mr. Plow,’ Season Four, Episode Nine’

When Bart gets off the bus after Homer clears the roads with his snowplow, thus allowing the children to attend school, he is bombarded by snowballs thrown by his classmates. The scene is animated as a reference to the gruesome death of Sonny Corleone, where he’s trapped at a tollbooth and assassinated.

‘Last Exit to Springfield,’ Season Four, Episode 17

After Homer becomes union head of The International Brotherhood of Jazz Dancers, Pastry Chefs and Nuclear Technicians, he envisions making lifelong connections to the world of organized crime (“Mmmm… organized crime”). In his fantasy, he imagines himself like Don Fanucci in Part II.

‘Homie the Clown,’ Season Six, Episode 15

Homer and Krusty get kidnapped by members of the mafia when Krusty fails to pay off a debt. They try to make good by attempting to perform the mafia don’s favorite bicycle trick, but in the middle of the stunt, Homer’s head unintentionally hits a series of wine glasses that plays out the melody of the “Love Theme” from The Godfather, which the mafiosi love. 

‘A Fish Called Selma,’ Season Seven, Episode 19

When Troy McClure is seen by gangsters Fat Tony and Louie at the DMV, Louie says, “I thought you said Troy McClure was dead!” Fat Tony responds, “No, what I said was: ‘He sleeps with the fishes.’” Louie cuts him off before he can explain further, “Uh, Tony, please, no. I just ate a whole plate of dingamagoo,” realizing Tony was actually referring to McClure’s rumored fish fetish rather than the mafia term that was popularized by The Godfather when Luca Brasi’s body is dumped in the ocean.

‘Mayored to the Mob,’ Season 10, Episode Nine

Homer works as a bodyguard for Mayor Quimby, who is secretly working with the mob. When Homer busts up Fat Tony’s rat-milking scam, he jokes, “What are you gonna do, call your Godfather?” Homer also gives Mayor Quimby “the kiss of death” from Fat Tony. Finally, when Louie attacks Quimby, Homer stabs his tie with a fork, pinning it to a table, a direct reference to when Luca Brasi’s hand is stabbed with a fork and pinned to a bar in The Godfather.

‘The Sweetest Apu,’ Season 13, Episode 19

Homer sings the Neapolitan song “C'è la Luna Mezzo Mare” at Apu’s wedding, which is the same song sung at Don Corleone’s daughter’s wedding in The Godfather.

‘The Strong Arms of the Ma,’ Season 14, Episode Nine

When Marge gets ultra-swole after getting mugged, she returns to find her mugger and trashes him up with a garbage can. If the way the scene is framed looks a little off for a Simpsons episode, it’s because it is a shot-for-shot parody of when Sonny beats up his brother-in-law in The Godfather.

‘Moe Baby Blues,’ Season 14, Episode 22

When Moe babysits Maggie, he tells her the plot of the three Godfather films to amuse her. He even imitates the scene in The Godfather when Don Corleone plays with a cut-up orange in his mouth. Meanwhile, at the end of the episode, Fat Tony gets choked up about Maggie and says, “I didn’t cry so much since I paid to see Godfather III,” which is especially funny since, again, Fat Tony is played by Part III actor Joe Mantegna.

‘All’s Fair in Oven War,’ Season 16, Episode Two

James Caan (who played Sonny Corleone in The Godfather) guest stars as himself. After he has an affair with country bumpkin Brandine, he is ambushed and shot down by Cletus and his gang of friends in another reference to Sonny’s death in The Godfather. But unlike the parody of the same scene in “Mr. Plow,” this is more of a direct shot-for-shot homage.

‘The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer,’ Season 18, Episode One

This episode is more of a general reference to the Godfather trilogy. Fat Tony’s son, Michael, looks and acts the same as Michael Corleone, not wanting to enter “the family business.” There is also an assassination attempt on Fat Tony through a window while flying in a helicopter, echoing a similar piece in Part III. And the final scene is a parody of the first film’s ending, as Michael accepts his fate in the mafia.

Finally, as a postscript, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also share the viral video from 2021 of the great slowpuke on TikTok doing an incredible impression of Marge as Don Corleone.

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