12 Stupidly Smart Pieces of Advice From Homer Simpson
Homer Simpson is hardly a model human being, but he has managed to unlock a life that most people, including one very dead man, would be envious of:
Despite the protests of Frank Grimes (or “Grimey” as he liked to be called), there are some pearls of wisdom to be collected from Homer. But like a belt onion, you need to peel off the rough, garbage outer layers to get there. A prime example is in Season 12’s “Insane Clown Poppy,” when Krusty comes to the Simpsons’ patriarch for advice on being a good father to his daughter Sophie. Homer tells him, “The key to fathering is don’t overthink it. Because overthinking leads to, um, what were we talking about?”
On the surface, this may just look like another sign of possible CTE, but it contains actual legitimate parenting advice, too. Which is at the heart of what we’re here for today — the stupidly sage advice of Homer J. Simpson...
On Social Norms and Fitting In
“You don’t win friends with salad,” Homer explains to Lisa when she castigates his meat-filled barbeque in Season Seven’s “Lisa the Vegetarian.”
Have truer words about fitting in ever been spoken? Certainly not to Bart, who starts a conga line repeating the phrase shortly after Homer first utters it, with Marge eventually joining in, too. I mean, even the strictist of vegetarians will agree that there are better non-meat options to bring to a cookout than basic-ass greens.
Likewise, when Bart gets beat up by Nelson in Season One’s “Bart the General,” Homer quickly squelches Marge’s suggestion that Bart immediately go to Principal Skinner. Doing so, he says, would violate “the rules they teach a boy to be a man.” Homer then recounts these rules one by one: “Don’t tattle, always make fun of those different than you, never say anything unless you’re sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do.”
There’s a lot to unpack there — and not a lot of it is great. But Homer is right about one thing: No one likes a snitch.
On Women and Love
Maintaining a decades-long marriage to his high school sweetheart has meant that Homer has occasionally stumbled into giving relationship advice.
Predicting 70 percent of TLC’s future programming schedule, Season Four’s “Lisa the Beauty Queen” finds Lisa participating in a beauty pageant for young girls. Homer encourages Bart to help Lisa feel good after a makeover, explaining, “When it comes to compliments, women are ravenous bloodsucking monsters always wantin’ more, more, more! And if you give it to them, you’ll get plenty back in return.” When Bart asks for an example, Homer says he’ll tell him when he’s older, leaving us with this incredible thought bubble gag:
Also, after saving Springfield from a nuclear meltdown in Season Three’s “Homer Defined,” Homer brags to his co-workers, “A nuclear reactor is a lot like a woman: You just have to read the manual and press the right button.” On the surface that doesn’t age well, but it’s actually pretty useful in a euphemistic sense for men who can’t locate a certain “button” on women or think that the “reactor” is just a myth.
On Work Ethic
Possessing a mile-long resume has given Homer some firm stances on labor. When faced with his possible last day on Earth after potentially consuming a poisonous piece of sushi in Season Two’s “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish,” Homer makes a bucket list that includes having “a man-to-man with Bart.” Sitting down with his son in his room, Homer tells Bart, “I want to share something with you. The three little sentences that will get you through life: Number 1) ‘Cover for me.’ Number 2) ‘Oh, good idea, boss.’ Number 3) ‘It was like that when I got here.’”
It’s a charming anecdote for a blue-collar worker like Homer, especially since we do actually see him use a few of these lines throughout the series’ early episodes.
Later, Homer decides that Bart can’t go to summer camp after getting bad grades in Season Four’s “Kamp Krusty.” Yes, he eventually changes his mind, but before he does, he’s sure to tell Bart, “If you really want something in this life, you have to work for it.” That said, Homer immediately undercuts his own advice by following up with, “Now, quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers…”
Also, kinda (hilariously) negating that advice, when Lisa expresses her support for the striking teachers at Springfield Elementary in Season Six’s “The PTA Disbands,” Homer tells her, “If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”
Meanwhile, when Bart unwittingly joins the Junior Campers in Season Five’s “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood,” he faces the facts, stating, “What’s done is done. I’ve made my bed, and now I need to weasel out of it.” Although Marge tries to convince him to give the Junior Campers a try anyway, Homer rebuffs her: “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.”
On Effort and Goals
Just like everyone else, Homer has goals and ambitions — to a point.
When Homer fails to make the company softball team after Mr. Burns packs it with professional baseball players in Season Three, he gives up on his dreams of playing in the championship game. A shocked Bart responds, “You make me sick, Homer. You’re the one who told me I could do anything if I just put my mind to it.” Homer sets him straight, however, stating, “Well, now that you’re a bit older, I can tell you that’s a crock. No matter how good you are at something, there’s always about a million people better than you.” Bart acknowledges his advice, replying, “Gotcha. Can’t win, don’t try.”
Similarly, when Bart decides to give up learning how to play the guitar in Season Three after finding it too difficult, Homer tells him he’s not mad in the slightest. After all, “If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing.”
Homer falls further into the apathy bag in Season Nine when Marge receives a job offer to sell homes for Lionel Hutz’s Red Blazer Realty. As she considers giving a career as a realtor a try, Homer skeptically offers, “I don’t know, Marge. Trying is the first step toward failure.”
Finally, Homer encourages Bart and Lisa to audition when Mr. Burns is looking for an heir to his fortune in Season Five. After Burns rejects both of their attempts — because Lisa is a girl and because Bart read Homer’s terrible index-card script — Marge encourages Homer to say something to them. Homer takes the cue, providing the now-infamous battle cry, “Kids, you tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.”