The 20 best Simpsons episodes of all time

21 December 2019, 10:00 | Updated: 21 December 2019, 10:01

Bart Simpson
Bart Simpson. Picture: Matt Groening/Fox Tv/Seth Macfarlane/Kobal/Shutterstock

It's 30 years since America's favourite family first made it to TV in their own series - but which are the best shows from the past three decades?

The Simpsons' own series debuted on 17 December 1989 with the festive tale Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire. In the 30 years since the show first aired, hundred of episodes have headed our way. But where do you start if you're a Simpsons newbie? Radio X has the definitive selection featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and little Maggie, along with the other residents of Springfield.

  1. Homer The Great

    Homer is inducted into a secret society as "The Chosen One" but soon finds out adoration isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    Homer: "I always wondered if there was a god. And now I know there is. And it's me."

  2. Lisa's Substitute

    Lisa gets a juvenile crush on her substitute teacher Mr Bergstrom, while Bart runs for class president. Dustin Hoffman is impeccable as the guest voice and this is one of the most moving episodes of the early years.

    Homer: "Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand."

  3. You Only Move Twice

    Homer quits his job and goes to work for an insane Bond-style villain, Hank Scorpio. Some say this is the beginning of the end for the series, with storylines getting ever more unlikely, but it's still full of zingers.

    Homer: "Mr. Scorpio says productivity is up 2%, and it's all because of my motivational techniques, like donuts and the possibility of more donuts to come."

  4. Homer Badman

    Homer gets mistakenly accused of sexual harassment and undergoes trial by media. It's become ever more relevant in the wake of the #MeToo movement, but the jibes at American TV are spot on.

    Marge: "Homer, that's your solution to everything. To move under the sea. It's not going to happen!" Homer: "Not with that attitude."

  5. 22 Short Films About Springfield

    An anthology of short sketches featuring the family and their Springfield neighbours, this spawned the infamous "Steamed Hams" skit featuring Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers.

    Skinner: “No, no, I said steamed hams! That's what I call hamburgers.”

  6. Last Exit To Springfield

    Mr Burns cancels the dental plan, so the power plant goes on strike. Joke after joke make this a relentlessly funny classic.

    Dentist: "How often do you brush, Ralph?"
    Ralph Wiggum: "Three times a day, sir."
    Dentist: "Why must you turn my office into a HOUSE OF LIES?"

  7. Homer At The Bat

    You may not know anything about baseball, you may not have heard of any of the guest stars, but this is one of the silliest and most joyous Simpsons episodes of all. Mr.

    Mr Burns: "Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns! Go home! YOU'RE OFF THE TEAM - FOR GOOD!"

  8. Marge Vs The Monorail

    Said by some to be the best ever episode, this is a cautionary tale of a town that gets too greedy and ends up with their own disaster movie scenario as their new monorail speeds out of control.

    Sebastian Cobb: "We're too late! I shouldn't have stopped for that haircut."

  9. Mr Plow

    Homer and his childhood mate Barney take each other on as snow plow businesses and their friendship is strained to breaking point.

    Homer: "It may be on a lousy channel, but The Simpsons are on TV!"

  10. Radioactive Man

    Bart's friend Milhouse gets the part of Fallout Boy in the big budget movie version of their favourite comic book hero Radioactive Man. It doesn't go well.

    Rainier Wolfcastle: "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

  11. Flaming Moe's

    Homer invents his own cocktail, local bartender Moe steals it and becomes a huge success. Aerosmith turn up. It's brilliant.

    Moe: "Hey, Homer came up with the drink, but I came up with the idea of charging $6.95 for it."

  12. Mother Simpson

    Heartbreaking story of Homer's long lost mother - turns out she was a hippie who went on the run after supporting political causes. The ending still makes us cry.

    Lisa: "This is so weird. It's like something out of Dickens or "Melrose Place".

  13. I Love Lisa

    Ralph Wiggum gets the wrong end of the stick and has a crush on Lisa Simpson. It all comes a head at the Krusty The Clown 29th Anniversary Special recording.

    Lisa: "That story isn't suitable for children."
    Chief Wiggum: "Really? I keep my pants on in this version."

  14. Duffless

    A misunderstanding loses Homer his driving license for driving under the influence, so he tries to give up beer for a month. It's tough.

    Homer: "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."

  15. Selma's Choice

    Marge's sister decides she wants children, but an afternoon looking after Bart and Lisa makes her think again.

    Lisa (after drinking the water on the Duff Gardens ride): "I am the Lizard Queen!"

  16. The Last Temptation Of Homer

    A new, sexy co-worker leads Homer to temptation... can he resist her charms? Or will he remember his marriage vows to Marge?

    Homer: "Moe, I need your advice. See, I've got this friend named... Joey Jo-Jo... Junior... Shabadoo...?"

  17. Colonel Homer

    Homer comes across a country music singer and decides to become her manager. But his marriage is soon under strain...

    Homer: Marge, you make it sound so seamy! All I did was spend the afternoon in her trailer watching her try on some outfits."

  18. Lisa's First Word

    Homer and Marge tell the story of baby Lisa in one of the series' regular flashback episodes.

    Bart: "Can't sleep... clown will eat me."

  19. Krusty Gets Cancelled

    The Clown Show is rendered unfashionable by a new ventriloquist act, on TV but Bart and Lisa plan Krusty's comeback with some star guests, including Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    Reverend Lovejoy: "Everyone is saying 'Gabbo this' and 'Gabbo that'. But no one is saying 'Worship this' and 'Jericho that'."

  20. Homie The Clown

    Homer becomes a professional Krusty The Clown impersonator but he soon discovers it's rife with problems... including debts and the local gangsters.

    Homer: "I have no business being a clown. I'm leaving the clowning business to the other clowns in the clowning business."