The Pinnacle Episodes Of ‘The Simpsons’ Early Seasons

The Simpsons

It’s been nearly 30 years since the first episode of The Simpsons aired. Although it is no longer as popular as it once was, it is nevertheless considered a cultural touchstone.

Many people fail to remember that the first few seasons of the show not only revolutionized television but also transformed our culture.

As a representation of the average American family, The Simpsons was spot on. And this occurred when talking about reality was socially unacceptable. Here is our pick for the top Simpsons episodes of all time.

Lisa’s Substitute (Season 2)

In contrast to the previous episodes on this list, “Lisa’s Substitute” is endearing not because of its humor but because of the impression it has on the audience.

But it doesn’t mean there aren’t funny parts (like Bart’s campaign for class president, which is a fantastic political satire).

However, the focus is primarily on an honest analysis of Lisa’s personality. Having to deal with being the brightest member of a family full of, well, let’s just say they’re not that bright, is a theme that’s explored in depth.

While famous cameos in The Simpsons tend to be hit or miss, Dustin Hoffman’s turn as the show’s namesake is undeniably touching.

The emotional closing moments between Lisa and Mr. Bergstrom have moved many viewers to tears.

Duffless (Season 4)

The episode “Duffless” exemplifies the show’s ability to keep its sense of humor while discussing weighty topics. The episode’s central problem is Homer’s alcohol abuse.

Marge asks Homer to abstain from alcohol for a month after he gets a DUI.

The intensity of his drinking issue is reflected in his battles with sobriety, which are often portrayed as comical in the show.

Homer and Marge ride off into the sunset on their bikes as the episode concludes romantically. After abstaining from drinking for a month, Homer discovers that his family is where he will find true happiness.

Mr. Plow (Season 4)

The character of “Mr. Plow” has achieved iconic status in popular culture. This episode contains everything a viewer might desire, from the catchy Mr. Plow theme music (30 years later) to a cameo by a clearly crazy Adam West.

Additionally, it digs into the history of Barney Gumble, one of my favorite characters on The Simpsons. 

Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Barney was once a respected professor before Homer ruined his life by serving him his first beer.

The Itchy and Scratchy Movie (Season 4)

Fast-paced and full of jokes, “The Itchy and Scratchy Movie” follows Homer’s lame attempt to rein in Bart.

Bart’s father forbids him from ever seeing the brand new Itchy and Scratchy Movie because he didn’t watch Maggie. Does Bart learn his lesson from this?

It seems to be the case. In the final scene, forty years have passed. Soylent green is a common diet and Bart has risen to the position of top justice on the Supreme Court.

While not the series’ most heartfelt episode, “The Itchy and Scratchy Movie” is definitely one of its funniest.

Homer the Heretic (Season 4)

With episodes like “Homer the Heretic,” it’s easy to see why The Simpsons was so divisive when it first aired.

Even former president George H.W. Bush was critical of the show for what he saw as a bad picture of the American family.

In this episode, we see how Homer’s laziness at first led him to stop attending church and eventually led him to reject religion altogether.

“I’m not a bad guy. I work hard, and I love my kids,” Homer proclaims. “So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I’m going to Hell?”

Such absurd yet profound queries are scattered throughout the show. Although it doesn’t resort to violence, “Homer the Heretic” casts doubt on the value of religiously-based nuclear families.

A Milhouse Divided (Season 8)

Season 8 of The Simpsons has been criticized for putting America’s favorite family in situations that were a touch too silly, a bit too cartoonish, leading some fans to believe that this was the beginning of the end for the show. 

Episodes such as “You Only Move Twice” and “The Homer They Fall” are cited as examples.

Even the most ardent supporters of the show would have to acknowledge that “A Milhouse Divided” is a high point.

Similar to “Duffless,” this episode deals with a serious topic (divorce) in a lighthearted manner.

It’s hard not to laugh at and feel sorry for Kirk Van Houten as he tries to make a go of it as a singer after his recent divorce. The Van Houtens, surprisingly, do not reconcile.

Homer’s Enemy (Season 8)

Here we have yet another contentious situation. If “Homer’s Enemy” has a flaw, it’s that it’s perhaps a touch too realistic. One interpretation is that it is a satire on the show.

It’s unfortunate that this episode of The Simpsons is rarely cited as a classic. It’s the best episode, bar none, in our opinion.

In this episode, Homer is joined by Frank Grimes, a new coworker at the power plant. Life has been difficult for Grimes from the beginning.

He has a formal education in nuclear physics, unlike Homer, and he takes his work very seriously. Grimes despises Homer for his casual attitude and naiveté.

One of The Simpsons’ most bleak conclusions is a direct result of their feud.

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