'The Simpsons' 30th Anniversary: The 30 Best Episodes of All Time, Ranked

Though The Simpsons appeared in shorts from 1987, December 17, 1989, saw the first full episode of the show air on Fox, meaning that the iconic cartoon is now 30 years old.

In the three decades it has been on, the show has given us over 600 episodes, as well as references recognized by a generation, from "Do It For Her," to "The Shinning" to the impossible-to-forget ad jingle for Mr. Plow. Ranked by IMDb, these are the top 30 best episodes of the show to date.

30. "Homer's Triple Bypass" (Season 4, Episode 11)

Although some writers questioned whether an episode that saw Homer have a heart attack was too serious for the show, the episode ended up becoming a classic, with Dr. Nick being a particular standout ("The kneebone's connected to the... something. The something's connected to the... red thing. The red thing's connected to my wrist watch...")

29. "Bart the Murderer" (Season 3, Episode 4)

This episode, which introduced Fat Tony to the cast of Simpsons characters, sees Bart get involved with the mob. Production began before the release of Goodfellas but the episode eerily ended up incorporating a number of elements from the Martin Scorsese movie.

simpsons best episodes
Still from "Homer at the Bat" Fox

28. "Homer at the Bat" (Season 3, Episode 17)

Both Simpsons executive producer Harry Shearer and current showrunner Al Jean named this episode, which sees Homer join the softball team of the power plant, as their all-time favorite.

27. "Hurricane Neddy" (Season 8, Episode 8)

One of the first episodes to fully explore the character of Ned Flanders, "Hurricane Neddy" sees his faith tested after his house is the only one destroyed in a hurricane.

26. "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" (Season 8, Episode 18)

This episode, which sees prohibition enacted in Springfield, features one of the show's most enduring quotes, in which Homer declares: "To alcohol! The cause of... and solution to... all of life's problems." It was also one of a number of episodes censored in Europe due to a scene where an Irish mob blow up a fish-and-chip shop, which was seen as too close to a real IRA bombing.

simpsons episodes
Still from "And Maggie Makes Three" Fox

25. "And Maggie Makes Three" (Season 6, Episode 13)

Once named by Ricky Gervais as his second favorite episode, "And Maggie Makes Three" explores how Maggie was born, and is the episode where the "Do It For Her" poster, that has since become a meme, comes from.

24. "Bart Sells His Soul" (Season 7, Episode 4)

Based on the real-life experience of a Simpsons writer, the episode sees Bart giving his soul to Milhouse for $5 in an instalment that none other than creator Matt Groening calls one of his favorites.

23. "Treehouse of Horror IV" (Season 5, Episode 5)

The second-highest rated of The Simpsons' Halloween specials, "Treehouse of Horror IV" features parodies of The Twilight Zone and Bram Stoker's Dracula, the classic moment of Homer eating his own donut head and introductory sections in an art gallery written by Conan O'Brien.

simpsons greatest episodes
Still from "Deep Space Homer" Fox

22. "Deep Space Homer" (Season 5, Episode 15)

A 2001: A Space Odyssey parody featuring a memorable cameo from Buzz Aldrin is now one of the entertainment options available for real astronauts to watch on the International Space Station.

21. "Homer's Phobia" (Season 8, Episode 15)

A surprisingly progressive episode for its time, which won the show an Emmy, "Homer's Phobia" tackles the issue of homophobia with a John Waters cameo (who has a cell from the film in his office) and a steel mill-turned-gay-disco.

20. "Flaming Moe's" (Season 3, Episode 10)

Introducing the Flaming Moe (a mix of cough medicine and fire) into the pantheon of great fictional cocktails, the episode also features the first band to make a cameo on the show in Aerosmith.

best simpsons episodes
Aerosmith star in "Flaming Moe's" Fox

19. "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" (Season 2, Episode 11)

The episode that introduced the world to the dangers of fugu. This episode introduced some of the sagest advice ever uttered in The Simpsons, when Bart told Homer: "Number one: 'Cover for me.' Number two: 'Oh, good idea, boss.' Number three, 'It was like that when I got here.'"

18. "22 Short Films About Springfield" (Season 7, Episode 21)

A selection of short scenes featuring the supporting characters of the show, inspired by the documentary Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, each scene was created by writers picking characters out of a hat.

17. "Homer the Smithers" (Season 7, Episode 17)

Homer takes over as Mr. Burns' assistant in this episode, which the episode's writers have said they loved writing as it gave them a prime opportunity to delve into the old-time slang they imagined Mr. Burns used.

16. "Rosebud" (Season 5, Episode 4)

Citizen Kane is probably the most-parodied movie in Simpsons history, with this episode full of references to the Orson Welles movie (and, for some reason, a guest appearance by The Ramones).

greatest simpsons episodes
Still from "Mr. Plow" Fox

15. "Mr. Plow" (Season 4, Episode 9)

"Mr. Plow, that's my name, that name again is Mr. Plow." So goes the unforgettable jingle in this episode, which won Homer voice actor Dan Castellaneta his second Emmy.

14. "Homer the Great" (Season 6, Episode 12)

The Simpsons took aim at Freemasonry in "Homer the Great," starring Patrick Stewart who said this episode, alongside his work on Sesame Street, were "perhaps the two most distinguished bits of work that I've done in the U.S."

13. "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)" (Season 7, Episode 1)

Spoilers ahead for a 25-year-old episode: The second part of The Simpsons' "Who Shot Mr. Burns" two-parter revealed that Maggie did it, though a later episode would reveal that the animators also created scenes showing characters like Barney, Tito, Moe, Apu and Santa's Little Helper committing the crime.

best ever simpsons episodes
Still from "King-Size Homer" Fox

12. "King-Size Homer" (Season 7, Episode 7)

Once named by Empire magazine as the greatest-ever Simpsons episode, "King-Size Homer" burned the image of Homer in his muumuu and his 'fat guy' hat into the brain of show fans.

11. "Homer Badman" (Season 6, Episode 9)

An episode that has taken on an extra dimension post-#MeToo, "Homer Badman" sees Homer falsely accused of sexual harassment in an episode that takes aim at the tabloidification of the media.

10. "Homer the Heretic" (Season 4, Episode 3)

One of many Simpsons episodes that takes on religion generally and the Ten Commandments specifically, "Homer the Heretic" sees Homer stop going to church and was named by Castellaneta as his favorite episode.

top 30 simpsons episodes
Mulder and Scully in "The Springfield Files" Fox

9. "The Springfield Files" (Season 8, Episode 10)

Maybe the show's only truly successful crossover episode, "The Springfield Files" features The X-Files' Mulder and Scully as well as Leonard Nimoy.

8. "Treehouse of Horror V" (Season 6, Episode 6)

Often cited as the best of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, this instalment features the iconic "Shinning" segment and nearly featured an alternate history scene in which The Simpsons had another child called Roy.

7. "Last Exit to Springfield" (Season 4, Episode 17)

"Last Exit to Springfield," in which Homer became the president of the power plant, saw the show's bosses narrowly avoid a controversial cameo, as the original plan was to have a pre-murder trial O.J. Simpson cameo on the show.

6. "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" (Season 9, Episode 1)

The most recent episode of The Simpsons in the all-time top 30, "City of New York" sees the family travel to the Big Apple in an episode that was briefly taken off syndication schedules due to it prominently featuring the World Trade Center.

simpsons top episodes
Still from "Marge and the Monorail" Fox

5. "Marge vs. the Monorail" (Season 4, Episode 12)

Written by Conan O'Brien, who says this is his favorite of the episodes he penned, "Marge vs. the Monorail" was inspired by the comedian seeing a billboard with "monorail" written on it.

4. "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)" (Season 6, Episode 25)

The first part of the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter was launched by Fox along with a contest allowing fans to call in and guess the culprit. Though Simpsons lore has it that no one guessed the right answer, some have questioned whether this was really the case.

3. "Cape Feare" (Season 5, Episode 2)

Sideshow Bob takes on Bart in an episode featuring one of the show's most iconic scenes, as Bob walks into a seemingly endless supply of rakes, often used to demonstrate the comedy adage that a long-running joke starts funny, becomes tiring, then becomes increasingly funny again.

2. "You Only Move Twice" (Season 8, Episode 2)

"You Only Move Twice," which sees The Simpsons temporarily move out of Springfield, features one of the most popular one-time characters in the form of Hank Scorpio in a loving parody of the James Bond franchise.

best ever simpsons episode
"Homer's Enemy" is the best ever episode of "The Simpsons" according to IMDB Fox

1."Homer's Enemy" (Season 8, Episode 23)

The highest-rated Simpsons episode on IMDb, where it holds a 9.3 rating, is one of the show's darkest. Some of the show's writers have chosen it as their favorite while others name it as one of the worst. Executive producer Mike Reiss, for example, said of it, "I just think the episode was in bad taste."

The Simpsons airs Sundays on Fox and past seasons are streaming now on Disney+.

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