When FXX announced a complete Simpsons marathon — as in airing all 552 episodes consecutively, from August 21st through Labor Day — there was much rejoicing among those of us who have spent nearly as much time in Springfield as we have in our own actual hometowns. Conversations started turning to what required us to set our DVRs and when the Ramones-cameo episode (“Rosebud,” for those of you playing at home) would grace our screens. And that led to an even more important conversation: Of the 552 episodes we’d be watching over the next 12 days, which would you show to the few who remain unconverted to the show’s genius? What, essentially, are the greatest Simpsons’ episodes of them all?
So after hours of arguing, several bouts of fisticuffs, many games of roshambo and much consulting of online forums, Rolling Stone has come up with the answer — the 150 best Simpsons episodes of all time. You can use this as a guide to the marathon, or simply something to end arguments such as whether “Bart the Daredevil” is better than “Bart the Lover” (yes, it is), which Treehouse of Horror is the best (we’re going with IV) and which one truly stands head and shoulders above the rest (read on). Regardless, grab your Duff beer or Krusty Kola and dig in.
150. ‘Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder’
Homer decides to go bowling with the guys, and ends up bowling a perfect game. He becomes a local celebrity and a center-square occupant on Hollywood Squares, but fame is a fickle mistress. Homer then decides to use his spare time to bond with Maggie (“the forgotten Simpson”).
Best Visual Gag: The take-off on The Natural‘s super home run, complete with Randy Newman’s score, flying slo-mo balls, flashbulbs and explosions.
Best Line: “Kids, today we have to talk about Krusty Brand Chew Goo Gum-Like Substance…we knew it contained spider eggs, but the Honda Virus? Whoa-oh, that really came out of left field!”
149. ‘All Singing, All Dancing’
One of the stronger of the Simpsons‘ clip shows (no, it’s not a contradiction in terms), this collection of musical sequences rewinds through Homer’s barbershop quartet, Bart and Milhouse’s sugar-high tribute to On the Town, a church sing-along of “In a Gadda Da Vidda” and Lyle Lanley selling Springfield a monorail via song, among others. Bonus points for reminding us of the living hell that is the film adaptation of Paint Your Wagon.
Best Visual Gag: The look on Homer and Bart’s faces after they see Clint Eastwood break into song.
Best Line: “Here comes Lee Marvin! Thank god, he’s always drunk and violent.”
148. ‘Behind the Laughter’
The Simpsons get a tell-all special, where what we’ve been watching has actually been a TV show cooked up by Homer. Dad gets addicted to painkillers, the family fail to pay their taxes, and fame starts to sour. Fame…it plays hideous tricks on the brain.
Best Visual Gag: Fox’s failed Bart Simpson T-shirts — “You bet your sweet bippy, man” and “Life begins at conception, man.”
Best Line: “And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags.”
147. ‘The Food Wife’
Homer takes Bart and Lisa to a video game convention. Marge takes the family out for Ethiopian food, trying to be a cool mom, and she and the kids start a food blog called The Three Mouthketeers. Marge, enjoying being the fun parent, gives Homer the wrong address to the molecular gastronomy restaurant, sending him instead a meth lab.
Best Visual Gag: Homer chokes on something, collapses by the fridge, and his ghost gives him the Heimlich Maneuver.
Best Line: “Pine needle sorbet?! My kids do not eat sorbet — they eat sherbet, and they pronounce it sherbert, and they wish it was ice cream!”
146. ‘Sweet and Sour Marge’
Homer discovers the Duff Book of World Records and tries to organize Springfield into a human pyramid. Instead they’re granted the title of world’s fattest town. Marge sets out to be the Erin Brockovich of the Motherloving Sugar Corporation, getting all sugar banned from Springfield. Homer teams up with Apu, Mr. Burns, and Count Fudgula to smuggle the sweet white stuff back into the town.
Best Visual Gag: Disco Stu snorts sugar through a dollar bill, throws himself a dance party.
Best Line: “So, say a bittersweet farewell to such old friends as Mud Pies, Bite ‘Ems, Eclairios, Chew ‘Ems, Kellogg’s All-Fudge, Big Red Snack Foam, Milk Chuds, Eat ‘Ems — and all sugar pills will be changed back to highly concentrated opiates.”
145. ‘The Debarted’
A new kid, Donny, steals Bart’s seat at school, and becomes the king of cool, he then starts playing double-agent for Principal Skinner, foiling all Bart’s pranks. Beware the liberal use of the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping up to Boston.”
Best Visual Gag: Groundskeeper Willie’s journal, a.k.a. a series of frequently updated tattoos on his arm.
Best Line: “Hey, Krabappel! Your name sounds like ‘crabapple.’ Did you go sour waiting for someone to pick you?” [Mrs. Krabappel, sighing] “Pretty much.”