As bloggers will argue night and day about what is the best programme ever to be aired on television, it’s likely that The Simpsons will be missed out in favour of your Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad though that shouldn’t be the case. While animation tends to get the cold shoulder when it comes to serious recognition, there aren’t many programmes like Matt Groening’s yellow cult classic hit and although it has made us laugh, it’s those tearjerker moments that gave The Simpsons the emotional depth needed to cement its place in television history and inspire adult animation for decades to come. So without further ado, here are my favourite moments from The Simpsons that had me and many others teary eyed…
“Why did she leave me?”
It goes without saying that like most sitcoms based around a family, the father is the protagonist and with The Simpsons that is no different. Before later seasons dumbed down his character and removed what made him tick, Homer is the main focus of the series and brings with him moments full of emotion and melancholy. Mother Simpson is a master class of this where we see the often child like Homer at his most vulnerable with the appearance of his long absent Mother. While her inevitable touching departure at the end of the episode is heartbreaking enough, it’s the conversation between Marge and Homer during the episode that strikes a real chord:
Marge: I just don’t think you should get too excited about the woman who abandoned you for 25 years. You could get hurt again.Homer: First, it wasn’t 25 years — it was 27 years. And second, she had a very good reason.Marge: Which was…?Homer: [pause] I dunno. I… guess… I was just a horrible son and no mother would want me.Marge: Oh, Homey, come on. You’re a sweet, kind, loving man. I’m sure you were a wonderful son!Homer: (unhappy) Then why did she leave me?
You Are Lisa Simpson
I feel like when the topic of well written female characters gets brought up, Lisa Simpson is often overlooked. While some may see her as annoying or pretentious, her persistence, dedication, intelligence and talent is undeniable and makes her a role model despite how young she is. However, Lisa is lacking in the confidence department and it’s not until the appearance of Mr Bergstrom that she learns a valuable lesson. After falling heads over heels for him, Lisa discovers that he is about to leave the town for a different job and chases him down to the station. Upon meeting him and confessing how she’ll be lost without him, Bergstrom hands her a note and says “Whenever you feel that you’re alone and there’s nobody you can rely on, this is all you need to know.” What does the note say?
You are Lisa Simpson
Both this and Lisa’s line to Mrs Hoover about how “he taught me that life was worth living” while fighting the tears makes this probably the most gut wrenching moment of the entire series, something that many fans of the show can agree with.
Do It For Her
Thanks to the internet this moment has well been tainted by a meme status of sorts though it doesn’t make this scene from And Maggie Makes Three any less amazing. After having quit his dream job as a pin monkey, Homer returns to the Power Plant where, upon his arrival, he’s given the plague (Sir, that’s plaque) by Mr Burns that reads “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever”. Fast forward to the present time and Bart asks what Homer has done with the pictures of Maggie where he replies “I keep them where I need the most cheering up.”
“I Choo Choo Choose You”
Oh Ralph. Unlike Homer, the son of the expert police chief Mr Wiggum has never really been blessed with the same heartfeltness from the writers, instead usually being given glue or worms to eat. With the episode “I Love Lisa” though we finally got some much needed light shined upon this special little guy as a sympathetic gifting of a valentines card from Lisa results in Ralph showing so much affection to her that she ends up not being able to bare it and breaks his heart right in front of Krusty The Clown on National Television. Lisa, that’s just cold. On a serious note, this wasn’t so much a sad moment because of how Ralph was left heartbroken but more so the Let’s Bee Friends card that Lisa eventually sends Ralph, meaning the episode avoids a bitter ending and leaves the often mocked Wiggum one friend up which, for anyone who struggled to fit in, leaves you feeling somewhat proud.
“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”
Remember when Family Guy tried to pull the shocking move of killing off beloved character Brian? Well The Simpsons did that decades before and undoubtedly better in this Season 2 episode where after being poisoned at a sushi restaurant, Homer tries to make his final 24 hours matter. This includes listening to Lisa playing her sax which he often found irritating, which he totally forgets about when he gets lost in her rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In where he joins in, making amends with his father and being a great dad to Bart by teaching him some valuable life lessons. This episode as a whole is just one big trigger to have any fan of the show feeling depressed as it never lets down the extreme sombre atmosphere. As everyone expected, Homer doesn’t die but unlike Family Guy, the emotional payoff and the dread that plagued the episode felt genuine and even up until very last few minutes where Homer lays motionless in his seat listening to the bible, it was impossible to shake off that feeling of uncomfortableness.
I Married Marge – The Entire Episode
Can we just put it out there that Marge and Homer are the best written TV couple? The Simpsons has always been about the family in question but their aforementioned marriage has brought with it some of the shows happiest moments such as the ever classic hoarse rendition of The Carpenters’ Close To You as well as its saddest like where Homer almost cheats on her with red head Mindy as well as Lurleen Lumpkin when he was managing her. It’s never been a smooth relationship and these moments of struggle have helped to make Homer and Marge a very realistic portrayal of a couple. I Married Marge could be summed up as heartbreaking in its entirety as Homer struggles to deal with his soon to be sister in laws but also having to bare in mind his employment and fatherhood. All this becomes too much and results in a tearjerking letter left to Marge where Homer tells her that she won’t see him “until he is a man” following the sombre repossession of their wedding ring. Cue the sad violins…
Yes, I know, another Homer focussed sad moment but bare with me! While we all know him for being an absolute idiot but with a heart of gold, the episode HOMR explores the concept of what if he wasn’t actually stupid? After discovering that his extremely low IQ is caused by crayons lodged in his brain, surgeons remove it which results in him becoming more intelligent than ever thus becoming even closer with often alienated middle child Lisa.
While this is touching in its own, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as his new found intelligence has resulted in him becoming alienated from those close to him which causes Homer to take “the coward’s way out” i.e having Moe put the crayon back in. Before this though, much like most interactions with the two, Homer leaves Lisa a touching letter to detail his appreciation for her:
Lisa – I’m taking the coward’s way out. But before I do, I just wanted to say being smart made me appreciate just how amazing you really are.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s a few quick scenes that can’t be ignored:
- Bleeding Gums Murphy: One of the only characters to relate to Lisa, Bleeding Gums Murphy was a likable character who sadly passes away leaving her heartbroken. While this is sad enough on its own, the moment where Bart spends $500 to buy Lisa one of Murphy’s rare records to be played on a jazz radio station is a classic example of the two siblings setting aside their differences to show their love for one another.
- Lisa On Ice: Bart and Lisa’s relationship has always provided great episodes and this one isn’t much different. After forming a bitter rivalry due to being on opposing hockey teams, the two go head to head and after a tied result, both drop their equipment and hug. Simple yet lovely.
- Bart sells his soul to Millhouse for five dollars as he deems it useless. Once his luck turns sour and things start to go wrong, Bart goes a bit AWOL and becomes desperate, praying to god to give him his soul back. Everyone’s favourite veggie, no not me, Lisa saves the day and everyones sniff and lets out a sigh of relief.
- The Death of Maude Flanders: While Ned is the butt of jokes in most episodes, the death of his wife and frustration at the god he has served for most of his life results in a difficult watch.
- Staying on the subject of Flanders, we can’t ignore the episode where after opening a new store solely for left handed people, Homer wishes for it to fail though when it eventually does and Ned and his family are forced to sell their house, he’s struck with guilt. Gathering everyone in Springfield to buy enough stuff to keep the business afloat, Flanders is reinvigorated with his staple positivity.
- Another Homer-Lisa touching moment, the show’s staple move to make any viewer a cry baby, this time set in the future at Lisa’s wedding. Homer’s speech is another heartwarming scene that will probably have you tearing up:
Homer: Little Lisa, Lisa Simpson. You know, I always felt you were the best thing my name ever got attached to. Since the time you learned to pin your own diapers, you’ve been smarter than me.Lisa: Oh, Dad…Homer: No, no, let me finish. I just want you to know I’ve always been proud of you. You’re my greatest accomplishment and you did it all yourself. You helped me understand my own wife better and taught me to be a better person, but you’re also my daughter, and I don’t think anybody could have had a better daughter than you…Lisa: Dad, you’re babbling.Homer: See? You’re still helping me.
- Not so much a moment of an episode but more so a chalkboard gag that hits a bit too close to home. After the passing of Marcia Wallace in 2013, the voice actress behind many characters including Mrs Krabappel, the intro to the episode of Four Regrettings and A Funeral opens with this:
Following this, one of the earliest episodes Bart Gets An F is something that students everywhere can relate to.
- Here’s another one which isn’t so much part of an episode but is sad nonetheless. Once the classic Simpsons credits roll after Bart The Mother, the viewer is greeted with the below title card paying respects to voice actor Phil Hartman who voiced some of the funniest characters on the show including Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure. Rest in peace you amazing man.
- Last but not least, we have the episode Marge Be Not Proud which was essentially a PSA about shoplifting. After being caught stealing a videogame and embarrassing Marge, Bart is left to face the consequences as his mother distances himself. There’s a few scenes that are solid tearjerkers like where Marge refuses to tuck him in but the final scene where Bart buys her a sentimental gift that has her overjoyed is enough to warm even the most heartless of viewers.
-Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)