With the launch of Disney+, every single episode of The Simpsons’ 30-year run is finally available to stream in one easily accessible place. While Fox tried to create an ad-supported Simpsons-centric streaming site for cable subscribers called Simpsons World, the classic animated sitcom can now reach a much larger streaming audience via Disney+.
For younger audiences who didn’t grow up with The Simpsons and have never been able to easily stream it, Disney+ might be their first exposure to the classic era. According to Bill Oakley, who wrote for the show starting in 1992 before eventually taking over as showrunner with fellow writer Josh Weinstein for the seventh and eight seasons, Disney+ might change the way kids consume The Simpsons.
“I think it will be the biggest shot in the arm that the show has had,” Oakley told Digital Trends, adding that while The Simpsons still performs well on broadcast television, that’s not how younger audiences watch television. “Especially for people under 20, it’s going to provide a renaissance, I hope.”
Oakley said that people under the age of 15 are “barely familiar” with The Simpsons because it’s never been streamable like similar animated shows including Futurama and Bob’s Burgers.
Streaming The Simpsons is no easy task. With more than 660 episodes and 31 seasons so far, binge-watching the show would take about 10 days – if you didn’t sleep. Even sitting down and watching the classic Simpsons era of the 1990’s, generally encompassing the first nine seasons, would take a few days.
So if you’re looking for the best Simpsons episodes to watch on Disney+ that give you a sense of the magic that was the classic era of The Simpsons — or the key episodes to watch with your kids – here’s Oakley’s choices.
The best classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+ (according to Bill Oakley)
Simpsons and Delilah
Season 2, Episode 2
Homer uses a miracle drug to regrow his hair, which immediately gets him noticed by Mr. Burns and promoted to a senior position at the nuclear power plant. Harvey Fierstein guest stars as Karl, Homer’s hyper-competent assistant.
Season 2, Episode 19
The definitive episode about Lisa Simpson. Dustin Hoffman, under the pseudonym Sam Etic, guest stars as substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom. Bergstrom’s last moments with Lisa before moving away, including giving her a note which simply states “You are Lisa Simpson,” was a surprisingly heartbreaking moment that would set the tone for some of the show’s more emotional beats.
Season 3, Episode 10
Homer mixes up a drink that combines booze and cough syrup — plus a little bit of fire. Bartender Moe steals the recipe and markets it as a “Flaming Moe,” taking credit and becoming an overnight sensation in Springfield. Aerosmith makes a cameo, plus there’s a spot-on Cheers parody.
Season 3, Episode 13
Bart uses a microphone that transmits to nearby radios to fool the town into believing a boy named Timmy O’Toole has fallen down a well. Bart tries to retrieve the radio he threw down the well, but ends up falling in himself. Guest star Sting joins other celebrities to record a charity single: “We’re Sending Our Love Down the Well.”
Homer the Heretic
Season 4, Episode 3
Homer decides to skip church and subsequently has a fantastic day — causing him to declare that he’ll never go to church again. God appears to Homer in a dream, which prompts him to start his own religion, going so far as to make up holidays to skip work.
Season 4, Episode 9
“Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name. That name again is Mr. Plow.” Homer’s temporary stint as a snow plow driver was full of memorable (and quotable) moments, including a guest appearance from a nostalgic Adam West and a jingle from Linda Ronstadt.
Season 5, Episode 4
The Simpson’s riff on Citizen Kane has Mr. Burns searching for his childhood teddy bear Bobo – which, of course, has ended up in the hands of Maggie Simpson. One of the first episodes to focus on Mr. Burns as a character, this episode features a guest appearance from The Ramones, who play a birthday concert for Springfield’s richest man.
Marge vs. the Monorail
Season 4, Episode 12
Considered one of the best episodes of the classic era, Monorail was written by Conan O’Brien before he became a late-night host and guest starred Phil Hartman as a sketchy monorail salesman, along with Leonard Nimoy as himself. Marge struggles to stop the town from wasting money on a faulty monorail – of which Homer is the conductor. This episode features one of the best original songs of the classic era: The Monorail Song.
Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy
Season 5, Episode 14
Written by Oakley and Weinstein, Lisa is distraught to find that her favorite doll – a thinly veiled Barbie stand-in called Malibu Stacy – spouts sexist phrases. She partners with the doll’s original creator, played by guest star Kathleen Turner, to create a doll that’s a little more feminist. The episode reveals that Smithers owns the largest collection of Malibu Stacy dolls in the world.
Homie the Clown
Season 6, Episode 15
Krusty the Clown and Homer had always had a similar character design, and Simpsons writers originally planned to reveal that Krusty was secretly Homer himself. That idea fell through, but the episode, in which Homer goes to Krusty’s Clown College, comments on the similarity when Homer is mistaken by mobsters for the clown himself.
Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1
Season 6, Episode 25
In the summer of 1995, Who Shot Mr. Burns wasn’t just an event – it was a question everyone in America was asking. The episode’s cliffhanger ending, written by Oakley and Weinstein, prompted bleary-eyed fans to argue about the theories on the internet, something we take for granted today. Fox even created a contest where fans could guess who did it — though (spoiler alert) no one guessed that it was Maggie Simpson all along, meaning the winner had to be chosen at random.
Season 7, Episode 7
Homer decides to gain 61 pounds so he can qualify for disability and work from home. After leaving a drinking bird to press the “yes” key over and over on his computer, Homer accidentally causes a nuclear meltdown, leaving him rushing to save Springfield from impending doom.
22 Short Films About Springfield
Season 7, Episode 21
This riff on the cult film Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould features vignettes featuring characters from across Springfield. Oakley himself wrote the episode’s most famous sketch, Steamed Hams starring Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers, which has taken on a second life online in recent years, with thousands of people creating remixes and memes out of it.
Summer of 4 Ft. 2
Season 7, Episode 25
A summer trip to Ned Flanders’ beach house flips the traditional dynamic between Bart and Lisa on its head: Lisa becomes a cool kid with a new group of friends, and Bart is stuck at home with nerdy Milhouse. Christina Ricci guest stars as one of Lisa’s new friends.
Season 8, Episode 15
Homer realizes his new friend, John, played by filmmaker John Waters, is gay and fears his influence could cause Bart to question his heterosexuality. The episode was one of the first to tackle LGBT themes, showing John’s humanity and the ridiculousness of Homer’s homophobia. The episode ended up winning an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, along with a GLAAD media award.