The Simpsons is one of those staple television shows that literally everybody knows. For some reason, an animated family with yellow skin that always uses the same outfits resonates deeply with audiences. The show has been around since the late 80s, and, while they’re not busy predicting the future, they make everyone laugh out loud. And this is, of course, the number one goal of The Simpsons: to make fans happy and enjoy themselves for a few minutes.
However, over the course of several years, The Simpsons has also made some bold movies. We all know how risky it is to introduce a moment of sadness into a series that’s known and loved for its comedy, but it’s also necessary, even if we’re talking about Springfield and all its inhabitants. Even if most of the situations can’t possibly be real, some of them end up resonating with the viewers. And these risks ultimately paid off since the episodes remains in the memory of many fans out there. So, let’s take a look at ten episodes that actually tackled deep issues.
10 Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy
It’s not uncommon for the show to tackle the issue of relationships between children and their parents. In fact, several of them end up making an appearance on this list simply because they are so relevant to everyone. “Grampa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy” focuses on the strained relationship between Homer and his dad Abe. The old Simpson has always been written has the typical stereotype that befalls his age, and his relationship with his son was never ideal.
During this episode, the two of them go into business together. And, when things take a wrong turn and the business fails, Abe tells Homer he was an accident when his son accuses him of raising him horribly. Now, this is obviously a very touching subject for many people. Exchanges like this take place all too frequently. In the end, Homer finds a picture of his dad dressed as Santa when he was meeting him for the first time, and our hearts seemed to feel a little lighter afterward.
9 The Way We Was
It became a staple of The Simpsons to provide the fans with flashback episodes throughout the show. As with all scenes of this nature, it was the perfect way to offer us a glimpse into the lives of Marge and Homer before they had a family of their own. And the first flashback episode happened on the second season of the show, depicting the beginning of their relationship.
“The Way We Was” takes on two themes that are both deep and common. The first one is sexual assault, touched upon when Artie Ziff tries to take advantage of a young Marge after they go to the prom together, eventually tearing her dress apart. The other one is Homer’s crush on Marge which leads to him lying to get her to go to the prom with him. In the end, the two Simpsons end up together in a sweet display of love.
8 Round Springfield
The issue of death is always a very tricky one to introduce into a comedy show. However, sooner or later, all of them eventually had to do it. Mostly because death is a part of life and because it’s important to provide audiences with a healthy depiction of how to handle grief. The episode “Round Springfield” broke our hearts when Lisa’s idol and mentor, Bleeding Gums, suddenly dies, leaving a young Simpson feeling broken.
The episode not only provided us with the beautiful image of Bleeding Gums in a cloud playing the saxophone, but it also gave us a glimpse into Bart’s softer side. Fraternal love was also a major point of this episode, showing Bart putting his own wishes and selfishness aside to buy Lisa her idol’s album so she can honor him by playing it on the radio. Overall, a wonderful episode, that beautifully brought up very sensitive issues.
7 Lisa’s First Word
We all know and love the Simpson family. Everyone from parents Marge and Homer to younglings Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. There was once a time when the show actually went ahead and brought up what happens when a couple with only one child eventually gets pregnant again, and the family grows. Any parent who’s been through it knows how concerning it is to handle more than a child. Not only that, but also make sure the first kid gets attention while caring for the newborn.
In a flashback sequence, we get insight into how Bart felt when Lisa was born, and everything he did to get the attention of his parents. But a sweet moment comes when her first word his her brother’s name: Bart. The best part is that this wasn’t even the most touching moment of the episode! After putting Maggie to bed, Homer leaves the room, and that’s when Maggie, unbeknownst to everyone, mutters her first word—daddy.
6 Life On The Fast Lane
Marriage is, obviously, very complicated. No matter how much love there is, if enough work and communication aren’t put into it, things can sadly take a turn for the worst. When it comes to Marge and Homer’s, with children attached, things are extra difficult. The show did a beautiful job of tackling the issue of love, marriage, and companionship on “Life On The Fast Lane.”
After being once again let down by Homer, who forgot her birthday, Marge takes on a new hobby. She begins bowling, and that’s when she meets a charming man who wants nothing but to be with her. The episode follows Marge’s internal conflict, a conflict that many people out there end up having. In the end, she chooses her relationship with Homer, since their love is worth fighting for. And Homer realizes that it’s also his job to make things better for their marriage.
5 Lisa’s Substitute
When you are young, a lot of things come easily. Self-doubt, loneliness, feelings you can’t place. All of these things tend to be even more amplified when you feel like a certain person gives you more attention and love than anyone else. And, when this person is an adult, that’s when life gets incredibly tricky. “Lisa’s Substitute” is the episode that tackles Lisa’s relationship with a substitute teacher.
This man nurtures her advanced intellect like no one else ever has. Lisa already feels like an outsider, but having someone she can connect with makes her life better instantly. This is when the episode also deals with goodbyes; it’s a different kind of loss, but a loss nonetheless. When Lisa meets the substitute on the train station before he leaves, she tells him how lonely she will feel. This is when he hands her the famous piece of paper that reads “you are Lisa Simpson”. Did anyone else cry?
4 Dog of Death
For many people out there, a pet easily turns into part of the family. Particularly dogs; the sweet creatures who do nothing but worship and console us during our hard times. It’s very hard not to develop feelings of love and companionship towards such gentle, selfless, beautiful souls. And, of course, the Simpsons were no exception. They have a dog of their own, Santa’s Little Helper, who went through a tough time.
He needed a very expensive surgery that led to the family making a lot of sacrifices so they could pay for it. In the end, they resented Sanat’s Little Helper for all of it, and he ran away. Anyone who’s ever lost one of their pets knows how heartbreaking the situation is—which made it all the more beautiful when Bart and Santa’s Little Helper were reunited once more.
3 Bart Gets an F
Perhaps it wasn’t one hundred percent the intention of the showrunners to make this episode into what it was. However, looking back at season two’s “Bart Gets an F,” it’s impossible to not feel its meaning in regards to school success. Thousands and thousands of students all across the world develop mental issues due to the pressure that’s bestowed upon them through the school system. Many scenarios end up in horrible ways, and that’s why there’s a universal call for better alternatives.
Now, we’re well aware that Bart was never a prime student. Far from that, he never cared about school, and he seemed to have the same proclivities as his dad when it came to intellect. But, when he is given a final chance to pass a test and move on to the next year, he studies. And he tries really hard, which is why his breakdown when he fails yet again, and his words “you don’t understand! I really tried this time!” resonate so hard.
2 Mother Simpson
After taking on Homer’s relationship with his father Abe, the show then turned to his mother. Up until the episode “Mother Simpson,” Mona was an unknown presence in Homer’s life. Little was known about her until she returns and reconnects with her son, which was absolutely beautiful. But the issue of having a mother running away when you’re young is always a terrible one to tackle.
At the end of the episode, Mona ends up being discovered by the police and is wanted for one of her illegal activist crimes. Faced with her imminent arrest, once again, she has to leave her son and her family behind. All we are left with is Homer gazing at the stars as his mom leaves him once more, in what has become known as one of the most heartbreaking and emotionally packed moments of an otherwise hilarious show.
1 And Maggie Makes Three
Oh boy, just thinking about this one is already enough to make us cry. This episode was iconic for several reasons. First of all, because it tackled the issue of an unexpected pregnancy, and as a consequence, the sacrifices parents make for their children. And that is the purest form of love we’ll ever feel. The Simpsons, of course, were no exception.
On yet another flashback episode, we find out that Marge’s third pregnancy was unplanned. Homer had already quit his job at the plant and was finally doing something that he loved, even though it didn’t bring much money home. Once he knew of the pregnancy, he went back to get his old job in order to support his family. The episode ends with a beautiful mural of pictures that cover the original “Don’t forget: you’re here forever”. Now it reads “Do it for her”.
NEXT: The Simpsons: The 10 Worst Things That Mr. Burns Has Ever Done