Written by Dan Hopper
I obviously wasn’t going to allow Simpsons Movie week to slip by without doing some kind of Top 10 list, but because I wouldn’t be able to do a favorite episodes / jokes / characters list without deliberating for nine more years and making a list of fifty, I’ve decided to take a look at some of the funniest, most touching, and most memorable endings in the history of the show that I’ve spent more hours of my life watching than I have sleeping.
10. You Only Move Twice (Season 8)
The Hank Scorpio / James Bond parody remains a favorite episode of many, despite being perhaps the strangest episode in the show’s history to that point. The ending, in which Homer receives the gift of the hapless Denver Broncos (instead of the Dallas Cowboys) from his villainous but gracious former employer is a fittingly bizarre cap on the story, made funnier still by the fact that the mysteriously motivated Broncos went on to win back-to-back Superbowls in the years right after the Simpsons jab.
9. Mom And Pop Art (Season 10)
At some point around Season 9, the show developed an inxplicable fascination for absurd, sideways punchlines to lead into the credits, often at the expense of an episode’s worth of humanity or meaning, but the episode in which Homer accidentally becomes an artist, one of the best newer episodes (it’s now 8 years old, but that’s still how I perceive the seasons) was a delightful exception. After failing at all intentional attempts at art, Homer manages to flood Springfield and make it into a mini-Venice, making the townspeople proud and Milhouse less embarrassed for wearing flood pants, and the episode fades out with Homer and Marge lovingly embracing on their rooftop to the song “Arrivederci Roma.”
8. The Otto Show (Season 3)
This rare Otto-centric tale from Season Three is about as good as the side character-based episodes get; the writers develop Otto, they squeeze pretty much every joke out of him they can, then they conclude the episode with a renewed appreciation for the ordinarily minor character, as the admiring Principal Skinner monologues into the sunset, “Yes, hail to the bus driver? bus driver man.” It’s a cute little exploration of how even the most mundane roleplayers in our lives – school bus drivers, regular bartenders, sea captains, etc. – are sometimes unexpectedly irreplacable.
7. Home Sweet Home-Diddily-Dum-Doodily (Season 7)
In the dramatic conclusion to the frustratingly amusing Child Welfare episode, Homer and Marge rescue Bart and Lisa from a Ned Flanders baptism (and Maggie from a symbolic baptism into the Flanders family), then the four walk off together, confident in their shared imperfections, with Homer laughing at the old paint cans in Flanders’ garage with the pointless insult, “Ha ha, Old Painty-Can Ned!” Not only a terrific new take on the old “we’re a crazy family, but we’re family” idea, but it also perfectly sums up the “no faults whatsoever but you still want to hate him” character of Ned Flanders.
6. Lisa’s First Word (Season 4)
The hubbub surrounding the show bringing in Elizabeth Taylor to deliver Maggie’s first word sort of overshadowed the episode’s independently touching ending; after a full flashback documenting Marge and Homer’s problems handling baby Bart and Lisa, as well as both children only referring to Homer by his first name, Homer tucks Maggie in and secretly confides, “The sooner kids talk, the sooner they talk back. I hope you never say a word,” after which Maggie manages to formulate the word, “Daddy,” delivered to an empty room, before she falls back asleep. It’s cute enough to make you want to push that first baby lamb out of the way.
5. Treehouse of Horror IV (Season 5)
The Simpsons has always had a flair for the occassional absurd twist, and while the device became trite and lost its impact in the later seasons (what wouldn’t after a damn decade?), there is perhaps no more inane – and yet, weirdly satisfying – turn of events than at the end of the fourth Halloween special, when the entire Simpsons family of vampires converges on Lisa, then they all stop, turn to the camera, and shout “Happy Halloween, everybody!” and the show fades to credits with everyone Lu Lu Lu’ing a tune from “Charlie Brown Christmas.” On any other show, it might have seemed like a cop-out, but in retrospect, can you think of any other way to end a story about vampires? Coast Guard?
4. Duffless (Season 4)
The reason I have such trouble fully embracing episodes like “Homer’s Phobia” and the Frank Grimes episode is because the character of Homer, while fluctuatingly stupid, lazy, and prone to anger, was never really a fundamentally ‘bad’ person. This fact is never more clearly illustrated than in the episode when Homer gives up drinking for thirty days, then when the thirty days are up, he rushes back to Moe’s out of habit but has second thoughts, and the episode ends with Homer and Marge riding a bike together and duetting “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” It’s impressive enough when a show like “The Office” makes people believe that two fake human beings are perfect for one another, but when an animated show can do that?? Groin-grabbingly transcendent.
3. Lisa’s Wedding (Season 6)
The majority of Lisa’s future episode is just a series of (hilarious) gags one after the other, usually involving supporting characters and their terrible future selves. The ending, however, is a complete sucker punch; after being ashamed of her family in front of her future fiancee and struggling to withstand their constant, grating quirks, Lisa ultimately realizes how important her family, for better or for worse, is to her life. The episode returns to the present and fades out on Lisa walking away with Homer, listening with genuine loving enthusiasm at her dad’s stories of eating fudge and riding the teacups.
2. Bart Gets An Elephant (Season 5)
There’s nothing especially touching or inspiring or meaningful about the ending to this Season Five gem, it’s just simply one of the funniest gags in the show’s history. When Bart’s elephant enters a wildlife refuge and immediately just starts butting all the other elephants, the refuge director explains to Marge, “Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life, or have been mistreated? but, like people, some of them are just jerks. Stop that, Mr. Simpson,” then a pan out reveals Homer butting the director with his head for no reason. Rivals the “No HomerS” ending from “Stonecutters” as the best flat-out punchline in the show’s history.
1. And Maggie Makes Three (Season 6)
Through all of Homer’s on-and-off parenting skills throughout the run of the show (and within even this episode), he is never exposed to be more tender and lovable than at the very end of this flashback episode, which also might be my favorite overall episode of all time. If you manage to make it through the ending without tearing up, after Homer has placed photos of his unconditionally beloved third child over the demotivational plaque at his workstation to make it spell “Do It For Her”, and you’re not in a desert somewhere with no moisture left in your body, then you are a more cold-hearted human being than I ever believed this planet could produce.
All right, now I’m tearing up. More favorite Simpsons endings, anyone? Leave ’em in the comments!
Hank Scorpio is the best!
I agree with em all…but you should’ve fit “Mother Simpson” somewhere in there! Thats the only other ending besides “And Maggie Makes Three” that turns on my waterworks!
The Halloween special where Willy dies each time is my personal favorite.
I agree with the “Mother Simpson” sentiment. Homer sitting on his car, staring into the stars? I think the most poignant moment in the shows history.
Whn Bill Clinton gives Lisa the band prize for complaining, he says, “Hey, I’m a pretty lousy president.” Classic!
I love “And Maggie makes 3” ending, but I think that the best ending ever is the one from “New York City vs. Homer Simpson”… the one the car is ruined in all ways, and he gets rubbish on his face… saying “we’ll see… ”
Maybe it’s not tender at all, but it makes me *rofl* 😀
One of my all-time favorite episode endings was the “Mary Poppins” parody, where the magical nanny, “Sherry Bobbins”, goes to fly away at the end. The kids turn to their dad, and ask “Do you think we’ll see her again?”, and Homer replies “I think so.” As this is happening, in the background you see Sherry Bobbins flying away, and gets sucked into the engine of a passing 747, with little shredded stuff billowing out the back of the engine.
dude… the Mother Simpson episode has the best ending ever. These choices are good, but I’m surprised to see this episode left off the list. The ending is so touching and poignant. I still cry when I see it, even 13 years after its initial run on Prime Time.
Greatest Ending? 5 words:
Lisa. New Sax. Baker Street.
(IMHO, nothing comes close)
BTW, Binkle, which Mother Simpson episode? I think she came back in a 2nd episode (after still being on the run)
I thought I was the only one who teared up after watching “And Maggie Makes three”. It was so sweet. “Mother Simpson” is also a tear jerker. And who says cartoons can’t make you cry?
Oh, and I forgot to mention “Happy Birthday, Lisa” episode. Great song.
My personal favorite ending pertains to Lisa, her saxophone lessons, and related problems.
The show ends with Lisa standing on a city bridge, along with a jazz saxaphonist who is wailing away as the show comes to an end.
I find it truly amazing that one of the best (my best but “best” is in the mind of the beholder just as “beauty” is in the eyes of the beholder) comedy shows ever has so many truly touching endings.
But I’m positive that if I was sharing my thoughts with Homer himself, he would look at me and simply state, “D’oh”.
i think that the greatest Simpson’s ending of all time would have to be the one where Principal Skinner is fired, Ned Flanders takes over, and Bart eventually realises, with Lisa’s help, that his nemesis is a vital part of his identity. I love the irony, and i think it is incredibly poignant, when Bart & Skinner hug at the end, and on Skinners back you see paper saying “kick me”. both chuckle as they walk away, and on bart’s back, for just a few seconds “teach me”. beautifully done methinks
I don’t know about the greatest, but here’s what I think are the most touching:
#10 Lisa On Ice
#9 Colonel Homer
#8 El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer
#7 Life On The Fast Lane
#6 Home Sweet Homediddily-dum-doodily
#5 Lisa’s First Word
#4 Mother Simpson
#3 The Last Temptation of Homer
#2 Lisa’s Wedding
#1 And Maggie Makes Three
I really can’t pick the best endings, and definitely not the most touching, but I think that the funniest ending in the history of the Simpsons is from “Marge in Chains”, After Marge is jailed for shoplifting, one thing leads to another, and the whole town, after rioting over a Jimmy Carter statue, is celebrating Marge’s return. Quimby the steps up to reveals a “token of appreciation” for Marge, and unveils…the Jimmy Carter statue, but now with Marge’s hairstyle on top. I rolled around on the floor and screamed myself hoarse for the next ten minutes.
I love all those episodes but they dont have the mother simpsons episode listed there. that was the best ending ever
The flaming moes ending.
But my all time favourite is either ” And Maggie makes Three.” Or ” I Married Marge”, when Homer explains the truth to his children about how much he really loves them. I just love the Simpson’s because its probably the only television show that accuratly portrayes real world problems ( even Stephen Hawking says so!)
I just love the end of Lisa's Substitute. It makes me tear up every time! I just love how he helps each kid out with whatever their issue is at that moment. 3 for 3! And then in Lisa the Beauty Queen when Homer says Lisa's a cute as a bug's ear and says that nobody is prettier than his little girl! I am such a daddy's girl and these moments just get to me!
At least we got rid of all those damn nig… Oh right that was South Park, still the greatest ending ever.
Thank you very much for information @@.
Thank you very much for information @@_a?.
There are plenty of great ones missing, but other than mother simpson, the one that stands out as missing id “Bart on the Road”