Fox’s long-running animated sitcom, The Simpsons, has seen its share of amazing, truly wonderful episodes. But lurking below those high points are also some horrendous misfires, misbegotten episodes that are just downright awful and unfunny.
After picking out the absolute best episodes of The Simpsons, the obvious next step was to figure out the worst of the worst, so here we are. Just one ground rule here: We decided to omit clip shows. I get it. They suck. But those episodes aren’t really episodes, just hodgepodges of previous ones put together to appease the network. So I don’t think they deserve to be singled out here. But everything else is fair game.
With all that said, here’s our list of the 10 worst episodes of The Simpsons in no particular order. Get ready for some garbage.
“Homer vs. Dignity” – Season 12, Episode 5
One scene ruins this episode, and it’s when Homer, dressed as a female panda, is raped by a male panda. It’s horrible, a low point for the show, and a moment still discussed harshly by fans. And even if you cut that scene, the rest of the show is merely reheated old jokes and plot points. Just bad all around.
“What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting” – Season 25, Episode 19
This article isn’t put into any specific order of “Worst to Worser”, but if I had to name my least favourite episode of the Simpsons, it might be this travesty. Here, Bart uses a voodoo doll to try and give an annoying teacher a stomachache.
Instead, she ends up pregnant, and other people ask Bart to help them conceive children, too. Eventually, the mob and Fat Tony ask Bart to help them knock up a racehorse. It’s all very dumb, not very funny, and is far too outlandish even for season 25 of the show.
“The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” – Season 21, Episode 16
In 2011 the popular Simpsons fansite, No Homers Club, selected the 50 worst episodes of the show. And at the top of the list was this episode featuring Ned and Homer visiting Jerusalem. I’ll be honest: I don’t think this is the show’s worst episode, but it deserves a spot here for sure.
It’s a mostly unfunny travel episode in which Ned’s uncharacteristically angry, and Homer is dumber and meaner than normal as he continues to not appreciate the various religious landmarks they visit. Eventually, Homer loses it, thinks he’s a Jesus-like figure, and really, most people probably tap out at this point.
“Moe Goes from Rags to Riches” – Season 23, Episode 12
Moe’s dishrag, an item that we’ve barely seen in the show and which has never been important, begins to speak and tells its whole backstory, which involves a bunch of unfunny historical jokes. I don’t have much else to add. They made Moe’s bar towel a character for 22 minutes. Let’s move on and never think about this shitty episode again.
“The Boys of Bummer” – Season 18, Episode 18
Bart screws up during a baseball game, and for some reason, this causes the entire town to turn on him. That’s silly but could work. However, the people of Springfield are so mean and awful to Bart (a 10-year-old kid, remember?) that he eventually snaps and climbs up a water tower. Then, after being egged on by police chief Wiggum, he yells out that he hates himself too and leaps to his death. He survives, but still, WTF? And all of this is played for laughs.
“Lisa Goes Gaga” – Season 23, Episode 22
Lady Gaga shows up in Springfield and decides to help Lisa because she is so depressed that the singer gets a psychic feeling that the young girl needs help. And then a bunch of bad jokes and little else happens in this episode, which feels more like a commercial for Lady Gaga than an episode of The Simpsons. At least Just Stamp The Ticket Man gets a speaking role in the episode.
“Homer Simpson in: ‘Kidney Trouble’” – Season 10, Episode 8
On paper, this should have been a classic. A season 10 episode written by legendary Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder focused on Homer and his dad’s relationship sounds fantastic.
But sadly, Homer is too much of a jerk in this episode, essentially leaving his dad to die twice(!) and never really earning its ending. The Ship of Lost Souls is a fun bit, and the ghost town opening segment is solid, but the rest never works, and you end up rooting against Homer by the end.
“Co-Dependent’s Day” – Season 15, Episode 15
Homer frames Marge for drunk driving. Fuck this episode. The jokes about Star Wars Episode 1 being boring aren’t enough to overcome this terrible moment, one of the show’s lowest points.
“When Nelson Met Lisa” – Season 34, Episode 9
The Simpsons has had a pretty good track record with its flashforward episodes, like “Holidays of Future Past” and “Bart to the Future.” But its most recent stab at showing what will happen to the characters in the future was a boring, messy flop that was also, for some reason, a parody of When Harry Met Sally swapping Harry for bully Nelson and Sally with Lisa.
I’m not sure I laughed a single time watching this episode, and by the end, I wasn’t sure why we had wasted our time on any of this.
“Saddlesore Galactica” – Season 11, Episode 13
Since airing, this episode has developed a reputation online as the moment the show officially began its downward slide. This is in large part thanks to the third-act twist, which reveals that horse-riding jockeys are actually brain-eating elves. That sounds dumb, but it’s actually worse in the episode.
This half-hour of The Simpsons also includes a lot of weird, out-of-place meta jokes commenting on how “Saddlesore Galactica” is repeating old storylines and jokes, which isn’t very funny and also just highlights how bad the episode actually is. While I think the show has had great episodes and even seasons after this point — even if many people online think otherwise — I can’t deny that “Saddlesore Galactica” is likely the end of the show’s golden era.
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