The past 25 years have seen America fall in love with The Simpsons. Over those many years, millions and millions of people have sat in front of their televisions to see what Springfield’s favorite family is up to. There are certain episodes however, that have been seen by more people than others when they were first aired.
Many of these top ten most-watched episodes come from the show’s first season in 1990 when there weren’t as many viewing options out there. The last few years has seen the show’s audience decline steadily to a point where barely three or four million people are tuning in on a Sunday night for a new episode. Every single episode on this list had at least 27 million people watching. It could be a matter of viewing tendencies in this day and age with cable forcing its way into the habits of consumers but the golden days of network television have gone by the wayside.
Who knows how much longer the Simpson family will be entertaining us with various pranks on Moe or the occasional Flanders appearance, but it is still one of the most beloved shows on television today. Here are the top ten most watched episodes of The Simpsons.
10. Season 1 Episode 3: Homer’s Odyssey
This episode was watched by 27.5 million people on Jan. 21, 1990 as Homer crashes an electric cart into a cooling vent and ends up getting fired. After getting fired, Homer feels that he let his family down and writes a suicide note. He decides to end his life by attempting to jump off a bridge with a boulder attached to him. Luckily, Lisa finds the note and alerts the family who hurries over. The family nearly gets run over by a truck and Homer saves them, giving him new reason to live. He would get his job back at the plant when Mr. Burns offers him a new position as safety inspector with a higher salary. It is definitely an episode that shows that life is worth living no matter how bad things get.
9. Season 1 Episode 7: The Call of the Simpsons
27.6 million people watched this episode on Feb. 18, 1990 as Homer decides he wants to buy an RV after becoming jealous of Flanders having one. The family nearly drives over a cliff but escapes in time before the RV goes over. The family ends up stranded in the woods and Homer begins to take on tendencies of a wild animal and another family takes a picture mistaking him for Bigfoot. The forest becsomes full of Bigfoot reward seekers who thought Homer was the mysterious beast. Eventually, everyone is found and Homer is allowed to go home when they realize that he isn’t a Yeti after all.
8. Season 1 Episode 8: The Telltale Head
A week after the family got lost in the forest, this episode on Feb. 25, 1990 had 28 million people on the edge of their couches as Bart gets involved in cutting the head off of the statue of Jebediah Springfield as he tries to impress the local bullies. The episode begins with Homer and Bart being chased with the head in their hands as Bart recounts what happened the day before. In due time, Bart realizes what he did and confesses that he was responsible for severing the head. The admission brings Springfield closer together as they were fighting for the common cause of getting Bart for his actions. The head is returned to the statue and everyone ends up being forgiven.
7. Season 4 Episode 10: Lisa’s First Word
One of the few episodes on the list that isn’t from one of the first two seasons, this episode from Dec. 3, 1992 also sees Maggie say her first word as 28.6 million people watched. The family tells the story of when Lisa said her first word and the battles they had dealing with Bart. It is revealed that Marge is pregnant and that the family needs a new home. After Lisa is born, Bart teaches her not to call Homer “daddy” as he wants but to call him Homer. The pivotal moment however, is at the end of the episode when Homer puts Maggie to bed where she takes the pacifier out of her mouth and says the word “daddy” before going to sleep.
6. Season 2 Episode 2: Simpson and Delilah
Homer wants hair and he would finally get some during this Oct. 18, 1990 episode that 29.9 million people tuned in to see. Homer sees an advertisement for Dimoxinil which is supposed to cure baldness. Homer spends $1,000 to get the miracle breakthrough and soon grows a full head of hair. The new hair inspires Mr. Burns to promote Homer to a new position. Mr. Burns hires Karl as Homer’s new secretary, who tells Homer that he is the finest creature ever created and that he deserves everything he has. Bart would drop the bottle in an attempt to grow a beard however, and Homer’s hair would soon be gone, moving him back to his dead end position.
5. Season 1 Episode 10: Homer’s Night Out
This episode from Mar. 25, 1990 had 30.3 million people tune in as Bart orders a spy camera and takes a picture of Homer with an exotic dancer. Marge makes Homer apologize to teach Bart that women aren’t objects. Unfortunately, the picture has already been posted around Springfield and everyone has a copy. Homer finds himself on stage in due time, and with the picture already around town, people recognize him and begin to cheer. He realizes while dancing what he was actually there for and gets the apology out with Marge in the audience. She would accept his apology and the two make up. Aw.
4. Season 1 Episode 12: Krusty Gets Busted
April 29, 1990 saw 30.4 million people watching as Krusty the Clown was framed for an armed robbery he didn’t commit. Homer makes a stop on his way home and sees a robbery in progress at the Kwik-E-Mart, and identifies Krusty as the man who did it. This sends Krusty to prison and Sideshow Bob moves in to fill the role as the host role of “The Krusty the Clown Show.” In the end, Bart figures out that it was Sideshow Bob dressed as Krusty who committed the crimes and gets Krusty out of jail. Bob warns criminals that children are smart and will find them as well. Krusty thanks Bart for standing up and takes a picture of them shaking hands which Bart proudly puts on his wall.
3. Season 1 Episode 11: The Crepes of Wrath
One of the most famous Simpsons episodes ever aired on Apr. 15, 1990 when 31.2 million people watched Bart get sent to France on a student exchange trip where his hosts treat him like a slave, making him work on crushing grapes to make wine. In exchange, the Simpsons get an Albanian student who wants to know everything about the nuclear plant. The student, Adil, begins taking pictures around the plant and is there as a spy to obtain blueprints of the plant’s reactor. Back in France, Bart figures out that he can speak French and finds a way out. Adil is arrested and Bart returns home bringing gifts from France. Homer has his issues with the wine bottle that Bart brought back but is happy that his son can speak French.
2. Season 1 Episode 9: Life on the Fast Lane
This episode from Mar. 18, 1990 saw 33.5 million people tune in to watch Homer be his normal selfish self. When Homer figures out that it’s Marge’s birthday, he rushes out to find something for her and opts to get her a bowling ball that catches his eye. She is less than impressed that the ball has his name on it and decides that she is going to learn how to bowl just to spite Homer for his carelessness. She runs into an instructor named Jacques who is willing to teach her the game but quickly falls in love with her. His attempts to get her to love him back became futile and Marge decides that Homer is the right guy for her. The two meet up at the plant as Homer carries Marge away and won’t be back for “10 minutes.”
1. Season 2 Episode 1: Bart Gets an F
The most watched show in Simpsons history is the Season 2 premiere which aired Oct. 11, 1990. 33.6 million people watched Bart fail four straight history exams and it’s suggested that he repeat the fourth grade. Bart gets a reprieve when he prays for another chance. A freak snowstorm closes the school down for a day and gives him another day to study for his next exam. When Bart gets to class, he fails the test again, but after comparing his failure to George Washington in 1754, Mrs. Krabappel gives him an extra point for applied knowledge and moves his grade to a D-. Bart says that “part of the D- belongs to God.”