Everybody loves The Simpsons! The show was an iconic revolution in the animated serial episodic industry for television! Remember when cartoons were just for kids in their pajamas on Saturday mornings? Well, Simpsons changed all of that. This cartoon was outwardly meant for family members of all ages, but we all know that it was secretly intended for adults — and even more secretly intended for those with some high-brow humor and for those who weren’t afraid to giggle at the occasional fart or burp joke. The level and tone of humor that were introduced by Matt Groening in The Simpsons inspired an entire wave of cartoons, including Futurama, Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Robot Chicken, South Park, and Bob’s Burgers. It was an icon in American cartoon comedies.
One of the things that The Simpsons did best was call other aspects of culture into their show and poke fun at them, making us take things a little less seriously and be willing to laugh off the occasional drama. One of their greatest fortes was making fun of cinema, whether it be old or new — and it did so wonderfully! Some of the greatest horror movies of our times have been made fun of in The Simpsons, making us just a wee bit less afraid of them. Some of the best dramas have been remade in Simpson form, reminding us of the tiny bits of comedy within such loaded dramatic times. And comedies, of course, have been made ten times funnier by adding our favorite Simpson characters to them.
Let’s run through our all-time favorite Simpsons movie parodies! START THE COUNTDOWN, SMITHERS!
Sure, other shows have parodied Psycho, too. There’s a lot of good material here! A guy dressing up as his dead mom in order to play a menacing, controlling alter ego? That’s both some creepy stuff and some hilariously weird stuff! But nobody managed to parody the iconic Hitchcock film Psycho quite as well as The Simpsons. In season two, the ninth episode called “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” is all about parents blaming violent television shows for inspiring violent children. Maggie gets the idea to hit her daddy over the head with a mallet when he isn’t looking, and when she does, Homer falls to the floor with a scream. Maggie runs out of the room as Homer tears down a cloth nailed to the table and knocks over red paint that pours down the garage drain at his feet. The scene is a shot-for-shot parody of the shower stabbing scene in Psycho and was hilariously PERFECT.
14. 101 Dalmatians
One of the cutest and most innocent (yet also simultaneously one of the most messed up) parodies that The Simpsons ever did was that of the children’s movie 101 Dalmatians. The episode was called “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds” and was the twentieth episode of season 6. In the episode, Santa’s Little Helper (who, to everyone’s surprise, is not a boy) gives birth to a plethora of puppies. Unable to care for them all, the family sells many of the puppies to Mr. Burns. Shortly after, Bart and Lisa realize that Mr. Burns wants to make a coat from the skins of the pups! He reveals his evil plot to the tune (literally) of a cute show tune melody as the kids are hiding in wait. Of course, they steal the pups back and get them to safety — then the puppies are never heard from again as the show moves forward into new plot lines.
13. The Shining
AH, we almost forgot one of the most highly viewed and beloved Treehouse of Horror parodies ever done! That, of course, was in the sixth season’s Halloween episode, which contained parodies of Crime and Punishment, Nightmare Cafe, and, of course, The Shining. The segment was called “The Shinning,” because Willie the Groundskeeper mispronounced it! In the episode, Homer takes his family to house-sit at one of Mr. Burns’s mansions, where Homer starts to lose his mind, like in the Stephen King story. A ghost bartender of Moe’s tells Homer he has to kill his family in order to get a beer, so of course, he goes a little looney in order to get his hands on some Duff. Honestly, there’s nothing funnier than the scene where Marge discovers the typewriter with the words “feeling fine” on it. But we love best that the family stops Homer’s rampage by sitting him in front of a TV, and together, they all freeze to death in the snow!
12. James Bond
The Simpsons was not at all shy about making fun of James Bond. They were as forthcoming about the parody as they possibly could’ve been. In the episode “You Only Move Twice,” the second episode of season 8, Homer moves to a new town for a new job that’s really cool and likable — the only downside is that he’s a huge super villain, indeed, the archenemy of a secret agent named Mr. Bont. Not exactly subtle about the parody now, were they? The funniest part had to be when his boss was caught and under attack from the U.S. military, but Homer went in to submit his resignation to the new boss because his family was adjusting to their new home well. While defending his base and his life, this maniacal super villain gave sound advice to Homer and recommended he do what was best for his family. Nice guy, huh?
11. Terminator 2
It’s not common that Homer and his neighbor, Ned Flanders, get along. That’s why it’s a really big deal when things are amicable, as they were in the season five episode “Homer Loves Flanders.” (Fun fact! It was the last episode to be pitched by Conan O’Brien before he left the show!) In the episode, Ned amicably invites Homer to a football game, and Homer becomes way too enamored of Ned after he pays for food and even gets the quarterback to give Homer the football. Then, Homer won’t let him be! In a hilarious moment, Homer chases after Ned’s family as they speed away in the car. Using golf clubs similar to the arms of the terminator in Terminator 2, Homer grapples onto the back of the car as Ned tries to shake him free and get rid of him. We applaud the writers for finding a way to fit such an obscure scene into the show!
10. Full Metal Jacket
Whooo. This is a tricky movie to parody. The dark plot of Full Metal Jacket is so twisted and messed up but also true to what life can be like in the military (especially in that time period) that mocking it can be politically incorrect, inappropriate, and downright offensive. Yet, The Simpsons found a way to do it! In episode 5 of the show’s eighteenth season, titled “G.I. (Annoyed Grunt),” Homer enlists in the army and, of course, struggles with it. In one scene, Homer is forced to eat doughnuts while the rest of his squad is forced to do push-ups — something that’s meant as a punishment but ends up being quite the treat. The drill sergeant also gives Homer the nickname of Snowflake, similar to the nickname Snowball that’s given in Full Metal Jacket to a guy of Homer’s… ahem, stature. It was a solidly funny parody that must have been hard to write!
9. Thelma and Louise
In the episode “Marge on the Lam,” which was in the fifth season of the show, the writers decided to mock the sisterly drama of Thelma and Louise. It was fitting timing since the movie starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon just came out two years earlier and was still a critical hit and an audience favorite. In the episode, cool neighbor Ruth and Marge become fast friends when Homer stands Marge up at the ballet. Eventually, there’s a pursuit after Marge and Ruth when it’s revealed Ruth stole her car from her ex. Under the impression that the women may drive off a cliff in the near distance (mirroring the plot and aesthetics of Thelma and Louise), Homer apologizes via megaphone, and the women stop the car before the edge of the chasm — however, the idiotic police chief Wiggum and Homer fail to stop their cars in time and go skating over the cliff and into a landfill (but, of course, they were fine).
8. Requiem for a Dream
Perhaps you don’t remember this hilarious reference to such a serious film. Requiem for a Dream is about the struggles of drug addiction and how illicit substances destroy a person from the inside out. In a scene, we watch Jared Leto‘s character shoot up, and his biology instantly responds with cellular activity: dilating eyes and numbing of the body. It’s the exact same reaction that we hilariously see out of Homer in the twelfth episode of season 14, “I’m Spelling as Fast as I Can.” Homer eagerly awaits the return of the Ribwich at Krusty Burger, and when he finally gets a bite, we see him succumbing to an addiction whose properties become the crux of the episode. It’s hard to parody a movie that’s renowned for its dismal and bleak view of the lives of addicts, but again… leave it to The Simpsons to nail a parody no matter how difficult it may be!
7. A Streetcar Named Desire
To be fair, The Simpsons wasn’t really parodying the movie A Streetcar Named Desire –– it was more so poking fun at the play, and even more than that, it was mocking the community theater-style productions of Streetcar that are hard to understand and even harder to like. But it was an on-point parody nonetheless! In “A Streetcar Named Marge,” episode two of season four, Marge auditions for a role in the community theater production and manages to get the lead alongside her neighbor, Ned Flanders! Our favorite part of the episode had to be Ned showing up hard for the role of Stanley Kowalski, tearing his shirt off to reveal a majorly buff physique and screaming to the ceiling, “STELLA!” For those who enjoy some more high-brow humor, the episode pivoted around Marge drawing parallels between the neglectful Homer and the disinterested Stanley Kowalski. It was a shockingly well-written episode!
6. Lord of the Flies
If you remember anything from your high school reading back in ninth grade or so, you probably remember some of Lord of the Flies. The book that was later turned into a movie was about a group of young school boys that become stranded on an island. Before they are rescued, one of the boys is killed and the rest become primal savages. Well, of course, The Simpsons would parody that! In “Das Bus,” the fourteenth episode of season 9, Bart, Lisa, and their schoolmates become stranded on an island, and everything goes… pretty much as it did on the island with those lords of the flies! Milhouse is the proverbial “Piggy,” and of course, Lisa makes a total nerd of herself by insisting her classmates live off mossy rocks rather than eat a boar that walks into their camp.
Pretty much any episode that utilizes Mr. Burns a lot is a funny episode, in our book. But when they get him to play someone especially evil or diabolical, or when they get him to dress funny? We just can’t get enough! In the fourth “Treehouse of Horror” episode, which aired back in season 5, three short stories were featured: “The Devil and Homer Simpson,” “Terror at 5.5 Feet,” and “Bart Simpson’s Dracula,” which was parodying Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which had come out only a year prior. In it, Mr. Burns invites the Simpson family to his mansion in Pennsylvania, and there, Bart and Lisa discover a vampire lair. Though Lisa escapes, Bart is bitten. Homer winds up driving a stake through Burns’s heart, but it’s later revealed in a The Lost Boys-type style that the whole family was vampiric all along because Marge was the head vampire! Then, the family starts singing the Charlie Brown Christmas song and leaves us all very confused as the episode ends…
4. Nightmare on Elm Street
While we’re talking about Treehouse of Horror episodes, we absolutely cannot neglect one of our favorite Simpsons parodies of all time: The Nightmare on Elm Street episode! Though the episode came out long after the initial movie released, it was simply so well written that we enjoyed it more than the original movie itself! In season 7, the Halloween episode contained three spooky parodies: “Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores,” “Homer 3,” and “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace.” In the last one, the children were terrorized by their school’s groundskeeper, Willie, but only in their dreams. The students would fall asleep during class and die in their sleep (but not permanently, of course — just for the episode). While the premise itself is already funny, the funniest part was watching how the kids died in their dreams. They ran from Willie in the shape of a bagpipe spider, and he was defeated by a pacifier. Need we say more?
If you have yet to see Boyhood, you’re missing out not only on a wonderful piece of cinematography of our time but also on a psychological and sociological experiment showing just how formative the small and large experiences we have in our youth can be on who our adult selves become. It was such an important piece of art that it took literally over a decade to make. So, of course, The Simpsons decided to parody it — but they did it in a touching way, showing just how the implications of all of Bart’s misadventures were impacting his adulthood. It showed how Homer’s aloof nature, careless thinking, and absence from his kids’ education impacted Bart’s ideology. It showed how years of paling in comparison to his sister squelched his drive and ambition in life. It showed how his life was becoming a bad one with each and every episode — a truly funny but admirable parody.
While we wish there were just one episode to talk about here, there are actually several episodes that parody Batman and all of his shenanigans. Shall we begin the list? First of all, Bart once wrote on his detention chalkboard at the introduction of the episode, “Batman is nothing without his utility belt” — a harsh but apt analysis. But Bart also calls his imaginary alter-ego ‘The Bartman,’ so there must be some admiration there. The show mimicked the silly spinning screen transition of the old Batman television show on numerous occasions (too many times to talk about here). On multiple occasions, Homer and Bart, as well as Mr. Burns and Smithers, are shown sliding down poles and leaping into action as Batman and Robin would. Oh, and don’t forget that anytime Radioactive Man was mentioned, it was essentially Batman being parodied. Oh, and don’t forget, too, when Mr. Burns was inspired by Batman to become Fruit Batman.
1. Every Action Movie Ever
McBain. One word — that’s all we really need to say. If you’ve ever watched The Simpsons, you know just how incredibly epic this one word is: McBain. You don’t mess with McBain.
McBain was a direct parody of all of the action characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the joke went so much further than that. The McBain movies that were shown within many Simpsons episodes seemed to directly parody the Die Hard movies the most, though sometimes, the movies became even more vague plots of ‘McBain must hunt down a drug lord who has killed someone important to him.’ But we mostly loved his hilarious one-liners that were so poorly written that they directly reminded us of our favorite terrible action movies. One such quote (though it can’t be the funniest) was said when someone asked him not to swear on her wedding day. He squints his eyes and looks into the camera, saying, “Promise revoked.”