Many people out there will argue that The Simpsons is the greatest TV show ever made, and some of that may well be true. For decades now the antics of this yellow family from the town of Springfield has not just taken the world by storm, but has taken over the world completely. Being one of the most watched, loved, and quoted TV shows in history, there is no denying that The Simpsons will go down for years and years as a show that defined its age. After being on the air for almost 30 years, it's no surprise that people are so lovingly attached to this all-American family.
However, there are some people out there that think The Simpsons has had their day and it's now time to bow out gracefully. What was once a popular and funny reflection of family life has now become tired, strained, and predictable. Because of this, the characters and storylines have had to become more and more ridiculous in order to keep up with their more grown up counterparts, such as South Park and Family Guy.
With both sides of this argument having good points, we look at 8 reasons why The Simpsons is the greatest TV show ever, and should continue for as long as it wants, and 7 reasons why it needs to be taken off the air immediately!
15 Endless Quotes
The first entry on our list is one for the great column. There are many shows out there that are right on the button when it comes to pop culture and current events. Both Family Guy and South Park are experts at this. In fact, they often do their shows as late as possible in order to get in the relevant jokes and social comments. However, none of them come close to competing with The Simpsons when it comes to witty one liners, catchphrases, and even memorable songs that everyone knows and can join in with. If you don't believe us then next time you're out and about, start singing the Mr. Plow jingle, we guarantee someone will join in!
Whether it's the catchy songs or the popular catchphrases (like Mr. Burns' "Excellent," Bart's "Cowabunga" or "Eat my shorts," or even "Everything's coming up Milhouse" from Milhouse), the list of one liners and catchphrases is endless and it goes without saying that The Simpsons is probably one of the most quotable shows in the history of TV.
14 Treehouse Of Horror
Once upon a time, Halloween wouldn't just be a holiday in which kids would dress up, knock on our doors, demand candy, and then go off into the night. No, it was also the time of year that The Simpsons broke away from their sitcom formula to give us three terrifying, and funny, Halloween stories.
For many years the idea of the Simpson family taking on some famous characters from the world of movies and literature was an absolute joy; after all, it gave us classic parodies of movies and stories like The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Raven, and a whole lot of zombies. However, this all seems like a long and distant memory, as for many years now the Treehouse of Horror specials have felt silly, lazy, and don't really work anymore. What was once a joy, full of shock and entertainment, has become yawns of disapproval as we roll our eyes and hope they get it right next Halloween. So our first entry on the negative side to The Simpsons is that the Treehouse of Horror shows have to stop now before they wipe our memories of the classic ones.
13 Long Running Gags
The next entry on our list may sound like a bad one but in our view, the long running gag is actually a big positive. There's the obvious gags such as the couch gag and Bart's chalk board which start every episode and we still get a kick out of watching those two. Many people say that the couch gag in particular isn't as funny as it used to be, which may be true. However, as they've been doing those jokes for over two decades and hundreds of episodes, we think that the writers should be praised for coming up with so many ideas that still do work and amuse us.
As well as the couch gag and the chalkboard, The Simpsons also has a few in jokes and long running gags that many of the characters use. The most famous, and in our view one of the greatest long running gags ever, is the fact that with each episode and year that passes, Mr. Burns has no idea who Homer is. He may have worked at the nuclear plant for years but each time Mr. Burns sees his employee, he has no idea who he is and where he works. This gag always has us in stitches and it has also fueled some of the biggest, and boldest, Simpsons storylines. "Who shot Mr.Burns?" is a great example of that.
12 Celebrity Guests
When The Simpsons first started, it pretty much used celebrity voices from the get go and for the first few seasons, it worked well. The reason for this is subtlety. Whenever a big name star appeared on The Simpsons, it would be a nice surprise to see such megastars as Michael Jackson, Dustin Hoffman, and most of The Beatles turn up in Springfield. It was never advertised and a lot of the times, the stars didn't even get credited and used fake names in the credits. The reason for this is that these celebrities wanted to appear on the show. The show didn't need them to pull in ratings, it was all done for everyone's pleasure.
Nowadays, however, that is not the case. Not only is the amount of celebrities used getting out of hand but they go out of their way to promote the fact that a celebrity is going to be in the next episode. It's clearly a sign that The Simpsons needs an extra ratings boost and does what so many sitcoms have done before and uses the "celebrity cameo" as a sales boost. The Simpsons never needed this and it's sad to see it. It's also another sign that The Simpsons is past its best.
11 Sticking It To "The Man"
Another entry for the plus column here and one that we're still not sure just how The Simpsons gets away with it. Many shows out there have tackled the world and the States, whether they go after politicians, religion, or the world in general (South Park we're looking at you!), The Simpsons tends to stay away from such big topics. It does occasionally delve into the world of politics but more in a general way rather than focusing on one thing or anyone specific. The reason for this, we feel, is that if you have something current in the heart of your show then you instantly date it and even watching a show like that a few weeks later, it can feel outdated.
The Simpsons doesn't suffer from this so any episode can be watched any time and the jokes and storyline all still work. What The Simpsons does do brilliantly is constantly go after the company that employs them: Fox. The constant snipes and digs at the Fox Network is truly brilliant. The one we love the most is after Homer has a rant about how bad and evil Fox are, the credits come on and we hear a gun being cocked and Homer reading out a statement to say that Fox is great. Obviously he doesn't read it and the gun fires. Biting the hand that feeds them is pure comedy gold!
10 Unexplained Endings
This is a trend that has started to happen a lot in recent Simpsons episodes and a trend that we absolutely hate. It may have started out as a joke with the odd episode, like in "Das Bus" in which the kids of Springfield became stranded on an island. The episode built itself up too much and so instead of the kids being rescued, a voice over came on and casually mention the kids getting to safety.
Another example is when Homer, after fleeing from PBS who are after his money, finds himself as a missionary. The episode itself is actually a good one and watching Homer trying to teach people his Christian values is priceless, especially as he keeps referring to Jesus as Jeebus, but the episode ends with volcanic lava surrounding Homer and looks like it's certain doom for him. The episode then cuts off in some PBS fundraiser joke. The writers may have thought these things were funny, but we didn't and it's becoming more and more common for The Simpsons to have very poor endings to their episodes.
9 The Springfielders
Back into the good side of The Simpsons for our next entry, and it's definitely an entry that we feel gives The Simpsons brand some real strength.
When The Simpsons first burst onto our screens, the main premise of the show was to give an honest and funny look into the lives of an average family. Starting out with only a few minor side characters, the show focused on the ups and downs of family life. However, over the years more and more characters came into the foreground and these characters took over more screen time. Many may say that this is when The Simpsons started to lose its essence and started to be less about family life and more about a load of oddball characters, but we have to disagree as we can't think of any show ever that has the volume and wealth of characters that The Simpsons has. Each one of the many Springfielders each has their own story, importance to the show, and unique personality. Every character is easily quotable and recognizable and because of this, there is a vast wealth of story telling that The Simpsons can dip into, and having this many characters gives The Simpsons some serious longevity.
8 Moe's Rag
Throughout this list we've tried to look at The Simpsons brand as a whole. Taking its good points and bad points without actually singling out any specific characters or episodes. However, the story about the life of Moe's rag is an absolute abomination of a TV episode and therefore deserves a place on this list all by itself.
The Simpsons have become known for taking their characters out of their daily lives and putting them into different situations. Not just within the Treehouse of Horror specials, but in normal everyday episodes. Taking on works of literature and major events in history, The Simpsons likes to keep us on our toes and tell us a different story once in awhile, and we love them for that. However, the life story of Moe's dirty bar rag is not just a bad Simpsons episode it also has to go down as one of the worst TV shows ever. We're not sure what the writers were thinking of when they came up with this but if the TV executives are looking for a reason to cancel The Simpsons, then they should watch this episode and The Simpsons will be off the air immediately.
7 Always Bounces Back
There is one thing that The Simpsons has that not many other shows do and that's the ability to bounce back and rise up against its haters. For many years, The Simpsons has been under fire from fans and critics, all of them demanding that The Simpsons be taken off the air. With each bad episode and season, these voices get louder and it often looks like it's the end for our favorite yellow family.
However, with each year that passes and more and more people jumping on the "cancel The Simpsons" train, it's amazing to us that The Simpsons is still in fact on the air. Not just that, but each year The Simpsons is pretty much the only show on TV that gets guaranteed more seasons. It just goes to show that no matter what The Simpsons does, the TV executives have faith that The Simpson will find its way back, and each time it does. This is a true strength of a TV show and a strength that no one else has ever had. The Simpsons brand is so strong that it can basically withstand anything. Good for them.
6 Going Out On Top
Unfortunately, this entry may well be too little too late. Back on the downside to The Simpsons, when you have a show that's been as big, successful, and as much of a cultural phenomenon as The Simpsons has been, then a fitting end to it would be for The Simpsons to go out with a big bang and when it is top of the TV pile.
If The Simpsons had finished ten or even five years ago, then everyone would be saying how amazing it was. The Simpsons would go down in history as being the best TV show that there has ever been. Now, however, no matter what happens with The Simpsons, the time to go out on a high note has long since gone. Whether The Simpsons goes on for many more years or it gets cancelled in the near future, one thing is for certain and that's the more the show plows through its now-mediocre seasons, everything that was truly great about The Simpsons will be forgotten. It's fair to say that The Simpsons is more likely to get cancelled than it is to end itself, which is a real shame for the history of the show, and in years to come, the name The Simpsons may well be associated with bad TV. Just like the once popular and much loved Happy Days gave us the negative phrase "Jump the shark," The Simpsons seem certain to follow the same fate.
Since the very beginning of The Simpsons, they've always put one thing first and that's to tell a good story. Many other similar shows have some kind of agenda or an undertone opinion that they want to push in the audience's face. Or if you're a certain show named Family Guy, then you just have a serious overload of pop culture references and sketches piled together in order to appeal to the younger "nostalgic" generation.
That's where The Simpsons sets itself above those shows and stands out as something different and better. Although the more recent seasons of The Simpsons have had more of a surreal and even silly tone to them, The Simpsons still puts the story first and stills tries to fit a good, entertaining, and funny plot into each of its episodes. Many may argue that the traditional "three act" way of storytelling is dated but The Simpsons has stuck with it and they do it better than anyone else does.
4 The Crossovers
We've already mentioned on this list that famous phrase "Jumping The Shark." This phrase came along when The Fonz from Happy Days literally jumped over a shark. Since then, the phrase has been used to signify that a TV show has gone on too long and has run out of ideas. The other trick that TV shows use in order to boost ratings and try to pump some life back into the shows is with the dreaded crossover.
We never thought we'd see the day that The Simpsons needed to do this but unfortunately they've done this twice and with two different shows. Having a crossover with Futurama may well have been expected at one point or another; after all, they are written by the same team and you could argue that they are part of the same universe. But when The Simpsons met Family Guy, that was a step too far in our opinion. These two shows shouldn't have ever come together, I mean, Family Guy often pokes fun at the family friendly Simpsons. Having Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson fighting to the death was a step too far for both shows and a sign that they've both hit rock bottom.
3 Cultural Phenomenon
It's fair to say that over the years, The Simpsons have cemented themselves on the minds and consciousness of a generation. Not just with their longevity and seemingly everlasting concept, but they've also added to our culture as well. Not just having great TV episodes, great characters, and catchphrases, but they've also influenced our very language. As well as having hit songs, we were all doing The Bartman back in the day! But many of their words and phrase have not only become part of our culture and everyday words, but they've actually made it into the dictionary.
"D'Oh!" is the epitome of this, and not only has it become an everyday word, as well has having its own entry in the dictionary, but that simple word has come to sum up an entire generation. There's no denying that The Simpsons has had more influence on us than any other movie, TV show, or anything else.
2 Homer Simpson
The number two entry on our list, and the number one entry for everything that is bad with The Simpsons, is the man himself, Homer Simpson. Starting life out as a more realistic American father, Homer has changed dramatically over the years and it's not just his voice either.
Homer has always been a little dim, silly, and not the world's greatest father. He is also lazy, selfish, and a borderline alcoholic. All these traits make Homer who he is, and who he is is arguably one of the greatest comedic characters ever created. However, over the years something else has happened to Homer and something fans don't like. He may have his flaws but Homer has always been a loyal husband and father at his core and that's always been his redeeming feature and answer to the question "What does Marge see in him?" But lately that is not the case, as Homer has changed into an unloving, overly aggressive and even more stupid than is humanly possible. What was once a lovable idiot has become an abomination to humankind.
1 All Viewers Welcome
The number one entry on our list and the reason that The Simpsons is still on our screens and will continue to be for many years to come, is the fact that anyone and everyone can watch it. Having characters that are yellow instantly gets rid of any stereotypes and race barriers (we're not including Apu here who could easily have a negative entry to himself). As well as this, sexuality has always been on our screens with The Simpsons and they've never shied away from having gay characters. As well as including all walks of life, The Simpsons also appeals to every age group and any generation.
Whether you're five or fifty, ten or a hundred, The Simpsons has something for you. Sometimes a TV show can struggle to keep everyone happy. It's either too grownup for children or too childish for adults, either way these shows can't satisfy everyone. That's the one true brilliance of The Simpsons, and that everyone and anyone can get something from it and we can all enjoy it together. With that in mind, long live The Simpsons!