10 Best ‘The Simpsons’ Seasons, Ranked


Having recently released its 35th season, The Simpsons continues to prove that it isn’t just the greatest animated series of all time — it’s a pop culture encyclopedia that has changed the way that audiences view television, animation, comedy, and what a “long-running” show actually looks like. The Simpsons has broken so many cultural barriers throughout its run that it would be almost impossible to name them all and has given perhaps one of the most satirical and humorous takes on American life in media.

While the early episodes are considered to be the show’s peak, there have been many strong recent installments as well. Some of the most memorable segments and moments in the show include the yearly Treehouse of Horror, which is an iconic tradition that incorporates horror elements into the show, as well as its opening couch gags. Ranking the 10 best seasons of The Simpsons is an overwhelming task, but there are just some seasons of the show that stand out due to its writing, humor, and heartfelt arcs.

The Simpsons

Release Date
December 17, 1989


Main Genre

10 Season 22

No. of Episodes: 22

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXII
Image via 20th Television

The Simpsons is largely believed to have declined in quality over time, even though fans of the series seem to disagree on when exactly the “Golden Age” was. It’s evident that Season 11 marked a serious creative downhill point that took the series a long time to recover from, but some of the more recent seasons have shown signs of life that harken back to the first few seasons.

Season 22 showed an ambition that the series had not had in a while thanks to experimental episodes like the music-heavy “Elementary School Musical.” It also has its tender moments such as in The Simpsons episode “Homer is the Father,” where Homer finds out that he has a daughter after a one-night stand and does his best to make up for lost time. The season has not achieved the same cult status as some of the seasons in The Simpsons, but it has its fair share of magical moments that make it a must-watch season.

9 Season 1

No. of Episodes: 13

image via 20th Television

The first seasons of comedy shows often don’t always take off and establish themselves as future classics. Shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation didn’t quite find the right tone that they would ultimately settle on, but the first season of The Simpsons firmly established why the series was so special.

The Simpsons resembled the traditional sitcoms of the 1980s, but its unique animation style served as a parody of small-town life and suburban America. Most importantly, the show wasn’t afraid to be sincere, as was evident in the debut episode “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire.” The season also had plenty of incredible episodes including “Krusty Gets Busted,” where Krusty the Clown gets framed for a crime, and “Life on the Fast Lane,” where Marge thinks about having an affair. The first season is rough around the edges but it certainly has set the tone for the rest of the show’s history.

8 Season 10

No. of Episodes: 23

Mayor Quimby, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, in 'The Simpsons'
Image via 20th Century Fox

Season 10 is perhaps the last truly great season of the show — while season 9 showed some signs of problems emerging with the controversial episode “The Principal and the Pauper,” which rewrote the backstory of Principal Skinner, Season 10 still retained the same quality as the earlier seasons.

There also was the episode “Thirty Minutes over Tokyo,” where the family takes a cultural trip to Japan, resulting in a funny depiction of an American family learning about a new culture. Although it ended with the controversial episode “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo,” Season 10 featured one of the show’s all-time greatest guest appearances when Mark Hamill appeared as himself (as well as a bodyguard instructor) in the hilarious episode “Mayored to the Mob.”

7 Season 2

No. of Episodes: 22

Bart and Lisa at the dinner table in "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" episode of The Simpsons
Image via FOX

Season 2 was where The Simpsons sharpened up its animation style and let the writers truly run wild with their ideas. Still, the show retained its sense of hopefulness by showing the genuine love within the family. “Bart vs. Thanksgiving” is a great example, as after accidentally destroying one of Lisa’s creations, Bart realizes that he needs to remind his sister of his affection.

The show definitely started to find its groove in the second season, as its episodes feature the family’s tenderness and humor. Season 2 also made a breakthrough with the first flashback episode in “The Way We Was,” the show went back in time to show Homer and Marge’s first date and establish why they’ve been an enduring couple for 30 years. Another classic episode from the season is “Lisa’s Substitute,” where Lisa begins to develop feelings for her substitute teacher, Mr. Bergstrom.

6 Season 3

No. of Episodes: 24

Homer frowning with his head in his hands while Michael, voiced by Michael Jackson, sits beside him in The Simpsons Season 3 "Stark Raving Dad"
Image via Fox

Season 3 is the only season of The Simpsons that was censored when the entire catalog was added to Disney+. The series premiere episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” featured an extended guest appearance from Michael Jackson, which the creators chose to remove due to the sexual abuse allegations that have been leveled at the pop star.

Nonetheless, the rest of the season is filled with classics, including the one successful moment in Moe’s career in “Flaming Moe’s” where the lonely bartender temporarily has a solid business going. Sadly, it doesn’t last too long. There’s also a fan-favorite episode titled “Homer at the Bat,” where Homer plays in a softball team and helps them win the championship game. Because of the many guest appearances of several Major League Baseball players, as well as its touching story on teamwork, the episode was well-loved by fans.

5 Season 6

No. of Episodes: 25

who shot mr burns part one mr burns sundial bart otto apu wiggum krusty

Season 6 provided The Simpsons with another game-changing moment in its finale “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One.” It was a parody of the drama series Dallas, which had ended one of its pivotal seasons with a cliffhanger episode where a character was shot. In The Simpsons‘ version, Springfield is sent into a crisis when Mr. Burns is shot, and all of the residents become suspects in an interlocking narrative.

The catch is that the show wouldn’t resolve the crisis until the premiere of the next season. Another standout episode in the season is “Homer Badman,” where Homer is mistakenly accused of sexually harassing a babysitter and becoming the town outcast. It was an interesting and sharp approach to media sensationalism and pack mentality.

4 Season 7

No. of Episodes: 25

Sideshow Mel - The Simpsons - Who Shot Mr Burns
Image via FOX

Season 7 was given the perfect opportunity to resolve the crisis from its predecessor with its premiere episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part Two,” in which the actual culprit was revealed. There’s also the memorable episode “Homer the Smithers,” where Homer becomes Mr. Burns’ assistant and is too incompetent to keep up with the job.

The rest of the season included a ton of great character spotlight episodes that honed in on background players, but it was the episode “22 Short Films About Springfield” that is remembered best. In the style of Pulp Fiction, the anthology episode tied together various events in Springfield into one of the most exhilarating episodes of the entire series. It also provided a deeper look into the residents of Springfield.

3 Season 5

No. of Episodes: 22

sideshow-bob cape feare simpsons

No character in The Simpsons is more fearsome than Sideshow Bob, the spurned former sidekick to Krusty the Clown who became a serial killer after years of being embarrassed. Sideshow Bob’s number one goal is to kill Bart, and he nearly gets to complete his mission in the episode “Cape Feare,” which parodied Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear.

“Cape Feare” was one of many extraordinary episodes in Season 5 that showed that the series was able to take risks with more ambitious storylines that put the characters in legitimate danger. The beloved patriarch of the family, Homer literally leaves the planet in the classic “Deep Space Homer,” and forms a barbershop quartet in “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” — two episodes that were memorable to viewers due to its creative and musical scenes, as well as thrilling plots.

2 Season 8

No. of Episodes: 25

image via 20th Television

The Simpsons has done crossover episodes with many shows over the years, including Bob’s Burgers, The Critic, Family Guy, and American Dad. However, none were better than Season 8’s “The Springfield Files,” in which both Gillian Anderson and David Muchovny appeared as their respective characters from The X-Files for an episode that featured Homer getting caught in the midst of an alien invasion.

The season also parodied other pop culture franchises — the episode “You Only Move Twice” was perfectly timed as a parody of the James Bond series that made fun of the spy saga’s hallmarks and cliches. The fan-favorite episode sees the family moving to a new town called Cypress Creek and Homer gets employed under a supervillain — which in retrospect, is not that different from his life in Springfield.

1 Season 4

No. of Episodes: 22

simpsons season four monorail marge and maggie, leonard nimoy, lyle lanley

Season 4 is simply a perfect season of television — there aren’t a lot of shows within any genre that have managed to deliver 22 excellent installments in a row, and it’s a testament to The Simpsons’ incredible writing staff that the quality was so consistent throughout the early run.

Among the young writers working on the series was Conan O’Brien, who penned the all-time classic “Marge vs. The Monorail” in which the charismatic salesman Lyle Lanley (voiced by guest star Phil Hartman) convinces the citizens of Springfield to invest in a dangerous train system. The season also has the classic and beloved episode “Last Exit to Springfield,” which was lauded by critics due to its genius writing and sharp satire of corporate greed, as Homer unwittingly becomes a union leader in the power plant and helps the employees get back their dental plan.

NEXT:The Funniest Animated Series That Aren’t ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘South Park’


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