Celebrities say the darndest things, like what their favorite Simpsons episode is. (When you ask them on the red carpet or over email.) After we picked the top 100 episodes of the long-running series, we thought we’d ask famous people. It’s a motley crew, featuring both Harry Potter and Salman Rushdie, but they all similarly love The Simpsons. Which is natural and right.
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), “Diggs” and “Treehouse of Horror XXI”One of my favorite lines is in one episode [“The PTA Disbands”], when Lisa makes a perpetual motion machine and Homer comes in and says, “In this house, we obey Newton’s laws of thermodynamics.” That’s a brilliant line. Also, any of Troy McClure’s—“I’m Troy McClure and you may recognize me from Alice’s Adventures Through the Windshield Glass,” when he’s doing a drivers’ ed video [in “Duffless”]. I can come up with more if you give me time. Right now that’s all I can think of. I love my own episodes. It’s almost so surreal to watch them that I can’t. That was absolutely how I judged fame when I got the job of Harry Potter. The second thought after, “I’m going to play Harry Potter,” was, “Maybe I’ll get to be on Simpsons one day.” And I did, so I can die happy.
Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer), “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”
My favorite Simpsons moment?! I loved the prank calls to Mo’s. Any prank phone call, and I also really liked the reveal of the fish with the three eyes. That’s a favorite, but too many to decide.
Danny Pudi (Community), “Bart vs. Australia”
Whenever I’m thinking about The Simpsons, it’s usually season six. I was a goofy adolescent at the time who didn’t have a girlfriend (surprise!), so The Simpsons filled a major void. “Bart vs. Australia” really impacted me. My favorite moment starts when Bart introduces a frog to the Australian ecosystem that ends up destroying the landscape. And on their way back to America, we see a Koala hanging on to their helicopter. I love that moment so much and it made me wish there were Koalas napping all over my backyard in Chicago.
Simon Pegg (The World’s End), “Lisa’s Substitute”
The one about Lisa’s substitute. Dustin Hoffman is her teacher, and she kind of falls in love with him a little bit. Homer is such a terrible role model, and this guy comes along who encourages her intellectually. But, in the end, Homer proves to be good. In the end, when Homer cheers her up. It’s just beautiful. This is one of the things the show does so well—making you believe and forgive it being sentimental, because it earned it. Going directly for the sentiment can feel icky. Do you know what I mean? I’m a Brit, and we don’t like showing our emotions. Lisa’s the rock in the middle of true insanity. She’s an island in a sea of complete idiocy.
Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children), “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”
The one with Stephen Hawking! I thought that was kind of cool. Just to have Stephen Hawking on The Simpsons, that was pretty extraordinary. He’s kind of a superhero himself.
Seth Meyers (Late Night with Seth Meyers), All things Ralph
Love the Simpsons. I grew up watching the Simpsons and the fact that it’s endured for so long is beyond belief and I credit every generation of writers who’ve worked on it. But Ralph Wiggum, I have to say Ralph Wiggum. When I’m really down in the dumps, I just think about how much better off I am than Ralph Wiggum.
Fred Armisen (Portlandia), “King-Size Homer”
I think my favorite episode of The Simpsons is “King-Size Homer.” That’s the one where he decides to become obese so he can get on disability. He picks out this outfit … a muumuu and a “fat guy hat.” It makes me laugh just thinking about it. There’s this other moment that I think of all the time when I eat. He goes to Dr. Nick for weight-gaining advice. Dr. Nick shows him how to choose foods that leave a giant grease stain. He gets a doughnut (I think I remember it being a doughnut) and wipes it against a wall. [It’s actually a fish sandwich.] It creates this grease stain through the concrete, making it look like a window. I think a bird smashes into it! Right? He also sells the concept with a line like “it’s your window to success!” By the way, I am doing this from memory as opposed to looking at it all up online. Anyway, that episode is so great. I’d also like to say, too: The Simpsons is a huge influence on Portlandia. We often think in terms of Springfield when we are writing for different characters on our show. It’s reassuring to go out and shoot in the city of Portland, and seeing the names of Simpsons characters on street signs. Flanders, Burnside, Lovejoy, etc.
Taran Killam (SNL), “Cape Feare”
I’m sure dozens to several dozens have already selected “Cape Feare” as their favorite episode. There is no half-hour of television that I have and will continue to quote more. “No one who speaks German could be an evil man.” “Bake him away, toys.” “Wanna see my new chainsaw and hockey mask?!” It was my first exposure to H.M.S. Pinafore. It taught me no matter where you live, you can always tie the dog up out back. And the rakes. Oh, the rakes!
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), “Treehouse of Horror VII”
I always really liked, I forget which Halloween one it was, but it was the one where they shrink and go into this little Petri dish, and all this time passes and it’s the future. That one always creeped me out. All the Halloween ones are pretty dark, so I just remember finding that it gave me the same kind of creepy feeling as The Twilight Zone would give me. And also, it was just incredibly funny. It’s always incredibly funny.
Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), “The Springfield Connection”
I remember one when Marge was a cop and she had to arrest her husband. I remember going to a reading—a table reading—for an episode and it was pretty amazing.
Hannibal Buress (Broad City), various songs
I don’t know if these are my favorite episodes, but there’s a couple episodes that stick with me heavily because of the music. The one with Michael Jackson. “Lisa, it’s your birthday. Happy Birthday, Lisa.” That song is stuck in my head forever. The Kwik-E-Mart song was amazing and is burnt in my brain forever. When Apu says, “I do” at the end of the song, it’s heartbreaking. There’s the Monorail song, too. These are pretty easy ones to pick and I’m sure that there are some episodes with better jokes or stories but the songs from these episodes really connected with me when I was a kid.
Matt Jones (Breaking Bad), “Secrets of a Successful Marriage”
I’ve made a career playing stupid, blissfully ignorant characters. I learned everything I know from Homer Simpson. To play dumb with a sense of glee makes him not only charming, but you can forgive him for anything. Just like Marge does over and over again. One of my favorite examples is “Secrets of a Successful Marriage.” No matter how much Homer screws up, Marge can’t help but love him. That’s what we all want. Love in the midst of our glaring faults. I’m a long way from going bald, turning yellow, and having feet like hooves, but I’m trying to be more like Homer Simpson every day.
Charlie Rose (Charlie Rose), “Kill the Alligator and Run”
I was on The Simpsons. That was my favorite episode. Just doing it and knowing them—the experience was great. It puts you a part of a family of people that really are a great honor to be a part of.
Zach Woods (Silicon Valley), undecided
Oh, man. Oh, man [squeezing his head between his palms]. Favorite Simpsons episode. I don’t know. I can’t think of one. I can’t think of one. I won’t commit. I’m in a polygamist relationship with The Simpsons episodes; I don’t want to marry one. That’s a weird way of putting it, but I don’t know, no, I’m sorry.
Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), “Mayored to the Mob”
Ohhhhhhh. The rat milk one! I forget what it’s called but like all the school’s milk is made of rat milk—the monsters have this like rat milking tool/operation going on in the back. It was on the cusp of when Simpsons was just having a taste of absurdity. They had just a bit of that but still back to a pretty solid story. And it just caught me off guard. I remember it just being so strange. I loved it.
John Lutz (30 Rock), any “Treehouse of Horror” episode
I would have to say any of the Halloween specials. I don’t have a specific one, but those are always my favorite. You get three little stories, and they can be a little goofier. You can make, like, Mr. Burns turn into Voldemort.
Bobby Moynihan (SNL), undecided
Favorite Simpsons episode? I don’t have a favorite episode, but I have a favorite line. I remember watching the very first episode of The Simpsons and knowing the shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show—I think it might even be the very first line of the series ever—but Homer Simpson says, he’s just trying to get down the aisle and he says, “Pardon my galoshes.” I’ve used that phrase since that moment on. [Editor’s note: “Pardon my galoshes” is actually part of the sixth line of dialogue. Pretty close!]
Ian Roberts (co-founder of UCB Theatre, Key & Peele), “King-Size Homer”
I remember this one line that kills me. Bart’s looking forward to being really fat when he gets older and he imagines the future where he’s got a rag on a stick and he says [in a hillbilly voice], “I washed my back with a rag on a stick.” And I just thought that was so funny that he’d find it positive.
Neal Brennan (Chappelle’s Show), “Two Bad Neighbors”
That was a huge part of my life. I actually think it’s unfair that everyone sort of collectively disengaged with it seemingly at the same time, like around the year 2001-ish. I say, “Disco Stu doesn’t advertise” once a month, probably. I always liked the Halloween episode. “Who shot Mr. Burns?” was great. But it’s more “Disco Stu doesn’t advertise” than anything.
Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), “Marge vs. the Monorail” and “Brick Like Me”
Monorail! C’mon, it’s all about the Monorail. Any time the Simpsons sing it’s a great thing. Although, I did love the Lego episode that they just made recently. I thought it was brilliant—so well done.
John Milhiser (SNL), “Marge vs. the Monorail” and “Stark Raving Dad”
I like when Springfield gets the Monorail. That one just had a lot of characters in it. Oh, I also like “Lisa, It’s Your Birthday.” It’s one of the few times that Bart and Lisa actually got along. It’s a sweet, sweet moment. [Sings.] “Lisa, it’s your birthday/Happy Birthday, Lisa.”
Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black), undecided
I mean, I’m a big fan though of the credit sequence, when they do, “The Simp … sons” and that sounds happens. I find it to be like deeply soothing, like almost instantly your whole body relaxes, like your shoulders drop, it’s like a real meditative state that hits, it just hits you right in the right spot in your brain. Very soothing. Very soothing.
Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive), “Jazzy and the Pussycats”
I was on The Simpsons and I’m very proud. It’s not my favorite episode. There are a lot of episodes I like. I like the one a lot with the White Stripes. It was funny. I noticed their voices. I was surprised. I didn’t know they were on.
Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire), “Marge Be Not Proud”
First of all, the episode I run back to most is the one where Bart steals the Bonestorm video game. It’s everything I love about The Simpsons. It’s so funny and it’s so fucking sad and it has this amazing morality lesson, but it’s told to you through subterfuge, like you don’t even realize. I cry watching that episode every time. Bart’s not there to get the family photo taken and the picture’s off kilter on the wall and then he takes one by himself and puts it on the wall and it levels it all out. They decorate the tree. You have tears in your eyes.
Emma Myles (Orange Is the New Black), “Weekend at Brunsie’s”
The one where birds eat at Homer’s corneas and they put him on medical marijuana. There’s a Phish concert and everyone’s smoking, and the guy’s like, “Hey, I smell marijuana, that better be medicinal.” And it’s like this old guy who hands his prescription and Phish is like, “Wow, this guy’s like seriously ill.” And he goes, “My doctor didn’t tell me that; I had to hear it from Phish.”
Michael Dowse (FUBAR), “A Star Is Burns”
Favorite episode? Oh God, yeah. I think it’s the film festival one. Don’t Cry for Me Because I’m Already Dead by Barney. That’s the name of his movie. They hit on all the tropes of film festivals. It’s awesome, and because of Football in the Groin. Every time you put a crotch shot in a movie, I think of, well, a football in the groin is Football in the Groin.
Ben Rappaport (Outsourced), “Two Bad Neighbors”
I love The Simpsons. I used to watch them every day when I’d come home from school. Do you remember the episode where the older George Bush moves across the street and then Gerald Ford moves in afterwards and Gerald Ford and Homer really get along? When Gerald Ford is like, “Do you like football? Do you like nachos? Come on over and eat nachos and watch football.” It was really funny.
Shaylah Evans (Girl Code), “I Love Lisa”
Honestly, the one where Ralph gives valentines to Lisa, the “choo-choo-choose you” one. It just makes me laugh. Heartbreak is funny. Sad, heartbroken children.
Kelly Ripa (Live With Kelly and Michael), “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”
The one with Mick Jagger. [When asked why.] It’s Mick Jagger, are you kidding?
Caroline Rhea (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), “When You Dish Upon a Star”
The Alec Baldwin–Kim Basinger episode. That’s my fave. I always found it completely hilarious. That always stuck with me, because I find Alec Baldwin hilarious, even as a cartoon.
John August (Frankenweenie), “Homer’s Enemy”
We all love Homer, but if you had to work with him in real life, you’d probably despise him. That’s why my pick is “Homer’s Enemy” from 1997, written by John Swartzwelder. The Simpsons are often portrayed as being one paycheck away from losing their house, but Frank Grimes shines a spotlight on just how lucky they are, and how little they (and by extension, the middle classes) deserve their good fortune. It’s an inspired, unsettling episode. It’s also chock-full of great bits and well-integrated subplots. Bart buys a dilapidated factory at auction. Homer competes in a school diorama competition against Martin Prince and Ralph Wiggum. Then suddenly Frank Grimes—“Grimey”—is dead. Everyone laughs at the funeral. Even Reverend Lovejoy. It’s so dark and so great.