The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References

The sharpest, smartest show on TV is famed for its sly nods to movies.

The beautifully observed homages vary from blink-and-miss single frames to shot-by-shot recreations of entire scenes.

Here's our top 50...

50. Requiem For A Dream (2000)

Episode: I’m Spelling As Fast As I Can (Season 14)

The original moment: The scuzzy lives of various Brighton Beach addicts are reduced to flick-book moments of monotonous quick snap repetition – powder-snort-hit-high – in Darren Aronofsky’s sharp drama.

The Simpsons moment: Homer becomes addicted to the latest Krusty Burger product, the Ribwich (tag line: ‘I don’t mind the taste!’), his instant-hit happiness shown with Requiem-style quick cuts. It works best if you see it in motion here .

49. The Great Escape (1963)

Episode: A Streetcar Named Marge (Season 4)

The original moment: Steve McQueen’s repeat escapist Captain Virgil Hilts is sent to solitary confinement of ‘the cooler’, and passes the time throwing a baseball against the wall over and over.

The Simpsons moment: With Marge rehearsing for her theatre production of A Streetcar Named Desire, Maggie spends the day in the Ayn Rand School For Tots. After organising a failed escape with the other babies she’s sent to a playpen called ‘the box’ and bounces a ball off the walls.

48. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Episode: Treehouse Of Horror III (Season 4)

The original moment: In a dystopian near-future England, Malcolm McDowell is Alex, the leader of a brutal gang of youths elaborately dressed in bowler hats, white shirts and eye makeup.

The Simpsons moment: In the opening segment for season four’s Halloween episode there’s a party at the Simpsons’ house, and Bart comes dressed as Alex. In the same episode there’s a King Kong spoof called King Homer.

Next: The Silence Of The Lambs, Steamboat Willie, Risky Business... [page-break]

47. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Episode: Marge Vs. The Monorail (Season 4)

The original moment: Serial killer and psychopath Dr Hannibal Lecter is muzzled, straight-jacketed and placed on a trolley for safe transport in the serial killer classic.

The Simpsons moment: In prison for illegally dumping nuclear waste in the city park, Mr Burns is wheeled into court to testify wearing the full Lecter get-up.

46. Steamboat Willie (1928)

Episode: Itchy & Scratchy The Movie (Season 4)

The original moment: Super early Mickey Mouse cartoon – the first ever to feature sound – features the world-famous rodent battling mean Captain Pete on a steamer. The film was itself a reference to Buster Keaton’s SteamBoat Bill Jr (1928).

The Simpsons moment: A glimpse at the first ever Itchy & Scratchy cartoon reveals it was called Steamboat Itchy, with a similar black-and-white style to the Disney classic. The episode also includes a reference to Star Trek XII with the original – and ancient – crew still going.

45. Risky Business (1983)

Episode: Homer The Heretic (Season 4)

The original moment: In a sequence which confirmed Tom Cruise’s star status, his cocky high schooler Joel Goodsen dances through his empty house to Bob Seger’s ‘Old Time Rock & Roll’ in his pants and shirt.

The Simpsons moment: Thrilled to be at home on Sunday having rejected church, Homer begins his day of freedom by dancing through his house in pants and shirt, only this time to ‘Short Shorts’ by The Royal Teens.

Next: Cape Fear, Psycho, One Flew Over... [page-break]

44. Psycho (1960)

Episode: Cape Feare (Season 5)

The original moment: Handsome if twitchy Bates Motel proprietor Norman laughs while talking to doomed runaway Marion Crane in the pre-shower bit of Hitch’s classic.

The Simpsons moment: Tracking the family to Terror Lake after his latest release from prison, Sideshow Bob stays at the Bates Motel, and in a direct take on the Psycho shot he's pictured writing a death threat to Bart with stuffed birds in the background.

43. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Episode: So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show (Season 4)

The original moment: In a tragic/triumphant finale, Jack Nicholson’s brutally lobotomised livewire ruffian RP McMurphy is mercifully smothered by giant native American Chief Bromden, who then escapes by throwing a water fountain throw a window.

The Simpsons moment: Having been hospitalised by Bart’s practical joke (fizzing a can of beer to nuclear levels), Homer is half-smothered by a deranged Barney, who then crashes through the hospital window and runs into the distance.

Next: Nightmare On Elm Street, Night Of The Hunter, The Lost Boys... [page-break]

42. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Episode: Cape Feare (Season 5)

The original moment: Dead, dream-haunting child molester/serial killer/all round bad burnt egg Freddie Krueger slices through a group of too-good looking teens with nasty finger tip claws.

The Simpsons moment: Terrified after receiving a death threat through the post, Bart bumps into Ned Flanders and is shocked when Ned turns wearing a spiked gardening glove. “Say your prayers, Simpson!” he grins, “because the schools can't force you like they should.”

41. Night Of The Hunter (1955)

Episode: Cape Feare (Season 5)

The original moment: Robert Mitchum’s creepy serial killer turned preacher Harry Powell has the words ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ tattooed on the knuckles of his hands.

The Simpsons moment: Sideshow Bob – who mostly doubles as Max Cady in the episode’s extended spoof on Cape Fear – shares tattoos with this earlier Mitchum villain. Although, with only three fingers, they’re changed to ‘Luv’ and ‘Hat’…

40. The Lost Boys (1987)

Episode: Treehouse Of Horror IV (Season 5)

The original moment: Jason Patric’s reluctant vamp Michael hovers outside his brother Sam’s window, triggering the famous exchange: “You’re a vampire, I knew it!” “No, I’m not” “Then what are you, the flying nun?”

The Simpsons moment: In a segment called Bart Simpson’s Dracula, Springfield experiences a series of vampire attacks that Lisa traces to Mr Burns. As she and Bart investigate, he’s bitten by Mr Burns, and later hovers outside Lisa’s window.

Next: Jaws, Goldfinger, The Godfather... [page-break]

39. Jaws (1975)

Episode: Lisa’s First Word (Season 4)

The original moment: In Steven Spielberg’s original blockbuster, the summer resort town of Amity Island is terrorised by repeat attacks from a great white shark.

The Simpsons moment: In a flashback detailing their search for a first home, Homer and Marge remember a visit the Robert Shaw-like Captain McAllister’s houseboat which is interrupted by the attack of a great white shark.

38. Goldfinger (1964)

Episode: You Only Move Twice (Season 8)

The original moment: Supervillain and, um, gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger has captured British agent James Bond and interrogates him using a preposterous laser inching closer and closer to 007’s groin.

The Simpsons moment: Homer’s too good to be true boss, Hank Scorpio, turns out to be an evil genius hell-bent on world domination. A Sean Connery-style spy escapes from a Goldfinger laser trap, only to be tackled to the ground by an eager Homer.

37. The Godfather (1972)

Episode: Mr Plow (Season 4)

The original moment: Heir to the Corleone family Sonny is brutally gunned down at a toll booth, stepping dramatically from his car to die in a bloodied heap at the side of the road.

The Simpsons moment: In a shot-for-shot recreation of the death scene, Bart is gunned down by a group of kids with snowballs. The scene was also recreated in the season 16 episode All’s Fair In Oven War.

Next: Edward Scissorhands, The Birds, Citizen Kane... [page-break]

36. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Episode: Cape Feare (Season 5)

The original moment: Johnny Depp’s manmade clipper-handed loner is adopted by the Bogg family, and wows the neighbourhood with his extraordinary hedge-trimming abilities.

The Simpsons moment: After terrifying Bart (in the Nightmare On Elm Street reference) Flanders completes an Edward Scissorhands-style hedge sculpture – only his is an angel, rather than a dinosaur.

35. The Birds (1963)

Episode: A Streetcar Named Marge (Season 4)

The original moment: With the menace of the birds reaching a fever pitch, Tippi Hedren’s Melanie Daniels walks past a school yard and a tree which are unnaturally crowded with birds.

The Simpsons moment: Homer, Bart and Lisa go to collect Maggie from the Ayn Rand School For Tots (the same one as per the Great Escape moment), and find the place littered with packs of silent, starting babies sucking on pacifiers. There’s also a shot of Hitchcock, recreating the director’s appearance in his own film.

34. Citizen Kane (1939)

Episode: Mr Plow (Season 4)

The original moment: The opening scene of the world’s greatest film: on his deathbed, the old media mogul Charles Foster Kane holds a snowglobe, which tumbles to the floor and breaks as he whispers his last word, ‘Rosebud’.

The Simpsons moment: Homer commissions a glitzy advertisement for his successful snow plow business. The arty result is probably a parody of David Lynch’s 1992 ad for YSL’s Opium, but the close-up on the snowglobe is straight from Kane.

Next: Cape Fear, Dracula, Ben-Hur... [page-break]

33. Cape Fear (1991)

Episode: Cape Feare (Season 5)

The original moment: We see the muscular and repeatedly tattooed body of Robert De Niro’s sadistic and soon to be on the loose killer Max Cady, with the scales of justice prominent on his rippling back.

The Simpsons moment: We see the soft, yellow and tattooed body of Sideshow Bob, the deranged killer soon to be released to hunt Bart once again. There are tons of Cape Fear refs in the ep, but Bob’s big tattoo – Bart’s decapitated head on a skateboard saying ‘Ouch, man!’ – is the best.

32. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Episode: Treehouse Of Horror IV

The original moment: Gary Oldman’s tortured pallid monster greats Keanu Reeves’ Jonathan Harker wearing a bright red robe and a weird boob-style beesnest hairdo (‘Whoa’).

The Simpsons moment: A cheap one – the same Halloween ep that threw up the Lost Boys window moment gives us Monty Burns in full-on vamp form, greeting the Simpson family to his eerie mansion.

31. Ben-Hur (1959)

Episode: Kamp Krusty (Season 4)

The original moment: After a freak roof-tile accident involving the new Roman governor, Charlton Heston’s heroic Ben-Hur is condemned to serve as a galley slave, rowing with other imprisoned men to a relentless drum beat.

The Simpsons moment: In the sweatshop conditions of summer getaway Kamp Krusty, Springfield’s children are forced to make knock-off wallets while school bully Kearney drums out a work-beat. Bart later leads a Ben-Hur-like rebellion.

Next: Batman, Apocalypse Now, Goodfellas... [page-break]

30. Batman (1989)

Episode: Last Exit To Springfield (Season 4)

The original moment: The camp, gothic-horror reaction of villain Jack Napier to his new face, following a dunk in caustic acid and plastic surgery. He grabs the surgeon’s mirror and laughs, manically, as he sees The Joker for the first time…

The Simpsons moment: With union negotiations leaving the Simpsons without dental insurance, Lisa has a set of cheap and monstrous braces fitted, reacting to her new smile just like Tim Burton’s comic book nasty.

29. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Episode: Lisa The Beauty Queen (Season 4)

The original moment: GIs in Vietnam are treated to a show from a group of Playboy bunnies, but the lusty grunts turn the spotlight event into a riot and the girls are air-lifted to safety.

The Simpsons moment: Guest-starring Bob Hope presents Lisa – reigning Miss Springfield – to a group of soldiers at Fort Springfield. Expecting a full-grown beauty queen, they revolt (‘First Tony Randall cancels, now this!’) and Bob and Lisa escape in a chopper.

28. Goodfellas (1990)

Episode: Bart The Murderer (Season 3)

The original moment: ‘As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster.’ Scorsese’s teenage Henry Hill shows his flash new suit to his disapproving Ma.

The Simpsons moment: Having fallen in with the local mafia following a baseball accident, Bart starts earning money as their bartender, and buys a suit just like Henry. The ep also has references to The Godfather, The French Connection and The St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Next: 2001, It's A Wonderful Life, Saboteur... [page-break]

27. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Episode: Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes? (Season 3)

The original moment: In the hallucinatory final scenes of 2001, Dave’s passage through the star gate in man’s final ascent is represented as a sequence of flashing lights on his visored face.

The Simpsons moment: The Spinemelter 2000 massage chair is Homer’s voyage to the infinite in this perfect homage – even the four coloured close-ups of his eye are exactly matched to the original.

26. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Episode: When Flanders Failed (Season 3)

The original moment: Redeemed hero George clutches his child and looks on joyfully as the townspeople’s donations to save the threatened Building & Loan community project are tallied on an adding machine.

The Simpsons moment: Flanders holds his Flanders-spawn, both beaming, as he rings up sales at the reprieved Leftorium.

25. Saboteur (1942)

Episode: Three Men And A Comic Book (Season 2)

The original moment: Framed mechanic Barry Kane’s desperate cross-country pursuit to clear his name culminates in a moment of perfect suspense, as he tries to stop the true culprit falling from the Statue Of Liberty.

The Simpson moment: As the wind threatens to whip an exquisitely rare copy of the Radioactive Man comic out of the treehouse, Millhouse slips and Bart grabs his sleeve in a shot-for-shot recreation of the classic Hitch scene.

Next: North By Northwest, An Officer And A Gentleman, Psycho... [page-break]

24. North By Northwest (1959)

Episode: Homer Simpson In: “Kidney Trouble” (Season 10)

The original moment: An oncoming truck bears unstoppably down on Carrie Grant’s Roger Thornhill, who throws his arms up and gives one of the most unflappable performances of panic in screen history.

The Simpsons moment: Running from the hospital where he was to donate a kidney to ailing Grandpa Simpson, Homer nearly hits a car, flinging his arms high and lets out a squawk that could never have come from Carrie Grant.

23. An Officer And A Gentleman (1982)

Episode: Life On The Fast Line (Season 1)

The original moment: Ensign Foley earns his stripes and then goes to get his woman, scooping her up from the factory floor and walking out of the building to the applause of her co-workers.

The Simpsons moment: It’s Homer’s workplace but at least he’s got the (hard) hat on, as he lifts Marge in his arms and leaves to a standing ovation.

22. Psycho (1960)

Episode: Itchy & Scratchy & Marge (Season 2)

The original moment: Silhouetted, we see Norman Bates ready to strike with the knife: Marion Crane grabs the shower curtain as she falls, then a close up of her lifeless eye and blood spiralling into the drain.

The Simpsons moment: Shot-for-shot, and note-for-note, this one has it all. Beginning with the stabby score, we see Maggie lift a mallet and Homer fall down, cut to the eye, and then cut to the drain – although this time, the gorey-looking liquid is red paint.

Next: The Karate Kid, The Graduate, Vertigo... [page-break]

21. The Karate Kid (1984)

Episode: Dead Putting Society (Season 2)

The original moment: Daniel-San practices the crane position, balanced on a bin at the shoreline with the sun shining behind him.

The Simpsons moment: As Lisa mentors Bart for the crazy golf tournament, his exercises include this pose on a bin: sea and sand swapped out for fence and grass, sun shining behind as ever.

20. The Graduate (1967)

Episode: Lisa’s Substitute (Season 2)

The original moment: Benjamin in the background, Mrs Robinson’s perfect stockinged leg foreground. “Mrs Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me!”

The Simpsons moment: Dustin Hoffman-voiced Mr Bergstrom is by the door, sloppy-drunk Mrs Krabappel is waggling her leg from the bed. “Mrs Krabappel, you’re trying to seduce me…”

19. Vertigo (1958)

Episode: Principal Charming (Season 2)

The original moment: Jimmy Stewart climbs the steps in the bell tower to his fatal meeting with Kim Novak’s double-crossing femme fatale.

The Simpsons moment: With an eye to the doppelganger theme of Vertigo, Principal Skinner is drawn into a Patty/Selma love triangle. From a matching angle, we see Skinner grip the banister as he climbs the school’s bell tower – also a double to the one in Vertigo.

Next: Midnight Express, Titanic, Night Of The Living Dead... [page-break]

18. Midnight Express (1978)

Episode: Treehouse Of Horror II (Season 3)

The original moment: An attempt at drug smuggling goes wrong when American tourist Billy Hayes is caught at Istanbul airport with two kilos of hash strapped to his body.

The Simpsons moment: Customs guards pull back Homer’s t-shirt to find a stash of contraband souvenirs taped to the abundant belly. The shot of the plane, and the encircling guards, are all direct from the movie.

17. Titanic (1997)

Episode: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

The original moment: Battered by iceberg, the Titantic is taking on water and sinking fast. The prow dips abruptly into the ocean and the ship starts heading vertically into the deep…

The Simpsons moment: Green Day’s barge is corroded by pollution in the lake, and sinks – tilting to the exact angle of Cameron’s Titanic before disappearing forever and taking the spiked pop-punkers into the deep as they play violins.

16. Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

Episode: Treehouse Of Horror III (Season 4)

The original moment: A small group of survivors defend themselves against the zombie hordes, holing up in a farmhouse. Ben nails boards at the windows as the arms of the undead flail through the gaps.

The Simpsons moment: Bart and Lisa use a schoolbook spell which – whoops! – accidentally reanimates the dead. Homer fortifies the house against brain-hungry invaders, but – whoops again! – forgets the back door…

Next: Cinderella, Citizen Kane, The Untouchables... [page-break]

15. Cinderella (1950)

Episode: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

T he original moment: The small creatures attend to Cinderella: bluebirds flutter about her, tying her apron.

The Simpsons moment: Identical bluebirds flock to Homer and Marge, dressing and undressing them although they make unlikely princesses.

14. Citizen Kane (1941)

Episode: Rosebud (Season 5)

The original moment: With the promise of a new life and wealth, young Kane drops his beloved sled in the snow, and the drift gradually swallows it.

The Simpsons moment: The name is the giveaway, and the whole plot cribs smartly from Kane – but Bobo the teddy is Mr Burns’ Rosebud, tossed into the snow when a new life beckons.

13. The Untouchables (1987)

Episode: Homer Goes To College (Season 5)

The original moment: Robert De Niro's grimacing Al Capone stalks a round table meeting of his cronies, giving a speech about teamwork that he interrupts to crack open the skull of a smiling sycophant, whose blood slowly oozes out over the table.

The Simpsons moment: Montgomerie Burns tries to apply a little leverage to the admissions committee and get Homer accepted into college, but the wizened old capitalist is too feeble to raise the bat.

Next: A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket... [page-break]

12. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Episode: Duffless (Season 4)

The original moment: Following his intense reconditioning, a reformed Alex is paraded through a public demonstration to prove the success of his treatment. He’s presented with a naked woman, reaching for her breasts but unable to touch them.

The Simpsons moment: The plot deals with reform – Homer has given up alcohol following a drink driving arrest – and in a bid to prove Bart is dumber than a hamster Lisa rigs a pair of cupcakes with an electric current. He reaches for them anyway.

11. Full Metal Jacket (1989)

Episode: Bart The General (Season 1)

The original moment: A group of marine recruits on Parris Island trudge over an obstacle course in silhouette at sunset, under the watchful eyes of R. Lee Ermey’s drill instructor.

The Simpsons moment: Having accidentally provoked Nelson into a running war, Bart and other bullied school kids begin army training with Herman, the weird one-armed dude who runs the surplus store.

10. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Episode: Dog Of Death (Season 3)

The original moment: Young offender Alex is placed in an ethically questionable rehabilitation program called the Ludovico technique, forced to watch film of violent crimes while drugged.

The Simpsons moment: Santa’s Little Helper runs away from home and fetches up at Mr Burns’ house, where he’s brainwashed into being a vicious attack dog using a variation of the Ludovico technique with scenes of traumatic dog violence.

Next: The Natural, Ben-Hur, The Godfather... [page-break]

9. The Natural (1984)

Episode: Homer At The Bat (Season 3)

The original moment: Baseball prodigy Roy Hobbs carves a bat from the ruin of a blasted tree under which his father died, and calls it Wonder Boy. He goes on to resist the pressure of corruption in the pro game.

The Simpsons moment: During the softball season in Springfield, the workers of the nuclear power plant start their own team led by Homer, with his homemade slugger called Wonder Bat, also made from a blasted tree.

8. Ben-Hur (1959)

Episode: Saturdays Of Thunder (Season 3)

The original moment: A climactic chariot race where Heston’s slave-turned-charioteer Ben-Hur settles a score with old enemy Messala, whose cart has barbed wheels to attack his rivals.

The Simpsons moment: Bart takes up Soap Box racing and builds his own street racer to compete against Martin and Nelson, whose cart has barbed wheels. The grinding shots during the final face-off are nabbed straight from the biblical epic.

7. The Godfather (1972)

Episode: Lisa’s Pony (Season 3)

The original moment: Hollywood studio boss Jack Woltz is persuaded to give Corleone family friend Johnny Fontane another crack at stardom after finding the severed head of his prize horse Khartoum under his silk sheets.

The Simpsons moment: Lisa screams when she wakes to find a horse’s head in her bed – but the rest of the animal is attached, and it turns out to be her ruinously expensive birthday present, called Princess.

Next: Gone With The Wind, The Terminator, Wizard Of Oz... [page-break]

6. Gone With The Wind (1939)

Episode: Principal Charming (Season 2)

The original moment: A composite. The silhouetted scene of a creepy tree and the red sunset originally had Scarlett finding a radish and proclaiming she’ll never go hungry again (a line echoed in season two ep Brush With Greatness), but the line here echoes is Scarlett’s from the end of the movie, ‘Tomorrow is another day!’

The Simpsons moment: After his failed romance with Marge’s sister Patty, Principal Skinner shakes his fist at a red and angry sky with Springfield High in the background and shouts ‘Tomorrow is another school day!’

5. The Terminator (1984)

Episode: Principal Charming (Season 2)

The original moment: Arnie’s robo-assassin sizes up the people who cross his path with a red-tinted digi-vision, scanning them for potential threats and shoe size.

The Simpsons moment: Homer is charged by Marge with finding a suitable husband for her sister Selma. He stalks into the Kwik-E-Mart, sizing up everyone he sees with a similarly robotic scan.

4. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Episode: Bart Gets Hit By A Car (Season 2)

The original moment: Having returned from techniolour Oz to the sepia of Kansas, Dorothy wakes on her bed, surrounded by her family and friends. She points to them one by one, telling them they were all in Oz with her.

The Simpsons moment: Bart wakes from an out-of-body experience in which he visited hell. ‘I was miles and miles and miles away, writhing in agony in the pits of Hell! And you were there, and you and you and you.’

Next: You Only Live Twice, The Red Balloon... [page-break]

3. The Red Balloon (1956)

Episode: The Crepes Of Wrath (Season 1)

The original moment: In Albert Lamorisse’s beautifully serene short, a small boy named Pascal befriends a bright red balloon that follows him through Paris and to school.

The Simpsons moment: Bart returns from a horrific cultural exchange in France, during which he was used as a slave by wine-makers, and presents his family with French gifts. He gives a red balloon to Maggie.

2. You Only Live Twice (1967)

Episode: Duffless (Season 4)

The original moment: Classic reveal of evil genius and 007 nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who had appeared facelessly in two previous Bond movies: spinning in a swivel chair stroking a cat.

The Simpsons moment: As Lisa plots to outsmart Bart using a hamster, Bart steals his intellectual sparring partner in a spinning-chair homage to Donald Pleasance’s bad guy.

Next: Number 1... [page-break]

1. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Episode: Bart’s Friend Falls In Love (Season 3)

The original moment: Action adventure like only Steven Spielberg can deliver: Indiana Jones braves a cave of traps and spiders and swipes a golden idol, only to trigger the coolest trap of all time as a giant ball chases him down a tunnel and out into the open jungle.

The Simpsons moment: A stupendous, shot-for-shot, mannerism-by-mannerism remake that follows Bart as he weighs up a cookie jar before swiping it and escaping the rolling menace of a stair-tumbling Homer.

Homer shouting garbled fury as Bart hops on the schoolbus – as per the nude tribesmen – is classic.

(Sources: some of these riffs are noted on various fansites around the web, the most comprehensive of which is the Spanish language Actualidad Simpson ).

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