Sunday, January 03, 2010

“The Simpsons” – Top 10 Animal-Friendly Episodes

A best-of list spanning two-plus decades of humane humor

Encompassing 21 seasons and 450 episodes, “The Simpsons” is the longest-running sitcom in television history, and this January 10th, Fox will culminate its year-long celebration of the classic cartoon's 20th anniversary with a documentary special by Super Size Me director and star Morgan Spurlock. Diehard fans already know that “The Simpsons” pioneered a subversive style of animal rights comedy never before seen on the small screen. So, at the dawn of a new decade deluged with Top 10 lists, I decided to pay this prime-time program homage by showcasing the 10 best animal-centric “Simpsons” episodes (so far, in chronological order).

1. Episode 1: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” – In the series premiere, Homer loses the family's Christmas money betting at the dog track, but then brings home the best present ever — a rescued racing greyhound named Santa's Little Helper. Laugh Line (Homer to Bart, who wants to adopt the abandoned dog his father bet on): “But he's a loser. He's pathetic! He's...a Simpson.”

2. Episode 29: “Bart's Dog Gets an F” – The family's misbehaving canine attends obedience school, where Bart refuses to implement the draconian instructor's pain-based training methods. Laugh Line (Bart): “Now...Sit! I said, Sit! Um, take a walk. Sniff that other dog's butt. See? He does exactly what I tell him.”

3. Episode 43: “Lisa's Pony” – Homer finally grants his 8-year-old daughter's wish for a pony, but she relinquishes her beloved horse after learning that dad must work nights to pay for expensive stabling. Laugh Line (Homer): “Marge, with today's gasoline prices, we can't afford not to buy a pony!”

4. Episode 54: “Dog of Death” – After Santa's Little Helper runs away from home, infamously villainous billionaire tyrant Mr. Burns plucks him from the pound and turns him into a vicious attack hound — but his love for Bart ultimately overcomes his killer conditioning. Laugh Line (Ben Caseyesque veterinarian): “I love animals. I spend my life saving them, and they can't thank me. Well, the parrots can.”

5. Episode 79: “Whacking Day” – Each May, the town of Springfield observes a traditional holiday that entails beating snakes to a pulp with clubs, but Bart and Lisa are able to save the serpents' lives with the help of soul crooner Barry White's earth-shaking basso profundo. Laugh Line (“Whacking Day” song sung by children's choir): “Oh Whacking Day, oh Whacking Day! Our hallowed snake-skull cracking day! We'll break their backs, gouge out their eyes; their evil hearts we'll pulverize! Oh Whacking Day, oh Whacking Day! May God bestow His grace on thee!”

6. Episode 98: “Bart Gets an Elephant” – Bart wins a real live pachyderm from a radio call-in show, but “Stampy” proves a neighborhood hazard, so Bart and Lisa must persuade Homer to send his colossal pal to a sanctuary instead of selling him to an ivory dealer. Laugh Line (Homer): “Lisa, a guy who's got lots of ivory is less likely to hurt Stampy than a guy whose ivory supplies are low.”

7. Episode 133: “Lisa the Vegetarian” – Lisa gives up eating meat, but almost cracks under constant ridicule at home and school — until a pep talk by Paul and Linda McCartney puts her back on the righteous path. Laugh Line (“Actor” Troy McClure, in an “educational” filmstrip): “Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If that cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”

8. Episode 249: “Treehouse of Horror XI” – In a Free Willy parody, Lisa emancipates a captive bottlenose dolphin named Snorky from an exploitive marine park — but the deposed “King of the Dolphins” then enslaves humanity for banishing his kind to the sea eons ago. Laugh Line (Snorky): “They made me do tricks like a common seal!”

9. Episode 252: “Lisa the Tree Hugger” – Trying to win the affections of über-activist Jessie Grass, Lisa (channelling Julia Butterfly) refuses to disembark from an ancient redwood until it is spared from logging. Laugh Line (Jessie): “I'm a level-five vegan — I won't eat anything that casts a shadow.”

10. Episode 417: “Apocalypse Cow” – Bart joins 4H to drive cool combine harvesters, but winds up having to save the calf he raised from butchery — with a cow-costumed Homer nearly being killed in a fully-automated slaughterhouse. Laugh Line (Bart): “Sorry, Lis, I can't be a vegetarian — I love the taste of death!”

Hope you enjoy these amazingly amusing episodes — and learn more about “The Simpsons” at!


  1. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I love this wrap up! I have been looking for something like this. I love the Simpson's it seems like the only show out there that consistently is positive towards animals and vegetarians as opposed to the bacon mentality of the rest of tv.

  2. Anonymous5:49 PM

    I'd totally buy these episodes If only I could find them on iTunes. ;_;

  3. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.


  4. Anonymous6:32 AM

    The Simpsons rock

  5. Bart Gets ans Elephant is pretty cool episode. He could choose the money but no He decided to get the Elephant, and better yet, at the end when Stampy is head-butting the other elephants Homer does the same with the ranger, that was really funny.