Tomorrow, FXX begins its twelve-day marathon of every Simpsons episode ever. This is in itself a monumental and staggering challenge, and we have already produced a guide on how to handle it. But this revived Simpsons mania led me down an even deeper, darker garden path: an effort to painstakingly catalogue the funniest line spoken by every important Simpsons character, from the five main family members to the recesses of the vast recurring cast. Every choice is, of course, utterly definitive, and I'm sure no one will have any objections to them. But I have annotated most of them just in case there is debate. Read on, hopefully with a mix of horror and delight.
"Everything lasts forever."
—Homer the Great (Season 6, Episode 12), in response to Lisa's warning, "Dad I know you think you're happy now, but it's not gonna last forever!"
[there is no one greatest Homer line, I admit. This quiet exchange in the middle of the Stonecutters episode has long been a personal favorite]
"Listen to your mother, kids. Aim low. Aim so low no one will even care if you succeed. Dinner's in the oven. If you want some butter it's under my face."
—The Twisted World of Marge Simpson (Season 8, Episode 11), after her pretzel business fails.
[whenever we get a glimpse into Marge's deep, but usually hidden, well of darkness and depression is usually when she's at her funniest]
"If anyone wants me, I'll be in my room."
—Bart Gets Famous (Season 5, Episode 12), after the whole cast recite their catchphrases.
[Lisa is maybe the best character on The Simpsons, partly because she almost doesn't want to take part]
"I am familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda."
—Bart Sells His Soul (Season 7, Episode 4), after Lisa quotes Pablo Neruda to him.
[Bart is the most catchphrase-y character but makes me laugh the most when he's being dry]
"I can't wait to eat that monkey."
—Girly Edition (Season 9, Episode 21), after meeting his new helper monkey Mojo.
[I also considered the line about being "with it" from Homerpalooza, but that's just a brilliant piece of writing, less character-specific]
Charles Montgomery Burns
"Have the Rolling Stones killed."
—Rosebud (Season 5, Episode 4), after being given a profane birthday concert by The Ramones.
[impossible to choose, but there's something so perfect about the combination of casual evil and cultural unawareness here]
"Uh, no, they're saying, 'Boo-urns! Boo-urns!'"
—A Star is Burns (Season 6, Episode 18), reassuring his boss of his popularity.
[his best line, but it's rarely attributed to him]
"Attention, students, this is Principal Skinner, your principal, with a message from the principal's office. Report immediately for an assembly in the Butthead Memorial Auditorium. Damn it, I wish we hadn't let the students name that one."
—Lisa on Ice (Season 6, Episode 8), making a school announcement.
[but he did, so he'll follow the rules about it]
"Oh my name's Agnes, and you know it's Agnes! It means lamb! Lamb of God!"
—The Twisted World of Marge Simpson (Season 8, Episode 11), when Marge forgets her name
[very close between this and, from the same episode,"Gimbels is gone, Marge…LONG gone. You're Gimbels!"]
Krusty the Clown
"Sex Cauldron?! I thought they closed that place down!"
—Grade School Confidential (Season 8, Episode 19), after Maude spells out the words "sex" and "children."
[my favorite character. I could fill an article with his lines]
"Oh, cousin Merl, really!"
—Brother From Another Series (Season 8, Episode 16), after his construction site co-worker says his dead smellhound has "gone to heaven."
[we should build whole cities in tribute to the way Kelsey Grammer delivers this line]
"Everyone's always kissing your ass. Well I'm not afraid to tell you, you're a- [BLEEP]"
—I Love Lisa (Season 4, Episode 15), drunk on "wowie juice" in a never-before-seen Krusty the Clown clip
[Sideshow Mel is very funny but just because he's so serious]
"There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality."
—Treehouse of Horror III (Season 4, Episode 5), spoken as Homer runs by naked.
[it would only take her twelve more years to address this publicly!]
"Then call me Mrs. Scum."
—Black Widower (Season 3, Episode 21), after Bart warns her against marrying Sideshow Bob, who Bart calls "scum."
[Selma is perhaps the more tragic of the Bouvier twins, although her optimism regarding men is admirable]
"It's good for keepin' down the urges!"
—A Milhouse Divided (Season 8, Episode 6), in reference to cornstarch.
[almost a throwaway in the episode, but there's so much to think about there]
"Unflavored for me!"
—Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily (Season 7, Episode 3), putting in an order for non-fat ice milk.
[she was the perfect woman for him]
"Iron helps us play!"
—Lisa's First Word (Season 4, Episode 10), running to eat liver for dinner.
"Daddy says dice are wicked!"
—My Sister, My Sitter (Season 8, Episode 17), playing board games with Lisa.
[it's more Moe's line but I also love "my freakin' ears!"]
"Ned, have you considered any of the other major religions? They're all pretty much the same."
—Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily (Season 7, Episode 3), giving spiritual advice to Ned.
[all his best lines are along these parameters]
"It's filth! It graphically portrays parts of the human body, which, practical as they may be, are evil!"
—Itchy and Scratchy and Marge (Season 2, Episode 9), discussing Michaelangelo's David.
[Helen's hysterical delivery is crucial to everything she does, such as the much-quoted line linked above]
"Bake 'em away, toys!"
—Cape Feare (Season 5, Episode 2), overriding Bart's order of "take 'em away, boys!"
[perfect in its simplicity]
"Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and then the baby looked at me"
—Grade School Confidential (Season 8, Episode 19), after witnessing a makeout session in a janitor's closet.
[the most over-quoted Simpsons character, but he has a ton of great moments]