Tomorrow, FXX begins its 12-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]
"Give me that, you noodle-armed choir-boy!"
—The Joy of Sect (Season 9, Episode 13), fighting with Reverend Lovejoy over who gets to beat the cult programming out of Homer.
[followed by Reverend Lovejoy calling him "Mr. Kilt"]
—Homer at the Bat (Season 3, Episode 17), debating England's greatest Prime Minister with Wade Boggs.
[the best version of the 'stupid guy is smart' joke ever]
"Ah. The searing kiss of hot lead; how I missed you. I mean, I think I'm dying."
—Homer and Apu (Season 5, Episode 13), after being shot.
[I love Apu jokes that center on his brave and violent occupation]
"I'm better than dirt. Well, most kinds of dirt, not that fancy store-bought dirt... I can't compete with that stuff."
—Team Homer (Season 7, Episode 12), evaluating his status in life.
[right behind Krusty in the "favorite character" and "endlessly funny lines" categories]
Kirk Van Houten
"It's dignity! Gah! Don't you even know dignity when you see it?"
—A Milhouse Divided (Season 8, Episode 6), trying to draw the concept of "dignity" for his wife.
[this whole scene is a masterpiece, and "Can I Borrow a Feeling" isn't really a quote]
Luann Van Houten
"I'm sorry, I'm not as smart as you, Kirk. We didn't all go to Gudger College."
—A Milhouse Divided (Season 8, Episode 6), failing to guess Kirk's "dignity" clue.
[Gudger College is fictional, but that name is perfect]
Milhouse Van Houten
"Everything's coming up Milhouse!"
—Mom and Pop Art (Season 10, Episode 9), when his flood pants keep his cuffs "bone-dry."
[sometimes it's best to go with the greatest hits]
"He's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog. Well, replace the word 'kinda' with the word 'repeatedly,' and the word 'dog' with 'son.'"
—Marge in Chains (Season 4, Episode 21), discussing his relationship with Judge Snyder.
[how do you pick just one Hutz line? It's impossible]
"Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!"
—Lisa the Vegetarian (Season 7, Episode 5), advocating against vegetarianism.
[just as impossible, but this whole fake newsreel is my favorite Troy McClure scene]
"Ow, my eye! I'm not supposed to get pudding in it!"
—Homer vs. Dignity (Season 12, Episode 5), as pudding is hurled at his eye.
[a wonderful straight man and fall guy]
"Aw, nuts. I mean...aw, nuts."
—Mountain of Madness (Season 8, Episode 12), after he is partnered with Lenny in a team-building exercise.
[Carl's relationship with Lenny is so dense and complicated and largely unspoken]
"Just miles from your doorstep, hundreds of men are given weapons and trained to kill. The government calls it the Army, but a more alarmist name would be...the Killbot Factory."
—Homer Loves Flanders (Season 5, Episode 16)
[other obvious choices include "insect overlords" and "democracy simply doesn't work," but this is an old personal favorite. Thanks to his job on the show, Kent is one of the best sources of one-liners]
—Bart's Friend Falls In Love (Season 3, Episode 23), watching a sex education video with her fourth-graders.
[really, all you need is "HAH!"]
"I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word."
—Lisa the Iconoclast (Season 7, Episode 16), endorsing the use of the word "embiggens."
[pretty much every great Miss Hoover moment hinges on her utter apathy]
"Oh, I have had it, I have had it with this school, Skinner! The low test scores, class after class of ugly, ugly children!"
—Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song (Season 5, Episode 19), evaluating Springfield Elementary.
[the greatest Utican to ever appear on television]
Comic Book Guy
"Ohhh, I've wasted my life."
—Treehouse of Horror VIII (Season 9, Episode 4), seconds before he is obliterated by a neutron bomb.
[a close-runner up is "I can give you this telephone. It is shaped like Mary Worth."]
"Please, I have a funny story, if you'll listen? I even wrote theme music, listen! Ahem. Hey. Hey. Professor Frink, Professor Frink, he'll make you laugh, he'll make you think, he likes to run, and then the thing, with the...person? Oh boy, that monkey is going to pay"
—22 Short Films About Springfield (Season 7, Episode 21), missing his chance at debuting his spinoff "The Tomfoolery of Professor John Frink."
[it's all about the delivery with Frink, but I wish we could have seen this show]
"Too crazy for Boy's Town, too much of a boy for Crazy Town!"
—Treehouse of Horror VII (Season 8, Episode 1), describing Bart's evil twin.
[Hibbert's not really with the jokes, but he's so quietly demented]
"I 'unno. Gotta nuke somethin'."
—Lisa's Date With Destiny (Season 8, Episode 7), defending his "Nuke the Whales" poster.
[gotta nuke somethin'!]
"You have 24 hours to give us our money. And to show you we're serious… you have 12 hours."
—The Twisted World of Marge Simpson (Season 8, Episode 11), giving Marge a mob ultimatum.
[he's legendarily great throughout this episode]
"Arr, I don't know what I'm doin'."
—Boy-Scouts N the Hood (Season 5, Episode 8), after a boat he's trying to sell to Homer sinks.
[for a man whose name is an occupation, the Sea Captain has held many jobs over the years]
"Hey Salvatore! Get the ugly kid a platter of the red crap-a!"
—Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song (Season 5, Episode 19), putting in an order for Bart's food.
[also: "Yeah, you see how you scum"]
"Sidewalk's for regular walkin', not for fancy walkin'."
—Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part Two (Season 7, Episode 1), as Smithers approaches him drunkenly.
[Jasper is a secret fountain of great quotes]
"Ah, they stole the balloon! I've been living in there! [hot plate falls from the balloon] Oh, lord, my hot plate! I only had two payments left!"
—Natural Born Kissers (Season 9, Episode 25), after Homer and Marge steal his hot air balloon.
[same for Gil. Remember his rusty Colecovisions]
"Can't we have one meeting that doesn't end with us digging up a corpse?
—Lisa the Iconoclast (Season 7, Episode 16), after the town decides to dig up Jebediah Springfield's corpse.
[Quimby has never said anything that wasn't funny]
The Blue-Haired Lawyer
"Please sign these papers indicating that you did not save Itchy & Scratchy."
—The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show (Season 8, Episode 14), after Roger Myers Jr. tells Lisa she saved Itchy & Scratchy.
[I love the blue-haired lawyer.]
"Ooh! Pick me, Teacher! I'm ever so smart!"
—The Last Temptation of Homer (Season 5, Episode 9), calling out in class.
[Team Discovery Channel!]
"Don't make me run! I'm full of chocolate!"
—Lisa on Ice (Season 6, Episode 8), being chased by Homer the towel-snapper in the gym
[Uter might not have another great line, but he's got this one]
"That is so gay!"
—Lisa's Date With Destiny (Season 8, Episode 7), upon witnessing Nelson kiss a girl.
[probably the funniest of the bully trio]
"I need the biggest seed bell you have. ...No, that's too big."
—Itchy & Scratchy Land (Season 6, Episode 4), under attack from predatory birds
[just thinking about what they said on the other side of this phone call puts me in hysterics]
"Wow, I had mustard?"
—The Otto Show (Season 3, Episode 22), upon being told the only possessions in his apartment were a jar of mustard and old motorcycle magazines.
[not a lot of funny Otto lines!]
"Disco Stu doesn't advertise."
—Two Bad Neighbors (Season 7, Episode 13), rejecting Homer's "Disco Stud" jacket which is missing a D because he ran out of rhinestones.
[a hilarious one-joke appearance that should have ended there]
"When you were in that coma, did you feel your brain getting damaged?"
—Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 2 (Season 7, Episode 1), inspecting a catatonic Mr. Burns.
[one of the best one-joke characters]
"More testicles means more iron."
—Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song (Season 5, Episode 19), preparing lunch from a barrel of horse testicles.
[but don't forget her promoting the "bunly goodness" of a hot dog bun]
"Duffman... can't breathe! OH no!"
—Pygmoelian (Season 11, Episode 16), after Moe puts a suffocating sticker on his face.
[another one-joke character who maybe should have died with this appearance]
"She needs premium, dude! Premium! Dude!"
—Realty Bites (Season 9, Episode 9), when Homer buys his car at auction.
"I make it a point never to turn my head unless I expect to see something, Bart."
—Bart's Comet (Season 6, Episode 14), after Bart tells him to look at the comet out the window.
[what a persnickety nerd. Officially Matt Groening's least favorite character]
"Hey, I can call my ma from up here. HEY MA, GET OFF THE DANG ROOF!"
—22 Short Films About Springfield (Season 7, Episode 21), climbing a telephone pole.
"It does not matter which way you vote. Either way your planet is doomed. Doomed. Doomed!"
—Treehouse of Horror VII (Season 8, Episode 1), as Bob Dole, discussing American democracy
[the aliens' best episode is when they're dressed as Clinton and Dole, but it counts]
"My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball, but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom."
—Treehouse of Horror VII (Season 8, Episode 1), as Bill Clinton, making his pitch to the American people.
"Hey kids, always recycle. TO THE EXTREME!"
—The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show (Season 8, Episode 14), giving young people advice.
[because he technically didn't say "I have to go now. My planet needs me."]
"But this comes out of my salary! If I had a girlfriend, she'd kill me."
—Krusty Gets Kancelled (Season 4, Episode 22), when a taco he sold is returned.
[there's maybe a better one, but everything that comes out of this kid's mouth works]
"Bingo bango, sugar in the gas tank. The ex-husband strikes again!"
—Bart the Lover (Season 3, Episode 16), assisting Edna with her car.
[the Sarcastic Guy is one of the best secret Simpsons characters]
"My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"
—Radioactive Man (Season 7, Episode 2), as he is carried away by a wave of acid
[let's end things here.]
Endless thanks to Joe Reid and my Twitter followers in helping me compile this maddening project.