Best. Episodes. Ever. ‘The Simpsons’: Seasons 11-23

Although many episodes of The Simpsons from Seasons 11 through 23 don’t nearly live up to the ones from the show’s classic era, there’s a good pile of ones worth watching. There’s always at least one good joke in these episodes. Here are ten great episodes that reflect the “spectacularly introspective quality” inherent in the first ten seasons.

Season 11, Episode 3  – October 24, 1999 – “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner” 

Let’s see what we can have Homer do this week – I know, we can make him a food critic! This episode gets my worst rating – seven thumbs up. “Come on, you’re going to kill him with a pastry? I’ve seen this man eat a bowl of change!”

Season 12, Episode 6 – December 3, 2000 – “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” 

This post classic-era Simpsons episode is one of the few from Season 12 that doesn’t make you want to poke your own eyeballs out, probably because it was written by John Swartzwelder. “There’s no emoticon for what I’m feeling!”

Season 13, Episode 16 – April 7, 2002 – “Weekend at Burnsie’s”

Homer gets a prescription for medical marijuana – need I say more? “Remember when I dropped my keys, heh heh, and you thought the phone was ringing?”

Season 14, Episode 3 – November 17, 2003 – “Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade”

Lisa gets moved ahead to the third grade while Bart gets moved back, placing them in the same class with hilarious consequences! “If I wanted reality I’d finally have this lump looked at.”

Season 16, Episode 17 – May 1, 2005 – “The Heartbroke Kid” 

This is easily my favorite episode from Seasons 11-19. Bart gains so much weight he has a heart attack, and Albert Brooks plays a crazy training coach. “…Problem number 35 with America – no universal health care, number 36 – no metric system. What is this the time of, Charlemagne?!?!”

Season 20, Episode 2 – October 5, 2008 – “Lost Verizon” 

This episode marks the point when the series starts to turn around for the better. Honestly, I wanted to add four more episodes from season 20 on this list, but doing so wouldn’t be fair to the other seasons, so I just added two more. “Wait a minute, if I ever get a hold of you, I will thank you for showing me the futility of human endeavor.”

Season 20, Episode 11 – March 1, 2009 – “How the Test Was Won” 

This one feels like a classic-era episode – and the allusion to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) towards the end is the kicker for me. “Get down on your knees, pray to your God and ask him – no, demand he give you the answer! And if he won’t, he’s no God of yours!”

Season 20, Episode 12 – March 8, 2009 – “No Loan Again, Naturally”

Unlike Homer, Ned Flanders feeds the elderly “people-food.” “I have this magical thing called a No Equity Loan, I borrow all the money I want and the house gets stuck with the bill!”

Season 21, Episode 2 – October 4, 2009 – “Bart Gets a Z”  

I love this one because it’s an Edna Karbapple episode that doesn’t involve her being depressed over some guy. “This school is a glorified hamster wheel, run by incompetent bureaucrats, who can get you through a test- but you will FAIL the test of life!”

 Season 23, Episode 6 – November 20, 2011 – “The Book Job”

Take that tween lit. This one is an ode to Ocean’s Eleven (1960) and other heist movies. “Is R.L. Stine here, because you just gave me Goosebumps.”

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