It’s hard to think of a character on television over the past 30 years that has been more reckless than Homer J. Simpson. From buying his wife a bowling ball with his name on it for her birthday to moving the family Boston simply to show Bart how terrible the city is, Homer has routinely found a way to make the worst possible choices in each situation. With that in mind, let’s look back at Homer’s most bone-headed decisions in the photo gallery above that left us all in shock by counting down Homer’s top 15 WTF moments from ‘The Simpsons.”
There were several factors that were taken into consideration for making this list. First was considering how many people Homer’s actions affected. Several of the episodes in this list got here because Homer’s actions had consequences (actual or possible) that affected all of Springfield such as “Lisa’s Date With Destiny” and “Trash of the Titans.” Another factor was how much Homer’s thought process broke with any kind of logic like we saw in “Secrets of a Successful Marriage” and “Homer’s Enemy.” Then there was also the factor of something that culminated in iconic recklessness such as “The Homer They Fall” and “Bart the Daredevil.”
While Bart was the focus of the show’s first couple of seasons, the writers began to make Homer more of the show’s focus in the fourth season. According to Groening this was specifically because of the drastic consequences that could come from Homer’s actions along with a wider range of jokes that could come from the character. While show creator Matt Groening did name Homer after his own father, the similarities between the two end there. Groening has admitted that part of the reason he did this was to mildly annoy his father. Groening also inserted a bit of himself into Homer’s design by incorporating first initial into Homer’s hairline and his second into Homer’s right ear. This got slightly altered by Groening when he thought it would look too distracting.
A lot of credit for making Homer the character that he is must go to the man who voices him, Dan Castellaneta. When the shorts were first being created for “The Tracey Ullman Show,” the producers decided to use existing cast members to do the voices rather than hiring new actors. This got Castellaneta cast as Homer and Julie Kavner cast as Marge. Castellaneta originally used a loose imitation of Walter Matthau as the basis for Homer’s voice. When that voice became tough to do for his long recording sessions, he lowered the voice so that it was more humorous and allowed for a wider range of emotions. Showrunner David Mirkin has also said that Castellaneta let’s his I.Q. go while recording Homer’s lines. It’s certainly paid off big time for Castellaneta as he’s won four Emmys for his voiceover work on “The Simpsons.”
Can you guess which episode is number one in our rankings? Some of the other episodes that placed on this list are: “The Joy of Sect,” “Boy-Soutz ‘N the Hood,” “The Cartridge Family” and “Missionary: Impossible.”
15. THE CITY OF NEW YORK VS. HOMER SIMPSON (S. 9, E. 1)
Barney steals Homer’s car and it ends up parked in front of the World Trade Center. While Homer waits to have the boot on his car removed, the rest of the family explores Manhattan.
Why it’s on this list: A lot of what Homer does throughout the episode is understandable, especially leaving his car to use the bathroom in one of the towers. But after waiting for hours, having to eat Khlav Kalash and crab juice and then seeing another ticket get left on his car Homer loses it in a way that’s rarely seen. His determination to get out of NYC leads him to drive his car, with the car boot still on it, off into the city. He does eventually get it off with a jackhammer, but does even more damage to his car. It’s shocking but also a rousing testament to Homer’s determination.
14. LISA’S DATE WITH DESTINY (S. 8, E. 7)
Lisa is surprised when she finds herself developing a crush on Nelson and Homer starts using an auto-dialer to scam the residents of Springfield.
Why it’s on this list: As robocalls once again are becoming increasingly annoying, this scheme of Homer’s is especially grating. It feels even worse when we see Ned refuse to unhook his phone despite the automated call repeatedly calling him and waking Maude. Thankfully, Police Chief Wiggum does what might be the most competent thing of his career when he shoots the machine repeatedly while the police are searching the Simpson household for Nelson.
13. E-I-E-I-(ANNOYED GRUNT) (S. 11, E. 5)
When Homer goes overboard with challenging people to duels, the family hides out at the old Simpson farm where Homer uses plutonium to grow a mutated crop that combines tomatoes and tobacco.
Why it’s on this list: The thought that Homer would use plutonium in attempting to grow crops is shocking enough, but also feels kind of predictable. What takes it to the next level is actually selling a product that’s been grown using plutonium as well as said product having an addictive component like tobacco. Seeing the way the Wiggums start wolfing down tomacco plants is chilling and seeing Homer happily accept the profits from it gives the impression that Homer would fit in with cigarette executives a little too well.
12. TRASH OF THE TITANS (S. 9, E. 22)
Homer’s dissatisfaction with the garbage service in Springfield leads him to run for sanitation commissioner, but the crazy promises he makes to get elected come back to haunt him.
Why it’s on this list: Every step that Homer takes in this episode is more confounding than the next. At first it’s the insane promises that Homer makes as he’s running for sanitation commissioner. Then it’s the horrible campaign tactics such as calling his opponent, “Old Man Patterson” and also having his brake line cut. Then it’s seeing that Homer is getting paid to bury garbage from other cities underneath Springfield, which the family reacts to with appropriate disgust. But seeing that the only way to remedy the mess that Homer put the entire city in is to move the town five miles down the road puts this stunt into the top tier of Homer’s ridiculous antics.
11. D’OH-IN’ IN THE WIND (S. 10, E. 6)
In an effort to find his middle name, Homer discovers and embraces the hippie identity that his mother had wanted to raise him with.
Why it’s on this list: Homer’s desperateness to connect with his hippie roots is very understandable. You even find yourself rooting for him as he goes on a “freak-out” with the hippies that run the farm. But things go haywire when Homer accidentally destroys their juice factory and then uses their stash of recreational vegetables to produce their juice. Because of Homer’s cluelessness, he unleashes a series of psychedelic experiences on an unsuspecting public…and also gets two people killed.
10. HOMER’S ENEMY (S. 8, E. 23)
Homer tries to befriend a new self-made co-worker named Frank Grimes or “Grimey,” as he prefers to be called.
Why it’s on this list: The episode basically asks us, how would you react to Homer Simpson if he were a real person? And it feels pretty safe to say that most of us would probably be on the same level that Frank Grimes is at in this episode. What makes this one stand out is that Homer’s outlandishness is pretty tame, even if his constant seeking Grimes’s approval makes you want to pull your hair out. What puts this episode into the top tier is how everyone else around Homer enables and allows his incompetent behavior to continue unabated. It’s also what makes the fate of Frank Grimes a little bit haunting.
9. SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE (S. 5, E. 22)
Homer starts teaching an adult education class on how to build a successful marriage, but Marge becomes furious when she learns that Homer has been using the class to discuss Marge’s personal secrets.
Why it’s on this list: Homer constantly choosing validation from strangers over honoring Marge’s privacy rises to the level of being cringe-worthy. Seriously, for me it gets to the point where it can be uncomfortable to watch. What makes this episode stand out from other ones that deal with Homer’s failing as a husband comes with the ending. Homer professing total dependence on Marge is just as unsettling. Even when Homer tells Marge that he can’t ever afford to lose her love again, it still leaves you feeling a little unsettled.
8. THE JOY OF SECT (S. 9, E. 13)
Homer is sucked into a cult that is taking over Springfield and brings his family along for the brainwashing.
Why it’s on this list: With how easily Homer can be manipulated, it’s really surprising that it took the show nine seasons before doing an episode where Homer gets sucked in by a cult. At first his blatant ignorance looks like it will be the thing that saves him but, in typical Homer fashion, a chant to the tune of the “Batman” theme song ends up pushing him over the line. What makes this stunt truly stand out is that he offered up everything about his life, including his family and home, when he joins the Movementarians. On the plus side, it gave us a great scene of Marge being a bad-ass as she escapes the compound.
7. MISSIONARY: IMPOSSIBLE (S. 11, E. 15)
When Homer calls in a phony pledge to PBS, Rev. Lovejoy helps him hide out from the collectors by sending him to a remote island as a missionary.
Why it’s on this list: Sure, we’ve all thought about phoning in a fake pledge to PBS so they would go back to our favorite British sitcoms, but none of us have actually done it. But Homer does it and incurs the wrath of public broadcasting. His slight against PBS is only the tip of the iceberg in this episode as he also manages to introduce a remote village to the wonders of gambling and causes the tribe to almost come apart at the seams. And don’t forget that one of the PBS people he slighted was Betty White, who is a national treasure.
6. THE HOMER THEY FALL (S. 8, E. 3)
After standing his ground during a bar brawl, Moe convinces Homer to start boxing and becomes his manager.
Why it’s on this list: The fact that Homer agrees to become a boxer without so much as a second thought is bad enough. The idea that he would have the same nonchalant attitude toward fighting Drederick Tatum, the world heavyweight champion, is even more perplexing. What makes it even worse is that it legitimately looks like Homer is going to get pummeled to death by Tatum in the ring, making this one of the tougher Homer stunts to watch.
5. HOMER GOES TO COLLEGE (S. 5, E. 3)
Homer is forced to go to start attending college classes so he can have the required education for his job, but Homer is more occupied with living a college lifestyle than committing to his studies.
Why it’s on this list: The hijinks that Homer gets into with this episode are fun on their own but what makes this one especially high on the list is his hatred of the school’s dean. This hatred doesn’t come from any actual slight that the dean committed against him. Rather, it comes from watching what deans are like in college comedies like “School of Hard Knockers.” It’s just confounding at first when the dean turns out to be super chill, but Homer’s ignorance and recklessness takes it to a completely different level when he ends up running over the dean with his car.
4. BOY-SCOUTZ ‘N THE HOOD (S. 5, E. 8)
After Bart joins the Junior Campers following an epic Squishee-filled bender, Homer joins Bart and Ned on a rafting trip where they get lost at sea.
Why it’s on this list: Homer’s hatred of Flanders is probably taken to its highest level in this episode. And yes, that includes “When Flanders Failed,” because his hatred here put his own life in danger. He loses the map that’s supposed to help his raft, stops them from paddling against the current, wastes the emergency flares, eats a ton of their rations, throws Rod’s cassette player into the water and causes the raft to spring a leak. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the unbelievable ridicule that Homer subjects Bart to after he joins the Junior Campers.
3. BART THE DAREDEVIL (S. 2, E. 8)
After Bart witnesses a daredevil at a monster truck show, he starts emulating his stunts and decides to perform the ultimate one by jumping over Springfield Gorge on his skateboard.
Why it’s on this list: This is one of the earliest examples of Homer’s epic clumsiness. When he finds out that Bart is going to jump Springfield Gorge on his skateboard, Homer decides to not only stop Bart from doing it but do it himself to teach Bart a lesson. Bart pleads with Homer to reconsider and he does. However, with Homer already on the skateboard, he starts to slide down the cliff leading to one of the series’ most iconic moments of Homer falling down the gorge and then doing it again after his ambulance crashes.
2. THE CARTRIDGE FAMILY (S. 9, E. 5)
After a soccer riot spills into town, Homer decides to buy a gun in order to protect the family, which Marge finds very upsetting.
Why it’s on this list: Our tolerance level on what we’ll allow from Homer is really put to the test in this episode. Homer’s recklessness with the way that he handles his gun on its own is incredible. But then he lies to Marge about getting rid of the gun…twice! The only way that Homer redeems himself is by giving the gun to Marge and asking her to get rid of it for him…and then keeps it for herself.
1. KING-SIZE HOMER (S. 7, E. 7)
To avoid participating in the work exercise program, Homer begins to purposefully gain weight in order to work from home on disability.
Why it’s on this list: Homer’s biggest WTF moment had to be something that he inflicted on himself and put him in great danger. That doesn’t necessarily narrow down the field that much. But when Homer decided to gain 61 pounds in order to work from home on disability, it’s truly shocking and extremely disturbing. When we see the culmination of his weight gain paired with his iconic muumuu, it is hilarious but also disturbing. And remember, this was all to get out of five minutes of mandatory light exercise at the plant. Oh, and Homer also almost destroys the town with radioactive gas due to his incompetence. Thank goodness Mr. Burns is willing to flip the bill for the blasted liposuction.