For thirty-three years, The simpsons were a cultural institution. The show predicted real-world events long before they materialized, spawned a stable of classic jokes told across generations, and was a crucial lesson in the art of intertextuality.
While countless movies have been referenced over the thirty-three seasons of The Simpsons, some references stand out, particularly for their uncanny resemblance to the source material. Some are even better known than the actual movies they parody, leading young viewers to seek out classic movies they might not otherwise have seen.
Psycho (1960) – “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” S02 E09
Alfred Hitchcockit is psychology follows the story of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the creepy owner of the Bates Motel. He has a passion for taxidermy and serious mommy issues. Norman also has a tendency to murder any woman who comes to the Bates Hotel, blaming the part of her personality that he calls her “mother”.
The film’s most famous scene takes place in a shower where poor Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is stabbed to death by Norman. The simpsons Recreate this scene in Season 2 Episode 9 where Maggie punches Homer (Dan Castellaneta) to the head with a mallet after seeing Itchy do the same to Scratchy. The stage is set to the same shrill violins of the psychology scene, with the blood flowing down the drain replaced by a spilled can of red paint from Homer’s garage.
Risky Business (1983) – “Homer the Heretic” S04 E03
Paul Brickmanit is Risky business follows the story of Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise), who decides to have a little too much fun when his wealthy parents go on a trip, and he finds himself alone with the house. A whole lot of drinking, dancing, car riding, and prostitution ensues, culminating in a pile of trouble for Joel.
Most people are familiar with the scene where Tom Cruise slides along the floor in camera view, wearing only his socks, underwear, and a button-up shirt. He dances around the house to “Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll”, enjoying his freedom. Homer recreates this in Season 4 Episode 3 when he is home alone while the rest of the family has gone to church. He dances in his underwear and wears slippers on “Who Wears Short Shorts”.
‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990) – “Homer Scissorhands” S22 E20
Tim Burtonit’s classic, Edward Scissorhandsfollows the story of Edward (Johnny Depp), a young man created by an old inventor who died before he could give his prodigy real hands, leaving him with scissor blades for his fingers. After being found by a door-to-door saleswoman, Edward is assimilated into society, where he has a knack for making topiaries and cutting women’s hair.
In Season 22 Episode 20, Homer discovers he has a similar gift to Edward when Lisa (Anne Sophie Smith) throws a paint palette at his Aunt Patty, and Bart (Nancy Cartwright) makes things worse by burning a hole in Patty’s hair with paint thinner. Homer takes his scissors through his sister-in-law’s hair, creating a masterpiece that makes him Springfield’s most popular barber.
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968) – “Treehouse of Horror XII” S13 E01
Stanley Kubrickgroundbreaking sci-fi movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, tells the story of the crew of Discovery One and their journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft’s operations are controlled by the AI ”HAL”, which eventually turns on the crew, turning off their life support and kicking them out of the craft. They must manually disable the HAL processor to regain control.
In Season 13 Episode 1, “HAL” takes the form of a smart home that controls the operations of the Simpson household. The AI, voiced by Pierce Brosnan, falls in love with Marge and tries to kill Homer. The family works together to disable the AI, giving it to Patty and Selma, who goad “Pierce” into self-destructing.
‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991) — “Homer Loves Flanders” S05 E16
The sequel to 1984 The Terminator, james cameronit is Terminator 2: Judgment Day, is undoubtedly more popular than its first opus. The Skynet AI sends a T-1000 (Robert Patrick) Liquid metal terminator in time to kill resistance leader John Connor as a child. But the Resistance is aware of the AI’s plan, sending an older model T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to protect the young boy.
InSeason 5, Episode 16, Homer takes on the characteristics of the relentless T-1000 when he becomes obsessed with Ned Flanders after Flanders takes him to a ball game and introduces him to his favorite player. The memorable scene of Homer emerging, then blending into the hedgerows is a reminder of the T-1000’s ability to melt away and transform into almost anything. Homer also chases Flanders’ car the same way the T-1000 chases John Connor’s car, down to the golf clubs Homer drives into the bumper, the same way the blades used by the T -1000.
Goldfinger (1964) – “You Only Move Twice” S08 E02
Guy Hamiltonit is The golden finger is the third part of the long james bond film franchise, starring Sean Connery as a notorious MI6 agent. In this film, 007 is on the heels of the super villain Goldfinger, gold trafficker (Gert Frobe), which plans to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository.
Hank Scorpio (masterfully voiced by Albert Brooks), Homer’s eccentric new boss, takes on the role of Bond’s super villain inSeason 8, Episode 2. He is seen maniacally blowing up countries and shooting enemies while being surrounded by beautiful women. In one scene, Scorpio has a “Mr. Bont” strapped to a table with a laser blasting its way between his legs, much like Goldfinger has Connery’s Bond strapped to his laser torture table.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) – “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love” S03 E22
george lucas‘ The Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first part of IndianaJones film franchise. In this movie, Indy (Harrison Ford) is deployed to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can access it. The intricate golden chest ends up melting on Nazis’ faces when opened and is then moved to a secret location for the “top men” to study, i.e. stored in a dusty old warehouse.
In one scene, Indy attempts to retrieve a golden idol, replacing it with a sandbag. He must pass a rock and slip under a stone door which closes without forgetting his fallen hat, which he catches under the door just in time. Bart takes on the role of Indy in season 3, episode 22 when he steals a jar of coins from Homer’s dressing table, only to be chased by a nearly naked Homer all the way outside, where he slips under the closing garage door, grabbing his trusty red cap as he exits.
‘The Shining’ (1980) – “Treehouse of Horror V” S06 E06
According to the novel by Stephen King and adapted by Stanley Kubrick, the brilliant tells the story of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family, who have been enlisted as the off-season caretakers of the isolated Overlook Hotel. Jack begins to lose his sanity under the influence of supernatural forces haunting the hotel and goes on a murderous rampage where he attempts to kill his family.
Season 6, Episode 6 is almost a play-by-play of the original film. The Simpson family are enlisted as winter guardians of an old mansion, a ghostly bartender encourages Homer to kill his family, Bart has a psychic ability called “the Shining” (much like Danny Torrence’s (Danny Lloyd) “shining”), and Marge finds a typewriter with the words “feelin’ fine” printed on the page moments before she sees Homer’s repetitive doodles all over the walls. Homer even recreates the famous “Here’s Johnny!” scene where Jack uses an ax to break down the door.
“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992) – “The Treehouse of Horror IV” S05 E05
Francis Ford CoppolaThe adaptation of the famous Gothic novel is one of the best known, if not the most hedonistic. Bram Stoker’s Dracula follows the story of Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), a lawyer assigned to help Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) acquire land in London. Harker travels to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, discovering that he is among the undead.
None other than Monty Burns takes on the role of Dracula in Season 5 Episode 5. The Simpsons are invited to his castle in Pennsylvania but have to wash their necks first. Mr. Burns appears in the showy red robes and elaborate hairstyle reminiscent of Gary Oldman’s Dracula. His shadow can act on its own just like in the movie, appearing to play with a yo-yo as Mr. Burns walks.
‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994) – “22 Shorts About Springfield” S07 E21
Quentin Tarantinothe masterpiece pulp Fiction tells the four intersecting stories of two hitmen, a boxer, two bandits, and a mobster and his wife. The film is divided into seven narrative sequences, all with intertitles to signal a change in narrative. It’s violent, bloody and offers good music in the purest Tarantino style.
Season 7 episode 21 takes a similar approach, except there are twenty-two story sequences some of which are preceded by intertitles. Some stories cross over, while others are an almost exact parody of their source material. In the film, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) fall into a pawnshop and are bound and gagged by the owner. The same thing happens to Chief Wiggum and Snake when they stumble upon Herman’s antique shop. Before that, the chef is seen crossing the street with a pink donut box just like Marsellus and even explains how a Krusty Burger with cheese is called a Quarter Pounder with cheese at McDonald’s, looking like Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L.Jackson) “Cheese royal” conversation.
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