These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: The Simpsons
Accidental Aesop: Homer's Enemy: "Dont let your jealousy consume you and prevent you from accepting apologies from people who genuinely want to befriend you". The intentional Aesop is "Being the Only Sane Man actually sucks".
Alternate Character Interpretation: Homer's Enemy. Even though Frank Grimes has worked extremely hard in his life, he also comes off as a myopic pedant and a hard worker working for all the wrong reasons- Considering how he attempts to work and function in a society that is possibly morally and ethically broken beyond repair and is just asking for it, and how he looks at what Homer and his family has as "normal", and is pure straight out jealous of him, he also reeks of Epileptic Trees of self entitled, self pitying, and uninsightful idiots that believe that playing the same Idiot Ball game of materialistic society will make them the kings of the Idiot Ball, instead of saying "Screw the money, I have standards." Plus it also doesn't help that Springfield was mentioned and is constantly shown in infamous light in all of America, episodes PRIOR to his employment in "America's Crudbucket." Even though Homer is portrayed as stupid, Grime's brand of stupidity got him what he deserved.
Anvilicious: Most of the later plots/subplots involving Lisa (though the only episode that had Lisa as a Soapbox Sadie that most fans don't object to is "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy," as the family calls her out on her activist behavior and she doesn't win in the end).
One of the worst Soapbox Sadie Lisa episodes was "Lisa the Skeptic", in which Lisa was extremely emphatic that religion and science cannot coexist, despite her consistently showing religious beliefs from past episodes.
Artistic License - Law: In "The Otto Show," Otto comes home to find his door padlocked, the locks changed, and an eviction notice on the door. He seems completely surprised, but this is not how eviction works in real life. Before padlocking the door, his landlord is required to give him the chance to go to court; Otto has the right to appeal the eviction before the lockout, even if the reason is nonpayment of rent. If Otto failed to show up in court or failed to comply with the payment plan set up there, then a warrant of removal would be placed on the door at least three days before the door would be padlocked.
Let's just say that the entire show thrives off of this, almost always for Rule of Funny.
Marge is this, mostly due to her constant meddling and interfering in things that aren't her business and never learning from her mistakes. Whether she makes up for this by being a decent mother and the show's occasional voice of reason is debatable, as is whether her negative qualities are funny or even tolerable.
Lisa, due to her constant preaching over moral issues and jerkass behaviour and yet acts like she's got the moral high ground. Her Flanderization and Creator's Pet status certainly didn't earn her any fans.
Comic Book Guy, after Flanderization turned him into a Straw Fan. The debate is over whether or not he's actually funny as one.
Many fans' problem with him is that most of the writers apparently believe every single fan is like him. That or they use him as a way to ignore valid criticism of the show's quality.
Mona Simpson. Is she a Cool Old Lady, or a selfish bitch who abandoned her own son so that she could indulge her hippie lifestyle.
Bizarro Episode: The "Treehouse Of Horror" episodes are this by design. "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", "Saddlesore Galactica" and "Moe Goes from Rags to Riches" may also count.
"Missionary: Impossible" is mostly set on a remote island, and ends with the reveal that it was all a Show Within a Show on FOX.
"Das Bus": The whole episode is a Lord of the Flies parody set on a tropical island, and ends with James Earl Jones saying there isn't really an ending, so let's just say Moe saved them.
"Homer's Enemy" (the episode with Frank Grimes): Brilliant deconstruction of the show's absurdity, or painfully and humorlessly dark? The only thing fans agree on is that the episode is only accessible to long-time viewers.
Season 8 is felt to be better than Seasons 9-24 but worse than Seasons 1-7, whether it's Seasonal Rot or fun despite its flaws is debated. Seasons 9 and 10 are either considered the moment the show went downhill or flawed, but not as bad as what would come later. The only thing fans seem to agree on is that Season 9 is the better of the two (and probably where the series should have ended). Speaking of the later seasons, Seasons 12 through 24 are generally agreed to be worse than seasons 1 through 8 and slightly better than season 11, but there's no consensus on how they compare to each other.
Who was the better showrunner: Al Jean or Mike Scully? For Jean's episodes as showrunner, which were better: Seasons 13-16 when he tried to emulate Seasons 1-8, or Seasons 17-24 when the show has turned into a watered-down Family Guy and South Park?
Over "Saddlesore Galactica", bordering on Love It or Hate It. Many fans hate this episode and call it one of the worst ever, but a fair number enjoy it because it spoofs the Flanderization and absurd plots that started to crop up in Season 9. The other "meta" episodes, like "Behind the Laughter", are also divisive-some fans think the self-referential humor is just obnoxious and dull, while others like that the show has a sense of humor about itself, but none of them are as controversial as "Galactica".
Saddlesore isn't the most unpopular episode in the series (that honor probably goes to "Kill the Alligator and Run"), but it's one of the few unpopular episodes to have a loyal following.
In "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," a focus group asks kids if they'd prefer Itchy and Scratchy to have more down-to-Earth plotlines like people have every day or wacky, far out adventures with robots and magic powers. The kids answer enthusiastically to both options. The writers commented that at the time they felt stuck between these two avenues of the fanbase, with half the fans wanting the show to stay grounded in reality, others wanting it to get crazier and crazier.
Canon Sue: Lisa, to some people. Suffice to say, she can be a divisive character. It doesn't help that every instance when she's shown as flawed or in the wrong is a blatant attempt to get the viewers to feel sorry for her.
Creator's Pet: This is mainly the reason why Lisa has hit this status, as Matt Groening has said that she's his favorite character, and does everything he can to prevent her from looking bad, even if Homer and Bart, as well as most of the characters have become complete losers.
Marge also falls into this, since many of the male characters give her a lot respect and often bend to her whim, along with the fact that she nearly always gets her way. Much like Lisa, she's also frequently portrayed as the only sane person or a victim, even if she's obviously in the wrong or doing the right/less wrong thing for the wrong reasons.
Creator Worship: Matt Groening gets little of the blame for the series' decline while James L. Brooks gets none. Al Jean and/or Mike Scully usually get blamed for running the show into the ground (or any outside circumstances, like hiring writers who can't capture the magic of the early seasons, excessive celebrity cameos, or Phil Hartman's death, which means no more Troy McClure or Lionel Hutz appearances).
Designated Hero: Lisa, especially when an episode focuses on her activism: She often gets involved in morally ambiguous causes, or joins activist groups for the wrong reasons, and acts like an insufferable holier-than-thou Jerkass even if she knows she's wrong.
Homer has always been a third-rate father and Man Child, but he used to be a well-intentioned moron, whereas now he's just a self-centered jerk who should and probably does know better.
Mona Simpson: She abandoned her family to live on a hippie commune and never even acknowledges her responsibility for what she did, or the legal danger she puts her family in by staying with them.
Designated Villain: Bart, in later episodes; Homer, in a lot of the Mike Scully episodes where he's written as a childish jerk.
Dork Age: The episodes from Mike Scully's time as showrunner (Seasons 9-12) are accused of this due to Flanderization, crazy off-the-wall plots (and for some, too much focus on Homer), and, in Season 11, the show trying to be just like more "in-your-face" satirical cartoons like Family Guy and South Parkjust to keep up. There were also issues with tone: Some of the episodes, including the infamous "The Principal and the Pauper" and "Saddlesore Galactica", tried to deconstruct their own absurdity, but the parody was so subtle that it came across as Flanderization and bad writing.
Al Jean's time as showrunner, Seasons 13-present: His first few seasons were attempts to imitate Seasons 3 through 7, but to some the show became a milder clone of Family Guy and South Park around Season 17. The heavy reliance on recycled plots, dated pop-culture references, and celebritycameos throughout hasn't helped. Depending on the Writer characterization has also become a problem, especially with Homer and Bart: characters' personalities have been reduced to whatever the plot of the week requires.
This might be a consequence of the show's age, but reusing plots has also become a problem: Homer's health, the Simpsons' teetering marriage, and Lisa's Wangst have all been beaten to death over the years, but keep coming back regardless.
Double Standard: Lisa can be just as petty and mean as Bart, but generally gets rewarded for her behavior, and the show usually tries to justify her actions, while he gets punished.
Marge can sometimes benefit from this: She can be a jerkass on the same level as Homer, but her bad behavior is a sign that she's unappreciated or overworked, so she's really the victim here; when Homer does this he's chewed out by everyone in town.
Dude, Not Funny!: "Martin was like Jesus, only real", apparently a line from Season 19's "Dial N for Nerder". (The one where Bart and Lisa think they've killed Martin after a practical joke goes wrong)
Moe, Moe, Moe! How do you like me, how do you like me? Moe, Moe, Moe! Why don't you like me, nobody likes me...
See my vest/see my vest/made from real gorilla chest/See this sweater/there's no better/than authentic Irish Setter...
Ensemble Dark Horse: Sideshow Bob. Originally he was going to be a one-shot villain, but has kept coming back. He has been voted the 66th greatest villain of all time. It helps that Kelsey Grammer is his voice actor.
Fanon Discontinuity: Many, given the show's longevity and fans' strong preference for the older seasons:
"The Principal and The Pauper", for messing with continuity: "Principal Skinner" is revealed to be a street punk named Armin Tamzarian, who began impersonating Skinner when sent to deliver the news of the real Skinner's death in Vietnam to his mother.
"That 90s Show", also for continuity snarls: The episode "documents" the Simpsons' lives in the 90s, in the process eliminating Seasons 1 through 11 from the show's canon and rewriting how Homer and Marge got together. The episode may have been upgraded to Canon Discontinuity, since newer seasons rely on the old canon where Homer and Marge got together in the late 70s-early 80s.
"Homer Vs. Dignity", for the panda rape scene.
"Brother From Another Series" realized that Bob had nowhere to go as a villain after trying to nuke Springfield, and gave him a pretty graceful sendoff, featuring his redemption and reconciliation with Bart. Later Bob episodes largely ignored this, and Bob suffered major Villain Decay as a result, leading some to declare it "the last Sideshow Bob episode."
There is a website called "Dead Homer Society", which calls all episodes after Season 11 "Zombie Simpsons", which has became a nickname for the later seasons of the show on certain parts of the internet, mostly on places like No Homers and Me Blog Write Good, but I've also seen it crop up on The A.V. Club comments section as well, despite the fact that seemingly everyone there loves the new episodes and think it's got better in the last few years.
Nedna itself is a fan-preferred couple, seeing as the audience voted for them to be together.
Yes, but fans soured on them very quickly.
Flame Bait: Ask any internet forum which of The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy is the best.
Franchise Zombie: Matt Groening said The Simpsons would be around a couple more seasons, but couldn't guarantee anything beyond that because Seasonal Rot was becoming a real concern and he wanted the series to end on a high note. That was in 1999.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: She's a Base Breaker in the United States, but Lisa is very popular with Japanese audiences, due to her studiousness and Buddhism. Promotional material for The Simpsons in Japan even portrays her as the main character.
The show is extremely popular abroad-French Canadians love the seriesnote The Simpsons is one of the only foreign shows airing in French Canada to be dubbed into Canadian French, rather than international or European French, and The Simpsons Movie was the biggest movie of 2007 in Argentina.
Growing the Beard: Seasons 2 and 3, as the show became funnier and the characterization improved while the animation issues from Season 1 were resolved.
Hell Is That Noise: That horrifying background music at the end of "Rosebud" when a cyborg Mr. Burns and his faithful robot dog Smithers run off into the sunset in the year 1,000,000 A.D., which was also used at the beginning of "Bart's Girlfriend" when the kids try to ditch going to church (and a Jewish kid named Schlomo ditching his violin lesson).
Harsher in Hindsight: In Fear of Flying Homer didnít want Marge to go to therapy because he thought it would turn her against him. In Specs and the City he finds out that she is in therapy and he is her biggest complaint.
In Lisaís First Word Bart spent the entire episode resenting Lisa because he felt that his parents were disregarding him as she was getting all the attention. Eventually, he is about to run away until Lisa says her first word, "Bart". Then comes Lisaís Sax where that is exactly what happens.
Taken even further when Marge eventually admits she sees all of her children as Replacement Goldfish.
In Beyond Blunderdome guest star Mel Gibson is genuinely shocked when audiences react badly to his ultra-violent climactic blood bath ending to his remake of "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" (see What an Idiot! below). A few years later Gibson's life and career would spiral out of control when he couldn't cope with general audiences reacting badly to his very bloody 2004 Crucifixion film The Passion of the Christ, seriously damaging his reputation in the process as he suffered a serious nervous breakdown complete with alcohol relapse and the end of his long standing marriage to Robin Moore.
The Flaming Homer/Moe episode centers around a mixed-drink spiked with cough syrup. Flash forward a few years and we have Purple Drank.
In an earlier season, after Maude's death Ned goes on a date with Edna Krabappel, who only dates Flanders to get back at Principal Skinner. Come Season 23, the two (Ned and Edna, not Edna and Skinner) are now married.
In the episode when Marge bans sugar in Springfield, Disco Stu consumes sugar in a way most associate with cocaine consumption (though by sucking it with a rolled-up U.S. dollar bill rather than snorting it). Some eleven years after its original airing, medical studies have discovered that sugar addiction is not too different from cocaine addiction.
The season 11 premiere "Beyond Blunderdome" had Mel Gibson (voicing himself) and plays on the idea that he is so admired by the public that it makes him uncomfortable. With The Passion of the Christ and news about his anti-Semitic and sexist remarks, it looks as if Mel's got his wish. It's both funny and depressing.
In the Treehouse of Horror short "Clown Without Pity", a naked Homer runs screaming from his bathtub to escape a harpoon-wielding demonic Krusty the Clown doll and passes by Patty, Selma, and Marge as they have lunch together. Patty puts down her fork and says, "There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality." Years later, she comes out of the closet (though it wasn't because of seeing Homer naked. Patty always knew she was into girls, and Marge was too naÔve to see it — even when she saw her sister make out with another woman while in the lobby of a movie theater).
In "The Devil and Homer Simpson" segment of Treehouse of Horror IV, one of the members of the Jury of the Damned is Richard Nixon, who declares that he's not dead yet (the joke at the time was that Nixon sold his soul to the Devil either to be U.S. President or to escape being implicated in the Watergate scandal — or both). Six months after that episode aired, Nixon would be dead (and, most likely, serving in the Jury of the Damned). When the UK aired this episode, the lines about Nixon not being dead yet were cut, as the BBC didn't want anyone to be confused over whether or not Nixon was still alive (on top of that, it would have been considered "Too Soon" to joke about it).
A similar situation happened in "Itchy and Scratchy Land" where John Travolta is shown reduced to working as a bartender in a 70s themed bar. The episode was released in the same year that Pulp Fiction came out, which single-handedly resurrected Travolta's career.
In "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie see a Broadway musical called "Kicking It!", which was inspired by Robert Downey, Jr.'s drug abuse and arrests at the time. The lyrics can now apply to any number of celebrities whose drug problems and/or run-ins with the law have made the news (cf. Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Amy Winehouse, Tara Reid, Amanda Bynes, etc)
At the end of "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", the military school Commandant's speech, in which he says "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots," has become very real with the rise of strike drones. Could be more of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment than Hilarious in Hindsight, depending on your opinions of said drones.
In "You Only Move Twice" Homer is disappointed when his Benevolent Boss, Hank Scorpio, gives him the Denver Broncos as a gift instead of the Dallas Cowboys. The Denver Broncos are seen practicing on the Simpsons' front lawn, and are portrayed as bumbling and laughably bad at football. The NFL season after this episode aired the Denver Broncos would win the Super Bowl, and then do it again the season after that.
After the 2014 Super Bowl where the Broncos lost to the Seattle Seahawks by an embarrassing score of 43-8, the clip of Homer bemoaning owning the team received renewed interest online for its prescience.
In the "Treehouse of Horror VI" segment "Homer^3", while Homer's stuck in the third dimension, he moans "Oh, I wish I read that book by that wheelchair guy...", referring to Stephen Hawking and his book A Brief History of Time. In "They Saved Lisa's Brain", Homer actually meets Hawking and even has a beer with him (although he initially mistook him for Larry Flynt).
In "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" Fat Tony and his crew try to pass off ferrets as poodles. In 2013, a man in Argentina found out that his "poodles" were actually ferrets.
In this clip, Homer mispronounces Uruguay as "You are gay." In 2013, Uruguay legalized same-sex marriage.
Some viewers have noticed that in "Bart After Dark", the speaker in front of the Maison Derriere looks like an iPod.
In "Homer The Great", the Stonecutters claim that they rig every Oscar night. In 2013, Maggie Simpson In The Longest Daycare lost the Oscar for best animated short film to Paper Man.
In "Itchy and Scratchy: the Movie", Bart watches a trailer for the fictitious Star Trek film Star Trek XII: So Very Tired, which lampoons the increasing age of the TOS cast. In May 2013, the 12th Star Trek film, Star Trek: Into Darkness, got released and also features the TOS crew, albeit played by much younger actors.
The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase is a lot funnier when you realize that (a) Matt Groening originally had a Simpsons spin-off planned called Tales of Springfield (it was rejected and reworked as the season seven episode "22 Short Films About Springfield"), and (b) Seth MacFarlane (Matt Groening's friend and professional rival) created a spin-off of his Simpsons knock-off animated sitcom: The Cleveland Show.
Matt Groening criticized the episode A Star is Burns because he promised his sitcom would be different from others and one of the sitcom conventions he hated is the crossover episode that plays out like a 20-odd minute advertisement for another show, even removing his name from the credits in protest. Since then, The Simpsons has had an X Files crossover ("The Springfield Files"), a brief scene in "Hurricane Neddy" where Jay Sherman ends up in a mental hospital endlessly saying his catch phrase "It stinks!", a 24 crossover ("24 Minutes"), and two upcoming crossovers: a Terminator parody featuring the characters from Futurama and a Family Guy parody where The Simpsons bond with The Griffins.
The 1996 episode "Two Bad Neighbors," in which former president George H.W. Bush moves next door to the Simpsons, includes a scene where Homer tries to trick Bush into opening his door by propping up two cardboard cutouts of his sons Jeb and "George Bush, Jr." According to the Season 7 DVD commentary, the writers (and the mid-90s audience) had no idea at the time that there actually was a George Bush, Jr., and figured that Homer was just being stupid by making up a name on the spot.
Smithers' relationship with Burns can be seen in this context. Originally, Smithers' character was supposed to be an exaggeration of the Yes-Man (the sycophantic worker who always sucked up to his boss) and was later his personal servant when Burns was shown more at home than in his office at work, but then came gags like Smithers going to The Maison Derriere just to please his parents — and being disappointed in it — in "Bart After Dark," Smithers cringing and moaning as female strippers gyrate all around him in "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love," Smithers imagining Mr. Burns jumping out of a cake in only a sash and seductively singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. Smithers" (as seen in "Rosebud"), Smithers having a computerized version of Mr. Burns on his desktop that says, "You're quite good at turning me on" (as seen in "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy"), Smithers' vacation at an island of men in "Homer the Smithers," and the "flying in through the window" fantasy (as seen in "Marge Gets a Job"), and soon, you have obsessive viewers wondering if Smithers is gay and in the closet or if he has a massive crush on his boss, regardless of gender.
Considering that recent episodes have Smithers openly admitting that he's gay (something that was even a plot point in one episode), it's probably the former.
Magnificent Bastard: Sideshow Bob. He's devious, brilliant, manipulative, and of course funny. Though they always fail, his plans have included faking his own death and guilting Bart into coming to see his corpse so he can burn him in the cremation oven, impersonating a man about to be released from prison to escape and move in next to the family, stealing a nuclear bomb and holding the town hostage, rigging an election to become mayor of Springfield, and hypnotizing Bart into being a suicide bomber to kill Krusty. Those last two plans in particular are notable because they worked: his election scam was uncovered after he won the election, and his suicide bomber plan had him intervene when he was overcome with newfound love for Krusty.
Hank Scorpio, no doubt. SPECTRE might've been able to actually accomplish something if they took some management lessons from this guy.
Magnum Opus: Seasons four and five were the show's peak in both popularity and humor.
The entire show is this for most of the cast & crew, especially Matt Groening.
Sideshow Bob in all of his appearances tried to kill Bart, but he finally crossed the line when he decides to get people to hate Bart while he's on trial, fake his death, and, with the help of his whole family, burn Bart alive in a coffin being pushed into a furnace. Fortunately, he is caught and, along with the rest of his family, is sentenced to 87 years in prison.
He may have crossed it earlier in "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", when he tries to atom-bomb the entire city just so he can get rid of television.
Snake tries to run over Bart when he's with Eddie and Lou in a ride along. He ended up getting thrown through the windshield as his car caught in the narrow alleyway and stopped mere inches before he can hit Bart.
The kindergarten teacher's treatment of Bart, as seen in "Lisa's Sax". She is why Bart is the way he is today note (though a lot of older episodes showed that Bart was bad since he was born. Case in point: "I Married Marge" showed him setting fire to Homer's tie at only six minutes old, and "War of the Simpsons" had Bart try to run over his babysitter with the family car. On top of that, "Lisa the Simpson" reveals that Bart actually was a smart student until the Simpson gene made him dumb, and other episodes like "Bart Gets an F" and "A Test Before Trying" show that Bart can be smart when the plot calls for it). To specify, the teacher basically wrote off Bart as a lost cause because he didn't catch on to things as quickly as the other kids (fortunately, the kindergarten teacher who appeared on "Sideshow Bob Roberts" when Bart is forced to repeat kindergarten as per Sideshow Bob's mayoral order isn't the same one from "Lisa's Sax," meaning that the one from "Lisa's Sax" either quit her job, retired, was fired, or was let go due to the school's many budget cuts).
In Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble, Homer accidentally caused his father to make his kidneys burst because he wouldn't stop to let him go to the bathroom (even though that's physically impossible). When he's forced to give up one of his kidneys, he runs away in fear of dying. He later seemingly decides to face up to his fear and give one of his kidneys. However, he finally crossed it when he ran away from the hospital again, this time hoping that his father would die.
Strawman Has a Point: His fear were pivoted by the fact Dr Hibbert (and everyone else) outright lied to him about the dangers of the operation so he'd agree. When they can't make him donate willingly, he outright steals his kidney while he's unconscious. While it's Dirty Cowardice at it's finest, would you trust your body in the hands of a quack that deceives and outright mutilates you without your consent?
The winemakers in "Crepes of Wrath" after they poured anti-freeze in the wine, and forcing Bart to drink it.
Patty and Selma have always hated Homer and made it clear since day one that they do (mostly because he's fat, ugly, and unworthy of being Marge's husband and the father of her children), but they crossed this line when they attempted to murder him when Homer and Marge were going to remarry in the later seasons. And outside of being blackmailed to pay for the wedding by Bart and Lisa, they suffer no repercussions.
In episodes such as "Mother Simpson", they are actually in glee when they believe Homer has actually kicked the bucket (even buying a tombstone just to add insult to injury, with the epitaph, "We are richer for having lost him"). They hate Homer to the point of wishing death upon him.
Lisa may have had one in "On A Clear Day, I Can't See My Sister": In retaliation for one of Bart's pranks, she takes out a restraining order against him and gleefully uses it to make his life a living hell even after he stops bugging her, forcing him to live in the yard and leaving him with permanent nerve damage.
Also averted with the pinball machine The Simpsons Pinball Party, which pinball fans commonly regard as one of the 21st century's best.
Scapegoat Creator: Everything wrong with the show post-Season 8 tends to be blamed on the showrunner: Mike Scully for seasons 9-12 and Al Jean for seasons 13 to the current one.
Scully also gets accused of ruining the show after season 12, either because he became an producer starting with Season 13, or because he did so much damage as showrunner that the show couldn't be saved.
A Vocal Minority of fans, especially those who think Seasonal Rot set in around Season 6 or 7, point the finger at the writing staff who left the show after season five (or in the early part of it, as "Cape Feare"note the episode where The Simpsons go into Witness Protection after Sideshow Bob gets paroled is the last episode written by the original writers).
Seasonal Rot: The general consensus is that the show stopped being good after either season nine or season ten (usually season nine, because, despite Mike Scully running the show, season nine did have some good episodes, but season ten was when Phil Hartman died and when it became obvious the writers were running out of ideas, though season eight is often cited as the last time The Simpsons created good episodes (though a lot of people feel that some of season eight's episodes weren't all that great, except for "You Only Move Twice, the episode with Hank Scorpio).
Very few fans like Season 11, and many feel it was the show's worst. The infamous episodes "Saddlesore Galactica" note The episode where the Simpsons purchase a horse, and it turns out that all other jockies are murderous gremlins and "Kill The Alligator and Run"note Homer decides to move to Florida for health reasons, only to get caught up in Spring Break are felt to be the point where the show went past the point of no return. The rest of the season also relies heavily on bizarre plots and nonsensical twist endings.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: In the early days, this cartoon was criticized for being a kids' cartoon (even though the only reason Matt Groening made the show bright and colorful was to grab their attention, not make it a kids' show) that dealt with a lot of smutty and controversial content. These days, it barely (but occasionally) raises a blip on the Moral Guardian's radar, thanks to South Park and Seth MacFarlane's cartoons being far more shocking and controversial.
"Homer the Heretic" and "She of Little Faith" do make it clear that people have their own religious beliefs (whether conventional or not) and we should respect that, not matter how much it conflicts with what we believe in. The Values Dissonance and Unfortunate Implications do kind of cloud this, so don't blame yourself for not seeing it sooner.
Also, HankScorpio. The man was a genuinely nice, down-to-earth..... James Bond supervillain. He's every bit as awesome as he sounds, and "You Only Move Twice", the episode in which he appears, is generally regarded as the best episode of Season 8. He could have been a great recurring villain or Deal with the Devil character (he offers Homer a job in "You Only Move Twice"), especially as Mr. Burns became senile and ineffectual in the later seasons, but no luck.
Samantha Stanky is a good example to apply to this trope. Not only could she have been the one true Love Interest for Milhouse (and end Milhouse's embarrassing attempts to win Lisa over), but she could have been a second best friend for Bart, making the three of them a trio, and by possible association, the first true friend Lisa would ever have. Sadly, Samantha's prudish father sent her to an all-girl convent school, where she is locked away from the outside world, and hasn't been seen or referenced since.
After regaining his wealth and reconciling with Homer, Herb Powell could've been the Big Good of Springfield, given his status in contrast to Mr. Burns' Big Bad. He could've also been an excellent benefactor in helping the Simpson family in any of their recurring financial jams. However, by the time the writers decided to get Danny Devito involved with the Simpsons again, he was given one off-screen line confirming that he was poor again.
Mr. Bergstrom could've been the one teacher who cared about Lisa's education. However, as a substitute teacher constantly on-call by other schools, he had to leave, while Ms. Hoover would remain as Lisa's teacher a respond to her zest for learning with apathy.
Even though Ling Bouvier was able to be adopted from China by Selma, both Patty and Selma are shown more frequently than her own baby (bring to question, who is watching their baby?). In terms of possible use, Ling could've served as a playmate for Maggie.
Maude Flanders deserves a special mentioning. Given Ned Flanders' reputation as the nicest neighbor in Springfield, and Marge's constant pleading for Homer to be on good terms with him, one would think that Marge and Maude would get along better than their husbands. Unfortunately, Maude is shown as nothing more than an overprotective mother and a religious fundamentalist who is more on par with the gossipy Helen Lovejoy, an has been critical and disapproving of Marge on separate occasions (including a hiring by the Yakuza to stomp out her pretzel business). By Season 11, the writers decide to kill Maude off, mainly due to the dispute with her voice actress Maggie Roswell.
Mona Simpson. She loves Homer and regrets abandoning him, in contrast to unrepentant Jerkass Abe, so she could have provided a different perspective on his childhood, and her history of activism & radicalism could have made her an interesting partner or foil to Lisa.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A lot of fans think that new episodes (and some old ones, like the one where Homer is blackmailed by Patty and Selma over a bad investment while Bart becomes a ballet dancer) are wasted, because typically they spend 5 or 10 minutes setting up things that seem that they will be the main plot of story, but later they are forgotten and rest of the episode has nothing to do with the beginning, while in older episodes the main plot was set during the beginning of the episode, not the middle of it.
The episode "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" starts with Marge yelling at Homer for not going to Lisa's award ceremony, Homer decides to prove her wrong and wants to make sure that he is in the auditorium before anyone else. This seems to be the main plot of the episode, but then it is forgotten and the main plot is about Marge and bank robber and has nothing to do with Homer getting to Lisa's ceremony.
"Homer The Whopper" could have been a funny episode about the making of a superhero movie in the vein of "Radioactive Man", but instead focuses on the overused plot of Homer sticking to another diet (and failing it), with all the movie stuff happening in the b-plot.
The episode where Maude dies. It could have been a Tear JerkerCrowning Moment of Heartwarming episode (and it was a little bit, especially when Flanders briefly denounced his faith in God and met Rachel Jordan after going to church), but more than half of it was Homer setting up Ned with horrible new girlfriends (even though Homer wasn't being a jerkass about it; he was genuinely trying to help Ned out).
Mona Simpson's death, for similar reasons as Maude's: Her death comes out of nowhere and lacks gravity, especially since the funeral was off-screen, and it is quickly forgotten as the story progresses-the rest of the episode focuses on the Simpsons sabotaging Mr. Burns' rocket launch (a plot that could have easily been done without her death).
Many viewers felt that the first act plot of Season 19's "Husbands and Knives", starring Jack Black as the owner of the new comic book store across the street from The Android's Dungeon, was superior to the rest of the episode, which focused on Marge starting a franchise of women's gyms and Homer getting plastic surgery in fear that his newly-rich wife will run off with another man.
True Art Is Incomprehensible: "Saddlesore Galactica" got scathing reviews, but it has gotten praise by some as a brilliant surrealist, experimental take on all the cliches The Simpsons was dishing out. Some art critics have even called it a genuinely good work of post-modernism.
Uncanny Valley: The grotesque animation style of the early era episodes (including the Tracy Ullman shorts) and in some episodes in which the Simpsons are depicted in another medium (claymation, live-action, as drawn by John Kricfalusi, as drawn by Bill Plympton, CGI).
Unfortunate Implications: "Lisa The Simpson". After an entire episode of Lisa worrying about losing her intelligence, it turns out that the family's stupidity is genetic, but only present in the men since it's Y-linked. Rather than raise legitimate concerns about what will become of Bart, the moral appears to be that "Lisa is always going to be smart, and that's what really matters".
Some members of Simpsons forum No Homers have called the ending of the Season 12 episode HOMR "disturbing" and even "frightening" because of the implication that Homer didn't appreciate Lisa before he got the crayon taken out of his brain.
"Homer the Heretic"note The season four episode in which Homer decides to create his own religion and not go to church anymore is an odd case. On the one hand, it can be appreciated today by the growing number of atheists, agnostics, and lapsed religious people because of Homer deciding to forgo organized religion in favor of his own beliefs. On the other hand, the ending in which Homer decides to come back to church (but not before dozing off in the middle of the sermon) just because a Christian (Flanders), a Jew (Krusty), and a Hindu (Apu) saved him from a housefire may rub the same audience of atheists, agnostics, and lapsed religious people the wrong way as the ending can be perceived as "Organized religion is good. If you follow your own beliefs, you'll burn."note Interesting note: This moral seems to be the polar opposite of the "Religion is for idiots" Aesop that came at the end of Family Guy's much-maligned "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven" The funny thing about this episode is, back in the 1990s, it was supposed to rile up religious types who were devout and did go to religious services regularly (it still does these days, but now that society has changed, it's got a new layer of problems).
Homer beating up Smithers in high school in "Bye Bye Nerdie" will raise cries of Dude, Not Funny! these days due to bullying and homophobic harassment being rampant in most high schools.
Ditto Jimbo's line in "Lisa's Date with Density" "That is so gay!" when commenting on Nelson kissing Lisa. Back in the 1990s, it didn't raise any problems. On the 2008 "Treehouse of Horror" story that had a giant pumpkin attacking the schoolkids during a Halloween dance, Nelson's line "The Grand Pumpkin is super gay!" was met with backlash from anti-gay defamation groups who set out to stop people from using the word "gay" as an insult for something considered "weak" or "stupid".
"Bart The General" from Season one (despite the cruddy animation) still holds up its Aesop of "Violence begets more violence" (which Bart did mention at the end of the episode) and "Bullying is a major cause for concern in schools" (which is still a problem today and more of a problem now than it was back in the 1990s) considering the rise in school and youth violence.
There's also "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" from Season 2, which is about media censorship, Moral Guardians being responsible for mediocre entertainment, and hypocrisy over censorship (Marge wanting Michaelangelo's David to be seen, despite that she hates cartoon violence and her anti-violence group branches out into censoring nudity because it's considered "indecent" by their religious standards).
Season 6's "Homer Badman" (where Homer is accused of sexually molesting a babysitter by a protest group and the resulting media circus makes Homer out to be a pervert) is, much like the movie Network, still considered a spot-on satire against how scandals (particularly ones centered on sexual abuse and corrupting young, innocent victims) are sensationalized by the media for the sake of ratings, despite that it was written long before the phenomenon was common. The writers acknowledged this in the DVD commentary, even arguing that things have gotten worse since this episode originally aired.
Season 7's "Much Apu About Nothing" is relevant today due to the growing concerns on illegal immigration and Arizona's laws.
"Citizen Kang", a short from the Season 8 Treehouse of Horror, is a troubling indictment of the American two-party system (and how nobody cares about third-party and fringe candidates) that still holds up today.
"Bart Star" from Season 9 looks very relevant today, thanks to childhood obesity being a problem and parents getting too involved with their children's extracurricular activities, particularly sports.
"Boys of Bummer," for all its hatred, is the same way, only replace "childhood obesity" with "bullying" and "suicide."
"Lard of the Dance" from Season 10, which is about the ongoing societal pressure that forces young girls to grow up too fast (usually by wearing makeup and provocative clothes or getting involved in drugs and sex before they're mentally and emotionally ready to deal with the consequences).
"Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" is still relevant in its portrayal of how politicians use the media and elaborate photo ops (such as going somewhere that screams, "The American Dream" and showing people that they're just like them) to get undecided voters on their side.
"Last Exit to Springfield" (the episode where Homer blindly leads his workers to strike against Mr. Burns after Burns takes away their dental plan, which Homer needs so he doesn't have to pay for Lisa's braces out-of-pocket) is still relevant due to issues with unions and union laws. Even the 19th-century kid's line about how unions will become too corrupt and the Japanese will eat American companies alive has some weight to it these days with many people fearing that China will overtake America because of America's debt to that country.
"The PTA Disbands" is still fresh in 2012 due to budget cuts in American public schools, American parents worrying that their children aren't getting a good education, and home-schooling (Milhouse getting tutored at home during the strike) being an option for educating children.
"Homer's Phobia" and "There's Something About Marrying" have aged well, thanks to gay marriage, gay rights, and homophobia still being around and still being points of contention for a lot of people.
Despite Homer's line about "blowing smoke in [the President's] stupid monkey face" coming off as racist because of a black President (who got re-elected), "Weekend At Burnsie's" still holds up, since marijuana use and the push to have it legalized in a lot of states is still an issue.
"The Cartridge Family", which deals with gun rights, still remains extremely relevant, especially after the numerous mass shootings in the U.S. in 2012 (though the scene of Bart playing William Tell with Milhouse with Homer's gun might be in bad taste these days). A part of its appeal is that the writers portrayed both sides of the argument even stating that the "real" aesop is "people like Homer shouldn't own guns".
In "Kamp Krusty" Kent Brockman refers to the anarchy at the camp as worse than Iraq and Afghanistan. While he was referring to the Gulf War in the 1990s and the Afghan War in 1979, this line holds up today with the War on Terror (though that was completely unintentional).
"Radioactive Man" from season seven can be seen as this due to super hero movies being box office draws, as well as some of the highest grossing films over the past decade."
This is referenced in "Steal This Episode" and "Married to the Blob" when they see the new Radioactive Man movie that's a parody of The Dark Knight Rises and when Milhouse mentions he played Fallout Boy.
In DVD commentaries, the writers acknowledged their surprise that "Lisa the Beauty Queen" actually predates a lot of the modern-day disgust towards child beauty pageants.
Viewed today without context, "Trash of the Titans" seems like a prescient satire of the Tea Party, as Homer spews angry rhetoric at a respected politician with little thought of how he would do better if elected, and after being elected, messes up so horribly everyone hates him. Ray Patterson's lines "Nobody wants to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent!" and "the American people have never tolerated incompetence from its elected officials." hit harder than ever in light of how badly-received the Tea Party-dominated US Congress has been, receiving the lowest approval rating of all time in 2013.
Weird Al Effect: Some of their various political parodies may fall into this for newer viewers who weren't around (or were too young to remember) to witness them.
In "Bart vs. Australia", there is a parody of Crocodile Dundee with a man going "think that's a knife? THIS is a knife". For newer viewers, the film from which the meme came is not so familiar, and therefore many people think back to this series instead.
We're Still Relevant, Dammit: A common complaint about the newer seasons is their over-reliance on using current events and pop-culture for laughs a laSouth Park and Family Guy, such as Mr. Burns' endorsement of Mitt Romney for President in 2012. Making things worse, these references tend to be dated the first time they appear on the show. Anvilicious political commentary has also become more common, almost all of it bashing Republicans.
Any episode involving a musician or band popular during the time the episode aired. "New Kids on the Blecch" with **NSYNC and "Lisa Goes Gaga" from season 23 come to mind.
This trope is blatant in season 15's "Co-Dependent's Day" when the family goes to see Cosmic Wars: Episode I, and it's a parody of the disappointment of Episode I. It would've been relevant in 1999 or 2000, but this episode was released in 2004. It also creates a Celebrity Paradox because Star Wars has been referenced by name dozens of times, and parodied.
In season 17's "See Homer Run", they did a parody of the California 2003 recall election...in 2005. It wasn't just a throwaway gag, it was the plot of the whole episode.
"Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson", a 2012 episode whose plot is a Take That at Glenn Beck's Fox News show... which had been cancelled the previous summer (not to mention the fact that South Park had done essentially the same thing in fall 2009, when Beck's show was generating far more buzz, and The Daily Show had done so repeatedly since November of 2009.)
Newer Treehouse of Horror episodes have become this as the pop culture they parody are already a few years old and spoofed into oblivion. "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" which aired in 2012 and spoofed Paranormal Activity, which was released in 2009 and "Treehouse of Horror XXII", aired in 2011 and spoofing Film/Avatar, which was also released to theatres in 2009 come to mind.
"The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" was an episode from 2000 about Homer discovering the Internet and using it to start a gossip page. This came maybe 2 or 3 years after the Internet had become mainstream, and a solid decade after computers had.
The Season 25 premiere, "Homerland", is a full episode parody of Homeland.
From the same season, Homer sings about "swag", of all things. While it's supposed to be a parody of older people trying to prove they are still relevant, it didn't quite have the result the creators were probably hoping for.
The season also had an episode simply titled YOLO, which aired in November 2013, LONG after "YOLO" stopped being relevant (and for those who want to point out that Saturday Night Live — another long-running comedy whose quality in recent episodes has been called into question — did the same on the season 38 episode hosted by Adam Levine and the season 39 episode hosted by Drake, the former was making fun of the "YOLO" fad with a music video about Paranoia Fuel and the latter was Drake [the episode host] apologizing for starting "YOLO" in the first place).
What an Idiot: Lots of examples, too many to list, usually revolving around Bart and/or Homer.
Beyond Blunderdome is a guest star example focusing on guest of the week Mel Gibson caught up in an deliberate Idiot Plot - the episode is that Gibson has mounted a remake of the James Stewart classic Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and even though he gets a very strong positive reaction from the Springfield test audience he can't shake the feeling that something's wrong with the film but no one, least of all his executive producers, will tell him what it is out of fear of his popularity and star power. Enter Homer, who sends Gibson a nasty, nonsensical rant about how much he hated the film and not even for the right reasons (Homer was mad that a free screening was the result of winning a contest), and, in order to move the plot along, Gibson seriously thinks that Homer is "the one man with the guts to tell me the truth." Against the advice of his producers Gibson tracks down Homer and hires him to be a consultant to improve the film. Among Homer's rather idiotic suggestions is speeding up the pace, replacing the main antagonist with a shifty eyed dog, and going for an ultra-violent ending where instead of delivering the stirring, emotionally gut wrenching speech in the original version, Gibson just goes on a random killing spree murdering everyone in the senate (Gibson kills one man by impaling him with a poll holding the American flag - at least one sharp eyed critic noticed that this was just a few months before the 2000 release of Gibson's Revolutionary war epic The Patriot leading to a joke about how Gibson went from impaling someone with the American flag to wrapping himself in it) before being carried off by kids. The executives do everything they can to dissuade Gibson from following Homer's advice but after a literal chase through Hollywood they give up and allow Gibson to release the film with altered ultra-violent ending (while ignoring the two previous suggestions). At first Gibson and Homer are giddy and delighted as they spy the film (marketed as a "Gibson/Simpson Joint") from afar on its opening night in Springfield, but their glee quickly turns to shock when the entire town comes out of the film and they start ranting at Gibson about what a disgusting and horrible film his remake turned out to be, with Gibson getting slapped in the face by the granddaughter of original star Jimmy Stewart, who then threatens to file a lawsuit against Gibson for defamation of character. As a dismayed Gibson is driven away by his limo driver Homer tries to comfort him (while chastising him for not playing up the dog angle) and offers advice on how to come back from this fiasco - while listening to Homer's equally idiotic ideas for how to fix his career following this blunder (including but not limited to suggesting that Gibson do "an Indiana Jones film!" even though that franchise is headlined by Harrison Ford) Gibson FINALLY realizes that Homer really is just a stupid jerk and not the one guy brave enough to tell him the truth and literally kicks Homer out of his limo in disgust.