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).
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.
Base Breaker: Really depends on the writer (and what season you watch).
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 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.
Bizarro Episode: The "Treehouse Of Horror" episodes are this by design. "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", "Saddlesore Galactica", "Missionary: Impossible" and "Moe Goes from Rags to Riches" may also count.
"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 Seasonal Rot or not as bad as the later seasons. The only thing fans seem to agree on is that Season 9 is the better of the two. 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 "Missionary: Impossible" and "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".
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: Homer Simpson is often this in the more recent episodes. Earlier, he was more of a well-intentioned bumbling idiot than an outright Jerkass.
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.
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.
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.
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 also put Homer and Marge's getting together in the 70s or 80s, which had been canon previously.
"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."
Nedna itself is a fan-preferred couple, seeing as the audience voted for them to be together.
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).
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 na´ve 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.
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 "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.
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 at home), 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 Bartz 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.
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 universe example: When Bart nearly breaks up Homer and Marge's marriage by using "wedge issues" to get things he wants Lisa informs Bart that he has crossed a line and become a sociopath.
He gets another one when he tries to kill Bart in "The Curse Of The Flying Hellfish", just because he can.
In Love is a Many Strangled Thing, the therapist, Dr. Zander crosses it when after torturing Homer by strangling him for days, leading him to suffering and Bart starting to torture him (likely for revenge), he decides to get the two back together, by forcing Homer to hang himself in hopes that Bart would save him.
In Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble, Homer accidentally caused his father to make his kidneys burst because he couldn't go to the bathroom for too long. 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?
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 episode "Saddlesore Galactica" note The episode where the Simpsons purchase a horse, and it turns out that all other jockies are murderous gremlins is 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.
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).
True Art Is Incomprehensible: "Saddlesore Galactica" got scathing reviews, but one alternate interpretation of the episode is that it's a brilliant surrealist, post-modern work of art.
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).
"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).
This is only punctuated when, a decade later, a plot involved Lisa turning her back on Christianity and converting to Buddhism (with the help of Lenny, Carl, and special guest star Richard Gere) after the local church is forced to put advertisements to pay for damages, where the similar hounding of uproared neighbors and family members is portrayed as wrong and a break of status quo leaves Lisa allowed to keep her beliefs. Granted, this may be as much to do with the first plot involving Homer and the later involving Lisa.
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".
The reason Jimbo's line is not really met with much criticism, though, is because of its context. He's saying it in regards to a heterosexual kiss. The joke is that it's not gay (the full line "You kissed a girl! That is so gay!" shows this). Whereas with Nelson's line in the 2008 "Treehouse of Horror", it was just a straight up "using the word 'gay' as an insult" line.
The fact that both Jimbo and Nelson are essentially Comedic Sociopaths, rather than characters one is expected to emulate, is apparently neither here nor there.
"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."
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.
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.
"Homerland", the Season 25 premiere, is a half-hour long 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.