I know this feels like nitpicking, because The Simpsons has been on for so long and changed so much that it’s impossible for it not to have made some mistakes. But some episodes contain contradictions or characters behaving so weirdly that it’s impossible to not be irritated by them FOREVER (okay, maybe “impossible” is a bit of strong word, but you get it). Here are some Simpsons episodes that are particularly egregious examples of these kinds of screw-ups:
Principal Skinner, “The Principal & The Pauper”
One of the top two most loathed episodes, “Principal Skinner, The Principal & The Pauper” is the one where we find out that the man we thought was Seymour Skinner was, in fact, born Armin Tamzarian, a formerly troubled street youth who stole the identity of his supposedly dead commander in the military. When the real Skinner returned, fake Skinner became a motorcycle-riding street tough again, until everyone decided they hated the real Skinner and just wanted to go back to the way things were. Sound complicated/dumb? It was (although it still had some good jokes).
Smithers, “Homer’s Odyssey”
Smithers is not black, and yet here he is in his first appearance on the show, looking every bit the African American goth kid (is that who dyes their hair blue now? Goth kids? It’s been so long…) They made the decision right after this episode to make him yellow skinned/Caucasian, but the alternate reality Smithers of “Homer’s Odyssey” still haunts all of our dreams, as we wonder what might have been.
Ralph, “Lisa’s Pony”
In this scene out of “Lisa’s Pony”, Ralph and his friend make some comments about Lisa’s beauty/glory that modern Ralph would never be able to make with his… level of intelligence.
Homer, “Homer Simpson In: ‘Kidney Trouble'”
As the series went on, Homer seemed to grow more dumb and more cruel, as opposed to just clueless and maybe a little self-centered. As probably the apex of his cruelty, “Homer Simpson In: ‘Kidney Trouble'” features the Simpsons patriarch refusing to stop the car so Grandpa can go to the bathroom, and because of this, Grandpa develops a bad kidney problem. Homer is a donor match, but flees the hospital at the last second twice. Grandpa only gets Homer’s kidney after Homer is crushed by a car and in the hospital anyway. Even for Homer, this is pretty extreme in its maliciousness towards his father, whose pain he caused himself.
Sideshow Bob, “Brother From Another Series”
This is the only episode where Sideshow Bob goes COMPLETELY reformed. Sure, he has opportunities at various points to kill Bart that he does not take advantage of, but in “Brother From Another Series”, Bob not only never plots any evil deeds, but is himself the one who makes the altruistic decision to (they think at the time) give up his life to save everyone in Springfield. It just seems strange that, in no other episode, Sideshow Bob seems incapable of malice, and he is evil again in many episodes after this one.
Bart, “Homer Defined” and “Summer of 4 ft 2”
These two episodes actually stand in direct contrast to each other — in “Homer Defined”, Marge has to beg Milhouse’s mom to let Milhouse keep being friends with Bart. One of the reasons she gives is that Bart and Milhouse are really the only friends they have. But in “Summer of 4 ft 2”, Bart is portrayed as maybe the most popular person in Springfield — literally the entire school wants him to autograph their yearbooks. Bart being bullied by Nelson, Jimbo, etc. seem to point towards him being more of the former than the later, but nonetheless, I want a proper handle on Bart’s legacy, dammit!
Homer & Marge’s Marriage, “That ’90s Show”
Seasons 3, 4, and 5 feature the vast majority of the stories about the early years of Marge and Homer’s relationship/marriage, and they were widely accepted as canon. Then this episode came along, and established itself as maybe the MOST loathed episode the show ever did. Marge considers leaving Homer for her gender studies teacher and Homer starts a grunge band. What is this crap?! The only band Homer was in was the Be Sharps, and Homer and Marge dated in the seventies, not the miserable nineties. Just end the show if its long run is creating such big continuity problems that you feel the need to destroy some of the most beloved stories the show ever told!