Now that we already know when every single episode in FXX’s 25-season (and one movie) marathon of The Simpsons is going to air, it’s time for us to start cherry-picking our favorites for the sake of not clogging our DVRs. While my colleague Josh has already touched on some of the most important episodes for any real die-hard Simpsons fan, I’m more interested in catching all of the best star-packed episodes that feature A- and B-list celebrity cameos, because it’s always fascinating to see how many famous people paid visits to Springfield over the years. Some have been frequent visitors while others were seen and then never heard from again, but the show was always at its best when the biggest celebrities brought their friends.
In fact, The Simpsons Movie (Aug. 29 at 6 PM ET) ended up having too many celebrity cameos, because appearances by Edward Norton, Minnie Driver, Isla Fisher and Erin Brockovich ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor, and even Kelsey Grammer’s Sideshow Bob contributions were left out, according to the film’s DVD commentary. Fortunately, the show’s individual episodes didn’t have to worry about axing famous voices for the sake of time, and the celebrity Simpsons cameo ended up becoming a staple of pop culture, like hosting Saturday Night Live or sleeping with Lindsay Lohan.
Longtime, devoted fans of the series obviously don’t need to be told that The Simpsons had a ton of celebrity guests along the way, but believe it or not there are people out there who have never watched an episode of this beloved show. Hell, I live with one. So consider this another cheat sheet for the fans who plan to set their DVRs accordingly come Thursday at 10 AM ET and a primer for any potential newcomers who want to dive in head first to catch their favorite celebrities in animated action.
Single Star Episodes of Note
As I mentioned, Josh has previously the most important episodes that every Simpsons fan should already be looking forward to, so I’m going to try hard not to repeat those by only including multiple-star episodes, but these solo celebrity appearances are favorites of mine that need inclusion:
Stark Raving Dad (Season 3, 1992) – Aug. 22, 3:30 AM ET
My friends and I used to meet before school on Monday mornings so we could talk about The Simpsons and In Living Color, and I still remember talking about this episode, because nobody ever thought that it was actually Michael Jackson playing Leon Kompowsky. After all, the credits showed that “John Jay Smith” provided the voice, but it was Jackson all along.
Bart’s Girlfriend (Season 6, 1994) – Aug. 23, 4:30 PM ET
Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voices of Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz and Ralph Wiggum, among others, told a story about the time that Streep showed up to record her lines as Rev. Lovejoy’s daughter. Cartwright wanted the actress’s autograph was too shy and/or intimidated to ask because it was, you know, Meryl-f*cking-Streep, but when the day’s work was done, Streep asked Cartwright for her autograph because “her kids were great Simpson fans and she would be in big trouble if she did not get Cartwright’s autograph.”
Bart the Mother (Season 10, 1998) – Aug. 25, 4:30 PM ET
This was the final appearance of Phil Hartman and the retirement of Troy McClure. Hartman appeared on the show 52 times, more than any other celebrity to this day, and 25 times more than Joe “Fat Tony” Mantegna, who is in second place. I just don’t want this one to catch us all off guard when it airs, because I’m sad just thinking about it.
As for the celebritypaloozas…