Your handy viewing guide to military episodes of The Simpsons
To give some perspective, The Simpsons is older than Operation Desert Storm. Troops who enlisted when the show started are able to retire from the armed forces now. After 27 seasons, a show known for its originality is bound to have some characters join the military, develop veteran characters, or otherwise live out some military-related mayhem.
The Simpsons hometown of Springfield is located near a historic battlefield site, where (apparently) during the Civil War, Fort Springfield saw a bit of the action.
But when the government closed Fort Springfield in the modern day, it forced a lot of local businesspeople to pack up their trades and services and move to places where their services would be more popular.
The military was central to many more episodes and it started in the first season with Bart the General. Since then, Homer and his friends have joined the Navy, Grandpa recalled his WWII exploits, Bart was an unwitting recruiting tool for the Navy, Lisa visited a “Dodgers of Foreign Wars” office in Canada, Maggie was shown to be an expert marksman, and Principal Skinner hinted at dark periods in Vietnam.
Bart the General – Season 1, Episode 5
After Bart defends Lisa from bully Nelson Muntz at school, Bart takes her place as Nelson’s favorite target. When Bart becomes sick of getting beaten up every day, he enlists the help of Grandpa Simpson and an unbalanced military antique store owner named Herman Hermann.
Bart organizes the kids of the schoolyard to fight Nelson and his bully friends (who are not Jimbo, Dolph, or Kearny) with a massive, nonstop barrage of water balloons. Nelson surrenders to Bart’s forces and signs a treaty ending hostilities between them.
Best Line – Abe Simpson: “Bart, you can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff, you can send them off to die on some God-forsaken rock, but for some reason, you can’t slap them.”
Bart vs. Australia – Season 6, Episode 16
Bart makes prank calls to Australia and is forced to go there in person to apologize. While there, they stay at the American embassy.
Best Line: Bruno Dundridge: “Hey, you’re just some punk kid, aren’t you? Well, you picked the wrong guy to tangle with, mate!”
Bart: “I don’t think so. You’re all the way over in Australia. Hey, I think I hear a dingo eating your baby.”
Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming – Season 7, Episode 9
Bart’s nemesis Sideshow Bob escapes from a prison work detail on a local Air Force Base. While the base is being cleaned for an air show, Bob dresses up like the base commander and sneaks into a top secret area to steal a 10-megaton nuclear weapon.
Bob demands Springfield give up television completely or face a nuclear explosion. The town complies until Krusty the Clown finds a Civil Defense shed and uses the transmitter to gain 100% of the audience. Bob’ detonates the bomb, but it’s a dud, so he steals the Wright Brothers’ original plane an launches a kamikaze attack on Bob’s shed, keeping Bart as a hostage. The attack is also a dud and Bob is arrested again.
Best Line – Abe Simpson: “You’re ignorant! That’s the Wright Brothers’ plane! At Kitty Hawk in 1903, Charles Lindbergh flew it 15 miles on a thimble full of corn oil. Single-handedly won us the civil war, it did!”
Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish’ – Season 7, Episode 22
In this episode we learn about Grandpa Simpson’s World War II service. His unit, the Flying Hellfish, included Mr. Burns and a few other guys from Springfield. They found some valuable paintings in Germany, locked them away, and established a tontine. The last person alive from their unit would inherit the riches.
Mr. Burns and Abe Simpson are the only two left, and Mr. Burns keeps trying to kill Grandpa. With Homer’s help, they resolve to get the treasure before Burns does. Bart retrieves the treasure from its undersea hiding place, but is intercepted by Burns. They chase Burns to shore only to be caught by the police and the paintings returned to their rightful owner.
Best Line –
Homer: “Maybe it’s time we put Grandpa in a home.”
Lisa: “You already put him in a home.”
Bart: “Maybe it’s time we put him in one where he can’t get out.”
The Secret War of Lisa Simpson – Season 8, Episode 25
In response to Bart’s latest prank, Marge and Homer trick him into the car by telling him they’re going to Disneyland. Instead, he’s shipped off to military school. Lisa decides to go against the academy tradition and attend alongside Bart. She likes the structure and tough curriculum of the Rommelwood Military School, but is immediately rejected by the all-male cadre of students as the first female attendee.
Bart is a “born soldier” but Lisa struggles with the physical aspects of the training. The last test of the academy is a challenge called “The Eliminator,” which Lisa dreads but must finish. Bart helps train her in secret. When Lisa almost falls off during the test, Bart is the only one who encourages her and she finished second grade. She passes and Marge and Homer tell them they’re going to Disneyland, they get in the car to find out they’re just going to the dentist.
Best Line – Range Instructor [to Bart]: “Since you’ve already attended public school, we’re assuming you’ve already had experience with small arms. So we’re gonna give you something a little more advanced.”
The Principal and the Pauper – Season 9, Episode 2
Widely regarded as one of the worst episodes ever made and later completely ignored by the canon of the show, this episode features war movie legend Martin Sheen as the real Principal Skinner, and the man we know as Principal Skinner named Armin Tamzarian who assumed Skinner’s identity after Vietnam when he couldn’t break the news to his mother that Skinner died.
Armin is convinced to return to Springfield after every one in town realizes they don’t care for the real Sgt. Skinner, whom the residents tie to a chair and put on a train out of town. The local judge orders the fake Skinner to resume his identity theft and order everyone never to talk about it again.
Best Line – Homer [In his mind, after Skinner says he’s a fraud]: “Keep looking shocked… and move slowly towards the cake.”
Simpson Tide – Season 9, Episode 19
After causing a meltdown trying to mutate a doughnut into a giant doughnut in the plant’s reactor core, Homer decides to enlist in the Navy Reserve after seeing a recruiting ad on TV. Moe, Barney, and Apu join him. They soon graduate from the Naval academy and are placed aboard a nuclear submarine in a war games exercise, under the command of Captain Tenille.
The captain likes Homer and leaves him in command when he goes to check a torpedo hatch. Another sub fires on Homer’s and Homer accidentally fires Captain Tenille back at them. Homer accidentally leads the sub to Russian waters and the U.S. interprets this as a mutiny with intent to defect. The Russian government reveals they’ve secretly been the Soviet Union the whole time and the sub incident almost leads to nuclear war. After the incident Homer receives a dishonorable discharge.
Best Line – Homer: “You can’t spell ‘dishonorable’ without ‘honorable.‘”
New Kids on the Blecch – Season 12, Episode 14
A music producer discovers Bart, Nelson, Milhouse, and Ralph Wiggum’s musical abilities and sets them up as the next hot boy band, Party Posse. Their first single is called Drop Da Bomb. The song has a strange lyric as the hook: Yvan Eht Nioj.
Lisa discovers the video contains subliminal messages to get people to join the Navy, which is just Yvan Eht Nioj backward. The band is a Navy recruiting operation, Project Boy Band. N’Sync guest stars in the episode and explains how the Navy protects people every day. They then give JC Chasez to the Navy as an enlistee.
This is the episode that either made people believe The Simpsons predicted the Arab Spring uprising in Syria OR that the show and the Syrian Civil War is part of a larger, Western, anti-Muslim conspiracy. The reason is because a flag shown on the side of a vehicle in one of Party Posse’s music videos looks a lot like the Free Syrian Army flag.
Best Line – Homer: “It doesn’t mean anything, it’s like ‘Rama Lama Ding Dong’ or ‘Give Peace a Chance.’”
The Bart of War – Season 14, Episode 21
Because of some of Bart’s badder behavior, Marge establishes a teen group called Pre-Teen Braves, based on Native American culture. The group includes Bart, Ralph Wiggum, Nelson, and Database. Homer starts out as leader, but Marge soon takes over because of Homer’s leadership failures. With the help of a Mohican man, they are inspired to clean up a field, but find another group, called the Cavalry Kids have already done it. The Cavalry Kids are led by Kirk van Houten, and include Milhouse, Martin Prince and Jimbo Jones.
This inspires a race to see who can do the most community service work, and when the Braves keep the Cavalry from getting to Springfield Isotopes Stadium on time to be bat boys for the team, the Braves take their place, and a battle ensues over singing the national anthem. The Sea Captain suggests they stop fighting and sing a nation anthem of peace, so the crowd sings “O Canada.”
Best Line – “War is not the answer, except to all of America’s problems.”
The Wettest Stories Ever Told – Season 17, Episode 18
This episode is three short stories depicting the citizens of Springfield in three classic ocean-going tales. The second of these is a retelling of the Mutiny on the Bounty, featuring Principal Skinner as the Bounty’s Captain Bligh, and Bart as Master’s Mate and chief mutineer Fletcher Christian.
Like the old story goes, the crew was given treatment much different from what they expected and so they mutiny, going instead to an island of natives and marrying into the tribe while setting Captain Bligh and his bosun adrift.
Best Line – Captain Bligh: “First of all, in an effort to save water, you will no longer be given any water. And because of a drawing of myself having a romantic congress with a merman… (the crew laughs)… I am dumping all your mail out to sea.”
G.I. D’oh- Season 18, Episode 5
Army recruiters try to recruit Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney but they realize that the teenagers of Springfield are too smart to want to join the Army, so they go to Springfield Elementary School to trick kids into signing Delayed Entry Program so when they are old enough, they will automatically be enlisted. Marge is horrified and she sends Homer to the recruiter. Homer forces them to tear up Bart’s pre-enlistment contract, but they convince him to join instead.
Homer’s Colonel hates him and assigns him to the opposing forces team during an upcoming war game. OPFOR is filled with undesirable recruits and the Army uses actual ammo instead of blanks with the intent to kill the OPFOR. Homer and his forces escape to Springfield during the exercise and the Army orders an invasion of the town, declaring martial law.
The Colonel starts detaining all men who are “Fat, or bald, or have ever been amused by the antics of Homer Simpson.” Marge leads an insurgency against the occupiers. She spikes the town reservoir with alcohol, resulting an a hangover which makes the Colonel surrender.
Best Line(s) –
Marge: “Homer, our son joined the army!”
Homer: “Yeah, big deal. By the time Bart is 18, we’re gonna control the world… We’re China, right?”
Principal Skinner: “I’d do anything for my beloved Army.”
Army Recruiter: “How about re-enlisting?”
Principal Skinner: “How about you bite me?“