The Simpsons Quote Tournament You Didn't Ask For (But You Need!)

The Simpsons have been making quite a bit of noise this past week. First, their 25th season began with a dull-as-fuck Homeland parody. Then, they announced they were going to kill someone, presumably to remind people that the show does in fact still exist. Then, it was announced that show would be picked up for a 26th season, presumably so we can understand what life would be like without whatever random character they decide to kill off (note: my money is on the "Just Stamp The Ticket" guy). But I found it hard to care about those things, because they relate to a mutated version of the show I once loved. Instead, I'd rather celebrate the show I love by remembering its peak years. That's why I proudly present the first annual Simpsons quote tournament!

So, why quotes and not episodes? Because we all know the winner would either be Last Exit To Springfield or Cape Feare, and screw that anti-climactic noise. So, I picked my 32 favorite quotes from the show (sorry, 64 was too nerdy even for my nerdy ass), and divided them into four groups. There's the Homer division (since he's the easily the most quotable Simpson), then there's the rest of the family. Moving away from the family, there's the Ralph Wiggum division (if you don't understand why Ralph quotes get their own bracket, you clearly do not watch The Simpsons), and a final group for the rest of Springfield. Now then, on with the show!

Homer Simpson Division

No. 1 "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try."

vs.

No. 8 "Yeah, you're right Moe. You're always Moe."


Already a great matchup! The best piece of advice Homer ever gave to his children goes up against my favorite Drunk Homer quote (plenty of other ones just missed the tourney). But while "you're always Moe" is one of my favorite quotes to throw out when I've had a few too many Skittlebraus, I have to go with "the lesson is never try." A brutally honest piece of advice that rings more true any of us want to admit.

No. 2 "It's a pornography store. I was buying pornography.

Vs.

No. 7 "Marge, you're my wife and I love you very much. But you're living in a world of make-believe. With flowers and bells and leprechauns, and magic frogs with funny little hats."

Another hum-dinger. Ok, the pornograhy store line is kind of tricky, because part of me thinks Castellaneta's delivery is has more to do with its brilliance than the dialogue itself. In the mean time, it was down to two sarcastic Homer rants, this one from Blood Feud, or the "look at me, I'm making people happy!" one from Flaming Moe's. I went with this one partly because it came first, but also, because I think it cracks me up just a teensy bit more. I want to give "funny little hats" the upset, but I just can't. The pornography store line is way too damn funny to go down in the first round. I mean, come on:

No. 3 "Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter."

Vs.

No. 6 "Batman's a scientist."

Ok, I cheated slightly here. the Batman line only works in its full context, which is:

"Homer! There's a man here who thinks he can help you!"

"BATMAN!?"

"No. He's a scientist."

"Batman's a scientist."

"IT'S NOT BATMAN!".

So yeah, I had to bend the rules slightly, if only to allow what might be the funniest exchange in Simpsons history into the tournament. And while the newsletter line is pretty funny, and it works brilliantly in message board fights, Batman makes it to the next round without much difficulty.

No 4. " I can't live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors - oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called "City Fathers" who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about "What's to be done with this Homer Simpson?"

Vs.

No. 5 "To alcohol - the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems!"

The toughest matchup of round one by far. The latter quote is one of the most famous lines of the show, to the point where it's been plastered on Simpson's merchandise right along with "eat my shorts" and "life begins at conception, man." On the other hand, it's going against the greatest Homer rant ever, and one of the best lines of any TV show. While Homer's description of alcohol is the more profound quote, I always thought its ubiquity led to it being slightly overrated. Plus, the "city fathers" rant makes me laugh a lot harder. It wins.

Homer division: Round 2

No. 1 "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try."

Vs.

No. 6 "Batman's a scientist."

That's right, we're doing this NHL-style! Re-seeding all the way. Anyway, as great as the entire "Batman's a scientist" exchange is, we'll be saying goodbye to it a little bit earlier than I expected. It's a hilarious line, mind you, but that's pretty much all it is. "The lesson is never try" is a hilarious line that also represents the honest belief of a man who has his spirit broken by reality, and forgets his sorrows with Duff Beer and Lard Lad Donuts. Some heavy shit there.

No. 2 "It's a pornography store. I was buying pornography.

Vs.

No 4. " I can't live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors - oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called "City Fathers" who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about "What's to be done with this Homer Simpson?"

HOLY FUCK I DIDN'T REALIZE IT WOULD BE THIS HARD! Ok, ok, ok, let's re-group. I LOVE the pornography store line. Especially because as silly as it is, Homer's logic actually works here - he can't let the insurance salesman know he was at a bar, and he crashed the car while he was drunk, so he creates a plausible excuse for a place called Moe's that's open at night - it's only his satisfaction with himself that makes him seem foolish. Still, that line works largely due to the delivery, where the "city fathers" rant is just a full-on brilliant piece of writing. So, as much as it hurts, we must say goodbye to "It's a pornography store. I was buying pornography." Although there is no change in my patrician facade, I can assure you my heart is breaking.

Homer bracket: The Finals!

No. 1 "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try."

Vs.

No 4. " I can't live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors - oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called "City Fathers" who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about "What's to be done with this Homer Simpson?"

Ok, this feels right. As brutal as the last round of eliminations were, I feel like these are the two greatest Homer Simpson lines of all-time. Now, it comes down to what matters more: the profound-while-still-hilarious "lesson is never try," or Homer's brilliant, possibly sugar-induced rant from "Lisa's Rival." Ugh, nothing is easy, but I just can't past the greatness of Homer flat-out telling his children that they shouldn't try. And he's not even being mean or bitter about it! He offers as the type of sage wisdom that we might here on Leave It To Beaver. It's Homer's masterpiece, and it'll take the rest of Springfield to top it.

Rest of The Simpson Family Division:

No. 1 "Sharing is a bunch of bull too. And helping others. And what's all this crap I've been hearing about tolerance?"

Vs.

No. 8 "You got the brains and the talent to go as far as you want. And when you do, I'll be right there to borrow money."


Remember Homer's newsletter from before? That was in response to this gem from Bart, in which he gives his Ayn Rand-esque thoughts on the role of charity in society. Ironically, it goes up against a much kinder Bart line, from when he takes the fall for Lisa, after she stole every teacher's edition (because that's what happens when you tell Lisa she should be a homemaker). As much as I love when Bart does something nice for his little sister, Cynical Bart is a lot funnier, and this is a fairly easy choice.

No. 2 "Church, cult, cult, church. So we get bored some place else every Sunday. Does this really effect our day-to-day lives?"

Vs.

No. 7 "I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me."


Grandpa Simpson describes the aging process in the most succinct manner I've ever heard. That "You're Getting Old" episode of South Park from a few years back has nothing on these two sentences. I love Bart's jaded view of organized religion, but Abe takes this one easily.

No. 3 Romance is dead - it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece."

Vs.

No. 6 "Well, I'm going to be a famous jazz musician. I've got it all figured out. I'll be unappreciated in my own country, but my gutsy blues stylings will electrify the French. I'll avoid the horrors of drug abuse, but I do plan to have several torrid love affairs, and I may or may not die young. I haven't decided."


Lisa quotes are a bit tricky - it's not there aren't some great ones, it's just that she tends to exist more as a tortured soul desperate for understanding than an assembly line of one-liners. Still, she gets more lines in than Marge, who I honestly couldn't find a single good quote for. As for these two quotes, it's Lisa at her most bitter versus Lisa at her most idealistic. And as with Bart, I'm taking the cynical side. This show really didn't pull punches in the early years, and I miss that.

No. 4 "Anyway, about my washtub...I just used it that morning to wash my turkey, which in those days was known as a "walking bird". We'd always have walking bird on Thanksgiving with all the trimmings: cranberries, injun eyes, yams stuffed with gunpowder. Then we'd all watch football, which in those days was called "baseball."

Vs.

No. 5 "We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere - like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you'd say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..."

The two best Grampa Simpson rants ever! Although, the one about Edison reciting the alphabet was a tough one to omit. Anyway, these two are pretty much dead even, but I'll go with the "onion on my belt" speech because I still enjoy ending sentences with "...which was the style at the time," and getting five bees for a quarter. It's just a slightly more memorable line - my stepdad is trying to quit smoking, and while I want to tease him about going Cold Walking Bird, he probably wouldn't know what I was talking about.

Rest of the Simpson family - round 2.

No. 1 "Sharing is a bunch of bull too. And helping others. And what's all this crap I've been hearing about tolerance?"

Vs.

No. 7 "I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me."

Bart speaks to our secret desire to be selfish, while Abe Simpson relates to our fear of being out of touch. These are both all-time classics, but I'll take Abe, because as with Homer's "the lesson is never try" line, Abe reminds us of the horror of aging - a loss of vitality, and a feeling that you just don't matter as much as you thought you did. Honestly, I'm 23, and this bracket is starting to scare the shit out of me.

No. 3 "Romance is dead - it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece."

Vs.

No. 5 "We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere - like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you'd say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..

You may have noticed that I tend to favor the deep quotes over the ones that are just funny. Well, not this time! Lisa's cynicism about modern romance is good, but can it hang with "gimme five bees for a quarter"? I think not!

Rest Of The Simpsons Bracket: The Finals!

"We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere - like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you'd say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..

No. 7 "I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me."


Two brilliant Grampa lines finish up this bracket. Honestly, both of these lines are flawless for completely different reasons, but I have to go with "with it" here if only because it represents the Simpsons' ability to describe the most depressing aspects of life in ways that are both succinct and hilarious. So, Grampa and his five bees will catch the ferry to Shelbyville, and we'll move on to the rest of Springfield.

Ralph Wiggum Division - Round 1

No. 1 - "My cat's breath smells like cat food."

Vs.

No. 8 "...and when there doctor said I didn't have worms any more, it was the happiest day of my life."


Fair warning: the analysis in this section might not be as deep as for the rest of the field. I mean, he's Ralph. He's a stupid kid who says stupid-genius things. How much more can you say? Anyway, I'll go with the cat food line because it's gloriously random, and yet, completely succinct. A well-deserved classic. Glad his worms are gone, though.

No. 2 "I bent my wookie."

Vs.

No. 7 "That's where I saw the leprechaun and he told me to burn things."


Anyone who has ever inadvertently damaged one of their Star Wars figurines can feel Ralph's pain here, but the leprechaun line is just a bit funnier. Plus, it gives us the hint that our naive simpleton might be a whole lot darker than we realized.

No. 3 "So....do you....like...stuff?"

Vs.

No. 6 "When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University."

As someone who was in high school once, and had many cringeworthy attempts to talk to girls, Ralph's attempt to carry on a conversation with Lisa hits a little close to home. But it can't compete with Ralph apparently thinking that Bovine University is an actual university. But hey, you're only calling us a cow college because we were founded by a cow!

No. 4 "Me fail English? That's unpossible!"

Vs.

No. 5 "Oh boy, sleep! That's where I'm a Viking!"


While "that's unpossible" is a highly quotable line, I always thought it was ever-so-slightly overrated. I mean, it works, sure, but it probably didn't require a great deal of thought. Ralph is dumb. He says something dumb. The viking line is a lot better, because there's more depth to it. I mean, does he dream about being a viking every night? One can only wonder.

Ralph Wiggum Division - Round 2

No. 1 "My cat's breath smells like cat food."

Vs.

No. 7 "That's where I saw the leprechaun and he told me to burn things!"


I love the cat food line as much as the next Simpsons geek who stays up until 6am writing a March Madness-style Simpsons-quote tournament, but the leprechaun gets it in a minor upset, if only because it's more inherently funny. The delivery of "my cat's breath smells like cat food" along with it's random placement in the episode make it so great. But the leprechaun is genius on it's own.

No. 5 "Oh boy, sleep. That's where I'm a viking!"

Vs.

No. 6 "When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!"

Fun fact: Both of these quotes are from the same episode, the immortal Lisa The Vegetarian. I'm not sure which quote leaves me with more questions. I'm trying to picture Ralph's nightly viking dreams, but the thought of an accredited Bovine University, presumably with Cow Professors and Cow Students tickle my funny bone just a little bit more. Bovine University takes it a close one. Go fightin' Steers!

Ralph Wiggum Division - Final Round

No. 6 "When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!"

Vs.

No. 7 "That's where I saw the leprechaun and he told me to burn things"


Bovine University emerges victorious here, if only because the leprechaun line seems just a tiny bit out of character, brilliant though it is. See, as The Simpsons sunk into the abyss of its later years, they started trying too hard to have Ralph say crazy shit, so they lost touched with his original character, basically turning him completely insane. The implication that Ralph has an imaginary leprechaun friend who tells him to commit arson was the first sign of that. It worked in this instance, but it was a harbinger of bad things to come.

Rest of Springfield Division

No. 1 "I don't know you, but I'm sure you're a jerk!"

Vs.

No. 8 "That anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one who would go to jail. That's democracy for you."

If you need a brief refresher, the first line is what Flanders to says to Lenny when he loses his shit in Hurricane Neddy, while the ladder comes from Mr. Burns after his inability to swallow a piece of Blinky derails his gubernatorial campaign. Anyway, while I love Burns at his most evil, Flanders gets the edge here, because his line is a bit more versatile. Burns displays the anger a billionaire tycoon feels on the rare occasion he doesn't get his way, Flanders displays the anger most of us feel at least once a day.

No. 2 "The year was 1968. We were on recon in a steaming Mekong delta. An overheated private removed his flack jacket, revealing a T-shirt with an ironed-on sporting the MAD slogan "Up with Mini-skirts!". Well, we all had a good laugh, even though I didn't quite understand it. But our momentary lapse of concentration allowed "Charlie" to get the drop on us. I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew made of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right!"

Vs.

No. 7 "Talking out of turn... That's a paddlin’. Looking out the window... That's a paddlin’. Staring at my sandals... That's a paddling. Paddling the school canoe...ooh, you better believe that's a paddlin’."

So, what's funnier? The fact that Skinner can survive a POW camp just fine, but not being able to find that stew haunts him to this day, or the fact that Jasper apparently thinks there's a "school canoe." I'll go with Skinner, but it's surprisingly close. Also, I want to try some that stew pretty fucking bad myself. Four kinds of rice!

No. 3 "Dude! You kissed a girl!" "That is so gay!"

Vs.

No. 6 "I'd rather let a thousand guilty men go free than chase after them."

Okay, I'm cheating a little here by including an exchange between two characters, but I had no choice - it's just so fucking perfect! The idiocy of homophobia laid bare in five seconds. As for the second quote, it's a bit of a wild card, but I think it's the quintessential Chief Wiggum line. Still, it can't hang with Dolph and Jimbo.

No. 4 "I don't believe in nothin' no more! I'm goin' to law school!"

Vs.

No. 5 "What say we take a relaxed attitude toward work and watch the baseball game? The NY Mets are my favorite squadron."

Apu attempting to act American - and sounding more foreign than ever - consistently cracks me up, but Jimbo's law school bit has a slighter larger place in my heart. I love that Jimbo's mind, there's no bigger sell-out than law school. But maybe it'll work out. Bullies need lawyers too, right?

Rest of Springfield Bracket - Round 2

No. 1 - "I don't know you, but I'm sure you're a jerk!"

Vs.

No. 4 "I don't believe in nothin' no more, I'm goin' to law school!"


Sadly, Jimbo's journey ends as quickly as it began. I just love Flanders' line so much. In his vitriolic rage at the entire town, he's managed to give a motto to our paranoid, angry society. We don't know you - but we're sure you're a jerk! A brilliant line that doesn't get enough respect. I'm giving it its due here.

No. 2 "The year was 1968. We were on recon in a steaming Mekong delta. An overheated private removed his flack jacket, revealing a T-shirt with an ironed-on sporting the MAD slogan "Up with Mini-skirts!". Well, we all had a good laugh, even though I didn't quite understand it. But our momentary lapse of concentration allowed "Charlie" to get the drop on us. I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew made of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right!"

Vs.

No. 3 "Dude! You kissed a girl!" "That is so gay!"

Funniest things about Skinner's rant:

1. How tasty the stew sounds.

2. Not being able to find the stew torments him more than being in the POW camp

3. He's so sexually repressed he doesn't get the "up with mini-skirts" joke.

4. THEY JUST CAN'T GET THE SPICES RIGHT

It just works on so many levels. the bullies can't hope to compete.

Rest of Springfield - Final Round

No. 1 "I don't know you, but I'm sure you're a jerk!"

Vs.

No. 2 "The year was 1968. We were on recon in a steaming Mekong delta. An overheated private removed his flack jacket, revealing a T-shirt with an ironed-on sporting the MAD slogan "Up with Mini-skirts!". Well, we all had a good laugh, even though I didn't quite understand it. But our momentary lapse of concentration allowed "Charlie" to get the drop on us. I spent the next three years in a POW camp, forced to subsist on a thin stew made of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. I came close to madness trying to find it here in the States, but they just can't get the spices right!"

For all the praise I just heaped on Skinner's rant, it goes down here. Look, it's an amazing piece of writing, but in terms of quotability, and relatability, you have to go with Flanders. I doubt anyone has ever recited the Skinner rant in its entirety in a casual conversation, while people probably say or think "I don't know you, but I'm sure you're a jerk!" all the time without even realizing it's a Simpsons quote. It's a better representation of our collective attitude than we want to admit. To the final four it goes!

The Final Four

Simpson Family Bracket

No. 1 "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try."

Vs.

No. 7 "I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was. Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me."


Two generations of Simpson men give us some bleak-ass shit here! Homer gets the nod over his dad, because, frankly, his line is a lot more depressing. I mean, getting old and out of touch is a bummer, but it's not the worst thing ever. Homer, on the other hand, has lost any ambition whatsoever, and he seems better off that way. Ouch.

Non-Simpson Bracket - Final Round

No. 1 "I don't know you, but I'm sure you're a jerk!

Vs.

No. 6 "When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University"

Poor Ralph. Poor sweet, naive, innocent Ralph. His childlike sense of wonder could never hope to match up to the gritty realism of Hurricane Neddy. Flanders by a mile. On to the final!

Final Round

No. 1: "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try."

Vs.

No. 1 "I don't know you, but I'm sure you're a jerk!"

As you may have guessed by now, I have a fondness for this show's misanthropic qualities. And as such, we have Homer and his arch-nemesis Stupid Flanders with some equally dark quotes in our final match-up. This was a tough decision, but Homer gets it. Not because it's the better-known ine, or even because it's funnier, but really, because it's more depressing. Remember, Flanders said what he said out of extreme anger - he just lost his home, and he'd been repressing about five decades' worth of rage (remember, he's 60, and that episode showed him as a child). So, y'know...Flanders probably didn't mean that. But Homer? He's perfectly content. He's discovered that trying is useless, and he passes that advice down to his children. And really, who's never related to this quote from time to time? There have been plenty of times where I've reflected on a personal failure by remembering this line, and each time, it was met with a mixture of laughter and tears. In our darkest moments, we wonder why we even bother. The human race is not as hopeless as Homer, but we can certainly understand his plight. And that's why "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try." is the best Simpsons quote ever.

Oh, one more thing, just in case any serious Simpsons wonks read this. Technically, the actual line as delivered by Homer is "You tried your best and you both failed miserably. The lesson is never try." I removed the word "both" because it made the line more universal, and frankly, I don't think that words adds anything to the line, other than letting you know he was saying it to Bart and Lisa. Eliminating the word "both" was an editorial decision. So just be cool about it.

Wait, one other thing: No, I don't have a girlfriend.