The Simpsons have such a biting wit, they don’t just observe human foibles – they skewer them. Over 28 seasons (and counting) The Simpsons have made some scathing accusations about some of our worst qualities. Here is a collection of memorable Simpsons quotes that are sadly truer than we’d like them to be, even more so decades after many were first uttered.
15. “It takes two to lie. One to lie, and one to listen.”
I always thought Homer was throwing Marge under the bus here, but it turns out to be true. The liar is certainly the most active wrongdoer, but the people who let lies go unchecked play a role in its escalation. That’s how we get to a place where Sinbad starred in a genie movie and political events like Bowling Green and Sweden are invented whole cloth.
14. “As long as everybody is videotaping everybody else, justice will be done.”
This quote is in reference to a babysitter accusing Homer of sexual harassment. Homer is cleared by a videotape filmed by Groundskeeper Willie that showed what actually happened. Surely inspired by the Rodney King video, this quote shed light on the irony of video evidence’s deteriorating value.
13. “Most of you will never fall in love, and marry out of fear of dying alone.”
Poor Mrs. Krabappel keeping it real. She actually did find love with Ned Flanders, but she may be right about the rest of us. Have you seen Tinder?
12. “If you can reach just one girl, that’s not enough.”
In “Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy,” Lisa teams up with the original Stacy to make a more empowering doll for women. In the end, the Malibu Stacy company releases another assembly line doll with a new hat. Only one girl in the toy store picks up a Lisa Lionheart doll, and Lisa muses that if they reached one little girl, it was all worth it. Stacy hits back with the reality, “Particularly if that little girl happens to pay $46,000 for that doll.” These days it seems truer than ever. The onslaught of propaganda and divisiveness on social media and television seems insurmountable. Changing just one mind only casts another soul adrift in the sea of noise.
11. “But surely you can’t put a price on family.”
“I wouldn’t have thought so either, but here we are.”
This comes from the episode “The Cartridge Family” where Homer ends up buying a gun. It all starts when the Simpsons try to buy a security system but cannot afford it. The salesman pleads with Homer that his family is priceless and Homer is as surprised as anyone that he’s just not phased by that. Sadly, there are practical matters to consider. We may want to give our loved ones anything, but supply and demand have driven up some basic needs higher than many can afford. Just look at health care.
10. “Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.”
Everyone tries to have it all, a successful career and a thriving personal life. Reality, unfortunately, sees people who step on others and shut people out get rewarded frequently. I’ve still got hope for this one. We don’t all have to be Mr. Burns.
9. “Never help anyone”
This is The Simpsons’ version of “No good deed goes unpunished.” Lisa thought she could be a positive influence on Mr. Burns. Instead, he took her environmentalism and used it to be an even more ruthless danger to the environment. Homer’s advice is rather blunt, but we could all do well to use a little caution and make sure we help the right people.
8. “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”
Homer’s motto, right? Actually, he tries something new every week, but here he’s trying to console Bart and Lisa when they fail at auditions to be Burns’ heir (long story). Unfortunately, a lot of people are so scared of failure that they take Homer’s advice. Don’t listen to Homer! You strike out every time you don’t get up to bat! 80% of success is showing up!
7. “Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain.”
Sadly, the older you get, the more you realize Homer is right. The human brain is an incredible machine, but it has its limits, unless you’re Marlo Thomas. We should never stop learning, but it’s too bad we don’t get to choose which tidbits we can delete to make room for the new ones.
6. “Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true. Facts schmacts.”
Homer said this long before the “post-fact” age was upon us. Now facts as major as evidence of climate change or as petty as how many people attended an inauguration are dismissed. Stephen Colbert satirized it as “truthiness” – when you look it up in your gut instead of in a book. He was joking but the age of alternative facts is upon us.
5. “I’m not popular enough to be different.”
Every once in awhile, an artist like Lady Gaga or Prince can be so beloved that they have the license to be flamboyant. The rest of us don’t have that luxury, although in this episode, Homer wearing a pink shirt to work landed him in an asylum where he met Michael Jackson.
4. “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.”
This! The idea that if someone doesn’t agree with you, it means they don’t understand. No, sometimes people just don’t give a damn, and that’s okay.
3. “I love legitimate theater” (A Fish Called Selma, season 7 episode 19)
Homer makes this remark during a Planet of the Apes musical starring Troy McClure. At the time it must have seemed outrageous. Doesn’t seem so far-fetched now that there’s been Legally Blonde, Rocky, The Bodyguard, Bring It On, Newsies and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Not to mention smaller companies putting on Re-Animator, Evil Dead and Fellowship! I do love legitimate theater.
2. “As long as you’re on TV people will respect you.” (Bart the Fink, season 7, episode 15)
Bart says this to make Krusty feel better when he’s busted for tax evasion. In the episode, Krusty has to fake his death to be redeemed. These days, tax evasion is nothing. People on TV have been forgiven for adultery, spousal abuse and even things we don’t want to print here.
1. “You don’t win friends with salad.”
It’s true. You don’t.