There is a lot of controversy currently surrounding Disney’s cropping of The Simpsons for Disney+. Changing the aspect ratio of the show from its original means various visual jokes end up hidden away, therefore removing some great pieces of writing from our experience. We’ve been told they’re going to fix this problem going into 2020, but for now, you’re going to have to find your on-screen jokes elsewhere…
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With that in mind, there are also some great visual jokes that don’t actually get cropped at all. They’re just really, really funny. So funny, in fact, that we’ve gathered ten of the best visual jokes the show has ever produced and put them together.
10 In Case Of Ingestion…
Back in Season 9, The Simpsons was enjoying one of its many high points. The visual jokes were so far off the (good) end of the humor scale that it was hard to keep up. One of the more subtle yet brilliantly interwoven visual jokes came from “Lost Our Lisa.”
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Bart thought it a good idea to stick some things to his face, which Homer helps out with by giving him some “Etern-A-Bond’” superglue. When Marge looks at the tube, she turns it over to read: “In case of accidental ingestion, consult a mortician.”
9 All The Duff Is The Same
This might be the most famous example of Disney+ taking away one of our cherished visual jokes, as everything funny about the scene takes place at the very top of the frame. Homer is being shown around the Duff Brewery in the episode “Duffless” and is shown the tanks Duff, Duff Lite and Duff Dry are stored in. Only, there is one big tube connecting all three tanks, implying that they’re all exactly the same. Without this visual joke, we’re basically just seeing Homer get an actual, informative tour.
8 Hank Scorpio
Pretty much everything Hank Scorpio does is brilliant. He’s the central protagonist (or antagonist if you take the evil genius qualities into account) of the greatest episode of The Simpsons, “You Only Move Twice.” He parodies both Richard Branson and James Bond villains simultaneously and gives us unlimited visual jokes: he shoots a flame thrower while chatting to Homer, he sends a laser towards James Bond, and it is revealed that he managed to take over the entire East Coast of the USA.
7 The Angry Mob
In The Simpsons Movie, we were treated to an unexpected return to quality for a show widely known for its decline over the years. The 2007 film (will we get a sequel soon?) saw the family on the run from the government and Russ Cargill (who was originally supposed to actually be Hank Scorpio) after destroying Springfield and managing to escape. One of the main things that drove the family out is the angry mob who advanced upon their house.
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It seems pretty standard until you really pay attention. In the crowd, we see just about every familiar face possible holding a burning stick, including the usually lovely Martin Prince, the very religious Reverend Lovejoy, and law enforcers Chief Wiggum and Judge Snyder.
6 Nuke The Whales
One of the best Lisa-focused episodes in The Simpsons comes from Season 8 in an episode where she falls in love with Nelson Muntz. When we get to see the inside of Nelson’s house, we’re treated to an absolutely golden moment of visual hilarity. He has posters galore featuring truly offensive, despicable slogans that are completely in line with his bully personality. But the star of the show is right next to these posters: “Nuke the whales.” “Gotta nuke something,” as Nelson explains. The Simpsons definitely pushed the boundaries here, but the comedy of the site gag is that represents how truly terrible Nelson is.
5 No TV And No Beer Make Homer Something Something
One of The Simpsons’ eternal strengths is its gift for parody. In Season 6’s “Treehouse Of Horror V,” we get an entire segment dedicated to The Shining. Perfectly executed and absolutely hilarious throughout, it also delivers one of the most genuinely creepy visual jokes the show ever provided.
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Marge checks the typewriter to get a window into Homer’s mental state, but it just says ‘”Feelin Fine” before the lights crack on and the walls have “No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy” scrawled all over them. He seems to have forgotten his own insanity, though, and suggests to Marge that he was “thinking something along the lines of no TV and no beer make Homer something something.”
4 I 8 Sum Pi
While Season 26 isn’t exactly held in the highest regard for its writing quality, it still delivers some great one-liners. In the episode “Mathletes Feat,” a math equation is printed on a sign billed as math joke of the day, with the words “and it was delicious” underneath. The equation used (√-1 2^3 ∑ π) translates to I 8 sum pi, or, I ate some pie. Homer loves it, and anyone with a highly advanced mathematical brain will surely love it too.
3 The Bush
This visual joke might be one of the most famous moments to come out of any episode of The Simpsons. You’ve all seen the gif of Homer emerging slowly back into a bush.
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It’s become a household icon in the meme world for its relatability and evergreen ability to remain pretty much always funny. It comes from the Season 5 episode “Homer Loves Flanders,” and has its origin in Flanders lying to Homer to avoid hanging out. “Oh, okay,” Homer says before he disappears.
2 The Chalkboard Gags
Obviously, it is impossible to take this down to one choice as the chalkboard gags that open every episode of The Simpsons have become a cultural institution. As the camera zooms in on Springfield Elementary, we see Bart writing lines on the chalkboard. Some highlights have included “My butt does not deserve a website,” “World War II could not beat up World War I” and “I did not invent Irish dancing.” However, the chalkboard gag has also been used to apologize, or in one heart-breaking moment, mourn the death of Marcia Wallace, the voice of Mrs. Krabappel.
1 The Couch Gags
Another of The Simpsons’ cultural staples also comes from that classic opening in which the family all converge on their living room sofa. We’re treated to a new couch gag in almost every episode, with each one taking on a hilarious life of its own.
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These have ranged from the most used gag in which a circus line is formed and expands out into a huge performance featuring elephants, to simple moments that have depicted the family as zombies, skeletons, frogs, and even each other. There isn’t a visual joke in the world with as much notoriety and endurance as the couch gag.
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