In celebration of the 500th Episode of my favorite TV show of all-time, The Simpsons. I'm counting down my Top 40 favorite episodes.
#1: Bart Sells His Soul
October 8, 1995
PLOT: To prove a point, Bart sells his soul to Milhouse, then spends the night trying to get it back.
Couch Gag: The family drive around the room in go-karts, wearing fezzes. They line up in front of the couch and honk their horns simultaneously.
I wouldn't say that this episode being #1 is a controversial pick, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of lists when dealing with the best Simpsons' Episodes. The best I could find online is a #11 placing in a list made by WhatCulture! Matt Groening himself, however, counts this as his very favorite episode and it is mine as well.
Depth. That's what this episode offers. If you look back at my selections, you'll see that I hold dearly those episodes that bear a little more substance than the average Simpson episode, and to me, this one ranks above all the others. In this episode, the creative team decided to raise the existential question of what exactly a soul is and shows the great lengths Bart is willing to do to get it back; even though he doesn't really understand what it is either. That is what makes this episode so special.
Bart is an innocent child. Not innocent in a legal standpoint; he's as bratty as they come. Here, though, he is a scared 10-year-old boy looking to undo what he has done. It's an emotional turn we rarely get to see out of Bart, which makes his last chance plea to God all the more heartbreaking.
This isn't an overwrought sobfest, though. There are some truly classic comedic moments in this episode. The cold open - Bart changing the weekly hymn with "In a Gadda da Vida" - is one of the best in the history. Moe's b-story about turning his bar into a casual dining restaurant also has some great moments. (Owww. My freakin' ears!) But without a doubt, my favorite comedic moment of this episode happens when Bart finds Milhouse at his Grandma's house.
Milhouse: I'm really sorry... I kind of traded your soul to the guy at the comic book store. But look! I got some cool pogs:
Milhouse: Alf pogs! Remember Alf? He's back... in pog form!
It's just so ridiculous it still makes me laugh to this day.