From his blue collar relatability to his endearing stupidity to his huge heart, no one has made millions of TV viewers laugh, cry, or otherwise feel something genuine as much as Homer J. Simpson. Strong cases have been made for Walter White and Tony Soprano, but there’s no denying the greatest TV character of all time: it’s Homer.
Not only that, he’s also one of the most quoted. Over three decades and more than 600 episodes, America’s dumbest dad has racked up hundreds of brilliant, heart-warming, rib-tickling quotes. We’ve whittled them down to the 15 greatest Homer Simpson quotes. Enjoy.
15. “You’ll have to speak up, I’m wearing a towel.”
This is a fantastic quote, because there’s no correlation at all between how clearly you can hear someone on the phone and wearing a towel. It’s so random that it’s hilarious. The sense of humor is so wonderfully absurdist. The Simpsons adopted that style around season 5.
The first couple of seasons were basically just a regular sitcom about normal, family situations. And now, you could argue it doesn’t know what it is anymore, becoming a blend of Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, South Park, and all the other animated shows it initially predated.
But between about season 4 and season 8, The Simpsons reached the sweet spot between relatable family situations and ridiculous non-sequiturs. It became classic comedy, hailed by some as the greatest US TV show ever.
14. “Forget it, Marge, it’s Chinatown.”
The writers on the Simpsons are some of the most pop culture-savvy hacks in TV. The full version of the quote goes like this:
“Look Marge, you don’t know what it’s like – I’m the one out there every day putting his ass on the line. And I’m not out of order. You’re out of order. The whole freakin’ system is out of order. You want the truth? You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth. ‘Cause when you reach over and put your hand into a pile of goo that was your best friend’s face, you’ll know what to do. Forget it, Marge, it’s Chinatown.”
It gives us a glimpse into the workings of Homer’s madness. He starts off by saying what he wants to say, and then he goes off on a Homer-style tangent by veering into completely irrelevant quotes from four classic movies: …And Justice for All, A Few Good Men, Patton, and Chinatown.
He always has rants like these and carries them on so far that by the time he’s done, Marge has forgotten what she was originally mad about (as has the audience). It’s an interesting tactic.
13. “I think it was called The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down.”
In the episode “The Springfield Files,” The Simpsons meets The X-Files. When Homer spots an alien in the woods, Scully and Mulder head into town to investigate.
But the best pop culture reference in the episode has nothing to do with The X-Files at all. It’s a reference Homer makes to the ‘90s action thriller Speed — starring Keanu Reeves in a breakout role, it grossed over $350 million at the worldwide box office.
Homer remembered everything about the movie except its title: “I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to speed around the city, keeping its speed over fifty, and if its speed dropped, the bus would explode! I think it was called The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down.”
12. “Where’s the ‘Any’ key?”
Becoming dangerously obese, Homer switched his white shirts and blue pants out for big, floral ponchos. He is classified as legally disabled and finally manages to accomplish his dream of working from home With the TV by his side all day, he’s rejoices about not having to deal with Mr. Burns’ crap ever again.
Thinking he’s on Easy Street, he then turns on his computer to start working. We get an early warning sign of his incompetence in doing this. The computer reads, “to start, press any key.” Homer takes that a little too literally and asks, “where’s the ‘any’ key?” This was never going to end well…
11. “I’ve learned that life is one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead.”
This quote is a great insight into the way Homer’s mind works. Here’s a guy who’s made peace with his circumstances. Homer has been put through the ringer a few good times — getting his head caught in the middle of a drawbridge and run over by various cars, falling down a giant gorge (twice), getting kicked in the face and then lost at sea.
He shares the sad truth he’s learned from these experiences. And then he injects an insult directed at Ned Flanders. He always manages to get a Flanders diss in there. Homer hates Flanders because Flanders deals with these crushing defeats well.
Simpson despises him, customers at the mall exploit his good nature, and he’s lost his wife. Still, Ned follows the example of Job and never lets his trials shake his faith or get him down. Homer had a choice between being inspired changing his outlook on life — or just channelling his frustration into hatred. Clearly, he chose the latter.
10. “If you wish me to eat them instead, please give me no sign whatsoever…Thy will be done.”
In just one short prayer, Homer managed to get the basics of Christianity completely wrong. He started off with good intentions, praying to God as a thanks for some good fortunes that have been coming his way. “Dear Lord,” he says, “the gods have been good to me.” Right away, he’s gotten it wrong, since Christians only believe in one God.
Next, Homer gets God confused with Santa Claus when he says, “as an offering, I present these milk and cookies.” Then asks, “if you wish me to eat them instead, please give me no sign whatsoever.” After a quick pause, and of course no sign, Homer says, “thy will be done.” He munches on the cookies, convinced of God’s will.
9. “If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”
Homer has never tried to hide his impeccably lazy nature from his children. He’s never made any attempt to shelter them from the brutal realities of the world and steer them toward a life of optimism and success.
But he has never laid it out as blatantly or succinctly as he does in this quote from the 1995 episode “The PTA Disbands.” When teachers strike at Springfield Elementary School, Marge fills in for Mrs. Krabappel — Bart’s class. That, of course, opened the door to many hilarious shenanigans involving the mother-son team.
Still, Homer shined with one of his greatest quotes — a less patriotic, perhaps more truthful “American way” than the one gun-toting, birther Trump supporters spout about.
8. “Save me, Jebus!”
In “Missionary: Impossible,” Homer Simpson pledges $10,000 to PBS. He never intends to honor that promise and lands in a lot of trouble.
He goes on the run and becomes a Christian missionary in the South Pacific. As he’s flown out to help needy villagers, he cries out, “save me, Jebus!” proving that he’s perhaps the most unfit person to bring the word of Jesus Christ to a third world country.
Popular amongst fans, this quote does have detractors. Critic Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide called the writers’ decision to have Homer mispronounce Jesus as Jebus an “inane” idea. Still, it’s very funny.
7. “There you go again, always taking someone else’s side. Flanders, the water department, God…”
This quote, like many others, is a microcosm of the relatability of The Simpsons and its understanding of our society. Every husband and boyfriend in the world has at some point thought that their wife or partner always takes the other person’s side in a debate. It can feel like you’re never right and you’re not appreciated.
However, in Homer’s case, it’s as though Marge is justified in taking the other person’s side. She tells him, “Homer, please don’t make me choose between my man and my God, because you just can’t win,” and then he replies, “there you go again, always taking someone else’s side. Flanders, the water department, God…”
It’s kind of hard to argue with Marge’s logic in those three cases.
6. “Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.”
This quote is a perfect example of how Homer Simpson can spout nonsense with such a sheer conviction that you start to question whether or not he’s right. Of course, the person who’s told a lie is not responsible for the deceit. Yet, Homer says it with such confidence that it seems to make sense.
This quote was in one of The Simpsons best early episodes. Homer became a music manager — Colonel Homer — representing country singer Lurleen Lumpkin (Beverly D’Angelo). Their ambiguous relationship made Marge jealous.
5. “Shut up, brain, or I’ll stab you with a Q-tip!”
Homer has a way of beautifully simplifying things. If he wants to do something but his natural instincts get in the way, he threatens his brain with damage. Wouldn’t we all like to do that in one way or another?
Homer knows the dangers of Q-tip use — as they enter your ear and have the potential to poke your brain — but rather than take this as a warning or stop using them entirely, Homer decides to use it as a bargaining chip he can hold over his better judgment.
Homer has a difficult and conflicted relationship with his brain. To remain stupid and keep his friends, he literally had a crayon surgically inserted into his brain. So, a bit of brain damage from a Q-tip is nothing to him. It’s a small price to pay to do whatever he wants and remain spontaneous in spite of possibly dire consequences.
4. “When a woman says something’s not funny, you’d better not laugh your ass off.”
Homer Simpson understands women about as much as any married man does. The only difference is that when he talks to his son about it, he’s able to narrow it down to three sage pieces of advice that can get you through the rocky parts of any relationship.
“When a woman says nothing’s wrong,” Homer tells Bart, “that means everything’s wrong. And when a woman says everything’s wrong, that means everything’s wrong. And when a woman says something’s not funny, you’d better not laugh your ass off.”
Though his advice barely scratches the surface, it’s a good start in terms of base-level understanding.
3. “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”
This is what Homer Simpson says after the Prohibition era is brought back to Springfield and then abolished again. It’s his toast to alcohol: a substance he has complicated relationship with involving love/hate feelings as well as a chemical dependency.
He can often be found at Moe’s Tavern, drowning his sorrows in a mug of Duff beer. So, when the ban on alcohol was lifted, he got the urge to celebrate. “To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”
Homer, like an alcoholic dim Confucius, argues that, no matter what happens in life, there’s always a cold one with our name on it somewhere, waiting to cheer us up.
2. “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”
This Homer quote is the stark opposite of inspirational quotes espoused by athletes everywhere — like Wayne Gretzky’s famous, “you miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take,” or Tommy Lasorda’s timeless, “the difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.”
Homer tells you another truth. If you never try, then you’ll never fail or be disappointed. It’s as simple as that. It’s hard to argue with his logic. Maybe not if you’re Usain Bolt or Rocky Balboa, but for the Average Joe, Homer Simpson is a god amongst men.
There is no Homer Simpson quote that is more usable in real life or everyday situations than his classic catchphrase, “d’oh!” It’s quite possible that no TV catchphrase has taken as much of a stranglehold on the pop culture landscape as Homer’s “annoyed grunt.”
It was listed as number six on TV Land’s list of the 100 greatest television catchphrases. It was even given its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary — and it’s probably been used more often than most of the words in there.
You can say it when you stub your toe; when you realize you’ve messed up; when you realize you have to go to work when you thought you had a day off; when you get a bad report card from school, etc. It means you just got screwed.