Though you may find Easter eggs hidden in most media now a days without much effort, that was not always the case. There was a time when picking up a Dungeons and Dragons reference or an Atari reference happened quite sparingly. I, personally, do not think the acceptance of the Easter egg would not have happened had not The Simpsons done it so brilliantly for years before so many others. Just by making a simple reference to a game or book, they could make the viewer’s day that much better (as if we were in on some inside joke with the writers). Though I love the many pop culture references found in The Simpsons, the movie references are easily my favorite. They are often blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that serve as sort of fan service to those who are truly paying attention. Or in some cases, they are so blatant they hit you over the head. But the one thing they never do is fail. From the obvious to the less obvious, here are seven stellar examples of movie references, Easter eggs, and homages from the Simpsons.
A Clockwork Orange (from Season Four)
This is so wrong on so many levels, which is why I love it.
Bart Simpson as a droog. Can you wrap your mind around that? The irony here being that the character from the book was only a few years older than Bart. Add to that the fact that there is clearly an anarchistic streak of self destruction in Bart, and you have a genius reference, and a rather ballsy ones as well.
I mean, we can’t forget that Bart is dressed up as a character who rapes and kills people for fun. A character who participates in orgies with underage girls, all set to classic music. That is BEYOND ballsy, and a great place to start the list.
Cape Fear from (from Season Five)
It took the best aspects from both Cape Fear movies, and blew smoke in their face.
As you can tell, I am a huge fan of “Golden age Simpsons”, so you will see a lot of stuff from older episodes here. This one was not so much a Easter egg or reference as much as it was a straight up homage. But my God, did they get all the little details right.
The best part is, what younger viewers didn’t know was that the recent Cape Fear movie was a remake, and this episode was littered with references to both films. Another funny aspect about this was the fact that the episode is called Cape Feare. Change a letter, avoid a lawsuit.
Genius stuff right there. An even better example of that is….
The Shining (from Season Six)
Best Simpsons moment ever? Yes, it just might be.
I mean The Shinning. Don’t want to get sued. Like the above entry, this is another one that is more of an homage than anything else. It may very well be my favorite episode of The Simpsons ever, too.
There is one scene in particular that, the first time I saw it, I almost had an asthma attack from laughing so hard. This single moment summed up the brilliance of The Simpsons and reminded the audience about how many cylinders they were firing off from. Here is that moment:
That moment when he says “Don’t mind if I do” just slays me every time. I swear, prime time cartoons don’t get much better than that.
The Godfather (from Season 4)
When you look at the still frame right there, you realize how spot on the whole thing was.
This brilliant moment saw us reliving the final moments of Sonny Corleone’s life as he gunned down, except we see it happening to Bart with snowballs. Usually most references are loosely based and satirical, but this scene is actually rumored to be shot-for-shot.
Again, can I remind you: this was in a cartoon. Do you even realize how much cooler and ballsier it makes it? The best part is, kids watch it and laugh because it is a funny and dramatic moment. Parents watch it and laugh because they know it is hinting at something much darker. As most of the examples on this list do (which I didn’t realize until right now).
Also, the horse head scene with Lisa from season three was kinda genius, too. She screamed, then figured out it still had its body connected.
The Birds (from Season Four)
The “chirping” on the pacifiers is such a brilliant touch.
First of all, this is from the Streetcar Named Marge episode. So to pick just one reference in an episode littered with them is almost impossible. But I had to go with the scene when Homer goes to pick up Maggie at the Ayn Rand School for Tots (extra point right there), and all the kids are lined up, still and silent, like the birds from the Hitchcock film. The way Homer moves in this scene, as if he expects them to attack, is just a brilliant little homage to a brilliant director, done in the most insane way possible.
Also, from that episode, I want to give props to the Stella scene. Stelllllllaaaaa, Stelllllllaaa, I wanna be your fella! Come on, that shit is gold, especially coming from Ned Flanders. Speaking of Ned Flanders…
The Terminator (from MANY EPISODES)
I could honestly watch this loop forever. I have serious mental problems.
Seriously, check this out to see just how serious I am. I could have easily written an article based on Terminator references from The Simpsons alone. Man, I just may end up writing that at some point. Better not spoil it here.
T2 Richard Simmons from The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular is pretty f*cking awesome, though. That and Homer vanishing into the bush are my two favorites. Oh man, I am start to double-dip on some of these entries. It is like references within references. Even I didn’t know how deep down the rabbit hole I was going with this one. Gotta wrap this baby up.
The Untouchables (from Season Five)
He tried, God bless his black, shriveled heart.
The scene in The Untouchables where DeNiro walks around the table with a baseball bat, talking to his lackeys is one of the most unbearably tense moments in modern cinema. You just KNOW he is going to do something nasty with that bat, but you are just not sure to whom or when.
So to recreate that scene, but have Mr. Burns in place of DeNiro was mindf*ckery at its best. The best part is, he is too old and weak to actually lift the bat and do any real damage. But dammit, his will is there! It is scenes like these that remind us why The Simpsons will always have a place among of some of the greatest television shows of all time.