15 Of The Most Horrific Moments On The Simpsons That Can’t Be Found In The ‘Treehouse Of Horror’

The Simpsons is well know for its “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween specials, but these annual episodes are not the only times the show’s writers and animators venture into the realms of the dark, scary, and macabre. Throughout the series the Simpsons and the other citizens of Springfield endure nightmarish scenarios that would haunt most people for life.

From traumatic cadavers to surreal hallucinations, The Simpsons has shocked and disturbed their audiences for decades, but Ranker voters believed these were some of the most horrific moments the show had to offer outside of the “Treehouse Of Horror.”

1. Bart’s Childhood Bed

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In a flashback episode, Homer builds Bart a clown bed, and while his craftsmanship is surprisingly impressive, the end result is no jolly buffoon. Rather, it’s an unspeakable horror that would make Pennywise the Dancing Clown mess his pants. 

Bart even imagines the grimacing figure come to life and threaten, in a maniacally silly lilt, “If you should die before you wake…”

Season 4, Episode 10: “Lisa’s First Word”

2. A Gruesome Vision Of Homer

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After Homer forgets to pick up Bart from soccer practice, the boy, in his anger, imagines flames surrounding the car and his father’s face sloughing off his skull as Homer gurgles, “Now how about a hug?” 

This follows an equally macabre but less gruesome vision from Homer, who finds Bart’s skeleton by the goalie’s net. When he picks up his son’s corpse to scream at the sky, the skull rolls off the body.

Season 4, Episode 14: “Brother from the Same Planet”

3. Itchy & Scratchy Branded Cereal

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Itchy and Scratchy are known for their extreme violence – Marge even led a concerned parents’ campaign against the show at one point in the series – but as Lisa points out, the gnarly imagery in a TV commercial for Stabby-Oh’s cereal takes the cartoon’s warped brand of entertainment way too far. 

The clip shows Itchy force-feeding his poor cat adversary the breakfast item, then cutting open his abdomen to allow a pair of school children to feast on the undigested crunchy, marshmallow-y bits inside. The ad ends by revealing Itchy has beheaded the kids’ mother, much to their delight.

Season 12, Episode 16: “Bye Bye, Nerdie”

4. Duff Beer’s Small World

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While at a beer-sponsored amusement park, Bart, Lisa, and Selma go on an attraction that riffs on the already eerie “Small World” ride at Disneyland. 

Bart dares Lisa to drink the clearly dirty water carrying their boat through the overly cheery cavern, causing the younger Simpson to hallucinate all manner of terrors, including rapidly multiplying animatronic imps and her aunt transforming into a green lizard lady with talking shoulders.

Season 4, Episode 13: “Selma’s Choice”

5. Robots Run Amok In Itchy & Scratchy Land

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In a parody of both Jurassic Park and Westworld (two Michael Chrichton novels), the ultra-violence of Itchy & Scratchy Land – clearly modeled after a certain mouse-themed park – becomes all too real. 

The cat and mouse robots that cavort around the premises suddenly go berserk, and because Homer and Bart were merciless jerks to the park staff, the Simpson family is left to fend for themselves against the murderous horde. Instant cameras, action movie quips, and a pile of twitching metallic corpses ensue.

Season 6, Episode 4: “Itchy & Scratchy Land”

6. Homer’s Hidden Trauma

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A hypnotist unearths a hidden trauma from Homer’s childhood: the Stand by Me-ish discovery of a corpse lodged in a quarry drain pipe, its ribcage protruding, flesh peeling off, mud, water, and worms pouring from its nose, mouth, and eyes (later revealed to be Smithers’s dad, who saved Springfield from nuclear disaster). 

Remember, this isn’t from a “Treehouse of Horror” episode.

Season 13, Episode 5: “The Blunder Years”

7. Mr. Burns’s Attempt To Find The Lucky Charm Leprechaun’s Cereal

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While hopped up on ether, Mr. Burns signs up to sponsor Homer’s bowling team. Elated, Homer announces to his nearby fellow power plant employees that if anyone has a favor to ask of the boss, they better do it at that moment. 

Hans Moleman rushes in to ask for a broom re-bristling, but Mr. Burns mistakes him for the Lucky Charms leprechaun and takes a power drill to his head in order to steal his coveted cereal. While the grisly moment technically happens off-screen, there’s an unpleasantly gooey sound effect and a deadpan exclamation from Hans: “Oh no, my brains.”

Season 7, Episode 12: “Team Homer” 

8. Bart’s Heart Is Ripped From His Chest

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Bart develops a crush on his new neighbor and babysitter Laura. When she tells him she’s dating local bully Jimbo, however, Bart imagines Laura ripping his heart out from his chest, tossing it to the floor, and kicking it into a garbage can, complete with a deep red blood smear down the wall as it slides into the receptacle. 

It’s both gruesome and heartbreaking (no pun intended) at the same time

Season 4, Episode 8: “New Kid on the Block”

9. Bart Sells His Soul

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As the title implies, Bart sells his soul to Millhouse for a measly $5, believing the concept to be a load of bunk. But after a series of freaky events – Santa’s Little Helper wanting nothing to do with him, the automatic sliding doors at the Kwik-E-Mart not detecting his presence, and not being able to laugh at Itchy and Scratchy, among other maladies – Bart realizes souls are very much real. 

Millhouse won’t part with his newly acquired loot, however, prompting Bart to seek a soul – any soul – he can get his hands on. In one hilariously creepy scene, the Simpson lad attempts to take the lifeforce of his pal Ralph, only for Chief Wiggum to shine his flashlight at Bart, revealing his true, monstrous form.

Season 7, Episode 4: “Bart Sells His Soul”

10. Faceless Marge Becomes Dust In The Wind

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After eating too many “merciless peppers” from Quetzlzacatenango – “grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum,” according to Chief Wiggum – Homer goes on a bad trip laced with deeply surreal imagery. 

But even though he encounters a distorted Nelson, a giant snake, and a sun that shatters into a million pieces, perhaps Homer’s most psychologically disturbing vision is the image of his wife Marge, who remains infinitely faceless no matter how many times he runs around her, and who eventually turns to dust and blows away before his eyes.

Season 8, Episode 9: “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)”

11. The Children Of ‘The Bloodening’

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Homer and his pals end a night of heavy drinking by breaking into the elementary school and trashing the place. Chief Wiggum comes to the “natural” conclusion that the vandalism must be the work of “no-good kids” and institutes a curfew. 

However, Bart and the other children of Springfield break the law in order to attend a screening of the controversial horror movie, The Bloodening (a spoof of Village of the Damned). The film features monotone, glowing-eyed blonde children who know all the adults’ secrets and use their psychic powers to make the town massacre itself.

Season 10, Episode 11: “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken”

12. Homer Gets Gassed By A Santa’s Little Helper Doppelgänger

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In a wholly nonsensical episode, Homer invents a gossip website where he trades in conspiracies that are “grade-A bull-plop.” But when one of his made-up government secrets turns out to be true, he is tossed on a mysterious island for people who know too much (a fantastic parody of the sci-fi series The Prisoner). 

Homer eventually escapes, but upon his return home, he and the family receive a noxious surprise from a Santa’s Little Helper doppelgänger.

Season 12, Episode 6: “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes”

13. Chief Wiggum Plays Ventriloquist Dummy With Jebediah Sprinfield’s Remains

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When Lisa unearths evidence that Jebediah Springfield, the town’s founder, might have actually been a bloodthirsty pirate and scam artist, members of the Springfield Jubilation Committee, incensed by Lisa’s outrageous claims, exhume the frontiersman’s corpse. 

Lisa insists they’ll find a silver prosthetic tongue, which will prove Springfield was not who he said he was. They find no such prosthetic, temporarily restoring Springfield’s good name and honoring his legacy. In the spirit of jubilation, Chief Wiggum does a bad ventriloquist routine with their sacred founder’s skull. Everyone save Homer and Lisa laughs at the macabre display.

Season 7, Episode 16: “Lisa the Iconoclast”

14. Marge’s Trauma Around Flying

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After suffering a panic attack on an airplane, Marge discovers she’s afraid of flying. A therapist works to root out the fear, causing several suppressed memories to surface, chiefly that Marge’s father worked as a flight attendant back when it was “shocking” for a man to take on such a stereotypically “feminine” role. 

But even more traumatizing are these memories: Marge’s grandmother playing the “here comes the airplane” game with Baby Bouvier and accidentally shoving a spoonful of mush into her eyeball; a child-sized airplane toy catching fire with Marge inside; and finally, in a nightmarish parody of North by Northwest, Marge and her mother getting shot at by a plane in a cornfield. 

Little Marge’s terrified screams throughout the memories launch this sequence into truly unsettling territory.

Season 6, Episode 11: “Fear of Flying”

15. Insects Devour A Park Ranger’s Hand

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En route to Larval Lake, the Simpsons are turned away by a park ranger who warns them that “the bugs are firmly in charge,” having already eaten the visitor’s center and the comment book. 

Homer begrudgingly turns the car around, at which point the hungry insects eat the ranger’s class ring. He complains, and they bring it back, but devour the flesh off his hand instead.

Season 11, Episode 17: “Bart to the Future”