9 ‘Simpsons’ Episodes That End With An Emotional Gut Punch

Remember when The Simpsons was full of emotional scenes and meaningful stories? Believe it or not, there once was a time whe the show could make you laugh and cry at the same time. 

The Simpsons has been on the air for over 30 years now, and in that time, there have been quite a few unforgettable endings to some truly iconic episodes. These classic episodes remind us how poignant and influential the writing on this show used to be. 

But while you reminisce on your favorite emotional Simpsons scenes, don’t forget these episodes that ended with one final emotional gut punch.  

‘And Maggie Makes Three’ Ends With Homer Using Pictures Of His Newest Daughter To Motivate Him Through His Soul-Destroying Job

'And Maggie Makes Three' Ends With Homer Using Pictures Of His Newest Daughter To Motivate Him Through His Soul-Destroying Job

Photo: Fox

Homer Simpson is often such an enigma that even his own children don’t understand him. But underneath the layers of extreme goofiness and not-so-subtle heavy drinking, Homer is really just a simple family man at heart. “And Maggie Makes Three” is the origin story of how Maggie was brought into the world – and why there are no baby pictures of her in the family albums.

It turns out, Maggie was “accidentally” conceived after Homer finally quit the power plant and landed his dream job at a bowling alley. When Homer finds out Marge is pregnant, Homer is forced to leave the job he loves to return to the job he hates, where he will likely spend the rest of his life. It is later revealed that Homer used all of Maggie’s baby pictures to motivate himself at work, proving that the thing he cares about most in the world isn’t beer or donuts, but his loving family. 

‘Mother Simpson’ Ends With Homer’s Mom Being Forced To Leave Him Again

'Mother Simpson' Ends With Homer’s Mom Being Forced To Leave Him Again

Photo: Fox

The more Homer’s backstory is peeled back, the more tragic a character he becomes. The episode “Mother Simpson” is all about Homer finding out his mother is alive after he fakes his own demise to get out of cleaning garbage at work. The rest of the episode follows Homer as he reconciles with his long-lost mother, Mona, after believing she had been deceased for the last 26 years. Mona left the Simpson family to go into hiding after her activist group attacked Mr. Burns’s laboratory (which was being used for some questionable things).

Although Mona’s reasons for leaving were justified, she left a huge hole in Homer’s life in doing so. The episode ends with Mona getting spotted by Mr. Burns and leaving Springfield in order to avoid detainment once more. Homer getting his dear mother back just to have her leave him again is frankly devastating, resulting in one of the series’ most emotional endings to an episode. The final shot is of Homer looking out at the stars in silence as the episode fades to black. 

‘Round Springfield’ Ends With Lisa Doing One Last Duet With Her Deceased Idol

'Round Springfield' Ends With Lisa Doing One Last Duet With Her Deceased Idol

Photo: Fox

Lisa seems to get the most profound storylines on The Simpsons, and for good reason. Despite being perpetually 8 years old, Lisa has high emotional intelligence, possibly higher than anyone in her family, which is why she finds herself confronting death in the Season 6 episode “Round Springfield.” The episode deals with the loss of Lisa’s idol, Bleeding Gums Murphy. 

Murphy was introduced in the show’s first season. He and Lisa quickly formed a student-mentor bond with Lisa over their love for the saxophone, until Murphy was tragically dispatched by an unrevealed illness. Lisa was shocked to find out that nobody showed up to his service, realizing that not every special or talented person will be honored for their efforts in life. It’s a particularly sad message, especially for an 8-year-old to have to learn, but it does lead to a beautiful moment where Lisa and Murphy share one more duet posthumously. 

‘Lisa’s First Word’ Ends With Maggie Finally Saying Her First Word: ‘Daddy’

'Lisa’s First Word' Ends With Maggie Finally Saying Her First Word: 'Daddy'

Photo: Fox

Season 4’s “Lisa’s First Word’ was a monumental episode of The Simpsons. Contrary to the episode’s title, “Lisa’s First Word” is not only the origin story of baby Lisa’s first word, but Maggie’s as well. Up until that point, and long after, Maggie was a silent presence in the Simpson household, speaking only the occasional word here and there, but most of her real dialogue is non-canon. 

The episode revolves around the story of Lisa’s first word but doubles as the origin story of how the Simpsons purchased their Evergreen Terrace home. In the flashback, young Bart refuses to accept Lisa as his baby sister until he learns that her first word is “Bart.” The two bond over calling their father “Homer” instead of “Daddy.” After reminiscing, Homer decides it’s probably better for Maggie not to speak, and as soon as he leaves the room, Maggie finally says her first word: “Daddy” (voiced by Elizabeth Taylor, for some reason). If only Homer were there to hear it. 

‘Lisa’s Wedding’ Ends With Lisa Learning To Appreciate Her Father For Who He Is

'Lisa’s Wedding' Ends With Lisa Learning To Appreciate Her Father For Who He Is

Photo: Fox

Homer Simpson has been called a lot of things over the years, but “sweet” usually isn’t one of them. The ending to “Lisa’s Wedding,” however, proves that Homer can definitely have his moments. The Emmy Award-winning episode focuses on a flash-forward to Lisa’s wedding where she’s set to marry an educated English man.

Her soon-to-be husband, Hugh, wants Lisa to abandon her embarrassing family after the wedding, and while younger Lisa may have agreed, future Lisa realizes how important her family is to her life, especially Homer, who has a tear-jerking heart-to-heart with her, despite not liking her fiance. The episode ends with Lisa leaving the fortuneteller and walking hand-in-hand with Homer, asking him about his day, no longer embarrassed.

‘The Way We Was’ Ends With Homer Kissing Marge For The First Time

 'The Way We Was' Ends With Homer Kissing Marge For The First Time

Photo: Fox

Homer and Marge haven’t always been the best examples of a happily married couple, but one of the most touching moments in Simpsons history was the flashback episode that follows the story of how the two met. It’s quite an incredible story – way more romantic than you would ever give Homer Simpson credit for. 

“The Way We Was” tells the story of how Marge and Homer met back in high school detention. For Homer, it was love at first sight, despite Marge being way out of his “league.” He tried to win Marge’s affection over the smarter, more articulate Artie Ziff (Jon Lovitz), and ultimately, Marge ended up going to prom with Artie. Homer was left heartbroken, and maybe for the first time, he felt like a truly sympathetic character. Once Marge realized Artie was a total jerk, she went back for Homer, and he confessed that he had deep, serious feelings for her. You don’t picture Homer Simpson when you think of a “true romantic,” but here, he came close. 

‘Dog of Death’ Ends With Santa’s Little Helper Coming Back Home To The Simpson Family

'Dog of Death' Ends With Santa's Little Helper Coming Back Home To The Simpson Family

Photo: Fox

Out of all the lousy things the Simpson family has done over the years, mistreating their poor dog, Santa’s Little Helper, was by far the worst. Okay, maybe not the worst… but still pretty awful. In the Season 3 episode “Dog of Death,” the Simpson family is too distracted by the local lottery jackpot to notice that Santa’s Little Helper has been suffering from a twisted stomach.

Of course, the Simpson family bands together to scrape up the money to pay for the pup’s surgery, which they do successfully, but they end up detesting Santa’s Little Helper for making them cut corners to afford his surgery. Feeling unwanted, the dog escapes the family home and winds up becoming one of Mr. Burns’s attack dogs. Santa’s Little Helper puts up a fight at first when Bart comes to retrieve him, but after a nostalgic flashback sequence, the dog remembers the good times he had with the Simpsons and returns home, only to be showered with love. 

‘Lisa’s Substitute’ Ends With Lisa’s Teacher Giving Her One Small Piece Of Advice She’ll Never Forget

'Lisa’s Substitute' Ends With Lisa’s Teacher Giving Her One Small Piece Of Advice She’ll Never Forget

Photo: Fox

Out of all the Lisa-centric episodes on The Simpsons, Season 2’s “Lisa’s Substitute” may be the most important. The episode starts out with Lisa’s teacher Miss Hoover taking a medical leave, resulting in a substitute teacher, Mr. Bergstrom (played anonymously by the great Dustin Hoffman), taking over the class. Soon enough, Lisa develops a close relationship with Mr. Bergstrom, as he is the only teacher to acknowledge her intelligence. 

After spending some time with Mr. Bergstrom, Lisa becomes dependent on his guidance and is ultimately shattered when she finds Miss Hoover has returned to class, replacing Bergstrom. Lisa confronts Bergstrom, declaring that she will be lost without him. Bergstrom then teaches Lisa a crucial life lesson – people will come and go, especially when people needier than Lisa really do need his help. He leaves her with a note to remind herself that she is her own teacher – and a strong one at that. 

‘Marge Be Not Proud’ Ends With Bart Winning Marge Back Over With A Grown-Up Act Of Kindness

'Marge Be Not Proud' Ends With Bart Winning Marge Back Over With A Grown-Up Act Of Kindness

Photo: Fox

Bart has always had one toe in the waters of preteen delinquency, but the Season 7 episode “Marge Be Not Proud” showed what would happen if Bart gave in to the temptations of becoming a real crook. In the episode, Marge refuses to buy Bart a harsh video game from the local discount store, so he decides to swipe it, resulting in the cold shoulder from Marge. 

Although Bart’s done some pretty questionable things over the course of the show, shoplifting is a new low for him. Not only does it get him in hot water with the store, but he is subsequently shunned by Marge in a way he’s never seen before – he broke her. After being excluded from family Christmas events like decorating the Christmas tree and making snow angels, Bart does everything in his power to correct his behavior, including getting his mother a (legally purchased) framed portrait of himself smiling as an early Christmas gift. This helps Bart win back the affections of his mother, restoring balance to the world after his unforgettable mistake.