Sometimes it's hard to decide which of Matt Groening's animated franchises is the most science-fictional: The Simpsons or Futurama? True, Futurama takes place in the 31st century and features robots, space travel and aliens. But the same can almost be said of the Springfieldians, who exist in some undefined nexus of all possible U.S. geographic realities. And what about Linguo the Grammar Robot, the singing Martian at the Stonecutter's banquet and invading aliens Kang & Kodos?
But one thing is certain: The Simpsons is stuffed with references to science fiction, including zillions of allusions to one of the most popular futuristic mythologies of all time: George Lucas' Star Wars. The Lucas universe has intersected with the Groening universe countless times, and we've picked 10 of the funniest instances for your parody-loving enjoyment.
If no embeddable clip of the moment could be found, we've linked to the complete episode, courtesy of the great site "Watch the Simpsons Online," and noted the timecheck of the relevant moment.
Here they are, arranged chronologically.
1) Season Three: "I Married Marge"
Flashing back to the far-off year of 1980, Homer recounts his pre-marriage affair with Marge. We know he adores her because he takes her to see The Empire Strikes Back. After the show, he spoils the secret of the film for a large crowd, then tells Marge, "You're as pretty as Princess Leia, and as smart as Yoda."
2) Season Four: "Lisa the Beauty Queen"
Desperate for a new look after being insulted by a carnival caricaturist, Lisa briefly adopts Princess Leia's Cinnabon hairdo. (Start watching at the 8:00 mark.)
3) Season Four: "Marge Gets a Job"
In need of money to fix the Simpson home, Marge gets a job at the nuclear plant. Or is that facility really the Death Star? Mr. Burns' theme music as he spies on his employees is Darth Vader's "Imperial March." (Start watching at the 10:29 mark.)
4) Season Six: "Lisa's Rival"
Who ever knew Ralph Wiggum was a rich toy collector? He must be, because he owns many pristine limited-edition Star Wars action figures in their original packaging, all on display at the school diorama competition.
5) Season Ten: "Mayored to the Mob"
With Mark Hamill guest-starring, the Star Wars references permeate this episode and reach a critical density that mandates viewing the whole show. From the early moments, when the Simpson family attends the Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con, to the conclusion, when Homer totes Hamill away to the strains of Whitney Houston's Bodyguard theme, it's Lucas-ariffic!
6) Season Eleven: "Treehouse of Horror X"
Comic Book Guy plays a supervillain called "The Collector" in the segment titled "Desperately Xeeking Xena." Having kidnapped guest star Lucy Lawless, he insists she call him "Obi-Wan." Then, battling his super-powered nemeses Bart and Lisa, he employs Darth Maul's lightsaber. (Start watching at the 6:50 mark.)
7) Season Twelve: "Worst Episode Ever"
The mother of nerdboy Martin Prince enters the store of Comic Book Guy, carrying a boxful of Martin's precious possessions that she wishes to sell. The box contains, according to Comic Book Guy, "A handwritten script for Star Wars by George Lucas. Princess Leia's anti-jiggle breast tape. A film reel labeled 'Alternate ending: Luke's father is Chewbacca!'" (Start watching at the 2:45 mark.)
8) Season Fifteen: "Co-Dependent's Day"
This episode ranks at the apex for its density of Star Wars references, and demands a full viewing. After watching a lousy film called Cosmic Wars: The Gathering Shadow, Bart and Lisa determine to approach the mastermind of the franchise, Randall Curtis, and force him to return to his original inspiration and quality.
This episode happens to be the favorite of a very special Simpsons fanexecutive producer Al Jean. SCI FI Wire News Editor Patrick Lee interviewed Jean last week about his own greatest Simpsons' Star Wars moment:
"May I suggest one? There is an episode called 'Co-Dependence Day,' where they went to sort of a Phantom Menace-type movie, and they were really bored by it. It was these big creatures doing things like making parliamentary motions and discussing rules, and then they were so mad they went tothey didn't call [him] George Lucas, but they went to the ranch of the creator of the series, to complain about it."
Jean went on to offer a sneak peek at this year's "Treehouse of Horrors" episode: "We are doing a segment in this fall's Halloween show that is sort of a cross between 28 Days Later and Children of Men, where Krusty makes this burger that's made out of mad cows, and people who eat it immediately become cannibals, and Bart is the one person who can eat it and not get converted to a cannibal, so they try to get him to the safe zone. You know, I really love those movies. It was really fun to do something in that form. We have jokes about how the 1968 zombies move very slowly, [while] today's zombies are very fast, you know, scary."
9) Season Eighteen: "Please Homer Don't Hammer 'Em"
After learning each other's secret allergyPrincipal Skinner gets hives from peanuts, while Bart goes comatose when faced with shrimpthe two deadly rivals re-create the catwalk battle between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon from The Phantom Menace. (Start watching at the 16:25 mark.)
After an anthology show whose theme is violence, Homer and the Rich Texan soften the impact of all the mortality by dedicating the episode to all the victims who perished during the filming of the various Star Wars films.