The Simpsons every episode ever marathon is coming to an end today, and looking back at the 25 seasons of the Simpsons yields a lot of great literary references. Below are some of the many references made over the years. Feel free to add more in the comments below.
The Chalkboard Gag
Even Bart Simpson has an appreciation for all things literary, referencing the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and a line from Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss during his well-known chalkboard gag.
James Patterson is Dreamy
In the episode “Yokel Chords” Marge dreams of reading James Patterson’s novel Kiss the Girls, meeting James Patterson (voiced by the author himself), and making a suggestion for a nursery rhyme titled book. We’re still waiting for that Bo Peep themed book Mr. Patterson.
The Lighter Side of Mr. Burns
I don’t know if Mr. Burns knew what kind of book he was picking up when he started reading Tina Fey’s autobiographical comedy book Bossypants, but even he seems to be enjoying the hilarious style of the 30 Rock creator.
The Troll Twins of Underbridge Academy
The Troll Twins of Underbridge Academy is the result of an Ocean’s 11 style scam involving Homer, Bart, Moe, Professor Frink, Patty, Principal Skinner, and a little author named Neil Gaiman. Watching the creative process in action, the gentle ribbing at the publishing industry, and discovering a surprising double crosser inside the team makes the episode utterly delightful.
Walt Whitman Sampler
Whitman is one of the iconic American poets from the 19th century. In the episode “The Squirt and the Whale” Lisa read the following lines from Whitman’s poem “The World Below the Brine” to a beached whale she names Bluella:
The world below the brine;
Forests at the bottom of the sea—the branches and leaves
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens…
In another Whitman reference, the grave that Homer thinks is his mother’s actually belongs to Walt Whitman.
“Howling at a Concrete Moon”
Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Jonathan Franzen and Michael Chabon all guest star in “Moe’N’a Lisa”. A poem by Moe Szyslak leads to a visit to Wordloaf Literary Conference for Moe and Lisa. Even though Moe discovers that the life of a writer is not so easy, this will forever be the episode where Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen got into a fistfight.
Christopher Walken Reads
A short but inspired reading of Goodnight Moon by the distinctive voice of Christopher Walken. Or course the children can’t help but be terrified by his intensity. This occurs during the Springfield Festival of Books in the episode “Insane Clown Poppy”. Stephen King, Tom Wolfe, and Amy Tan also appear in this episode.
Coolsville or the Saga of Two Comic Book Stores
Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes and Alan Moore voice themselves in the episode “Husbands and Knives”. A second comic book store opens and while one of the main storylines is Comic Book Guy jealously tries to rid Springfield of Coolsville, there are some wonderful literary moments nested inside the episode, such as Lisa Simpson with her copy of Clowes’ Ghost World and Alan Moore reading Little Lulu.