Ah, The Simpsons. It’s tough to know where to begin with this long-running, much-beloved show. I remember, decades ago, flipping through the TV channels and coming across this odd, super yellow cartoon family. I had no idea what to make of it at first, but I soon settled in and watched the whole episode.
It was the season one episode ‘The Call of the Simpsons,’ where Homer is mistaken for Bigfoot, because you totally needed to know that. Anywho, the important thing was that, at that moment, I became a huge fan.
Like a lot of committed fans, though, I haven’t had the easiest relationship with the show. After almost 650 episodes, it’s totally understandable that fatigue would start to set in, things would get a little hackneyed, plotlines a little… well, bizarre at times. There are many who would tell you that the golden age of The Simpsons has long since passed, and there’s more than a kernel of truth in that.
Still, heck, I’m not here to be a Daniel Downer all over your faces. Even if the show were to end right now, today, it would leave behind a glorious legacy, a well-earned place among the most popular and influential TV shows ever.
Over its long course, the Simpson family has been taken on a veritable world tour of sights, cities and other destinations. The wacky, Simpson-fied takes on certain places might be beyond our reach, but we can certainly follow along to some of these places. Let’s take a look.
20 Paris? What Could Go Wrong?
In the fifth episode of season 21, “The Devil Wears Nada,” Homer takes a trip to a city that many visitors and natives agree to be the most romantic on Earth: Paris, France. Sadly for him, he’s traveling not with Marge but with his Power Plant colleague and close friend Carl Carlson.
As is The Simpsons’ wont, their trip becomes a bit of a farce, culminating in Carl’s flirting with Carla Bruni (the wife of Nicolas Sarkozy, whom he doesn’t recognise). The first couple’s appearance on the show was an internet sensation in 2009, ABC News reports.
When you go yourself, it might be better to stick to selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower and samples of top-notch cheese and wine.
19 Isn’t Burns Rich Enough Already? - Belgium and Luxembourg
As fans of the show will know dang well, Abe Simpson is the oldest, crotchety-est, tall-story-spinning-est member of the family. He often exasperates his family and other Springfield residents with his meandering stories, but there was one time that tales of his past became all too real.
In season seven episode “Raging Abe Simpson And His Grumbling Grandson In ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish,’” Grandpa tells Bart about the history of his old platoon, the Flying Hellfish. His flashbacks centre around the Ardennes, a beautiful forested and mountainous region that is primarily found in Belgium and Luxembourg. It’s a little different today to the Ardennes that Abe remembers, that’s for darn sure.
18 When The Simpsons Crossed The Pond - London
For some, the early 2000s mark a time when the show began to fall into a bit of a decline. Everyone’s going to have different opinions on that one, of course, but the team was still firing on all cylinders at times. One of my very favourite episodes was released in 2003: season fifteen’s “The Regina Monologues.”
When Bart comes into some money, the family decides to spend it on a vacation to London, England. Naturally, Homer falls foul of the Queen (he crashes into her carriage in a Mini Cooper and is imprisoned in the Tower of London) in this hilarious, star-studded episode.
Tony Blair, JK Rowling and Sir Ian McKellen all appear as themselves (David and Victoria Beckham were considered but eventually deemed to not be famous enough, CBBC Newsround reports). Your own trip may not be quite this eventful, but London still has so much to see and do.
17 The Loch Ness Monster? Why Not? - Scotland
While we’re in the United Kingdom, let’s take a quick hop up north (it’s not a quick hop at all, as you’ll know if you’ve tried it) to Scotland. More specifically, to Loch Ness, supposed home of the most famous cryptozoological creature of all time.
In season ten’s “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love,” Mr. Burns becomes jealous of a popular millionaire named Arthur Fortune. In order to become beloved himself, he devises a scheme to wow the whole world: capturing and exhibiting the Loch Ness Monster.
Off he went to Scotland, then, along with Homer, Groundskeeper Willie and Professor Frink. When you go yourself, I don’t recommend trying to drain the Loch to capture the monster, as Burns did. Just appreciate the astonishing natural beauty that surrounds you.
16 Dang That Cowardly Carl! - Iceland
In TV shows, as in real life, sudden windfalls are a great catalyst to taking trips. We can’t all afford to jet off around the world whenever we fancy, after all. Who am I, Kanye West? As such, lottery wins and the like are the perfect time to head off on one of your bucket list trips.
As we saw in “The Regina Monologues,” the Simpsons is quite fond of this plot device. Season twenty-four’s “The Saga of Carl” offers an interesting spin on it, seeing the Simpsons traveling to Iceland in pursuit of Carl Carlson.
The Iceland native took off with the combined winnings from a pooled lottery win, in search of an expensive piece of family history that would clear his cowardly ancestors’ names (or so he hoped).
That didn’t quite go as planned, but this beautiful, picturesque country in the North Atlantic is travel goals for sure.
15 Gah! What’s Bob Doing Here? - Italy
In season seventeen, the Simpsons pay their first visit to Italy. It may have taken them 364 episodes to do so, but they certainly make up for all of that on their arrival.
In “The Italian Bob,” Mr. Burns sends Homer to the country to pick up a Lamborgotti Fasterossa (snark language for Lambourghini Gallado) for him, after the children of Springfield make fun of his old-fashioned car. While in Italy, they visit all of the biggest tourist hotspots; Rome, Venice, Pisa and Pompeii among them.
It sounds like quite a trip. Why not imitate them? I can’t promise you’ll happen across a small village where Sideshow Bob is suddenly mayor, but you never know.
14 Because YOLO, That’s Why - Barcelona
Now, as far as I’m concerned, the whole YOLO thing is totally played out now. I suppose, as a way of embracing life and pushing limits, it’s just the right attitude, but as a buzzword? Heckles no. We’ve all heard far too much of that nonsense.
One cartoon character who certainly embraces that spirit to the full is Homer Simpson. The season 25 episode “YOLO” sees him visited by his old childhood pen pal from Spain, Eduardo, who comes to Springfield to help Homer realise those childhood dreams they wrote about all those years ago.
After getting to ride n the back of a fire truck (and other childhood dreams), Homer is due to take Eduardo back to the airport. Feeling inspired, he instead takes an impromptu trip to Barcelona. Now that is a great idea for us all.
13 Ain’t No Party Like An Irish Party - Ireland
For the next stop on our The Simpsons world tour, we’re heading back over to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 2009, the season twenty episode “In the Name of the Grandfather” was first broadcast, adding another country to the family’s checklist of places visited: Ireland.
After Grandpa reminisces about O’Flanagan’s, a pub where he once spent a memorable night, the Simpsons decide to visit. While Homer and his father (predictably) spend most of their time at the bar, the rest of the family embark on a tour of some of the greatest sights Ireland has to offer. Among them are Blarney Castle and the Giant’s Causeway.
12 Because You’ve Just Got To - Egypt
Now, of course, everybody’s travel bucket list is going to be different. In terms of priorities, particular places and such, it’s never going to be quite the same. At the same time, though, there’s going to be a fair amount of overlap. Some places are just universal must-visits. The Colosseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tour of Paris, the Pyramids of Egypt… these are the real big-ticket items.
Now, canonically, we’ve never seen the Simpsons visit Egypt (yet). They have done so, though, because Patty and Selma have a photograph of themselves taken at the pyramids (it’s seen in season two’s “Principal Charming”). As TV Tropes also reports, the 1991 video game Bart vs the World also features an area set in Egypt, complete with an “obligatory Great Pyramid level.” Not to mention those stories.
11 TIL: That’s Not How The Coriolis Effect Works - Australia
Over the years, Bart Simpson's scandalous ways have gotten him into all kinds of trouble with all kinds of authorities. Not just his arch nemesis Principal Skinner, but the inept police chief Clancy Wiggum and even beyond. His crowning achievement was probably the time that a prank saw him offend the entire distant nation of Australia.
“Bart vs Australia,” of season six, sees a collect call prank escalate until the family are brought to the U.S Embassy in Canberra to deal with Bart’s fraud. You don’t need to cause international drama to visit Australia’s beautiful capital city for yourself, though.
10 Good Old Animal Crackers - Tanzania
So, that was one far-flung trip to Australia right there. It’s a little extreme to cause an international crisis just for a trip to an exotic region, though. How about a journey that the family took under happier circumstances, when they were the lucky winners of a trip of a lifetime?
Season twelve saw Homer rifling through the house for food in “Simpsons Safari.” Happening on an old box of animal crackers, he finds a sold gold giraffe inside, and (through a technicality) they’ve won a trip to Tanzania!
While in the east of Africa, they enjoy a safari in the Massai Mara and a trip to Olduvai Gorge, which sounds like a fantastic trip to take in real life.
9 So Homer IS Talented After All - Vancouver, Canada
Of all the innate talents that you’d expect of Homer Simpson (sleeping and snacking doesn’t qualify, sadly), curling probably isn’t one of them. Nevertheless, in season 21’s “Boy Meets Curl,” he and Marge find themselves trying the sport out after their date night plans fall through, and they discover that they’ve got a lot of natural ability.
So much so, in fact, that a trip to Vancouver, Canada was in order to take part in the 2010 Vancouver Games. Now, sure, nobody without a TARDIS can take that trip anymore, but who needs an excuse to come and see this wonderful city (consistently ranked among the most liveable cities in the world, The Economist Intelligence Unit reports)?
8 Cuba, Land Of Opportunity (For Grandpa)
While we’re visiting some of the United States’ closest neighbours on our tour, how about a trip down to Latin America?
The Simpsons have travelled to Cuba twice in the show’s run. One of these trips was back in season 9, when Burns was having a kerfuffle with ‘his’ trillion-dollar bill in “The Trouble With Trillions.” Much later, in season 28, the family returned in search of alternative medical care for grandpa in “Havana Wild Weekend.”
As is generally the case with the show, The Simpsons presented a rather more colourful take on the country, but that’s just how family trips are when Homer’s involved.
7 The Simpsons Movie That Never Was - Tijuana, Mexico
As any ardent fan of The Simpsons will tell you, “Kamp Krusty” was one episode that the producers originally thought could be made into a feature-length movie. Due to various constraints, this didn’t pan out, and the children’s awful experience at Kamp Krusty instead became the plot for the first episode of season four.
As bad as the camp was, though, there was an upside to the whole thing. When Krusty the Clown eventually did arrive, he promised to make it up to the poor children by taking them to his idea of ‘the happiest place on Earth.’ Where’s that? Tijuana, Mexico, that’s where.
6 Ned Flanders, Part Animal - Las Vegas
Now, I know that Las Vegas is essentially the party capital of the entire planet. With its gaudy lighting, incomparable shows and moral ambiguity, there’s nary a visitor to the Nevada city that doesn’t come away forever changed in some way. Or so the stories would have you believe.
If you’d expect anybody to be able to resist that siren call, though, it’d be the goodly Ned Flanders. Sadly, as season 10’s “Viva Ned Flanders” reveals, the sixty-year-old is just as susceptible as anybody else, coming home with a new wife (as does Homer).
Myself? I’d just be in it for the world-renowned fine dining and hotels.
5 Now THAT’S A Mid-Life Crisis - New Jersey
When the ever-impulsive Homer hears that he’s passed half of the average male’s life expectancy, it throws him for a loop. Desperate to become more productive, he models his life around great inventor Thomas Edison.
Attempting to invent things of his own, his only success is his untippable chair with extra legs, which he learns Edison had also created previously (though without patenting it). To keep this a secret, Homer sets off for the Thomas Edison memorial museum in New Jersey, intending to smash the original before having a change of heart.
The real Menlo Park Museum/Edison Memorial Tower is situated in Edison, Middlesex County, the site of Edison’s ‘Invention Factory.’
4 When The Simpsons Go Full Tourist - Machu Picchu
So, yes. Over the course of this rundown, we’ve seen the family journey to all sorts of places. Some in their native United States, some far beyond. Some for vacations, some because… well, because Bart was doing his usual Bart thing and causing an international crisis.
Their trip to Machu Picchu, however, is probably one of their most contrived of all. The whole thing came about in season 20’s “Lost Verizon,” where Bart steals a cellphone and Marge has the GPS activated so that he can’t disappear from her and get into trouble.
In response, Bart attaches the GPS chip to a bird’s leg, which leads them on a chase all the way to Machu Picchu. Needless to say, the revered Incan site is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, so I don’t really need to recommend that one to you.
3 A Brazilian Odyssey
If Homer’s impulsive ways and Bart’s malevolent pranks send the family off on their travels at times, so do Lisa’s goodly ways. In season 13’s “Blame It On Lisa,” the family wonder why their phone bill is so high, and discover that Lisa has been making international calls to an orphan she’s been sponsoring.
He’s a little Brazilian boy by the name of Ronaldo, and the family heads off to Brazil to look for him when they discover he’s in danger. Naturally, the loose cannon that is Homer finds himself in a bind almost as soon as the family lands, but the rest of us can enjoy a trip without all of this drama unfolding.
2 Aren’t You A Little Young To Be A Courier? - Hong Kong
So far in this rundown, we haven’t really seen the Simpson family venture over to Asia. They certainly have done, though, although again, they really shouldn’t have. Dang it, Bart, what are you up to now?
In season seven episode “Bart on the Road,” the lawless young Simpson makes himself a fake driver’s license at the DMV while nobody’s looking. When his ride with Milhouse, Nelson and Martin inevitably goes awry, the boys become stranded in Tennessee. Bart’s only way to get home (without his parents finding out what he’s done) lies in getting a job as a courier.
His first assignment? Taking a package to Hong Kong, the mighty region of China which famously has the most skyscrapers in the world, according to Skyscraper Center.
1 Are We In India Yet?
Speaking of trips to Asia, our final entry in this list is one that a lot of fans will have fond memories of. In the memorable season 5 episode “Homer and Apu,” Homer inadvertently gets his friend fired for serving him spoiled meat (which he enjoyed at the time, naturally).
To make up for his involvement in the sting, Homer joins Apu on a trip to India, where the head of the Kwik-E-Mart corporation is found. As always, Homer manages to blow their chances, but everything works out and the status quo returns before the credits roll. If nothing else, the family have another country to tick off of their collective to-visit list.
References: ABC News, CBBC Newsround, AV TV Club, TV Tropes, The Economist, Skyscraper Center.