“The Simpsons” is the longest-running American sitcom. If you can believe it, the Berlin Wall fell just one month before the first episode of “The Simpsons” aired in December 1989, and the show, which is in its 26th season, continues to be renewed year after year. It’s hard to say exactly what makes this show so popular, whether it’s the tongue-in-cheek humor, the total disregard for authority, or the writers’ ability to brilliantly weave pop culture references and guest star appearances into the most ridiculous storylines ever.
Whatever it is, people can’t seem to get enough of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie Simpson. More than 650 guest stars have appeared alongside America’s favorite dysfunctional family, including several country music stars and a few of our favorite Southerners.
Your Favorite Country Music Stars and Southerners Who Have Appeared on “The Simpsons”:
Johnny Cash guest stars in an episode titled “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer” or “The Mysterious Voyage of Homer” (1997). In this episode, Homer and his family attend the annual Springfield Chili Cook-Off where Homer gulps downs Chief Wiggum’s chili, which is spiked with the Guatemalan Insanity Peppers. These Guatemalan Insanity Peppers are, “grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of Guatemalan insane asylum,” according to Chief Wiggum. The chili causes Homer hallucinations of a coyote (voiced by Johnny Cash) who Homer condescendingly calls “Wolfie.” The coyote advises Homer to find his soul mate, and questions Homer when he concludes that he has already found his soul mate in Marge.
Coyote: “Find your soul mate, Homer. Find your soul mate.”
Homer: “Where? Where?”
Coyote: “This is just your memory. I can’t give you new information.”
Homer searches for his soul mate, finally concluding, that the lighthouse keeper must be his soul mate, only to find out that a machine operates the lighthouse. Homer sees a boat and decides to destroy the lighthouse’s light, hoping that the people in the boat will come closer and befriend him. Marge, knowing that Homer would go to the lighthouse, comes after him. Homer sees Marge and realizes they really are soul mates. Marge fixes the lighthouse, but the ship runs aground anyway, spilling its cargo of hot pants.
Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr. sings about a car called “The Canyonero” in the episode “The Last Temptation of Krust” (1998). In the episode, Krusty the Clown does a stand up routine at a comedy festival organized by Jay Leno. The crowd doesn’t like it, and he gets bad reviews. Krusty sinks into depression and decides to retire, but wins the crowd over at his retirement press conference and returns to comedy. He agrees to endorse a new SUV called a “Canyonero.” The episode ends with an advertisement for the Canyonero. The background song is sung by Hank Williams Jr.
12 Yards long, 2 lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride.
Top of the line in utility sports, unexplained fires are a matter for the courts.
She blinds everybody with her super-high beams. She’s a squirrel-crushin, deer smackin’ drivin’ machine! Canyonero! Oh Whoa! Canyonero!
Dolly Parton plays herself in an episode called “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” (1999). In this episode, Homer meets a travel agent named Wally Kogan who offers Homer a trip to the Super Bowl, if Homer can find enough people to fill Kogan’s charter bus, which is headed to the big game. Homer recruits some of the Springfield regulars like Ned Flanders, Comic Book Guy, Chief Wiggum, Barney, and Apu, and they all head to the game only to find out that the tickets are phony. The guys sneak in anyway, but get caught and are locked in the stadium jail. Dolly Parton spots Kogan in the jail. (She recognizes him because he books lots of trips to Dollywood and Euro Dollywood). She uses her extra-strength makeup remover to dissolve the lock and release them. Eventually, the guys are spotted by “billionaire tyrant” Rupert Murdoch and get chased onto the field, where the winning team pushes them into the locker room to celebrate. The episode ends with all the guys getting back on the bus, and Homer has somehow stolen the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Willie Nelson plays himself in the episode, “Behind the Laughter” (2000), which parodies the VH1 series “Behind the Music.” In this “documentary” the Simpsons are portrayed as actors in their own sitcom. The Simpsons are refusing to talk to each other, and Fox is forced to put the show on hiatus. It seems the family will never reconcile, until country singer Willie Nelson convinces them to participate in a phony awards show (because none of them can say “no” to Willie Nelson). Lisa figures out that the whole show is phony and the family refuses to look at one another, but Willie and the audience convince them to hug and forgive each other.
In the episode, “The Bart Wants What it Wants” (2002), Alabama native Reese Witherspoon guest stars as the voice of Greta Wolfcastle, the daughter of Rainier Wolfcastle, a famous action-movie star who very closely resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this episode, Bart meets Greta at a school carnival. Greta has a crush on Bart, but Bart doesn’t take it too seriously and the two break up. Bart realizes that he actually does want to be with Greta and decides to ask her out again, but when he gets to her house he finds out that she and Milhouse are a couple. Milhouse accompanies Greta to Canada where her father’s movie shoot is located. Bart follows them up there, and Bart and Milhouse fight for Greta, ruining the set and props in the process. They ask Greta to choose between the two of them, and she chooses neither of them. The two boys reconcile and join Canada’s basketball team.
The Dixie Chicks
The Dixie Chicks guest star in the Simpsons’ episode “Papa Don’t Leech” (2008). This episode centers on Lurleen Lumpkin, a country music star who Homer once managed and who also fell in love with Homer in a previous episode. Lurleen tries to hide out with the Simpsons because all the townspeople are trying to turn her in for tax evasion. Marge realizes that the root of all Lurleen’s problems stem from Lurleen’s father leaving her as a child. Marge tries to organize a reunion for Lurleen and her deadbeat father, Royce. Lurleen forgives her father and writes a song called, “Daddy’s Back.” Unfortunately, Royce leaves Lurleen again, and she later hears the Dixie Chicks playing her song on TV. Her father is in the music video with the Dixie Chicks who have given him credit for writing the song. With encouragement from Marge and Homer, Lurleen goes to the Dixie Chicks and tells them that her father stole her song.
Peyton, Eli, and Cooper Manning star as themselves in the episode “Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou” (2009). In the episode, Lisa tells Bart that he won’t ever have the special bond that she and Maggie share because he doesn’t have a brother. That night Bart dreams about famous brothers including the Smothers Brothers, the Marx Brothers, the Blues Brothers, the Wright Brothers, the Mario Brothers, and finally the Manning Brothers.
In his dream Peyton, Eli, and Cooper are playing touch football. All the brothers are wearing jerseys with their names on it, but Cooper Manning (the oldest Manning brother who trades oil and gas stocks for an energy research firm) is wearing a button down shirt and tie under his jersey. Here’s an excerpt from the scene.
Peyton: That’s a perfect spiral, Eli.
Eli: Winning a Super Bowl just doesn’t compare to chucking the ball around with my brother.
Cooper: It’s easy being a winner in the pros. Try winning two high school basketball championships like I did.
Eli: Good for you, Squirt
Cooper: I’m the oldest!
Peyton: Keep away from Cooper!
As for Bart, he tries to adopt a brother from the orphanage, but he’s told he is too young. A little boy named Charlie follows him home, and for a while Bart treats him like a brother, including him in on playing pranks on Principal Skinner, but Bart comes to realize that having a younger brother is a big responsibility and he returns Charlie to the orphanage so he can be adopted by a real family.