The Simpsons
Season 1
DVD cover featuring The Simpsons family
No. of episodes13
Original networkFox
Original releaseDecember 17, 1989 (1989-12-17) –
May 13, 1990 (1990-05-13)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of episodes

The first season of the American animated television series The Simpsons originally aired on the Fox network between December 17, 1989, and May 13, 1990, beginning with the Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". The executive producers for the first production season were Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon.[1]

The series was originally set to debut in fall 1989 with the episode "Some Enchanted Evening" (which was meant to introduce the main characters),[2] but during the first screening of the episode, the producers discovered that the animation was so poor that 70% of the episode needed to be redone.[3]

The producers considered aborting the series if the next episode turned out as bad, but it suffered from only easily fixable problems. The producers convinced Fox to move the debut to December 17, and aired "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" as the first episode of the series.[2] The first season won one Emmy Award, and received four additional nominations.[4] The DVD boxset was released on September 25, 2001, in Region 1 and September 24, 2001, in both Region 2 and Region 4.

With a total of 13 episodes, this is the shortest season of the show to date, and is the only season where Homer was halfway intelligent and at times was the voice of reason and where Dan Castellaneta voiced Homer in a loose Walter Matthau impression (as he had done in the shorts). Starting the next season, Homer would begin to adopt his more familiar voice and set a lower bar for intelligence.

This is also the only season to not have a Treehouse of Horror episode.

Voice cast & characters

Main article: List of The Simpsons characters

Penny Marshall guest-starred in the season finale episode "Some Enchanted Evening" as the babysitter Ms. Botz

Main cast


Guest stars

Main article: List of The Simpsons guest stars (seasons 1–20)



The Simpsons first season was Fox network's first TV series to rank among a season's top 30 highest-rated shows.[5] It won an Emmy and received four additional nominations. Although television shows are limited to one episode per category, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was considered a separate special and nominated alongside fellow episode "Life on the Fast Lane" for Outstanding Animated Program; "Life on the Fast Lane" won. "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was also nominated for "Outstanding Editing in a Miniseries or Special", while "The Call of the Simpsons" was nominated for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special". The main theme song, composed by Danny Elfman, was nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in Main Title Theme Music".[4]

Critical and public response

The first season of The Simpsons received positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a 100% approval rating based on 18 critical reviews with an average rating of 8.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "The Simpsons' first season proves a quickly addictive introduction to America's animated first family with a run of entertaining episodes that set the stage for a groundbreaking series."[6] On Metacritic, a site which uses a weighted mean score, the season scored a 79/100 from six critics, translating to "generally favorable reviews". However, the show was controversial from its beginning. The rebellious lead character at the time, Bart, frequently received no punishment for his misbehavior, which led some parents to characterize him as a poor role model for children.[7][8] Several US public schools even banned The Simpsons merchandise and t-shirts, such as one featuring Bart and the caption "Underachiever ('And proud of it, man!')".[9] Despite the ban, The Simpsons merchandise sold well and generated US$2 billion in revenue during the first 14 months of sales.[9]

At the 6th annual Television Critics Association Awards, the first season of the show won 'Outstanding Achievement in Comedy', beating the likes of "Designing Women," "Murphy Brown," "Newhart," and "The Wonder Years." Additionally, it was nominated for 'Program of the Year' but lost to "Twin Peaks."


See also: List of The Simpsons episodes

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
U.S. viewers
11"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"David SilvermanMimi PondDecember 17, 1989 (1989-12-17)7G0826.7[10]
While the Simpsons are Christmas shopping, Bart sneaks off and gets a tattoo. Marge soon discovers this and uses the family's Christmas savings to get it removed. Meanwhile, Homer discovers that he will not be getting a Christmas bonus from Mr. Burns and thus the family has no money to buy Christmas presents. He decides to keep their financial troubles a secret and get a job as a department store Santa, but later discovers that the job does not pay enough. Desperate for a miracle, Homer and Bart go to the dog track on Christmas Eve in hopes of earning some money. He bets it all on a long shot named Santa's Little Helper, who loses. Angry that he lost, the dog's owner disowns him. Homer lets Bart keep him. Later, Homer attempts to come clean to everyone, but Bart exclaims that they have a dog and everyone happily welcomes the newest member of the Simpson family.
22"Bart the Genius"David SilvermanJon VittiJanuary 14, 1990 (1990-01-14)7G0224.5[10]
Bart has trouble on an intelligence test and sneakily switches tests with Martin Prince, the class genius. After the results are tabulated, the school psychiatrist labels Bart a genius and sends him to the Enriched Learning Center for Gifted Children. Homer starts treating Bart with respect, but Bart immediately feels out of place among his new classmates and alienated from his former peers. He confesses that he cheated on the test and is subsequently sent back to Springfield Elementary School.
33"Homer's Odyssey"Wes ArcherJay Kogen & Wallace WolodarskyJanuary 21, 1990 (1990-01-21)7G0327.5[11]
Bart's class visits the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and Homer, anxious to look like he is working, accidentally crashes his cart into a radioactive pipe, causing him to be fired. Depressed and unable to find a new job, he decides to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. His family discover his plan and try to stop him, but in the process they are almost run over by a truck. Discovering his new purpose, Homer embarks on a safety crusade and eventually decides to go after the Nuclear Plant and holds protest rallies. To end Homer's furor, Mr. Burns offers him a job as safety inspector, with increased salary, which Homer accepts.
44"There's No Disgrace Like Home"Gregg Vanzo & Kent ButterworthAl Jean & Mike ReissJanuary 28, 1990 (1990-01-28)7G0420.2[12]
Homer takes his family to the company picnic at Mr. Burns's manor. Marge, Bart and Lisa embarrass Homer and he notices that Mr. Burns seems to favour a family who love and respect one another. Convinced that both he and his family are pathetic, Homer takes everyone to Dr. Marvin Monroe's family therapy center. When standard methods prove useless in "civilizing" them, Dr. Monroe resorts to shock therapy. Soon the Simpsons start shocking each other, causing the whole town to lose power. Dr. Monroe refunds the Simpsons.
55"Bart the General"David SilvermanJohn SwartzwelderFebruary 4, 1990 (1990-02-04)7G0527.1[13]
Bart runs afoul of Nelson Muntz, the school bully, who begins attacking Bart every day after school. Homer suggests fighting back, which does not work. Desperate for a solution, Bart visits Grampa for advice. Grampa takes Bart to meet Herman, who suggests that Bart rally all the school children and declare war on Nelson. Bart and his army attack Nelson and successfully manage to convince him to give up his bullying ways.
66"Moaning Lisa"Wes ArcherAl Jean & Mike ReissFebruary 11, 1990 (1990-02-11)7G0627.4[14]
Lisa becomes depressed, which begins to affect her performance in school. Neither Marge nor Homer are able to make Lisa happier. One night, she hears distant Jazz music and sneaks out of her room to follow it. She meets Bleeding Gums Murphy, who teaches her how to express her music through the saxophone. When Marge drops Lisa off at school the next day, she suggests that Lisa smile no matter how she feels. However, Marge sees that Lisa is being denied her creativity and realizes that is what is disappointing her. Marge tells Lisa to just be herself, and the entire family go to see Murphy perform at a local Jazz club.
77"The Call of the Simpsons"Wes ArcherJohn SwartzwelderFebruary 18, 1990 (1990-02-18)7G0927.6[15]
Homer becomes envious of Flanders' new RV and goes to "Bob's RV Round-up" to buy one of his own. Settling on a dilapidated camper, he takes the family camping and in the process destroys the RV. Leaving Lisa and Marge behind, Bart and Homer try to find their way back to civilization, but have little luck. Later on, Homer is mistaken for Bigfoot and captured. Marge, Bart and Lisa are saved and Homer is released, although scientists say they can not determine which species he belongs to.
88"The Telltale Head"Rich MooreAl Jean, Mike Reiss, Sam Simon & Matt GroeningFebruary 25, 1990 (1990-02-25)7G0728.0[16]
Bart becomes friends with Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney, a group of local troublemakers. Trying to impress them, Bart decides to cut off and steal the head of the statue of Jebediah Springfield. The next day, the entire town grieves for the vandalized statue and Bart discovers that his new friends want to attack the vandal. Feeling remorse, Bart confesses to his family and Homer and Bart take the head back to the statue after passing through the furious people.
99"Life on the Fast Lane"David SilvermanJohn SwartzwelderMarch 18, 1990 (1990-03-18)7G1133.5[17]
Having forgotten about Marge's birthday, Homer rushes to the Springfield mall and impulsively buys her a bowling ball. Marge is not impressed with the gift and after discovering that he intends to use it, she decides to spite him by going bowling herself. While at the alley, she meets Jacques, a charming French bowling instructor, who offers her lessons. Jacques begins to fall for Marge and invites her to his apartment. Although she agrees, Marge undergoes a moral dilemma. In the end, Marge visits Homer at the nuclear plant.
1010"Homer's Night Out"Rich MooreJon VittiMarch 25, 1990 (1990-03-25)7G1030.3[18]
Bart purchases a mini spy camera and manages to take a picture of Homer dancing next to stripper named Princess Kashmir at a co-worker's strip club party. He gives copies of the picture to his friends, and eventually the picture starts to circulate around until eventually Marge sees it. She kicks Homer out of the house, but the next day explains that she is not upset about his dancing next to a woman, but rather that Bart saw it. She demands that he take Bart and go apologize to Princess Kashmir. Homer agrees and says he is ready to start respecting women.
1111"The Crepes of Wrath"Wes Archer & Milton GrayGeorge Meyer, Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder & Jon VittiApril 15, 1990 (1990-04-15)7G1331.2[19]
Principal Skinner finally becomes fed up with Bart's pranks and proposes that Bart be sent to France as part of the student exchange program. The family agrees and Bart is sent to the "beautiful" Château Maison, which is actually a dilapidated farmhouse on a neglected vineyard. Bart is treated like a slave by two unscrupulous winemakers, César and Ugolin, who eventually feed him wine tainted with antifreeze. Meanwhile, an Albanian boy named Adil starts to live with the Simpsons. Unbeknownst to Homer, Adil is a spy sent by his country to obtain nuclear blueprints from the Nuclear Plant, and is secretly faxing them home. Back in France, Bart learns French and reports the winemakers' crimes to the police. Adil is caught by the FBI and deported.
1212"Krusty Gets Busted"Brad BirdJay Kogen & Wallace WolodarskyApril 29, 1990 (1990-04-29)7G1230.4[20]
While buying ice cream at the Kwik-E-Mart, Homer witnesses a robbery perpetrated by a man believed to be Krusty the Clown, host of The Krusty the Clown Show, Bart's favorite program. Krusty is sent to jail and his show is taken over by his assistant, Sideshow Bob. Bart is certain Krusty is innocent, and gathers evidence to support his claim, which he takes to "Krusty's bestest friend", Sideshow Bob. Bart realizes the robbery was actually committed by Bob, who was trying to frame Krusty. Bob is arrested and Krusty thanks Bart for saving him.
1313"Some Enchanted Evening"David Silverman & Kent ButterworthMatt Groening & Sam SimonMay 13, 1990 (1990-05-13)7G0127.1[21]
Marge, feeling unappreciated by Homer, calls in to Dr. Monroe's radio show, which Homer overhears at work. Homer, wanting to make it up to Marge, decides to take her to dinner at a fancy restaurant and hires a babysitter to take care of Bart and Lisa. They are sent Ms. Botz, who Bart and Lisa soon discover is actually a burglar nicknamed "The Babysitter Bandit". They are captured by Ms. Botz and tied up but eventually are freed by Maggie. Bart and Lisa capture Ms. Botz and call the police. Meanwhile, Marge and Homer return home and find Ms. Botz is tied up. Homer, unaware of her true identity, frees her and Ms. Botz makes a clean getaway just moments before the police arrive.

Home media

The DVD boxset for season one was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in the United States and Canada on September 25, 2001, eleven years after it had completed broadcast on television.[22] As well as every episode from the season, the DVD release features bonus material including deleted scenes, animatics, and commentaries for every episode. The commentaries were recorded in late 2000.[23] When the first season DVD was released in 2001, it quickly became the best-selling television DVD in history. It was later overtaken by the 2004 release of Chappelle's Show Season 1.[24] As of October 19, 2004, the DVD boxset sold 1.9 million units.[24]

The Complete First Season
Set Details[22][25][26] Special Features[22][25][26]
  • 13 episodes
  • 3-disc set
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio
    • English 5.1 Dolby Digital
    • English 2.0 Dolby Surround
    • French 2.0 Dolby Surround
Release Dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
September 25, 2001 September 24, 2001 September 24, 2001

See also


  1. ^ Richmond & Coffman 1997, pp. 16–17.
  2. ^ a b Groening, Matt (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Some Enchanted Evening" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  3. ^ Silverman, David (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Some Enchanted Evening" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b Emmy Awards official site Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine "The Simpsons" "1989–1990" Retrieved on July 3, 2007
  5. ^ "TV Ratings: 1989–1990". Retrieved July 3, 2006.
  6. ^ "The Simpsons". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. ^ Turner 2004, p. 131.
  8. ^ Rosenbaum, Martin (June 29, 2007). "Is The Simpsons still subversive?". BBC News. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Griffiths, Nick (April 15, 2000). "America's First Family". The Times Magazine. pp. 25, 27–28.
  10. ^ a b Henry, Matthew (April 2007). "Don't Ask me, I'm Just a Girl: Feminism, Female Identity, and The Simpsons". The Journal of Popular Culture. 40 (2): 272–303. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5931.2007.00379.x.
  11. ^ "NIELSENS; A 'Grand' entrance for NBC". Life. USA Today. January 24, 1990. p. 03.D.
  12. ^ "NIELSENS; AMA gets the popular votes". Life. USA Today. January 31, 1990. p. 03.D.
  13. ^ "NIELSENS; 'Amen,' wedded to ratings win". Life. USA Today. February 7, 1990. p. 03.D.
  14. ^ "NIELSENS; 'Faith' abides for No.1 NBC". Life. USA Today. February 14, 1990. p. 03.D.
  15. ^ "NIELSENS; 'Home Videos' a hit for ABC". Life. USA Today. February 21, 1990. p. 03.D.
  16. ^ "NIELSENS; 'Videos' is a repeat winner". Life. USA Today. February 28, 1990. p. 03.D.
  17. ^ "NIELSENS; 'Simpsons' soar for No.4 Fox". Life. USA Today. March 21, 1990. p. 03.D.
  18. ^ "NIELSENS; Fox builds Sunday strength". Life. USA Today. March 28, 1990. p. 03.D.
  19. ^ unknown (April 27, 1990). "The Ratings. TV chart for week of April 9—15, 1990". Entertainment Weekly. TV ARTICLE. Published in issue #11 Apr 27, 1990. In millions of viewers ...  The Simpsons Fox, 31.2
  20. ^ unknown (May 11, 1990). "The Ratings". Entertainment Weekly. TV ARTICLE. Published in issue #13 May 11, 1990. In millions of viewers ...  The Simpsons Fox, 30.4
  21. ^ "NIELSENS; Sunday night sinks NBC". Life. USA Today. May 16, 1990. p. 03.D.
  22. ^ a b c "Simpsons, The — The Complete 1st Season". TV Shows on Archived from the original on March 3, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  23. ^ The Simpsons Archive: Matt Groening Interview (October 2000)
  24. ^ a b Lambert, David (September 19, 2004). "Chappelle's Show—S1 DVD Passes The Simpsons As #1 All-Time TV-DVD; Celebrates by Announcing Season 2!". Archived from the original on July 4, 2006. Retrieved July 3, 2006.
  25. ^ a b c "The Simpsons Season 1 DVD". The Simpsons Shop. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  26. ^ a b c "The Simpsons Make Their DVD Debut In Fox Home Entertainment's Worldwide Release Of The Simpsons Season One Collector's Edition DVD Box Set". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. July 11, 2001. Archived from the original on August 3, 2001. Retrieved June 5, 2019 – via