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The Simpsons: best ever opening sequences
2014 is a landmark year for The Simpsons, as the much-loved animation celebrates its 25th anniversary and prepares for its 26th season. The show has broadcast 552 episodes to date and, starting last week, cable channel FXX launched a 12-day marathon during which every single one of them will be aired in full for the first time ever.
As you’d no doubt expect from America’s longest-running sitcom, The Simpsons has spawned catchphrases, songs, mannerisms and, of course, lots and lots of jokes. Different viewers have their favorite Simpson, as well as their favorite minor characters, running jokes and seasons.
Then there’s the opening sequences – which has arguably been the writing team’s most creative outlet over the course of its 25-year existence. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up 10 of the very best for your viewing pleasure, so sit back and feast your eyes on these triumphs of animation.
1) Guillermo Del Torro
The Simpsons halloween specials always offer up something a bit special, but the 24th in the series will take some beating. Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Torro takes over the reigns for an extended opening sequence that is teeming with references to horror classics – both obvious and wilfully obscure. How many can you get? Check your tally against this complete list from MoviePilot.
2) Sylvain Chomet
Another artist to guest-direct The Simpsons opening sequence is Sylvain Chomet, the acclaimed French comic writer and animator behind The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist. It’s the same Simpsons characters you know and love, yet it somehow manages to be the most French thing we’ve ever seen.
3) Breaking Bad
Another classic Simpsons trick is to use its opening sequence to pay homage to other TV shows or films. Breaking Bad fans were not only delighted by the many references, but were also treated to a couple of cameos from the show’s stars.
The Simpsons outsourced its opening sequence to graffiti artist Banksy back in 2010 – and they may have got more than they bargained for. While the intro begins harmless enough, as the Simpson family cram into the living room the camera zooms underground to reveal sweatshop workers slaving away on Simpsons merchandise. “This is what you get when you outsource,” joked The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean.
5) Hayao Miyazaki
Anime fans will have been surprised to see Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki directing this fantastical opening sequence earlier this year. Many of the references may be lost on the show’s huge worldwide audience, but its testament to how far the show is willing to push the envelope – and undoubtedly one of its most beautiful intros ever.
6) Game of Life
This Game of Life is all about winners and losers, and while it starts positively for Homer things quickly descend into a series of wrong turns. Homer’s misfortune is ours to enjoy, though – D’oh after D’oh after D’OH!
7) The Simpsons on Letterman
Tributes poured in as David Letterman announced his retirement from the Late Night show earlier this year – including a dedicated Simpsons couch gag. What greater honor could there possibly be? “We’ll miss you, Dave”.
8) Game of Thrones
Like the Breaking Bad intro, The Simpsons also paid tribute to Game of Thrones this year with this neatly observed sequence. It’s a little light on laughs, but has more than enough nods and winks to satisfy Thronies and Simpsons fans alike.
9) The Hobbit
Sticking with epic tales set in ancient lands, The Simpsons camped out in Middle Earth for a special Hobbit-themed intro last year. What’s amazing is how neatly The Simpsons creators are able to find counterparts for its characters in other worlds – case-in-point, Moe Syzslak as Gollum in this Tolkein-adaptation is pretty much perfect.
10) Evolution of Homer
Last but not least, the evolution of Homer Simpson. Homer’s character has a come a long way since the series’ first episode back in 1989, but this animation takes it back even further – and we’re talking prehistoric – before arriving in Springfield to take his seat on that familiar brown couch. Home sweet home.