The most terrible things Homer Simpson has ever done

Homer Simpson isn't just a cartoon character. He is, officially, one of the most influential people of the modern era. The LA Times called him "one of the greatest creations in human storytelling." The Times of London praised him as "the greatest comic creation of our time."

He's also a complete scumbag. For over 30 years, (The Simpsons debuted in a series of animated shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show in 1987), Homer's been abusing his kids, lying to his wife, and causing all kinds of mayhem as a result of his laziness, idiocy, and self-centered attitude. Sure, he's funny, but that comedy comes at a cost. While we laugh, the citizens of Springfield suffer.

He got Flanders' wife killed

Maude Flanders' demise via T-shirt cannon is arguably the most shocking, callous, and brutal death in The Simpsons' long and storied history. After voice actress Marcia Wallace died, her character, schoolteacher Edna Krabappel was tastefully retired off-screen. Homer's mother, Mona Simpson, got a touching episode-length send-off. Frank Grimes, Homer's self-declared worst enemy, kills himself while acting like a buffoon—and besides, he was legitimately crazy.

But when Maude Flanders dies, it's played like a joke—and while Homer didn't pull the trigger, he's absolutely the man responsible. In "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly," the Flanders and Simpsons families visit the local racetrack. Ned's charmed by the safety equipment, Maude takes refuge in the fresh air (and laughs at the poor people in the crowd), and Homer becomes obsessed with the cheerleaders' T-shirt cannon.

Really obsessed. First, he takes off his own shirt and whips it around, trying to get the cheerleaders' attention. Next, he paints a bull's-eye on his chest. Given Homer's size, that should be an easy target—and the cheerleaders' aim is dead-on, until Homer ducks at the last minute to pick up a hairpin, letting a barrage of T-shirts fly overhead. The shirts hit Maude instead, knocking her from the bleachers. She falls to the ground, and Doctor Hibbert pronounces her dead. And that's the end of the line for poor Maude, who didn't do anything wrong aside from crossing paths with Homer Simpson one too many times.

He murdered Prince, George Clooney, and Neil Armstrong

Technically, The Simpsons' annual Treehouse of Horror episodes aren't canon, which gives the show's writers plenty of room to stretch their muscles and go crazy. Treehouse of Horror also provides an excuse for Homer Simpson to engage in some truly heinous activities. In Treehouse Of Horror V's The Shining parody, Homer tries to murder his family with an ax. In Treehouse of Horror IV, he makes a deal with the actual devil.

Even by those standards, the 2009 Treehouse of Horror segment "How to Get Ahead in Dead-Vertising" is extra-creepy. "How to Get Ahead in Dead-Vertising" begins as a Mad Men parody but quickly descends into a dark and weird story in which Homer hunts down and kills superstars for money. Apparently, it's easier to score celebrity endorsements when the celebrities are no longer living. (Remember when Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Louis Armstrong posthumously teamed up with Elton John to shill Diet Coke?)

Homer starts by murdering Krusty the Clown for free and then accepts money from advertising executives to drown George Clooney in cement, to strangle and beat Prince to death with his own guitar, and to brain Neil Armstrong with a golf club.

Watching one of America's most beloved sitcom characters casually off some of the most beloved celebrities of all time is markedly unsettling—and it's even weirder when you realize that Neil Armstrong and Prince each died within a few years. Clooney, watch out.

He framed Marge for drunk driving

If you ask die-hard Simpsons fans to recommend Homer's overall lowest moment, most of them will probably point you to "Co-Dependent's Day," a Season 15 episode that chronicles Marge's struggle with alcoholism. We already know that Marge has an addictive personality—she got hooked on gambling back in the Season 10 episode "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)"—but by the end of "Co-Dependent's Day," she's given up the juice in order to save her family. She's in the clear.

Homer doesn't fare nearly as well. Homer's been a beer-guzzling booze hound since the very beginning, and in "Co-Dependent's Day," he enables Marge's addiction. He takes her to Moe's, his local watering hole, for a multi-day bender. After she's decided not to drink, he takes her to an Oktoberfest celebration because why not.

But the coup de gras comes when Homer, plastered from the beer festival, tries to drive home and ends up flipping the car. That's bad enough, but when the police arrive, he blames Marge, who's even more drunk than he is. Marge goes to jail for driving under the influence, and later checks into a rehab facility. Homer, meanwhile, doesn't face any consequences. Marge is mad when Homer admits he set her up, but he's not punished. In fact, Marge ends up forgiving Homer instead of, say, kicking him to the curb—and so, he happily goes on drinking, even as Marge sobers up and gets her life back together.

He married another woman

As the saying goes, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"—unless you're Homer Simpson. In that case, what happens in Vegas stays mostly forgotten until three seasons later, when Homer's jilted second wife shows up and throws the Simpsons family into chaos.

It all begins innocently enough. In "Viva Ned Flanders," Ned worries that his clean-cut lifestyle makes him boring and asks Homer for advice. In response, Homer takes him to Vegas. There, Ned gambles and gets drunk, and when he and Homer wake up from their booze-soaked all-nighter, they're married to their waitresses from the night before.

Of course, Homer and Ned already have wives and flee back to Springfield. Their comeuppance comes three seasons later. In "Brawl in the Family," Amber and Ginger, the two cocktail waitresses, track down their husbands and invade Springfield. Enraged, Marge throws Homer out of the house, forcing him to live with Amber in Bart's treehouse.

It doesn't last long. After a judge refuses to annul Amber and Homer's marriage, he takes matters into his own hands and gets the woman drunk. When she wakes up, she's married to Homer's dad. The horrified woman takes off for Vegas as soon as possible. It's a funny way to turn the tables on Amber, until you actually think about it for two seconds. So creepy, Homer.

He made his father's kidneys fail

In the Season 10 episode "Kidney Trouble," the Simpsons take a day trip to Bloodbath Gulch, a rundown ghost town and notorious tourist trap somewhere west of Shelbyville. Reluctantly, Homer brings his father, Abe, along. After a full day "enjoying" Bloodbath Gulch's shoddy attractions, the family heads home. But while Homer wants to return to Springfield as quickly as possible, Abe has to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, Homer's the man behind the wheel. He refuses to stop.

Abe's kidneys explode, and he's told he'll die without a transplant. Fortunately, Homer is an exact match. Less fortunately, Homer is also Homer Simpson. While Homer agrees to donate a kidney—y'know, to replace one of the ones that he ruined—he takes off just before the surgery, leaving his father to die a lonely and painful death.

After a brief sojourn as a sailor, Homer returns to Springfield, where he wimps out on donating a kidney again. In fact, Abe only gets the life-saving organ he needs after Homer gets hit by a car and knocked unconscious, giving Doctor Hibbert time to steal Homer's kidney and complete the procedure. Even that's not enough to teach Homer his lesson. In the aftermath, Homer starts regarding Bart as a potential organ donor—after all, he's down to one kidney, now, and kidneys don't last forever.

He worked for an international terrorist

Homer Simpson has had many, many jobs. There's only one at which he's truly excelled. Unfortunately, that happened to be when he was serving as a grunt for Hank Scorpio, a charismatic James Bond-esque supervillain in the episode "You Only Move Twice."

This is Homer we're talking about, of course, and he doesn't notice that Scorpio is actually a criminal mastermind. He's too busy doing his job (which, admittedly, consists of practically nothing) to realize that he's helping Scorpio conquer the world. Remember: this is the episode in which a clueless Homer does what Blofeld, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and 26 films (and counting) couldn't by tackling and defeating an escaping James Bond (or his non-trademark-infringing counterpart, "Mr. Bont"), leaving him to die at the hands of Scorpio's goons.

Even worse, Homer doesn't notice that Marge, Bart, and Lisa are absolutely miserable in Scorpio's compound, known as Cypress Creek, until it's too late. Eventually, he comes around, and the ever-supportive Scorpio lets Homer returns to Springfield—but not before Scorpio's forces conquer the East Coast. Good job, Homer. They couldn't have done it without you.

He sabotaged Ned Flanders' business

If Homer has an arch-nemesis, it's his next door neighbor, Ned Flanders, especially in The Simpsons' early seasons. Unlike Homer, Ned is kind, charitable, and honest. He has a well-behaved and adoring family, lives clean, and runs two successful businesses. He's a genuinely good person and seems legitimately happy. In other words, he's everything Homer Simpson stands against.

And so, Homer goes out of his way to make Flanders' life miserable, as seen in the Season 3 episode "When Flanders Failed." At a backyard barbecue, Flanders announces that he's quitting his job to open his own store, the Leftorium, which sells goods designed specifically for left-handed people. Immediately, Homer tries to destroy it. At the barbecue—which Flanders hosts—Homer uses a wishbone to call for the Leftorium's demise.

It works. As Flanders and the Leftorium struggle to attract customers, Homer gloats. When Homer sees Springfield's left-handed citizens struggling with everyday tasks, he purposefully doesn't mention that he knows where they can get help. When the Flanders family holds an emergency garage sale to make ends meet, Homer gleefully buys their belongings at a bargain price. Ned's house is repossessed, and the Leftorium goes out of business.

Of course, that's when Homer feels guilty, and he hatches a last-minute scheme to save Flanders and the Leftorium. While Homer saves Ned from bankruptcy, Ned never would've been in trouble in the first place if Homer hadn't been such a jerk.

He strangled his son

This isn't a one-off occurrence. Homer strangles Bart all the time. In fact, the sight of Homer wrapping his hands around Bart's neck—usually while yelling, "Why, you little—!"—is still one of the most iconic Simpsons images ever. That'll probably never change.

On one hand, it's funny, and most of the time it's hard to argue that Bart doesn't deserve some kind of punishment. On the other hand, it's child abuse. That's a weird and unsettling activity for one of TV's most beloved characters. It's also an uncomfortable source of comedy, not to mention very, very illegal.

The Simpsons addressed Homer's abusive tendencies head on during Season 22, during an episode called "Love is a Many Strangled Thing." In the episode, Homer goes to therapy and tells Paul Rudd's Dr. Zander that he regularly strangles his kid. In order to cure Homer of his violent behavior, Dr. Zander subjects Homer to a therapeutic role-playing exercise. When he's done, Homer can't bring himself to strangle Bart. Problem solved.

But nothing's that easy. With Homer's authority neutered, Bart runs amok. Nothing can stop him. Reluctantly, Marge asks Dr. Zander to fix Bart, too, but the psychiatrist ends up strangling Bart himself. It hardly matters. Zander's solution proves to be only temporary, anyway: Homer's back to strangling Bart at the end of the very next episode, "Hardly Kirk-ing."

He's reckless with firearms, even when his children are around

Instead of buying an expensive home security system to keep his family and his belongings safe, Homer Simpson does the American thing and purchases a gun. And so begins "The Cartridge Family," a Season 9 episode that shows Homer at his most ignorant, stubborn, and dangerous.

It's not just that Homer ignores Marge and keeps his gun. It's that he's absolutely careless with it. He points the loaded gun at Marge when showing her how it works. He promises that Bart can use the gun to scare a security guard as long as he cleans his room. At dinner, he can't figure out how to turn the weapon's safety on, putting bullet after bullet into a picture of Marge instead.

Marge tells Homer to get rid of the gun. He lies and says he will. Instead, he stashes the firearm in the fridge, where Millhouse and Bart find it and start to play an impromptu game of William Tell. Enraged and fearing for her family's safety, Marge takes the kids to a hotel. Homer persists, using his gun to open cans of beer and control the television. Even when he tries to reconcile with Marge, promising that the gun is gone for good, he's lying—as evidenced when a burglar robs the hotel clerk.

Homer never reforms, either. Instead, he asks Marge to take the gun away. As long as it's around, he knows he won't be able to shake its hold over him. She agrees, and takes the gun to the trash—but decides against it when she catches sight of her reflection. After all, it does look pretty cool.

He signed his family up for shock therapy

To the modern eye, "There's No Disgrace Like Home"—the fourth entry in the show's very first season—doesn't look much like a normal episode of The Simpsons. Lisa acts like an unsophisticated troublemaker. Marge is a drunk mess. Homer serves as both the Simpsons' conscience and the show's voice of reason. And Bart—well, OK, Bart is pretty much the same.

Still, one thing rings true: in "There's No Disgrace Like Home," Homer abuses his family. In this case, after the Simpsons make a disastrous showing at Mr. Burns' company picnic and utterly fail to enjoy dinner around the table like a normal family, Homer sells the television and checks the entire gang into Dr. Marvin Monroe's Family Therapy Center. Monroe tries his best, but conventional therapy approaches fail. He has no choice but to bring out the big guns.

And that's how the Simpsons wind up attached to a series of electrodes, with the capability to give each other electric shocks. It goes about as well as you'd expect. The entire session devolves into petty complaints, minor insults, and lots and lots of pain. In fact, the whole escapade only ends when the Simpsons inadvertently brown out Springfield, forcing Monroe to give them their money back.

On the other hand, the Simpsons did emerge from Monroe's clinic feeling closer and survived as a family for 27 more seasons (so far).