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Looper's Exclusive Survey Uncovered The Simpsons Fans' Choice For The Best Running Gag

Hi, I'm Melissa Lemieux, and you may remember me from such Looper articles as "This Is Why The Simpsons Has Failed To Have Any President As A Guest Star" and "Did The Simpsons Actually Predict The 2022 Monkeypox Outbreak?" If that introduction made you smile at all, then you've probably spent a little of your time watching "The Simpsons." After so many years on the air, the show is laden with running gags and catchphrases that are guaranteed to make audience members "whoo-hoo" or, if they're critical of the show and the man at the center of the series, let out a hearty "d'oh!"

"The Simpsons" has a way of spawning gags that take on a life of their own and become metatextual memes on the internet in a way no other show has managed to do. Even one-shot gags like Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) trying to look cool and hip by doing a trendy dance have spawned video and graphical memes that have gained a popular following online. Whether it's Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) causing a ton of damage to himself trying to teach his kids a lesson or Bart Simpson's (Nancy Cartwright) tendency to prank call hapless bar owner Moe Szyslak (Hank Azaria), many a gag has stood the test of time. 

Which of these running gags has caused our readers to let out a "ha-ha" in the style of Nelson Muntz (Cartwright)? Looper conducted a survey of 607 people around the country and asked our fans which "The Simpsons" running gag is their absolute favorite.

Simpsons fans are wild about the couch gag

The favorite "Simpsons" running gag is so iconic that artists, animators, and directors from all walks of cinematic life have donated their talents in tribute to it. The couch gag is a creative conclusion to the show's opening credit scene, in which the entire Simpson family is seen scrambling home from various places in Springfield. When they reach the living room, strange and wonderful things occur, anything from a trip to the future to a trip to the phantasmagorical. Such famous faces as Guillermo del Toro, Banksy, and Bill Plympton have all contributed couch gags to the show over time. The show's couch gags drew 22.57% of the vote, winning the poll. 

Next up is Bart Simpson's chalkboard gag. Another piece from the opening credits, the scene features Bart writing out a repetitive message on a chalkboard as a form of punishment in a classroom at Springfield Elementary. On rare occasions, the messages include art or a tribute that marks the passing of time. There was also one that paid tribute to the late Marcia Wallace, who voiced Mrs. Krabappel on the show. The chalkboard gag won 19.77% of the poll.

In third place is a famous utterance by Homer Simpson: "Why you little...!" The sentence usually precedes Homer's attempt at choking his mischievous son Bart. This running gag is so old it was actually included in a pre-series "Tracey Ullman Show" short and became a part of the show proper during its 1st season. It choked 17.63% of our audience ... with laughter.

My eyes! I'm not allowed to get survey results in them!

If there's anything C. Montgomery Burns (Harry Shearer) doesn't seem to know, it's what Homer Simpson does at his plant ... or his name, for that matter. He often shows a total lack of memory of Homer's existence in general, often turning to his assistant Waylon Smithers (also Shearer) for help. Smithers often replies with some insult toward Homer along with a description of the Simpson patriarch's job in Sector 7-G. This running joke grabbed 15.16% of the poll.

If you have ever hung an onion from your belt — which was totally the style at the time — then perhaps you have a fondness for "Grampa" Abe Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) and his tendency to burst forth with long, rambling, pointless stories that drive his family (and almost everyone else) bananas. We'll make a long story short — 14.83% of our readers love them.

Then there's hapless Lenny Leonard (also Shearer) and his abused eye. The first time Lenny gets anything mashed in his face is during the divisive Season 12 episode "Homer vs. Dignity." Lenny takes a spring to his eye thanks to a malfunctioning gag bottle belonging to Homer, then suffers through two glasses of pudding being thrown in his face by Homer at the request of Mr. Burns. Later, during a parade in which Homer takes the place of Burns' hired Santa Claus, he takes a fistful of fish guts to the kisser. The gag is repeated in "Three Gays of the Condo," in which Homer mashes Lenny's face into a jigsaw puzzle and he shouts that he's "not supposed to get jigs" in his eye. In "Saddlesore Galactica," a patch-wearing Lenny is later seen remarking that it's "a little too late" for him after witnessing a demonstration of the Omni Gogs. This running gag came in at last place with 10.05%.