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The Best Lisa Moments On The Simpsons

In the weird, wacky, and completely absurd animated world of The Simpsons, the character of Lisa Simpson serves a few unique and important purposes. She's the least boisterous, least aggressive, and most thoughtful member of her bizarre family, making her the most realistic Simpson, which elevates her to audience surrogate status. Her normalcy and tendency to stand up for sense, decency, and reason also makes her the most relatable Simpson family member — and perhaps the most relatable resident in all of Springfield. Beyond that, she's just a kid, and she goes through a lot of familiar issues faced by real-world children and tweens.

As such, things don't so much happen because of Lisa, they happen to Lisa, and The Simpsons has generated hundreds of hours of entertainment and hilarity depicting the politically progressive eight-year-old saxophonist as she faces strange and funny situations beyond her control. All the while, her strong moral code always stays intact. (Okay, almost.) Here are the best moments in the televised life of sweet, sensitive, and strong Lisa Simpson.

Lisa gets a friend and descends into a jealous rage

Poor Lisa Simpson — she yearns to be understood by her immature and more simplistic peers, but when she actually finds someone she can relate to on an intellectual level, she can't stand it because she's no longer the smartest and most special person in the room. This is the gist of the 1994 The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Rival," which finds the usually conscientious and sensitive Lisa expressing an emotion she doesn't usually show: jealousy. 

A new student named Allison comes to Springfield Elementary, and she and Lisa hit it off because they almost miraculously have so much in common — like Lisa, Allison is a very good student and also a very talented saxophone player. Actually, she's smarter than Lisa and is a better saxophonist, defeating her in an epic band audition duel. The rivalry is seemingly completely one-sided, as Allison is something Lisa isn't — well-adjusted — and doesn't seem to care much that Lisa isn't quite up to her level. The whole relationship drives Lisa a little mad. After her exquisite diorama of Oliver Twist for her school's Diorama-Rama gets destroyed, she endeavors to hide Allison's also exquisite diorama depicting Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," until guilt gets the better of her and she reveals it. Allison and Lisa both wind up losing, however, to Ralph Wiggum's non-diorama, a collection of Star Wars figures in their original packaging. This serves to humble Lisa and humanize Allison.

Lisa's long journey into a vegetarian lifestyle

In the 1995 episode "Lisa the Vegetarian," Lisa embarks on a journey that will affect her diet for the rest of her life, and it all starts out with a cute lamb at a petting zoo. Lisa loves that little creature, and when Marge cooks up some lamb chops after, she can't disconnect the idea of living animals from the ones on her plate. Lisa decides to go vegetarian, and resists meat's many aggressive advocates, including Principal Skinner and Homer. 

The former, after identifying Lisa as a dangerously independent thinker for asking for a vegetarian alternative in the Springfield Elementary cafeteria (she's given a hamburger bun), forces Lisa and her class to watch an anti-vegetarianism film prepared by the Meat Council, which comes with free all-you-can-eat tripe for all the boys and girls. Meanwhile, Homer is planning his own wildly meat-centric barbecue, which Lisa, an increasingly militant vegetarian, sabotages, employing a riding mower to steal and send flying the cookout's centerpiece, a roasted pig. Angry and frustrated that no one understands her (and that nobody at the barbecue wanted her meat-free gazpacho), Lisa runs away and decides to succumb to meat culture and eats a Kwik-E-Mart hot dog. But all is well — Apu secretly serves tofu dogs because he's a vegetarian, too. Then he takes her to his secret rooftop garden where famous vegetarians Linda and Paul McCartney encourage Lisa to stick to her guns and skip the meat.

Lisa accidentally assists in Mr. Burns' ocean-destroying scheme

Lisa Simpson generally doesn't trust barons of industry who shamelessly pollute the natural world, so the arrangement at the center of the 1997 episode "The Old Man and the Lisa" is surprising. 

After years of inattention to his stock portfolio and some last-minute bad investments, Mr. Burns goes bankrupt, is found wandering around a grocery store, and is committed to the Springfield Retirement Castle, where he meets up with Lisa again, after once speaking at her Junior Achievers Club meeting and dismissing her idea of fundraising for a trip by collecting recyclable cans. Lisa agrees to help Mr. Burns get rich again, on the condition that he adopt more environmentally friendly practices. 

It all backfires, however, when, after Lisa shows him that six-pack rings can ensnare innocent wildlife, he invents and implements the Burns Omni-Net — millions of plastic rings glued together to purposely capture fish which he uses to turn into a lucrative industrial product he calls Li'l Lisa's Patented Animal Slurry. In his attempts to be good, Mr. Burns is even worse than before, although he does try to give Lisa a cut of the profits when he sells his slurry to a fish stick manufacturer. She cannot, in good conscience, accept that check for $12 million... the refusal of which gives Homer a heart attack.

Lisa takes on Malibu Stacy

Lisa Simpson can be a series of contradictions in motion. For example, she's an outspoken and well-read feminist who believes in and fights for equal opportunities and perceptions, while she also deeply enjoys Malibu Stacy, the Simpsons universe's version of Barbie, what with its strict and impossible beauty standards and objectification of women. In the 1994 episode "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy," this inner conflict comes to a head, and Lisa not only rejects Malibu Stacy from her own heart, she tries to take the toy's manufacturer down too. 

A new talking Stacy doll is what does it, so egregiously and blatantly sexist and vapid with preprogrammed phrases like "I wish they taught shopping in school," "Let's bake some cookies for the boys," and "Don't ask me, I'm just a girl!" Something has to be done, Lisa proclaims, and so she does. After her complaints to Stacy parent company Petrochem Petrochemical accomplish nothing, Lisa recruits original Malibu Stacy creator Stacy Lavelle to help her produce and market a non-sexist doll, Lisa Lionheart. She's wise like Gertrude Stein, funny like Cathy cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, as attractive as Eleanor Roosevelt... and is a complete flop when she hits toy stores. Well, at least Lisa tried.

Lisa gives Ralph a Valentine and quickly regrets it

Ralph Wiggum is possibly the dumbest, strangest, and most baffling boy in all of Springfield. Viewers get to know exactly who Ralph is early in the 1993 episode "I Love Lisa," when he and Lisa's class engage in the pointless busy work of constructing Valentine's delivery boxes — only Ralph isn't allowed to use safety scissors, somehow glues his head to his shoulder, and eats his red crayon. When the Valentine's exchange begins, Ralph cries because he gets no cards at all, and Lisa, perhaps because she also often feels unloved, disliked, and left out, drops a friendly Valentine into his box. Ralph is transfixed and amazed by the gesture and the card itself — there's a picture of a train on it and it reads, "I choo-choo-choose you," which Ralph interprets as a romantic overture. 

He spends the rest of the episode trying to get Lisa to love him — he constantly calls her his Valentine, gifts her a Malibu Stacy convertible, and takes her to Krusty the Clown's anniversary special, where he tells the host he's going to marry Lisa one day. That's the last straw for Lisa, who angrily proclaims on TV that she does not love Ralph, breaking his heart. It makes it awfully awkward, then, when they have to star in Springfield Elementary's President's Day play about George and Martha Washington together.

Lisa has a crush on Nelson

Despite her advanced intellect, Lisa is helpless to go where her heart leads her, and The Simpsons occasionally explores her burgeoning interest in boys. After becoming addicted to an expensive 1-900 hotline featuring '80s-style non-threatening teenage heartthrob Corey Masterson, Lisa seems to engender interest from others more than she explores it herself. Milhouse is desperately and openly in love with her, and Ralph Wiggum falls for her after taking a Valentine's Day gesture of pity too far, but it's not until the 1996 episode "Lisa's Date with Density," in which the middle Simpson child falls under the powerful sway of a crush. And it's a knowingly ill-advised one at that. 

After getting detention for staring at Nelson during band practice — he's hilariously tormenting Groundskeeper Willie with a hose — she realizes she's got a thing for the school bully and "riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest." Nelson begrudgingly accepts that he's the object of Lisa's affections and lets her show him her dressed up cat and take him out on a picnic. But alas, they are from two different worlds, and even though Lisa tries to class him up with new clothes and her undivided attention, he'd rather hang with the bullies and throw expired coleslaw at Principal Skinner's house than be with a girl who sees the best in him. Still, Lisa at least gets her first kiss out of the deal.

Lisa competes in the Little Miss Springfield pageant

Lisa Simpson never fails to feel her feelings, and when a caricaturist at a Springfield Elementary carnival draws her in an unflattering light in the 1992 The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen," she comes to believe that she's ugly — and it's devastating. Homer can't stand to see his daughter so upset and suffering from body image issues, so he sells the prize he wins at the carnival raffle — a ride on the Duff Blimp — to afford the entry fee in the Little Miss Springfield pageant, reasoning that Lisa won't think she's unattractive if she's a beauty queen. Lisa, reluctantly at first, throws herself into the festivities, learning tricks like putting petroleum jelly on her teeth to enhance her smile and working the crowd into a patriotic fervor by performing a pandering medley of "America the Beautiful" and "Proud Mary" in the style of Tina Turner. Lisa is disappointed when she's named first runner-up, but then takes the title anyway when winner Amber Dempsey is struck by lightning attracted to her metal scepter at a public appearance. But even when she wins, Lisa loses. She's forcibly stripped of her title after she refuses to do kid-oriented commercial work for the Little Miss Springfield's official sponsor: Laramie Cigarettes.

Lisa wants to be a dancer but is bad at it

Some of Lisa's best and funniest moments happen when Simpsons writers ignore the fact that she's precociously intelligent and a sanctimonious old soul and just place her in the kinds of situations that normal, real-life eight-year-old kids may face. In the 2000 episode "Last Tap Dance in Springfield," Lisa goes where so many other little kids have gone before and becomes obsessed with dancing. After seeing the dance movie Tango de la Muerte, Lisa enrolls in Springfield's next-best alternative to tango lessons: tap dance classes, as taught by Miss Vicki Valentine, an aggressive perfectionist of a teacher and a former Shirley Temple-esque child star. In those sessions, Lisa learns that she's not naturally gifted and talented at everything she tries, because she's a deeply klutzy and uncoordinated dancer, earning the scorn of Miss Vicki, who takes her out of the recital and puts her on curtain-pulling duty (and then takes that job away too). Local scientist Professor Frink helps Lisa steal the show, literally, outfitting her with self-tapping shoes that make her dance all over the stage. In the end, Lisa accepts the fact that she's bad at dancing, but that she can still be a "Broadway Baby" someday, should she take up writing depressing plays about people "coming to terms with things."

Lisa pretends to be a cool '90s tween

Even Lisa Simpson's own parents can get a little tired of Lisa Simpson — her activism and standing up for what's right is honorable and admirable, but adhering to Lisa's various standards can exhaust Homer and Marge. In the 1996 episode "Summer of 4 Ft. 2," Lisa gets sick of herself, jolted into the reality of just how unliked by her peers she is when nobody signs her yearbook at the end of the school year. That summer, the family rents out Ned Flanders' beach house, giving Lisa the chance to completely reinvent herself in a new town where nobody has any preconceived notions of her as a brainy nerd. Lisa purposely doesn't pack any clothes, so she has to buy new ones on arrival and chooses an arrival of hippie-bohemian threads and accessories that gain her entry into a clique of cool slacker kids that hang out on the beach (and do little more than that). Lisa finally feels accepted because she stifles her own personality, only for Bart — resentful that Lisa is more popular than him for once — to ruin it all, exposing Lisa's nerdiness by showing off her yearbook to the new gang. Amazingly, and heartwarmingly, they still like Lisa, even though she was a total fraud.

Lisa's psychedelic experience

The 1993 episode "Selma's Choice" is supposed to be about Aunt Selma, but it evolves into an episode about how being a parent is heavily romanticized. A relative dies and, in her video will, implores Selma to not die alone like she did, and to start a family. As a sort of trial run to see if she can cut it as a mother, Selma agrees to take Bart and Lisa to beer-themed amusement park Duff Gardens. Bart and Lisa run her ragged, but what really makes Selma realize kids aren't worth it is one of Lisa's most hilarious sequences in the entire history of The Simpsons

On an "It's a Small World"-esque boat-type ride, Bart dares Lisa to drink the strange and murky liquid upon which their vessel floats. It's definitely not water, because it sends Lisa into a hallucinatory, psychedelic nightmare. Convinced that countless Dutch girl animatronics are "all around me, no way out," Lisa freaks out, and then Selma transforms into a hideous green monster before her very eyes. Lisa escapes the ride, stealing an animatronic hula dancer, and runs amok. The light parade she enjoys because she can "see the music" as she dances like a Deadhead and sees tracers. Security eventually finds Lisa swimming naked in a beer fermenter, upon which a very sick, pale, and still under the influence Lisa proclaims that she is "the lizard queen!"

Lisa gets a pony

Lisa Simpson isn't a happy person, a Simpsons suggestion that intelligent people have too many thoughts to find peace. Lisa does occasionally find pleasure in life, generally when she gets to enjoy her self-proclaimed favorite things, primarily playing jazzy tunes on the saxophone and ponies. 

Early in The Simpsons, Lisa was just like millions of other eight-year-olds in that she wanted nothing more in life than to own a pony which she could ride, feed, and hang out with all day. In the 1991 episode "Lisa's Pony," her long, pony-less struggle comes to an end when Homer buys her one, wracked with guilt after he gets drunk at Moe's instead of getting Lisa the saxophone reed she needs right that minute for the school talent show, leaving her performance a squeaky wreck. In a parody of the famous horse's-head-in-the-bed scene from The Godfather, Lisa wakes up to find a full, alive, friendly pony next to her one morning, which she names Princess. The rest of the episode alternates between footage of Lisa riding her pony, bonding with her pony, talking to her pony... and Homer working the graveyard shift at the Kwik-E-Mart to pay for Princess. Ultimately, Lisa can't be happy after all, at least not in a pony-related way, agreeing to give up Princess when she learns how her father is desperately struggling to make her dream possible.