Since it’s one of the most successful and popular television shows of all-time, everybody wants to score an appearance on The Simpsons. Throughout the course of the show’s history, there have been dozens of fantastic celebrity cameos. Sometimes these characters are playing themselves within the world of Springfield, while other times the celebrities have lent their voice to a new original character on the show.
Today, we are looking at 11 memorable celebrity appearances on The Simpsons.
11. Paul & Linda McCartney as Themselves
“Lisa the Vegetarian” is a brilliant episode centered on Homer and Lisa’s relationship. In the episode, Homer and Lisa clash over eating meat. This sees Lisa sabotage Homer’s BBQ before running away. She ends up at the Kwik-E-Mart where she talks to Apu, who just happens to be friends with Paul and Linda McCartney. Apu and the McCartneys teach Lisa that it is okay to be a vegetarian, but forcing her views onto others is wrong. Inspired, she reconnects with Homer and they both apologize to each other.
Although a small appearance, Paul and Linda played a pivotal role in shaping Lisa’s character. Paul only agreed to appear if Lisa remained a vegetarian, which she has to this day.
10. Dr. Stephen Hawking as Himself
Stephen Hawking has made a few appearances on The Simpsons. His most notable being season 10’s “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”.
After becoming disgusted by the stupidity of Springfield — particularly Homer and Bart — Lisa pens a letter criticizing the town’s lack of refinement. She is then welcomed as a member of Springfield’s MENSA chapter. The group comes to run the mayor’s office, but they begin to pass laws without consulting each other.
Making a surprise visit, Stephen Hawking criticizes their failings. He then teaches Lisa that even the most intelligent people are fallible — except him. Marge then makes a profound statement but is caught reading off of Hawking’s screen. Hawking also gets into a fight and shows interest in stealing Homer’s theory of a donut-shaped universe.
In an interview with The Guardian, Hawking stated that he had “great fun” appearing on the show.
9. Barry White as Himself
One of the great voices in music, Barry White lends his smooth and seductive voice when playing himself in season four’s “Whacking Day”.
This classic episode surrounds Springfield’s annual Whacking Day, a day where the townspeople beat snakes to death with a stick and chase them out of town. Not approving of the barbaric nature of the event, Lisa and Bart hatch a plan to save the snakes. Barry White initially introduces Whacking Day but shows disgust when he learns what it is. Bart and Lisa decide to lure the snakes to their home by placing their speakers on the ground and playing bass-heavy music. Fortunately, Barry White walks past and performs an impromptu performance of “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” with Lisa on bass. The plan works perfectly, as the townspeople denounce Whacking Day after learning of its origins.
Brilliantly, White’s unmistakable voice is central to the plot.
8. Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Bergstrom
We all have those teachers from when we were younger that come in and change your life. For Lisa, this was substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom.
Voiced by Dustin Hoffman — but credited as Sam Etic for contractual reasons — Mr. Bergstrom is intelligent, thoughtful, and in touch with his emotions. Unlike Homer, he is a positive male role model for Lisa. He encourages Homer to think more highly of himself for Lisa’s sake. Then leaves Lisa with a powerful message as he departs on a train – a note which simply reads, “You are Lisa Simpson.”
Hoffman’s smooth voice lends itself well to the intelligent and thoughtful character — a rarity in Springfield. While there was not a huge amount of humor in the character, Mr. Bergstrom had a huge impact on Lisa’s character.
7. Danny DeVito as Herb Powell
Danny DeVito has a habit of stealing the show regardless of what he appears in. He does so once again as Homer’s long lost half brother, Herb Powell.
Appearing in two excellent episodes, Powell, the CEO of a hugely successful car company, immediately bonds with the family and spoils them. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of letting Homer design a car, which ruins his career. “Unky Herb” returns as a broke hobo in a later episode and stays with the family, despite his hatred towards Homer. However, Powell invents a baby translating device after studying Maggie, which brings back his fortune. He then settles his differences with Homer.
Any episode with Homer’s extended family usually results in gold. Particularly when they have similar traits. Plus, Danny DeVito’s terrific voice acting make these two fan-favorite episodes.
— Daily Simpsons History (@dailysimpsons) February 21, 2018
6. Johnny Cash as Space Coyote
Johnny Cash lends his legendary voice to one of the more strange and surreal episodes of The Simpsons – “The Mysterious Voyage of Homer”.
After consuming Guatemalan insanity peppers at the local chili cook-off, Homer hallucinates. Homer’s hallucination takes the form of a spiritual journey led by a talking coyote voiced by Cash. The coyote advises Homer in finding his soulmate, which he later realizes is Marge.
The surreal nature of the episode and touching sentiment at the end make it a standout one. Additionally, the cool voice of Johnny Cash lent to the talking coyote ensures that this is one of the top celebrity appearances.
5. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as Themselves
The Simpsons really hit gold with season 14’s “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”, which boasts a host of rock and roll’s finest. Many rock stars have appeared on the show, but no episode has been as brilliant as this.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are at the forefront, but it also features Elvis Costello, Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, and Brian Setzer. These rock gods are instructors at Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, which Homer enthusiastically attends. Much of the humor comes from the rockers making fun of themselves and rock music in general.
Plus, the episode features one of the great Simpsons quotes. Delivered by Mick Jagger, the quote comes when he explains the rules of the camp: “Rule number 1: There are no rules! Rule number 2: No outside food.”
With so many high profile musicians in one episode it could have failed miserably, but the silliness and self-awareness ensured that this is a classic.
4. Leonard Nimoy as Himself
In the latter, Nimoy uses his deadpan hilarity to introduce the story: “Hello. I’m Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the truth? The answer is: no.” He closes the episode in an equally brilliant fashion and even pops up in the story buying a hot dog.
In “Marge vs. the Monorail,” Nimoy has another short yet brilliant cameo. Turning up for the monorail’s maiden voyage as a guest of honor, Nimoy bores Springfield with his stories from Star Trek. Once Homer saves the day, Nimoy attempts to take the credit before vanishing in a transporter effect similar to Star Trek.
3. Michael Jackson as Leon Kompowsky
Appearing pre-lawsuit, special guests don’t get better than the King of Pop.
Appearing in season three under the name John Jay Smith for contractual reasons, Michael Jackson brilliantly plays a man who believes himself to be Michael Jackson. This is Leon Kompowsky, who is Homer’s large, overweight, bald, and white cellmate in a psych asylum. He and Homer bond, with Leon singing to Homer and attempting to teach him how to moonwalk. He even comes back to the Simpson household and helps Bart to write a catchy birthday song for Lisa.
Interestingly, Jackson did not actually perform the song. It was performed by an impersonator as a joke on Jackson’s brothers.
2. Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob
Some may consider this cheating since Sideshow Bob is considered to be a regular character. However, he only appears in a handful of episodes.
Bart’s longtime nemesis, Sideshow Bob is perfectly voiced by the eloquent and articulate Kelsey Grammar. The voice matches the personality, as Bob is intelligent, well-read, and a champion of high culture. But he is also a criminal with one mission in life – to kill Bart Simpson.
Sideshow Bob’s episodes are amongst the best, including a hilarious spoof of Cape Fear, Bob marrying Selma, and the introduction of his brother, Cecil. In fact, Cecil is hilariously voiced by David Hyde Pierce, who plays Frasier’s Brother, Niles, on Frasier.
1. Everyone in “Homer At The Bat”
In “Homer at the Bat”, the production team managed to assemble nine different Major League Baseball players to lend their voices as Mr. Burns used ringers to stack the Power Plant softball team. The roster was comprised of Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry, and Mike Scioscia. The voice acting was recorded over several months, whenever the players were in Los Angeles to play the Dodgers or Angels.
Often considered one of the greatest Simpsons episodes ever made, each player would eventually miss the championship game for increasingly weird reasons. Except for Strawberry, who played Homer’s position. Homer would end up the hero though, after being knocked unconscious by a wild pitch.
Even Terry Cashman, a singer famous for his 1981 hit “Talkin’ Baseball”, came in to record a cover version of his own song for the end credits. “Talkin’ Softball” featured altered lyrics about Homer and his Power Plant team.