The Simpsons' 25 best celebrity cameos ever
29 March 2023, 11:31
The Simpsons is the show that just keeps going.
The cartoon sitcom made stars of the dysfunctional Simpsons family of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, who have become a staple of television viewing in family homes worldwide.
The Simpsons has parodied suburban life and all facets of American culture for over three decades now, and it looks like there's no sign of slowing down.
After first airing in 1989, the show (created by Matt Groening) changed the notion that "cartoons are just for kids" with a comedy that was loved equally by adults and their families.
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Aside from the escapades Homer and co. would get up to, The Simpsons championed the celebrity cameo, and became renowned for giving cultural icons their own yellow likeness.
From playing themselves or voicing various whacky characters in the long-running series, celebrity appearances helped establish The Simpsons as one of the greatest shows ever to air on television.
That said, here are the top 25 celebrity cameos in the sitcom's long history:
In the episode 'Radio Bart', Sting heads to Springfield to record a charity single after a child named Timmy O'Toole falls into the local well, which turns out to be a prank by Bart Simpson.
After Bart tempts fate and falls into the well himself, it's Sting that comes to his rescue by digging him out, shirtless of course.
2. Tom Jones
Legendary Welsh singer Tom Jones was snared for The Simpsons in the episode 'Marge Gets A Job' where he's kidnapped by Waylon Smithers and made to perform in a private concert for Marge and Homer.
Hilariously, he secretly pleads to Marge during the performance: "Get help love. Call Interpol, get me a hacksaw, anything!"
3. Kelsey Grammer
Probably the most renowned and regular cameo during The Simpsons long time on air, is Kelsey Grammer as Bart's haplessly eloquent nemesis Sideshow Bob.
Parodying Sir Anthony Hopkins' iconic portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, Grammer has appeared as Sideshow Bob in a total of 23 episodes, even dragging his on-screen Frasier brother David Hyde Pierce to voice Bob's sibling Cecil for several episodes.
4. Stephen Hawking
Ground-breaking theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking lent his instantly recognisable artificial voice to The Simpsons when he appeared in four episodes before he sadly passed away.
His most notable appearance is his first however, in 'They Saved Lisa's Brain' when the town begins to riot and he makes a getaway after his wheelchair sprouts helicopter propellers.
5. Ringo Starr
Marge develops a teenage obsession with Ringo painting portraits of him and sending him letters. After twenty or so years Ringo eventually replies to her fan mail, riffing on the fact he received oceans of fan mail that he regretfully pledged to answer.
6. George Harrison
The next Beatle immortalised on The Simpsons? George Harrison. He appears in 'Homer's Barbershop Quartet' where Homer meets the music icon, only to be impressed more by the free brownies on offer.
There's another nod to The Beatles at the end of the episode where Homer's barbershop quartet perform their final gig on the rooftop of Moe's Tavern, mirroring the Fab Four's final ever performance.
7. Paul and Linda McCartney
The perfect episode for Paul and Linda to reiterate their vegetarian virtues, McCartney agreed to lend his voice upon the condition that Lisa remains a vegetarian for as long as the series continued, the first of a few permanent changes the show's producers made.
8. Elton John
After getting trapped in a dog cage and chewing himself out, he sings an adapted version of 'Your Song' as a Valentine's Day gift to Apu's wife Manjula.
9. Bette Midler
Voicing herself in the episode 'Krusty Gets Kancelled', Bette Midler is sought after by Bart and Lisa Simpson to help Krusty get back on his feet after his show's cancelled.
On the show, Midler helps clean litter and punishes any litterers that cross her path, resulting in one littering driver on the highway exploding.
10. Dolly Parton
Appearing in the episode 'Sunday, Cruddy Sunday', Dolly Parton helps break the characters out of jail much like she's broken down perceptions of herself over her career.
Of course, she does it with the style and pizazz we're all used to seeing Dolly offer up.
11. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash's cameo in The Simpsons is one of the most iconic, even though he doesn't play himself.
Cash voices the coyote Homer comes across whilst traversing the desert after eating too much chilli which sends him on a spiritual trip, who becomes his spirit guide.
U2 featured as themselves in the episode 'Trash Of The Titans' after requesting to appear on the show.
Homer, on his campaign to become Springfield's commissioner, gets off to an awful start after interrupting U2's concert so Bono and The Edge call security to get him ejected and beaten up.
13. Pierce Brosnan
Much like Johnny Cash, Pierce Brosnan's cameo wasn't as himself when he appeared as Ultrahouse 3000 Himself in the Halloween episode 'Treehouse of Horror XII', though he does appear as himself for a skit in the credits.
A riff on the maniacal AI robot in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Irish heartthrob Brosnan eventually traps the Simpson family in their own home and attempts to kill Homer.
14. Mark Hamill
Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker even got The Simpsons treatment when Mark Hamill appeared in 'Mayored To The Mob'.
Highlights of his shifty cameo is an appearance as the lead in an awful Guys & Dolls play (complete with lightsaber and top hat) and using the line "use the forks!"
15. Meryl Streep
A real coup for The Simpsons was securing Hollywood powerhouse Meryl Streep for the role of Jessica, the mischievous daughter of Reverend Lovejoy.
After using Bart's crush on her to get him to take the blame for their troublemaking, the episode 'Bart's Girlfriend' won critical acclaim because of the three-time Academy Award-winning actress' turn.
16. The Who
The surviving members of rock legends The Who (Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, and John Entwistle) made their way to Springfield in the episode 'A Tale of Two Springfields' to break down the wall between 'Olde Springfield' and 'New Springfield' using nothing but the volume of their amps.
Townshend in fact refused to appear on the show, so his cameo was voiced by his brother Paul instead.
17. James Woods
Actor James Woods gave the earlier episodes of The Simpsons one of their first show-stealing cameos, playing himself as he replaces Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart.
Using the experience to research for an upcoming film role, Woods' mockery of over-the-top method acting was hilarious, who eventually quits the Kwik-E-Mart as his film role changes.
18. Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper appears in two episodes of The Simpsons as herself: firstly singing the national anthem to the tune of 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' before departing the stadium, with the crowd following leading the commentator to wryly remind them that there's still a game to watch.
Her second appearance was simply singing her classic song 'Time After Time'.
19. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
20. Willie Nelson
Country music renegade Willie Nelson voiced himself in the episode 'Behind The Laughter' as he agrees to reconcile the Simpson family during a fake awards ceremony called 'The Phonys'.
A highlight is the comb machine on his tour bus which creates elaborate hairstyles for him, poking fun at his iconic braids.
21. Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman was one of the show's earliest cameos, and certainly their most high-profile until that point, which helped the cameo trend kick on.
He voiced substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom who had a profound effect on Lisa Simpson, helping her to learn she can find role models in all adults, not just her teachers.
22. Leonard Nimoy
Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy boldly went where plenty of other men went before by voicing himself in The Simpsons on two occasions.
He first appeared as the narrator for an X-Files-inspired Halloween episode, and later appeared as himself opening Springfield's new 'Monorail' where he'd comment: "I'd say this vessel could do at least Warp 5" before being teleported away.
23. Barry White
Love machine Barry White lent his distinctively deep and soulful voice to The Simpsons for the episode 'Whacking Day'.
After being introduced as 'Larry White' ahead of the town's ritual of whacking snakes, White is disgusted and sings his hit 'Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe' to drive them away to safety.
24. Adam West
Former Batman actor Adam West provided one of the most screwball cameos in the history of The Simpsons when he mocked his own career and connection to the caped crusader.
Signing autographs at a car show alongside the 1966 Batmobile, West declares himself as the real Batman with Bart questioning who the actor even is. This actually started West's career as a comedy actor from then onwards.
25. Michael Jackson
Given he was the biggest pop star in the world at the time, snagging Michael Jackson for a cameo in The Simpsons was massive for the show. Although, he wasn't officially credited as Michael Jackson.
MJ voiced Leon Kompowsky in the episode 'Stark Raving Dad', who meets Homer in a psychiatric ward and introduces himself as Michael Jackson.
Although Homer quickly befriends Leon who teaches him to Moonwalk, the people of Springfield denounce Leon as an imposter after realising he looks nothing like Jackson.
Credited as John Jay Smith, Michael would only contribute his speaking voice due to contractual disputes, so Kipp Lennon would provide the singing vocals when Leon, Bart, and Lisa sing together at the end of the episode.