The Simpsons remains one of the most popular cartoons around, with over 700 episodes for the whole family to enjoy.
Matt Groening's animated TV sitcom is such a crowd-pleaser because it caters to all ages—a funny, family-friendly show that also nods to various adult themes, concepts, and innuendos.
Although it might fly over younger heads, The Simpsons frequently references drugs—especially hallucinogenic ones—in some of the show's more trippy episodes.
Armed with the creativity offered by psychedelics, the animators of The Simpsons have been able to stretch their imaginations and play with all sorts of weird concepts.
Here are my favorite episodes of The Simpsons that involve trippy, psychedelic experiences that are unusually strange to watch.
10. Lisa's Pony (Season 3 Episode 8)
Part of Homer Simpson's character—the family father and doofus—is that he's a little selfish. But before the creators ruined him into an outright terrible person in later seasons, he'd always redeem himself.
Sure, Homer will never win Father of the Year, but he does love his kids and often shows it in his own way. In "Lisa's Pony," he does this by—you might've guessed it—buying Lisa a pony.
Longtime viewers know that Lisa has always wanted a pony. She asks for it every Christmas, and in season three, her wish in granted when Homer tries to make up for ruining her saxophone recital.
The only way he can afford such a grand pet is by working two jobs without sleeping, which causes Homer to nod off at the wheel and enter the land of Bedfordshire.
His sleep-deprived visions involve floating around the midnight sky in his car, talking to the smiling moon.
9. Brick Like Me (Season 25 Episode 20)
Although many fans think less of the newer seasons of The Simpsons compared to the earlier ones, but one thing's for sure: the later seasons are braver when it comes to edging against censorship.
In season 20, Matt Groening dedicates (almost) an entire episode to LEGO. Set in a utopian Springfield, Homer awakens to find himself—and the rest of the world—made out of toy bricks.
This global LEGOLAND is the norm for Homer, and it's actually visions of his normal-skin self that freak him out. It's a strange and somewhat unsettling episode, but certainly a lot of fun.
If you like The LEGO Movie (2014), you'll love this episode. Just try to ignore the fact it's one big product placement ad!
8. Homer Loves Flanders (Season 5 Episode 15)
"Homer Loves Flanders" is an awesome but pretty standard episode of The Simpsons. It tracks Homer's switch from hating his irritatingly polite, Christian fanatic neighbor Ned Flanders to loving him.
Why the switch? Mainly because Flanders showers him with gifts and football tickets. In fact, Homer loves him so much that even Flanders gets annoyed, who's normally immune to negative emotions.
This episode only gets trippy for a little bit, but when it does, it gets really trippy. The scene where Marge drinks from the spiked water supply encapsulates an entire acid trip in just a few seconds.
"Oh, the walls are melting again!" she casually exclaims as the cabinets drip with color. Even the chicken flies out the oven and says, "Personally, I think I'm overdone." That's one well-spoken chicken!
7. The Springfield Files (Season 8 Episode 10)
Psychedelics and science fiction often overlap, given how hippies are notoriously fascinated with other worlds and planes of existence.
The glowing green alien in "The Springfield Files" would easily fit into a kaleidoscopic poster. Clearly a reference to the infamous alien TV show The X-Files, this episode welcomes agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully to investigate a mysterious sighting.
A ghostly, neon-lit figure with huge round eyes floats through the forest. If it wasn't a cartoon, it'd probably be quite creepy.
As it turns out, it's just Mr. Burns—the Scrooge-like owner of the Nuclear Power Plant—after his weekly longevity treatment.
6. Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4 Episode 17)
"Last Exit to Springfield" is another episode that only features trippiness for a small scene, but that moment is certainly memorable.
When Mr. Burns revokes his workers' dental plan, Lisa is lumped with a hideous mouth clamp that destroys her self-esteem.
When the dentist puts Lisa to sleep for the procedure, she dreams of flying through a pink sky with eyeball plants and shooting rainbows.
Like the cover of a 1960s vinyl record, the screen fills with strange creatures, sunrays, and The Beatles swimming through space on their submarine. "Look, fellas, it's Lisa in the sky... no diamonds, though!" they exclaim in a poorly attempted Liverpool accent.
5. Treehouse of Horror VI (Season 7 Episode 6)
The Halloween specials of The Simpsons have even more leeway than their normal episodes (which are already pretty crazy).
Normally comprised of multiple mini-episodes, the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes abandon all the normal rules and story arcs in favor of outlandish ghost stories where anything can happen.
In "Treehouse of Horror VI," Bart and Lisa fight off a Freddie Krueger-inspired version of Groundskeeper Willie while billboard characters/logos come to life. In the final short, Homer gets sucked into a 3D world—a sort of void that looks like the inside of a computer chip.
Not only is Homer stuck in this liminal space "like something out of that twilighty show about that zone," but he ends up in our world, too.
Matt Groening breaks the show's two-dimensionality laws by dropping Homer into a live-action Los Angeles. This is a rare occurrence in the show, one that taps into our curious pull towards the uncanny.
4. The Good, The Sad, and The Drugly (Season 20 Episode 17)
In earlier seasons of The Simpsons, drugs were only referenced. As the show progressed, the creators grew more willing to have the characters actually take substances other than Duff beer.
In one darker plot, Lisa is prescribed anti-depressants that bomb her out so much she nearly slices her face off by trying to kiss a fan. Sure, she might be susceptible to mental illness, but is it really necessary to pump an 8-year-old girl with prescription medication?
"The Good, The Sad, and The Drugly" is a commentary on the frivolity of pharmaceutical companies and their medicinal products that chemically alter kids, who often lose touch with reality to some degree.
What's cool, though, is how these happy pills are depicted. When high and loopy, Lisa sees the world as nothing but smiling yellow emojis. Even the local drunk Barney throwing up in the street looks fun.
That said, there's something creepy about the vacant yellow faces that reflect a more sinister reality.
3. Weekend at Burnsie's (Season 13 Episode 16)
While cannabis was once only an innuendo in The Simpsons, it eventually became explicit in later seasons. The most notable example is in season 13, in which Homer is prescribed medical marijuana... and loves it.
His new, easy-going attitude earns him a promotion, and The Simpsons transports us to Homer's newly hazy world with some funky visuals.
Optical illusions spiral to a hippie classic song by Strawberry Alarm Clock. Rainbows pour out of Homer's face when he cuts himself shaving. His car winks at him as he soars through the multicolored sky to work.
But not everything is sunsets and rainbows.
Since weed is still illegal in most places, the animators had tight rules on what they could and couldn't show. We never actually see Homer take a puff, and Matt Groening made sure to show both the positives and negatives of smoking, such as paranoia and dependence.
2. Selma's Choice (Season 4 Episode 13)
"I am the Lizard Queen!" is one of Lisa's most famous quotes, printed on all sorts of merchandise. It comes from a scene in "Selma's Choice," where Marge's sister takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens so she can practice looking after kids—and she doesn't do too well.
While there, Bart dares Lisa to drink the miscellaneous brown liquid from one of the river rides, which sends her into a frenzy. Laced with some kind of hallucinogenic chemical, Lisa wanders around the park in amazement, swimming naked and claiming she's a lizard.
Her trip starts with her pupils disappearing, with visions of creepy statues singing in quadruple, and Selma's skin turning green. Indeed, her aunt's eyes bubble and her arm tries to take a bite out of her, who screams that there's no way out. It's actually quite disturbing...
1. The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer (Season 8 Episode 9)
Regarded as one of the best episodes of The Simpsons ever made, "The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer" (also known as "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer") features Homer's coyote spirit guide delivering wise words as he walks through a desert journey of self discovery.
But it's not drugs that transport Homer to another realm where giant snakes wrap around his body. It's a chili pepper that does it.
Eager to impress at the cookoff, Homer eats several glowing Guatemalan insanity peppers and... well... goes insane.
The trip brings him to the question of his soulmate, and when Marge appears, Homer hallucinates that she doesn't have a face. After climbing pyramids and twisting his skin inside out, Homer wakes up on a golf course—but what he learned while high remains with him.