True Simpsons fans know the following to be true. A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man. If something’s hard to do, it’s not worth doing. You don’t win friends with salad. And Marge should have left Homer a long time ago. But when? Here is a comprehensive analysis of the Simpsons’ marriage timeline, and the definitive moment Marge should have left Homer for good.
Season 1, Episode 4: “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”
Things get dark very, very fast. Homer is embarrassed by his family’s lack of social etiquette, so decides to take them against their will to therapy where he repeatedly electrocutes his wife and children. Even Maggie gets hooked up to an electric chair. It’s abusive and fuuuucked up – but the whole family seems as bad as each other.
Season 1, Episode 9: “Life in the Fast Lane”
We have known The Simpsons for approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, and Homer is already royally fucking shit up. First, he forgets his own wife’s birthday, then he attempts to make up for it by buying her a last minute present for himself! Smooth. He gifts her a bowling ball with his name inscribed on it in the hopes she will give it to him. Hurt and defiant, Marge insists on keeping it and learning how to bowl. Homer is, predictably, less than supportive about this new, fun, independent hobby of Marge’s. At the bowling alley, she meets suave, sophisticated Frenchman Jacques who attempts to woo her across the lanes. Just as their emotional affair looks as though it might get physical, Marge returns to Homer and seemingly never bowls again.
His noggin is as hollow as a bowling pin, but It’s hard to see Homer as much of a villain at this point – yes, it was selfish for him to forget his wife’s birthday and then buy himself something disguised as a gift for her, but in all honesty, who hasn’t bought a partner something they’d also like for themselves? His hatred of her getting a hobby is potentially a red flag but not dump-worthy.
Season 1, Episode 10: “Homer’s Night Out”
Marriage just about clinging on, Homer decides the next best step for his relationship is for him to go on an absolute stonking rager. A night out for the stag party of Eugene Fisk (lol what do you mean who? It’s Homer’s dear old pal EUGENE FISK!) sees him getting cosy with a beautiful belly dancer. Bart snaps a photo as evidence, and Marge is fuming. Homer seems genuinely remorseful about this wild night and takes Marge’s word about respecting women – and raising sons who do, too – seems to genuinely hit home. We’ll allow it.
Season 2, Episode 10: “Bart Gets Hit by a Car”
In the creatively titled “Bart Gets Hit by a Car”, Bart gets hit by a car, the Simpson family sue Mr Burns over the accident, almost win $1 million, but lose out thanks to Marge’s honesty. Because she didn’t lie for money in court, Homer tells his long-suffering wife he no longer loves her. Very! Rude!
Season 2, Episode 20: “The War of The Simpsons”
Homer gets drunk and nasty. He’s rude and annoying to all his guests at the dinner party the Simpsons are hosting – but perhaps his worst crime is openly ogling at Maude Flanders’s breasts. (A dark foreshadowing of her violent death?) Yet now, Homer is no longer immediately remorseful. At church, he screams like a toddler when Marge signs them up for marriage counselling, and when they go he spends the entire weekend explicitly ignoring Marge’s feelings and sneaking out fishing, a hobby he has seemingly no prior interest in in the first place. His only act of marital love is throwing the big fish he catches back into the ocean in a demonstration of what he’d sacrificed – which seems pretty weak considering they’ve already missed out on the entire weekend of counselling and are simply back in the fractured place they were in before they arrived. A warning sign if ever there was one.
Season 3, Episode 15: “Homer Alone”
Marge does so much housework it almost causes her to drive her car off a bridge. She tries to take a few measly days of holiday and her idiot family can barely hold it together without her. They appear to offer to take on their fair share by the end of the episode, but viewers know it is a hollow promise. A dark but accurate look at the fate of mothers worldwide.
Season 3, Episode 20: “Colonol Homer”
Homer is annoying at the movies, Marge snaps at him, and Homer responds by leaving home and becoming the manager of a country singer, which is a bit of an overreaction, really. But he steadfastly resists her charms and soon returns home, so I will, begrudgingly, give another point for Faithful Homer.
Season 4, Episode 2: “A Streetcar Named Marge”
This absolutely iconic episode sees Marge take on the role of Blanche DuBois, opposite Ned Flanders’s Stanley Kowalski, in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Homer is totally excited about Marge’s new passion for the arts! Um, no, he hates it, of course, because she should permanently be at home opening his pudding cans. Once again, he chooses a new and fleeting interest of his own (a bowling video game) over supporting her interests. He experiences another – presumably brief – moment of remorse when watching the play itself and identifying with Stanley’s character. But in four seasons, this is the fifth time Homer has refused to see Marge as more than a domestic caretaker and resented her for her wants and needs. Get a grip on yourself old man!!!
Season 5, Episode 9: “The Last Temptation Of Homer”
Homer meets woman. Homer fancies woman. Homer crosses marital boundary with woman but pulls back before it gets serious. Homer is remorseful and returns to Marge. This plot is getting familiar, but each time he proves himself at least OK at monogamy.
Season 5, Episode 22: “Secrets of a Successful Marriage”
Homer tells the entire population of Springfield intimate details about Marge’s sex life. She is so upset she throws him out of the house, and when Homer tries to win her back, he just repeatedly insists that he is so utterly dependent on her to function that he will die without her, guilt tripping her into taking him back. ALARM BELLS….. RINGING! I still find myself deeply worried about where this relationship can possibly go from here.
Season 7, Episode 7: “King-Size Homer”
Worrying dependency issues continue when Homer literally disables himself by gaining a large amount of weight, in order to laze around at home all day. But it’s Marge’s comment that she’s feeling less attracted to her husband that spurs him into action – which suggests that their sex life is important to him. But he seems to fail to understand how the rest of his actions have impacted her.
Season 8, Episode 6: “A Milhouse Divided”
Hold on to your hats, kids. Homer is insecure about his marriage in this episode and so SECRETLY FILES FOR DIVORCE from Marge so they can get remarried. The combination of emotional manipulation, secrecy, and grand charismatic gestures are textbook abuser material. What sweet hell is this? Don’t make the same mistake again Marge!!! Get out while you still can!
Season 9, Episode 5: “The Cartridge Family”
After nine seasons of consistently undermining Marge’s hopes of a more independent life, cycles of extreme arguments and weeping apologies, and the constant physical abuse of her son, Homer gets a gun. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE MARGE. This is, in my mind, truly the moment where Marge should have left Homer for good. The preceeding nine seasons show a flawed but essentially loving relationship. However, Homer’s creeping dependency issues and refusal to allow Marge to live a life outside of their family home gives me the willies. Homer has proved himself to be a violent, unstable, controlling, reckless husband – now, he’s a violent, unstable, controlling, reckless husband WITH A GUN. He uses it totally irresponsibly, and lies about his gun ownership – pretending to get rid of it, but hiding it in different places around the home. At the end of the episode, Marge successfully manages to take the gun from Homer, but keeps it herself – truly the actions of a terrorised and fearful wife. THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE TURNING POINT. I’M SORRY MARGE BUT YOU WERE DOOMED FROM HERE ON OUT.
Season 10, Episode 10: “Viva Ned Flanders”
Homer marries another woman in Vegas, and fantasises about his life of bigamy where Marge is forced to endlessly chop a log in front of him, forever, for no reason at all. He escapes his new wife, but seemingly intends to never tell Marge this horrible secret. Truly, we have transitioned into Dark Homer territory.
Season 12, Episode 2: “A Tale of Two Springfields”
In this episode, violent, vengeful Homer drugs his wife with chloroform and attempts to blow up the entire town, including his own son, with a homemade bomb – all over a change to his area code. Forget divorce – he needs to be sectioned.
Season 13, Episode 7: “Brawl in the Family”
Homer assaults Bart so badly his family are forced to call the police on him. To make matters even worse, Homer’s wife from Vegas turns up at his doorstep. Marge is so deep in this abusive relationship that instead of taking this opportunity to escape with her traumatised children forever, she instead concocts an evil plan where she tricks Homer’s new wife into marrying Homer’s father Abe without her full consent.
Season 14, Episode 9: “Strong Arms of the Ma”
Not only is she fearful at home, Marge is also assaulted on the street, and takes up bodybuilding for self-defence. Homer hates it. Marge begins taking steroids that make her more aggressive, leading her to rape her husband. The episode ends with her continuing to abuse him and threaten him with physical violence. How did we get here? This is now clearly a deeply toxic relationship for both parties, and one that is not safe for children to be around.
Season 14, Episode 4: “Large Marge”
Marge is so insecure in her relationship that she gets liposuction and implants purely to please Homer. This is not the sign of a healthy, happy marriage, people!
Season 14, Episode 20: “Brake My Wife, Please”
Marge runs Homer over with his car, Homer holds this physical abuse over her head by forcing her to cater to his every whim, Marge eventually screams at him that she hates him. The two have yet more failed marriage counselling. Homer comes up with another grand gesture to win Marge over which he backtracks on the very second she forgives him. SOMEBODY HELP THESE POOR PEOPLE ESCAPE EACH OTHER.
Season 15, Episode 15: “Co-Dependents Day”
Homer gets a DUI but makes it seem like Marge, also drunk, was driving to escape the penalty. She is arrested, serves her punishment and goes to rehab unaware that she hasn’t done anything wrong. She develops an alcohol problem as a result. I’m genuinely scared for her, what is happening to these once happy adults??
Season 16, Episode 13: “She Used To Be My Girl”
When Homer calls Marge “a loveless slab of bossiness”, the children are so upset by the fight that they end up driving away in Homer’s RV, driving it off a bridge, and nearly murdering the whole family. Will somebody please think of the children?
Season 19, Episode 7: “Husbands and Knives”
Homer is so insecure in her relationship that he gets his stomach stapled and plastic surgery purely to please Marge. This is not the sign of a healthy, happy marriage, people!
Season 25, Episode 11: “Specs and the City”
Homer spies on Marge’s every single move as though it’s totally normal. In doing so, he realises she’s in therapy for the strains he puts on their relationship. He feels like the bigger man for simply allowing her to continue with the sessions, but makes no attempt to ascertain how he could be a better husband.
Season 27, Episode 1, “Every Man’s Dream”
Homer and Marge are back in therapy – and the therapist tells them the best solution to their problems is if they separate. Their relationship repeatedly falls apart but its revealed that these scenarios are a sequence of dreams. My only plea is that they soon become reality. Please, Marge, for your sake and the children’s, divorce Homer Simpson.