A look at favorite 'Simpsons' moments as 500th episode approaches

In this undated publicity photo released by Fox, characters from the animated series, 'The Simpsons,' from left, Maggie, Marge, Lisa, Homer and Bart, are shown. (AP Photo/Fox)

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In this undated publicity photo released by Fox, characters from the animated series, "The Simpsons," from left, Maggie, Marge, Lisa, Homer and Bart, are shown. (AP Photo/Fox)

"Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?" -- Homer Simpson

As Homer himself might say, "D'oh!"

America's longest-running TV program at 23 seasons and counting, "The Simpsons" began as an animated sketch on "The Tracey Ullman Show" in 1987 and debuted as a Fox network series on April 19, 1989. At 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Fox is scheduled to air the 500th episode, "At Long Last Leave," in which the Simpsons -- Homer and Marge and their offspring, delinquent Bart, brainy Lisa and baby Maggie -- discover that everyone in town is plotting to have them thrown out of Springfield.

With 499 episodes to choose from, here's a baker's dozen of favorite moments:

■ A guest-star moment ... Michael Jackson, an early believer in the prestige of being a "Simpsons" guest voice, appeared in "Stark Raving Dad," circa 1991, as the voice of mental patient Leon Kompowsky, who pretends to be the King of Pop. Jackson, who initially was credited as "John Jay Smith," wrote the song "Happy Birthday, Lisa" for the show.

■ A presidential moment ... In a January 1992 speech, President George H.W. Bush said, "We are going to keep trying to strengthen the American family to (be) a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons." In a scene quickly tacked onto a rerun, Bart retorts, "We're just like the Waltons. We're praying for an end to the Depression, too."

■ A musical moment ... Homer winds up in a dark, scary park and is startled by the howling dogs. Suddenly, "Psycho" music starts to play as a bus pulls up, its headlights glaring. The chilling violin music is being played on the "Springfield Philharmonic" bus before it speeds off, dropping off a violinist, who continues to play the eerie music.

■ A sweet moment ... The season six "do it for her" episode reminds us that "The Simpsons" is about a loving family. When Lisa notices there are no photos of baby Maggie in family albums, we learn that Homer had quit the nuclear-power plant to take his dream job at a bowling alley. But when Maggie was born, he had to return to the plant to support three children. Homer keeps Maggie's pictures at his workspace to inspire him.

■ A Homer inept moment ... While trying to destroy Moe's car to get insurance money, Homer hops out as the car is about to plunge over a cliff. He manages to roll over a sloped rock that throws him back into the driver's seat of the car, which at that moment falls into water far below. The car sinks and a rubber hippy daisy symbolically floats to the surface.

■ A Valentine's Day moment ... In the season-four episode "I Love Lisa," she feels sorry for lonely Ralph Wiggum and gives him a valentine. Ralph goes way overboard in his adoration and, on national TV, pushes Lisa so far that she declares she doesn't love him. At ALL. This leads Bart to hit the VCR replay over and over, gleefully telling her, "Watch this, Lis. You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half."

■ A religious moment ... For Halloween 2009, Bart is revealed to be immune to zombie bites and possibly the salvation of Springfield. It's suggested that the town's citizens must eat a piece of him to be made immune. "Hold it right there," Marge says. "What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?" This causes the Rev. Lovejoy to tug at his collar nervously.

■ A Halloween moment ... In the 2008 "Treehouse of Horror" episode, Millhouse expresses his belief in the Grand Pumpkin, a riff on Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin. The Grand Pumpkin takes offense when offered pumpkin seeds, exclaiming, "You roast the unborn!?!"

■ A prank call to Moe's (that's printable in a family newspaper) moment ... From "New Kid on the Block," Laura Powers with Bart calls Moe's Tavern. Laura: "Hello, I'd like to speak to Ms. Tinkle? First name ... Ivana?" Moe: "Ivana Tinkle, just a sec." (He calls out) "Ivana Tinkle! Ivana Tinkle! Hey, everybody, put down your glasses. Ivana Tinkle!"

■ April Fool's moment ... Bart puts Homer's beer in a paint shaker as a joke and he only has time to utter "April ..." before Homer flips the tab and the house blows up.

■ Obscure meta line ... Springfield Elementary kids are forced to watch a super-boring science film about "a world without zinc." The film's protagonist, Jimmy, cries, "Come back, zinc, come back!" as he realizes what a horrible thing he has wished for. Now, "Come back, zinc!" has its own Facebook page.

■ Phil Hartman moments ... The late actor's portrayal of washed-up actor Troy McClure ("You may remember me from such films as ...") and a slimy Monorail salesman were classic parodies. But nothing beats his casting as Charlton Heston in the musical "Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!," in which he sang, "I hate every ape I see; from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z."

■ Marge moment: ... Nothing fazes Marge Simpson. In a "Treehouse of Horror" parody of "The Shining," Marge knocks out a rampaging Homer. As she drags his body into the pantry, she declares, "You stay here until you're no longer insane." Then she glances up at shelves of canned goods and murmurs, "Hmmm, chili would be good tonight."

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