2014 has been a big year for Simpsons fans, what with the 25th anniversary celebration of the show, the recent Hollywood Bowl spectacular, and FXX's marathon of all 552 episodes in chronological order. Simpsons-holics now have another chronology to quiet their deep-seated obsessions: The Simpsons Family History, a 300-page coffee table book that uses screengrabs from throughout the show's 25 seasons to tell the story of TVs favorite dysfunctional nuclear family.
Matt Groening's book is the first definitive organization of the show's numerous flashback episodes, and proves just how much care has gone into crafting a backstory to the Simpson clan. Here are the ten biggest milestones in the book, in their proper order on the timeline, along with their actual air dates.
1. Orville Simpson Brings Abe to America
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "Much Apu About Nothing" (May 1996)
"My father thought America was the greatest thing since sliced bread, sliced bread having been invented the previous winter." And so begins Grandpa Abe's recollection of how the Simpson clan first settled in the US, initially in the head of the Statue of Liberty until they filled it with garbage.
2. The Birth of Homer Simpson
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "Homer the Heretic" (October 1992)
Yes, it's a throwaway bit at the beginning of an episode, but damn if it's not official canon. "Ah, what a beautiful day in the womb," baby Homer thinks to himself before the amniotic fluid drains and he's cruelly pulled into this world.
3. Mona Simpson Tunes In, Turns On, Drops Out
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "Mother Simpson" (November 1995)
Homer's mom Mona Simpson (Glenn Close) reunited with her son to tell him how she transformed from the very model of the "Feminine Mystique" unhappy housewife to a Weather Underground-like '60s radical. An encounter with Mr. Burns forces her to live the next 27 years on the lam, leaving Homer motherless and possibly fostering an eating disorder.
4. Homer (and Marge's) First Kiss
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "The Way We Weren't" (May 2004)
Marge is crestfallen to find out that Homer's first love was a young girl he met at summer camp when he was a boy, only to be un-disillusioned to find out that the little girl was her, thus assuring that Homie and Margie were always meant to be together. It's a match made in the stars, man.
5. Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear…
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "The Way We Was" (January 1991)
This episode has to be the most heavily excerpted in the entire book, which speaks to both how well-crafted it was and how critical it is. After all, if Homer and Marge don't meet and fall in love… well, we've all seen Back to the Future. The book shows every little detail from their "jailhouse romance" meeting in detention to that beautiful moment when Marge picks a dejected Homer up from the side of the road on prom night.
5½. Meaux's Tavern Opens
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "Three Gays of the Condo" (April 2003)
In addition to all these milestones, the book is peppered with many fun asides, from Homer singing in barbershop quartet The B-Sharps to his first night getting alcohol poisoning at Moe's Tavern, or as it was called on its grand opening, "Meaux's Tavern."
6. Homer's Sadgasm
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "That '90s Show" (January 2008)
Before they were married with children, Marge spent a brief time enrolled in college while Homer became a Kurt Cobain wannabee. This episode sought to disrupt the initial timeline that had Bart being born in 1980, shifting Marge and Homer's relationship to the early '90s and the birth of grunge. Like it or not, it's canonical.
7. That Unforgettable Night We Joined the Castle Club
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "I Married Marge" (December 1991
Homer's life as a swinging bachelor/mini-golf pro is short-lived after a night of abandon with Marge leads to their shotgun marriage followed swiftly by the birth of Bart. After a lot of non-starter careers, Homer takes a fateful meeting at Springfield's nuclear power plant where he earns his job and Mr. Burns declares, "Simpson, eh? I'll remember that name."
8. Home Sweet Home, Little Lisa
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "Lisa's First Word" (December 1992)
Bart is going through the terrible twos when he's swept up in a whirlwind of transition: The big move to a new house (the iconic pink Simpsons homestead we all know and love) and the birth of his little sister Lisa, whose first word is "Bart." This episode is also notable for containing Maggie's first word as well, just to further confuse you chronology hounds.
9. Do It For Her
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "And Maggie Makes Three" (January 1995)
Homer's Sisyphean struggle to carve a better lot in life is once again thwarted as another baby comes along, ruining his dream of working at a bowling alley. However, Maggie's birth unexpectedly ushers in a new wave of love in the man, as heart-meltingly displayed in the episode's final shot in which pictures of the baby obscure a sign reading "Don't Forget You're Here Forever" to read, "Do It For Her."
10. My Funny Family
ORIGINALLY AIRED: "Behind the Laughter" (May 2000)
In a sly (if now slightly dated) parody of VH1's Behind the Music, this episode goes into hyper-meta detail on how the "Simpsons" show came out of Homer's "real-life" attempts to make a TV program out of his outrageous family. This leads to some poor behavior on everyone's part, including Homer's immortal line: "I want to set the record straight—I thought the cop was a prostitute."