The Simpsons

Season 1 Episode 1

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Dec 17, 1989 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
780 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

It is up to Homer to save Christmas, when bonuses are cut at the nuclear power plant and Marge is forced to use the Christmas savings on an emergency.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • The beginning of the Simpsons

    Love this episode. Homer goes to the dog track race and bets on Santa's Little Helper who ends up losing. Santa's Little Helper joins his family and turned about Christmas for Homer's family at the end.
  • Great Unintentional Introduction!

    I say "unintentional" in that this season's finale, "Some Enchanted Evening" was originally set to be the primere episode, as it supposedly introduced all the characters well. Now, I haven't seen that episode in a long while, but I would still say that this does a better job than that would, as it not only introduces the four main characters in a way that we get a good glimpse of their future personalities, but also many other characters seen later in the show's run, such as Principal Skinner, Barney Gumble, Milhouse, Mr. Burns, etc.

    The story itself is great, kind of a blueprint for other Simpson episodes to come, in that it shows the much used "cause and effect" story used often in the series (in which something completely different eventually leads to the main problem of the Since this was the eight episode actually produced, the animation and vocal work is of great quality for this time in the series.

    All in all, a great introduction to a great show, a hint at what is to come.moreless
  • Great Way to start of a Great Series

    Oh Yes, the very first episode which premiered all the way back in 1989. I do like this episode because most of the family is introduced to there current personalities for what they are known for. All except for Homer, but it is the first episode.
  • Very very very touching pilot to the BEST SHOW EVER!

    Sure, the animations may not be great and the voice overs weren't the best right now, but I found the pilot to the Simpsons very touching and a perfect Christmas episode. It had comedy and it showed the nicer side of Homer, with him making sacrifices for his family. This episode may not have been funny, and sure, Season 1 didn't really make me laugh, but I found this episode very well done. The Year of 1989 changed TV history!moreless
  • The first Simpsons episode happens to be a Christmas episode. Either way, it's a great start to my favorite animated series

    It is up to Homer to save Christmas, when bonuses are cut at the nuclear power plant and Marge is forced to use the Christmas savings on an emergency. Wow!!! I can't believe it... December 17th, 1989 is the first Simpsons episode to be ever aired and it also happens to be a Christmas episode. It's kinda weird to have a pilot episode for a show be a Christmas episode but I really didn't care though, I really liked this pilot episode. I haven't seen this episode in 5 years though... it has been so long. FOX really needs to re-run Simpsoms more often and NOT just re-run one Simpsons episode a day. Since there are so many freakin' Simpsons episode, other stations should re-run them. Anyways, I saw this pilot episode (or first Christmas episode) for the first time in 5 years and I really enjoyed it. The animation, which you all can obviously tell, is much older than the animation right now. The animation for the very old seasons are still good to watch... it does get kinda tiring to see old animation after a while but I still appreciate them because this is from the work of Mat Groening and the rest of the staff. This episode had some very funny parts like Bart pretending to be 21 years old to get a tattoo, the school play in the beginning of the episode, Ned Flanders' Christmas lights and Homer being angered by it, Homer dressed up as Santa and Bart taking off his beard, the closing bit of the episode with everyone Christmas caroling and Bart keeps singing it differently, and maybe one or two more parts. Barney was hilarious in this episode as well. My score is a little low because it does a little boring after a while especially in the last act of the episode. I also loved how this episode showed how Homer got Santa's Little Helper to be their dog and that he made everyone very happy. The storyline was well done even though it did get boring after while and the characters are unique. The voices are always good even though the voices on the a few of the characters may sound just a little different. Overall, it's the first episode of "The Simpsons" and it's also the first Christmas episode and I just thoroughly enjoyed it... I'm happy to see this episode again after so long. 8.5/10moreless
Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright

Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others

Dan Castellaneta

Dan Castellaneta

Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others

Julie Kavner

Julie Kavner

Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer

Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others

Yeardley Smith

Yeardley Smith

Lisa Simpson

Christopher Collins

Christopher Collins

Additional Voices

Guest Star

Jo Ann Harris

Jo Ann Harris

Additional Voices

Recurring Role

Hank Azaria

Hank Azaria

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others

Recurring Role

Pamela Hayden

Pamela Hayden

Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (9)

  • QUOTES (32)

    • Principal Skinner: The fifth grade will now favor us with a scene from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
      Homer: Oh, how many grades does this school have?

    • Principal Skinner: Ah, the fourth grade will now favor us with a melody...err...medley of holiday flavorites.

    • Homer: Bart, did you hear that? What a name! "Santa's Little Helper." It's a sign. It's an omen.
      Bart: It's a coincidence, dad.

    • (At Santa training class, Homer tries to recall all the names of Santa's reindeer.)
      Homer: Um, Dasher. Dancer.
      Instructor: Mm-hmm.
      Homer: Prancer.
      Instructor: Mm-hmm.
      Homer: Nixon. Comet...Cupid. Donna Dixon?
      Instructor: Sit down, Simpson.

    • (Santa's Little Helper is chased off by his owner, and comes running towards Homer and Bart.)
      Homer: Oh, no, you don't! No, no! Get away from me! Uh-uh!
      (Santa's Little Helper jumps into Homer's arms.)
      Bart: Oh, can we keep him, Dad, please?
      Homer: But he's a loser. He's pathetic! He's...(Santa's Little Helper licks Homer.)...a Simpson.

    • Homer: Hey, little ones. Santa's back. Ho-Ho--(Homer bumps his head.)--D'oh!

    • (Homer is being tested on Santa etiquette...)
      Homer: And what would you like, little boy?
      Instructor: (sitting on Homer's lap, pretending to be a child) You're not really Santa, tubby!
      Homer: (about to attack) Why, you little...
      Instructor: Hey, no, Homer! If such an emergency arises, just tell them Santa is very busy this time of year and you're one of his helpers.
      Homer: D'oh, I knew that one too.

    • (Heard at the dog track):
      Announcer: Here comes Screwy, the mechanical rabbit.

    • Little Girl: I hope you feel better, Santa.
      Homer: Oh, I will when Mrs. Claus' sisters get outta town. Thanks for listenin', kid.

    • (At the tattoo removal clinic, Bart stares at the laser machine.)
      Bart: Ay, caramba!
      Doctor: Now, whatever you do boy, don't squirm. You don't wanna get this sucker near your eye or your groin.

    • (Homer drives recklessly on the way to the Christmas pageant.)
      Marge: Ooh! Careful, Homer!
      Homer: There's no time to be careful. We're late.

    • Patty: Hello, Marge. It's Patty. Selma and I couldn't be more excited about seeing our baby sister for Christmas Eve.
      Marge: Well, Homer and I are looking forward to your visit too.
      (Homer makes a gagging noise.)
      Patty: Somehow I doubt that Homer is excited. Of all the men you could've married, I don't know why you picked one who is always so rude to us.

    • Patty: It's almost nine o'clock.
      Selma: Where is Homer anyway?
      Patty: It's so typical of the big doofus to spoil it all.
      Lisa: What Aunt Patty?
      Patty: Oh, nothing, dear. I'm just trashing your father.

    • (Bart finds out that Homer is working as a mall Santa.)
      Homer: I didn't get my bonus this year. But to keep the family from missing out on Christmas, I'd do anything.
      Bart: I'll say, Dad. You must really love us to sink so low.

    • Barney: I got me a part time job working as a Santa down at the mall.
      Homer: Wow, can I do that?
      Barney: I dunno, they're pretty selective. (Barney belches loudly)

    • (Bart imagines Marge's reaction to him getting a tattoo.)
      Marge: Oh, Bart, that's so sweet. It's the best present a mother could get, and it makes you look so dangerous.

    • Marge: All right, children, let me have those letters. I'll send them to Santa's workshop at the North Pole.
      Bart: Oh, please. There's only one fat guy that brings us presents, and his name ain't Santa.
      (Marge reads Lisa letter.)
      Marge: Uh--A pony? Oh, Lisa, you've asked for that for the last three years, and I keep telling you Santa can't fit a pony into his sleigh. Can't you take a hint?
      Lisa: But I really want a pony, and I've been really, really good this year.
      Marge: Oh, dear. Maybe Bart is a little more realistic. (Marge reads Bart's letter.) A tattoo?
      Homer: A what?
      Bart: Yeah! They're cool and they last the rest of your life.
      Marge: You will not be getting a tattoo for Christmas.
      Homer Yeah. If you want one, you'll have to pay for it out of your own allowance.
      Bart: All right!
      Marge: Homer!

    • (Marge writes a Christmas letter.)
      Marge: (Thinking to herself.) Dear friends of the Simpson family. We had some sadness and some gladness this year. First, the sadness. Our little cat Snowball was unexpectedly run over and went to kitty heaven. But we bought a new little cat, Snowball II. So, I guess life goes on. Speaking of life going on, Grandpa is still with us, feisty as ever. Maggie is walking by herself, Lisa got straight A's, and Bart--Well, we love Bart. The magic of the season has touched us all.
      Homer: Marge, haven't you finished that stupid letter yet?
      Marge: (Thinking to herself.) Homer sends his love. Happy Holidays,
      Homer: Marge!
      Marge: (Thinking to herself.) The Simpsons.
      Homer: Marge, where's the extension cord?
      Marge: Oh, for Heaven's sake, Homer. It's in the utility drawer.

    • (Bart and Homer watch Santa's Little Helper lose the race.)
      Bart: Doesn't seem possible, but I guess TV has betrayed me.
      Homer: I don't wanna leave till our dog finishes. (Long pause) Ah, forget it. Let's go.

    • (Barney and Bart convince Homer to bet his Santa paycheck at the dog track.)
      Bart: Ah, come on, Dad. This can be the miracle that saves the Simpsons' Christmas. If TV has taught me anything, it's that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it's gonna happen to us!
      Homer: Well, okay, let's go. Who's Tiny Tim?

    • (Bart unknowingly sits on Homer's lap at the mall.)
      Bart: Hey, Santa, what's shakin', man?
      Homer: (In a disguised voice.) What's your name, Bart...ner? Uh, little partner?
      Bart: I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?
      Homer: I'm jolly old St. Nick.
      Bart: Oh, yeah. We'll just see about that.
      (Bart yanks off Homer's Santa beard.)
      Homer: D'oh!
      Bart: (In surprise) Homer!

    • (Bart and his friends hang out at the mall.)
      Milhouse: Get a load of that quote-unquote Santa.
      Lewis: I can't believe those kids are falling for it.
      Bart: Hey, Milhouse, I dare you to sit on his lap.
      Milhouse: Oh, yeah. Well I dare you to yank his beard off.
      Bart: Ah, touché.

    • (Homer steals a Christmas tree and brings it home.)
      Homer: So what do you think, kids? Beauty, isn't it?
      Bart: Wow! Yay, Dad!
      Lisa: Way to go, Dad!
      Selma: Why is there a bird house in it?
      Homer: Uh, um, that's an ornament.
      Patty: (Sniffs) Do I smell gunpowder?

    • (Everyone keeps poking Bart's bandaged arm.)
      (Lisa pokes Bart)
      Bart: Ow! Quit it.
      (Lisa pokes Bart)
      Bart: Ow! Quit it.
      (Lisa pokes Bart)
      Bart: Ow! Quit it.
      (Maggie pokes Bart)
      Bart: Ow! Quit it.
      (Homer walks in)
      Homer: Hey, what's with this?
      (Homer pokes Bart)
      Bart: Ow! Quit it.

    • (Bart performs with his classmates at the Christmas pageant.)
      Bart: (Singing) Oh, Jingle Bells. Batman smells. Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile broke its wheel. The Joker got awa--(Skinner yanks Bart from the stage.)--Aah!

    • (One of the presentations at the school Christmas pageant.)
      Second Grade Girl: Frohliche Weihnachten. That's German for "Merry Christmas." In Germany, Santa's servant Ruprecht gives presents to good children and whipping rods to the parents of bad ones.

    • (Homer does some Christmas shopping alone.)
      Homer: Marge, Marge. Hmm. Let's see. Ooh, look! Pantyhose. (Puts some pantyhose in his cart.) Practical and alluring. A six-pack. Oh! Only 4.99. Ooh! Pads of paper. (Puts some lined paper in his cart.) I bet Bart can think of a million things to do with these. That just leaves little Maggie. Oh, look! A little squeak toy. (Squeezes the toy.) It says it's for dogs, but she can't read.

    • (Homer applies to be a mall Santa.)
      Interviewer: Do you like children?
      Homer: What do you mean? All the time? Even when they're nuts?
      Interviewer: Hmm.
      Homer: Uh, I certainly do.
      Interviewer: Welcome aboard, Simpson.

    • Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer
      As performed by the family, along with Grampa, Patty and Selma.

      All: Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer,
      Had a very shiny nose,
      And if you ever saw it,
      You would even say it glows.
      Bart: Like a light bulb!
      Homer: Bart!

      All: All of the other reindeer,
      Used to laugh and call him names.
      Lisa: Like Schnozzola!
      Homer: Lisa!

      All: They never let poor Rudolph,
      Join in any reindeer games.
      Bart: Like strip poker!
      Homer: I'm warning you two!

      All: Then one foggy Christmas Eve,
      Santa came to say,
      Marge: Take it Homer!
      Homer: Err...Rudolph, get your nose over here, so
      you can drive my
      Grampa: Oh, Homer.

      All: Then all of the reindeer loved him,
      And they shouted out with glee:
      Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer,
      You'll go down in history!
      Bart: Like Attila the H--(Homer starts choking him.)--ugh, urk!
      Homer: You little--grrrr!

    • (Bart gets a tattoo.)
      Bart: One "Mother," please.
      Tattoo Artist: Wait a minute. How old are you?
      Bart: Twenty-one, sir!
      Tattoo Artist: Get in the chair.

    • (Homer brings home Santa's Little Helper.)
      Marge: Oh, this is the best gift of all, Homer!
      Homer: It is?
      Marge: Yes. Something to share our love and frighten prowlers.
      Lisa: What's his name?
      Homer: Number 8--Uh, I mean Santa's Little Helper.

    • Homer: (Answers the phone) Yello?
      Patty: Marge, please.
      Homer: Who is this?
      Patty: May I please speak to Marge.
      Homer: This is her sister, isn't it?
      Patty: Is Marge there?
      Homer: Who shall I say is calling?
      Patty: Marge, please.
      Homer: (To Marge) It's your sister.

  • NOTES (7)

    • First episode to feature snow.

    • This is the only episode that does not start with any kind of show opening. The title is shown and then the episode begins.

    • This episode was nominated, but did not win a Primetime Emmy Award in the categories of "Outstanding Animated Program (for programming one hour or less)" and "Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special."

    • DVD commentary revealed that the creators got letters of praise for heightening the awareness of the abandonment of racing dogs even though they didn't know it was a real problem when they created the episode.

    • When Lisa is doing the tribal dance, many people were curious as to why she isn't wearing anything from the waist down. Years later, the DVD commentary for this episode revealed that Lisa is actually wearing a body suit, and is in fact not naked.

    • First Appearance: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Grampa, Patty, Selma, Snowball II, Ned Flanders, Todd Flanders, Moe, Barney, Lewis, Milhouse, Santa's Little Helper, Mr. Largo

    • Blackboard Joke: none
      Couch Gag: none


    • Man o' War
      One of the dogs at the racetrack is named Dog o' War. This is a quick reference to the champion thoroughbred race horse, named Man o' War, who dominated many races in the early 20th century.

    • Dr. Seuss Illustrations
      Homer drives past a Christmas tree lot that features, "X-Mas Trees Slightly Irregular." The trees in this lot are drawn to resemble the trees in the Dr. Seuss children's books.

    • Richard Nixon/Donna Dixon
      While calling out the reindeer, Homer makes quick and funny references to famous 80's actress Donna Dixon and former U.S. President Richard Nixon.

    • Bart: If TV has taught me anything, it's that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it's going to happen to us!
      Bart references two animated Christmas specials. The 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas; and the 1982 yuletide special The Smurfs Christmas Special. (Also used as a parody in the form of The Happy Little Elves). Plus a reference to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

    • All in the Family
      The storyline of Homer being denied his Christmas bonus has been used in many sitcoms, including the first holiday-themed episode of All In The Family, where Archie puts off telling his family he was denied his yuletide bonus.

    • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
      The title of this episode is a play on the alternate title/first line to Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," also known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire."

  • 8:00 pm
    500 Questions