It’s always fun to see lawyers portrayed on television. Some, like Law & Order’s Jack McCoy or Matlock’s Ben Matlock illustrate the most virtuous aspects of the justice system. Others, like Arrested Development’s Barry Zuckercorn or Lionel Hutz from The…
On the air for more than 20 years, the iconic family cartoon sitcom “The Simpsons” has covered just about every topic you can think of. So it’s no surprise that the show has addressed – and mocked – many legal issues. In fact, The Simpsons has managed to cover personal injury law, sexual harassment, false advertising, criminal law, food safety, copyright law, and more. While the plots of these episodes themselves are hilarious, they wouldn’t be quite as great without shuckster attorney Lionel Hutz (Phil Hartman). We’ve compiled a list of our favorite lawsuits in the Simpsons, in chronological order. Take a look, and give us your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Lionel Hutz first appears in the show’s second season, after Bart gets hit by a car while riding his skateboard through Springfield. Hutz greets the Simpsons in the hospital room and suggests that they sue Mr. Burns, the driver, even though Bart only suffers from a broken toe and a bump on the head. Burns offers to pay Homer $100 to prevent a potential lawsuit, but Homer refuses, noting that it would barely cover Bart’s medical bills. He then hires Hutz, who promises a $1 million cash settlement, of which he would receive a standard 50% fee.
Of course, the jury feels sympathy for Bart, who has been coached on what to say by hack Dr. Nick. This prompts Mr. Burns to offer a revised $500,000 settlement, which Homer refuses on advice from Hutz. Fortunately, Marge’s morals get in the way of a major pay day for the Simpsons. After Mr. Burns overhears Marge speak ill of “phony doctors,” his attorney calls Marge to the stand, where she testifies that the accident’s monetary hardships totaled $5. Marge’s testimony deflates Hutz’s case, and the Simpsons lose the lawsuit.
The Simpsons’ house is sinking, and is in dire need of foundation repair. Fortunately, a job has just opened up at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and Marge decides to apply to help pay for the house renovation project. Mr. Burns quickly falls in love with Marge and attempts to woo her by playing Tom Jones music over the plant stereo system. Mr. Burns takes this a bit too far when he abducts Tom Jones and makes a full-fledged pass at Marge. When Marge turns him down, mentioning that she is married, she is promptly fired. Marge then threatens Mr. Burns with a wrongful termination lawsuit with the help of Lionel Hutz. Of course, Hutz is little help, and flees the scene after viewing Mr. Burns’ team of accomplished lawyers. Burns eventually has a change of heart, and makes it up to Homer and Marge with a personal concert, performed for them by a still-imprisoned Tom Jones.
This might be the most famous lawsuit in Simpsons history (fun fact: the episode was written by Conan O’Brien). Renowned glutton that he is, Homer convinces Marge to visit the Frying Dutchman seafood restaurant all-you-can-eat buffet after seeing an ad for it on TV. Homer proceeds to eat way too much food, and is eventually kicked out of the restaurant by the Sea Captain. Furious, Homer hires Hutz to sue the Frying Dutchman for false advertising, claiming that even an appetite as large as his should never be turned away from an all-you-can-eat buffet. Hutz famously called the situation “the most blatant case of false advertising since The Neverending Story.” In a change of pace, Hutz wins the case, and the Sea Captain agrees to display Homer as “Bottomless Pete: Nature’s Cruelest Mistake.”
There are lots of reasons that buying bourbon for Grandpa Simpson is a dangerous idea. But after most of Springfield is infected with an airborne flu from a shipment of juicers sent from Japan, leaving Marge in a germ-induced stupor, buying bourbon is even more dangerous. As a result, Marge forgets to pay for the bottle at the Kwik-E-Mart and is arrested for shoplifting. Hutz is unable to get Marge cleared of the charges, and she is forced to serve a month at Springfield Women’s Prison, sending the Simpson home into disarray. “Marge in Chains” also includes one of the show’s best Lionel Hutz quotes: “Well, he’s kind of had it in for me since I kinda ran over his dog. Well, replace the word ‘kinda’ with the word ‘repeatedly,’ and the word ‘dog’ with ‘son’.”
Bart is inflicted with an awful stomachache after eating a piece of jagged metal in a bowl of Krusty-O breakfast cereal. Since Bart must take a test at school that day, his parents don’t believe that he is sick, and send him to school anyway. After Bart convinces Mrs. Krabappel that he is sick, he collapses and wakes up at Springfield General Hospital, where he is treated for appendicitis. Bart sues Krusty and quickly receives a $100,000 settlement, but due to Hutz’s exorbitant legal fees, Bart only takes home $500. A bit of real-world legal pop-culture makes it’s way into this episode, as Hutz’s team of hack lawyers are named Robert Shaporo and Albert Dershman, pseudonyms for Robert Shapiro and Alan Dershowitz.
While attending a parade for The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Bart meets Chester J. Lampwick, a homeless man who claims he is the show’s original creator. After showing Bart irrefutable proof that his idea was ripped off, the video is destroyed by the projector, leaving Bart scrambling for a scheme to earn Lampwick his rightful compensation. When the CEO of Itchy & Scratchy Studios refuses to pay Lampwick $800 billion, the crew hires Hutz to take the studio to court. Their case is a long shot until Bart remembers an original Itchy and Scratchy drawing for sale by the Comic Book Guy. The new evidence convinces the judge that the studio plagiarized Itchy and Scratchy from Lampwick, and he is awarded $800 billion, sending the studio into bankruptcy. Despite their victory, Bart and Lisa are distraught about the loss of their beloved show, until a set of mirror siblings win the studio a major cash settlement in a plagiarism lawsuit against the post office. Lampwick is rich, and Itchy and Scratchy is saved.