Recap / The Simpsons S 11 E 14 Alone Again Natura Diddily
While enjoying a day at the NASCAR races, Homer's shirtless antics inadvertently cause the death of Ned Flanders' wife, Maude, and Flanders begins losing faith when Homer bungles his way to helping his depressed neighbor.

Tropes featured:

  • 21-Gun Salute: In honor of the way Maude died, there's a twenty-one T-shirt-gun salute at her funeral.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Homer is a bit too into filming a shirtless Ned.
      • He also remarks that Sherlock Holmes is a character (and no, not in the fictional sense), complete with sensual growl.
  • Bait-and-Switch: "This is a love song about dude I met in a sleazy motel... A dude named God."
  • Book Ends / Brick Joke: Homer mentions to Ned that the tape he used to make him a dating tape was the one used to film Maggie's birth (he was unable to edit out a few seconds of it). The tape abruptly ends by cutting to Marge pushing.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ned briefly loses his faith in God after failing to get an answer as to why Maud had to die.
  • Call-Back:
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Maude's funeral. In addition to the above Call Backs by Reverend Lovejoy, we also see the gravestones of Bleeding Gums Murphy, Dr. Marvin Monroe, Bea Simmons, and Frank Grimes.
  • Credits Gag: During the credits that run underneath the first sequence of the episode, the writer credit is larger than ususal, timed to appear after Lisa comes across a tree with initials carved on it and wonders, "Why do jerks think everyone wants to see their stupid name?"
  • Despair Event Horizon: Maude's death in the episode nearly destroyed Ned to a point that he momentarily refused to attend church because he believed that God punished him for no reason and ruined his life.
  • For Want of a Nail: Maud's death can be attributed entirely to Homer. She goes to get food from the concession stand purely to get away from Homer, who has just taken his shirt off and is jiggling around to get the attention of the T-shirt cannon girls, goading them to fire at him. When they do so, he spots a bobby pin on the floor and bends down to pick it up just as Maude is returning with the food, so the shirts hit her instead, knocking her over the edge.
  • Gag Penis: Flanders', apparently.
  • George Jetson Job Security: After Bart catches Homer filming Ned, he asks if he even still has a job. Homer pointedly responds that he obviously doesn't.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Ned's endowment (which could be interpreted as either Homer using video special effects to entice women who watch his dating video or Ned actually having a large penis).
  • Gilligan Cut: Ned tells his sons he won't attend church, saying "I'm going to sit right here and miss church. You just watch." Cut to Ned hurriedly driving, saying "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!"
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Reverend Lovejoy's eulogy for Maude.
    Reverend Lovejoy: In many ways, Maude Flanders was a supporting player in our lives. She didn't grab our attention with memorable catchphrases, or comical accents.
    Groundskeeper Willie: Aye...
    Captain McCallister: Yaar...
    Professor Frink: Oh, glaven, why, glaven?
    Lovejoy: But, whether you noticed her or not, Maude was always there... and we thought she always would be. My friends, life is about change. Just yesterday, Apu was a lonely bachelor.
    Apu: (holding octuplets) Yes, thank God those days are over.
    Lovejoy: (continuing) And the Van Houtens were enjoying a storybook marriage.
    Kirk Van Houten: Yeah, lots of storybooks have witches.
    Pyro: Shut up, Kirk!
    Kirk: Sorry...
  • Lethally Stupid: Homer's idiocy directly leads to Maude's death.
  • Parting Words Regret: Flanders regrets telling his wife "No foot longs" instead of "I love you" or something more meaningful.
  • Pet the Dog: After Maud's death, Homer decides to be an actual friend for him, lending his ear and even making Ned a dating tape to help him move on.
    • Meanwhile, Bart (at Marge's suggestion) decides to play with Rod and Todd (which mainly boils down to Bart playing Billy Graham's Bible Blaster as Rod and Todd watch).
  • Pixellation: When Flanders is filmed taking a shower.
  • Single Tear: Homer sheds one after he's told he has to start being nicer to Ned due to Maude's death.
  • Suicide by Cop: Played with: Moe intentionally pisses off Ned at Maude's funeral so that he would beat him to death and get with Maud in Heaven.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The promos for "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" literally asked: "Who will die?", and proceeding to list off a bunch of potential victims. Unfortunately, word got out before the episode aired that Maude would be the unfortunate one, so these promos didn't generate the expected suspense.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Homer is unusually bad here, never showing a moment of remorse for the part he played in Maude's death and even revealing that he was parked in an ambulance bay at the stadium, "preventing any possible resuscitation". Then while Ned is still mourning his late wife, he sets about trying to find him a date.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Homer says on Ned's dating tape that he's "not afraid to cry"... which is shown with Homer abruptly macing Ned.
  • What You Are in the Dark: After Rod and Todd leave for church after Ned refuses to go, he angrily tells God his decision to not go, we immediately cut to him hurriedly driving to church, apologizing along the way.
  • Wham Episode: First time in the show that a recurring character is Killed Off for Real.
  • Wipe: While Lisa and Homer are editing Ned's dating video, Homer suggests to use star wipes for every shot. Lisa tries to tell him there are other kinds of wipes than that, but Homer argues, "Why eat hamburger when you can have steak?" As Lisa decides to take her name off the project, what marks the transition to the next shot...? A star wipe!