With the family in dire straits once again, Homer decides to ask Mr. Burns for a raise, but Burns has a better plan: hire Homer as his personal jester (or "prank monkey") while Smithers takes time off to go to New Mexico to star in a musical he wrote about Malibu Stacy. But when the pranks escalate to being gross and humiliating, Homer must choose between making money for his family and retaining his dignity.
"Homer vs. Dignity" contains examples of:
- Bad Santa: Burns tries to pay Homer to act as one in the parade, throwing fish guts onto the crowd. Homer refuses and Burns takes up the role himself.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Bart was telling how he got his "A", how many viewers thought he'd say he blackmailed Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel?
- Black Comedy Rape: The infamous "panda scene".
- Christmas Episode: Near the end of the episode.
- Comically Missing the Point: When Lindsey Naegle shows Homer and Marge a simulation of the family becoming poor and wrecked. Homer remarks "Marge, your posture looks terrible".
- Bart doesn't realise his 'cheating' is actually genuinely studying.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Burns pays Homer to throw pudding into Lenny's eyes despite Homer's protests that Lenny's a war hero. Both laugh at Lenny's misfortune and Burns takes more sadistic pleasure when Homer throws another pudding dessert into Lenny's other eye. But when Homer hits Carl in the eyes with pudding, Burns is appalled.
Mr. Burns: What are you doing, man? That's Carl!
- Riddle for the Ages: Which standards was Burns upholding in this case?
- Fridge Brilliance: Probably race, since Carl is black and, for all of Burns' contempt for anyone who's not as rich as he is, viewers have never seen Mr. Burns be racist or sexist. This was probably the writer's way of saying, "Mr. Burns may be a twisted, loveless billionaire, but he prefers to make everyone regardless of race and/or gender feel bad instead of just single out one."
- Eye Scream: Pudding and fish guts being thrown into Lenny's eyes
- For the Evulz/For the Lulz: Burns paying Homer to make a fool out of himself.
- Kick the Dog: A whole episode-ful.
- Mondegreen: At the beginning, Homer mishears "financial planner" as "financial panther" and has an Imagine Spot of siccing a black leopard onto a creditor.
- Naked People Are Funny: A Running Gag involves Homer being accidentally stripped to the nude and shocking a passing dowager into fainting
- Noodle Incident: When asked why he didn't help Homer in the infamous panda scene
Mr. Burns: Too busy keeping my sides from splitting. [In a matter-of-fact tone] It's happened before.
- Recycled Script: We have the family in financial trouble, Lisa worrying over a Simpson male's soul ("Bart Sells His Soul") and Homer dressing up as Santa Claus ("Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire").
- Retirony: The Trope Namer. Mentioned when Chief Wiggum tells his financial planner that he's not going to create a retirement fund since he's a police officer, and, according to many cop shows and police movies, an officer who's only X amount of days from retirement (and tells his partner about what he's gonna do when he retires — usually, it'll be something like spending more time with his wife and kids) will always get murdered on the job. When the planner asks what he will do if he isn't shot, Sarah Wiggum burst into tears and Clancy is highly insulted.
- What Could Have Been: Many people complain about how bad the episode is, but few know that it could have been worse: the original ending had Homer Simpson throwing pig's blood at the crowd while wailing, "Merry Christmas! God help me!" Then, the scene flashes forward to the future, where an elderly Homer tells a group of future children that, because of him, Christmas is now celebrated with pig's blood being thrown at people.