Recap / The Simpsons S 1 E 8 The Telltale Head
Episode - 7G07
First Aired - 2/25/1990

Cornered at the town square by a pitchfork and torch-wielding mob, Bart tells the rioting townspeople the story of how he stole the head of town founder Jebediah Springfield to impress some local thugs, Dolph, Jimbo Jones, and Kearney.

This is one of four episodes series creator Matt Groening has a writing credit on.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Is the Lincoln Memorial just a statue!? Is the Statue of Liberty just a statue?!"
  • The Cameo: Sideshow Bob.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The first glimpse of Smithers' affection towards his boss.
    [after Bart puts the head back on the statue]
    Mr. Burns: I love you, Smithers.
    Smithers: The feeling's more than mutual, sir.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Sideshow Bob appears in this episode briefly on Krusty's show.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney may be petty thugs, but when they hear that someone defaced the statue of Jebediah Springfield, they want to bash his face in, explaining that what they said about wanting to deface the statue themselves was just "cloud talk".
    • It may be a case of Early Installment Weirdness, but Mr. Burns — the Charles Montgomery Burns — actually cries at the sight of the headless statue and joins the angry mob in retaliation.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: When Homer was Bart's age, he "pulled a few boners" (in this context, a "boner" is a slang term for a mistake, not a Raging Stiffie. The "mistake" definition of "boner" is not used much these days).
  • Hearing Voices: A guilt-ridden Bart hears Jebediah Springfield's voice in his head when he buries the statue head in the backyard.
  • Heaven: Discussed in Bart's Sunday school class. Bart stumps the teacher by asking her who/what will be there.
    Bart: Um, ma'am, what if you're a really good person, but you're in a really, really bad fight and your leg gets gangrene, and it has to be amputated. Will it be waiting for you in heaven?
    Teacher: For the last time, Bart, yes!
    Teacher: (exasperated) The ventriloquist goes to Heaven, but the dummy doesn't. (Bart raises his hand) Bart?
    Bart: What about a robot with a human brain?
    Teacher: (frazzled) I don't know! All these questions; is a little blind faith too much to ask?!
  • Heel Realization: Homer has one when his advice to Bart (being cool is the most important thing in the world) backfires on him after Bart reveals he was the one who cut off the statue head.
  • How We Got Here: The use of this trope is parodied when, after Homer agress to come with Bart to put the head back on the statue, the opening sequence repeats until the mob interrupts the story, saying they already know that part.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: This is the first appearance of Sideshow Bob. His design is way off in his first scene.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In church, Homer's listening to the football game on headphones. Homer's football team scores, causing Homer to jump up and shout, "It's GOOD! It's GOOD!" The whole congregation stares at him, and he adds more, "It's... good to see you all in church." Nobody buys it.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Marge takes away Bart's headphones before heading into church. When she's not looking, Homer swipes the headphones for himself and listens to them in church.
  • Limited Animation: In the third act, when Marge says, "Homer...", her mouth only has two unique frames: Open and closed. And it only opens and closes once, whereas a double syllable word like "Homer" should've at least opened and closed twice.
  • Medium Awareness: Bart tells the mob his story will take 23 minutes and 5 seconds to tell. note 
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bart says, "Oh, what have I done?" after sawing off Jebediah's head.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Marge holds Homer responsible for inspiring Bart of his popularity advice that caused him to commit the crime in the first place.
  • Off Model: When Sideshow Bob appears in the middle of the episode his hair is a giant red afro. At the end of the episode it's in its normal palm-tree style.
  • Special Edition Title: Downplayed in that the Title Sequence had Bart fall past the screen during the "Created By/Developed By" part (due to the Couch Gag having Homer force Bart out of the couch).note 
  • That Cloud Looks Like...: One of the things Bart, Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney do.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: First appearance of the Springfield Angry Mob, when they chase Bart and Homer with the head down the street.
  • Trilogy Creep: Space Mutants 4: The Trilogy Continues
  • Whole Episode Flashback