Former Saturday Night Live
head writer, cast member, Weekend Update anchor, Sarah Palin
impersonator, and 30 Rock
star Tina Fey
voices a substitute teacher named Ms. Cantwell who loves all of her temporary students, except for Lisa. Meanwhile, Flanders tries to atone for punching Homer in the face after Flanders' parents take a liking to Homer rather than their own son.
- Badass Boast: In writing, by Bart: I will make your life a living hell. The demonstration of what he can do within two minutes of arriving to her class is enough to send Cantwell running.
- Bad Teacher Incompetent Teacher: When Marge and Homer talk to Skinner and Chambers about Lisa's bullying (which Cantwell is not even trying to hide from the latter), neither the school principal nor the district superintendent are willing to do anything about it, and tell so to them bluntly (they cite that the teacher's union would be on their ass if they did anything). When Cantwell runs off from her classroom, they actually try to stop her by telling her that all they needed her to do from day one was clock in every day.
- Bad Teacher: Ms. Cantwell to Lisa, and only Lisa. To everyone else she's great. She even likes Ralph Wiggum over Lisa.
- Disappointed By The Motive: Lisa's reaction to Cantwell's Motive Rant that Cantwell saw she was pretty and considered her someone that used her looks to get by in life, and thus worth hating. It actually stuns Lisa (and makes her happy, because the teacher is calling her "pretty") long enough for Cantwell to deliver one last zing via splashing her with mud as she drives away.
- Dumb Blonde: Just because Lisa's hair is blonde, Ms. Cantwell assumed her to follow the stereotype. She also assumes Lisa to be a Brainless Beauty used to be complimented on the beauty part.
- Hate at First Sight: Cantwell's reaction to Lisa.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: Ned inisists that Homer hit him back so they can be even.
- Ironic Hell: Ned's nightmare-with cameo guest star Richard Dawkins as his personal Devil and, like him, kind of milquetoast (even the ominous chanting is loaded with "diddlys").
- Nuclear Option: What Ms. Krabappel calls sending Bart to Ms. Cantwell's class to drive her away.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: When Bart arrives to Ms. Cantwell's classroom.
- Plot Hole: The first time Homer is hit by Ned, the doctor forces Homer to wear an eyepatch while he recovers-which he does up until Ned hits him again, and then he doesn't wears the eyepatch anymore, and actually seems to heal within hours if not a day or two. Homer is also told that the punch gave him severe nerve damage on the eye, but this is never addressed again within the episode nor later.
- Rage Breaking Point: Flanders reaches it twice on the episode regarding Homer: first when his parents which came to visit like Homer more than him (although the three of them smoking pot may have helped), and the second time when Homer decides to be "the better man" by not hitting Ned and stupidly decides to rub it in.
- Riddle for the Ages: Subverted at the very last minute. If not for Lisa actually jumping on Cantwell's car hood to insist on knowing why, we may have never known that Cantwell bullied Lisa because she thinks she's pretty and thus a Dumb Blonde party girl like the ones that bullied her as a kid and would have had to accept her explanation that "sometimes people just won't like you".
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The reason Lisa gets a "B"-grade on her work while Ralph gets an "A" on his lousy drawing? "Because I said so".
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Right after two minutes of dealing with Bart (during which he wrecks the classroom, incites a riot, writes a hundred times on the chalkboard "I will make your life a living hell" and posts an embarrassing video of her on YouTube), Cantwell decides to run away from the school.
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Lisa can't imagine why any teacher wouldn't like her.
- Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Adult bullying is a real thing-either adult bullying kid or adult bullying adult, bullies have no age limit.
- Spiritual Antithesis: To Lisa's Substitute. The first one gives Lisa a Be Yourself message (and her first, dramatic, heartbreak), while this episode is about her (kind of) learning that some people will hate you from the second they meet you and you may or may not know why.
- Take a Third Option: How the Cantwell situation is resolved by Homer: with option one being hitting Ned (which he doesn't wants to do) and option two being doing nothing, Option Three is him convincing Edna that he will accept Ned's apology if she can think of something. Edna decides on the Nuclear Option.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm / Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Played with: Cantwell arrives to the classroom and it appears to be set up to be similar to the episode Lisa's Substitute, and apparently she does a good job teaching the rest of the class. It's Lisa that bears the brunt of her mean-spiritedness.