Episode - 7F03
First Aired - 10/11/1990Airing on Thursday evenings at this point and successfully competing with the still-untouchable The Cosby Show, "Bart Gets an 'F'" would be a milestone in the history of The Simpsons. Not only was this new series entering its second season, but it was the start of a season that would solidify the success of what is now the longest-running animated prime-time series in television history.And to think that one of the major reasons for the success of The Simpsons was the central character of this, the season premiere: Slacker, wisecracking bad-boy Bart, whose very personality traits result in this episode's crisis: Bart – unable to study, concentrate or perform well in the classroom on even routine assignments – falls into danger of being retained to the fourth grade.The episode begins with Bart being asked to present his book report. He announces his subject as "Treasure Island," but all his report is is ad-libbed bull, and when it becomes clear he did not read the book, his teacher, Edna Krabappel, confirms her suspicions by having him name the main pirate (Long John Silver), which Bart is unable to do. Mrs. Krabappel keeps Bart after school, and then tells him in no uncertain terms that if he does not improve his academic performance quickly – adding to his worries that there is a challenging test on Colonial America coming up – he will be in danger of flunking fourth grade; Bart is distracted and doesn't hear a word his teacher has said. Bart goes home and tries to study, but is continually distracted by such things as a mediocre video game ("Escape from Grandma's House") and a mindless monster movie on TV ("Gorilla the Conquerer," featuring a gorilla eating people and destroying buildings, all while growling(!)). The next day at school, realizing he is unprepared for the test, fakes an illness to go home early. Bart later calls Millhouse to get the answers to the test, but the information proves useless, as Bart gets his "F" with an apparently worse score than Millhouse. Homer and Marge are called to school to meet with Dr. Pryor and Mrs. Krabappel, all whom are concerned about Bart's poor academic habits and performance, and everyone agrees that it may be in Bart's best interest to repeat the fourth grade.Bart, who is asked to be at the conference, objects to Dr. Pryor's recommendation and vows to do whatever he can to do better ... anything to avoid the humiliation of being retained. Even if that means enlisting his sworn nemesis, that nerdy Martin Prince, to tutor him. Martin helps out at first, under the promise that Bart will help make him cool, but it soon becomes clear that Martin is not interested in helping Bart – perhaps it was knowing that other attempts to help a clearly uninterested Bart have been a waste of time – but only agreed to better his own social standing. Left with no other alternative, and still unable to focus on studying for the upcoming final exam – y'know, the one that will determine whether he will move on to fifth grade, or forever have the stigma of being a fourth-grade failure – Bart tearfully and earnestly prays to God to give him one more day to study.God agrees, and the next morning, a massive blizzard results in school being canceled.Bart celebrates and begins to dress up to go outside and play and join in all the revelry of this mid-spring snowstorm. But Lisa sees him and reveals that she heard him praying the previous evening for "one more day," and that he (Bart) had now better hold up his end of the bargain. So while everyone else is having a joyous time singing, ice skating, building snow castles and much more in generally having the funnest snow day ever ... Bart is trying his hardest to focus on the expected material for the test, and not always succeeding. Eventually, Bart takes the test and – anxious about the outcome – has Mrs. Krabappel grade it right away. She does ... and lo and behold, he gets 59 percent, 1 percent below the passing threshhold.Bart immediately breaks down in tears, pleading with Mrs. Krabappel that he did indeed try to study and that this was his best work and groveling one last time to her to not follow through with threats to retain him to fourth grade. In the process, he blurts out that his failure is similar to George Washington's surrender of Fort Necessity to the French (in 1754). Mrs. Krabappel is stunned that her worst student was able to recall a relatively obscure historic event and its impact on Washington's future and, in a show of mercy, gives him the extra points necessary to pass the test. Bart is extremely grateful, so much so that he kisses Mrs. Krabappel on the cheeck – which, only after running through Springfield to proudly show off his success he realizes what he had just done (yuck(!)). Homer congratulates Bart for showing improvement and tapes the test to the refrigerator; Bart proudly states that part of the D-minus "belongs to God."
This episode provides examples of (YMMV tropes can be found here):