Recap: The Simpsons S 3 E 19 Dog Of Death

Episode - 8F17
First Aired - 3/12/1992

The Simpsons must make budget cuts in order to pay for Santa's Little Helper's stomach surgery, but Santa's Little Helper runs away after the family expresses resentment for having to give up their favorite things in order to pay for the vet bill. Meanwhile, lottery fever hits Springfield, and local news anchor Kent Brockman hits the jackpot.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Androcles' Lion: In a sense, as Santa's Little Helper snaps out of his attack state once he realizes who he's supposed to (help) attack. In fact, SLH turns on Burns' hounds and changes them instantly from bloodthirsty killers to whimpering, sniveling cowards, literally saving Bart's life.
  • Brand X: Encyclopedia Generica
  • Come Back My Pet: The family realizes they were wrong in how they treated Santa's Little Helper and send Bart out to get him.
  • Continuity Nod: The map of Springfield used to follow Santa's Little Helper's adventures when he runs away includes the "Michael Jackson Expressway"; Mayor Quimby renamed the road that when everyone thought Jackson was coming to town in the Season Three opener "Stark Raving Dad".
  • Crazy Awesome: It may have been just a crazed fantasy, but 14-karat-gold coated larger-than-life Homer telling off Mr. Burns and ruling over the town was damn cool.
  • Flashback: Homer suggests that he could perform surgery on the dog, since as he sees it it wouldn't be any different from carving a turkey. We then go to a flashback to a previous meal as Homer proves no expert with an electric carving knife...
  • Heaven and Hell: "There can't be a 'Doggie Heaven' without a 'Doggie Hell'."
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mr. Burns wanted Santa's Little Helper to be a vicious attack dog and ended up being one person the dog attacked.
  • Homage: Santa's Little Helper gets programmed into a killer in the same way that Alex was programmed not to kill in A Clockwork Orange. The montage (which features violence against dogs and things dogs hate, like cats and Lyndon Johnson holding his dog by the ears) even features Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as the soundtrack.
  • It's All My Fault: Bart really blames himself for making Santa's Little Helper runaway.
  • Kick the Dog: In this episode, Burns not only tortures an actual dog to make him a killer, he sends him and the whole rest of the pack after a 10-year-old boy. However, Burns fails to count on SLH's instinct buried deep within him, denying him the satanic satisfaction of watching a young boy being mauled to death.
  • The Ludovico Technique: Burns brainwashes Santa's Little Helper into being a vicious, soulless killer.
  • Running Gag: Homer tossing a book in the fireplace when he realizes that it's useless.
  • Shout-Out:
    • People buy/check out from the library copies of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", thinking it's a how-to guide to winning the lottery, when really it's a short story about conformity gone mad.
    • Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit451 also lies in the fireplace.
    • While Santa's Little Helper strolls in the forest, music from Peter and the Wolf can be heard.
    • Among the violent films Santa's Little Helper sees are the Hindenburg disaster and President Lyndon Johnson yanking a dog's ears (as he used to do in real life).
  • Special Guest: Frank Welker as Santa's Little Helper