Recap / The Simpsons S 5 E 11 Homer The Vigilante
Episode - 1F09
First Aired - 1/6/1994

While the Simpsons sleep, their house is invaded by the Springfield Cat Burglar, who leaves a calling card in exchange for such valuables as Marge's pearls (even though Marge has a large ball of replacement pearl necklaces in a drawer), Bart's stamp collectionnote  and portable TV, and Lisa's saxophone. It's up to Homer and his newly-formed vigilante group to catch their man — if only they'd stop bullying everyone in town.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Public Confession: While Homer might have thought he was being clever and using Confusing Multiple Negatives, it's really this trope.
    Kent Brockman: Well, what do you say to the accusation that your group has been causing more crimes than it's been preventing?
    Homer: Oh Kent, I'd be lying if I said my men weren't committing crimes.
    Kent Brockman: Mmm, touche.
  • Affably Evil: Molloy. If it weren't for his stealing and, at the end, tricking everyone into going on a wild goose chase so he can escape prison, he'd just be affable (and even then, he left a politely worded letter to explain the purpose of the wild goose chase). If anything, Springfield's attempts to deal with the cat burglaries cause more damage than he does.
  • Batman Gambit: Molloy convinces everyone to leave him unguarded so he can escape by sending them on a wild goose chase.
  • Big "NO!": Homer's reaction to Jimbo Jones quitting the posse to go to law school after he feels Homer let him down.
  • Calling Card: The cat burglar leaves his business card at his crimes.
  • Cool Old Guy: The thief turns out to be a polite old man named Molloy, who gives up everything he stole once he realizes he's been caught.
  • Drunk with Power: It takes the neighbourhood watch all of a few minutes to start abusing their power.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: At the end after everyone forgives Molloy, Chief Wiggum reminds them that he broke the law and the appropriate punishment is him going to prison.
  • Easily Forgiven: After Molloy is caught he talks the citizens into forgiving him. The trope is subverted when, despite this, Chief Wiggum arrests him and he has to escape.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: Thanks to a house's laser system Jasper regains his eyesight but loses it seconds after. He even mentions the trope when he accepts the loss.
  • Evil Old Folks: Molloy, kind of.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: The cat burglar calls in to "Eye on Springfield" to taunt Homer about his next robbery. It might have worked better if Homer had realised who he was talking to.
    Molloy: Hello, Homer, my arch-nemesis.
    Homer: (cheerfully) Y'ello.
    Molloy: (nonplussed) Uh, you do realise who this is?
    Homer: (confused) ...Marge?
  • Food as Bribe: That's how Molloy bribes the Simpsons' dog into letting him rob them. A sleepwalking Homer takes a similar bribe that night.
  • Gentleman Thief: Molloy.
  • Graceful Loser: Molloy calmly returns everything he'd stolen after being caught.
  • Homage: The final few minutes of the episode are an homage to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
    • In fact, when they reach the "Big T," you can see the "Big W" in the background.
    • Also caricatures of IAMMMMW actors such as Phil Silvers, Milton Bearle, and Buddy Hackett start appearing in the crowd during this sequence.
    • The scene of Bart tricking Phil Silvers into driving into the river is a direct homage to the movie.
    • The Simpsons didn't have insurance because Homer spent the money on Magic Beans.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: After people decide the Springfield Cat Burgler is not so bad after all and want him released from jail.
    Chief Wiggum: Oh, sorry folks. Gee, I really hate to spoil this little love-in, but Mr. Molloy broke the law. And when you break the law, you gotta go to jail.
    Mayor Quimby: Uh, that reminds me, er, here's your monthly kickback.
  • Never My Fault: Homer hates the magic beans for him not having the money to pay for the insurance.
    Marge: Ooh, stop blaming the beans!
  • News Travels Fast: Played for laughs. Right after Bart reveals he had a stamp collection, Nelson somehow catches wind of it and calls the household to join the rest of the Simpson family in laughing at him for it.
  • Noodle Incident: The story Homer tells at the dinner table: "So I says, 'Look, buddy, your car was upside-down when we got there. And, as for your grandma, she shouldn't have mouthed off like that!"
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Homer first forms the militia, Marge is concerned about having guns in the house. Homer assures her that they know what they're doing, but he's repeatedly interrupted by the group's guns accidentally going off. And one of the members holding a rifle that went off accidentally is Bart.
    • When Homer was accused of sleeping on duty, he replied that instead of asleep, he was drunk.
  • Only Sane Man: The Phil Silvers expy is the only one to realise that Molloy outwitted the entire town with a wild goose chase.
  • Reality Ensues: The town forgives Molloy at the end after he returns their possessions, but Chief Wiggum has a Dumbass Has a Point moment and arrests Molloy anyway because he still committed burglary.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Lisa: If you're the police, who polices the police?
    Homer: I dunno... Coast Guard?
  • Riding the Bomb: When Herman shows Homer an A-bomb that was designed to kill beatniks, Homer not only imagines himself doing just that in a direct Dr. Strangelove parody, but also straddles the bomb in reality. Herman then directs Homer's attention to a sign posted nearby: "DO NOT RIDE THE BOMB".
  • Rule of Funny: The only conceivable reason anyone could mistake Homer or Barney for MC Hammer.
  • Rule of Three: "Since the police can't seem to get off their duffaroonies to do something about this burglareeno, I think it's time we start our own neighborhood watch...aroonie!"
  • Serious Business: "Lisa, never EVER stop in the middle of a hoedown!"
  • Shout-Out: When Homer and Skinner nod back and forth to each other, the theme to Dragnet plays.
  • Special Guest: Sam Neill as Molloy.
  • Spinning Newspaper: Used to show the cat burglar's crime spree... until the burglar takes it too.
  • Take Over the World: Homer's group wants to do this, though Homer denies as much.
    Lisa: "World domination"?
    Homer: That's a typo. (thinking) Mental note: the girl knows too much.
  • Take That!: Homer and his group chasing down a street musician after he tells him he got his saxophone from Sears.
  • This is No Time to Panic: Subverted. Kent Brockman's initial report on the Springfield Cat Burglar — which suggests that mass murders may happen next, and that the burglar may be a Wolf Man — ends with him asking a professor if it's time for the town to panic over the matter. The professor says it is!
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Chief Wiggum has a handkerchief the cat burglar left behind during a robbery and is about to let a police dog smell it when he decides to use it to wipe some sweat from his face. Unsurprisingly, the dog attacks Wiggum.
    • The people of Springfield continue digging for the non-existent treasure because Homer can't make out Molloy's signature on the note explaining the wild goose chase he'd sent the town on. Several hours later, after digging themselves into a very deep pit, they decide to get out of the pit by continuing to dig.
    Wiggum: No no, dig up, stupid!
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Played for Laughs. While the cat burglaries are worthy of above-the-flap placement, the secondary story — "Man Marries Woman in Wedding Ceremony" — is less so.