Recap / The Simpsons S 5 E 3 Homer Goes To College
Episode - 1F02
First Aired - 10/14/1993

After Homer fails a competency test at the plant, Mr. Burns is forced to put Homer in college so he can keep his job. Too bad Homer thinks that college life is similar to what most viewers have seen in Animal House and its many imitations.

Of note, this is the last script that Conan O'Brien was credited with writing, as he became the new host of Late Night around this time. note 

This episode contains examples of:

  • Acquainted with Emergency Services: After Homer causes a meltdown in class when the professor asks him to demonstrate how a proton accelerator works. The clean-up crew arrives to stop the problem:
    Homer: (glowing green, gesturing over shoulder) In there, guys.
    Crew: Thanks, Homer.
  • As You Know: In "School of Hard Knockers", the Dean's guest informs the viewers about his position as the President of the United States by reminding the Dean of it.
  • Batter Up: Spoofing the scene from The Untouchables, Mr. Burns tries to whack a Springfield University board member with a baseball bat, but he's so weak the board member hardly feels anything, and it utterly exhausts Burns.
  • Berserk Button: Sir Oinks-a-lot apparently hates it when someone plays with his tail.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Homer causes a nuclear meltdown in a truck that had absolutely no nuclear material in it. One of the inspectors lampshades this, while Conan laughs about it in the audio commentary.
  • Big Eater: When a meltdown caused Homer to glow and say he needed to destroy mankind, his wrist watch beeped to remind him it was lunch time. He quickly shook off the radiation and went for lunch.
  • Black and Nerdy: Gary.
  • Blatant Lies: When the Nuclear Regulatory Comission arrives, Mr. Burns tries to claim the plant is just a cookie factory. The NRC don't buy it for an instant.
  • Brick Joke: "School of Hard Knockers" has a scene where the rebellious jock has set up a bra-bomb to cover the school with bras. This happened to coincide with the President's visit to the college. Homer was seen taking notes after this particular scene. Over the end credits, during Homer's second round of college, a montage of Homer's antics is played. One of the still photos seen is Richard Nixon with a bra on his head, with Homer and the Dean triumphantly playing guitar in the background. Apparently Homer got revenge.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Homer thinks that real college life is similar to what's on The School of Hard Knockers (the raunchy college film he watches).
  • Captain Obvious: "Wait a minute, that's not the wallet inspector..."
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: After Homer accidentally turns the college classroom into a nuclear disaster, he calmly walks out (glowing bright green) and informs the rescue crew, "In there, guys." The crew responds, "Thanks, Homer."
  • College Is High School Part 2: Pointedly subverted, though Homer believes this.
  • Dean Bitterman: Trope Namer, from School of Hard Knockers.
    • Averted with the laid back Dean Peterson, but Wrong Genre Savvy Homer is convinced that he has to be a "crusty old dean" despite all evidence to the contrary.
  • Deranged Animation: This pictorial blog post breaks down many of the moments quite well.
  • Epic Fail: Homer starts a nuclear meltdown in a simulator that didn't have any nuclear materials.
    • Homer does this a second time with a particle accelerator in his nuclear physics class.
  • Even Evil Has Standards / Pet the Dog: Richard Nixon takes the mistreatment of Sir Oinks-a-lot very seriously.
    Nixon: Oh, you'll pay! Don't think you won't pay!
  • Fandom Rivalry: In-Universe, the nerds use the Simpsons' land line to argue online over whether Captain Kirk or Captain Picard is better. They support Kirk.
  • Hard Work Montage: The nerds help Homer study hard for his test. Unfortunately, he still gets an F.
  • Here We Go Again: The episode ends with Marge convincing Homer to take the course over again without cheating.
  • Humor Dissonance: In-universe. In Homer's nuclear physics class, when the professor greets his new class by saying "Out with the old, in with the nucleus...", everyone except Homer laughs. But when the professor accidentally drops his notecards, Homer is the only one who laughs, prompting everyone to stare at him as he does so.
  • Karma Houdini: Defied by Homer, who feels guilty that his hijinks got the nerds expelled from college, and steps forward to accept blame, but Bart, who originally brainstormed the prank, has nothing happen to him (unless, of course, you count missing a once-in-a-lifetime "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon where Scratchy gets Itchy).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Homer causes a nuclear meltdown, Mr. Burns immediately evacuates into a two-man escape pod and refuses to let Smithers in because he likes to put his feet up on the other seat. The pod promptly runs out of fuel after being launched, crashes onto the ground, and rolls down the street, roughing him up.
  • Lets See You Do Better: During one class, the professor teaches the class how a proton accelerator works when Homer interrupts, saying that because he worked in a nuclear power plant for 10 years, he already knows how it works. So the professor asks him to demonstrate for the class, which Homer agrees to. The scene immediately cuts to the students running out of the now green-glowing radiated class hall.
  • Lost Aesop: Parodied. Homer tries to pull morals out of this story and gets contradicted.
    Homer: Look, the important thing is that we all learned a lesson. These guys learned the richness and variety of the world outside college.
    Benjamin: No, we didn't.
    Homer: Oh. Then I learned the real value of college is to study and work hard.
    Lisa: No, you didn't. You only passed your course by cheating, which you always taught us was wrong.
  • Missing the Good Stuff: Thanks to one of the nerds unplugging the television, Bart and Lisa miss the end of the Itchy and Scratchy episode where Scratchy finally wins. Even worse, Krusty says they'll never be allowed to show that episode again.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: Homer gets his college application back and lights his high school diploma on fire, hilariously misspelling the word "smart" before quickly correcting himself:
    Homer: I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!note 
  • Mystery Box: When it is clear to Mr. Burns that he is about to be sanctioned for gross violations at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he tries (unsuccessfully) to play Monty Hall (of Let's Make a Deal) and offer a bribe to the inspectors into forgetting about Homer not being properly certified or qualified.
  • Nice Guy: Dean "Bobby" Peterson, who's perfectly willing to hang out with students or play guitar with them.
  • Noodle Implements: Just what Mr. Burns wanted with the Jade Monkey is never revealed. It probably wasn't for anything good.
  • Off Model: A few moments fall into this, likely due to Rough Draft Studios still getting a handle on how to draw the characters. In one shot while Homer is buttering his toast, he has buggy Fish Eyes.
  • Reality Ensues: Homer learns the hard way that college isn't Wacky Fratboy Hijinks.
  • Rule of Funny: Homer somehow caused a meltdown in a simulator despite the simulator not having real radioactive materials.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: The nuclear plant inspectors refused to take Burns's money in order for him to escape penalties.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Burns uses his position on the board of Springfield University to admit Homer into college.
    • Apparently the dean didn't want to expel the nerds, but Sir Oinksalot had powerful friends (I.e. Nixon).
  • Shout-Out: Features dozens to college comedies such as Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds.
  • Sir Verb-a-Lot: Sir Oinks-a-lot, the pig mascot of Springfield A&M.
  • Snipe Hunt: During the inspection, Smithers puts the three least incompetent employees (including Homer, naturally) in charge of guarding a bee inside a bottle. Needless to say, they fail miserably.
  • Start X to Stop X: According to Homer, "The only antidote to a Zany Scheme, is an even zanier scheme!"
  • Status Quo Is God: Homer will, of course, keep his job, but instead of just taking it for granted and getting by on cheating, he has to go back to school. The end credits montage show a semester's worth of gags and him legitimately graduating.
  • Team Rocket Wins: Scratchy defeated Itchy this time. But we never see the specifics, and never will.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Out of Homer's pity, the nerds get to live with the Simpsons after getting kicked out of their dorms. Each one of them becomes a huge nuisance to every single member of the family one way or the other.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The dean kicks Homer and the nerds out of college because the pig they stole had some powerful friends.
    Nixon: Oh, you'll pay. Don't think you won't pay!
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Benjamin, Doug and Gary, who immediately hand over their wallets to Snake when he claims to be the "wallet inspector." Even Snake is surprised that actually worked. And this is followed by Homer simply saying, "That's not the wallet inspector."
    • During the inspection, Smithers sends Homer and two other dimwitted employees to the basement—tasking them with the "important" job of watching a bee in a bottle. The two guys actually do question why they're doing this, but Homer buys it completely.
      Homer: You guys are pathetic. No wonder Smithers made me head bee guy.
  • Trap-Door Fail: When the safety inspectors turn down Burns' bribes, Mr. Burns tells them, "I have the feeling you'll be... dropping the charges," and he presses a button to open the trap door, except the trap door's on the other side of the room. Smithers reminds Mr. Burns that, "The painters moved your desk."
  • Turn the Other Cheek: The Dean instantly forgives Homer for putting him in traction, and for the other pranks he pulled.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: Deconstructed. The plan to steal Springfield A&M's mascot Sir Oinks-a-lot goes horribly wrong, and it gets Benjamin, Doug and Gary expelled immediately (at Richard Nixon's behest).
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Homer goes into college convinced it's nonstop Wacky Fratboy Hijinx, and is amazed it's not.
    Homer: (yelling) NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD!
    Marge: Homer, that isn't very nice.
    Homer: Marge, try to understand. There are two kinds of college students: jocks and nerds. As a jock, it's my job to give nerds a hard time. (to nearby student athlete) Hey, did you get a load of that nerd?
    Student Athlete: (confused) Pardon me?
  • Zany Scheme: Homer's constant antidote for everything, much to the nerds' confusion.