Episode - 2F11
First Aired - 2/5/1995After unleashing an unflattering balloon caricature of Principal Skinner, Bart is forced to help Skinner with his early-morning astronomy...and Bart fooling around with the telescope leads to the discovery of a comet that's on a collision course with Springfield.
This episode contains examples of (YMMV):
- Achievements in Ignorance: Skinner has been at his astronomy for years, makes very calculated and precise adjustments with his telescope with the hope of finding something interesting, and has ultimately turned up nothing. Bart screws around with the telescope for a few seconds, spins it around haphazardly, and discovers a comet.
- Apocalypse How: Class 0, as the comet's potential destruction seems to be limited to just Springfield.
- Bait-and-Switch: Ned finds all of Springfield right outside his bomb shelter, glaring at him and in some cases carrying weapons. Moe angrily states they want to be in the shelter themselves, but Ned tells them there's no space. So Moe just calmly announces they'll all "go off and die, then," and everyone turns to leave.
- Big "NO!": Skinner unleashes four of them over the course of the episode.
- Brick Joke: A running one involving the "Big Butt Skinner" balloon.
- Chekhov's Gunman: As Professor Frink starts his presentation, a man frantically yells "QUIT STALLING! WHAT'S THE PLAN!?!" That same man appears later that season in "The PTA Disbands," yelling "The PTA has disbanded!" and jumping out a window before being informed that the PTA did not disband, jumping back through that window.
- Comically Missing the Point: This exchange between Bart and Lisa, when they realise the comet is approaching Springfield:Lisa: Don't you realize what's happening, Bart? Your comet is gonna collide with the earth and every living thing in its path will be killed.
Bart: I knew you'd try to find something wrong with my comet, Lisa. You've always been petty and small, right from the beginning.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Early on, Homer shrugs off the comet's perceived threat, claiming that it will burn up in the atmosphere and end up "no bigger than a chihuahua's head." That's exactly what happens, complete with a nearby chihuahua for comparison.Bart: What's really amazing is that this is exactly what Dad said would happen.
Lisa: Yeah, Dad was right.
Homer: I know, kids... I'm scared too... (the family hugs together, terrified)
- Democracy Is Bad: The Congress is about to pass a bill on the evacuation of Springfield from the comet, but then the bill has a pornography rider attached to it and is promptly struck down. This leads Kent Brockman to declare: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work."
- Empathic Environment: As Skinner recounts his story to Bart of how his astrological discovery was reported by another school principal before him, a large cloud briefly passes over the moon and darkens the night as Skinner proceeds to growl ominously that he 'got back at him, though; him and that little boy of his'. Then the cloud passes and Skinner returns to his previously upbeat, cheerful manner.
- Epic Fail: A pilot launched a missile that somehow hits his co-pilot and another on himself.
- Failed a Spot Check: A pair of fighter jets somehow mistaken an angry Scotsman as an Iraqi fighter jet
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Kent's "the following people are gay" list consists of Simpsons staff members.
- Gilligan Cut: When the only bridge out of town is blown up:Lisa: We're doomed!
Homer: It's times like this I wish I were a religious man.
Lovejoy: (running through the streets) It's all over, people! We don't have a prayer! Aaaahh!!!
- Heel–Face Turn: Downplayed example with Homer. He's the first to exit the bomb shelter since he can't in his good conscience let Ned die alone, but conveniently forgets that he was the one who booted him out in the first place and called him useless.
- The final act has several to The Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street". There are even stronger parallels to another TZ episode titled "The Shelter". What makes it all the more hilarious is that, unlike in "The Shelter", Flanders did build his bomb shelter with the intention of letting other people in, but Homer wants to kick him out anyway.
- Hypocrite: Homer condemns everyone (including the Flanders family) for Ned having to leave the shelter when it was Homer's own idea to kick him out in the first place.
- Out of all people in the shelter, the one to leave was Ned Flanders, who built it in the first place.
- The only thing the comet destroyed was the bomb-shelter that was supposed to protect everybody (it also pops the balloon).
- Skinner's been trying to find unnamed objects in the sky for years, to no success. Bart looks through the telescope (unsupervised) for all of three seconds and discovers a comet.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hypocrisy or not, Homer is the first one to leave the shelter to look for Ned. Moe shortly follows.
- Look Behind You: Database assumes Bart is trying to pull this on the Super Friends, since comets could not be seen in broad daylight and without a telescope, before realising the comet is approaching Springfield.Database: I make it a point never to turn my head unless I expect to see something, Bart.
- Mis-blamed: When everything is said and done, Moe pins the blame of the comet almost destroying Springfield... on the town's observatory.
- Model Planning: During the town meeting to discuss how to stop the comet, Professor Frink uses a model of the city of Springfield to illustrate the city's plan to stop the comet by blowing it up with an explosive rocket. Unfortunately, some of the flames from the controlled explosion demonstration wind up falling onto the model's representation of Moe's tavern, setting it ablaze.Moe: Oh, dear God, no!
- Noodle Incident:
- Skinner got even with Principal Kohoutek... "him and that little boy of his."
- Homer's story of how he drove away from some unnamed crime and missed work.
- Persecuted Intellectuals: The people of Springfield rallies into a mob and goes after the observatory and its personnel because they (or at least Moe, who triggered it) believe destroying it will prevent something like this from ever happening again.
- Rule of Three: Skinner's Big "NO!" when he finds out Bart discovered a comet, that he just let go of the balloon and read the front page article about how the Prez says school is for losers.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Skinner's attempts to down the balloon fail, Bart attempts to flee the scene, to no avail. ("Race you to Utah, Milhouse.")
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Homer's grudge against Flanders escalates from petty jealousy to trying to leave him for dead to the comet. He at least has the graciousness to regret it afterwards (if in a hypocritical tone in which he blames it on the townspeople).
- Unreadably Fast Text: Kent Brockman's newscast:Kent: Now, over the years, a newsman learns a number of things that for one reason or another, he just cannot report. Doesn't seem to matter now, so... the following people are gay. (Long List scrolls really fast up the screen)
Marge: (disgusted) Turn it off.
Homer: (taking notes) Just a second...
- Wham Line: "You don't need a stupid telescope. Its right there!"
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The congressman presenting the bill on the evacuation of Springfield from the comet is about to mention the state where the town is when he's interrupted by another congressman attaching a pornography rider to it.