Recap / The Simpsons S 7 E 17 Homer The Smithers
Episode - 3F14
First Aired - 2/25/1996

Smithers goes on vacation after having a mental break over not being able to save Burns from being harassed by a drunken Lenny. Homer takes Smithers' place as Mr. Burns's assistant, but all the abuse Homer takes from Mr. Burns causes him to snap and punch the old man in the face, which drives Mr. Burns to be more self-reliant.


  • Ambiguously Gay: Smithers goes on vacation to a resort that seems to have only men and doesn't allow pictures to be taken.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Mr. Burns does not get along with his 122-year-old mother. She apparently had an affair with President Taft which he's never forgiven her for, and he tried to pull her life support. Surprisingly, she not only pulled through, she lived for five decades.
  • Bad Boss: Mr. Burns, only this time, Homer gives him a black eye for it. However, instead of firing him, Burns thanks him for forcing him to be self-sufficient.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After Lisa comments that Smithers would probably get a job anywhere, the scene cuts to a sign reading AT&T. A zoom out reveals that the full sign reads "Neat & Tidy Piano Movers".
  • Beleaguered Assistant: The episode has Homer take Smithers' place as this while he's on vacation.
  • Berserk Button: Mr. Burns may not like his mother, but he's still furious at Homer's attempted impersonation of her.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Homer: Smithers chose me to cover for him because of my motivational skills. I've been told everybody has to work harder when I'm around.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When mentioning Homer to Mr. Burns, Smithers states that "all the recent events in your life have revolved around him in some way".
    • Bobo, Mr. Burns' teddy bear from "Rosebud", makes an appearance near the end of the episode.
    • This is the second time Homer snapped and viciously attacked Mr. Burns.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Homer tries to ask Smithers about what he should do in case of fire in Mr. Burns' office, but Smithers can't hear him as he leaves. No sooner than that, a fire starts.
      Homer: Aw, just my luck...
    • Apparently, Moe's Tavern's phone number spells out "Smithers" (7-648-4377).
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: After Homer punches him, Burns is initially scared of Homer. However over time when he becomes self-reliant, he thanks Homer and even puts him back to work at his old job.
    • This happens again between Homer and Smithers. After the fight between Smithers and Homer leads Homer to accidentally knock Burns out the window and put him in traction, Burns orders Smithers to make sure that Homer gets "exactly what he deserves." Smithers, who is now waiting on Burns hand and foot, does so by sending the Simpsons a large basket of fruit with the words "Thank You".
  • Drives Like Crazy: Mr. Burns' attempts at driving by himself are pretty hazardous.
    Chief Wiggum: That's some nice reckless driving, Mr. B!
  • Easily Forgiven: After their fight winds up putting Mr. Burns in a full body cast (thus making him need Smithers again), Smithers responds by sending Homer a fruit basket.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Homer somehow setting fire to Mr. Burns' bowl of cereal—after pouring milk and cereal into a bowl like any of us would normally do. It's the present image for its Western Animation page.
    • Smithers' attempted suicide: dunking his head inside of the reservoir of a water cooler to drown himself. All Burns needs to do to stop it is press the water dispenser button until it drains.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Burns learns to respect his underlings after getting punched in the face. He also stops Smithers attempted suicide and insists he takes a vacation.
  • Failure Montage: Homer tries to make Mr. Burns' breakfast, and screws up every single time. All meals catch fire, even a simple bowl of cereal. Later, Smithers fails to keep any new job he gets.
  • Faux Horrific: While Smithers steps out for a moment, leaving Mr. Burns alone in his car, a drunken but friendly Lenny comes to thank him. To Burns, Lenny looks like an attacker, and even talks about "the glint of murder in his eye" on the ride home.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening has Mr. Burns relying on Smithers for everything, even moreso than usual.
  • For Want of a Nail: By snapping and punching out Mr. Burns, Homer inadvertantly made Mr. Burns learn to take care of himself, causing him to fire Smithers the second he gets back.
    • Likewise, Homer and Smithers' fight near the end winds up resetting the status quo due to them knocking over the bear Mr. Burns was hiding on top of, knocking him out the window.
  • Hand Wave: Smithers needs to find a temporary replacement who won't outperform him. When he searches the employee database using keywords such as "incompetent," "lazy," and "monstrously ugly", and the search turns up hundreds of names:
    "Ahh nuts to this, I'll just go get Homer Simpson."
  • Impossible Task: Mr. Burns asks Homer to prepare him a Dodo egg for him to eat. Homer correctly points out that Dodos are extinct.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mr. Burns is right, Homer is utterly useless as an assistant. Though this was the reason Smithers gave him the position in the first place.
  • Made of Incendium: Homer tries to make breakfast for Burns only to repeatedly set it on fire. Even when he pours a bowl of corn flakes and milk.
  • Megaton Punch: More because Burns is canonically absurdly weak, but still Homer's single punch on the moment he can't take Burns' insults anymore knocks him out flat for a long while and actually make Homer believe for a moment that he had killed him.
  • Mistaken for Prank Call: Mr. Burns tries to call Smithers but doesn't know how telephones work and mistakenly calls Moe's Tavern and Moe thinks Mr. Burns is pranking him.
  • Mood Whiplash: Homer humorously struggles to keep up while substituting as Mr. Burns' personal assistant, until he punches Burns in a fit of rage.
  • Never My Fault: When Homer and Smithers are caught by Burns, who chews them out, Homer just tells Smithers he "blew it".
  • Oh, Crap!: Homer when he punched out Mr. Burns.
    • Also Moe's reaction when he realises Barney's escaped to get at the midnight beer delivery.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Averted Trope. The attempt by Smithers to obtain an incredibly incompetent employee by searching through the plant's files using a large number of these still manages to bring up the files for every employee in the plant. In his exasperation, he just goes for Homer.
  • Psycho Strings: When Homer realizes he knocked out Mr. Burns.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Burns' barrage of insults finally cause Homer to snap and punch him (hard enough to actually believe for a moment that he had killed Burns). This in turn caused Burns to fear him to the point where he becomes self-reliant.
  • Riddle for the Ages: How was Burns' office set on fire?
  • Springtime for Hitler: Out of fear his place as Mr. Burns' assistant would be taken by someone who'd eclipse him, Smithers got Homer to do the job. Homer was so incompetent Mr. Burns decided to do things by himself. By the time Smithers returned from his vacation, Mr. Burns decided he no longer needed an assistant.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Smithers thinks about accepting Moe's "Barney Blocker" job when Homer intervenes.
    Homer: You can't let yourself end up in a place like this. You can give up on yourself and take the Barney-guarding job, like so many of us have contemplated in our darkest moments, or you can admit to yourself there's only one person that can make you happy and do whatever it takes to get them back!