Recap: The Simpsons S 7 E 4 Bart Sells His Soul
Episode - 3F02
First Aired - 10/8/1995
"But you know Bart, some philosophers believe that nobody is born with a soul. That you have to earn one through suffering and thought and prayer, like you did last night."
The story starts with Bart getting in trouble at church for switching the hymns with "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida". Milhouse rats him out, and they both get punished. While they clean the organ pipes, Bart and Milhouse argue about the existence of souls. Convinced about the non-existence of souls, Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five bucks in the form of a paper with the words "Bart Simpson's soul." Soon, Bart realizes that he has actually sold his soul and vows to get it back. Turns out Milhouse sold Bart's soul to the Comic Book Guy, and by the time Bart gets to him CBG has already sold Bart's soul to somebody else. Bart returns home and earnestly prays for his soul. As if in God's answer to the prayer, the soul paper floats down — but it turns out that Lisa had bought the soul back for him. As she addresses him with the above quote, Bart ignores her, as he's busy eating the soul paper.
The subplot involves Moe renovating his tavern into a family restaurant called Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag. He's quite committed to all the gimmicks, promotions, and "crazy crap on the walls" a proper family foodery demands, but the Stepford Smiler
facade he needs to take on can only last so long...
This episode is one of the episodes on Platypus Comix
's "The Bart Classics" list, which praises it because in the reviewer's opinion, it was one of the last episodes where Bart felt like a real kid to identify with, as we all've been in a desperate situation.
- Answer Cut:
Milhouse: But every religion says there's a soul, Bart. Why would they lie? What would they have to gain?
(Cut to Lovejoy, in his office, working a change sorting machine.)
- Anyone Remember Pogs?: The Trope Namer, thought the exact phrase isn't used.
- Big "WHAT?!": Moe screams at Homer for saying "Hey, Moe!" a lot.
- Catapult Nightmare: "Bart, it's time to end this dream / And don't forget the standard scream!"
- Creepy Children Singing: Sherri and Terri in Bart's nightmare.
- Deal with the Devil: Bart selling his soul.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Lisa discusses such a concept at the end when she notes that some people believe a soul is earned through things like thought and prayer, as seen in the top quote. These things are, as she notes, what Bart did throughout the episode, perhaps truly earning his soul back, and thus gaining a happy ending, after all.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: Bart puts Michael Jackson on a list of fictional things adults make up to scare children.
- Continuity Snarl: Bart was a huge fan of Michael Jackson (as well as all of Springfield) back in "Stark Raving Dad", so he knew he was real back then. By the time this episode was made, Michael Jackson was accused of sexually molesting children, so Bart may have stopped being a fan due to the accusations. Alternatively, Negative Continuity may have kicked in.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: After Bart sells his soul to Milhouse, the dog and cat both growl at him.
- Evil Laugh: Milhouse has one when begged by Bart to give him his soul back, but with a price: Fifty bucks.
- The street sweeper that wrecked Bart's bike has one too.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Bart sells his soul.
- Eye Scream: After Itchy saws off the top of the Space Needle, it falls onto Scratchy's eye.
- Funny Background Event: Homer gets stuck on the stairs railing and calls for help. Santa's Little Helper bites his butt.
- Glamour Failure: Automatic doors don't open for soulless Bart, he can't fog up glass with his breath, he can't laugh, his eyes briefly turn cat-like as he performs a Hiss Before Fleeing, etc.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck!: A stressed-out Moe finds himself unable to keep his temper and language in check at his new family restaurant.
Moe: (to a little girl complaining her soda's too cold) Your teeth hurt? Your teeth hurt?! Well, that's too freakin' bad. You hear me? I'll tell you where you can put your freaking "sodie" too!
(All the customers gasp)
Todd: Ow, my freakin' ears!
Ned: Well! I expect that type of language at Denny's, but not here!
- Headdesk: Bart on the Comic Book Guy's display case.
"Um, excuse me: no banging your head on the display case, please. It contains a very rare Mary Worth
in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide. Thank you."
- Hiss Before Fleeing: Bart does this when he is caught trying to buy Ralph Wiggum's soul. For bonus points, he disappears into smoke like a supernatural being and his eyes are briefly reptillian-slitted.
- Instant Mass Just Add Water: Subverted and mocked. Bart uses the five dollars from Milhouse to buy dinosaur shaped sponges which the page advertises as growing gigantic when made wet. Bart imagines them growing into large dinosaur sized sponges which then frighten Lisa. What he gets is a pair of sponges that get slightly bigger and then get washed by the hose down the sewer drain.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Things start becoming a bit odd for soulless Bart, such as not being able to open automatic doors, his pets hissing wildly at him and...not being able to breathe on glass...but it's never firmly established if he really did lose his soul.
- Prayer Is a Last Resort
- Seven Deadly Sins:
- Lust: Everyone looking disheveled and Sex Dressed during "In The Garden of Eden," Marge and Homer giggling over memories of making out to the "hymn"), and Snake's sexy girlfriend Soshanna.
- Gluttony: Homer grousing over having to wait 45 seconds for a flash-fried buffalo; Homer's brain telling Homer not to call Bart back because he can have Bart's meal.
- Greed: Reverend Lovejoy counting his collection plate money, Milhouse gloating over having Bart's soul, Homer taking Bart's meal (see also Gluttony), and Moe starting Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag because restaurants make more money than bars.
- Sloth: Bart and Milhouse slacking off at their organ-cleaning duties and Milhouse's dad telling Bart to go away because he needs to sleep.
- Wrath: Moe snaps at a little girl for complaining about her drink, Reverend Lovejoy getting mad at Bart and Milhouse over the prank, and Bart yelling at Lisa when Lisa keeps mocking him over the loss of his soul during grace.
- Envy: Lisa wants five bucks after Bart spent it on dinosaur sponges, Bart envying the souls of the kids in his dreams, and Moe envying restaurants for bringing in more money than bars.
- Pride: Bart prides himself for making an easy five bucks and is too proud to admit that the soul exists (until bad things begin happening to him).
- Shout Out:
- Silence, You Fool!: Homer's brain tells Homer to be silent so he could steal Bart's spaghetti and Moe balls.
- The Soulless: Played for Drama — Bart is scared over losing his soul to Milhouse and prays to God for it back.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "Bart sold his soul, and that's just swell / Now he's going straight to — / Hello operator, give me number nine..."
- Take That: "I expect that type of language at Denny's, but not here!"
- In non-English international translations, "Denny's" is changed to "McDonald's." The Take That still works.