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Recap: The Simpsons S 7 E 4 Bart Sells His Soul

Episode - 3F02
First Aired - 10/8/1995

To prove to Milhouse that the soul isn't real, Bart writes his on church stationery and sells it to Milhouse for $5.00, but Bart regrets it when he feels he's turning into an empty shell. Meanwhile, Moe decides to renovate his dank bar into a cheery family restaurant.

Tropes:

  • Animals Hate Him: After Bart sells his soul, Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II growl and hiss at him.
    Bart: (To Snowball II) Geez! You're pretty uppity for someone who eats bugs all day!
  • Artistic License - Biology: This episode assumes that a soul is an actual part of a human body. In reality a soul is a religious concept, its existence not supported by science at all.
  • 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!"
  • Corrupt Church:
    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.)
    • Reverend Lovejoy thanks Milhouse for confessing that Bart changed the church hymns with rock 'n' roll lyrics, yet punishes him too for "snitching".
  • Creepy Children Singing: Sherri and Terri in Bart's nightmare.
  • Deal with the Devil: Bart selling his soul.
  • Dream Sequence: Three in total, all Bart's:
    • Bart dreams he has no soul to row along with him to a magic castle on an siland in lake. Near the end of the episode he has the same dream again now with his soul along his side
    • 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.
  • 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 (Bart isn't listening).
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Bart puts Michael Jackson on a list of fictional things adults make up to scare children.
  • 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. Right before he crashed.
  • 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: When Bart and Lisa fight over whether or not Bart lost his soul in the foreground, 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 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.
  • Noodle Incident: Moe even wants to get rid of the fire extinguisher, because it has "too many bad memories".
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The story was inspired by an incident during Simpsons' staff member Gregg Daniels youth. He let a friend sell his soul to him for a dollar. The next day the friend was apparently totally in panic over what he had done and he demanded his soul back. Gregg sold it back to him for another dollar and was amused by the idea how financially profitable buying one's soul was. However, when he realized that the only other person who made money by doing this was The Devil he got scared himself and quit the habit forever.
  • 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).
  • Primal Fear: Milhouse is scared of going to Hell, while Bart's imagination also starts running so wild that he actually believes he lost his soul by selling it to Milhouse.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrouded in Myth: It's never really implied whether Bart really lost his soul, or that his imagination is just overactive. This hasn't stopped many Sunday schools and religion teachers from using the episode during their lessons though...
  • 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:
    • Reverend Lovejoy is working a change sorting machine, when Milhouse wonders why the Church would make up lies like the existence of a soul?
    • When Moe insult the little girl everyone leaves, with one person saying: "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, as both are low-rent fast-food restaurants with mediocre food.

The Simpsons S 7 E 3 Home Sweet Homediddly Dum DoodilyRecap/The SimpsonsThe Simpsons S 7 E 5 Lisa The Vegetarian

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