Sideshow Bob steals a 10-megaton nuclear weapon and threatens to detonate it at an air show unless Springfield gives in to his demand to shut down all television broadcasts.
- Actor Allusion: Col. Leslie "Hap" Hapablap gives Bob the liner "What is your major malfunction?"
- Anal Probing: Although unrelated to the plot, whilst searching an Air Force base for Bob, an airman opens the door to Hangar 18 before quickly closing it again after seeing a alien with a glowstick. The airman proclaims, "Watch out! He's got his probe!"
- Artistic License - History: Grandpa Simpson's history of the Wright brothers' plane.
Bart: What a piece of junk.
Grandpa: Junk?! That's the Wright Brothers' plane! At Kitty Hawk in 1902, Charles Lindbergh flew that on a thimble-full of corn oil. Single-handedly won us the Civil War, it did!
Bart: How do you know so much about history?
Grandpa: I pieced it together, mostly from sugar packets.
- Big Red Button
- Cameo: Seems The Fourth Doctor is an esteemed representation of Television.
- Danger Deadpan: Two fighter jets are scrambled to intercept Sideshow Bob's escape in the Wright brothers' plane. It does not go well, as the pilot comments Yeagerly: "Bogey's air speed not sufficient for intercept. Suggest we get out and walk."
- Fall of the House of Cards: Sideshow Bob builds a miniature model of Westminster Abbey, which collapses from the sound of people laughing at the Krusty the Klown Show.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Rupert Murdoch (or at least a lookalike of him) is seen in jail with Sideshow Bob for an unspecified crime. Years later, Rupert Murdoch faced charges for one of his newspapers' wiretapping to get news, and was shut down.
- Going Commando: Bart is "going commando" when he and Lisa get trapped in the airforce base.
Bart: Ahhh! Free and easy, Lis'! There's nothing like an unfurnished basement for pure comfort.
- Here We Go Again: Subverted and parodied. After Bart and Lisa thwart Bob, Grandpa rides up on a motorcycle and says that he's going to "haul ass to Lollapalooza!" (a Call Back to earlier in the episode, where a parody of Roseanne used the exact same dialog). The rest of the Simpsons exclaim "Here we go again!", with Marge lagging a little behind and obviously less than enthusiastic.
- Literary Allusion Title: Taken from The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America
- Low-Speed Chase: Bob trying to make an escape in the Wright Brothers' plane, while police cars drove slowly behind him trying to catch him with nets.
- No Nonsense Nemesis: When Bob's demands aren't met and is preparing to detonate the bomb.
Bart: Bob, no!
Lisa: Don't you see? That would be taking the easy way out!
- Self-Deprecation: Bob laments "My crusade against television has come to an end so formulaic it could have spewed from the power-book of the laziest Hollywood hack!"
- Dr. Strangelove
- At the beginning of the third act of the episode, we see scenes of everyday life across Springfield, and one by one, with a "zooming" sound effect, they all freeze-frame in anticipation of the (supposedly) imminent nuclear blast; such was the ending of Fail-Safe.
- One of the scenes shows Maggie picking flowers in a field, with the camera zooming into her eye is a parody of the infamous and controversial Daisy ad used by Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 United States presidential election.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Bob claimed that he was doing a good deed by ridding Springfield of TV, but all it really did was make him the top dog in the manger. Also, when Bob sees Springfield give into his demands, he exclaims "I should have made more demands!"
- Where's the Kaboom?: Bob attempts to detonate a nuclear bomb, only for it to go off with a disappointing fizzle and fall apart, revealing a family of mice and a 'best before' date of 1959.
Bob: There were plenty of brand-new bombs, but you had to go for that retro 50s charm!
- Who Writes This Crap?!: Sideshow Bob said the way his evil plans ended could have been written by Hollywood's laziest writer.