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.
- 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 an alien with a glowstick. The airman proclaims, "Watch out! He's got his probe!"
- Answer Cut:Wiggum: Shut your word-hole! We gotta get this place clean for the air show!
Sideshow Bob: Air show? Buzz-cut Alabamians spewing colored smoke from their whizz jets to the strains of "Rock You Like a Hurricane"? What kind of country-fried rube is still impressed by that?
(cut to the Simpsons; Homer, Bart, and Lisa are ecstatic about it)
- Anti-Climax: Sideshow Bob tries to destroy the shack with the Wright Brothers plane... only to harmlessly bounce off of it & get the plane run over by a tank.
- 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
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Considering the episode is one long parody of/jab at television, there's a fair number of jokes as FOX's expense.
- Brick Joke:
- Bob scoffs at the idea of the Springfield Air Show, disbelieving that people still enjoy "buzz-cut Alabamians spewing colored smoke from their whizz-jets to the strains of 'Rock You Like a Hurricane.'" Guess which song is played at the air show later in the episode.
- Also, earlier in the episode, Bob hears a Cool Old Lady on television saying she's "gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza", causing Bob to despair that "TV's bottomless chum bucket has claimed Vanessa Redgrave." At the end of the episode, Grandpa drives up on a motorcycle saying that he's "gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza", prompting a Here We Go Again from the rest of the family.
- The Cameo: Seems Steve Urkel and The Fourth Doctor are esteemed representations of television.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Both the Duff blimp and the Wright Brothers' plane wind up factoring into Sideshow Bob's plan and backup plan, respectively.
- The Harrier Jet winds up being a subversion since, after Bob (with Bart as a hostage) tries escaping in it, he instantly crashes.
- Cool Old Lady: Alluded to in the crappy sitcom that Bob's cellmate is watching:Woman: Grandma, this is my friend, Craig. (laugh track)
Grandma: "Friend"? You mean you two aren't knockin' boots? (laugh track) Ever do the "back seat mambo", Craigy? (laugh track) Now, I'm gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza! (revs her motorcycle)
- 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."
- Darker and Edgier: After his Lighter and Softer appearance, ol' Bob is getting back into the swing of things. And this time, he means business, going to much more extreme measures to get exactly what he wants. In the climax however, all his resources prove faulty and Hilarity Ensues.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Really, Bob? All this just to be rid of television?
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: As the cameras show jets flying rainbow colors, all of a sudden Sideshow Bob's head appears on TV screen, hijacking the broadcast.
- 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.
- Fanservice: "We have searched every square inch of this base, and found nothing but porno, porno, PORNO!"
- Fate Worse Than Death: In the war room, Quimby makes the decision to shut down television in order to save the lives of the citizens. Krusty is vehemently opposed:Krusty: Let's not go nuts! Would it really be worth living in a world without television? I think the survivors would envy the dead!
- Foreshadowing: Notice how, when Bob issues his ultimatum over the Tyranno-Vision, his voice sounds higher pitched than normal? That's because he's hiding in a blimp.
- 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.
- Helium Speech: "Blasted helium! Shoo, shoo!"
- 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 just like she'd been about going to the air show earlier in the episode.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Sideshow Bob manages to pull this off twice:
- He manages to slip away from the other inmates by hiding behind a statue that was behind the prison bus.
- After taking the nuclear bomb, he proceeds to hole up in the Duff blimp.
- Hypocrisy Nod: "By the way, I'm aware of the irony of appearing on TV in order to decry it, so don't bother pointing that out."
- Hypocritical Humor:
Lisa: Mom, mooom, you're stepping on my heels and knocking off my shoes!Marge: (panicked) We can always get more shoes, move move move!
- As Marge tells her kids not to panic while fleeing the base...
- As the kids are stuck with Bob in the Duff blimp, Bart tries stalling for time by flattering Bob, who is initially undeterred as he knows better by now. Bart then laments he should have known Bob was too smart to fall for that; whereupon Bob does fall for the compliment, giving the police ample time to find them.
- I'm a Humanitarian: One of the prisoners eats people's faces.
- Irony: It's Sideshow Bob's very preference for the Good Old Ways that causes his Evil Plan to fail.Bob: (reading the inside of the dud bomb) "Best before November 1959." Damn it, Bob! There were plenty of newer, fresher bombs you could have used, but oh no. You had to go for that retro '50s charm!
- The Last Title: The name of the episode.
- Literary Allusion Title: Taken from The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America. It's also a reference to the film Twilight's Last Gleaming, which has a similar premise regarding stolen nuclear weapons.
- Logo Joke: The 20th Century Fox logo appears before the Executive Producers credit, a Call-Back to earlier in the episode when Bob's cellmate was watching a crappy sitcom and the 20th Century Fox logo is heard.
- 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.
- Mayor Pain: Subverted. Mayor Quimby was the one who was willing to sacrifice television to prevent Springfield from being nuked.
- 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!
Bob: I agree. (He pushes the detonator.)
- Older Is Better: Subverted, Bob never took into consideration that maybe the military would have deactivated an obsolete drop-type atomic bomb from the 50s.
- Reality Ensues: Although you can chalk it up to Sanity Slippage, you really have to question Bob's decision to use the Wright Brother's plane to try and kamikaze Krusty since it winds up bouncing off of the shack Krusty was broadcasting from.
- Similarly, once Krusty sees the incoming plane, he jumps to the ground in defense... only to realize that it's moving very slowly.Krusty: (gets up, lights a cigarette) ... (annoyed) What is the freakin' hold up?!
- Bob realises to late that the 1950's bomb he stole from the military had long since been disarmed.
- Similarly, once Krusty sees the incoming plane, he jumps to the ground in defense... only to realize that it's moving very slowly.
- Selective Enforcement: Bob Lampshades his apathy towards getting any revenge on Lisa. Indeed after finding out she exposed him, he angrily takes out his knife.......and cuts through the blimp to escape with Bart and only Bart.
- 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!"
- The underground bunker and table (topped with green felt) is reminiscent of The War Room Dr. Strangelove. Krusty's suggestion that the survivors will envy the dead is one of the president's questions about the mineshaft survival solution.
- 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, showing Maggie picking flowers in a field with the camera zooming into her eye, is a homage of the infamous and controversial Daisy ad used by Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 United States presidential election.
- The alien is being kept in hangar 18, referring to the film Hangar 18.
- The episode's title is also a reference to the 1977 film Twilight's Last Gleaming, which has a similar premise involving a madman holding the world hostage with nuclear weapons.
- Unusual Euphemism: Colonel Leslie "Hap" Hapablap is full of these. Not surprising, given his voice actor:What in the World According to Garp?!
If you don't open that door, I'll tear you up like a Kleenex at a snot party!
Sweet Enola Gay, son! I'm gonna come in there and corpse you up! Corpse you up, and mail you to mama!
We'll find that headcase faster than Garfield finds lasagna. (nobody laughs) Oh. Sorry, my wife thought that was gangbusters.
You know what really frosts my Kelvinator?
- Toilet Humor: As the soldiers search the entire base for Sideshow Bob, they find Grandpa hiding in one of the toilets:Grandpa: This elevator only goes to the basement. And someone made an awful mess down there...
- 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 "Blast! 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: Damn it, 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 is "so formulaic, it could have spewed from the powerbook of the laziest Hollywood hack!"
- With Cat Like Tread: After stealing his bomb, he walks off with it in wheelbarrow, laughing evilly, only for it to almost topple and detonate. Bob begins walking again, laughing much more meekly this time round.
- Writer's Block: Behind-the-scenes example. Showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein insisted that the name of the colonel be funny. The writing staff stayed in the office until the early morning hours before finally coming up with "Hap" Hapablap.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Marge has a headache at the air show; she thinks she'll feel better once the show starts. Cue microphone feedback.