Episode - 4F19
First Aired - 5/4/1997A "normal" man named Frank Grimes who has had to work hard every day of his life with little reward gets a job at the nuclear plant and takes an instant dislike to Homer and his Achievements in Ignorance. Meanwhile, Bart wins an abandoned factory at an auction and uses it as his own personal playground.
This episode contains examples of:
- Black Comedy Burst: A really unusual example for the show. Everything regarding Grimes (from his backstory up until his funeral) is a long Humiliation Conga that nobody In-Universe can sympathize with (except for Homer, and Grimes hates his guts).
- Brick Joke: Early in the episode, Mr. Burns orders Smithers to find a dog he saw on the news and to make him his executive vice president. A few scenes later, when Grimes knocked acid out of Homer's hand and the acid burned a hole in the wall, Mr. Burns is walking by with the dog that Smithers was ordered to find. It's also next to Burns at Frank's funeral.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: When Grimes goes crazy at the end and starts imitating Homer, he says "D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!" at some point. Made funnier by the fact that Homer never said this catch phrase in his presence (or in this episode).
- Brick Joke: Burns decides to hire a heroic dog to be his company's executive vice president after watching a news report about it. He's later seen with a dog by his side wearing a sash labeled "Vice President."
- Broken Record: When Frank Grimes rings the doorbell, Homer panics: "It's him! It'shimit'shimit'shimit'shimit'shimit'shim...", and Marge has to snap him out of it.
- Butt-Monkey: Frank Grimes, and it isn't Played for Laughs, or at least it's not supposed to be since his entire purpose in life is to suffer.
- Bystander Syndrome: Everyone just stands there staring when any of them could have stopped Grimes from touching the wires. Although, considering how completely unhinged he had gotten by that point, it's possible that he was past the point of being reasoned with (not that there was anything stopping someone from physically restraining him, of course).
- Justified (maybe) as the same shock might not have killed Homer or any other Springfieldian, but as Grimes's character represents the normal, real-life world, he ended up facing real-life consequences.
- Caligula's Horse: Grimes loses the position of executive vice president Burns intended to hire him for to a dog.
- Chekhov's Gun: The poster advertising the children's power plant design contest can be seen on the wall early in the episode, long before Grimes catches notice of it and alters it to trick Homer into joining the contest.
- Continuity Nod:
- Grimes sees photos of Homer as an astronaut (from "Deep Space Homer"), meeting President Ford (which happened at the end of "Two Bad Neighbors"), touring with Lollapalooza (from "Homerpalooza"), and winning a Grammy (from "Homer's Barbershop Quartet").
- At the Create-a-Nuclear-Plant contest, Smithers is impressed with Ralph Wiggum's display, which is really just a Malibu Stacy dream house. Smithers was mentioned to possess the world's largest Malibu Stacy collection in "Lisa vs Malibu Stacy".
- Downer Ending: Played for incredibly dark laughs. Grimes has died, neither Homer nor anybody else has learned anything from it, and at his funeral Homer does something stupid and people decide to be more interested in that than trying to maintain respect. And even if he went through the entire episode saying that he hated being called "Grimey" (even pretty much roaring it to Homer's face in one scene), he's still called that on his eulogy.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Homer nicknames Frank Grimes "Grimey", which the latter hates.
- Entitled Bastard: Frank Grimes has shades of this during his worst moments; adopting a self-righteous, borderline narcissistic attitude born out of resentment and petty jealousy. This ultimately overshadows his merit as a determinator and makes the audience turn against him in favor of Homer, who despite his stupidity and irresponsibility, comes off as being the better person.
- Epic Fail: Ralph's model is not only not of a power plant (it is a Malibu Stacy dollhouse that had the word "nuclear" glued to it), but Ralph doesn't even know what a power plant is. Smithers does take fondness to the design however.
- The Everyman: Ultimately subverted. Frank Grimes may seem to be this, but his excessively miserable life prevents him from being this. Normally, Homer is supposed to be this, but this episode shows just how extraordinary his life really is.
- Evil Laugh: Frank gives one when Homer falls for the "design your own power plant" contest.
- Expy: Frank Grimes is based on Michael Douglas' character, Bill Foster, from Falling Down. Douglas was initially planned to voice Grimes, though the role ultimately went to series regular Hank Azaria.note
- Everybody Laughs Ending: A highly unpleasant example.
- Failed a Spot Check: The kid's contest ad is a very visible part of the background in every scene that happens in the cafeteria (you can see it right above on the picture—Homer's face is even inches away from it on various scenes) until Grimes takes it for his scheme. Homer not only never notices it at all until Grimes places it on his station's chair (and it's easy to notice that pieces of it were cut off), but doesn't notice that it says the plant is having a contest (meant for kids) until he reads it because it's on said chair.
- Fiction Isn't Fair: The episode revolves around how someone from "real life" might react to Homer Simpson's life.
- Foil: Frank Grimes is clearly meant to be the exact opposite of Homer in every way, even down to their character designs.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Grimes turns into one after meeting Homer's family.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Played straight.
- Heroic Dog: Mr. Burns makes a dog his executive vice president, due to the dog pushing a baby from in front of a moving vehicle and pushing a criminal in front of it
- High Voltage Death: How Frank Grimes ultimately meets his demise. It's even the page image.
- Idiot Houdini: The fact that Homer is able to evade severe reprimand (and even attain success) from his bone-headed (and, Grimes dares claim, incredibly lethal) stupidity is what drives him to develop hatred for Homer. That Homer manages to be acclaimed by everybody on the plant and wins a contest explicitly meant for kids (that Homer —even if being a plant employee— didn't know about, and because Burns just happened to like the minor and absurd modifications Homer did to a carbon copy model of the plant) is what completely drives him over the edge.
- Informed Attribute: Frank Grimes is described as a "normal" man. He ain't.
- A lot of Grimes' frustration with Homer is caused by communication of errors. Most prominently when Homer attempts to befriend him and invites him to his home, dolling up the family and the house. Grimes mistakes the formal occasion for their usual lavish lifestyle and is even more infuriated.
- Most of Homer's brilliant achievements Grimes fumes over were extremely bittersweet and only cemented him as a No Respect Guy. The Grammy award, which acts as the Rant-Inducing Slight for Grimes, was one he actually earned through hard work, and in one of the series' most touching episodes to boot. (This comment tends to make a lot of viewers turn against Grimes, because he's just not being truthful at that point.)
- Just for an extra touch, Grimes' unpleasant lifestyle involves living between two bowling alleys, Homer's ideal job.
- Grimes' mental breakdown ends up making him dumber than Homer. Even if Homer is a total idiot, not even someone as stupid as him would unhesitatingly touch something marked "high voltage" without safety gloves on.
- Jerkass Has a Point: When Grimes says that if Homer lived in any other country in the world he'd have starved to death a long time ago. To which Bart says, "He's got you there, Dad."
- Just Ignore It: Carl and Lenny explicitly tell Grimes to do this when he starts getting angry at Homer's incompetence. Frank ends up ignoring this advice to this eventual peril.
- Kafka Komedy: Grimes tries his hardest to expose Homer as a fraud, liar, cheat, and incompetent employee — only for fate to foil him at every turn. The coup de grace comes when Grimes tricks Homer into thinking a "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest is open to anyone, when it's really for elementary school students only. When Homer wins and is praised and lauded for his efforts, Grimes reveals the truth. And when he is ignored and told to "lighten up", Frank goes berserk -- and it kills him.
- Kick the Dog: Frank's vicious rant towards Homer when he sees just how comfortable the latter's life is. While Jerkass Has a Point is on full display (and Grimes had every reason to be angry at Homer up to that point), it's still exceptionally mean-spirited.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: "I don't need to wear safety gloves because I'm Homer Simp ... ." ZAP! End of Frank Grimes. note
- Lethally Stupid: Grimes points out during one of his rants that ever since Homer took over as the nuclear plant's safety inspector, accidents in general have tripled and near-meltdowns have doubled. He even points to a graphic that shows a pretty frightening upturn in these figures. Once Homer wins the "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest, Grimes himself becomes this, with fatal consequences.
- Mood Whiplash: The Bart/Milhouse subplot seemed inserted precisely to be an infrequent breather from the Black Comedy of the main plot.
- Mundane Luxury: Grimes is dumbfounded that Homer lives in a modest two-story home, which is downright palatial compared to his own apartment, which was located over a bowling alley and below another bowling alley. He is also shocked that they're dining on lobster, which Homer was only serving to impress Grimes.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Both Grimes and Homer. Grimes saved Homer from drinking sulfuric acid, damaging a wall and getting himself in trouble with Burns. Homer, upset about having made an enemy, tried to make it up to him by inviting to his house for dinner, only for Grimes to castigate him for being lazy and living comfortably.
- Only Sane Man: Grimes and Marge, the latter being about the one person to understand the reason for Grimes' animosity towards Homer, and empathetically convinces her husband to show his point of view and that he is worthy (albeit haplessly).
- Plot Hole:
- Kent Brockman's report at the beginning of the episode show Grimes living in a normal house, yet later in the episode the latter claims to live between two bowling alleys — "above a bowling alley below another bowling alley." Then again, knowing his luck, Frank probably lost his house in some way, forcing him to move into that one-room apartment.
- Another minor one at the Create-a-Power-Plant Contest. After Burns disqualifies Ralph, Chief Wiggum can be heard telling him to get off the stage. Minutes later, when we see a shot of Grimes heckling Homer's entry in the audience, Mrs. Wiggum is shown sitting nearby with her husband nowhere in sight.
- Reality Ensues: Grimes touches some high-voltage wires without wearing safety gloves, and is electrocuted to death.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Grimes gives one to Homer.Frank: God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it? This briefcase, and this haircut! And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?
Frank: Everything! A dream house! Two cars! A beautiful wife! A son who owns a factory! Fancy clothes and [sniffs air] lobsters for dinner! And do you deserve any of it? No!
Homer: [gasps] What are you saying?
Frank: I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.
Bart: He's got you there, Dad.
- Recycled Premise: To Season 7's "Two Bad Neighbors", as a "normal" person (George H.W. Bush / Frank Grimes) is put into the absurd world of Springfield, where he eventually comes into conflict with Homer, becoming declared enemies. However, the difference is that, in this one, Homer doesn't feel any enmity towards Grimes.
- Sanity Slippage: Frank gets progressively more unhinged as his anger and annoyance toward Homer grows, until he finally snaps and runs amok through the plant imitating Homer.
- Self-Serving Memory: Burns decides he's going to make Grimes the Executive Vice President because this hard-working, self-made man with a lifetime of adversity reminded Burns of himself, a spoiled brat who inherited his grandfather's plant. Smithers even lampshades it in a deleted scene.
- Smash Cut: From Frank touching high voltage wires to his funeral.
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Homer is upset that Frank Grimes hates him. Later, Moe tries to comfort Homer by saying that there are people who don't like him, too. Homer refuses to accept this. Grimes in turn becomes upset that nobody else hates him.
- Swivel-Chair Antics: Bart combines a swivel chair and a fire extinguisher for some real fun.
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: Why Martin's model (which was not only more advanced than the models of the rest of the competition, but was so fully functional it was providing power to the lights of the plant's auditorium) lost: Burns flat-out hated being "out-shown" by it.
- Too Dumb to Live: Frank Grimes as this way as he foolishly grabs the high voltage storage without safety gloves and gets electrocuted to death.
- Who's Laughing Now?: Frank Grimes' Evil Laugh at Homer falling for the power plant contest abruptly stops when Homer rams into Frank's car while leaving the plant.