Bart is shipped off to military school after a particularly destructive prank (lining up 15 police bullhorns and unleashing a soundwave that shatters all the glass in town) — and Lisa tags along (despite that the military school is boys-only and the other cadets don't take kindly to change) after finding public school education has become a grind.
Tropes of this episode:
- Accidentally Accurate: The instructors assertion that the wars of the future will be fought be robots.
- Ambiguously Gay: Franklyn, the "girliest cadet" before Lisa joins.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Homer & Marge laugh when they take Bart & Lisa to the dentist instead of Disneyland.
- Bait and Switch: Homer and Marge at the end.
- Badass Bookworm: Despite the other cadets hating her because she's not a boy, Lisa loves the military school because it has rigid structure and teachings.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Lisa comes to the school looking for a challenge but nearly gives up when confronted with The Eliminator. Bart lampshades this: "I thought you wanted a challenge".
- Big Brother Instinct: When Lisa is in danger of falling off the Eliminator, Bart steps forward and shouts encouragement to Lisa, which inspires her to carry on. Another cadet tries to cover Bart's mouth, but Bart's encouragement is what causes Lisa to finish The Eliminator.
- Big "YES!": Lisa does one when, thanks to Bart's encouragement, she manages to complete The Eliminator.
- Determinator: Lisa didnít let the other students, all male, get the best of her. They tried to get rid of Lisa on grounds of her sex and proved that she can be just as tough as they are.
- Exactly What I Aimed At: Bart hits the first four targets with the grenade launcher at the firing range, and the fifth shot spirals over the horizon out of sight. The instructor points out that Bart missed his last target, but Bart smiles and says, "Did I?" Cut to Principal Skinner back in Springfield standing next to the smoking crater where his car used to be. Made all the funnier by a "Ha-ha!" from Nelson in the background.
- Gone Horribly Right: Homer and Marge wonder at the end whether or not it's a good thing that Bart now has much more confidence and is trained in several forms of unarmed combat.
- Hope Spot: When the class is ready to tackle the Eliminator:Commandant: Gentlemen, I regret to inform you that the state supreme court has determined that forcing cadets to cross the Eliminator is a barbaric and malicious practice.
Commandant: Hence, you will be the last class to be subjected to it.
- Hypocritical Humour: Following Be Careful What You Wish For above.Bart: I thought you wanted a challenge?Lisa: Duh! A challenge I could do.
- I'm a Humanitarian: A mannequin of a woman preparing to eating a baby is shown at the police station:Wiggum: That's right: She's got the "munchies" for a California cheeseburger!
- Jackie Robinson Story/ You Go, Girl!: Possibly attempted by Lisa but ultimately subverted. She gets through the semester but the cadets don't change their opinion of her and she doesn't prove better than them at any of the subjects.
- Jerkass: The cadets act like this towards Lisa on account of her being a girl. They also do this to Bart at first. The worst part is when Lisa nearly falls off the Eliminator and they chant "Drop! Drop! Drop!", as if they want her to fall to her death. Damn...
- Kids Are Cruel: The cadets' treatment of Lisa and initially Bart falls into this territory.
- Lost Aesop: Lisa Simpson mainly due to a combination of Audience Awareness Advantage and Recycled Script. This episode is often described as a poor mans "Summer of 4 Ft. 2" in that they both dump Lisa into a new location, talk about why she canít have friends with Bart ultimately learning how to be supportive. Except that in this episode the audience is bombarded with scene after scene of everyone being mean to Lisa making it hard to wonder what the point of the episode is. Lisa overcoming social adversity is pretty much every Lisa story line. While the scenario of Lisa finding out how strong she is hard to take seriously when the challenge is so ridiculously over the top.
- Morton's Fork: As Bart and Lisa are forced to do pushups, Lisa is asked "Don't girls like doing pushups in the mud?". Lisa, in turn, asks "Is there any answer I can give that won't result in more push-ups?", to which, after much deliberation by the other cadets, is "No."
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Averted Trope. Just when the other cadets are about to beat up Bart for cheering on Lisa, they realize they have to go dress up for graduation.
- Noodle Incident: It's never said what were the circumstances for setting up a field trip to the police station.
- Parental Favoritism: Marge and Homer send Lisa a cassette intended to comfort her yet they don't send Bart anything, not even considering his feelings about how he is at the school. Possibly justified by the fact that Lisa is there by choice, while Bart is there as punishment for causing large amounts of property damage.
- Smarter Than You Look: Thanks to his years with a slingshot (and the assumption that because he's a public school student, he knows how to handle guns and other weapons), Bart knows how to use a rocket-launcher. In fact, Bart is such a master, he gets Skinner's car from a far distance away.
- Special Guest: Willem Dafoe as the military school's commandant.
- Stock Shoujo Bullying Tactics: A rare Western example has Lisa's classmates pretending not to hear her when she asks for help with an out-of-control firearm.