Recap / The Simpsons S 9 E 2 The Principal And The Pauper
Principal Skinner's 20th anniversary as school principal is interrupted by a Vietnam vet who reveals that his name is Seymour Skinner and that the man posing as him is a street punk named Armin Tamzarian.

The episode was loosely based on the short story The Improbable Impostor Tom Castro by Jorge Luis Borges.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Artifact Alias: It's revealed that the man known as Seymour Skinner is actually a former juvenile delinquent named Armin Tamzarian. He was sent off to Vietnam to serve with the real Seymour Skinner who was seemingly killed in battle. Armin returned to Springfield and assumed Skinner's identity. This went well until it was discovered the real Seymour Skinner was still alive and came to reclaim his life. This lasts about half an episode before real Skinner proves to be more overbearing than Armin. Real Skinner is exiled from Springfield, Armin's name is legally changed to Seymour Skinner, the name "Armin Tamzarian" is declared unutterable under penalty of torture, and the series continues like nothing happened.
  • Big Eater: At the party, when Bart asked the people if they brought their plates and forks, Chief Wiggum proudly showed his. Later, when everybody else was shocked at Principal Skinner confessing he's not the real Seymour Skinner, Homer uses the moment to back slowly towards the cake so he can eat it.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The events of the episode have been all but completely disavowed in the seasons that followed.
  • Continuity Snarl: Another reason why this episode is so hated because this retcon led to numerous plot holes (even with the show's natural Negative Continuity). Probably the most glaring one being related to the far more beloved Skinner-centric episode "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song"note , where "Armin" re-enlists in the Army and was still referred to as "Sgt. Seymour Skinner". How would that be possible if Skinner was reported dead?
    • And in season seven's "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in, 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'," it was revealed that Principal Skinner's father (who looked and acted like the "Armin Tamzarian" Skinner) was in Grampa's army.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Armin, though Skinner turned out to be alive.
  • Discontinuity Nod: This is effectively parodied; see Take That, Us below.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: During the planning for Skinner's party:
    Willie: It's my 20th year, too.
    Chalmers: (apathetically) The teacher's lounge is for teachers, Willie.
    (Willie walks past Chalmers grumbling and spits next to him)
  • Eating Pet Food: While preparing refreshments for Skinner's anniversary party, Bart scoops out balls of dog food topped with tiny American flags, claiming he's working under the theory that Skinner likes dog food. Marge suggests they bake Skinner a cake instead, while Homer comes across Bart's "America balls" and ignorantly eats them.
  • A Father to His Men: The real Skinner to Tamzarian, which was partly why he decided to assume his identity.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Armin.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Exploited by Bart the next day after the true Seymour Skinner comes back.
    Bart: Hey, Armin. Mrs. Krabappel sent me. I forged my Dad's signature on my report card.
    Armin: Oh, now Bart, you know that's wrong.
    Bart: Well I don't see how me signing Homer's name is any different from you using Sergeant Skinner's name.
    Armin: (sighs) I guess me punishing you seems somewhat hypocritical. Why don't you just write a thirty-word essay on what you've done?
    Bart: Hey, hey, hey! Easy there, you big impostor.
  • I Have No Son: One is an impostor and the other is a total stranger.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Under penalty of torture.
  • My Beloved Smother: Agnes Skinner preferred Armin as her son because her original son wasn't as submissive.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: Armin's reaction to being shot at? Threaten the Vietcong with his switchblade.
  • Off-Model: Judge Snyder appeared in this episode with yellow skin rather than his normal African American skin.
  • Replacement Scrappy: The real Skinner, in-universe.
  • Spiritual Successor: To "Lisa the Iconoclast", where an esteemed Springfielder's past is exposed as fraudulent, but in the end, Springfield decides to preserve the lie rather than deal with the truth.
  • Status Quo Is God: Pretty blatantly at the end.
  • Take a Third Option: Inverted. Armin could have avoided both jail and army if he just apologized to the old woman and the judge he almost hurt with his reckless driving but he didn't take that option because he didn't know about the war.
  • Take That, Audience!: According to Keeler, this was the point of the episode:
    Ken Keeler: This [episode] is about a community of people who like things just the way they are. Skinner's not really close to these people—you know, he's a minor character—but they get upset when someone comes in and says, 'This is not really the way things are,' and they run the messenger out of town on the rail. When the episode aired, lo and behold, a community of people who like things just the way they are got mad. It never seems to have occurred to anyone that this episode is about the people who hate it.
  • Take That, Us:
    • The later episode "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-bot", features a Call-Back to the events of this episode (Skinner criticizes Lisa for pretending the death of her cat never happened by calling a similar one the same name, asking if that isn't kind of a cheat. She responds "I guess it is, Principal Tamzarian." Skinner takes her point, and walks away). The DVD Commentary for that episode, I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot, confirms that Al Jean inserted the line as a joke at this episode's expense. Everybody present at the session fervently denies having ever liked the episode's premise.
    • Prior to that episode, "Behind the Laughter", also mocked this episode by playing the clip of Skinner's confession after the narrator mentions the show's increasing reliance on "gimmicky and nonsensical plots".
  • Wham Line:
    Armin: I'm... an impostor. That man is the real Seymour Skinner.