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The Simpsons: Tropes N to R
This page covers tropes found in The Simpsons.

Tropes A to B | Tropes C to D | Tropes E to H | Tropes I to M | Tropes N To R | Tropes S to Z | YMMV


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    N 
  • Native American Casino: Marge (who has a gambling problem) gambles away the family car during a stop at a casino just to ask for directions. In the same episode, Homer makes an indian chief promise him that they will build a casino in exchange for Homer breaking the dam that has flooded the natives' valley. The chief says Homer will also be offered free breakfasts.
  • N-Word Privileges: Parodied in "The Haw-Hawed Couple". Milhouse calls Bart a bully after he starts hanging around with Nelson, to which Bart is offended. Soon after, we see Jimbo and Kearney calling each other bullies from across the street. Milhouse asks, "How come THEY can say it?" Bart sighs and says, "They just can, OK?"
  • Natural Spotlight: Straight sometimes and parodied sometimes.
  • Negative Continuity: For some details, such as whatever reason Homer is dumb.
  • Nested Story: The episode "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story". The story has many layers and narrations with narrations.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman:
    • Inverted, in one episode of The Simpsons. Lisa laments that since her father Homer is kind of an idiot, she fears that she'll ultimately fail in life due to his genes. So, he gathers up relatives from all over the country and finds that the female members of the family, and only the female members, have intelligent, fulfilling careers. Homer and Bart are crestfallen but then quickly accept the fact that most of the male line are thick-headed idiots. They even participate in a headbutting contest.
    • One made all the more confusing by the show's Negative Continuity. Herbert Powell, Homer's half-brother, is a flat out success in business twice over.
    • Homer has proven to be a successful song-writer and Bart has been shown numerous times to have potential for success that is usually hindered by his laziness.
    • Marge doesn't seem to understand the idea of a woman being successful on her own merits. In "The President Wore Pearls", when Springfield Elementary School teachers dressed Lisa up, Marge said she seemed so successful and compared her to "the wife of a businessman".
    • When the family went to Africa, they found Dr. Joan Bushwell's chimp refuge and Marge initially assumed Dr. Bushwell was a man who named the place after his wife. She was shocked when Lisa told her Dr. Bushwell is a woman.
    • It's rather ironic considering there was an episode where Marge became a Self-Made Woman by opening an Expy of Curves Gyms.
  • Never Learned to Read: Homer, apparently, as mentioned in "When You Dish Upon a Star".
    Homer: I can't read.
    Kim Basinger: But you just read that card from the Gersh Agency.
    Homer: I recognized the logo.
    • Which is inconsistent even within that episode, as Homer is clearly able to write (his screenplay about the Killer robot driving instructor who travels back in time for some reason).
    • As revealed in "Krusty Gets Busted", Krusty is totally illiterate. Somewhere along the line, though, he must have learned how to read, because he's been seen reading cue cards and written speeches in subsequent episodes.
    • When Principal Skinner didn't want Edna to win an award, Bart made it look like he never learned to read and it was her fault for not teaching him.
  • Never Recycle a Building: Parodied and averted in one episode where Homer tries to hide in an Abandoned Warehouse... only to find it's now no longer abandoned.
  • Never Sleep Again: From "Lisa's First Word" when Bart says "Can't sleep, clown will eat me."
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Homer's mom Mona, although she's much more sympathetic and less out-there than many NARTHs.
  • New Job Episode: More than any other franchise, ever, and an Overly-Long Gag of a lampshade to show for it.
    Bart: Do you even have a job anymore?
    Homer: I think it's pretty obvious that I don't.
    • Lampshaded in "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife."
    Homer: Guess what! I quit my job as a used car salesman!
    Marge: You work at the nuclear plant.
    Homer: Get with the program Marge. Your husband is now an ambulance driver.
    • Also lampshaded in "Marge Gamer. Homer volunteers to referee for Lisa's soccer games and is inexplicably already dressed for it.
    Lisa: Dad, where'd you get that outfit?
    Homer: I got fired from Foot Locker.
    • Marge has gotten a job in quite a few episodes: "Marge Gets a Job" (Power Plant worker), "The Springfield Connection" (police officer), "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" (pretzel salesman), "Realty Bites" (realtor), and "Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes" (baker).
  • Nice to the Waiter: Aversion: Freddy Quimby is a complete asshole to everyone, but nobody gets it worse than the french waiter who serves him. It doesn't helps Quimby when he's accused of the savage beating the waiter received. He's innocent.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: The Swedish mixed Ice Curling team, apparently, with the quote "Joy is but the shadow pain casts..."
  • Nightmare Fuel: Referenced in-universe in "Some Enchanted Evening":
    Bart: All right! America's Most Armed and Dangerous!
    Lisa: Oh no, Bart! We'll have nightmares!
    Bart: Relax, this is cinema vérité. When the brutal, slow motion killing starts, I'll tell you to shut your eyes.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Numerous instances, often accompanied by the Catapult Nightmare.
  • Ninja Prop: A family portrait where Bart holds up an "I Stink" dialogue balloon behind Homer:
    Homer: I don't remember saying that.
  • "El Niño" Is Spanish for "The Niño": "The Italian Bob" has this dialogue:
    Sideshow Bob: I hereby swear... a... VENDETTA!
    Marge: (searching through an Italian-English dictionary) "Vendetta" means... "Vendetta"!
    (all Simpson family members scream)
  • No Accounting for Taste: Marge's marriage to Homer has been seriously questioned in the show several times, and compared to her taking care of a Manatee... unfavorably compared, since when she cared for them they gave her a sense of usefulness and accomplishment.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "Dog of Death": "NO DOGS WERE HARMED IN THE FILMING OF THIS EPISODE. A CAT GOT SICK AND SOMEBODY SHOT A DUCK, BUT THAT'S IT."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: When Homer becomes the leader of the Stonecutters lodge he gets very little satisfaction out of everyone being at his beck and call, and when they play poker they always show him their cards, etc. He changes the group so that they do good in the community, but they don't like doing that so they all quit the Stonecutters and form a new lodge, the Ancient Society of No Homers.
  • No, Except Yes: Played with in "Tennis the Menace", after Homer replaces Lisa with Venus Williams as his tennis partner. The following exchange occurs:
    Lisa: You're replacing me?
    Homer: "Dumped" is such a strong word. Let's just say I'm "replacing" you.
  • NO INDOOR VOICE:
    • It seems impossible for Superintendent Chalmers to say "SKIN-NER!" without shouting it. This is lampshaded quite a few times, most notably in "Marge's Son Poisoning":
    Chalmers: And now our next act, SKIN-NER! and Mrs. SKIN-NER!
    • In part one of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", during the meeting, everyone seemed to have picked up a habit of shouting out what Burns had recently done to their lives.
      Marge: He's causing us all to yell!
    • Also from "Fat Man and Little Boy"
    Marge: Homer, use your inside voice.
    Homer: I DON'T HAVE AN INSIDE VOICE!
  • No More for Me:
    • In a clip of a Stylistic Suck children's show, a cat sees something astonishing, rubs its eyes, and bats away a small bag labeled "catnip."
    • In another, Maggie reacts to a startling sight by tossing her bottle away.
    • One episode has a drunk in a gutter throw away his bottle in disbelief after seeing a space ship (actually a model rocket Homer just launched), only for it to be caught by a passing businessman. He promptly throws away his briefcase and lies in the gutter drinking the remaining contents.
    Businessman: Hey! Wine!
    • At one time, Barney drank a bottle of organic juice which Homer had accidently made with peyote and began seeing a monster. He promptly got out a drink of alcohol, so that a more familiar Pink Elephant appeared and stepped on the monster, killing it. Barney's crazy all right, but he knows it well enough to choose to stick with the version produced by his current addiction (alcohol).
      Barney: Thanks Pinkie! You've always been there for me!
    • Another episode takes this trope to the extreme with Cletus, his pregnant wife, their children and their unborn child throwing away their bottles of alcohol in quick succession after seeing a bizarre train.
    • In The Movie, the sight of a giant dome being lowered onto Springfield causes all the patrons of the bar to run into a church...and all the people in the church to run into the bar.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Sideshow Bob's brother Cecil to Bart, having learnt his brother's lesson.
  • No Product Safety Standards: Krusty the Clown will endorse any product as long as the price is right. This has made him a favorite among manufacturers who knows that their product is toxic, infected, explosive, highly flammable or simply not working right. Clearly, it's easier to get an endorsement from Krusty than to make even a mediocre product.
  • Nonsense Classification: Dr. Nick's recommendation, when Homer wants to gain weight: "You'll want to focus on the neglected food groups such as the whipped group, the congealed group and the chocotastic!". See the tropes page illustration.
  • Non-Specifically Foreign: Dr. Nick Riviera; possibly Moe Szyslak.
    • Moe self-identified as a Dutch immigrant in one episode, although Szyslak is more Eastern European than Dutch.
      • Another episode had Moe imagining his "inner child", who spoke with an Italian accent. So...yeah.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are the only major characters with flesh colored hair, it's meant to be blonde but compared to the other blonde characters have more realistic hair. (The Simpsons children's hair points coming directly out of the top of their heads identical in color to their skin and with no visible dividing line between forehead and hairline.)
    • God is actually the only character in the show to ever actually be drawn with five fingers on each hand, and five toes on each foot.
    • The Space Coyote in Homer's hallucination from "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (voiced by Johnny Cash) is drawn in a boxier style partially to resemble the style of coyotes in American Southwestern sand paintings.
  • Noodle Incident: Bart's mortal enemies are Sideshow Bob and Dr. Demento.
    • Also, Bart once made annoying phone calls to Linda Lavin because of something she did to deserve it.
    • In "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," Bart finds Homer reading in the elementary school library:
    Bart: Dad, what are you doing here?
    Homer: Reading about this Edison character. They won't let me in the big people library down town. There was some... unpleasantness. I can never go back.
    • The season eight episode "My Sister, My Sitter," had Lisa trying to get in line at a clinic so she can get Bart medical attention, but Smithers won't let her through because of an injury he sustained that makes it hard for him to sit down (though given his sexuality, it's really not that hard to figure out what could have happened to him).
    • The episode "Moe Baby Blues" has Moe end up with a bunch of angry gangsters point guns at him. He gives a nervous chuckle and says "Wow, that's the second largest number of guns I've had pointed at me at once" with nothing known to us about the bigger time.
    • Season five's "Homer and Apu" (the one where Apu becomes the Simpsons' servant after Apu gets fired for his unsanitary Kwik-E-Mart conditions) had a scene where Lisa played an Indian instrument called the shenai. After a few notes, Homer shudders and comments that it's worse than the album his father [Grampa] released without a flashback or further explanation.
    • Season seven's "Team Homer" had a scene where Mr. Burns mistakes a check for boweling for a check for bowling (which he wrote to Homer while high on ether). Smithers then reminds Mr. Burns about the time he skipped his monthly boweling. The only information we get about the incident is that "It was unpleasant for all concerned."
    • Season four's "Marge Gets A Job" had Mr. Burns talks to Smithers about arranging a date with Marge:
    Mr. Burns: Yes, well, Smithers I want you to arrange a party for two at my estate. Marge. Me. And do you think you could dig up Al Jolson?
    Smithers: Uh, do you remember we did that once before?
    Mr. Burns: Oh, that's right, he's dead. And rather pungent. The rest of that night is something I'd like to forget.
    • Season ten's "Lisa Gets An A" has Bart's line before he lets Lisa in the boys' bathroom: "Relax, there's nothing here you didn't see when Dad boycotted pants," though this stops being a Noodle Incident when you think back to the times that Homer has gone bottomless ("Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy," where after a wild night of love-making, Ned and Maude Flanders find Homer's pants in a tree and try to get it down, thinking that it's possessed by the Devil, and "D'oh-in in the Wind," where Hippie Homer goes naked and sits on his couch out on the lawn).
    • In "Bart Gets an Elephant", when the kids hug Homer while he's covered in tar:
    Bart: Uh, Mom? We're stuck to Dad.
    Marge: Mmm, this is just what happened at the caramel factory.
    Homer: Mmm, caramel.
    • From the same episode, after Homer pulls his head out of Stampy's mouth, he says "Now I've had my head inside an elephant, a hippo, and a giant sloth."
    • "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore": When Mr. Burns was about to show his employees a movie, he asked for a moment of silence for the employees who died at some heroic, well, whatever it was, we never got to learn because Homer demanded the movie when Burns was about to say and the issue has never been brought up again.
    • In order to make Bart take his shots, Dr. Hibbert had some people dressed like him. That got Dr. Hibbert banned from the library for something Moe did while on disguise (knowing Moe, it was either sexually harassing female library patrons or trying to download porn on the library computers).
    • In "The Book Job", whilst setting up their ghost-writing operation, Homer and Bart make several references to something that happened in Kansas City. Apparently it did not end well.
    • In "Lisa the Simpson", Abe apparently had a grudge with his barber, Louie, that is never elaborated upon:
    Abe: (reacting to Marge's attempt at a haircut) No! No, no, no, no! The George Raft look is dead! I want an Audie Murphy!
    Marge: Well if you'd just apologise to Louie, you could get your hair cut the way you want!
    Abe: No apology! Not until he admits he's a jerk!
    • The Simpson family is apparently banned from nearly all U.S. states. The reasons are never revealed, though "Kill The Alligator and Run" showed why they were banned from Florida (even though they were found innocent of killing Captain Jack the alligator), and the only states that haven't banned them yet were North Dakota and Arizona. This later is ignored, as "Special Edna" showed The Simpsons going to Florida (again), the episode written by Ricky Gervais had them travel to California, and "Holidays of Future Passed" had Lisa tell Milhouse that they're going to Michigan (which is under sharia law in the distant future). On top of that, there's the old Fridge Logic question of "If The Simpsons have been banned from every state in the union — including Alaska and Hawaii, the freak states — then where is Springfield?"
    • In "The Seven Beer Snitch", Chief Wiggim tells Smithers, "If I didn't arrest you that time in the park, I'm not going to arrest you now".
  • No Poverty: In Hank Scorpio's company town of Cypress Creek in "You Only Move Twice".
  • Nose Shove:
  • One episode blamed Homer's reduced IQ on his having shoved a crayon up his nose and into his brain.
  • In another episode, Bart whacks Ralph on the head, causing coins and milk to fall from his nose. "My milk money!... And my milk!"
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Sideshow Mel in "All About Lisa".
  • No Such Thing as H.R.: Played for comedy as there's not only no HR department to complain to at the power plant, there's absolutely no layer of management at all besides Mr. Burns.
    • Although due to the series inconsistent continuity, this does change. "Homer and Delilah" depicts an executive committee of some sort, Frank Grimes was initially supposed to be hired as an executive vice president a la "Homer's Enemy," and the episode where they go to Florida shows an on-site psychologist to help Homer with his insanity.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: A few times.
    • Grandpa Simpson babysits Selma's adopted daughter and modifies his old war stories to be baby-friendly.
      I was just telling her how we chased the teddy bears into their cuddle bunkers, [in a creepy voice] then had to tickle them out with machine hugs and fun throwers! [sinister zoom-in] They say the more soldiers you tickle, the easier it gets. Well, sir, it doesn't.
    • Moe does a similar thing while babysitting Maggie, telling her a bedtime story which is a cleaned up version of The Godfather (after trying to read through Alice in Wonderland and thinking that it's too drug-influenced for children).
  • Note to Self: In "Lisa's Rival", Bart comforts Lisa over Allison, saying, "I can't stand to see you so miserable, Lis... unless it's from a rubber spider down your dress." He then turns away and records a note on doing this into a pocket tape recorder. Afterwards, he offers to dig up dirt on Allison and attempts a My Card, but Lisa reminds him that he lives in the room next to her. Bart promptly records another note on his recorder: "Next year, order fewer cards."
  • No Time to Explain: Parodied in "Lemon of Troy". Nelson bursts into Krabappel's class and says something terrible has happened, and that there's no time to explain. A group of fellow students run out and follow Nelson. Nelson stops to get a drink at a fountain before continuing to run.
    Milhouse: Are you sure it wouldn't be faster to just tell us what happened?
    Nelson: No, I said there's no time to explain, and I stick by that!
  • No Time To Think: In "Homer Defined", Homer uses "Eeny, meeny, miney, moe" to guess which button to press to prevent the nuclear reactor from melting down. Successfully. Twice.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: In a mock behind-the-scenes exposé, Lisa accuses the producers of slipping her "anti-growth hormones".
  • Not in the Face!: In "Homer the Moe", a bird starts pecking Moe's face. He says:
    Moe: Ow ow! Not the face! (the bird pecks his crotch) Ooh! OK, the face! (bird pecks his face again) Whoo... to think that actually feels good after the, after the crotch.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: When Homer was telling the family about the time he worked at the Bowl-o-rama, there was a flashback scene of him shooting at the air with a shotgun, scaring people away in a failed attempt to attract more customers. Lisa interrupted to ask Marge to make him tell the true story. Marge sadly told her it did happen like that.
  • Not Me This Time: Happens in "Lisa the Vegetarian," when it was Lisa who did something bad for a change:
    Marge: "Bart, Nooooo!"
    Bart: (Standing beside her) "What?"
    Marge: "Sorry, force of habit. Lisa, nooooo!"
  • Not so Above It All: Marge and Lisa, while usually much smarter and Closer to Earth than Homer and Bart have frequent moments of equal stupidity or callousness, especially later on.
  • The Not So Harmless Punishment: Homer, portrayed King Henry VIII, responds to Ned Flanders' (as St. Thomas More) objections to seceding from the Church by offering to canonize him. Cut to Ned being fired out of a cannon.
    • The episode "Lisa On Ice" features a daydream Lisa has where she worries that failing her gym class would greatly damage her reputation later in life. In the daydream, the Supreme Justice of the United States learns this just before swearing Lisa in as the new President.
    Supreme Justice: I sentence you to a lifetime of horror on Monster Island... Don't worry, it's just a name.
    Cut to Lisa and others being chased by monsters.
    Lisa: He said it was just a name!
    Man: What he meant is that Monster Island is actually a peninsula.
  • Not This One, That One:
    • In the episode "The Old Man and the C-Student", Bart is ordered to go on community service:
    Bart: What are you gonna do to me?
    Principal Skinner: Bart, not all Community Service is gang warfare and dangerous infection, and to illustrate that point here's where you'll be working.
    [Principal Skinner points in the direction of a storefront]
    Bart: The Fireworks, Candy, and Puppy dog store!?
    Principal Skinner: No, no, no. Next to it.
    [Next to the store is the Springfield Retirement Home, where we see Jasper and the Old Jewish Man sitting. Grampa comes outside:]
    Grandpa Simpson: Settle a bet: boil or mole?
    [Bart gapes in horror]
    • In another episode, "King of the Hill", where Homer is convinced to become a mountain climber, has it done twice with the size of the mountain.
  • "Not Wearing Pants" Dream: Homer has one in "Homer Goes to College". Subverted in that it actually happened.
  • Not What I Signed On For: The original settlers of Springfield and Shelbyville split into two feuding groups when some of them found out their pilgrimage wasn't about getting to marry their cousins.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Combined with Hope Spot in "Team Homer":
    Homer: Nothing's going to stop us now!
    (in Mr. Burns's office)
    Burns: Stop everything! I don't remember writing a check for bowling.
    Smithers: Uh, sir, that's a check for your boweling.
    Burns: Oh, yes. That's very important. [...] Anyway, back to the checks... Stop everything! I don't remember writing a check for bowling.
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: The clown bed Homer botches up for Bart recites parts of the prayer. "If you should die before you wake, hoohuhuhhyukhyukhyuk..."
  • The Nth Doctor: Dr. J. Loren Pryor has always been played by Harry Shearer. However, in his first few appearances (such as "Bart the Genius" and "Separate Vocations"), he had a Mr. Burns-style voice, only calmer and younger. However, when he appeared in later episodes (such as "Lisa's Sax") he has a much lower voice, sort of like Reverend Lovejoy or Smithers.
  • Nutritional Nightmare: The show is the Trope Codifier. Homer in particular tends to get involved a great deal.
    • In "Homer the Heretic", Homer is staying home from church eating a stick of butter with waffle batter wrapped around it.
    • In "Lisa the Vegetarian" it's revealed that Homer drinks a glass of pancake syrup every morning.
    • From the episode "Bart Star":
      Dr. Hibbert: Your cholesterol level is lethally high, Homer, but I'm more concerned about your gravy level.
      Homer: Now, wait a second! You doctors have been telling us to drink eight glasses of gravy a day!
      Dr. Hibbert: Well, you're a little confused.
      Homer: Oh, confused, would we?
    • In "Bart's Friend Falls in Love", the subplot involves Homer trying to lose weight through intelligence. Homer watches commercials for two products: The Good Morning Burger (eighteen ounces of sizzling ground beef, soaked in rich, creamery butter, and topped off with bacon, ham, and a fried egg) and a candy bar (pure milk chocolate with a layer of farm-fresh honey, sprinkled on four kinds of sugar, and dipped in rich, creamery butter.)
    • In season 19, "E Pluribus Wiggum", Homer decides to eat a bunch of fast food before Marge starts him on his diet. Among the foods he eats is a cheese pizza which he adds french fries and a lobster as toppings. He shakes it up in a pizza box and then proceeds to eat the food while it's inside the box.
    • The Ribwich from "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can" is so unhealthy that there is a scene (a Shout-Out to Requiem for a Dream) where we see barbecue sauce flowing in Homer's bloodstream and he develops a huge addiction to the product. It gets even worse when the Ribwich has a label with Krusty saying "Will Cause Early Death".
    • In the Christmas Episode "She Of Little Faith", Homer makes Bart add butter to his bacon.
      Homer: Now you listen here. You live in my house; you'll do what I tell you and you'll believe what I believe in. Now you butter up your bacon, boy!
      Bart: But my heart hurts.
      Homer: Bacon up that sausage!
    • In "King-Size Homer", Homer intentionally wants to gain weight (just to get out of work for being obese) and at least half the stuff he eats is this trope; the rest verging on inedible. (page quote came from that episode).
    • In "King Of The Hill", after experiencing some success at the gym after becoming hooked on Powersauce bars, Homer resolves to eat only what he can compress into bar form. He extrudes a copious amount of spaghetti and meatballs into a small bar, takes a bite, and calmly calls the hospital.

    O 
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "Little Big Mom", Marge gets injured and lands in the hospital. But since she doesn't have to do housework for the first time in her life, she fakes it after she's healed.
  • Object Ceiling Cling: Bart sticks a waffle onto the ceiling, which Homer mistakes for God. Marge pries the waffle off the ceiling and Homer eats it.
    • "Mmmm, sacrelicious."
  • Object Tracking Shot: When they did a parody of Forrest Gump in the S14 clip show "Gump Roast" they used the same shot of the infamous feather. However it ends up stabbing Homer in the eye...twice!
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Patty & Selma. Subverted as usually the obnoxious in-law in a family sitcom is a mother-in-law, but here, it's twin sisters-in-law. Marge's mom (Homer's mother-in-law) has nothing against Homer — though in "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" and "The Way We Was," it is implied that Marge's mom is disappointed in Marge marrying Homer, though she's not as vocal about it as Patty and Selma are. And even then, out of the both of them, Selma is the one who probably has some grudging respect for Homer (she told Marge where Homer disappeared to before Bart was born, and he played a big part in helping her adopt Ling), while Patty just flat-out hates him.
  • Obstacle Ski Course: Along with Stupid Sexy Flanders.
  • Obvious Stunt Double:
    • When they shoot the Radioactive Man film in Springfield, Milhouse plays Fallout Boy and a late middle age European little person is his stunt double.
    • Krusty and Sideshow Mel have very obvious doubles for an ice dancing routine they do.
  • Odd Couple: Homer and Marge, obviously.
    • Also, Homer and Skinner while they are "sequestered" due to a jury "deadlock". Skinner points this out. Homer tells him to shut up.
    • When Lisa is forced to share Bart's room due to the cell phone tower built in her room in "Make Room for Lisa". Homer lampshades it by singing The Odd Couple theme while informing her of the arrangements.
  • Oddly Small Organization: All over the place, but most often the Springfield Police and Mafia. From the episode "'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky":
    Chief Wiggum: Uh oh, all the lights are out. We better get the entire force working on this.
    Lou: Chief, we are the entire force.
    Chief Wiggum: Okay, we've gotta start recruiting, Lou!
    • Homer's private force Springshield was no larger, prompting Homer to say that if he were to die, someone would take his place, but admit that after killing two more people, Fat Tony's Mafia would have the run of the town.
  • Off Model: Very evident in the first season. It was so bad that the first episode, Some Enchanted Evening, was sent back to the animators at AKOMnote  for reanimation.
    • In a similar example, series runner Mike Wiess says in the commentary of the episode When Flanders Failed that most of the episode had to be reanimated in America, as the animators at AKOM were using the episode in question for training a new team and came back with "a thousand mistakes in it and was just a complete and utter mess."
    • This was parodied in Fat Man and Little Boy when Homer's mouth shifts away from his face after criticizing the quality of Korean animation.
    • There's a very easy way to tell who did what episode according to SNPP's review of Trash Of The Titans:
  • Office Sports: In one episode, Homer, Lenny, and Carl are playing chair hockey at work. Mr. Burns comes in to yell at them, but it turns out he's the coach and he's yelling at their poor teamwork.
  • Off on a Technicality: Snake, in "Stop! Or My Dog Will Shoot". It's the reason Santa's Little Helper (a canine cop in that episode) becomes disgruntled.
    • Inverted and invoked in "My Mother the Carjacker"
    Lisa: Dad, I'm just as sad as you are. What happened to Grandma is an outrage.
    Homer: How do you figure?
    Lisa: She was acquitted! Then they put her back in jail on a technicality!
    Homer: You're right. People should only be let out of jail on technicalities!
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Mr. Burns' subduing and capture of the Loch Ness Monster in "Monty Can't Buy Me Love." Even being swallowed by the beast couldn't stop him.
  • Oh Crap: Troy McClure after he tries Dr Nick Riviera's Sun 'n Run: A Sun Tan Lotion/Laxitive cream.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: Professor John Frink is known for this.
  • Oh, the Humanity!: parodied a few times.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: When Bart and Milhouse volunteered to run the Comic Book Guy's shop in "Worse Episode Ever", the instructions left for them turn out to be a shopping list.
  • The Old Convict: 'The last registered Democrat' in "Bart-Mangled Banner".
  • Older than They Look: Kearney (one of the three bullies): Despite looking old enough to be in high school (yet is held back in elementary school), Kearney is actually older than that (around 20-30 years old), according to "Lisa the Iconoclast," when Principal Skinner told the kids at an assembly that the only person who's old enough to remember the 1976 Bicentennial is Kearney (who is shown shaving and commenting on how the Bicentennial took everyone's mind off the Watergate scandal). Later episodes showed that Kearney has custody of a son from a divorce, has been tried as an adult and sent to an adult prison, has a car (yet one episode showed him on the school bus with his son) — yet doesn't appear to have a job or any source of income, voted in a U.S. general election (you have to be 18 to vote in American elections — the age used to be 21), and was in the third grade around the same time as Otto the bus driver (who could also be older than he looks, despite looking and acting like a teenager).
    • Ned Flanders: Before "Viva Ned Flanders," it was assumed that Ned was around the same age as Homer (late 30s/early 40s, depending on episode writer). In "Viva Ned Flanders," Flanders revealed that he was 60 years old and looks young because he's never done anything crazy and sinful.
    • In "Duffles", elderly-looking Hans Moleman claims he's actually 31, looking older as a result of alcohol.
  • Omniglot: Bart and Homer share the ability to rapidly become fluent in any language they encounter, despite being genetically predisposed to become dumber as they grow older. Bart has spoken French ("Crepes of Wrath" while living with the abusive French winemakers), Japanese ("Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" when he and Homer were in jail), and Spanish ("Grift of the Magi," while watching Spanish daytime TV), while Homer is fluent in German ("The Canine Mutiny" when Lisa goes over her German verb wheel and "The Heartbroke Kid" when Homer sings the original German version of "99 Red Balloons") Spanish ("Simpson Tide"), Mandarin Chinese (also "Simpson Tide"), Japanese ("Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"), and penguin ("Simpson Tide," though that was just there for a gag).
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Or, in this case, 63 times for 'out of air', 64 times for 'found the treasure'.
  • One Mario Limit: Homer used to mean one of the greatest poets in western literature, thus denoting a certain amount of sophistication. Nowadays...
    • Jeopardy! gets some mileage out of this, occasionally having a category about Homer the poet, with Dan Castellaneta reading the clue in his Homer Simpson voice.
  • One-Person Birthday Party:
    • Nelson throws a birthday party and invites all of his classmates. Bart is the only one to turn up because Marge forces him to go.
    • In the episode where a crazy big white guy thinks he's Michael Jackson, it's Lisa's 8th birthday. She begs Bart not to forget but of course he does. She sits with only the baby Maggie for company, singing:
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday to me
    Happy birthday, overlooked middle child
    Happy birthday to me.
  • One Phone Call: Done to Homer in "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish".
  • One-Shot Character: Too many to list, but often the one-shots are the characters played by celebrities, such as Garth Motherloving (Ben Stiller) and Ray Patterson (Steve Martin).
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: In "Colonel Homer", where Homer's new job as Lurleen Lumpkin's manager is driving him away from his family:
    Marge: You've got a wonderful family, Homer. Please don't forget it when you walk out that door tonight.
    [Homer leaves.]
    Bart: Much as I hate that man right now, you gotta love that suit.
  • Only a Model
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Mild examples in the form of Krusty (real name Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski), Sideshow Mel (real name Melvin Van Horne) and Sideshow Bob (real name Robert Underdunk Terwilliger). Also a semi example with Mr. Burns, as it's easy to forget that "Monty" is actually his middle name (his full name being Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns). Parodied when Homer pretends to be Mr. Burns in order to get back an insulting letter that he posted to him from the post office.
    Homer: Hello. My name is Mr. Burns. I believe you have a letter for me.
    Postal clerk: Okay, Mr. Burns, uh, what's your first name?
    Homer: ...I don't know.
    • Again parodied when Homer pretends to be Mr. Burns's mother on the phone to him (after accidentally disconnecting the call from his real mother). After originally calling him "Mr. Burns" and being reprimanded by Smithers for doing so, Homer calls him "Montel".
    • Better examples of this trope would be Squeaky Voiced Teen (real name Jeremy Freedman) and Comic Book Guy (real name Jeff Albertson).
    • Even Marge (Marjorie), Bart (Bartholomew) and Maggie (Margaret) are only known by their nicknames.
  • Only One Name: Lou states that he and Eddie don't have last names, like Cher.
  • Only Sane Man: Parodied by Frank Grimes in "Homer's Enemy".
    • Ray Patterson, the Springfield sanitation commissioner Homer ousts of office in "Trash of the Titans", played by Steve Martin.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: In "Lost Our Lisa", Comic Book Guy refuses to let Lisa take the seat next to him unless she can answer "these questions three". An annoyed Lisa doesn't even bother and walks away.
  • On The Rebound: After Edna breaks up with Skinner, she then hooks up with Comic Book Guy on the Rebound. Lampshaded by Marge:
    Marge: You meet the worst people on the rebound.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Lisa's reaction when Marge actually supports Homer's beer baron activities in "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment".
    • In "Rosebud":
    Marge: (of Mr. Burns) I'm sure he'll offer a fair reward. And then we'll make him double it. (family says, "Huh?") Well why can't I be greedy once in a while?
  • Open The Door And See All The People:
    • Happens when Homer has been accused of sexual harassment.
    • As well as the episode featuring Mulder and Scully. Immediately after Lisa argues that the townspeople aren't going to take three seconds of blurry video as proof that Homer met an alien, Homer opens the door to find half the town on his lawn.
  • Operator from India: Seen in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore" with Apu's relative. He juggles several different phone lines and talks with a different fake accent for each call.
  • Operators Are Standing By: Parodied in an advertisement Homer sees. Homer, convinced that his time for buying the product is running out, hastily calls and asks if there are any left. The operator there replies "Yeah, a couple." The camera then pans out to reveal that the warehouse is, in fact, full of the product.
  • The Operators Must Be Crazy:
    • In "Homer Alone", Homer's on hold with the police department waiting for word on Maggie, and the song he hears on told, "Baby Come Back," brings him to TEARS.
    • In "Stark-Raving Dad", Marge is also driven to tears by the song "Crazy" (a country song, not the Aerosmith version) while being placed on hold with the Springfield Mental Hospital.
    • In "Saturdays of Thunder", Homer is on hold for the Father/Son Institute and hears the song "Cat's in the Cradle". He sniffs.
    • In "Clown Without Pity" (part of "Treehouse of Horror III"), Marge is on hold with the company that made the killer Krusty doll and hears the song "Everybody Loves a Clown (So Why Don't You?)".
  • Opposed Mentors: In a gag on The Simpsons Lisa makes a square on a family heirloom patchwork quilt honoring her two musical mentors:
    Look Mom, I've finished my patch. It depicts the two greatest musical influences in my life. On the left is Mr. Largo, my music teacher at school? He taught me that even the noblest concerto can be drained of its beauty and soul. And on the right is Bleeding Gums Murphy. He taught me that music is a fire in your belly that comes out of your mouth, so you better stick an instrument in front of it.
  • Our Founder: Jebediah Springfield.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Subverted in "The Mansion Family": Homer says he wishes he won an award, and clarifies "an award worth winning" when he's told he won a Grammy. Immediately after he says this, a disclaimer runs at the bottom of the screen:
    Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Simpson's opinions does not reflect those of the producers, who don't consider the Grammy an award at all.
  • Our Nudity Is Different:
    • Skinner is horrified when his mother goes on a date in an outfit that reveals her...figure.
    • In an episode set in the 1800s, the buy-your-photo section of a log flume ride has to deal with a shot of a lady "flashing her private parts". It's her ankle, and the man running the shop claims he'll take care of it before shiftily stowing it in his pocket as if it were porn.
  • Our Slogan Is Terrible: "Come to Duff Gardens, where roving gangs aren't a big problem anymore!"
  • Outlaw Couple: Homer and Marge are a bank-robbing couple in "Bonnie and Clyde" (part of "Love, Springfieldian Style"), a parody of the movie of the same name, which in turn was based on a real couple.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: In "My Pods and Boomsticks," Homer, who is prejudiced against the new Muslim family, hears the father talking about his demolition job. Unfortunately, the parts of the conversation that Homer hears makes it sound like he is a suicide bomber.
  • Out of Focus: Many over the course of the show's run. The first was Lewis, the black kid who was Bart's second-best friend in the early days of the show and got pushed into background character status as other classmates developed personalities.
    • Lampshaded a couple times. For example, a gag in "Homer to the Max" where Lisa commented about characters that don't get used, and then Mr. Largo (the music teacher) and the Capital City Goofball (as seen in "Dancin' Homer" [the episode where Homer tells his bar buddies the story of how he became famous as a sports mascot]) walked past the window.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Homer, after causing an explosion at the candy convention in "Homer, Badman".
  • Oven Logic: Marge and her Raisin Sponge Cake.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Used very sparingly in the early seasons, and up to a couple of times per episode in more recent ones.
    • With the exception of the Rake Scene from "Cape Feare." The animators even admitted that the episode was running low on time and, since it was the last episode with some of the original writers, they didn't care if it was too long.
      • In fact, it was actually CUT in syndication!
  • Overly Long Name: Selma's full name is Selma Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Stu-Simpson.
    • There's possibly another Terwilliger in there if she amended the name to the end when she married Bob again.
    • A vintage Rainier Wolfcastle commercial:
    Rainier: Mein bratwurst has a first name, it's F-r-i-t-z. Mein bratwurst has a second name, it's S-c-h-n-a-c-k-e-n-p-f-e-f-f-e-r-h-a-u-s-e-n.
    • In the first story in "The Wettest Stories Ever Told", Marge's name is Constance Prudence Chastity Goodfaith, also known as Marge Obedience Temperance Sexwont to her friends.
  • Overly-Long Scream: In "The Blunder Years", the family goes to a nightclub/restaurant. Homer gets hypnotized by a stage hypnotist, and unearths a traumatic childhood memory and starts screaming. He continues screaming as they leave, he tips the valet, drives home, brushes his teeth, and lies in bed. The next day Lenny and Carl bring him home from work still screaming; it was interrupting naptime at work.
    • In "Brother From Another Series", Bob and Bart fall from the dam and scream so long that they have to catch their breath.
  • Overly-Long Tongue: Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie at the end of "Time and Punishment" have lizard-esque tongues.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In "Lisa the Simpson", Lisa calls Yertle The Turtle "possibly the best book written on the subject of turtle stacking".
    Chief Wiggum: (reading the book in bed) She's got that right.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: In the episode "Weekend at Burnsies", Homer and Mr. Smithers are listening to Mr. Burns rehearse for a meeting. After a joke falls flat:
    Smithers: (whispering to Homer) One of us has gotta start laughing. If Mr. Burns gets flop sweat he'll die of dehydration.
    (Burns gets a drop of sweat on his forehead and starts to feel giddy.)
    Burns: Oh, I'm drenched with sweat. (pushes the droplet back into his head)
    • On The Simpsons Movie, Krusty is seen dumping a whole cistern tank of flop sweat into Lake Springfield.
  • Overt Rendezvous: When Homer is forced into working for the feds, he meets his handler in a public park.
  • Overused Running Gag: Homer strangles Bart all the time.
    • The Parody Names being constantly used in the Al Jean-era episodes. They're half-assed and used in situations where the originals would've worked fine.

    P 
  • Packed Hero: Parodied. Bart goes missing on a school trip at a box-making factory. Homer sees a completely ordinary cardboard box with Bart's lucky red hat on it, and immediately assumes the
  • Painful Body Waxing: Referenced in one episode. They let Sideshow Bob out of jail to catch a man attempting to murder Homer. He must wear a device that acts as a Restraining Bolt. "And don't bother trying to take it off. Because it's duct-taped to your leghairs. And that really hurts!"
  • Pants Positive Safety: In "Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes", Homer becomes a bounty hunter and starts carrying a taser, which he shoves down the front of his pants because it looks cool. The results are predictable.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    Homer: (disguised as Ed McMahon) You've just won $10 million from that Publisher's Cleary Dealie!
  • Parallel Porn Titles: Occurs quite frequently on the show whenever there's a theater on the screen. Some examples: "Sperms of Endearment", "I'll Do Anyone", "Five Sleazy Pieces", "The Godfather's Parts, II", and "Jeremiah's Johnson", among many others.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Homer claims that Bart getting his ear pierced as a 10-year-old is completely different from the crazy things he did as a kid, like getting his ear pierced as a 10-year-old. Well, Bart called it earring and Homer believes "God" and "The Lord" to be "different" guys.
  • Parking Problems: Homer tries to park the family's station wagon in a stall marked COMPACT ONLY against his passengers' advice. He squeezes the vehicle in, grinding both sides of the station wagon against the parked vehicles on either side and asks Marge in the passenger seat: "How am I doing on your side?"
  • Parodic Table of the Elements: The Oscar Meyer periodic table.
  • Parody Retcon: What many fans consider the creators' explanation of "Homer's Enemy" to be.
  • Parrot Expo-what?:
    • From "Team Homer":
      Burns: Listen here...I want to join your team.
      Homer: You want to join my what?
      Smithers: You want to what his team?
    • And from "Who Shot Mr Burns, Part 2":
      Jasper: You shot who in the what now?
    • And from "The Joy of Sect":
      Marge: You what?
      Homer: Come again, Marge?
      Marge: You what?
      Homer: I've joined the Movementarians, and so have all of you!
      Marge: We what?
    • From "HOMR":
    Lisa: Dad, how could you? We were connecting in such a meaningful way.
    Homer: We were what what in the what what?
  • Paste Eater: Ralph Wiggum is known for eating glue, crayons and worms, among other things.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Parodied in "Bart Mangled Banner".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Subverted in the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" two parter; Burns is portrayed as an opportunist with no moral restraint. When he decides to block sunlight from Springfield, a town hall meeting is called on the subject, and everyone brings a gun to the meeting. But when someone actually SHOOTS Burns (hid behind a Shadow Discretion Shot) he is perceived as a victim, despite his obviously evil nature, and the attempted murder is investigated anyway. This is VERY out of character for Springfield, the kind of town that would leave a boy in a well for previously pranking the town into thinking someone else fell into a well.
  • Paying In Coins: * Homer once tried to pay a $900 gas bill by sending a water-cooler bottle full of pennies in the mail. When he puts it down next to the mailbox, it falls into the earth.
    Hello? China? A little help?
    • Another instance, although offscreen: The family pays for a doghouse from the change inside a Swear Jar.
    • Bart pays for his fat camp w/ 2 bags of change from some vending machines.
    • Homer buys a motorhome with the change from a savings jar Marge started. How they did it wasn't shown.
  • The Peeping Tom: Groundskeeper Willy outs himself as one when he reveals he has a videotape proving that Homer didn't sexually harass a college girl.
    Willy: "Homer! I love amateur video, and your show is the most amateur video I ever saw. My hobby is secretly videotaping couples in cars. I dinna come forward because in this country, it makes you look like a pervert — but every single Scottish person does it!"
  • Performance Anxiety: Seen in "The Lastest Gun in the West" when Krusty tells Buck McCoy not to be nervous.
    Krusty: Just remember: There'll be millions of people watching you. MILLIONS. (Buck takes a drink from his flask) And TV Guide's Cheers and Jeers editor! And he's already given out all his Cheers.
  • Permanent Elected Official: Mayor Quimby, through lack of opposition, general corruption, and general apathy from the population.
    Birch Barlow: You know, ther— there— there are three things we're never going to get rid of here in Springfield. One: the bats in the public library. Two: Mrs. McFeerly's compost heap. And three: our six term mayor. The illiterate, tax-cheating, wife-swapping, pot-smoking, spend-o-crat, Diamond Joe Quimby.
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: Lisa is going crazy while the teachers are on strike and creates a perpetual motion machine. Homer later tells Lisa that no physics law should be broken in his home.
    Homer: This "perpetual motion" machine that she made today is a joke — it just keeps going faster and faster.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Used several times as throwaway gags to illustrate how much of a Crapsack World the town is (at least once to the point that even the corrupt mayor gets sick). Torches and Pitchforks are a common sight.
    • Seymour Skinner saying that the Earth rotates around the Sun almost has him torched on the stake once.
    • When tests of a mysterious skeleton fail to prove that it was the remains of an angel, the citizens of Springfield become enraged at science. The resulting riot culminates in the local research laboratories being bombed with Molotov cocktails and the museums being thrashed.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: In the episode of where a fortuneteller tells Lisa about her future wedding, teenage Maggie is shown to have her own home phone and always be on it. The joke is, we never hear her voice during the whole episode because Maggie is The Voiceless.
  • Phony Degree: Dr Nick, maybe. In one episode he says he got his medical degree from "Hollywood Upstairs Medical College".
  • Phosphor-Essence: Subverted: the green-glowing space alien who claims to come in peace turns out to be Mr. Burns addle-brained from the side effects of his pain medication and glowing due to years of irradiation from nuclear power (which he remains somewhat bitter about).
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: Parodied in "Much Apu About Nothing": When Proposition 24 comes into the public awareness, the Springfield Elementary students harass foreign exchange students like Uter. Willie cuts through the crowd and says, "You want to pick on immigrants? Then pick on Willie!" Skinner replies with, "Willie, please. The students want to pick on someone their OWN size."
  • Picked Last: The episode "King of the Hill" simultaneously plays this straight and subverts this in a few ways with Bart and Rod Flanders picking teammates for a game of Capture The Flag. Bart picks Nelson over his best friend Milhouse, who naively comments on how he must be "saving the best for last." Rod, on the other hand, chooses his brother Todd as his first pick.
  • Ping Pong Naïveté: Bart.
  • Pink Elephants:
    • When the town is accidentally dosed with peyote, The Alcoholic Barney is able to drive off his threatening hallucinations by consuming enough liquor to summon a friendlier pink elephant hallucination. Curiously enough, the pink elephant seen here looks exactly like the ones seen in Dumbo.
    • In another episode, Barney is beating on the ground, yelling "Take that, snakes!" Lenny complements him on rehearsing for Whacking Day (where the townsfolk whack snakes). Barney's reply: "What's Whacking Day?"
    • Invoked in a Halloween Episode where aliens come to earth and Homer sees them land; they make sure Homer isn't believed by spraying him with rum to make people think he hallucinated the whole thing.
    • In "The Springfield Files" episode Homer sees what he thinks is an alien while going home from Moe's bar. The creature he saw was real but nobody believed him.
    • Invoked again with the Duff Days beer festival in "Pygmoelian", where pink helium balloons shaped like elephants are available for sale. Homer buys a balloon for Maggie, but it gets loose and floats into a meeting of Log Cabin Republicans who are trying to choose a logo.
  • Pink Is for Sissies
  • Pinned to the Wall: In the version of The Odyssey, when Odyssyus comes home he finds a bunch of suitors for his wife's hand and throws a spear through all of them, pinning them all to the wall.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Grampa Simpson is shown doing this in his flashback to World War II in "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish"".
  • Piss Take Rap: In "Pranksta Rap", Homer and Marge embarrass Bart by rapping to him about why he can't go to the rap concert:
    Homer: You did it on the straight / Got your dad's permission / But your mom dropped a bomb / So I flipped my position!
    Marge: Don't argue with Marge / I know what's best / The only rap in this crib / keeps sandwiches fresh!
  • Planet of Hats: Bronson, MO.
    Child: 'Ey ma, how 'bout some cookies?
    Mother: No dice.
    Child: Dis ain't ova.
  • Playboy: The cover girl for the November 2009 issue? Marge Simpson herself.
  • Playing Pictionary: In "A Milhouse Divided," the Simpsons host a dinner party with a game of Pictionary. Maude Flanders guesses "cornstarch" from three dots drawn by Ned, while Kirk Van Houten is unable to draw "dignity."
  • Plea of Personal Necessity: After Bart and Lisa proved Sideshow Bob rigged the election to win his Engineered Public Rant ends with one of these. Essentially making this statement the source of his downfall.
    Sideshow Bob: Because you need me, Springfield. Your guilty conscience may force you to vote Democratic, but deep down inside you secretly long for a cold-hearted Republican to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king. That's why I did this, to protect you from yourselves! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a city to run.
    Judge: Bailiff, place the mayor under arrest.
    *Bob is handcuffed*
    Bob: What!? ...oh yes, all that stuff I did.
  • Plumber's Crack: Marge once became a carpenter but nobody would hire a woman to do that kind of job. As she commented to Homer that it seemed people expected carpenters to be overweight people with visible buttcracks, she immediately thought about using Homer as a facade.
  • Pointless Civic Project: Springfield seems to be a magnet for these:
    • The Monorail project in "Marge vs. the Monorail". In it, the townspeople are sold on the idea by the slick-talking salesman, despite the fact that Springfield has no need for a monorail. The end of the episode reveals that the city routinely builds pointless things, such as a Popsicle Stick Skyscraper, a 100ft Magnifying Glass (that sets the Popsicle Stick Skyscraper on fire) and a huge escalator to nowhere (whereupon reaching the top, riders simply plummet to their death).
    • In another episode, Kent Brockman mentions the Clamatorium, described as "a million dollar boondoggle based on nothing more than clever word play."
    • Another example revolves around a music hall in "The Seven-Beer Snitch". Because Springfield is filled with a bunch of "stupid hicks", they leave after hearing the first five notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, and the music hall becomes a porno theater, "An Evening with David Brenner", and finally, a prison.
  • Police Are Useless: Given it's Wiggums who's running the show..
    • This is even lampshaded in a song.
  • Police Code for Everything:
    • "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder":
    Chief Wiggum: Alright smart guy, where's the fire?
    Homer: Over there.
    Homer points at a fire at the police station
    Chief Wiggum: Okay, you just bought yourself a 317, pointing out police stupidity... Or is that a 314? Nah nah, 314 is a dog uh, in, no or is that a 315?... You're in trouble pal.
    • In another episode, Wiggum reports "an 812 - Waking a Police Officer".
  • Poor Man's Porn: On the season seven premiere, "Who Shot Mr. Burns, part II," Moe is forced to admit under a lie detector test that he spends his evenings ogling the women in the Sears catalogue.
    • Moe invokes this trope again when he brings up "this porn channel I'm too cheap to descramble," which turns out to be an infomercial for shoe inserts.
    Moe: I've been writing creepy letters to that?
  • Porn Stash: Subverted in the episode "Million Dollar Maybe"; Homer offers Barney access to the hollow tree where he keeps his "adult" magazines... Namely, "The Economist".
    • Played straight on "All's Fair In Oven War," where Homer finds his old Playdude magazines in the wall of the house (all of which have the pornographic pictures cut out) and Bart uses them to act like a swinging bachelor.
    • In "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", "We have searched every square inch of this base and all we have found is porno, porno, PORNO!"
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Nedna, in-universe.
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: Demonstrated in "Bart Gets Hit By a Car" when Burns listens to Homer and Marge's conversation while staring at them through the eyes of his own portrait.
  • Post Mortem Conversion: The stonecutters claim that (among others) the signers of The Declaration of Independence and Washington were Stonecutters, according to their Secret World History.
  • Post Robbery Trauma: Marge, after having her pearls stolen, in "Strong Arms of the Ma".
  • Posthumous Character: Snowball I
    • The town's founder, Jebidiah Springfield
  • Potty Dance and Potty Emergency: Happens a lot to Homer, particularly in the following episodes: "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?", "The Otto Show," "Marge Gets a Job" (while Smithers was cleaning the urinals), "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" (probably the most popular example of a Potty Emergency next to the Animaniacs episode of the same name), "Homer the Heretic" (only it wasn't as blatant as the other examples. For one thing, Homer was in bed, content on staying in it all day, until he feels the urge to go to the bathroom. He then decides after a few minutes to just go to the bathroom) and "The Cartridge Family."
    • Marge had a Potty Emergency on "Waverly Hills, 9021-D'oh" when she drank several bottles of Vitamin Water.
    • Grampa's Potty Emergency led to a kidney blowout (which, in Real Life, is medically impossible) thanks to too many drinks of sarsparilla and Homer wanting to get home so he can see Inside the Actor's Studio.
  • Powersuit Monkey: There's a duck named Stuart who works at the power plant. And outranks Homer.
    • In "Homer's Enemy", Mr. Burns hires a dog to fill the job he originally planned to give Frank Grimes.
  • Practical Joke: Bart violently shakes Homer's beer can, hoping it will merely spray him in the face when opened. It backfires when the beer can opening actually causes an explosion.
  • The Pratfall: Bart awakens after falling, to find himself staring into the eyes of an attractive young girl.
    Bart's brain: She's beautiful! Say something clever.
    Bart: I fell on my bottom.
    Bart's brain: D'oh...
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: From "Bart Sells His Soul":
    Bart: Are you there, God? It's me, Bart Simpson. I know I never paid too much attention in church, but I could really use some of that good stuff now. I'm... afraid. I'm afraid some weirdo's got my soul and I don't know what they're doing to it! I just want it back. Please? I hope you can hear this.
    • Played for laughs in "Lost Our Lisa":
    Homer: I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me, Superman!
    • From "Bart Gets an F":
    Bart: Well, old timer, I guess this is the end of the road. I know I haven't always been a good kid, but, if I have to go to school tomorrow, I'll fail the test and be held back. I just need one more day to study, Lord. I need your help!
    Lisa: Prayer: The last refuge of a scoundrel.
    Bart: A teachers strike, a power failure, a blizzard... Anything that'll cancel school tomorrow. I know it's asking a lot, but if anyone can do it, you can! Thanking you in advance, your pal, Bart Simpson.
  • Prayer of Malice: When Sideshow Bob's after Bart, Bart prays to God to kill him.
    Bart: ...and please, God, kill Sideshow Bob!
    Marge: No, Bart! You can't ask God to kill someone!
    Homer: Yeah! You've got to do your own dirty work!
  • Precedent Excuse:
    • A flashback in the episode "Homer The Great". To clarify, Homer as a kid was barred access to a club because they don't allow people named Homer. Kid!Homer points out that they let a kid named Homer Glumplich in, only for the club to respond that it is called No Homers. It repeats himself at the end of the episode with the Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers.
    • This is also Parodied in the episode "Simpson Tide". When Homer joins the Navy, Bart asks him to bring him back some torpedoes. When Homer says no, Bart argues that Flanders got his kids torpedoes and Homer vows to bring him a "weapon of unimaginable destructive power". Luckily, Marge vetos it.
    • Another example is from the episode "The Great Wife Hope". In it, Marge told Bart to stop fighting with Nelson, Bart pleads that he is only copying the moves he saw at a Martial Arts match. Marge then goes on a crusade to ban those matches too.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: In "The Italian Bob", Homer and his family get sent to Italy to pick up Mr. Burns' new Lamorgotti Fasterossa car. While tooling around Italy, the car is crushed by huge wheels of Mortadella and cheese.
  • Precocious Crush:
    • The episode "Lisa's Substitute", where Lisa gets a crush on substitute teacher Mr. Bergstrom.
    • Lisa's obsession with Corey magazine (and the hotline) in earlier seasons, all full of boys who were at least in their teens. One example in the "Brother From The Same Planet" subplot, when Marge found out about Lisa's phone calls to the hotline, she revealed to Lisa that she was in the same situation in her childhood when she had a crush on Bobby Sherman:
    Marge Simpson: Oh, honey, I know how you feel. When I was a girl, I had a crush on Bobby Sherman...
    [Lisa bursts out laughing]
    Marge Simpson: [annoyed] The point is, I want you to stop making these calls!
    Lisa Simpson: [serious] All right, Mom. I promise you, you will never be billed for another call.
    [giggling uncontrollably]
    Lisa Simpson: Bobby Sherman?
    Marge Simpson: Mmm...
    • Bart had a crush on new neighbor Laura Powers, who was in her mid teens. When he found out she was going out with Jimbo, one of the bullies who picks on him, he arranged a plan to break them up. It was successful — by the end of the episode, Laura had broken up with Jimbo and even told Bart that she would date him if he were older. The character was never seen again.
    • In one episode, in regards to Marge, Milhouse says "She's HOT! ...sorry it just slipped out."
    • It happens in "The Devil Wears Nada" with Nelson and Milhouse looking at a pin-up calender featuring Marge.
  • Preemptive Apology: Marge told Lisa, "Don't hate me for this" right before she bared her breasts to Krusty in "Large Marge" (thus causing Krusty to say the magic word, "magumbo", to cause Stampy to spit out Homer, Bart, and Milhouse).
  • Premature Encapsulation: "Homer's Odyssey" is a season 1 episode that has nothing to do with Homeric epics. Later episodes that actually do Whole Plot References to The Iliad and The Odyssey are therefore forced to have less intuitive names.
  • Present Peeking: In one Christmas episode, Bart wakes up very early to see the gifts before the others. He ends up destroying all the presents and the tree in a fire.
  • Pride Parade: In one episode, a gay pride parade goes through town.
    Marchers: We're here, we're queer, get used to it!
    Lisa: You do this every year. We are used to it!
    • There was also a float dedicated to those still in the closet.
      We're gay, we're glad
      But don't tell mom and dad
    • When there was a bear "attack" in Springfield Homer led an angry mob to the mayors office with this chant:
    Crowd: We're here, we're queer, we don't want any more bears.
    Lenny: Hey, that's a pretty catchy chant. Where did you hear it?
    Homer: Oh, I heard it at the mustache parade they have every year.
  • Primal Scene: In "Lisa's First Word", there was a flashback to Bart's first words. He's walking down the hall and sees Homer and Marge fooling around, to which he says "¡AY CARAMBA!" For obvious reasons, Marge thought it better not to bring it up.
    • In another episode, Bart walks in on his parents again, worried about having seen a UFO - he doesn't figure out what they were doing, but both Homer and Marge scream "Don't turn on the light!" in panic as they cover themselves with the pillows.
    • Also happens in "The Haw-Hawed Couple," when Bart and Lisa walked in on Homer and Marge 'Snuggling', despite the boombox playing the fake argument tape Homer and Marge made, leaving Bart traumatized.
      • Until he gets some perspective from Milhouse: "Trust me, Bart, it's better to walk in on both your parents instead of just one of them."
  • Prison Episode: Several of them, mostly involving the villains, but occasionally major characters (especially Homer, sometimes Marge) end up in jail as well.
  • Private Tutor:
    • In "The PTA Disbands" when the teachers of Springfield Elementary go on strike all the kids treat it as an extra vacation from school - but Milhouse's parents get him a tutor in order to bridge the gap.
    • In another episode Superintendent Chalmers takes Bart under his wing, giving him private lessons outside of school. Eventually all the bully characters start taking these lessons
  • Produce Pelting: Happens to Krusty in "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious" when he realizes his comedy special of Krusty Komedy Klassic is abbreviated as "KKK".
    • A variant occurs in "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" when the angry baseball spectators throw pretzels onto the field at Whitey Ford in response to Mr. Burns winning the Pontiac Astro-Wagon.
  • Product Placement: Parodied in "Lady Bouvier's Mother".
    Jackie: I remember Lisa's third birthday. She and Bart did this adorable little song and dance routine.
    Abe: Oh, heh heh! That was a real horn-honker! Let's see it. (Bart and Lisa feel uneasy) Now! Do it! (They groan) Do it!
    Bart and Lisa: (get into position and singing flatly) Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs...
    Abe: Sing it like you mean it!
    (They fully launch into a song and dance routine at this point, complete with Homer walking by with a sign promoting the hot dogs at the end.)
    Lisa: Doesn't this family know any songs that aren't commercials?
    (Lisa walks off while everybody else does the Chicken Tonight song and dance)
  • Product Promotion Parade: Featured as part of a larger spoof of Merchandise-Driven kids' shows, The Mattel and Mars Bars Choco-Bot Hour. The group's leader tells them to "put down those fun Mattel toys, we've got work to do!" This is followed by An Insert showing the characters' hands as they place the toys very carefully on a blank background to show kids what they should ask their parents for this Christmas.
  • Professional Slacker: Homer, when the need arises.
  • Progressively Prettier: Marge, twice. She was quite dumpy in the Tracy Ullman show shorts. Early in the show's run she was more of an example of Hollywood Homely. Now of course she's treated as if she's supermodel-attractive.
  • Prove I Am Not Bluffing: Spoofed in "You Only Move Twice":
    Scorpio: Good afternoon, gentlemen. This is Scorpio. I have the Doomsday Device. You have 72 hours to deliver the gold or you'll face the consequences. And to prove I'm not bluffing, watch this.
    UN Man 1: [all the men look at the explosion] Oh My God, the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge!
    UN Man 2: Maybe it just collapsed on its own.
    UN Man 1: We can't take that chance.
    UN Man 2: You always say that. I want to take a chance!
    Scorpio: "Collapsed on its own"...? You... You have 72 hours. See ya!
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Gorgeous Grampa"
  • Public Secret Message:
    • In "My Mother the Carjacker", Mona Simpson encodes secret messages to her son in the newspaper, in food articles, using the first letter from each word.
    • Homer sends a message to Lisa in the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. Defictionalized by the NY Times running that same puzzle.
  • Pun-Based Title: "A Star is Burns", "You Kent Always Say What You Want", "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", etc. These would only increase over time, to the point where nearly every episode title was a pun of some sort.
    • Including three different puns on "Mona Lisa".
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In "The Old Man and the Key", after Grampa drives Homer's car through his yard, Homer shouts:
    '''Oh that's IT! Abraham J. Simpson, you are NEVER. DRIVING. AGAIN. EVER!!!
  • Pursue the Dream Job:
    • Homer once quit the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to become a pin-monkey at the local bowling alley as soon as he got out of debt. He loved every minute of it.
    • Ned left his job as a company clerk to open a store for left-handed people.
  • Put Me In, Coach!: Parodied in "Bart Star"; at the big game, Chief Wiggum announces that Nelson has an arrest warrant and wants to know which one of the players is Nelson. Homer laments that he's about to lose his star quarterback, but Bart says, "It's OK, dad: I can fill in for Nelson!" But instead of assuming the role of quarterback as expected, Bart is next seen in the back of Wiggum's police car.
  • Put Off Their Food: In the episode where Homer becomes a food critic, some chefs plan to assassinate him with a lethal eclair. After other attempts to stop Homer from eating it fail, Lisa tells him that it's low-fat, causing him to throw it away in disgust.

    Q 
  • Queer People Are Funny
    Homer: You're all sick!
    Gay Steel Worker: Oh, be nice!
  • Quest for Identity: In "Smart and Smarter", after realizing that she's no longer the smartest, Lisa attempts to gain new identities for herself, such as being a cowgirl, taking up rapping, stand-up comedy, soccer, cheerleading, and even becoming a Goth.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat
    • A delightful scene in the episode "Homer, the Heretic" when the reverend is trying to recover a lost sheep and Homer attempts a random and failed comeback.
      Lovejoy Homer, I'd like you to remember Matthew 7:26. "The foolish man who built his house upon the sand."
      Homer: [pointing a finger] And you remember... (thinks) Matthew... 21:17.
      Reverend Lovejoy: (confused) "And he left them and went out of the city, into Bethany, and he lodged there?"
      Homer: Yeah. Think about it.
    • Bart and Lisa try to do this to convince Krusty's rabbi father to start speaking with his son again. Unfortunately for them, it's not so easy to out-quote a rabbi, especially since they don't know much about the holy texts.

    R 
  • Rabble Rouser: "The PTA Disbands" has Bart stirring up the striking teachers to keep the strike going and extend his time off from school.
  • Radish Cure:
    • Homer Simpson had a literal Ironic Hell version of this, which was subverted as he was Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth.
    • They also had an episode where Bart was storing ten thousand cartons of cigarettes for the mob, and Homer threatens to make Bart smoke each and every one of them.
  • Raiders of the Lost Parody: An early episode dedicated the first few minutes of its opening act to the famous introduction of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Bart steals Homer's change jar from his dresser, Homer wakes up and gives chase, but trips and rolls down that stairs after him.
  • Rake Take: In 'Cape Feare', Sideshow Bob gets whacked by nine rakes in a row, each time followed by a low, drooling growl.
  • Ranked by I.Q.: Springfield is left under the control of local Mensa members after the mayor skips town. They disagree on how the town should be run and eventually start arguing by stating their IQ at each other. Frink insists his 199 IQ qualifies him to be in charge — but is soon "outranked" when Stephen Hawking arrives on the scene!
  • Rapid Hair Growth: An old episode has Homer uses a miracle hair growth product and gets a full head of hair overnight. But at the end, he loses it just as fast, leaving a hairy trail form his bed to the bathroom.
    • When Homer went bald, Marge got God to make Homer's normal hair reappear.
    • Invokes this when Homer is shaving, possibly to mock Hair Reboot as well, Homer will have a clean chin for a few seconds before it grows again. Link for the clip here and if anyone wants the English dialog but less quality here.
  • Rattling Off Legal: Occurs all the time when a commercial appears on the show.
  • Reality Ensues: The Itchy and Scratchy Show, an obvious parody of Tom and Jerry, removes the classic "Wile. E. Coyote immunity" from the scenario and each cartoon typically ends with Itchy the mouse brutally murdering Scratchy the cat.
  • Recognizable By Sound: In the episode "Regarding Margie", Marge has amnesia and doesn't recognize her family. The sound of Maggie sucking on her pacifier helps jog Marge's memory and recognize Maggie.
  • Recycled Plot: One of the problems of the newer episodes (possibly the biggest one, besides, you know, playing Follow the Leader with Family Guy and South Park) is that they keep reusing old ideas. "Saddlesore Galactica" was a parody of that kind of recycling (and the fans who bitch about this), but sadly the newer episodes play this straight.
    • One of the biggest differences between the old episodes and their newer carbon copies is that the older episodes broke down, challenged, rewrote, and satirized a lot of sitcom clichés and conventions and explored a lot of topics TV shows at the time either never thought to do or were afraid to do. The show didn't even spare itself, gleefully mocking the absurdity of Springfield and the situations characters found themselves in. The newer episodes however play things more straight, with life in Springfield being even Denser and Wackier, and shown as a fact of life rather than a as punchline.
  • Reading Is Cool Aesop: Played for Laughs in "Summer of 4 Ft. 2."
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud
  • Readings Blew Up the Scale: Professor Frink invents a sarcasm detector, which of course explodes in the presence of overwhelming sarcasm.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The production of seasons five and six was delayed by the infamous North Ridge Earthquake of 1994. Consequently, some episodes that take place during summer aired that fall.
  • Really Seventeen Years Old: Parodied. Grampa Simpson says that he fought in World War One — "of course, I had to lie about my age to get in." In the ensuing Flashback, he's five.
  • Rear Window Investigation, Rear Window Witness: "Bart of Darkness".
  • Recognition Failure: In "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", Homer meets George Harrison. At first he appears to recognize him, but then he cries out, "Where did you get that brownie?!"
  • Reference Overdosed: A mild case, but the show's use of Shout-Out and pop-culture humor and celebrity cameos makes it less funny and harder to understand for anyone who's not familiar with popular or celebrity culture.
  • Rebus Bubble: Homer + Beer = Car Crash President Homer.
  • Regal Ringlets: Taffy in the "Homer Scissorhands" subplot.
  • Reluctant Gift: In episode "The Day the Violence Died", a legal battle rules that animation studio I&S Studios must pay $800 million to Chester Lampwick. When chairman Roger Meyers presents the check, he refuses to let go for a few seconds and Lampwick struggles with him. When Lampwick finally wrests the check away, he bites it as if testing for a counterfeit coin.
  • Remember the New Guy: The season 25 episode "Four Regrettings and a Funeral" featured the funeral of beloved character Chip Davis (in reality the character never existed). Originally the episode ended with a montage of images from classic Simpsons episodes with Chip inserted into them. It was supposed to run during the end credits but this was removed for the broadcast version and replaced with an "In Memoriam" card for the recently departed Marcia Wallace. The original credits featuring Chip can still be viewed on Hulu.
  • Remember When You Blocked Out The Sun: Mr. Burns in the episode with his love interest and her ex-boyfriend Snake. After she leaves Burns for Snake because Snake is such a "bad boy", Burns complains that he is truly evil and recites a number of his evil schemes, such as blocking out the sun in Springfield.
    Burns: Play along, chubsy. There's a pie in it for you.
    Homer: Oh! Yeah, Monty's a wild man! He ran his own casino, stole the Loch Ness Monster, got shot by a baby, and blotted out the sun!
    Gloria: Wow, that was you?
  • Remonstrating With A Gun: When Homer was accused of the attempted murder of Mr. Burns.
    Say I never shot you!... Before.
  • Repeating so the Audience Can Hear: In "Like Father, Like Clown", both Krusty and his father repeat what they're going to the same restaurant for while on the phone.
    • In "Bart-Mangled Banner":
    Homer: (on the phone) You want us to tell our side of the story? You'll see us tomorrow? Goodbye? Dial tone?!
    • In "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge":
    Marge: What is it?! (pause) "Smartline"? Yes, I've heard of your late night talk show. Well I'd love to! (hangs up)
    • In "Marge Be Not Proud", the security officer who caught Bart shoplifting appears to do this when calling Bart's parents, but after hanging up, he turns to Bart and tells him, "They weren't home. Uh huh. But I left a message on their answering machine. That's right."
  • Rerouted From Heaven: At the end of one episode, The Rapture happens and Lisa (but no other Simpson) is being lifted bodily into heaven. Homer grabs her ankle and makes her go to hell with the rest of the family.
  • Retail Riot:
    • In the episode Grift of the Magi, there was a riot thrown by customers desperate to get the new toy "Funzo". The marketing executives responsible watched the footage, laughing, in a hot tub.
    • In another episode, there's a run at the Kwik-E-Mart when a hurricane is about to come through. Lisa gets put in a shopping cart by a crazy lady who feels Lisa's head and thinks she's a pineapple.
  • Retired Badass: Grandpa Simpson, as apparent in episodes that take place during the War.
  • Retirony: Many examples, coming from the Trope Namer:
    • From "Saturdays of Thunder", McBain's partner getting shot dead. He had only two days until retirement.
    • From "Homer and Apu", Homer smashing the camera hat, believing there's a bee in it. Kent Brockman told Homer the hat had one day until retirement.
    • From "Natural Born Kissers", a police dog trained to sniff out Homer runs off, frightened by Homer's scent. Wiggum laments that the dog had one day left until retirement.
    • From "Homer to the Max", another example featuring Wiggum: His one-day-'til-retirment car is smashed by a falling tree.
    • A variant from "Marge Simpson in Screaming Yellow Honkers": Marge accidentally breaks down the prison walls, allowing them to escape. Wiggum runs up and tells Marge that the prisoners were one day away from being completely rehabilitated.
    • From "Homer vs. Dignity", Wiggum himself uses the words "retirony" as a Conversed Trope when talking to a financial planner. This episode was the Trope Namer.
  • Retraux: The episode "The Day The Violence Died" is one big love letter to classic cartoons.
  • Retroactive Wish: "I sure hope there isn't an ice-cream round!"
    • The Mayor of Springfield tried it in another episode. He had just had sex with his lover commented on how he'd like some cigarettes and a pack was thrown at his room. He then offered one to her but she rejected and explained she was pregnant. Mayor Quimby then prayed for God because he had another favor to ask.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Chief Wiggum does this to a recording with Chincy Pop in the background to isolate it.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: From "Homer to the Max", regarding "Police Cops":
    Bart: This isn't bad!
    Homer: "Isn't bad"? Tell me one thing mankind has ever done that's any better?
    Lisa: The Renaissance?
    Homer: This is better.
    • Also this example from "Mountain of Madness":
    Bart: Teamwork is overrated. Think about it: I mean, what team was Babe Ruth on? Who knows.
    Lisa and Marge: Yankees.
    • In "The Last Temptation of Krust", Krusty attempts an act of observational humor:
    Krusty: Did you ever notice how there are two phone books: A white one and a yellow one? What's the deal with that?!
    Lisa: (flatly) One's residential, the other's business.
    Krusty: Oh. (animated) What'll they think of next: BLUE pages?!
    Marge: (flatly) They have those; they're government listings.
    • In "Mother Simpson", Mona was singing a song with a rhetorical question in it:
    Mona: How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
    Homer: Seven!
    Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
    Homer: Rhetorical, eh? Eight!
    Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
    Homer: (incredulous) Do I know what "rhetorical" means?!
  • Riches to Rags: Homer ruins his long-lost brother Herb — the head of a Detroit car company — by designing a terrible car.
    • Mr. Burns once lost his fortune because his yes-men didn't have the guts to tell him he was making bad investments. Lisa helped him to build a new one.
      • Burns also lost his money in a Coca-Cola advertisement.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Mr. Burns.
    • The entirety of Springfield when they come into any money.
    Lyle Lanley: You know, a town with money's a little like the mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it.
  • Riddle for the Ages: How Mr. Burns beat Bart and Lisa to the bottom of a laundry chute.
    • (And how Grandpa took off his underwear without taking off his pants)
    • In "The Last Temptation of Homer", Homer, Charlie, Carl and Lenny are trapped in a room filling slowly with poison gas. Cut to Charlie standing in Mr. Burns' office, saying: "Well, sir, I won't bore you with the details of our miraculous escape, but ..."
    • In "Viva Ned Flanders," as the Monty Burns Casino is being destroyed:
    Marge: Remember how excited we were when this place opened? Then, a week later, we just forgot about it.
    Lisa: I'm surprised they bothered to move it when they moved the town.
    Homer: Oh, I can explain that. You see—
    [The demolition begins, interrupting Homer]
    • From "The Great Money Caper"
    Homer: Wait a minute. You're telling me the police force, the TV news, a courthouse full of people, and a popular entertainer had nothing better to do than to teach me and Bart a lesson?
    Lisa: I know it seems far-fetched, even insulting to your intelligence. But there's a simple and highly satisfying explanation. You see—
    Otto: [burts in suddenly, carrying a surfboard] Hey, everybody, surfs up!
    [Everyone leaves excitedly]
    • From "Brother's Little Helper"
    Mark McGwire: Young Bart here is right. We are spying on you, pretty much around the clock.
    Bart: But why, Mr. McGwire?
    Mark McGwire: Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?
    Crowd: Dingers! Dingers!
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: The episode "Lisa's Date With Destiny" sees Lisa describe Nelson as "a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest."
  • Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: The Simpsons brought us "Star Trek XIII: So Very Tired" a couple years before Star Trek: Generations was released.
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Number: When Bart calls Antarctica. For the record, the number he dials is 577562374257635623567462357736257635725.
    • Also, beautifully drawn out as Homer requests to use the phone at the library for a local call before dialing Hokkaido, Japan.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Mr. Burns has a pack of hounds which he likes to release on those who disturb him at home.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: In one episode, Homer gets an attractive male secretary (voiced by Harvey Fierstein) and in another episode, Homer fell for a female coworker who was basically his Distaff Counterpart, only skinnier, with red hair, and voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer.
    • Also Mr Smithers, assistant to Mr Burns, as far as some of the viewers are concerned.
  • Right on Queue:
    • Moe goes to register as a sex offender and complains "There's always a line."
    • Patty and Selma work at the DMV and comment, "Some days, we don't let the line move at all. We call those weekdays."
    • Also used in "Selma's Choice"; Bart tells Lisa a mammoth Duff Gardens queue has to be for something fun. It's actually for the complaints department.
    • In "Brush with Greatness", there's a long line for the H2Whoa water slide. Bart and Lisa cut to the front by claiming she's a lost child and he's helping her; Homer cuts by claiming to be a "line inspector".
    • There's yet another, from one of the latest season's episodes: Marge and Homer are waiting in line for a new marriage certificate, when they both decide to get married properly, they both go to leave, when they're accosted by a security guard, telling them that that's the line to leave (cut to a line as long as the rest).
  • "Risky Business" Dance: In "Homer The Heretic" (dancing to "Who Wears Short Shorts?" instead of "Old Time Rock 'n Roll").
  • Roadside Wave: This happens to Moe as part of a Humiliation Conga in "Moe'N'a Lisa". Immediately afterwards, the sprinklers turn on and then it starts to rain, but only on him.
  • Road Trip Across The Street
  • Rooftop Concert: Homer's barbershop quartet, The Be Sharps, reunite on the roof of Moe's Tavern for a performance. George Harrison, when passing by, comments "It's Been Done." Meanwhile, Chief Wiggum, the band's Pete Best, arranges for them to be tear gassed.
  • Rule of Funny: The series practically abuses this trope.
  • Rule of Three: Sometimes they stop short after the second time. For example, in the episode "Radioactive Man", Bart's hat flies off upon the news that Radioactive Man is getting a movie, prompting Comic Book Guy to say, "I have got to do something about that air conditioner suction." The same gag occurs when the students hear about the auditions for the role of Fallout Boy, and Skinner follows this by saying, "Oh, and the air conditioner will be fixed this afternoon." By this point you'd expect the "hat and air conditioner" gag to come up one final time at some point, but it never comes.
    • Played straight in "Homer the Great", with Lenny saying "It's a secret.", followed by Carl twice and Homer the last time saying "Ssssssshut up."
  • Running Gag:
    • Mr. Burns not remembering who Homer is, and having to ask Smithers, who gives different descriptions each episode ("That's Homer Simpson, one of your carbon blobs from sector 7G"; "One of the fork and spoon operators from sector 7G"; "One of your organ banks from sector 7G"). Abandonned after "Who Shot Mr Burns? (Part 2)".
    • During seasons 3-5, there was frequently a joke about Homer saying that doing something was his "life-long dream". Marge quickly shot him down by saying that his life-long dream was actually to (fill in wacky scenario here), and that he did it last year.
    • There are lots of episodes with similar names:
      • "Bart Gets an F" / "A" / "Z", "Bart's Dog gets an F", "Lisa Gets a B+."
      • "Moaning Lisa", "Loan-A-Lisa", "Mona Leaves-a".
      • "Lisa vs. the Eighth Amendment", "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment".
      • In every episode named like a court case, the Simpsons lose, with the exception of "Bart vs. Australia".
    • From "Kill the Alligator and Run", the restaurant owner saying, "I like that.", no matter the circumstance.
    • During the Scully seasons, there was a repeated gag of Homer waving his fist threateningly and repeating a word from his previous sentence. Examples:
    Homer: I paid full price for this freak show. Now nourish the child within me! (shakes fist) NOU-RISH!
    Homer: So you better catch the fever! (shakes fist) CATCH IT...
    Homer: Well, we are not boarding that plane unless you waive that tax. (shakes fist) WAIVE IT...
    • In "Bart the Mother", Homer falling down the stairs to the basement after the lights refuse to come on when he flicks the light switch.
    • Whenever something that's property of the Springfield Police Department is destroyed/rendered useless, Chief Wiggum will comment "What a shame, that [X] had three days until retirement."
    • And of course, Homer strangling Bart.
    • As the baby of the family, Maggie never speaks — so episodes that look into the future will usually (a) continue to keep her as The Voiceless and (b) will imply that she has a beautiful singing voice or achieves fame and success as a singer / musician.
  • Russian Roulette: In "Simpson Tide", Moe has a Deer Hunter-esque scenario going on in a back room of his bar.


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