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Reality Ensues / The Simpsons

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Just because you're painted green doesn't mean that you're the Incredible Hulk.

  • In "The Homer They Fall", Homer Simpson has a condition that renders him largely impervious to the effects of head trauma, which he uses to gain success in amateur boxing by tiring his opponents out. He winds up getting set up in a fight with an expy of Mike Tyson, who pummels him so hard that he forgets where he parked his car. A trained boxer is going to have way more punching power than the average person. Even when Homer tries to fight back, he's so hopelessly outclassed that he can't land a single punch.
  • When Lisa befriended a beached whale in "The Squirt and the Whale" and Homer came to the rescue with helicopters to save it... but it turned out that it was just Lisa's Hope Spot, and the whale died as many beached whales do.
  • In "Bart Gets an F", Bart goes through the usual "study or be held back" plot. Supposedly Bart will knuckle down, become a hardworking student, and pass with flying colors. The reality is that Bart is a lazy kid, and even being on the verge of failing a grade can't undo this fact. He does knuckle down and really tries to apply himself, but he still gets an F. Ms. Krabappel only bumps him up to a D-minus because she sees that he really tried to study, and was able to apply some of what he learned (and because she feels sorry for him).
    • Not only can you not typically get an A after falling so far behind in class, but sometimes no matter how hard you try you will fail anyway. Especially considering that a lot of people interpret Bart as having ADHD and/or a learning disorder he might continue to fall behind his peers no matter how hard he tries to buckle down and study.
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  • In "Bart vs. Australia", Homer tries to get in a kangaroo's pouch only to realize it's not a pocket, and is actually full of mucus.
  • In "The PTA Disbands", a tour guide in Fort Springfield is giving a lecture on a "fully restored and in ready-to-fire condition" Civil War cannon aimed directly at the base of a manned lookout tower. She mentions that these cannons are "very sensitive and that the slightest jolt can set them off" as the Springfield Elementary bus starts swerving towards the cannon. The bus hits it and... one of the cannon's wheels falls off.
    Tour Guide: Of course, for safety reasons, we don't keep the cannon loaded. That's just common sense.
  • In "Missionary: Impossible", when Homer builds a church on an island, he imitates The Flintstones by using a pelican as a cement mixer; as he encourages it to do an Aside Comment, the bird just falls on the ground motionless.
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  • In "Homer to the Max", the Show Within a Show Police Cops features a character called Detective Homer Simpson, who is heroic and suave in the pilot but becomes a fat, bumbling idiot in the series proper. Humiliated, Homer decides to sue the producers for improper use of his name, where the judge immediately finds in favor of the producers, as individuals do not own exclusive rights to their names, and simply sharing a name with a fictional character does not give you the right to sue over how that character is used by the creators.
  • In "Rome-old and Juli-eh", Homer bankrupts the family by turning his basement into a recreation room. To cut his budget, he removes the engine from his car and removes the floor so he can drive it Fred Flintstone style. Turns out he can hardly move a metal car with just his feet.
  • "Homer's Triple Bypass" acknowledges that Homer's lifestyle would cause major health problems, as he suffers recurring heart attacks that require major surgery. Also, as he has no health insurance, he can't afford the expensive surgery and has to go to back-alley quack Dr. Nick.
  • "The Boys of Bummer" has the overused plot of the town mocking and attacking Bart over losing a ball game. The sad twist is that Bart attempts suicide as a result. When he survives, Marge gives the town a well-deserved and epic call out which makes everybody realize that they pushed it WAY too far.
  • In "Homer Goes to College", Homer is convinced that college is nonstop Wacky Fratboy Hijinks, and he learns the hard way that's not true. When his prank of kidnapping a rival school's mascot goes awry, his nerd classmates get expelled.
  • "Das Bus" (the episode in which Bart, Lisa, Milhouse, and their classmates are stranded on a Deserted Island) isn't an Affectionate Parody of Lord of the Flies but its Spiritual Successor. It, like Golding, shows that trapping a bunch of kids alone on a deserted island is more likely to lead to slow, agonizing madness than quirky misadventures. In particular, much of their negative behavior from their society carries over here, such as blaming others for their situation, picking on certain individuals they don't like and generally bickering amongst themselves.
  • "Homer's Enemy" is a cruel lesson that just because someone works hard their whole life, doesn't mean they'll have more success than someone who doesn't work as hard, or doesn't try as hard. Frank Grimes couldn't handle that reality. Simultaneously, it's about what would happen if a realistic character found themselves in the world of the show.
  • In "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", after his car is stranded in the middle of Manhattan, Homer tries to remove the boot on his car with a jackhammer. He ends up damaging the car even more, breaking the windows through the force of the vibrations and filling the car with holes when he misses.
  • In "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment", Lisa forces Marge to admit she ate two grapes to a grocery store clerk. Rather than comically overreacting, the clerk does not care and openly mocks Marge for asking to be charged for them.
  • In "Large Marge", Marge mistakenly gets Gag Boobs thanks to a mix-up at the plastic surgeon's office. She begins having back pains and is sexually objectified and harassed by every man in town; reconstructed when she flashes the crowd to distract the cops from getting ready to shoot Stampy the elephant (who had Homer, Milhouse, and Bart in its mouth) and makes Krusty out to be a hero.
  • A minor example on "Homer Badman", in that what makes the whole ball start running is the fact that Marge is (understandably) horrified at Homer's decision to leave the kids home alone while they go to a candy convention.
    • Doubling as Bait-and-Switch, a Deleted Scene had a man and woman at the candy convention accidentally knocking one's chocolate bar into the other's jar of peanut butter. While one would expect it to be a light-hearted misunderstanding that ends with them sharing their food like in the classic Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercials, the two are instead horrified that their snacks were ruined by both carelessness and foreign germs to the point of threatening to sue one another. Fortunately, Homer takes the snacks from them for himself.
  • In "Simpson Safari", the family winds up in Africa, and after a trip downriver they fall into a large flower that closes its petals around them which causes Marge to exclaim that it's trying to eat them. Homer casually tears one of the petals open and walks out.
    Bart: Wow dad, how did you do that?
    Homer: (deadpan) It's a flower.
  • In "Bart's Girlfriend", Bart enters into a relationship with Jessica, Reverend Lovejoy's secretly mischievous daughter. When Bart tells his friends, they don't believe him, and Nelson punches Bart in the gut for besmirching an innocent girl's name. With Bart in serious pain, Jessica gives him a kiss, and he suddenly stands up exclaiming, "Wow, now I have the energy to do anything!"... only for him to sit down almost immediately after, still in agony. The writers were eager to show getting belted in the stomach isn't something you walk away from.
    • Homer reprises this theme in an episode in which he gets a job as a stage act, having a cannonball fired into his midriff. This turns out about as well as would be expected, and he eventually resigns due to the obvious damage that he is incurring.
  • "Bart Gets an Elephant" shows that an elephant would be far too expensive for a middle-class family to keep as a pet, and a good portion of the episode is about Homer trying to sell it. Not to mention an elephant is a plant-eater and a diet of peanuts (which, nutritionally speaking, are closer to meats than to vegetables) would only make it sick.
  • In "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", Homer spends what little money he has on the dog track in a last-ditch effort to afford Christmas gifts for the family. Homer ignores Barney's advice and chooses the last-minute addition, Santa's Little Helper, believing the name to be a sign of a Christmas miracle despite the dog's horrible track record. Ultimately, Santa's Little Helper comes dead last, the Christmas miracle doesn't happen, and Barney's pick ends up winning the race. And this was in the very first episode! However, the family gets a happy ending after all when the track owner fires Santa's Little Helper and the Simpsons get to take him home as a pet.
    Bart: It doesn't seem possible, but I guess TV has betrayed me.
  • Another Christmas episode, "Marge Be Not Proud":
    • Bart sees a TV commercial for a wildly popular and ultra-violent video game called Bonestorm, and decides he wants it for Christmas. The musclebound Santa Claus who is the ad's pitchman demands in a "professional wrestler" voice, "Tell your parents: 'Buy me Bonestorm or GO TO HELL!" Bart walks into the kitchen and tries just that—and it doesn't work. Instead, Marge scolds him for using profanity... and Homer scolds him for not saying "please."
    • Having no money of his own to buy Bonestorm, Bart goes down to the shopping center and sees some other kids stealing merchandise. After struggling against temptation, he finally gives in to it and swipes a copy of Bonestorm from the rack. He hides it under his coat and dodges the lenses of the security cameras, somehow managing to make it outside undetected. As he steps out into the street, he gloats about having gotten away with his crime—only to be immediately grabbed by the store's security guard, who had apparently witnessed the theft on a security camera.
    • Following Bart's arrest, Marge temporarily loses all respect for him. He decides to make amends by getting her a special Christmas gift of a framed photo of himself (which he does pay for, keeping the receipt to prove it), hoping that by doing this he'll earn his mother's forgiveness. And in fact, Marge does begin respecting him again, and to show her gratitude for the holiday photo gives Bart a video game wrapped in Christmas paper, saying that the store told her it was the game all the boys want. Bart eagerly opens it, expecting to see Bonestorm—but instead it's a boring golf-putting game. But of course: no matter how good or contrite you are, if you're 10 years old, your parents are not going to buy you a game they think is too violent for you, especially if you were willing to break the law for it.
      • In that same scene, when Bart walks in with his present, he's hiding it in his coat. Naturally, a distrusting Marge and Homer immediately assume that he's stolen something else and try to catch and punish him.
  • In "The Good, the Sad and the Drugly", a jealous Milhouse told Bart's charitable girlfriend that Bart was only pretending to be nice so he can be with her and told Bart's true nature. She's first seen angrily frowning, but then Bart begged the girl to stay with him, despite his nature, since he changed it for her. She then smiles, thinking she'll be with him for the rest of the episode (like the other girls Bart dated for periods of time). But then, it goes back to the angry frown, and the next shot is of Bart crying, lamenting about how the girl broke up with him. A mere apology won't change any of that.
  • In "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", Lisa falls in love with a young cowhand. She endangers the boy's sister, originally thinking she was his girlfriend. When Lisa confesses, Luke, rather than touched, is appalled that Lisa put his sister in harm's way and burns bridges with her.
  • In "The Cartridge Family", Homer gets a gun and joins the Springfield branch of the NRA. But when they witness the full extent of Homer's Reckless Gun Usage, such as shooting his TV on and opening cans of beer by shooting the tops off, he immediately gets kicked out.
    • Homer uses the family's dinner plates as target practice with his gun. As a result, Marge has to use other objects as replacements to put food on.
  • In "Halloween of Horror", Lisa becomes terrified of Krustyland's Halloween show, and despite the fact that she knows everything is objectively harmless, she is traumatized by the incredibly realistic effects and too scared to celebrate Halloween, seeking comfort in an old stuffed animal. Lisa might be smart, but she's still eight, and she doesn't have the emotional maturity to handle scary stuff, even if she knows they aren't real.
  • The series frequently shows All Animals Are Domesticated and Herbivores Are Friendly do not apply in real life. One example would be "Little Big Mom" where Lisa tries to approach a herd of deer because she finds them adorable, but the deer ferociously try to attack her when she gets close enough.
  • In "A Milhouse Divided", after Kirk and Luanne get divorced (due to years' worth of mutual unhappiness on both parts), Homer starts to worry that his marriage may be in danger. Severely overthinking the situation, Homer starts doing some unusual things to assure Marge he still loves her (much to her confusion), then ultimately files for they can have a second, much better wedding note . Inspired by Homer and Marge, Kirk sings a heartfelt - but horrible - song to Luanne, then asks her to marry him again. She flat out refuses.
  • "Selma's Choice" has Bart sneak onto a roller coaster he's too short for. He soon realizes that the safety bar can't properly secure someone under the minimum height limit.
    • Homer's enormous appetite and his ability to consume almost anything is often exaggerated for laughs. However, in the same episode, not even he can completely eat a ten-foot sandwich, which later became spoiled to the point where it grew mold and he got food poisoning as a result.
  • In "King of the Hill", Homer starts working out at night. After several weeks, he's stronger and in much better shape, and gained some muscle mass and definition in his chest and arms. However, he still has a lot of flab around his midsection, as losing subcutaneous fat is pretty hard, and Homer's exercise regime is mostly based around weight training rather than cardio, so he lacks the stamina or experience to climb a mountain despite no longer being grossly unfit and makes slow progress once his guides abandon him.
  • In "Lisa the Vegetarian", Homer attempts to feed a goat a tin can, which the goat has no interest in.
  • In "Who Shot Mr. Burns", Burns dresses up as Jimbo Jones, wearing little more than Jimbo's clothes, so he can convince Principal Skinner to turn over Springfield Elementary's newly discovered oil to him. To his shock, Skinner sees right through his disguise. Skinner points out how ridiculous this idea was.
    Skinner: Mr. Burns, it was naive of you to think I would mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my elementary school students.
    • In the finale of the two-parter, it's revealed that Maggie was the one who "shot" Burns. In reality, when he tried to take her lollipop away from her, the gun in his holster slipped out, landed in her hands and discharged by accident. Just like the canon example, loaded guns (especially revolvers) are very sensitive and are prone to fire on hard impacts on occasion.
    • Likewise at the end, Burns calls for Wiggum to arrest Maggie once he revealed what happened. Wiggum scoffs at him stating that no one's gonna convict an infant over what was essentially an accident and, even then, one that was Burns' own fault in the first place.
  • In "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'", it's revealed Abe's World War II Infantry squad found a cache of priceless paintings in a German castle and hid them, setting up a Tontine to determine who would eventually claim them. Once Abe claims the paintings, State Department agents immediately show up to confiscate them since, war or not, what Abe and the others did was stealing and hands them to the descendant of their rightful owner.
  • In "Behind The Laughter", as part of its general feeling as a parody of Behind The Music and the Simpsons being Animated Actors, showcased the "unfunny aftermath" of Homer's many body-shattering pratfalls (i.e. the skateboard incident): he had various lengthy hospital stays (including physical rehab) and struggled with painkiller addiction for a long while as a result.
  • In "Homer the Smithers", Mr. Smithers tries to look up incompetent employees to take over his job as Mr. Burns' servant. He gets 714 results, so he adds additional parameters, making it as if the episode is building up to the computer recommending Homer. Instead, the number of results don't actually change, so Smithers gives up on this and just selects Homer at the spur of the moment.
  • In "Gone Abie Gone", Lisa gambles her college fund on an online poker game and soon develops a winning streak, which is broken by Bart in order to teach her a lesson. Then the website notifies them that since they're both not of legal age to gamble, their winnings are nullified and Lisa's college fund is brought back down to its original amount.
  • In "Tis The Fifteenth Season", Homer steals Christmas as the "ultimate good deed" to make everyone remember the Christmas spirit, just like in the Grinch. Nope, everyone is mad because he broke into their house and robbed them.
  • "The Book Job" has a bunch of kids being eager to see dinosaurs at a show... only to promptly become terrified by the animatronic dinosaurs and run away right when the show starts. This is due to said animatronics being based on real dinosaurs which, contrary to Milhouse's expectations, sure didn't act like Barney.
    • Lisa thinks she can just start writing a novel on her own with no prep work. In real life, it can take weeks, months or even years to prepare to even start writing one on your own, so of course, she fails to write a single sentence.
  • In "Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou", Bart tries to trick his parents into having a fourth baby so that he can have a little brother. When Marge finds out, she explains that it isn't going to happen - not only are she and Homer satisfied with just three children, there's a strong possibility that the fourth child would end up being another girl.
  • In "Marge vs. the Monorail":
    • Even if the town of Springfield buys Lyle Lanley's swindle hook, line, and sinker (and immediately afterwards, at that), they instantly catch wise of Mr. Burns' attempt at getting back his money because Burns' disguise is only composed of a fake mustache and his name spelled backwards.
    • The monorail becomes a runaway at the episode's climax and cannot be stopped by any immediately apparent means, not even by having someone Cut the Juice because it runs solely on solar power. But a solar eclipse just happens to occur shortly after this is said, and the train stops... only thing is that an average solar eclipse only lasts a couple of minutes in real life at the most, and sure enough the eclipse ends too quickly for people to do anything, let alone try to evacuate the passengers.
    • The Flintstones homage at the beginning sees Homer expertly sliding down one of the power plant's cooling pipes, leaping out the window and making a three-point landing in his car, breaking through the car window in the process.
      • The YouTube channel "Dark Simpsons" takes this further by editing some scenes together to make it look as though Homer's crash through the window ended up with him injured and hospitalized.
    • Then he starts singing his parody version of the Flintstones' theme song while driving home. He's so focused on singing, he keeps looking away from the road and ends up humorously crashing into a chestnut tree.
    Homer: ♪Simpson, Homer Simpson! He's the greatest guy in history! / From the town of Springfield, He's about to hit a chestnut tree.(screams)
  • In "Miracle On Evergreen Terrace", after wasting the donations of the town on a car that gets destroyed in an accident, Lisa suggests that they try to pay them back by getting the money by going on Jeopardy!, to which Marge ends up with $-5200. While she's certainly smarter than every other family member save for Lisa, she still isn't Jeopardy smart.
  • In "Jazzy and the Pussycats", Bart's career as a jazz drummer comes to an abrupt end when one of Lisa's sheltered animals escapes and injures Bart's arm. Bart's friends hold a benefit concert so that Bart gets the $78,000 he needs for the surgery to fix his arm. In the end, he uses the money to fund an asylum for Lisa's animals instead. While this kind of ending would be treated like he wasted his only chance to get the surgery on any other show, other characters note that this won't stop them from holding another benefit concert for the surgery.
  • In "Radioactive Man", after dealing with failed auditions, the director spots Martin Prince, who he feels would be perfect for the role of Fallout Boy. When the casting director then tells him that she doesn't have his name, however, and that he may have just accompanied the others, he tells her to forget him, citing how unfair it would be to the other boys who filled out the applications to audition.
  • In "Diggs", Bart accepts a bet to eat a lab frog for $20... and before he can finish his following sentence, he's shown hospitalized because the frog in question was full of formaldehyde, and it ends up not even being worth it because Homer gets charged $4,000 for Bart's hospital bill.
  • In "Barting Over", the hostile relationship between Bart and Homer finally escalates to a point where Bart emancipates himself. Marge tries to simmer things down by reciting "forgive and forget", naturally, this doesn't work. Life-long hostilities can't just be forgiven that quickly. The court rules in Bart's favor as they've witnessed Homer's abusive behavior and agree that Bart's better off on his own than to live with Homer.
  • "The Sweetest Apu" has Apu cheating on Manjula with the new Squishee Lady. Upon her learning about it, she gets angry with him and throws him out of the house. In spite of the Simpsons' meddling in their business and Apu giving her a heartfelt apology, she still files for divorce (which she only calls off after he is forced to engage in some rather embarrassing and complicated tasks that she orders him to do) and is still left distrustful of him and embittered by the affair several episodes later. It goes to show that not every problem can be resolved in a 30-minute episode.
  • It's revealed in "Blood Feud" that Smithers once donated his kidney to Mr Burns. The problem is that in kidney transfusion the donor and the recipient must have the same blood types. But Smithers has B positive and Burns has double O negative blood.
  • In "Dumbbell Indemnity", the drift between Moe and Homer reaches its climax when Homer vengefully barges into a burning Moe's Tavern with the intention of revenge. In most media, this sets up a climactic, one-on-one battle of epic proportions, with the last man standing victoriously in the end. Here? both Moe and Homer are quickly rendered unconscious from smoke inhalation and would have died if Barney wasn't there to save them.
  • "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" has the family going on a walk. While Homer protests walking, Bart then suggests that they can all ride dogs with himself sitting on top of a random stray dog. However, once he tries to motion the dog to start walking by pulling one of its ears, the dog instead freaks out, spins around in circles then knocks Bart off of its back before sprinting away.
  • "Lisa on Ice" has Bart becoming jealous of Lisa's newfound talent for hockey. Then Milhouse points out since she's now good at sports, he in turn will now be superior in academics. After agreeing with him, we then have Bart raising his hand more in class to confidently answer Mrs. Krabappel's questions...only for her to chide him to stop doing that because he hasn't had one right answer all day. There's no precedent for him to automatically become an honor student, especially since he's shown plenty of times to avoid studying amongst other things.
  • In "Summer of 4 Ft. 2", when the family gets to the Flanders' beach house, Lisa and Homer both mention that they've forgotten their swimming clothes. While she and Marge decide to go shopping for an outfit, Homer opts to make impromptu trunks with the welcome mat and duct tape. Once he steps outside, he immediately gets in trouble with the police for indecent exposure.
  • "Rosebud" has Burns and Smithers trying to retrieve the latter's long-lost childhood teddy bear from Maggie. One of their more covert attempts is to use a grappling hook from the Flanders' rooftop to the Simpsons' chimney and sneak in from there...only for the fact that a) the two men are not athletic and b) they overshot their target so they ended up stuck in the middle of the wire to the point of having to be rescued by firefighters.
  • "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious" has a scene where Krusty presents the "Krusty Komedy Klassic" at the Apollo Theater, but the show's acronyms lead to him being Mistaken for Racist and getting Produce Pelted by the crowd. Xtreme Kool Letterz may be cool and all, but they can bring some very Unfortunate Implications.
  • In "The Bob Next Door", Sideshow Bob switches his face with that of another prisoner, and years of slapstick on Krusty's show has made him immune to pain. Or so he thinks at first.
  • In "Jaws Wired Shut", after boozing himself up to make wild choices again, Homer rides in on a donkey that understandably quickly tires out, takes on a Popeye-esque tone and, again, presently drunk, decides the next part of his plan is to perk the donkey up by giving it some beer. Upon imbibing a can of alcohol, the tired donkey starts to go one way for a second then falls asleep.

Treehouse of Horror Examples

  • "Treehouse of Horror III": In "King Homer" (a parody of King Kong (1933)), Homer, playing the role of the ape, grabs Marge and tries to scale a building with her. But due to his bad diet, barely even make it a foot up the building before dropping to the ground, winded.
  • "Treehouse of Horror IV": In "Bart Simpson's Dracula", Lisa and Bart find Burns' crypt and the vampires within, whom awaken at their presence. They run, but Bart finds a lever noted as "Super Happy Fun Slide". Despite knowing what a stupid idea it is, he pulls it anyway which turns the staircase into a slide. Unsurprisingly, he ends up sliding back into the crypt where the vampires grab him and Burns bites Bart and turns him into a vampire.
    Bart: I know I really shouldn't... but when am I gonna be here again? (He pulls the lever and the stairs turn into a slide) Wheeee!...
    Vampires: (Waiting at the bottom of the slide) RAAAH!
    (Bart joy turns to screams before a female vampire pulls him off it and pins him to the ground)
  • "Treehouse of Horror V": "Nightmare Cafeteria": After Bart, Lisa and Milhouse eventually find out the staff is eating the kids, they run but get corner over a giant blender. Bart expects a Deus ex Machina citing Improbable Infant Survival... and Milhouse promptly falls in. "Nevertheless," Bart says undeterred, "I remain confident that something will come along and save the two Simpson children." Of course, nothing comes to save them, leading to the siblings falling into the blender. Luckily It Was All Just A Dream.
  • "Treehouse of Horror VI":
    • In "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace", Bart and Lisa try to stay awake so Willie (playing a Freddy Kruger expy) won't get them in their dreams, but know it's impossible. Bart volunteers to go into his dreams to combat him while Lisa stays awake to wake him if he runs into trouble. When he does and calls for Lisa to wake him, Lisa appears in his dream to do so. Bart points out the obvious problem there, which Lisa claims she was just resting her eyes before realizing her mistake.
    • In "Homer³", Homer ends up in a literal 3rd Dimension realm and accidentally causes a black hole. Bart tries to save him but they're on the opposite ends of the hole with Bart telling Homer he'll have to jump. Thing is, the hole is way too big for that idea to even be possible and sure enough when Homer attempts it, he promptly falls into it being nowhere near close enough for Bart to grab him.
  • In the "Treehouse of Horror XVI" segment "(I've Grown) A-Costume To Your Face", after a vengeful witch turns all of the citizens into their costumes for insulting her, Lisa surmises that they only one able to break a witch's curse is another witch (which ended up being Maggie's costume). The problem is though in spite of being a witch, she's still a baby and a Simpson and given her limited understanding of people's wishes to be turned back into humans (or apparently simple English), she just turns them all into pacifiers.


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