In this year's terrible trio, The Simpsons try to cover up Ned Flanders' death, Bart and Lisa become superheroes out to save Lucy Lawless from Comic Book Guy, and Homer causes a technological apocalypse thanks to not making his computer Y2k-compliant.
I Know What You Diddly-Iddly-Did
The Simpsons are driving on a foggy night, and since Homer forgot to put the fog lights on, Marge pulls over to be safe. She ends up hitting Ned Flanders. No one else is there, but when they're returning from Flanders' funeral, they find that someone has painted 'I know what you did' on their door, freaking the family out, since it means that someone saw them kill Flanders.
That night, while the family is sitting at the couch during a thunderstorm, the phone rings ominously. Homer picks it up, and the voice at the other end says "I know you're alone". But wait, Homer's not alone. The voice asks if it's Maude Flanders, and on being told that he's speaking to Homer Simpson, apologizes. Turns out, it's Moe, and he had the wrong number. Then, a flash of lightning illuminates the room- and reveals that 'I know what you did' has been written all over the walls.
The family sees a dark figure in a raincoat, carrying a hook. They run away, but the car has also been covered with 'I know what you did'. They drive away, and Homer pleads with God to save his life. Right then, the car runs out of gas, and the raincoated figure is right behind them. Homer directs the family to hiding places (the abandoned amusement park, the pet cemetery, the spooky roller disco, the lake where the sexy teens were killed a hundred years ago tonight), but before they can, the raincoat-wearing person catches up to them. Turns out, it's Flanders.
Marge says that it's impossible for him to be alive, since she killed him, but Flanders says that they can't kill the undead. Turns out, he was attacked by a werewolf just before she hit him. Also, the moon is full tonight. The family runs away, leaving Homer behind to be attacked by Werewolf!Flanders.
Desperately Xeeking Xena
This short written by "Terryfing" Tim Long opens while the police are x-raying candy to see if it's safe (and some of it isn't—one kid's bag has a hidden razor blade and syringe). One kid tries to force a large bag of candy through the machine, resulting in it breaking and spewing beams of radiation around the room. Lisa and Bart are hit by one, which throws them against a wall, and a set of bleachers falls on Lisa. Principal Skinner is horrified that she's been crushed—now what will happen to their mathletics team?
But then she gets up, holding the bleachers over her head. She then throws them through the roof and into the sky. The X-Rays gave her Super Strength. Bart wonders if he got powers, and stretches his eyeballs to look around himself. At first he thinks he didn't, before he catches on to what he's doing. Bart realizes that he has stretching powers, and proclaims that he must "only use this power to annoy." He then proceeds to use it to mess with Principal Skinner. Lisa tells Bart that with their powers, they can become superheroes. And, as Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, that is exactly what they do.
Later, Lucy Lawless is answering questions about Xena: Warrior Princess (and providing the Trope Namer for A Wizard Did It) while dressed as the titular character, when she is abducted by the Collector (Comic Book Guy), who puts her in a mylar bag and plans to marry her. Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl run to the rescue, but are defeated by the Collector, and put into a Death Trap. In the meantime, Lucy Lawless tricks the Collector, knocks him into his own death trap, and saves the superheroes. She then flies off into the sunset with them. Clobber Girl protests that Xena can't fly, to which Lucy replies that she's not Xena, she's Lucy Lawless.
Life's a Glitch, Then You Die
It's near midnight on December 31, 1999, and Springfield anxiously awaits the new millennium. However, Homer forgets to update his work computer, leading to the Y2K bug running rampant. Everything with a computer chip (including a carton of milk) fails, and cue Apocalypse Anarchy. While the family are walking through Springfield, they see a rocket, which will be used to send the best and brightest of humanity to start a new civilization on Mars. Lisa is allowed on, but she can only choose one of her parents. She immediately chooses her mother, and Lisa, Marge, and Maggie get on the rocket.
Homer and Bart are upset about being left behind, but then they see another rocket, this one unguarded. They get on and the rocket blasts off, but while they're on it, they realize that the rest of the passengers are various washed-up celebrities. And then only Lisa's rocket goes towards Mars- the rocket Bart and Homer are on is headed for the sun. As the celebrities start up a musical number, Bart reassures his father that at least they'll be dead in 5 minutes. Homer says "Not fast enough!" and ejects them both into space, where they smile with relief as their heads swell up and pop offscreen.
Airing on Halloween Night itself (one of only two Treehouse of Horror episodes to do so), it was notably the last annual Treehouse of Horror special to consecutively air in October, something which would not happen again for another full decade.
"Tropehouse Of Horror X":
- Action Girl: Clobber Girl and Lucy Lawless.
- Adam Westing: Tom Arnold, who admits he's a lousy celebrity.
- Artistic License Astronomy: After realizing that he and Bart are being sent into the sun:Homer: The sun?! But that's the hottest place on Earth!
- Breakout Character: While this was Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl's only major appearance in the show, the two of them would go on to make several more appearances in the comics based on the show.
- Breather Episode: "Desperately Xeeking Xena" is a light-hearted superhero parody sandwiched between the traditionally spooky "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" and the pessimistic Black Comedy of "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die".
- Cannot Keep a Secret: Although nothing comes from it in the end, Marge still screams out her super-powered children's literal Kryptonite Factor for all the world to hear in the same worried way she would yell at them to remember to put on their sweaters.
- The Collector: Comic Book Guy's collection includes mylar-wrapped nerd celebrities (such as Tom Baker), the only working phaser ever built, and a functional double-lightsaber.
- Comically Missing the Point: Lisa attempting to be sarcastic to Homer.Lisa: Well, look at the wonders of the Computer Age now.
Homer: Wonders, Lisa? Or blunders?
Lisa: I think that was implied by what I said.
Homer: Implied, Lisa? Or 'implode'?
Lisa: Mom, make him stop!
- Continuity Nod: During the opening sequence, all the Simpsons (barring Lisa) are dressed as various creatures they've been turned into during several past Treehouse episodes.
- Damsel out of Distress: Lucy Lawless.
- Driven to Suicide: In "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die", Homer would rather kill himself and Bart than spend five more minutes with lame celebrities.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Homer rightfully points out how shouting Bart and Lisa's weakness for everyone to hear was an incredibly stupid move on Marge's part.
- Enter Eponymous: "Desperately Xeeking Xena" has the alternative title "Enter the Collector".
- Evil Gloating: "Ha ha ha! I'm unbelievably amused!"
- Evil Overlooker: In "Desperately Xeeking Xena" / "Enter the Collector", The Collector performs this with a loupe in the episode's title card, which it has.
- Face Death with Dignity: The celebrities on the ship heading for the sun take their impeding deaths quite well. Homer, on the other hand, ejects himself and Bart in a murder-suicide pact to escape five more minutes with them.
- Homeworld Evacuation: In "Life's A Glitch", the Simpsons wandering as the apocalypse happens leads them to a rocket that will take the best and brightest of mankind to Mars... and the worst of it to the Sun.
- I Am Not Spock: Invoked in "Desperately Xeeking Xena": She's not Xena, she's Lucy Lawless (she was in costume for a bookstore Q&A). An important distinction is: Xena can't fly, but Lucy Lawless can, apparently.
- Impact Silhouette: Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl do this when they punch through the wall of the Collector's lair, complete with the shape of their distinct hairdos being formed in the hole.
- Killed Offscreen/Gory Discretion Shot:
- Unusually, it's Homer who was killed offscreen by a werewolf Flanders eating him.
- Also in "Life's a Glitch," Homer and Bart eject themselves into space, where they inflate like balloons and then pop just off-screen.
- Laugh Track: Kang and Kodos open the episode with a comedy show. However, their jokes fall flat on the audience, who are unamused despite canned laughter.
- Lethally Stupid: In "Life's A Glitch and Then You Die", Homer forgetting to update the Springfield Nuclear Plant's computer to compensate for Y2K (even if it literally was his work) brings about the end of humanity.
- Male Gaze: In-Universe, Lucy Lawless tries to escape the Collector's magnet by undoing her metal bra, then decided against it when all of the nerdy men in the audience whip out their cameras.
- Mistaken for Undead: Marge runs over her neighbor Ned and everyone thinks that he died, but later, he comes back. They ask if he's a zombie and he replies that he isn't. Unfortunately, he's a werewolf.
- "Noah's Story" Arc: In the episode spoofing Y2K, after Homer's blunder destroys all electronics on Earth, the US government sends two rockets off: one with the best of the best (Lisa is invited) and one which Homer & Bart sneak on to which is aimed directly at the sun.
- Non-Protagonist Resolver: Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl are the protagonists of "Desperately Xeeking Xena" but they fail to save Lucy Lawless. She escapes on her own and rescues them.
- Noodle Incident: "I Know What You Diddly-Iddly-Did" opens up with the family driving home after having dealt with a coven of vampires to get their Super Sugar Crisp cereal back.
- Not Hyperbole: Tom Arnold says that he didn't tie down people in front of the television and force them to watch his shows... and he could have, because he's strong and good with knots.
- Not So Above It All: Marge allows Homer to go looting when he promises to loot her a present.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: The scene from "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" with Homer fooling Maude into thinking Ned's still alive is even the trope's image source.
- Offing the Offspring: Homer ejects Bart out of the ship with him in "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" when he decides to commit suicide to escape five more minutes of lame celebrities, though Bart does last a second longer.
- Oh, Crap!: Oh no, Rosie O'Donnell!
- Ominous Fog: Flanders calls the fog of the night he was run over (and turned into a werewolf) with these exact words.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Ned gets bitten by a werewolf that looks like a normal wolf, which turns him into a Wolf Man. Unusually, werewolves are described as undead creatures.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Homer claims to be "the piano genius from the movie Shine." Making it worse, he claims his name is "Shiny McShine."
- Patricide / You're Not My Father: It is clear that Lisa would permanently cut ties with Homer and let him die on Earth when told she can only take one parent with her.
- Police Are Useless: Instead of trying to stop the looting, Chief Wiggum steals stuff he doesn't know what they're used for and goes to the church to encourage everyone there to loot as well.
- Sadistic Choice: When the world ended, there was a rocket sending the smartest people to Mars. Lisa was on the list but she (and presumably, all other selected people) could only take one family member along. As the soldier mentioned the restriction, he had barely finished his sentence that Lisa immediately picked her mother, without a millisecond of hesitation.Homer: Goodbye, Lisa. Remember me as I am — filled with murderous rage.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Life's a Glitch", Bart informs Homer that, even though they might be on a rocket with Rosie O'Donnell and Pauly Shore, amongst others, they will be dead in 5 minutes (as they will crash into the sun). Homer is quick to react to this news."NOT FAST ENOUGH!"
(Presses button and ejects himself and Bart into space)
- Sibling Murder: In the opening, Maggie disintegrates Lisa when annoyed with her. And in "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die", Lisa forces Bart to stay on Earth to die while she, Marge, and Maggie escape to Mars.
- Skewed Priorities:
- Lucy Lawless would rather get captured and forced to marry a supervillain than bare her breasts to a crowd of Xena fans.
- Marge Simpson, ever the overbearing mother, bellows out her children's fatal weakness for the world to hear in the same way she would remind them to put on their sweaters if it gets too cold. Homer actually points how dumb this was.
- Skinner gets two in a row. After a bookshelf falls on Lisa and appears to have killed her, he solemnly notes their mathletics team has lost its key member. When she reveals she's alive and lifts the shelf above her head, he is more startled that she called him a poindexter.
- Superhero Episode: Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl protect Lucy Lawless from The Collector.
- Take That!:
- The rocket sent on a collision course to the sun with the apparent purpose of getting rid of the worst/most useless people on Earth, which include such celebrities/familiar 1990s faces as Ross Perot, Dan Quayle, Tonya Harding, Al Sharpton, Courtney Love, Spike Lee, Tom Arnold, Pauly Shore, Rosie O'Donnell and Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
- The Comic Book Guy saying that he fell for a ruse "So hackneyed, it would make Stan Lee blush!" He also notes that his phaser has only been fired once, to prevent William Shatner from making another album.
- Too Dumb to Live: Homer in "I know What You Diddily-Iddly-Did" used to provide the page quote.
- Totally Not a Werewolf: Ned Flanders! Except that he is a werewolf.
- Verbal Tic: Werewolf Flanders adds a "diddly" to his growl.
- A Wizard Did It: This episode is the Trope Namer, which comes from a line from Lucy Lawless (the actress who plays the titular character of Xena: Warrior Princess) as a quick way to answer fans complicated questions.Professor Frink: (after Lucy Lawless established the phrase) But in episode AG4 —
Lucy Lawless: Wizard.
Professor Frink: Aw, for glaven out loud...
- What the Hell, Hero?: Homer is furious with Lisa for immediately choosing Marge to be her +1 in the escape from Earth.
- Your Head Asplode: In "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die", Homer and Bart realize they're on a rocket that's heading into the sun with various washed-up and overall terrible celebrities. Rather than spend another five minutes with Rosie O'Donnell and Tom Arnold, they eject themselves into space, where their heads swell up as they give a blissful sigh of relief and then pop offscreen.