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Recap / The Simpsons S13 E14 "Tales from the Public Domain"

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Airdate - March 17, 2002

Homer finds out he has an overdue library book. Before he returns it he reads three stories from it; the stories of Odysseus, Joan of Arc, and Hamlet.

Tropes featured:

  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    Discus Stu: Discus Stu has ouzo for two-zo!
    Bart: (to Marge) I'll just leave you guys alone.
    Discus Stu: (to Bart) Discus Stu was talking to you!
    Bart: (shuddering)
  • Abnormal Ammo: Lisa arrives to find the French army ineffectually catapulting soldiers instead of rocks at a castle ("My fault this time, I didn't tuck in my legs!"). She suggests victory will come from "modern ideas like putting bigger, harder people in the catapults, or... how about rocks?" The soldier who was about to be fired doesn't know how to feel since he's now out of a job.
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  • Arson Murderand Jaywalking: Lisa/Joan's charges at the trial.
    Reverend Lovejoy/Judge: Joan of Arc, you are accused of heresy, witchcraft, and that man told me you pushed him.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Just as Lisa says she can't be stopped, Groundskeeper Willy puts her in a bag.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Homer's crew are turned into pigs by Circe (the Greek sorceress who turned those who offended her — mostly men — into animals). He eats them.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: When Lisa tells the family that God told her to lead the French to victory, Homer remarks "Victory? We're French! We don't even have a word for it!!"
  • Curtain Camouflage: Wiggum as Polonius does this and dies because Bart/Hamlet mistook him for the King.
  • Dance Party Ending: Ghostbusters!
  • Death by Irony: Mortally wounded by way of stabbing, Polonius says he was only hiding behind the curtain because he has a fear of getting stabbed.
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  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Played for laughs when Homer/Odysseus refuses to thank the gods for victory with an animal sacrifice.
    "Forget it, sacrificing animals is barbaric! Now, have the slaves kill the wounded."
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Bart as Hamlet.
    Bart/Hamlet: Ahah! Methinks the play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King!''
    Moe/Claudius: "Catch my conscience", what?
    Bart/Hamlet: You're not supposed to hear me; that's Thinking Out Loud.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • During Joan of Arc's trial, God admits he told Lisa and Willie that he told them both to lead their respective nations to victory with him on their side, but never anticipated that they'd meet in person, prompting him to say "Goodbye, now!" and leave.
    • Hamlet never considers that literally anyone besides the guy he wants to kill could be behind the curtain. His way of making sure was thrusting his sword forward.
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  • Esoteric Happy Ending: In-Universe. Knowing Joan of Arc was burned alive and the kids were horrified her story would end with a Downer Ending, Marge makes up a rushed happy ending and eats the final page to keep them from the harsh truth.
    "Just then, Sir Lancelot rode up on a white horse and saved Joan of Arc. They got married and lived in a spaceship. The End."
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Patty and Selma as the Sirens
    • Agnes Skinner is Helen of Troy. She remarks that hers is the face that launched a thousand ships "the other way!"
  • Harmful to Minors: Just before Joan of Arc is burned alive, Lisa asks if he they really did kill her. Marge makes up a happy ending for Joan right before ripping out that page of the book and eating it.
    Marge: Well, at least it was easier to chew than that Bambi video.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: "I didn't use that much poison! I mean, I didn't use that much poi, son! At the... royal luau."
  • Non Sequitur: After Bart complains about the ending to Hamlet, Homer explains that it was made into a great film called Ghostbusters. Following this, the episode ends on the Simpsons dancing to the theme song of the film.
  • The Ophelia: Lisa's only appearance in the Hamlet segment.
    Lisa: Ah, great. Now Hamlet's acting crazy. Well nobody outcrazies Ophelia.
  • Sedgwick Speech: "Hot Child in the City": Joan is captured right as she declares:
    Lisa / Joan: You can't stop me! I was sent by God! [Willie catches her in a bag] I want my mommy!
  • Shipper on Deck: Bart during the Odyssey segment.
  • Shout-Out:
    Homer: Son. It's not only a great play [Hamlet]. But also became a great movie. Called Ghostbusters.
    • When Poseidon/Sea Captain flicks Homer's ship in the other direction on the map when they are close to home:
      Poseidon: Y'arr, ain't I a stinker?
    • Dionysus/Barney asks Zeus/Quimby, "What happened to the Zeus who used to turn into a cow and pick up chicks?!" In real Greek Mythology, Zeus did indeed turn into animals to seduce women.
    • The Sirens' song is a spoof of "Copacabana."
    • After Marge makes up a happy ending to Joan of Arc, she eats the page to keep the kids from finding out Joan was actually burned alive, saying, "It's a lot easier to chew than that Bambi video."
  • Something Completely Different: Another Three Shorts episode that isn't a Halloween episode (see "Simpsons Bible Stories" and "Simpsons Tall Tales").
  • A Spot Of Tea: The English army can't be bothered to defend themselves against one of Lisa's attacks because they're preoccupied with this.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Upon receiving the Trojan Horse, King Priam proudly declares, "Now throughout history when people get wood, they'll think of Trojans!"
    Homer: Heh heh, "Trojans".
    Bart: What're you laughing at, Dad?
    Homer: If I'm laughing at what I think I am, it's very funny.
    • Homer sailing on the river Styx, which has "Lady" blasting and skeletons rocking out.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lenny and Carl in the Hamlet parody are poisonous to anyone who touches them and, in spite of knowing this, high-five each other. Ralph, upon being told he's entitled to one practice stab before his duel with Bart starts, impales himself with his sword.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Not only is God rather dismissive of Joan of Arc's concerns and safety in taking part in the Hundred Year's War, but the ending of the segment reveals that he was actually playing both sides, with the English soldier that captured Joan revealing that he was told to lead the English to victory at the same time as telling Joan to lead the French to victory.
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