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Recap / The Simpsons S1 E12 "Krusty Gets Busted"

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Episode - 7G12
First Aired - 4/29/1990

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"Krusty, how could you?"
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"Krusty Gets Busted" is the twelfth episode of the first season of The Simpsons. The episode marks the beginning of the long-running saga of "Bart v. Sideshow Bob", as local kids' show host Krusty the Klown is arrested and convicted of robbing the Kwik-E-Mart, while Bart and Lisa do some sleuthing of their own to clear their hero's name and discover his sidekick was the actual perp.


Plot Summary

All the kids in Springfield love Krusty the Klown, and each day after school, they religiously watch his hijinks on TV, which generally consist on slapstick routines featuring Sideshow Bob, Krusty's sidekick, as the victim. One evening, while on the way home (where Patty and Selma show Marge and the kids some vacation slides), Homer goes for some ice cream at the Kwik-E-Mart, which is robbed by a man dressed as a clown, which Homer identifies as Krusty in the line-up. By the time he gets home, Bart and Lisa discover their hero has been accused of robbery.

In court, Krusty spends his time fooling around, also admitting to be illiterate (in spite of his famous "Give a Hoot, Read a Book" literacy campaigns) as well as betting on league sports, which is apparently illegal in the State of Springfield. As Krusty is sentenced to jail, a citywide campaign to destroy the clown's merchandise is led by Reverend Lovejoy (Bart's room is emptied) and his show is replaced by The Side-Show Bob Cavalcade of Whimsy, starring Krusty's former stooge, featuring readings of famous literary works and signing off with Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye". Despite this, the Simpsons kids are sure Krusty is actually innocent, especially Bart, who is still loyal to him. Bob similarly seems to feel sorry for him as well when conferring with some salesmen for merchandise, but then is revealed that all was his plan.

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Bart and Lisa visit the Kwik-E-Mart looking for clues. Recalling the robber read a magazine and heated a burrito on a microwave oven, they realize Krusty couldn't do it, not only because of his illiteracy, but also because the oven cannot be used by those with pacemakers (Krusty got one after having a heart attack on camera). When the kids try to get some clues from Bob, he gives them free tickets for his next show. Bart refuses to join in the audience's showing of admiration and is called to the stage, seizing the opportunity to finally grill Bob, who tells the audience Krusty never heeded medical advice and that one doesn't need to be able to read to enjoy magazine cartoons. When Bob says that he has "big shoes to fill", Bart remembers that the robber howled after Homer stepped on the oversized clown shoe, and that Krusty had small feet and proves he was the robber by hitting him with a mallet, revealing his large feet. The police, realizing they missed all the key clues, arrest Bob on the spot. He then confesses his hatred for Krusty after years of mistreatment and vows revenge on Bart. Krusty is freed and regains the trust of the townspeople, thanking Bart for never giving up on him. A photo of the two of them adorns Bart's bedroom.

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"Krusty Gets Busted" contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: The footage of Homer diving into a display of potato chips upon noticing Krusty had a gun raises a chuckle from the prosecutor, who otherwise is fairly stern and no-nonsense.
  • Agony of the Feet: Bart whacks Bob's foot with a wooden mallet to prove it was he who robbed the Kwik-E-Mart and not Krusty (who's "got little feet like all good-hearted people").
  • All Part of the Show: When Krusty has a heart attack, the kids think his wild contortions and screaming in extreme pain are all for comedy. Even Kent Brockman chuckles as he whimsically remembers the incident.
  • Animation Bump: Compared to other first-season episodes, the animation here is noticeably higher quality. Of note, Krusty's heart attack.
  • Ascended Extra: Bob is given a substantial role in an episode for the first time, after having popped up as a background character in "The Telltale Head".
  • Blah Blah Blah: While arresting Krusty, Wiggum starts reciting the Miranda Rights, only to quickly regress to this trope.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Sideshow Bob's reasons for holding a grudge against his boss are understandable. Krusty constantly shoots him out of a canon and makes him the puppy to kick. On the other, framing him for petty theft was definitely wrong, especially breaking his pedestal over a lie than for the other reasons Krusty shouldn't be worshipped, like the cannon. Bart's noted that he and Lisa are not trying to find justice in clearing Krusty's name, but proof that his idol is not evil; at least, not evil enough to commit such a blatant crime. Still, finding out that Sideshow Bob framed Krusty for such a petty reason makes him the worse party.
  • Book Burning: Lovejoy holds a public burning of Krusty merchandise following Krusty's arrest.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • Bart says "D'oh!" when Patty and Selma bring eight reels of travel slides.
    • Krusty says it during his on-camera heart attack.
  • Characterization Marches On: Several characters, but especially Krusty, displays a lot of this compared to season 2 and onwards:
    • Krusty is a happy, upbeat clown who means well for all children and is even grateful to Bart after he saved him. This is a sharp contrast with his later more careless, money-grubbing persona.
    • Right before getting arrested at home, he's relaxing and drinking liquor (and not even a ridiculous amount, just a tumbler of whiskey with a clown spritz of seltzer). Later episodes would have him hooked on everything from sex to gambling to shoe polish to moon rocks ground up and smoked like crack cocaine.
    • Also in later episodes, Krusty doesn't remember who Bart is, despite meeting him and helping him on several occasions. And he usually doesn't care.
    • Krusty making a commercial to sell pork rinds, considering he would later be identified as being Jewish (though "Like Father Like Klown" revealed that Krusty was trying to escape his Jewish upbringing because his father disowned him). One later episode, "The Front", has him inviting a Jewish butcher on air, and the guest chef says he got Krusty's mother's recipe for matzo brei, and Krusty angrily replies that he doesn't do the "Jewish stuff on the air".
    • Krusty also confesses to being illiterate in this episode. This is played inconsistently later on. He struggles to read a letter in "Like Father Like Klown", but later in the same episode, his father claims he was first in his childhood class in his Yeshiva (a religious school for Orthodox Jews). Even after "Like Father Like Klown", Krusty's illiteracy is occasionally brought up, such as Bart's rallying speech to Krusty in "Bart the Fink". However, he is often seen reading scripts and cue cards when performing.
    • Krusty's "I didn't do it!" Catchphrase would later be replaced by the more iconic "Hey HEY!", while "I didn't do it!" would become Bart's catchphrase (something that ironically came into play between the two come season 5).
    • Krusty is shown to have a small meek voice out of character. Similar to the decision to not show Krusty without makeup anymore (this was later retconned into Krusty being that pale), the idea of Krusty having an out of character voice disappeared after this episode, and he always speaks with the grating raspy voice he uses on air.
    • Reverend Lovejoy's voice sounds very hammy compared to later episodes. Furthermore, he's shown to be a passionate Moral Guardian, in contrast to his best known characterization as an extremely apathetic figure with the moral crusades being handled by his wife.
    • Chief Wiggum is shown to be more competent, even getting angry at Homer for laughing at the clowns when he's supposed to identify Krusty.
    • Sideshow Bob's villainy is quite downplayed here. Here, he appeared to do the wrong thing for the supposed "right" reasons and does appear to show a somewhat genuine concern for children and young viewers when becoming the new host. Contrast to the more traditional outright villainy his character would be noted later in the series. See Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bob's feet. The camera angles in the opening focus on his torso, and when he falls out of the cannon he curls into a ball. Bart then gets his "Eureka!" Moment as Sideshow Bob walks around barefoot.
  • The Chew Toy: Deconstructed with Sideshow Bob. The children who watch Krusty's show love seeing Bob take abuse, which drives him into framing Krusty.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Bart and Lisa's investigation basically comes down to this. First, Lisa realizes that Krusty wouldn't have used the Kwik-E-Mart microwave because he has a pacemaker, then that he couldn't have been reading the Springfield Review of Books at the magazine rack because he can't read. When Bart brings these points up on Bob's show, Bob argues that Krusty wasn't one to follow medical warnings, and didn't need to be able to read to enjoy the Springfield Review of Books, thanks to the cartoons. Finally, Bob says he knows he has "big shoes to fill"; in a "Eureka!" Moment, Bart remembers that Homer stepped on the ends of fake Krusty's long shoes, causing him to exclaim in pain. Although Krusty usually wears oversized shoes, his feet don't fill them, so he wouldn't have felt a thing; Bob, however, has feet long enough to fill the shoes.
  • Deranged Animation: Krusty's face when he suffers a heart attack. See also Animation Bump above.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: On the one hand, Krusty is definitely a Mean Boss towards Sideshow Bob and encouraged other children to hurt him with the cannon on-camera. Bob is never allowed to do this thing on camera, and we see he can be a good kid's show host. On the other, framing his own boss for armed robbery and smearing his name seems like a bit of overkill.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Wiggum and two other cops are seen eating donuts while they watch Bart expose Bob as the real criminal.
  • Early Installment Character Design Difference:
    • In this episode, we see Krusty without make-up, something the animators avoided in later episodes because it made Krusty look too much like Homer. Indeed, later episodes would suggest that Krusty isn't wearing make-up at all, but his face is bleached white. This actually becomes a plus in "Homie the Clown", where Homer is a look-alike Krusty.
    • Judge Snyder and Lou the police officer are colored with the same yellow skin as the Caucasian characters. In their later appearances, both of these characters are black.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Within the Itchy and Scratchy continuity, the theme tune contains cartoon sound effects and the cartoon itself isn't as violent and bloody as later installments, and Scratchy actually yowls like a cat instead of the more human-like screams he has later on.
    • The "whodunit" plot is rather simple and easy to solve (although the episode basically solves the mystery for you beforehand with Bob's Evil Laugh), compared to the more complex detective plots of later episodes, such as the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter.
    • Dan Castellaneta voices Judge Snyder instead of Harry Shearer, who voiced the prosecutor in the trial scene.
    • Krusty robbing the Kwik-E-Mart is portrayed as a deeply heinous crime, making people think Krusty is an irredeemable monster until his acquittal. In later episodes, however, the Kwik-E-Mart is robbed extremely often, often by Snake Jailbird, and Apu has been shot multiple times. By season 12, a joke is made that shooting Apu is just a $100 fine.
    • Homer and Apu don't recognize "Krusty" as he robs the Kwik-E-Mart, but Homer soon does while giving his description to the police. Compared to now, where every Springfieldian knows Krusty.
    • Lovejoy is portrayed as a stereotypical "fire and brimstone" preacher, way different than the apathetic priest we know now.
    • Krusty is only reffered to by his stage name and is said to hail from Tupelo, Mississippi, with no mention of his Jewish heritage or his birth name Herschel Krustofsky, both of which wouldn't be revealed until the third season.
    • Krusty doesn’t work for Channel Six in this episode, but in later episodes he does.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: When Bart realizes that is was Bob who framed Krusty. And it causes Bob to go into a meltdown when he got arrested for framing Krusty. He hated those meddling kids (especially Bart).
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Bob tells Bart that Krusty left big shoes to fill, this causes the boy to realize something that everyone else missed - that the Krusty at the robbery yelled in pain when Homer stepped on his shoe, but Krusty has normal sized feet- Bob, on the other hand, has feet big enough to fill those shoes!
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: Kent Brockman gives a special TV report that paints Krusty in a very unflattering light, first mentioning that he started his career as a street mime in a small town in Mississippi and going on to criticize him for his history of health problems, the lowbrow content of his TV show, and his general phoniness. The hatred continues at Krusty's trial, when it's discovered that he is illiterate and he is branded a hypocrite for urging kids to learn how to read when he can't read, himself.
  • Evil All Along: The second act confirms that Sideshow Bob had something to do with Krusty getting arrested. Before, he was seen as the clown's ineffective Butt-Monkey.
  • Evil Laugh: Bob debuts a classic one at the second act break.
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: The episode is built like this. The mystery is really easy to solve, though, especially compared to some of the more elaborate examples in the show like "Black Widower" and especially "Who Shot Mr Burns?"
  • Foreshadowing: While comforting Bart, Marge says "who knows? Maybe it will turn out [Krusty] was innocent the whole time." It takes a while to get to that point, but she's eventually proven right.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Slowing down the footage of Krusty's heart attack shows him grabbing the grill while collapsing, before quickly reaching over to the handle instead.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Lisa slaps Bart across the face when he rants at her for betraying Krusty by watching Sideshow Bob, and to try and convince him that Krusty's in jail and he should get over it.
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: The episode ends with Bart going to bed, happily knowing it's thanks to him that Krusty was acquitted.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Every time it's the birthday of a kid in the live audience, the kid may pick up one of two options: have Krusty sing a birthday song, or shoot Sideshow Bob off a cannon. To Bob's dismay, all kids seem to prefer the cannon.
  • Harmful to Minors: Krusty doesn't just let kids watch Bob shoot out of a cannon; he helps them light it.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: During Kent Brockman's report reviewing Krusty's career, a clip is shown of the clown suffering a massive heart attack while performing on live television. Krusty begins clutching his chest and screaming in pain as the children laugh and cheer wildly at what they think is part of a comedy routine.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Actually, two details, which are pointed out by Lisa and Bart. In Bob's eagerness to frame Krusty and send him to jail forever, he forgets a number of key facts that he knew about his co-star: he knew Krusty is illiterate, yet he is seen (via the security camera) reading a magazine at the counter, waiting for the store to clear out, and Bob (as Krusty) stood near a microwave oven, which Krusty can't do because he has an artificial pacemaker implanted in his heart (which was also captured via security camera). Naturally, when Bart points this out, Bob tries to bluff an explanation that Krusty was never very smart and liked to look at the pictures, but it sets up Bob's downfall.
  • Ironic Echo:
    Krusty: Don't blame me, I didn't do it!
    • Later, when Bart starts pulling his Krusty doll's string after learning of him supposedly robbing the Kwik-E-Mart.
    Krusty doll: I didn't do it!
    Bart: I wish I could believe you, Krusty.
  • Karma Houdini: It's a crime to bet on sporting events but other than a prosecutor using it against him during the armed robbery trial, Krusty never suffers any comeuppance for it. And even though it is illegal in the State of Springfield (unlike in most states), people do it anyway (as shown in "Lisa the Greek").
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Many of Sideshow Bob's later appearances mention that he's the one who framed Krusty.
  • Latex Perfection: Bob’s disguise as Krusty was surprisingly passable especially with his palm tree hair covered to look like Krusty’s thinning hair.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Marge finds Bart, Lisa, and Maggie watching Itchy and Scratchy:
    Marge: Oh, my. All this senseless violence. I don't understand its appeal.
    Bart: We don't expect you to, Mom.
    Lisa: If cartoons were meant for adults, they'd put them on in prime time.
  • Magical Security Cam: Averted by director Brad Bird, who took care to stage all the actions of the robbery so they could be captured from one angle, at a spot where a security camera would realistically be.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Why Homer goes to the Kwik-E-Mart in the first place; Patty and Selma are round for dinner, with a tedious slide show of their last vacation (eight hundred slides). He's dubbed them the "Gruesome Twosome". Naturally, his telling Apu this is caught on camera and shown on the news while they're still at the Simpsons house.
  • Old Shame: In-universe. When Bart reminds Sideshow Bob of the times Krusty shot him out of a cannon, Bob glares back. After Bob is exposed for framing Krusty, he admits that did so because he was sick of being Krusty's Butt-Monkey.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Intentionally invoked, but also subverted. Sideshow Bob's Krusty disguise looks very uncanny, making it look as though the clown's only using a flimsy mask to hide his identity.
  • Police Lineup: Homer has to identify Krusty among other clowns.
    Homer: If the crime is making me laugh, they're all guilty. [laughs]
    Wiggum: No, which one is the robber!
    Homer: Oh, definitely number...[laughs]
    Wiggum: Simpson
    Homer: [laughs]
    Wiggum: Simpson!
    Homer: 4
  • Red Right Hand: Sideshow Bob has huge feet. Lampshaded by Bart after he hits Bob at the tip of his long shoe.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The episode sets up the clues that a frame-up is going on right from the start. Notably, when describing the perpetrator to the police, Homer notes that Krusty had red hair, rather than the green the audience sees.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: After showing that he can't read the racing forms the prosecutor is showing to him, Krusty wins some sympathy from the jury by wailing "IS IT A CRIME TO BE ILLITERATE?!" It doesn't work so well once the prosecutor explains what the documents are:
    Krusty: IS IT A CRIME TO BET ON SPORTING EVENTS?!
    Prosecutor: Yes, it is!
    Krusty: Oh.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: as Sideshow Bob is carted off to jail, he says, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for these meddling kids".
    • Krusty's number on his prison uniform is A113, which appears in a number of works created by alumni of California Institute of the Arts' character animation program (the number was the room where the character animation classes took place). Brad Bird, who directed the episode, was one of those alumni.
    • The beginning of the new segment about Krusty's arrest at the start of the second act has Krusty's head zooming up to the screen accompanied by a guitar upward-rising glissando, ala the Warner Bros. shield at the start of many Looney Tunes cartoons.
    • The image of Krusty smiling and giving a thumbs up following his heart surgery is an exaggerated spoof of the image of Ronald Reagan following his surgery to have a bullet removed.
  • Special Guest: Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob.
  • Start of Darkness: This was the first full appearance of Sideshow Bob — who would later become Bart's Ax-Crazy Arch-Enemy because of Bart exposing him here.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Sideshow Bob speaks for the first time since his Early-Bird Cameo in "The Telltale Head".
  • Villainous Breakdown: Bob has a very subtle one when he gets taken to jail. He starts out relatively mildly annoyed, during his "meddling kids" rant, then shouts out to everyone to treat kids as equals in a more operatic tone, before his voice finally breaks into panic knowing that his plan crumbled.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist / Think of the Children!: Sideshow Bob. He genuinely cares about the education and future of the children watching the show and hates the kind of humor Krusty is corrupting them with. After framing Krusty, he introduces high culture and good morals (which can be entertaining for kids, but not fully entertaining (although it’s still a positive influence)) and when he's arrested, he screams "Treat children as equals! They're smarter than you think!". Later episodes would phase this out in favor of his straightforwardly villainous schemes and obsession with getting revenge on either Bart or sometimes, Krusty (although he would still retain his Wicked Cultured attributes).
  • Wham Shot: Sideshow Bob going from "sobbing" into an Evil Laugh once he's by himself the end of the second act, revealing that he's the one who framed Krusty.
  • Wild Take: Krusty makes some crazy expressions during his Hollywood Heart Attack, animated by Brad Bird, no less!

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