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Recap / The Simpsons S 23 E 9 Holidays Of Future Passed

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Original Air Date: December 11, 2011

A Christmas Episode of the show (and what could, at one point, have been the final episode of the entire series).

After Thanksgiving dinner, Marge sets the family up for holiday photos, much to their charign. She assures Bart and Lisa that they'll want to do this for their own kids someday, though Bart and Lisa are doubtful they'll have any.

The photo is taken and we see 30 years pass via the Christmas photos as the Simpsons kids grow older. Bart tries to go to a state college but flunks out a year after attending and moves back in with his parents before eventually being kicked out in his thirties. Within the next six years he marries his girlfriend from "Future-Drama" (Jenda) and has two sons (Jiff and Skippy), but ends up divorced. Lisa, not surprisingly, is more successful in her college endeavors and her love life. She has a string of lesbian affairs in college before settling down with Milhouse shortly after graduating and having a daughter, Zia. Maggie pursues a career in music and becomes a world famous rock star in her early twenties, despite that we the viewers still don't hear her voice. Homer and Marge remain married through the years, with Homer retiring and quitting alcohol.


In the current timeline, Bart is living in a broken-down apartment complex (that used to be Springfield Elementary) and barely keeping rent. His two young sons are beamed over as Bart's ex-wife wants Bart to spend time with them, something both the kids and he aren't entirely happy about. Bart figures to just dump them with his parents. Lisa lives moderately with Milhouse and their now teenage daughter, Zia, who spends all her time on the Neural-Net (The internet you plug into with an implant). Due to Milhouse's allergies, he suggests taking Zia to Lisa's parents house while he nurses his sinuses. Over in London, Maggie, while on tour, is shown to be pregnant with her baby due soon. The doctor orders her to not sing or use her voice as he explains "recent studies have shown the umbilical cord is also a vocal cord." Her band mates refuse to reveal who the father is when asked.


Marge and Homer get "B-Mail" (Brain Emails) that their kids and grandkids are all coming home to be with them during the holidays much to Marge's joy. Bart and Lisa arrive with their kids but Maggie is delayed as she is advised not to teleport while pregnant and has to take the commercial airlines which have descended into Mad Max-style brand of flight. Lisa tries to spend time with Zia but her daughter isn't willing, Marge suggests trying to be more "hands off" and give Zia some space. Bart likewise isn't having any luck with Jiff and Skippy, falling into depression when the boys reveal their mother remarried. Homer instead takes the two boys out on a trip to Downtown Springfield.

That night Bart and Lisa meet up in the treehouse and have a few drinks while discussing their problems. Both agree to try their best with their kids. Maggie arrives in Springfield but no sooner then she hails a taxi, which is driven by Kearney, her contractions begin and he takes her to the hospital. As the hospital is full, she has to be put in the manger wing. Lisa tries to take her mother's advice but can't go through with it and enter the Neural-Net to find her daughter. She manages to locate her thanks to Google and finds that her personal online room shows that Zia aspires to be like Lisa. The two reconcile. Bart tries to locate his sons and finds that Homer took them to go see Grandpa who is located in a cryo-lab located in a graveyard (Homer revealing Abe was frozen when he came down with a disease. They found the cure for it but Homer finds the Cryo-lab cheaper then a retirement home.)

During the visit, Homer teaches the boys that, though Bart may not be a perfect father, he still loves them all the same and to give him another chance. Bart arrives shortly after and apologizes to Jiff and Skippy, promising he'll do better and they too reconcile. Homer likewise reconciles with his father. During this Marge was informed of Maggie giving birth and is there for the birth of her baby girl. The family all reunite for Christmas and gather together for a Christmas photo, this time taken by their pets who have evolved into intelligent beings.

Holidays of Future Passed has the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Thankfully averted with Bart and Lisa who, despite having problems with their kids, don't do what Homer and Marge did in terms of parenting — mostly because they're better than that, and mostly because Homer's strangling of Bart became such a problem that a law was made to forbid child abuse (particularly strangling of any child) once and for all (called "Homer's Law").
    • Abe however is still an emotionally abusive jerk who spends his appearance after the Time Skip to insult Bart's kids and call Homer a big disappointment and a coward.
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: Apparently someone figured out a way to make the stars in the night sky reconfigure themselves into advertisements.
  • Away in a Manger: Slightly parodied with Kearney as Joseph and helping Maggie (both the Mary expy as well as the "star in the east", as Kearney notes she just played a sold out show in Beijing) to the hospital and her having to be taken to the Manger...Wing.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Bart and Lisa have a scene where they get drunk together in the treehouse while talking about how difficult it is to be a parent.
  • Babies Ever After: All the Simpsons kids have their own kids after the thirty year time skip, and Maggie has her first daughter. The "ever after" would have been true had the show ended at that point, but it's not.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Aside from the Food Pills parody, there's also the cab driver (Kearney) who drove Maggie to the hospital. When his cab's computer took his order to drive to the hospital ("Computer, hospital") as an order to go to the computer hospital, he said he'd have to do it the old-fashioned way. He took a pair of gloves and ordered them to drive to the hospital.
  • Basement-Dweller: As revealed by the Christmas photographs between the present and the future, Bart will live with his parents for several years after flunking public college until they decide to kick him out when he’s in his thirties.
  • Bookends: The first Simpsons episode was a Christmas episode ("Simpsons Roasting Over an Open Fire"). If this actually aired as the series finale, it would have ended with a Christmas episode.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Lisa's daughter Zia acts condescending and seemingly has no respect for either of her parents in the rare moments she isn’t plugged into the Ultra-Net, making it hard for Lisa to connect with her. Despite this, it is shown through her UltraNet room, to Lisa's joy, that Zia does look up to her.
    Zia: (sarcastically, in response to Lisa asking to go to a 68% of Cher concert) Sure, I'd love to. Only not with you and not that.
  • Broken Pedestal: Homer reveals to his grandsons who idolize him that he was a terrible dad to their dad, and has a terrible relationship with his own father. He does this to show them that Bart is actually trying to be a good dad to them.
  • Call-Back:
    • Bart is shown to have married (and divorced) Jenda from "Future-Drama".
    • Homer accidentally getting Edna killed echoes what happened to Maude, though, unlike Maude, we don't see how Homer had a hand in killing Edna.
    • Lisa's "Ultra Net" account included people Lisa knows and people the Simpsons met on their International travels.
    • Lisa's Ravencrow Neversmiles persona from "Smart and Smarter" makes a reappearance during the Christmas photograph montage at the beginning of the episode.
    • Future Maggie having a talent for singing in "Lisa’s Wedding" evolves to her becoming a world famous rock star in this episode.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Subverted, unlike previous Flash Forward episodes, this one has no Framing Device with an Unreliable Narrator (fortune teller, Native American shaman, future prediction machine) and instead almost plays out like a Grand Finale and the canonical fates of the characters. It even gets a Sequel Episode "Days of Future Future" a few years later.
  • Chalk Outline: Several of them at Moe's. One of them was implied to be of Sideshow Bob (with a rake). Another is the Capitol City Goofball from "Homer at the Bat".
  • Cloning Blues: Ralph is revealed to have made clones of himself...who get killed with alarming frequency.
  • Dead Sparks: Implied with Lisa and Milhouse's marriage. She didn't look particularly happy in their wedding photo, and while drinking in their old treehouse with him she asks Bart if she should’ve married Nelson instead, and mentions she still talks to him on the phone. When she’s looking through her Facebook friend requests Nelson's comes up and he asks if her marriage is still dead and unfulfilled, implying she’s described it that way to him.
  • Doting Grandparent: Homer becomes one to his grandsons in a similar way to how Abe treats Bart.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Bart and Lisa do this in the treehouse after Zia won't spend time with Lisa and after Jiff and Skippy prefer spending time with Homer than with Bart.
  • Experimented in College: Lisa has several girlfriends in college (and at one point, two girlfriends at once), and then gets engaged to Milhouse soon after graduating.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: A variation in this exchange:
    Lisa: My daughter thinks I'm a ruthless tyrant, like Hitler or Prince Harry.
    Homer: Ah, Bloody Harry. He brought back beheading in a big way.
  • Food Pills\Instant Mass: Just Add Water!: Parodied. When Marge wants to make cookies, she takes out a tablet and adds water. The tablet turns into... a recipe card, which she uses to make cookies with real ingredients.
  • For the Evulz: This is presumably why Snake (who has become a cyborg by this point) is still robbing the Kwik-e-Mart, as according to Apu, they're a cashless society now.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Carl and Lenny are revealed to have swapped brains in the future. One of them has an ex-wife who swapped brains with a monkey.
  • Future Loser: The family portraits through the years shows Bart progressing from fourth grader to high school graduate, college student, college dropout, and eventually middle aged Basement-Dweller, which is when Marge and Homer get tired of Bart being an unemployed middle aged Lazy Bum and kick him out of the house. In the story proper, Lisa is in a stable marriage with Milhouse, appears to work some sort of corporate job, and they live with Zia in a upper middle class suburb. Meanwhile, Bart is barely able to hold down a minimum wage job, lives in the old elementary school that is now a housing project/slum, went through a bitter divorce that resulted in his two sons hating the fact that they have to legally see him during the Christmas season, and the boys heavily imply that they would prefer to spend the holydays with their stepfather than him.
  • Gender Bender: "Martin Prince is now Marsha Princess?"
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Bart's kids have a strained relationship with their dad, but get along fine with their grandfather. Homer points out that this is par for the course with every son.
    • Lisa tries to understand a daughter that seems very different from her and can be condescending at the drop of a hat.
      Lisa: You have no idea what that's like.
      Marge: Uh-huh.
      • Zia is also addicted to the internet and prefers zoning out rather than interacting. Lisa even wonders how SHE was the one to end up with a Bart clone.
      • Although it’s later revealed in her Ultra-Net room that Zia is interested in science and chemistry, and has posters of notable women in history, including her mother, meaning she’s not completely different from her.
    • Maggie's daughter sucking on a pacifier.
    • Apu and Manjula's Octuplets work at the Kwik-E-Mart with their dad. They also each have their own set of octuplets.
  • Human Popsicle: Along with Grandpa, other Simpson regulars are cryogenically frozen.
  • I Taste Delicious: This episode's couch gag presents the Simpsons as gingerbread people. Homer happily takes a bite of himself.
  • Karma Houdini: Homer's being liked by Jiff and Skippy so much can across as this. However, the reason for Bart's hostility to Homer and Homer's hostility to Abe was that Abe and Homer were Abusive Parents. Bart is never shown to be abusive in any way, just going through a bad divorce and being a deadbeat.
  • More Dakka: When Snake tries to rob the Kwik-E-Mart, Apu shouts for help from his grown up octuplets, who promptly produce a multitude of weapons.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Lisa doesn't look much older than her teenage daughter.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Lenny and Carl switched brains so Lenny could get back together with his wife, who was sleeping with Carl.
      Carl: Turns out she had switched brains with a monkey on a Japanese game show, and it just got weirder from there.
      Lenny: Ah, I found it quite normal.
    • Homer somehow got Edna killed.
    • Kearney also mentions he and Bart were in jail around the same time.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Bart and Lisa bond in the treehouse over some wine and their parenting difficulties.
  • The Nothing After Death: Maude's ghost claims as such to Ned, though he doesn't seem to notice.
    Maude's Ghost: There is no God, Neddy. It's just an empty, meaningless void.
  • Off with His Head!: According to Homer and Lisa, once he got the throne, Prince Harry became a big fan of this.
  • Oh, Crap!: Apu and Manjula when Marge closes the door in a way that causes all their grandchildren to start crying simultaneously.
  • Older Than They Look: Bart and Lisa are supposed to be 40 and 38 respectively in the episode, around the same age as their parents in regular episodes. Bart looks like he is in his 20's (he looks better kempt than other Flash Forward episodes where he was supposed to be younger) and Lisa looks like she could still be in college, as we see in the photo montage her appearance hasn’t changed a bit since then. Same especially goes for Marge who, unlike other future episodes that give her wrinkles, only looks older due to her grey hair.
  • Plane Awful Flight: Teleportation has reduced the airline industry to a last resort in the episode's futuristic setting. Unable to teleport due to her pregnancy, an adult Maggie has to board a ramshackle plane manned by a crew straight out of a Mad Max movie.
  • Product Placement: Google
  • Rake Take: Moe's has a Chalk Outline of Sideshow Bob next to a chalk outline of a rake.
  • Reincarnation: Apu thinks his brother was reincarnated as a cow, but it insists it's just an animal that died 600 years ago.
  • Seasonal Rot: An in-universe example occurs when Bart tries to show Krusty the Clown to his sons, who have never heard of him. He turns the show on, only to find that it's no longer funny and instead just boring. Bart groans and Facepalms.
  • Series Fauxnale: This episode was conceived as a Distant Finale in case the show really was going to end due to some disagreements at the time between FOX and the voice actors due to the latter being forced to accept a pay cut.
  • Silver Vixen: Marge remains very good-looking for being the grandmother of a teenager at this time.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Theme Naming: Bart's kids are named Jiff and Skippy, both peanut butter brand names.
  • Time Passes Montage: The episode opens with the Simpsons taking a Christmas portrait, and then shows other portraits demonstratinging: Bart, Lisa, and Maggie going through school; Bart going to and flunking out of college; Lisa going to college, having several girlfriends, graduating college, engaged and married to Milhouse, and having their daughter Zia; Bart and Maggie left living in the house, the latter either not getting accepted or not going to college, and Maggie shortly after moving out after becoming a world famous musician; Bart becoming a Lazy Bum, and Homer and Marge kicking him out after they tire of him being a Basement-Dweller; and finally, Homer and Marge enjoying their twilight years alone.
  • Time Skip: This episode takes place thirty years into the future (2041). Unlike previous episodes that take place in the future, there's no Framing Device here. The only present day scene is the one in the beginning with the family photo.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ralph Wiggum's clones. Bart also counts since he plans to sell his good kidney and hopes another one will grow over time.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Homer by the time he's a grandparent, he's a really good grandfather, quit drinking and has learned from his mistakes.
      Bart: How can he be such a cool grandfather when he's such a lousy father?
      Marge: People learn from their mistakes...and your father made so many mistakes.
    • Subverted with Abe, he spends the majority of his time when he's unfrozen insulting Homer and Bart's kids. Though he and Homer do have a heartwarming father son moment after Bart and his kids reconcile, he later says Maggie doesn't have to reveal who her newborn's father is, saying single mothers deserve a break on Christmas to not be judged.
  • Truly Single Parent: Milhouse comments that, when he and Lisa had their daughter, she was made from the best parts of their genetic materials - meaning none of his. Zia does have a lock of blue hair which he and his family have, but she could also have inherited it from Marge or dyed it.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lisa looks very young and vibrant while approaching 40, while Milhouse resembles Homer more than Bart does.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Per usual, the next generation of Simpson kids greatly resemble their parents. Justified in Lisa's daughter Zia's case by Milhouse's comment suggesting Lisa to be Zia's only biological parent, saying she was only given the best genetic material, which meant none of his. She does have a lock of blue hair, but she could have inherited from Marge or dyed it.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Milhouse manages to marry Lisa.
  • The Voiceless: Maggie, in continuing with the Running Gag that was set up on "Lisa's Wedding" (Made even more ironic as she’s a famous lead singer of her own rock band and is known as "The voice of her generation"), as she’s advised by her doctor to not speak until the baby is born, as new research reveals the umbilical is also a vocal cord.
  • The Voice of a Generation: Maggie became the lead singer and guitarist of her own rock band, being labeled as "The voice of her generation", and shortly before giving birth had played a sold out show in Beijing. (Played for Laughs since she can't even say a word in the episode without being interrupted, and due to being close to giving birth, as new research shows the umbilical cord is also a vocal cord).
  • When Trees Attack: Invoked; it turns out in the future they discovered plants were sentient, as Bart forces the tree in which the treehouse sits to bend down so he and Lisa can get out.
    Tree: Our consciousness was a secret for thousands of years...then one pine tree had to open his sappy mouth!
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Maggie Simpson is expecting a child, and the child's father is implied to be one out of three band mates, as they refused to say who the father was when asked. Before Maggie herself can answer when Grandpa asks, the latter interrupts.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: While under the belief that he's Santa Claus, Abe Simpson is sad that he'll never die.