The show opens with Kang and Kodos welcoming us to the 25th anniversary. In an opening like The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson they give a long list of celebrity guests, but it turns out they nailed their bodies on a wall to spell out this season's title.
School Is Hell
While Bart is in detention, he finds a desk covered with strange runes. When he pokes them, fire spurts out. He comments that anyone who did that could get seriously hurt- so naturally, he tries to get Lisa to touch them. She notes that the runes seem to be in ancient Aramaic, and translates them with her IRunes app. Bart grabs her IPad and reads what's on there out loud.
A giant hand made of fire then comes out of the desk and grabs Bart and Lisa, sending them to hell (and pulls the fire alarm lever, just because). In hell, Bart and Lisa have more demonic appearances- both have satyr legs, horns, and pointed ears, and Lisa also has bat wings and a devil tail. They meet another student writing lines ('Eternal torment is the only just punishment for the unbaptized'), and Bart asks him what he's there for. Turns out it's heresy, like Docetism (the belief that Jesus's mortal body was just an illusion). He wonders if it's still big, but gets mocked by another student.
- Demon Nelson: Ha-ha! Your heresies were venialized by the Council of Palermo!
The heretic student helps explain the school to the Simpsons as they walk through the hall.
A Girl Posse then arrives and mocks Lisa's dress. Her sarcastic retort impresses them, and they ask her to hang out with them. It promptly starts snowing.
Lisa walks away with the other girls, and Bart is caught by the principal, who asks him for his hell pass. Bart doesn't have one, so the principal rips his skin away and throws him in a classroom. The teacher quizzes her students on what eternal torture would be best for a bank robber. She's looking for something along the lines of Ironic Hell, but none of the students have any ideas until Bart suggests making the robber eat bags of money until his stomach exploded. The teacher is impressed and gives him his skin back, along with a pumpkin sticker (which bites onto his ear.
Bart ends up demonstrating several of his other creative torture ideas for the class. The teacher is very approving. When class is out, Lisa comes up to Bart and says that she's found a portal back to Earth. Bart wonders if it's the one next to him, and Lisa says no, that's the one to superhell. Bart pulls Hot Stuff out of the portal, and wonders how he got there. Turns out, he's being punished for how lame his comics were.
Bart and Lisa go through the portal, the other end of which is at a pentagram in Mr. Burns' office. They run back home, and when they're back and Bart is being tucked into bed, he asks to change schools. Marge is happy, but Homer isn't so enthused, since he thinks it's an expensive private school. When Bart says the school is free, Homer's fine with it.
The school in question turns out to be the school of hell. Despite his parents' worries, they do allow Bart to go there for a semester, to his delight. Bart's report card for that semester: Long Division (A.K.A. slicing people in half)- A, Show and Hell (he shows that he killed Dolph)-A, Keeping the Yankees in First Place- A, Literature of Hell (Tender are My Whipped Buttocks by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fahrenheit 451,000 by Ray Bradbury, I'm Not Even Dead Yet by John Irving, and The O'Reilly Factor for Kids by Bill O'Reilly)- A, and Quantum Satanics- A. Homer and Marge are happy he's doing so well.
For his final exam, Bart has his mace and bag of fish ready and is supposed to torment a sinner- who turns out to be Homer. Bart doesn't want to hurt his dad, but Homer is okay with it, because of how well Bart is doing in the school of hell. Bart ends up graduating as class valedictorian.
A Clockwork Yellow
In this take off of A Clockwork Orange as well as mixing virtually every film by Stanley Kubrick, Moe narrates his life as a former gang leader, their break-up and reorganizing the gang for one last bash up.
Homer goes to the bathroom to wash up, and sees the words 'Help Me' written in blood on the mirror. He's annoyed that the blood is asking him for a favor, and writes 'NO!!!' on the mirror in toothpaste. The message vanishes and is replaced with 'Three exclaimations? That's excessive'. Homer goes downstairs, and Marge tells him that someone left chocolate milkshakes on the counter. Lisa says that the TV will only play Married... With Children (or variations). He tries turning it off, but it doesn't work.
Marge notes that the milkshakes have vanished... but that's Homer's fault. Later, when they're in bed, Marge says that she thinks that they aren't alone. She's right- Grandpa Simpson is in bed with them, because he got caught in their sheets after sleeping in the dryer. Marge leaves to go make up the couch for him, and Homer goes back to sleep. Someone slides into Marge's place in bed- however, that somebody is invisible. The invisible person caresses Homer, and the bed starts levitating towards the ceiling. He demands he be put down, at which point the bed (with Homer in it) promptly falls to the floor.
The Simpsons light a lot of candles in the living room, and Homer demands the ghosts show themselves in the name of the book he's holding- The Car-Lovers' Bible. Apparently he mistook it for the real deal. However, he continues with 'The power of Chrysler compels you!'. Grandpa turns the lights on, and the ghosts are revealed- the Simpsons from The Tracey Ullman Show.
Grandpa Simpson freaks out and runs through Tracey Ullman!Homer, who yells for "A little respect!". He then turns the lights on, and the two Simpson families confront each other.
Modern Homer gets annoyed at his Marge telling him to do something, and is quite happy when Tracey Ullman!Marge says she likes a man who can relax. Homer compliments her on her melons (which turn out to be literal melons in the kitchen). Tracey Ullman!Homer is annoyed because, as a ghost, he can't strangle Bart. Modern Marge is annoyed that Homer likes ghosts better, and so decides to kill herself in her oven (and clean it up while she's at it).
Tracey Ullman!Marge shows up while Homer is bathing. He's happy, but freaked out when they're joined by the ghost of The Simpsons!Marge, who complains about how Homer doesn't notice her. He says that he can handle "all the ghost you can float at me", and dismisses his concerns of Tracey Ullman!Homer being a threat. Of course, Tracey Ullman!Homer takes that moment to go over with a toaster and beat Homer about the head with it until he falls unconscious and drowns.
Bart and Lisa walk in. Lisa comments that she and Bart are now in charge of the house, but Bart jumps out the window rather than take on chores, and Lisa follows because she doesn't want to clean all this up herself. She botches the jump and dies on the landing. Bart rejoices about being the last of the Simpsons, but he doesn't get to celebrate for long, as Lisa knocks him off the tree branch he's on with a slingshot, killing him. Willie drags away their bodies (and Maggie's), rejoicing that now he's got stew for the winter.
Modern Marge confronts her Homer about how his desire for someone new started the whole fiasco. They're interrupted by Dr. Marvin Monroe saying that fighting will solve nothing. Marge asks if he's alive or dead, and he says he's in a sort of limbo- he can walk halfway through walls, and then gets stuck. The two Marges decide to force Modern Homer to choose between them. Tracey Ullman!Marge says he should choose her because she's younger and not yet bitter, and The Simpsons!Marge says Homer should choose her because she knows everything he's done, and yet still wants to be with him.
Both Marges make up with their respective Homers. The Barts ruin the mood somewhat by cutting them in half with a ghostly saw. The next morning, as both families are eating breakfast together, The Simpsons!Lisa says she had a worrisome thought: if there can be two versions of the Simpsons at once, what's stopping there from being even more?
Well, nothing, apparently. At that moment, a CGI version of the family enters, followed by an anime version of the family (with Maggie as Pikachu, Lisa as Mikasa, Bart as Naruto, Santa's Little Helper as Haku in dragon form, Homer as Zoro, and Marge as Rangiku Matsumoto), a Adventure Time family (Bart as Finn the Human, Homer as the Ice King, and Marge as Princess Bubblegum), a South Park family, an Archer family, the family's Sylvain Chomet designs, the LEGO Simpsons from Brick Like Me, a family of Minions, and the Simpsons' animal selves from a The Island of Dr. Hibbert, a previous Treehouse of Horror segment.
This episode has the following tropes
- All-Ghouls School: The Demon School in the first short.
- Art Shift: The current style of the Simpsons contrasted with their Tracey Ullman designs. As well as the various alternate families at the end of the short, modeled after the animation stylings of South Park, Archer, Adventure Time, Sylvain Chomet's works, anime-style, and Despicable Me.
- Bait-and-Switch: Moe mentions that one of the favorite things his gang like to do is the old "in-and-out" while they all stare at a young woman in front of a convenience store, with strong implications that they're planning on raping her...only for the "in-and-out" to be a prank where they jump in and out of the store's automatic doors while chanting "In! Out! In! Out! In! Out!"
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Moe needs eye clamps to force himself to watch today's TV shows, but takes them off when he realizes he's watching FOX.
- One of the signs the Simpsons' house is possessed in "The Others" is the TV only plays Married... with Children (including several variations based on niche cable channels).
- Blatant Lies: Superintendent Chalmers weakly claiming he knew all along the rumors about a naked lunch lady were false.
- Boarding School of Horrors: A very literal case when Bart is send to a literal school in Hell. Funny enough while it's just a boring place for all the students there Bart actually likes being taught about hellish torture.
- Casting Gag:CGI Homer is voiced by John Ratzenberger, who was Cliff the mailman on Cheers and has had a role in every Pixar film (starting with the first Toy Story movie).
- Continuity Nod: The Others ends in a reprise of the Photo Shoot short from The Tracey Ullman Show, only now with both past and present designs of The Simpsons.
- Some of the alternate families at the end are their animal-forms from "The Island of Dr. Hibbert" in "Treehouse of Horror XIII", their LEGO forms from "Brick Like Me", and the Sylvain Chomet designs from the couch gag in "Diggs".
- The statues in the Korova Milk Bar are the Duffland dwarfs from Selma's Choice.
- Droog Maggie first appears in "Treehouse of Horror XXI" at the end of the "Master and Cadaver" segment
- We see the donut-feeding torture used for Homer in "Treehouse of Horror IV" being used on a random demon in "School Is Hell."
- When Moe is kicked out of his gang by Lennon and Carlton, he briefly winds up clinging to the shoes of Sherri Bobbins as she flies by on her umbrella. As this happens, a brief instrumental snippet of the song "Cut Every Corner" can be heard.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: Hell freezes over (or rather, snow falls) when Lisa becomes popular in the Demon School.
- Death of a Child: Lampshaded when Bart and Lisa see Willie carting off their bodies, including Maggie. Lisa questions how she died. Willie goes shifty-eyed for a minute before he just takes off running. Following this, Modern Maggie and Ullman Maggie team up to kill Gerald the unibrow baby.
- Electrified Bathtub: Subverted; past Homer just beats present Homer over the head with a toaster until he passes out and drowns.
- Hot for Teacher: Bart says he has a crush on his demoness teacher. She states that since they're in Hell, she can make it happen.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Willie's reaction after discovering Bart and Lisa's corpses? "Willie's got stew for the winter!"
- Iron Maiden: One of the Three Shorts takes place in a school in Hell. At one point we see two bullies push a smaller demon into a locker with spikes inside and slam it shut, then blood pours out of the bottom of the locker.
- Kill Em All: The Others has the present Simpsons all killed and turned into ghosts!
- Kubrick Stare: Done by Kubrick himself.
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: To Barry Lyndon.Comic Book Guy: Even I forget what this is a reference to.
- Left Hanging: It is never explained how Nelson managed to enter Moe's house if he didn't open the door for him, Jimbo and Kearney in the first place.
- Mandatory Line: Past!Lisa is probably this (or The Voiceless if present!Lisa was the one who spoke "Yeah, Bart.") as she only has one line out of the other past!Simpsons members near the end of the final segment.
- Medium Blending: A few of the alternate Simpsons are animated in different styles such as CGI or the French style of Sylvain Chomet.
- Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: The plot of The Others
- The Monolith: Turns out to be a misplaced iPhone with Also sprach Zarathustra as a ring tone, placed really close to the camera.
- Mythology Gag: In "School of Hell" One of the kids is punished on a doughnut feeding machine that was used to punish Homer in Treehouse of Horror IV.
- National Stereotypes: "A Clockwork Yellow" is set in England, just like A Clockwork Orange is. However, the makers do up the I Am Very British ante by having the Big Ben appear in frame, make a reference to Mary Poppins and have the police officers Lenny and Carl be actual bobbies note
- Off with His Head!: In the opening segment, where all the celebrity "guests" are nailed to the wall to spell out the name of the program, a still-conscious John Travolta cries out "Why?" only for the aliens to blast his head off with a laser beam and laugh.
- Pun-Based Title: The segment "School Is Hell" is also the title of a volume of Matt Groening's Life in Hell series.
- Putting the Band Back Together: Moe does so in the Clockwork Orange spoof.
- Scenery Censor: Lampshaded as usual when the gang is at the Eyes Wide Shut like orgy.Mr. Burns: Sex view blockers, keep blocking!
- Self-Deprecation: The opening starts out with showing several clips from previous Treehouse of Horror specials, but after a clip of the Grand Pumpkin from "Treehouse of Horror XIX", clips from nonexistent Treehouse of Horror specials play, including Homer eating his own liver, Santa's Little Helper with a Scratchy mask and chainsaw, Lisa squeezing Bart's head in a vise, and Marge revealing a machine gun in her hair. This is more or less a response to fans criticizing how the later Treehouse of Horror specials are much less memorable than the older ones.
Moe: Not my Shmoo! Not my Shmoo!!!
- When the students gather to see the school's lunchlady naked Martin Prince is seen carrying a copy of Naked Lunch.
- When the Simpsons meet their past selves the animation of their early versions is spoofed, complete with the overly expressive moving eyes and jaws. Homer's voice is also lower and the characters belch a lot. Dr. Marvin Monroe also has a cameo. When Marge says to him that she thought he was dead he explains he is actually in Limbo.
- Among the alternate Simpson families are ones styled like Adventure Time, Archer, South Park and the minions from Despicable Me.
- The anime style family that comes in after the CGI family. Maggie is Pikachu, Lisa is Mikasa from Attack on Titan, Bart is Naruto, Homer is Zoro from One Piece, Santa's Little Helper is Haku from Spirited Away in his dragon form (many initially thought he was Shenron from Dragon Ball), and Marge is Rangiku from Bleach.
- "The Others" is a reference to The Others.
- The Clockwork Orange segment is first and foremost a parody of Clockwork Orange with many direct scene references, but other Kubrick films are spoofed too and the real life Stanley Kubrick is caricatured too. Among the films referenced are2001: A Space Odyssey when Homer is beating somebody with a bone while making ape noises and stares at what appears to be a monolith . Later when Kubrick throws his pen in the air, the bone scene from "2001" is referenced as well. Full Metal Jacket is referenced when Moe sees Private "Gomer Pyle" and his gun. Eyes Wide Shut when they appear at an orgy, and Barry Lyndon holds Comic Book Guy has a pistol duel with somebody.
- When the younger droogs beat up Moe, Kearney grabs his statue of Shmoo.
- Shown Their Work: The heretic student from School is Hell is a Docetist. Docetism was a real heretic philosophy from early Christianity, and their beliefs were pretty much as the student described them.
- Stock Scream: A low-quality 8-bit Wilhelm scream is used for an establishing shot of the school.
- Stuffed into a Locker: It happens in the "School is hell" story. The door has spikes like in an Iron Maiden and the victim bleeds.
- Talking Animal: The Santa's Little Helper of the CGI Simpsons who move in after the Modern Simpsons were killed in "The Others".CGI Santa's Little Helper: Yo, yo, Santa's Little Helper is in da house!
- To Hell and Back: Initially in the first story, but Bart willingly goes back when he takes a liking to the school.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: After editing Moe's version of A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick tells an assistant they're gonna burn the segment and redo it, which Kubrick was known for doing to most of his films.
- Whole Plot Reference: To A Clockwork Orange in the second segment. At the end, however, it turns into a parody of the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut, with brief nods to other Kubrick films, including Barry Lyndon, which is often overlooked when discussing Kubrick's works.
- Your Cheating Heart: A rather complicated case in The Others when Homer flirts with Marge's past-self, much to the current one's irritation.