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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E11: "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish"

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Original air date: 1/24/1991

Production code: 7F11

The Simpsons have dinner out at a Japanese restaurant, which turns deadly when Homer eats some improperly-cut fugu (raw blowfish) and is told by Dr. Hibbert that he has only 22 hours left to live.

Thirteen years before this episode, fugu poisoning was the plot of an episode of Columbo.


  • Aesop Amnesia: When Homer is ecstatic that he's alive, he vows to live life to its fullest. The next scene is Homer watching TV and eating pork rinds. (Maybe that is living life to its fullest, by Homer's standards).
  • Artistic License – Biology: In reality, fugu poison — tetrodotoxin — is not an untraceable poison whose only symptom is sudden death after 24 hours. It's a neurotoxin that causes total muscle paralysis, and the most common cause of death is the resulting inability to breathe. The toxin starts taking effect within 30 minutes, and while it has no antidote, it is treatable if the victim can be rushed to the hospital and placed on life support until the poison is eliminated from the body. Homer would have known pretty quickly that he had not ingested poison and then everyone would have known that he was perfectly fine.
  • Artistic License – Music: Normally, Lisa is portrayed as being adept at the baritone saxophone. However, in this episode, a bass saxophone is heard playing instead.
  • As Himself: Larry King (reading The Bible on tape).
  • Asian Cleaver Fever: The master sushi chef is shown swinging a knife around, tossing fish up in the air, and slicing through it several times while it hangs in midair. By contrast, the assistant sushi chef does no such thing while preparing Homer's fugu — he's too nervous and overwhelmed to make any such motions.
  • Auto Erotica: Krabappel and the head chef of the sushi restaurant.
  • Bi Lingual Bonus: When the head chef is screaming at Toshiro over the fugu, one of the lines translates to, "You idiot! You've killed him!" (This is immediately before Homer comments Japanese is a beautiful language).
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    Homer: Hey Burns! Eat... my... shorts!
  • Captivity Harmonica: Parodied. Homer asks his harmonica-playing cellmate what he's in for. The answer? "Atmosphere".
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Lou and Eddie act like incompetent or malicious policemen when generally speaking later on in the series they are portrayed as more reasonable, competent foils to their boss, Chief Wiggum.
    • Smithers sees Mr. Burns eyeing a beautiful woman and not only doesn't get jealous, but also encourages him and seems to be interested in the woman himself.
  • Collateral Angst: Defied. Homer believes that he was going to die of food poisoning. As Marge sobs profusely, Homer calmly but snidely tells her that he is the one dying, not her.
  • Couch Gag: The couch falls backwards, and Maggie peeks from behind.
  • Creator Cameo: Simpsons co-producer Richie Sakai appears as himself at the karaoke bar, although Dan Castellaneta voices him using his natural voice.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: While believing he had less than 24 hours to live, Homer jumped at the opportunity to tell Mr. Burns off. We never get to see the consequences when it turns out that Homer isn't going to die (see the Trivia page for more on that).
  • Culture Clash: The sushi chefs' loud greeting startled the Simpsons. As the hostess informs them that they are saying welcome, Homer yells out hello, startling the chefs in return.
  • Defying the Censors: The censors did not like Bart and Lisa doing karaoke to the theme from Shaft, so the producers had to show a clip from the Academy Awards when that song was nominated, as proof that it had previously been performed on primetime television without repercussions.
  • Disney Death: Homer appears to die at the end of the episode, but Marge discovers that he's only fallen asleep.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: As the Japanese chefs rush out to stop Homer from further eating the fugu:
    Toshiro: For God's sake, don't eat another bite!
    Homer: Heh-heh, I couldn't possibly!
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: When Lisa says she wants to go somewhere without burgers, pizza or fried chicken, Homer says, "We'll go to Mars!", indicating he doesn't believe restaurants exist that don't sell those entrees.
  • Five Stages of Grief: Homer and Dr. Hibbert go through this in about thirty seconds. "Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me!"
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: Homer is afraid he's going to die from eating improperly cooked fugu.
  • Foreshadowing: The fact that Homer doesn't go through the symptoms of being poisoned by fugu, showing that the poison was never in his system to begin with.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Homer survives the fugu, he tells Marge he's going to take advantage of life and start really living. The episode ends with Homer watching a bowling competition on TV while eating pork rinds.
  • Hair Reboot: Homer shows Bart how to shave and Homer's stubble grows back within a single frame.
  • Implausible Deniability: Lampshaded. Homer tells Bart that one of the three most important sentences in life is "It was like that when I got here". When Bart accidentally breaks a glass of aftershave and makes Homer angry, Bart says "It was like that when I got here!" making Homer proud.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Homer gets pulled over for speeding. He admitted to speeding and wanted to just take the fine but instead they threw him in jail for the night. Maybe not that bad compared to the others on this page but Homer thought he only had a matter of hours left to live and he wanted to spend it with his family.
  • Last Day to Live: The plot largely consists of Homer checking off items on a list of things to do before the fugu poisoning kicks in. Despite having to contend with a few unexpected obstacles, he gets around to most of the important stuff and is prepared for the end, which, naturally, never comes.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title is an obvious reference to the Dr. Seuss book One fish two fish red fish blue fish.
  • Music/Age Dissonance: Bart and Lisa karaoke duet the Shaft theme.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Homer grumbles about how he wouldn't be in his situation if he didn't agree to eat at a sushi bar, never mind the fact HE was the one who didn’t listen to the staff’s warnings when they tried to tell him, instead ordering them to bring him food without question.
    • The loud argument between the restaurant staff translated makes evident they blame the other for the improperly prepared Fugu.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Bart did something. When Homer wants to talk to him, Bart thinks he's going to get a spanking for it.
  • No OSHA Compliance: In Real Life, any restaurant that had fugu prepared by an unqualified chef would be in ENORMOUS legal trouble, regardless of whether it harmed anyone. There is also the case that sushi chefs take proper fugu preparation VERY seriously, requiring years of schooling and experience to obtain a license to handle it, as well as extensive preparation time and special tools needed. Even at the time of airing, despite sushi being far less ubiquitous than it is today, America had very strict regulation of the fish. A sushi restaurant disobeying this many norms and regulations would make it both an unsafe place to eat, and a legal mess where the FDA would have a field day.
  • Not Helping Your Case: During Homer's Video Will recorded for Maggie, he tries to eulogize himself as "a simple man. A kind man. A gentle man who loved his children and— D'oh!" He's been interrupted by a phone call from Milhouse, so he ends up standing up close to the camera, scratching his butt and exclaiming, "Bart, get your butt down here!"
  • Oh, Crap!: Three from the restsurant scene:
    • Akira is notably alarmed when Homer first requests the fugu dish, knowing the fatal implications behind it being wrongly prepared.
    • When the head chef returns to his post and notices the manual for the fuhu dish, he lets out a terrified "OH, NO !".
    • Homer finally has his when Toshiro informs he potentially ingested poison.
  • Peaceful in Death: Discussed. Marge lets Homer sleep in on what he believes will be the last day of his life because he "looked so peaceful lying there". "There'll be plenty of time for that!" It's seemingly played straight when Marge finds him the next morning sitting in the living room recliner, having spent his last morning listening to the Bible on tape, but it turns out the fugu dish was properly prepared after all, and he thankfully survived, so he was just asleep.
  • Playing Catch with the Old Man: One of the items on Homer's list is reconcile with his father; when he does so, Abe asks to play catch with him (as well as do other things like go fishing). Homer crosses off several other activities off of his wishlist in favor of catch with his dad.
  • Poor Communication Kills: What led to Homer supposedly ingesting poison; the master chef, busy having Auto Erotica with Mrs. Krabappel, refuses to hear out Toshiro when he tries to tell him about the order, stating that his "skilled hands" are busy, and makes him prepare it himself. On the other hand, you'd think Toshiro would just lead off with the order in question being fugu, as given the head chef's terrified reaction later on, he likely would've taken it seriously.
  • Recycled Animation:
  • Sequential Symptom Syndrome: Homer starts suffering the five stages of grief as soon as Dr. Hibbert describes each one of them.
  • Shown Their Work: When the chef of the sushi bar finds out that Homer has been poisoned, he yells at his apprentices in Japanese. The staff wanted the language they spoke to be actual Japanese, so they hired a Japanese actor who translated the lines for them.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Mrs. Krabappel's role consists of having sex with the only chef in the Happy Sumo with the required experience to cut fugu. If not for that, Homer would not have spent the rest of the episode thinking he was poisoned and would die from it.
  • Special Guest: Joey Miyashima as Toshiro; Sab Shimono as the sushi bar chef; George Takei as Akira (later replaced with Hank Azaria, although Takei would occasionally reprise the role); Diane Tanaka as the bar hostess
  • Thought They Knew Already: When Homer goes have a man-to-man with Bart, he goes to his room and taps his lap so Bart will go sit on it. Bart instead pulls his pants down and lies across Homer's lap, thinking he was found out on whatever he did.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Homer orders the Fugu blowfish platter, which the waiter tries to warn him about the dangers of that particular dish if it's prepared incorrectly. However, Homer ignores the warning and tells him to give him his dish, then inadvertently startles the amateur chef by loudly shouting "I WANT FUGU!" as he's trying to work. It's only through sheer luck that it turns out it was prepared correctly and he didn't ingest poison.
  • The Trouble with Tickets: Homer is pulled over as he's speeding to get back home to Marge (after believing he only has a matter of hours to live). He insists that the cops just give him a ticket so he can get going, but the cops decide that they don't want to give him a ticket and throw him into a jail cell instead.
  • Truth in Television: Pufferfish in general (especially Fugu) is very toxic and can potentially kill someone, it is also a sushi ingredient and needs to be cut in a very careful manner to get as much meat as possible.note 
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Two for the price of one: Lisa's boredom with their routine dinner schedule is what causes the family to try sushi in the first place (very much against Homer's preference), and Edna Krabappel picks the worst possible moment to fool around with the head sushi chef, leaving an amateur to prepare the fugu.
  • Video Will: Homer tries to film one for Maggie, but is interrupted by a phone call from Milhouse.


Video Example(s):


Five Stages In Ten Seconds

Upon hearing that he will likely die within 24 hours after eating the blowfish, Homer goes through the five stages in no time flat.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (35 votes)

Example of:

Main / FiveStagesOfGrief

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