First Aired - 3/7/1991
Santa's Little Helper is forced to go to obedience school after ruining Marge's heirloom quilt, Homer's new Assassin sneakers, and Homer's giant macadamia nut cookie, and, if he doesn't pass, he'll be given away.
This episode contains examples of:
- Big "NO!": Homer does this when he sees that Santa's Little Helper has chewed up his Assassins. It coincides with SLH howling, causing every dog in the neighborhood to start barking.
- Blah Blah Blah: How SLH interprets most human speech, until he clearly hears Bart saying "sit."
- Comically Missing the Point: Homer thinks the smoke alarms Marge bought are unnecessary since they haven't had a single fire.
- Continuity Nod: While Santa's Little Helper is chewing the remote, he changes the channel showing a news report on the Babysitter Bandit and the Duff commercial from "Homer's Odyssey".
- Deadpan Snarker: Emily Winthrop when Bart hasn't persuaded Santa's Little Helper to succeed.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: For most of the episode, Emily Winthrop is rude and unhelpful. But when Bart gets SLH to pass, she warmly comments "good show".
- Dramatic Irony: Played for Laughs when the Simpsons' neighbor calls to complain about SLH being in her pool while Homer claims it isn't him as he's outside, unaware that he has escaped until he looks out the window.
- Evil Gloating: Homer indulges in this a little to the kids when Marge says she agrees with him about getting rid of the dog.
- Fair-Weather Mentor: Of a sort. Emily Winthrop is full of praise for those dogs and owners who do well, but will belittle and be mean to those that fail.
- Hypocritical Humor: Homer tries to calm Marge down about SLH eating the Bouvier family quilt by saying that you can't get too attached to things. But when he sees that Santa's Little Helper has also eaten his giant macadamia nut cookie, he goes nuts.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Emily Winthrop is voiced by Tracey Ullman, on whose show the Simpsons first started out on.
- Jaw Drop: Bart slowly drops his jaw when he realizes what Homer is trying to say.
- The Last Straw: Homer considers Santa's Little Helper eating his giant macadamia nut cookie this and decides to get rid of him.
- Law of Disproportionate Response: Santa's Little Helper eats Marge's old quilt, which was a family heirloom for centuries. She is understandably very upset and Homer tries to comfort her by telling her it's just a quilt. Then he discovers the dog also ate a cookie he wanted to eat, which sends him into a hysterical despair. This also turns to be the final straw for him to get rid of the dog.
- The Mean Brit: Emily Winthrop is pretty damn rude, let's just put it that way.
- Misplaced Retribution: Dr. Monroe's obedience school is about disciplining the owners, citing that they're the ones at fault.
- Murderer P.O.V.: During the moments when Santa's Little Helper eyes Homer's cookie and attackes Marge's quilt, this is used, complete with ominous music.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Emily Winthrop is a parody of Margaret Thatcher in her mannerisms. She was actually based on British dog trainer and author Barbara Woodhouse.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Normally in situations like this, when Lisa fails to do so, Marge is often the Voice of Reason when it comes to Homer's demands be it comically ridiculous or heart wrenching decisions. However when he decides Santa's Little Helper has to go, Marge is on his side, much to the kids' shock and Homer's delight. She was very upset about the quilt, and does engage in some Jerkass Has a Point aspects in that Bart is failing to train him despite sending him to a costly obedience school.
- Oh, Crap!:
Homer: We never had a problem of what family member to get rid of.
- Homer's reaction when he sees that Santa's Little Helper had escaped. What makes it worse besides being annoyed that SLH got out and he now has to retrieve him, he called the neighbor on the phone an idiot and claimed it wasn't SLH in her pool when it was.
- Bart's reaction when he realizes what Homer is about to say.
Marge: Homer, what are you saying?
Homer: I'm saying... Blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah!
- Parental Neglect: It's stated in the epilogue that SLH bit Bart and Homer didn't mind.
- Potty Failure: SLH does this at obedience school, and Ms. Winthrop forces Bart to clean it up.
- Reality Ensues: While Homer's and Bart's adopting Santa's Little Helper might have been a heartwarming ending to "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", here the whole family ends up finding out the hard way that it can be extremely difficult for a racing dog that hasn't been housebroken to adapt to domestic life. For all the insults that are made against Santa's Little Helper's intelligence, it's to both their credit that Bart was able to domesticate him at all — with some former racing dogs in real-life, that ends up being simply not possible.
- Rocky Roll Call: When Homer brings home his new Assassin sneakers:Marge: Those are very elaborate sneakers.Bart: They better be for a hundred and twenty-five big ones. noteHomer: D'oh!Marge: $125?!Homer: Bart!Bart: Aah!Marge: Homer!Homer: D'oh!
- Sarcastic Clapping: When Santa's Little Helper graduates, Homer at first gives a bitter slow clap, before gradually finding himself pleased by this little moment of success, and starts legitimately applauding.
- Shout-Out: To the famous "touching fingers' scene from E.T. The music is even the same.
- Soap Within a Show:A disheveled priest interrupts two lovers (male boss and female employee) in an office.
Woman: Father Mcgrath, I thought you were dead!
Father Mcgrath: I was!
- Sound Effects Bleep: When Homer starts yelling that Santa's Little Helper has to go, it immediately switched to the dog's POV, so all we hear is Blah Blah Blah.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: "PULL ON HIS BLOODY CHAIN, BOY!!"
- Special Guest: Tracey Ullman as Emily Winthrop; Frank Welker as the dog noises/animal walla.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Santa's Little Helper. According to the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, he bit Bart, even though Bart was the only one actively trying to keep him from being exiled from the family.
- The Unreveal: How Marge managed to get Dr. Hibbert's home phone number.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end showing what happened to all the dogs after they graduated obedience school.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Literally, as part of the obedience school. Bart himself does it to SLH but he regrets it immediately afterwards.Bart: I'm sorry. You can't help being dumb.