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Recap / The Simpsons S 3 E 18 Separate Vocations

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Episode 8F15
First Aired 2/27/92

When the results of Bart's vocational survey suggest he'd make a great cop and Lisa learns her dreams of becoming a professional sax player are doomed by genetics (she has stubby fingers, which would make saxophone playing impossible, even though she doesn't exhibit any problems), their roles at Springfield Elementary are reversed: Bart becomes a hall monitor who cracks down on school misbehavior (after surviving a run-in with Snake during a police ride-along) while Lisa becomes a rebel who smokes with the bad kids, gets detention, and pulls off a teachers' edition textbook heist that could get her expelled.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Big Brother Instinct: When Bart finds out what Lisa did, he takes the blame, staying in school due to his work as hall monitor. When she asked why, Bart tells Lisa that test or no test, she's the one with the makings to be a success.
  • Break the Cutie: Learning that the only thing she is worthy of is being a housewife and being rejected from becoming a professional saxophone player due to her stubby fingers broke Lisa down to the point of becoming a rebellious student.
    Lisa: Dear log: This will be my last entry, for you were a journal of my hopes and dreams. And now, I have none.
    • She was broken further when she realize she went too far stealing the textbooks.
  • Brutal Honesty: "Yeah, well, I'll be frank with you Lisa, and when I say 'frank,' I mean, you know, devastating."
  • Cultural Translation: When the question about "Old Hickory" was translated for Brazilian viewers, he's replaced with a figure from Brazilian history.note 
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bart gets 400 days detention over some answer books being stolen that he took the fall for (Skinner then increases it to 600).
  • Epic Fail:
    • Snake attempts to run over Bart, only for his car to get caught in the narrow pathway and catapult him out the windshield, injuring him horribly.
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    • Marge tries to console Lisa by telling her a story from her childhood about how she wanted to be an astronaut, but her sisters told her women can't be astronauts because they'd "distract the men." Little Marge insisted she would too become an astronaut and in the future people would live on the moon. Marge finishes her story by saying her sisters were wrong because there are women astronauts...and that she was wrong about the living on the moon part. Lisa is not amused, especially since Marge misses the point of her own story which would've been more uplifting if she had become an astronaut herself.
    • The teachers have trouble teaching without the teachers' edition textbooks. In fact, they have so much trouble that they are considered to be massive idiots.
    • Thanks to their dog teams tracking the scent of books, the Springfield Police conclude that the Springfield Library is where the stolen teachers' editions are being kept and use an armoured car to ram the door down.
    • When Bart tells Homer and Marge about his results, Marge mentions how he considered joining the police, only for them to decline him for being too heavy. He then corrects her by saying, "No, the Army said I was too heavy; the police said I was too dumb."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Lisa points out that Bart used to appreciate the value of a prank, Bart responds, "Yeah, but even I had my limits."
    • Even Lisa was aware that she went too far, but went through with it anyway, feeling she has nothing to lose anymore and cries.
    "I know. I know!"
  • Failed a Spot Check: While at a red light outside the Kwik-E-Mart, Lou and Eddie fail to spot Snake holding Apu up at gunpoint next to them.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Career Aptitude Normalizing Test (CANT)
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Lisa is an In-Universe example when she describes her plans to become a great jazz musician. While Lisa won't be appreciated by her fellow Americans, she will become hugely popular in France.
  • Inept Aptitude Test: According to the CANT, Bart is best suited to be a policeman, while Lisa will be a homemaker. The machine that analyzes the tests is seen malfunctioning when it gets to Bart's test.
  • Informed Flaw: Lisa's stubby fingers will supposedly prevent her from being a professional saxophone player, but she's never expressed any difficulty with her fingering before or since.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Lisa bemoans loudly that becoming a housewife is a Fate Worse than Death, right in front of a hurt Marge.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As much of a smartass she was being, Lisa is right that Ms. Hoover is a completely incompetent teacher who relies entirely on her teachers' edition textbook to instruct the students. Once it's stolen, Hoover pulls a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! rather than trying to teach without it.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After getting 600 days of detention handed to him for constantly snarking back to Skinner, Bart concedes "Maybe I'll just shut my big mouth".
  • The Lancer: Bart becomes one to Principal Skinner.
  • Latex Perfection: Bart imagines Mrs. Krabappel as an alien whose human face is a latex mask.
  • Pet the Dog: While Eddie and Lou are often shown to be inefectual or corrupt they are genuinely supportive of Bart's aspirations to become a police officer.
  • Percussive Maintenance: When the machine that analyzes the tests stops working, a man starts hitting it with a broomstick until it starts working again.
  • Personality Swap: After the test results, Bart becomes hall monitor while Lisa fills the role of rebellious prankster vacated by Bart.
    Marge: Bart's grades are up a little this term. But Lisa's are way down.
    Homer: Oh, we always have one good kid and one lousy kid. Why can't both our kids be good?
    Marge: We have three kids, Homer.
    Homer: Marge, the dog doesn't count as a kid!
  • Reality Ensues: Bart quickly learns that firing a gun involves recoil.
  • The Resenter: Mrs. Krabappel slips into this territorywhile in front of her class briefing them about the Career Aptitude Normalizing Test.
    Mrs. Krabappel: Some of you may discover a wonderful vocation you never even imagined. Others may find out that life isn't fair, [turning bitter] that in spite of your Masters from Bryn Mawr, you might end up a glorified babysitter to a bunch of dead-eyed fourth-graders while your husband runs naked on a beach with your marriage counselor! [stares from the students] Ahem.
  • Shout-Out: When Skinner asks Lisa what she's rebelling against, she says "Whadda you got?", the same response as Marlon Brando's character in The Wild One. She also has a toothpick in her mouth like Brando did.
  • Special Guest: Steve Allen as Bart's altered voice.
  • Taking the Heat: Bart willingly takes the blame for the textbook theft to save Lisa from punishment.
  • Tempting Fate: Lou and Eddie remark to Bart that being a cop isn't all car chases and gunfights with robbers...only for Snake to fly past them in his car, and Lou and Eddie promptly give chase with Bart along for the ride.
  • Unfortunate Name: Mr. Glascock, a supply teacher, who was forced to quit because of how people wouldn't stop mocking his name. He quit again after Lisa stole the teachers' textbooks.
  • "Walk on the Wild Side" Episode: Lisa becomes a delinquent after getting "Homemaker" in an Inept Aptitude Test and being told that she'll never become a professional Jazz musician due to her stubby fingers. This culminates with her committing an expulsion worthy offense (stealing all of the teachers' guides) to which Bart takes the fall, not wanting her to ruin her life.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out if the kids ever learned their vocational tests were mixed up.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Snake has no problems with running over a ten-year-old boy, especially in front of the cops!
    Snake: See you in hell, punk!!
  • Yellow Sash of Power. As hall monitor, Bart rules with ruthless efficiency. The image at the top of this episode's page is a scene from this episode.


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