Episode - 8F03
First Aired - 10/10/1991
Bart's bad day at school turns good when he gets a job as a gofer for local mob boss, Fat Tony, but spending time with mafioso may be turning Bart into one of them especially when news hits that Principal Skinner has gone missing.
This episode provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Homer threatens to make Bart smoke all the cigarettes in his room to "teach him a lesson".
- Adaptational Villainy: In-Universe, with the Very Loosely Based on a True Story Show Within a Show-movie-of-the-week Blood on the Blackboard, that depicts Bart as a young man so vile that he manages to become a criminal mastermind by bullying Fat Tony and is also the architect of Skinner's murder. The real Bart thinks it's pretty cool, mostly because this also makes him an Adaptational Badass.
- Adaptational Wimp: Fat Tony, as portrayed in Blood on the Blackboard, is a Nervous Wreck who gets slapped and bossed around by the film's version of Bart Simpson. And he's much slimmer too.
- Affably Evil: Fat Tony and his gang. For instance, when they confront Skinner regarding his treatment of Bart, you'd think they're about to threaten him. Instead, it turns out they were politely advocating for Bart, though Skinner still angrily orders them to leave.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Laramie was an actual brand of cigarette, though they haven't been made since the 1950s.
- Amoral Attorney: Bart is nearly convicted for Principal Skinner's murder, but it turns out this crime never even happened. The prosecutor tries to get Bart convicted anyway, moving for Skinner's testimony about how he is not dead to be removed from record. The judge instantly rejects the motion with prejudice ("DENIED!").
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: When Mrs. Krabappel announces that Skinner is missing, all the students cheer. Except Bart, who has an Oh, Crap!.
- Artistic License Child Labor Laws: The mafia has Bart, a ten-year-old boy tend a bar. The minimum bartending age anywhere in the U.S. is 18. Yes, they're the mafia, but you would expect them not to break the law so flagrantly where everyone can see it.
- As Himself: Neil Patrick Harris (playing "Bart"); Joe Mantegna (playing Fat Tony) [both on the show and in the made-for-TV movie within a sitcom Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story].
- Asinine Alternate Activity: Bart leaves his permission slip to visit the chocolate factory at home, so he ends up spending the day in Principal Skinner's office licking envelopes; Skinner suggests that Bart could "make a game out of it", by seeing how many envelopes he could lick in an hour, and then try to beat that record.
- Badass Teacher: Minor thing, mostly because it shows Fat Tony being more of a wimp, but still Skinner managed to stop him and his goons cold from doing whatever they were planning to do to him with a simple bellow of Get Out!. He also manages to save himself from his entrapment by improvising a rocket out of baking soda, a lemon and a balloon, with only one free arm.
- Bait-and-Switch: When Bart first stumbles upon the hangout and Fat Tony asks him to pick a horse in the third race.Bart: Eat my shorts.
Fat Tony: Eat My Shorts? Okay, let's see - wait a minute, you little punk!... Eat My Shorts is in the fifth race! I said the third race!
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The whole drama Bart suffers in the third act is the result of him wishing something happened to Skinner in retribution for giving him detention and saying it aloud in the middle of a room full of Mafia guys. Ends up being averted when it is revealed that Skinner's disappearance had nothing to do with Fat Tony's threat or visit.
- Big "NO!": Bart screams this when he realized he forgot his permission slip.
- Bittersweet Ending: Bart is acquitted, but he breaks ties with the mafia for throwing him under the bus, and the media still demonises him for entertainment value, while keeping within limits just enough to not pay the family a cent for slander (not that Bart minds at all seeing movies portraying him as a hardened gangster, to the point it might be the only unnegated joy he has the whole episode).
- Book Dumb: Bart. After his dog eats his homework, it spits a part that has "9 X 9 = 100".
- The Bore: Skinner strikes again. Bart being the only student in the building because everybody else is on a trip, he asks him to help lick envelopes closed and when Bart tells him he's getting bored, Skinner tells him to entertain himself by seeing how many envelopes he licks in an hour and then trying to beat that record. He later lets Bart go a minute early (mostly because Bart's tongue is completely dry — he even needs to write his question for Skinner) and makes it a "we'll make this our little secret" gesture. He later says in the courtroom that he attempted to pass the time while trapped under newspapers to bounce a basketball, seeing how many times he could bounce it in a day, then trying to beat that record. This prompts an eye-roll from Bart.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Bart is left behind and it starts raining as he starts walking to school. As soon as he arrives, the rain stops and a rainbow appears, prompting an angry "D'oh!" from Bart.
- After the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon (where a line-up of cats gets mowed down by a minigun-wielding Itchy), Fat Tony remarks "It's funny because it's true", a phrase normally attributed to Homer.
- Bribe Backfire: Bart's attempt to bribe Principal Skinner results in a mid-episode chalkboard gag ("I will not bribe Principal Skinner").
- Butt-Monkey: Bart goes through a lot of hardships in this episode. His homework is destroyed, he misses the bus and is caught in the rain, he loses out on a school trip to a chocolate factory and has to lick envelopes instead, he's cornered by the mafia, and is eventually blamed for the death of Skinner and put on trial.
- Call-Back: Skinner's bouncing of a basketball and seeing if he can beat his own record while trapped under his newspapers refers back to when he made a game out of licking envelopes, seeing how many Bart can do in an hour and trying to beat it. Bart rolls his eyes when Skinner says this.
- The Cameo: Sideshow Bob appears in the same jail cell as Bart, lifting weights.
- Casting Gag: The made-for-TV movie "Blood on the Blackboard" has Fat Tony portrayed by Joe Mantegna, who also voices the actual Fat Tony.
- Catapult Nightmare: Bart screams when he wakes up after his nightmare.
- Class Trip: The school goes to a chocolate factory, a trip Bart misses because he forgot his permission slip.
- Defiant Captive: Skinner in Blood on the Blackboard, at gunpoint, gives Bart a Spiteful Spit in his face.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Bart's Nightmare Sequence is in black-and-white, along with shades of blue.
- Dirty Coward: Despite not even murdering Skinner in the first place, the mafia see it easier to scapegoat Bart than take their chances of being proven innocent.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The visiting Don gives Fat Tony the Kiss of Death because his Manhattan wasn't good.
- Disregard That Statement: After Skinner shows up alive and completely destroys the murder case against Bart, the prosecution moves to have his testimony stricken from the record anyway. The judge immediately shouts an exasperated "DENIED!" and dismisses the case.
- A Dog Ate My Homework: Santa's Little Helper eats Bart's homework. After a moment of horror, Bart is surprised that dogs really do that kind of thing.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Bart has this reaction towards his classmates mocking Skinner's disappearance. Justified because he thinks the mafia has killed Skinner when Bart wished something would happen to Skinner for giving him detention. Boy, did that one come back to bite him.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Principal Skinner is shown living by himself, instead of with his Beloved Smother. His house is also shown to be a bungalow instead of two-storey (story).
- Wiggum is drawn with black hair, rather than the blue hair that he has later in the series.
- Fat Tony's real name is given as William Williams rather than Marion Anthony D'Amico.
- Easily Condemned: Bart is very quickly set up for murdering Skinner with next to no evidence of him committing it—or that Skinner was dead in the first place. The judge justifies this with the track record given by everyone who's put up with him, including his father.Homer (breaking down in tears on the witness stand, after the prosecutor asks him if Bart would be so vile): Aw, it's true, IT'S TRUE! ALL THE PIECES FIT!! *bawls*
- Empathic Environment: Played for Laughs. The school bus drives off without Bart, and it immediately starts pouring with rain. The rain immediately stops when Bart arrives at school, much to his anger. Later, the second he leaves school, it starts raining again.
- Epic Fail:
- Legs makes a Manhattan so crappy that another crime lord thinks it justifies giving Fat Tony a Kiss of Death.
- This is the only way to describe the police's attempts at finding Skinner... only polite way of describing it, anyway. They were close enough that Skinner could hear them and they never heard him shouting back.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Bart has made Skinner's life a living hell both before and after this episode, but the idea of someone actually killing the man (let alone on Bart's account) shocks him.
- The Family for the Whole Family: Fat Tony showcases many things in this episode that appear in later appearances, such as the fact that acting more forceful than him can make him go away (or at least start to do so before going all "wait a minute, I'm the Mafia guy here!").
- Foreshadowing: At the start of the episode, Bart wakes up happy, only to step on a toy when he gets out of bed, affirming his Butt-Monkey status throughout the episode. Also, if you look carefully, his permission slip for the chocolate factory can be seen under his pillow before he gets out of bed. Unfortunately for him, he leaves it at home by accident.
- For Want of a Nail:
- Two nails concerning how the plot kicks off: Bart would never have met the Springfield Mafia if he had remembered to bring his permission slip to school, or if his skateboard hadn't lost a wheel on his way home, causing him to fall down the stairs to their hideout.
- As Skinner admits, if he had recycled more frequently, he wouldn't have been pinned under a giant pile of newspapers in his garage.
- The Freelance Shame Squad:
- After seeing him gloat over his good day, Lisa is quite smug towards the horrible turn of events Bart suffers. Perhaps she herself isn't immune to the sour grapes-invoked schadenfreude she chastised Homer about.
- Bart gets a visit from the squad while playing around on the monkey bars:Bart: Hey girls, look at me!
(Bart splits his pants attempting a gymnastics trick; girls point and laugh)
Bart: ...You can stop looking at me now.
(Bart is hit in face with football; girls continue to point and laugh)
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Bart's permission slip can be seen under his pillow when he first wakes up.
- Fun with Acronyms: Flowers By Irene.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Willie slaps Ms. Krabappel when she breaks down over the inauguration of a fire hose dedicated to Skinner's memory.
- Get Out!: Principal Skinner orders Fat Tony and his associates out of his office when he was confronted.Principal Skinner: GET! OUT!
Fat Tony: Okay, okay, you don't have to yell!
- Guilt by Association: "If my plant pollutes the water and poisons the town, by your logic, that would make me a criminal!"
- Guilt-Induced Nightmare: Fat Tony and his gang confront Principal Skinner for giving Bart detention. When Skinner goes missing the next day and it's assumed the mafia killed him, Bart has a nightmare of himself being haunted by Skinner and sent to the electric chair.
- Gut Feeling: Marge suspects correctly that Bart is hanging out with criminals, and also suspicious with the pizza truck that's been parked across the street for two weeks (see Van in Black below). Homer mostly ignores her concerns ("a job is a job"). Annoyed at his indifference, Marge demands that Homer go check Bart's workplace to see if she's right. After the mob lets him win at poker so he would approve of Bart's job, a convinced Homer tells Marge it's okay, only for her to be proven right when Bart gets arrested.Marge: Oh Bart, why couldn't you have gotten a paper route like other boys?
- Head Desk: Bart miserably does this after the second Oh, Crap! example below (he screams when he realizes he left his permission slip at home)."What a day."
- Historical Villain Upgrade: In-Universe, Blood on the Blackboard depicts Bart as the one who actually killed Skinner. Not that the real Bart seemed to care, as he liked how it showed him as a hardened criminal.
- Hollywood Law: Once Skinner proves that he is alive, the mafia is allowed to go free, ignoring that they had been giving false testimony and committing perjury when they were setting Bart up to take the fall.
- Humiliation Conga: Bart throughout the entire first act.
- Ignored Epiphany: Homer believes all the cigarettes in Bart's room are his and orders him to smoke them all. When the transport guy by Fat Tony shows up, Homer realizes he was wrong and says he will never doubt Bart again. Come the trial, guess what happens.
- Implausible Deniability:
- Fat Tony is asked by Wiggum about a truckload of cigarettes being hijacked, and Fat Tony asks him, Whats a truck? Wiggum tells him not to play dumb. Later Wiggum bursts into the Mafia's hideout to arrest them for Skinner's murder, Fat Tony asks, "What's a murder?" Again, Wiggum doesn't buy it. Fat Tony probably does that to annoy Wiggum.
- Fat Tony and his goons frame Bart, a ten-year-old boy, as the "capo di tutti capi" of the Springfield Mafia on top of his alleged role as the mastermind of Skinner's (supposed) murder. The people of Springfield are absurdly gullible to buy that.
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Only Seymour Skinner would find fun to spend hours licking envelopes.
- Insane Troll Logic: Fat Tony "explains" to Bart how hijacking a truckload of cigarettes isn't wrong.Bart: Uh, say, are you guys crooks?
Fat Tony: Bart, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?
Fat Tony: Well, suppose you got a large starving family. Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?
Bart: Uh uh.
Fat Tony: And, what if your family don't like bread? They like... cigarettes?
Bart: I guess that's okay.
Fat Tony: Now, what if instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away. Would that be a crime, Bart?
Bart: Hell, no.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: Early on, Lisa claims that no-one is interested in Bart's stupid police badge. In comes Homer proudly showing off his new toy police badge.
- Jerkass: The prosecutor, who actually tries to get Bart convicted by asking the judge to disregard the fact that Principal Skinner's alive and Bart had nothing to do with his disappearance, by Skinner's own admission.
- Jerkass Ball: Lisa in the first act. She says that the Humiliation Conga Bart suffers is something he deserves... for apparently no reason. She also gives him a smug little wave as the bus leaves without him.
- Also Otto. Bart ran up to the bus shouting "Wait! Wait!" Otto did wait, only to slam the doors in Bart's face and drive off without him, leaving him to walk to school and get there forty minutes late. He then splashes Bart with a Roadside Wave when Bart miserably leaves school.
- Karma Houdini: The mobsters setting up Bart as a fall guy weren't punished for what they've done to him. Once their testimony is proven false, no cares that they'd repeatedly perjured themselves. They agree with Bart's theory that crime doesn't pay... before each driving off in their large limos.
- Kids Are Cruel: Lisa in the first act, see Jerkass Ball and The Freelance Shame Squad.
- Kiss of Death: One is given to Fat Tony when he serves the Mafia boss a "flat, flavorless Manhattan" (due to Legs making it instead of the usual bartender, Bart).
- Loophole Abuse: The media still portrays Bart as a villain even after he is vindicated (largely because it makes for better entertainment). Much to Homer's annoyance however, they apparently tamper with facts just enough that they don't have to pay the family a dime for slander, not that Bart minds being depicted in a movie as a hardened mafia kingpin.
- Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: This episode marks the first appearance of the Trope Namer.
- MacGyvering: Skinner escaped from his garage trap by building a rocket with baking soda and lemon juice.
- Made of Iron: Bart falls down the concrete stairs to the Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club and suffers no injuries at all. This is after a football strikes Bart in the face and gives him a black eye, then he flies off his skateboard.
- Nerves of Steel: Bart has no problem mouthing off to the Mafia when he first encounters them, even after they'd pointed their guns at him.
- Never Found the Body: And yet, everyone was willing to believe a ten-year-old would kill Principal Skinner. And as it turns out, the police didn't even look too hard.Skinner: (in the basement) I'M IN HEREEEEEE!
Wiggum: Well, let's go.
Eddie: Okay, Chief.
- Nightmare Sequence: Bart suffers a particularly frightening one, where after Skinner is reported missing, Bart sees Skinner's body everywhere he goes, moaning "YOU KILLED ME, BART!", much to Bart's horror. He then ends up on death row and is sentenced to the electric chair, whereupon Bart wakes up screaming, louder and harder than he ever had before or ever will again.
- No Honor Among Thieves: The mob find it more efficient to frame Bart (who had been a highly loyal member of the gang up until then) for Skinner's murder (and every other crime of theirs) than simply deny a crime they didn't commit.
- No OSHA Compliance: The class is allowed to run around the Oh, Fudge factory unrestrained. They can even eat handfuls of chocolate straight from the vats, with the stuff in their shirt pockets falling into the vats.
- Noodle Incident:Bart: Did you kill my principal?
Tony: Uh, Chinese guy with a mustache?
Bart: No, my principal!
- Not My Lucky Day: Bart suffers a hefty Humiliation Conga before coming face to face with the mafia.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Some of Bart's classmates dole this to Bart after Skinner's disappearance, such as Lewis pretending to be Skinner's corpse.
- Oh, Crap!: Bart has several:
- Bart when he sees Santa's Little Helper eating his homework. He then remarks that he didn't know dogs really did that.
- Bart lets out a horrified scream when he realizes he left his permission slip for the field trip at home.
- Bart on the way home from school when the wheel comes off his skateboard. He then has another one seconds later when he finds himself with several gun barrels in his face held by the Mafia. "Uh-oh", indeed.
- Bart again when Mrs. Krabappel announces that Skinner is missing. "Uh-oh", again.
- Bart again in his nightmare when he suddenly finds himself in the death house.
- In the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, the line-up of cats all have one when they see Itchy about to mow them down with a minigun.
- The Oldest Profession: Supposedly, one of the rackets Bart was involved in as head of the Mafia.
- Once More, with Clarity!: When Skinner arrives at the court to explain what became of him, we are re-shown the scene of the mobsters entering his office to confront him... where we learn they weren't exactly there maliciously:Louie: (friendly; shakes Skinner's hand) We think there's promise in the boy-Skinner: (fed up; stands up) Get out!Fat Tony: (as he and the other mobsters leave sheepishly) Okay, okay, you don't have to yell!
- Poke the Poodle: It's at first implied Fat Tony and his henchmen arrived to Skinner's office to do something awful to him because he gave Bart detention... only for it to turn out they tried talking nicely to him to change his mind. Skinner managed to stop them by just bellowing them to Get Out!.
- Police Are Useless: They searched Skinner's home, but all they did was dig around his bedroom. They never checked the basement where Skinner was trapped and somehow never heard his loud cries for help.
- Police Psychic: Chief Wiggum consults a psychic to find Skinner's body, but the psychic can only channel celebrity gossip.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Bart imagines himself working out on death row in his Nightmare Sequence. Later, when Bart gets enjailed for his trial, his cell mate Sideshow Bob is seen lifting weights.
- Radish Cure: When Homer finds out that Bart's room is full of cigarette cartons he's holding for Fat Tony, Homer believes that they're his and was about to make him start to smoke all of them (as in several thousand) in order to give him this regarding smoking. It's a good thing the transport guy Fat Tony sent to take out the cartons arrived at that moment.
- Roadside Wave: Bart suffers two of them. After the school bus leaves without him, a car drives through a puddle and splashes him. Then, after he leaves school, the bus drives through a puddle on the way back to school and soaks him again.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Bart, while emulating Fat Tony, tries to bribe Principal Skinner into looking the other way at his mischief. Cue Bart in detention being forced to write "I will not bribe the principal" on the blackboard.
- Seers: The police employ a psychic to locate Skinner. It doesn't work.
- Self-Deprecation: When Marge mentions that the Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story changed just enough of the events to avoid paying the family royalties, Homer bemoans: "You know who the real crooks are? Those sleazy Hollywood producers!" This is immediately followed by the credits of the executive producers Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon.
- Shout-Out: The horses Fat Tony and Bart bet on are named after catchphrases, both from the show itself ("Eat my Shorts" and "Don't have a Cow" are Bart catchphrases) and from various franchises: "Yabba-Dabba-Doo" is from The Flintstones, "I Yam What I Yam" is from Popeye, and "That's all Folks!", "Ooh Ain't I a Stinker" and "Sufferin' Succotash" are from Looney Tunes.
- Show Within a Show: Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story starring Neil Patrick Harris qualifies as this.
- Smoking Gun: Skinner suddenly enters the courtroom when the judge is about to declare Bart guilty of his murder.
- Special Guest: Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure; Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony and Neil Patrick Harris as himself as Bart Simpson.
- Spies in a Van: Marge comments about it taking two weeks to deliver a pizza, which is overheard and causes the van to flee. A minute later, another causal van arrives, Flowers By Irene.
- Spoof Aesop:
- After almost being convicted for a crime that didn't even happen, Bart said he learned crime didn't pay. Fat Tony says he agrees... only to leave the courthouse in a limousine, which is followed by limousines belonging to Legs and Louie.
- Skinner was trapped in his basement because a large pile of newspapers fell on top of him and kept him trapped. He later says, "Let this be a lesson to recycle frequently."
- After Homer finds hundreds of cigarette cartons in Bart's room, he orders Bart to smoke them all to teach him a lesson. However, once Fat Tony's delivery guy comes to pick them up, Homer apologizes for doubting Bart's explanation.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Bart only sees the benefits of associating with the mob, so when the reality of his actions hit him, it hits him hard.
- The mafia has the power to kill and they will do so if someone makes too much trouble for them. Fortunately for Skinner, his actions weren't proportionate enough for death and it would be too hard to explain how a predominant figure like him could disappear overnight and have nobody question it.
- When the authorities finally catch up with the mafia, Bart is thrown under the bus since he's considered disposable for just being a bartender. The only way he escapes is by Skinner reappearing in trial and explaining what happened. Afterwards, Bart burns bridges with the mob and quits.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:Nelson: I heard Bart had Skinner killed by gangsters.
Bart: That's not true! It's just a rumor. You're engaged in speculation. I know the law, you can't prove anything.
- Tempting Fate: Bart remarks early on that he has done his homework for once. It doesn't end well.
- Actually, Bart's line to Lisa about why he's so happy that morning. It's a lovely day, his homework is done and he's going on a field trip. Santa's Little Helper eats Bart's homework, he has to walk to school in the rain and realizes too late that he left his permission slip at home, under his pillow.
- When Bart's skateboard loses a wheel, he falls down the steps to the Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club and sarcastically asks, "What next?" Cue several gun barrels pointed at him.
- They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!:Fat Tony: You Skinner?
Skinner: (angrily) I'm Principal Skinner, yes!
- Van in Black: Marge notices a pizza van that had been parked outside the Simpsons's house for days, which a government agency surveillance team was hiding out in. After Marge asks "How long does it take to deliver a pizza?", the agents inside remark that their cover's blown and pull away, only to be immediately replaced by a "florist" van reading "Flowers By Irene".
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: In-universe, Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story portrays Bart as a hardened mobster who genuinely attempts to murder Skinner, despite the movie being made after he was proven innocent. According to Marge, the film being inaccurate means they didn't have to pay Bart royalties.
- Villains Never Lie: Legs tells Bart that they did not kill Skinner. As it turns out, they were right. They still tried to frame Bart for doing it, however.
- Villains Out Shopping: The mobsters watch an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon with Bart.
- Would Hurt a Child: The Springfield Mafia point several guns at Bart when he first falls down the steps to their club. They then do it again to threaten him when he protests he doesn't know how to make the Manhattan cocktail for Legs. Presumably they plan to do so if the cocktail isn't any good.