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Recap / The Simpsons S4 E11 - "Homer's Triple Bypass"

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Original air date: 12/17/1992

Production code: 9F09

Years of fatty foods and minimal exercise have taken their toll on Homer's heart and Dr. Hibbert advises Homer to get an artery bypass graft for $40,000. With the family unable to afford the operation, much less even (in)adequate medical insurance to cover the cost, Homer is forced to turn to Dr. Nick's $129.95 hack-job to save his life. Can Lisa and her newfound knowledge of cardiology save the day?

This episode contains examples of:

  • Adoption Diss: When Bart and Lisa help Homer give them encouraging words if case something goes wrong with the surgery.
    Homer: And, Lisa...
    (Beat. He motions Bart to whisper in his ear.)
    Homer: I guess this is the time to tell you...
    (Bart whispers some more.)
    Homer: You're adopted, and I don't like you.
    (Lisa glares at Bart.)
    Homer: (angrily) BART!
  • Aesop Amnesia: Despite the episode stressing how serious Homer’s surgery is after it’s done, he immediately goes back to his bacon eating ways and doesn’t learn anything.
  • Amoral Attorney: Averted apparently. Burn's lawyers wouldn't let him sneak Homer a poisoned donut, as that's murder.
    Burns: Damn their oily hides!
  • Analogy Backfire: Homer accidentally puts himself in a corner with one.
    Homer: Don't worry, kids. I'm not going to die. That only happens to bad people.
    Bart: What about Abraham Lincoln?
    Homer: Uh... he sold poisoned milk to schoolchildren.
    Marge: Homer!
  • And a Diet Coke: While watching Cops, Homer has this lying besides him in bed as well as a pizza, a turkey, a plate of spaghetti and meatballs and a fondue set.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Merry Widow Insurance Company has a neon sign featuring a widow happily dancing on her husband's grave while holding money.
  • Animation Bump: The episode has some much looser more expressive moments than the show's usual fare, particularly Homer's heart attack at the power plant courtesy of David Silverman.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: The COPS parody, with many moments involving Chief Wiggum bungling the bust of a cattle rustler, despite clearly obvious clues as to the what's, where's and who's. When the suspect – Snake, a man Wiggum has encountered many times before – makes a getaway, Wiggum cannot so much as even give a grossly inadequate description of the car or the suspect … except that the Suspect Is Hatless.
  • Bait-and-Switch: One of the C.O.P.S. parody scenes actually shows a case of police competency but a zoom out reveals that the Springfield cops are just watching it on TV.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Mr. Burns uses this to lure Homer into a false sense of security.
    Mr. Burns: Relax, Simpson. I just brought you in here for a friendly hello...
    Mr. Burns: ...and goodbye! YOU'RE FIRED!
    (Homer gags)
    Mr. Burns: But, wait. Perhaps I'm being too hasty. You are highly skilled...
    Mr. Burns: ...AT GOOFING OFF!
    (Homer clutches heart)
    Mr. Burns: Now don't worry, Homer. You're the kind of guy I could really dig...
    (Homer relaxes)
    Mr. Burns: ...A GRAVE FOR!
    Homer: Aaargh! (heart beats faster than anything)
    Mr. Burns: Your indolence is inefficacious!
    Homer: Huh? (heart beats normally, even leans in out of curiosity)
    Homer: Aarrggghh! (heart goes crazy until he collapses)
  • Beat Still, My Heart: We get an inside look on Homer's heart reacting to Mr. Burns yelling at him. His heart appears to be as confused as Homer when Burns says "Your indolence is inefficacious." We get another look at the end of the episode.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: When Homer tells Marge that his company gave up insurance for a pinball machine, she lets out a Homer-esque "D'oh!".
  • Cant Get Away With Nothing: When Homer is praying, a nurse shows him a sign prohibiting that. Flanders was praying just a moment ago and it didn't happen to him.
  • Characterization Marches On: Lisa purchases a cow heart from the butcher shop to practice cardiology with, long before she became a vegetarian and opposes animal experimentation.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Homer sighs in relief on hearing the thumping noise he heard is his heart and not his car's transmission.
      Kid: Where's he going?
      Gas Station Attendant: You remember that old Plymouth we just couldn't fix?
      Kid: We're going to sell him to Mr. Nikopopolous?!
      Gas Station Attendant: You're a dull boy, Billy.
    • Homer doesn't seem to understand Dr. Hibbert explaining to him that he has to cut him open to fix his heart. No matter how much he has to dumb it down.
  • Couch Gag: The family is shrunken and climbs the "giant" couch.
  • Cuckoo Finger Twirl: Chief Wiggum does this gesture to a citizen who fell off of an apartment building in COPS: In Springfield.
  • Deranged Animation: Homer's heart attack, wonderfully animated by David Silverman.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Homer's heart beats to the show's theme at the end.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This is one of many early episodes in which the Simpsons home address was not 742 Evergreen Terrace (which explains why it's Snake's address in this episode), so for anyone watching the episode for the first time and asking "Why is Snake hiding out at the Simpson house?", the answer is, "That's not their established home address...yet."
  • Epic Fail:
    • The COPS parody has Chief Wiggum trying to locate a cattle rustler. He ends up mistaking Reverend Lovejoy's location with the cattle rustler's location next door, despite the obvious hints that they got the wrong house (the next door neighbors had an odd amount of cattle especially for a suburban neighborhood, whereas the house they raided, Lovejoy's, was normal). He also fails to identify the car or even the driver—beyond being "hatless"—despite the driver poking his head out to taunt the cops long enough to have even a ten year old give the specific details.
    • One of Dr. Nick's past surgeries ended up with the patient having two of his limbs in the wrong sockets, leaving him with "a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg".
  • Everyone Has Standards: Zig-zagged. While Mr. Burns is willing to poison Homer for eating doughnuts on company time, Smithers wasn't (even going as far as to consult the attorneys about it).
    Mr. Burns: Look at that pig, stuffing his face with doughnuts on my time! That's right, keep eating; little do you know you're drawing ever closer to the poison doughnut! (Burns cackles, and then turns to Smithers) There is a poison one, isn't there, Smithers?
    Mr. Smithers: Uh, no sir. I discussed this with our lawyers; they consider it murder.
    Mr. Burns: [seething] Damn their oily hides!
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: After Homer's heart attack at The Merry Widow Insurance Company, he tells Dr. Hibbert about being in a "wonderful place filled with fire and brimstone and there were all these guys in red pajamas sticking pitchforks in my butt."
  • Fly in the Soup: Homer gets out of a diet by claiming to spot a bug in the healthy meal Marge prepared. Later, while he's enjoying some unhealthy food, Bart points out that there is a bug on it, but Homer just shrugs and continues eating.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: After Homer's heart whacks out, for some frames, it turns into a playing-card type club, spade, diamond, and a heart.
  • From Bad to Worse: Originally, Dr. Hibbert's already expensive artery bypass graft operation costs $30,000, but when Homer has another heart attack after hearing the operation's cost, it increases to $40,000.
  • Gilligan Cut: Homer tells the kids he's not going to sugarcoat the truth for them. Next, he is depicting his upcoming bypass surgery as a fairy tale, puppets and all.
  • Hammerspace Hair: In the COPS: In Springfield opening, the cops find weapons (brass knuckles, a grenade, and a handgun) inside Jasper's beard.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Happens when Mr. Burns berates Homer for the latter's work ethic.
    • Also somewhat of an aversion as his symptoms had started well before he collapsed, unlike the common Hollywood approach where the character is unaware until he/she clutches their chest and keels over. Of course, much of it still plays out in cartoonish ways.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Marge gives Homer a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, he lies there's a bug in it and throws it away. Moments later, as he is gorging himself on some bacon and eggs, Bart spots a bug on it, but Homer simply shrugs and keeps on eating.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Bart: Nothing you say can upset us. We're the MTV Generation.
    Lisa: We feel neither highs nor lows!
    Homer: Really? What's it like?
    Lisa: Eh.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Homer is easily amused by the adjustable hospital bed: "Bed goes up, bed goes down!" To the point where Lisa imagines him playing with one in Fluffy Cloud Heaven.
  • Inopportune Voice Cracking: Grandpa is in a church listening to Homer, as a young boy, singing in a church choir. Homer's voice then suddenly switches from a high-pitched voice to his normal one and his singing goes from sounding good to sounding terrible.
  • Insurance Fraud: Homer tries to get an insurance to treat a pre-existing heart condition. He fails because he has an attack right when he's about to sign the paperwork (and he might've successfully signed if he hadn't stopped to gloat about getting away with it).
  • I Shall Taunt You: Snake has enough time to hurl a mocking goodbye at the cops before making his getaway.
    Snake: Close but no donut, cops!
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Homer spends what should be his working hours eating or sleeping, something Mr. Burns is rightly furious over, and would be right to fire him for.
  • Layman's Terms: Parodied. Homer doesn't get Dr. Hibbert's explanation of his impending surgery no matter how much the latter dumbs it down.
  • Malaproper: Homer to Dr. Hibbert:
    Homer: Remember your hippopotamus oath!
  • Match Cut: Lisa has one Imagine Spot with Homer in heaven lying down on a cloud and reclining it the same way he does with his hospital bed. It cuts to Homer at the hospital doing exactly that.
  • Mood Whiplash: Most of the first half plays Homer's health issues humorously, with even the stress of his neccessary operation involving Black Comedy punchlines. As he and Marge discuss how they are unable to afford the bypass however, Marge breaks down in tears and the tone becomes much more somber, having become obvious to both her and the audience that Homer could die.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Krusty's hospital visit is part of his public service for a crime that's described as "glug-glug, vroom-vroom, (mimes walking with his hand) thump-thump!" (most likely a drunken hit and run).
    • Flanders thanks God for "Sweating to the Oldies" volumes one, two, and four. What was on volume three that would make Flanders not thank God for it?
  • Not a Mask: Krusty claims that his pale face is a side effect of his struggles with heart disease.
    Krusty: I got news for ya... this ain't make-up!
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Marge's sisters introduce her to a potential new husband while Homer is being operated. Earlier when Marge freaks out over Homer being in the hospital, rather than feel remorse or worry about their sister losing her husband, they gasp over a coupon for five cents off wax paper.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Despite his incredibly dubious track record, Dr. Nick successfully pulls off the operation, with some assistance from Lisa.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Spoofed:
    Grampa: They say the greatest tragedy is when a father outlives his son. I've never fully understood why that is. Frankly, I can see an upside to it!
  • Painting the Medium: The window that shows Homer's heart as it goes through his near-fatal heart attack in Mr. Burns' office zaps in and out of power towards the end before shattering and crumbling to the floor.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Played for Laughs: At the end of the episode, after Homer's successful surgery, his heart proceeds to beat out the show's theme... only to then pause for a moment. It only starts back up after Homer gently knocks on his chest.
  • Pet the Dog: When Homer temporarily dies of a heart attack, Burns tells Smithers to give a ham to Homer's now widow. It is then subverted when Homer revives seconds later, Burns has Smithers cancel the ham.
  • Running Gag:
    • The word "hell" is said six times in this episode ("What the hell is this?",note  "We had a hell of a time replacing you",note  "What the hell am I going to do with this jumbo thong bikini?",note  "What the hell is that?",note  "Hell no",note  and "Ah, what the hell, sure"note )
    • "Bed goes up, bed goes down."
  • Selective Obliviousness: When Marge, out of concern for Homer's health, gives him something he'd rather not eat, he "sees" a fly on it. Later, as he starts eating bacon, he dismisses Bart's warnings about a fly on it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: COPS: In Springfield and People Who Look Like Things.
  • Skewed Priorities: Homer and his fellow coworkers gave up health insurance for a pinball machine.
  • Stepford Smiler: Throughout most of the episode, Homer maintains an upbeat attitude about the whole ordeal, but when he's alone he reveals that he's actually really scared about the operation. His attitude in this episode is likely to keep the rest of his family from worrying too much.
  • Suicide as Comedy: During the COPS: In Springfield opening, Chief Wiggum tries to get a suicidal man off the ledge of a building. Rather than come back in, the man decides to drop to his death. And to add insult to injury, Chief Wiggum makes the "cuckoo" finger-to-temple swirl as the man plummets to his death.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: This episode is the Trope Namer.
    Homer: I can't wait 'til they throw his hatless butt in jail.
  • Taped-Over Turmoil: Dr. Nick is horrified to learn that an instructional video on how to perform a triple bypass he found at the library has been recorded over by a tabloid talk show about people who resemble ordinary items.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Hans Moleman dies for the first time, via Edgar Allan Poe's exploding birthplace.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: During one of his near-death experiences, Homer seemed to enjoy his stay in Hell.
    Homer: Oh, Doctor, I was in a wonderful place filled with fire and brimstone and there were all guys in red pajamas sticking pitchforks in my butt!
  • Vocal Evolution: In a flashback, a young Homer has a beautiful singing voice while performing "O Holy Night" in his children's choir, which then cracks and gives way to his adult singing voice.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Lisa makes some staggering mental leaps in this episode. She instructs Nick on where to make the incision for Homer's bypass, and even provides the exact name of the medical procedure involved based solely on Homer's deliberately dumbed-down rendering of it.
    Homer: So the tiny Aorta fairies will take Mr. Leg Vein on a long trip to get married to Princess Left Ventricle.
    Lisa: Dad, are you trying to tell us you're getting a coronary artery bypass graft?
    Homer: Uh, yeah.
  • X-Ray of Pain: A variation occurs with Homer's heart attack, in which the image of his heart is placed in a box on the corner of the screen. His heart makes a reappearance (in the same box) at the end of the episode.


Video Example(s):


Homer's Heart Attack

When Mr. Burns fires Homer as a result of his poor work performance, Homer's chest pains get worse and eventually reaches to the climax of his heart attack and his heart stops. Notably, Homer's heart attack was animated more expressively in this scene.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DerangedAnimation

Media sources: