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Recap / The Simpsons S4 E6 "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie"

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Episode - 9F03
First Aired - 11/3/1992

During Parent/Teacher conference night at Springfield Elementary, Mrs. Krabappel lets Homer and Marge in on the destructive and dangerous pranks Bart has been playing (synthesizing a laxative from peas and carrots, replacing the teacher's birth control pills with Tic-Tacs, bringing in a Krusty doll with a switchblade head, and sticking lit fireworks down a nameless boy's pants) and recommends that Homer and Marge be stricter in their parentingnote , but it proves too much with Bart manipulating Homer...until Homer decides to take the one thing away from Bart that he loves most: seeing the upcoming movie version of The Itchy and Scratchy Show. Ever.


Notable for being the first Simpsons episode to be called the "worst episode ever" (by a poster on two days after its first airing), inspiring Comic Book Guy's future Catchphrase.


  • Adolf Hitlarious: A cartoon from the 1940s is shown where Itchy and Scratchy beat, kick and decapitate Hitler. Then Itchy chops off Scratchy's head and Franklin D. Roosevelt appears, kicking both Hitler and Scratchy in the butt.
  • Analogy Backfire: While trying to convince Homer to allow Bart to watch the movie, Lisa asks how he'd feel if he wasn't allowed to watch the first flight to the moon. A flashback reveals he didn't care about the event.
  • Animation Bump: The WWII-era Itchy and Scratchy short is appropriately fluid and cartoony, to match the style of animation from that time period.
  • Ass Shove: Implied when Mrs Krabapple asks a boy where Bart stuck fireworks on him.
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  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: When Homer sees Bart smashing mustard with a hammer on the carpet, he tries to assert punishment when the ice cream truck appeared. Later, as they're enjoying their ice cream, Homer asked Bart what he was talking about. Bart lied that Homer was talking about the time he avoided jury duty. Being dumb, he tells Bart how he beat jury duty ("The trick is to say you're prejudiced against all races.")
  • Bad Future: Homer is convinced that not letting Bart see the movie as punishment is the only way to prevent this trope from happening. He's right.
  • Berserk Button: Homer visibly hides his fury when Bart declares "TV sucks".
    Homer: I know you're upset right now, so I'll pretend you didn't say that!
  • Bloody Hilarious: A billboard for the Itchy and Scratchy Movie is designed to shoot blood over anyone passing by. A newly-wed couple are soaked in blood by it, and are horrified... until they see the billboard, and laugh.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs:
    Marge: We'll bring back dinner.
    Lisa: What are we gonna have?
    Homer: Well, that depends on what the teachers say, if you've been good, pizza. If you've been bad... uh, let's see... poison.
    Lisa: What if one of us has been good and one of us has been bad?
    Bart: Poison pizza.
    Homer: Oh no, I'm not making two stops!
  • Breath-Holding Brat: Homer mentions to Bart he once, unsuccesfully, tried this technique to get a catcher's mitt.
    Homer: You know, when I was a boy, I really wanted a catcher's mitt, but my dad wouldn't get it for me. So I held my breath until I passed out and banged my head on the coffee table. The doctor thought I might have brain damage.
  • Brick Joke: A billboard for the Itchy and Scratchy Movie is designed to shoot blood over anyone passing by. After the last time the movie is shown at theaters, the billboard is changed into one for a barber college. It still shoots blood.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: When Maggie smashes the prison wall, Snake is one of the escapees, and happily declares "All right! Time for a crime spree!"
  • Characterization Marches On: Ned and his kids are the first ones in line for the movie!
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    Homer: Bart, since you break Grampa's teeth, he gets to break yours!
    Grampa: Oh, this is gonna be sweet!
    Marge: No!
    Grampa: Aww!
  • Cutaway Gag: "But first, let's take a look back at the year 1928, the year when you might've seen Al Capone dancing the Charleston on top of a flagpole."
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Marge tries this on Bart when she finds out that he broke Grandpa's teeth. Bart tries to call her bluff, but she tells him she's being serious, even stopping Homer the first time he caves. Just as the lesson is about to sink in, Homer sneaks Bart some pizza and tells him not to tell Marge and to try to behave. Bart calls Homer a sucker after he leaves.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "I can't let that happen! I won't let that happen! And I can't let that happen!"
  • Description Cut: At the parent's night, Mrs. Krabapple tells Marge about Bart's behaviour, which she apologises for, stating he doesn't mean to be bad. Then it cuts to Bart and Lisa looking at the sleeping Abe, and Bart immediately declares that this is their chance to be bad.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Homer and Marge are about to go to a parent-teacher meeting, Homer tells Bart and Lisa he'll bring them poison if they've been bad.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: If you notice, in this episode, Ralph's father wasn't Chief Wiggum, but rather someone who looks like a bigger version of himself wearing near-identical clothing. In addition, the Flanderses are among the first people waiting to see the movie.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Homer prevents Bart from seeing the movie, BUT his harsh tactic somehow leads Bart to become the Chief Justice of the United States and as a reward, an older Bart and Homer see the film together at last.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Marge's Bad Future Imagine Spot for Bart, adult versions of Sherri and Terri are seen at the strip club.
  • Gilligan Cut: Marge reassures Edna that Bart doesn't mean to be bad. Cut to him at home with a sleeping Grampa saying "It's time to be bad".
  • Groin Attack: The other implied place where Bart stuck fireworks on the voodoo doll.
  • Grounded Forever: Homer doesn't just stop Bart from seeing the movie on the first day, or even for a few weeks. He forbids Bart from ever seeing the movie. He finally lets Bart see the movie when his son has grown up into a supreme court judge.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Mrs. Krabappel mentions a series of increasingly serious incidents that Bart has been involved with (synthesizing peas and carrots into laxatives, replacing birth control pills with Tic Tacs, sneaking a knife into school and stuffing a lighted firecracker down a classmate's pants) ...And merely recommends to his parents that they show tough love. In the real world, while the first two incidents were troubling and would have been cause for counseling, the last two incidents would have gotten Bart expelled from school, and most certainly in the last case, resulted in a huge lawsuit and him being sent to juvenile hall.
  • Ignored Epiphany: The first attempt to be firm with Bart almost works, just as he considers changing his behaviour however, Homer gives him a slice of pizza out of sympathy, so long as he promises to behave from now on.
    Bart: (cackles after Homer leaves) Sucker...
  • It Amused Me: Most of Bart's behaviour up until Homer takes his ticket is just... because. This includes tearing up the carpets, hitting mustard packets with a hammer, and stealing Abe's teeth.
  • It's Personal: Marge's parent's conference with Mrs. Krabappel slowly devolves into the latter giving Marge a thinly veiled comeuppance for birthing the bane of her existence, write down to outright giving her a detention:
    (Marge writes "I WILL TRY TO RAISE A BETTER CHILD." on the classroom chalkboard)
    Marge: I really don't see how this is helping Bart.
    Mrs Krabappel: (firmly) Just do it.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Bart gives up on any chance in seeing the movie once he learns Homer had the local theater ban him from seeing it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Snake, who after Maggie crashed the car into the prison and escaped as he was now determined to go on a crime spree, has his efforts only net him a Beta Max VCR (to his absolute chagrin).
  • Meat-O-Vision: A hungry Bart imagines Santa's Little Helper's head to be a pizza box and his tongue a slice of one.
  • Mythology Gag: Lisa mentions that Dustin Hoffman and Michael Jackson made cameos in the movie under different names, "but you could tell it was them." Both performers had previously appeared on The Simpsons, uncredited, but audiences weren't fooled.
  • Never My Fault: Bart is given the ultimate punishment for failing to keep an eye on Maggie, allowing her to steal the car and drive it into the local prison walls. However, it's technically Homer's fault, since he left his car unlocked and the keys in the ignition, and was stupid enough to not put up barricades to stop his mischievous daughter from leaving the house.
  • Noodle Incident: "Oh dad, you and your stories: Bart broke my teeth. The nurses are stealing my money. This thing on my neck is getting bigger." While we did see Bart breaking Grampa's teeth, we don't see the other two events, which just adds more to just how horrible the Springfield Retirement Castle is (unless Grampa suffers from senility and thinks nurses are stealing his money and he has a growth on his neck that is getting bigger, since Homer calls him out on all this).
    • Some of Bart's pranks (the "peas and carrots" laxative, the birth control pill/Tic-Tacs switch, bringing in a Krusty doll with a switchblade in it, and shoving fireworks down a child's pants).
  • Off-Model: Lisa when she tells Bart how great the Itchy and Scratchy Movie was, particularly when she says "Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson..." This could be due to it being one of the earlier episodes animated by Film Roman and Rough Draft Studios.
  • Police are Useless: Per usual, the police don't do anything about Maggie driving the Simpson family car, the dog driving a bus, or the criminals escaping after Maggie crashes the car into the prison wall.
  • Pushover Parents: Homer and Marge start out as this when they explain to Mrs. Krabappel that they have a hard time disciplining Bart whenever he does something wrong. Following her advice on being firm with him, they gradually get better at disciplining him.
  • Retraux: The early Itchy and Sratchy cartoons we see are clear homages to cartoons from the 1920s.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: At the end, Bart and Homer's tickets to the movie are six-hundred and fifty dollars!
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Milhouse boasts that he's seen the Itchy and Scratchy Movie thirteen times, while Nelson claims he saw it seventeen times.
    Bart: You guys must be getting pretty tired of that movie by now.
    Milhouse: No one who saw the movie would say that.
    Nelson: Let's get him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Disney and Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons: Much of the backstory of Itchy and Scratchy dates back to the late 1920s, with the introduction of "Steamboat Itchy" (a parody of "Steamboat Willie" the first Mickey Mouse cartoon). As the backstory moves to the World War II-era, the anti-Adolf Hitler cartoons are similar to those pitting the good guys of various Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons produced during that time.
    • 60 Minutes: The TV newsmagazine and specifically, news stories from the early 1990s detailing abuse of elderly residents of nursing homes. (Homer had threatened to send Grampa to the "the crooked home" he had seen on TV after Grampa mumbled incoherently (due to his broken-and-poorly taped-together dentures stuffed in his mouth)).
    • Star Trek: The opening gag is a parody of the then-ongoing series of movies. This installment: Star Trek XII: So Very Tired, featuring a very elderly Captain Kirk complaining of health problems.
    • On seeing Bart's depression, Lisa claims he has the "demented melancholy" of a Tennessee Williams heroine.
    • "Mmmm, Soylent Green."
    • At the end of the episode, 40 years into the future, Bart is now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and he and Homer go see The Itchy and Scratchy Movie. The movie advertised to play after it is Beauty and the Beast.
    • During the final scene, Homer and Bart's silhouettes as they enter the theater are a reference to Mystery Science Theater 3000.
    • Prior to learning about The Itchy and Scratchy Movie, Bart (while stroking Snowball II), has a James Bond action figure in the microwave and says, "Stick around, Mr. Bond, things are really starting to... cook" as he melts him.
  • Smart Ball: Homer is surprisingly thorough in ensuring Bart can't see the movie, ripping up the ticket and keeping watchful eye on him throughout, even being savvy enough to request the theatre staff not to let him in. He even sticks to his approach long after even Marge, who chastised him for his lax parenting earlier, starts to crack.
  • Super Reflexes: When Grampa sneaks in Jasper's bedroom in the middle of the night to steal his dentures, he wakes up, turns the lamp on and points his gun at Abe, all within a second.
  • Take That!: The Korean animation studio where Itchy & Scratchy is made is portrayed as a hellhole, with workers chained to their desks, watched over by armed guards akin to a prison camp.
    • The real life Korean animators who worked on the show did not find this joke funny, and didn't want to animate it.
  • Time Marches On: Snake – during his crime spree after breaking out of prison – is disappointed that the VCR he stole plays only Beta (rather than the then prevalent VHS)); Beta-formatted VCRs had been retired from the United States' market in 1988 (though movies were released on the Beta format until 1996).
    • Also, with movies and TV shows being readily available online and the "films on demand" option on many modern cable packages, Bart would nowadays be perfectly able to watch "The Itchy & Scratchy Movie" without having to go to the movie theater (and Homer and Marge would have to use parental controls to keep Bart from seeing the movie online and on-demand).
      • Hell, even when this episode first aired, the notion that Homer would be able to prevent Bart from watching the movie was quite farfetched, as Bart could've easily found ways to see it, like sneaking into the theater (or just going to another theater that Homer hadn't been to yet), watching it on video or on cable at a friends house (or at his own home when Homer wasn't around), etc. Of course, the episode implied Homer took EVERY step needed to stop Bart from seeing the movie out of cartoon logic, and there are still ways to prevent children from seeing a specific movie in the modern day if you try hard enough.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Where the epilogue takes place. Besides a futuristic Springfield, we see that Bart has become Chief Justice of the USA and finally gets to see the movie with an older Homer, as the Itchy and Scratchy film has become an icon of animated film history.
  • Two Decades Behind: The episode was very out-dated, even when it first aired. Bart is not allowed to see the Itchy and Scratchy movie in the cinema and thus misses what seems to be the greatest movie in the world. After a while the movie theaters stop playing it and it disappears out of the public eye. Bart never manages to see the movie until Homer finally takes him to see it in the future when the local movie theater is playing it again. The phenomenon that you could only see films when they were playing in a local movie theatre and had no chance of ever seeing them again as soon as they were taken out of rotation was true in the decades before the introduction of home video... which was introduced near the end of the 1970s, while this episode debuted in 1992! The only saving grace is that Homer is implied to prepare for every scenario regardless of what the future throws at him.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bart's negligence while left in charge of Maggie results in her taking a car for a drive and helping people to escape prison.
  • Up to Eleven: Bart is the series' designated "bad boy" but most of his misbehavior is at worst harmless mischief that doesn't result in serious injury... Except in this episode, where it is (like when he made a laxative out of peas and carrots, stole Mrs. Krabappel's birth control pills and replaced them with Tic-Tacs, and stuck fireworks down a kid's pants).
  • War Time Cartoon: Parodied with Kent Brockman showing an Itchy and Scratchy propaganda cartoon made during World War II, where the cat and mouse fight off Adolf Hitler. In the end, Itchy kills off Scratchy too for the heck of it, while Franklin D. Roosevelt appears to kick them both in the behind and Itchy holding up a sign with the text "Save Scrap Iron".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: At first, Marge is supportive of Homer's punishment of forbidding Bart from seeing the episode's titular movie—but when the punishment gets to the point where Homer convinced the movie theater employees to actually ban Bart from the theaters, she and Lisa call Homer out on this, feeling that taken the punishment too far at this point. Unlike most examples, it doesn't unfetter Homer.


Example of: