First Aired - 12/16/1993
Legalized gambling comes to Springfield as a new revenue stream after news hits that the town's economy is on the down slope. When Mr. Burns constructs a casino, Homer gets a job as a blackjack dealer, Marge finds herself addicted to the slots, Bart opens up his own treehouse casino to show up a teenaged worker who had him thrown out for being underaged, Mr. Burns' constant surveillance of the casino turns him into Howard Hughes in his later years, and poor Lisa can't find anyone to help her make her Florida costume for the school state pageant.
This episode contains examples of:
- Angrish: Homer meant to say, and did say on the third try, "You broke a promise to your daughter," but he was too angry with Marge to talk coherently. She ended up having to remind him to think about what he was saying.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: After hearing Lisa's nightmare about the Boogeyman, Homer arms himself with a shotgun. When Marge comes home, we see that he has already fired a shot through the door; when she enters the door, he points the gun right at her face, and upon being relieved that it's her, he casually tosses the gun on the floor, causing it to discharge as he runs over to embrace her.
- As Himself: Gerry Cooney and Robert Goulet.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Back in the 1940s/1950s, Springfield's streets were literally made of gold. After Jasper points this out, we see a man trying to drive down said streets with his car swerving out of control and crashing because the wheels kept slipping.
- Big Damn Heroes: Barney rescues Maggie from being mauled by a tiger.
- Blah Blah Blah: Marge in Homer's "photographic memory."
- Blind Without 'Em: Henry Kissinger drops his glasses in a toilet while visiting the nuclear power plant. (Smithers assures him as he leaves that they'll keep an eye out for them, but Kissinger knows what happened, he's just too embarrassed to tell him.) In the next scene, the news reports that he injured himself walking into a flagpole.
- Calling Out for Not Calling: Marge develops a gambling addiction and Lisa is the first to be worried by her sudden lack of presence and dedication.Do you get the feeling this family is disintegrating? I mean, we haven't had a meal with Mom all week. And she hasn't even started my costume for the geography pageant.
- Celebrity Impersonator: Bart tried to hire a Liza Minnelli impersonator for his casino. He found himself needing a replacement act because he found out the "impersonator" was the real Liza Minnelli.
- Children Are Cruel: Burns has a flashback of him ramming a poor worker repeatedly with a bumper car when he was a child, breaking the man's legs and only stopping long enough to hear the man's pleas for him to stop before continuing.
- Comically Missing the Point: Even after seeing Marge at the slot machines and being told by her he brought her bad luck, Homer still believed she was against legalized gambling.
- Compressed Vice: Marge's gambling addiction was never established earlier. Later episodes will sometimes point out Marge's gambling problem.
- Either/Or Title: The actual title to this episode is: "$pringfield: Or, 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling."
- Epic Fail: The Florida costume Homer makes for Lisa is so bad Princpal Skinner says it obviously was made without any help from parents. The only other costume to be declared as such is Ralph's Idaho, which consists of a piece of paper with "Idaho" written on it and taped on his shirt.
- Fright-Induced Bunkmate: Played with through Disproportionate Retribution. Look down on Things That Go "Bump" in the Night.
- The Gambling Addict: Marge becomes addicted to slot machines at the casino, and shows this trait occasionally in subsequent episodes.
- Giftedly Bad: Homer is praised by the players at his blackjack table, though only because he's so bad at it that he causes them all to win every time. The second his shift is over and he is replaced by someone else, they all vamoose.
- Hypocritical Humor:
Beggar: Got any spare change, man?
- The Squeaky-Voiced Teen throwing Bart out of the casino for being underage. Bart calls him out on this, prompting the Teen to respond, "I'm not authorized to answer that."
- Barney feels that Marge's gambling is a sign of very addictive behavior. Immediately afterwards, he mistakes cups with quarters in them for booze and guzzles them down, then belches them up as people gather to collect.
- At the beginning of the episode, Grampa and Jasper walk past a beggar:
Grampa: Yes! And you ain't gettin' it! Everybody wants somethin' for nothin'.
(the two walk into a Social Security office)
Grampa: I'm old! Gimme gimme gimme!
- Instantly Proven Wrong: After gambling is approved by unanimous vote, Homer says that this is something that will bring better things for the children. Gilligan Cut to a panning shot of the park with the Jeremiah Springfield statue, which has become a full-blown Sodom and Gomorrah-style Wretched Hive in mere seconds.
- Irony: Mr. Burns is a proud member of the Simpsons world's counterpart of the Freemasons, but he's evidently scared of the real thing (when he imagines the microbes on Smithers' face announcing "Freemasons run the country!").
- Malaproper: Homer tries claiming he has a photographic memory. He can't even pronounce the word properly, calling it "phonographic."
- Manly Tears: Homer sheds them when Lisa is crying over her costume, and decides to get Marge to come home.
- Moral Guardians: Averted. The decision to legalize gambling in Springfield is unanimous, with even Reverend Lovejoy approving of it on the basis that "once something has been approved by the government, it's no longer immoral." Everyone expects Marge to stand against the proposal, but she agrees it could help improve Springfield's economy.
- Noodle Incident: Homer's past goof-ups include getting caught stealing watches from Sears and letting an escaped lunatic in the house for being dressed as Santa Claus, which apparently aren't as bad as Marge's gambling problem.
- Not Hyperbole: Back in the late 1940s, Springfield's streets were literally made of gold. Jasper points this out to Abe Simpson when he says it sarcastically.
- Off-Model: The weird design of Nelson◊ while Robert Goulet sings "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells".
- Overly Long Gag: Mr. Burns laughing at the memory of injuring an Irish bumper car worker as a child.
- Papa Wolf: Not a standard example, but Lisa crying because her costume isn't very good causes Homer to get pissed and give Marge a What the Hell, Hero? speech about letting down Lisa because she was too busy gambling.
- Sanity Slippage: Burns' sanity gradually erodes—a la Howard Hughes—the more he works in the casino. He grows a long shaggy beard, becomes obsessed with germs, starts wearing tissue boxes on his feet, preserves his own urine in jars, and insists a model of an airplane he built is real.
- Self-Serving Memory: Homer claims to have a photographic memory. His actual memory is, in a word, warped.
- The title above references Dr. Strangelove.
- Mr. Burns turns into Howard Hughes as the success of the casino gets to him. His bedroom in the hotel is modeled after that of the astronaut during the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- The titular characters of the film Rain Man visit the casino.
- Homer recites Scarecrow's "brainy" quote from The Wizard of Oz, which gets irritably corrected by someonenote .
- The porn theater is showing takeoffs of I'll Do Anything and Terms of Endearment — both directed by executive producer James L. Brooks.
- Soapbox Sadie: Marge is such a well-known Moral Guardian example of this by now In-Universe that after the proposal to make gambling legal is near-unanimously voted "yes", everybody in Town Hall turns towards Marge, expecting her to have something against it.
- Spell My Name with an "$": The episode's title.
- Start My Own: When Bart gets thrown out of the casino for being underage, he creates his own casino in his treehouse.
- Sure, Let's Go with That:Mr. Burns: Nothing can stop me! (beat) Except microscopic germs. But we won't let that happen, won't we Smithers?
Smithers: Um... no sir.
- Tempting Fate: The Squeaky-Voiced Teen gives Bart the idea of starting his own casino when asking what Bart would do about being expelled from Mr. Burns' casino.
- Gunter and Ernst (an Expy of Seigfried and Roy) claim their white tiger Anastasia enjoys show business far more than life in the wild... at which point the tiger remembers her capture from the wild and promptly and angrily mauls her handlers.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: Mr. Burns is less than thrilled over the idea pitches for the casino. The first, Britannia, was supposed to be English-themed, with genuine Cockney waitresses (actually prostitutes fresh from the streets of Sussex). The second was a hippie who thought he was being brought in to pitch Woodstock. The third interview, the Sea Captain, tried to talk Burns into financing a spice expedition to the East Indies.Mr. Burns: We're building a casino!
Sea Captain: Arr... can you give me five minutes?
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Invoked. Lisa's mention of the boogeyman in her nightmare causes Homer to freak out and lock the rest of the family in his and Marge's bedroom along with a shotgun thinking there might be a boogeyman or boogymen in the house. When Marge finally comes home, the bedroom door's got a few gunshot holes in it. Homer says it's Marge's fault for not being here to stop him.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In a Deleted Scene, Homer is dealing cards to James Bond, who is playing poker with Blofeld. Being who he is, he not only deals him the Joker card but also the rules for draw and stud poker, which leads to Bond losing and being dragged off by Blofeld's henchmen.note Bond: Well, at least tell me the details of your plot for world domination.
Blofeld: Ho ho ho, I'm not going to fall for that one again.
- Women Are Wiser: One of the show's earliest subversions after season one. Homer, if somewhat haphazardly, manages to bring Marge out of her gambling addiction after telling her about missing out on Lisa's costume contest. He then revels in finally having one over her.