Homer loses out on winning tickets to an upcoming Springfield Atoms football game. What's worse, his goody-two-shoes neighbor, Ned Flanders, won the last pair. After a failed attempt at bashing Flanders' skull in and take the tickets, Homer decides to spend the day with his neighbor at the game — and Homer realizes that Flanders is not such a bad guy after all...but all the time Homer spends with Ned puts a strain on the Simpsons and the Flanders.
The tropes in this episode include...
- Accidental Hero: Homer comes along with Ned to a homeless shelter and gets bored because Ned hands over soup to the needy too slowly, so he pushes him out of the way and starts to serve soup in a mad rush so they can get out of there faster. A reporter that is in the shelter notices this and takes a picture, and so Homer makes the news as a "passionate humanitarian".
- All for Nothing: Homer's rush to get to a phone so he can get football tickets by popping his car tires on the exit to the Nuclear Plant and then it turns out Flanders won the tickets to Homer's disappointment. He then hits the radio and the station changes to one playing "Two Tickets to Paradise".
- Bait-and-Switch: Homer is sad that he doesn't have tickets for the big Springfield vs Shelbyville game and Lisa attempts to put it in perspective:Lisa: It's just another chapter in the pointless rivalry between Springfield and Shelbyville. They built a mini-mall, so we built a bigger mini-mall. They made the world's largest pizza, so we burnt down their city hall.
- Bowdlerization: In the UKnote , the end of Act One where Homer shouts from his car window that Ned Flanders is his friend was edited to remove the part where Lenny asks Carl what Homer said and Carl says, "I don't know. Something about being gay." This actually caused a minor controversy when the edited version was first shown and led to an apology and the lines being reinstated.
- Channel 4 also shortened Ned's nightmare where he walks up the stairs to a tower, assembles a sniper rifle, and fires at innocent bystanders (until a gun-toting mailman returns fire). The Channel 4 version shows Flanders going up the stairs, assembling the rifle, him firing at the screen, and Flanders waking up and realizing he hates Homer.
- Catapult Nightmare: Ned bolts up out of bed after his nightmare and says that he thinks he hates Homer. At the same time, Homer also bolts up out of bed, only his dream appears to be about Ted Koppel (or, if you're watching the Mexican Spanish dub, Michael Jackson, since Michael Jackson is/was more of a world-renowned star than Ted Koppel).
- Comically Missing the Point:Homer: You [Ned] know Stan Taylor?
Stan: Know me? Ned Flanders saved me. I used to party all night and sleep with lingerie models until Ned and his bible group showed me that I could have more.
Homer: Professional athletes, always wantin' more.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Shelbyville spiked the Springfield water supply, causing Marge to see the walls melting and a turkey fly away after drinking a glass of water.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- One example of the hard-core rivalry between Shelbyville and Springfield is that Springfield responded to Shelbyville making the world's biggest pizza by setting the Shelbyville town hall on fire.
- It's pretty obvious it's a nightmare, but still it's really weird to see Ned Flanders of all people going on a shooting spree because he secretly harbors that much hatred for Homer and his annoying antics.
- Dissonant Serenity: Ned's dream in which he goes in a shooting spree has him climbing up the clock tower and putting together his sniper rifle while humming a pleasant song.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Bart offers Rod and Tod a Pixie Stix, despite the fact that they're not allowed to eat sugar. When they do try it they get hooked on the stuff and start fighting and insulting each other over it.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Homer gets a lot of attention, news coverage and respect for doing good deeds that Flanders already does for years on a daily basis. This starts to irk Flanders until he finally snaps.
- Epic Riff: In-Universe, Homer's opinion about the riff in "Two Tickets To Paradise" by Eddie Money is that it's an excellent riff.
- Escalating War: The feud with Shelbyville is mentioned, but we only see the final prank.Homer: They swore they'd get us back by spiking our water supply, but they didn't have the guts.
Marge: (drinks a glass of water and then sees the walls start to run) Ooooh. The walls are melting again. (giggles)
- Evil Laugh: Bart while seeing Rod and Todd fight over the Pixie Stix.
- Faceless Masses: At the Shelbyville stadium, one shot of the stadium audience◊ features multiple figures in the distance that resemble the man from the Aardman Animations short Ident.
- Food Fight: Homer and the Flanders have a one-sided version (where the Simpsons just throw food at them as they react with shock).
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: As the Simpsons and the Flanderses go to the lake, while most of them are crammed into Ned's station wagon, Rod is seen sitting in the boat they are hauling along.
- God: Homer mistakes God for a waffle sticking up the ceiling.
- Going Postal: In Ned's shootout dream, there is a postal worker who retaliates. Incidentally, the postal worker resembles a proto-Ned Flanders in the first season.note
- Haunted House: The Simpsons must spend a night there to obtain an Unexpected Inheritance.
- HeelFace Turn: Homer goes from disliking Flanders to being his overbearing best friend. He's resumed his usual hostility to Flanders by the end though.
- Hidden Depths: Moe reads to sick children and the homeless. He even gets Manly Tears as a result of what he reads — "Little Women," for one.
- Humiliation Conga: Flanders, when taking an alcohol test, trips over, when a church tour bus passes by. When he enters the church everyone whispers and badmouths him. Reverend Lovejoy even titled his sermon What Ned did.
- Hypocritical Humor: Homer accuses Marge of hating Flanders for years and wanting to bash his brains in with a pipe, to which Marge correctly points out it was him.note Homer: Love, Marge. Don't hate... love.
- IKEA Weaponry: Ned carries the sniper rifle he uses for his killing spree in his nightmare disassembled inside of a briefcase.
- Implied Death Threat: Moe threatens Ned with one of these after Ned recognises Moe as someone who reads to sick children in the hospital.Moe: If this gets out, the next words you say will be muffled by your own butt!
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Flanders usual pureness is tested enormously by Homer's obnoxious gratitude.
- Insult Backfire / Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
- Irony: The episode starts with Homer's usual routine of hating the obliviously generous Ned Flanders. By the third act, Ned is the one hating Homer, while Homer is obliviously generous.
- Kent Brockman News:Kent Brockman: Tonight, on "Eye on Springfield": just miles from your doorstep, hundreds of men are given weapons and trained to kill. The government calls it the "army", but a more alarmist name would be "The Killbot Factory."
- Last-Second Word Swap/Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Stan, Stan, he's our boy. If he can't do it, no one... will!
- Madness Mantra: Ned in his nightmare:Ned: There's Homer. (fires) There's Homer. (fires) There's Homer. (fires) THEY'RE ALL HOMER!!! (starts shooting faster)
- Medium Awareness:Lisa: Don't worry, Bart. It seems like every week something odd happens to the Simpsons. My advice is to ride it out, make the occasional smart-alec quip, and by next week, we'll be back to where we started from, ready for another wacky adventure.
Bart: ¡Ay, caramba!
Lisa: That's the spirit.
- Mistaken for Gay:Homer: (calls to Lenny and Carl as he and Flanders drive by) THIS IS NED FLANDERS, MY FRIEND!!
Lenny: What did he say?
Carl: I don't know. Something about being gay.
- Mocking Music: Subverted. Homer fails to win the tickets to the game, hits the radio and suddenly Two Tickets To Paradise by Eddie Money starts playing on another channel. After a moment of despair, however, he gets caught in the rhythm and sings along.
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Flanders drives Homer to a sports game. When Homer notices Lenny and Carl he pushes Flanders' face down from sight because he is afraid of being seen with him. Lenny notices Homer's car is driving without a chauffeur and assumes his driving "one of those robot cars." As the car crashes, Carl sarcastically remarks: "One of those AMERICAN robot cars."
- Namesake Gag: The Helter Shelter is named after its founder, Father Helter.
- Noodle Incident: After Kent Brockman says that a cure for "Pigskin Fever" is to take two tickets and go to the football game, a voice quickly says, "Warning: tickets should not be taken internally". This prompts Homer to declare to Marge and Bart "See? Because of me, now they have a warning."
- Not So Above It All: Homer and Bart start a food fight during Ned's speech that even Marge and Lisa join in.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We don't find out what frightened the Simpsons in the Haunted House.
- Off-Model: While on their way to Lake Springfield, Ned doesn't have his glasses on (which he needs to drive) and Maude appears to be sitting in front of the rearview mirror.
- Also, Homer's car is colored green rather than the usual pink.
- Out-of-Character Alert: Homer's love for Flanders. Lisa lampshades this and asks, "What's next, A's on Bart's report card?"
- The Parody: Flanders' children watch a religious children's cartoon TV show.
- Precision F-Strike: Ned yelling at Homer to "breathe through your damn mouth!" In this case, the word is said on the show all the time, but not by Ned.
- Protectorate: Flanders blocked out all TV channels on his satellite dish, except two, to protect his children.
- Pet the Dog:
- Moe reads to sick children in the hospital.
- Homer's impassioned defense of Ned at the end of the episode is a perfect example of this trope.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: During prayers, Ned finally explodes at Homer after hearing him inhale loudly through his nose.
- Rattling Off Legal:Kent Brockman: Springfield has come down with a fever — Football Fever, brought on by the biggest game of the year: the Pigskin Classic between the Shelbyville Sharks and our own Springfield Atoms. If you have the fever, there's only one cure: take two tickets and see the game Sunday morning.
Announcer: Warning: Tickets should not be taken internally.
- Scare Dare: The Simpsons must spend a night in a haunted house to get their inheritance.
- Shaming the Mob: The parishioners surround Ned after his angry outburst, but then Homer stands up and defends him, which gets the others to forgive Ned.
- Homer listens to Bobby Mcferrin's I'm Worried, Need Money on the radio, a stab at his one-hit wonder Don't Worry, Be Happy.
- Flanders has a painting of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper hanging on the wall. This is also a reference to the religious mother in Carrie, who has the same painting hanging on her wall.
- Homer fails to win the tickets to the game, hits the radio and suddenly Two Tickets To Paradise by Eddie Money starts playing on another channel.
- The homeless shelter is named Helter Shelter, after the The Beatles song Helter Skelter.
- Moe reads My Friend Flicka and Little Women to the sick children.
- Homer orders nachos and sings Nacho Man, in a pun on Macho Man by The Village People.
- The Ten Commandments: Chief Wiggum says to Flanders, "Where's your Messiah now?", much like Edward G. Robinson did in this film. An extra joke is that Wiggum is based on Robinson's accent.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Homer appears through Flanders' hedge, much like the Terminator robot, who is so liquid that he can go through walls. Then when he chases Flanders' car with two golf clubs his attack mimics the scene where the T-1000 chases John, Sarah and the T-800 and clings on to their car.
- Vertigo: Flanders' dream shows him climbing up a staircase into a tower.
- Homer awakes from his dream and thinks he hates Ted Koppel. Then he concludes that he actually likes this ABC journalist and goes back to sleep.
- Live and Let Die: Homer flies the boat over the parking lot, much like James Bond did in this film.
- Psycho: The haunted house is Norman Bates' house.
- Ned positions himself in a bell tower and starts shooting people like Charles Whitman's shooting spree.
- In a scene that usually gets cut from syndication, Homer plays his Rappin' Ronnie Reagan tape for the road trip the two families take to Lake Springfield. It's an actual real-life video/tape (and not a gag created by the writers), but he doesn't just say "Well" a lot like in the episode.
- Status Quo Is God: Lampshaded by Lisa (see Medium Awareness). Parodied at the end when Homer is back to hating Ned for no reason.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Rappin' Ronnie Reagan tape.
- Surprise Creepy: The final scene is the Simpsons spending a night in a haunted house in order to fulfill a will's "On One Condition". As we get a general shot of the very creepy house (with a bat flying around included), Homer tempts fate by saying that there is nothing wrong and then we get a weird sound and the whole family screaming in terror at something before cutting to credits with "evil" music.
- Take That!: Subverted when Homer wakes up from a dream.Homer: Marge, I think I hate Ted Koppel. No, wait, I find him informative and witty.
- Played straight during the chase scene:Maude: Come on Ned! Move this thing!
Ned: I CAN'T! IT'S A GEO!
- Played straight during the chase scene:
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Ned gets a taste of his own medicine when Homer won't leave him alone.
- Tempting Fate:
- Homer taunts the Shelbyville team for losing. Someone throws a beer can at him, but he ducks and scoffs. Someone else nails him with a whole keg, however.
- Homer says there's nothing to be afraid of in a Haunted House, only to have the entire family scream at something in unison soon afterwards.
- Title Drop: Spoofed; every book Moe reads ends with one of these (even if the original book didn't).Moe: "And then they realized, they were no longer little girls: they were Little Women."
- Unexpected Inheritance: Homer's relative uncle Boris dies and leaves him his money in his will. On One Condition that the family spents a night in a Haunted House.
- Unmanly Secret: Moe threatens to kill Ned if he ever makes public that he reads books to the homeless, such as "Little Women".
- We Want Our Jerk Back: At first Ned appreciates Homer being nice to him, but he soon begins to miss the old Homer.
- Would Hurt a Child:Burns: (to players) Men, there's a little crippled boy sitting in a hospital who wants you to win this game. I know because I crippled him myself to inspire you.
(Cut to a hospital room where Milhouse is lying with a broken leg)
Milhouse: (to his parents) Well, I hope they win, or Mr. Burns said he's coming back.