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Recap / The Simpsons S5 E17 "Bart Gets an Elephant"

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Original air date: 3/31/1994

Production code: 1F15
Bart wins a radio contest and picks the gag prize (a full-grown African elephant) instead of the cash prize ($10,000), which puts the family in financial turmoil once again.


  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Chief Wiggum's reaction after several reports of a rampaging elephant and a liquor store robbery with an officer down. "And I'm Edward G. Robinson!" Which, in fact, he is.
  • Androcles' Lion: Inverted when Stampy lifts Homer out of a tar pit, and Homer, in turn, decides not to sell him to the ivory dealer.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While acting like a jerk to him over the episode, Stampy finally shows some compassion with Bart and lets him ride on his back.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Homer, Marge, and Lisa are looking for Bart and Stampy, they follow a trail of destruction that seemed to be caused by the elephant. But then it's revealed it was because of a tornado, much to Homer's chagrin...until he sees that it had swept up Patty and Selma.
    • Also when children coming to the door offer to pay money to see Stampy, Homer, who's just been complaining about how much it's costing them in order to keep him, states that that gives him an nail a "GO AWAY" sign to the front of the yard to stop people from bothering him about wanting to see the elephant.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Homer apparently once had his head in the mouth of a giant sloth, despite the fact that the species has been extinct for 12,000 years.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    Blackheart: Little girl, I've had lots of jobs in my day: Whale hunter, seal clubber, president of the Fox network, and, like most people, yeah, I've dealt a little ivory.
  • Bland-Name Product: The cleaning products Homer uses in the basement are "Mr. Cleanser", "Bubble Off" (Scrubbing Bubbles), "Terrapin Wax", and something just labelled "Cleanser" with a lance-wielding knight (possibly Ajax).
  • Boring, but Practical: Marge's suggestion for what the family might do with the cash prize: buy double-ply windows, which would save them 4% on their heating bill. She already knows she's lost the argument before she's finished uttering the sentence.
    Marge: ...Well, they will.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Mr. Blackheart the Great White Hunter admits to having done animal cruelty for money when Lisa asks him. He also has a whole lot of ivory in his outfit — even the check is made of ivory.
    • The signs at the Republican party meeting: "WE WANT WHAT'S WORST FOR EVERYONE" and "WE'RE JUST PLAIN EVIL."
  • Cassandra Truth: Parodied with Chief Wiggum, who (somewhat understandably) disregards calls about an elephant rampage and (less understandably) brushes off calls about an officer down.
  • Comforting Comforter: Subverted when Stampy first comforts Bart who's sleeping in the treehouse but then tries to eat him.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Lisa says that Bart and Stampy were gone thanks to Homer making a deal with Blackheart, Homer thinks she means the ivory dealer took Bart too.
  • Couch Gag: The lights are out with only the Simpsons' eyes visible as they enter. The lights turn on revealing it's only their eyes, until the family rushes in and sits down, reconnecting with their eyes.
  • Crazy-Prepared: More on the crazy side, but the manager of a peanut butter factory insisted the workers spent two hours a day preparing themselves for elephant raids. Too bad he wasted time bragging to the workers. Amusingly, Stampy just ran through the factory without doing anything to the peanuts.
  • Cruel Elephant: Stampy. The family initially assumes he's just unhappy and ends up sending him to a sanctuary, but he bullies the other elephants there. Like people, some elephants are just jerks.
  • Didn't Think This Through: For both ends of the deal:
    • Bill and Marty offer Bart either $10,000 or a full-grown African elephant for winning the radio contest. Bart chooses the elephant. Bill and Marty are caught off guard because they never expected anyone to actually choose the gag prize, and don't have an elephant to give to Bart. This error nearly costs the two their jobs, as they're forced to get Bart an elephant or risk being replaced by the DJ 3000.
    • The same goes for Bart himself, who repeatedly turns down a $10,000 prize for an elephant that neither he nor his family is equipped to take care of. Of course, Bart is only ten years old and doesn't always think things through.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The Simpsons are left unharmed in their car next to the tornado.
  • Electric Torture: Snake does this to Chief Wiggum and the other police officers when he takes over the department and restrains the officers while taking their uniforms, guns, and tasers. Bill and Marty don't take it seriously. Wiggum doesn't seem to mind much either, actually enjoying it after a moment.
  • Epic Fail:
    • The family messes up the newly cleaned home in the time frame of the kitchen door swinging back and forth.
    • The police department ends up being overpowered by the inmates to the point of them wearing their uniforms (but given it's the Springfield police, this shouldn't be too surprising).
    • The Springfield Shopper Newspaper Headline about Bart: "KBBL Cheats Straight-A Student".
  • Everyone Has Standards: As apathetic and vindictive as the people of Springfield can be, a lot of people get pissed off on Bart's behalf when it becomes known how the radio station wouldn't give him an elephant like they promised. It reached a point where some sent letter bombs to the station.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Bart got an elephant.
  • Facepalm: Marge does this when Bart and Lisa get stuck to a tar-covered Homer.
  • Get Out!:
    Homer: Um, Milhouse saw the elephant twice and rode him once, right?
    Luann: Yes, but we paid you four dollars.
    Homer: Well, that was under our old price structure. Under our new price structure, your bill comes to a total of $700. Now, you've already paid me four dollars so that's just $696 more that you owe me.
    Kirk: ...Get off our property.
  • Getting the Boot: When Bart insists on getting his elephant at the radio station, the scene cuts to him and Homer getting thrown out of the door.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: Marge is horrified when she wakes up and sees Stampy's eye peeking through her bedroom window.
  • Global Ignorance: Bart assumes that Africa is 12 miles south of Springfield.
  • Go to Your Room!: When the family discusses taking the elephant as the prize:
    Lisa: You all seem to be forgetting the most important thing! Which is, that it's wrong to imprison an animal!
    Homer: Lisa, go to your room.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: When Stampy charges through the Flanders' yard:
    Ned: (wakes up) It's the Four Elephants of the Apocalypse!
    Maude: That's Horsemen, Ned.
    Ned: Well, getting closer. (goes back to sleep)
  • Insane Troll Logic: When Homer was considering selling Stampy the Elephant to an ivory dealer, he pointed the dealer's ivory-made stuff as evidence he'd be less likely to harm Stampy than one whose ivory reserves were low.
  • Intoxication Ensues: While cleaning the basement, Homer ignores the "Use only in a well-ventilated area" warning on the Mr. Cleanser bottle. Sure enough, the fumes cause him to hallucinate Mr. Cleanser and other cleaning products mascots attacking him.
    Mr. Cleanser: (in a Russian accent) I - MUST - DESTROY - YOU!
  • Jerkass: When introduced to other elephants, Stampy's first reaction was to headbutt them until they pass out.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Bill and Marty are forced to give Bart the elephant when their boss gives them the ultimatum: find a way to give it to him, or they will be replaced with an automated DJ with a bunch of pre-recorded quips.
  • Loophole Abuse: Moe offers free peanuts with beer. Homer takes advantage of this to feed Stampy.
    Moe: I think you're takin' unfair advantage of my generous offer.
    Homer: Shut up!
  • Magic Skirt: Patty and Selma's skirts inside the tornado are neatly down.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Barney barely reacts after setting himself on fire.
  • Meaningful Name: A man with a name like Mr. Blackheart can't be anything but Obviously Evil.
  • Mood Whiplash: Stampy coils his trunk around Bart as he goes to sleep. It's a sweet moment... which goes right to comedy as Stampy yanks Bart into his mouth for a second and puts him back.
    Bart: (shaken) Thanks, bud. 'Preciate it.
  • Noodle Incident: After Stampy rescues Homer from the tar pit and Bart and Lisa go to hug him, Bart explains that they're stuck to him. As Marge goes to pry them off of him, she mutters, "This is just like what happened at the caramel factory." Although Homer fantasizes about the food, no further details are given.
    • There's also the matter on how Barney ended up in the tar pit in the first place, who after being rescued by Stampy (right before he rescued Homer) then lights a cigarette and his whole body catches on fire. His only reply to this is "Ouch!"
    • Also, after Stampy pulls Homer into his mouth, he then says in amazement that he has now had his head in the mouth of an elephant, a hippo and a giant sloth.
  • Obviously Evil: The ivory dealer's name is Mr Blackheart.
  • Overly Long Gag: The last scene of Homer headbutting the ranger drags on a bit too long.
  • Papa Wolf: While Homer was all for giving Stampy to Mr. Blackheart, he is pissed when he thinks he took Bart as well.
    That wasn't part of our deal, Blackheart. That! Wasn't! Part!
  • Parenting the Husband: Emphasized in the first scene when Homer, along with the kids, calls Marge "Mom," just before she makes them all stay home and clean the house.
  • Pet the Dog: After being a rude jerk to Bart, Stampy takes Bart for a ride on its back at the end of the episode.
  • Police Are Useless: Chief Wiggum and his copes are overpowered by criminals to the point of losing their uniforms. Later, Chief Wiggum replies with heavy sarcasm to all the calls his station gets, which includes those of people reporting Stampy's rampage and an officer saying he's down (this one gets the most cruel of the retorts, with Wiggum hollering to the injured or maybe dying man "...and I'm Edward G. Robinson!" then hanging up on him).
  • Riddle for the Ages: How did Barney end up in the tar pit anyway?
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II run away when Stampy is delivered to Evergreen Terrace.
  • Shamed by a Mob: The radio station's forced to give Bart an elephant after multiple people protested them for not delivering in the first place.
  • Sheet of Glass: Parodied. A pair of workers carrying a big piece of glass across the street narrowly dodge both Bart and Stampy, and bring it to its destination: a recycling bin.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The original 1950s version of The Price Is Right: A contestant was told he had won an African elephant... and then told he could decide (later) whether to take a $4,000 cash substitute. The contestant – much like Bart did more than 35 years later – chose the elephant, and when legal and other threats arose, the producers complied.
    • See Waxing Lyrical for more details.
    • The shot of Stampy looking through Marge's window parodies the T-rex looking through a car window in Jurassic Park.
    • The Mr. Cleanser hallucination says "I must destroy you" in a Russian accent a la Ivan Drago.
    • The hunter's name "Blackheart" is possibly a reference to the movie White Hunter, Black Heart, about a film director who becomes obsessed with shooting an elephant.
  • Shown Their Work: The bird that lands on Stampy to groom him is a cattle egret, a species that is known to have a symbiotic relationship with large land mammals such as elephants. It also shows that elephants can be intelligent and dangerously aggressive towards people (though putting people in their mouth is not an elephant habit, and Stampy's hostility to other elephants can be explained as being a result of the inadequate care he got from the Simpsons).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • This episode shows that a lower-middle-class family such as The Simpsons would not be financially equipped to keep a full-grown African elephant as a pet.
    • Also, Stock Animal Diet is subverted with Stampy getting sick from eating just peanuts (which are closer to meats than vegetables in terms of nutritional value, and elephants are plant-eaters in real life).
  • Skyward Scream: "That wasn't part of our deal, Blackheart! THAT! WASN'T! PART!"
  • Take That!:
    • The Republicans convention has them describing themselves as "plain evil" people who "want what's worse for everyone" and the Democrats are showing brawling while signs proclaim they "can't govern" and "hate life and our[them]selves".
    • Mister Blackheart lists among his previous occupations whale-hunter, seal-clubber and president of the Fox Network.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Moe offers free peanuts to his customers, so Homer brings Stampy to the bar to feed him unlimited peanuts. Even Moe lampshades how unfair this is.
  • Talking Animal: When Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II become ignored by the Simpsons in favor of Stampy, they try several stunts to win them back, including this (not that it worked).
  • Tempting Fate: Lisa, after Helen Lovejoy notes that Stampy seems ill-tempered, comments that "you'd be grumpy too if you were taken out of your natural habitat and gawked at by slack-jawed yokels." Cue a debuting Cletus pointing at Lisa and laughing at her pointy hair.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • While he might not have been able to free himself anyway, Homer's method for getting out of the tar pit only made him sink faster.
    • Barney. Not only did he also sink into the tar pit, but the first thing he does after Stampy saves him is light up a cigarette while he's still covered in highly flammable tar, burning himself.
  • Trash of the Titans: The beginning of the episode has the home in complete disarray, including a messy sandwich left on the stairs, underwear in the refrigerator and footprints on the ceiling.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Homer hits a deer statue, the dialogue quotes the "Do Re Mi" song from The Sound of Music.
    Homer: D'oh!
    Lisa: A deer!
    Marge: A female deer!
  • Your Television Hates You: Bart turns on the radio while doing household chores to get the song "Sixteen Tons".
    Tennessee Ernie Ford: You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.
    Bart: Amen, Ernie.


Video Example(s):


"That! Wasn't! PART!"

When Bart and his elephant run away thanks to Homer's deal with Blackheart, Homer believes the ivory dealer took his son as well.

How well does it match the trope?

4.14 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / SkywardScream

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