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Recap / The Simpsons S5 E18 "Burns' Heir"

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"I suggest you leave immediately..."
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Original air date: 4/14/1994

Production code: 1F16

After nearly drowning in his bathtub, Mr. Burns realizes that, if he did die, there'd be no one to carry on his wealth and legacynote , since he has no childrennote , so he holds an audition for his next heir. When all the kids (including Bart and Lisa) lose out, Bart vandalizes Burns' house and wins a place in the old man's heart... but the more he stays with Mr. Burns, the more the Simpson family fear that Bart is becoming Burns-like.


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This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Homer calls Burns "Mr. Kurns" on the cue cards he gives Bart and even corrects him when he says it right.
    Homer: It's "Kurns," stupid!
    Marge: No it's not!
    Homer: Disregard.
  • Afterlife of Service: Following a near death experience as he has no children or living family members, Mr Burns begins to worry about who will inherit his wealth and carry on his legacy when he dies. Smithers suggests himself, only for Burns to reveal that he has made preparations for "a far greater reward," upon his death Smithers shall be Buried Alive with him (showing him a model revealing his corpse will use Smithers as a footstool) so that he may carry on serving him in the afterlife.
  • Anti-Humor: When Burns tells Homer to leave the premises of his mansion with a threatening undertone, Homer goes into a lengthy tirade mocking his security measures and daring the old man to throw his worst at him. So Burns, Smithers, and Bart respond by...walking back into the house and locking the door.
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  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Marge and Homer after Mr. Burns signed the papers naming Bart his heir and noticed how lonely he seems.
    Homer: Yeah, let's push him down the steps.
    Marge: (annoyed) No!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: According to Bart, "Mr. Burns' house has everything—a hedge maze, a moat, bleached hardwood floors and a bottomless pit!"
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The actors that Mr. Burns hires to impersonate Homer, Marge and Lisa Simpson are like this, with deadpan delivery and off-sounding voices, most notably "Homer" saying "B'oh!" and "Duh-Oh!" (rather than "D'oh.")
  • Bee Afraid: Referenced.
    Mr. Burns: I suggest you leave immediately!
    Homer: Or what? You'll release the dogs, or the bees, or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you?!
  • Brick Joke: Homer and Marge hire a private detective deprogrammer to bring Bart back to them. However, he grabs Hans Moleman instead, to whom Homer takes a shine immediately. Later, when Bart returns home, Homer introduces Moleman (dressed in Bart's clothes and carrying a skateboard) as his new brother.
  • Call-Back:
    • Just as Mr. Burns is about to disown him, Bart asks him to step a little step to left (over a trap door), just as Burns did when he initially rejected Bart as his heir.
    • Also, it seems that Mr. Burns has rearranged his desk to line up with the trap-door after the painters had moved it.
  • Cast as a Mask:
    • The Estonian Dwarf's true voice is provided by Dan Castellaneta, though when he impersonates Lisa Simpson and imitates her voice, Yeardley Smith provides the imitation, but speaks in a flat monotone compared to how Lisa really talks, thus subverting it somewhat.
    • Averted with the Homer and Marge actors; the Michael Caine caricature impersonating Homer is also voiced by Dan Castellaneta, Homer's regular voice actor, and when attempting to imitate Homer's voice he sounds more like a stilted version of Homer's The Tracey Ullman Show-era voice, and the Marge impersonator, voiced by Pamela Hayden, sounds nothing like the real Marge when in character.
  • Comically Missing the Point: At the beginning of the episode, Homer gets an "award". When he learns the "award" consists of sweeping chimneys (or rather, being used as a chimney sweep), he gives another "Woo-Hoo".
  • Constrained Writing: Mr Burns tells Lenny that he will be fired unless he is able to explain why he shouldn't be without using the letter E.
    Lenny: Uh, I'm a... good... work... guy...
    Mr. Burns: You're fired.
    Lenny: But I didn't say...
    Mr. Burns: You will. (pushes trapdoor button)
    Lenny: (falling) EEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeee!
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • Krusty reads a telegram in a 1982 episode of his show, even though he is supposed to be illiterate. Though he also read a telegram on the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympics. He may have just understood the words in the cards.
    • When Mr. Burns' life flashes before his eyes, we see a nanny feeding him a bottle (implying that Burns has always been from a rich family), but in the episode "Rosebud," Mr. Burns' childhood was very similar to that of Charles Foster Kane from Citizen Kane (read: he grew up in a poor, but loving family and was adopted by a twisted, loveless billionaire).
      • It doesn't help that "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1" has Mr. Burns recalling both "Rosebud" and this episode in the same scene.
      • Even the Springfield's Most Wanted special (a post-season 6/pre-season 7 live-action special where John Walsh of America's Most Wanted fame tries to sort out all the suspects in the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter) does it when showing Mr. Burns' background.
  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons are balls that bounce onto the couch. Bart almost bounces away, but Homer grabs him and hurls him onto the couch.
  • Crazy-Prepared: As the commentary points out, there's no logical reason for Krusty to have a map of the Falkland Islands on his show unless he somehow knew they were going to be invaded.
  • Depraved Dwarf: Burns hires actors to portray the Simpson family in a bid to convince Bart that they don't care about him anymore, including a (male) Estonian dwarf as Lisa.
  • Deprogram: Homer and Marge hire a man to abduct Bart and deprogram him. Then it turns out that he grabbed Hans Moleman instead, who now believes himself to be Bart. Homer wants to keep him (partly because kissing him is like kissing a peanut), but Marge ends the episode with "Homer, I want that thing out of my house."
  • Description Cut: When Homer is being used to clean chimneys, he comments the higher-ups are probably working harder. Cut to Mr. Burns relaxing in a bathtub watching Homer's misery on TV and eating potato chips.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • Bart watches The Itchy and Scratchy Show with Burns; at first, Bart laughs like he always does at Scratchy's violent, gory murder. But then, Burns starts to enjoy it a little too much. Bart is noticeably creeped out.
    • Also, Marge's reaction to Homer laughing at Bart getting kicked by Mr. Burns' giant boot.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Mr. Burns is Pathetically Weak to the point that having a sponge placed over him causes him to sink and nearly drown in the bathtub. (Yet he's strong enough to strangle Smithers, for putting the sponge on his head.)
    • Similarly, when Homer tries to scare Mr. Burns to death to get his hands on his fortune by doing a sudden "BOO!" scare, it ends up (non-fatally) frightening Grampa instead, in spite of Homer facing Burns and not putting any real thought or effort in his trick.
    • He's also so frail and inept at football that he can't even run five steps in attempting to kick the ball, which results in him kicking Smithers in the face and knocking them both out.
    • Lionel Hutz somehow manages to screw up the custody battle so hard (largely offscreen) that Burns is declared Bart's biological father.
    Marge: You know, we should really stop hiring him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: For all that Smithers is infatuated with Burns, the idea of being Buried Alive alongside Burns' corpse visibly creeps him out a little (the fact that the figurine of Smithers in the representation of Burns' plans is screaming in terror at his fate doesn't helps).
    • When introduced to Itchy & Scratchy, Mr. Burns manages to hit a pitch of amusement that's too much for Bart, to the point where he rethinks staying with Burns.
      Burns: That was delightful! Did you see that?! That mouse butchered that cat like a hog! Is all TV this wonderful?
      Bart: (visibly disturbed) Um...I'd kind of like to go home now.
      Burns: Like a hog!
  • Faux Horrific: The robotic Richard Simmons from the deleted scene is treated as Burns' ultimate weapon, even though all it does is impersonate Simmons' workout routine to the tune of "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty". It sends Homer running away screaming in terror, and causes Burns, Smithers, and Bart to panic when it turns its attention towards them.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When Homer enters the room to get fired, Bart calls him by his first name, as he often does. This subtly plants the seed for the fact that when he says, "I'm sorry, Dad...you're fired!", he's actually not addressing Homer, but Burns (who he'd referred to as "Dad" earlier).
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: The THX "Deep Note" is so loud that it breaks Hans Moleman's glasses.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Homer's "secret shame" is revealed to be eating flowers.
  • Heir Club for Men: Burns wouldn't mark any girl as his heir (and Milhouse rethinks his plan to audition again dressed as a girl).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bart lures Mr Burns into falling down the same hatch he uses to dispose of employees.
  • Kids Driving Cars: Bart gets to drive the Ferrini that Mr. Burns gave him, and for a destructive individual like him, it goes about as well as you expect. Not helped by the fact he can't see over the dashboard.
  • Latex Perfection: This is how the actors Mr. Burns hires are made up to look like Homer, Marge and Lisa Simpson, including Lisa actually being an old male Estonian dwarf Disguised in Drag. However, while their disguises were physically flawless, their attempts to act like the Simpsons family weren't so good.
  • Life-Saving Encouragement: Played With when Bart is ordered to pull a lever that would cause Homer to fall through a trap door and down a giant pit to his death. Bart was already reluctant to pull the lever, but when Homer empathetically says that he'll miss him if he dies, he then apologizes to him, "fires" Burns as his father and tricks him into falling down the hole instead.
  • Literal Asskicking: Mr. Burns does this to Bart after the latter's horrible audition. Homer still cracks up over it when giving his "never try" lesson to his kids.
    Homer: (chuckles) Right in the butt. That was great.
  • Lonely at the Top: Bart gets a taste of what Burns' life is like when he tries to live with him; with nobody else around but Smithers, he's so lonely he unsuccessfully tries to bribe a visiting Milhouse out of going home by offering him his expensive new blazer.
  • Mangled Catchphrase: The Homer impersonator shouts "B'oh" instead of "D'oh". Even after Mr. Burns corrects him, he still butchers it as "Duh-Oh".
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe, Mr. Burns thought Sliver was a delightful romp.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The actor Burns hires to play Homer is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, doing an impression of Michael Caine. The producers wanted Michael Caine to actually voice himself playing Homer Simpson, but Caine turned it down.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Despite her distaste for Burns, Marge pities him when she realizes how lonely he is and decides it would be a good thing for Bart to spend some time with him since he's going to be his inheritor, sending him to visit Burns' mansion despite his protests. This backfires badly on her when Bart enjoys himself so much that he runs away to live with Burns.
  • No Sympathy: Homer writes Bart a series of unconvincing, badly-written cards to read to Mr. Burns at his audition. This results in Bart getting kicked by a giant boot, which Homer laughs hysterically at, despite that Bart was just doing what he was instructed.
  • Parental Favoritism: Homer telling Lisa to stop getting in the way of the peas her rich brother throws.
  • Parental Substitute: Though this is one of many episodes in which one of the Simpson kids embraces another adult male as an alternative to Homer, it's perhaps the only one in which the appeal is that he's a worse father than Homer rather than a better one. Burns has no love to offer, but he freely spends his money spoiling Bart, encourages his worst nature, and doesn't discipline him in any way, which naturally makes Bart run away to live with Burns at the first Go to Your Room! from Homer. However, he's equally quick to miss his family and the only way for Burns to actually maintain the role is to convince Bart that his parents have abandoned him and that he has no one else. Homer might not be an amazing dad, but Burns isn't a dad at all.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Burns, per always—in this case, refusing on principle to consider a girl as a potential heir.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Bart loves his father more than he loves Mr. Burns' money.
  • Selective Enforcement: Homer will allow Bart flinging peas at Lisa, but he grounds him for feeding his meatloaf to the dog (especially because it was an endpiece).
  • Shackle Seat Trap: Mr. Burns hits the wrong button and the chair Bart is sitting in suddenly sprouts shackles.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The part during the deleted scene where the robotic Richard Simmons gets shot in the face, which regenerates, spoofs a similar scene from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Smithers taking a sawn-off pump shotgun out of his jacket in the same scene spoofs how Kyle Reese carried a shotgun in The Terminator.
    • When Mr. Burns sees Bart from his window and asks what that day is, a random kid claims it's Christmas. In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge interacts with a random kid that way after seeing how the future will be if he doesn't learn his lesson.
    • The British actor Burns hired to play Homer compares the role to the title character of Rain Man.
  • Skewed Priorities: Homer grounds Bart, not for throwing peas at Lisa, but for feeding his meatloaf cut (which was the end piece) to Santa's Little Helper.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Lisa again, who decides to present herself at Burns' heir audition to try to convince him with a speech.
    Lisa: I propose to you that your heir need not be a boy. In this phallocentric society of ours...
    Burns: I don't know what "phallocentric" means, but no girls!!
    Milhouse: [looking down at his girl disguise] So much for Plan "B".
  • Spoof Aesop: "Kids, you tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."
  • Tempting Fate: Krusty explains how he can deliver a pizza to Mr. Burns' mansion while his show is on live by saying he put on an old rerun, and no-one will tell the difference. The recorded Krusty is immediately handed a telegram and pauses his act to announce that the Falkland Islands have just been invaded, immediately dating the rerun to 1982.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Mr. Burns' auditions to be his heir. Milhouse says that he has nothing to offer Mr. Burns "but his love", Nelson threatens to beat him up note , Martin sings a song and Nelson punches him note , Lisa attempts to call Mr. Burns out for his sexism on only letting boys audition, and Bart reads an awful script from Homer.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: In-Universe. Krusty the Clown airs a rerun to cover for his live show while he's out, hoping nobody will notice. Unfortunately, the episode covered the Falklands War as a current development, meaning he tried to pass as current (1994) an episode that could only be pinpointed to 1982.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: The Lisa impersonator Mr. Burns hired actually being the male Estonian dwarf, complete with cigar.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: In his youth Mr. Burns impersonated Wavy Gravy to infiltrate and sabotage a Greenpeace boat. Good luck finding someone in 1994 who knew who Wavy Gravy was, much less now.
  • Villain Ball: Mr. Burns probably would have gotten away with indoctrinating Bart if he didn't try to force Bart to fire Homer.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Burns fires Lenny (and Smithers takes it for granted that he died after being dropped down the trapdoor), but naturally nothing comes of it.
  • You No Take Candle: Bart's audition to be Mr. Burns's heir consists of reading off horribly written cue cards from Homer.
    Bart: Hello, Mister... Kurns. I bad want... money now. Me sick.
    Homer: Ooh, he card reads good.
    Bart: So pick please me, Mr. Burns.
    Homer: It's "Kurns", stupid!
    Marge: No, it's not.
    Homer: Disregard.
  • Your Head Asplode: The THX "Deep Note" is so loud that it even causes one guy's head to explode!

 
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"B'oh!"

The actor Mr. Burns hires to play Homer Simpson butchers his catchphrase, saying "B'oh" instead of "D'oh". Even after Mr. Burns corrects him, he still botches it by saying "Duh-oh".

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