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Recap / The Simpsons S5 E18 "Burns' Heir"

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Episode - 1F16
First Aired - 4/14/1994

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 Simpsons fear that Bart is becoming Burns-like.


This episode contains examples of:

  • 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!
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The actors that Mr. Burns hired to impersonate Homer, Marge and Lisa Simpson were 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 got an "award". When he learned the "award" consisted of sweeping chimneys, he gave 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.
      • Though perhaps the "twisted, loveless billionaire" is his grandfather who appeared in the previous episode "Last Exit to Springfield", who probably disowned his own son (Burns' loving, biological father), but took in his grandson (Mr. Burns) so he can be the twisted, loveless billionaire he is today.
  • 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.
  • Description Cut: When Homer was cleaning chimneys, he commented the higher-ups were probably working harder. Cut to Mr. Burns relaxing at a bathtub watching Homer's misery on TV and eating potato chips.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: At first, Bart and Mr. Burns have fun watching Itchy & Scratchy together, but then Bart becomes uncomfortable when Mr. Burns laughs at Scratchy's death for a lot longer than he does.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Mr. Burns is so weak 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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 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.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Bart loves his father more than he loves Mr. Burns' money.
  • 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.
  • 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 do not see why an heir could not be a girl, in this phallocentric society of today...
    Burns: I do not know what "phallocentric" means, but I strictly said no girls!!
    Milhouse: [looking down at his girl disguise] There goes my 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, Martin sings a song and Nelson punches him, 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.
  • 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!


Video Example(s):


The Falklands were invaded!

In order to cover for his live show, Krusty the Clown airs a rerun, hoping nobody will notice. Unfortunately, the episode chosen covered the Falklands War, which ended 12 years before the time of this airing.

How well does it match the trope?

4.96 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnintentionalPeriodPiece

Media sources:

Main / UnintentionalPeriodPiece