First Aired - 4/28/1994
In the 100th episode note , Bart's latest hijinks get Principal Skinner fired, and Bart, for the first time in his life, feels bad about what he's done. While Bart befriends Seymour, Flanders is chosen as the new school principal, which throws the entire student body into chaos.
This episode contains examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Bart suggests Skinner get out of the army by making a pass at his CO. Skinner's reply: "Done and done. And I mean done."
- Arch-Enemy: After Bart admits he misses Skinner as an enemy:Lisa: I think you need Skinner, Bart. Everybody needs a nemesis. Sherlock Holmes had his Dr. Moriarty. Mountain Dew has its Mellow Yellow. Even Maggie has that baby with the one eyebrow.
[Bart and Lisa see Maggie stare intently at Gerald from the window]
- Artistic License Animal Care: Edna feeds Santa's Little Helper the raisin cookies Martin made. Grapes and, by extension raisins, are toxic to dogs, not unlike chocolate.
- Tough-looking guy Leopold scared the students by giving them the impression he'd replace Skinner as the Principal. Then he stepped aside and announced Ned Flanders as the new Principal.
- Chalmers is positively outraged at Skinner, but when Santa's Little Helper falls in his arms, he's content to forgive and forget. A moment later, a greasy half-naked Willie falls on him and Skinner is then fired.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Homer removes the Fox logo from the bottom right-hand corner of the screen in the episode's Couch Gag, and the rest of the family joins him in stomping on it.
- Bittersweet Ending: Bart succeeds in getting Skinner his job as principal back, but this means they can no longer be friends unless Bart becomes a model student (he chooses not to). The two go back to being rivals again.
- Blatant Lies: At first, Bart used to be sent to Principal Flanders' office eleven times a week. He started being sent there once every half hour after Principal Flanders started offering peanut butter cups and Bart suggested it to be a coincidence.
- Boss's Unfavorite Employee: Chalmers makes clear that he hates Skinner so much that he would rather allow Springfield Elementary to become a lawless hellhole a billion times worse than it was while Skinner ran it than hire him again. He decides to rehire Skinner anyway when he discovers that Ned leads students in prayer.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: While looking longingly at the school, Skinner remembers some of the things students have said to him.Girl: I learned to read because of you, Principal Skinner.
Martin: Sir, I baked you these raisin roundies.
Ralph: Principal Skinner, I got carsick in your office.
- Burning Bag of Poop: Bart knows where Principal Skinner lives because he pulled this prank on the principal in the past.Skinner: A flaming bag, eh? Well, these new Italian loafers will make short work of it! *SPLUT*
- Call-Back: Mrs. Krabapple responds to Santa's Little Helper's antics in class by saying "It thinks it's people," the same line Bart gave about Stampy the elephant two episodes earlier.
- Cassandra Truth: Two examples, back-to-back:
- When Santa's Little Helper escapes into the air vent, Ralph is the first one to spot him. Naturally, Miss Hoover doesn't bat an eye.
- Principal Skinner is seen apologizing for not believing Yom Kippur is a real holiday.
- Characterization Marches On: Agnes is actually sweet and welcoming, like in the first season (although not as embarrassing), which is a shift from the Norman Bates-esque jokes about Principal Skinner and his "unseen" mother that had been the standard for several seasons. This is also a far cry from the strict, emotionally abusive mother we see later in the series.
- Cuteness Proximity: Everyone in Bart's class when they see Santa's Little Helper, except Martin. Even Chalmers is so taken in by the dog that he's completely prepared to absolve Skinner of everything. Or at least, he would have if Willie hadn't fallen on him.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: Principal Skinner used to dismiss Yom Kippur as a made-up holiday, apparently resulting in him mistakenly discriminating against a Jewish student.
- Everyone Has Standards: Bart, who's a lazy underachiever, feels the school under Flanders has devolved too far.
- Extreme Doormat: Ned Flanders as principal. The school descends into absolute mayhem and the teachers refuse to leave the faculty lounge, but Ned does nothing to solve any of this. When students get sent up to his office, rather than scolding them, he gets distracted by being a good host.
- Fan Disservice: Semi-naked greased up Willie, complete with one scene showing his (mercifully underpants-clad) underside. Downplayed, however, because Willie is shown to be in incredible shape, even though he inexplicably has a potbelly when he is fully dressed.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Flanders is fired as school principal not for letting the children run wild, but for leading the school in a moment of prayer, because, as Chalmers said, "God has no place [in a public school], just as facts have no place in an organized religion".
- Firing Day: At the beginning of the episode, Skinner is fired from his job as principal of Springfield's elementary school after a series of shenanigans caused by Bart bringing his dog to school and losing track of him make Superintendent Chalmers snap and fire Skinner on the spot.
- Friendly Enemies: Despite their previous antagonism towards one another, Bart and Skinner get along amicably after the latter loses his job. However, due to feeling guilty and missing having a nemesis, Bart decides he needs to help reinstate Skinner as the school principal, even though doing so means their friendship will have to come to an end.
- From Bad to Worse: Skinner gets fired for his unusual incompetence, but his replacement does an unimaginably worse job.
- Hope Spot: Happens rather early, when Chalmers is scolding Skinner in front of everybody and suddenly Santa's Little Helper lands on his arms and licks him, which softens him enough to forgive his subordinate, only for Willie to fall on top of him, which gets Skinner fired.
- It's Been Done: Skinner tells Bart about his idea to write a book about a dinosaur-filled amusement park. Apu is not pleased, launching into a legendary tirade that seems to last for hours.Skinner: I finally have time to do what I've always wanted: write the Great American Novel. Mine is about a futuristic amusement park where dinosaurs are brought to life through advanced cloning techniques. I call it "Billy and the Cloneasaurus".
Apu: Oh, you have got to be kidding, sir. First you think of an idea that has already been done. Then you give it a title that nobody could possibly like. Didn't you think this through...?
(time skip) ...was on the bestseller list for eighteen months! Every magazine cover had...
(time skip) ...most popular movies of all time, sir! What Were You Thinking??!... (Beat) I mean, thank you, come again.
- "Kick Me" Prank: After Bart gets Principal Skinner his job back they embrace before returning to their old rivalry. Bart attaches a "Kick Me" sign to Skinner; however, Skinner also managed to attach a "Teach Me" sign to Bart.
- Lame Pun Reaction: The students find Ned Flanders' puns funnier than Chalmers', despite not being much different.Ned: As chairman of the P.T.A., I am de-didilly-lighted to take over, and I think I can put the "pal" back in principal.
(the kids laugh)
Chalmers: Yeah, and I'll put the "super" back in superintendent!
(no one laughs)
Chalmers: It's the same exact joke. What gives, Leo?
(later, when the kids laugh at Ned's similar "put the stew back in students" pun)
Chalmers: It's just a damn popularity contest with you kids! (walks off annoyed)
Leo: Now look what you've done, you little freaks! (walks off angrily)
- Long List: Principal Skinner (on deciding which laundry detergent to use): "Let's see: Tide...Cheer...Bold...Biz...Fab...All...Gain...Wisk. I believe today I will try...Bold."
- Manly Tears: Shed by the now former Principal Skinner when he stops one night by the school (in his classic working attire) and remembers his old days as a teacher and voice of authority.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Willie chasing after Santa's Little Helper in the vents plays out like something out of the Aliens movie.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Bart wasn't trying to get Skinner fired, he just didn't think about bringing a dog into the school.
- Noodle Incident: The start of the episode showed Skinner was already in hot water apparently because he thought a Jewish student made up Yom Kippur.
- The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: After Superintendent Chalmers is angry enough at Skinner before Santa's Little Helper causes a crisis, and Groundskeeper Willie falling on him seems to be the last straw:Chalmers: Seymour?...You're fired!
Skinner: (offended) I'm sorry, did you...did you just call me a liar?
Chalmers: No, I said you were fired.
Skinner: Oh... (Beat) That's much worse...
- Odd Friendship: A major part of the episode is Bart and Skinner forming one.
- Out of Character: Skinner's incompetence pretty much contrasts with the no-nonsense stance he had in the show's earlier seasons.
- Pet the Dog: Bart is given a good mark for bringing Santa's Little Helper in for Show and Tell.
- Putting the "Pal" in Principal: The Trope Namer. Deconstructed with Ned, who takes such a hands-off approach to running the Elementary School that it becomes a lawless hellhole.
- Selective Enforcement: Chalmers lets Flanders get away with ten times the mayhem and incompetence he fired Skinner over. He nonchalantly admits that Skinner really bugs him and public schools are going down the tubes anyway.
- Skewed Priorities:
- Apu's It's Been Done example follows him being only mildly irritated by Bart abusing the Kwik-E-Mart's self-serve policy and making a big mess.
- After brazenly excusing the problems occurring on Ned's watch, Chalmers objects to his invoking God.Chalmers: God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion! Simpson, you get your wish! Flanders is history!
- Special Guest: Frank Welker as Santa's Little Helper's vocal effects.
- Take That!: Chalmers' quote about organized religion. See Skewed Priorities above.
- Teachers out of School: Zig-Zagged. After Skinner loses his job, Bart gets to know him outside of work. Even though Skinner is as boring as ever, Bart still manages to befriend him.
- Tempting Fate: When Chalmers arrives at the gym, Skinner tries assuring him that everything is under control. At that very moment, a ladder leading up to an air vent falls over, taking with it the scoreboard, a nearby window, and Chalmers' patience. Soon after, Santa's Little Helper falls into Chalmers' arms. For that, he's tempted to forgive Skinner of his transgressions... until a half-naked Willie drops on top of him.
- Two Decades Behind: Skinner listens to classical music on a 1960s-era reel-to-reel tape machine (although, that's possibly for the same reason he washes his laundry in a public launderette - he lives with My Beloved Smother who won't allow him to use modern technology).
- Yearning for a Nemesis: After Bart gets Skinner fired and builds a friendship with him, Bart feels that something isn't right and tells Lisa. Lisa puts it as Bart yearning for a disciplinarian nemesis, someone he can rebel against (Ned Flanders allowing the school to go to hell with his hands-off approach also turns it into a kind of Victory Is Boring situation). With this in mind, Bart decides to help Skinner regain his job.