First Aired - 10/14/1993
After Homer fails a competency test at the plant, Mr. Burns is forced to put Homer in college so he can keep his job. Too bad Homer thinks that college life is similar to what most viewers have seen in Animal House and its many imitations.
This episode contains examples of:
- Achievements in Ignorance: Homer achieves an Epic Fail so massive that he managed to cause an actual nuclear meltdown in a nuclear plant simulation truck with no fissionable materials.
- Acquainted with Emergency Services: After Homer causes a meltdown in class when the professor asks him to demonstrate how a proton accelerator works. The clean-up crew arrives to stop the problem:Homer: (glowing green, gesturing over shoulder) In there, guys.
Crew: Thanks, Homer.
- Aesop Amnesia: Homer pointedly refuses to learn that college in reality is not a place for Wacky Fratboy Hijinks and the closing credits show that he went on to pull a more successful (and wackier) barrage of them throughout his second semester.
- All There in the Script: The nerds are named in the script. The black one is Gary, the ginger one is Benjamin and the fat guy is Doug.
- As You Know...: Parodied in Show Within a Show School of Hard Knockers, the Dean's guest informs the viewers about his position as the President of the United States by reminding the Dean of it.Dean Bitterman, I hope nothing unsavory happens during my time here. As you know, I am President of the United States.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In the flashback, Homer runs out of a meeting to fight a dog over a ham. In the present, he leaves a lecture to chase two squirrels with a stick.
- Bad Boss: Mr. Burns, as if it were ever in doubt.Smithers: (pounding on the door of the escape pod) For the love of God, sir, there are two seats!
Burns: (reopening the door) I like to put my feet up.
- Batter Up!: Spoofing the scene from The Untouchables, Mr. Burns tries to whack a Springfield University board member with a baseball bat, but he's so weak the board member hardly feels anything, and it utterly exhausts Burns.
- Bee Afraid: "THE BEE BIT MY BOTTOM! NOW MY BOTTOM'S BIG!"
- Benevolent Boss: Though he's a Bad Boss to Smithers in this episode, Mr. Burns is strangely this to Homer. Despite getting him in trouble with the inspectors, Burns still takes steps to ensure Homer can keep his job and get the education he needs to qualify for it, going so far as to pull some strings to get him into Springfield University after every college turns Homer down.
- Berserk Button: Richard Nixon is apparently very protective of Sir Oinks-a-lot. He gets very angry and has the guys expelled.
- Beyond the Impossible: Homer causes a nuclear meltdown in a truck that had absolutely no nuclear material in it. One of the inspectors lampshades this, while Conan laughs about it in the audio commentary.
- Big Eater: When a meltdown causes Homer to glow and say he must destroy mankind, his wrist watch beeps to remind him it's lunch time. He quickly shakes off the radiation and goes for lunch.
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...:Marge: Homey, here the responses from the colleges you applied to.
Homer: D'oh! D'oh! D'oh! Woo-hoo! A flyer for a hardware store! D'oh!
- Black and Nerdy: Gary, one of the geeks who are supposed to tutor Homer, is black.
- Blatant Lies:
NRC Inspector: Get the axe. (Another inspector starts breaking down Burns's door)
- When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission arrives, Mr. Burns tries to claim the plant is just a cookie factory. The NRC don't buy it for an instant.
- Snake steals the nerds' wallets by just walking up to them and saying he's a wallet inspector. He does absolutely nothing to conceal he's a crook otherwise and even mutters that he can't believe it actually worked — while they are still within earshot.
- Book Dumb: Inverted with Benjamin, Doug and Gary, who, while intelligent in regards to their studies, have no common sense or ability to function in the real world.
- Brick Joke: School of Hard Knockers has a scene where the rebellious jock has set up a bra-bomb to cover the school with bras. This happened to coincide with the President's visit to the college. Homer is seen taking notes after this particular scene. Over the end credits, during Homer's second round of college, a montage of Homer's antics is played. One of the still photos seen is Richard Nixon with a bra on his head, with Homer and the Dean triumphantly playing guitar in the background. Apparently Homer got revenge.
- Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Homer's main experience with college is what he's seen in movies, leading to him believing that College Is "High School, Part 2" where you take part in Wacky Fratboy Hijinks and teach mean old Dean Bitterman a lesson. As it turns out, he's completely wrong; the episode ends up being about a mostly realistic college with a likable and competent Dean and a student body that mostly just wants to be left alone to their studies. Homer's attempts to instigate Slobs vs. Snobs conflicts or elaborate pranks end up getting people expelled instead.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': All of Mr. Burns' attempts to thwart or buy out the inspectors fail spectacularly. They arrive when the entire plant is asleep, they don't buy his lies that the plant is a cookie factory, Homer doesn't stay properly contained and shows the inspectors how grossly unqualified he is for his job, the inspectors don't accept Burns' bribes, and the already bribed Mayor Quimby arrives to cancel the inspection only once it's over and finished.
- Captain Obvious: "Wait a minute, that's not the wallet inspector..."
- Casual Danger Dialogue: After Homer accidentally turns the college classroom into a nuclear disaster, he calmly walks out (glowing bright green) and informs the rescue crew, "In there, guys." The crew responds, "Thanks, Homer."
- College Is "High School, Part 2": Pointedly subverted, though Homer believes this.
- Creative Closing Credits: A montage of Homer's second semester and all the crazy Wacky Fratboy Hijinks he did, set to "Louie Louie".
- Dean Bitterman:
- Deranged Animation: This pictorial blog post breaks down many of the moments quite well.
- The Dog Bites Back: A near-literal example; Sir Oinks-a-lot takes exception to Homer pulling his tail straight and bites down on Homer's hand... hard.
- Epic Fail:
- Homer starts a nuclear meltdown in a simulator that didn't have any nuclear materials.
- While guarding the bee, Homer dismisses the other two employees as pathetic and declares himself "head bee guy". He then immediately breaks the jar, releasing the bee.
- Homer does this a second time with a particle accelerator in his nuclear physics class.
- Burns tries to smack a man's head with a baseball bat in a Shout-Out to The Untouchables. He can barely lift the thing and can only tap the man's head very weakly, which only annoys him. If anything, by getting exhausted, Burns hurt himself more.
- The nerds buy Snake's "wallet inspector" lie hook, line and sinker. Even Homer, idiot that he is, gets suspicious (after Snake runs off, mind) and defends inviting them to his home by saying that if they went out on their own, they probably would be dead very soon.
- During the first simulator meltdown mentioned above, Burns uses an Escape Pod to try to get away from the power plant. It only flies for three seconds before crashing down and rolling away like an over-sized pinball down the street, hurting him.
- Homer's admittance form picture is so inappropriate that it only took seconds for the college to reject him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Richard Nixon takes the mistreatment of Sir Oinks-a-lot very seriously.Nixon: Oh, you'll pay! Don't think you won't pay!
- Exact Words: When attempting to get Homer into college, Mr. Burns explains that it will be no problem as he has a chair at the Springfield University Board of Admissions. Indeed, the next scene is of him at the meeting, actually sitting in a towering, ghoulish-looking wooden throne with devilish figures with his visage carved into it and a vicious dog chained to one of the armrests for good measure.
- Fandom Rivalry: In-Universe, the nerds use the Simpsons' land line to argue online over whether Captain Kirk or Captain Picard is better. They support Kirk.
- Genre Deconstruction: Homer is convinced that college is nonstop Wacky Fratboy Hijinks, and he learns the hard way that's not true. When his prank of kidnapping a rival school's mascot goes awry, his nerd classmates get expelled.
- Gilligan Cut:
- When Homer glues a picture of him gorging on a cake like a madman on his admittance form, Bart points out that it might cause a bad first impression and Homer tells him that the admittance group will see past that. Instant cut to them looking at the picture and rejecting him, saying that reading the essay would only waste valuable seconds.
- In a later scene, the nuclear physician was about to demonstrate how a proton accelerator works. But Homer interrupts him by stating that he knows how to operate the machine, with the physician allowing Homer to test it. The next scene shows several students running out of a glowing building with Homer calmly walking out, and telling the hazmat men where to go.
- Hard-Work Montage: The nerds help Homer study hard for his test. Unfortunately, he still gets an F.
- Here We Go Again!: The episode ends with Marge convincing Homer to take the course over again without cheating.
- How Is That Even Possible?: The nuclear inspectors are baffled by Homer causing an actual nuclear meltdown in a simulator.Inspector: We're still not sure how he caused the meltdown. There wasn't any nuclear material in the truck!
- Humor Dissonance: In-universe. In Homer's nuclear physics class, when the professor greets his new class by saying "Out with the old, in with the nucleus...", everyone except Homer laughs. But when the professor accidentally drops his notecards, Homer is the only one who laughs, prompting everyone to stare at him as he does so.
- Ignored Aesop: Homer spends his second semester pulling off Wacky Fratboy Hijinks with some apparent success, after the events of this episode should have told him they're not cool.
- Intoxication Ensues: Defied. Homer adds some liquor to the punch of the admittance party at Springfield University to "cause some ruckus". The very first man who approaches the punch after Homer walks away takes a sip and instantly notices the taste, so he hurls into his handkerchief and grabs a microphone to warn everybody that the punch has been spiked.
- Jerkass: After Bart points out to Homer that he is hanging out with nerds, Homer immediately demands that Bart take it back and holds a knife to the little boy's throat. Pretty harsh considering that all Bart did was point out the reality of the situation to his father.
- Karma Houdini: Defied by Homer, who feels guilty that his hijinks got the nerds expelled from college, and steps forward to accept blame, but Bart, who originally brainstormed the prank, has nothing happen to him. The credits montage shows Homer pulling off six months of chaos that should have gotten him expelled even without a politician like Nixon influencing the dean's decision, but he still manages to graduate (heck, the time he pranks Nixon the dean is celebrating with Homer).
- Kick the Dog:
- When Burns enters the Escape Pod and closes it behind him, Smithers (who was left out) begs him to let him in, pointing out that there's two seats. Burns opens long enough to explain that he likes to put his feet on top before closing again and launching. Laser-Guided Karma soon follows.
- If not for the fact he's too weak to pull it off, he would have smashed the brains of a man who's only crime is (rightfully, because he's a Lethal Klutz and an idiot) deny Homer admittance to his college.
- Kill All Humans: Invoked by Homer, but ultimately subverted.Homer: (having climbed out of an irradiated crater, glowing green) Raargh! Must-destroy-mankind! (his watch alarm beeps) Ooh lunchtime! (Homer shakes off the radiation and walks away)
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The professor calling Homer on his supposed knowledge of how a proton accelerator works. Homer somehow causes a nuclear meltdown.
- Laser-Guided Karma: When Homer causes a nuclear meltdown, Burns immediately evacuates into a two-man escape pod and refuses to let Smithers in because he likes to put his feet up on the other seat. The pod promptly runs out of fuel after being launched, crashes onto the ground, and rolls down the street, roughing him up.
- Let's See YOU Do Better!: During one class, the professor teaches the class how a proton accelerator works when Homer interrupts, saying that because he worked in a nuclear power plant for 10 years, he already knows how it works. So the professor asks him to demonstrate for the class, which Homer agrees to. The scene immediately cuts to the students running out of the now green-glowing radiated class hall.
- Lost Aesop: Parodied. Homer tries to pull morals out of this story and gets contradicted.Homer: Look, the important thing is that we all learned a lesson. These guys learned the richness and variety of the world outside college.
Benjamin: No, we didn't.
Homer: Oh. Then I learned the real value of college is to study and work hard.
Lisa: No, you didn't. You only passed your course by cheating, which you always taught us was wrong.
- Missing the Good Stuff: Thanks to one of the nerds unplugging the television, Bart and Lisa miss the end of the Itchy and Scratchy episode where Scratchy finally wins. Even worse, Krusty says they'll never be allowed to show that episode again.
- Misspelling Out Loud: Homer gets his college application back and lights his high school diploma on fire, hilariously misspelling the word "smart" before quickly correcting himself:Homer: I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!note
- Mystery Box: When it is clear to Burns that he is about to be sanctioned for gross violations at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he tries (unsuccessfully) to play Monty Hall (of Let's Make a Deal) and offer a bribe to the inspectors into forgetting about Homer not being properly certified or qualified. The male inspector very nearly takes it.
- Mystical Jade: Parodied. Mr Burns visits the Simpson home to discuss the main plot of the episode, then as he leaves he addresses the following to Homer (unrelated to the rest of the episode and never referenced again):Mr. Burns: Oh, and one more thing: you must find the jade monkey before the next full moon.Mr. Smithers: Actually sir, we found the jade monkey. It was in your glove compartment.Mr. Burns: And the road maps, and ice scraper?Mr. Smithers: They were in there too, sir.Mr. Burns: Excellent! It's all falling into place...
- Nice Guy: Dean "Bobby" Peterson, who's perfectly willing to hang out with students or play guitar with them.
- No OSHA Compliance: The power plant obviously. The episode starts with everyone (Smithers and Burns included) taking a nap at the same time. Homer pushed a self-destruction button in his sleep, which only avoided because of the actions of a dog. The fact that computer says "Good boy!" suggests this is exactly why the dog is even there.
- Noodle Implements: Just what Mr. Burns wanted with the Jade Monkey is never revealed. It probably wasn't for anything good. Equally unclear is what the road maps and ice scraper had to do with it.Mr. Burns: One more thing. (ominously) You must find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon.
Smithers: Sir, we found the Jade Monkey. It was in your glove compartment.
Mr. Burns: And the road maps and ice scraper?
Smithers: They were in there, too.
Mr. Burns: Excellent. It's all falling into place...
- Noodle Incident:
- What caused Homer to throw up so much, and how did it change his life?
- Seeing Snake's "wallet inspector" con, Homer remarks "That's not the wallet inspector", suggesting that he fell victim to something similar before.
- Off-Model: A few moments fall into this, likely due to Rough Draft Studios still getting a handle on how to draw the characters. In one shot while Homer is buttering his toast, he has buggy Fish Eyes.
- Putting the "Pal" in Principal: Dean Peterson, to the point he's The Ace (he used to play for The Pretenders, for example), in "realistic" contrast to all of the archetypical Dean Bitterman-types (including the Trope Namer) in Homer's "research". Homer hates his guts, thinking he's the other type.
- Riddle for the Ages:
- Krusty shows an "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon where Scratchy finally gets Itchy. However, the TV is unplugged while Bart and Lisa are watching, and by the time the TV's plugged back in, the cartoon's over with Krusty declaring "They'll never let us show that again! Not in a million years!". How did Scratchy get Itchy? Or did he?
- Whatever was Burns' business with the jade monkey, maps and ice scraper.
- Rule of Funny: Homer somehow caused a meltdown in a simulator despite the simulator not having real radioactive materials.
- Safe Under Blankets: Homer's wacky hijinks leave him completely unprepared for the final exam, until he comes up with a plan:Homer: I've been working on a plan. During the exam, I'll hide under some coats, and hope that somehow everything will work out.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Burns offers a pair of inspectors a choice of bribe: a washer-dryer set, or a mysterious box covered with question marks. One immediately screams, "The box! THE BOX!" while the other remains unaffected.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
- Burns uses his position on the board of Springfield University to admit Homer into college.
- Apparently the dean didn't want to expel the nerds, but Sir Oinks-a-lot had powerful friends (i.e. Nixon).
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Burns tries to avoid the consequences for Homer's incompetence by bribing the safety inspectors and Mayor Quimby. It works on Quimby, but the inspectors don't go for it (although the male inspector is strongly tempted by the Mystery Box).
- Features dozens to college comedies such as Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds.
- After the meltdown, Burns tries to bribe the safety inspectors with either "a washer and dryer where the lovely Smithers is standing", or trading it all in "for what's in this box", spoofing Let's Make a Deal.
- Benjamin, Doug and Gary live in dorm Room 222. They also claim to know "The words of every Monty Python routine" and quote the "Knights who say 'ni'" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Benjamin, Doug and Gary greet Homer with the line: "Intruder alert. Intruder alert. Get the humanoid! Get the humanoid"
- Bart gets everyone's attention by scratching his nails on a chalkboard, just like Quint in Jaws.
- Burns' escape pod launch is a direct shout out to the launch of the escape pod C-3PO and R2-D2 used in A New Hope
- Mr. Burns' attempt to smash the head of one of the college administrators with a baseball bat (emphasis on "attempt") because he's the only naysayer to Burns' request copies Capone's You Have Failed Me Board to Death scene from The Untouchables.
- Show Within a Show: School of Hard Knockers, the Animal House rip-off wherein Dean Bitterman gets pelted with a bra bomb.
- Sir Verb-a-Lot: Sir Oinks-a-lot, the pig mascot of Springfield A&M.
- Snipe Hunt: During the inspection, Smithers puts the three most incompetent employees (including Homer, naturally) in charge of guarding a bee inside a jar. Needless to say, they fail miserably. The other two are actually smart enough to question what they're doing, but Homer dismisses them.
- Something We Forgot: After Homer successfully gets the nerds readmitted into college, he assures them that they wrapped up all the loose ends... except he was so fixated on reenacting college comedies that he completely neglected to study for the final exam.
- Start X to Stop X: According to Homer, "The only antidote to a Zany Scheme, is an even zanier scheme!"
- Status Quo Is God: Homer will, of course, keep his job, but instead of just taking it for granted and getting by on cheating, he has to go back to school. The end credits montage show a semester's worth of gags and him legitimately graduating.
- Tank Goodness: One of Homer's antics on the closing credits montage is him and the nerds (somehow) charging through a football game with a tank.
- Team Rocket Wins: Scratchy defeated Itchy this time ... or did he? We never see the specifics, and never will.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Out of Homer's pity, the nerds get to live with the Simpsons after getting kicked out of their dorms. Each one of them becomes a huge nuisance to every single member of the family one way or the other.Bart: (rubbing two knives together) Dad, start digging some nerd-holes.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Scratchy has Itchy bound to a pole, puts dynamite sticks in his eyelids and ears, outfits him with an Abraham Lincoln style-hat and beard made of plastic explosives, attaches grenades to his ears like earrings, aims nuclear missiles with pointed tips inches from his face, and surrounds him with crates of explosives, before escaping in a taxi. The only result we see is a gigantic mushroom cloud acting as the end title card.
- This Cannot Be!: The male NRC inspector is understandably shocked when Homer somehow causes a nuclear meltdown in a truck that has no radioactive material.NRC Inspector: Oh, no! This... can't be happening!
- This Is Unforgivable!: The dean kicks Homer and the nerds out of college because the pig they stole had some powerful friends.Nixon: Oh, you'll pay. Don't think you won't pay!
- Too Dumb to Live: The nerds have absolutely no knowledge of how to function outside of the campus. They buy Snake's "wallet inspector" hook, line and sinker and end up poor about ten seconds after being expelled and Homer defends bringing them to their home by telling Marge that they probably would get killed if he didn't.
- Trap-Door Fail: When the safety inspectors turn down Burns' bribes, Mr. Burns tells them, "I have the feeling you'll be... dropping the charges", and he presses a button to open the trap door, except the trap door's on the other side of the room. Smithers reminds Mr. Burns that, "The painters moved your desk." (Observant viewers will note that Burns' desk is indeed, not in its usual place in front of the window.)
- Turn the Other Cheek: The Dean instantly forgives Homer for putting him in traction, and for the other pranks he pulled.
- Wacky Fratboy Hijinx:
- Deconstructed. The plan to steal Springfield A&M's mascot Sir Oinks-a-lot goes horribly wrong, and it gets Benjamin, Doug and Gary expelled immediately (at Richard Nixon's behest).
- Throughout the rest of the episode, Homer learns that college is not at all Animal House-style frat pranks and antics, although he never does get taken aside and asked to knock off the immature behavior and while he makes amends for the nerds' unjust expulsion, he never truly learns his lesson and spends his second semester pulling a variety of insane pranks, including a tank rampage and flashing the audience when he graduates.
- Wake Up Fighting: During the Hard-Work Montage of the third act, Homer falls asleep while studying and one of the nerds pokes him in the shoulder to try to wake him up. Homer wakes up long enough to knock the nerd's lights out with one punch and then goes back to sleep.
- Women Are Wiser: The male NRC inspector nearly accepts Burns' offer of the Mystery Box, but the female inspector intervenes.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Homer goes into college convinced it's nonstop Wacky Fratboy Hijinx, and is amazed it's not. He never truly learns his lesson, though, and the closing credits montage shows that he performed crazier stunts throughout his second semester.Homer: (yelling) NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD!
Marge: Homer, that isn't very nice.
Homer: Marge, try to understand. There are two kinds of college students: jocks and nerds. As a jock, it's my job to give nerds a hard time. (to nearby student athlete) Hey, did you get a load of that nerd?
Student Athlete: (confused) Pardon me?
- "YEAH!" Shot: The episode ends with Homer doing one of these before the credits montage starts.
- Zany Scheme: Homer's constant antidote for everything, much to the nerds' confusion.