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Recap / The Simpsons S5 E5 "Treehouse of Horror IV"

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Original air date: 10/28/1993

Production code: 1F04

This go-around is done in the style of Night Gallery with Bart hosting the in-betweens while babysitting Maggie as Marge goes to get gift-shop earrings, but not before telling Bart that this year's Halloween special may be too scary for some viewers.

"The Devil and Homer Simpson"
Homer dreams of being a fashion reporter at a doughnut modeling show while doing his rounds at his job, but finds that Carl and Lenny have already eaten all of the real donuts (and chucked the rest at an old mannote  for fun). Desperate, he claims he'd sell his soul for a donut, and at that instant, the Devil (who surprisingly is Flanders) appears and offers to give him one. Homer signs a contract and is given a donut. But before he finishes it, he realizes that as long as he doesn't do so, the contract is voided. The Devil vows Homer will go to Hell sooner or later before disappearing.

That night, a half-asleep Homer goes to grab a midnight snack and thoughtlessly eats the last piece of the donut; the Devil appears and starts to suck him into Hell. The family awakes in the commotion and Lisa begs the Devil for a fair trial; he grudgingly agrees to this but demands that Homer spend a day in Hell. Down below, Homer finds himself chopped into pieces and given an ironic punishment by being force-fed all the donuts in the world (he manages to eat the whole supply, much to the torture technician demon's confusion).

Meanwhile the family hires Lionel Hutz to represent him in the trial. Midnight comes and the Devil, along with The Grim Reaper as a judge, appears along with Homer (bound in a fire cage). The Devil and Hutz barter on specific terms before the trial begins: Hutz for bathroom breaks, the Devil on his pick of the jury, which turns out to include some of the worst people from history: Benedict Arnold, Lizzie Borden, Richard Nixon (who, at the time of the episode was still alive and only on the jury because of a Deal with the Devil), John Wilkes Booth, Blackbeard the Pirate, John Dillinger, and the starting line-up of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers ("The Broad Street Bullies"). The trial doesn't go well — the Devil offers proof of his deal, and Hutz ultimately excuses himself to go to the bathroom and flees out the window.

Just as it looks that Homer will be condemned to Hell, Marge comes in with a photo album and shows everyone their wedding photo (which was in an emergency room as Homer ate the entire wedding cake...before the wedding). On the back of the photo is a declaration Homer made pledging his soul to Marge. The jury agrees that Homer's soul belongs to her, and he's freed — but the Devil, sore at being cheated, turns his head into a donut. Now Homer can't resist munching on himself, and most of the town's cops are waiting outside with coffee cups...

"Terror at 5½ Feet"

This story also begins with a nightmare as Bart dreams of his school bus losing control and being run over by a semi-truck. He awakens still a little shaken by it (not helped with Homer blowing a blow-horn that he stole from a marina in his ears). As Lisa and he head for the school bus in rainy weather, Bart finds that Skinner is onboard, a punishment from his mother. Halfway into the bus ride, they pick up Groundskeeper Willie who had gotten stranded after killing his mule. Soon, Bart notices a gremlin has attached itself to the side of the bus and is slowly picking it apart. He tries to warn the others but every time he does so, the gremlin hides. The first time, they just think he's crazy. The second time Otto assumes he's talking about Hans Moleman who was driving alongside them, so Otto knocks him off the road. Hans' car stops before it can hit a tree...then explodes anyway, because it's an AMC Gremlin.

Skinner tries to stop his paranoia by pulling the shade over the window but Bart can't help but peek and sees the gremlin only making matters worse. Skinner finally tackles Bart and ties him down with Willie's rope. Bart convinces his seat mate, Üter, to untie him and discovers the back tire will soon be loosened by the gremlin. Using the bus's emergency flares, Bart opens the window and manages to knock the gremlin off just as he's pulled back in by Skinner and Willie. The gremlin hits Ned Flanders's car; he stops and picks it up despite the gremlin trying to attack him...

The bus makes it safely to school (despite that it's completely wrecked — and for once, it wasn't Otto the bus driver's fault). Bart gleefully announces he was right, but Skinner nonetheless finds his actions deplorable and has him shipped off to the New Bedlam Home for the Emotionally Interesting (last seen on the season three premiere, "Stark Raving Dad"). Bart begins to relax, only to scream in terror when the gremlin shows up in the window of the truck, showing off the severed (and still talking!) head of Flanders.

"Bart Simpson's Dracula"

The family watches a news report about a murder victim who was drained of his blood; a black cape was found at the scene. Despite the obvious evidence, Wiggum assumes it's the work of a mummy and has the Egyptian wing of the museum destroyed. Lisa knows they should be tracking down a vampire but Homer dismisses the theory. Also in the news: Mr. Burns just bought a blood bank!

Some time later, the family is traveling at night to Pennsylvania, where Burns has invited them to dinner. At the manor, there's even more obvious evidence of Burns being a vampire (i.e.: he mentions the family being "fresh victims of his ever-growing army of the undead" over the entrance's intercom, his shadow has a life of its own, the "punch" served is blood, etc.) but only Lisa notices. Lisa "accidentally" spills the "punch" on Bart and her and they head off to get cleaned up. As they head back they discover Burns' vampire lair (oddly easily accessible) and investigate. As Lisa looks through Burns' autobiography Yes I Am a Vampire, Burns' vampire minions rise and advance on the two. The kids flee but Bart stops when he sees a lever for a "Super Happy Fun Slide". Knowing it's a trap, Bart pulls it anyway and slides back down into the lair...where a group of vampires are waiting for him. A vampire woman pulls him off the slide and pins him down as the rest of the undead minions gather around him and bare their fangs menacingly. A bat soon flies in who morphs into Mr. Burns himself and Bart is presented to him to which Burns waste no time feeding on.

Lisa makes it back to the family and tries to tell them what happened, but then Burns, with very visible blood on his mouth, appears with a clearly bitten and pale-skinned Bart who drones that nothing happened which the family believes. That night at the Simpson home, Lisa is visited in her bedroom window by a now vampiric and evil Bart flanked by other kids he's bitten. He beckons her to join them but she refuses, so Bart crashes through the window and tries to turn her by force. The commotion attracts Homer as well as the rest of the family, who stops him from doing so. But Bart laughs evilly as he changes into a bat and flees into the night. Lisa tells her family that the only way to return Bart to normal is to kill the head vampire, Mr. Burns.

The family head back to Burns' castle and make their way to Burns' lair. Homer drives a stake through his heart (though not before accidentally hitting his crotch). Burns dies and all seems well...but the next morning at home Grandpa floats into the kitchen claiming to be a vampire. The rest of the family reveals to the shocked Lisa that they're all vampires, because Burns wasn't the head one — Marge is. The undead family bare their fangs to attack Lisa... before turning to audience and wishing everyone a Happy Halloween, in a closing shot that parodies A Charlie Brown Christmas.

This episode contains examples of:


  • Art Imitates Art: In the Framing Device, several famous paintings by René Magritte, M.C. Escher, Salvador Dalí, Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Giorgione, Jacques-Louis David, and Pablo Picasso are parodied. Even "Dogs Playing Poker" by Cassius Marsellus Coolidge is featured (and drives Homer to screaming madness).
  • Content Warning: This is the first Treehouse episode not to have Marge's warning in the cold open. Instead, Marge interrupts Bart's introduction to tell everyone this episode is very scary and maybe instead they could listen to the War of the Worlds on NPR.
  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons are zombies who groan as they break through the floor and sit on the couch.
  • Darker and Edgier: There's a noticeably more darker tone in this special than the previous ones. Devil Flanders is pretty genuinely intimidating, the gremlin attempts to kill a school bus full of children (intentionally or not), and Bart actually gets turned into a vampire who tries to do the same to Lisa.
  • Elvis Lives: Averted. Several tombstones are seen at the intro. The first one has "Elvis – accept it" on it.
  • End of an Age: This is the last Treehouse of Horror special to have a segue in-between stories.
  • Faux Horrific: "Dogs Playing Poker" is considered so scary that it drives people into madness, which happens to Homer.
  • Four Is Death: This is the fourth Treehouse of Horror special.
  • Framing Device: Bart hosting in-betweens in an art gallery, explaining the story behind each painting. Each in-between segment also features a member of the family: 1) Marge, asking Bart to watch over Maggie 2) Lisa 3) Homer. This is the last Treehouse of Horror episode to use any kind of framing device; all other episodes just go right into the stories.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Homer, once he looks upon Coolidge's A Friend in Need (the "Dogs Playing Poker" painting for those who don't know its real name).
    Homer: They're dogs! And they're playing poker! AAAAAHHHH!!! Ah-hahahahaha! Ah-hahahahaha!
  • Grave Humor: Like the first three Treehouse of Horror specials, there are some funny gravestones in the intro. One reads "A Balanced Budget" and another reads "Subtle Political Satire".
  • "The Scream" Parody: A Simpsonised version of the The Scream painting is included amongst the pictures during the Night Gallery-inspired wraparound segment of the episode.
  • Horror Host: In keeping with the Night Gallery theme of the episode, Bart assumes Rod Serling's role as the host of the episode, introducing each separate story after presenting a painting related to it. This being Bart, he's not quite able to keep up Serling's level of class.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The scenes where Bart walks around in a hallway full of paintings is a homage to Night Gallery. The paintings themselves are shout-outs to Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, René Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Jacques-Louis David, M.C. Escher, Giorgione, and the "Dogs Playing Poker" painting.
    • During Marge's warning, she suggests that people instead listen to The War of the Worlds (1938) on NPR.
    • "The Devil and Homer Simpson" is a shout-out to The Devil and Daniel Webster.
    • When the devil shapeshifts into a large demon claiming that Homer "is not smarter than him" it's a direct homage to Chernabog in Fantasia.
    • The segment with Bart and the gremlin is a homage to the famous The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". The gremlin itself bears a closer resemblance to the version seen in Twilight Zone: The Movie.
    • "Bart Simpson's Dracula" is a shout-out to Bram Stoker's Dracula.
    • Mr. Burns' menacing vampire shadow is a shout-out to the most famous scene from Nosferatu. Likewise one of the vampires in his lair resembles Orlock.
    • Two of the female vampires in Burns' lair resemble one of Dracula's brides and Lucy's vampire form from the '92 movie.
    • Bart flying around with other kids turned into vampires references The Lost Boys, while him floating directly outside Lisa's window directly mirrors a scene from 'Salem's Lot.
    • Homer being strapped into a chair with a device holding his mouth open as he's force-fed until he's obese is a direct homage to the infamous feeding sequence in Pigs Is Pigs (1937). The scene is Matt Groening's favorite sequence in animated history.
    • The movement of Homer's arms as he reacts to the Super Fun Happy Slide lever was directly inspired by Disney's Humphrey the Bear, according to the animators.
    • The "Happy Halloween" ending, complete with snow falling, Milhouse playing piano and Santa's Little Helper dancing references A Charlie Brown Christmas.
    • The end credits are a musical homage to the theme from The Addams Family.
  • Special Guest: Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz; Frank Welker as The Gremlin.

"The Devil and Homer Simpson"

  • Affably Evil: It's Flanders in Devil form, so not surprising. He even tries to warn Homer to first reflect on the "grave ramifications" of selling his soul to him for something trivial, but Homer quickly tells him off.
  • Balloon Belly: Homer becomes massively obese after eating all the donuts in the world.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Lionel Hutz after botching the case beyond recovery.
  • Berserk Button: Don't tell the Devil that you think you're smarter than him.
  • Big Eater: Homer's Ironic Hell fails to be a punishment because ends up eating every doughnut served to him, much to the confusion and irritation of the demon who intended it to be a punishment.
  • Blatant Lies: When the Devil is taking Homer to hell, Marge asks if he ate the donut and Homer says "no".
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Homer managed to avoid Hell, but Flanders punishes him by turning his head into a donut. As we see the next morning, not only do we see that Homer can't help but keep eating his head, but the last shot of the episode shows that the entire Springfield police department is waiting outside his house, with mugs of coffee.
    Chief Wiggum: Don't worry, boys. He's gotta come out of there sometime.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: During his time in Hell, Homer is force-fed all the donuts in the world by a machine. It doesn't faze him, even after what's implied to be several hours, much to the confusion of the demon doing it to him.
    Demon: I don't understand it! James Coco went mad in fifteen minutes!
  • Deal with the Devil: The basis of the first story and implied to be why Richard Nixon is on the Devil's Jury of the Damned.
  • The Devil Is a Loser: The Devil nearly loses Homer's soul out of the gate when he makes the mistake of blurting out that he only gets Homer's soul if he finishes the doughnut. When Homer mocks him after finding a loophole to keep his soul, the Devil turns into a giant but doesn't do anything besides boasting he will have Homer's soul. He only comes close to getting Homer's soul because Homer keeps the last piece of the doughnut and finishes it despite the notes telling him not to. Despite hand-picking the jury for the trial over Homer's soul, the Devil still loses.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Actor James Coco is apparently in Hell for reasons no-one explains.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Homer does this when he finds out the deal with the Devil won't go through as long as he doesn't eat the last bit of the donut. He starts mocking the Devil for finding the loophole.
    Homer: I'm smarter than the Devil! I'm smarter than the Devil!
    (Flanders becomes gigantic and all-demonic.)
    Flanders: (Booming voice) YOU ARE NOT SMARTER THAN ME!!!
    Homer: Eep!
    • In a deleted scene, Bart wishes to trade his soul for a Formula One racing car, only to change his mind when the Devil appears with one in tow. Marge scolds him not to pester Satan.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: The reason it's not safe for donut-headed Homer to leave his house.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Homer puts the last bit of donut in the fridge with a sign on it that says "DADDY'S SOUL DOUGHNUT - DO NOT EAT". He ends up eating it anyway while half-asleep and looking for a midnight snack.
  • Downer Ending: Homer gets to keep his soul, but his head is turned into a donut, and he can't leave the house because the Springfield Police Department is outside with coffee cups, waiting for him to come out.
  • Epic Fail: Lionel Hutz tries to plead Homer's case by citing the Webster's Dictionary definition of the word "contract," only realizing after he's said it that he's effectively clinched his client's defeat since the entry defines a contract by the quality of being unbreakable. He then cashes in one of his agreed-to bathroom breaks and bunks.
  • Exact Words: Shows up three times.
    • When Homer strikes his deal with Devil!Flanders for the donut, the latter explains that he'll take ownership of Homer's soul "the instant he finishes" the pastry. Homer, in a stunning moment of competence, immediately realizes that this means so long as he never takes the last bite, the contract can't be completed. It doesn't last, given Homer's Big Eater tendencies, but it does give Lisa the opportunity to plead for a fair trial.
    • This also saves the day in the end. Just before the Grim Reaper can pronounce Homer's sentence, Marge enters with a photo from her and Homer's wedding day. The back has a message from Homer, pledging his soul to Marge in exchange for her hand in marriage. He may have meant it metaphorically, but the jury decides that the pledge is legally binding — therefore, Marge owns Homer's soul, and it wasn't his to bargain with Flanders in the first place. This voids the contract and frees Homer.
    • The last one has a dash of Literal-Minded thrown in for good measure. After losing Homer's soul, Flanders curses him: "But let that ill-gotten donut be forever on your head!" The next morning shows that he meant exactly that — Homer's head has been transformed into a giant donut.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Homer is smart enough not to finish the donut so that the contract can't go into effect, and (subsequently) dumb enough to eat the last piece anyway.
  • Forced Transformation: Homer at the end when the Devil turns his head into a donut. Not that he seems to mind, but it's still a hazard as every police officer in town is waiting outside the Simpson house to get a piece of Homer.
  • Force Feeding: During his day in Hell, Homer is forced to eat all donuts in the world as punishment for selling his soul for a donut. It doesn't work as a punishment for him.
  • Historical Domain Character: The Jury of the Damned is comprised of these.
  • I Taste Delicious: After Homer's head gets turned into a donut.
    Marge: Homer, stop picking at it!
    Homer: Aww, but I'm so sweet and tasty!
  • Ironic Hell: For selling his soul for a donut, Homer is force fed all the donuts in the world. It doesn't work. This is explicitly shown to be happening in "Hell Labs' Ironic Punishment Division", so presumably this is happening (with more success) to everyone in that section of Hell.
  • Irony:
  • Jerkass Genie: Notable for its aversion. The Devil grants both the word and spirit of Homer's request, as the donut he received was delicious. He even brings the latter point up during Homer's trial.
  • Jump Scare: The Devil suddenly transforming into his true demonic form and yelling in a booming voice at Homer comes extremely quickly in the middle of Homer's line.
  • Jury of the Damned: Devil Flanders' jury.
  • Kangaroo Court: Subverted — it's actually a fair trial but the odds are stacked against the Simpsons, especially with a shoddy lawyer on their side. They are, however, able to win it because of an old wedding picture with a pre-existing pledge of Homer's soul to Marge written on the back.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Happens three times in the Jury of the Damned:
    • First, Richard Nixon and the starting line-up of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers, were still alive at the time the episode premiered.note 
    • Second, all jury members have done criminal deeds that are legally punishable: Benedict Arnold (treason), Lizzie Borden (murder), Richard Nixon (surveillance spying, lying under Presidential oath, obstructing justice), John Wilkes Booth (murder), Blackbeard (piracy), John Dillinger (armed robbery). However, the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers are only there for being a famously brutal hockey team and, for the record, it was never actually proven that Lizzie Borden murdered anyone, but popular opinion and American folklore have branded Borden a murderer.
    • Third, though not a real example of this trope it should be mentioned anyway: most of the Jury members are people from US history. Blackbeard (Edward Teach) was born in England, and mostly roamed the Caribbean during his life.
  • Loophole Abuse: Homer figures out the devil won't be allowed to collect his soul until he finishes eating the donut. Of course, Homer being Homer, he doesn't make the Devil wait a lot. Then, Marge produces evidence Homer had previously given her his soul, meaning it technically wasn't his to bargain with, preventing the Devil from collecting it.
  • Never Learned to Read: Blackbeard, as shown when Marge tells the jury to see the back of the photograph.
    Blackbeard: Argh, 'tis some kind of treasure map!
    Benedict Arnold: [Snatching the photo from him] You idiot! You can't read!
    Blackbeard: Aye, 'tis true. My debauchery was my way of compensating...
  • Noodle Incident:
    • How exactly did James Coco end up in Hell?
    • Devil!Flanders did Nixon "a favor", but what "that favor" might've been is anyone's guess.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Homer when he pushes the Devil's Berserk Button by taunting him, causing the Devil to roar at him, "YOU ARE NOT SMARTER THAN ME!" It diminishes when the Devil disappears.
    • Lionel Hutz has one when he messes up his case, causing him to pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Devil briefly transforms into his gigantic true form to yell at Homer after being angered, while spending the rest of the episode as Flanders.
  • Pals with Jesus: Bart seems to already be familiar with Ned Flanders in his demonic form ("Hey, Bart." "Hey"), while we're hardly surprised to learn that Burns has some kind of a professional relationship with him.
    Burns: Hmm. Who's that goat-legged fellow? I like the cut of his jib.
    Smithers: Uh, Prince of Darkness, sir. He's your eleven o'clock.
  • Pun: The demon offering Homer a donut wears a cook bonnet with the text Hell's Kitchen.note 
  • Recognition Failure: Grandpa confuses the birds that pick the donuts sticking on his back with buzzards.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Homer's case takes a turn for the worse, Lionel Hutz calls for a recess so he can use the bathroom. Marge discovers not too long after that he left out the window.
  • Shown Their Work: Benedict Arnold is shown wearing a Continental Army uniform and John Wilkes Booth walks with a cane.
  • Sold His Soul for a Donut: Homer names the trope this episode by selling his soul for a donut from Hell's kitchen.
  • Sore Loser: Devil Flanders when he loses Homer's soul. He gets even by turning Homer's head into a donut.
  • Take That!: One against Richard Nixon, portrayed as indebted to the Devil after his crimes.
  • 30 Minutes, or It's Free!: Lionel Hutz promises a free pizza for every case he doesn't win within thirty minutes. In a deleted scene, when he returns with the pizza only to be told they won Homer's case, he admits the pizza box is empty.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The immediate sign that Lionel Hutz might not be the best choice to represent Homer?
    Lionel Hutz: (Using a fork as a comb) Mr. Simpson, don't you worry, I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn't on, but I think I got the gist of it.
  • Time Marches On: The part where Richard Nixon reminds Devil!Flanders that he isn't dead yet but the latter informs the former that he did him a "favor". 6 months later in April 1994, Nixon died, therefore his "not-dead-yet" excuse wouldn't work anymore.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Not only does Homer do something as stupid as sell his soul to the Devil for a single doughnut, but he proceeds to later eat what little remains of that doughnut as a midnight snack, passing up several other appetizing foodstuffs in the process. After having his entire head transformed into a doughnut, Homer proceeds to eat himself and his family has to stop him.
  • Unishment: Homer when he's sent to Hell and given what was meant to be an Ironic Hell: Eating all the donuts in the world. But Homer ends up enjoying the experience and just asks for more.
    Demon: I don't understand it. James Coco went mad in fifteen minutes!
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Lenny and Carl kickstart the whole plot when they eat most of the donuts and then chuck the rest at Grampa while Homer is daydreaming instead of just leaving them for him.
  • You Owe Me: When Devil Flanders picks his jury of the damned, he likewise summons Richard Nixon (who was alive at the time of this airing), who points out he's not dead yet. Devil Flanders counters that he did a favor for him (implying that said favor was getting him out of the Watergate scandal) which Nixon concedes.
    Nixon: But I'm not dead yet! In fact I just wrote an article for Redbook.
    Devil Flanders: Hey listen, I did a favor for you.
    Nixon: (Meekly) Yes, master.

"Terror at 5½ Feet"

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Kang and Kodos, the aliens from outer space who can apparently see what's happening on one little school bus, laugh at Bart panicking over a gremlin, a creature they claim doesn't exist. Until one appears on their spaceship, that is.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After Otto runs him off the road, Moleman's car careens toward a tree—only stopping at the last moment. Then the car explodes.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Tragically subverted. After the gremlin ends up under the care of Flanders, it looks sad, almost like it's rethinking its destructive behavior now that it's being shown kindess. Come his next scene, that is not the case.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Otto is seen looking for the gremlin and failing to see it, and when Milhouse asks who's driving the bus, Otto sheepishly replies, "Uno momento, por favor." (Spanish for "One moment, please.")
  • Brick Joke: During breakfast, Homer is fooling around with an air horn he stole from a boat at the marina. Much later, as Bart is fighting off the gremlin, Homer drives by the bus.
    Homer: Hey, boy. [uses the air horn again]
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Bart when he wakes up from his nightmare:
    Bart: Ew, I hope this is sweat.
  • Cassandra Truth: Bart in this story when he tries to convince the bus that a gremlin is destroying it en route to the school.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The gremlin in the final scene does this with Ned Flanders' head, to Bart's horror.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bart tries frantically to warn everyone about the gremlin on the side of the bus, sabotaging the vehicle. Even though he's eventually proven to be right (and gets rid of the gremlin himself,) Skinner still decides his conduct was unacceptable, and naturally a suitable punishment would be for him to spend the rest of his life in an insane asylum.
    • Also, Groundskeeper Willie shot his mule seventeen times for refusing to walk in the mud.
  • Downer Ending: Bart is proved right about the gremlin and the damage to the bus, but is sent off to a mental hospital for the rest of his life for disruptive behaviour, and the gremlin then appears in the back window of the ambulance, holding Ned's severed head. The segment ends with Bart screaming.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The story starts with Bart dreaming of his bus losing a tire and running into a semi-truck.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Milhouse and Otto are seen laughing at Bart about his nightmare.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Hans Moleman's car which explodes for absolutely no reason.
  • Exact Words:
    Bart: Otto, there's a gremlin on the side of the bus!
    [Otto sees an AMC Gremlin at the side]
    Otto: Don't worry, Bart dude. I'll get rid of him. [pushes the car off the road]
  • Griping About Gremlins: A gremlin is the villain of this story.
  • I Told You So: Bart at the end when the bus makes it to school and they see the damage done to it, with it falling into a heap as soon as Skinner touches the last screw on the tire. Doesn't save him from being shipped off to the loony bin however.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Bart when trying to tell everyone of the gremlin.
  • Jump Scare: Bart can't resist looking out of the bus blind, and when he pulls it up, he sees Groundskeeper Willie looking in.
  • Kick the Dog: Bart sees the box of emergency flares is empty because Jimbo has placed them in Martin's pants. Bart takes them, then puts one back in Martin's pants.
    • Not only is Bart sent to the looney bin after being proven right about the gremlin and knocking it off the bus with the flare, but the segment ends with the gremlin now on Bart's ambulance... and holding Flanders' still alive head.
      Flanders: Hidilly-ho, Bart!
      Bart: [screams]
  • Mandatory Line: Kang and Kodos' prolonged laughter at Bart's predicament is this, since the show was too short.
  • Not So Above It All: Skinner was shown laughing at Bart after Lisa asks everyone on the bus to be "extra-nice" to him.
  • Off with His Head!: The gremlin decapitates Flanders' head and shows it to Bart at the end of the story.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone on the bus in Bart's nightmare when the tire comes off, and then again when the bus is about to crash. Bart's scream in the dream is the same scream as when he wakes up.
    • Bart has several at certain points when he sees the gremlin picking the bus apart. Then later when he sees the gremlin banging on the wheel hub and trying to remove the wheel nuts.
    • Bart in the ambulance at the end of the segment when the gremlin appears holding Ned's severed head.
  • Pun: "There's a gremlin on the side of the bus!". Otto then says he'll take care of it and rams an AMC Gremlin off the road.
  • Tempting Fate: In Bart's dream, Milhouse bought some gum and showed Bart the trading card photos that came with the gum. The photos were lame but Bart said at least Milhouse had the gum. Milhouse then cut his cheek trying to chew it.
    • Bart at the end, despite being en route to a mental hospital, is relieved because at least he can now get some rest. Immediately after he says that the gremlin appears holding Ned's severed head, causing him to scream.
  • There's No Kill like Overkill: Groundskeeper Willie put 17 bullets in his mule because it wouldn't walk in the mud.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Springfield's resident Chew Toy Hans Moleman meets his end in this episode when his AMC Gremlin explodes after being run off the road (even though it stopped just short of hitting a tree).
  • Truth in Television: AMC Gremlins were notorious for overheating for no apparent reason (though it was the Sport-Trec transmission, not the engine).
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Even after Bart is proven right about the gremlin taking the bus apart, the school never took it into account that Bart was trying to warn them, and send him to live in an insane asylum for the rest of his life, all because he was "disruptive".
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After Hans' car gets rammed off the road by Otto, he manages to come to a complete stop just before hitting a tree, sparing him from an accident and keeping his car intact after just making his last payment on it. Then it just randomly explodes.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Per the Twilight Zone reference, Bart has everybody on the bus convinced that he's insane.

"Bart Simpson's Dracula"

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy:
    Homer: Oh, Lisa, you and your stories: Bart's a vampire, beer kills brain cells. Now let's go back to that... building... thingie... where our beds and TV... is.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • After the family finds out Bart is a vampire:
      Marge: Homer, we have to do something! Today, he's drinking people's blood. Tomorrow, he could be smoking!
    • Also this bit in the scene before that when Bart proclaims how cool being a vampire is because vampires get to stay up all night and drink blood. Milhouse chimes in with this:
      Milhouse: And if you say you're a vampire, you get a free small soda at the movies!
  • Bad Boss: Humorously referenced. When Lisa tells Homer that he must stake Burns through the heart as he's sleeping in order to undo all the evil the vampires have done, Homer is pretty eager to do so - not because Burns turned Bart into a vampire, but simply because he's Homer's boss, and killing him would be "[living] out the American Dream." But it's no use: Homer does kill Burns, but just after he has appeared to die - and literally one second before he dissolves into dust - Burns very briefly comes back from the dead just to say "You're fired" - drawing a "D'oh!" from Homer.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Apparently, the final segment was originally going to be based on Coolidge's A Friend in Need, but "it was far too intense". So, random vampire story.
  • Blood Lust: Ironically, Mr. Burn's needed a blood donation from Bart in the season 2 episode "Blood Feud" in order to keep him alive. In this episode Burns receives another blood donation from Bart, albeit far less voluntary here, as he bites the little boy's neck to quench his thirst.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Bart attempts this after he fails to convince Lisa to turn her willingly. Though it seems he was gonna go through with it either way.
    Bart: (After Lisa rejects his offer) Lisa, you don't have a choice here. (He rears back and flies through the window, pinning Lisa to the bed and flashing his fangs, ready to bite her).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens at the end: “Happy Halloween, everybody!”
  • Buffy Speak: "Oh, Lisa, you and your stories. 'Bart is a vampire.' 'Beer kills brain cells.' Now let's go back to that... building... thingy... where our beds and TV... is."
  • Cassandra Truth: Lisa in this story when she tries to convince her family Mr. Burns is a vampire.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • A man is found completely drained of all his blood next to a cape labelled "Dracula", so Chief Wiggum decides a mummy is involved, and orders the entire Egyptian wing of the museum destroyed.
    • After it's revealed that Bart's a vampire. Abe runs in with a hammer and stake, citing they need to kill him. When Marge asks how he knows Bart's a vampire...
      Abe: (Drops the stake and hammer) He's a vampire? (Runs out of the room screaming).
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Played for Laughs. See Gainax Ending below.
  • Curse Cut Short: Burns exclaims "Oh, son of a bi..." when he realizes he has his finger on the intercom button.
  • Daywalking Vampire: None of the vampires in the segment are affected by sunlight, which actually corresponds with the traditional legends (Nosferatu came up with the idea that vampires burn up in the sunlight).
  • Delayed Reaction: "Bart, how many times do I have to tell you not to bite your sis- Wait a minute, you are a vampire!"
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Vampire Burns, but only Lisa sees the supernatural evil that he is.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Lisa and Bart find Burns' crypt and the vampires within, whom awaken at their presence. They run, but Bart finds a lever noted as "Super Happy Fun Slide". Despite knowing what a stupid idea it is, he pulls it anyway which turns the staircase into a slide. Unsurprisingly, he ends up sliding back into the crypt where the vampires grab him and Burns bites Bart and turns him into a vampire.
    Bart: I know I really shouldn't... but when am I gonna be here again? (He pulls the lever and the stairs turn into a slide) Wheeee!...
    Vampires: (Waiting at the bottom of the slide) RAAAH!
    (Bart joy turns to screams before a female vampire pulls him off it and pins him to the ground)
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:
    Mr. Burns: (when the family arrives) Welcome, come in (whispered) Ah, fresh victims for my ever-growing army of the undead.
    Smithers: Sir, you have to let go of the button.
    Mr. Burns: Oh, son of a bi... (The doors to the manor open)
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: It turns out the Head Vampire wasn't Mr. Burns, but Marge, who had an otherwise very minor role in the story.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: When Homer dismisses Lisa's claim that a vampire is responsible for the recent attacks.
    Homer: Lisa, vampires are make-believe, just like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.
  • Evil Laugh: A vampirized Bart gives off one after he's stopped from biting Lisa, shifts into a bat and escapes out the window.
    • Marge lets out a cackle after revealing she is the head vampire.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Despite the fact that she knows that they're surrounded by coffins, Lisa is too focused on Burns' book to notice Burns' vampire minions rising from them and closing in on Bart and her. Even with their audible moaning and Bart trying to get her attention (though for latter, Lisa thought Bart was annoying her with his 3 Stooges impressions). It isn't until one of the vampires rakes his claw on the page she's reading that she finally sees they've surrounded them.
    • Likewise, Homer and Marge fail to notice something wrong when Burns arrives with Bart, despite it being obvious that Burns has blood on his mouth, Bart having two bite marks on his throat and Bart acting rather zombie-like and not speaking as he normally would. (While this level of obliviousness is typical for Homer, Marge's reaction makes more sense when you realize that she's secretly one of the vampires, meaning that she probably did notice.)
  • Final Girl: Lisa. At the end of the segment, she is the only one of the family who is not a vampire. The episode ends before all the Simpson vampires gang up on her.
  • Foreshadowing: When the family are driving to the dinner with Mr. Burns, Marge tells a concerned Lisa to "stop being so suspicious" and checks to see if everyone has washed their necks, per Mr. Burns' request.
    • Another one that's present throughout the episode. Lisa is the only one who believes a vampire is responsible for the recent killings and everyone, including Marge, acts uncharacteristically oblivious to it all and only start taking her seriously when they catch Bart in the act of nearly indoctrinating Lisa into Mr. Burns' undead army. If the family weren't vampires all along, they would've at least took Lisa's warnings into consideration and try to rat him out to the cops, or better yet, kill him themselves at the first chance they got instead of waiting until after Bart nearly attacks Lisa to take the threat seriously.
  • Funny Background Event: After Bart turns into a bat and flees, and Marge panics, Maggie can be seen waving after him.
    • During the news report of Chief Wiggum ordering the Egyptian wing of the museum destroyed, Officer Eddie can be seen tossing the Mona Lisa into the bonfire.
  • Gainax Ending: The vampire family are set to pounce on Lisa... then wish the audience a Happy Halloween and do a A Charlie Brown Christmas parody.
  • Groin Attack: Homer attacks Mr. Burns as he lies sleeping.
    Homer: (when staking Burns) Take that, vile fiend!
    Lisa: Dad, that's his crotch.
    Homer: (Chuckles and pulls out the stake) Oh sorry.
  • Hey, You!: Naturally, Burns is bad with remembering names.
    Burns (after he flies in as a bat, morphs to human form, and looms over Bart as a vampire woman holds him down): Well, if it isn't little... um (racks his brain trying to remember)...boy.
  • Hope Spot: After the above happens (see Groin Attack), Homer correctly stakes Mr. Burns in the heart. He withers, dies and turns to dust.
    Homer: -Whew-
    Mr. Burns: (suddenly revives) You're fired! (dies again)
    Homer: D'OH!
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Parodied. Homer mentions with emphasis (and spooky music) that Mister Burn's castle is located in Pennsylvania!
  • I Heard That: When the family meet Burns at his manor and Lisa notices his shadow is moving on its own.
    Lisa: Dad, do you notice anything strange?
    Homer: Yeah, his hairdo looks so queer.
    Burns: I heard that!
    Homer: It was the boy!
  • I Warned You: Lisa's deadpan expression when Homer finds out Bart is a vampire.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: When Homer dismisses Lisa's claim that Bart was turned into a vampire, he quotes something else she said in the past:
    Homer: "Beer kills brain cells." Now let's go back to that... building... thingy... where our beds and TV... is.
  • "Join Us" Drone: Bart after he becomes a vampire and tries to convince Lisa to join him as well as a few kids he's bitten. Citing being able to stay up all night as a positive, even if its to feed on blood for the most part.
  • Late to the Realization: Having Failed a Spot Check and ignored Lisa's warning earlier, Homer only realizes that Bart is a vampire while in the process of yelling at him for trying to bite her.
  • Layman's Terms: After hearing the news report, Lisa knows instantly that a vampire is on the prowl, but naturally has to dumb it down for her family.
    Lisa: (Upon seeing Wiggum having the police destroy an Egyptian museum wing) No! No! They're wrong! The creature they seek is the walking undead! Nosferatu! Das Vampyr!
    (The family stare blankly)
    Lisa: A vampire!
  • Living Shadow: Mr. Burns' shadow is shown playing with a yo-yo as he walks away.
  • Looks Like Orlok: One of the vampires in Burns' lair.
  • Kick the Dog: The last thing Burns does before he dies for good? Fire Homer.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: Bart seemingly does this while walking down a hall with Lisa in Mr. Burn's castle and leans on a statue. A wall opens and reveals... a laundry room. Then they turn around and find Burn's vampire lair just across the hall in plain sight (With a neon sign pointing the way no less).
  • No Ontological Inertia: Lisa figures if they kill Burns, the master vampire, that'll break the vampirisim on Bart and return him (and presumably everyone Bart bit) to normal. She is right, just that Burns isn't the master, her mother is!
  • Obviously Evil: Well, it's Burns, so it's a given. But he barely tries to hide the fact that he's a vampire. Even on live TV.
    Burns: (after Kent reports about him buying a blood bank) Oh I'm very excited about this deal! I...Oh.(Notices blood on the corner of his mouth. He wipes it off with his finger then slurps it up)...Precious blood.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bart when he sees the vampires approaching him and Lisa. Lisa too when she finally notices.
    • Abe when he suddenly coming running in with a hammer and stake.
      Abe: Quick, we have to kill the boy!
      Marge: How'd you know he's a vampire?
      Abe: He's a vampire? [screams and runs away]
    • Lisa when Bart tells her that everyone in the family (except her) is a vampire.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The ones in Mr. Burns' lair look and act more like zombies and seem to come in a variety of forms, some with bloodshot eyes, others looking like Count Orlock from Nosferatu, and skin textures ranging from smooth to wrinkled.
  • Police Are Useless: Chief Wiggum isn't smart enough to know that a man bitten and drained of his blood would be the work of a vampire, not a mummy.
  • Power Floats: Bart, the kids he's bitten, as well as the rest of the family (sans Lisa) display that they can fly willingly without having to turn into bats.
  • Pun: Mr. Burns' vampire lair resides in not Transylvania but Pennsylvania.
  • Retractable Appendages:
    • When Burns goes to bite Bart, his fangs lengthen as he growls.
    • Bart readies his fangs to bite a screaming Lisa, but when Homer comes in to yell at him, the fangs retract.
  • Rise from Your Grave: As soon as Bart and Lisa discover Burns' lair and his book, the vampires sense their presence and rise from their coffins.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Once the rest of the family find out that he's a vampire. Bart decides to cut his losses, morphs into a bat and flies off into the night, cackling evilly all the way.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • The "Super Happy Fun Slide" in Mr. Burns' lair. Bart lampshades this, knowing full well it's a trap.
      Bart: Maybe I shouldn't...but when am I gonna be here again? [Pulls it and the stairs turn into a slide] Wheee!!
      Vampires::[Waiting at the bottom for him] RAAAAH!
      Bart: AHHHHH!!!
      [A vampire woman pulls him off and pins him to the ground as the other vampires crowd around and moan menacingly at him]
    • Homer nearly falls for it himself when the family venture into Burns' lair to stake him.
      Homer: (gasp) Super Fun Happy Slide!
      Lisa: (sternly) No, dad.
      Homer: (dejectedly) Aww, guess killing will be fun enough.
  • Shout-Out: The Head Vampire not being who the protagonist thought is a clear reference to [1].
  • Surprise Slide Staircase: Not so much a surprise but it still counts.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Mr. Burns returns with Bart from the lair.
    Bart: (pale-faced, bite marks on his neck, droning) Hello mother, hello father. I missed you during my uneventful absence.
  • Take Our Word for It: Bart claims the original story planned for the segment about dogs playing poker was "too intense" for the audience. Just looking at the painting drives Homer insane.
  • Take That!: Homer's comment about vampire Burns' hair is one to the 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula whose hairstyle was likewise mocked at the time.
  • Three Stooges Shout-Out: When Bart notices the vampires, he starts mumbling gibberish, which Lisa mistakes for him imitating Shemp and Curly from The Three Stooges.
  • Throw It In: In-Universe, this segment was thrown together at the last minute because of the planned segment involving Coolidge's A Friend in Need was "far too intense".
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The rest of the family except for Lisa are vampires at the end except for the pets.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Despite finding the vampire lair, Lisa and Bart should've beat feet back to the dining room and tried to warn their parents instantly. Instead, they linger around long enough for the vampires within to awaken before finally fleeing. Even then, Bart winds up getting caught and bitten because he couldn't resist the lure of a "Super Fun Happy Slide''.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Bart, not surprisingly, after he's bitten.
    Bart: (floating outside Lisa's window with all the other kids he's turned): Come join us Lisa, it's so cool. You get to stay up all night drinking blooood!
  • Undead Child: Bart after he's bitten as well as the kids he bites and turns.
  • The Undead: The focus of this story which is on vampires.
  • Undeathly Pallor: The vampires in Mr. Burns' lair have greenish skin (which, oddly, makes them look more like zombies than vampires). Bart plays this straight after he's bitten.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Bart is not impressed by the coffins in the basement of Mr. Burns' castle.
  • Vampire Hickey: After Bart is captured by a vampire Burns in his crypt hideout, they return to the dining hall to show Homer and Marge that everything is alright... despite Burns having blood dripping from his fangs and the two obvious puncture wounds on Bart's neck.
    Lisa: Mom! Dad! Mr. Burns is a vampire! And he has Bart!
    Burns: (Comes in with a clearly bitten Bart) Why Bart's right here.
    Bart: (Droning, having a blank expression) Hello mother, hello father, I missed you during my uneventful absence.
  • Vampire Monarch: Mr. Burns was thought to be one, but at the end...
    Lisa: (After the family reveals they're vampires) What?! No, we killed Mr. Burns!
    Homer: You have to kill the head vampire.
    Lisa: (Gasps and points) You're the head vampire?
    Marge: No, I'm the head vampire. (Laughs ghoulishly)
    Lisa: Mom?!
    Marge: Well, I do have a life outside this house, y'know.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: It's only into bats, but Mr. Burns and Bart showcase this trope as vampires. Kudos to the animators for making it looks so smooth, considering that the animation of The Simpsons back in the 1990s was very flawed (not as bad as it was in seasons one and two, but it had a long way to go before the digital ink and paint and high-def eras).
  • Wham Line: "We're all vampires."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's shown that Bart turns a few of his fellow schoolmates such as Milhouse, Martin, Ralph and Jamie into vampires. But after Bart's attempted attack on Lisa fails and he flees, we don't see what became of them.
  • Worth It: Bart pulling the "Super Fun Happy Slide" lever, even though it sends him straight to the arms of the bloodsuckers ready to make a meal out of him. Of course, seeing as how he likes being a vampire, this could also apply too (though that could just be the vampiric corruption talking).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Burns has no qualms about biting Bart when his vampire minions catch him.
    • Also, Abe wanted to kill Bart, before finding out he's a vampire.


Video Example(s):


TS [Sore Loser Devil]

The Simpsons - Ep 86 [Treehouse of Horror IV (The Devil and Homer Simpson)]: Homer sells his soul for a donut and the only way to save him is to have a trial. Things look to be going badly until Marge reveals Homer pledge his soul to her. This cost the Devil his prize but he isn't one to lose gracefully which Homer finds out the hard way.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / SoreLoser

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