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Recap / The Simpsons S6 E25 "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)"
aka: The Simpsons Who Shot Mr Burns

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Original air date: 5/21/1995

Production code: 2F16

While burying a dead gerbil, Groundskeeper Willie strikes oil on Springfield Elementary. Thrilled with the prospect of the newfound riches, Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers begin accepting suggestions as to what to do with the money the oil will bring; Lisa suggests that they hire famed mambo musician Tito Puente to teach. But one person in town isn't happy with the prospect of Springfield Elementary having oil—Mr. Burns, who fears that it will interfere with his monopoly on the town's power supply. After an extremely transparent attempt to disguise himself as Jimbo Jones fails, Burns vows to get the oil at any cost.

While Burns schemes, Homer becomes increasingly frustrated with the old man's complete inability to remember his name. He tries wearing a nametag around the Power Plant, which Burns fails to notice. Marge then suggests sending him a box of chocolates with a photo of the Simpson family and Homer's name to jog his memory. Burns and Smithers indulge in the candies, pointing out how Monty personally knows every member of the family thanks to their previous exploits. Unfortunately, they don't eat the last chocolate—that is, the one covering Homer's face—and Burns fails to mention the Simpson patriarch in his thank-you card. Homer completely loses his temper and unleashes an Atomic F-Bomb for the ages.

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A few days later, Principal Skinner turns on the new oil derrick the school has built to tap the crude beneath them... but nothing comes out. Burns mockingly reveals that he established a slant-drilling operation, draining the oil well for himself. Faced with a huge bill for installing and dismantling the derrick, Skinner is forced to fire Willie and Tito, who, along with Lisa, swear vengeance. The oil drilling leads to other problems in town: the toxic fumes in the neighborhood force Moe to close his tavern, infuriating both him and Barney; a sinkhole opened by the operation destroys the Springfield Retirement Home, leaving Grandpa Simpson homeless and angry; and a gusher from the well destroys Bart's treehouse and injures Santa's Little Helper, which distress both him and Maggie. Delighting in his villainy, Burns tells Smithers that he's still unsatisfied with his schemes, as the people of the town can still use natural sunlight for energy. He then reveals his most evil plan of all: using a "sun-blocker" to cover the star, trapping Springfield in perpetual darkness and forcing them to rely on his power plant for all of their needs. This is too much even for Smithers, who demands that Burns stop his plot; a furious Burns fires him instead.

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That night, Homer breaks into Burns's office and uses spray paint to graffiti a massive "I AM HOMER SIMPSON" on the wall—and even though Burns catches him in the act, he still can't recognize him. As security guards drag an enraged Homer away, he screams "You're dead, Burns. DEAD!" Those sentiments are echoed at a Town Hall meeting the next evening, when everyone in town gathers to voice their fury against Monty. Many of the citizens have armed themselves with various firearms and weapons, and seem ready to kill—but when Burns shows up armed with a pistol himself, he dares someone to take action: "You all talk big...but who here has the guts to stop me?" He then activates the sun-blocker, trapping Springfield under the cover of night. A cheery Burns goes for a walk, while other citizens notice that everyone else seems to have vanished. As Burns turns a corner, he speaks to someone offscreen:

"Oh it's you, what are you so happy about?.. Ah, I see. I think you'd better drop it. I said drop it! Get your hands off-"

Marge, standing alone in front of Town Hall, hears a gunshot ring out, and sees Burns stagger out from the shadows, a bullet in his chest. He collapses onto the sundial, and the town gathers in shock. Marge nervously points out that everyone in town had a motive, meaning that the mystery may never be solved...


This episode contains examples of:

  • 6 Is 9: The official answer to the mystery involves a clue where Burns left when he fell on the town sundial, pointing to W and S which implicates Waylon Smithers — except from his angle, he was pointing to M and S for Maggie Simpson, the true culprit. Notably, though, the episode had many a Red Herring that still works with those same letters—it could have implicated Moe Szylack (whose last name is even revealed in this episode by his liquor license), Sideshow Mel (whose full name is revealed to be Melvin van Horn), Grandpa and Bart Simpson (the former brags about owning a Smith & Wesson revolver, and the latter knows about said revolver), Skinner (whose full name is given as W. Seymour Skinner this episode), Groundskeeper Willie (while his full namenote  wouldn't be revealed until Lisa the Drama Queen, he's a Scotsman named Willie), and even Santa's Little Helper (who Burns prominently refers to as "the Simpson mutt").
  • Accidental Misnaming: The Running Gag regarding Burns never recalling Homer's name reaches its Rage-Breaking Point on these episodes. After Homer notices the problem during his first scene, he wears a nametag the next day, only for Burns to greet Lenny, Carl and Guillermo by name while failing to notice the tag. It gets so bad that Homer almost wastes his chance at clearing his name by trying to shoot Burns in the head when the man forgets his name one time too many.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The "pressing parcel processing" scene.
    Smithers: Perk up, Prendergast. Profoundly pressing package to power plant profit projections for Pete Porter in Pasadena.
    Prendergast: Priority?
    Smithers: Precisely.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Mr. Burns tries to convince the elementary school to sign over the rights to the recently discovered oil deposit beneath the school, by dressing as the teenage Jimbo and using what he thinks is modern slang. Since nothing Burns does is ever modern, it's a wonder he even got the outfit right. Principal Skinner isn't fooled.
    Burns: (dressed as Jimbo) Well, me and my fourth form chums think it would be quite corking if you'd sign over your oil well to the local energy concern.
    Skinner: Uh, Mr. Burns. (Burns gasps) It was naïve of you to think I'd mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my elementary school students.
  • Arc Symbol: A clock face set at 3 o'clock is an important symbol that appears many times in the episode (the chalkboard gag in the opening credits? Bart's chalkboard lines weren't a clue, but the clock in the room set at 3 was). It serves as a constant reminder that Mr. Burns was shot at 3pm, and also that the clock hands set in the 3 o'clock position add extra meaning to the way Burns fell on the sundial.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Burns of all characters asks one, when Springfield's hatred of him was even more intense than usual.
    McCallister: Arr, Burns, your scurvy schemes will earn ye a one-way passage to the boneyard!
    Ned: I'd like to hear from Sideshow Mel!
    Mel: I'll see to it that Burns suffers the infernal machinations of hell's grim tyrant!
    Otto: Yeah!
    Burns: Oh, you all talk big, but who here has the guts to stop me?
    [the residents of Springfield all look around, expecting someone else to step forward]
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • At the town meeting, everyone states their reasons for hating Burns, all of them legitimate reasons to hold a grudge. Except for Marge...
      Marge: HE'S CAUSING US ALL TO YELL!
    • And when Smithers tries to dissuade Mr. Burns from blocking out the sun.
      Smithers: But sir, every plant and tree will die, owls will deafen us with incessant hooting; the town's sundial will be useless.
  • Asshole Victim: Mr. Burns himself. Throughout this episode, Burns has illegally stolen oil from the school (leading to the school nearly going bankrupt and staff being fired), caused several businesses to close (thereby harming people who own those businesses, as well as their frequent customers) and is responsible for Bart's dog being injured and Grampa becoming homeless. If that wasn't enough, he then concocts a scheme to block out the sun and fires Smithers for objecting. By the time he's shot, Everyone Is a Suspect because everyone wanted him dead for all he had done.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Homer when his plan to make Mr. Burns remember his name backfires. Bonus points by having the church organ play an F-minor chord.
    Ned: Dear Lord, that's the loudest profanity I've ever heard!
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Consumed with rage over Mr. Burns repeatedly failing to remember his name, Homer drives to the plant and sneaks into his office, carrying a duffle bag. The bag contains spray paint, which Homer uses to leave the message "MY NAME IS HOMER SIMPSON".
    • When Mr. Burns walks in on Homer and once again fails to realize who he is, Homer snaps and charges towards Burns... and grabs him by the shirt and shakes him.
  • Berserk Button: The old running gag of Burns never remembering Homer's name comes full circle as Homer tries vigorously to get Burns to remember his name in order to put himself on Burns' good side. It's all in vain however, Burns even going as far as to remember every other member of the Simpson household except for Homer. This finally drives an unappreciated-feeling Homer to the brink of murderous rage, nearly beating Burns before being dragged out by security shouting "Oh you're dead, Burns! You're dead!!" Although Homer wasn't the culprit, and he seemed to have one of the simpler, less urgent reasons to kill Burns compared to the rest of Springfield, suspicion of him came ironically from Burns finally remembering Homer's name (albeit in a comatose state) which nearly sealed Homer's supposed guilt. Later Homer visits him and yells at him to take back his accusation, but it turns out while his name is all Burns can say he still can't put it to his face. Homer strangles him to take back the accusation but then Mr. Burns comes and asks Smithers who the man shaking him is, which in turn pushed his Berserk Button once more. Strangely, Burns continues to forget his name for a few seasons, but Homer doesn't seem to care.
  • Blatant Lies: When Principal Skinner shows Superintendent Chalmers the headline "Awful School is Awful Rich", he covers the first "Awful". When Chalmers asks what's written behind the fingers, Skinner says it has nothing to do with the story.
    Skinner: Oh! It's an unrelated article.
    Chalmers: An unrelated article? Within the banner headline?
    Skinner: Yes.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Mr. Burns is shot right into his chest and still he bleeds very little. Even his hands are clean.
  • Brick Joke: Burns attempts to trick Skinner into selling him the oil well by disguising himself as Jimbo Jones, though Skinner doesn't buy it. After he gets shot, the real Jimbo is the first person he encounters.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Almost every single person in the whole town of Springfield is murderously enraged at Charles Montgomery Burns for one reason or another and is carrying a firearm. Burns is also armed, but any of them would easily out-draw him if it came to that. But when Burns asks if any of them want to take a shot at him, the whole crowd looks at each other hoping that someone else will take the initiative. Snake even apologizes for not being around to do the shooting everybody wished him to do.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Homer picks the worst possible time to hit his Rage-Breaking Point with the Running Gag of Burns never remembering his name, when previous episodes had never hinted that it was bothering him. It becomes a Berserk Button to the point of providing his motive as a suspect.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Smithers mentions the town sundial.
    • Mr. Burns' wanting to literally take candy from a baby and starting to carry a gun turn out directly cause his own shooting.
    • All the guns brought to the town meeting make it easy to work out who's not the shooter by the guns they're carrying, like Moe's shotgun.
    • Grandpa Simpson's gun is a literal one, which Marge buries and is later shown to have been dug up.
    • In the background at Moe's tavern, a TV can be seen advertising "Pardon My Zinger" at 3 o'clock—the exact time Burns deploys the sunblocker.
    • The last thing Homer does before the scene at Town Hall is shake Burns while repeatedly saying "My name is Homer Simpson!".
  • Cliffhanger: The first two-part Simpsons episode.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer when Marge gives him an idea to make Mr. Burns remember his name:
    Marge: I have an idea.
    Homer: What? What's your idea?
    Marge: When my father was first trying to catch my mother's eye, he sent her a box of candy with his photo in it. After that, she never forgot him.
    Homer: That's all well and good, but it's not really your idea, is it now, Marge?
  • Compensating for Something: Inverted with Barney saying that the teeny-tiny Derringer he just pulled out of his rear pants pocket is what makes him feel like a man.
  • Cone of Shame: Santa's Little Helper gets one after his legs are injured. Nelson and his parrot laugh at him, and Abe mistakes him for a lamp.
  • Continuity Nod: When Mr. Burns and Smithers are eating from Homer's box of chocolates:
    Smithers: Now look, there's a photo in here.
    Burns: Ah yes, I believe that's little Maggie Simpson, the baby who found my precious teddy bear Bobo. Oh, and that Simpson mutt, my former guard dog. Oh, and um... that's uh, Bart Simpson. He was my heir for a brief period, you know?
    Smithers: Yes sir, I remember.
  • Couch Gag: The family runs past a repeating background shot of the couch in a parody of Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Homer hates the fact that Mr. Burns can never remember who he is, even though the old man's forgetfulness is likely the reason he's been employed for as long as he has, especially considering the number of times he's drawn Burns's ire in the past.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Homer: Kids... would you step outside for a second?
    (They run out of the room.)
    Homer: (Inhales deeply) FUU—
    (Jump Cut to outside. A loud F-chord from a church organ pierces through the air as Disturbed Doves fly out of the destroyed treehouse. The local neighbors look out their windows in utter shock.)
    Ned: Dear Lord! That's the loudest profanity I've ever heard!
  • Darker and Edgier: And how! While still comedic, the build up to Mr Burns getting shot is played completely straight. There are no jokes to ease the mood as the episode cuts back from Mr Burns walking to the noted absence of various characters. Only when Burns is shot do we end the first part on two jokes.
  • Death Glare: While no one is pleased to see Mr. Burns when he barges into the town meeting, none of them can quite look him in the eye when he asks if any of them are willing to do anything to stop him. None of them, that is, except Maggie, who continues to glare murderously at him.
  • Delegation Relay: Burns tries to send out a package through one of these. It ends up with Homer, who Comically Misses The Point and brings the package back to Burns, who angrily tells him that his name is on the return address.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Marge says the cheesy-sounding "Holy Christmas!" to express surprise and alarm upon seeing the devastation Mr. Burns has wrought through his slant drilling.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Burns slant-tapping the oil well, very, very obviously so. You can tell Smithers is in a snit because he misses the innuendo, even when Burns himself Lampshades it.
    Burns: Almost sexual, isn't it, Smithers?
    Smithers: Meh.
  • Drowning His Sorrows: Smithers does not take being fired well, drinking cheap liquor and watching shows on Comedy Central. (He also mentions that he never misses Pardon My Zinger, which turns out later to be a clue that clears him.)
  • Epic Fail: It turns out that Mr. Burns was shot after he unsuccessfully tried taking candy from a baby (Maggie).
  • Everyone Is Armed: The whole murder plot functions because it is revealed that almost everybody in Springfield (except for a few individuals such as Marge) has access to a firearm of some sort (even a dirt-poor drunk like Barney turns out to have always carried a Derringer in his rear pants pocket). On top of that, Burns is shown to have been missing his gun, meaning even characters who didn't have guns could have taken it. At least a couple of potential suspects —such as Moe— are easy to rule out in hindsight because of their weapons of choice. If Moe had shot Burns, Burns would have been pumped full of buckshot rather than a single bullet.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: By the time Mr. Burns is shot, nearly everyone in Springfield has a motive to shoot him & Marge outright says the trope naming phrase. A small handful of characters are ruled out note , but it's still rather impressive.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Smithers is Burns' Hypercompetent Sidekick, a hard-core Yes-Man and how much "evil" he actually is himself seriously lands on Depending on the Writer territory, but his temporal downfall stems from the fact that he thinks Burns' terrorizing of the entire town for the sake of getting more money (even before he showcases the solar blocker dish) is going too far. After he becomes a jobless drunk, as well, people are horrified that he's been brought so low that he spends all day watching Comedy Central.
    • Mayor Quimby may be an incredibly corrupt mayor, but even he thought the idea of Burns blocking out the sun to force the people to pay for electricity was an outrage. Also Snake; while he's a thief and a murderer, he disapproved of Burns' plan enough that he apologized for not being around to shoot him.
  • Evil Is Petty: Mr. Burns blocks out the sun from the town, forcing everyone to use his power all the time. His desire to steal candy from a baby afterward to celebrate is a sign that he's crossed the line. And a plot point, believe it or not.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Santa's Little Helper growls threateningly at Mr. Burns when the latter shows up at City Hall, and this is the episode where Mr. Burns is at his most evil.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Homer crashes through a security barrier at the plant, the guard — who surprisingly enough isn't Hans Moleman, despite this being the kind of role he'd normally play — remains engrossed in his magazine and raises the already-broken barrier.
  • Fair Play Whodunit: While few people figured it out in real life, the mystery really is solvable. Some clues require a Freeze-Frame Bonus or two, but every Red Herring suspect has a possible alibi introduced, someone smart enough to realize the layout of the crime scene would quickly start ticking off names, and several big hints as to the true identity of the shooter get dropped.
  • Fictional Mystery, Real Prize: A contest was ran where if someone correctly guessed who shot Mr. Burns they would be animated into the show. However only one person guessed right, but used a college email leading to the team being unable to contact them. They instead had to choose a winner at random and the person who won didn't even watch the Simpsons and instead chose a cash prize.
  • For Want of a Nail: If not for Homer's photo in the chocolate box ending up under a piece of chocolate that neither Mr. Burns nor Smithers liked, then Burns would have thanked Homer in the note (even if Smithers had to remind him who Homer was), which would likely have been enough to cause Homer to abandon his grudge. At the very least, this would have meant Homer would never have been suspected of shooting Burns, and possibly it might have prevented the shooting altogether, seeing how Burns armed himself in response to Homer's subsequent breaking into his office.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the middle of his Kick the Dog barrage, Burns mentions that it was as easy as taking candy from a baby and he notices a baby in a park holding a candy through his telescope, and he actually wanted to just drop everything he was doing and go steal that candy. Turns out that his actual attempt at doing this later on in the same episode is what almost cost him his life.
    • When Burns dares the people of Springfield to confront him, no one meets his eyes...except Maggie. It's easy to miss.
    • Burns' first words to his shooter are "Oh, it's you, what are you so happy about?", indicating that it's someone he recognises — which rules out Homer, since the episode clearly establishes that Burns can never remember who he is.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: At the end Dr. Hibbert says that he can't solve this case, and then points at the audience and asks, "Can you?" The camera then pulls out slightly to show that he's really pointing at Chief Wiggum.
    Chief Wiggum: Yeah, I'll give it a shot. I mean, you know, it's my job, right?
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Many serve as clues to the mystery, but just as many are Red Herrings.
    • The airtime for Pardon My Zinger can be seen on a TV in Moe's — which turns out to give Smithers his alibi.
    • Pay close attention when Burns asks the citizens who is actually willing to shoot him. Everyone in town begrudgingly looks away from him...except for Maggie.
    • Just as Burns collapses onto the sundial, his coat briefly opens, revealing that his holster is empty. This is a major hint, as it reveals that it was Burns's own gun that fired the shot, meaning he must have lost it in a struggle with someone; earlier in the episode, it's shown that Burns lacks the physical strength to take candy from a baby. Maggie is likely the only person who could have possibly caused a struggle in the first place—anyone else would have overpowered Burns immediately.
    • Moe's liquor license and Principal Skinner's diploma show their respective full names to be "Moe Syzlack" and "W. Seymour Skinner", though only the former would be respected in later episodes.
    • The scale model of Springfield used by Burns to demonstrate his sun-blocker is also a clue; it can be used to trace Burns' steps after the Town Hall meeting.
  • Homage:
    • The whole episode, and the next by extension, is a parody of the "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of Dallas.
    • Dr. Hibbert — already an Expy of Bill Cosby as his The Cosby Show character — becomes one for Cosby's character in The Cosby Mysteries with his "Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery... Can you?" statement at the end.
  • Insane Troll Logic: An amusing bad guy version of it. When telling Smithers about his evil scheme, Mr. Burns starts with "Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the Sun." He apparently hadn't heard of such folks as Ra and Amaterasu and Apollo, to name a few.
  • Irony: At Marge's suggestion, Homer sends Mr. Burns a box of chocolates with a photo of the entire Simpson family so he'll know who he is. Instead, Burns and Smithers eat everything except the piece covering Homer's face.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Burns spends the entire episode performing all kinds of absurdly villainous acts that ends up filling the entire town with murderous rage aimed at him, including stealing the oil from Springfield Elementary, getting Moe's Bar and the Retirement Castle closed because of collateral destruction, blocking the sun, nearly crippling Santa's Little Helper and forgetting Homer's name one time too many, it turns out that what got him shot and nearly killed was trying to steal candy from Maggie, because in the struggle Burns' own pistol fell off its shoulder holster and went off.
  • Jerkass: Mr. Burns might well be at his absolute worst in this episode, stealing oil from a school out of spite, destroying the retirement home, badly injuring Bart and Santa's Little Helper (though that was unintentional on Burns's part, he didn't pay for either of their medical bills and mockingly offered to sell oil for SHL's squeaky medical frame), and then planning to block out the sun entirely, travelling to the town meeting to gloat. And while there, he threatens to draw a gun on Bart, after taunting him about aforementioned injuries to SLH.
  • Kick the Dog: Mr. Burns develops a project to block sunlight from reaching Springfield, to deprive them of one more alternative source of heat and light. Smithers STRONGLY objects to this and is fired as a result. A town hall meeting is held about this, and Burns enters just when the whole town is being shown what Burns' oil drilling operation did to Santa's Little Helper, who must use wheels just to walk down the hallway.
    Burns: Oh, those wheels are squeaking a bit. Perhaps I could sell him a little oil.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Mr. Burns collapses on the sundial, Dr. Hibbert comments "Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery...Can you?" whilst looking and pointing directly at the viewer, before quickly cutting to a different shot to show he was talking to Chief Wiggum. This was done in reference to the contest that ran over the summer, in order for the viewers to figure out the culprit.
  • Literal Metaphor: When Burns brags that his plot was as easy as taking candy from a baby, he spots a baby with candy and attempts to do it literally.
  • Logo Joke: We hear a loud gunshot in the Gracie Films logo.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Burns outwits Skinner after he refuses to sell the School's oil. While the School sits atop the well, it legally belongs to whoever pumps it first. So Burns quickly moves to set up his own slant-drilling operation to siphon the well. By the time the School realizes what he's done, it's too late and they're left with no legal recourse to reclaim the well.
    • The rub is that even if they could have pursued a legal recourse, Burns' local influence and own financial resources would've almost certainty quashed such a lawsuit or kept them tied up in court for years (or until the school's own financial resources ran dry).
  • Mood Whiplash: Mr. Burns activates his sun-blocker, sending Springfield into artificial darkness. Then, Krusty arrives happily trying to talk about his six-week trip to Reno, then stopping when he sees everybody's too angry to even entertain the topic.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The show's first. Another would not follow for more than 20 years.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Or first initial. This episode reveals that Skinner's full name is "W. Seymour Skinner" because every potential suspect has either W.S. or S.M. as initials. Not only is it never stated what the "W" stands for, but it is also never used again.
  • No Indoor Voice: During the meeting, everyone seems to have picked up a habit of shouting out what Burns had recently done to their lives. Lampshaded by Marge.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Homer tells Bart and Lisa to go outside before he unleashes an Atomic F-Bomb.
  • No-Sell: When he tries to attack Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns can only flail ineffectually at him.
  • Not a Mask: Used at the end:
    Chief Wiggum: This isn't Mr. Burns's face at all! It's a mask! (pulls on his face) Oh wait, it is Burns. Heh — his wrinkly skin lo-looked like a mask.
  • Off-Model: It's been noted that in the final scene, Krusty looks more like Homer dressed as Krusty, leading fans to wonder if he was Homer in disguise. Bill Oakley shot this down, saying that they had a rule that the shooting suspects weren't to be present in this scene. A Tales From The Internet episode theorised that the animators drew Homer in before they knew this rule and found it easier to redraw him as Krusty than remove him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bart and Lisa's reaction when they realise just how pissed Homer is at Burns forgetting him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • The fact that Smithers, the quintessential Yes-Man, can't bring himself to toe the line is a good indicator of how far over the edge Burns has gone.
    • When Homer gets a card from Mr. Burns thanking every member of the Simpson family except him, he calmly and furiously asks the kids to step outside for a second, which they both do without hesitating. As one YouTube commenter said, "When he calmly orders his children and they obey without questioning, even Bart, you know the shit hit the fan."
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Principal Skinner describes Mr. Burns as "this town's most prominent 104-year-old man".
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Mr. Burns tries to convince Skinner to give the oil to the power plant by disguising himself as Jimbo Jones by wearing little more than Jimbo's clothes, so he can convince Principal Skinner to turn over Springfield Elementary's newly discovered oil to him. To his shock, Skinner sees right through his disguise. Skinner points out ridiculous this idea was.
    Mr. Burns, it was naive of you to think I would mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my elementary school students.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Subverted. Burns is portrayed as an opportunist with no moral restraint. When he decides to block sunlight from Springfield, a town hall meeting is called on the subject, and everyone brings a gun to the meeting. But when someone actually SHOOTS Burns, he is perceived as a victim, despite his obviously evil nature, and the attempted murder is investigated anyway. This is VERY out of character for Springfield, the kind of town that would leave a boy to die in a well for previously pranking the town into thinking someone else fell into it.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr. Burns is probably at his worst in this episode, but when he thinks the Simpsons have sent him a box of chocolates, he has Smithers send a thank you in response. For Burns, that's astoundingly polite (even if he did accidentally miss out Homer).
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: Happens in-universe with the family portrait inside the box of chocolates. Burns and Smithers refuse to eat the last piece, which happens to be the one thing obscuring Homer from their view, resulting in everyone but the eternally ignored Homer being thanked in Burns's letter. This leads to Homer letting out an outburst for the ages.
  • Red Herring: There were a lot of clues that pointed all over the place, and as Marge herself said, almost everybody in town had a motive.
    • Mr. Burns losing his gun means that no matter what weapon anybody had, or no weapon at all, anybody could have shot Mr. Burns.
    • The sundial clue in part one also serves as this, while also giving the identity of the actual shooter away if one thinks more carefully. Burns' hands land on the west and south points of the sundial, matching the initials of Waylon Smithers, the initial main suspect — and indeed, several other suspects have the letters 'W/M' and 'S' feature prominently in their names (Moe Syzlak, W. Seymour Skinner, Sideshow Mel) or a phrase of some significance (there's a gun floating around that's a Smith & Wesson, Santa's Little Helper is called the "Simpson mutt").
    • All told, just the characters given emphasized motives in the episode would include Homer, Bart, Lisa, Smithers, the Springfield Elementary faculty but especially Skinner, Willie, and Tito, the regulars of Moe's Tavern but especially Moe and Barney, and the retirees but especially Abe. There's even a number of characters who manage to get a word in during the town hall, like Marge, Captain McCallister, Sideshow Mel, and, of course, Maggie, and that's not counting the background ones. Hell, one could implicate Santa's Little Helper if someone wanted to.
    • The Smith & Wesson is a very prominent Red Herring, as it gets an entire, albeit brief, subplot dedicated to it, along with a shot showing that someone dug it up. With the later revelation that Abe dug it back up, it makes Bart a suspect again since Bart would have reason to steal Mr. Burns' gun.
    • The episode devotes time to noting the absences of Mr. Smithers and Skinner around the time Burns is shot. Neither is the culprit, and the next episode explains where both were at the time.
  • Resign in Protest: Smithers comes right to the edge of doing this when Burns first reveals his plan to block out the sun, refusing to work for Burns any longer, including finally growing a spine and refusing Burns' orders to shut up and fall in line. Burns fires him before Smithers can formally resign.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Pay close attention on any repeat viewings, and there's numerous subtle hints throughout both episodes towards The Reveal of the shooter's identity.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: As he's about to unleash his sun-blocking device, Mr. Burns rhetorically asks the other residents of Springfield if they "have ever seen the sun set at 3 P.M.?" Captain Horatio McAllister goes off into an anecdote about sailing around the Arctic circle once before Mr. Burns tells him to shut up.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Homer spray-painting "I am Homer Simpson" on the walls of Mr. Burns's office. It still doesn't get Burns to remember him.
  • Sanity Slippage: Homer undergoes one as a result of his name not remembered by Mr. Burns.
  • Scale Model Destruction: Mr. Burns goes a bit too far with this.
    Burns: Take that, Bowlerama! Take that, convenience mart! Take that, Nuclear Power Plan— Oh, fiddlesticks.
  • The Scream: A variation appears; on realizing that Mr. Burns has forgotten his name yet again despite all his efforts, Homer takes a deep breath and yells a profanity (starts with an "F", the rest is covered by the sound of an organ playing). It's given exactly the same treatment as The Scream.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Mr. Burns causes massive environmental and property damage with his drilling and ends up blocking out the sun with no implication that he has to pay for any of it. Mayor Quimby makes it clear he's not going to do anything about it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skewed Priorities: Right after Burns gloats over all of the misery he's brought to Springfield, he says that it was as easy as taking candy from a baby... and right as he says this, he sees a baby holding a piece of candy in a park across town through his binoculars and decides to drop everything else he's doing at the moment and go steal that piece of candy, forcing Smithers to remind him he's got other things to do, leading to the reveal of his scheme to block out the sun. This act of extremely petty evil turns out to foreshadow an important part of the events that lead to Burns getting shot.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: To highlight the tension of the cliffhanger, the closing credits of this episode had a serious, march-like version of the main theme after John Williams' score from JFK.
  • Special Guest: Tito Puente. Applies to Part 2 as well, where he is joined by his entire band. The reason for the latter's appearance is because writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein had written the "Señor Burns" song for Puente to sing, only to find out later that Puente was a percussionist, not a singer.
  • Spoofing in the Rain: Mr. Burns climbs a lamp post in the same way Gene Kelly did in Singin' in the Rain.
  • Stealth Pun: The church organ chord used to censor Homer's Atomic F-Bomb is an F minor chord.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Mayor Quimby's response to Mr. Burns' destructive deeds... to write a polite but firm letter, with the plan to send it to his underlings, in the hope they'll pass it along or "at least give him the gist of it".
  • Sudden Name Change: Seymour Skinner's diploma shows his full name as "W. Seymour Skinner". This was purely to add him to the list of those implicated by 'W/M' and 'S', and is ignored in all future appearances.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Easy to miss, but after Mr. Burns has been shot and is staggering around in pain, Jimbo actually stops to ask him if he's alright.
  • Take Our Word for It: When Mr. Burns sends Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie (but not Homer) a thank you card, Homer reacts by shouting something Flanders considers the loudest profanity he's ever heard.
  • Take That!: After losing his job, Smithers now spends all his days watching Comedy Central, leading a disgusted Dr. Hibbert to utter "My God!", and everyone else to look horrified.
  • Tranquil Fury: Homer, when he asks Bart and Lisa to leave for a second, not wanting them to hear his Atomic F-Bomb presumably since it isn't their fault Mr. Burns keeps forgetting his name and to keep them from learning a bad word. Regardless, seeing how dangerously pissed off their father is, Bart and Lisa do as they're told and run away scared.
    Homer: (lowers Mr. Burns's letter from his face; fury in eyes; quietly) Kids? Would you step outside for a second?
  • Waxing Lyrical: Before he's shot, Mr. Burns paraphrases the Simon & Garfunkel song "Feelin' Groovy", saying "Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin'? I've come to watch your power flowin'..."
  • Would Hurt a Child: To prevent Bart from attacking him at Town Hall, Mr. Burns flashes his pistol.
  • Wraparound Background: Used on the Couch Gag.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Mr. Burns almost always calls his assistant simply "Smithers" and Smithers almost always calls his boss "Mr. Burns" or "Sir". However, during a heated confrontation between the two as Smithers urges him to reconsider his sun-blocking plan, they have this exchange:
    Mr. Burns: There has been a shocking decline in the quality and quantity of your toadying, Waylon, and you will fall into line, now.
    Smithers: No, Monty, I won't. Not until you step back from the brink of insanity.
  • You Monster!: Said by Bart after Mr. Burns mocks Santa's Little Helper's injuries.

 
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Alternative Title(s): The Simpsons Who Shot Mr Burns

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