Original air date: 10/30/1994
Production code: 2F03
In this year's collection of frights:
- The Shinning: When the Simpsons are summoned to care for Mr. Burns' winter resort, Homer comes down with a nasty case of Kubrick-esque cabin fever.
- Time and Punishment: Homer goes back in time and causes a temporal butterfly effect for every prehistoric animal he kills.
- Nightmare Cafeteria: After juvenile delinquency skyrockets and school lunch budgets fall, Springfield Elementary devises a grisly approach to solving both problems.
This episode contains examples of:
- Homer, quite literally, in "The Shinning". He uses his ax to murder Willie before attempting to use it on his family.
- The entire school faculty in "Nightmare Cafeteria". By the end of it, most of them seem to be incapable of speech to the point that Skinner axes Willie in the back when the latter tries to rescue the kids.
- This conversation when the teachers first start eating the "sloppy Jimbos":Edna: Mmmm! This sandwich tastes so young and impudent! Seymour, what's with the good grub?
Skinner: Well, perhaps I should let you folks in on a secret. Remember how I told Jimbo Jones I'd make something of him one day?
Edna: (stunned): Are you saying you killed Jimbo, processed his carcass, and served him for lunch?
(Skinner taps his nose to indicate "yes")
(Everyone continues eating, unfazed)
- Yet another example, when Homer is fleeing from Overlord Flanders' attack dogs, he pulls out a string of wieners, as though he's going to throw them to the dogs, but then exclaims they will give him the "quick energy" he'll need and devours them himself. He immediately gets a speed boost and escapes.
- The beginning of "Time and Punishment" has Homer mysteriously getting his hand caught in the toaster and freaking out as he tries to get it out. When he finally accomplishes this, he relaxes in victory... only for Bart to inform him that it's in the toaster again and he continues to freak out as he battles it a second time.
- This conversation when the teachers first start eating the "sloppy Jimbos":
- Batter Up!:
- In "The Shinning", when Homer goes crazy, Marge threatens him with a bat much like the source material (the bat in question found in a glass case labeled "Break Glass In Case of Spousal Insanity"). Averted in that Homer never actually gets hit with the bat; instead, he accidentally looks in a mirror while making a scary face, and his reflection scares him so bad he falls down the stairs and knocks himself out.
- In the finale of "Time and Punishment", Homer returns to the past with a baseball bat so he can hit everything he sees and help change the future for better or worse.Homer: Don't touch anything?! I'LL TOUCH WHATEVER I FEEL LIKE!
- Big Eater:
- Moe and the other ghouls of The Shinning have to drag Homer out of the food pantry because he's too busy eating to carry out his revenge.
- The teachers become this in "Nightmare Cafeteria", and by the end of the segment, they are sending kids to detention (read: slaughter) for occurrences that couldn't possibly be their fault. Edna, in particular, has grown obese by the end of the special, having eaten so much.
- Bloodier and Gorier: In response to critics who said the Halloween specials were too bloody and gory, Matt Groening urged writers to make this episode the bloodiest and goriest "Treehouse of Horror" ever, which is why the beginning had Marge stating that the whole episode was going to be banned and replaced with an old Western movie about a train. For context, this is the first episode where at least someone dies in all three segments.
- Breather Episode: "Time and Punishment", while definitely not devoid of any creepy moments, is more comedy-oriented than the stories before and after, and the ending sees the status quo more or less reaffirmed as opposed to a Downer Ending.
- Brick Joke:
- The family accidentally leaves Grandpa behind at the gas station on their way to the lodge. During Homer's second attempt to reenact the famous "Here's Johnny!" moment from The Shining, Grandpa shows up at the lodge with his suitcase.
- At the end of "The Shinning", the Simpsons get frozen and helplessly watches the Tony Awards, where "One" from A Chorus Line is being performed. Later, at the end of "Nightmare Cafeteria", upon being turned inside-out, the family, along with Groundskeeper Willie, sing their own disturbing version of "One".
- Willie tries to save someone in trouble in each short and gets an axe in his back each time. When this happens for the third time in the episode in "Nightmare Cafeteria", his dying words are "I'm bad at this".
- At the beginning of "Time and Punishment", when he first time-travels, Homer encounters Mr. Peabody and Sherman, with Mr. Peabody scolding Sherman for talking. Later on, Kang and Kodos get turned into Mr. Peabody and Sherman after laughing at Homer's time-travelling, and Kodos (turned into Mr. Peabody) scolds Kang for asking how that happened.
- Butt-Monkey: Groundskeeper Willie keeps getting axed In the Back and gets turned inside out in the credits sequence.
- Comedic Sociopathy: This special tests the levels of Black Comedy much further than the previous ones. High points include a beer and television-deprived Homer trying to kill his family, an Evil Overlord Flanders lobotomising Springfield residents, the school staff eating their students, Groundskeeper Willie being murdered thrice, and the family performing a jolly musical number... while turned inside out... and completely ignoring Bart being eaten by Santa's Little Helper.
- Couch Gag: The family are built à la Frankenstein’s monster with each other’s body parts.
- Creative Closing Credits: The Simpson family and Groundskeeper Willie (who have turned inside out by toxic gas) singing a new version of "One".
- Darker and Edgier: This particular "Treehouse of Horror" is far more disturbing and violent than the previous specials which, while appropriately dark, still had some comedy and occasional happy endings to balance out the horror.
- Deranged Animation: The famous moment◊ when Homer says "DON'T MIND IF I DO!" and makes various nonsensical noises.
- Dissonant Serenity: During the final scene, the Simpson family and Groundskeeper Willie still happily sing and dance as Bart is dragged offscreen getting eaten by Santa's Little Helper.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: The beginning is hijacked by Bart taking control of the transmission, then ruined by Homer being... Homer.Homer: What's that, boy? We're in control? Hey, look, I can see my voice! (starts making silly noises) This… is my voice… on TV!
Bart: DAD! You're ruining the mood!
- Downer Ending:
- "The Shinning" ends with the Simpsons all stuck frozen together watching TV in the snow and, being unable to change the channel or escape, Homer's insanity returns and his urge to kill rises again.
- "Nightmare Cafeteria" ends with all the children except Ralph dead, and because of the stupidity of the townsfolk (if Marge is anything to go by) the cannibal teachers get away with mass murder. Good thing it was just a nightmare. And then the fog that turns people inside out gets in through the windows and Santa's Little Helper drags Bart off-screen to eat him...
- Dying to Wake Up: In "Nightmare Cafeteria," after the teachers become cannibals and have eaten most of the students at Springfield Elementary, Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse get chased across a plank above a giant blender. After Milhouse falls in, Bart assures Lisa that something or someone will save them from their predicament, only for them to fall - whereupon Bart wakes up in his bedroom and is told by Marge that he was having a nightmare.
- End of an Age: This was the last instance of the graveyard opening. Future THoH openings would get much more creative.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- Homer failed a pretty big one.Lisa: DAD! YOUR HAND IS JAMMED IN THE TOASTER!
- Made even worst that Homer does this two times in a row with the same toaster and hand.
- Bart apparently didn't notice he was the only one who followed his suggestion of everyone in class turning their desks to face backwards.Edna: Alright, backwards boy, back your butt down to detention.
- Homer failed a pretty big one.
- Fog of Doom: The fog that turns people inside out (a spoof of Arch Oboler's 1937 radio play "The Dark" on the program Lights Out, which featured a similar fog and allegedly had scared writer David X. Cohen as a child).
- Formula-Breaking Episode:
- The first Treehouse of Horror episode that didn't have a framing device for each story Note . The most it has is Bart and Homer taking control of the TV at the beginning; otherwise, the three stories weren't set up beforehand like the previous THOH episodes.
- Despite still being a Halloween Episode, this is the first to not feature Halloween in any capacity. The Simpson family and Groundskeeper Willie do say "Happy Halloween!" at the end of their closing song.
- Grave Humor: There is a gravestone in the intro reading "Amusing Tombstones", alluding to the fact that this is the last Treehouse of Horror special to use them.
- In the Back: Groundskeeper Willie gets axed in the back three times throughout the special.
- Kubrick Stare:
- Homer does this when he goes crazy. The DVD Commentary discusses this trope extensively.
- In "Nightmare Cafeteria," Edna pulls a hungry-looking one off (complete with an unsettling closeup) when Wendell drops his pencil during class. That accident is enough reason for her to send him off to detention — and soon enough, her stomach.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of the tombstones from the opening sequence is for "Amusing Tombstones". This was the writers' way of showing that they were tired of coming up with ideas for humorous tombstone messages. Similar sequences had been used as introductions in all four previous "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, but have not been used since this episode.
- Negated Moment of Awesome: All of Willie's Big Damn Heroes moments result in him getting an axe to the back.
- Oh, Crap!:
- When the frozen Simpsons are forced to watch The Tony Awards.Homer: Urge to kill... rising...
[Maggie looks at him. Cuts to black]
- Milhouse has this expression when he sees Mrs. Krabappel reading "The Joy Of Cooking Milhouse."
- When the frozen Simpsons are forced to watch The Tony Awards.
- Recycled Animation: The opening shots of the pan to Springfield Cemetery are four years old, having been first used for the original Treehouse of Horror and reused for every one since, and it is quite jarring when the opening sequence cuts to new footage. (This was the last time they were used.)
- Running Gag: Willie taking an axe to the back while trying to rescue someone in all three segments.Willie: Ach, I'm bad at this...
- Running Gagged: The Grave Humor in this episode ends with a tombstone for "Amusing Tombstones". They don't appear in future Treehouse of Horror installments.
Homer: What the hell are you smilin' at?
- The opening Do Not Adjust Your Set is from The Outer Limits.
- Time and Punishment lifts its plot largely from A Sound of Thunder.
- Homer runs into Mr. Peabody and Sherman while time-traveling.
- Ned Flanders' TV screen emerging from the floor is animated like the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- The title Nightmare Cafeteria is a reference to Nightmare Cafe.
- Those helping Moe drag Homer out of the storeroom are Dracula, a Wolf Man, a Mummy, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Pinhead.
- Homer's first arrival in prehistoric times spoofs the first scene featuring dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. It even plays a few bars of the movie's theme (or a close facsimile) just to make sure you get it.
- Homer follows his "Here's Johnny" bellowing with "David Letterman" and the 60 Minutes opening.
- Homer's line "Oh, I wish, I wish I hadn't killed that fish." paraphrases a song from The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
- When Homer travels in time after destroying everything in the past there's a montage of the Simpson house turning into various things, including an igloo, a Sphinx with Bart's head and The Flintstones' house.
- The shot from inside the refrigerator of Homer opening the door, seeing that there's no beer and commenting "Not a drop in the house" is a direct recreation of Wallace doing and saying the same thing while looking for cheese at the start of A Grand Day Out.
- The smile hooks allude to the eyelid openers in A Clockwork Orange, also used as part of a brainwashing program.
- Slasher Smile:
- Homer has a truly disturbing one mixed with his Kubrick Stare when he finally does find the right room his family's in.
- Principal Skinner has this when he is advancing on Bart in the Nightmare Cafeteria episode.
- Special Guest: James Earl Jones as Alternate Timeline!Maggie, who axes Willie when the latter tries to help Homer back to his own world."This is indeed a disturbing universe."
- They Killed Kenny Again: Groundskeeper Willie is given this treatment throughout the special. The only time he doesn't get killed is at the end, albeit having his skin turn inside out.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- Moe and the other ghouls in "The Shinning" want Homer to kill his wife and his three kids, even Maggie who is a baby.
- In "Time and Punishment", Ned Flanders has no qualms about lobotomizing ten-year-old Bart and eight-year-old Lisa.
- The whole premise of "Nightmare Cafeteria" is that the faculty members have no problem in killing and eating elementary school students.
- And I Must Scream: As the Simpson family huddle together by the tiny television's "warm glowing warming glow", hours pass to reveal they're frozen stuck together to Homer who begins to grow homicidal again due to the Tony Awards playing on the TV.Bart: (through frozen teeth) Homer, change channel!
Homer: (through frozen teeth) Can't! Frozen!
Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie: (scream together through teeth)
Homer: Urge to kill...rising!
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mr. Burns' lodge was built on an Indian Burial Ground, and was host to several witch burnings, Satanic rituals, and five John Denver Christmas specials. Homer is only creeped out by John Denver.
- Artistic License: With the exception of May 1992note the Tony Awards have been in June since 1977.
- Blatant Lies: Moe's ghost, when trying to convince Homer to murder his family.Homer: Why should I kill my family?
Moe: Uh... they'd be much happier as ghosts.
Homer: You don't look so happy.
Moe: Oh, I'm happy! I'm very happy! La la la la la, see?
- Brick Joke: Early on in the segment, the family realized they forgot to bring Abe Simpson with them, but are too far along to turn back to get him. Much later on in the segment, after suffering intense levels of Sanity Slippage, Homer inexplicably finds him during one of his attempts to parody the "Here's Johnny!" scene and off his family.
- Cabin Fever: Unintentionally enforced by Mr. Burns, who cuts off television and beer before leaving, causing Homer to go mad.
- Comically Missing the Point: Marge, in regards to Willie being axed in the back (the first time).Marge: Oh my! ...I hope that rug was Scotchgarded.
- Companion Cube: Homer towards television: "Television! Teacher! Mother! Secret lover..."
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Smithers brings up the possibility that maybe cutting off the TV and beer supply are what's caused all the previous caretakers of Burns' lodge to go mad and kill their families. Burns isn't too concerned.Mr. Burns: Tell you what: We come back and everyone's slaughtered? I owe you a Coke.
- Decomposite Character: Danny Torrance's part from The Shining is split between the Simpsons children. Bart has the titular psychic power, Lisa sees the waterfall of blood spilling out of the elevator, and Maggie spells out "REDRUM" with her blocks.
- Fantastically Indifferent: Mr. Burns, in regards to the elevator full of blood.Mr. Burns: Hmm, that's odd... usually the blood gets off at the second floor.
- Food as Bribe: More like "Alcohol as Bribe". Moe's ghost tells Homer that he'll give him beer if he kills his wife and kids.
- For the Evulz: Moe and the other ghouls who get Homer to kill his family never have any credible reason for wanting Homer to do so.
- Harmless Freezing: The family doesn't seem to be any worse for wear after they get frozen together, aside from the fact that they can't change the channel on the TV and have no choice but to watch the Tony Awards.
- Hedge Maze: Obviously. Bart "finds" a shortcut with a hedge trimmer.
- "Here's Johnny!" Homage: Inevitable, with this being a Shining parody. It takes Homer a couple of tries before he finds the right door.Homer: Heeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny! (the room turns out to be empty) "D'oh!"Homer: Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaavid Letterman!Abe: Hi, David! I'm Grampa!Homer: D'oh!Homer: (holding a stopwatch) I'm Mike Wallace, I'm Morley Safer, and I'm Ed Bradley! All this and Andy Rooney tonight on 60 Minutes!Marge, Bart, and Lisa: AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!
- Homage Derailment: It appeared as if they were going to directly parody the famous typewriting scene of "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"... but then it's revealed that Homer only wrote "feelin' fine". Until lightning strikes and reveals that the whole room has "no TV and no beer make Homer go crazy" written on the walls, floor and ceiling.
- In Case of X, Break Glass: Homer goes insane after being forced to go a long time without TV or beer. Marge runs across a glass case that says, "In Case of Spousal Insanity, Break Glass", where she finds a baseball bat.
- Jump Scare: The lightning strike suddenly illuminating the room and revealing "NO TV AND NO BEER MAKE HOMER GO CRAZY" daubed all over the walls, to Marge's shock.
- Karma Houdini: Burns and Smithers suffer no consequences for cutting off beer and TV, driving Homer insane and leading to the deaths of the Simpson family and Groundskeeper Willie.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Groundskeeper Willie refers to Bart's newfound psychic power as "the Shinning" for fear of copyright infringement.
- Loser Buys Lunch: As the Simpsons settle into their accommodations:[Smithers cuts the cable cord, and packs the beer into Mr. Burns' car]Mr. Burns: Yes, by cutting off cable TV and the beer supply, I can ensure an honest winter's work out of those lowlifes.Smithers: Sir, did you ever stop to think that maybe it was doing this... that caused the previous caretakers to go insane and murder their families?Mr. Burns: Perhaps. Tell you what, we come back and everyone's slaughtered, I owe you a Coke.
- Madness Mantra: "No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy!", written all over the walls of his office.Homer: So what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was thinking along the lines of "No TV and no beer make Homer something something".
Marge: "Go crazy"?
Homer: DON'T MIND IF I DO!
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Like the movie it's parodying, it's ambiguous if there really is a malignant force in Mr. Burns' winter resort that drives its caretakers insane and makes them murder their families (in this case as a bunch of ghouls led by Moe's ghost), or if it's all just a hallucination cooked up by Homer's dwindling TV-and-beer-deprived mind. But like the movie, someone had to had let him out.
- Mirror Scare: Homer does this to himself.
- Monster Mash: Unlike in The Shining (which kept things somewhat ambiguous), Homer is blatantly dragged out of the pantry by Moe's ghost, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, Dracula, Jason Voorhees, Pinhead, and Freddy Krueger. They also appeared in a deleted scene showing them hiding in the rooms watching Bart.
- Motor Mouth: Homer does a parody of the opening of 60 Minutes, super-fast.
- Not His Sled:
- "The Shinning"'s take on the typewriter scene: when Marge approaches it, only one thing is written on it: "feelin' fine". But then the lightning flashes, and we see the expected line ("no TV and no beer make Homer go crazy") all over the room.
- Similarly, with the ending: instead of Homer freezing to death outside, the portable TV snaps Homer out of his insanity, prompting him to gather his whole family around it. One jump cut later, we see that the whole family was frozen solid (but are still alive with Homer showing signs of insanity again when The Tony Awards start up).
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Even when he becomes an Ax-Crazy murderer, Homer is as bumbling as ever. He acts more like a noisy loon than a credible threat, knocks himself out, and has trouble finding the family when he embarks on his rampage. But Homer does manage to kill Willie, showing that he is indeed still very dangerous.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Simpsons were summoned to care for Mr. Burns' winter lodge, but we don't see them doing any work.
- Police Are Useless: When Homer starts chasing the family, Marge tries radioing the police. Since Wiggum is manning the radio, he just takes her saying "over" as meaning the rampage is over, and turns it off.
- Psychic Powers: "The Shinning". Although they don't do much good.
- Rivers of Blood: The Shining bit was parodied:Mr. Burns: Hmm, that's odd. Usually, the blood gets off at the second floor.
- Room Full of Crazy: Instead of typing out his Madness Mantra ad nauseum like Jack did, Homer instead writes it all over the walls and ceilings.
- Rule of Three: Along with the aforementioned Running Gag, The Shinning takes great joy with this, with the family having to make three long trips to the hotel due to Homer failing to lock up their home and Homer doing three variations of the "Here's Johnny" routine due to him axing down the wrong hotel door.
- Sanity Slippage: Homer himself does so when the cable stops working and they run out of beer, all thanks to Mr. Burns.Homer: So what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was thinking along the lines of "No TV and no beer make Homer something something"...
Marge: Go crazy?
Homer: Don't mind if I do!! (proceeds to go crazy)
- Slasher Smile: Homer gives a particularly grisly one when he breaks down the first door, rivaling even Jack Torrance's twisted Nightmare Face.
- Sold His Soul for a Donut: Homer is perfectly willing to kill his family for a beer from the ghost of Moe. That being said, when he finds a portable TV, he's perfectly fine abandoning his murderous vendetta since he can now freely indulge in his other denied obsession.
- Take That!:
- When Mr. Burns lists all the horrific things his lodge is connected to, he also mentions John Denver Christmas specials. It's the last one that makes Homer shudder in horror.
- To the Tony Awards.Homer: Urge to kill...rising.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
- Homer sees the ghost of Moe, and acknowledges that he's a ghost, and yet sees nothing odd about this situation, only demanding beer from him.
- Only Lisa seems put off by the blood coming from the elevator.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Grampa arrived at the hotel just in time for Homer's Ax-Crazy rampage, but Homer seemed more intent on killing his wife and kids, though it's possible Homer killed him during the cutaway to chopping through the next door...either that, or it was just a one-off gag.
- Whole-Plot Reference: To The Shining, of course.Willie: Ya read my thoughts! Ya got... the Shinning!
Bart: You mean "shining".
Willie: Shh! Ya wanna get sued?!
- You Wanna Get Sued?: Willie provides the Trope Namer.
Time and Punishment
- Accidental Time Travel: When Homer breaks the toaster and tries to fix it, he accidentally creates a time machine that sends him back to prehistoric times when he tests it.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Homer manages to build a Time Machine by failing to repair his toaster.
- Affably Evil: Even as an Evil Overlord who forces lobotomies on anyone suspected of dissidence, Ned Flanders maintains his friendly and chipper demeanor. Then again considering he was the devil in the previous ToH...Ned: Hidely-ho, slaverinos!
- Anachronism Stew: "Time and Punishment" not only had Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs living together, but also Permian Dimetrodon and a Pleistocene Megatherium.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Homer seemingly returns to his own time, he asks Marge what his name is, the color of the sky, and about donuts, Marge answers, "Homer! The sky is blue! Donuts are plentiful! And Friday night is TGIF night on ABC!" The last one basically came out of nowhere as Homer didn't ask anything about that.
- Artistic License – Biology: The part where Homer accidentally caused the extinction of the dinosaurs by sneezing on one is humorously true and false. On one hand, it is true that the dinosaurs would have no familiarity with human diseases, so it would be reasonable to assume that our modern diseases would be have disastrous consequences for prehistoric life. On the other hand, even if that was the case, it would take an inconceivably powerful microbe to wipe out a group of animals as diverse as the dinosaurs and other such prehistoric critters.
- As You Know: “Don’t you remember, Dad? Flanders is the unquestioned lord and master of the world.”
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When Homer returns to his home after killing a fish, he sees that Bart and Lisa are both giants who believe that Homer is a bug. Homer eventually escapes.
- Awe-Inspiring Dinosaur Shot: When Homer first arrives to prehistoric times, he and the viewers are treated to a majestic view of various herbivorous dinosaurs grazing in their natural habitat.Homer: I've gone back to the time when dinosaurs weren't just confined to zoos!
- Bad Future: Most of the futures Homer ends up creating. Zigzagged with the "perfect" reality: the Simpsons family is rich, the kids are well-behaved, Homer has a luxury sedan, and Patty and Selma are dead... except Homer discovers to his horror that donuts apparently don't exist in this timeline, which causes him to immediately freak out and head back to the past to try another timeline. Immediately after he leaves, donuts start falling from the sky.
- Big Brother Is Watching: In the first alternate timeline that Homer goes to, Flanders is now the ruler of the world and if anyone complains about him, Flanders will send them to a "Re-Neducation" center.
- Big "NO!": Homer, upon seeing his family have been lobotomised.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: What the "Re-Neducation" process entails:Ned: Now, in case all that smiling didn't cheer you up, there's one thing that never fails: a nice glass of warm milk, a little nap, and a total frontal lobotomy.
- Butterfly of Doom: Homer squishing one mosquito creates a totalitarian society run by Ned. Attempts to fix this lead to weirder changes.
- The Cameo: Sherman and Peabody show up twice in this segment. Once to correct Homer that he isn't the first non-Brazilian to go through time and the second when they suddenly swap bodies with Kang and Krodos.
- Close-Enough Timeline: The Trope Namer; Homer comes back to his own reality where donuts are plentiful and Friday is TGIF night on ABC, but everyone (except Homer) has long, lizard tongues that they use for eating. Rather than try to go back to his normal time, he says "Eh, close enough," and starts eating along with the family.
- Creepy Monotone: Everyone who's been Re-Neducated.Bart & Lisa: Join us, father.
Marge: It's bliiiiiiisss.
- Delayed Reaction: Homer's reaction to collapsing on the kitchen floor in relief only to find out he's somehow jammed his hand stuck in the toaster again.
- Disaster Dominoes: Occurs when Homer sneezes on a T-Rex, causing the extinction of all dinosaurs.Homer: This is gonna cost me.
- Evil Sounds Deep: In one universe, Maggie's voice has dropped a few octaves when she starts speaking. Hilariously she's voiced by James Earl Jones.
- Failed a Spot Check: The whole plot begins because Homer doesn't notice his hand has gotten stuck in the toaster.
- Fantastic Aesop: When Homer accidentally travels back in time, he quickly recalls what Abe told him on his wedding day.Abe: If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything! Because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can't imagine!
- Faux Horrific: Of all the timelines Homer visited, he absolutely freaked in the timeline where no one knew what donuts were.
- Felony Misdemeanour: One person merely being a "negative nelly" is grounds for an entire family to be subject to Re-Neducation.
- Floating Clocks: This episode used to provide the page picture, where Homer accidentally travels to prehistoric times with a malfunctioning toaster.
- Gave Up Too Soon: Homer stumbles upon a world that seems perfect via time travel (his family is wealthy, his kids are well-behaved, he has a luxury sedan, and his sisters-in-law recently died). However, when he finds that Marge doesn't know what a donut is, he screams in horror and runs down into the basement to go back in time again. No sooner has Homer slammed the basement door shut behind him, before Marge then notes that it is raining again as donuts fall from the sky. Even David Mirkin felt bad for Homer here.
- Happiness Is Mandatory: In the universe ruled by Ned Flanders, anybody suspected of being negative is immediately taken for "re-Neducation".
- Inexplicable Language Fluency: When Homer is sent back in time to a prehistoric era, and has to avoid stepping on anything to change the future, he ends up swatting a mosquito then asks for reassurance that it won't change the future. He is understood despite being in an era before English existed, since a sloth behind him shrugs and grunts as if to say "I don't know."
- In Spite of a Nail: For all the changes Homer creates through time travel, his family is still together and live on the same property. Eventually, he gets to a Close-Enough Timeline.
- "Join Us" Drone: Marge, Bart and Lisa drone this to Homer after they've been lobotomized.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Kang and Kodos mock Homer for being unprepared to deal with time-travel. After a good ten seconds laughter at his expense, they're turned into Mr. Peabody and Sherman as a result of Homer's actions.
- Lobotomy: Ned Flanders is an overlord and several of his subjects get lobotomised. Homer is horrified.
- Lost Food Grievance: In the alternate universe where his family is rich, Homer is horrified to find out that no one knows what a donut is. He then leaves, and no sooner after he has done that, donuts start falling from the sky.Marge: [annoyed] Hrrm, it's raining again...
- Mood Whiplash: The segment begins with Homer saying how happy and lucky he is to have a loving family like the Simpsons while they all enjoy a nice breakfast. Then Lisa screams that his hand is in the toaster and Hilarity Ensues.
- Noodle Incident: The beginning of "Time and Punishment" has Homer call himself the first non-Brazilian person to travel through time.note
- Our Time Machine Is Different: Homer accidentally creates a time-travelling toaster while trying to repair one he smashed to bits after getting his hand stuck in it.
- Overly Long Gag: Kang and Kudos laughing at Homer's time travel for half a minute before morphing into Sherman and Mr. Peabody as karma.
- Rage Breaking Point: After three or four bad changed timelines, Homer goes back with a wooden club and just starts angrily smashing everything in sight and killing all the wildlife he can.Homer: Don't touch anything...?! I'll touch whatever I feel like!
- Rain of Something Unusual: Homer sneezes on a dinosaur and changes the course of history - which makes rain into donuts. This would have been perfect for him, except he leaves just before it rains because in that timeline nobody knows what a donut is.
- Riddle for the Ages:
- How the hell did Homer get his hand stuck in the toaster a second time, when he clearly threw it across the kitchen when he managed to get it off the first time? Was it possessed?
- What does Homer mean by "the first non-Brazilian person" to travel through time?note Who from Brazil has travelled through time before?
- How does Willie know Homer is not in his timeline? How is he even aware of his time travels and the changes he caused? How exactly was he gonna help Homer?
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: No matter how many times Homer changes the future, he always remembers his original timeline and spends the entire episode trying to get back.
- Someday This Will Come in Handy: For some reason, Grandpa Simpson gave advice about time-travel at Homer and Marge's wedding.
- Squashed Flat: While he is fleeing from a Tyrannosaurus, Homer jumps over every flora and fauna in his way to avoid crushing them, but when it looks like he's in the clear, he accidentally sits on a walking fish and squishes it flat. Later during his furious rampage in the distant past, Homer does this to a passing lizard. He graphically stomps on it twice; crushing its spine the first time, and the second causing its eyeballs to pop out of its skull and its side to split open, leaking yellow vital fluids.
- Tempting Fate:
- After his first trip through time, Homer goes upstairs to see the family and say "Nothing's changed!". That's when he learns that "Flanders is the unquestioned lord and master of the world".
- When Homer travels back to prehistoric times the second time, he declares that this time he's not going to touch a thing. Cue a Tyrannosaurus attacking and sending him fleeing, ending with him squishing a walking fish.
- Terrifying Tyrannosaur: A Tyrannosaurus tries to eat Homer during his second trip to prehistoric times. And again in his third trip, only for him to sneeze on it and infect it and the other dinosaurs with a deadly virus.
- This Is Gonna Suck: "Time and Punishment" has Homer repeatedly bouncing from his current time to the prehistoric era, and was told about the butterfly effect and its dangerous effects on the timeline. Even minor infractions such as accidentally killing one insect or animal lead to disaster...but when Homer sneezes and inadvertently causes the extinction of the dinosaurs, all Homer can forlornly get out is, "Thiiiiiiis is gonna cost me..." At another point in the same episode, Homer is trying desperately to avoid touching anything, seemingly succeeds and sits down in relief... on top of a lungfish. "Oh I wish, I wish, I hadn't killed that fish!".
- Time Travel Episode: Homer somehow turns a toaster into a time machine and ends up in the Mesozoic, where he messes up the present by his actions there. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues when he attempts to fix it.
- Twitchy Eye: Maggie's left eye twitches repeatedly as she says "This is indeed a disturbing universe" (voiced by James Earl Jones).
- Vocal Dissonance: Exaggerated for comic/horror effect with Maggie, who in one of the alternate timelines speaks in the deep booming voice of James Earl Jones.
- Wham Shot: When Homer sits down for breakfast, the Simpsons are revealed to be eating their meal with long lizard tongues in this altered universe. Despite his initial shock, Homer is otherwise unfazed by it and continues eating with the rest of his family.Homer: (nonchalant) Eh, close enough.
- Adults Are Useless: Marge, and presumably all the other parents in Springfield, refuses to help Lisa and Bart with the cannibalistic faculty running their school. Even when Bart and Lisa outright tell her what's going on, the only thing she tells them to do is to tell their teachers not to eat them. It can be justified though, since it's all Bart's nightmare.
- All Crimes Are Equal: The teachers soon look for any excuse to send students to detention, such as dropping a pencil in class.
- All Just a Dream: Bart finds the events of "Nightmare Cafeteria" were just a dream. Marge assures him he has nothing to fear except the fog that turns people inside out.
- Angry Item Tapping: Principal Skinner is seen tapping a ruler against his hand in outside a crowded detention room.
- Balloon Belly: Edna doubles in weight from glutting on cooked children.
- Black Comedy Cannibalism: In "Nightmare Cafeteria", the teachers of Springfield Elementary solve both the underfunding of the school cafeteria and the overcrowding of the detention room by serving misbehaving students in the cafeteria.
- Body Horror: The fog that turns people inside-out turns everyone inside-out.
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Upon cornering Bart and Lisa, Skinner tells Bart he's going to start, as Bart's so often suggested, by "eating (his) shorts."
- Captivity Harmonica: While being caged in the detention room waiting for his inevitable death alongside other students, Martin plays the Harmonica. Skinner tells him to stop it.
- Cassandra Truth/Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The fog turns people inside-out, dogs (or at least Santa's Little Helper) seem to be immune.
- Crashing Dreams: The end of "Nightmare Cafeteria".
- Demoted to Extra: After being the main character of the previous two shorts, Homer only appears and has one line at the end of the short after it was revealed that it was all Bart's nightmare.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Edna sends Bart to detention just for turning his desk backwards.
- Skinner put Yellow Weasel in detention for making a paper airplane.
- Edna has gotten so caught up in her Horror Hunger that she gleefully sends Wendell to detention when his pencil falls off his desk because of his terrified trembling.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: While Skinner laments eating the students, many of his remarks sound similar to that of a stereotypical child molester.
- Downer Ending: After Bart, Lisa and Milhouse eventually find out the staff is eating the kids, they run but get cornered over a giant blender. Bart expects a Deus ex Machina citing Improbable Infant Survival... and Milhouse promptly falls in. "Nevertheless," Bart says undeterred, "I remain confident that something will come along and save the two Simpson children." Of course, nothing comes to save them, leading to the siblings falling into the blender. Luckily It Was All Just A Dream.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Skinner demonstrates an incredibly malicious sense of humour, constantly cracking food-related puns.
- Evil Teacher: The Springfield Elementary staff become cannibals and starts eating the students.
- Fat Bastard: Mrs. Krabappel becomes both utterly heinous and obese as she becomes obsessed with eating more children.
- Fattening the Victim: Having grown addicted to eating Springfield Elementary's students, Krabappel instructs her students to eat sticks of butter for homework so she can gain richer meals.
- Faux Affably Evil: Skinner's usual square nature actually adds to his creepiness throughout "Nightmare Cafeteria".
- Foreshadowing: The fact that Marge Simpson acted so indifferent to Bart and Lisa's plight makes more sense when it's revealed the segment was All Just a Dream. If this segment took place in reality, Marge would've heard them out and issued a complaint to the school immediately, nevermind the school being investigated from parents concerned for their missing kids, and at best getting fined for multiple massive health & safety violations, or straight up shut down at worst when the truth got out.
- Gainax Ending: To "Nightmare Cafeteria" and the episode as a whole; the segment turns out to only be a nightmare, but suddenly a mysterious fog that turns people inside out... turns the family inside out. They (and Groundskeeper Willie) then burst into a musical dance number over the end credits.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Milhouse meeting his gruesome end in the giant blender in "Nightmare Cafeteria". We can still hear the blades gooifying him, though.
- Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: The "OKTOBERFEST" sign in Nightmare Cafeteria has umlauts over the "K" and one of the "T"s.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Springfield Elementary faculty members become this in order to kill two birds with one stone (to solve the food budget crisis in the cafeteria and to deal with the excess of delinquents and troublemakers in the school).
- I Ate WHAT?!: Bart and Lisa are horrified to learn that the mysterious new food they've been enjoying at school is actually their missing classmates cooked by the teachers. Averted with the teachers, Edna in particular, who are shocked at first of what happened to Jimbo but then go back to eating like cannibals.
- Improbable Infant Survival: Invoked by Bart at the end, but to no avail. Then it turns out it was all a dream... only to get turned inside out by the fog that turns people inside out, be dragged by the intestines by Santa's Little Helper and then eaten alive off-screen.
- Ironic Echo: As he has Bart cornered, Skinner tells him that he's going to enjoy devouring him, starting with "eating his shorts". Naturally, Bart is completely terrified.
- Karma Houdini: Skinner and the other faculty members are able to get away with mass murder and cannibalism of children because of the citizens' stupidity (as seen with Marge, who did nothing but tell Bart and Lisa to tell their teachers not to eat them). Only because it's All Just a Dream.
- Kick the Dog: Skinner rips into Uter when he gets yet another helping. Then he realizes it's a good thing that the already obese Uter is getting fatter...Skinner: Now that's your third helping, young man! It's making you fat, and soft and... (begins drooling when he notices how fat Uter is) tender...
- Kill the Poor: Springfield Elementary decides to deal with its overcrowded detention hall by serving them for lunch.
- No Sympathy:Yellow Weasel: Oxygen... running out.
Skinner: Yes, you should have thought of that before you made that paper airplane!
- Not Now, Kiddo: Marge's response to Bart and Lisa telling her that they're cooking kids in the school cafeteria? Send them back there to deal with their cannibalistic teachers by themselves because they are old enough to solve the problem on their own and "[she] can't fight all [their] battles for [them]".
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Jimbo says "Oh no, my favorite outfit!" after he gets sauce spilled on him. That's actually his only outfit.
- Saying Too Much: By Skinner when Uter disappears.Lisa: Bart, does it strike you as odd that Uter disappeared and, suddenly, they're serving us this mysterious food called "Uterbraten"?
Skinner: Oh, relax, kids, I've got a gut feeling Uter is around here somewhere. (chuckles) After all, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? (chuckles) In fact, you might even say we just ate Uter and he's in our stomachs right now! (laughs) Wait... scratch that one.
- School Is Murder: In a younger version of the trope, the staff of Springfield Elementary decides to get rid of troublemakers by sending them to detention, where they are then killed and turned into next week's cafeteria menu. When Bart and Lisa tell Marge what's happening, she refuses to help.Bart and Lisa: Mom! Mom! You've gotta help! They're cooking kids in the school cafeteria.
Marge: Listen, kids. You're eight and ten years old now. I can't fight all your battles for you.
Bart and Lisa: But Mom...
Marge: No buts! You march right back to that school, look them straight in the eye and say "Don't eat me".
- The Secret of Long Pork Pies: You don't wanna know what's in the mystery meat surprise...
- Song Parody: The song during the credits, "One (Chorus Line of People)", is a parody of "One (Singular Sensation)" from A Chorus Line.
- Swiper, No Swiping!: Marge tells Bart and Lisa to tell the teachers not to eat them in order to get them to stop their cannibalisitc deeds.
- Temporary Bulk Change: Toward the end, Edna is shown to be quite fat, implying that she's been chowing down on a lot of children...
- Token Good Teammate: Groundskeeper Willie is the only staff member who tries to stop the others. Unfortunately, he's as successful as the other two shorts.
- Too Dumb to Live: Unsurprisingly, Jimbo doesn't think anything is amiss when ordered to clean the inside of a giant pot while Lunchlady Doris covers him in meat tenderizer.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Does Marge really believe that Bart and Lisa telling their teachers not to eat them is going to work? Justified since it's all Bart's nightmare.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: If Jimbo hadn't made Lunchlady Doris trip, the sauce would probably not have spilled all over him and Skinner wouldn't have gotten the idea of killing, cooking, and eating the students.
- Villainous Glutton: The Springfield Elementary staff start finding any excuse to send students to detention, and therefore their dinner plates. If Edna's anything to go by, they've already chowed down on most of the student body.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Bart maintains a stubborn belief in his Plot Armor even after watching Milhouse die, stressing that something has to come along to save himself and Lisa, "the two Simpson children." He doesn't seem to realize that this is a non-canon Halloween Episode where Anyone Can Die, meaning that even after the story turns out to be All Just a Dream, he's still out of luck.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Just when it seems like Bart is about to be killed and eaten, he wakes up to see it was All Just a Dream. Then he gets sprayed by a gas that turns him inside-out, and Santa's Little Helper drags him off to eat him.
- Urge to trope... rising...