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Recap / The Simpsons S6 E6 "Treehouse of Horror V"

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Episode - 2F03
First Aired - 10/30/1994

In this year's collection of frights, Homer comes down with a nasty case of Stanley Kubrick-esque cabin fever in The Shinning, Homer goes back in time and causes a temporal butterfly effect for every prehistoric animal he kills in Time and Punishment, and Springfield Elementary has a grisly solution to its food budget and delinquent student crises in Nightmare Cafeteria.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Homer manages to build a Time Machine by failing to repair his toaster.
  • 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. Though considering that it's all Bart's nightmare.
  • Affably Evil: Even as an Evil Overlord who forces lobotomies on anyone suspected of dissidence, Ned Flanders maintains his friendly and chipper demeanor.
    Flanders: Hidely-ho, slaverinos!
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Anachronism Stew: "Time and Punishment" not only had Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs living together, but also Permian Dimetrodon and a Pleistocene Megatherium.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • 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 when the latter tries to rescue the kids.
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  • Bad Future: Most of the futures Homer ends up creating in "Time and Punishment". Zigzagged with the "perfect" reality: the Simpson family is rich, the kids are well-behaved, he has a luxury sedan, and Patty and Selma are dead... except Homer discovers to his horror that doughnuts 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, doughnuts start falling from the sky.
    Marge: [annoyed] Hrrm, it's raining again...
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "The Shinning", it appeared as if they were going to directly parody the famous typewriting scene of "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy" but 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.
    • Similarly, there's 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: (in a stunned tone): Are you saying you murdered Jimbo, processed his carcass, and served him for lunch?
      (Skinner taps his nose to indicate "yes")
      Edna: ...HA!
      (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.
  • Batter Up!: In the finale of "Time and Punishment", Homer returns to the future 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 Brother Is Watching: In the first alternate time 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-education camp.
  • Big Eater: The teachers become this, and by the end of the segment, they are sending kids to detention (read: slaughter) for occurrences that couldn't possibly be their fault. Krabapple, in particular, has grown obese by the end of the special, having eaten so much.
    • The ghosts of The Shinning have to drag Homer out of the food pantry because he's too busy eating to carry out his revenge.
  • Big "NO!": Homer, in "Time and Punishment", on seeing his family have been lobotomised.
  • 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.
    Principal Skinner: Oh, relax kids. I've got a gut feeling Uter's around here somewhere. (starts to laugh) After all, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? (laughs harder) In fact, you might say we just ate Uter and he's in our stomachs right now! {beat) Wait. Scratch that one.
  • Blatant Lies: Moe, when trying to talk Homer into murdering 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?
  • Bloodier and Gorier: In response to critics who said the "Treehouse of Horror" 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.
  • Body Horror: The fog that turns people inside-out turns everyone inside-out.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Upon cornering Bart and Lisa in "Nightmare Cafeteria," Skinner tells Bart he's going to start, as Bart's so often suggested, by "eating (his) shorts."
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: What the "Re-Neducation" process entails:
    Flanders: 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.
  • 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 axe-murdered 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.
  • Butterfly of Doom: The entire premise of "Time and Punishment"
  • Close-Enough Timeline: The Trope Namer; Homer comes back to his own reality where doughnuts are plentiful and Fridays 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 eats along with the family.
  • 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.
  • Crashing Dreams: The end of "Nightmare Cafeteria"
  • Creative Closing Credits: The Simpson family (who has been turned inside out by toxic gas) singing a new version of "One".
  • Creepy Monotone: Everyone who's been Re-Neducated.
    Bart & Lisa: Join us, father.
    Marge: It's bliiiiiiisss.
  • Deranged Animation: The famous moment when Homer says "DON'T MIND IF I DO!" and makes various noises.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Occurs when Homer sneezes on a T-Rex, causing the extinction of all dinosaurs.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Skinner put Yellow Weasel in detention for making a paper airplane.
    • Even worse, Wendell gets sent to detention when his pencil falls off his desk because of his terrified trembling.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: The beginning is hijacked by Bart taking control of the transmission, then ruined by Homer being... Homer.
    Homer: Hey, what's that, boy? We're in control? Hey, look, I can see my voice! (starts making silly noises) This. Is my voice. On Teeeeeeeveeeee!
    Bart: DAD! You're ruining the mood!
  • Downer Ending: "Nightmare Cafeteria" ends with all the children except Ralph dead, and because of the stupidity of the townsfolk, the cannibal teachers get away with mass murder. Good thing it was just a nightmare.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Homer keeps traveling back to "the time when dinosaurs weren't just confined to zoos."
  • Failed a Spot Check: Homer failed a pretty big one.
    • Bart also apparently didn't notice he was the only one who followed his suggestion of everyone in class turning their desks to face backwards.
    Mrs. Krabappel: Alright, backwards boy, back your butt down to detention!
  • 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Skinner's usual square nature actually adds to his creepiness throughout "Nightmare Cafeteria".
  • 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: The page picture comes from this episode, where Homer accidentally travels to prehistoric times with a malfunctioning toaster.
  • 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).
  • For the Evulz: The ghouls who get Homer to kill his family never have any credible reason for wanting Homer to do so.
  • For Want of a Nail: Homer squishing one mosquito creates a totalitarian society run by Ned. Attempts to fix this lead to weirder changes.
  • 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.
  • 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 doughnut is, he goes back in time. Marge then notes that it is raining again as doughnuts fall from the sky. Even David Mirkin felt bad for Homer here.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Milhouse meeting his gruesome end in the giant blender in "Nightmare Cafeteria". We can still hear the blades gooifying him, though.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: In the universe ruled by Ned Flanders, anybody suspected of being negative is taken for "re-Neducation".
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: The "OKTOBERFEST" sign in Nightmare Cafeteria has umlauts over the "K" and one of the "T"s.
  • Hedge Maze: In "The Shinning", obviously. Bart "finds" a shortcut with a hedge trimmer.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Springfield Elementary teachers become this in "Nightmare Cafeteria" 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 in school).
  • Infant Immortality: Invoked by Bart at the end of "Nightmare Cafeteria", but to no avail. Then it turns out it was all a dream.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kubrick Stare: Homer does this during when he goes crazy. The DVD Commentary discusses this trope extensively.
  • 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 Peabody and Mr. Sherman as a result of Homer's actions.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Groundskeeper Willie refers to Bart's newfound psychic power as "the Shinning" for fear of copyright infringement.
  • 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.
  • Lobotomy: Ned Flanders is an overlord and several of his subjects get lobotomised. Homer is horrified.
  • Lucky Translation: The Spanish version of "No TV and no beer makes Homer go crazy" rhymes when translated to "Sin tele y sin cerveza Homer pierde la cabeza".
  • Madness Mantra: "No TV and no beer makes Homer go crazy!" Which was 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!
  • 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.
  • Motormouth: Homer does a parody of the opening of 60 Minutes, super-fast.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: All of Willie's Big Damn Heroes moments result in him getting an axe to the back.
  • Noodle Incident: The beginning of "Time and Punishment" has Homer call himself the first non-Brazilian person to travel through time.
  • No Sympathy:
    Yellow Weasel: Oxygen...running out.
    Skinner: Yes, you should have thought of that before you made that paper airplane!
  • 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).
  • 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]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After three or four bad changed timelines, Homer goes back with a baseball bat and just starts angrily smashing everything in sight.
    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 they don't know what a donut is.
  • 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 everyone since, and it is quite jarring when the opening sequence cuts to new footage. (This was the last time they were used.)
  • 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?
  • 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 below mentioned 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.
  • Running Gag: Willie taking an axe to the back while trying to rescue someone in all three segments.
  • Running Gagged: The Grave Humor in this episode ends with a tombstone for "Amusing Tombstones". They don't appear in future Treehouse of Horror segments.
  • Sanity Slippage: Homer himself does so in The Shinning 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)
  • 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 trouble makers by sending them to detention, where they are then killed and turned into next week's cafeteria menu. When Bart and Lisa tell their mother, 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 battle 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...
  • Shout-Out: The opening Do Not Adjust Your Set is from The Outer Limits.
  • 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 was advancing on Bart in the Nightmare Cafeteria episode.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: For some reason, Grandpa Simpson gave advice about time-travel at Homer and Marge's wedding.
  • Something Completely Different: The first Treehouse of Horror episode that didn't have a framing device for each story Note . The most it had was 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.
  • 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".
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex, Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, Pteranodon, Gallimimus, Apatosaurus, Velociraptor, Ankylosaurus, Dimetrodon, and Megatherium all appear in "Time and Punishment".
  • 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. "Urge to kill...rising..."
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Toward the end of "Nightmare Cafeteria," Edna is shown to be quite fat, implying that she's been chowing down on a lot of children...
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Groundskeeper Willie is given this treatment throughout the special.
  • 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: Oh, take a guess.
  • Time-Travel Episode: "Time and Punishment", in which 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Simpsons, despite figuring Homer has just gone nuts, only decide to wait around and see if he'll try to kill them. Which he does.
    • They are stranded in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm and they think Homer is secured in the food pantry. Even though Bart is Genre Savvy to the plot, he must know that they cannot get very far without a snowmobile which doesn't exist in this parody.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: One attempts to eat Homer, but he sneezes on it, killing all the dinosaurs.
  • 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.
    • None of the Simpsons seem put off by the blood coming from the elevator.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Grampa in "The Shinning." He 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.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "The Shinning" is one to The Shining
    Willie: Ya read my thoughts! Ya got...the Shinning!
    Bart: You mean "shining".
    Willie: Shh! Ya wanna get sued?!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Just when it seems like Bart is about to be killed and eaten in "Nightmare Cafeteria," 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 eats him.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: Willie provides the Trope Namer in "The Shinning".

Urge to trope... rising...

Example of: