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Recap / The Simpsons S 7 E 15 Bart The Fink

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Episode - 3F12
First Aired - 2/11/1996
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While doling out checks to everyone he knows after opening a bank account, Bart accidentally reveals that Krusty the Klown has been hiding his earnings in an illegal offshore account in the Cayman Islands, resulting in his hero's financial ruinnote  and apparent suicide.


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Tropes:

  • Absurdly Long Wait: When the IRS took control of Krusty Burger, they changed the place so all orders are made like filling taxes (and take as long to go through).
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Kent Brockman reports on Krusty being arrested for "tax avoison", despite his crewmembers insisting he say "evasion". "Tax avoison" is a real term, though Kent wasn't using it correctly: It's a portmanteau of "tax avoidance" (lowering your paid taxes legally) and "tax evasion" (lowering them illegally), and refers to methods of tax reduction that are ambiguously legal.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Which convinces Krusty to come back.
    Lisa: What about the great feeling you get from knowing you're better than regular people?
    Bart: What about being an illiterate TV clown who's still more respected than all the scientists, doctors, and educators in the country put together?
    Krusty: (drops the anchor) Yeah! I'm not gonna let those guys hog all the respect while I'm out here in this stinking tub. (dives into the water and swims to shore) That's just what those eggheads want! Well, forget it, Poindexter, 'cause Krusty's back in town!
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  • Artistic License: Lisa wants to donate her inheritance to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB is a Federal corporation responsible for directing the government's appropriations to NPR, PBS, and local stations; it doesn't solicit donations.
  • As Himself: Bob Newhart is pressed into eulogizing Krusty at his funeral, despite having never met him or watched his show.
  • Auction: When Krusty gets caught for tax evasion, the IRS auctions his house and the stuff inside it.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    Kent Brockman: Ladies and gentlemen, Krusty the Klown!! ...was arrested today for massive tax fraud.
    Banker: Some might say you're a hero, kid. (pause) Not me, however. I loved Krusty.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The bankers of the Bank of Springfield, they wear different headgear as gimmicks but they're very competent at their job and even end up getting Krusty busted for tax fraud. One of them even declares himself a fan of Krusty and sees it as a reason not to consider Bart a hero for bringing evidence of the fraud but he still does the right thing.
    Marge: A professional in an ape mask is still a professional.
  • The Cameo: Kermit the Frog is seen at Krusty's funeral, with writer John Swartzwelder as his puppeteer.
  • Call-Back: The haunted house the Simpsons sleep in is the same one from "Homer Loves Flanders".
  • Celebrities Hang Out in Heaven: Current Quote Source.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, we see Krusty's signature, complete with celebratory stars drawn around it, on Milhouse's stomach. Those same stars appear on a bounced check at the Sea Captain's shop, giving Bart and Lisa the information they need to track the clown down.
  • Continuity Nod: When "Rory Bellows" was swimming from his boat to the shore, his face colors melted, revealing his "Krusty" face, which goes with the revelation on "Homer's Triple Bypass" that Krusty's "clown make-up" was not make-up (which had something to do with his heart condition), but contradicts "Krusty Gets Busted" and "Brush with Greatness", which reveal that Krusty's clown make-up is temporary and he doesn't wear it when he's off-camera (which the writers stopped doing because they didn't want people thinking Krusty the Clown was Homer Simpson in disguisenote ).
    • When Homer does taxes at IRS Burger, he asks Marge about her gambling losses, a reference to the season five episode "$pringfield", in which Marge became a gambling addict and apparently, no effort was made to cure her of her problem.
    • Bart and Lisa irrefutably identify Rory B. Bellows as Krusty in the same manner as in "Kamp Krusty".
    • Attending Krusty's funeral are Sideshow Raheem, Sideshow Luke Perry, and Corporal Punishment. Sideshow Mel also mentions Sideshow Bob, saying he couldn't be present.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: Superintendant Chalmers is returning Agnes Skinner from a date when they are greeted by Seymour in his pajamas. Skinner wishes for a distraction to take attention away from his embarrassing situation, and at that moment Krusty flies by on his airplane, wailing loudly. "That'll do nicely," says Seymour.
  • Cutting Corners: Krusty gets nabbed for tax evasion and the IRS seizes his assets. As a result, his show is renamed Herschel Krustofsky's Clown-Related Entertainment Show, there's no longer money for sets, costumes, or even banana cream pies. Or somebody to throw them.
  • Delayed "Oh, Crap!": The Cayman Islands banker. See "Swiss Bank Account" below for the details.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    Bart: It doesn't matter what you did wrong, though, as long as you're on TV, people will respect you.
    Krusty: (spits) Bah! What good is respect without the moolah to back it up? Everywhere I go, I see teachers driving Ferraris, research scientists drinking champagne. I tried to drink a Coke on the bus, and they took away my pass! (breaks a bottle of scotch) That's no life for a famous clown.
  • Entitled Bastard: Krusty never shows remorse for his tax fraud, and he behaves as though he's an innocent victim when the IRS gives him his just desserts for his crimes.
  • Epic Fail: When Lisa and Bart find Rory B. Bellows and confront him with the knowledge that they know he is Krusty the Clown, he at first insists he is Bellows, before trying to escape by boat. Only to find the boat was still docked and tied.
    Rory/Krusty: You know, you kids coulda said something instead of letting me make an ass of myself.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: When Bart and Lisa convince Krusty to come back to his old life:
    Bart: So, Krusty, what are you gonna do about your tax problems?
    Krusty: Don't sweat it. The life of Rory B. Bellows is insured for a surprisingly large amount.
    (Krusty's boathouse explodes; he and the kids laugh)
  • Fake-Out Opening: The episode initially looks like it will be about the Simpsons spending the night at a haunted house, but that plot ends as soon as it begins (it cuts from their arrival to the next morning, completely without incident). The rest of the episode revolves around Bart issuing checks to everyone (at least until his scheme to get Krusty's autograph leads to Krusty getting exposed for tax fraud).
  • Faking the Dead: Krusty faked his death to start a new life and later faked the death of his alter ego to collect insurance money.
  • Fat Bastard: The guy on the Cayman Islands. He even looks and sounds a lot like Sidney Greenstreet.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Bob Newhart's ad-libbed eulogy and the frightening epitaph on Krusty's tombstone make for a darkly comedic funeral service.
  • Grave Humor: Krusty's grave has the horribly macabre epitaph: "See ya real soon, kids!".
  • Haunted House: Subverted. The family have to spend the night in a haunted house. Homer, foolishly, says it's perfectly safe since there's no such thing as ghosts. The spooky music rises and the door slams behind them, complete with a flash of lightning... Next morning, the sun is shining and it's beautiful out, and they've had a pleasant night's sleep and absolutely nothing's happened.
    Lisa: Their tap water tasted better than ours.
  • Identical Stranger: Handsome Pete, the musical entertainer working under Captain McCallister, looks like a miniature Krusty with a distorted face. He's summoned when the Captain mistakes a warped Krusty picture on a half-inflated balloon for him.
  • Innocently Insensitive: A banker tells Bart that Krusty got arrested for tax evasion, thanks to Bart, much to his shock. Then the banker declares him a hero, except to the banker because he "loves Krusty".
  • Insurance Fraud: Krusty insures his new identity's life "for a surprisingly large amount".
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: To get Krusty's back taxes, the IRS take 95 percent of his future earnings (it'd be 75 for the next 40 years but Krusty said he didn't plan to live that long) and took over his show and Krusty Burger (renamed IRS Burger and with a tax theme). Though Krusty does plenty to deserve it, the IRS are portrayed as vindictive and/or incompetent, using his assets in ways that are both humiliating and unprofitable (like selling his family heirlooms and awards for literal pocket change).
  • It's All My Fault: Bart feels this way after Krusty apparently committed suicide.
    Lisa: Would it help if I told you you're not responsible for Krusty's death.
    Bart: Yes. Yes, it would.
    Lisa: Well, I can't. You'll just have to learn to live with your mental problem.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Krusty commits extensive tax fraud, and the IRS gives him what he deserves when they find out.
  • Lowest Common Denominator: In-Universe. When Krusty attempts to resume his new life as Rory B. Bellows, Bart and Lisa attempt to point out how he would be giving up the fringe benefits of celebrity life. It's not until Bart tells Krusty about how he is still more respected than all the doctors, educators and scientists in the U.S. put together (despite being illiterate himself) that Krusty comes to his senses.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Bart getting a check not signed by Krusty himself → revelation of tax fraud.
    • In less than five minutes!
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: Averted by Chief Wiggum, who invites the crowd to gawk at the plane crash wreckage. (Currently provides the page quote.)
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bart when he inadvertently gets Krusty arrested. All he just wanted was Krusty's autograph.
    Bart: Krusty's my hero. How could I do this to him?
    Lisa: It is a tragedy for all us kids, but Bart, but you can’t beat yourself up.
    Bart: Yeah. There’ll be plenty of people to do that for me at recess tomorrow.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Cayman Islands banker is clearly patterned after 1940s actor Sydney Greenstreet (of The Maltese Falcon fame).
  • No Sympathy: Everyone treats Bart as responsible for ruining Krusty's life by (accidentally) exposing his tax fraud. Even Lisa refuses to absolve Bart of guilt when Krusty supposedly kills himself.
  • Off-Model: Just before Bob Newhart's "eulogy", there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of Mayor Quimby with black skin.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Krusty gets arrested for tax evasion, we see one side of a telephone conversation with his banker in the Cayman Islands.
    Banker: Hoho, I'm sorry, I can't divulge information about that customer's secret illegal account. [hangs up] ...Oh crap, I shouldn't have said he was a customer. Oh crap! I shouldn't have said it was a secret. Oh crap! I certainly shouldn't have said it was illegal! ...Oh, it's too hot today.
  • On One Condition: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie had to spend a night in a haunted house in order to inherit $100 each. The lawyer said that condition was a standard clause.
  • Pie in the Face: Krusty tries to do the routine on his show, but since the budget can't afford pies, the IRS guy throws his briefcase, hitting Krusty in the eye.
    Krusty: Oh, the corner!
  • Porn Stash: Among Krusty's items that gets auctioned off is twenty four cases of pornography.
  • Riches to Rags: Krusty after the Feds caught him.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The episode was based on the "big tax problems" that some celebrities, such as country singer Willie Nelson, had at the time.
  • Saying Too Much: The Cayman Islands banker offers, completely unprompted, the information that Krusty has a secret, illegal account.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!: Downplayed. Krusty is arrested for using a Cayman Islands offshore holding company to evade taxes. When Krusty pleads that he can't go to jail because he lives a fancy lifestyle and is used to the best, the IRS agents assure him that "This is America, we don't send our celebrities to jail", but they do take control of 95% of his assets until he can pay off the debt.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: When Bart sees Krusty sitting off the curb, Bart tries to cheer him up. Krusty's response is basically this trope in a nutshell.
    Bart: I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused you, Krusty, but you know, my mom says God never closes a door without opening a window.
    Krusty: No offense, kid, but your mom's a dingbat! There's no silver lining here.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Bart and Lisa confront "Rory B. Bellows" (the man resembling Krusty Bart started seeing after Krusty's supposed death), they notice he has Krusty's distinct pacemaker scar and superfluous third nipple (as he's not wearing a shirt). After hearing this, Krusty drops the act.
  • Stupid Crooks: Of a rare white collar kind. Krusty evades his taxes by investing his money in the suspiciously-named "Cayman Islands Offshore Holding Corporation," which is enough to tip off the first bank to notice and begin conducting a serious investigation. And the guy who works at the holding corporation turns out to be a little too loose-lipped, revealing Krusty's fraud over the phone unintentionally.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Krusty is not phased by Marge's saying, so he responds with:
    Krusty: No offense, kid, but your mom's a dingbat!
  • Swiss Bank Account: The Cayman Islands version.
  • Tempting Fate: Upon seeing Krusty flying his plane, Bart says he has feeling that Krusty will be alright. As if on cue, the plane crashes into a mountain.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Most of the episode follows Krusty's humiliating fall from grace. His suffering is kept more funny than tragic because he brought it entirely on himself and clearly thinks being famous makes him better than regular people.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In an innocent attempt to get Krusty's autograph, Bart starts a chain of events that expose him as a serial tax-dodger going back a couple decades at minimum.
  • Work Off the Debt: Krusty's salary is heavily garnished until he pays his back taxes, which is expected to take the rest of his life. Inexplicably, they also take most of his show's budget which is not legal (Krusty doesn't own the station) and is a blatantly stupid idea (the show can't make any money if they can't make anything for people to watch).
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Feeling terrible about the situation he had put Krusty in, Bart gives Krusty permission to punch him in the face. Though tempted by the offer and still enraged at the little boy, not even at his lowest point can Krusty go through with hurting a child. He just tells a dejected Bart to go home.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Bart saw a man who resembles Krusty, he believes that's really him (which eventually turns out to be right) and tries to convince his family Krusty's alive. Lisa think he's only imagined seeing him because he feels guilty for inadvertently causing his death.
    Bart: Mom, I just saw Krusty!
    Marge: Yes, dear, in your mind.
    Bart: No, on the street.
    Marge: On the street in your mind.
    Bart: [upset] Why won't you believe me?
    Marge: Sweetheart, sometimes when people die, you just want them to be alive so badly you see them everywhere. I went through the same thing when Lyndon Johnson died.
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