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Recap / The Simpsons S 7 E 20 Bart On The Road

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Original air date: 3/31/1996

Production code: 3F17

While stuck with Patty and Selma at the DMV as part of "Go to Work With Your Parents Day" (which Principal Skinner cooked up in order to accommodate his vacation to Hong Kong) Bart creates a fake driver's license that says he's 25 years old, and, with the help of Martin's $600 he got from his father the stockbroker, Bart, Martin, Milhouse, and Nelson go on a road trip. Meanwhile, Lisa and Homer spend time together at the nuclear plant, and Marge must deal with being left alone.


  • Abusive Parents: It's a brief moment, but Marge wakes up Maggie by giving her a rather rough poke in order to get her to start crying so that she can comfort her and have someone pay attention to her.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: As mad as he is about the whole situation and the fact that he can't talk about it or punish Bart for it, Homer can't help cracking when Marge is baffled by a phone call asking Bart to deliver a human kidney to Amsterdam.
  • Angrish: Homer, upon being told by Lisa of Bart's predicament, puts on a radiation helmet and goes into a muffled rant, although at the start of his rant he can be interpreted yelling "WHY, THAT LITTLE SON OF A—!"
  • Artistic Age: Ten-year-old Bart has virtually no problems with driving the rental car, actually driving it very well like a responsible adult would (treating the cruise control as autopilot notwithstanding). Then again, he was shown to be able to operate a vehicle as far back as when he was a baby.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The part when Bart and company accidentally drive through the corn field. Depending on the school, Spring break traditionally takes place in March or April (usually around Easter if it's an elementary schoolnote ). While it was a funny joke, corn doesn't usually get that tall until early summer.
  • Blind Without 'Em: After Nelson takes Milhouse's glasses, the blind Milhouse accidentally knocks over a case of antique Coke bottles.
  • Brick Joke: When the group is trying to decide where to go, Nelson says he would like to go to Macon, Georgia. Later, when they are stranded in Knoxville due to running out of money and Nelson causing their car to be destroyed, he says it never would have happened if they'd gone to Macon, Georgia as he wanted them to. He receives three Death Glares for it, as if it wasn't for him crushing the car, they wouldn't be stranded.
  • Captain Obvious: Milhouse on seeing Bart's driver's license.
    Milhouse: Twenty-five years old? You're not twenty-five years old. This I.D. is completely fake.
    Bart: Yes, you're right, Milhouse. It is a fake, which makes it a fake I.D.!
    • The talking Al Gore doll. "You are hearing me talk."
  • Cargo Concealment Caper: After Lisa tells Homer of Bart's problem, Homer orders a replacement console from Oak-ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee, and Bart is able to return to Springfield by acting as the courier of the console, and he takes Milhouse, Martin, and Nelson with him by smuggling them inside the delivery crate.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Principal Skinner, seeing as his trip allows him to spot Bart in Hong Kong.
  • Color Failure: A subversion: upon learning about what really happened to Bart, an angered Homer's face briefly turns red.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Martin thinks the group is actually going to the National Grammar Rodeo in Canada. Bart has to explain that it was just a cover.
  • Couch Gag: The family forms a chorus line joined by Vegas dancers and animals.
  • Death Glare:
    • After Nelson accidentally causes their car to be crushed by the Sunsphere, he says it never would have happened if they'd gone to Macon, Georgia like he wanted them to. Bart, Milhouse and Martin respond by glaring pointedly at him.
    • Homer and Lisa also give Bart one each while having dinner with the family after Bart gets back to Springfield. Marge doesn't seem to notice.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Even before the car got crushed, Bart and the others made plans to go on a week-long road trip without actually thinking about where they were going to go.
  • Disaster Dominoes: This whole mess might have been avoided had the airline not seriously loused up Skinner's plane reservations, requiring him to change his own plans
  • Dissonant Serenity: Homer seems okay after Lisa tells him about Bart's trouble, but his face turns red. Then he puts on a radiation helmet and rants so much that the helmet fogs up. And immediately afterwards, he composes himself and very calmly states:
    Homer: All right, I have thought this through. I will send Bart the money to get home, then I will murder him.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: Downplayed with Martin. While with his stock-broker dad at work, his dad gives him some money to see if he can make a profit in stocks. Martin promptly puts it all in soy products and swiftly gains a million dollars when other investors quickly jump on the wagon, only for it to quickly crash, but he still makes a profit of 600$.
    Martin's Dad: You got greedy, son.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: Downplayed. With Bart on the road with Milhouse, Martin, and Nelson, and Homer and Lisa having a sleepover at the Nuclear Power Plant, Marge only has Maggie keeping her company, shown by her walking past Bart and Lisa's empty bedrooms.
  • Epic Fail:
    • The boys try to pawn off Milhouse's glasses for an absurd amount of money to use to travel back home. Milhouse, however, ends up walking disoriented and destroys a stack of antique coke bottles. The buyer quickly deducts their money to 0.
    • The boys try to hitch a ride on a running train to Springfield. They toss their luggage in there, but the train quickly picks up speed and leaves them behind while taking their stuff. Only Nelson keeps running after it anyway.
    • For fun, Lisa gets Homer to crank call Moe with the fake name "Ura Snotball", but when Moe repeats the name, Homer is the one who ends up threatening Moe, instead of the other way around.
  • Expy: The hitch-hiker looks like the one from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The boys might not have gotten in as much trouble had Milhouse seen that the AAA guide was from 1982.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted:
    • Martin made one million dollars on the stock market. As soon as he's told that, he lost all but $600 and is reprimanded by his father for being greedy. Not bad, considering he only started with ten dollars.
    • It happens again later on. While $600 sounds like a lot of money, it's actually not enough to drive four people to Tennessee, let alone back again (Although, that depends on wherever Springfield is).
  • Foreshadowing: Overlapping with Freeze-Frame Bonus: after Milhouse pops open the glove compartment, the travel guide flops out. From here, you can make out the "1982" on the cover.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Lurleen Lumpkin’s name can be seen on a matinee as the boys drive through Branson, Missouri.
  • Good Parents: For all his faults, Homer's parenting in this episode is among the best we've seen of him across the entire show. He has some genuine bonding moments with Lisa at work, helps Bart out with a well-thought and discrete solution (despite being utterly furious at him), and listens to Lisa's input as they make the plan to bring Bart home. Probably the most telling is the Tranquil Fury moment where he does not Shoot the Messenger when Lisa tells him what Bart did. Instead, he controls his anger (despite being a rageoholic) long enough to find a suitable outlet away from Lisa's immediate view, as even someone like Homer probably understands that unleashing that kind of rage in the presence of one of your children is not a good thing.
  • Hazmat Suit: Homer wears the helmet of one while ranting angrily when he hears about what kind of trouble Bart had gotten himself into this time, as described above.
  • Hidden Depths: Nelson loves Andy Williams so much that he punches the back of Bart's head to make him stop the car so they can attend one of his concerts in Branson, MO.
  • Hope Spot: After running out of funds, the group manages to get $500 by pawning off Milhouse's glasses. Three seconds after being given the money, Milhouse stumbles on and smashes the antique Coke bottles the store manager had on display (and the glasses were going to fix), so the manager takes the money back.
  • Hostile Hitchhiker: Averted hilariously during a montage sequence where Bart says "yes" to everything; Martin asks Bart if they can stop for ice cream, and then after that we see them eating ice cream cones while driving to which Nelson asks if they can weigh the car at a weigh station coming up, and then after that Milhouse asks if they can pick up a hitchhiker they are approaching and Bart says "I don't see why not", and in the next shot the hitchhiker (resembling the one from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is riding with them... and asks if they can stop for ice cream, to which they do once again, and as they eat their ice cream cones the hitchhiker says...
    "Well, I didn't think I was rehabilitated, but, uh, I guess they needed the extra bed..."
  • Human Mail: This is how Bart and his friends travel back home in a shipment crate, with Bart actually being the one responsible for the delivery and the rest of the kids hiding inside the crate. Naturally, he can't pass up the opportunity to prank them by telling them to stay silent and stop begging for more air holes so that they don't get found out even though the rest of the massive cargo hold is completely empty, chuckling to himself while leaning against the crate and reading a book.
  • Idiot Ball: Marge believes Bart, a terrible student and a notorious trickster, when he says he's been asked to represent his school in a national grammar rodeo (that Lisa heard nothing about). Unlike Lisa, she doesn't find it odd a national grammar rodeo would take place in another nation.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun:
    • Nelson is an Andy Williams fan and his idea of where to go on a road trip is Macon, Georgia.
    • Martin spends the very last of the group's savings on an Al Gore speaking doll. It is as "interesting" as you would expect.
    "You are hearing me talk."
    • When Skinner books his flight to Hong Kong, he specifically asks for a center seat, which is usually considered the least comfortable seats on planes by most people. He might have asked for it because sometimes those seats are sold cheaper than window or aisle seats.
  • Insane Troll Logic: According to Homer, you're allowed to just reach in and grab the candy inside the plant's vending machine if it's been in there for over a year.
    • Also this:
      Homer: Donut?
      Lisa: No thanks. Don't you have any fruit?
      Homer: This has purple stuff inside. Purple is a fruit.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Milhouse, when Martin appears.
    Bart: We're having the best spring break of our lives, and we don't need you around nerding it up.
    Milhouse: That job is taken.
  • Karma Houdini: Homer can't punish Bart for his latest scheme because then Bart will know Lisa ratted him out. Though karma visits him in a different way via his rental car being crushed and being forced to work as a courier to earn enough money to fly home.
  • Kids Driving Cars: Bart uses his faked drivers license to drive himself and his friends to Knoxville, and he has no problems with driving the rental car whatsoever.
  • Left the Background Music On: During the establishing animation of Bart driving the rental car on the highway, "Radar Love" plays. Then Milhouse fiddles with the radio, and it stops.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Marge. When Bart finally makes it home, he's met with glares from Homer and Lisa (who were responsible for getting him home) and a smile from Marge, who has no idea what he has been up to. In the final scene, she receives three phone calls regarding Bart, one from Skinner, one from Tennessee state police and one from the courier service. She disregards each one out of confusion and then realizes Homer is giggling at her from under the duvet.
    Marge: (answers phone) Hello? Oh hello, Principal Skinner… No, Bart has never been to Hong Kong. Good night (Marge hangs up. Seconds later the phone rings again and Marge answers) Hello? Tennessee State Police!? No, my son's car was not crushed in Knoxville! I don't know where to begin telling you what's wrong with that! (Marge hangs up. The phone rings again and Marge answers, sounding thoroughly fed up) Hello!? No, Bart is not available tomorrow to deliver a human kidney to Amsterdam! (She hangs up again, while Homer can be heard snickering) Homer, are you laughing at me?
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: During a hastily organized Take Your Kid to Work Day which sees Bart spend the day with his aunt(s) at the DMV, Bart makes a fake driver's license stating he is 25, rents a car and convinces Milhouse, Nelson and Martin to come with him to a World's Fair in Knoxville, TN (which was actually held in 1982).
  • Motor Mouth: When Lisa reveals to Homer how Bart's in trouble. For those who don't know what Lisa said, here is what she told Homer: "Bart rented a car with a phony driver's license and drove Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin to a wig outlet in Knoxville and the car got crushed and they're out of money and they can't get home and Bart's working as a courier and just came back from Hong Kong."
  • Mundane Object Amazement:
    • Milhouse finds that the car has a cup holder to be fantastically amazing.
    • The boys are incredibly impressed by what they hear is inside the Sunsphere: an information desk.
  • Never My Fault: Milhouse idiotically fails to notice the guidebook he hears about the World's Fair from is from 1982, so when they arrive in Knoxville, there obviously is no World's Fair, and he later says it's really nobody's fault that fate was against them. No one answers him.
    • After Nelson gets the group stranded in Knoxville, he isn't the least bit remorseful for knocking over the Sunsphere, and points out that if they had gone to Macon, Georgia, like he wanted them to, it wouldn't have happened. That comment earns him three Death Glares.
  • Newhart Phonecall: Two examples. One when Bart calls Lisa for help and she listens to how he and the others got stranded in Knoxville, another when Marge gets phone calls related to Bart's misadventures at the end (from Principal Skinner, the Tennessee State Police, and the courier boss who wants Bart to deliver a human kidney to Amsterdam).
  • No Indoor Voice: The angry father from Winnipeg who yells at his rowdy kids...
    Father: If YOU kids CAN'T keep your hands to yourself, I'm gonna TURN THIS CAR AROUND, AND THERE'LL BE NO CAPE CANAVERAL FOR ANYBODY!
    (the kids go quiet, but Nelson leans out of Bart's car and slaps the father's back)
    (he turns around the car and drives off the other direction)
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Nelson, Milhouse, and Bart go to the cinema to watch Naked Lunch.
      Nelson: I can think of at least two things wrong with that title...
    • The National Grammar Rodeo in Canada.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: After hearing the details of Bart's latest escapade, Homer calmly asks Lisa to excuse him for a moment, then puts on a radiation suit hood and screams out indistinguishable profanities for half a minute, to ensure she doesn't hear.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Patty and Selma at the DMV.
    Patty: Some days, we don't let the line move at all.
    Selma: We call those weekdays.
    • Later, when Selma takes Cletus' photograph for his driver's license:
      Selma: I just gotta go laminate your license; you'll get it in two to three weeks.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Bart when Lisa suggests to Marge that he go with Patty and Selma to the DMV for "Go Work With Your Parents Day", instead of staying home as he had planned.
    • After Nelson inadvertently knocks down the Sunsphere, destroying their car.
      Bart: We've got no car!
      Martin: We've got no money!
      Milhouse: And no one knows we're here!
      Bart/Martin/Milhouse: We're stranded!
  • Only One Finds It Fun: Nelson insists that they stop to see an Andy Williams show, and is the only one who enjoys it.
  • Parental Neglect: While Bart, Milhouse, and Martin explain their absence to their parents by saying they're attending the National Grammar Rodeo, Nelson just tells his parents he's going away for a week and leaves.
  • Pet the Dog: Smithers is about to chew Homer out for shaking treats down from the vending machine, but when he and Lisa offer him candy, he softens and takes a piece.
    Smithers: Good work, Simpson! (starts to walk away then stops) Simpsons!
  • Priceless Ming Vase: As Nelson tries pawning Milhouse's glasses, a blind Milhouse accidentally breaks a stand of antique Coca-Cola bottles.
    Pawn Shop Owner: Ah, these lenses are perfect! Now I can re-bottom those antique Coke bottles. (counting money) One hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred, five hundred- (the blind Milhouse breaks the bottles; then, taking the money back) Five hundred, four hundred three hundred, two hundred, one hundred, zero.
  • Rental Car Abuse: Bart, Nelson, Milhouse and Martin all decide to secretly hire a car and drive to Knoxville, Tennessee for spring break, since Bart has a fake driver's license and Martin has $600 he earned in his day of work experience. Bart mistakes "cruise control" for "keeps you on the road even if you need to turn", driving through a corn field. Later, they end up crushing their rental car and stuck without a way to get home. In The Stinger, Marge gets calls from Tennessee State Police asking whether her son's car was crushed in Knoxville.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • Who is Langdon Alger?
    • How does Homer know that Branson, Missouri is "Vegas, if it were run by Ned Flanders"?
  • Road Trip Plot: Just the main plot. The B-story focuses on Homer and Lisa bonding at the nuclear plant and the scant C-story focuses on Marge trying to find something to do while her husband is at work, Bart is on the road, and Lisa is with Homer.
  • Rule of Three: In the final scene, Marge receives three phone calls about the episode's events regarding Bart, and due to being Locked Out of the Loop, has no idea what has been happening. Homer sneaks under the covers and turns off the light, cutting to the credits during the third call.
  • Shout-Out: Nelson tries to pawn Milhouse's glasses for money, just like Kirk in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • Signs of Disrepair: The Sunsphere from the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville has a sign that reads "WO__D F_IR", which Bart reads in confusion. The "R" in "F_IR" then falls off.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: If not for the airline messing up with Skinner's flight plans, Bart would never get a fake driver's license and rent a car.
  • Smart People Know Latin: To cover going on a road trip, Bart tells his family he's going to the National Grammar Rodeo.
    Lisa: I'm the best student in school, how come I never heard about this competition?
    Bart: Maybe because you are, as we say in Latin, a "dorkus malorkus."
    Lisa: That's not Latin. Mom, Bart's faking it.
    Marge: Lisa, you've had your glory. Now it's Bart's turn.
  • Spill Stain Sabotage: To have Bart be able to get his friends home, Homer orders a new control console from the nuclear plant supplier. Informed over the phone that his console is still working, Homer pours soda on it and the alarmed representative makes the order.
    "Oh, my God, oh God, no! Oh, this can't be happening, thi- you're operating without a T-437, Springfield! Oh, sweet mother of mercy, I mean, I mean, my God!"
    • What really sells it is that this nuclear technician in Knoxville, Tennessee, starts out speaking in a very professional manner. Then Homer sabotages his own console and the tech immediately becomes very, very Southern. Truth in Television: accents often flare up in moments of stress.
  • Stepping Out to React: Homer learns that Bart's gotten himself into particularly deep trouble. He excuses himself to put on a hazmat hood and screams his frustration until the hood is all fogged up.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Lisa decides to liven things up by spinning in swivel chairs wearing hazmat suits. Homer replies that "this is a lot more fun with a second person."
  • Take That!: The Al Gore talking doll only says "You are hearing me talk" in a monotonous voice.
  • "Take Your Child to Work Day" Plot: Bart tries to exploit this by claiming that Marge is a homemaker, so he gets to lounge around the house all day. It works until Lisa suggests to Marge that he stay with his aunts Patty and Selma, who work at the DMV. Bart is very bored until he gets the idea to get a drivers' license for himself. In the episode's subplot, Lisa enjoys working with Homer at the power plant. Meanwhile, for one-off jokes, Milhouse visits his father at the unusually thrilling cracker factory and Martin blows his stock-broker father's money on soy stocks.
  • Tempting Fate: After the group arrives in Knoxville, Bart remarks that at least they still have a car and a wad of cash. Thirty seconds later, they have neither: Martin reveals they've just run out of money, and Nelson throwing a rock at the Sunsphere causes it to fall over and crush the car.
    • Bart points out the train he, Milhouse, Martin and Nelson want to catch goes through Springfield. They toss their bags on board, but then it picks up speed and they can't catch it.
  • Tranquil Fury: Lisa just finished a rapid-fire explanation of Bart's predicament to Homer, who responds with:
    [Mood Lighting Homer's face shifts to dark accompanied by music sting]
    Homer: [unnervingly calm] Yes...that's a real pickle. Would you excuse me for a moment?
    [puts on Hazmat suit helmet and screams loudly and incoherently for several seconds, fogging the face plate]
    Homer (calm once more): All right, I have thought this through. I will send Bart the money to fly home. Then I will murder him.
  • Tuckerization: Richard Appel says in the commentary that Langdon Alger was the name of a guy he went to school with.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Smithers doesn't seem to question at all what Lisa's doing with Homer inside Springfield Nuclear, the most acknowledgement he gives to it being amending his congratulations to Homer to include her as well after the two of them knock over the candy vending machine.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: After the airline books him on the wrong flight to Hong Kong, Skinner, who can't afford to switch tickets, comes up with "Go to Work With Your Parents Day" as an excuse to start the school's spring break a day early. Bart cites an appreciation for working women so that he can stay home with Marge, but the assignment specifically forbids this and Lisa mischievously suggests that Marge instead send Bart to the DMV with Patty and Selma, where he winds up making himself a fake driver's license. When Skinner spots Bart in Hong Kong, he has no idea that he started the complicated chain of events that led him there.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Lisa's and Nelson's voices are deeper and scratchier than usual in this episode.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin first head to Branson, Missouri before ending up in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Who Is Driving?: At one point, Bart joins Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin in the backseat. When they ask who is driving, Bart casually answers "cruise control", mistaking cruise control for some form of autopilot. The car then plows right into a cornfield.


Yes, that's a real pickle

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (41 votes)

Example of:

Main / TranquilFury

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