First Aired - 10/1/1995
The Simpsons kids are unfairly taken out of their home by the local child welfare office due to a series of contrived coincidences that make it seem as if Homer and Marge are neglectful parents, such as;
- Bart catching lice from the monkey he was playing with at Milhouse's house, resulting with his clothes being burned in the school incinerator to disinfect them.
- Lisa having her prescription shoes being stolen by some bullies. She then bites her tongue when she's hit in the head with a ball, leaving her speaking with a lisp.
- Maggie being left to roam the house unsupervised when Grandpa falls asleep, resulting in her drinking out of the dog's water bowl with a sign (that was originally intended for Lisa) saying that 'I'm a stupid baby' stuck to her back.
- The house itself being unusually untidy; Marge was whisked away from her chores by Homer with the promise of a spa trip and had intended on completing the chores on her return. Of note are the twenty year old newspapers on the table; Marge had actually found those for Lisa for a school project.
This is the first episode featuring Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein as showrunners; they took over the job from David Mirkin, the showrunner for seasons 5 and 6.
- Abuse Mistake: Due to Lisa not having shoes, Bart having a case of head lice and wearing a potato sack, a social worker finding the house a mess, Maggie drinking out of the dog's water bowl and wearing a sign that reads "I'm a stupid baby!", Grampa asleep on the couch, and the toilet paper hung in the "improper" overhand position, Marge and Homer are deemed unfit parents and had to take parenting classes in order to get their kids back from their foster parents, the Flanders family.
- Achievements in Ignorance: During the chase to prevent the kids' baptism, Homer figures that "to find Flanders, I have to think like Flanders!" The resulting Inner Monologue consists entirely of insults ("I'm a big four-eyed lame-o! And I wear the same stupid sweater every day..."), but it's somehow enough to get him to realize that Ned is heading for the Springfield River.
- Adult Fear:
- Due to several misunderstandings, child welfare accuse Homer and Marge of negligence and their children are taken away from them. It's particularly heartbreaking when Homer and Marge wander into each of their kids' empty bedrooms. And when Marge and Homer hear Bart's signature ring, they rush down to the front door, faces joyful, only to see nobody's there.
- After regaining custody of the kids, Homer and Marge find out that the Flanders have taken their children to be baptized, which in this universe, amounts to being adopted and brainwashed.
- Apophenia Plot: Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are mistaken for being neglected and abused when the child workers walk in after a variety of unrelated circumstances (Grampa is left in charge of the kids, Lisa's shoes are taken away by bullies, Bart has head lice from playing with a monkey, there's a bunch of old newspapers on the table intended for the recycling plant). They're sent to live with their next-door neighbors the Flanders, as Homer and Marge are made to take a parenting class. Eventually, they pass and are able to get their kids back.
- Artistic License Religion: You may be tempted to look up the "Serpent of Rehoboam" or the "Bridal Feast of Beth Chedruharazzeb" but they do not exist in the Bible.
- The Simpsons are told Bart, Lisa and Maggie will be taken to a place where Homer and Marge will never see them again. Then they're left at the house next door (which actually is a violation on the 100-foot restraining order Homer and Marge were given against their own children).
- This happens a couple times with Bart and Lisa at the Flanders' house. First, Ned tells the kids he made "nachos, Flanders style" which is just cucumbers with cottage cheese. Later when Ned invites the family to play a game, Bart and Lisa are initially excited since he referred to it involving a "bombardment" until Ned continues with "of Bible trivia questions".
- Big "NO!": When Homer sees Ned is about to baptize his children.Ned: Do you reject Satan, and all his empty promises?
Homer: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! (skin burns on contact with holy water)
- Bowdlerization: When the episode first aired, Milhouse tells Bart that he found the monkey that gave Bart lice in a wicker basket from Pier One. When the company complained about the joke, the reruns had the line changed to "Trader Pete's", an entirely fictional store. On DVD, overseas markets (as Pier One isn't known outside of America), and the "Every Simpsons Ever" marathon on FXX (as well as normal cable reruns on that channel), the "Pier One" line is used. The "Trader Pete's" dialogue is on Disney+ as well as Freeform.note
- Call-Back: Mrs. Skinner mentioning that her arguing with her son over an inflatable bath pillow harkens back to the previous season's "The Springfield Connection".
- Chekhov's Gun: The "I'm a Stupid Baby" sign Bart puts on Lisa's back. It bites the family in the ass because Marge didn't get rid of it, and it somehow winds up on Maggie.
- Children Are Innocent: Rod and Todd are so sheltered by Maude and Ned that they have no idea what blood is.
- Comically Missing the Point:
Rod:Bart, I don't know if this should be an extra.
- On both sides with the newspaper printing scene - Bart smiles innocently on handing Todd the paper reading "Todd Smells", as if genuinely expecting them to go with it, and Rod and Todd just seem confused by it, rather than offended. It then became less funny to an annoyed Bart.
Todd: Is your source on this reliable?
- The children's aid worker sees the "I'm a Stupid Baby" sign on Maggie and, instead of seeing it as a cruel thing to do to a child, just remarks that stupid babies need more attention.
- Entertainingly Wrong: A combination of bullying, monkeys and Grandpa's senility result in Homer and Marge being mistaken for bad parents.
- Everyone Has Standards: Krabappel, Skinner and Willie don't like Bart, but they panic when he's discovered to be carrying headlice and dispose of them accordingly, even giving him a blanket to keep him warm.
- Exorcist Head: Maggie's head spins around after she says, "Daddily doodily!"
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Ned owns "The Song of Solomon" (one of the racier parts of the Bible) and "Today's Family Gnostic Bible".
- Friend or Idol Decision: Maggie, who's enjoyed her time with the Flanders far more than her own brood, is left standing between them and forced to choose who to go to. Bart, Lisa and Homer are shown standing in the river surrounded by dead trees, while Ned, Maude and their children are in a happy meadow filled with flowers. At first, it seems that Maggie will choose the latter...until Marge comes around the corner.
- Fun with Acronyms: After Marge passes her drug test again (the first time she failed because the test mistakenly had her tested positive for crack and PCP). Her response?"The only thing I'm 'high' on is love. Love for my Son and Daughters. Yes, a little LSD is all I need."
- Hair-Trigger Temper: During the parenting session, Homer goes into a rage because of Cletus saying he cut himself on a screen door, and starts trying to strangle him.
- Hollywood Law: No, the Department of Child Disservices probably wouldnt be allowed to put the kids in the house next door to their original one.
- Holy Burns Evil: Homer takes a baptism for his kids to keep them from becoming Flanderses. It doesn't seem to do any lasting damage (except briefly make Homer peaceful and knowledgeable of religious events, like St. Augustine of Hippo being converted by Ambrose of Milan), but the sound effect and Homer's demonic growl fit pretty well.
- Humor Dissonance: In-universe. Bart and Lisa cackle madly on seeing an episode of Itchy & Scratchy where Itchy violently murders Scratchy by pretending to be a baby just to commit theft, while Rod and Todd are completely traumatized.
- Hypocritical Humor: Homer mocks Ned for "wearing the same stupid sweater every day" despite the fact that he himself (and most of Springfield) wear the same outfit every day.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: When Bart is discovered to have head lice on class picture day (as a result of playing with a monkey Milhouse found), he comments "I get lice and nothing bad happens to Milhouse." We then see Milhouse standing there pale, wrapped in a blanket, muttering "So cold, so very, very cold."
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Ned serves the kids "nachos, Flanders style":Ned: That's cucumbers with cottage cheese!
- Informed Flaw: Lisa apparently needs "prescription shoes".
- The Simpson children also apparently need to be baptized to the standards of The Flanders.
- Jerkass Ball:
- Grandpa. He's confronted about being left with the kids for a few hours and getting them taken away and just says "Oh, bitch, bitch, bitch!" and walks off.
- Flanders, he forcibly tries to baptize Bart, Lisa and Maggie and calls Homer and Marge bad parents because they never baptized them, and by the way they talked, he and Maude intended to keep the Simpson children permanently despite that being outside the scope of being a foster parent.
- Karma Houdini:
- While Abe is called out for his irresponsibility, he brushes it off with a simple "Oh bitch, bitch, bitch!" in response and leaves with no proper comeuppance.
- The girls that bully Lisa and steal her shoes also fall into this, as they disappear completely after their appearance and are never seen again.
- "Kick Me" Prank: Bart sticks a sign on Lisa's back that reads, "I'm a stupid baby!" That sign somehow finds its way on Maggie and was mistaken for a label Homer and Marge put on the baby when the Child Protective Services officers inspect the Simpson house.Officer: Stupid babies need the most attention!
- Kill It with Fire: Willie burns Bart's clothes on Skinner's orders, to get rid of his lice. They squeak in terror before being incinerated.
- The Lopsided Arm of the Law: All it takes is a few misunderstandings for Child Protective Services to deem Homer and Marge bad parents and take their kids away. Meanwhile, kids like Nelson and The Spucklers live in homes that are rife with squalor, poverty, neglect, and more, yet they've never had a visit from Child Services.
- Not Helping Your Case:
- When Lisa tries to argue that Marge and Homer are good parents who've never neglected she and her siblings, one of her teeth fall out. She insists that it was a baby tooth and it was loose, but it's clear the Flanders don't believe her.
- As usual, Homer is the king of this. While in court he speaks up after Marge claiming to the judge that he's the last type of guy who should have any children, and then when mentioning loving Bart and Lisa he forgets about Maggie. He realizes the first and lampshades it, with the judge and Marge pointing out the second. Fortunately, the judge seemed to reasonably overlook it and sent both parents into a parenting class.
- Papa Wolf: Homer goes into full defense mode to keep the kids from being baptized, up to hurling himself down a hill and shoving Bart out of the way to prevent Ned from anointing him.
- Road Trip Across the Street: The social worker drives Bart, Lisa and Maggie the few feet from the Simpsons house to the Flanders'.
- Rule of Funny: Ned expresses shock that Bart and Lisa are unfamiliar with the story of "the Bridal Feast of Beth Chedruharazzeb".
- Serious Business: In-universe. The Flanders boys appear to treat newspaper printing seriously as they scold Bart for printing a headline that says "Extra Extra! Todd Stinks", demanding to know whether it's really worth printing and what his sources are. Never mind that their own headlines like "Playtime is Fun" are overtly kiddy.
- Shout-Out: After she calls Ned "daddily-doodily" while they're heading to their "emergency baptism", Maggie's head twists around, Exorcist-style.
- Skewed Priorities: Bart may be a major contagious health risk for the entire school with head lice, but Milhouse appears to have caught a severe southern hemisphere related disease from the monkey that came from the store that leaves him in shakes and an extremely high fever.
- Society Marches On: The Flanders' car has a bumper sticker reading "I ♥ YOUR KIDS" - fine for the joke they're telling in the episode, but these days, that'd be read as something else entirely.
- Take That: Ned says he used to let Rod and Todd watch My Three Sons before bedtime, but it got them "too worked up" to go to sleep.
- Vertigo Effect: When the social worker announces to Bart, Lisa and Maggie that they're being taken to "a FOSTER HOOOOOOME!".