First Aired - 10/1/1995
The local child welfare office unfairly takes the Simpson kids out of their home (after Bart catches lice from Milhouse's pet monkey, Lisa gets her prescription shoes taken by some bullying girls and bites her tongue after someone hits her with a soccer ball, and Marge and Homer go to a spa and leave Grampa to let the house go to pot) and puts them in foster care — with Ned and Maude Flanders. While Homer and Marge are forced to take parenting classes, Bart and Lisa worry that Maggie may love the Flanders family more than The Simpsons.
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.
- 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.
- Bait-and-Switch: 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).
- 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.
- 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: Rodd and Todd are so sheltered by Maude and Ned that they have no idea what blood is.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- On both sides with the newspaper printing scene - Bart smiles innocently on handing Todd the paper reading "Todd Stinks", as if genuinely expecting them to go with it, and Rodd and Todd just seem confused by it, rather than offended.
- 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.
- 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), she says "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.
- 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 just to commit theft, while Rodd and Todd are completely traumatised.
- 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 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!
- "Kick Me" Prank: Bart sticks a sign on Lisa's back that read, "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 shirt on Principal Skinner's orders, to get rid of his lice. They squeak in terror before being incinerated.
- 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 "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". Never mind that their own headlines like "Playtime is Fun" are overtly kiddy.
- Shout-Out: Maggie's head twists around, Exorcist-style.
- 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 Rodd and Todd watch My Three Sons before bedtime, but it got them "too worked up" to go to sleep.
- Took a Level in Jerkass:
- 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.
- Ned Flanders, he forcibly tries to baptize Bart, Lisa and Maggie and calls Homer and Marge bad parents because they never baptized the kids, 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..
- Vertigo Effect: When the social worker announces to Bart, Lisa, and Maggie that they're being taken to "a FOSTER HOOOOOOME!".