Original air date: 2/9/1997 (produced in 1996)
Production code: 4F12
Homer is chosen to voice Poochie, a dog character created to liven up the Itchy & Scratchy show, but the new addition is universally hated. Lindsey Naegle makes her debut as an executive at the I&S studio.
Plot SummaryMarge is surprised that Bart and Lisa are not watching The Itchy & Scratchy Show, the two of them pursuing other activities. They are not alone, as I&S producer Roger Myers, Jr. finds out during a conference with Krusty, whose show drops off in the ratings every time the cartoon is shown. Myers decides to do a focus group to find out why the show has lost its popularity. However, the group (consisting on the Simpson kids, Milhouse, Nelson, Ralph and Janey) contradict themselves about what they want for the show (agreeing that the characters should explore real-life issues and also battle giant robots) and an exasperated Myers suddenly rants that kids have no idea about anything.
Bart and Lisa admit that the show is getting a bit stale, so Myers and the higher-ups at the company decide to come up with a new character, a dog to complete the "mouse-cat-dog" trident, much to the discontent of the show's writers, who see Itchy and Scratchy as a "psycho-dramatic duo". "Poochie, the Rocking Dog", as the new character is christened, is devised with all the trappings of a corporate-doctored product, including outdated slang and general indecision about him being a surfer dude or a Rastafarian. The studio also holds auditions to voice Poochie, in which Otto, Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz participate, but are rejected for not having enough of an "attitude". Homer eventually wins the part by acting sarcastically after being initially rejected. He also meets Julie Bellamy, who voices both Itchy and Scratchy, also having played the role of the Roadrunner (but only one "beep") and participates in conferences with the show's rabid fans.
Homer holds a big party at the Simpson household for Poochie's debut, which is done with great fanfare, being compared to the moon landing. But the character's in-your-face, Totally Radical style only makes the show worse, leaving the audience disconcerted. Amid the disaster, the studio holds an emergency meeting in which Homer gives some ideas to "improve" Poochie, including more blatant Character Shilling. However, he finds out by eavesdropping that Myers has resolved to kill off the character. In an attempt to save the new guy, Homer deviates from the script (which involves Itchy and Scratchy killing Poochie) and makes a heartfelt speech in-character pleading to keep him, which moves everybody in the room. The finished episode however ends up having Poochie being killed off in the strangest way possible, including a voice-over by Myers and his cel being lifted, with a claim he died on the way to his home planet (with an affidavit from Krusty that ensures the character can't be revived or used in the franchise in any form in the future). Poochie's demise is met with rejoice, while Homer resolves it was just a showbiz folly. At the end of the episode, Roy, a young man that had been living in the Simpson home during the episode, moves out.
"The Itchy, Scratchy & Poochie Show" contains examples of:
- Acting for Two: In-Universe; June Bellamy does the voices for both Itchy and Scratchy.
- An Aesop:
- Don't change art in an attempt to please others, because you may end up destroying perfectly good material in the process.
- By following trends, you completely forget the whole purpose of your project. It’s better to be timeless than to be cool.
- New characters can work if you actually put in some effort to fit them into the show’s nature and not rush into things and simply reverting to what worked prior is not necessarily the best solution either as doing the same thing endlessly is just going to isolate audiences as well.
- Amoral Attorney: The Blue-Haired Lawyer, as usual:Roger Meyers, Jr.: [when Lisa inadvertently suggests to him what may keep "Itchy and Scratchy" fresh] That's it, little girl! You've saved Itchy and Scratchy!
Blue-Haired Lawyer: [after entering the room Lisa is in one second afterwards] Please sign these documents indicating that you did not save Itchy and Scratchy.
- Anachronism Stew: Though a lot of Poochie's shtick fits with the mid-'90s, several of his references come closer to the '80s ("I pity the fool"), the '70s (the Fonz, the kung-fu craze), or the '60s (surfing, hippies). He also uses "telly", which is comparatively modern... in Britain. It really just enhances the Two Decades Behind feel of his existence.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: The kids in Krusty's studio audience cheer when it's confirmed that Poochie has been Killed Off for Real.
- Answer Cut: After Poochie's debut, Marge comments that what matters is what the fans think. Cut to Comic Book Guy calling it the "Worst Episode Ever!"
- Armor-Piercing Question: When an obnoxious fan asks June Bellamy about an extremely minor musical error in an Itchy & Scratchy episode (that Itchy played Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone and made two different notes when hitting the same bone twice), June is left faltering how to answer that when Homer steps in to help her.Homer: Let me ask you a question. Why would a man whose shirt says "Genius At Work" spend all his time watching a children's cartoon show?
Doug: ...I withdraw my question.
- Ass Pull: In-Universe, Homer refused to record dialogue for Poochie's intended exit (in which Itchy kills him with a chainsaw), so the creators just dubbed in a line about his "planet" needing him and had him ascend into space.Bart: Wow, Poochie came from another planet?
Lisa: Uh, I guess.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Roger uses Krusty's inability to keep on topic in order to deflect a talk about the declining quality of the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons.
- Author Avatar: Bart serves this purpose when talking to Comic Book Guy. The scene was used as the writers' response to the various critics of the show on the online newsgroup alt.tv.simpsons.
- Back from the Dead: Discussed and defied. After announcing that Poochie has been killed off, Krusty tells his audience that he is aware that cartoon characters sometimes come back to life, so he reveals that he has been given a sworn affidavit that officially promises that "Poochie will never, ever, ever return". The Blue-Haired Lawyer then steps onto the stage just to affirm the legal validity of said affidavit for good measure, much to the cheer of the audience.
- Bait-and-Switch: At first, Poochie's debut episode gave the impression something would happen at a fireworks factory. Milhouse gets quite hung up on the Halfway Plot Switch.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Poochie's design has him go barefoot in his concept drawings.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The entire episode is a Take That! against TV executives who use cheap gimmicks to keep long-running shows fresh (including adding committee-created "cool" characters, like Poochie and the Simpsons' unexplained houseguest Roy) and the fans who complain when shows either change their dynamic or start to go stale. Roy in particular was an explicit reference to Fox at one point having tried to convince the Simpsons writers to add a new character living with the family to "spice up the show".
- Blatant Lies: After Comic Book Guy notes that each customer will receive only one autographed photo of Poochie:"Kindly make one out to me, and three out to my friend of the same name."
- Both Sides Have a Point: As noted under Straw Fan, this episode is basically calling out the toxic parts of fandom which have a list of very demanding and sometimes unreasonable expectations for a show and criticizing every single change regardless if it is good or bad. However, Executive Meddling is a VERY real phenomenon and rejecting every criticism (even the legitimate ones) is a one-way street to alienating your entire fanbase.
- Bus Crash: Parodied. Poochie is hastily written out in his final appearance as being needed on his home planet and dying along the way.
- Character Catchphrase: This episode marks the first appearance of what would eventually become Comic Book Guy's signature Mad Libs Catchphrase: "Worst [thing] ever."
- Character Shilling: Itchy and Scratchy shill Poochie as early as his very first appearance, and his voice actor Homer suggests even further measures to boost his popularity — such as having other characters, when Poochie is not on screen, ask, "where's Poochie?"Scratchy: Wow. Poochie is one outrageous dude!
Itchy: He's totally in my face!
- Concepts Are Cheap: Referenced by one of the I&S writers after words like paradigm and proactive are thrown around in the meeting room. He points out that words like these are "buzz words" that dumb people use to sound smart and gets fired on the spot.
- Continuity Nod: It appears that Bart is still right about Milhouse being Prone to Tears, seeing that he cries in frustration about Itchy & Scratchy still not getting to the fireworks factory.
- Cool Shades:Roger Meyers: He's supposed to have attitude!
Artist: What do you mean, attitude?
Meyers: You know! Attitude, attitude, uhh... sunglasses!
- Couch Gag: A parody of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album.
- Cousin Oliver: Parodied. An executive suggested the writers should add a new kid who had "the genius of Lisa but the attitude of Bart". In response, they made this episode. Poochie was created to be a hip new character with "pizzazz". However, he does nothing funny in his first appearance and the audience immediately hates him. The In-Universe creators of The Itchy & Scratchy Show quickly remove Poochie from the show ("I have to go now. My planet needs me.") complete with a notice that he died on the way home. The episode also contains a further parody with Roy, a college aged "cool guy" who is inexplicably living with the Simpsons. Lisa even lampshades the aspect of adding a new character to boost low ratings just before Marge greets Roy for the first time.
- Creator's Apathy: In-Universe, the writers of Itchy & Scratchy have very little interest in making Poochie work and put in the bare minimum of effort incorporating him into the show.
- Creator's Pet: Invoked. Poochie might well be the best and most accurate skewering of the (fictional) Creator's Pet archetype in any work of fiction. Homer is obsessed with putting Poochie everywhere and having the other characters talk him up constantly, but the audience (and seemingly everyone else on the planet) despises him for his Totally Radical behavior, reliance on dated and irrelevant catchphrases, and disrupting Itchy and Scratchy's plots at the expense of the titular duo, and the show starts hemorrhaging ratings as a result. To save the show, Meyers has Poochie hastily written out with no explanation and then killed off offscreen, to which the entire audience responds with cheers.
- Critic-Proof: In-Universe, while Itchy & Scratchy had been enormously popular, critics expected the show to sink for years before Poochie answered their calls, as Kent Brockman gleefully comments.
- Cross-Dressing Voices: In-Universe, Itchy and Scratchy are both voiced by the same woman.
- Cuckoosnarker: Homer fielding questions from nitpicky fans:Homer: Let me ask you a question. Why would a grown man whose shirt says "Genius at Work" spend all of his time watching a children's cartoon show?
Doug: ...I withdraw my question.
- Damned by Faint Praise: Exaggerated. After showing his friends and family the "Poochie" cartoon which he's voice acting for, Homer's guests all leave muttering incoherently and Carl says, "You should be very proud, Homer... you have a wonderful home here."
- Deader than Dead: Not only is Poochie killed off in his second short, but when Krusty lampshades that cartoon characters always come back in the next episode, he brings out the Blue-Haired Lawyer who pulls out some legal documents that clarify that Poochie is dead and will never be used again in any Itchy and Scratchy shorts.note
- Denied Food as Punishment: Bart and Lisa do it to themselves after Poochie's disastrous opener:Homer: So... it was pretty okay, huh?
Bart: Mom, can we go to bed without dinner?
Marge: Yes, we can. [Marge, Bart, and Lisa run upstairs]
- Description Cut: After Poochie's bad debut, Marge says the important thing is if the fans like it. Cut to...Comic Book Guy: Last night's episode of Itchy and Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.
Bart: Hey, I know it wasn't great, but what right do you have to complain?
Comic Book Guy: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
Bart: What? They've given you thousands of hours of entertainment for free! What could they possibly owe you? I mean, if anything, you owe them!
Comic Book Guy: Worst episode ever.
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: When Roger Meyers Jr. is needed in a meeting with Krusty, he constantly attempts to slimeball and flatter his way through to Krusty, apparently to try and derail his train of thought, from complimenting his dental work to claiming that the low ratings of Itchy and Scratchy is the result of an act of God. Every time, this fails, as Krusty double takes in return and slingshots back in hot rage that Itchy and Scratchy is ratings poison and is not having it.
- Door Slam of Rage: After getting lambasted by Krusty over poor ratings, Roger Meyers Jr sulkily leaves his office and slams the door with enough force to smash it off.
- Dumbass Has a Point:
- Homer's blunt dealings with the obnoxious fans when they ask completely asinine questions unrelated to the voice work Homer and June Bellamy are doing for the show. June's reaction shows she's dealt with this too often and is grateful for Homer's assistance calling them off.Database: Uh, excuse me Mr. Simpson. On the Itchy & Scratchy CD-ROM, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the wizard key?
Homer: What the hell are you talking about?!
June: You're a lifesaver, Homer. I can't deal with these hardcore fans!
- After the poor reception of Poochie's debut, Homer suggests to the producers that Poochie should be angrier and have access to a time machine. It's a dumb idea, for sure, but Poochie's concept was such a disaster that a time-traveling short-tempered loudmouth feels like a sidegrade at worst, and making Poochie incredibly weird and wacky does seem like it'd undo his worst trait (that being, he was boring and uncreative).
- Pretty much Homer's whole appeal in the climax is that they can make Poochie a solid addition if the creative team gave him a second chance and put enough passion into him, given Poochie failed due to being hastily and lazily created and written to appeal to modern cultural fads.
- Homer's blunt dealings with the obnoxious fans when they ask completely asinine questions unrelated to the voice work Homer and June Bellamy are doing for the show. June's reaction shows she's dealt with this too often and is grateful for Homer's assistance calling them off.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The female executive, who reappears in several future episodes, was later reworked into Lindsey Naegle.
- End of an Era: Beginning with the second season, it was an unwritten rule that one episode every season would be dedicated to Itchy and Scratchy. But after this episode, Itchy and Scratchy would become less of a focus, with shorts only being added to episodes if they were short on time. Even in the Season 30 episode "Bart vs. Itchy and Scratchy", the Itchy and Scratchy storyline ends up as a Halfway Plot Switch. With the death of Alex Rocco (Roger Meyers, Jr.), it seems less likely that the cat and mouse duo will get another dedicated episode.
- Epic Fail: Poochie's debut is such a monumental flop that people start throwing eggs at Krusty in the street and they require a court order to stop the character from ever appearing again.
- Executive Meddling: In-Universe. The episode as a whole is a major Take That! towards this.
- For starters, the producer Roger Meyers along with other executives decide to create a new character in order to rejuvenate and increase the ratings of Itchy & Scratchy. A character who is hip, has "pizazz" and attitude. Of course, the actual writers & animators of Itchy & Scratchy tell them that its not a good idea since the cartoon has a specific dynamic, and adding a new character would disrupt the show. But the executives dismiss their notions and enforce the new character anyway.
- The actual creation of the new character is very half-assed. Meyers insists on the character being a dog to complete the "mouse-cat-dog" trident (which the writers say is predictable) and the name they go with is "Poochie", which Meyers simply threw out randomly as an example. And finally, Meyers insisted on Poochie having attitude "like sunglasses", as such the character becomes a walking example of outdated 90s cliches.
- Later , given his abysmal first appearance, the executives wanted to kill off Poochie. Homer refused, but gave a different speech instead that pleased the workers of the recording room. The executives meddled anyway, pulling him from the series with a hastily written exucse. The abrupt voice change, the coarse animation pulling Poochie offscreen, the animation cell's side being visible, and scribbled text that only said what happened - showing that the illustrators and animators likewise didn't approve of the meddling.
- Exiled from Continuity: In-Universe. The reception towards Poochie is so overwhelmingly negative that he is Killed Off for Real in his second appearance and Krusty promptly signs a sworn affidavit to never bring him back.
- Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: In the episode itself, Poochie is often fully clothed and with shoes on.
- George Jetson Job Security:
- Gratuitous Rap: How Poochie introduces himself.
- Green Aesop: There's one in the Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show short "The Beagle Has Landed" that acts as a Spoof Aesop out-of-universe:Poochie: Always recycle — to the extreme! BUST IT!!
- Here We Go Again!: After briefly taking satisfaction in the show returning to its old roots, Bart and Lisa grow bored and switch over, demonstrating their interest in it waning again.
- Hollywood Hype Machine: In-Universe. Before his debut episode, everyone is rather hyped about the addition of Poochie and moments before his debut episode is aired Krusty compares his addition to the show to the 1969 and 1971 moon landings.
- Hope Spot: Homer writes a Rousing Speech that gets a round of applause from everyone in Itchy and Scratchy Studios and appears to have saved Poochie from being killed off. The dog is still killed when the episode airs, and the audience is assured that he will never come back.
- Hypocritical Humor: When Homer gives out signed pictures of Poochie, Comic Book Guy tells everyone to only take one each and not to cut in line. Then later, he himself cuts in line and asks for four signed pictures ("Kindly make one out to me, and three out to my friend of the same name").
- Ignored Epiphany: After Poochie is killed off and Itchy and Scratchy returns to normal, Bart and Lisa note their appreciation that the show is going strong again.....before quickly getting bored and tuning out again, implying the same cycle will repeat itself in time.
- Immune to Slapstick: A key reason Poochie fails to mesh with the show's format; his debut features no slapstick whatsoever, and even on the title card, Itchy and Scratchy chase each other with weapons while Poochie stands off to the side. This reaches the point that the writers treat killing Poochie off as a completely different course from the rest of the cast killing each other Once an Episode.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Simpsons staff members David Silverman, Josh Weinstein, Bill Oakley, and George Meyer cameo as members of the Itchy & Scratchy creative staff. Caricatures of other staff members also appear, but not voiced by the real people.
- Irony: The voice actress for Itchy, one of the most depraved animated characters, is the nicest person on the set of Itchy and Scratchy.
- Jerkass Has a Point: While it can be blamed on the atrocious implementation (the episode that introduced him was almost deliberately bad), Poochie had proved to be an absolute unmitigated disaster, and frankly a bad idea from the start. Regardless of Homer's heartfelt speech (which probably wouldn't have gone down as well with the young audience of a show about nothing deeper than cartoon characters brutally murdering each other), the initial impression created by the character was so bad that rehabilitating him would be almost impossible (especially with the generally bad ideas Homer had for the character) and getting rid of him was simply the most practical solution. And after it's done, despite the incredibly crude way in which Poochie is removed, the entire audience is thrilled that he's gone.
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: After Roger Meyers, Jr. listens to Homer's speech, he seems genuinely touched by it and may allow it to be included in the episode. Then he reworks the final project into Poochie going back to his home planet and dying on the way.
- Killed Offscreen: Poochie unceremoniously dies on the way back to his own planet.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A Running Gag involving Roy:
- When Bart and Lisa learn through the newspaper that a new character named Poochie is going to be added to The Itchy & Scratchy Show:Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
Roy: [walks in] Yo, yo! How's it hangin', everybody?
Marge: Morning, Roy!
Homer: Yeah, hi, Roy.
- When Homer resolves to salvage Poochie:Homer: I won't let them treat Poochie like dirt anymore just because he's the new guy.
Roy: Right on, Mr. S!
Homer: Put a sock in it, Roy.
- When Poochie is killed off:Bart: Tough break, Dad. I guess people just weren't ready for Poochie. Maybe in a few years.
Roy: [carrying a suitcase and a letter] Good news, everybody! I'm moving into my own apartment with two sexy ladies!
Marge: Oh, then I guess this is good-bye, Roy. Maybe we'll see you in a few years.
- When Bart and Lisa learn through the newspaper that a new character named Poochie is going to be added to The Itchy & Scratchy Show:
- Lightning Can Do Anything: One of Roger Meyers Jr.'s ploys in his slimeball attempts to flatter and derail Krusty, claiming that lightning struck a transformer at the station and was (somehow) the cause of the low ratings at Itchy And Scratchy's timeslot.
- Limited Animation: Done deliberately for Poochie's final moments◊, in a style similar to Stop Motion rather than a smooth movement.
- Magic Realism: The focus group leader asks the kids if this is what they want out of Itchy & Scratchy when said kids answer with equal excitement to two proposed premises — Itchy and Scratchy dealing with real-life problems, or Itchy & Scratchy becoming Denser and Wackier. The response to the combination of the two scenarios is lukewarm, perhaps suggesting the kids of Springfield can tell when the Golden Mean Fallacy is being pulled on them.Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Despite voicing the notoriously violent Itchy, June Bellamy is depicted as a friendly, good-humored, likeable person, and Homer's best friend among the Itchy & Scratchy crew.
- Misplaced Retribution:
- Nelson punches Bart, who didn't contribute to Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie, after seeing its piss-poor debut.
- After Poochie's debut ends up being a massive flop, Krusty gets eggs thrown at him in the street, despite having nothing to do with the creation of said character. In fact, he ordered Meyers to improve Itchy & Scratchy because of how it was tanking the ratings, he just didn't count on how badly they would screw it up.
- Nice Girl: June Bellamy's the only person involved in the production of Itchy & Scratchy who's not a corporate shill or a lazy jackass. When Homer makes his plea to give Poochie a second chance by getting the creative team to actually care about him, June forces the staff to listen to Homer by threatening to quit. It probably helps that Homer came to her defense when she had to deal with those obsessive fans at the comic book store.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Poochie is this thanks to the producers wanting the character to make up everything that's "hip". When designing the character, the producers called for hip-hop, surfer, and Rasta. Poochie's Boastful Rap describes him as "Half Joe Camel, a third Fonzarelli", a "kung-fu hippie from Gangster City", and a "rapping surfer". He can also moonwalk, play guitar, ride BMX, and play basketball.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: June Bellamy is a parody of June Foray.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Itchy and Scratchy themselves are fairly generic naked anthropomorphized animals. The first concept design for Poochie attempts to make a dog character in the same style, but the execs kept insisting on being cool, hip, edgy and edgier that results in the character dressing in slacks, shirt, backwards hat and shades. It's among the many reasons Poochie is despised; he doesn't look natural next to Itchy and Scratchy.
- Only One Finds It Fun: Downplayed: even Homer doesn't really care for Poochie as-written, he just enjoys playing a cartoon character.
- Only Sane Man: June Bellamy's the only person working on Itchy and Scratchy willing to make a genuine effort at doing her job, and thus is the only person willing to speak in defense of Homer's ideas to salvage Poochie. Compared to the executives who can only think of making a quick buck, and the writers who don't give a shit about doing their jobs, June's the only one who is an actual professional and thus speaks up for Homer when he makes an effort like any professional would.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Implied when Flanders says "I can honestly say that was the best episode of Impy and Chimpy I've ever seen."note
- Parody Sue: Part of the reason Poochie meshes so disastrously with the show's format — he has no personality traits besides "being the coolest person ever", and once he shows up, the episode grinds to a halt so Itchy and Scratchy can tell each other how cool Poochie is and how much they like him.
- Permanent Placeholder: In-Universe example. Roger Meyers tells the writers to come up with a name for the new character along the lines of "Poochie", but "more proactive." The writers go with "Poochie".
- Pet the Dog: Homer helps out June Bellamy in dealing with the fans obsessed over every minute detail on Itchy & Scratchy. She pays him back when she forces Roger Meyers Jr. to listen to Homer's ideas.
- Pie in the Face: Krusty does it to himself at the start of the episode.
- Put on a Bus: Both of the newly introduced characters suffer this:
- Roy moves into his own apartment "with two sexy ladies" and never comes back.
- Thoroughly defied by Poochie — the executives even asked a lawyer to make legal documents expressively forbidding from ever using Poochie again. Later episodes make it a straight example by having him return via background cameos.
- Remember the New Guy?:
- Played for Laughs when the family discusses the new addition of Poochie the Dog on The Itchy & Scratchy Show. During this discussion, a teenage roommate of the family named Roy, who never appeared before but wasn't treated as a newcomer, suddenly shows up:Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
Roy: Yo, yo! How's it hanging, everybody?
Marge: Morning, Roy.
Homer: [very blasé] Yeah, hiya Roy.
- Roy then gets Put on a Bus in what sounds like a pitch for a stereotypical sitcom near the end of the very same episode:Bart: I guess people just weren't ready for Poochie. Maybe in a few years.
Roy: [carrying a suitcase and a letter] Good news, everybody! I'm moving into my own apartment with two sexy ladies!
Marge: Oh, then I guess this is good-bye, Roy. Maybe we'll see you in a few years. [kisses him goodbye]
- Played for Laughs when the family discusses the new addition of Poochie the Dog on The Itchy & Scratchy Show. During this discussion, a teenage roommate of the family named Roy, who never appeared before but wasn't treated as a newcomer, suddenly shows up:
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: In-Universe. Homer tries to do this with Poochie, but sadly fails.
- The Scrappy: The In-Universe treatment Poochie gets. While his debut episode was being shown, many of the characters were commenting on how he steals the spotlight of Itchy and Scratchy, his Totally Radical shtick derailing the show, and generally being unfunny.
- Self-Deprecation: The show's writers rip on the hardcore fans and the network, but they don't let themselves off any easier. The Itchy and Scratchy writers are Ink Suit Actors of the real-life writers and are depicted as lazy and inept, completely unable to handle the new character or the change in format. Marge even Lampshades that it's their fault the Poochie character sucks so much:Marge: It's not your fault, Homer. It's those lousy writers. They make me madder than a... yak in heat!
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: No pun intended. Homer makes a very elaborate speech, which gets blasted down when the episode featuring this speech gets hastily edited to make it look like Poochie was really an alien who returned to his home planet and died on the way back. Homer poured his heart and soul into supporting something he liked, but no one else did, and, in the end, it was All for Nothing—he didn't even get paid (he forgot to ask).
- Shallow Parody: Poochie is an In-Universe example of every one-dimensional Totally Radical, Jive Turkey, Surfer Dude, Speaking Like Totally Teen stereotype of the 1990's (and possibly the late 1980's). He even throws in a half-assed Green Aesop at the end of his debut cartoon (which was a very common trope in children's cartoons and movies from those two particular decades).
- Shoo Out the New Guy:
- Poochie's fate. In fact, the trope was originally named "The Poochie". (Poochie would appear twice more on Itchy & Scratchy, though. In the non-canon Treehouse of Horror segment "The Terror of Tiny Toon" he's promptly hit by a police car as he's skating down the street. In a short in "Little Big Mom", he's at Scratchy's funeral.)
- Also parodied with Roy who moves out of the Simpsons' house at the end of the episode to move into his own apartment with two sexy ladies.
- To Old Yeller, when Kent Brockman discusses the aftermath of Poochie's debut:Brockman: Far be it for me to gloat at another's downfall, but I have a feeling no children are going to be crying when this puppy is put to sleep.
- When Roy says that he's moving in to a new place with "two sexy ladies," this is most likely a reference to Three's Company.
- To Old Yeller, when Kent Brockman discusses the aftermath of Poochie's debut:
- Spoof Aesop: At the end of the episode, the family and pets gather around Homer, who says, "Well, I guess I learned my lesson. The thing is, I lost creative control of the project... and I forgot to ask for any money. Well, live and learn."
- Straw Fan:
- The Comic Book Guy, present and accounted for. He not only insists that the Poochie episode is the "worst episode ever", but he says that the people who break their backs creating the short owe him for tuning in, with him owing them nothing in return (except hatred and mockery when they screw up).
- Also, the guy who hoped that "somebody got fired for that blunder", referring to a minute detail in one episode of the show that wasn't realistic enough.note Despite Itchy and Scratchy being a cartoon that doesn't have to be realistic (as Lisa pointed out in an earlier episode) and the guy in question being a self-appointed genius who wears a "Genius at Work" shirt while watching cartoons intended for children. Homer quickly shuts him down.
- Stylistic Suck: It's abundantly clear that I&S Studios didn't care about the quality of Poochie's second (and last) episode and just wanted to rush it out the door. When Poochie says "I have to go now. My planet needs me," his voice inexplicably changes and his lips don't move, his body simply hovers up with the cell labels visible indicating the animators just slid the sheet out of frame, and a note shows up saying the dog died.
- Take That, Audience!: Along with the Straw Fan example, the episode also satirizes fickle audiences from the very start to end of the episode, losing interest in the show even when it's at top quality but still being vocal enough in their resentment of the change that they are willing to swallow a blatantly half-baked "cartoon" stating Poochie is gone forever. Promptly the show returns to normal, and after a brief moment of appreciation, Bart and Lisa tune out again.
- Take That!: The writers were once "asked" to introduce a new character to liven up the show. The result was an episode which has a new character be introduced to the titular cat and mouse duo which utterly ruins the show and is universally despised by everyone except Homer who voices him. Meanwhile, a character named Roy appears out of nowhere, is treated as if he was always a part of the Simpson family, and vanishes without a trace in the end. Lisa even bluntly points out the writer's stance on it:Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
- Temporary Scrappy:
- Itchy & Scratchy introduces a dog named Poochie, who is hated by the In-Universe audience of that cartoon. This leads the producers to Shoo Out the New Guy.
- Later in the episode, a parody of Scrappys everywhere appears —a teenager named Roy who is inexplicably shown to be living with the Simpson family. However, all Roy does is lampshade the concept of a Scrappy.
- Tempting Fate: After everyone else says what they think of Poochie, he says at least he liked Poochie. His brain disagrees.Homer: Well, at least I liked it. ...Didn't I?
Homer's Brain: Ah, you don't wanna know what I really think. Now look sad and say "D'oh".
Homer: [sadly] D'oh...
- They Killed Kenny Again: Although this is typically how The Itchy & Scratchy Show works, it's Averted with Poochie, who is Killed Off for Real.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In-Universe.
- The Itchy & Scratchy episode grinds to a halt as Poochie acts all cool and in-your-face.Milhouse: [crying] When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?!
- Lisa's idea for how to improve the rut the series had fallen into (introducing a new character) wasn't a bad one, but the executives hurt it by rushing Poochie's creation before figuring out how to fit him in the formula, and the writers killed it by not caring enough to fix him.
- The Itchy & Scratchy episode grinds to a halt as Poochie acts all cool and in-your-face.
- This Is Your Premise on Drugs: The use of this trope to mean "anything remotely creative or unrealistic" gets some mocking.Otto: Whoa, a talking dog! What were you guys smokin' when you came up with that?
Writer: We were eating rotisserie chicken.
- Token Good Teammate: Among the entire staff of the Itchy and Scratchy show, voice actress June Bellamy stands out as the one person who's not a greedy, entitled hack.
- Token Houseguest: Parodied with Roy, who is living with the Simpsons with no explanation, departs just as quickly as he came, and provides nothing to the plot other than Hanging A Lampshade on the laziness of Poochie's creation. Roy was a response to FOX asking for a new character to be added to the Simpson household to attract the hip, young teenage demographic.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Otto, resident flop hophead recreational drug enthusiast and side hustling aspiring artist whose pursuits include rock guitar, acting, and even drawing comics, remarks if Poochie was inspired by taking drugs during his interview.
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: In-Universe example. Homer tried as hard as he could to make Poochie work, but sadly he just had nothing to work with and the character had already earned everyone's hatred.
- Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup: The creative staff for Itchy and Scratchy were not particularly excited about the executive mandate, but did attempt to put a little effort into the idea. The trope is especially demonstrated when a character designer made their first pass at Poochie, but the studio execs behind him started micromanaging every aspect but with little actual instruction besides "edgier." Ultimately, while a couple of people really tried to make Poochie work they were surrounded by too many suggestions, chasing fads and expectations that were impossible to match.
- Too Many Halves: Inverted in Poochie's rap, as he says he's "Half Joe Camel and a third Fonzarelli." That only adds up to five sixths, leaving the rest unspecified.
- Too Smart for Strangers: Inverted, parodied, and ultimately subverted. Marge leaves Lisa and Bart in the credit department at the mall. Then, a strange man approaches them asking if they would like to come with him, and they do. It transpires he's just leading a focus group for Itchy and Scratchy Studios.
- Totally Radical: Parodied. In about forty seconds of screen time, Poochie reveals himself to be a surfer, a rapper, a hippie, a rock star, a greaser, a skater, a gangsta, a kung-fu guy, and an extreme sports star while comparing himself to Fonzie, Mr. T, Joe Camel, and Michael Jackson, then bikes, plays the guitar, dunks a basketball, insults people, and tells kids always to recycle, while dropping at least a half-dozen dated catchphrases.
- Trivially Obvious: After the screening party, Carl tries to compliment Homer's work.Carl: Yeah, you should be very proud, Homer. You, uh... got a beautiful home here.
- Tropes Are Tools: In-Universe, Lisa tells Homer that it's not his fault that Poochie was terrible, but Poochie's bad reception was the result of lazy corporate writing. Homer does take it upon himself to make Poochie a better character...but by then the studio decided to ax Poochie anyways.
- Truth in Television:
- The joke that the actor for the Road Runner would only be paid to say "Beep" once and then the clip would be doubled up in post isn't too far off from what happens in reality; The voice actor did record "Beep beep!", but afterwards the clip became a Stock Sound Effect that is reused for every Road Runner short to this day. Same thing happened with Woody Woodpecker's laugh- it was recorded only once and played as WW's laugh every time afterward.
- Updating old animated shows to be Totally Radical without respect to the source material did happen, and they bombed hard. This happened to Tom and Jerry, The Pink Panther and Yogi Bear, the lattermost being responsible for causing NBC to shift away from Saturday Morning Cartoons to live action teenager fare with Saved by the Bell and other similar young adult aimed shows.
- Unpleasable Fanbase: Parodied.Focus Group Guy: Now, how many of you want to see Itchy and Scratchy face real life problems, like the ones you face every day?
Kids: Me! Me! I would!
Focus Group Guy: And how many of you would like to see just the opposite? Getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?
Kids: Me! Me! I would!
Focus Group Guy: [Beat] So... You want a realistic, down-to-earth show... that's completely off the wall... and swarming with magic robots?
Kids: Yeah, that sounds good.
Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching!
- Wag the Director: Homer attempts this in his last-ditch effort to save Poochie.
- World of Jerkass: There really are no good people involved in the episode's take on the entertainment industry. The executives are self-important morons chasing big numbers, eager to get involved in the creative process while having no creativity whatsoever and blaming other people for mistakes of their own making. The focus groups are blatantly predatory and deceitful agencies that lead their audiences and produce almost no useful information. The writers are overqualified layabouts with no interest in anything but finishing their easy jobs and getting in their paychecks rather than trying to uplift the garbage they're handed. The fanbase comprises of entitled whiners who claim to be loyal followers even as they breathe down the necks of the creative team and pounce on them angrily the moment they make a mistake. The closest thing to good people are the voice actors, but even then, Homer's genuine passion in the role of Poochie and his desire to see the character redeemed often comes across as fairly delusional.
- Worst. Whatever. Ever!:
- This is the first appearance of Comic Book Guy's Mad Libs Catchphrase. "Worst. Episode. Ever".
- Homer says it, too — when he realizes how much everyone hates Poochie, he says, "I'm the worst Poochie ever."
- Writers Suck: During the conception of the Poochie character, Roger Meyers asks the writers to come up with a more proactive name than "Poochie". The writers just slack off and kept the name.
- You Don't Want to Know: Homer's brain says Homer doesn't want to know what it thinks of Poochie's debut episode.