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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E1 "Treehouse of Horror VII"

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Original air date: 10/27/1996

Production code: 4F02

Treehouse of Horror VII is a Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode of The Simpsons and the first episode of the eighth season.

This year's tales of terror include Bart meeting his long-lost Conjoined Twin who lives in the attic and has gone insane, Lisa becoming a goddess to a small civilization she created out of a tooth, some cola, and Bart zapping her with static electricity, and Homer trying to stop Kang and Kodos from posing as Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and running for U.S. President.


  • Abusive Parents: Zig-Zagged. Homer and Marge's solution to Hugo being "evil" is to lock him up in the attic and feed him fish heads once a week. Once Bart turns out to be evil, they free Hugo and exonerate him before forcing Bart to take his place.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In "The Thing and I," Homer and Marge have kept Bart's "evil" twin locked in an attic his entire life, apparently on the recommendation of Dr. Hibbert, and the family has no problem doing the same thing to Bart.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: In the "Genesis Tub" segment. An ironic example as Bart is using it as a threat to commit a form of omnicide:
    Bart: Sooner or later you'll let your guard down, and then – flush! – it's toilet time for tiny town.
  • Adults Are Useless: From the parents to Dr. Hibbert in "The Thing and I". Poor Bart is ultimately shunned by his parents and Dr. Hibbert from beginning to end.
  • Alien Abduction: Kang and Kodos abduct Homer while he's out fishing. Though instead of eating Homer or rectally probing him as he initially feared, the two aliens simply ask to know who the leader of Earth is. Homer replies that it's US President Bill Clinton, though he may be replaced by Senator Bob Dole in the then-current 1996 presidential election. So Kang and Kodos abduct Clinton and Dole in order to impersonate both of them, and they run in the election. They successfully take over America (and the Earth).
  • Alien Gender Confusion: The first segment in which Kodos, visually and vocally identical to Kang, is depicted as female.
  • Alien Invasion: Kang and Kodos kidnap Clinton and Dole and take their places (infiltration method). In the end they are discovered but still win because they have both major candidates and "It's a two party system. You have to vote for one of us." Someone suggests voting for a third party candidate: Alien: Sure, THROW your vote away!" In the end they are our rulers.
  • Aliens Never Invented Democracy: Kang and Kodos kidnap Homer and ask him to Take Me to Your Leader. Homer hesitates, because they are about to have an election between President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole, so Homer doesn't know what to tell them. The aliens Kang and Kodos are apparently familiar with the concept of an election, having monitored human activity for years, but when they kidnap Clinton and Dole and impersonate them, their campaign styles make it clear that they have no direct experience with elections. Once Kang is elected, he enslaves the human population and converts the United States into a dictatorial monarchy.
  • Amazing Technicolour Population: The miniature people of the tub are a grey-ish blue.
  • Anal Probing: Homer assumes Kang and Kodos want to do this, and starts to take his pants off before they make it clear they really don't.
    STOP! We have reached the limits of what rectal probing can teach us!
  • Anti-Climax: The ending of "The Genesis Tub".
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: "The Genesis Tub" involves a scientist (who resembles Frink) shrinking Lisa down with a device he calls "the De-Bigulator." When Lisa suggests returning her to her original size, the scientist dismisses the idea of a "Re-Bigulator" as completely laughable.
  • Artistic License – Politics:
    • If both candidates, one being the sitting President, died on the campaign trail (as Homer accidentally causes), the incumbent Vice President, in this case Al Gore, would ascend to President under the 25th Amendment and the challenging candidate's party would select a new nominee, which could simply be the late candidate's running mate (if the sitting President was not running, both parties would select new candidates). Thus Kang and Kodos' plan would fail once Homer reveals them as alien imposters.
    • Additionally, even if Kang successfully won the election, it's pretty hard to imagine that Congress would stand by without removing him from power once he attempted to enslave the entire nation...
    • If the people genuinely believed that Kang and Kodos were always Bob Dole and Clinton, due to the fact that they were not only not native born U.S. citizens but from another planet, they wouldn't be eligible to run for President and Kodos would be impeached upon the revelation of their true identities.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • "Citizen Kang" ends with Kang winning the election and the Rigelian alien race enslaving the Earth. But don't blame Homer. He voted for Kodos.
    • "Genesis Tub": Bart was a massive Jerkass the entire episode, causes a crapload of damage to the innocent civilization Lisa created, threatens to destroy them after their retaliation against him, and steals credit from Lisa for her science experiment.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • After Bart, Lisa, and Maggie first encounter Hugo, they flee in terror. We see three porcelain vases and hear their muffled voices, making us thing that's where they're hiding, but then it turns out they were just hiding in the closet.
    • In the birth flashback, it looks like Dr. Hibbert is bisecting Bart and Hugo but really he's cutting up two pieces of legal documents apart so that Homer and Marge can both sign them. Averted in syndicated versions of this episode where the latter part of the scene is cut off and it cuts away to the boys separated after Hibbert uses the paper trimmer and makes it look like he really did bisect them.
    • Dr. Hibbert presents Hugo with a mirror so he can see himself for the first time, but it's just an empty frame so Hibbert can deliver a knockout punch instead.
    • When Dr. Hibbert says he knows a way to solve everything, he's holding a knife and cutting something. It jumps to show him cutting turkey for the family dinner instead.
    • After taking the form of Dole and Clinton, Kodos declares they'll have to dispose of Homer, and seemingly activates a massive laser cannon. Homer finds himself staring down the barrel...which promptly sprays him with rum so that no one would believe his story. He is then spared and promptly kicked out of the spaceship.
  • Bottle Episode: With the exception of the flashback to Bart and Hugo's birth at the hospital, "The Thing and I" segment primarily takes place within the Simpsons household.
  • Breaking Old Trends: It's the first "Treehouse of Horror" episode to be the season premiere, unlike the previous ones where they air sometime after the season started.
  • Brick Joke: Kang and Kodos spray Homer with rum to make sure no one believes him. When Homer tries telling his family what happened, Bart dismisses his claims ("Sure ya were, rummy.").
  • Brother–Sister Team: Kang and Kodos, as it turns out. When they impersonate Bill Clinton and Bob Dole through "bioduplication," the public is confused by the then-presidential candidates' new habit of "constantly holding hands."
  • Brutal Honesty: Kang and Kodos bluntly describe their intentions.
    Kodos/Clinton: As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me and obey my brutal commands.
    Kang/Dole: It makes no matter which one of us you vote for! Either way, your planet is doomed! DOOMED!
  • The Cassandra: Kang and Kodos sprayed Homer with booze to make sure nobody would believe him. Probably nobody would have believed him anyway given that he was ranting about an alien invasion as predicted by the aliens.
  • Cassandra Truth: Homer is abducted by Kang and Kodos, who glean the identities of presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole from him and abduct them and take their place in order to Take Over the World during the 1996 Presidential campaign. Homer tells the aliens that he is going to tell everyone and put a stop to their evil plan. They spray him with rum and then send him back to Earth, saying that no one will believe him. When he gets home and tells the family, as predicted by the aliens, no one believes him because they think he got drunk at Moe's.
  • Celebrity Casualty: Homer accidentally sends incumbent president Bill Clinton and his Republican presidential opponent Bob Dole out of an airlock into space.
  • Conjoined Twins: Bart's Evil Twin, Hugo, who had been separated from Bart at birth and kept in the attic. Hugo, having gone insane after being locked up in the attic his entire life, plans to sew the two of them together again.
  • Couch Gag: The Grim Reaper is on the couch. The family runs in and one by one drops dead. The Reaper puts his feet up on their corpses.
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: Lisa accidentally creates miniature life-forms by putting one of her teeth into a glass of cola. It's implied Bart helped contribute by accidentally zapping it with static electricity.
  • Darker and Edgier: Probably the bleakest and most cynical out of the Treehouse of Horror episodes. Taking more advantage of the Negative Continuity than previous specials, the characterisations are meaner or stupider and each story has a Black Comedy Downer Ending.
  • Dark Is Evil: Hugo's clothes are notably a shade darker than Bart's clothes.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The tub people shrink Lisa in order to speak with their "God"... and have no way to unshrink her again (in fact it seems they had no intention to), rendering her powerless to protect them from Bart.
  • Divine–Infernal Family: The micro-city Lisa unknowingly created regard her as their god and Bart as the devil for messing around with it. When she points out Bart's her brother they are rather perplexed.
  • Downer Ending: All three stories.
    • Hugo is welcomed back into the family after he was outed as the good twin, but Bart is thrown into the attic after discovering he's the evil twin.
    • Lisa is stuck in the micro-city with no way of being changed back to her normal size (what's more, Bart steals her project for his own and wins the science fair). And Bart also threatened that he would flush the tub into the toilet.
    • The U.S. (and possibly the entire world) is enslaved by Kang and Kodos.
  • Easily Forgiven: Hugo doesn't seem to hold a grudge over the family's horrific treatment of him once the mix-up is resolved and it's Bart who's chained up in the attic eating fish-heads.
  • Election Day Episode: In "Citizen Kang", Kang and Kodos capture Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and disguise themselves as them to trick the Earthlings into voting for either of them so they can take over the Earth.
  • Evil All Along: Hugo was not the evil twin, Bart was.
  • Evil Twin: Bart and Lisa discover an evil twin of Bart, named Hugo, living in the attic and obsessed with "reuniting". Their parents and Dr. Hibbert admit that the boys were born conjoined, but were separated at birth and Hugo was locked away after they realized he was evil. However, it's subverted when Hibbert looks at their scars and realizes that Bart is, and always has been, the evil one ("Oh, don't look so shocked"). The segment ends with their situation reversed, Hugo being accepted into the family while Bart is locked in the attic and fed nothing but fish heads.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Bart apparently never noticed that large, easily noticed surgical scar on his side...and Dr. Hibbert missed it while the twins were in the same delivery room.
    • Homer kicks a bush in a rage. It's only after he hurts his foot that he realizes there's a giant spaceship parked right there.
  • Flirtatious Smack on the Ass: After Kang becomes president and enslaves the United States, a Rigellian seemingly does this to Marge with a whip.
  • Foreshadowing: Dr. Hibbert's flashback to when Bart and Hugo were born shows that the twin on the left was the evil one (as he kept biting the twin on the right). When Bart discovers his scar, it's on his right side.
  • Gender Reveal: Despite having a deep voice and being physically indistinguishable from Kang, Kodos is apparently female.
  • Good All Along: Hugo turned out to have been the good twin. He's still insane, though.
  • Hereditary Twinhood: Bart is the conjoined twin of an apparently Evil Twin called Hugo, following his identical twin maternal aunts Patty and Selma.
  • Hope Spot: In Citizen Kang, Homer discovers where the real Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are being held and manages to reawaken them. Once he does, they decide to put aside their differences and work together. Unfortunately, when he tries getting them out of their tubes, he instead winds up shooting them up into outer space to their deaths.
  • I Have a Family: Subverted.
    Homer: [to Kang and Kodos] Don't eat me! I have a wife and kids! Eat them!
  • In One Ear, Out The Other: While the miniature spaceships from the "The Genesis Tub" are attacking Bart, one of them flies into his left ear and exits his right.
  • Insistent Terminology: Lisa tries to correct Dr. Hibbert's use of the term "Siamese twins", but Hibbert’s having none of it.
    Lisa: I believe they prefer to be called "Conjoined Twins".
    Dr. Hibbert: And hillbillies prefer to be called "sons of the soil", but it ain’t gonna happen.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Dr. Hibbert seemingly tries to empathise with Hugo and show him his reflection in the mirror. In actuality, it's just an empty frame that Hibbert punches Hugo out cold through. He and his parents proceed nonchalantly to cage him up, until they realise Bart was the evil twin all cage him up instead and pretend the whole thing never happened.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: The male-sounding Kodos is female, according to this episode.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • During The Thing and I, Bart points out the story of Hugo doesn't make any sense.
    • The commentary for Citizen Kang notes how the tubes have bands covering Dole and Clinton's midsections, but don't conceal their butts.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Lisa inadvertently creates life when she discharges static electricity on her tooth.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Parodied with Bart's Evil Twin, Hugo, locked up in the attic. The Twist Ending was that Bart was the Evil Twin, so Hugo was allowed to go free (even though he was clearly insane - then again, you'd be insane too, if in his shoes) and Bart is locked up in his place.
  • Man on Fire: During the opening segment, Homer lights a "Jack O' Lantern" pumpkin and accidentally lights himself on fire.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Played rather seriously, as Bart's playful poking at Lisa's petrie dish ends up wrecking much of the micro-world. When the little people strike back at him, Lisa even lampshades it.
    Lisa: Well, you practically destroyed their whole world!
  • Morton's Fork: When Kang wins the election and enslaves humanity, Homer says "Don't blame me; I voted for Kodos!"
  • Mundane Solution: To ensure Homer won't reveal their plot to the world, Kang and Kodos spray him down with rum so he'd be completely discredited.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Homer crashes the spaceship into the Capitol and successfully reveals the candidates' real identities. However, despite being exposed, Kang and Kodos declare to the people that they have to choose between one of them because "it's a two-party system" since it's too late to get new candidates. One man in the crowd announces that he will vote for a third-party candidate, but Kang and Kodos tell him: "Go ahead, throw your vote away."
  • Mistaken for Gay: Kang and Kodos (in Bill Clinton and Bob Dole's bodies) are mistaken for this when they're spotted holding hands together. Even though they're just siblings.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: While not addressed, the sub episode The Thing and I makes an interesting case for the nurture part. Bart, despite being the "evil" twin, manages to come out relatively normal, while Hugo's abusive and traumatic upbringing leads him to perform some really nasty actions out of desperation.
  • Odd Reaction Out: When Kodos (as Clinton) delivers a nonsensical speech about being a baseball, the audience cheers, except for Lisa who looks confused.
  • Offering Another in Your Stead: When Homer first sees Kang and Kodos aboard their ship, he fearfully pleads, "Don't eat me! I have a wife and kids! Eat them!"
  • Oh, Crap!: Homer has this when he realizes that he just launched Bill Clinton and Bob Dole out of the UFO tubes and into space, killing them and dooming the Earth to vote between their alien impersonators.
    Homer: Oh no.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: No one seems to realise the disguised Kang and Kodos aren't Dole or Clinton, despite their bizarre statements and Creepy Monotone voices.
    Kodos/Clinton: I am Clin-ton! As overlord, all will kneel trembling before me and obey my brutal commands! (crosses arms over chest) End communication!
    Marge: Hrrm, that's Slick Willie for you. Always with the smooth talk.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Instead of flushing Lisa's micro universe down the toilet like he threatened to, Bart takes it to the School Science Fair, and wins.
  • Pun-Based Title: "The Thing and I" references The King and I, while "Citizen Kang" references Citizen Kane.
  • Scenery Censor: The bio-duplication fields neatly cover Dole and Clinton's nethers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While bringing fish heads to Hugo Homer sings "Fish Heads", the biggest hit of Barnes & Barnes.
    • Citizen Kang is yet another Simpsons reference to Citizen Kane.
    • When the little people Lisa created are nailing commandments to the wall of a church, Lisa says: "I created Lutherans". Martin Luther started the Lutheran/Protestant movement when he nailed commandments and statements, famously known as the Ninety-Five Theses, to the wall of a church, criticizing the Roman Catholic Church.
    • Homer crashing the UFO into the US Capitol Dome references Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: The Frink look-alike laughs at Lisa's idea of unshrinking her...and then quickly grovels when he realises his "god" is giving him a Death Glare.
  • Take a Third Option: Two in "Citizen Kang":
    • When Kang as Dole tells the crowd what they want to hear, "Abortions for all!" gets booed, and "No abortions for anyone!" also gets booed. He settles on abortions for some and miniature American flags for others.
    • The voters consider voting for a third candidate when Kang and Kodos are revealed, but get mocked for it, with Kang-as-Dole telling them "Go ahead, throw your vote away!" Ross Perotnote  is then seen punching his straw hat open.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: Kang and Kodos to Homer, who explains there's about to be an election.
  • The Grim Reaper: During the opening sequence, the Grim Reaper sits on the family's couch. The family runs in as usual but Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and even Maggie collapse and die upon catching a glance of the Grim Reaper. The Reaper then puts his feet up on the corpses of the dead family.
  • They Look Like Us Now: Kang and Kodos use a machine which disguises them as Clinton and Dole, allowing them to run in the election and take over the USA (and soon the whole world). For some strange reason, nobody really notices how "Clinton" and "Dole" are behaving so weirdly and unearthly, and it's only until when Homer rips off their disguises in public does everyone see that they're actually aliens. Though this doesn't stop Kang and Kodos from telling the voters that they still had to pick one of them.
  • Time Marches On: The 1996 presidential election provides the basis for "Citizen Kang".
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Bart deliberately destroys large parts of Lisa's micro universe, then when he gets mad at Lisa for her people taking revenge against him, he's essentially admitting that he knew that the world in the dish had actual living people in it rather than a model, and not only did he destroy a lot of it regardless, he's going to throw the dish into the toilet and kill all of them when Lisa isn't watching.
  • Translation Train Wreck: "Clinton" starts his speech with one, as Kodos is unfamiliar with baseball or any of Earth's sports. As a result, he tells voters that as a young boy, he dreamed of being a baseball (as opposed to a baseball player, which wouldn't have connected to his speech at all either, but at least would have made sense as a sentence). Of course, nobody in the audience is bright enough to realize how nonsensical this is (except for Lisa).
  • Unbuilt Trope: invoked Word of God admitted on the DVD Commentary that many works seem to operate on the particular aesop of "both parties are equally awful", in a message that seems biting, but also keeps from alienating anyone and does nothing to call out the specific faults in groups, almost as if to imply that their respective faults hold equal weight. To wit, the humans at the end of "Citizen Kang" were given the option to choose a third-party candidate, but didn't, because they decided any third-party would be just as bad as the Obviously Evil aliens trying to Take Over the World.
    Cohen: The point is it does not matter which of the awful candidates you vote for…
    Greaney: Which is a complete falsity. When you have somebody who is clearly an aggressor, then… evenhandedness is actually favoring the aggressor.
  • Uranus Is Showing: Kang and Kodos tell Homer that they come from "A nearby ringed planet whose name we'd prefer not to mention".
  • Virus and Cure Names: Lisa invents the shrinking device called a "debigulator", and the device that reversed it was called a "rebigulator".
  • Weirdness Censor: Nobody in America seems to notice the drastic overnight shift in Bill Clinton and Bob Dole's personalities, including their openly talking about conquering the world and enslaving all of humanity. At one point "Clinton" delivers a nonsensical speech where he starts spinning in place ("twirling towards freedom"), and the crowd cheers (except for Lisa).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Hugo's "surgery" was for the sake of becoming one with his twin brother again. He even practiced on a "pigeon-rat".
    • The micro universe naively worship Lisa like a god and shrink her to converse with her on how to deal with Bart. Too bad they didn't think through that shrinking Lisa would render her helpless to stop her brother, nor did they think of inventing a devise to unshrink her afterwards. The segment ends with them grovelling before a rightfully grouchy Lisa.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The Genesis Tub segment is a reference to the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Little People". This plot would be referenced too in the South Park episode "Simpsons Already Did It" where the characters point out that Cartman bringing a bunch of "sea men" alive in an aquarium is similar to the plot of this Simpsons Halloween episode.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Lampshaded when Kang and Kodos abduct Homer and spray him with rum before releasing him so that his warnings will be dismissed as drunken ravings.
    Homer: Why won't anyone believe my crazy story?
  • You're Insane!: Bart tells his conjoined twin Hugo, "You're crazy!", to which Hugo replies, "Am I? Well, perhaps we're all a little crazy. I know I am."


Video Example(s):


Simpsons 1996 Election

Treehouse of Horror VII includes an election in which aliens kidnap and impersonate candidates President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole. And though unfamiliar with democratic campaigning, they quickly get the hang of it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ElectionDayEpisode

Media sources: