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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E23 "Homer's Enemy"

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Episode - 4F19
First Aired - 5/4/1997

A "normal" man named Frank Grimes who has had to work hard every day of his life with little reward gets a job at the nuclear plant and takes an instant dislike to Homer and his Achievements in Ignorance. Meanwhile, Bart buys an abandoned factory at an auction and uses it as his own personal playground.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Ralph just brings in a Malibu Stacey dollhouse as his entry to the "Design your own Power Plant" contest. Smithers, an avid collector of Maliby Stacey, chuckles and playfully compliments the entry.
    • Everyone laughs after Homer falls asleep at Frank's funeral, while the latter's casket is lowered into his grave.
  • The Alleged House:
    • The abandoned factory that Bart gets from the auction turns out to be this (although he enjoys it because he gets to play with all the unsafe gizmos). The subplot ends with the building falling apart literally overnight all by itself.
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    • Frank's home (when he rants later in the episode) is a one-room apartment sandwiched in between two bowling alleys.
  • Analogy Backfire: While watching Homer stuff his face, Frank claims that the man eats like a pig. Lenny corrects him however, as pigs bother to chew their food, and Homer eats more like a duck. The scene then changes to show Homer is indeed swallowing his food whole without chewing it. Grimes claims that at least he is correct that Homer still eats like a farm animal.
  • Black Comedy Burst: A highly unusual example for the show. Everything regarding Grimes (from his backstory up until his funeral) is a long Humiliation Conga that nobody In-Universe can sympathize with (except for Homer, and Grimes hates his guts).
  • Boring, but Practical: Zig Zagged Trope: Homer winds up winning the power plant design contest because his model involved making the least amount of alterations. Using the Plant as it currently stands, all he did was add fins to the cooling towers for lower wind resistance, and a "pretty sharp" racing stripe.
  • Advertisement:
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: When Grimes goes crazy at the end and starts imitating Homer, he screams "D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!" Made funnier by the fact that Homer never said this Catchphrase in his presence (or in this episode).
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in the episode, Mr. Burns orders Smithers to find a dog he saw on the news and to make him his executive vice president instead of Grimes. A few scenes later, when Grimes knocked acid out of Homer's hand and the acid burned a hole in the wall, Mr. Burns is walking by with the dog that Smithers was ordered to find. It's also next to Burns at Frank's funeral.
    • Homer casually mentions that Bart owns a factory downtown during Grimes' visit, uniting what had been two completely separated plotlines up to that point, and Grimes includes it in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    • When Frank and Homer first meet, Homer becomes enthralled with Frank's custom-made pencils that have Frank's name on them. Frank says they are not expensive and was going to give Homer the contact information, but Homer was more obsessed with borrowing the ones at hand. One later scene shows that Homer took all of the pencils in Frank's office and uses them to as a toy.
  • Broken Aesop: invokedWord of God said the creators wanted to show that a real person could not survive in the show's universe. However, Frank's breakdown and death, which were supposedly caused by Homer, was all Frank's own fault. Homer had offered to make amends with Frank more than once, but Frank rejected all such offers, and he immediately put everything into destroying Homer. While Frank may have been more "normal" compared to most of the cast of the show, his deliberate refusal to meet Homer halfway breaks the lesson.
  • Broken Record: When Frank Grimes rings the doorbell, Homer panics: "It's him! It'shimit'shimit'shimit'shimit'shimit'shim...", and Marge has to snap him out of it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Frank Grimes, and it isn't Played for Laughs, or at least it's not supposed to be since his entire purpose in life is to suffer.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Everyone just stands there staring when any of them could have stopped Grimes from touching the wires. Although, considering how completely unhinged he had gotten by that point, it's possible that he was past the point of being reasoned with (not that there was anything stopping someone from physically restraining him, of course). It might be justified as the same shock might not have killed Homer or any other Springfielder, but as Grimes' character represents the real world (to a point), he incurs real-life consequences.
  • Caligula's Horse: Grimes loses the plant's executive vice presidency, for which Burns intended to hire him, to a dog.
  • Captain Ersatz: Grimes was based on D-Fens, Michael Douglas’ character from Falling Down.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The poster advertising the children's power plant design contest can be seen on the wall early in the episode, long before Grimes catches notice of it and alters it to trick Homer into joining the contest.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Homer shares his trick about turning the security camera away and taking a nap, Frank points out that they are not paid to sleep, which Homer mistakes as a critical commentary about being exploited by management, with which he agrees wholeheartedly.
      • Grimes riles at Homer for having a son that owns a factory without considering the absurdity of a 10-year old boy owning a factory in the first place. Alternatively, it's because of said absurdity, but what he doesn't know is that the factory was already old and abandoned anyway.
    • In one scene, Grimes notices that Homer's console is giving off a warning and he tells Homer the code (a "5-13"). First Homer thinks that Grimes is telling him the time and he checks his own wristwatch and once Grimes tells him it's an emergency, rather than check out what's the emergency, Homer deals with the alarm by shorting out the control console with some water. Frank, who is witnessing this, is utterly horrified as a result.
    • Burns takes Ralph's entry for the contest (a literal Malibu Stacey dollhouse with the word "Nuclear" written on it) completely sincerely, though questions the direction and utilities:
    Mr Burns: Hot tub? Media room? It's supposed to be a power plant, not Aunt Beulah's Bordello! Thank you, get out. NEXT.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Frank Grimes was modeled on Michael Douglas in Falling Down.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Grimes deconstructs the Logical Latecomer, starting with the fact that what makes him (theoretically) the Only Sane Man and "everyman" is as absurd as anything else in the show (only aiming for angst, not laughs), and continuing with while normally the "logical latecomer" gets to rant angrily at the weird crap going on, he eventually either lets it go or just walks away. Instead, Grimes stridently refuses to do either, and his grievance eventually destroys him.
  • Determinator: Whatever you may think of him, Frank is undeniably this given how he managed to overcome nearly dying and gained a degree in nuclear physics.
  • Downer Ending: Played for incredibly dark laughs. Grimes has died, neither Homer nor anybody else has learned anything from it, and at his funeral Homer does something stupid and people take much greater interest in that than in trying to maintain respect. And even though he went through the entire episode saying that he hated being called "Grimey" (even pretty much roaring it to Homer's face in one scene), he's still called that in his eulogy (and Reverend Lovejoy specifically says he liked to be called that).
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • A lot of Grimes' frustration with Homer is caused by errors in communication. Most prominently when Homer attempts to befriend him and invites him to his home, dolling up the family and the house. Grimes mistakes the formal occasion for their usual lavish lifestyle and is even more infuriated.
    • Most of Homer's brilliant achievements Grimes fumes over were extremely bittersweet and only cemented him as a No Respect Guy. The Grammy Award, which acts as the Rant-Inducing Slight for Grimes, was one he actually earned through hard work, and in one of the series' most touching episodes to boot. (This comment tends to make a lot of viewers turn against Grimes, because on that point he's just plain wrong. There is also the fact that one of the series' running gags is how everybody thinks the Grammys are worthless crap.)
  • Driven by Envy: Frank's hatred towards Homer increases even after the latter attempts to reconcile with him, due to Homer showing his achievements like going into space, winning a Grammy, going on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins, and befriending Gerald Ford. Frank is of course upset that someone like Homer could do all those things when he himself got nothing from his hard work.
  • Driven to Suicide: The ending is just ambiguous enough about whether Grimes went completely off the rails enough not to realize what he was doing, or whether this trope applies and he was just fed up with living in a world that seemed eternally to reward stupidity and dumb luck over genuine merit.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Homer nicknames Frank Grimes "Grimey", which the latter hates.
  • Entitled Bastard: Frank Grimes has shades of this during his worst moments; adopting a self-righteous, borderline narcissistic attitude born out of resentment and petty jealousy. This ultimately overshadows his merit as a Determinator and makes many viewers turn against him in favor of Homer, who comes off as being the better person despite his stupidity and irresponsibility.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Ralph's model is not only not of a power plant (it is a Malibu Stacy dollhouse that had the word "nuclear" glued to it), but Ralph doesn't even know what a power plant is. Played with however, since Smithers does approve of the design, and Burns fails to even notice the plagiarism, only eliminating it because of misguided design and utility. Also, Ralph has to wait for his father to tell him to get off the stage before he does so.
    • Frank Grimes attempted to invoke this trope on Homer by having him join a nuclear power plant model-creating contest (intended for children) with the intention of having him lose, thus exposing him as a fraud. Homer actually won. But for "Grimey" (as Homer refers to him throughout the episode), the trope is played straight. When his contest scheme fails, Grimes snaps and runs amok through the plant, eventually touching live high-voltage wires that fatally electrocute him on contact.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: A highly unpleasant example. For the ones laughing, it's The "Fun" in "Funeral". For everybody else, it's more evidence that Grimes was right (for both Homer and the rest of the townsfolk).
  • The Everyman: Ultimately subverted. Frank Grimes may seem to be this, but his excessively miserable life prevents him from being this. Normally, the show depicts Homer as this, but this episode shows just how extraordinary his life really is.
  • Everyone Has Standards: After Martin shows off his "Power Plant of the Future Today" model, Mr. Burns is not impressed with how "cold and sterile" it is.
    Mr. Burns: Where's the heart?
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • All of the plot happens because Burns decides to hire a man on a whim, then decides not to hire that man for the position he wanted him for (and orders Smithers to make him work just anywhere) and order Smithers to get a dog for that position instead on another whim.
    • Frank when he enacts his plan to humiliate Homer simply out of pure spite.
  • Evil Laugh: Frank gives one when Homer falls for the "design your own power plant" contest ruse.
  • Exact Words: Bart tells Milhouse to be the night watchman at the factory. When he returns in the morning and finds the factory has fallen apart, he chides Milhouse in this exchange:
    Bart: Oh, jeez! Milhouse, how could you let this happen? You were supposed to be the night watchman!
    Milhouse: I was watching. I saw the whole thing.
  • Expy: Frank Grimes is based on Michael Douglas' character, Bill Foster, from Falling Down.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The kid's contest ad is a very visible part of the background in every scene that happens in the cafeteria (you can see it right above on the picture—Homer's face is even inches away from it on various scenes) until Grimes takes it for his scheme. Homer not only never notices it at all until Grimes places it on his workstation's chair (and it's easy to notice that pieces of it were cut out and off), but doesn't notice that it says the plant is having a contest (meant for kids) until he reads it because it's on said chair.
  • Flanderization: Deliberately invoked, according to Bill Oakley. Homer's ignorance and obnoxiousness were intentionally amplified by the writers in order to make the contrast between him and Frank Grimes funnier and more obvious.
  • Famous Last Words: "What's this? 'Extremely high voltage.' Well, I don't need safety gloves because I'm Homer Simp—" [zap!]
  • Fiction Isn't Fair: The episode revolves around how someone from "real life" might react to Homer Simpson's life.
  • Foil: Frank Grimes is clearly meant to be the exact opposite of Homer in every way, even down to their character designs.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Milhouse points out the warning signs in the factory, one of which reads "Building Unsound". Bart throws the signs away. The building has collapsed by the end of the episode.
    • During one of his tirades at the power plant, Grimes claims he would die a happy man if he could prove how incompetent Homer is. He fails in this endeavor, and he's in the middle of a mental breakdown by the time he kills himself at the end.
  • Freak Out: After Homer wins the children's model power plant contest, Frank flies completely off the deep end and begins acting like a deranged caricature of Homer's worst traits. This leads him to grab a set of dangerous electrical cables without safety gloves, bringing a swift end to his life.
  • Freudian Excuse: Frank is so abrasive in part because he has had an utterly miserable life.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Frank is killed after touching live electrical wires, and at the funeral, Homer falls asleep and mutters "Change the channel, Marge!" The other funeral-goers and even Rev. Lovejoy burst out laughing, and inspires Lenny to remark "That's our Homer!" Lovejoy also refers to Grimes as "Grimey," Homer's nickname for Grimes which he himself despised, as though he accepted the name with affection.
  • Giving Up on Logic: Played for Drama: Grimes doesn't just gives up, he goes insane, and in his temporary bout of insanity he disobeys his common sense and does something that kills him, merely because he decides to believe it's something Homer would do.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The whole conflict between Homer and Grimes can be traced back to Mr. Burns being the capricious multi-billionaire boss that he is. As Frank points out, Homer is never disciplined for his incompetence at work, which is hinted to be intentional as a cost-cutting measure in other episodes, and as Homer is neither suited nor officially qualified for his power plant job as safety inspector, it was an honorary re-hiring, promotion, and power play by Mr. Burns, who was going to lose his power plant by Homer for his once news breaking active public safety campaigns, to make him complacent and subdued from being a threat to his fortunes ever again. And then there's the whole thing about Burns immediately demoting Grimes from a more powerful position in his company to one that's highly implied to be lesser than Homer's itself (thus making Grimes powerless towards Homer), all because he wanted a dog to take over as his vice president.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Grimes turns into one after meeting Homer's family.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Played straight, and Grimes pointing this out exposes how little of an "everyman" Homer truly is.
  • Hate at First Sight: Grimes dislikes Homer from the second he meets him. That said meeting was Homer barging into his office and pestering him with questions and trying to take his pencils just because Grimes got them custom-made with his name (which Grimes explicitly said isn't expensive and was even going to tell Homer where he could get them, but Homer was more interested on the pencils already at hand) didn't help matters.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Hard work won't always be rewarded or even appreciated, and people far less qualified than you can do better than you through sheer dumb luck. You can either ignore it and move on or let it consume you.
  • Heroic Dog: Mr. Burns makes a dog his executive vice president, due to the dog pushing a baby from in front of a moving vehicle and pushing a criminal in front of it.
  • High-Voltage Death: Frank Grimes is outraged at how Homer is constantly rewarded for his stupidity, goes insane, and starts mockingly mimicking risky things Homer would do and saying he's “Homer Simpson”. While doing this he grabs a high voltage cable without safety gloves in Homer's office and unintentionally electrocutes himself to death, ironically committing suicide.
  • Hollywood Acid: The greenish sulfuric acid that Homer almost drink and which destroys a wall in seconds.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Burns' initial criticism of Martin's model power plant; he, of all people, found it "too cold and sterile" and lacking heart.
  • Idiot Houdini: The fact that Homer can evade severe reprimand (and even attain success) from his boneheaded (and, Grimes dares claim, incredibly lethal) stupidity is what makes him hate Homer. That everyone else at the plant acclaims Homer and wins a contest explicitly meant for kids (that Homer — even if being a plant employee — didn't know about, and because Burns just happened to like Homer's minor and absurd modifications to a carbon-copy model of the plant) is what completely drives him over the edge.
  • Informed Attribute:
    • Frank Grimes is described as a "normal" man. He isn't exactly normal. If anything, his life is a barrage of Diabolus ex Machina moments that are as absurd as anything else in the show.
    • This episode wants us to believe that Homer is successful, popular, and Born Lucky. Except that in most episodes, he's a bad luck magnet and a total loser who is treated like a joke by everyone, had a horrible childhood as well (abused by his father, abandoned by his mother), and even some of his accomplishments mentioned here (like becoming an astronaut) ended up with a Yank the Dog's Chain.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Homer comes off as rude and inconsiderate towards Grimes (chewing on his pencils, stealing his lunch, etc.) but he doesn't mean it. He genuinely wants to be his friend and even tries to make peace with him, after realizing Grimes doesn't like his behavior. It doesn't work.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In order to attempt to appease Frank Grimes after listening to his angry "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Homer tries to act like a model employee. Except that even as he talks to Frank more verbosely and eats doughnuts with utensils, he misses a meltdown warning blaring in the same room (either that, or he's ignoring it so he doesn't have to address it since he doesn't know how to). Grimes just rolls his eyes and mocks Homer's attempt during lunch hour.
  • Internal Deconstruction: The episode introduces a "realistic" character into the show who is so frustrated by Homer's status in Springfield that it (accidentally) kills him. The resulting Broken Base and discussion about what this says about Homer, Springfield and even Frank Grimes himself was the actual objective of the writers (who said in the episode commentary that it's "an exercise in frustration").
  • Irony: Grimes' unpleasant lifestyle involves living between two bowling alleys, Homer's ideal job.
    • For all of Grimes' talk of hard work, both matters of how Homer and Frank got their jobs at the power plant are complete opposites. Homer frequently had to work his ass off, and prove with groundshaking and hardnosed efforts to the stalwart and stingy Mr. Burns, and in his own face, that he deserved his job at the plant; not once, but twice, as seen in Homer's Odyssey and I Married Marge. Grimes on the other hand got his job by pure pity and chance through a sympathetic persons of interest feature on the local news; sympathy being a fleeting and fickle, let alone poor matter Mr. Burns is very easy to let go of.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Grimes says that if Homer lived in any other country in the world he'd have starved to death a long time ago. To which Bart says, "He's got you there, Dad."
    • Grimes' entire rant is arguably this, since he has been given absolutely no reason to see Homer as anything other than exceptionally lucky and exceptionally dumb ... which (for this episode at least) sums Homer up.
    • Carl and Lenny seem to agree with some Grimes' opinions about Homer, like his disgusting way of eating (Lenny even points out that he eats "like a duck") or the fact that putting him as the safety inspector of the plant is a bad idea, to say the least. But at the end they suggest to him that the best way to think about it is not at all. In turn, they may have been right about this idea, since Grimes' refusal to so doesn't work out for him at all.
  • Just Ignore It: Carl and Lenny explicitly tell Grimes to do this when he starts getting angry at Homer's incompetence. Frank ignores this advice, to this eventual peril.
  • Kafka Komedy: Grimes tries his hardest to expose Homer as a fraud, liar, cheat, and incompetent employee — only for fate to foil him at every turn. The coup de grace comes when Grimes tricks Homer into thinking a "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest is open to anyone, when it's really for elementary school students only. When Homer wins and is praised and lauded for his efforts, Grimes reveals the truth. And when he is ignored and told to "lighten up", Frank goes berserk -- and it kills him.
  • Kick the Dog: Frank's vicious rant towards Homer when he sees just how comfortable the latter's life is. While Jerkass Has a Point is on full display (and Grimes had every reason to be angry at Homer up to that point), it's still exceptionally mean-spirited.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Frank eventually goes crazy, rampaging through the plant when he realizes he will never be able to prove Homer is the epitome of a bad employee. Eventually, Frank comes across extremely high voltage wires, and reaches out to grab them. "I don't need safety gloves because I'm Homer Simp—" Zap. End of Frank Grimes.
  • Last Disrespects: Frank's funeral has him being referred to as "Grimey" in his eulogy and on his tombstone (a nickname he hated, though Lovejoy stated he liked to be called it), and when a sleeping Homer snores and says "Change the channel, Marge", everyone starts laughing as the coffin is lowered into the grave.
  • Lethally Stupid: Grimes points out during one of his rants that ever since Homer took over as the nuclear plant's safety inspector, accidents in general have tripled and near-meltdowns have doubled. He even points to a graphic that shows a pretty frightening upturn in these figures. In two scenes, Homer's station gives off dire warnings; Homer simply ignores the first ones, and solves the second one by shorting out the console with a bucket of water. Once Homer wins the "Design Your Own Power Plant" contest, Grimes himself becomes this, with fatal consequences.
  • Logical Latecomer: Frank Grimes is an ordinary guy who gets a job at the nuclear plant and is confounded that Homer is Too Dumb to Live and that everyone else simply accepts it. He is, however, a Deconstructed Character Archetype because of two details: 1) He becomes so angry about this fact that he becomes obsessed with proving how stupid Homer is and it results in him losing his mind and getting himself killed and 2) what gives him the "logical" perspective is not really (Word of God notwithstanding) being "a real person", but having suffered such a hard-core life-long barrage of the Diabolus ex Machina that he's as absurdist a character as any Simpsons regular, only aiming for angst rather than laughs.
  • Mandatory Line: Lisa's entire dialogue in the episode.
    "Can I go downstairs and see what Dad's doing?"
  • Mathematician's Answer: When Burns sees the hole burned in the wall by the bottle of Hollywood Acid that Grimes knocked away before Homer could drink it, he angrily demands to know who spilled the acid. Homer points to Grimes without adding that he did so in order to save Homer's life, which brings down the full wrath of Burns (and a pay cut) on Grimes, who in turn mistakes Homer for an Ungrateful Bastard and openly declares him to be his enemy.
  • Mistakes Are Not the End of the World: Frank Grimes at one point observes that Homer is an incompetent worker at the power plant, but Lenny shrugs it off by saying that everyone makes mistakes, which is why pencils have erasers. (He misses the point that Grimes is trying to bring up, which is that multiple near-meltdowns are not the kind of "mistake" that should just be allowed to slide, but that's Springfield for you.)
  • Mood Whiplash: The Bart/Milhouse subplot seemed inserted precisely to be an infrequent breather from the Black Comedy of the main plot.
    • Frank's shocking and sudden death quickly switches the episode from wacky slapstick in a dark Black Comedy.
  • The Münchausen: Frank clearly believes Homer is lying about his exploits, such as being in outer space or winning a Grammy. Of course, it's subverted in that all those things really did happen.
  • Mundane Luxury: Grimes is dumbfounded that Homer lives in a modest two-story home, which is downright palatial compared to his own apartment, which was located over a bowling alley and below another bowling alley. He is also shocked that they're dining on lobster, which Homer was only serving to impress Grimes.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Both Grimes and Homer. Grimes saved Homer from drinking sulfuric acid, damaging a wall and getting himself in trouble with Burns. Homer, upset about having made an enemy, tried to make it up to him by inviting him to his house for dinner, only for Grimes to castigate him for being lazy and living comfortably.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Frank manages to electrocute himself on a high-voltage station that is completely unprotected even from accidental touching. One would think that it would be far behind a cage or separate room entirely. And from the context of his rant, it seems to be in Homer's workstation. On the other hand, not even Homer seemed to try getting near it.
    • Not to mention wondering why a beaker of sulfuric acid that was caustic enough to destroy a wall in seconds was placed on a science lab window sill next to a break room.
    • Justified when you consider that Homer, as the plant's safety inspector, would be responsible for rectifying these hazards.
  • Not So Different: In a twist of Dramatic Irony, for all of Grimes' resentment towards Homer, they have pretty similar lives to each other. Both of them have troubled childhoods suffering from Parental Abandonment, struggle to make a living in their adulthood, and harbour an intense jealousy towards someone for being more successful in life than they could (i.e. Flanders for Homer, Homer for Grimes).
  • Oblivious to Hatred: Homer in the first act. Grimes despises him, while Homer thinks they're friends, until Grimes openly declares his hatred for him.
  • Only Sane Man: Grimes and Marge, the latter of whom is about the one person to understand why Grimes hates Homer, and empathetically convinces her husband to show his point of view and that he is worthy (albeit haplessly).
  • Out of Focus: Lisa only has three lines in the episode, a total of eleven words.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: Frank Grimes arrives in Springfield for a job at the power plant, and quickly proves himself to be the Only Sane Man stuck in the middle of a massive Idiot Plot, until it finally causes him to suffer a psychotic break that leads to him accidentally electrocuting himself.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite Grimes' animosity towards Homer, he has no grudges towards his family. Before leaving, he even stops for a moment to say, "It was nice meeting you." Even before that, when Homer was about to drink acid, Grimes rapidly throws the glass away from him. He may hate Homer, but at least he doesn't wish to see him dead. He also seems to get along with Carl and Lenny quite well, despite their different opinions about Homer.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Some time ago, Moe took Richard Nixon's Enemies List for himself, and he shows it to Homer to prove that he has enemies too. When Barney points out that it's Nixon's list, Moe adds him to the end.
  • Plot Hole:
    • Kent Brockman's report at the beginning of the episode show Grimes living in a normal house, yet later in the episode the latter claims to live between in a tiny apartment — "above a bowling alley ... and below another bowling alley." Then again, knowing his luck, Frank could well have lost his house somehow, forcing him to move into that one-room apartment.
    • Another minor one at the Create-a-Power-Plant Contest. After Burns disqualifies Ralph, Chief Wiggum tells him from offscreen to get off the stage. Minutes later, when we see a shot of Grimes heckling Homer's entry in the audience, Mrs. Wiggum is shown sitting nearby with her husband nowhere in sight. (Thought it's certainly possible for her to have gotten there late and not been able to get a seat with her family, especially as the auditorium seems completely full.)
    • After going insane and imitating Homer, Grimes says, "D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!" However Homer never actually said "D'oh!" in the entire episode.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Grimes getting his pay cut to cover the cost of the wall he unwittingly damaged with the acid marks the point of no return in his grudge with Homer, eventually leading to Grimes' death. Had Homer pointed out to Burns that Grimes was saving his life when he knocked the acid onto the wall, there's a (admittedly slim) chance things might not have escalated in the way they did.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The design contest winds up being this for Grimes: not only does his attempts at pointing out the absurdity of an idiot like Homer taking part in a children's context fall on deaf ears (he's actually outright told to shut up twice), but the moment Homer wins and everyone sincerely cheers for him, that is when Frank out and out snaps.
    Frank: But this was a contest for children!
    Lenny: Yeah, and Homer beat their brains out!
    (everyone but Frank cheers and applauds)
    Frank: (manic) I can't stand it any longer! This whole plant is insane! Insane, I tell you!
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Grimes touches some high-voltage wires without wearing safety gloves, and is electrocuted to death.
    • Sadly, the dynamic between Homer and Frank is steeped in Truth in Television. Working hard your whole life does not mean you will be rewarded for it in the end.
      • Related to that, being seen to get ahead in work purely through good luck rather than qualifications and hard work (and flaunting it) will cause deep resentment in some of your coworkers, no matter how hard you try to be friends with them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Grimes gives one to Homer.
    Frank: God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it? This briefcase, and this haircut! And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?
    Homer: ...What?
    Frank: Everything! A dream house! Two cars! A beautiful wife! A son who owns a factory! Fancy clothes and [Sniffs air] lobsters for dinner! And do you deserve any of it? No!
    Homer: [Gasps] What are you saying?
    Frank: I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.
  • Recycled Premise: To Season 7's "Two Bad Neighbors", as a "normal" man (George H. W. Bush/Frank Grimes) is put into the absurd world of Springfield, where he eventually comes into conflict with Homer, becoming declared enemies. However, the difference is that, in this one, Homer doesn't feel any enmity towards Grimes.
  • Rule of Cool: Homer outright admits the racing stripe he added to his power plant model was only done because he "[felt it was] pretty sharp".
  • Sanity Slippage: Frank gets progressively more unhinged as his anger and annoyance toward Homer grows, until he finally snaps and runs amok through the plant imitating Homer.
  • Self-Made Man: Frank Grimes is a ridiculously exaggerated example. He was abandoned by his parents, worked delivering toys for rich kids which he would never get himself while studying in his free time, then was caught in a silo explosion, after which he had to rehabilitate himself, teaching himself to feel pain and hear again. His story touched Mr. Burns (another "self-made man"), who summoned him to work as Executive Vice President, only to give the job to a heroic dog at the last minute and send Grimes to sector 7G. Having to work with Homer (who, to put it mildly, doesn't share his work ethic) unhinges him, particularly once he learns of all the amazing things Homer had accomplished despite his laziness (having a big house, hanging out with Presidents, going on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins, going into outer space - would you like to see his Grammy? And the episode only begins to cover it.)
  • Self-Serving Memory: Burns decides he's going to make Grimes the executive vice president because this hard-working, Self-Made Man with a lifetime of adversity reminded Burns of himself, a Spoiled Brat who inherited his grandfather's plant. Smithers even lampshades it in a deleted scene.
  • Shout-Out: Martin's power plant model resembles the terraforming colony in Aliens.
  • Silence, You Fool!: Mr. Burns shouts "Silence!" at Frank when the latter tries to explain the accident with the melted wall.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Deconstructed very darkly. The Black Comedy stemming from Frank Grimes becoming Homer's self-proclaimed enemy eventually takes a toll on his sanity and costs him his life.
  • Smash Cut: From Frank touching high-voltage wires to his funeral.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Part of Frank Grimes' ridiculously miserable backstory involved being abandoned by his parents at age four and thus never having the money to go to school; instead having to spend his childhood working by delivering toys, he never got to play with, to rich children. In real life, children are mandated by law to go school and child labor would prevent a four year old from being made to work.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Homer is upset that Frank Grimes hates him. Later, Moe tries to comfort Homer by saying that there are people who don't like him, too. Homer refuses to accept this. Grimes in turn becomes upset that nobody else (that Grimes knows of) hates him.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the The Simpsons: Tapped Out continuity, Grimes survived the events of the episode; the electrocution merely put him into a coma and he was simply buried alive. He eventually woke up and dug himself out. Homer still tries to befriend him at the plant.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Frank tricks Homer into entering a power plant designing contest for kids as an attempt to show the world what an idiot Homer is. Homer ends up winning, and Frank's sanity utterly disappears after this.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Homer is not the main character in this episode. We only see a few scenes from Homer's point of view (particularly when he realizes Grimes hates him) but for the most part, Grimes is the main point of view character.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: Bart combines a swivel chair and a fire extinguisher for some real fun.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Why Martin's model (which was not only more advanced than the models of the rest of the competition, but was so fully functional it was providing power to the lights of the plant's auditorium) lost: Burns flat-out hated being "outshone" by it. Further demonstrated when Homer's winning model turns out to be just the existing power plant with racing stripes and fins, indicating that Burns was looking for something that stroked his ego, rather than anything that would have made a good power plant.
  • This Loser Is You: Grimes is said to be a representation of what a realistic person, who was a hard-working, working-class employee, would be like if they got the misfortune of working with Homer or living in Springfield.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When Grimes snaps and starts acting like Homer, he grabs some "extremely high voltage" wires and unwittingly demonstrates what happens when you have Homer's intelligence but not his luck.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Frank Grimes' life story is this up till the bitter end.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The episode focuses on Frank Grimes (a "realistic" character, by Word of God) being forced into the Played for Laughs Crapsack World of Springfield and getting so fed up with Homer's Idiot Houdini luck that he becomes the titular "enemy" of Homer... and then when Homer's luck saves him from being humiliated by a plan of Grimes, he undergoes a Villainous Breakdown which ends with him accidentally committing suicide-by-high-voltage. The Black Comedy Burst was so strong that some people believe marked the moment when the show became the same brand of insensitively offensive Kafka Comedy as other shows like Family Guy.
  • Unknown Rival: Grimes to Homer, until the end of the first act when the former declares himself Homer's enemy.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Burns' whims are the direct cause of Grimes' eventual insanity and death, by placing him in the vicinity of Homer.
  • Vanity License Plate: Marge tries to get one with her name on it, but "Marge", "Marjorie", and "Mitzi" are all taken. But "Nitzi" is available.
  • Weirdness Censor: The entire theme of the episode was to plop a regular person (in the form of Frank Grimes) into the Springfield universe and have them react to just how bizarre that world really was. Frank was thunderstruck how a moron like Homer could have two cars, win a Grammy, tour with rock stars, be friends with Gerald Ford and been to space on the space shuttle.
    Frank Grimes: I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Frank Grimes' Evil Laugh at Homer falling for the power plant contest abruptly stops when Homer reverses into Frank's car while leaving early to work on it.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Mr. Burns sees a documentary about how Grimes went through a hard life and had recently earned a diploma in nuclear physics. Impressed, he tells Mr. Smithers to find him so he can make him his executive vice president. By the time Smithers returns with Grimes, however, Burns had seen a heroic dog on TV and now wants to make him executive vice president.
    Smithers: In the meantime, here's Frank Grimes.
    (Burns does not recognize Grimes)
    Smithers: The, the self-made man?
    Burns: What? Oh, yes, that fellow. Mmmm, put him somewhere out of the way, and find that dog!
    Smithers: Yes sir.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: In the DVD Commentary, the writers note that if you're trying to convince people you're not crazy, it's not a good idea to end any sentences with "I tell you." Or worse, "I tells you."


Video Example(s):


Frank Grimes' Rant

Frank Grimes comes to the Simpsons' house. However, after realizing how successful Homer's life has been despite how stupid and lazy he is, Grimes goes on a rant about it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheReasonYouSuckSpeech

Media sources:

Main / TheReasonYouSuckSpeech