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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E7 "Lisa's Date with Density"

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Episode - 4F01
First Aired - 12/15/1996

After stealing Superintendent Chalmers' car emblem off his new Honda Accord, Nelson is sentenced to janitorial work. While Lisa is serving detention for snickering at Nelson spraying Groundskeeper Willie with a hose, she becomes fascinated with and develops a crush on the bully. Meanwhile, Homer takes an autodialer that was recently used in a telemarketing scam and creates a telemarketing scam of his own.



  • 555: This occurs when Homer demonstrates the autodialer for Marge.
  • Absentee Actor: Maggie does not appear in this episode.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    Skinner: I'll tell you something that's not so funny. Right now, Superintendant Chalmers is at home crying like a little girl. (Among the subsequent laughter of the students, he chuckles.) I guess it is a little funny.
    • Later, Lisa is amused by how Nelson keeps pranking Willie.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Discussed on the DVD Commentary, with those present ruefully concluding for all the nice guys out there that, "it's nice to be a nice guy, but with the ladies...steal a hood ornament...otherwise you'll have to wait to be someone's second husband".
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Poor Milhouse.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Skinner says his mother makes him pay for the food he ate as a child. This actually happened to author, Ernest Thompson Seton whose father presented him with a bill on his 21st birthday for all his childhood expenses including the doctor delivering him.
  • Ambulance Cut: Milhouse passes Lisa's note to Nelson, and when he reads it and looks back, Milhouse waffles his eyebrows. Cut to paramedics wheeling an unconscious Milhouse into an ambulance.
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  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Chief Wiggum and his handling of the telemarketing fraud perpetuated by Jimmy the Scumbag ... and later Homer Simpson.
  • Bait-and-Switch: It appears Chief Wiggum has tracked down Nelson and shot him ("Chief, no!"), but it turns out he was actually taking out Homer's autodialer, and Wiggum has no idea where Nelson is.
    • When Milhouse is carted off to the hospital, one of the paramedics tells Lisa, "[Milhouse] can't hear you now..." making viewers think Milhouse died, before adding, "We had to pack his ears with gauze."
    • Instead of singing "Uter likes Janet!", the class sing "Uter likes Milhouse!" even though they already saying "Janet likes Milhouse!". The kids probably decided to tease Milhouse as gay.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Bart admits at being a crappy brother and that he feels a need to prevent Lisa from committing a huge mistake in a single sentence:
    Bart: I'll probably never say this to you again, but... you can do better!
  • Big "NO!": Skinner's reaction to Nelson's Noodle Incident listed below.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Homer to Ned and Maude.
  • Butt-Monkey: Groundskeeper Willie is made this: verbally by Skinner and more physically by Nelson
  • Detention Episode: Lisa gets detention when Mr. Largo thought that she was disrupting class by laughing at the word "tromboner". What Lisa was really laughing at was Nelson spraying Groundskeeper Willie with a hose and misunderstanding what he was saying.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Jimmy the Scumbag is looking at a twenty-year sentence for a telemarketing scam. Yet Homer got off easy.
  • The Dreaded Pretend Tea Party: Lisa shows Nelson around and tries to put Snowball II into a baby carriage for play. As the cat resists, she claims that Snowball usually loves to do it, but it's clear that Snowball hates it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Arresting Jimmy the scumbag, Wiggum describes all the other things he'll endure in prison and say this is the only way out.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Lisa mentions that Milhouse likes Vaseline on toast.
  • First Kiss: Nelson's "Shut Up" Kiss turns out to be this for Lisa.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Nelson receives a love note from Lisa and initially thinks Millhouse wrote it. Cut immediately to an unconscious Millhouse being carried out of the school on a stretcher, having been badly beaten up by Nelson.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Of a sorts. When Principal Skinner punches the wall after thinking Superintendent Chalmers' hood ornament was gone for good, he starts with a colorful metaphor and ends with its kid-friendly counterpart.
    Principal Skinner: Damn! Dang! Darn!
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Loving someone is not enough to change them for the best, no matter how hard you try.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Mr. Largo mistook Lisa laughing at Nelson's antics for her laughing at the word "tromboner".
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Zig-Zagged. Lisa gets a crush on Nelson Muntz. (Even Bart thinks this is crazy, telling her, "I'll probably never say this to you again, but you can do better!") It's not that Lisa doesn't know that Nelson is a rotten kid, she just honestly believes that he might have a sensitive side, and she might be able to change him. By the end of the episode, however, she realizes that Nelson is rotten through and through, and they break up. Although, in a subsequent episode, she does a favor for him, and when asked why, she shrugs and says, "Well, we used to date." Some later episodes also do show them being on friendly terms with each other.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • After Skinner finds out Nelson stole Chalmers' H from his Honda, among everyone else's stuff.
    Skinner: Well, sir, who's "haw-haw"-ing now?
    Nelson: I don't know, but he's got lethal tuna breath.
    [The other students (except Lisa) all "ooh"'d at his remark.]
    Lisa: (disgusted) Who's he trying to impress acting so "cool" all the time?
    Milhouse: (standing next to Lisa) Not me!
    • Homer's autodialer keeps calling the Flanders house, which infuriates Maude since Ned won't just unplug the phone.
    Maude: That is it, Ned! If you don't unplug that phone right now, you're sleeping on the lawn!
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Discussed; played straight with Marge and Homer (Marge insists that she has changed Homer, despite the evidence that he's still an often-inconsiderate slob) and averted with Lisa and Nelson (Lisa comes to realize that she could never change Nelson).
  • Karma Houdini: Despite beating Milhouse to the point he needs to be sent to an emergency clinic, Nelson is shown walking off scot free straight after with no implied punishment.
    • Nelson's punishment for stealing Chalmers' H is more of a punishment for Willie.
  • Lead In: Homer's subplot begins with him attempting to shoplift by trying to disguise candy as sprinkles on a self-serve donut.
  • A Lesson Learned Too Well: Homer pays his debt to society from his telemarketing scam... with another telemarketing scam.
    "Hello, this is Homer Simpson, a.k.a. Happy Dude. The court has ordered me to call every person in town to apologize for my telemarketing scam. I'm sorry. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, send one dollar to Sorry Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. You have the power."
  • Mocking Sing-Song: After Lisa is caught looking at Nelson during music class.
    Class: [sing-song] Lisa likes Nelson!
    Milhouse: She does not!
    Class: [sing-song] Milhouse likes Lisa!
    Janey: He does not!
    Class: [sing-song] Janey likes Milhouse!
    Uter: She does not!
    Class: [sing-song] Uter likes Milhouse.
    Mr. Largo: Nobody likes Milhouse! Lisa, you've got detention!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lisa, because she asked (begged) Milhouse to give Nelson her love letter, and Nelson assume the letter was from him, getting beat up badly for his trouble.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: When Lisa starts dating Nelson, Bart tries to get her to break it off.
    I'll probably never say this to you again, but you can do better!
  • Never My Fault: Lisa claims that it was Nelson's fault that she got detention, because she laughed at his pranks on Willie, rather than admit that it was her own fault for watching Nelson instead of paying attention to the teacher.
  • This also technically applies to Largo, as most teachers would just reprimand Lisa, rather than giving her a detention.
  • Noodle Incident: Who knows what Nelson left in the bird bath after the attack on Skinner at his home?
    • Knowing Nelson, he probably used it as a toilet.
  • Not Me This Time: Skinner's search for the H from Chalmers' Honda naturally begins with Bart.
  • Not So Above It All: Skinner's first instinct to addressing the missing H in Chalmer's car is to steal one from someone else's. He only abandons the plan when its owner (Kearney) catches him in the act.
  • Pet Dress-Up: Lisa dresses Snowball II in a bonnet and booties when Nelson comes over to her house. Nelson is not impressed, and Snowball is not happy.
  • Pet the Dog: Nelson actually does help Lisa with the line's punishment.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Chalmers is quite proud of his 1979 Honda. Pity Nelson vandalizes it by stealing the H.
    Chalmers: What's the point of having a Honda if you can't show it off?
  • Prefers Proper Names: Just in this episode, post-makeover Nelson calls Jimbo "James".
  • A Rare Sentence: When Bart finds out that Lisa has invited Nelson over to their house as a friend.
    Bart: I'll probably never say this to you again, but... you can do better!
  • Really 17 Years Old: Kearney yelling at Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner to get away from his car (in yet another example of Kearney being older than he looks)
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Lisa describe Nelson as "a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest."
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Punished with working for Willie, Nelson sticks a rake into bee's nest.
    Nelson: Hey, Willie, catch the football. [flings it at him]
    Willie: All right, I'll—AHHHHH!
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title refers to Back to the Future, when George McFly introduces himself to Lorraine Baines as "[her] density", fixing it to "destiny".
    • A majority of the story is a reference to Rebel Without a Cause, most notably the observatory setting and Lisa's red jacket.
    • Skinner finding the secret compartment in Nelson's locker is straight out of The Shawshank Redemption.
    • When Nelson is playing the guitar, he does a move similar to Angus Young's (and Chuck Berry's) "Duck Walk." He also mimics Pete Townshend's "Windmill", doubling as another shout-out to Back to the Future, as Marty did the same things during his performance of "Johnny B. Goode" at the "Enchantment Under The Sea" dance.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Nelson gives Lisa her first kiss to shut her up.
    Lisa: (thinking) My first kiss! I always wondered what it would be like!
    Nelson: (thinking) This oughta shut her up. (beat) Hey, this is ain't so bad.
  • Skewed Priorities: Homer runs a telemarketing scam that promises to give people eternal happiness if they send him one dollar. When the exceedingly wealthy Mr. Burns gets this message, he responds:
    "One dollar for eternal happiness? ...I'd be happier with the dollar."
  • Society Marches On: Nelson beats Milhouse to the point of Milhouse being wheeled out to an ambulance, when Nelson thinks a note (from Lisa) was from Milhouse. Even then it was questionable as a gag; nowadays, it's a poster symbol of gay-bashing (Matthew Sheperd's death took place only two years after this episode aired).
  • Spit Take: Lisa confesses to Milhouse that she has a crush, leading Milhouse to drink milk suavely before she finishes, "...on Nelson." Milhouse proceeds to spit milk back into the carton, ruining it with force.
    Nelson: Way to drink, poindexter!
  • Tempting Fate: Defied when Skinner gets hit in the face with a dozen eggs after looking in Bart's locker.
    "Rather than tempt fate, I'll just move along."
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Homer doesn't seem at all amazed or shocked when the auto dialer starts rolling out the door, just angry that it's trying to leave.
  • Writing Lines: Mr. Largo makes Lisa write "I will not be a snickerpuss" on the chalkboard after school as punishment for disrupting class. Nelson suggests saving time by using the music staff chalk holder to write five lines at once.
  • You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses?: Oh yes, Nelson would ... after he gets a note from Millhouse (who is acting as a go-between to deliver Lisa's note to the bully) proclaiming love for him. Nelson gets the wrong idea and we see the outcome in a Gilligan Cut.


Video Example(s):


Lisa Writes Lines

Lisa gets detention and has to write âI will not be a snickerpussâ. Things get easier when Nelson shows her how she can get the punishment done faster.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WritingLines

Media sources:

Main / WritingLines