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Recap / The Simpsons S 9 E 12 Bart Carny

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Original air date: 1/11/1998 (produced in 1997)

Production code: 5F08

Bart and Homer are forced to work as carnies after Bart crashes the Mercedes convertible said to belong to Adolf Hitler, and befriend a father-son carny duo named Spud and Cooder, but when Homer brings Spud and Cooder to their home, it's the Simpsons that end up getting kicked out of it.


  • Abhorrent Admirer: Spud hits on Lisa while unhinging all of the joints in his body. She's naturally grossed out by this.
  • Adolf Hitlarious: Hitler's car is destroyed by Bart during a carnival. Nelson punches Bart and asks him: "That was Hitler's car. What did he ever do to you?"
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Homer bets Cooder that he can get a hula hoop onto the chimney—wagering the house. Everyone stands in front of the house, Homer readies his shot, and the family immediately runs inside and locks the door.
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    • When Bart and Lisa try to get out of doing yard work, Bart tells Lisa to chop his hands off. Lisa responds with a horrified "No" followed by "Then who will chop off mine?"
  • Brain Bleach: Lisa's reaction to Spud's ability to unhinge all the joints in his body.
  • Call-Back: When Homer tries riding the Tooth Chipper, Marge attempts to discourage him by reminding him about his heart condition and his bypass surgery, but Homer doesn't remember any of this.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Homer not realizing Chief Wiggum was asking for a bribe no matter how obviously he was asking (I'm looking for a Mr. Bribe), and later not realizing he wouldn't help Homer when the Cooders locked themselves inside the Simpson House.
    • As said by Nelson:
      "You wrecked Hitler's car! What did he ever do to you?"
  • Continuity Nod: When the Simpsons are on the glass-bottom boat tour, a drum of "Li'l Lisa Slurry" can be seen among the garbage on the ocean floor.
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  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Rich Texan makes Bart a carny in order to pay back the damage. Homer thinks that's awesome and wants to be a carny, too.
  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons go to sit on the couch, but the couch gets pulled back, causing them to fall on the floor. Nelson Muntz comes out from behind the couch and laughs.
  • Crappy Carnival: The family visits one in this episode, complete with lame and/or dangerous rides (that is glorified yard work—via a VR helmet—and a roller coaster called the "Tooth Chipper" respectively), Unwinnable games and a lazy, incomplete haunted house with prerecorded, repetitive screams and a grandmotherly woman "scaring" people about the horrors of aging.
  • Dirty Cop: Chief Wiggum demands a bribe to keep a rigged carny game open, and later refuses to help the Simpsons reclaim their home out of spite because Homer was too stupid to bribe Wiggum when he was working at the carnival.
  • Entitled Bastard: Bart and Lisa still expect an allowance even though, as Marge puts it, "You don't deserve an allowance".
  • Failed a Spot Check: Krusty can't figure out why standing next to a booth where patrons blast clown heads with water cannons results in his face getting wet.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: The Cooders were conning scumbags who absolutely deserved to have their game shut down. When Homer lets them take up residence in the house out of pity, they repay him by stealing it and rendering the whole family homeless.
  • Fingore: Discussed by Bart and Lisa to get them out of doing yard work, where they try to order the other one to chop off their hands.
  • Genre Blindness: Let's just say Homer isn't very good at spotting suckers.
  • Graceful Loser: After Homer tricks them:
    Cooder: Well, there's no shame in beaten by the best.
    Spud: But he didn't seem all that—
    Cooder: (brusque) We were beaten by the best, boy!
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: During Homer's ring-toss game (which wagers the ownership of the house against the Cooders), Lisa covers her eyes and exclaims, "I can't watch!"
  • Informed Attribute: Spud calls Lisa "blue eyes", despite Lisa (like most characters) being drawn with Black Dot Pupils.
  • Ironic Echo: After taking over the house, Spud and Cooder laugh at the Simpsons through the mail slot (as pictured above). The family returns the favor after they trick them.
  • Kill It with Fire: Homer, Bart, and Lisa are in favor of setting fire to the house to get Spud and Cooder out, even if it means killing Spud and Cooder. Marge refuses.
  • Laborious Laziness: Bart and Lisa were willing to spend time coming up with techniques to saw each others arms off to get out of cleaning the backyard.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: While he and Bart are teasing a Great White Shark on a glass bottom boat, Homer mocks it by calling it "The King of the Jungle".
  • Mooning: Bart teases a Great White Shark on a glass bottom boat by mooning it.
  • My Beloved Smother: Touched upon again with Skinner and Agnes; the former is trying to win the latter a lamp in a rigged ring toss game, only for her to point out what a failure he is. This prompts him to begin to aim for a Bowie knife.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Such simplicity of entering a house and locking yourself in through trickery for honorless scumbags like The Cooders was returned in kind by The Simpsons.
  • Secret Message Wink: Chief Wiggum tries using a series of winks to get Homer to bribe him into overlooking their rigged ring toss game; when even these less-than-subtle efforts don't get through to Homer, he shuts down the carnival stall.
    Chief Wiggum: Let me put it this way. I'm looking for my friend, Bill. [looks at cash box] Have you seen any "Bills" around here?
    Homer: No. He's Bart.
    Chief Wiggum: Ugh. Listen carefully and watch me wink as I speak, okay? The man I'm really looking for, wink, is Mr. Bribe. Wink, wink.
    Homer: [pause] It's a ring toss game.
    Chief Wiggum: All right. That's it, I'm shutting this place down.
  • Smart Ball: Homer manages to trick the Cooders into giving him the house back, despite them being carny tricksters.
  • Special Guest: Jim Varney as Cooder.
  • Tempting Fate: During the glass-bottom boat ride, the tour guide shows them the sister ship that sunk. When Marge wonders how that could've happened, we see Homer and Bart standing on the glass and goading the sharks to try to get them.
  • Un-Paused: When Marge sends Bart and Lisa out to do yard work in costumes they find embarrassing, Bart protests, saying they'll be made fun of. Sure enough, the second they open the door...
    Nelson: Haw—
    (Bart slams the door. Marge forcefully points at the door with an angry glare. Bart reluctantly opens it again)
    Nelson: -Haw!
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Homer and Bart manage to get Spud and Cooder fired from the carnival for failing to take a bribe from Chief Wiggum. The former two invite the latter two home with them, getting the whole Simpson family kicked out of their own house.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: After getting the house back from the Cooders, Homer takes pity of them having no place to go, wondering if the family should let them stay for a few days, forgetting that that's what led to the mess they just went through. Bart's reaction is to tell Marge to get Homer away from the window.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Homer deeply believes in the Carny Code.
  • Work Off the Debt: Because Bart wrecked Hitler's car, he and Homer have to work as carnies to pay for the damages.