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Recap / The Simpsons S 9 E 5 The Cartridge Family

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The Cartridge Family is the fifth episode of the ninth season of The Simpsons. It was also the first episode (in production order) where Mike Scully was showrunner, taking over from Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, the showrunners for seasons seven and eight.

Homer buys a handgun to better protect his family after a soccer riot plagues the town — much to Marge's dismay.


  • Americans Are Cowboys: The episode tackles American gun politics.
    • Despite having been in a mental institution; having frequent problems with alcohol; and having beaten up President Bush (Sr.)note , Homer's "potentially dangerous" status only restricts him to three handguns (or less).
  • Bad Liar: After Homer shoots all of the dinner plates, the family is eating dinner out of glasses:
    Marge: Does anyone know where all my dinner plates went?
    Bart: Uh...
    Homer: You probably left them at work.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Double-subverted. Homer pulls his gun on Snake in the motel's office to stop the ensuring robbery. Marge turns on Homer for lying to her again about getting rid of the gun, distracting him and causing Snake to snatch it. Homer points out the gun is unloaded, and as Snake grabs the box with the bullets in it, the NRA show up.
  • Black Comedy: The gun store having the name "Blood Bath and Beyond", with the handguns being right next to the sympathy card display.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The writers gave both sides of the gun rights debate reasonable arguments. Word of God says that if there is any message in the episode, it is that irresponsible idiots like Homer shouldn't own guns.
  • Bowdlerization and Banned in the UK: The heavy references to guns and scenes playing gun misuse for laughs got this episode banned on the UK's Sky One channel; it was available on the VHS release "Too Hot for TV", and when the BBC (the terrestrial broadcaster of The Simpsons in the UK) got the rights to season 9 they had no qualms about showing the episode uncut, and Sky followed suit when the rights reverted to them. However, these days the terrestrial channel showing The Simpsons in the UK is Channel 4, which has edited the episode (most notably removing the final sequence where Marge takes the gun for herself and an earlier scene when she and the kids arrive at the motel and a hooker asks Bart if he's looking for a good time).
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  • Brick Joke: When Homer defends having a gun to Marge and Lisa, he says that without it the King of England could walk into their house and push them around. Later in the episode Krusty claims that that guns should only be used for three things: family protection, hunting and keeping the King of England out of your face.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Homer during the soccer riot. He doesn't want to leave when Marge says they have to, because he himself wants to do some rioting. He shoves one of Groundskeeper Willie's buddies, who furiously threatens him. Homer wisely chooses to get out of there.
  • Call-Back:
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: The shady home security system salesman sports these.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Springfield's NRA members (which include a bitter, emotionally abusive old womannote , a Mafia henchmannote , a surly bartendernote , a Depraved Kids' Show Hostnote , a single mother who stole her lazy husband's convertible to get him to pay child supportnote , and a gun-crazy rednecknote ) are shocked at how recklessly Homer uses his gun.
    • When Cletus of all people asks if you're a moron for your behavior, you'd better believe you've screwed up somehow.
    • It's pretty telling that Bart joined Lisa in shaking his head "No" towards Homer when Marge first talked about Homer's gun.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: At one point in the soccer riot, a bottle smashes on the back of a man's head. During Kent Brockman's subsequent news report about the riot after it has escalating throughout the town, he had to duck to avoid being hit by a bottle.
  • Gun Accessories: Exaggerated with the revolver's add-ons, including a silencer, a loudener, a speed-cocker ("Oh, I like the sound of that!") and finally a barrel screw-on system for shooting down police helicopters that looks like a bazooka with the little revolver sticking out the back.
    Homer: "Oh, I don't need anything like that... yet."
    • Also exaggerated with Moe managing to attach multiple weapons, some of them fully automatic, to his double-barreled shotgun (to shoot them, he needs to pull the shotgun's trigger — their triggers are joined to it with some cord).
  • Here We Go Again!: At the very end of the episode, Marge is about to get rid of the gun once and for all, but when she's about to throw it in a trashcan, she notices her reflection in the lid and likes how impressive and dangerous it makes her look, and as such she decides to keep the weapon for herself.
  • Honor Before Reason: Marge chooses to berate Homer while he's currently holding a dangerous thief at gunpoint. Her speech ends up distracting Homer and allowing Snake to disarm him and continue with his crime. If she was going to be angry with Homer, she should have waited until they were in absolute safety.
  • Hypocrite: Despite all her anti-gun talk from start-to-almost-finish, Marge keeps the gun for herself when she sees herself with it in the trashcan lid reflection, liking how cool and dangerous it makes her look.
  • Imagine Spot: Homer has one after wondering what his life would be if he robbed the Kwik-E-Mart. He then imagines himself as a senator with a mansion while Marge dances the Monkey in a bikini.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: As Homer gets kicked out of Springfield's NRA, he has his membership card ripped up and is told to turn in his tattoo, which Moe offered to remove with a cheese grater (to Moe's disappointment, Homer never got the tattoo).
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Homer tells Snake after he snatches Homer's gun that the joke's on him, as the gun is empty.
  • Karma Houdini: Snake gets away with the motel's cash, because all the gun-owners holding him up didn't bother to shoot him. Lisa and Moe point this out.
  • Large Ham Announcer: The Spanish soccer announcer, a stark contrast to Kent Brockman's bored delivery.
  • Lost Aesop: Marge and Homer are at odds over the gun he buys, which even leads Marge to briefly leave him. In the end, Homer finally agrees to let Marge get rid of the gun, so Marge heads to the nearest garbage bin to throw it out. However, seeing herself holding the gun from a reflection in the lid, she likes how dangerous and cool she looks so she decides to hold on to the gun, putting it in her purse. The writers said that there was no real message from the story, but if there was, it'd be that people like Homer Simpson should not have a gun, so... mission accomplished?
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Kent Brockman is unable to make the boring soccer match interesting, but his overly excited Latino counterpart does manage to do so.
  • Negative Continuity: The main plot revolves around Homer buying a gun for the first time, yet previous episodes establish that Homer owned a gun (he tells Marge to "get [his] gun" in Marge Gets a Job and in $pringfield he brandishes a shotgun when he gets freaked out by Lisa's nightmare about the boogeyman).
    • He's also briefly seen with a shotgun before learning Bart likes his radio and microphone present in Radio Bart.
    • In the episode The Springfield Connection, Marge also wields a gun after she joins the police and is also shown to be a really good shooter.
  • Off-Model: Homer looks a little off when he says "I'll do it. I'll rob the Kwik-E-Mart."
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Marge during the aftermath of the riot when the doorknob starts rattling.
    • Marge when she opens her eyes and sees Homer pointing his gun in her face.
    • Snake at the end when the NRA show up and point their guns at him.
  • The Oldest Profession: Bart unknowingly courts two prostitutes outside the Sleep-Eazy Motel.
    Prostitute: Looking for a good time, sailor?
    Bart: I certainly am!
    Marge: (grabs Bart) No you're not! (to prostitutes) He's really not.
  • Planet of Steves: Parodied:
    "You'll see all your favorite soccer stars, like Arriaga, Arriaga II, Bariaga, Arugila and Pizzouza!"
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Springfield descends into a full-blown riot out of sheer boredom.
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is a pun on The Partridge Family.
  • Reality Ensues: Homer gets expelled from the NRA the second they witness his Reckless Gun Usage.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Homer, in spades:
    • In the gun store, Home points it at the clerk and pulls the trigger five times (unloaded, thankfully). If this wasn't Springfield, he would have been banned from the store immediately at best, or shot by other patrons of the store at worst (as there have been several instances of would-be gun store robbers or other idiots being killed for pointing a weapon at a clerk).
    • Homer trap shooting in his backyard using dinner plates.
    • Homer shoots a soda can display on a food counter behind the shooting line at a range.
    • Homer stores his (loaded) gun in the vegetable crisper inside the refrigerator, where Bart finds it and plays "William Tell" with Milhouse (with Milhouse holding the apple in his mouth).
    • The NRA are appalled at Homer when they see him shoot a beer can and his television and expel him on the spot. When they leave, he shoots out the lights instead of turning them off.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Homer's alleged burglar alarm, which somehow involves a goldfish (and it getting squashed by an alarm clock). Someone reaches their hand through the mailslot and steals the fish.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Sideshow Mel tries to do this at the stadium when he can't stand the boredom of the soccer game any longer, but Moe says he wants to leave first. This starts the riot when Moe puts Ned Flanders in a headlock when he tries to intervene.
    • The Simpsons, bar Homer, at the soccer riot when it starts to escalate. Homer only decides to leave too after shoving one of Groundskeeper Willie's buddies, who threatens him.
    • Mayor Quimby chooses to run from the motel office after Homer points his gun at Snake when Snake holds his hands up.
    • Upon seeing several NRA members pointing guns at him, Snake grabs the money from the clerk's hand and bolts.
  • See You in Hell:....dinner plate. *blam*
  • Serial Escalation: Homer's tour of the NRA's shooting range. Some of the members were using run-of-the-mill handguns and pistols, while some others were using machine guns and assault rifles. Principal Skinner's mother even threw a hand grenade.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: "Five Hundred Dollars?! AWWWWWW!"
  • Shoot the Television: Parodied and inverted as Homer turns his TV on by shooting it. Hilariously, the image that comes on the screen when it does turn on is of a cowboy, having been shot, falling off a roof.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title is a reference to The Partridge Family.
    • Marge leaving with the gun near the end is accompanied by the theme music of The Avengers. On the DVD commentary the makers did say they should have chosen a different piece of music.
  • Signs of Disrepair: The SLEEP-EAZY Motel.
  • Smart Ball:
    • Homer, after accidentally shooting a picture of Marge twice, worryingly puts the gun down on the table so he doesn't do any more damage. The gun somehow fires on its own seconds later, hitting a knife, which spins through the air and hits the picture.
    • Homer eventually tells Marge he doesn't trust himself about getting rid of the gun and tells her to get rid of the gun herself, because he feels sure his attachment to it would mean lying to her again and again.
  • Soccer-Hating Americans:
    • Practically everyone in Springfield turns out for the soccer match at the start of the episode, but they perceive it as boring, and their boredom eventually triggers a full-blown city-wide riot. This is a joke that could only be made in the USA where, in contrast with the rest of the world, soccer has never caught on. Word of God said they were skewering how soccer was more boring on television than live.
    • One line in the opening commercial for the match is actually a really good summation of why the sport has had trouble appealing to Americans.
      "It's all here! Fast-kickin'! Low-scorin'! And ties? You bet!"
  • Sticky Fingers: The home security system salesman pockets various items around the Simpson house, including a remote and an ashtray.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: When Lisa told Homer the Second Amendment was just a relic, Homer counter-argued that it keeps them safe from the King of England. Later in the episode, when the NRA learned how irresponsible Homer was with his gun, Krusty started berating him by claiming that guns should be used for "family protection, hunting dangerous or delicious animals, and keeping the King of England out of your face."
  • Take That!: The reason the soccer riot starts is because the soccer game is incredibly slow and boring.
    Krusty: Come on, you schnorrers, do something!
  • Time Passes Montage: Homer spends the entire 5-day waiting period sitting on his lawn, seeing different things he could shoot with a gun (Flanders, Patty and Selma, a row of ducks, rabbits, a truck owned by Target, because of the famous bullseye logo on the side) while Tom Petty's "The Waiting" plays.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • After the Simpsons have fled the riot at the stadium, a man is seen getting back into a burning car.
    • During the William Telling Bart and Milhouse attempt with Homer's gun, Milhouse has the apple in his mouth, instead of on top of his head. Thankfully, Marge enters before anything else can happen.
    • Homer tells Snake his gun (which Snake just grabbed from him) has no bullets in it, and tauntingly holds up the box containing the bullets.
    • Not as bad as the other two, Marge choosing to berate Homer and preparing to give him a speech about lying to her. While he's currently holding an armed thief at gunpoint who had just held the mayor hostage. Homer gets distracted and Snake is able to disarm him. She could have waited until after the NRA arrived.
  • Trigger Happy: Homer devolves into this very rapidly after getting the pistol. Even before getting the gun, all he can talk about for a few minutes is how he wants to shoot things.
  • Two Decades Behind: Both Homer and Krusty are unaware that the United Kingdom hasn't had a king since 1952.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: When Homer holds Snake up with his gun when the latter took Quimby hostage at knifepoint, potentially saving the mayor and everyone else's life, Marge's first reaction is to berate Homer for lying to her about not getting rid of it.
  • Violent Glaswegian: When the riot starts, Groundskeeper Willie and his Scottish friends are disappointed that it isn't violent enough.
    Willie: They call this a riot? Come on, lads, let's take 'em to school!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The soccer riot was over with in a single night, and despite the city-wide looting and destruction, Springfield appears to be perfectly normal afterwards. No consequences were seen from the riot's actions, the issue was never resolved, and it basically just made an excuse to have Homer buy a gun.
  • William Telling: Bart and Milhouse try to do this with a gun and an apple placed inside Milhouse's mouth. So it was a good thing Marge came home when she did.


Example of: