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Recap / The Simpsons S 9 E 6 "Bart Star"

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Original air date: 11/9/1997

Production code: 5F03

Peewee football comes to Springfield as a means to fight childhood obesity, and when Homer becomes the coach (after Flanders angrily gives him the position to keep Homer from heckling him), he promotes Bart to star player status despite the boy's lack of talent.


  • Actor Allusion: Joe Namath's cameo parodies his guest appearance on The Brady Bunch.
  • Advertised Extra: The episode was advertised as a Crossover with King of the Hill even though Hank Hill is on screen for only a few seconds. It probably set a record for shortest Crossover ever made. Additionally, Word of God says these shows don't exist in the same Universe, making it even weirder.
  • An Aesop: While it’s good to encourage people, you shouldn’t keep encouraging those who just aren’t good at the things they do.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Joe Namath giving one after Bart is driven to jail:
    Joe Namath: You know, we had a lot of fun tonight. But there's nothing funny about... vapor lock. It's the third most common cause of car stallings. So please, take care of your car and get it checked. I'm Joe Namath. Good night.
  • Artistic License – Sports: Nelson would almost certainly not be allowed to wear the old-fashioned leather helmet he dons for games.
  • As Himself: Joe Namath and Roy Firestone.
  • Athletically Challenged: Bart and the other kids join a pee-wee football team, with Homer being the coach of it after a series of events. Homer is very harsh with Bart at first until Homer decides to treat him nicer. Homer promotes Bart to the quarterback position over Nelson (who had been carrying the team to success). But Bart plays awful at his new position, leading them to losses and bringing tension between him and the team, as well as Homer.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Wiggum is completely unable to recognize Nelson Muntz even though he is a very distinguishable kid and arrests the first boy that walks up to him saying he's Nelson (that being Bart).
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • During a game, Chief Wiggum showed up to arrest Nelson. Bart said he'd stand in for Nelson. Cut to him being arrested in Nelson's place instead of playing in the game for him.
    • Bart practices his throw and sucks, when Joe Namath appears looking for a phone because his car stalled. It looks like it will be a cameo with tips to help Bart... only that his wife yells for him to come back about five seconds later because she was able to fix the car. Namath only got as far as "the important thing is..." and Bart's throw still sucks as a result.
    • When Bart fakes being injured to avoid playing in a big game, Homer asks Nelson if his arm is still good. Nelson replies that it is...and Homer tells him to take a note to the referee saying that they forfeit the game.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bart and Homer are able to mend things, and the team is presumably back to their regular great level now that Nelson is back on the team. But his attempt to spare the star player from getting arrested during the deciding moment of the championship game results in Bart getting Nelson's long sentence at juvenile hall. Also, his play still hasn't improved yet.
  • Blatant Lies: Even though Homer assures the rest of the team that "Just because he's my son doesn't mean he gets special treatment," he continues to overlook Bart's mistakes and treats him like a miniature John Elway or Dan Marino.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Bart says "D'oh!" when his football rebounds off his tire swing and hits him in the face.
  • Butt-Monkey: This episode is not kind to Bart. First he's publicly humiliated on TV when his pants split open on camera and he's mocked for being tubby by his family (who aren't paragons of fitness themselves). Then Homer takes over the team, and he starts off being initially strict in training him before doing a 180 and smothering Bart with unwanted affection. He then goes on to show blatant favoritism to Bart, causing the team's performance to suffer and earning the boy the ire of his teammates. Finally, when Bart claims to be Nelson so the cops will arrest him in place of the latter so he can keep playing, Bart finds out too late that he'll be going away for a long time.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Marge told Homer it was easy to criticize.
    Homer: Fun, too.
    • When Homer realizes he's treating Bart the same way Grampa treated him, Homer says "From now on, I'll be nicer to my son and meaner to my Dad!"
    • Homer calls a radio sports talkshow just to complain about Flanders. When they hang up on him, he is convinced it's a technical error, and repeatedly calls them back.
    • Homer treats Bart like his star player, even kicking out other better players to place Bart on the front lines. Even when Bart flat-out screams at him that he sucks Homer doesn't stops encouraging him.
    • The sports store clerk does this when Marge timidly tries to ask him for protection for a certain part of Bart's anatomy, pulling out a helmet, kneepads, and shoulderpads when she wants a cup. Or rather, he pretends to miss the point, playing dumb until he can get her to literally spell it out for him.
  • Continuity Nod: While Homer discusses Bart quitting the team:
    Homer: I didn't raise him to be a quitter, Marge, it must have been you. You quit every job you've ever had—cop, pretzel vendor, church counselor, professional gambler...
  • Contrived Coincidence: Joe Namath's car just so happened to break down in front of the Simpsons' house.
  • Couch Gag: The family sits, and an auto-crusher compresses them into a block.
  • Credits Gag: Homer saying that people in the cast and crew are cut from the team.
  • Crossover Punchline: Hank Hill and the cast from King of the Hill show up when Springfield plays against Arlen, drawn in their native way instead of being Simpsonized (though the promos did have the King of the Hill cast with yellow skin), though Hank is the only one who speaks.
    Hank: We drove 2000 miles for this?
  • Depending Upon the Undependable: When Homer takes over as coach of Springfield's youth football team, he destroys the team's credibility by insisting that Bart plays as quarterback instead of Nelson. Nelson's a much better player, but Homer wants to play favorites with Bart because he thinks it's good parenting.
  • Epunymous Title: Homer tries to make a reluctant Bart the star quarterback of the team. The episode's title is also a play on the name of Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, who helped the Green Bay Packers win the first two Super Bowls.
  • Fake Identity Baggage: In the final game of the episode, Chief Wiggum arrives looking for Nelson. Thinking Nelson is wanted for a petty offense, Bart claims to be Nelson to get out of playing junior football. However, the charge is actually for burglary and arson, and Bart ends up getting a ride to the slammer.
  • Fictional Video Game: Cat Fight, an arcade game at the Kwik-E-Mart.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the scene where the Hills make a cameo, Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer can be seen in the background.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The store clerk asking Marge to spell "cup". "C-U-P. I wanna C-U—Oh, my God!"
  • Fun with Subtitles: On Sky 1's original subtitle track for the episode, when the name of the subtitle provider was credited over the 20th Century Fox Television logo, the subtitles added in "(He's cut too!)". Whilst Sky 1's subtitle track was updated in recent years, Channel 4 and RTÉ Two's subtitle track retains the joke.
  • Generational Trauma: Homer is initially critical of Bart's peewee football abilities, until he realises how Abe was similarly critical of his gymnastics talent, which ended up sabotaging one of his routines. He therefore resolves to be more supportive and encouraging towards Bart. Not only does this sudden change of behaviour immediately cause Bart to panic, assuming it's a "trap", but Homer takes it too far in the other direction, ignoring Bart's obvious lack of talent (and his own protests about said lack of talent) in favour of making the team's new quarterback. All things told, things go worse for Bart than they would have if Homer had remained his usual Jerkass self
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Marge urges Homer to be more encouraging of Bart, rather than dismissive of him like Grampa was. Homer takes it to heart and goes on to smother Bart with unwanted affection and showing him overt favoritism on the team, going so far as to make Bart the quarterback despite Nelson's superior talents.
    • At the end of the episode, Bart claims to be Nelson so he can be arrested in place of the latter, who can go on to win the game. However, Wiggum tells Bart that Nelson committed a very serious crime that he'll be locked up a long time for, making Bart realize this might not have been the best idea.
  • Groin Attack: Hilariously done with Bart having Milhouse test out his cup via some well placed crotch kicks.
    Marge: Milhouse, stop that!
  • Hope Spot: Joe Namath's cameo. He teaches Bart absolutely nothing and Bart doesn't become any better as a football player.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • When Bart was declared fat, Homer called him a disgrace to their family, while grabbing the Pop-Tarts that Bart was eating, which is funny in two ways: 1) Homer is fatter than Bart, and 2) Homer has done worse things to disgrace The Simpsons than Bart has.
    • After Flanders forces him to be the new coach of the football team, Homer vows that he won't give any preferential treatment to Bart just for being his son. Then he immediately appoints Bart as quarterback.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Homer does not consider the impact of his selfish actions and blatant favoritism, causing the team (and Bart especially to suffer). He dismisses it as good parenting. When Bart finally calls him out on it, Homer is furious. Fortunately, it gets averted later on when Homer realizes that he was the one at fault.
  • Irony:
    • Homer calls Ned the worst coach the team ever had when he was the only coach the team ever had. When Homer takes over he proves to be a far worse coach than Ned ever was causing the team their undefeated season.
    • Bart taking Nelson's place to get arrested so the team would win the championship. If Ned was still coach and they made it to the championship and if it wasn't for Bart taking Nelson's place to get arrested, Nelson would have been arrested instead. This would have lead the the team would have losing the championship and their undefeated season. The team would have hated Nelson for this sparing Bart from all the humiliation and suffering he went through.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • Homer constantly insults Ned Flanders during a number of football games and insults him openly. He later throws a beer can at his head for laughs. Ned finally gets fed up and angrily names him the new coach if he thinks he better at it, prompting Homer to panic. He then takes great pleasure in cutting as many kids as possible from the team.
    • Abe in Homer's flashback. He makes him lose concentration when he's doing a gymnastics routine by yelling that he's going to fail and when he inevitably does Abe says that Homer just proved him right.
    • Lisa joins in making fun of Bart's weight and calling him tubby.
  • Jerkass Realization: Homer has two:
    • He realizes his harsh treatment of Bart is no different than how Abe treated him in the past, leading him to be nicer to his son (and meaner to his dad). Unfortunately, this just causes more problems to Bart once it becomes clear he's giving his son favorable treatment over everyone else on the team.
    • He has another one when he realizes that he shouldn't have kept encouraging Bart on something he's clearly not good at.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: In retaliation for Homer's constant criticizing of his job as peewee football coach, Flanders makes him the new coach instead. This prompts a scared Homer to say Flanders was doing a good job.
  • Logo Joke: Homer cuts people in the end credits. When it gets to the Gracie Films logo...
    Homer: You're cut too, shushy!
  • Misplaced Retribution: Bart's teammates take it out on him when he becomes the quarterback due to nepotism, even though it was all Homer's idea, and Bart opposed it.
  • Nepotism: Homer promoting Bart to quarterback of the team, even though Bart's the least qualified person on the team. Bart knows this and tries to point out several times that his performance sucks, but Homer won't hear it.
  • Never My Fault: Homer has a flashback to a floor gymnastics routine. Abe yells "You're gonna blow it" at him... and so he does, and Abe then gets mad at him. To add insult to injury, Abe's bitter condemnation to Homer — immediately after yelling this out — is "This is what I get for having faith in you."
  • Number of the Beast: Rod's football shirt has a 66 on it and Todd has a 6.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Homer after throwing a beer can at Flander's head after non-stop heckling and sees him marching towards him.
    • Bart has one after he pulls his switcheroo with Nelson at the climax when Wiggum says that Nelson was wanted for grand larceny and vandalism and is gleefully looking forward to locking up "Nelson" for years.
    • Homer after he calls up Mr. Burns to tell him that he's quitting and winks into the phone.
      Marge: Homer, Mr. Burns can't see you winking.
      Homer: So... AAAAHH!
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Homer claimed Flanders was the worst coach Springfield's peewee football team ever had. Flanders was the only coach they ever had.
  • Pet the Dog: Even when Nelson and the other teammates were mad at Bart for losing and getting special treatment from Homer, they did try to help Bart when Bart tells Homer he sucks at quarterback when Homer wanted to forfeit the game when Bart pretend to be injured believing they can't play without Bart.
  • Rage Breaking Point:
    • Ned takes Homer's constant heckling without much complaint, but he loses his temper when Homer throws a beer can at his head, at which point he climbs up the stands to call him out.
    • Bart also has one. After Homer's biased favoritism and team tampering causes them to lose several games, he is blamed and threatened by his teammates. He tries to avoid hurting Homer, by pretending to be injured and when that doesn't work he desperately tells Homer that he isn't a talented player. When Homer still won't listen, Bart snaps and yells at him, before quitting the team.
  • Running Gag: Homer continuously cutting his players from the roster. It even extends into the end credits, where he cuts everyone on the cast and crew except Joe Namath and Dan Castellaneta.
    Gracie Films Lady: Shh!
    Homer: You're cut, too, Shushy!
  • Schmuck Bait: The store clerk was very clearly trying to make Marge say "I want a C-U-P"...
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • After being constantly heckled and being hit in the head with a beer can by Homer, Flanders quits his coaching position and hands it to him out of anger. He doesn't appear for the rest of the episode.
    • Bart also quits the team when Homer's nepotism and refusal to see reality become to much.
      Bart: You don't get it, do you? I don't want to be your stupid quarterback! I quit!
  • Secret Message Wink: Homer is furious at Bart for quitting the football team and pretends to quit his job to prove his point. He gives Mr. Burns an impromptu call, announces he's "quitting," and winks to signal that he's lying. Only after Marge tells him that Burns can't see him winking does he realize his mistake.
  • Ship Tease: This is the first of several episodes during the Scully era which teases Bart with one of the Mackleberry twins, with one of them telling him that her sister has a crush on him.
  • Shout-Out: Aside from the episode's name being a reference to NFL legend Bart Starr, Bart also wears the same uniform number (No. 15) as he did.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Inverted and exaggerated version. Homer is the only person in the whole of Springfield that thinks Flanders is a lousy coach. He makes up for it with sheer relentlessness.
  • Special Guest: Joe Namath As Himself and Mike Judge as Hank Hill. Legendary sports reporter Roy Firestone also briefly appears as himself.
  • Sports Dad: Springfield starts up a sports league after finding the young boys in town are overweight. After a series of events, Homer becomes the coach and discourages and insults Bart while putting him through Training from Hell. Homer eventually realizes his own father never acknowledged him either, so he amends his behavior and becomes overbearingly supportive of Bart and has him replace Nelson as quarterback, despite Bart being a terrible player and the rest of the team despising him for it.
  • Tempting Fate: When Ned begins to get sick of Homer's heckling, he reminds himself that words can't hurt him. Homer then throws a beer can at Ned's head.
  • Territorial Smurfette: Bizarrely inverted when Lisa tries to pull off a Jackie Robinson Story and announces she's joining the football team. Only when she gets there she finds out there's four other girls on the team already and the coach is welcoming. Enraged she can't be the only girl on the team (or protest the use of pigskin footballs since they're entirely synthetic and the producing company donates to charity), she runs off crying.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Ned makes Homer the new football coach after the latter heckles the former one too many times.
    • Marge encourages Homer to be more supportive of Bart, which leads him to cut a few members of the team and makes Bart the new quarterback, much to Nelson's, and the team's, dismay.
    • Chief Clancy Wiggum announces that Nelson is going to be arrested, which would mean The Springfield Wildcats loses. Bart saves the day by saying to Wiggum that he's Nelson. Bart asks what the charges are, and Wiggum informs him that the charges are burglary and arson, and that he's going away for a long time.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Bart and the other kids joined the peewee football in the first place is because they are out of shape. Not only was this subplot dropped, but Bart's figure doesn't seem to have improved.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's 2000 miles away from Arlen, Texas, wherever that is... Although, according to Google Maps, it's 2052.4 miles by highway from Springfield, Oregon to Garland, Texas (where KOTH creator Mike Judge once lived, and a strong candidate for Arlen's inspiration).
  • The Wildcats: Lampshaded and parodied when Bart's team, the Springfield Wildcats, goes up against the Ogdenville Wildcats.
    Flanders: Who are we?
    Springfield Wildcats: The Wildcats!
    Flanders: Who are we gonna beat?
    Springfield Wildcats: The Wildcats!
  • You Go, Girl!: Parodied; Lisa at first tries out for the squad to challenge the notion that girls can't play football, but Ned is all the more happy to let her join and points out they've already got four girls on the team. Deflated, Lisa switches tactics and accuses the team of animal cruelty for using leather footballs, until she's told the balls are synthetic and the money spent on them goes to charity. Realising she won't be able to morally grandstand this time, she promptly runs off in tears.


Video Example(s):


"You're gonna blow it!"

In a flashback to a high school gymnastics routine, Homer's father Abe sneers at him that he would fail the routine, which he does. This was despite the fact that it was Abe's fault for sneering at his son, which caused him to fumble and fall to the ground in a heap. To add insult to injury, Abe's bitter condemnation to Homer, immediately after yelling "You're gonna blow it" at him, is "That's what I get for having faith in you", which crushes Homer's confidence in a matter of seconds.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / NeverMyFault

Media sources: