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"Who Shot Mr. Burns" is The Simpsons's first multi-part episode. It was the end of season 6 and the opener for season 7.

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This is not a clue... or is it?

Part 1

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Episode - 2F16
First Aired - 5/21/1995

While burying a dead gerbil, Groundskeeper Willie strikes oil on Springfield Elementary. Thrilled with the prospect of the newfound riches, Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers begin accepting suggestions as to what to do with the money the oil will bring; Lisa suggests that they hire famed mambo musician Tito Puente to teach. But one person in town isn't happy with the prospect of Springfield Elementary having oil—Mr. Burns, who fears that it will interfere with his monopoly on the town's power supply. After an extremely transparent attempt to disguise himself as Jimbo Jones fails, Burns vows to get the oil at any cost.

While Burns schemes, Homer becomes increasingly frustrated with the old man's complete inability to remember his name. He tries wearing a nametag around the Power Plant, which Burns fails to notice. Marge then suggests sending him a box of chocolates with a photo of the Simpson family and Homer's name to jog his memory. Burns and Smithers indulge in the candies, pointing out how Monty personally knows every member of the family thanks to their previous exploits. Unfortunately, they don't eat the last chocolate—that is, the one covering Homer's face—and Burns fails to mention the Simpson patriarch in his thank-you card. Homer completely loses his temper and unleashes an Atomic F-Bomb for the ages.

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A few days later, Principal Skinner turns on the new oil derrick the school has built to tap the crude beneath them...but nothing comes out. Burns mockingly reveals that he established a secret slant-drilling operation, draining the oil well for himself. Faced with a huge bill for installing and dismantling the derrick, Skinner is forced to fire Willie and Tito, who, along with Lisa, swear vengeance. The oil drilling leads to other problems in town: the toxic fumes in the neighborhood force Moe to close his tavern, infuriating both him and Barney; a sinkhole opened by the operation destroys the Springfield Retirement Home, leaving Grandpa Simpson homeless and angry; and a gusher from the well destroys Bart's treehouse and injures Santa's Little Helper, which distress both him and Maggie. Delighting in his villainy, Burns tells Smithers that he's still unsatisfied with his schemes, as people can still use natural sunlight for energy. He then reveals his most evil plan of all: using a "sun-blocker" to cover the star, trapping Springfield in perpetual darkness and forcing them to rely on his power plant for all of their needs. This is too much even for Smithers, who demands that Burns stop his plot; a furious Burns fires him instead.

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That night, Homer breaks into Burns's office and uses spray paint to graffiti a massive "I AM HOMER SIMPSON" on the wall—and even though Burns catches him in the act, he still can't recognize him. Homer screams that Burns is a "dead man." Those sentiments are echoed at a Town Hall meeting the next evening, when everyone in town gathers to voice their fury against Monty. Many of the citizens have armed themselves with various firearms and weapons, and seem ready to kill—but when Burns shows up armed with a pistol himself, he gloats that no one "has the guts to stop him." He then activates the sun-blocker, trapping Springfield under the cover of night. A cheery Burns goes for a walk, while other citizens notice that everyone else seems to have vanished. As Burns turns a corner, he speaks to someone offscreen:

"Oh it's you, what are you so happy about?.. Ah, I see. I think you'd better drop it. I said drop it! Get your hands off-"

Marge, standing alone in front of Town Hall, hears a gunshot ring out, and sees Burns stagger out from the shadows, a bullet in his chest. He collapses onto the sundial, and the town gathers in shock. Marge nervously points out that everyone in town had a motive, meaning that the mystery may never be solved...

This episode contains examples of:

  • 6 Is 9: The official answer to the mystery involves a clue where Burns left when he fell on the town sundial, pointing to W and S which implicates Waylon Smithers — except from his angle, he was pointing to M and S for Maggie Simpson, the true culprit. Notably, though, the episode had many Red Herring that still work with those same letters—it could have implicated Moe Szylack (whose last name is even revealed in this episode by his liquor license), Sideshow Mel, Grandpa Simpson (who is brags about his a Smith & Wesson revolver), and even Santa's Little Helper (who Burns prominently refers to as "the Simpson mutt").
  • Accidental Misnaming: The Running Gag regarding Burns never recalling Homer's name reaches its Rage Breaking Point on these episodes. After Homer notices the problem during his first scene, he wears a nametag the next day, only for Burns to greet Lenny, Carl and Guillermo by name while failing to notice the tag. It gets so bad that Homer almost wastes his chance at clearing his name by trying to shoot Burns in the head when the man forgets his name one time too many.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The "pressing parcel processing" scene.
    Smithers: Perk up, Prendergast. Profoundly pressing package to power plant profit projections for Pete Porter in Pasadena.
    Prendergast: Priority?
    Smithers: Precisely.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Mr. Burns tries to convince the elementary school to sign over the rights to the recently discovered oil deposit beneath the school, by dressing as the teenage Jimbo and using what he thinks is modern slang. Since nothing Burns does is ever modern, it's a wonder he even got the outfit right. Principal Skinner isn't fooled.
    Burns: (dressed as Jimbo) Well, me and my fourth form chums think it would be quite corking if you'd sign over your oil well to the local energy concern.
    Skinner: Uh, Mr. Burns. (Burns gasps) It was naïve of you to think I'd mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my elementary school students.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Burns of all characters asks one, when Springfield's hatred of him was even more intense than usual.
    McCallister: Arr, Burns, your scurvy schemes will earn ye a one-way passage to the boneyard!
    Ned: I'd like to hear from Sideshow Mel!
    Mel: I'll see to it that Burns suffers the infernal machinations of hell's grim tyrant!
    Otto: Yeah!
    Burns: Oh, you all talk big, but who here has the guts to stop me?
    The residents of Springfield all look around, expecting someone else to step forward
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • At the town meeting, everyone states their reasons for hating Burns, all of them legitimate reasons to hold a grudge. Except for Marge...
    Marge: HE'S CAUSING US ALL TO YELL!
    • And when Smithers tries to dissuade Mr. Burns from blocking out the sun.
    Smithers: But sir, every plant and tree will die, owls will deafen us with incessant hooting; the town's sundial will be useless.
  • Asshole Victim: Mr. Burns himself.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Homer when his plan to make Mr. Burns remember his name backfires.
    Ned: Dear Lord, that's the loudest profanity I've ever heard!
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Consumed with rage over Mr. Burns repeatedly failing to remember his name, Homer drives to the plant and sneaks into his office, carrying a duffle bag. The bag contains spray paint, which Homer uses to leave the message "MY NAME IS HOMER SIMPSON".
    • When Mr. Burns walks in on Homer and once again fails to realize who he is, Homer snaps and charges towards Burns... and grabs him by the shirt and shakes him.
  • Berserk Button: The old running gag of Burns never remembering Homer's name comes full circle as Homer tries vigorously to get Burns to remember his name in order to put himself on Burns' good side. It's all in vain however, Burns even going as far as to remember every other member of the Simpson household except for Homer. This finally drives an unappreciated-feeling Homer to the brink of murderous rage, nearly beating Burns before being dragged out by security shouting "Oh you're dead, Burns! You're dead!!" Although Homer wasn't the culprit, and he seemed to have one of the simpler, less urgent reasons to kill Burns compared to the rest of Springfield, suspicion of him came ironically from Burns finally remembering Homer's name (albeit in a comatose state) which nearly sealed Homer's supposed guilt. Later Homer visits him and yells at him to take back his accusation, but it turns out while his name is all Burns can say he still can't put it to his face. Homer strangles him to take back the accusation but then Mr. Burns comes and asks Smithers who the man shaking him is, which in turn pushed his Berserk Button once more. Strangely, Burns continues to forget his name for a few seasons, but Homer doesn't seem to care.
  • Blatant Lies: When Principal Skinner shows Superintendent Chalmers the headline "Awful School is Awful Rich", he covers the first "Awful". When Chalmers asks what's written behind the fingers, Skinner says it has nothing to do with the story.
    Skinner: It's an unrelated article.
    Chalmers: An unrelated article? Within the banner headlines?
    Skinner: Yes.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Mr Burns is shot right into chest and still he bleeds very little. Even his hands are clean.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Almost every single person in the whole town of Springfield is murderously enraged at Charles Montgomery Burns for one reason or another and is carrying a firearm. Burns is also armed, but any of them would easily out-draw him if it came to that. But when Burns asks if any of them want to take a shot at him, the whole crowd looks at each other hoping that someone else will take the initiative. Snake even apologizes for not being around to do the shooting everybody wished him to do.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Smithers mentions the town sundial.
    • Mr. Burns' wanting to literally take candy from a baby and starting to carry a gun turn out directly cause his own shooting.
    • All the guns brought to the town meeting make it easy to work out who's not the shooter by the guns they're carrying, like Moe's shotgun.
    • Grandpa Simpson's gun is a literal one, which Marge buries and is later shown to have been dug up.
    • In the background at Moe's tavern, a TV can be seen advertising "Pardon My Zinger" at 3 o'clock—the exact time Burns deploys the sunblocker.
    • The last thing Homer does before the scene at Town Hall is shake Burns while repeatedly saying "My name is Homer Simpson!".
  • Cliffhanger: The first two-part Simpsons episode.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer when Marge gives him an idea to make Mr. Burns remember his name:
    Marge: I have an idea.
    Homer: What? What's your idea?
    Marge: When my father was first trying to catch my mother's eye, he sent her a box of candy with his photo in it. After that, she never forgot him.
    Homer: That's all well and good, but it's not really your idea, is it now, Marge?
  • Compensating for Something: Inverted with Barney saying that the teeny-tiny Derringer he just pulled out of his rear pants pocket is what makes him feel like a man.
  • Cone of Shame: Santa's Little Helper gets one after his legs are injured. Nelson and his parrot laugh at him, and Abe mistakes him for a lamp.
  • Continuity Nod: When Mr. Burns and Smithers are eating from Homer's box of chocolates:
    Smithers: Now look, there's a photo in here.
    Burns: Ah yes, I believe that's little Maggie Simpson, the baby who found my precious teddy bear Bobo. Oh, and that Simpson mutt, my former guard dog. Oh, and um... that's uh, Bart Simpson. He was my heir for a brief period, you know?
    Smithers: Yes sir, I remember.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Homer hates the fact that Mr. Burns can never remember who he is, even though the old man's forgetfulness is likely the reason he's been employed for as long as he has, especially considering the number of times he's drawn Burns' ire in the past.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Homer: Kids... step outside for a second.
    (They run out of the room.)
    Homer: (Inhales deeply) FUU—
    (Jump Cut to outside. A loud F-chord from a church organ pierces through the air as Disturbed Doves fly out of the destroyed treehouse. The local neighbors look out their windows in utter shock.)
    Ned: Dear Lord! That's the loudest profanity I've ever heard!
  • Delegation Relay: Burns tries to send out a package through one of these. It ends up with Homer, who Comically Misses The Point and brings the package back to Burns, who angrily tells him that his name is on the return address.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Marge says the cheesy-sounding "Holy Christmas!" to express surprise and alarm upon seeing the devastation Mr. Burns has wrought through his slant drilling.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Inverted in one of the alternate endings where the culprit turned out to be Smithers. Burns punishes Smithers' murder attempt by giving him a 5% pay cut, to which Smithers is utterly dismayed.
  • Drowning His Sorrows: Smithers does not take being fired well, drinking cheap liquor and watching shows on Comedy Central. (He also mentions that he never misses Pardon My Zinger, which turns out later to be a clue that clears him.)
  • Epic Fail: It turns out that Mr. Burns was shot after he unsuccessfully tried taking candy from a baby (Maggie).
  • Everyone Is Armed: The whole murder plot functions because it is revealed that almost everybody in Springfield (except for a few individuals such as Marge) has access to a firearm of some sort (even a dirt-poor drunk like Barney turns out to have always carried a Derringer in his rear pants pocket). At least a couple of potential suspects —such as Moe— are easy to rule out in hindsight because of their weapons of choice. If Moe had shot Burns, Burns would have been pumped full of buckshot rather than gotten a bullet.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: By the time Mr. Burns is shot, everyone in Springfield has a motive to shoot him & Marge outright says the trope naming phrase. In reality, there was a handful of people who couldn't have done it. note 
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Smithers is Burns' Hypercompetent Sidekick, a hard-core Yes-Man and how much "evil" he actually is himself seriously lands on Depending on the Writer territory, but his temporal downfall stems from the fact that he thinks Burns' terrorizing of the entire town for the sake of getting more money (even before he showcases the solar blocker dish) is going too far. After he becomes a jobless drunk, as well, people are horrified that he's been brought so low that he spends all day watching Comedy Central.
    • Mayor Quimby may be an incredibly corrupt mayor, but he even thought the idea of Burns blocking out the sun to force the people to pay for electricity was an outrage. Also Snake; while he's a thief and a murderer, he disapproved of Burns' plan enough that he apologized for not being around to shoot him.
  • Evil Is Petty: Mr. Burns blocks out the sun from the town, forcing everyone to use his power all the time. His desire to steal candy from a baby afterward to celebrate is a sign that he's crossed the line. And a plot point, believe it or not.
  • Homage: The whole episode, and the next by extension, is a parody of the "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of Dallas.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Santa's Little Helper growls threateningly at Mr Burns when the latter shows up at City Hall, and this is the episode where Mr Burns is at his most evil.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the middle of his Kick the Dog barrage, Burns mentions that it was as easy as taking candy from a baby and he notices a baby in a park holding a candy through his telescope, and he actually wanted to just drop everything he was doing and go steal that candy. Turns out that his actual attempt at doing this later on in the same episode is what almost cost him his life.
    • When Burns dares the people of Springfield to confront him, no one meets his eyes...except Maggie. It's easy to miss.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Many serve as clues to the mystery, but just as many are Red Herrings.
    • The airtime for Pardon My Zinger can be seen on a TV in Moe's — which turns out to give Smithers his alibi.
    • Pay close attention when Burns asks the who is actually willing to shoot him. Everyone in town begrudgingly looks away from him...except for Maggie.
    • Just as Burns collapses onto the sundial, his coat briefly opens, revealing that his holster is empty. This is a major hint, as it reveals that it was Burns's own gun which fired the shot, meaning he must have lost it in a struggle with someone; earlier in the episode, it's shown that Burns lacks the physical strength to take candy from a baby. Maggie is likely the only person who could have possibly caused a struggle in the first place—anyone else would have overpowered Burns immediately.
    • Moe's liquor license and Principal Skinner's diploma show their respective full names to be "Moe Syzlack" and "W. Seymour Skinner", though only the former would be respected in later episodes.
  • Irony: At Marge's suggestion, Homer sends Mr. Burns a box of chocolates with a photo of the entire Simpson family so he'll know who he is. Instead, Burns and Smithers eat everything except the piece covering Homer's face.
  • Jerkass: Mr. Burns might well be at his absolute worst in this episode, stealing oil from a school out of spite, destroying the retirement home, badly injuring Bart and Santa's Little Helper (though that was unintentional on Burns' part, he didn't pay for either of their medical bills and mockingly offered to sell oil for SHL's squeaky medical frame), and then planning to block out the sun entirely, travelling to the town meeting to gloat. And while there, he threatens to draw a gun on Bart, after taunting him about aforementioned injuries to SLH.
  • Kick the Dog: Mr. Burns develops a project to block sunlight from reaching Springfield, to deprive them of one more alternative source of heat and light. Smithers STRONGLY objects to this, and is fired as a result. A town hall meeting is held about this, and Burns shows just when the whole town is being shown what Burns' oil drilling operation did to Santa's Little Helper, who was seen using wheels just to walk down the hallway.
    Burns: Oh, those wheels are squeaking a bit. Perhaps I could sell him a little oil.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The day after Willie strikes oil on the Springfield Elementary campus, the local newspaper's front page reads "AWFUL SCHOOL IS AWFUL RICH."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Mr. Burns collapses on the sun dial, Dr. Hibbert comments "Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery...Can you?" whilst looking and pointing directly at the viewer, before quickly cutting to a different shot to show he was talking to Chief Wiggum. This was done in reference to the contest that ran over the summer, in order for the viewers to figure out the culprit.
  • Literal Metaphor: When Burns brags that his plot was as easy as taking candy from a baby, he spots a baby with candy and attempts to do it literally.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The show's first.
  • No Indoor Voice: During the meeting, everyone seems to have picked up a habit of shouting out what Burns had recently done to their lives. Lampshaded by Marge.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Homer tells Bart and Lisa to go outside before he unleashes an Atomic F-Bomb.
  • No-Sell: When he tries to attack Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns can only flail ineffectually at him.
  • Not a Mask: Used at the end:
    Chief Wiggum: This isn't Mr. Burns' face at all! It's a mask! (pulls on his face) Oh wait, it is Burns. Heh — his wrinkly skin lo-looked like a mask.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The fact that Smithers, the quintessential Yes-Man, can't bring himself to toe the line is a good indicator of how far over the edge Burns has gone.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Principal Skinner describes Mr. Burns as "this town's most prominent 104-year-old man".
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Mr. Burns tries to convince Skinner to give the oil to the power plant by disguising himself as Jimbo Jones. It works about as well as you would expect.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Subverted. Burns is portrayed as an opportunist with no moral restraint. When he decides to block sunlight from Springfield, a town hall meeting is called on the subject, and everyone brings a gun to the meeting. But when someone actually SHOOTS Burns, he is perceived as a victim, despite his obviously evil nature, and the attempted murder is investigated anyway. This is VERY out of character for Springfield, the kind of town that would leave a boy to die in a well for previously pranking the town into thinking someone else fell into it.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr. Burns is probably at his worst in this episode, but when he thinks the Simpsons have sent him a box of chocolates, he has Smithers send a thank you in response. For Burns, that's astoundingly polite (even if he did accidentally miss out Homer).
  • Reality Ensues: Burns dresses up as Jimbo Jones, wearing little more than Jimbo's clothes, so he can convince Principal Skinner to turn over Springfield Elementary's newly discovered oil to him. To his shock, Skinner sees right through his disguise. Skinner points out ridiculous this idea was.
    Mr. Burns, it was naive of you think I would mistake this town's most prominent 104-year-old man for one of my elementary school students.
  • Red Herring: There were a lot of clues that pointed all over the place, and as Marge herself said, almost everybody in town had a motive.
    • Mr Burns losing his gun means that no matter what weapon anybody had, or no weapon at all, anybody could have shot Mr Burns.
    • The sundial clue in part one also serves as this, while also giving the identity of the actual shooter away if one thinks more carefully. Burns' hands land on the west and south points of the sundial, matching the initials of Waylon Smithers, the initial main suspect - and indeed, several other suspects have the letters 'W/M' and 'S' feature prominently in their names (Moe Syzlak, W. Seymour Skinner, Sideshow Mel) or a phrase of some significance (there's a gun floating around that's a Smith & Wesson, Santa's Little Helper is called the "Simpson mutt").
    • Marge Simpson was the only person who should have known where the Smith & Wesson was buried — unless a fellow Simpson who wanted it back was watching her and used it themselves...
    • Sideshow Mel makes a direct threat to Mr Burns.
    • Otto Mann is in the Town Hall — he didn't get his double guitar and he is one of the last people to leave. He also agrees with Sideshow Mel.
    • Agnes Skinner is drawn attention to as one of the last people in the town hall, and W. Seymour Skinner is an ex-army man who left without her.
    • Groundskeeper Willie Macdougal, who is Scottish (meaning "Scottish Willie" works), didn't get his crystal slop bucket and lost his job.
    • Mr Largo, the school's music teacher, also lost his job - but had no attention drawn to him in the Town Hall scene, so maybe he rushed off early?
    • Snake Jailbird — known as such for the Snake tattoo on his arm - shows up with a revolver at the last minute and apologises for not shooting Mr Burns — to Apu.
    • Dr Hibbert laughs at Mr Burns getting shot.
    • Mr Burns stole Jimbo Jones' clothes to impersonate him and we never did see what happened to Jimbo in the meantime. Jimbo is present at the town hall and when everybody else is looking around suspiciously, he looks nervous. And after all...
    • Mr Burns recognised his attacker.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: As he's about to unleash his sun-blocking device, Mr. Burns rhetorically asks the other residents of Springfield if they "have ever seen the sun set at 3 P.M.?" Captain Horatio McAllister goes off into an anecdote about sailing around the Arctic circle once before Mr. Burns tells him to shut up.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Homer spray-painting "I am Homer Simpson" on the walls of Mr. Burns' office. It still doesn't get Burns to remember him.
  • Sanity Slippage: Homer undergoes one as a result of his name not remembered by Mr. Burns.
  • Scale Model Destruction: Mr. Burns goes a bit too far with this.
    Burns: Take that, Bowlerama! Take that, convenience mart! Take that, Nuclear Power Plan— Oh, fiddlesticks.
  • The Scream: A variation appears; on realizing that Mr. Burns has forgotten his name yet again despite all his efforts, Homer takes a deep breath and yells a profanity (starts with an "F", the rest is covered by the sound of an organ playing). It's given exactly the same treatment as The Scream.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Mr. Burns causes massive environmental and property damage with his drilling and ends up blocking out the sun with no implication that he has to pay for any of it. Mayor Quimby makes it clear he's not going to do anything about it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Solemn Ending Theme: To highlight the tension of the cliffhanger, the closing credits of this episode had a serious, march-like version of the main theme.
  • Special Guest: Tito Puente. Applies to Part 2 as well.
  • Spoofing in the Rain: Mr. Burns climbs a lamp post in the same way Gene Kelly did in Singin' in the Rain.
  • Stealth Pun: The church organ chord used to censor Homer's Atomic F-Bomb is an F minor chord.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Mayor Quimby's response to Mr. Burns' destructive deeds... to write a polite but firm letter, with the plan to send it to his underlings, in the hope they'll pass it along or "at least give him the gist of it".
  • Sudden Name Change: Seymour Skinner's diploma shows his full name as "W. Seymour Skinner". This was purely to add him to the list of those implicated by 'W/M' and 'S', and is ignored in all future appearances.
  • Take Our Word for It: When Mr. Burns sends Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie (but not Homer) a thank you card, Homer reacts by shouting something Flanders considers the loudest profanity he's ever heard.
  • Take That!: After losing his job, Smithers now spends all his days watching Comedy Central, leading a disgusted Dr. Hibbert to utter "My God!", and everyone else to look horrified.
  • Tranquil Fury: Homer, when he asks Bart and Lisa to leave for a second, not wanting them to hear his Atomic F-Bomb presumably since it isn't their fault Mr. Burns keeps forgetting his name and to keep them from learning a bad word. Regardless, seeing how dangerously pissed off their father is, Bart and Lisa do as they're told and run away scared.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Before he's shot, Mr. Burns paraphrases the Simon & Garfunkel song "Feelin' Groovy", saying "Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin'? I've come to watch your power flowin'..."
  • Would Hurt a Child: To prevent Bart from attacking him at Town Hall, Mr. Burns flashes his pistol.
  • Wraparound Background: Used on the Couch Gag.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Mr. Burns almost always calls his assistant simply "Smithers" and Smithers almost always calls his boss "Mr. Burns" or "Sir". However, during a heated confrontation between the two as Smithers urges him to reconsider his sun-blocking plan, they have this exchange:
    Mr. Burns: There has been a shocking decline in the quality and quantity of your toadying, Waylon, and you will fall into line, now.
    Smithers: No, Monty, I won't. Not until you step back from the brink of insanity.
  • You Monster!: Said by Bart after Mr. Burns mocks Santa's Little Helper's injuries.

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/who_shot_mr_burns_promo_picture_4.gif
Don't complain about the solution when you hear it.

Part 2

Episode - 2F20
First Aired - 9/17/1995

Kent Brockman reports that Burns was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. He was then taken to a better hospital and pronounced "Alive, but barely". With Burns in a coma and the only witnesses to the shooting being Maggie and Santa's Little Helper, the police suspect Smithers. Smithers also suspects himself, because he has a gun that was recently been fired. Recalling shooting someone, a guilt-addled Smithers goes into a Catholic confessional to vent, which turns out to be a trap by Wiggum. On TV, Smithers makes a comment from an episode of 'Pardon My Zinger' that aired on the night of the shooting. Sideshow Mel realizes that if Smithers saw that episode he could not have been at the town hall to shoot Burns, and reports his thoughts. Smithers realizes that the man he shot was Jasper, but only in his wooden leg. Meanwhile, the sunblocker is torn down, crushing Shelbyville.

With the prime suspect being the first one cleared, police are once again, and as usual, baffled, as their only clue is the bullet pulled from Burns' body. Lisa, wanting to help, names some suspects and their motives; Skinner, Willie, Moe, and Barney, whose livelihoods were endangered by Burns' oil drilling. Wiggum realizes that Tito Puente is also a suspect by that logic, and the police go out to investigate.

  • Tito's 'vengeance' turns out to be a slanderous mambo, much to entertainment of the police.
  • Skinner admits to preparing to attack Burns, but was applying combat make-up at the time of the shooting. A flashback shows that he mixed up his mother's make-up, and while Superintendent Chalmers can vouch for his alibi, "Anything else he says is a filthy lie."
  • Willie claims to have a crippling arthritis in his index fingers from Space Invaders ("Oh yeah, that was a pretty addictive video game." "Video game?"), vouched by his medical records.
  • Via Lie Detector, Moe is also proclaimed innocent (and a pervert who ogles women in the Sears catalog).

After a bizarre dream involving strange symbolism and Lisa talking backwards, Wiggum checks the suit Burns was wearing when shot. He finds an eyelash, and a DNA scan reveals that it came from the Simpson line. At this time Burns wakes up, crying, "Homer Simpson!"

The police raid the Simpson home, and find a gun in the family's car. It not only has bullet markings identical to the one from the shooting, but Homer's fingerprints on it! Homer is arrested, but escapes when Wiggum turns over the paddywagon while trying to get fast food from a drive-thru.

Lisa is unconvinced by the evidence, as the DNA was 'Simpson', not just Homer's. And a flashback reveals that Homer got his fingerprints on the gun by feeling around for an ice cream scoop he dropped.

Meanwhile, a check-up by Dr. Nick ("Hi, everybody!" "Ho, Mersimp Son!") reveals that "Homer Simpson" is the only thing Burns can say, the result of brain trauma.

Lisa goes to the town hall to investigate some more, and has a revelation on who the shooter is. Smithers issues a reward for Homer's capture "Dead or alive", and word gets out that the fugitive is at the hospital Burns is at! The entire town hurries there to find Homer shaking Burns, demanding that the 'accusation' be taken back. This cures Burns' trauma, and he still has no idea who Homer is.

His speech returned to normal, Burns reveals who shot him; Maggie Simpson!

Burns reveals that after the town meeting, he saw Maggie in the Simpson car with a lollipop. Wanting to actually 'take candy from a baby', Burns went at it, but found his strength to be lacking. During the struggle, his gun fell out and into Maggie's arms, firing.

Burns demands that his 'assailant' be arrested, but is shrugged off. After all, it was an accident.

Wasn't it?

The reveal of the real shooter has been referenced in several episodes since.


This episode contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The story concerning the oil under Springfield Elementary that dominated Part 1 is quietly dropped and forgotten about, as is all of the damage that Mr. Burns caused in his efforts to seize it.
  • After Action, Villain Analysis: Smithers provides some.
    Smithers: [Burns] became consumed by greed, he'd steal from anyone...and when he tried to steal our sunlight, he crossed that line between everyday villainy and Cartoonish Supervillainy!
  • The Alibi: Chief Wiggum goes down the list of suspects and finds that each one has an alibi or other exculpation.
    • Smithers, who at first confessed to the murder, makes a comment from the show Pardon My Zinger while being interviewed. Watching the news, Sideshow Mel realized that the show aired at the time of the shooting, and thus Smithers was not the shooter. Further interrogation revealed that he had shot Jasper on his wooden leg while in a drunken rage.
    • Tito Puente planned revenge on Burns, but chose to do so with a slanderous mambo.
    • Principal Skinner confesses he was on his way to shoot Burns, but was still applying face paint when the shooting occured. Superintendent Chalmers can vouch for him, "but everything else he says is a filthy lie." (Chalmers had caught him putting on his mother's makeup by mistake.)
    • Groundskeeper Willie couldn't have fired the shot because of crippling arthritis on his index fingers, which he got in the eighties from Space Invaders. note 
  • All Just a Dream: Smithers wakes up in his apartment to find Mr. Burns in the shower, perfectly fine, and concludes with relief that it was all a dream. Burns then informs Smithers that they are the stars of a 60s detective show called Speedway Squad, at which point Smithers wakes up again and realises, "Wait, that was all a dream!" — Mr. Burns really has been shot. Smithers then remarks, "Hey, then maybe I haven't become a hideous drunken wreck, and —" only to realise that he's in the exact same state he started the episode in, and his mouth still tastes like an ashtray. The whole scene is a spoof of the infamous ending of the eighth season of Dallas, an egregious example of this trope.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Despite it being confirmed that Burns being shot was just a freak accident on his part, the ominous shot of Maggie that closes the episode implies it wasn't.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When Sideshow Mel visits the police station and tells the officers that they have arrested an innocent man, Chief Wiggum thinks he's talking about Dr. Colossus.
  • Analogy Backfire: After Sideshow Mel clears Smithers of shooting Burns, Marge remarks that it's never the most likely suspect. Lisa shoots down Marge's theory by saying that 95% of the time, it is the most likely suspect (the other 5% being down to a deranged lunatic who did it for no reason).
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The Springfielders who tear down Burns' sun blocker rejoice once Principal Skinner states the town it crushed was Shelbyville.
  • Appointment Television: With the help of Sideshow Mel, this was the reason Smithers was proven to be innocent: he couldn't have been the one to shoot Mr. Burns, since his favorite television show was on at the time of the crime, and he never misses it.
  • Art Major Biology: In-universe; Marge is under the impression that marrying Homer gave her Simpson DNA. Lisa is not impressed.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The climax of the episode sees Homer sneak into Mr. Burns' hospital room and moves towards him, hands raised, intending to make sure Burns stops saying he shot him. When everyone rushes into the hospital room later on, we see Homer yet again shaking Mr. Burns by the shirt.
  • "Basic Instinct" Legs-Crossing Parody: There's a segment where Groundskeeper Willie is being interrogated by the Springfield P.D. while wearing a kilt. When he crosses his legs, the cops recoil in horror, before one of them pulls out his sidearm and warns him not to do that again.
  • Big "NO!": Parodied in the foiler ending.
    Burns: The one who shot me was... (freaks out upon seeing Smithers) Waylon Smithers!
    Smithers: NOOOOOO! Wait a minute, yes.
  • The Bore: After the Description Cut from the Tito Puente interview, Skinner is taking a long time recalling where he was during the shooting, hemming and hawing all the way, and all of the policemen in the room are literally falling asleep from the boredom.
  • Bus Crash: It's mentioned the "better hospital" Mr. Burns stays at as mentioned below in Narrative Backpedaling is the Dr. Marvin Monroe Memorial Hospital, the implication being that the Simpsons' former family psychiatrist was Killed Offscreen some time during Season 6, a theory seemingly confirmed in subsequent episodes. Like Burns, this later turns out to be subverted; He later appears complementing Marge's novel in Season 15's "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", stating that he'd just "been very sick".
  • Cardboard Prison: Double subverted for Dr. Colossus: when he tries to escape the police precinct's prison with his "Colosso-Boots" after gloating, he's unable to punch though the roof and he asks for his lawyer, but when Sideshow Mel arrives and says that Wiggum has arrested an innocent man in error, Wiggum immediately assumes he's talking about Colossus and lets him go before Mel can say that he meant Smithers.
  • Cartoonish Supervillainy: Smithers' recap of Mr. Burns' actions in Part One is the Trope Namer.
    Dr. Colossus: Bah! He was a rank amateur compared to Dr. Colossus! (Evil Laugh)
  • Chalk Outline: Provides Lisa with a clue.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The first thing the police do is bring in two "witnesses", who they question despite an infant and a dog. Turns out the baby was the culprit.
  • Crossover: A special episode of America's Most Wanted aired before this episode's debut, looking at the clues and suspects from Part 1.
  • Confess in Confidence: Smithers goes to confession.
    Smithers: Father, I'm not a Catholic, but... well, I tried to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade. But anyway, I've got a... rather large sin to confess. (sniffles) I'm the one who... shot Mr. Burns!
    Wiggum: (pokes head out, cocks gun) That's all I needed to hear! Boy, this thing works great.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Willie damaged his index fingers in The '80s playing Space Invaders. He was addicted but he had absolutely no idea that he was playing a video game.
    • Marge believes that marrying Homer means that her DNA literally became Simpson DNA.
  • Continuity Nod: Dr. Colossus had previously been mentioned as one of Stacy Lowell's previous five husbands in "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy."
  • Description Cut: After Tito Puente's mambo, Wiggum hopes all of the suspect interviews will be as much fun. Cut to the police interviewing the very dull Principal Skinner.
  • Disability Alibi: Groundskeeper Willie is cleared as a potential suspect due to being medically certified to be unable to use a gun from playing too much Space Invaders in his youth.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The culprit behind the shooting was none other than Maggie Simpson, who can't even talk.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Everyone in Springfield seems to just drop their previously murderous vendettas against Mr. Burns, and if anything, are relieved that he recovers at the end no worse for wear.
    • In the alternative ending where Smithers is the culprit, Mr. Burns "punishes" him by cutting 5% off his pay.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Homer is falsely arrested for shooting Burns. The evidence against him seems pretty solid, but he turns out to be innocent. When Burns wakes up from his coma, he shouts "Homer Simpson!", the gun Burns was shot with had Homer's fingerprints on it, and was found under his car seat, and the bullet that was removed from Burns matches the other bullets in the gun. However, "Homer Simpson" is the only thing Burns could say due to brain trauma, Homer didn't know the gun was there and left fingerprints on it without realizing it, the gun was the one Burns had bought after Homer had attacked him in his office prior to the town meeting, and it fell out of his pocket, into Maggie's hands and fired at him before ending up under the car seat (along with the lollipop Burns had tried to take from Maggie).
    • Marge mistakenly believes that by marrying Homer she inherited Simpsons DNA, making her a suspect when it turns up on Burns' coat. Lisa prudently moves the conversation along.
  • Epic Fail: While it turns out that contrary to popular belief it's actually hard to steal candy from a baby, but Burns is such a colossal weakling that trying to take it from Maggie's grip was a Herculean task for him and he started to shake around screaming "give me that!" in a manner similar to struggling with a knife-wielding assailant, which loosened his pistol from its shoulder holster and it fell on Maggie's hands, which was enough of a hard shock to set it off, injuring him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Tito Puente, when interrogated as a suspect, answers that he's not a man who believes in violent revenge: after all, why shoot someone when he can create a slanderous Ear Worm of a mambo that will probably outlive both men?
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: Even though the culprit did seem to come out of the blue, the clues were indeed all there, with the mystery even being drummed up as a contest to see who could figure it out.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The episode opens with Smithers waking up and finding a thought-to-be-dead Mr. Burns in the shower a la Bobby Ewing. Mr. Burns suddenly exposits, "The year is 1965, and you and I are undercover detectives on the hot rod circuit!" Cue the opening sequence of a show called Speedway Squad ("In Color!"). Smithers then wakes up for real.
  • Fugitive Arc: Homer manages to escape police custody because of an accident en route to prison and goes on the lam, trying to demonstrate he wasn't the one who shot Mr. Burns... which unfortunately means that the cops find him almost shooting Burns for real because he's angry that Burns can only say his name.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Tito Puente's "The Villain Sucks" Song includes the lines "¡Burns! / Con el corazón de perronote  / ¡Señor Burns! / ¡El diablo con dinero!note ," and ends with "¡Adiós, viejo!"note 
  • Homage: The opening scene references another Dallas storyline, in which the whole eighth season was revealed to had been All Just a Dream.
  • Humiliation Conga: Moe, on the lie detector.
    Moe: Now would you unhook me already? I don't deserve this kind of shabby treatment! (buzz!)
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue:
    Marge: Why don't you solve the mystery of who put mud in the freezer?
    Bart: Who wants chocolate ice cream?
    Homer: Me! Me! Me!
  • Irony: As it happens, Mr. Burns really can't steal candy from a baby.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: After all of Mr. Burns' crimes, which include stealing Springfield Elementary's oil well, causing immense amounts of property damage, and blocking out the sun, it's stealing candy from a baby that gets him nearly killed.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Burns gets away with a lot. Sure, he got shot, but he stole millions of dollars from the school by rigging the oil well forcing them to let go a number of people including Willie, caused the retirement home to collapse in a sinkhole, ruined Moe's bar via toxin fumes, broke Santa's Little Helper's legs, and drove Homer so crazy over his inability to remember Homer's name that he assaulted him in his office. And his worse plan is to blot out the sun and kill all plant life and force everyone to use his electricity. Yeah, his device got torn down, but unless he paid to repair the damage above offscreen, or the device didn't last long enough to make up for the money he spent building it, he got away scot free with no consequences!
    • The people who tore down Burns' device aren't seen receiving any sort of punishment for crushing Shelbyville either, though considering the Shelbyvillains tend to be bigger Jerkasses than the Springfieldians, this may be more of a case of Laser-Guided Karma for Shelbyville.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Although the plot eventually demonstrates that the "iron-clad" evidence was product of a bunch of highly circumstantial coincidences, Wiggum still manages to pull off a decent enough investigation (with some help from Lisa) when prompted that Homer's (wrongful) conviction was almost sure.
  • Lyric Dissonance: Tito Puente's "The Villain Sucks" Song is an upbeat Mambo that tells Mr. Burns to rot and burn in Hell.
  • Make the Dog Testify: Eddie and Lou attempt to do this with Santa's Little Helper and Maggie.
    Lou: Did you see this guy? Was he anywhere near the parking lot when Burns got shot?
    Eddie: No, it's no use. They ain't talking.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Smithers when he believed he shot Mr. Burns.
  • Narrative Backpedaling:
    Kent Brockman: At 3PM Friday, local autocrat C. Montgomery Burns was shot following a tense confrontation at Town Hall. Burns was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then transferred to a better hospital where doctors upgraded his condition to "alive".
  • Noble Profession: Spoofed. Lisa says that Tito Puente can't be a suspect in the case because he's a celebrity. Chief Wiggum doesn't think so.
  • Noodle Incident: Doubling as Bait-and-Switch, after Lisa dismisses the possibility of their family being guilty of attempted murder, Grampa says that one's actions can surprise a person, casually mentioning "I never thought that I could shoot down a German plane, but last year I proved myself wrong."
  • Not Helping Your Case: As Burns snaps out of saying "Homer Simpson" nonstop, he still doesn't seem to know who Homer is, exasperating him.
    Homer: D'OOOOOOOOOOH! (pulls out a pistol) Say it, Burns! Say I never shot you... (realizes everybody's watching) before.
  • Not So Above It All: Lisa's investigating is a big help to the police, but she completely dismisses the idea of Tito Puente being the shooter, despite the fact he has just as much motive as the other suspects, solely because she admires his music. He does turn out to be innocent but the police were right to investigate him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Homer has one when the police bust into the Simpson home to arrest him for shooting Burns. He gets another, in the form of a scream, when the gun he claims to have never seen before somehow has his fingerprints on it.
  • Parrot Expo-WHAT?: When Smithers asks Jasper to forgive him for shooting his wooden leg, Jasper says "You shot who in the what now?"
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Krusty accused Smithers of stealing a Madonna gag from him. When Sideshow Mel called him out for having stolen it from "Pardon My Zinger", he asked "Stole, made up. What's the difference?"
  • Plot Hole/Series Continuity Error: One that almost completely destroys Smithers' alibi: He says that he left the Town Hall meeting early in order to catch the beginning of "Pardon My Zinger," but Part 1 shows him leaving the same time as everyone else (he can be seen walking past in the background when Lunchlady Doris is commenting on the blocked-out sun).
  • Poor Man's Porn: Moe is forced to admit under a lie detector test that he spends his evenings ogling the women in the Sears cataloguenote .
  • Rage Breaking Point: Homer's violent shaking winds up snapping Mr. Burns out of his "Homer Simpson" stupor... and his first act is to ask Smithers who is shaking him. Homer full on breaks, grabs Chief Wiggum's pistol, and jams it into Burns' head, finger on the trigger.
  • Rapid DNA Test: Parodied. Chief Wiggum presents an eyelash for DNA analysis, and the technician warns that it may take days or even weeks for the results. Then Chief Wiggum hands the technician a large pack of cigarettes as a bribe and the technician corrects himself and says it will take seconds (and it does).
  • Sherlock Homage: Sideshow Mel reaches the conclusion that Smithers must be innocent. While he ponders over the clues, he lights a Holmesian pipe and orders Krusty (the Watson in this case) to come along with him to the police station.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Homer's escape from arrest and sneaking into a hospital disguised as a doctor all spoof The Fugitive.
    • Groundskeeper Willie's investigation while showing he's wearing nothing below his kilt references the most famous scene from Basic Instinct.
    • Chief Wiggum's dream is one to Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
    • The "Speedway Squad" sequence from Smithers' dream references the opening sequence of Police Squad!. Additionally, Smithers walking in on Burns in the shower is another Dallas reference.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The technician mentions that the reason the DNA analysis machine is able to provide an instant database result is because the government has records of everybody on the country (including Springfield) that they get from anyone handling a penny (hence why pennies are still in circulation).
  • Snap Back: The sunblocker is destroyed, but the rest of the havoc caused by Mr. Burns' slant oil drill (Springfield Elementary's massive staff cuts, Moe's Tavern shutting down, Springfield Retirement Castle collapsing, countless other damage caused by careless oil spills) are reversed without explanation.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: Chief Wiggum has a Dream Sequence where Lisa appears, talking in reversed backward speech in an homage to Twin Peaks. When Wiggum repeatedly fails to understand her hints, she eventually gets angry and tells him what she means normally.
  • Spoofing in the Rain: Mr. Burns climbs a lamp post in the same way Gene Kelly did.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Marge tries to bury Grampa's gun, but Grampa digs it back up:
    Grampa: Oh, you're the bee's knees, baby. I missed you bad.
    Marge: Were you talking to me?
    Grampa: Uh... yes.
    Marge: (shudders)
  • Take That!:
    • The first hospital Mr. Burns was brought to pronounced him dead, which another hospital disproves as soon as they take his pulse. The first hospital, which is also quite run down, has a sign labeling it the "Veteran's Hospital"
    • The first thing that clues Sideshow Mel in on Smithers' innocence is when he mentioned watching Comedy Central, which Mel took note of because it was unusual (this episode having been made back when Comedy Central wasn't as popular as it was now).
    • When Burns demands Maggie be arrested for shooting him, Wiggum laughs it off by saying no jury in the world would convict a baby, except maybe Texas.
    • "Pardon My Zinger" insults Madonna by implying she was disappointed in missing out on the Tailhook Scandal, a gag later used by both Krusty and Smithers.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The final lines of the episode are Marge saying that Maggie is too young and innocent to understand what she had done and Maggie giving a shifty look before sucking her pacifier in a way that makes it sound like gunshots (complete with Staggered Zoom). Future episodes showcase that even if she's too young to even know how to talk, she somehow has access to weapons that the rest of the family don't know about and is an expert markswoman with them.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: Tito Puente's creation of one is his alibi for not shooting Mr. Burns.
    Tito: Revenge? Of course. But why wound his body with bullets when I could set his soul afire with a slanderous mambo?
  • Warm Milk Helps You Sleep: Chief Wiggum plans to drink some coffee to keep himself awake. However, he can't find any coffee, so he drinks a carton of warm cream instead. This naturally has the opposite effect.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Chief Wiggum never investigates Barney (there's even a shot of Lisa's chart of suspects with everyone except him crossed out as Wiggum laments that he still hasn't got any leads)note .
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: During Tito's song, a group of clams in the kitchen starts dancing to it. The chef looks on in astonishment, smiles and then dumps them in a boiling pot anyway.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole?: Downplayed in that Burns isn't killed, but he does everything in his power to become such a colossal example of the Asshole Victim within a handful of minutes/a couple of days In-Universe that the ensuing mystery was treated pretty seriously because, yeah, even babies wished him dead.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Once everything has been cleared and Homer is declared innocent, Burns immediately points out that things are not over yet and orders Wiggum to arrest Maggie (a baby) for his attempted murder. Wiggum refuses because 1) it was very clearly an accident and 2) no jury in the world would convict a baby... except maybe Texas.

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