This page covers tropes found in The Simpsons.
- Cable-Car Action Sequence: When the family goes to Brazil and Homer gets kidnapped, they decide to do the hand-over on two cable-cars. Naturally throwing the money over was a lot easier than Homer jumping over; when he does the cable snaps. The kicker is that it turned out to be Homer's idea in the first place.
- Calling Your Shots:
- When Homer becomes the star player on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team, at one point he points to left field calling his home run. Then he hits a homer to right field. He stands there looking silly for a moment, then retroactively calls his shot to right field instead.
- Parodied in a later episode when Crazy Cat Lady Eleanor Abernathy, who's given to cat-tossing, points over the roof to call a toss.
- Calvinball: In one episode Bart and Homer are playing a board game that's a cross between Battleship and Scrabble.Bart: B6.
Homer: You sank my Scrabbleship!
Lisa: This game makes no sense.
Homer: Tell that to the good men who just lost their lives. [saluting a game piece] Semper fi.
- The Cameo: The show has a boatload of celebrity cameos, often at the insistence of the writers who want their favorite actor or actress to appear on the show, but these days, it's because the celebrities love the show so much that they want to appear in it. This trope is also one of the many reasons behind the show's decline, due to the fact that the celebrities usually appear for just one scene and do nothing to add to the story.
- Camp Straight: Sideshow Bob, though mainly in the Latin American dub.
- Canada, Eh?: The stereotype is of course featured, especially in episodes like "Midnight Rx" and "The Bart Wants What It Wants" where the action travels north.
- Played with in "You Only Move Twice":Boy in remedial class: I moved here from Canada, and they think I'm slow, eh?
- There's a website called "Simpsons, Eh?", featuring the show's gags about Canada.
- Played with in "You Only Move Twice":
- Canary in a Coal Mine:
- In the episode "Radio Bart", the citizens of Springfield are digging a tunnel to save a boy stuck on a well. At one point they find the canary dead and evacuate. Dr. Hibbert then determines that the canary died of natural causes and they go back to digging.
- One episode has Bart, Homer, Flanders and his kids out at sea on a raft. Homer thinks they're too far from shore, Flanders sees a gull and declares that they're saved, as gulls only come out to sea to die. The gull is then heard cawing and dropping dead in the water. Homer gloats that he was right and Flanders wasn't, and they're eventually rescued when they run into an offshore oil rig.
- Candlelit Ritual: One episode has Marge Simpson discover her sisters, Patty and Selma, in the attic. The sisters have a pentagram on the floor with lit candles at the points. Marge wonders what they're doing and why.Patty: Trying to summon Satan.
Selma: Nothing good on TV.
- Cannot Tell a Joke:
- Homer fails at humorous limericks. He tries to disprove this by saying "There once was a man from, I think it was Nantucket. And anyway, he had this interesting characteristic..." At this point, he can't remember the rest and Lenny and Carl just snicker at him.
- In the episode "Marge Simpson in Screaming Yellow Honkers", it takes Principal Skinner less than 30 seconds to screw up the Who's on First? routine he is doing with Superintendent Chalmers, by explaining that he doesn't mean the pronoun 'who' but rather that there is a player with the unlikely surname of 'Who' playing first base.
- Canon Discontinuity: "The Principal and the Pauper". Even Matt Groening regards the episode as a mistake.
- Canon Immigrant: Milhouse was actually created for the Simpsons Butterfinger advertisements.
- Can't You Read the Sign?: Used multiple times:
- In "Homer The Vigilante", Herman shows Homer a "miniature version of the A-bomb" which "the government built in the fifties to drop on beatniks". Homer then goes into a daydream sequence where he rides the bomb a la Dr. Strangelove onto a group of beatniks only for it to cut back to reality where he's actually riding the displayed bomb. Herman then points out the adjacent sign reading "DO NOT RIDE THE BOMB".
- There's also an instance early on in the episode with Homer's heart attack when he begins a quiet prayer to God and is shushed immediately by the nurse, who points to a sign reading "NO PRAYING".
- When Homer is injured in a prison rodeo, he is treated in the prison's medical facility. When Marge remarks that he's being very stoic about the situation, he says he can't complain, then points out a sign saying "No Complaining". The doctor says that the sign's only for the prisoners, so Homer starts letting it all out: "Oh, I hurt so much! And my job is so unfulfilling..."
- Lisa is trying to ride the bus to see a museum exhibit:Lisa: Um, excuse me, sir, when does the bus get to the museum?
Bus Driver: It doesn't.
Lisa: Oh, but isn't this the 22?
Bus Driver: Yep. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Tuesday and Thursday, it's the 22A.
Lisa: 22A?! But then where the heck am I?
Bus Driver: Don't make me tap the sign. [points to sign saying "DO NOT TALK TO DRIVER"]
Lisa: But I'm lost and I need to know where...
Bus Driver: [repeatedly taps the sign]
- In order to protect himself from Homer, Bart hid behind a sign reading "Report Child Abuse".
- When they made a Parody of The Da Vinci Code, Lisa entered a place that had a sign forbidding it. Under it, there was another sign alternatively allowing it, stating it was a sign, not a cop.
- When Homer got lost inside a labyrinth, he tried to climb his way out but got electrocuted. He then found a sign stating it was electrified. Out of anger, he punched it and got another shock. He then found a sign reading "Signs also electrified".
- Captain Colorbeard: "The Color Yellow" contains a reference to Bart-Beard the Pirate.
- Captain Obvious:
- In "Homer vs. Dignity", during the infamous "panda rape" scene:Lisa: Something's wrong! Terribly wrong!
- After Lisa's goalkeeping results in a shining victory for her team, Marge praises her performance:Marge: By blocking the net, I really think you helped your team!
- One episode had Homer attempting to play "Horse Whisperer":Homer: When the race starts, run real fast!
- Dr. Marvin Monroe proposed an experiment wherein he would raise a baby to adulthood in a sealed box, providing it only with basic nutrition, along with the occasional icy shower or electric shock. His theory:Dr. Monroe: The subject will be socially maladjusted, and will harbor a deep resentment towards me.
- After Homer sees his nerd friends from college get mugged by Snake Jailbird:Homer: Wait a minute... THAT'S not the wallet inspector...
- After Homer's brain tells him that finding $20 is better than finding a peanut because $20 will get him a lot of peanuts:Homer's brain: Money can be exchanged for goods and services.
- Don Vittorio in "Homie the Clown":Don Vittorio: To murder a funny man of such genius would be a crime!
- In the episode "Flaming Moe's", Homer is angry that Moe stole his drink idea. Marge tells him to take comfort in the fact something he invented makes people happy.Homer: Oh, look at me! I'm making people happy! I'm the magical man from Happyland in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane! [slams door then reopens door] Oh, by the way, I was being sarcastic. [slams door]
Marge: Well, duh.
- A slightly subtler example from the episode "Bart's Inner Child", overlapping Exposition:Homer: Well, here we are at the Brad Goodman lecture.
Lisa: We know, Dad.
Homer: I just thought I'd remind everybody. After all, we did agree to attend this self-help seminar.
Bart: What an odd thing to say...
- In "Last Tap Dance in Springfield": Chief Wiggum, caught in a rat trap baited with cheese says "My mistake was grabbing the cheese".
- In "Jazzy and the Pussycats" Bart exclaims "My arm! It hurts where the tiger's biting it!"
- Combine with Idiot Hero / Captain Oblivious and Overly Long Gag:Cult Member: We're having a free get-acquainted session at our resort this weekend.
Homer: How much is this free resort weekend?
Cult Member: It's free.
Homer: And when is this weekend?
Cult Member: It's this weekend.
Homer: Uh-huh. And how much does it cost?
Cult Member: Um, it's free.
Homer: I see. And when is it?
Cult Member: It's... this weekend.
Homer: And what are you charging for this free weekend?
- In "Eight Misbehavin'", when Homer meets Allen Wrench:Homer: [laughs] He's named after what he is!
- Other Marge examples:Marge: Cannons are designed to hurt.
Marge: Maybe [what's in your hair] is just shampoo. That washes right out.
- In "Homer vs. Dignity", during the infamous "panda rape" scene:
- Captive Date: Patty and Selma have been known to engage in this:Tech Guy: Hey, this TV ain't broke. It's just been unplugged.
[Patty closes the door.]
- Captivity Harmonica:
- Seen on "Kamp Krusty" during the montage of the miserable time the kids are having.
- Lampshaded on "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish," when Homer is in jail and asks a prisoner playing the harmonica what he's in here for? The prisoner's answer: "Atmosphere."
- Cardboard Box of Unemployment: When Gil is fired from the real estate company, someone brings him a box with his stuff, flips it upside down and tells him to pick them up.
- Card-Carrying Villain:
- While Mr. Burns only called himself 'completely evil' once, and that was in the context of him wanting to go overboard from saying he's a 'bad boy' after his girlfriend left him for Snake, he does seem pretty damn aware that the various plans he has aren't very nice.Grandma Bouvier: I swear, Monty, you are the Devil himself.
Burns: [gasp] WHO TOLD YOU—Oh ho ho! Yes, well...
- He gets announced with the Imperial March from Star Wars, more commonly used to announce Darth Vader.
- When he's sent to jail in a The Green Mile parody, the John Coffey Captain Ersatz sucks a glowing green substance from his mouth, causing him to reply, "That was only my pre-evil." The next wave of funk is visibly nastier.
- Mr. Black from the episode "Kamp Krusty" made a toast "to evil!"
- It's even more blatant in the Japanese dub, where he says "Akuma ni kampai," which translates to "A toast to the devil."
- While Mr. Burns only called himself 'completely evil' once, and that was in the context of him wanting to go overboard from saying he's a 'bad boy' after his girlfriend left him for Snake, he does seem pretty damn aware that the various plans he has aren't very nice.
- Carload of Cool Kids: This happens more than once:
- In episode "Viva Ned Flanders", Ned frets about being seen as old-fashioned and sees Grampa in a car with young ladies. It turns out they hijacked his car and he's being held hostage.
- Bart and Lisa are forced to hold hands as field trip partners in Capital City. They are mocked by a random group of four young hipster-looking guys in a retro convertible.Cool guy: Hey, dude, who's your girlfriend? [all cool kids laugh]Cool guy: Did you see his face? [they drive off, Bart and Lisa groan and let go of their hands; kids return]Cool guy: Well, what happened, dude? Did your girlfriend dump you? [cool kids laugh and drive off again]
- In the episode where Edna Krabappel gets replaced by a "cool" new teacher because of Bart spiking her drink with alcohol mid-class). First scene of the episode is a montage of Ms. Krabappel's morning rush to school. While she's in the car she sings along to a song playing on the radio; at that moment a carload of teens in a convertible pulls alongside her and heckle her for it.Teen: Look at that! An old lady singing a million-year-old song!
- Carnivore Confusion: A rare human example is lampshaded in "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" when someone offscreen says "I think I ate people meat!"Bart: Ew.
- Carpet-Rolled Corpse: In a Treehouse of Horror segment there's a Bottomless Pit in the woods near Springfield where people dump stuff they don't want anybody to ever find. We see the Springfield Mafia dump a carpet (presumably with body enclosed) down the pit.
- Car Ride Games:
- In "Simpsons in the Wild," Bart and Lisa play "Guess That Smell." Lisa wins by correctly guessing "Dad's feet."
- In "Selma's Choice," Marge thinks it's nice that Bart and Lisa play a "counting game" when they go by car to Aunt Gladys's funeral. Too bad they count bags and suitcases that fell out of the car.
- In "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade," Bart and Lisa play Punch Buggy on the bus in Capital City. When other nearby students ask what they're doing they explain the rules, only for the bus to immediately drive past a Volkswagen dealership. The entire class begins wildly punching each other, with even Otto getting involved ("Two for flinching!") and when they exit the bus everyone is rubbing their arms and groaning.
- Cash Lure: Mr Burns does it in one episode to bait children: dangling a large denomination bill on a string out of the window of his limousine and then driving away as Bart tries to pick it up.
- Casino Episode:
- In one episode, the church is destroyed, so Marge, Reverend Lovejoy, Ned, and some other churchgoers start going to a casino to win enough money for repairs.
- "$pringfield" has Mister Burns opening a casino, where Homer works as a blackjack dealer and Marge becomes addicted to playing slots.
- Cassandra Truth:
- When Homer designs a car for his brother's company, the professional designers call Herb with concerns. Herb dismisses this as the designers hating the fact that someone else is in control, not even bothering to see what Homer is making until it's unveiled for the public.
- In "Bart the Fink", Bart swears he saw (the deceased) Krusty on the street, but when he tells Marge, she brushes it off as seeing Krusty in his mind. Turns out Krusty was actually alive, and living incognito.
- Cat Smile: Whenever their heads are fully facing the viewers, the characters tend to sport one to represent their overbites. This Tumblr blog features a few examples of this happening.
- Catapult Nightmare: Seen in numerous episodes. The trope is so common in this show that the writers called attention to how unrealistic it is in many of the DVD commentaries. Perhaps the funniest example of this trope, though, was in "Moaning Lisa" after Homer's nightmare of losing to Bart in the boxing video game: He jolts up, screams for many seconds, then calmly lays back down to go back to sleep.
- Catchphrase: So many over the years.
- Lampooned in one episode, where Lisa tells Bart to be himself "instead of a one-dimensional character with a silly catch-phrase" (after Bart spent most of the episode repeatedly saying "I didn't do it" for the public), only to have everyone who had a catchphrase appear to belt it out. Then the entire group looks to Lisa, who's never had a catchphrase.Lisa: If anyone needs me I'll be in my room.
Homer: What kind of catchphrase is that?
- Mocked in another episode when Lisa uses Bart's early catchphrases "Ay caramba" and "Don't have a cow, man". When he complains to Marge, she points out that he hasn't used it in years.
- Show-within-a-show example: On "Police Cops", Detective Homer Simpson (in the pilot version) says "And THAT'S the end of that chapter", and (in the regular series version) says "Uh-oh, Spaghetti-os!" (similarly, the police chief shouts, "Simp-SON!")
- The writers frequently have fun with Nelson's "haw haw!" catchphrase, such as in "Team Homer" when he forgets his catchphrase due to the new uniforms, or in "Bart Carny" when only half of his phrase is heard when Bart briefly opens the door to the backyard, followed by the other half when Marge opens it again.
- Lampooned in one episode, where Lisa tells Bart to be himself "instead of a one-dimensional character with a silly catch-phrase" (after Bart spent most of the episode repeatedly saying "I didn't do it" for the public), only to have everyone who had a catchphrase appear to belt it out. Then the entire group looks to Lisa, who's never had a catchphrase.
- Catch the Conscience: The school stages a play to make Mr. Burns donate to them. It doesn't work.
- Caught in the Bad Part of Town: In "Lost Our Lisa", Lisa gets stranded on the Wrong Side of the Tracks after getting on the wrong bus. She has to trek back through Springfield's surprising number of bad neighborhoods while Homer searches for her.
- Caught on the Jumbotron:
- One episode has the "Make an Ass of Yourself!" event for the Jumbo, and it focuses on Bart. He refuses, and so Homer tickles him until Bart wets himself.
- Another has the kiss-cam, only with some rats and two straight guys.
- In "Dancin' Homer", Homer appears on the Jumbo and starts waving to everyone... then the camera pans down to focus on his open fly.
- Caustic Critic: Homer becomes one (misguidedly, of course) in "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?"
- Celebrity Paradox: Numerous examples, in large part due to the sheer popularity of The Simpsons itself meaning many of the shows and celebrities they reference have also referenced The Simpsons.
Bart: Hey, McBain, I'm a big fan, but your last movie really sucked.
- Patty and Selma are avowed MacGyver fans, and get to kidnap Richard Dean Anderson while he was attending a Stargate SG-1 convention. His character on Stargate, Jack O'Neill, is a big Simpsons fan (mirroring Anderson as well, becoming a Promoted Fanboy with that episode).
- Rainier Wolfcastle is a stand-in for Arnold Schwarzenegger, mostly with similar movie characters like McBain. Sometimes the line is really thin to the point where Bart approached Rainier and told him:
Rainier: I know; there were script problems from day one.
Chief Wiggum: Yeah, I'll say. "Magic ticket", my ass, McBain.
Rainier: Maria, my mighty heart is breaking. I'll be in the Humvee.
- Censorship by Spelling: This clever call back to Krusty's illiteracy in "Grade School Confidential":Maude Flanders: We're talking about S-E-X in front of the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N.
Krusty: The Sex Cauldron? I thought they closed that place down.
Marge:Come on kids, we're going to visit Grandpa, then we're gonna take the dog to the V-E-T. Then take Bart to be C-I-R-C-U-M-C-I-S-E-D.
- In "The Day The Violence Died", Marge suggests getting rid of "The B-U-M" (Chester Lampwick).
- Also in "Don't Fear The Roofer":
Bart:(to Marge) Does this mean you and dad might get a D-A-V-U-R-S?Marge:Young man, you go work on your spelling or I'll delete all the custom ring tones from your cell phone.
- In "Milhouse Of Sand And Fog", trying to spell divorce:
Homer:Earth to Marge. Earth To Marge. I was there. The clown is G-I-L-L-T-Y.
- Bad spelling also happened in "Krusty Gets Busted", after Homer saw Sideshow Bob disguised as Krusty rob the Kwik-E-Mart:
- Central Theme:
- Family will always stand by you and accept you for who you are, no matter how much you fight, how different you are, or how crazy you drive each other.
- For Springfield in general: Everyone in the world is unique and seems a little insane to everyone else. You won't make them change. Get used to it.
- For Springfield Elementary: The education system is flawed and so are the people in it.
- The Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and its effect on the town is one big Green Aesop.
- Centrifugal Farce: Homer & Barney each get put in one of these when they're being trained as astronauts. Homer in particular briefly turns into Popeye due to the G's.
- Chair Reveal:
- Done in "The Italian Bob": Sideshow Bob turns out to be the mayor of Salsiccia, and he's just as surprised at the Simpsons for coming to Italy.
- Parodied in the "Chief Wiggum P.I." short from "The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase", where Wiggum pursues Big Daddy all the way to his mansion, and we see Big Daddy run into his office, sit in his chair, and turn his back to the door moments before Wiggum enters just so he can pull this stunt.
- Done in "New Kids on the Blecch" when L.T. Smash reveals the other three members of the Party Posse.
- Chaos Architecture: The precise layout of 742 Evergreen Terrace runs on Rule of Funny, with rooms happily relocating themselves to better serve a scene or joke.
- The upstairs bedrooms in-particular are prone to shuffling themselves around in service of scenes where characters need to look outside at something specific. For one example, in "My Sister, My Sitter", Bart's room initially takes the place of the front-facing master bedroom so he can observe Lisa returning home. Later, his room moves to its usual spot in the rear right of the house, with the master bedroom moving to be to its left. Finally, it moves again to the front-facing spot usually reserved for Maggie's room for the climax, as Maggie's room moves to the back so Lisa can climb out onto a tree.
- The entrance to the basement alternates between being in the foyer and being in the aforementioned small hallway. When not being used as the basement entrance, the door at the end of the foyer is usually a tiny storage closet, or on one occasion a bathroom. The show also very rarely features a room underneath the staircase, which has also been both the basement's entrance and a bathroom.
- Chaos While They're Not Looking: In "Summer of 4 Ft. 2", Lisa is furious at Bart for revealing her true geeky nature to her new beach friends. In one scene, when Marge leaves the room, Lisa grabs Bart by his collar and prepares to pour syrup on his eyes, only to put everything back the second she reenters.
- Character Action Title: Several episodes follow this trend.
- Characterisation Click Moment:
- Lisa for the large part in the early shorts and episodes was just a slightly more savvy version of Bart. The first season episode "Moaning Lisa" however, established a more precocious, self-aware, and melancholy side to her (as well as her passion for jazz music), that would slowly transform into the insecure TV Genius characterisation she had in seasons after.
- Much like Lisa, Marge was a fairly passive character in the shorts and early episodes, with even Homer sometimes being a more proactive voice of concern. While signs of her Wet Blanket Wife persona do seep in at times in late Season One note , the second season episode "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge" codifies her overprotective moral guardian role, with later episodes making her more comically out of touch and prone to nagging.
- Ned Flanders started off as merely an Always Someone Better foil for Homer, with few other characteristics besides his Verbal Tic. The Season Two episode "Dead Putting Society" not only fleshes out the rivalry between the two and introduces the other Flanders family members, but establishes most of Ned's God-fearing do-gooder personality (right down to his incessant bugging of Reverend Lovejoy).
- Milhouse in most early appearances was just an average friend of Bart. The second season episode "Three Men and a Comic Book" however shows some facets of his comically clueless and wimpy persona, being an indecisive middle man between Bart and Martin when feuding over the comic and bawling terrified during Bart's Friend or Idol Decision.
- Waylon Smithers was depicted as a Yes-Man to Mr Burns from his first appearance, however it is Season Two's "Brush With Greatness", where he very passionately expresses his sincere love and devotion to Burns as a person in a conversation with Marge (in spite of simultaneously getting kicked around by him), that shows his forming into a rather sympathetic and conflicted sycophant. Later in the same episode, he faints at Marge's nude painting of Burns, also clicking the more extreme fondness he has for Burns.
- Character Outlives Actor:
- After Phil Hartman died in 1998, Matt Groening had Hartman's characters, Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure, retired out of respect. The last episode to feature Hartman, "Bart the Mother", which had Troy McClure, aired the following season. Both Hutz and McClure are alive in story and continued to appear in crowd shots, but have never done anything significant. They also appear frequently in the comics, since they don't need to be voiced.
- This initially happened to Lunchlady Doris as well after Doris Grau's death. Eventually, she started getting voiced appearances again with the help of Tress MacNeille.
- A real problem arose in 2006 when Marge's German voice actress Elisabeth Volkmann died. She had to be replaced to keep the German dub running, but Anke Engelke, another famous TV comedian, sounds nothing like her.
- It happened again in October 2013, when Marcia Wallace, the actress for Ms. Krabappel died, so Edna Krabappel was (technically) written out of the show too, much like Hutz and McClure, though didn't occur in practice until around the 25th or 26th season, as some episodes with the character had already been recorded prior to her passing. The episode "Four Regrettings and a Funeral", shown on November 3rd, 2013, was dedicated to Wallace.
- Charge-into-Combat Cut: In a far far future epilogue, two factions of Bart followers wage Holy War."Bart" Soldier: We believe that God's last prophet, Bart Simpson preached a message of tolerance, and love.
"Bartman" Soldier: We believe the holy Bartman preached a message of understanding and peace, before he was betrayed by his follower, Milhouse! And pulled apart by snow-mobiles, until he died.
"Bart" Soldiers: Eat my shorts!!!
"Bartman" Soldiers: Cowabunga!!!
[fade to black as they charge each other]
- Chariot Pulled by Cats: "White Christmas Blues":
- Crazy cat lady is seen in the intro driving a sleigh pulled by several of her cats.
- In the intro, Mr Burns is driving a sleigh drawn by his signature hounds. (Dogs are sometimes used to pull sleigh in real life, but it's Played for Laughs here as Mr Burns signature hounds are usually sent to chase away unwanted guests.)
- Marge and Maggie look like Christmas elves in the intro and they ride in a sleigh pulled by several greyhounds which is Santa's Little Helper breed.
- Homer's romantic carriage ride through the snow, advertised as a horse-drawn carriage, is actually Homer sitting in a small cart pulled by Snowball the cat and Santa's Little Helper the dog. He puts pictures of a mouse and a cat, respectively in front of them to power the cart by Animal Jingoism. There's no place for the tourists to sit and they are supposed to just watch him drive.
- Chase-Scene Obstacle Course: The cops are taking Bart for a day on the job. While they are explaining that it's not the action-oriented job Hollywood makes it out to be, they are interrupted by a heist and immediately start a high-speed chase through an alley full of cardboard boxes.
- Cheated Angle: Early seasons would have protracted shots of the characters facing directly at the camera while talking, but it tends to look weird as their expressions are much flatter. Starting about the third season the animation stopped doing so altogether except in brief instances, typically to utilize the unsettling look of that angle. Bart, Lisa and Maggie's hair do not change much regardless of what angle they are facing. One visual joke was made where Homer was playing with Lisa and spinning her upside down, the star points of her hair remained in the exact same place even though she was rotated 180 degrees.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: The Trope Namer, although not an actual example of the trope, is heard in the episode Round Springfield when, due to budget cuts, belligerent Scotsman Groundskeeper Willie is shown to be the French teacher at Springfield Elementary.Willie: Bonjouuurrrrrr, ya cheese-eating surrender monkeys!
- Chekhov's Gag: Several.
- A model airplane in "$pringfield".Burns: Smithers, I've designed a new plane. I call it the "Spruce Moose", and it will carry two hundred passengers from New York's Idyllwild Airport to the Belgian Congo in seventeen minutes!
Smithers: That's quite a nice model, sir.
[Later, near the end of the episode...]
Burns: Now, to the plant! We'll take the Spruce Moose. Hop in!
Smithers: [nervous laughter] But, sir —
Burns: [draws gun] I said, hop in.
- In "Itchy & Scratchy Land", the family, heading to the titular theme park, makes a brief stop at "Five Corners", in which five different states intersect. 15 seasons later, Sideshow Bob takes Bart to the same area in "The Bob Next Door" to exploit extraterritorial jurisdiction, setting the stage for the episode's climax.
- A model airplane in "$pringfield".
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The size of Krusty's and Sideshow Bob's feet in "Krusty Gets Busted".
- Also, "property of Bart Simpson" stickers in "Radio Bart." They're a Running Gag earlier in the episode, but when Bart throws his radio down a well to prank the town into thinking a kid fell down there, Lisa finds out, and points out that he was probably dumb enough to leave one of those stickers on the radio. Bart then rushes to the well, to retrieve the radio from it, but falls into the well himself.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Manjula. She first appeared as a little girl in Apu's flashback in the seventh season episode Much Apu About Nothing, in which Apu tells her that he is sorry that their arranged marriage will not happen, before getting on a plane departing for the U.S. She comes back in The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons where Apu finds that he can't escape his arranged marriage with her.
- Chew-Out Fake-Out: In "Lisa Gets An A", Skinner calls Lisa to his office to discuss the results of yesterday's test, on which Lisa cheated:Skinner: I've just received some rather unusual news regarding your unprecedented A-triple-plus. To be honest, I'm surprised and saddened. Eh, no, not saddened... what's the word? Ah, yes, delighted!
- The Chew Toy:
- Hans Moleman, who gets killed in nearly every appearance.
- Milhouse never has any luck, especially with his family.
- Frank Grimes exists only to point out Homer's good fortune and then dies in his only episode.
- Bart Simpson sometimes when the plot demands it.
- Childish Older Sibling: Bart is perhaps the most renowned example in all of television. He's a lazy troublemaker who constantly pulls pranks or makes petty taunts. His younger sister Lisa is studious and responsible, and his other younger sister Maggie is Wise Beyond Their Years.
- Children Are a Waste: There's a group of single people who get tired of dealing with other people's children and lead a campaign for more restrictions on kids. They succeed, and Marge leads a counter-campaign to get everything back to normal.
- Children in Tow: In one episode, the fire truck rushes to a fire only to be delayed by a mother duck crossing the road with a lot of ducklings.
- Chirping Crickets: In "Monty Can't Buy Me Love", Mr. Burns waits for the kudos to roll in from his donation to the Springfield Hospital. He waits until evening, when the crickets outside begin chirping. Mr. Burns pushes a button on his desk, which releases cricket poison outside, killing the crickets.
- The Chosen Zero: When Homer becomes a member of the secret society The Stonecutters, he is found to have a special birthmark that signifies he is The Chosen One. As Homer usually does in these situations, he screws it up. At least one or two characters have their doubts that he's really the one prophesied by the Sacred Parchment.
- Christian Rock:
- Flanders briefly dated a Christian Rock singer.
- Ned Flanders mistakes Chris Rock for a Christian Rock concert. He later says that he's "never heard a preacher use the 'm-f' word so many times".
- There's a parody of the Christian parody rock band Apologetix in "The Father, The Son, and The Holy Guest Star". Their name is Pious Riot.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Averted, and may be one of the most prominent aversions in American pop culture. Reverend Lovejoy is married and wears a necktie instead of a Roman collar. The big town church is Presbylutheran, a fictional combination of the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches. When Catholics show up, like the priest voiced by Liam Neeson, they seem exotic in context.
- Christmas Creep: The show brings this up quite often, most notably in "Treehouse of Horror XIV", a Halloween special that was pre-empted and aired in early November, Kang and Kodos mention in the intro "Who is watching a Halloween special in November? We already have our Christmas decorations up!"
- Christmas Episode: Several of them, including the series premiere:
- Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire: Homer works as a mall Santa to keep the family from discovering that he didn't get his Christmas bonus after finding out that Marge blew the family's Christmas money on getting Bart's tattoo removed.
- Marge Be Not Proud: Bart gets busted for shoplifting at the Try-n-Save, and Marge becomes so depressed that she cuts Bart off from all the holiday fun.
- Miracle on Evergreen Terrace: Bart accidentally burns down the family's fake Christmas tree, and covers his tracks by saying that burglars robbed them on Christmas Eve.
- Grift of the Magi: Springfield Elementary gets closed down to a Mafia deal gone bad, but reopens when a toy company uses the school as a focus group to create the holiday season's hottest new item
- Skinner's Sense of Snow: The kids are snowed in the day before winter break, and Skinner tries to keep them in line.
- She of Little Faith: After the local church is forced to put up advertising to pay for damages done by Homer's toy rocket, Lisa loses her faith in Christianity (or Presbylutherism, as it's called on this show) and converts to Buddhism with the help of Lenny, Carl, and special guest star Richard Gere.
- 'Tis the Fifteenth Season: A Christmas version of the season five episode, "Homer Loves Flanders" in which Homer becomes the nicest man in the neighborhood after realizing his Yuletide selfishness has made him a jerk.
- Simpsons Christmas Stories: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Kill Gil: Volumes 1 and 2: Resident Butt-Monkey Gil Gunderson gets fired as a department store Santa and crashes with The Simpson family for a year, which irritates Marge.
- The Fight Before Christmas: Another multi-part Christmas episode, which includes a parody of Inglorious Basterds and guest appearances by celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart and pop singer Katy Perry
- Holidays of Future Passed: 30 years into the future, Bart and Lisa are parents trying to take care of their rebellious kids while Maggie is a single, pregnant pop singer trying to get to the hospital to have her baby.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure, after Phil Hartman, the voice actor who played both of them, was sadly murdered.
- Church of Saint Genericus: The ministry of Springfield is the made up Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism.
- Circle of Shame: Happens more than once. One example comes when Bart fantasizes about his family's reaction to him "ruining Thanksgiving".
- Classically Trained Extra: Both Sideshow Bob and Sideshow Mel. In fact, Bob's original intention for framing Krusty wasn't just revenge for him being robbed of his dignity but also out of a desire to provide children's television that is not only entertaining but is educational and thoughtful as well. It worked so well that even though he was arrested after only a few days he won an Emmy for his work.
- Clean Cut: In "Realty Bites", Snake attempts to decapitate Homer with a length of piano wire strung across the road. He fails, but he does cleanly slice off the arm of Kirk van Houten's (who was waving a sandwich in the air).
- Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Homer does it as he climbs to the top of what he hopes to be the worlds tallest human pyramid.
- "Who Shot Mr. Burns", the only two-parter the show ever did.
- "Missionary: Impossible", which cuts away from Homer and Lisa Jr. (who are about to fall into the lava) to Betty White and the PBS telethon. We never do find out how Homer and Lisa Jr. got out of that predicament.
- While not a true two-parter, the season 23 premiere revealed the results on the Ned/Edna relationship poll which started after the previous season's finale. They stay together.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Invoked at the end of a chapter from a "Radioactive Man" film serial from the 1940's being screened at a comic convention. Earth is shown in the middle of an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, already clearly split in two by an atomic bomb when the action freezes and a narrator asks, "Will Radioactive Man be able to save the Earth in time?"
- Clip Show: The production team hated to make these, but Fox forced them to do so for budgetary purposes. The clip show episode of The Simpsons is no longer made, due to the Three Shorts episodes being a funnier, more cost-effective substitute. The clip shows are:
- "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show": Bart's April Fools' prank on Homer lands Homer in a coma, and the family sits around remembering their past adventures while Homer recovers.
- "Another Simpsons Clip Show": A Bottle Episode where Marge gathers everyone in the kitchen to talk about romance (which ended badly for the kids and nearly led to infidelity for Homer and Marge) after Marge reads The Bridges Of Madison Country. Known for being an exaggerated take on the clip show, as almost all the footage (including the framing device footage) is recycled from past episodes. The only thing that's new is the framing device dialogue.
- "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular": Troy McClure hosts a retrospective of The Simpsons, which shows how the family first started out as filler on The Tracey Ullman Show before becoming a half-hour show. Includes viewer mail about Homer's stupidity, how long does it take to make one episode, and Smithers' ambiguous homosexuality, a reel of actual deleted scenes (including Homer's head being used as a bowling ball in Hell in "The Devil and Homer Simpson," James Bond losing a hand of blackjack at Mr. Burns' casino in "$pringfield," and, most famous of all, The Robotic Richard Simmons on "Burns' Heir"), and "Hardcorenote nudity!"
- "All Singing, All Dancing": Homer's accidental renting of a Western musical (based on the infamous film Paint Your Wagon) prompts the family to reminisce about their musical moments, leading to Snake Jailbird holding everyone hostage.
- "Gump Roast": Homer is honored at a Friars' Club Roast, and Kang and Kodos invade so they can enslave humanity.
- Clock Discrepancy: Homer gets painted as a molester by an unscrupulous TV show editing an interview; the clock behind him jumps back & forth as he speaks.
- Closer to Earth: To the point where, in the episode "Lisa the Simpson", Lisa discovers that the Simpson bloodline has a hereditary gene that causes severe intelligence loss with age, ultimately dooming the family to unsuccessful, moronic lives... except it only affects the men. All the women are smart and successful. This is presented as a happy ending, despite Bart's rightful concern for his future.
- Clothing Switch: Marge, in an intense morning rush, accidentally does this to Bart and Lisa in "Bye Bye Nerdie".
- Clown School:
- In one episode Homer goes to clown school to become a Krusty impersonator.
- Subverted in this exchange between Sideshow Bob and his brother Cecil.Bob: You wanted to be Krusty's sidekick since you were five! What about the buffoon lessons, the four years at clown college.
Cecil: I'll thank you not to refer to Princeton that way.
- When Homer announces that he has to go to college to keep his job, Bart asks "Barber or clown?".
- Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: from the episode "Homer the Vigilante":Abe: He was right under my nose the whole time. He lives in my retirement home. His name is Malloy.
Lisa: Wow! How'd you track him down, Grampa?
Abe: Good question! On one of my frequent trips to the ground, I noticed Malloy wore sneakers...for sneaking. My next clue came yesterday at the museum. We felt slighted by your age-bashing, and started home. Malloy said, "I'll catch up with you." [Malloy throws a grappling hook at the museum roof and starts climbing] I couldn't quite put my finger on it. There was something strange about the way he walked -- much more vertical than usual. And finally, Malloy, unlike most retired people, has the world's largest cubic zirconia on his coffee table.
- Coattail-Riding Relative: Used many, many times, to wit:
- Abe wants to mooch from his long-lost bastard son Herb, who is a rich Detroit auto executive - but by the time Abe gets there Homer (who went to meet Herb earlier) has already ruined Herb professionally and financially.
- When Rodney Dangerfield turns up to Guest Star as Mr. Burns's long-forgotten illegitimate son, Larry, he briefly tries riding Burns's coattails. Ultimately, Larry proves too lazy and unambitious to do even that.
- When Lisa tutors Cletus's children and turns them into a singing group, Krusty hires the clan to appear on his show. Cletus lives the good life as their "manager."
- In an episode that shows Lisa becoming President in the future, Bart, now an unemployed slacker and freshly evicted from his apartment, turns up to mooch off of his successful sister and crash at the White House.
- Cobweb of Disuse: When the family goes to the library to do research for school they find no books and cobwebs on the shelves. So Marge tells them stories of Henry VIII, Sacagawea and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Cold Open: "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" features a cold open, with the announcer presenting Troy McClure, who greets the audience and then rolls the opening.
- Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Happens to Homer in "Duffless" when he makes a vow to stop drinking for thirty days.
- Come Back to Bed, Honey: Homer does this once, and annoying Marge greatly.
- Comeback Tomorrow: In "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge":Marge: Why do I always think of the right thing to say when it's too late? "Shut up, Becky!" Ohhhhh, that would've been sweet...
- Comic-Book Adaptation: A major franchise in its own right, with its own imprint (Bongo Comics), dozens of titles and hundreds of issues published over the last quarter century.
- Comically Cross-Eyed: In "Last Exit To Springfield", Principal Skinner tells a pupil to "put his eyes straight". When he answers: "But I can't", he realizes his mistake and says: "Oops, sorry Quigley!"
- Comically Missing the Point:
- In "Lisa the Skeptic", the town is convinced the world is going to end at sundown. Edna suggests he and Skinner have sex one last time before the end. Skinner agrees, but asks her to give him a bit so he can finish filling out the tardy slips. If the world was ending, who cares about tardy slips?
- In "Bart the Genius", Bart confesses in writing that he cheated on the IQ test. When J. Loren Pryor reads the note, he remarks: "You know... you misspelled 'confession'."
- In "Lard of the Dance" when Homer gets paid only 63 cents for all the lard he traded in:Bart: Dad, all that bacon cost twenty-seven dollars.
Homer: Yeah, but your mom paid for that!
Bart: But doesn't she get her money from you?
Homer: And I get my money from grease! What's the problem?
- In "Much Apu About Nothing," after Apu passes his citizenship exam:Lisa: You know, in a way, all Americans are immigrants. Except, of course Native Americans.
Homer: Yeah, Native Americans like us.
Lisa: No, I mean American Indians.
Apu: Like me.
- In "A Star is Burns", Mr. Burns comments that he and Oskar Schindler are alike in that they both made shells for the Nazis — but Burns' shells actually worked.
- In "Barting Over," when Bart gets emancipated from his parents:Judge Harm: Furthermore, I hereby garnish your wages until Bart is fully repaid.
Homer: Mmmm... garnish.
- Commune: In "D'oh-in in the Wind", it is revealed that at some point, Homer's mother Mona started spending time at a commune with two hippies, Seth and Munchie.
- Community-Threatening Construction: When Sideshow Bob becomes mayor, one of the first things he does is reroute a new freeway to go directly through the Simpson property, seizing their house via eminent domain and forcing them to live under a bridge.
- Companion Cube: The couch for the Simpson's family in the opening credits.
- Company Cross References: One episode of this 20th Century Fox Television-produced show is titled "Them, Robot", a reference to the similarly 20th Century Fox-produced film I, Robot.
- Company Town: Cypress Creek by Hank Scorpio's Globex Corporation is an Utopian example of this in the episode "You Only Move Twice"
- Competition Coupon Madness: Apparently Bazooka gum gives out much better prizes in the Simpsons universe.Bart: Nice jacket!
Milhouse: Thanks, it cost me 50,000 Bazooka Joe comics!
- Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For:
- One episode sees Homer get excited about receiving a coupon book in the mail, including one coupon for "two free pizzas at Doughy's." When Lisa points out, "Doughy's makes terrible pizza," Homer counters, "Yeah, but there's TWO!"
- The famous "Worst Episode Ever" dialogue:Comic Book Guy: Last night's Itchy and Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured that I was on the internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world.
Bart: Hey, I know it wasn't great but what right do you have to complain?
Comic Book Guy: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
Bart: What? They've given you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? I mean, if anything, you owe them!
Comic Book Guy: Worst. Episode. Ever.
- Completely Off-Topic Report: In "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?", the first restaurant review Homer submits mostly consists of nonsequiturs and random rambling:Editor: [laughs]
Homer: Well, what do you think?
Editor: This is a joke, right? I mean this is the stupidest thing I've ever read!
Homer: What's wrong with it?
Editor: You keep using words like "Pasghetti" and "Momatoes" You make numerous threatening references to the UN and at the end you repeat the words "Screw Flanders" over and over again.
Homer: Oh, it's so hard to get to 500 words.
- Compressed Abstinence: The prohibition episode, brought on by one exceptionally rowdy St. Patrick's Day. This is enforced, as the 200 year old prohibition law is revealed early in the episode, and the 199 year old anti-prohibition law is revealed near the end.Narrator: And so, one town's brief flirtation with prohibition ended in a joyous remarriage to Lady Liquor. Congratulations, Springfield! We wish you the very best!
- Compressed Vice:
- Homer's homophobia in "Homer's Phobia".
- Homer's inability to punish Bart in the episode Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie is strange given his usual modus operandi of strangling Bart whenever Bart does something wrong.
- Condensation Clue: When Marge and Homer get trapped in a revolving door, Homer writes "save her first" on the fogged-up glass.
- This is how Chief Wiggum arrests Smithers in "Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 2", by hiding in the confessional booth and hearing Smithers confess to shooting Mr. Burns.
- Homer, to Father Sean, in "The Father, The Son, and the Holy Guest Star", goes into a highly detailed confession of his many sins in rapid-fire manner.
- Conflict Ball: Nearly every significant character at some point, but by far the most blatant example is Bart and Lisa. By season 7, they've accomplished so much together, helped each other so many times, and genuinely love and admire each other so much, they not only don't have any sane reason whatsoever to keep ragging on each other, they should be disgusted at the very idea.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: From "Boy Scoutz 'n the Hood", when Bart is reading a knife safety book:Bart: "Don't do what Donny Don't does." [sighs] They could've made this clearer.
- Cone of Shame: When Mr. Burns' slant oil drill ruins Bart's treehouse (with him & Santa's Little Helper inside), SLH is reduced to wearing one of these while in a doggie-wheelchair.
- Consolation World Record: In the episode "Sweets and Sour Marge".
- In "Bart's Comet" Principal Skinner points out the constellation "The Three Wise Men" to Bart; it looks like The Three Stooges.
- Another gag constellation is known as "The Chariot Race", which consists of a single star.
- In another episode, "Brother From The Same Planet", Homer gets an orphan to be a "Bigger Brother" to, and the following exchange occurs.Pepe: Tell me more! I want to know all the constellations.
Homer: Well, there's... Jerry the Cowboy. And that big dipper looking thing is Alan... the Cowboy.
- Contagious Cassandra Truth: Lisa discovers that town founder Jebediah Springfield was secretly a villainous pirate. No one believes her story except Homer, who knows Lisa tends to make the right assumptions on these things. They fail to convince anyone else and Homer is stripped of his role in the town parade as punishment. Subverted when Lisa realises that the museum curator covered it up (he relents, but Lisa decides that the lie inspires the town and leaves things be).
- Continuity Nod: In "Homer at the Bat", guest star Mike Scioscia is unable to play because of radiation poisoning from working at the Springfield Nuclear Plant. Years later, Scioscia makes another cameo in "MoneyBART", where he reveals the radiation poisoning gave him super-managing powers.
- Contrived Clumsiness: In one early episode, the family is supposed to solve their problems by shocking each other. At the beginning of the exercise, Bart accidentally-on-purpose shocks Lisa, claiming his finger slipped. Lisa shocks him back saying, "So did mine."
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: In "New Kid on the Block", Bart visits Grampa to get dating advice:Grampa: You remembered my birthday!
Bart: Uh... [sees the twinkle in Grampa's eye] Oh, I sure did! Here's a bus schedule!
Grampa: Wow, fits right in my pocket!
- Conveniently Cellmates: Sideshow Bob has been seen with his family in jail.
- Conveniently Timed Distraction:
- In season 7, "Bart the Fink", Superintendent Chalmers is returning Agnes Skinner from a date when they are greeted by Seymour on an apron. Skinner wishes for a distraction to take attention away from his embarrassing situation, and at that moment Krusty flies by on his airplane, wailing loudly. "That'll do", says Seymour.
- In season 11, "Guess Whos Coming to Criticize Dinner", after the French chef is arrested for trying to kill Homer and he's handcuffed, Chief Wiggum suggests to Eddie and Lou that they go get some Belgium waffles but Lou would rather have frittatas. While Wiggum and Eddie laughs at Lou for his frittata obsession, the French chef uncuffs himself and escapes with none of them noticing that he's gone despite the fact that he was standing between Eddie and Lou.
- In season 12, "Treehouse of Horror XI", "Scary Tales Can Come True" segment, when a witch tries to stuff Homer into her stove, she gets distracted when she hears a knock at her door allowing Homer to overpower her and shove her into the stove and lock her inside.
- In season 14 "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", when the Simpsons are trying to help Krusty the Clown pass his air traffic bill during a session in Congress, Lisa needs to attach the bill to a popular bill. When Lisa said she needs a distraction, Homer enters the session drunk after getting one of the congressmen drunk and gets beaten by security. Lisa uses this opportunity to attach Krusty's bill to the popular bill without getting noticed.
- In season 16, "She Used to Be My Girl", when Chloe Talbot, a news reporter and Marge's old friend from high school, tries to get Mayor Quimby to answer some questions about his multiple paternity suits filed against him, she gets distracted when she sees Marge again allowing Mayor Quimby to run back into his office to avoid answering her questions.
- In the same episode, when Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather are picking on Kent Brockman by teasingly dangling his microphone out of his reach, they get distracted when Chloe greets them giving Kent the opportunity to take back his microphone.
- In season 16, "Future-Drama", Bart is working for the Kwik-E-Mart and he makes a delivery to Mr. Burns at his mansion. He is held at gunpoint by Snake's combination phaser/cellphone, but Bart saves Mr. Burns when Snake is distracted by a phone call on his phaser and Bart knocks him out with a large diamond.
- Coordinated Clothes:
- Twin sisters and Those Two Women Patty and Selma who are single and live together wear similar clothes and have similar hairstyles.
- Mr Burns bought matching green shirts for his bowling buddies. The guys were very moved by it, almost forgiving him that he was such a poor player.
- Marge and Bart Simpsons and Agnes and Seymour Skinners wore matching outfits for singing in a competition where they performed as mother-son duos.
- Corrupt Church: Springfield's church was rebuilt into one in "She of Little Faith".
- Corrupt Politician: Mayor Quimby, whose motto is Corruptis in Extremis.
- Cosmopolitan Council: The Republican Party in Springfield.
- Costume-Test Montage:
- Episode "Bart the Lover" has Edna Krabappel try different outfit for her date with a mysterious lover (that was a Prank Date made by Bart).
- In one episode, when Lisa feels that Maggie is now the smart one in the family, she feels insecure and decides she needs to find a new identity, and tries several outfits. Nothing feels right.
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: Done in an episode with multiple rockstars making guest appearances. For a benefit concert, they have a motorized Devil-head on wheels, complete with pyrotechnics, which Keith Richards lights his cigarette on by putting it in his mouth and sticking his head into the stream of flame.
- Counting to Potato:
- Notorious for its portrayal of the "typical hillbilly". In "Rednecks and Broomsticks", Lisa is playing with the Spuckler children, they counted while she hid as saying, "One, two, backwards-z, one-legged triangle, banana hotdog, double-banana hotdog, sixty-corncob-two..."
- In "Marge's Son Poisoning". Homer is doing curls with a dumbbell. He starts counting normally, before randomly skipping through numbers, and then including 'banana'.
- Courtroom Episode:
- "Bart Gets Hit by a Car"
- "The Boy Who Knew Too Much".
- There are also numerous episodes that feature court scenes, even if they aren't the main focus of the episode, such as "Krusty Gets Busted", "The Monkey Suit", "Marge in Chains", "Sideshow Bob Roberts", "The Great Money Caper", the list goes on.
- Covering for the Noise: In "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", Homer sets up a beer brewery in his basement and their combustibility causes a lot of explosions to resonate through the house. Homer covers for the explosions to pretend it's his own stomach gas, though Marge doesn't buy it for a second.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: Homer pretends to be Mr. Burns. This is made more difficult as he doesn't know Mr. Burns' first name.
- Cover Version: "Twist and Shout" plays in "Behind the Laughter", and it's sung by someone other than The Beatles (while they didn't create the song, their rendition was arguably the most famous).
- Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: In-Universe.
- Parodied when Homer writes letters to movies instead of actors.
- In another episode when they're watching Die Hard, Bart refers to the main character as the title.
- Marge also refers to a Darth Vader mask as a Star Wars.
- A Comcast description for the episode "I, D'ohbot" says it's about Homer builds a robot to unleash terror on Springfield. The plot involved Homer and Bart building a robot for a BattleBots-like show, and when it didn't turn out well Homer disguised himself as the robot.
- Cowboy Episode: "Dude, Where's My Ranch?"
- CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable:
- "Boy Scoutz 'N the Hood": One scout member gives one to Bart after being choked by his necktie caught in the door.Ned: Now, just breathe into him every three seconds. Make sure you form a tight seal around his mouth!
- "Dog of Death": SLH is revived by CPR during his stomach operation after SLH dreams of going to heaven.
- "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Marge": After Homer faints into the Ark Ice Cream Bowl, Becky, noticing he's not breathing, gives Homer CPR to try to revive him only to have Marge think that she's a usurper the minute she arrived.
- "Mobile Homer": After he is smashed repeatedly on the neck by the garage door and getting suffocated by the spiders, Lisa gives her father CPR with Bart compressing his chest.
- "The Haw-Hawed Couple": After Nelson saves Bart, Skinner gives Bart CPR which lead the children to blurt out a 'gay joke' between them.
- "Stealing First Base": When Bart accidentally falls off the roof of the school causing him not to breathe, Nikki rushes to save him with her knowledge of CPR, defying the 'no touch' policy Springfield Elementary has. What follows between is a montage of kissing scenes from classic movies (The Godfather Part II, Lady and the Tramp, From Here to Eternity, Gone With The Wind, Alien 3, etc.), just when Nikki proceeds to breathe air into Bart's lungs, reviving him, saving his life.
- "24 Minutes": After Bart and Willie are saved from drowning, Mrs. Krabappel gives Willie CPR, who would rather die than clean the mess in the gym.
- Subverted in "Pranks and Greens": Andy shows Bart a slideshow of his body of pranks, one of which showing a flight attendant giving him CPR after he faked a heart attack on an international flight.
- "Rome-Old and Juli-Eh": During a montage of Selma and Abe dating, Selma is shown giving him CPR.
- "Midnight RX": Mr. Burns gives Smithers CPR after applying his thyroid medication.
- "Boy Scoutz 'N the Hood": One scout member gives one to Bart after being choked by his necktie caught in the door.
- Crash Course Landing: In "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs", Homer has to land a private jet after the pilot passes out. Marge calls his life coach to talk him through the process, but the life coach doesn't know how to land a plane either.
- Crazy Memory: Almost all flashbacks involving Grampa.
- Crazy-Prepared: In "Marge vs. The Monorail", when Lyle Lanley's plane has to make an unexpected stop in a town where he previously sold a bad monorail to, the citizens just happen to be waiting for his plane to land, one instantly sees that he's in the plane (which is really far away to tell), and they all enter the plane as soon as it lands to give Lyle a beating.
- Creative Closing Credits: Numerous instances:
- "The Squirt and the Whale" uses cutesy images of a hypothetical Interspecies Romance Homer describes in the episode between a whale and an octopus.
- "The Homer they Fall" has images of Moe travelling around the world in a flying machine and aiding various people were used.
- "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" has more footage of Homer in the waiting room of the dealership while "Spanish Flea" plays.
- Creator Backlash: Comic Book Guy, in-universe.
- Credit Card Plot: The first act of "The Canine Mutiny".
- Credits Gag: Numerous instances:
- In "All Singing, All Dancing", Snake causes the music to repeatedly be cut off by shooting his shotgun.
- In "G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)", the colonel assigns most everyone in the credits to frontline infantry, except for his voice actor who's given coast guard.
- In "Bart Star", Homer cuts everyone (save NFL legend Joe Namath, who guest starred in this episode) in the credits from the football team.
- "The Mansion Family" has Homer complaining how everyone in the credits is richer than him. He also says the voice actors "aren't as rich as they should be."
- In "Marge Simpson in "Screaming Yellow Honkers"", Homer is forced to apologize for saying NBC is a great channel, and is supposedly shot for quickly remarking that CBS is great.
- "Lady Bouvier's Lover" has Grampa's ramblings shushed by the Gracie Films logo.
- "Don't Fear the Roofer" has Homer constantly getting the timeslot and channel of Everybody Loves Raymond wrong.
- Credits Jukebox: Many episodes featured a credits theme different from the usual Simpsons ending theme:
- Any Halloween special will have the Simpsons theme played in a Halloween style. From 1990 to 2003, it was typically a harpsichord arrangement usually with eerie whistling, played at the same tempo as the normal theme. Beginning in 2005, the main Halloween end credits theme was a slower, somber string-based version. A couple of episodes used a variant parodying The Addams Family theme song.
- "Lisa the Greek" (and later, "Bart Star") played the theme in a football style.
- "Marge on the Lam" played the theme in a style similar to Dragnet.
- "$pringfield" played the theme in a big band style.
- "Homer the Vigilante" played the theme in a style similar to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
- "Lisa on Ice" played the theme on an organ, like you'd hear at a hockey or baseball game.
- "Bart vs. Australia" played it in Australian style, naturally.
- "Lisa's Wedding" played the theme in a renaissance style.
- "The Springfield Connection" played the theme like a parody of Hill Street Blues.
- "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" (part 1) used an ominous, JFK-style theme, while part 2 used a Latin big band arrangement by Tito Puente.
- "Mother Simpson" had a gentle, quiet theme playing while Homer looked at the stars, which Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein had to battle Fox to let air without a Credits Pushback or announcer blathering over it.
- "Homerpalooza" had the theme performed by Sonic Youth, one of the guest bands in the episode.
- "A Milhouse Divided" played the theme in a '70s combo style.
- "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-D'oh-cious" had a lyric-less reprise of the songs from the episode.
- "Bart After Dark" was the same, only for "We Put the Spring in Springfield".
- "Take My Wife, Sleaze" had the theme performed by NRBQ, one of Mike Scully's favorite bands.
- "Little Big Mom" played the theme in a Hawaiian style.
- "Simpsons Tall Tales" played the theme in an Ozark style.
- "She of Little Faith" played the theme in an Indian style.
- "Blame it on Lisa" played the theme in a Brazilian style.
- "My Fair Laddy" had a lyric-less reprise of the songs from the episode.
- This isn't even counting the times when a licensed song was played over the credits. For a full list, see this link.
- A number of episodes in recent years usually feature a custom theme tune; the normal credits theme isn't used very often lately.
- Credits Pushback:
- Parodied in "Das Bus" when God revealing the key to salvation to Noah is interrupted by Kent Brockman giving a news teaser.
- Also parodied in "Bart Gets Famous" when Bart pauses the videotape to show his friends his name in the credits. But since the credits portion of the screen is so squashed, Bart's name is hard to read and they don't believe him.
- The Crime Job: "The Book Job", an Ocean's Eleven parody.
- Crippling the Competition: When Mr. Burns forces his way onto Homer's bowling team (for which he was tricked into writing a $500 check), the team is disgusted at the old man's complete ineptitude but cannot simply kick him off. Moe hatches a plan to bash in his knee with a lead pipe so he can't play. Unfortunately, he does so when Burns is already indisposed and his whack on the knee has the exact opposite effect: the injured Burns is able to play again.
- Crooked Contractor:
- The repairman from "Homer the Great" says he won't get the parts he needs for the job for
twothree weeks, and that's if he orders them today. Which he won't.
- Also a main plot point in "Don't Fear the Roofer".
- The repairman from "Homer the Great" says he won't get the parts he needs for the job for
- Crossing the Burnt Bridge: In a flashback episode, Homer, upon quitting his nuclear plant job, plays Burns' head like a bongo in front of all the other employees, and then throws Burns at a barrel of toxic waste. He LITERALLY burns a bridge he drives over on his way out. He eventually has to take the job back after impregnating Marge with Maggie.Burns: Oh, I should be resisting this, but I'm paralyzed with rage...and island rhythms!
- The Critic's Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz) appears in "A Star Is Burns", and makes a cameo in "Hurricane Neddy" and "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner".
- King of the Hill 's core cast make a surprise appearance in "Bart Star"...a surprise ruined on the episode's premiere by Fox's advance promotions.Hank Hill: We drove 2,000 miles for THIS?
- Bender appears briefly in the episode "Future-Drama".
- Bender and the other Futurama characters will have a more extensive guest appearance in the near future.
- Mulder and Scully make a fairly significant appearance in "The Springfield Files".
- The Simpsons officially meet the Griffins in an episode of Family Guy called "The Simpsons Guy".
- For a Couch Gag, the title characters of Rick and Morty crash Rick's spaceship into the house and smash the Simpsons into goo, leading to them having to make duplicates of the family. They also freeze Ned Flanders in a similar fashion to a character in their show's pilot episode.
- Cross-Popping Veins: "Look at the vein on that guy's forehead, he's gonna blow!"
- Cross-Referenced Titles: A few recurring ones, like "*Simpson* vs. *something*"Examples , "*Simpson*" Gets a *grade*"Examples , and "*Simpson* the *title*"Examples .
- Crotch-Glance Sex Check: Marge had her third baby, and Homer was pleased to have a new boy. Dr. Hibbert then mentioned that was the umbilical cord.
- Crowd Chant: "Where's My Burrito?! Where's My Burrito?!" Not to mention a certain pachyderm.
- Crowded Cast Shot: Used in two Couch Gags in the fourth season.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Hans Moleman. He's been drilled in the head, burned, buried alive, irradiated, dismembered and eaten by alligators, trapped inside of a morgue while still alive, and suffocated by a giant bubble.
- Cruella to Animals: Mr. Burns of course.
- Crush Parade:
- The episode "Lisa's Sax" sees Lisa's prized saxophone sail out her bedroom window and into the street where it's run over by a car, a truck, stamped on by Nelson (who then points at it and mocks, "Ha ha"), and concludes with a man on a tricycle who falls over to the side when his front tire hits what remains of the flattened saxophone, accompanied by the scene transition music from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
- Another episode sees Milhouse crushed by an actual parade, featuring an endless number of marching bands, parade floats, elephants, etc.
- The same exact thing also happened to Sideshow Bob in "Cape Feare" right after he said, "Surely there's no harm in laying the middle of a public street."
- Crying Indian: At the end of "Trash of the Titans," Chief catches an empty potato chip bag and sheds a single tear. His friend advises him not to look behind him, as behind him is the ruins of Springfield covered in garbage.Chief: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Indian: I told you not to turn around.
- Crying Wolf: The subplot of "Marge Gets a Job"; Bart hasn't read the end of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and thus doesn't realize the lesson of not repeatedly faking sick to get out of a test.
Operator: Simpson? We've already been out there tonight for a sisterectomy, a case of severe butt rot, and a leprechaun bite. How dumb do you think we are?
- Lisa ends up being the victim of Bart crying wolf in "My Sister, My Sitter". Bart went out of his way to ruin Lisa's attempts to babysit him. After Bart knocks himself unconscious, Lisa tries to call 911. The operator won't listen because of the prank calls Bart made earlier in the night.
- Cryptid Episode: In an attempt to become the world's most lovable billionaire Mr. Burns goes to Loch Ness to capture Nessie in "Monty Can't Buy Me Love".
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: While the writers may have known that a torus is one of the contenders for the shape of the universe, Homer certainly didn't know that when he told Stephen Hawking about his theory of a doughnut-shaped (which is what a torus is) universe.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: From "Lisa the Vegetarian", Burns says he'll donate a million dollars to the local orphanage... when pigs fly. Just as he and Smithers share a laugh, the pig from a scene earlier goes flying by their window.Smithers: Will you be donating that million dollars now, sir?
Burns: Mmm, no, I'd still prefer not.
- Cue the Rain:
- Subverted in an episode where the Simpsons lose their house. Tossed out unto the street, Homer says, "Well, it could be worse. At least it's not raining." (Beat) "See? Told you it could be worse."
- In another episode, Mr. Burns is telling the story of how he went to jail. As Smithers leaves, Burns notes that this the point in a story where it would start raining, and decides that, since he's telling the story, it did rain. Then he decides that rain wasn't depressing enough, so he has it snow instead, capping it off with Smithers losing his nose to frostbite.
- In "Bart the Murderer", it immediately begins pouring when Bart misses the school bus, and the second he gets to school, the sky clears up ("D'oh!"). Likewise, it starts pouring when he leaves school.
- Cultural Translation: In "The PTA Disbands", Malk is a substitute for Milk. The Spanish version translates Malk as Loche, a substitute for Leche.
- Culture Chop Suey: Lampshaded in "Lisa Gets an A" where Lisa is playing a video game based on The Theme Park Version of Australia (and a very blatant parody of Crash Bandicoot). She is killed by a group of koalas dressed as ninjas, leading her to remark, "Nunchucks? Those aren't even Australian!"
- Curse Cut Short: In "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 1", after the Simpson family gave Mr. Burns candy he sends a thank you listing everyone except Homer. When Homer finds out, he screams "F...", cut off by a church organ.
- In "You Only Move Twice", Bart is behind the curve at the new school. The teacher asks him if he knows cursive. Bart responds with, "I know hell, damn, bit-" before the teacher cuts him off.
- Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: Played with in "Simpsons Bible Stories":Homer: [as King Solomon] The pie shall be cut in two. [takes a knife and cuts a pie in half, then holds up each slice as if offering them] Now each man will recieve... [withdraws the slices] death! I'll eat the pie. [scarfs both slices down]
- Cutaway Gag: Oddly enough, Simpsons used it do a lot but then stopped for no real reason. Then Family Guy came along and used them constantly. Then when Simpsons tried to use them again, people accused them of ripping off Family Guy.
- Dada Ad: Parodied in Homer's Mr. Plow ad, which featured an opera singer and someone smashing a snowglobe.Bart: Was that your ad?
Homer: ...I don't know.
- Damned by a Fool's Praise: When Homer becomes smarter than average but hates it he goes to a Back-Alley Doctor (i.e., Moe) to insert a crayon up his nose to re-dumbify him. The "doctor" delicately shoves it up there; he doesn't want Homer to end up too dumb or too smart.Moe: All right, tell me when I hit the sweet spot. [gently slides crayon in]
Homer: Deeper, you pusillanimous pilsner pusher!
Moe: All right, all right. [with a small hammer and chisel, taps the crayon further up Homer's nose]
Homer: De-fense! [woof-woof] De-fense! [woof-woof]
Moe: Eh, that's pretty dumb. But, uh ... [taps once more]
Homer: Extended warranty? How can I lose?
- Dance Line:
- Mr. Smithers is sent on vacation, and goes to a gay resort. He calls Mr. Burns to check up on him... and a conga line forms behind him at the payphone, which he proceeds to lead.Mr. Smithers: Well, I've gotta go. There's a line forming behind me.
- If "Blame It On Lisa" is any indication (and the Rio de Janeiro board of tourism would like you to believe otherwise), this is also the preferred method of transportation in town.
- Mr. Smithers is sent on vacation, and goes to a gay resort. He calls Mr. Burns to check up on him... and a conga line forms behind him at the payphone, which he proceeds to lead.
- Dance Sensation:
- "Do the Bartman"!Ralph Wiggum: That is so 1991.
- Grampa claims that back in 1906, everyone was doing a dance called "The Funky Grampa". Of course, knowing Grampa, this is definitely senility talking.
- "Do the Bartman"!
- Dark Parody:
- Dead Guy Puppet: After digging up Jebediah Springfield to disprove Lisa's vocal claims, Chief Wiggum tries his hand at ventriloquism with the city founder's skull.
- Deadly Hug: Sideshow Bob brainwashes Bart into killing Krusty by hugging him, which will complete a circuit on Bart's suicide belt and make them both blow up.
- Dead Man Writing: "Homer's Odyssey" played it straight and dramatically; parodied in "Half-Decent Proposal".
- Deadpan Snarker: Various characters have their moments, but Comic Book Guy is the most apparent, such as when Bart sees a sign saying "Bonestorm - 99 cents" outside the store.Bart: I'd like to buy a copy of "Bonestorm." Here's 99 cents.
Comic Book Guy: Allow me to summarize the proposed transaction. You wish to purchase "Bonestorm" for 99 cents. Net profit to me: negative 59 dollars.
[Comic Book Guy opens the cash register]
Comic Book Guy: Please take my 59 dollars, I don't want it.
[Bart reaches forward to take the cash]
Comic Book Guy: Uh uh - Seeing as you are unfamiliar with sarcasm, I shall close the cash register at this point, and state that 99 cents is the rental price.
- Dead Partner: A Running Gag in the show are snippets from the fictional McBain movie, essentially an Arnold Schwarzenegger parody. Grizzled Cowboy Cop McBain loses his old partner in a hit arranged by his arch-enemy, the drug-dealing Senator Mendoza. For bonus points, the partner in question is A] black, B] due to retire in a few days, and C] shows McBain a picture of his family right before he dies.
- Dead Person Impersonation:
- Principal Skinner, or rather Armin Tamzarian. The episode leads to one of the most explicit uses of Negative Continuity in the series, with a judge ordering everyone never to speak of the incident (the return of the real Skinner) under pain of torture.
- Lampshaded in the episode "I (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot" with the following conversation:Lisa: I'm keeping you! You're Snowball V, but to save money on a new dish, we'll just call you Snowball II and pretend this whole thing never happened.
Principal Skinner: That's really a cheat, isn't it?
Lisa: I guess you're right, Principal Tamzarian.
Principal Skinner: I'll just be moving along, Lisa. Snowball II.
- Death Dealer: Ricky Jay appears in "The Great Simpsina" where he attempts to kill Lisa by hurling cards at her with enough force to shatter a steam pipe.
- Decade-Themed Party: Marge's Old Flame Artie Ziff tries to woo her back by recreating their prom and paying everyone in town to dress like they did in The '70s (Disco Stu, of course, "is working pro bono").
- Decided by One Vote: In "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", the curfew law which made it illegal for anyone under senior citizen age to be out after sundown was passed by a single vote. This was announced after Homer foolishly declared that one vote never made a difference.
- Defeat by Modesty: In "The Falcon and the D'ohman", Wayne has a flashback where he is training against a huge range of opponents. One of them is a 19th century muscle man whom he defeats by ripping off his Old-Timey Bathing Suit.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In Bart The General Nelson Muntz was introduced as a bully and enemy of Bart, in subsequent episodes he became a friend of Bart and no longer a bully per se but just liked to laugh at the misfortune of others.
- Deliberately Jumping the Gun: During the annual company picnic Mr. Burns gets a very quiet "go" from Smithers in the sack race before everyone else. They all know that Burns is supposed to win the race.
- Delivery Stork:
- Flanders asserts that storks are fictitious:Ned: God put us here and that's that.
Todd: But you said a stork brought me.
Ned: Umm... that was God disguised as a stork.
Rod: Who brings baby storks?
Ned: There's no such thing as storks! It's all God!
- In a later episode, Ned claims that he and Maude specifically picked Dr. Stork to deliver the boys, this way they could say that the stork delivered the babies without technically lying.
- Flanders asserts that storks are fictitious:
- Denser and Wackier:
- The show originated as subverting mundane sitcom genre trappings, while the animation could be very expressive the first two seasons had mostly Dom Com-ish premises like "Homer's Night Out" where Homer apologizes to Marge after a scandalous picture with a stripper. After several seasons of ramping up the absurdity they reached "Marge vs. The Monorail," which featured highly exaggerated story where different characters go on concurrent wild adventures and cartoon physics take hold in the climax. In fact, one of the earlier rules put in place by Matt Groening was that he didn't want The Simpsons to become too cartoony (such as Homer surviving what should be fatal injuries).
- The Mike Scully years were an embodiment of this trope, with "Saddlesore Galactica" (Bart and Homer rescue a horse and Bart becomes a jockey, which earns the ire of leprechaun-esque jockey society) and "A Tale Of Two Springfields" (in protest of an additional area code Homer ends up leading half the town to split from the other half) being infamous examples.
- In terms of both writing and directing, John Swartzwelder has ramped this trope Up to Eleven even during the Mike Scully Years.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- From "Last of the Red Hat Mamas":Announcer: Welcome back to Fox Sports West II Classic Fox Sports FOX!
- From "Lisa on Ice":Skinner: Attention, students: This is Principal Skinner, your principal, with a message from the principal's office.
- From "$pringfield":Announcer: The News On Parade Corporation presents: News On Parade! Corporation... News!
- From "Marge in Chains", a sign reads "Springfield Women's Prison: A prison for women."
- In "Homer's Enemy", when Lenny introduces himself to Frank Grimes, he says:Lenny: I'm Lenny. This is Carl and Homer. I'm Lenny.
- From "The Dad Who Knew Too Little":Protest leader: What do we want?
Group: The gradual phase-out of animal testing over the next three years!
Protest leader: When do we want it?
Group: Over the next three years!
- From "Homer: Bad Man":Announcer: Tonight, on "Rock Bottom": We go undercover at a sex farm for sex hookers!
- From "The Itchy & Scratchy Movie":Homer: I can't let that happen, I won't let that happen, and I can't let that happen!
- From "Dumbbell Indemnity":Moe: I'm just going to die lonely, and ugly, and dead.
- From "Heartbroke Kid":Homer: Did you hear that, Foxy, the Fox Network fox?
- From "Last of the Red Hat Mamas":
- Depending on the Artist:
- Depending on the Writer: Some episodes are very pro-democracy and even patriotic in tone for a show that takes joy in mocking politics and political spectacle at every opportunity ("Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington" for example) while others depict the US government as incompetent and even directly antagonistic ("The Frying Game" and to a lesser extent "The Cartridge Family" for example). It should come as no surprise that some of the most anti-government episodes are written by John Swartzwelder, a right-libertarian and a member of the NRA.
- Depraved Kids' Show Host: Krusty the Klown isn't as funny as his audience would like to believe.
- After the family was rescued from the Movementarian cult in "The Joy of Sect".
- Also attempted by the family when Bart was living with Mr. Burns. The deprogrammers got Hans Moleman instead.
- Depth Deception: Leading to Kent Brockman welcoming his alien overlords.
- Derailed for Details: In an episode that takes place before Lisa was born, Marge is telling Bart a typical prince-and-princess story before he goes to bed.Bart: And then what happened?
Marge: They had 30 sons and 30 daughters.
Bart: What were their names?
- Descent into Addiction: In "$pringfield", Mr. Burns opens a casino in Springfield and Marge becomes a gambling addict.
- Deserted Island: "Das Bus", in a parody of Lord of the Flies.
- Despair Event Horizon: In "Bart gets an F", Bart himself hits this briefly. He is informed that he must pass his next exam otherwise he will be held back a year, and he really does not want that to happen. Despite his best efforts, he fails the exam anyway, and completely breaks down sobbing, shocking even Edna Krabappel. During his crying-induced rant of self-hatred, he quotes an obscure bit of history regarding George Washington, and Ms. Krabappel, impressed, awards him an extra mark, the one mark needed to get him a D- and pass.
- Determinator: You think Sideshow Bob is going to let being driven through cactus patches, trampled by elephants, and repeatedly stepping on rakes stop him? Think again.
- Destination Ruse: * Invoked by Homer and Marge repeatedly:
Homer: (in full motocross gear) Hey, suckers! Check it out! Marge is taking me to ride dirt bikes around the cemetery!Lisa: You're going to the dentist too, Dad.Homer: "Why the cemetery", I wondered. But my dreams were too strong.
- In the episode "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", they use it so they can bring Bart to military school. Later, they claim they're taking the kids to Disneyland as a reward for Bart and Lisa successfully graduating... only to reveal that they actually brought them to the dentist (and laughing that the kids fell for it twice).
- In "You Kent Always Say What You Want", Bart complains that Marge is taking him to the dentist when she said she'd take him to ride dirt bikes around the cemetery. Lisa groans, "You fall for that every six months".
- In one of the Ullman-era shorts, Marge and Homer told Bart and Lisa that they were going out for frosty chocolate milkshakes, but instead they bring them to a family therapy session.
- Deus Angst Machina:
- Frank Grimes hated his life and his whole set of circumstances. Everything he tried to accomplish backfired on him, he lived in an apartment sandwiched between two bowling alleys, and his arch-nemesis, Homer Simpson, seemed to have a better life than him. Frank's hell is thought of as Heaven by Homer, but the final attempt to shame Homer for life (by having him enter a children's model building contest) imploded spectacularly when Homer won, and thus, he went crazy. And electrocuted himself. And as a final little insult, Homer fell asleep during his funeral and loudly ruined it by yelling "Change the channel, Marge!" in his sleep, to the amusement of everyone else attending. The producers later attempted to rebut criticism that they went a bit over the top torturing Grimes by claiming that it demonstrated that a 'real' person couldn't survive in the Simpsons universe, but even this explanation is a little unsatisfying considering the sheer amount of misfortunes piled on top of Grimey is way over the top.
- Then there's Kirk Van Houten's divorces, where his wife is shown as inherently right despite the divorce obviously coming from mutual resentment and disrespect, he's fired from his job for being single, and apparently got nothing out of the divorce settlement so he ends up straight in low-income housing, and it's one of the few times the show defies Status Quo Is God by keeping it this way. All of this just to deliver a Broken Aesop to Homer about respecting his wife that he'll forget by the next episode.
- Hans Moleman is interesting in that he is a literal example—he originated as an animation mistake that creator Matt Groening hated, but the rest of the staff loved. His Running Gag of being repeatedly killed was, according to DVD commentary, a teasing attempt to placate Groening's demands that the character never be seen again.
- Devil in Disguise:
- In "Lady Bouvier's Lover", Marge's mother goes out dancing with Mr. Burns:Mrs. Bouvier: I swear, Monty, you're the Devil himself.
Mr. Burns: WHA?!! WHO TOLD Y— Oh, er, heh heh...
- Not to mention the Halloween episode where it's revealed the Devil is Ned Flanders. "Always who you least suspect", indeed.Devil Flanders: Hey, Bart.
Bart: [nonchalant] Hey.
- In "Lady Bouvier's Lover", Marge's mother goes out dancing with Mr. Burns:
- Devil's Advocate: Parodied. Homer states that he's about to "play devil's advocate" in regards to helping Apu... it then cuts to him playing a pinball game called "Devil's Advocate".
- Did Not Die That Way: Grandpa Simpson told Homer that his mother had died, and pointed out her tombstone from time to time as they passed by the cemetery. Turns out that Mama Simpson is alive and hiding out from the Feds. The cemetery marker Grandpa points out is actually Walt Whitman's.
- Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: It gets a little meta considering the fact that South Park claims that "The Simpsons Did It".Marge: Hmmm. Should the Simpsons get a horse?
Comic Book Guy: Excuse me, I believe this family already had a horse, and the expense forced Homer to work at the Kwik-E-Mart, with hilarious consequences.
- Did You Die?: Grampa Simpson doesn't let logic get in the way of his warnings.Grampa: Son, don't go up that mountain! You'll die up there like I did!
Homer: You? Did?
- Diet Episode:
- Homer went on one in "Brush With Greatness" after he got stuck in a water slide at a water park.
- Lisa went on a diet in "Sleeping With the Enemy" after her friends said she had a big butt.
- Different in Every Episode: The First Church of Springfield does not appear often, but when it does, the sign out front has different text. In "Steal This Episode", for example, all it said was, "Joke?"
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Principal Skinner in "Girls Just Want to Have Sums" keeps accidentally insulting women, and with each attempt to rectify the situation, he just keeps making it worse. Eventually, he just breaks down and pleads to the women: "Just tell me what to say!"
- Digital Destruction: The "HD Remasters" of the seasons before production became natively HD were cropped from 4:3 to 16:9 to force them to fit into widescreen. In some cases this resulted in visual gags being ruined as part of the image was cut off. For other episodes it involved stretching the animation sideways to fit, leaving the frame distorted. FXX eventually corrected this by offering the original 4:3 copies on their website and Disney+ has promised to upload unedited versions by the end of May 2020.
- Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction:
- In one "Treehouse of Terror" episode spoofing Strangers on a Train, Bart makes a deal with Lisa to get even with their respective teachers, with Bart telling her to do a "ding-dong ditch" on Ms. Krabappel. Turns out Bart meant that Lisa murder Ms. Krabappel, as in "kill that ding-dong and throw her in a ditch".
- In "Burns' Heir", when Bart abandons his family to live with Mr. Burns, Homer arrives and challenges Burns to do his worst. Burns simply locks Homer out, and Homer responds by ringing the doorbell and running away.
- Dinner Theatre: Springfield Dinner Theater has featured Mark Hamill in Guys and Dolls and Krusty the Klown in King Lear.
- Dinky Drivers: In one episode, Bart was steering while Lisa and Milhouse were operating the gas and brake pedals. They failed spectacularly due to their total lack of coordination, though Milhouse took the opportunity to ask Lisa out.
- Dinner Order Flub: Selma takes Hans Moleman out to dinner in order to seduce him (she wants a baby, and by this time doesn't much care with who). He tries to read the menu but the waiter tells him it's the wine list.Moleman: Very good.
- Dinner with the Boss: Several examples.
- Mr. Burns does this in "Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish" as part of his political campaign.
- Also parodied in "The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase", where the family consists of beavers and the boss is a skunk (played by Tim Conway).
- In the episode "Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield," there's a segment about Principal Skinner having Superintendent Chalmers over for dinner.
- One more Simpsons example: In "Behind the Laughter", this was the plot of the pilot Homer shot. Bart played the boss.
- The Dinosaurs Had It Coming: In one episode lampooning The Bible, a pig in the Garden of Eden warns Adam (Homer) against eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. One of the dinosaurs ate one and well... that's why there aren't any more of them.
- Disability Alibi: In "Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 2", 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.
- Disappeared Dad:
- For having one of the most extensive casts, it becomes all the more noticeable to see the absence of Marge's dad, whose fate has only been casually mentioned. He died of lung cancer when Marge was 3 and Patty and Selma were 13.
- In the episode "The Seven-Beer Snitch", Snowball V sneaks food from a neighbor who appears to be a single mother.
- Seymour Skinner's father is not shown at first. It's eventually revealed he was killed in a parade float accident years ago.
- Discretion Shot: Near the end of the second act of the episode "Bye Bye Nerdie", Lisa gets beaten up by Francine. This happens the same time we see the shot of one of the security camera monitors in which Wille replaces a toilet paper and giving a thumbs up to the camera.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- In "Two Bad Neighbors", former President George H.W. Bush spanks Bart for destroying his memoirs. When Bart tells Homer about the spanking, Homer decides it's the last straw and starts a conflict with Bush. Homer didn't even know about the memoirs until the final confrontation, and even then he still attacks Bush.
- This is the reason why the infamous "The Boys Of Bummer" is so hated. It basically gets to where losing a baseball game can get you branded a pariah and be Driven to Suicide.
- In Homer and Marge's growing legal battle with Judge Constance Harm this trope it set up to be averted when their retribution is to hang a protest banner on Harm's houseboat. However when their plan is foiled by a guard Sea Lion Homer's solution is to blindside the Judge with a cinder block(!) which only manages to hit her house and sink it.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Several.
- Disney Creatures of the Farce: In "Homer the Heretic", after he creates his own religion, a group of woodland animals gather around him and Homer happily accepts their presence — until he asks them to leave while he's showering.
- Disneyesque: A Lady and the Tramp parody has the backgrounds drawn in Disney style.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: One episode has NASA look for ordinary people to become astronauts, ending up with Homer and Barney. Barney by far outperforms Homer, but as soon as he drinks alcohol reverts to his previous state, leaving Homer the winner by default.
- We see the other side of the coin in an early episode of The Simpsons where Lisa is crowned Little Miss Springfield note . The pagent's sponsor (Laramie Cigarettes) don't like her speaking out against smoking so they find a loophole: on the entry form where it says "Do not write in this space" Homer wrote "O.K." Lisa is disqualified and the title goes back to the original winner.
- Disrupting The Theater:
- One episode has a scene parodying Cape Fear which is perhaps better known, where Sideshow Bob threatens Bart in the theatre. After Marge demands he stay away from Bart, Bob fails to think of a threat in time (considering his ominously inflected promise to leave Bart alone inadequate), to his annoyance.
- In "Colonel Homer", Homer constantly interrupts a movie he and Marge are seeing by choking on food, loudly asking questions, and spoiling the ending. Marge eventually has enough and chews out Homer in front of the audience, humiliating him and creating a fracture in their relationship.Marge: Homer, if it makes you feel any better, most of what they threw at you splattered on me.
- In "Jaws Wired Shut", Homer leads a theater audience into a riot when the movie seems to be taking forever to start, prompting the employees to chase him out with oversized candy.
- In "Steal This Episode", Homer puts up with various annoyances at a movie theater, prompting him to screen pirated movies in his backyard so he won't have to deal with all that.Homer: You're shushing me?! This guy's on his cellphone, she's texting, he's sexting, and that guy brought a baby to a 9:00 movie!Moviegoer with baby: That's negative, man.
- The Diss Track:
- "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" is a song Homer Simpson writes in "Dude, Where's My Ranch?" about his neighbour Ned, and how Homer hates him. He calls him a "stupid jerk" and even makes fun of his wife dying.
- "The Great Phatsby" features a rap by Jay G calling out to Mr. Burns for falling for his Obsidian Card scam. Mr. Burns attempts to get back at him by forming a supergroup of artists bearing a grudge against Jay. However, he is thwarted by Jay not only buying the master recording for their song and destroying it, but also bribing the supergroup into changing their opinions on him and Mr. Burns.
- Distracted by the Sexy:
- In the episode "Bart After Dark", Homer attempts to chastise Belle for allowing Bart to work at her burlesque house, but has difficulty doing so while watching Princess Kashmir's performance.
- "A Star Is Born Again": when Sara Sloane's wearing a somewhat revealing outfit, Homer drools a little over her and drops his nachos when he trips over. He swaps between whining over his nachos and drooling over Sara's breasts.
- Distracted from Death: Burns reunites with his long lost love in one episode, only to take too long in the bathroom getting ready for sex. When he comes out, she has died.
- Distressed Woodchopping: In "Marge the Lumberjill", Marge takes out her frustrations by chopping a fallen tree branch that Homer failed to chop up. Patty is impressed and calls a friend of hers who is a professional lumber sport competitor, and she invites Marge to join her in competition.
- Does Not Like Men: Patty & Selma, especially if said "men" are anything like Homer, though that doesn't stop them from trying to find men that are worse than Homer for Marge to marry (i.e. Artie Ziff, Andre on "Homer's Triple Bypass", the man from "Regarding Margie"-the episode where Marge has amnesia and loses her memory of being married to Homer). Despite this, there was an arc where Selma wanted to find a man so she doesn't die alone and single (as seen in the episodes "Principal Charming", "Selma's Choice", and "A Fish Called Selma"). Patty, on the other hand, revealed in "There's Something About Marrying" that she's a lesbian, along with being a misandrist.
- Does Not Like Shoes: In "Tree House of Horror X", after being affected by radiation Lisa becomes the super hero Clobber Girl. During which she remains barefoot the entire time.
- Does Not Understand Sarcasm:
- Homer, on many an occasion especially when he thinks Chief Wiggum is serious when he tells Homer to wait for a cop who cares after Homer fails to bribe him.
- Bart, in "Marge Be Not Proud", doesn't understand Comic Book Guy's sarcasm when he tries to buy a new video game for only 99 cents.
- Do I Really Sound Like That?:
- When Bart and Lisa were encouraging Homer to audition for the role of Poochie, they record his voice so he could hear it.Homer: Oh... I don't like having such a hilarious voice.
- Parodied on "The Otto Show": Bart tapes himself impersonating Marge to use as proof that Marge gave Bart permission to let Otto live at their house. The impersonation is poor, but Homer believes that it's Marge and uses the line that everyone says "That's not my voice" when they hear themselves on tape.
- When Bart and Lisa were encouraging Homer to audition for the role of Poochie, they record his voice so he could hear it.
- Domestic Appliance Disaster:
- Parodied when Homer has to cook. Wisely, he just prepares a bowl of cereals. But as soon as he pours (cold) milk into the bowl, it catches fire.
- In the "Stark Raving Dad " episode, Bart puts his red cap into the white laundry and all Homer's shirts turn pink. It leads Homer to be judged as a defiant mind at work when he wears one - and to be put in an asylum.
- The Don: Fat Tony oozes this trope. Never has mob menace been so second-language articulate.
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: Played for laughs as Bart takes over at the start of "Treehouse Of Horror V".
- Don't Explain the Joke: the show has the tendancy to do this frequently in meta, but one point it's played straight as a joke: one of the many bad acts in the Springfield Elementary Faculty Variety show is Skinner and Chalmers trying to do Who's on First?, only for skinner to ruin it in his very first line by flat out explaining the first baseman's name really is "Who".
- Doomed New Clothes: When Homer had to quit his dream job at the bowling alley in "And Maggie Makes Three", he gets a "Sorry you had to 'split'" jacket as a going away present. When he returns to the SNPP, acid rain sprang up and dissolved the jacket.
- Door-Closes Ending: The Godfather's final shot is homaged in the ending of a mafia-themed episode, with Lisa in the role of Kay. Subverted as the door opens again to reveal Michael is playing with his toys.
- Dork Horse Candidate: Seen in a couple episodes; "Lisa's Substitute" featured Bart running for class president against Martin, and "Trash of the Titans" featured a disgruntled Homer running against Ray Patterson for sanitation commissioner.
- Doting Grandparent: Mona Simpson, supposedly deceased mother of Homer Simpson, created a bond with Lisa as soon as they met in "Mother Simpson".
- Double-Edged Answer: In "Hurricane Neddy", when Ned Flanders asks Reverend Lovejoy if God is testing him, Lovejoy answers, "Short answer, yes with an if; long answer, no with a but."
- Double Standard:
- Lisa can be just as petty and mean as Bart, but generally gets rewarded for her behavior, and the show usually tries to justify her actions, while he gets punished. The good side of this is that whenever Lisa gets punished, it's usually an awesome episode because it stands out.
- In the shorts, Lisa was often as mischievous and impudent as her brother but usually avoided any comeuppance, either by being wily enough to avoid the same consequences as her brother or simply having it ignored by her parents. Allegedly this was because writers were dead against planned gags having Homer violently discipline her in the same way as Bart.
- Marge can sometimes benefit from this: She can be a jerkass on the same level as Homer, but her bad behavior is a sign that she's unappreciated or overworked, so she's really the victim here; when Homer does this he's chewed out by everyone in town.
- Woman in the Simpson universe are generally always presented as in the right to the point of reaching The Unfair Sex levels. Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male and even Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male is repeatedly used while men are usually required to take a level of jerkass when abuse is taken seriously.
- Double Standard: Violence, Child on Adult: In the episode with George Bush (senior) as a guest character. The first act of the episode has Bart floating around the former president as a wannabe Dennis The Menace, simply causing havoc and Mr. Bush being unable to do more than fume while his wife is oblivious about Bart's antics and thinking he's a nice kid. When Bart shreds Mr. Bush's auto-biography, the former president has had enough and spanks Bart's bottom once before sending him home to "think about what he had done". Bart's response: go to Homer and tell him that Mr. Bush had hit him, making both guys (who had been chums during the first act) go on the (increasingly serious) warpath. At least once during the next two acts, Mr. Bush tells Homer that Bart deserved it because he destroyed his auto-biography and other havoc and wants an apology, but Bart doesn't want to give it and Homer doesn't care about it; Bush hit his kid, and Homer wants payback.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: In "Beware My Cheating Bart", Jimbos girlfriend Shauna pretty much molests Bart first by exposing herself to him while forcing a relationship with him, dating him behind Jimbos back. However, the episode treats her as the victim with Bart getting punished for everything.
- Dramatic Curtain Toss: Several, but mostly notably the unveiling of Marge's portrait of Mr. Burns.
- Dramatic Red Samurai Background: A blink-and-you-miss-it reference in a throw-away scene from "The Monkey Suit" the family sits down for a movie about the history of nunchuks, that begins with a silhouetted figure using them against a red background with the title rendered in a stereotypical 'Asian' font.
- Dramatic Shattering: In "Last Exit to Springfield", Lisa angrily shatters the mirror when she sees how her braces look.
- Dramatic Spotlight: Parodied in the episode where Krusty reveals to the world he's Jewish. He asks for a spotlight, and the spotlight operator thinks he's doing a bit.Krusty: Boys and girls, I'd like to be serious for a moment if I may. Spotlight, please. I just wanted [spotlight moves away from Krusty] I just wan- [spotlight moves away again] Come on, guys, I'm not doing the spotlight bit!
- The Dreaded Thank You Letter: Parodied in "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" when Moe sends a death threat and Homer complains, "Now we have to send him one!".
- Dreadful Musician: Rick, when he encounters Lisa's saxophone.
- Dream Intro:
- The episode "Duffless" has Bart at the school science fair where his entry is a gun called the "Go Go Gun" which when zapped at people makes them do dances from the 1960s like The Monkey, which Bart demonstrates on Prinicipal Skinner, who then awards him first prize. Bart then wakes up to Lisa repeating the words "first prize" repeatedly.
- The episode "Kamp Krusty" has Bart in class on the day before summer vacation where Skinner makes an announcement over the speakers to tell them to take out their hardware tools to destroy the school, leading to a montage of the kids destroying the school as the song "School's Out For Summer" plays in the background. The dream ends with Bart destroying the school with a wrecking ball and then being woken up and having to attend the last day of school for real.
- "When You Dish Upon a Star" begins with Homer dreaming he is Yogi Bear mauling Ranger Smith, and was about to maul Boo-Boo when Bart wakes him up to remind him that they're going to the lake. Homer goes back to sleep and dreams he's Magilla Gorilla mauling Mr. Peebles.
- "Homer the Heretic" begins with Homer dreaming he is in a womb when a pair of hands attempt to pull him out. Fade to Marge trying to drag Homer out of bed.
- Dream Sue: Homer is given to this, imagining himself as a muscular, more handsome version of himself.
- Drench Celebration:
- "MoneyBART": After Lisa leads Bart's baseball team to victory using statistical analysis like the film, Moneyball, some of the players pour Gatorade over her laptop computer in celebration with obvious results.
- "Moms I'd Like to Forget": When the fourth grade class think they have won a game of dodgeball, Nelson takes the opportunity to dump the drinks cooler on Krabappel.Krabappel: Hey! I'm not the coach! There is no coach!
Nelson: I know... I just wanted to see if you were wearing a bra.
[Krabappel puts a hand to her chest and smiles at Nelson]
- Dressed to Plunder: Standard pirate attire appears on the cover of Treasure Island that Bart tries to BS his way through a book report of.Bart: Well, as Mrs. Krabappel already mentioned, the name of the book that I read was Treasure Island. It's about these pirates, [Looks at the illustrated cover of the book] pirates with patches over their eyes, [Looks at cover] and shiny gold teeth, [Looks at cover] and green birds on their shoulders. Did I mention this book was written [Looks at cover] by a guy named Robert Louis Stevenson? [Looks at cover] And published by the good people at McGraw-Hill. So, in conclusion, on the Simpson scale of one to ten—ten being the highest, one being the lowest and five being average—I give this book a nine.
- Dressing as the Enemy: Parodied, of course:
- In "Viva Ned Flanders", Homer and Ned are running away from their new wives. They take two janitors into a broom closet to beat them up and take their uniforms, but the janitors beat Homer and Ned up and neither the janitors are mugged for their clothes nor are Homer and Ned posing as janitors.
- In "Burns, Baby Burns", Homer and Larry Burns are running away from the police, and duck into a costume store. Moments later, two people emerge wearing outfits whom we assume are Homer and Larry in disguise. However, it's revealed that those are two random people, and that Homer and Larry are hiding in the shop's bathroom until the shop keeper tells them to buy something or get out.
- The Driver: Otto gets a lot of performance out of a school bus.
- Drunken Montage: Krusty in "The Last Temptation of Krust".
- Dude, Not Ironic:
- In "Grift of the Magi", Lisa writes "I will not do math in class" on the blackboard as a punishment.Bart: Lisa in trouble? The ironing is delicious.
Lisa: The word is irony!
- In "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", after the laser hits the detective in the eye:Homer: How ironic: He's blind, after a lifetime of being able to see.
- In "Grift of the Magi", Lisa writes "I will not do math in class" on the blackboard as a punishment.
- Dull Surprise: Years of practice have made this Marge's habitual response to zany schemes, from as far back as Season 3. In "Buddy, Can You Spare Two Dimes?", Herb Powell unveils his latest invention, a shambolic-looking thing obviously cobbled together with pieces bought from Radio Shack.Marge: [with obviously feigned enthusiasm] Ooooooooooooooh.
Herb: Marge, you don't have to humor me.
Marge: I dunno, it's pretty ingrained.
- Dumb Blonde: Averted with Lisa; hell, it wasn't even addressed until Lisa joined the school's debate team, where her opponent tried to justify this with Comically Missing the Point and Insane Troll Logic.
- Dumb Muscle: Subverted with Ox, a member of Abe Simpson's old Army squad in World War 2. He comes off as this trope initially, and his nickname reinforces it. However, it turns out he's the only one who knows what a Tontine is. It also turns out the name is short for "Oxford".
- Dustbin School: Bart got threatened by Skinner with being sent to a disciplinary school run by Catholic soldiers for truancy.
- Dying Declaration of Love: Arnie Pie shouts that he loves his wife in "Mr. Plow" before his helicopter is hit by a blizzard.Kent Brockman: Hehe. That's great, Arnie.
- Dynamic Entry:
- "Lisa's Substitute": Mr. Bergstrom shows up in cowboy attire and fires off fake gunshots into the air.
- "The Springfield Connection": Marge saves Homer's ass from a hostage situation by using Bart's secret treehouse entrance.