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The Simpsons / Tropes S to Z

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This page covers tropes found in The Simpsons.

Tropes A to B | Tropes C to D | Tropes E to H | Tropes I to M | Tropes N to R | Tropes S To Z | YMMV

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  • Sadist Teacher:
    • Bart's kindergarten teacher was a total bitch to him by crushing his self-esteem (which is how Bart became the bad boy he is now). The rest of the school teachers at Springfield Elementary, however, are more apathetic than sadistic (at least Mrs. Krabappel and Miss Hoover are. The other teachers haven't been highlighted as much and are living props, only on for an episode, or have been put out of focus).
    • Ms. Cantwell to Lisa on "Black Eyed, Please," though, unlike Bart's kindergarten teacher, she doesn't get away with what she did (as Bart let the classroom go to hell and captured footage of Ms. Cantwell in the bathroom, complaining about Lisa) and does get fired.
    • Subverted in "The PTA Disbands!". The teachers go on strike due to Bart's manipulation, and a series of substitutes from the townspeople are introduced and quit one by one. Principal Skinner then introduces a thuggish-looking substitute who immediately starts hurling abuse at the students and terrifies them. He's just there to introduce Marge, the real substitute.
    • If the superintendent of the school is scared of a teacher joining, then it must be bad. Enter Jack Lassen, who was worse than the kindergarten teacher and Cantwell. How worse? Stealing lunch money, insulting students, shaving heads for pranks, shocking them painfully instead of the science level, and outside of school at a vacation, trying to kill Bart over ruining his event.
  • Sadistic Choice: Parodied in "Rosebud" with an example more trivial than most. Burns takes over all television networks available to Springfield, telling the whole town that he's not giving them back their television until someone steals Maggie's teddy bear and puts it on his desk. Cut to an angry mob outside the Simpson home stealing the teddy bear from her, only to return it out of regret once they see Maggie, visibly upset, trying to crawl over to take it back.
  • Safe Driving Aesop: One early episode has one of these types of films (It stars Troy McClure and is part of a series including "Alice's Adventures Through the Windshield Glass" and "The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot") being shown to Homer after he was caught on a traffic offence, but he thinks it is a comedy show and ends up laughing all the way through it.
  • Safety Worst: In one episode, Homer becomes so obsessed with child-proofing that everything on the playground is covered in bubble-wrap, and he then regrets it when he learns that children not being injured means doctors make less money and child injury greeting card factories close down.
  • Samus Is a Girl:
    • Parodied in "Homer of Seville" when Homer is saved by a motorcyclist opera fan, and The Reveal is overplayed by the woman and by Homer. The former says it too overdramatically, and the latter says it with Dull Surprise and with a comparison to The Twilight Zone.
    • In "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", Lisa (disguised as a boy named Jake Boyman) reveals that she's actually a girl to the entire school.
  • Sanity Slippage: In "Kill the Alligator And Run", Homer takes a longevity quiz on his issue of "Self-Test Monthly" and learns he has three years to live. Fearing he'd die in his sleep, he stays awake and ends up hallucinating that people on TV are threatening to kill him and thinking that he won't die if he becomes a mother.
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: In the episode "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie," Milhouse brags about seeing the Itchy & Scratchy movie 15 times and Nelson brags that he saw it 17 times. Bart (who has been grounded from seeing the movie after failing to watch Maggie) tries to joke that the two must have been sick of seeing it. He ends up getting chased by Nelson and Milhouse because nobody who saw the movie would say that.
  • Say My Name:
    • Wolf Raincastle's character has this:
      McBain: Mendooooozzzaaaaa!
    • This is Superintendent Chalmers' Catchphrase.
      Chalmers: SKINNER!
      Principal Skinner: S-Superintendent Chalmers!
    • Pretty much everyone to Bart but especially...
      Homer and Lisa: Barrrrrrttttttttt!!!
    • Marge has a couple of variations:
      Marge: [angrily] Homer!
      ' [with sentiment] Oh, Homey.
    • COREEEEEY!!!
  • Scale Model Destruction: Mr. Burns stomps on a model of Springfield Godzilla style.
  • Scaling the Summit: "King of the Hill" has a newly-fit Homer trying to climb the Murderhorn as a stunt for Powersauce bars, both to impress Bart and complete his father's climbing mission, where he was betrayed and knocked off by his partner. Homer then becomes disillusioned when he finds the partner's frozen corpse and reads his diary, revealing that Grampa was really the betrayer. In the end, the mountain collapses, and Homer sticks his flag on what's left of the peak.
  • Scandalgate: Subverted where Kent Brockman reveals that the trial of Mayor Quimby's nephew for assaulting a waiter is being dubbed by the media as "Beat Up Waiter":
    Kent Brockman: This reporter suggested "Waitergate" but was shouted down at the Press Club.
  • Scary Black Man: Former boxing champ Drederick Tatum exemplifies this. And Krusty's short run sidekick Sideshow Raheem also qualifies.
  • Scenery Censor:
    • Demonstrated with Marge's portrait of Mr. Burns, where something thin always obscures his tiny penis.
    • "Natural Born Kissers" features much of this in the final act when Homer and Marge are trying to find cover while naked.
  • School Forced Us Together: Despite being brother and sister, Bart and Lisa typically don't hang out at school due to their age difference. This changes in an episode where the students of Springfield Elementary must take a standardized test. Lisa does so well she's allowed to skip to the third grade, while Bart does so poorly that he must retake the third grade. Both are placed in the same classroom. On top of this, their teacher makes the two buddies when the class goes on a field trip.
  • Science Marches On: In-universe: in "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", Miss Hoover kills time by showing the class an educational film about going to the moon made before the moon landings and thus ridiculously speculative; it shows vacationers standing on the lunar surface without space suits, including a man fishing in a crater and catching an alien woman.
  • The Scottish Trope: In "The Regina Monologues", Bart causes horrible things to happen to Sir Ian McKellen by repeatedly saying, "Macbeth".
  • Scout-Out: The Junior Campers in "Boy Scoutz 'n the Hood".
  • Scrabble Babble: Provides the page's quote with Bart's use of "kwyjibo"
    Bart: "Kwyjibo": a big, dumb, balding North American ape with no chin
    Marge: ...and a short temper.
  • Scratchy-Voiced Senior:
    • Grandpa Simpson has a slightly scratchy voice.
    • Marge, Patty, and Selma's mother Jacqueline has an especially raspy voice.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Given he scares easily, Homer does it the most, but Ned's screaming actually sounds like a woman's (his singing as well, which Bart finds disturbing [because he found it attractive]).
  • Screw Yourself: In "There's Something About Marrying", Homer imagines what it would be like to be married to himself. His mental image involves him passionately making out with his doppleganger, surrounded by mini-Homers.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Mr. Burns "disguises" himself as "Mr. Snrub" in "Marge vs. the Monorail" in a failed attempt to recover the $3 million fine he had to pay for illegal toxic waste dumping by suggesting it be invested in the power plant. No-one is fooled.
  • Sea Aping: In the episode titled "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming," there was a couch gag with the family as "Sea Monsters," which are green brine shrimp.
    Smithers: I like the way "Snrub" thinks!
  • Second Person Attack: In "Husbands and Knives", a triple Second-Person Attack is made by Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes and Alan Moore, who all simultaneously punch Comic Book Guy when he was trying to destroy a rival comic book store that's ruining his business.
  • Secret Ingredient:
    • Marge's secret ingredient for pork chops is salt (even though she put more herbs and spices in there as seen in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge").
    • The secret ingredient for making a Flaming Homer cocktail is "Krusty Brand Non-Narkotik Kough Syrup". And fire.
      Homer: Fire made it good.
  • Secret Room: The house of the Simpsons' neighbors the Flanders has a secret room with merchandise related to The Beatles. Because they were Bigger Than Jesus.
  • Secret Santa: In "'Tis the Fifteenth Season", Homer gets an extravagant present from his secret Santa (Carl). Homer forgets to bring something for Lenny, since he's Lenny's secret Santa, so he goes to a snack machine and buys him some Certs.
  • Seeking the Intangible: Played with in the episode "Bart Sells His Soul"; Bart sells his soul to Milhouse, which he represents with a piece of paper with the words "Bart's Soul" written on it. When Bart notices that certain things in his life seem off (the pets react to him with hostility, an automatic door doesn't open for him, he doesn't find an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon funny, and so on), he tries to recover the piece of paper representing his soul.
  • See You in Hell:
    • From "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds"
      Rev. Lovejoy: See you in Hell... from Heaven.
    • From "Homer Badman"
      Homer: See you in Hell, candy boys! [throws explosive]
    • From "Mom and Pop Art"
      Bart: See you in Hell, God bless this house.
    • From "The Cartridge Family"
      Homer: See you in Hell, dinner plate.
    • From "Homer the Vigilante"
      Apu: Thank you for coming! I'll see you in Hell!
    • From "Separate Vocations"
      Snake: See you in Hell, punk!
  • Selective Enforcement: In one episode, Barney and Lenny play pranks on Moe which involve setting him on fire and setting a cobra on him. Homer, in an attempt to join in the "harmless" fun loosens the lid on a sugar shaker. He gets kicked out of the bar..
  • Self-Botched Catchphrase: Featured in an episode where Springfield Elementary got school uniforms, causing the school to become more obedient. This leads Nelson to flub his own Signature Laugh with "Haw... huh?"
  • Self-Made Man:
    • Frank Grimes is a ridiculously exaggerated example. He was abandoned by his parents, worked delivering toys for rich kids which he would never get himself while studying in his free time, then was caught in a silo explosion, after which he had to rehabilitate himself, teaching himself to feel pain and hear again. His story touched Mr. Burns (another "self-made man"), who summoned him to work as Executive Vice President, only to give the job to a heroic dog at the last minute and send Grimes to sector 7G. Having to work with Homer (who, to put it mildly, doesn't share his work ethic) unhinges him, particularly once he learns of all the amazing things Homer had accomplished despite his laziness (having a big house, hanging out with Presidents, going on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins, going into outer space - would you like to see his Grammy? And the episode only begins to cover it.)
    • Parodied with Mr. Burns, who declares himself a self-made man, but Mr. Smithers responds by pointing out that Monty inherited his money. When Burns glares at him, he hastily adds, "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That." Of course, since Burns wrote on a medical form that the "Cause of Parents' Deaths" was "Got in my way", he still counts. He apparently had many older siblings who all died under "unfortunate" circumstances, mostly poisoned potatoes, leaving him the sole heir. He did, however, gain his entire fortune back in the course of one episode after it was taken away from him. He did this, of course, by recycling, which he still managed to make evil.
    • Herb Powell, Homer's illegitimate half-brother, grew up in Shelbyville Orphanage, washed cars for his college classmates to pay for his education and became a car manufacturer, with said classmates being now his board of directors. Homer ruined this, sending Herb to the poorhouse until he invented a device that translated baby talk. Despite the invention being a success back when it was made and the Simpsons having a baby, the device was never seen in any other episode and Herb later mentioned he was poor again.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Mr. Burns, possibly. In "The Mansion Family", he fills out a form at the doctor's office. He reads out loud, "Cause of parent's death? Got in my way."
  • Self-Serving Memory:
    • In "$pringfield", when Homer accuses Marge of being against the casino, flashes back to a very bizarre scene. Also used by Burns and Bart in the trial in Bart Gets Hit By a Car.
    • In "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace", Homer claims that Marge told him to quit his job and become an inventor, or she'd torch the house.
  • Self-Surgery: In "Rednecks and Broomsticks", Doctor Hibbert and his nurse go blind during an operation, leaving Hans Moleman to operate on himself.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Homer's father even falls asleep mid-sentence.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Milhouse is often whiny and Bart boldly leads him on adventures.
  • Sequel Episode: While Negative Continuity is in play, notable episodes are followed up on in a broad sense, if not directly.
    • "Brawl in the Family", which followed up on Homer's second marriage to Amber from "Viva Ned Flanders".
    • Similarly, "Papa Don't Leach" is a follow-up to "Colonel Homer".
    • "My Mother the Carjacker" and "Mona Leaves-a" both follow up on the "Homer's mother" plot thread started in "Mother Simpson".
    • The earliest example would probably be "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" being a follow up to "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?"
    • "The Great Louse Detective" revealed itself to follow-up on "Homer's Enemy"
    • Sideshow Bob-tries-to-kill-Bart episodes happen every couple of seasons, and usually acknowledges how regularly it occurs.
    • Certain Flash Forward episodes are spiritually the sequel to the previous one, spaced out every 6 or so years. "Lisa's Wedding" was the first, going on to "Bart to the Future," "Future-Drama," then "Days of Holidays Passed" had a more direct sequel in "Days of Future Future."
  • Sequential Symptom Syndrome: In "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish", Homer eats fugu and thinks he's going to die. He experiences the five stages of grief as quickly as Doctor Hibbert can recite them.
    Hibbert: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.
  • Serenade Your Lover: It happens a lot— see trope page.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred:
    • Celebrity voices have been rumored to line up for years to get on the show. Even playing themselves.
    • The family appeared on Sesame Street itself on a celebrity cameo edition of the "Monster in the Mirror" music video.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Homer in "Bart's Friend Falls In Love", after getting a subliminal vocabulary-building tape since they were out of weight-loss tapes. It wears off after Homer learns that the alleged weight-loss tapes didn't work as advertised.
  • Severed Head Sports:
    • The end of the RPG Episode "Marge Gamer" shows Marge's player character playing with the head of Moe's.
    • Also happens on one of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, again with Moe as the victim of a Mayan sacrifice. His head rolls down the stairs and is used by kids as a soccer ball.
    • Yet another "Treehouse of Horror" had the zombified bullies use Zombie!Principal Skinner's head like a hacky sack.
  • Severely Specialized Store: A borderline example appears in "When Flanders Failed". Ned Flanders opens The Leftorium, a store with left-handed products for left-handed people; despite having a wide range of products, it initially fails due to interference by Homer.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit:
    • In the "Large Marge" episode (which involved her getting Gag Boobs and becoming a Booth Babe), Marge Simpson wears a sexy backless red dress that emphasizes her new "attributes" for a public appearance.
    • The one-episode character Sara Sloane, a hot movie star and Ned's temporary Love Interest, wears a similar dress, during the episode, at a concert (gaining more attention from male people).
  • Sexy Santa Dress: In the Christmas episode "The Nightmare After Krustmas". A scene during the night, in the bedroom, has Marge wear a really revealing Santa costume to surprise Homer.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Apocalypse Cow" seemed like a huge build up towards Bart getting an excuse to say, "I had a cow, man". Nonetheless, the episode did get a Sequel Episode called "Moonshine River".
  • Shamed by a Mob: Burn in "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 1".
  • Shameful Source of Knowledge: One episode has Bart playing truant from school and sneaking into a party for Mayor Quimby's nephew Freddy, during which Bart witnesses one of the waiters having a string of incredibly clumsy accidents, and Freddy is arrested after being accused of beating the waiter up. Bart is then faced with a moral dilemma between letting an innocent man go to jail and testifying on his behalf, giving the school proof that he skipped school.
  • Shame If Something Happened:
    • Parodied when Homer threatens Mr. Burns: "Nice office you have here. It would be a shame if somebody... DIDN'T USE A COASTER!" Mr. Burns appears to be truly shaken.
    • In another episode, Homer threatens the manager of a beauty salon by hurling a hairnet to the ground and unscrewing the lid off of a jar. The manager is perplexed, especially as it is only after these things have happened that Homer explains his intent: he wants the salon to honor Marge's coupon for two free hair streaks, "or a lot more jars are going to be unscrewed."
    • And again when Homer hires a private investigator, Dexter Colt, to find information about Lisa. Dexter comments that it would be a shame if Principal Skinner's papers were shuffled and does so. Skinner responds that he could easily put them back, to which Dexter staples the now mismatched pile. Cue a Big "NO!" from Skinner.
  • Sham Wedding:
    • In "The Real Housewives of Fat Tony", Selma marries Fat Tony, the local mafia boss. However, it turns out the wedding wasn't real and the ceremony was held in Italian (which Selma doesn't know), and she only agreed to be Tony's house mistress. Fat Tony's real wife laughs at the size of Selma's ring.
    • In "The Wandering Juvie", Bart arranges a fake wedding for himself and "Lotta Cooties" (there is no such a girl/woman) so he can return the gifts the invited guests will bring for store credit. He ends up getting busted and sent to juvenile hall.
  • Sheet of Glass:
    • Subverted in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge": Marge's out-of-control car heads towards two workers carrying a giant sheet of glass. However, instead of the car smashing the glass to pieces, she merely knocks the glass down to the ground. The workers pick it up and comment on how sturdy the glass is.
    • Parodied in "Bart's Elephant", in which two workers manage to avoid having their sheet of glass get hit by both Stampy and Bart, then toss it into a recycling bin carelessly.
  • Shipped in Shackles:
    • Burns was given the Hannibal Mask treatment once when he was dragged into court for illegally dumping radioactive waste in "Marge vs. the Monorail."
    • Bart, after being falsely assumed to have stolen the church's collection plate money, is given the Hannibal treatment at next week's service.
      Marge: We really shouldn't have let them do this. It can't be helping his self esteem.
  • Shock-and-Switch Ending:
    • "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" ends with Marge entering the basement and gasping in shock while we see Homer's shadow suspended above the floor swaying back and forth, implying that he hung himself. We then see that Homer is actually holding onto one of the rafters while swatting at a light bulb.
    • In "Dog of Death", Grampa Simpson tells the rest of the family that Santa's Little Helper is dead, and the show goes into a commercial break over a shot of the dog's motionless body as sad music plays. The episode resumes with the exact same shot, except the dog is now breathing and the Simpsons are admonishing Grampa for declaring him dead (though he continues to insist that the dog's dead).
  • Shoehorned Acronym:
    • Krusty once tries to make a comedy show called Krusty's Komedy Klassic. Not only did he spell "comedy" and "classic" wrong, the initials ended up being KKK!
    • In another episode, Marge sets up a group of Moral Guardians which she dubs S.N.U.H., short for Springfieldians for Nonviolence, Understanding and Helping.
    • In "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples, and Teens and Gays", the eponymous group abbreviates themselves to "SSCCaTaG". Marge forms her own protest group, the even longer PPASSCCaTaG: "Proud Parents Against Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples, and Teens, and Gays".
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: The creator of Itchy & Scratchy is a homeless hobo who makes a living in part by shining shoes. After he successfully sues I&S Studios for all their money, he lives in a mansion, where he hangs out in front offering people a shine.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: When Homer was an actor playing Jesus during his crucifixion. To everybody's surprise (specially for Flanders), he performed competently, and did not ruin it with any of his usual nonsense.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: in "Homer the Moe", Homer throwing his unfinished robot away.
    Robot: Father, give me legs...
    [Homer throws it away]
    Robot: Father...
    [Homer shakes his head]
    [the robot drags itself off-screen with its "arms"]
  • Shooting Gallery:
    • "The Springfield Connection," with Wiggum pointing out the unarmed victims Marge didn't shoot (the mom with her baby and the blind man in the doorway).
    • In "The Cartridge Family," Homer joins his NRA buddies at a shooting range. We see him make some very clean shots through a series of soda cans. Pull out to reveal that Homer just took out the display at the snack stand.
  • Shotgun Wedding:
    • Homer and Marge marry after she gets pregnant, in a chapel appropriately named "Shotgun Pete's".
    • The Tom Sawyer's episode "Simpson Tall Tales" features a literal shotgun wedding, with Marge remembering hers and running away the moment Abraham Simpson lowers the gun, years after.
  • Should Have Thought of That Before X:
    • Taken to illogical extremes in detention.
      Principal Skinner: Over here, Simpson! The detention room is dangerously overcrowded so you'll be spending your time in the cafeteria.
      Student: Oxygen running out...
      Principal Skinner: Yes, you should have thought of that before you made that paper airplane.
    • In "Lost Our Lisa", Lisa can't go to the Isis Exhibit because Marge has to take Bart to the hospital to get the novelty items he glued to his face removed, leading to this exchange:
      Lisa: Oh! It's the last day of the Isis exhibit!
      Bart: Well, you should have thought of that BEFORE I glued all this stuff to my face!
    • In "Mobile Homer", the movie Marge watches features dialog of this.
      Man: I'm afraid your husband had no life insurance.
      Woman: But what will I do?!
      Man: You should've thought of that before you married a dead man!
  • Shout-Out: Frequent and unabashed. Listing all the examples would fill a page. Notably, the creators have said that they have parodied Citizen Kane so many times that one could recreate the entire movie just from The Simpsons clips. They have also said the same about the first two The Godfather movies.
  • Show Some Leg: Marge once distracted Chief Wiggum by flashing her (temporarily surgically enhanced) breasts. Which Krusty referred to as "Mugumbos". Which happened to be the control word for Stampy the Elephant.
  • Show Within a Show: The Krusty The Klown Show is a popular show for Bart and Lisa to watch. It contains variety acts, guest stars, and additional shows.
  • Showing Up Chauvinists: In "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", Lisa enrolls at Rommelwood Military Academy, and ends up becoming its first female graduate despite sexist bullying from her peers and the Stay in the Kitchen attitudes of many of the staff.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • When Homer was recounting his previous trip to New York City he mentioned that he was traveling to Harrisburg to buy an irregular coat and had to transfer from a bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal to a train at Penn Station. This is entirely accurate as one would make such a walking transfer when traveling to Harrisburg and the PABT was accurately depicted as well in its pre-rebuild configuration.
    • In "Homer Scissorhands", when Milhouse tells Bart about the first chapter of the Finding Nemo DVD that his mother always skipped, the shot of the DVD menu shows the actual chapter titles from the DVD ("New Parents", "First Day of School", "Field Trip", and "The Drop Off"), except with the actual Chapter 2, "Main Titles", skipped.
  • The Shrink: A therapist attempted to cure Homer of his Bart-strangling obsession (or at least make him understand it's not acceptable to strangle children) by having somebody strangle Homer all the time. When Homer was "cured", the therapist said the road of recovery was far from over but had a change of mind when Homer confessed to have lied about having insurance.
  • Shrunken Organ: Mr. Burns' heart has been shown as a shriveled black lump that beats every now and again. Additionally, after crawling out from beneath a landslide, Mr. Burns tilted his head and banged his ear in hope of clearing out the gravel from his other ear. The gravel came flying out that ear, along with his walnut-sized brain.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Nelson gives one of these to Lisa in "Lisa's Date With Density" when she won't stop talking. However, after a couple seconds, Nelson begins to enjoy the kiss.
  • Sick Episode: None of these occupy the entire episode, but: Lisa gets the mumps in "Bart's Dog Gets an F". Many people get the Osaka Flu in "Marge in Chains". Homer gets food poisoning in "Selma's Choice". Everybody except Lisa gets queasy from eating organic foods in "A Star is Torn". Lisa gets a cold in "Lisa Gets an A".
  • Sickly Green Glow: Anything radioactive gives off this effect. In "The Springfield Files", Mr. Burns reveals that "a lifetime of working in a nuclear power plant has given me a healthy green glow."
  • Side-Effects Include...: In "Barting Over", Homer appears in an ad for topical treatment for impotence and hair loss:
    Announcer: Possible side effects include loss of scalp and penis.
    Homer: What did he say about my scalp?
  • Signature Instrument: Lisa owns a saxophone which she plays a lot, including in the intro, and is a major plot point in some episodes including "Lisa's Sax" which tells about the origins of it, and "Moaning Lisa" where she plays the saxophone while writing a song about her bad mood.
  • Significant Birthdate:
    • In Season 10's "Viva Ned Flanders," Homer casually mentions that Barney's birthday is the same as Hitler's [April 20th] (in syndicated reruns and on the Season 10 DVD version, the date was changed to July 15th, and the celebrity whom Homer knows has that birthday is Lassie the dog).
    • Bart's birthday is April 1st.
  • Significant Monogram: Subverted/averted with Marge, who in her high school days was a Straw Feminist known as Marge Bouvier; since her marriage to Homer and assumption of the name Marge Simpson, she has been (by and large) rather tolerant of her new position as the voice of reason Homer rarely heeds.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Waylon Smithers, particularly in the early years, is "Burns-sexual;" Burns never catches on. It was decided early on to have Smithers be in love with Burns, but there was a lot of debate about whether it was a matter of Single-Target Sexuality or if he was just gay. The latter seems to have won out in recent years, with Smithers having ex-boyfriends and going to a gay resort on vacation, subverting this trope. However, some writers, like Al Jean, still play this straight with the character.
  • Silence, You Fool!:
    • One example near the end of the second act from the episode "Bart Sells His Soul":
      Homer: Bart, you didn't finish your spaghetti and Moe balls!
      Homer's brain: Silence, you fool. It can be ours!
      Homer: [eating] Run, boy! Run! Run for your life, boy!
    • Also, Bart says one to Lisa after she teases him about Laura and Bart in the episode "New Kid on the Block":
      Bart: Maybe Laura could watch us.
      Lisa: Oh, I get it. [seductively] Bart, the babysitter's here. Let me tuck you in. [making smacking noises]
      Bart: Silence!
    • Again in 'Skinner's Sense of Snow':
      Skinner: All right, that's it. I'm writing all your names on the detention list in my mind.
      Bart: Silence, Seymour. We're in charge now.
    • And again in 'Girly Edition'
      Lisa: Bart, get out of my anchorchair.
      Bart: Silence, Octopussy.
    • And again in 'Lisa the Skeptic' but from the so-called angel when it's revealed that it's not an apocalypse but instead turns out to be an opening for the Heavenly Hills shopping mall in Springfield:
      Lisa: Well, there you go. I hope you all learned a valuable—
      Angel: Silence! Prepare for the end... the end of high prices! Behold, the grand opening of the Heavenly Hills Mall.
    • Also one from Mr. Burns in "Homer's Enemy", as well, when criticizing Frank Grimes in his office.
    • From "Sunday, Bloody Sunday":
      Wally: Well, I'm convinced. Tell you what, Mr. Murdoch. Let's just split the difference. The boys and I will just crouch here quietly, and take it easy on the snacks...
      Rupert Murdoch: Silence! [he throws something on the ground, and two puffs of smoke appear, revealing three policemen] Seize them!
    • The trope also appears in the Gracie Films logo sequence in this episode, as well.
    • From "New Kids on the Bleech"
      Skinner: Are you adequately prepared to rock?
      [the audience cheers wildly]
      Skinner: SILENCE!
  • The Silent Bob: Maggie can't speak due to being a baby but often communicates a lot by pointing and rolling her eyes.
  • Silent Offer: In "Bart Gets Hit By a Car", Homer sues Burns for hitting Bart while in a car. After Burns destroys Homer's credibility in the eyes of the jury, he offers to settle with Homer.
    Burns: I'm going to write a figure on this piece of paper. It's not quite as large as the last one, but I think you'll find it fair.
    [Burns draws a giant zero]
    Hutz: I think we should take it.
  • Silent Snarker: Maggie is probably the smartest of the Simpson family considering how much she rolls her eyes at their antics.
  • Silly Prayer:
    • Defied in Flanders' Book of Faith, a licensed book. Ned Flanders considers starting a prayer with "Howdy-doo, lord", but then decides against it.
    • Discussed in the episode "Black-Eyed Please" where Ned Flanders wants to pray for Homer Simpson in the hospital but Homer wants Ned to pray to Superman. Ned refuses.
    • In "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", after Bart gets sent to his room for ruining Lisa's Thanksgiving centerpiece, a sore Homer leads the rest of family in saying grace at the dinner table.
      Homer: And Lord, we're especially thankful for nuclear power, the cleanest, safest energy source there is... except for solar, which is just a pipe dream. Anyway, we'd like to thank you for the occasional moments of peace and love our family's experienced. Well, not today. You saw what happened! Oh, Lord, be honest. Are we the most pathetic family in the universe or what?!
      All: Amen.
      Selma: Worst prayer yet.
    • In "The Wife Aquatic", when Homer and Bart go overboard after the fishing boat they were on capsizes in a ferocious storm.
      Homer: Oh, Mother Sea, giver of fish, taker of boats, toilet to the world. The Greeks call you Poseidon, the Romans... Aquaman. Look into thy starfish heart and protect our souls so we might live to go tubing on thee again. (beat) Do you think your mother will ever remarry?
      Bart: In about two seconds.
      Homer: Why you little—?! (strangles Bart)
    • One of the earlier episodes featured Bart giving this little gem in place of grace before dinner:
      Bart: Rubba-Dub-Dub, thanks for the grub.
  • Similar Squad: It's been used several times: a nice version of the family, a cooler version of Bart and Lisa, the inbred version of Springfield in Shelbyville...
  • Simple Country Lawyer:
    • When Homer addresses the church congregation about Ned's age in "Viva Ned Flanders", Homer admits he's not a "fancy big city lawyer", to which the congregation gasps.
    • When ranting against the recent area code changes in "A Tale of Two Springfields," Homer takes on the mannerisms of and sticks his thumbs under dynamite straps, as though they were suspenders, like a country lawyer.
    • The lawyer from "The Monkey Suit" falls into this trope as well.
      Lawyer: As the chick said to her mama, "I hope I don't cluck up!" (audience says "Awwwww")
  • Sistine Steal:
    • Homer manages to paint the Sistine Chapel's ceiling piece with him in the place of Adam and Marge in the place of God, while Bart and Lisa emerge from Marge's dress.
    • Mr. Burns invokes this trope in his own short film, in which his own face replaces that of Adam in an ultimate show of arrogance.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Homer has Ned Flanders, Bart has Sideshow Bob (and for some reason, Dr. Demento), while Maggie has Gerald (the baby with the unibrow).
  • Skeleton Motif: Bully Jimbo Jones wears a skull t-shirt.
  • Skewed Priorities: Agent Mulder (Expy from The X-Files) in "The Springfield Files". A shipment of drugs and illegal weapons is coming into New Jersey that night, but Mulder thinks investigating an unsubstantiated UFO sighting is more important.
  • Skinny Dipping:
    • In "500 Keys", Homer remembers going skinny dipping with Duff Man. This might be how he ended up with the key to the Duff brewery.
    • Lisa was arrested for skinny-dipping in the Fermentarium at Duffworld (admittedly, she was stoned after drinking the water in the boat ride for a dare) while crying "I am the Lizard Queen!"
  • Skyward Scream:
    • McBain, during one of his movies, after his partner is fatally shot:
      McBain: MENDOZAAA!!!
    • An example from "Bart Gets Famous", after Homer thinks Bart turned into a box:
      Homer: DAMN YOU! A BOX!!!
    • When Bart and his elephant are missing. Homer had made a deal to sell the elephant, prompting:
      Homer: He took Bart too? That wasn't part of the deal blackheart! THAT WASN'T PARRRRT!
  • Slap Yourself Awake: Bart smacks himself to stay awake studying in the episode where he actually buckles down and tries to get a passing grade.
  • Sleazy Politician: The illiterate, tax-cheating, wife-swapping, pot-smoking spendocrat, (Mayor) Diamond Joe Quimby. Quimby responds he is no longer illiterate.
  • Sleep Deprivation:
    • Homer gets a second job in the episode where Lisa gets a pony. He works days (his old power plant job) and nights (his new job in the Kwik-E-Mart). He gets no sleep and is absolutely exhausted.
    • In one "Treehouse of Horror" segment, the kids try to stay awake as long as possible. If they fall asleep, Willy kills them. They're exhausted, but it's a rather desperate attempt because they know they can't stay awake forever.
    • In one episode, the flight patterns are changed so planes fly over Evergreen Terrace. The whole family can't sleep and are in poor shape physically as a result.
    • Marge can't sleep well when Homer starts snoring.
    • Maggie is crying non-stop in one episode when they try to take away her dummy. Cue the whole family looking like zombies without their sleep.
    • Apu once works a 96 hour shift at the Kwik-E-Mart. By the end of it, he's hallucinating that he's a hummingbird.
    • When Lisa befriends and spends time with two college girls, she attends a poetry reading session with them in the evening. She forgot to do a project for her class and has to do it at night. She falls asleep in class the next day and destroys her model. It's still the best work in her class and she gets an A minus.
  • Sleeping Single: One of the first clues that Luann and Kirk Van Houten might have a troubled marriage was Kirk's proposal to "push the twin beds together" after he procured a sex tonic. Later seasons saw them get divorced, though as of present they're back together.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 2 (Status Quo Is God). They're always the same family with kids of the same ages that have the same neighbors, etc. Lisa did permanently become a vegetarian, though, and some such minor happenings.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: In the middle. The sense of humor is mainly more cynical and have a few mean-spirited characters but there are a lot of feel-good, heartfelt moments and a genuine feeling of love between family and friends that it makes the show more balanced on the scale.
  • Slow-Loading Internet Image: Comic Book Guy is seen downloading a nude image of Captain Janeway. Just as it gets revealing, a popup for Homer's Internet service appears, leading Comic Book Guy to remark "Hmm... the Internet King. Perhaps he can provide faster nudity."
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The town of Springfield itself. Listing everything with "Springfield" in the name would be a fruitless endeavor. Hell, they even have the Hollywood sign-style "SPRINGFIELD" spelled out on the mountainside!
  • Small Town Rivalry: Between Springfield and Shelbyville.
  • Smart People Know Latin: To cover going on a road trip, Bart tells his family he's going to the National Grammar Rodeo.
    Lisa: I'm the best student in school, how come I never heard about this competition?
    Bart: Maybe because you are, as we say in Latin, a "dorkus malorkus."
    Lisa: That's not Latin. Mom, Bart's faking it.
    Marge: Lisa, you've had your glory. Now it's Bart's turn.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Homer finds glasses in one episode and immediately starts acting smart, even though the math he starts reciting is nonsense. His screw-up itself was a Shout-Out to The Wizard of Oz, where the Scarecrow makes the same mistake (uncorrected).
  • Smelly Skunk:
    • Homer's sprayed by some skunks after his panda rape in "Homer vs. Dignity".
    • "Sleeping With The Enemy": In revenge for teasing her, Lisa gets Nelson to play a prank on Terri and Sherri by giving them a present with a skunk inside which sprays them both.
    • Used in "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" after Marge gets the host's name wrong on a Japanese game show.
  • Smoking Hot Sex:
    • Season 15 episode, "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner", has this trope in one scene with Artie Ziff and Selma after they had quick sex with Selma smoking.
    • "Regarding Margie": Happens near the end of the second act with Skinner and Edna seen with their ragged clothes on after sex and Edna smoking a cigarette afterwards.
      Skinner: You know, I think about you all the time.
      Edna: Birthday's over, Seymour.
  • Smug Snake: Mr. Burns sometimes takes this trope to ridiculous extremes. For example, one episode involved a plan on Burns' part to block sunlight from reaching Springfield, and a town hall meeting was held about it. During the meeting, the town was being shown what Burns' oil drilling operation did to Bart's pet dog, who was shown needing to use wheels just to walk down the hallway. Burns walks in at EXACTLY this moment, and, with a big smirk on his face, says this:
    Burns: Oh those wheels are squeaking a bit. Perhaps I could sell him a little oil.
  • Snake Charmer: Parodied in the episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore" when Mr. Burns introduces himself to his outsourced employees in India by emerging, snake-like, from a wicker basket as Smithers plays the pungi.
  • Snub by Omission: The show has done this to Homer twice, with the Employee of the Week awards (which he loses to an inanimate carbon rod), as well as the Town Pride Awards (which everyone gets but him).
  • Soapbox Sadie: Lisa, with the given soapbox being whatever the writers feel like using (usually Lisa prefers a Liberal stance).
  • Sock It to Them: When Homer and his buddies become a vigilante force because the police can't catch the Classy Cat-Burglar stalking the neighborhood, Jimbo joins. He's told that his Weapon of Choice should be sack full of doorknobs. A news anchor interviewing Homer later mentions that beatings with such a weapon have skyrocketted.
  • Soccer-Hating Americans: The Simpsons provides what may be the definitive example:
    Announcer: Fast-kickin', low-scorin'. And ties? You bet!
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Referenced in Marge's monologue at the end of "Marge vs. the Monorail".
    Marge: And that was the only folly the people of Springfield ever embarked upon. Except for the Popsicle stick skyscraper. And the 50-foot magnifying glass. [the sun focused through the magnifying glass sets the Popsicle stick skyscraper on fire] And that escalator to nowhere.
  • Sold His Soul for a Donut:
    • "Treehouse of Horror IV" is the Trope Namer. Homer sells his soul to the Devil (played by Ned Flanders, of all people) for a donut. He tries to cheat the devil by not finishing it.
    • "Bart Sells His Soul": In an attempt to prove the soul doesn't exist, Bart writes "Bart Simpson's Soul" on a piece of paper and sells it to Milhouse for $5. Milhouse in turn trades it to the Comic Book Guy for Alf pogs. Bart, meanwhile, experiences some unusual happenings, apparently due to now being soulless, and spends the episode trying to retrieve the piece of paper.
    • "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" contains a clip cut from "Treehouse of Horror IV" where Bart says he'd sell his soul for a Formula 1 racecar. The Devil immediately appears and says he can arrange that, but Bart changes his mind.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: In "Simpson Tide", Homer joined the US Naval Reserve expecting it to be like this. It doesn't quite go according to plan.
  • Something Completely Different: "22 Short Films About Springfield" is a series of short subject clips not recycled from other shows. It also includes the memetic Seymour and Skinner short.
  • Sorry Ociffer: Homer and Barney get stopped by Chief Wiggum because he thinks they're both drunk (he's right). Then he asks Homer to dance and he does pretty well... Until Barney asks Wiggum to use the Breathalyzer.
  • Sorry to Interrupt: Played with in "The Great Money Caper":
    Marge: [enters the kitchen] Why are you frosting that old throw pillow?
    Homer: I could ask you the very same question!
    Marge: Uh... should I just back out of the room?
    Homer: Would you? [Marge leaves]
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Homer Simpsons is well established as hating his job as a security director at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. In a flashback episode, when he and Marge only have two children, he figures a way to support his family with a job he will enjoy more — he wants to work in a bowling alley. Funny that Homer happily trades his cushy job with a place where he has to work manually or deal with dirty shoes. Homer ecstatically quits, making sure Mr. Burns, the owner of the plant, knows how much Homer hated it. Then Marge realizes she's pregnant and Homer has to beg for his old, higher-paying job back. Mr. Burns re-hires him, but has a plaque mounted in Homer's small office that reads "Don't forget: You're here forever." Homer uses pictures of Maggie to cover letters in such a way that the plaque now reads: "Do it for her."
  • Sound-Effect Bleep:
    • "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?" has Homer is driving and swearing (covered by sound effects) at other drivers. Even worse, there are impressionable kids with him. Worse still, he's swearing at an ambulance.
    • Also present in other episodes like "Flaming Moe's" (on a TV program Homer was watching), "Homer and Apu" (in one of the scenes with James Woods), and "Treehouse of Horror IX" (the fact that one of the shorts features The Jerry Springer Show says it all).
  • Sparkling Stream of Tears: Parodied when Lisa makes Lady Gaga cry.
    Lisa: ...Are you crying glitter?
    Lady Gaga: Tiny diamonds. Hurts like hell.
  • Special Guest: The show holds the Guinness World Record for Most Guest Stars Featured in a TV Series. They even got Tony Blair (when he was still Prime Minister) and Reclusive Artist Thomas Pynchon, which was the only time his voice has been broadcast in the media.
  • Speed Dating: When Marge develops amnesia in "Regarding Margie", Patty and Selma take her to a speed dating event so she can meet a man who is not Homer.
  • Spelling for Emphasis: When Homer is admitted to college, he tries to brag about his smarts by spelling "smart", but messes it up.
    Homer: "I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T!"
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Frequently in the subtitles — "Crusty the Clown" instead of "Krusty the Klown", "Mo" instead of "Moe", and most egregiously, "Crabapple" instead of "Krabappel".
    • This also happens in the show itself with Itchy & Scratchy CEO Roger Meyers, whose surname has been inconsistently spelled as both "Meyers" and "Myers" over the course of the series.
  • Sperm as People:
    • In one episode, Maggie's conception is portrayed with a bunch of clumsy, Homer-headed sperm.
    • In another episode, Homer's and Smithers's sperm samples are seen with the faces of their respective owners. Homer's sperm cells once again bump into one another.
  • Sphere Eyes: A majority of characters.
  • Spin-Off: Of The Tracey Ullman Show. And the whole concept is spoofed in the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase".
  • Spin the Bottle:
    • The beginning of "The Way We Weren't" has Bart, Milhouse, Terri and Sherri (along with their cousin who has a crush on Bart) play this game in Bart's Treehouse. Milhouse spins the bottle and stops at Terri/Sherri's cousin. When Milhouse attempts to kiss her, he accidentally kisses Homer instead when he climbed Bart's Treehouse.
    • In "Colonel Homer", after being locked in the room with Lurleen Lumpkin and being kissed by her, flashbacks of Homer's kissing attempts is seen, when in his childhood, he is seen playing this game only to get slapped by the girl who the bottle is stopped at.
  • Spinning Paper: Used all the time. One time, this was lampshaded with the headline: "Spinning newspaper injures printer."
  • Spit Take:
    • In "Lisa's Date With Density", Milhouse interrupts Lisa's confession on her crush on Nelson by taking a suave drink of milk. When she finishes, he spits it back into his straw, causing the carton to explode.
    • Invoked by Homer in "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" when he sees the price of a top-of-the-budget computer and reacts by grabbing a cup of coffee, drinking it, and spitting it out.
  • The Sponsor: In the Season 4 episode "Marge in Chains", Lionel Hutz calls upon David Crosby when he's tempted by "...that bottle of delicious bourbon. Brownest of the brown liquors..."
  • Spontaneous Mustache: In a few episodes of we see Homer shave, be clean-shaven for a moment, and then spontaneously develop his Perma-Stubble.
  • Spoof Aesop:
    • The end of "Blood Feud" has the family debating on what the moral of the story is, and eventually giving up by saying it was just a bunch of stuff that happened.
    • "Tennis the Menace" has one delivered by Homer, after all four have been replaced by professional tennis players on the court: "It's better to watch stuff than to do stuff."
    • "Homer Badman": Marge's moral: "As long as everyone keeps filming one another justice will be done."
  • Spoofing in the Rain:
    • In "Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part One" Mr. Burns climbs a lamp post in the same way Gene Kelly did.
    • In "Brawl In The Family" Groundskeeper Willie sings and dances around in acid rain.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • Many of the celebrity cameos, but Lady Gaga in "Lisa Goes Gaga" stands out.
    • Homer in the Scully-era episodes, especially during the ninth, tenth, and 11th seasons, which wore on fans' nerves and is cited as one of the reasons why the show's quality is in the toilet. The show is meant to have an ensemble cast, but more than half the episodes from season 10 focus on Homer finding a new job or hobby.
    • Lisa gets this in the more recent seasons, with many episodes focusing on her cause of the week or feeling out of place at home or school.
  • Spraying Drink from Nose: In a flashback episode, Bart finds his niche as Class Clown when he makes Milhouse squirt milk out of his nose from laughing.
  • Spy Cam:
    • In one episode, Maggie is placed on a day-care center where the other babies bully her. Homer and Marge decide after some time of this happening (but not really knowing why Maggie is acting so sullen other than it has to do with the center) to get a nanny-cam which is concealed on her hair bow.
    • In "Homer and Apu", Homer is given a giant novelty hat with a loudly whirring camera inside to get evidence of Apu's unhygienic food selling practices. When Apu confuses the whirring of the camera's focusing motor with the buzzing of a bee, he tells it to Homer—who instantly freaks out about having a bee on his hat and stomps said hat (and the camera) flat.
  • Squeamish About Slaughter: Lisa's class is shown an educational film about the food chain. In the film, a student becomes visibly distraught after being taken on a tour of a meat packing plant by the host.
    Cowboy: Come on Jimmy, lets take a look at the killing floor.
    Jimmy: gasp!
    Cowboy: Don't let the name throw you Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating.
  • Stab the Salad: Several times, memorably in Sideshow Bob's first escape, Homer kept scaring Bart by wielding large deadly implements for innocent things.
  • Staging an Intervention: Homer recalls playing Pictionary earlier in the week. It was really an intervention.
    Homer: I hope it's as fun as Pictionary was last week!
    Bart: Dad, we weren't playing Pictionary. That was an intervention to stop your drinking.
  • Stalker Shot:
    • In Season 4 "Last Exit to Springfield", in a union meeting, after Carl tells everyone their new contract makes them give up their dental plan in exchange for a free keg of beer, Homer slowly realizes that he has to pay for Lisa's braces and rejects the contract and convinces everyone to reject it too. The camera cuts to the keg to reveal the beer tap has a hidden camera inside and Mr. Burns watching them through the monitor.
    • In Season 6 "A Star is Burns", when the film festival judges are voting on which film should win, Mayor Quimby and Krusty votes for Mr. Burn's film. The camera then pans to a sandwich where it's revealed that the olive on the sandwich is actually a camera and then the scene cuts to Mr. Burns who is watching the judges on the monitor to see if they're voting for him.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: "The Old Man and Lisa" has Burns going broke because of his Yes-Man underlings, and feeling convinced that hiring Lisa would get him back on track what with her integrity. However, Lisa refuses to work for him, because she is convinced he does not deserve to be helped. Burns, in turn, follows her around in a very stalkerish manner, begging that she take the job.
  • Start My Own:
    • Bart starts his own casino after getting kicked out of Burns's casino in "$pringfield", putting Squeaky Voiced Teen in his place.
    • In "The Joy of Sect", Mr. Burns attempts to create his own religion after he hears that the Movementarian's leader has tax-exempt status. The unveiling ceremony went horribly wrong, however, as a wayward spark from a firework destroyed his costume, and he fell from the balcony trying to put himself out.
      Lenny: Meh. He's alright, but he's no bowl of Special K!
  • Starter Marriage: Lampshaded in an episode, which shows Bart (now a teenager) in a relationship with a high school girlfriend, who mentions that they're supposed to vow to be together forever and get divorced within five years.
  • Station Ident: For Channel 4. Homer manages to get a six-pack of Duff on a power line, then tries to grab it off again before resorting to just drinking it off the line itself.
  • Status Quo Is God: There are numerous aspects of the setting that are immoveable, and almost any changes are either reverted by the end or ignored as the next episode just continues like nothing happened. This is occasionally subverted, usually in regards to the introduction of new characters.
    • Among the standard parts of the show: Homer gets fired on a regular basis and/or gets a new job but will be at the plant in the next episode, Lisa meets a new best friend but will have some sort of fallout, Bart learns to better behave and start doing his schoolwork but is back to being a troublemaker, Homer and Flanders become best friends only to be enemies again in the next episode, Moe finds some shred of happiness only to be miserable and suicidal again, Barney gets into rehab but is always seen at Moes, etc.
    • Got a big Lampshade Hanging in "Pygmoelian", where Moe's face is crushed by a falling backdrop, undoing the Magic Plastic Surgery that made him handsome and reverting him to normal. The last scene has Moe asking why he got his old face back instead of being deformed; the episode ends before he can say "It makes no sense."
    • From "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade"
      Skinner: Well, if this episode has taught us anything, it's that nothing works better than the status quo. Bart, you're promoted back to the fourth grade.
      Bart: Yay!
      Skinner: And Lisa, you have a choice. You may continue to be challenged in third grade or return to second grade and be merely a big fish in a small pond.
      Lisa: Big fish! Big fish!
      Homer: [satisfied] The status quo.
    • "The Principal and the Pauper", anyone? The episode ends with the town agreeing that they should ignore the new real Seymour Skinner and stick with the fake one that they've known for years, including his own mother.
    • Worse with "Donnie Fatso". After killing Fat Tony off his cousin Fit Tony takes over, puts on weight, and becomes known as Fit Fat Tony, or Fat Tony for short.
    • A similar (more minor) case with the death of Snowball II. Lisa finds replacement cats and eventually came upon an identical cat who she calls her "Snowball II" rather than "Snowball V" (to save money on a new dish). Lampshaded when Principal Skinner overhears this and Lisa replies with his real name mentioned above.
    • The Season 22 episode "The Blue and the Gray". Marge stops dying her hair and lets it revert to a natural gray color. This causes an uproar throughout the family and the town residents, and makes Marge the subject of many stereotypes about seniors. As it turns out, her sisters, Patty and Selma, have been dyeing their hair too. At the end, Marge goes back to blue, and everyone except Homer, in an interesting blue twist, he dyes what's left of his hair blue laughs it off and life in Springfield goes on as normal.
  • Stealing from the Hotel: In the fifth season episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", we get this hilarious piece of conversation:
    Principal Skinner: You're stealing a table?
    Homer: I'm not stealing it. Hotels expect you to take a few things. It's a souvenir!
    Principal Skinner: Ah. Is that my necktie you're wearing?
    Homer: Souvenir.
  • Stealing the Credit: A few times, but most memorable in the case of Moe stealing Homer's "Flaming Homer" drink and renaming it the "Flaming Moe", seconds after Homer had shown him how to make it.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Any title with "Annoyed Grunt" in the title.
    • The captain's name in "Simpson Tide" is Tenille.
  • Sting: Used many, many times in the show by composer Alf Clausen.
  • Stock Footage:
    • "Another Simpsons Clip Show" not only is a Clip Show, but also re-uses old animation in new contexts and with new dialog. Only a few short scenes were animated specifically for this episode.
    • Aside from that, the earlier seasons had a few scenes reused. For instance, footage of Homer comforting a concerned Marge from the end of "Lisa's Substitute" was later reused in "Bart the Murderer". And "Marge on the Lam" has a brief scene of Bart saying "We don't need a babysitter." that is clearly from season 2. A list of reused animation can be found here.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Homer and his two kidnappers in "Blame It On Lisa".
    Homer: Listen, um... I made a little scrapbook to remember the kidnapping. I'm still working on it but, uh, as you can see I've— Aw, look, this is that cigarette butt you burned me with.
    Kidnapper One: You slept like a baby that night.
    [everyone shares a laugh]
    Homer: Haha, I remember that, yeah.
    Marge: [arriving to deliver ransom money] Homer, why are you laughing?
    Kidnapper Two: He has the Stockholm Syndrome. He has come to identify with his captors.
    Homer: [excitedly] They let me stay up alllll night!
  • Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle: From "The Simpsons 138th Spectacular":
    Announcer: Which popular Simpsons characters have died in the past year? If you guessed Bleeding Gums Murphy and Dr. Marvin Monroe, you are wrong. They were never popular.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: The Comic Book Guy tries to win back his clients by offering them "Ninja Weapons" to buy. We get glimpses of a katana, kusarigama and shuriken among other things.
  • Stock Scream: In "Million Dollar Maybe", there's a video game on the fictitious Funtendo Zii console where every enemy kill would result in the Wilhelm Scream.
  • Stopped Caring: Reverend Lovejoy at his worst will try to inspire the people of Springfield through God but doesn't really try hard sometimes. He said that he lost his passion when he encountered Ned Flanders.
  • Straight Gay: Waylon Smithers doesn't portray, and is embarrassed by, stereotypical behavior but is still deeply attracted to Mr. Burns.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    • In the episode where Homer gets a new assistant who turns on him and takes his job, he uses a secret Flanders told him to turn the tables. When asked where he learnt the secret, he declines to say, but states the initials are S.F. She immediately recognizes this as Stupid Flanders.
    • In "Marge On The Lam", Marge asks Homer to take her to the ballet. Homer agrees while we see his thought as to what ballet is - a bear in a Shriners-style fez and go-cart at the circus. Later, he tells Lenny that he's taking Marge to the ballet. Lenny replies " Going to see the bear in the little car, huh?"
  • Strangely Specific Horoscope:
    • Segment "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad" of "Treehouse of Horror XI" involves Homer's horoscope saying that he will die today. Lisa lampshades the trope by saying it's unusually specific. Worried, Marge looks at her horoscope, which says that her husband will die! Oddly, Homer focuses on the second part of his horoscope which says that an attractive coworker may compliment him, and he immediately thinks of his friend Lenny.
    • Subverted in "Skinner's Sense of Snow". When Homer and Ned crash Ned's car with his rooftop attached inside a crackers factory into a salt silo, a security guard says that his horoscope was right, but when he takes the paper out, it only says: "You will face challenges today."
  • Straw Fan: Comic Book Guy is used to represent the worst of whatever nerd culture is needed at the time.
  • Strawman Political: On both sides, though Republicans get the brunt of it.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Lisa tries to convince everyone not to eat meat at Homer's barbeque and eventually throws away the roasted pig. At the end of that episode, Lisa learns from Paul and Linda McCartney not to be judgemental about non-vegetarians, after which she mostly settles down — but it doesn't stop her occasionally lapsing into aggression in later episodes, mostly as jokes.
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: Chief Wiggum, but he goes along with the assumption for the money.
  • Stuck on a Ski Lift: This happens to Homer. He tries to get off but ends up hanging upside down. ("Come on, gravity! You used to be cool!")
  • Students Playing Matchmaker:
    • Bart is bribed into facilitating Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel's relationship in "Grade School Confidential" after catching them making out in Martin Prince's playhouse.
    • In "Bart the Lover," Bart snoops through Ms. Krabappel's drawers in detention. Finding all her personal newspaper ads, he realizes how lonely she is and writes her a series of love letters under a pseudonym.
  • Stuffed into a Trashcan: Bart in "Bart the General"; Milhouse and Homer in "24 Minutes" (though in the latter's case, it's actually a dumpster).
  • Stupid Crooks: In "Dumbbell Indemnity", Moe spends so much money on things for his new girlfriend that he decides to come up with a plan with Homer to steal his car, have it destroyed, and collect the insurance money. Homer steals Moe's car and is supposed to leave it on the train tracks, but he gets sidetracked by a showing at a drive-in theater for a movie about a monkey who is president. Having missed the train, Homer decides to drive the car off a cliff in plain view of everyone, including the police, which gets himself arrested.
    Moe: Homer, you moron.
    Homer: Homer, you genius!
  • Stupid Question Bait:
    • In "Marge vs. the Monorail" when Lyle Lanley is doing a presentation in Lisa's class.
      Lyle Lanley: Now, I'm here to answer any questions you children may have about the monorail.
      Kid: Can it outrun The Flash?
      Lyle Lanley: You bet.
      Kid: Can Superman outrun The Flash?
      Lyle Lanley: Eh, sure, why not.
    • When ex-president George H. W. Bush moves to the neighbourhood, Homer pulls a prank on him, gluing a clown wig to his head before he has to give a speech:
      Bush: ...and that's why I will continue to oppose teen alcoholism. Any questions?
      [Everyone in the room raises their hand]
      Bush: Bearing in mind, I already explained about the wig...
      [Everyone lowers their hand]
  • Subverted Punchline: Channel 6's traffic reporter is Arnie Pie. His news report, done while reporting from a helicopter over the traffic, is called "Arnie in the Sky" (instead of "Pie in the Sky").
  • Subways Suck: In "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" Bart attempts to scam a bunch of indifferent New Yorkers while riding the subway. After licking a pole, he admits defeat.
  • Sucky School: Springfield Elementary has apathetic or psychopathic teachers and staff and can be shown to be falling apart at any given time if it's funny.
  • Sudden Anatomy: When a subplot hinges on Homer not remembering Marge's eye color, a Simpsons character is drawn with irises for the first time.
  • Suicide by Sea: "Homer the Moe" has Moe's bartending professor die this way.
  • Super Bowl Special: In the 2010 Super Bowl, there's the Coca-Cola commercial featuring Mr. Burns losing his money, followed by Apu giving him a Coke.
  • Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Homer is a sucker for this.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That:
    • In "Homie The Clown" Homer is being held at gunpoint by the local Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club, who believe him to be Krusty the Klown, when the real Krusty bursts in.
      Homer: Krusty! You came to save me!
      Krusty: Yeah... that's what I did.
    • In the episode "Last Exit to Springfield", Homer has to excuse himself during a union negotiation with Burns to use the bathroom. This leads to an Overly Long Gag of Homer looking through doors to find the bathroom, which cuts back to Burns discussing how the negotiation is going with Smithers. When Homer comes back:
      Burns: I take it you found the bathroom?
      Homer: [guiltily] Uh...yeah.
  • Surprise Incest: An episode has Mayor Quimby telling his date at a wedding to say she's his niece if anyone asks. She responds "I am your niece, Uncle Joe!", and Quimby mutters "Dear God, I'm an abomination!".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • In "Behind the Laughter", after Lisa reveals that Homer gave her anti-growth hormones:
      Homer: That's ridiculous. How could I even get all five necessary drops into her cereal? [beat] What?
    • In "The Great Money Caper":
      Blue-haired lawyer: Will you tell the court your whereabouts at the time of the carjacking?
      Willie: I was alone in me Unabomber-style shack. I had nothing to do with that carjacking.
      Blue-haired lawyer: Carjacking? Who said anything about a carjacking?!
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: In "The Telltale Head", Reverend Lovejoy's sermon was about gambling and watching pro football on Sundays instead of attending church; cut to Homer, who is listening to headphones broadcasting a football game he's betting on.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding:
    • From "Marge vs. The Monorail":
      Marge: Homer, there's someone here who can help you!
      Homer: Is it Batman?
      Marge: No, he's a scientist.
      Homer: Batman's a scientist.
      Marge: It's not Batman!
    • In "Bart After Dark":
      Marge: I'm here to share my moral outrage. But this time it's not about that giant inflatable "Dos Equis" bottle. It's about a certain house in our town.
      Moe: Yeah, well what's wrong with this house? Is it the plumbing?
      Marge: No. It's a house of ill fame. A house of loose ethics.
      Kent Brockman: Is there a building code violation? A drainage issue? A surveying error?
      Marge: [annoyed] The house is perfectly fine!
      Chief Wiggum: Well, then quit bad-mouthing the house!
      Otto: Yeah, leave the house alone!
    • From "Much Apu About Nothing":
      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.
      Lisa: No, I mean...
  • Survival Through Self-Sacrifice: In the episode "Bart's Comet", a comet is heading straight for the town of Springfield and the people can't be evacuated due to events of the episode. The only possible chance for survival is a bomb shelter belonging Ned Flanders, but the shelter rapidly runs out of space when the entire town piles in. After a bit Ned is voted out of his own bomb shelter to free up more space, but his bravery in facing certain death causes everyone else to have a Heel Realization, and they leave the bunker to join him. Fortunately most of the comet is broken up by the atmosphere, resulting in it being reduced to a small size... and striking directly on the Flanders bomb shelter, which immediately collapses from the impact. This means that only those who left the bunker, fully intending to die, lived, while anyone who might have theoretically stayed behind would have been killed during the collapse of the bunker.
  • Swallow the Key: In "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister", the manager of the Sprawl Mart locks his employees inside the store, and then taunts them by swallowing the bathroom key.
  • The Swear Jar: Homer having to deal with one of these whilst he's building a doghouse for Santa's Little Helper. He ends up shouting things like "Fiddle-dee-dee!" after stepping on rusty nails, and puts enough money into the jar to enable the purchase of a rather large and cosy doghouse — which is good, since the one Homer built sucked.

  • Tag-Along Actor:
    • In one episode, James Woods researches the job of a Kwik-E-Mart employee as a reference to The Hard Way. He mentions how he previously worked in a law firm for two months before his role in True Believer and for Chaplin he actually traveled back in time.
    • Another episode had Mr. Burns hire Michael Caine to impersonate Homer in order to convince Bart that he (Homer) didn't love him (Bart) anymore. Later in the episode Homer mentions that Caine had followed him around trying to get a handle on his character.
  • Take That!: Several different targets, frequently for unknown reasons. For example, Arby's must have pissed some of the writers off really good, being the recipient of at least 4 cheap shots.
    • Even Christianity gets a big-time Take That! in the form of a apparent reference to it in "Don't Have A Cow, Mankind"
      Marge: We have the chosen one!
      Soldier: Welcome, son! To survive, all we must do is eat your flesh.
      Marge: Hold it right there, bub! What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their saviour?
      [Cue Reverend Lovejoy looking visibly awkward]
    • There are also some more minor ones in other episodes, although generally mild.
    • The Amendment to Be cartoon details how if the amendment does not get through they'll sue Ted Kennedy, and claim he's gay if he fights back. This sounds suspiciously like the grubby tactics used by Senator Joseph McCarthy.
    • On one occasion the show even took a shot at its origins:
      Homer: It all happened in 1990! Tracey Ullman was entertaining America with songs, sketches, and crudely drawn filler material.
    • Writer Bill Oakley insists that the episode "Two Bad Neighbors" is not a political attack on George Bush. "It's a personal attack on George Bush."
    • They're not too fond of the Grammys, either. In one episode, Homer compliments Elton John, and Elton John gives him a Grammy for it. Homer throws it into a trash can almost immediately.
      • Another episode has Homer winning a Grammy with multiple characters treating it as junk.
        Homer: Here...[Homer gives the busboy his Grammy as he has no money to give a tip]
        Busboy: Wow an award statue!...Oh, it's a Grammy...[throws the Grammy off the balcony]
        Man Below: Hey! Don't throw your garbage down here!
      • In another episode, Homer says there are no good awards and insists on it when Lisa tells him there's the Grammys. And to nail it home, a disclaimer rolls at that moment in which the writers say that they don't believe the Grammys are an award at all.
    • In an episode where Abe is revealed to have been a 1950s wrestler and a heel, Homer tell him he wasn't a winner because he had to cheat at a fake sport. Burns replies (in a fourth wall joke) "Wrestling is fake? Why if that were true, (turns to face the camera directly) that would make every fan in the history of the sport a complete moron."
    • The episode "Apocalypse Cow" has a short segment of Bart driving a combine with funny results. For instance, he drives it over some clothes and they come out neatly folded. He drives it through a river and makes a literal cube of water. Then he goes over a pile of manure with it. The result? Pirates of the Caribbean 3 DVDs.
  • Take That, Audience!: "Bye Bye Nerdie" ends this way.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: "Apu, you can take this job and re-staff it!"
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Apu takes a bullet for James Woods in "Homer and Apu".
    • In a parody of the trope, Homer jumps in front of Bart to get hit with the baptismal water in "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily."
    • Homer also practices taking a bullet while in bodyguard training in "Mayored to the Mob".
  • Taking You with Me: In "Deep Space Homer", one of the astronauts says that if he dies, he's taking Homer to hell with him.
  • The Talk: In the episode, "All's Fair in Oven War", Homer gives one to Bart, traumatizing him and the rest of the Springfieldian children when it spreads like a virus.
  • Talking Heads: A lot of the traditionally animated episodes of the Simpsons tended to have frequent 'zoom in' shots of a characters face when a character started to talk. Given the Limited Animation of some of the traditional episodes, it was likely a case to save time and resources.
  • Talking to Himself: Most of the cast of hundreds are voiced by about a dozen people. Yeardley Smith (Lisa) is the only one with a single regular character. The most prominent example of this is the pairing of Mr Burns and Smithers, who interact in almost every episode in which they appear, and are both voiced by Harry Shearer
    • Characters that regularly interact who are voiced by the same actor include Homer and Grandpa, Homer and Barney, Krusty and Sideshow Mel (all voiced by Dan Castellaneta), Marge and her sisters (voiced by Julie Kavner), Bart and Nelson (Nancy Cartwright), and Chief Wiggum and Lou (Hank Azaria)
    • This trope is somewhat lampshaded in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", where the same voice actress was revealed to do the voices of both Itchy and Scratchy. Ironically, in real life Itchy and Scratchy AREN'T played by the same actor, as Dan Castellaneta voices Itchy and Harry Shearer voices Scratchy.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That:
    • Subverted in "I'm Goin' to Praiseland": While on a rollercoaster ride, the coaster stops and a King David animatronic asks the kids in the coaster who disturbs King David. Nobody responds and a couple seconds later, King David says, "...Silence!"
    • The foundation repair instructional video from "Marge Gets a Job":
      Troy McClure: Now, do you have extruded poly-vinyl foam insulation?
      Homer: No.
      Troy McClure: Good.
  • Tar and Feathers:
    • Happens to Homer in "At Long Last Leave".
    • Also to Grandpa in "Bart of Darkness".
      Marge: Remember how you got Grampa tarred and feathered?
      Bart: Sure, that was twenty minutes ago.
      Grandpa: [appearing in doorway] Gonna be in the tub for a while.
  • Tattoo Sharpie: An episode had Homer sent to mental institution and marked with an "INSANE" stamp on his right hand. Once he is declared sane, he has a very difficult time taking it off.
  • Taxman Takes the Winnings: Homer wins the lottery but for plot-relevant reasons has Barney turn in the ticket for the winnings. Barney gets a Giant Novelty Check, and the IRS guys get an even bigger Giant Novelty Check for their portion.
  • Teachers out of School: A number of episodes focused on things like Seymour Skinner's past as a Vietnam veteran, or Edna Krabappel's relationships.
  • Team Hand-Stack: In one episode Homer, Moe, Apu and Barney Whoa Bundied when deciding upon the name of their barbershop quartet, minus the hand raising/lowering. Chief Wiggum wanted to join in ("You can't blame a guy for trying."), but he just gets glared at.
  • Technical Virgin: In "Lisa's Wedding", Lisa wonders if she should wear white for her wedding as she had been with Milhouse previously. She and Marge then agree that Milhouse doesn't count.
  • Teenage Wasteland: "Das Bus", which was a parody of Lord of the Flies.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: In "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey":
    Western Union X) SPR CGN PO=SPRINGFIELD 1 935= OCT 11 PM 6
    Mr. Simpson STOP Your constant letters are becoming a nuisance STOP
    If you do not cease I will be forced to pursue legal action STOP
    Boris Karloff Hollywood CALF.
  • Telethon: The set-up to "Missionary: Impossible"
    Rupert Murdoch: You just saved my network!
    Bart: Wouldn't be the first time!
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: In "Lisa the Vegetarian", Homer and Lisa engage in this, and quickly drag Marge and Bart into it.
    Homer: Marge? Since I'm not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?
    Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.
    Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won't be used on any meat product.
    Bart: You dunkin' your sausages in that syrup homeboy?
    Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.
    Marge: Tell him yourself, you're ignoring Lisa, not Bart.
    Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.
    Marge: Homer, you're not, not talking to me, and secondly, I heard what you said.
    Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case!
    Bart: Uhhh, Dad. Lisa's the one you're not talking to.
    Homer: Bart! Go to your room.
    Lisa: Why don't you just eat him, Dad?!
  • Temporary Blindness: Marge gets this in "Gone Maggie Gone" after looking at the sun during a solar eclipse and burning her retinas.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Mr. Burns in "Homer at the Bat", before eight of his superstar baseball players are rendered unable to play.
      Mr. Burns: There's no way I can lose this bet. Unless, of course, my nine all-stars fall victim to nine separate misfortunes and are unable to play tomorrow. But that will never happen. Three misfortunes, that's possible. Seven misfortunes, there's an outside chance. But nine misfortunes? I'd like to see that!
    • Played with in "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?". After Homer complains about his destroyed couch at work, he remarks that things can't get any worse. Then Homer, Lenny, and Carl all stand around for a few seconds, as if to expecting something bad to happen, and when nothing bad happens, Homer repeats that things can't possibly get any worse. They then stand there for a few (though less than before) seconds before Smithers calls Homer to Mr. Burns' office (D'oh!). Though as viewers already knew, it was to give Homer two thousand dollars.
  • Ten Paces and Turn: In "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)", Homer takes to slapping in the face with a glove and challenging them to duels to intimidate them into giving him whatever he wants. However, when he does it to a Southern Gentleman, the gentleman accepts his challenge. After spending most of the episode living on a farm to avoid the duel, Homer returns home and has to fight it. He gets shot in the arm.
  • Terminator Impersonator: The series loves making Terminator references, with several of them being characters directly impersonating the Terminator.
    • Rainier Wolfcastle isn't so much a Terminator expy as he is The Ahnold, but nonetheless has directly referenced the character the actor plays, such as in "Don't Have a Cow Humanity" where he bursts into the Simpsons house with the iconic line "Come with me if you want to live!"
    • Multiple Terminator endoskeletons have appeared throughout the series usually in throwaway cameos.
    • "Itchy & Scratchy Land" had the Itchy and Scratchy Robots possessing Robo Cam, and wind up rebelling against their programming to attack humans.
    • In "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", a deleted scene from "Burns' Heir" has Mr. Burns summoning a Robotic Richard Simmons. When it goes out of control, Smithers shoots it in the head, only for it to heal up the wound T-1000 style.
    • "The Falcon and the D'ohman" straight out has Homer envisioning a Terminator apocalypse, where a Terminator endoskeleton has overtaken his and several other people's jobs before killing Homer himself.
  • Thanatos Gambit:
    • Homer spreads his mother's ashes, sabotaging Mr. Burns's missile launch.
    • There's Sideshow Bob's fake funeral, a ploy to kill Bart when he's saying goodbye to his old nemesis.
  • That Didn't Happen: From "Bart the Mother":
    Homer: [watching Bart's bird eggs hatch] Oh man, this is the most exciting thing I've ever seen since Halley's Comet collided with the moon.
    Lisa: That never happened, Dad.
    Homer: Sure it didn't...
  • That Liar Lies:
    • "You're lying! You're lying! What makes you lie?"
    • "You liar! You don't have a home business. Why would you make up a lie like that?"
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: The episode "Lisa's Pony" has Lisa telling the horse trainer Millicent (who is clearly based on Katharine Hepburn), that she has to give up riding, causing Millicent to reply, "Although there's no change in my patrician facade, I can assure you my heart is breaking."
  • Theme Naming: Most of the last names of Simpsons side characters come from street names in Portland, Oregon (Matt Groening's hometown), such as Flanders, Quimby, Lovejoy, Terwillger, Burns(ide) and Van Houten (though Groening says it was a coincidence in that case). Kearney also got his first name from a Portland street.
  • Theme Tune Cameo:
    • Bart whistles the "Simpsons" opening music at the start of the episode "Bart Gets Famous". Marge tells him to quit whistling that annoying tune.
    • When Grandpa collects an award for Itchy & Scratchy in "The Front", he walks up while a orchestra plays the Simpsons theme music.
  • There Are No Rules: In "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation", the rules at Rock n' Roll Fantasy Camp are: "Rule #1: There are no rules. Rule #2: No outside food."
  • Thermometer Gag: In "Marge Gets A Job"
    Grandpa Simpson: Oral thermometer, my eye! Think warm thoughts, boy, 'cause this is mighty cold.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Hans Moleman dies in most of his appearances.
  • Thick-Line Animation: Homer's flashback to the previous night in "The War of The Simpsons".
  • Thieves' Cant: In one episode, Homer teaches Bart hobo sings (which were a real thing), such as one that advertises people willing to feed and put them up for the night... along with a house that has a mass hobo graveyard in the back.
  • Thin-Line Animation: The show is considered an Ur-Example of this style.
  • Thing-O-Meter: Many times— Sarcasm-O-Meter, Monster-O-Meter, Love-O-Meter
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
    • Of all people, Mr. Burns before dueling Rich Texan in a scavenger hunt.
    • The episode "The Girl Who Slept Too Little" has the family touring a stamp museum when they come to a talking stamp of Alexander Graham Bell saying he's the inventor of the telephone. Next to him is a talking stamp of Elisha Gray who claims it was stolen from him, to which Bell replies "Read the patent, bitch!"
  • This Just In!: In "The Joy of Sect", Kent Brockman is negatively editorializing about The Movementarians, but is soon handed some papers from off-screen.
    Kent Brockman: Ladies and gentlemen, I've just learned of a change in the station's management. Welcome, Movementarians! Continue to improve our lives! I love you, perfect Leader.. and new CEO of KBBL broadcasting!
  • This Loser Is You:
    • Homer and to a much greater extent, Frank Grimes.
    • In the 90's episodes Maggie is unintentionally this to any modern viewer who was either a baby at the time or not born yet.
  • Three Shorts: Besides the annual Treehouse of Horror episodes, the following episodes takes on the three shorts format:
    • "Simpsons Bible Stories"
    • "Trilogy of Error" (though this one is debatable, as all three stories are interconnected at points)
    • "Tales From the Public Domain"
    • "Margical History Tour"
    • "Simpsons Christmas Stories"
    • "The Wettest Stories Ever Told"
    • "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times"
    • "Love, Springfieldian Style"
    • "Four Great Women and a Manicure" (this one is actually four stories, due to the new commercial formatting for season 20 and beyond. This aspect is also lampshaded)
  • Through a Face Full of Fur:
    • He has no fur on his face technically, but in "Mobile Homer", Homer's face turns blue from a lack of oxygen when a garage door repeatedly lifts up and down on him while he's lain in the garage's doorway, crushing his windpipe (or chest), caused by a book he tries throwing at a spider hits the garage door button instead.
    • In "Bart On The Road", Homer's face turns red frontally for a moment, after learning from Lisa of Bart and his friends' trip to the World's Fair, before angrily yelling some muffled obscenities while wearing a nuclear plant suit's helmet.
    • In "Stop or My Dog Will Shoot", Bart gets a python he names Strangles for a pet in place of Santa's Little Helper and Homer's whole head turns red, when Strangles wraps his coils around his neck, after Homer does the strangling routine with Bart.
    • In a Simpsons short from The Tracey Ullman Show ("Bath Time"), Bart is turned blue entirely and is shivering from the cold water with which Homer runs, and fills the bathtub. Bart regresses to his normal color when he mixes the hot water with the cold.
    • In "Home Sweet Home Diddily-Dum-Doodily", Rod and Todd turn pale in horror at the violence in an Itchy & Scratchy short they just watched with Ned, Bart and Lisa.
    • In "Selma's Choice", Lisa is pale from hypothermia after swimming in the beery river at Duff Gardens. In the same episode, Homer later turns pale when he falls ill from eating a tainted or stale sub sandwich.
    • In the couch gag of "Bart Stops To Smell The Roosevelts", a John Kricfalusi/Spumco-esque Homer turns red when he thinks he broke wind, but Bart, who along with other members of the nuclear family were redesigned by John K. and Spumco here, placed a whoopee cushion in his spot on the couch on which he sits. Typically, Bart laughs at the prank and Homer gets ticked off, strangling Bart and as he does this, Bart's face gradually turns blue.
    • In "Brother's Little Helper", Krusty's face turns blue when a remote-controlled gag bow tie spins rapidly and uncontrollably, choking off the air supply from his lungs to his windpipe while in the middle of hosting his show.
    • In "Lisa's Substitute", Martin Prince is later seen pale from the pressure and stress of running against Bart in the classroom presidential campaign.
    • In "The Ten Per-Cent Solution", Homer gets green-faced when he lies on the floor, acting as a bloated corpse.
    • In "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo", Homer's face turns magenta as a result of red tide poisoning from eating a can of expired plankton.
    • In "Mommie Beerest", a health inspector named Frankie is pale as a result of eating Moe Syszlak's pickled eggs and dies.
  • Throwing Out the Script: Homer rips up his notes, then realizes he can't think of anything to say and tries to put them back together again.
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy:
    • Comic Book Guy (playing a villain named The Collector) tries to shoot Bart (Stretch Dude) numerous times with a phaser. Bart easily avoids all shots with his elasticity, but is taken down in a second when The Collector throws the phaser.
    • Chief Wiggum was mad at what he was hearing on the TV, and shoots at his TV to turn it off. His wife tells him to use the remote (in his gun holster), but the channel he turns it to is even more infuriating, and he throws the gun at the TV and actually succeeds in breaking it.
    • During the "Cops: In Springfield" segment, Chief Wiggum does this after he and his men are seen inexplicably fighting a mummy.
  • Tickertape Parade:
    • In "Deep Space Homer", the carbon rod credited with saving the space shuttle from burning up in Earth's atmosphere gets a ticker tape parade in its honor.
    • In "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson", there's a gag where the family hold a fake parade (with Lisa as an astronaut) so they can drop leaflets for Marge's pretzel-selling business. Marge stages a ticker tape parade to avoid littering laws when she throws flyers for her pretzel business off the buildings.
      Chief Wiggum: Welcome back, space girl. [sniffs]
  • Time-Freeze Trolling Spree: The last segment of "Treehouse of Horror XIV" involves Bart and Milhouse using a magic stopwatch to pull pranks before they're found out. They end up breaking the watch and spend the next two decades repairing it to make time go forward again.
  • Time for Plan B:
    • In "Trash of the Titans", Springfield's contingency plan, aka "Plan B", is to move the entire town five miles down the road.
    • When Burns decided to pick a local boy to be his heir, Milhouse was one of the rejects. After that, Lisa tried to persuade Burns into accepting the possibility of his heir being a woman but he was quite clear on that: no girls. Cut to a scene with Milhouse dressed as a girl commenting "So much for Plan B".
  • Tired After The Song: The final segment of "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase", The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour, ends with a big musical number, at the end of which the Simpsons are panting heavily behind forced smiles.
  • Tired of Running: Homer, in "Beyond Blunderdome", eventually grows tired of running away from the studio execs who want to stop he and Mel Gibson from screening the alternate ending version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and decides to fight back instead.
  • Title: The Adaptation
  • Title Drop:
    • Said in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?".
    • Parodied in "Thank God It's Doomsday" during the fictional movie "Left Below":
      Man: The virtuous have gone to heaven, and the rest of us have been... left below.
      Homer: "Left below" ... where have I heard that before?
      Lisa: Dad, it's the title of the movie.
      Homer: [Gasps] It's everywhere!
    • Also parodied in "Take My Wife, Sleaze" while Homer watches a movie which closely resembles a real one:
      Mother: Oh, I don't know what's the matter with Jimmy. He won't do his homework, he only salutes the flag with one finger, and he comes home every night with other peoples' blood on his shirt.
      Father: He's a rebel, I tell you, a rebel without a cause... just like that boy in that popular movie we saw.
  • Title Montage:
    • "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" features a montage of couch gags from previous episodes as part of its opening sequence.
    • "At Long Least Leave", the series' 500th episode does this as well, beginning with the very first couch gag, then proceeding to do a frame-by-frame montage of every couch gag since then superimposed over the number "500."
  • Toad Licking: Homer in episode "Missionary: Impossible" is depicted at one point lying on a hammock and picking up toads at random and licking them to get high while stranded on a South Pacific island.
    Bart: Dad, are you licking toads?
    Homer: I'm not not licking toads!
  • Toilet Seat Divorce: In "Beware My Cheating Bart", Homer threatens to divorce Marge after she, out of spite, gives away spoilers for a show he was obsessed with.
  • Token Houseguest: Parodied in the episode "Itchy, Scratchy and Poochie". As a parallel to The Itchy & Scratchy Show getting a new character, the Simpsons inexplicably have a teenager named Roy living with them. By the end of the episode Roy moves out to a new apartment with two sexy female roommates. The whole episode was a commentary on the network asking for the show to add a teenage character to cater to that demographic.
  • Token Religious Teammate:
    • Mentioned in "Lemon of Troy", when Bart is assigning stock war movie archetypes to his band of friends. Todd Flanders is "the quiet, religious guy who ends up going crazy." Todd, Rod and their dad Ned are devout Christians (who range from being shown as nice, annoying or pushy fundamentalists over the years).
    • Marge Simpson is clearly more involved in the church than the rest of the family. And while for example "Homer the Heretic" focuses on Homer's dwindling faith, it's obvious on several occasions that the kids wouldn't go to church unless Marge made them.
    • In the thirteenth-season episode "She Of Little Faith," Lisa converts to Buddhism and seems at least as serious about it as Marge is about Christianity... when the writers remember to reference it, anyway.
    • Apu seems to be a faithful Hindu, but it doesn't get much focus.
  • Tomato Surprise: Referenced in Homer's poem:
    There once was a rapping tomato
    That's right, I said "rapping tomato"
    He rapped all day, from April to May
    And also, guess what, it was me.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole:
    • One of the winter hazards faced by Lewis and Clarke (a.k.a. Lenny and Karl) in "Magical History Tour".
    • Homer gets his tongue stuck to the ice sculpture at Otto's wedding.
    • In "The Springfield Files", Channel 6 News uses a file photo of Homer that shows him with his tongue stuck to a lamppost.
    • In "My Fair Laddy'', Bart stores Lisa's saxophone in the freezer and then hands it to her. Her tongue gets stuck when she attempts to blow it.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The promos for "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" literally asked: "Who will die?", and proceeding to list off a bunch of potential victims. Unfortunately, word got out before the episode aired that Maude would be the unfortunate one, so these promos didn't generate the expected suspense.
  • Tontine: In "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish", it's revealed that Abe Simpson and Mister Burns served together during World War II, and their squad (the Flying Hellfish) acquired a set of priceless German paintings, with the agreement that the last member of the Hellfish to die would get them. It ends when government officials and the descendant of the person they stole the paintings from arrive and reclaim them for the German. The descendent is not too worried about their safety, either.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Lampshaded in "All Singing, All Dancing."
    Marge: [singing] It's a desperate criminal, on the run from the law! Please spare my children...
    Homer: [singing] ...and their Depp-trousered Pa!
    Snake: [singing] A singing family?!? It's worse than I feared! For hostage purposes, you're just too weird! Bye! [Exit: living room window]
  • Too Many Babies:
    • Apu and Manjula get octuplets after she starts taking fertility treatments to increase the chance of pregnancy. We later find out that this wasn't the fault of the doctor they saw — several people had been slipping Manjula fertility drugs without her knowledge. Later on the same episode, nine babies are born to a couple living in Shelbyville. "Holidays of Future Past" shows that each of Apu and Manjula's children also had a set of octuplets.
    • This also applies to Cletus and Brandine Spuckler, who have far more children, even before season 8.
  • Too Much Information: After Lisa is promoted to third grade in "Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade", Bart blurts out:
    Bart: She's not so great! She got diarrhea when we went to Carlsbad Caverns!
  • Too Quirky to Lose: Bart entered a school science fair with an entry called "Can Hamsters Fly Airplanes?" Even though his "experiment" clearly did not prove or disprove any hypothesis, Principal Skinner was so charmed by the sight of a hamster wearing flight goggles and a scarf and sitting in a model airplane that he pronounced Bart the winner.
  • Too Smart for Strangers: Poor Ralph Wiggum... He just doesn't get the point of these.
  • Too Unhappy to Be Hungry: In "Flaming Moes" when Homer is sad over Moe's success after taking his drink idea.
    Marge, I'm too upset to eat. I think I'll go to Moe's. ...D'oh!
  • Torches and Pitchforks:
    • Quite often. The citizens of Springfield love rioting.
    • Most notably in The Movie in which Loads and Loads of Bit Players are featured in such a scene.
    • Lampshaded by Skinner, of all people
      Skinner: Ah, there's no justice like Angry Mob Justice.
  • Toy Disguise: In "The Fool Monty", a E.T. scene is parodied when Bart hides an amnesiac Mr. Burns in a pile of plush toys (one of which is of E.T. himself).
  • Tranquillizer Dart:
    • Bart has just been "taken" by a monkey at a local zoo, and Homer tries to save him by putting a tranq-dart into a tube and putting it into his mouth. He then inhales, and it gets self-explanatory after that.
    • Subverted in another episode when Barney is shot with a bear tranquilizer dart. He actually pulls out the dart and drinks the remaining sedative before passing out.
  • Translation: "Yes": In "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo", Homer's "D'oh!" is much longer in Japanese.
  • Travel Montage: Seen in "Dog of Death" when Santa's Little Helper goes off on his own; a map of the locations he travels to is shown while Peter and the Wolf plays.
  • Tree Buchet: Homer launched a rabbit into the horizon with one of these.
  • Tribal Face Paint: Appears in the Lord of the Flies parody episode, naturally.
  • Tricked into Signing: Inverted in "Bart the Fink": Instead of trying to get Krusty's signature in the guise of an autograph, Bart tries to get Krusty's autograph in the guise of a signature. He gives Krusty a check, expecting that Krusty will have to endorse it with his signature, but the plan fails because Krusty endorses his checks with the name of his Cayman Islands holding corporation.
  • Triple Nipple: In "Kamp Krusty", Lisa uses Krusty the Clown's superfluous third nipple to confirm his identity.
  • Triumphant Reprise: In "The Otto Show," where Otto is temporarily fired from his job as school bus driver, Seymour Skinner tries to fill in for him. Earlier on, the students sing "Hail To The Bus Driver" on the bus trip; at first Skinner sings along with it and laughs, but as he gets delayed longer and longer in traffic (because of his inexperience) he starts getting very irritated at the song, eventually shouting "shut up" at the only student still singing it. Toward the end of the episode, Otto gets re-hired. When the students sing "Hail To The Bus Driver" again, Skinner, who's overhearing the singing from a window, looks at the bus and says "yes, hail to the bus driver" in a more serious but happy manner, with a few electric guitar notes playing in the background.
  • Troll: Milhouse claims to be one in the "Homer the Whopper" episode in which the Comic Book Guy says he posted his comic on the Internet and names some accounts that deride it. Bart tells him that they were just "lame-os" and Milhouse says "Two of them were me!"
  • Trolling Translator: In "Midnight Rx", after Homer, Ned Flanders, Apu and Smithers are arrested by Canadian Mounties.
    Canadian Mountie: We've confiscated your car and its contents.
    French Translator: Nous avons confisqué votre voiture et son contenu.
    Mountie: You may leave Canada, but never return.
    French Translator: Vous pouvez quitter le Canada, mais ne retournez jamais.
    Mountie: I am a big fat French idiot.
    French Translator: Je suis un grand gros - HEY!
  • Troperiffic: You'd be hard-pressed to find a series more troperrific than this.
  • Trouser Space: Scorpio's offer of sugar and cream to Homer in "You Only Move Twice".
  • True Love Is Boring: Zig-zagged. Despite the amount of separations (and a divorce at one point), Homer and Marge are still together.
  • Truncated Theme Tune: Common for the syndicated showings; instead of the full opening, it starts on Homer getting home from work and dodging Lisa, and running away from Marge in the car.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Marge says she didn't want to cry in "Kamp Krusty" when she and the family have the last meal together before Bart and Lisa go off to summer camp. She immediately starts crying when Homer, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie start hungrily eating.
  • Tsundere: In "Moonshine River", Bart runs into the fastest mood swinging exemplar ever (albeit only for seconds).
  • Tummy Cushion: In the episode "Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade," Homer gets a satellite dish and he and Bart spend all day and night watching TV. At one point we see Homer passed out on the couch with Bart lying on top of him. Bart gets up and we discover that he has left an ass groove in Homer's belly.
  • T-Word Euphemism: From the episode "Bart Star":
    Bart: Give me a "B"?
    Nelson: I won't give you a "B", but I'll rip you a new "A"!
  • Two Rights Make a Wrong: Apu and his wife Manjula end up with octuplets, almost going broke due to the resulting expenses, when every member of the Simpson family independently decides to help along their desire to conceive by secretly slipping them fertility drugs.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: Moe keeps a sawed-off shotgun handy in case of cheapskate customers or when he loses his temper, which happens all the time.
  • Two-Way Tapping:
    • Chief Quimby puts a wiretap on Bart. He then blows the cover when he hears Fat Tony through the wire and goes "Fat Tony, is that you?"
    • Ned Flanders & Co. volunteer to watch the surveillance cameras posted everywhere. They're supposed to be looking for crime but they end up nannying everyone, making sure nothing "naughty" happens. If they see something there's a speaker they talk through to tell the perps to cut it out.
    • During the episode where Homer buys (and is absurdly reckless with) a revolver, Marge leaves the house with the children because she's fed up and goes to a pretty lousy hotel, with things like corpses on the pool, lousy beds, and an an incredibly obvious ceiling-mounted camera that tells Bart to ignore it and go to sleep when he points it out.
    • When Homer & Ned go to Las Vegas Ned isn't sure if it's the right thing to do, so he prays. A surveillance bubble in the ceiling responds.
      Ned: Aw, leave me out of this, Homer. Games of chance are strictly forbidden by Deuteronomy 7.
      Homer: Seven, eh?
      [Homer places his chips on seven; the ball lands in the seven slot]
      Homer: Way to go, Flanders! The Bible's finally pulling its weight. Got any more holy numbers?
      Ned: Oh, I got a bunch, Homer, but I just don't feel right. Oh, Lord, what should I do?
      [Ned looks up at the ceiling, staring at a black bubble camera which quietly says "Keep gaming"]
      Ned: What?
      Security Man: [speaking through bubble] It means gambling. Keep gambling.
      Ned: Oh. Righty-O!
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm:
    • Subverted twice when surly assistant superintendent Leopold stomps up to the podium in Springfield Elementary's assembly hall, snarls something to the effect of "things are going to be very, very different around here", then cheerily introduces a much more endearing individual as the replacement faculty member. The first time is in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" when announcing Ned Flanders as replacement principal, and the second time is in "The PTA Disbands" with Marge Simpson becoming a substitute teacher.
    • Inverted in "My Sister, My Sitter." After Lisa proves herself a reliable babysitter for the neighborhood, Homer and Marge leave her in charge when they go out. Lisa tries to be fair, but Bart (hating the idea of being babysat by his little sister) is as difficult as possible. After a series of pranks, he winds up breaking his arm in a fall. Naturally, it goes downhill from there.

  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Plenty
    • Homer and Marge, although Marge's attractiveness has been played up over time and Homer has usually been shown as more attractive in his younger years when he started dating Marge. The episode "The Italian Bob" seems to reference this trope when the end of the episode shows Marge and Homer taking a romantic gondola ride, the gondolier providing his services for the evening puts his own spin on the song "That's Amore", much to Homer's annoyance.
      Gondolier: [singing] When a wife looks like that and her husband's so fat, that's immoral!
    • Homer has managed to attract several bombshells over the course of the show. They seem to see him as hot. Or maybe it's his personality, which is odd, given the way he acts the rest of the time.
    • In "Holidays of Future Passed," Milhouse and Lisa end up married. Milhouse grows up to be balding with a gut and Lisa grows up beautifully.
    • Mona Simpson, as seen in flashbacks in some episodes, was somewhat of a looker when she was young and Homer was a toddler; Homer's dad, however, was not so much more attractive than he is now, and was also somewhat of a slob.
    • Apu and Manjula. Possibly justified due to her being several years younger and the two being part of an Arranged Marriage.
    • Comic Book Guy is a balding, obese, jerkass, Basement-Dweller. His wife, Kumiko, is a textbook Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: The game "Bonestorm" in "Marge Be Not Proud".
  • Uncertain Doom: The fate of Artie Ziff.
  • Uncle Sam Wants You: When Springfield threatened to deport illegal immigrants, there was a poster with Uncle Sam saying "I want you... OUT".
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: In "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs", Homer's life coach convinces him to quit his job to get a better one at a copper tubing company. He doesn't get it but cannot bring himself to tell his family, so he starts pretending to go into work and instead hanging out at Krusty Burger.
  • Undead Author: Groundskeeper Willie's story about the miner's strike.
  • Under the Truck: Marge does this (although she is on foot), dropping underneath Hans Moleman's truck while running home, in "You Kent Always Say What You Want".
  • Underwater Fart Gag: In "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", Homer and Apu sit in a hot tub and Jasper offers to turn on the bubbles.
  • Underling with an F in PR: One episode has Mayor Quimby remember he forgot to deliver Chief Wiggum's bribe for the month and give it to him... in front of most of Springfield's citizens.
    Chief Wiggum: And when you break the law, you gotta go to jail.
    Mayor Quimby: Uh, that reminds me, er, here's your monthly kickback.
    Chief Wiggum: You just... you couldn't have picked a worse time.
  • Underside Ride: Sideshow Bob does it in "Cape Feare" in a parody of the scene in Cape Fear.
  • Un-Duet: Marge ends up singing one half of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" at a wedding when Homer lets her down... again.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode:
    • "Homer's Enemy" is a story focusing on Frank Grimes (a "realistic" character, by Word of God) being forced into the Played for Laughs Crapsack World of Springfield and getting so fed up with Homer's Idiot Houdini luck that he becomes the titular "enemy" of Homer... and then when Homer's luck saves him from being humiliated by a plan of Grimes, he undergoes a Villainous Breakdown which ends with him accidentally committing suicide-by-high-voltage.
    • Several episodes focused on Mr. Burns and Sideshow Bob get dark considering their villainous status.
    • Any episode with a character who has no funny quirks and is played seriously. Examples include the winemakers from "The Crepes of Wrath" (who nearly killed Bart by giving him antifreeze-laced wine), the Babysitter Bandit from "Some Enchanted Evening" (who tied up the kids and tried to rob the house) and Bart's kindergarten teacher from "Lisa's Sax" (whose treatment of Bart helped make him what he is today).
  • Unexpected Positive: When Marge and Homer are mistakenly assessed as negligent parents, they are forced to attend a parenting class which Marge initially fails due to a false positive diagnosis for crack and PCP.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: In the Treehouse of Horror episode "Dial 'Z' for Zombie", Bart discovers a book of spells. To test it out he offers Lisa to use it to bring Snowball I back from the dead. The spell Goes Horribly Wrong as it causes zombies to rise from the grave all over the world.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • In "Simpsons Bible Stories":
      Bart: [to Ralph] I thought you were dead!
      Ralph: Nope!
    • In "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", Dr. Marvin Monroe appears at a book signing. When asked where he's been all these years, he replies that he's been very sick. Of course, we've seen his gravestone in previous episodes, but never mind.
  • The Unfair Sex:
  • Unflattering ID Photo:
    • After failing a breathalyzer test in the episode "Duffless", Homer loses his driver's license. When it gets stamped "VOID", we see he has a very unflattering photo with him having one eye closed, another eye squinting, and his mouth hanging open.
    • "The Old Man and the Key": Selma is about to take Grandpa Simpson's picture in preparation for getting his driver's license, when Grandpa asks her if she can just use his photo from the latest issue of the Springfield Shopper newspaper instead. The photo depicts Grandpa yelling at a cloud, under a headline that says OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUD. The picture gets used for his driver's license.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-Universe example: When Krusty was doing one of his comedy gigs on TV (filmed at the Apollo Theatre, no less), the show he was doing was "Krusty Komedy Klassics." When he turns around and saw the sign on the stage, he realized in shock that it also had the same acronym as the Ku Klux Klan written in white letters, causing Krusty to giggle nervously and say "KKK?...That's not good..." before the (obviously) offended audience decided to throw objects at him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Barney in "Mr. Plow." At the start of the episode, he's seen handing out fliers wearing a baby outfit (putting him nearly bare naked during the cold temperatures) and encourages Homer to promote his snow plowing business through something else other than fliers. This is what helps Homer's business become popular in the city, until Homer himself gives Barney advice about how to become successful himself. The next day, Barney comes in with a much larger snow plowing truck to Homer where Homer calls Barney out in stealing his idea. Barney then says Homer needs some healthy competition ...and promptly shoots the tires of Homer's plow truck. It doesn't help matters he keeps running Homer's name to the ground in his own TV ads while Homer does nothing to him until he gives Barney false info to clear out a house in a very dangerous area.
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: In this couch gag, the workers manufacturing the Simpsons merchandise are depicted as miserable slaves made to work for cruel masters at Fox. There is a unicorn chained up in the underground sweatshop, looking malnourished and unhappy.
  • Unimpressive Progress Reveal: Used various times.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror" segment "King Homer", the eponymous giant ape climbs a skyscraper with Marge in his hand, but drops from exhaustion - from the second floor, about half his body height.
    • Used twice in "King of the Hill"
      • Homer decides to start running at night, next scene has him already crawling due to exhaustion and stops in front of a mailbox... the one of his neighbor Flanders.
      • Homer must climb Mount Murderhorn (a gigantic mountain that is said to be worse than the Everest). One Time Skip later, the camera follows a trail of spent oxygen tanks and a Homer that is greedily sucking down on a new one... and then we find out that he just ascended about 20 feet (it's still close enough to the ground that Bart can easily tell him to stop using up his oxygen).
  • Unknown Rival:
    • Not quite enemies, but in "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", Mr. Burns is perpetually unable to remember his employee Homer Simpson. Eventually Homer breaks into Burns's office and writes his name on every wall in giant letters, then attacking Burns and shouting "MY! NAME! IS! HOMER! SIMPSON!" at him. Afterwards, Burns has this to say to his manservant:
      Burns: Smithers, who was that cow just yelling at me?
    • The situation is different when Homer changes his name:
      Burns: Ah! Max Power! How's every little thing?
      Homer: You remembered my name!
      Burns: Well, who could forget the name of a magnetic individual like you? Keep up the good work, Max!
    • Homer experiences the other side of this trope with Frank Grimes, who hates Homer's guts, while Homer thinks they're friends, but only in the first act. And then his son, who takes revenge on Homer, "How is old Grimey?"
  • The Unpronounceable: Parodied with Apu's last name (Nahasapeemapetilon) many times.
    • Selma uses it as a way to avoid marrying Apu.
      Selma: [My name's] already long enough without Nahasapet-apeet-whatever.
    • Apu will not receive justice from the Springfield Police.
      Chief Wiggum: Homer Simpson, you are under arrest for the murder of Moe Szyslak and Apu Nahasa... pasa... ah, just Moe. Just Moe.
    • When Apu joins The Be Sharps, their agent tells him that his name will never fit on a marquee:
      Agent: From now on, you're Apu Du Beaumarchaise.
      Apu: It is an insult to my ancestors and my god, but okay.
  • Unreadably Fast Text:
    • Done in "The Simpsons 138th Spectacular" when the show pays tribute to everyone who makes The Simpsons possible; a ton of names scroll up the screen for only three seconds at a really fast pace.
    • In "Bart's Comet", Kent Brockman closed his news broadcast by saying, "The following people are gay:", which prompted a ridiculously fast-scrolling list.
    • In "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses", a TV ad about the phone book cover contest repeatedly flashes the address for which to send the photos, due to the "Where Is Springfield?" Running Gag.
    • In "Homer Badman", the TV show "Rock Bottom" admits to making some journalistic mistakes over the years, and a fast list of said mistakes scrolls up the screen.
  • Unreveal Angle:
    • In "Much Apu About Nothing", Homer is trying to help Apu prepare for his American citizenship test, and for locating Springfield on the map, he points near Chicago. Lisa corrects him, but the view of her pointing at the correct location is obscured by Bart's head.
    • In one episode, Homer experiences a very frustrating version during a Dream Sequence. He's having money problems and he dreams about an invention that will make him rich, but he's never able to actually see the invention because someone is standing in the way.
  • Unrobotic Reveal: In the show's parody of Robot Wars, after completely failing to build a battlebot, Homer covers himself in armour plating and enters the arena himself.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Homer, who gets less sympathetic as the show ages.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In "Separate Vocations":
    Skinner: Look, let's can the euphemisms. No more bullspit.
  • Unwanted Glasses Plot: Bart gets thick glasses to correct his lazy eye in "The Last Temptation of Homer". Along with hair salve, throat spray, and heightened shoes, making him look and sound like a stereotypical nerd.
    Martin: Your appearance is comical to me!
  • Unwinnable Joke Game:
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Homer does this at least once or twice a season.
  • Up to Eleven: Krusty quotes this trope for word at the beginning of "The Man In Blue Flannel Pants".

  • Vacation Crossover:
    • The trope is spoofed in "Spin-Off Showcase". One of the spin-offs had Chief Wiggum and Principal Skinner fighting crime in New Orleans, and in one scene run into the Simpsons on vacation.
    • With Family Guy, in "The Simpsons Guy": the Griffins are on the run from an angry mob. They stop to get gas, but their car is stolen so they start walking and discover they're just outside Springfield, home of the Simpsons.
  • Vague Age:
    • Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney. They are implied to be teenagers but apparently attend Springfield Elementary. Kearney on the other hand, while he has a very screechy voice and acts like a teenage bully, he also has a son of his own, is divorced and according to Otto, they were in 3rd grade together.
    • Kearney, oddly enough, was shown in an early episode trying to buy beer with a fake ID and assumed name. Later, he's shown to remember Watergate and is also able to openly go for a drink at Moe's. Of course, the first incident was before they decided that his advanced age and apparent multiple failures to complete the sixth grade were a Running Gag.
    • Also, one episode shows that Jimbo is bald under his knit cap.
    • Krusty the Clown's age seems pretty vague too. They've shown his career in the 1950s through the 1970s, and he hasn't aged a day since. In "Like Father, Like Clown" it's shown that he hasn't spoken to his dad in 25 years and he was shown as a teenager/early 20s when that happened. His father, while a senior citizen doesn't look much older than his 60s.
    • This trope could apply to Troy McClure as well. He appears to be in his mid-40s to early 50s due to his career peaking in the 1970s. In "Bart the Fink" one of the funerals you may remember him from was Shemp Howard, Today We Mourn A Stooge. Shemp died in the 1950s. It's also implied he's had plastic surgery, which could make him Older Than They Look.
  • Vandalism Backfire:
    • Bart is angry at Lisa, and darkly announces that as vengeance, he tore the head off of a stuffed animal named Mr. Honey-Bunny. Lisa then reminds Bart that that was his beloved childhood toy.
      Bart: Agh! Mr. Honey-Bunny! [places the head back on and kisses it desperately]
    • One episode revolves around the Simpsons joining the Flanders on a group trip to Jerusalem, with Homers disrespectful and annoying behavior driving Ned increasingly angry, finally boiling over when he finds Homer asleep in Jesus's tomb. To point out how lazy and uncaring Homer has been, Flanders shows that all he's been taking photos of the entire trip are soda cans with funny names, then deletes all the images on the camera.
      Homer: Whatever, that was your camera.
      Ned: [angrily smashes the camera against the wall]
  • Variations on a Theme Song:
    • In the middle of an episode where they go into Witness Protection and become the Thompson family, we see a variation of the theme where the chorus goes "The Thompsons" and Homer pulls up to their new home, a houseboat.
    • When a hurricane comes through town, the chorus sings "The Hurricane" and the letters on screen get blown away by the hurricane's wind.
    • Treehouse of Horror episodes usually have the closing credits music replaced by an arrangement for organ and theremin. The music for the Gracie Films logo, instead of the usual piano riff with a woman going "Shhh!", is the same riff on organ with a woman screaming.
    • When a rock band are the guest stars, sometimes they do the closing theme.
    • Season 9 episode 1, The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson, replaced the usual closing theme with "New York, New York" sung by Frank Sinatra.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In order to smoke out a person trying to kill Homer, he is made the King of the Mardi Gras parade. The person trying to kill him has tampered with the brakes of his float so he can't stop.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine:
    • In the Clip Show episode "So It's Come To This", Homer, who just woke up from a coma, walks to a vending machine. It crashed into Homer, putting him back into a coma.
    • In "Marge on the Lam", Homer puts his arm inside a vending machine to get a free "invisible cola" (actually a Crystal Buzz Cola). When he reaches into it Carl warns him, telling him that someone lost an arm doing that once. (We see the inside of the machine where there's a skeleton arm from the last guy who tried to get a free soda, still holding onto a can of Fresca.) Homer eventually grabs the soda, but his arm gets stuck and Lenny and Carl run off screaming. Then, Homer gets his other arm stuck inside a candy vending machine. (In a scene cut from syndication, he imagines himself at Maggie's wedding with his arms still stuck to the vending machines.) Just as the rescue workers are about cut off Homer's arms, it turns out this could've been avoided if he let go of the can in the first place. The firemen write a note up for Marge to prove that the incident wasn't some wild excuse to avoid going to the ballet (with said note mentioning that while they were wasting their time with Homer, a lumber mill burned down).
    • In "The Trouble With Trillions", Homer keeps trying to use Burns's (stolen) trillion dollar bill in the vending machine. This time, much to everyone's relief, the machine keeps spitting it back.
    • "'Tis the Fifteenth Season" had Homer at a Secret Santa exchange at work where, after receiving a DVD player from Carl and being asked by Lenny where ''his'' present was, he says to Lenny, "Your present is right in the other room." He then goes offscreen to the other room and is clearly heard saying "C'mon, machine, take my dollar! ... Fine, we'll play it your way!" He then tackles the machine (still offscreen) and returns with a tube of Certs breath mints.
    • When Bart attacks the school vending machines, they retaliate by firing their contents at him ("I'm gonna cap a pop in yo ass!")
    • A Funny Background Event in "A Streetcar Named Marge" has Homer beating the crap out of an uncooperative vending machine.
  • Verbal Tic: Ned Flanders adds "diddly" to his words.
    • He even writes it.
      Homer: [reading] "Hi-diddly-ho, neighb-" Oh jeez, he actually wrote "diddly"!
      • ...and a later episode revealed that Flanders' Verbal Tic is the result of suppressing his anger.
  • [Verb] This!: In Homer's revised ending to Mel Gibson's remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington:
    Senator Paine: I believe the Senator has yielded the floor.
    Mr. Smith: Yield this, Senator Paine.
  • Vertigo Effect: Seen more in the earlier seasons, such as "Principal Charming" (parodying Vertigo), "Bart Gets Hit By a Car" (when the camera zooms in on Marge), "Lisa's Substitute" (when the camera zooms in on Lisa when she's shocked to see Miss Hoover back), and "Treehouse of Horror" (when Lisa first sees the UFO).
  • Victory by Endurance: Homer has Homer Simpson Syndrome ("ohh, why me!?") where his brain is surrounded by 1/8 inch more cushioning fluid than usual, making him the perfect boxer. He just waits for the other guy to tire himself out punching him, at which point Homer can just push the other guy down for a KO.
  • Video Phone: One episode taking place in the future, "Lisa's Wedding," showcased a conversation between Lisa and Marge using a "picture phone." Marge kept forgetting that Lisa could see her over the phone, and her body language made it more obvious to tell when she was lying.
  • Video Wills:
    • Used a couple times, once in "Selma's Choice" where Lionel Hutz dubbed over the deceased Bouvier's voice (Hutz told Marge she'd be surprised with the number of times the trick works), and again in "Mona Leaves-a" with Mona:
      Mona: If you're watching this right now, I am dead. Or if not, you've gotten into my stuff. But if I'm dead, this is my will. And if I'm not, get out of my stuff.
    • Homer also attempted to film one in "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish":
      Homer: Hi, Maggie! I'm speaking to you from beyond the grave. [makes ghostly noises and laughs] Hope that didn't scare you.
  • Vignette Episode: Many, most notably the Treehouse of Horror series.
  • Vinyl Shatters: The episode "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" has Bart breaking records for kicks.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Groundskeeper Willie is Scottish and is always angry and shouty, even when he's being nice.
  • Virtual Assistant Blunder: In "HOMR", Homer buys stock in an animation company and calls an automated hotline to check its stock price.
    Voice: For automated stock prices, please state the company name.
    Homer: AniMotion.
    Voice: AniMotion... Up one and one half.
    Homer: Yahoo!
    Voice: Yahoo... Up six and a quarter.
    Homer: Huh? What is this crap?
  • Visual Pun: Several. One example took place when Homer became a photojournalist for a tabloid. When the editor commented a photo had "Page One" written all over it, it was because Homer wanted to remember the book page where he stopped. That's right, Homer took Book Dumb to that level.
  • Vocal Evolution: Natural, given the series' 27-plus-year run. Some prominent examples:
    • During the entirety of the Tracey Ullman shorts and the first season Dan Castellaneta used a Walter Matthau impression for Homer, which was tonally deeper and had a marble mouth slurring. By season 3 Homer's voice had moved a bit higher and a bit of a lisp, conveying childish energy albeit with more authority. The change was because the original voice was centered around the tonsils and so he had a hard time putting any sort of variation in his lines, the newer voice came more from the chest and gave the character more variety and a stronger presence. Dan says on the commentaries that he just tried to match the voice he'd been using when they were recording, and changing it little by little to make it easier to show a wider range of emotion. He eventually wound up with the voice we all know simply by trial and error. Past season 10 or so, Homer's voice has become a little bit deeper and slightly more gravelly, but otherwise unchanged since the 4th season.
    • Bart spoke in a nasal, monotone voice with a noticeable lisp in the early shorts, and it sounded much quieter. As the shorts go on, despite only being a slight change, his speech gets pronounced slightly clearer, as well as getting less slow and a bit less quiet. Starting with "Moaning Lisa", Bart's lisp starts to completely go away, and his voice gets higher and much more expressive. By season 6, his voice is completely expressive. Just compare this to a later episode.
    • Julie Kavner had the distinctive hoarse, gravely tone with her performances as Marge, Patty, Selma and Mrs. Bouvier, but was significantly higher pitched and softer in intonation. Due to the stress of the performances on her vocal chords, all of Kavner's characters have become deeper, and, by season 27, sounding like they've lost their voices.
    • Harry Shearer's Mr. Burns in seasons 1 and 2 was much more deep and ominous than his current over-the-top performance.
    • Hank Azaria's voice for Moe was quite a bit higher early in the run, and became quite deep by later seasons.
    • Nancy Cartwright also uses a deeper, more teenaged sounding voice for both Nelson Muntz and Kearney Zzyzwicz compared to before season 6 or so. Nelson's "HA HA!" is pretty much the same, though. Fridge Logic applies here, as Nelson and Kearney have been shown to be smokers in several episodes, including when their voices were still higher.
  • The Voiceless:
    • Maggie, with a couple exceptions. In "Lisa's First Word", she utters her first word, voiced by Elizabeth Taylor: "Daddy." In "Treehouse of Horror V", she is voiced by James Earl Jones in one of the alternate universes Homer created: "This is indeed a disturbing universe."
    • Lampshaded in "Lisa's Wedding" when a teenage Maggie keeps trying to talk (or sing), but is either interrupted before she can say anything or has her mouth full of food and is unintelligible.
      Homer: Will that girl ever shut up?
  • Volleying Insults: In "Worst Episode Ever" when Agnes and Comic Book Guy first meet:
    Agnes: Out of the way, tubby!
    Comic Book Guy: Oh pardon me, Oldie Hawn!
    Agnes: Oh OH! Why you ill-mannered sack of crap!
    Comic Book Guy: Oh goodie. Now I know whatever happened to Baby Jane.
    Agnes: You are the rudest man who ever... bought me dinner!
    Comic Book Guy: Correction; I do not believe I have ever bought you... [realizes] Oh.

  • Walkie-Talkie Gag, Over: In "Treehouse of Horror V", Marge tries to call the police on a two-way radio when Homer goes insane.
    Marge: Hello! Police! This is Marge Simpson! My husband is on a murderous rampage! Over!
    Chief Wiggum: Well, thank God it's over. I was worried there for a second. [hangs up]
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
    • "Lisa's Pony" in a scene where Homer's playing tea party with Lisa and Bart and Milhouse make fun of him. Homer notices them and immediately charges at them. He runs towards the camera and his stomach fills up the screen making it completely white.
    • "Girls Just Want to Have Sums" where Nelson is about to beat up the disguised Lisa
    • "The Dad Who Knew Too Little" where Homer is about to charge towards some free sample stands
    • "Brother's Little Helper" The scene where Bart walks into an army base where soldiers are taking showers. He is walking into the camera with a twitchy look on his face
    • "Homer Defined": with Homer about to push a random button to stop a nuclear meltdown; with his finger.
  • "Walk on the Wild Side" Episode:
    • This happens to Marge on many occasions, ranging from running from the law with her friend after stealing her ex's car, taking part in a monster truck rally and gaining road rage from a Canyonero. Driving seems to be her recurring Berserk Button.
    • In "Separate Vocations", Lisa becomes a delinquent after getting "Homemaker" in an Inept Aptitude Test and being told that she'll never become a professional Jazz musician due to her stubby fingers. This culminates with her committing an expulsion worthy offense (stealing all of the teachers' guides) to which Bart takes the fall, not wanting her to ruin her life.
  • Walk Through The Camera:
    • "Selma's Choice" Bart and Lisa try to get Selma off a bench and ride a rollercoaster.
    • "Much Apu About Nothing" near the beginning where Homer tries to get beer from the fridge. "Let's all calm down. Everyone's going to be just fine. As long as I have enough beers."
  • Wallbonking: At one point, Marge joins an online game and gets stuck walking into a wall. She comments, "how incredibly annoying!", only for Grandpa, who is stuck like this in real life, to respond, "tell me about it."
  • The Walls Are Closing In: When spoofing The Ten Commandments and the story of Moses, Milhouse and Lisa (as Moses and Aaron) are thrown in a room with spiked walls that close in on them. However, the spikes have all been installed opposite each other, so that the walls stop when the tips touch, leaving plenty of room for them to climb to safety (and for Lisa to remark, "Slave labor. You get what you pay for.").
  • Wasn't That Fun?:
    • Said by Bart when the family goes to Itchy & Scratchy Land and survive a rather deadly log ride that ended in the family jumping out of the way of a buzz saw onto mattresses.
    • In "Brother From Another Series", Bart wants to go again after he, Lisa, and Sideshow Bob rode down the drainage pipe.
      Bart: Let's go again! Let's go again!
      Lisa: [still catching her breath] NO!
  • Wasteful Wishing: In "Homer and Apu", Homer wastes his three questions to the C.E.O. of the Kwik-E-Mart by asking three times if the man is really the head of the Kwik-E-Mart.
  • Watch the World Die: On at least one occasion, the family gathered on the roof in lawn chairs watching the destruction of Springfield after yet another wacky series of adventures. Marge wouldn't let Bart go loot with the others.
  • Water Hose Rodeo: This occurs in "Last Exit to Springfield", due to Mr. Burns's incredibly weak strength.
  • Watering Down: In "The Crepes of Wrath", the French winemakers dilute their wine with antifreeze, then test it on Bart.
  • Way Past the Expiration Date:
    • We learn that Apu sells products that are over a decade old. "And the clerk who runs the store can charge a little more for milk (for milk) and meat (and meat) from 1984!"
    • In another episode, Homer eats a box of baking soda from the back of the fridge that he thinks was there when they bought the house.
    • In "The Bart of War", Bart and Milhouse drink a "forty-year-old novelty beverage" they find in Ned Flanders' Beatles shrine and experience a Mushroom Samba.
    • In "The Man Who Grew Too Much", when Lunchlady Doris reveals to Lisa that the vegetables she uses are genetically-modified to stay fresh, she tells her not to ask how old the Jell-O is. There are two trays of gelatin cut into letters to promote the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983 and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996; the episode aired in 2014, so the trays would've respectively been around 31 and 18 years old.
  • We All Live in America: Quite some examples. One example is when the Simpsons visit Ireland, and the local police cars have "POLICE" written all over them instead of "GARDA".
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Seen many times when something goes wrong during Kent Brockman's or Krusty the Clown's broadcast.
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: "They'll Never Stop the Simpsons", a Suspiciously Similar Song at the end of the 2002 "Gump Roast" episode (so far, they seem to be right).
  • Wedding Ring Removal: An inadvertent example. Homer takes off his wedding ring while working at a Habitat for Humanity-esque volunteer building event, and several women flirt with him upon noticing his ring tan, marking him as recently but no longer married.
  • Welcome to the Big City: When Homer first goes to New York, he's robbed several times and falls into a sewer while being chased by a pimp.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sideshow Bob. For example, the whole reason he framed Krusty was to provide 'Quality Children's Entertainment'. Yes, and because he got shot out of a cannon.
  • We Need a Distraction: "Hello this is the Repo Depot, I'm just calling to distract you while we repossess your plow."
  • Wet Cement Gag: In "Lemon of Troy", Bart attempts to write his name in wet cement.
  • We Should Get Another Tape: In "Alone Again, Natura-Diddly", Homer films Ned's dating video on a tape featuring Marge giving birth to Maggie.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Colin, from the movie most notably, and Janey Powell, Lisa's friend who seemed to get pushed aside so the "Lisa has no friends" running plot could happen.
    • The Simpsons is a gold mine of this trope. A lot of the people the Simpsons have met (besides the celebrities) and the things the Simpsons or Springfield have disappeared and are no longer mentioned, or are mentioned later on, but only en passant.
    • A subversion is with Mike Scioscia. He appears in "Homer at the Bat" and suffers from acute radiation poisoning in the end. He appears MUCH later in "MoneyBART", eighteen years later, and when Marge reminds him that he suffered from poisoning, he said "I did. But it ended up giving me super-managerial powers."
    • Lampshaded now and then, such as in "Homerazzi," where Homer complains about celebrities not acknowledging him in any way after their first meeting. (Betty White then approaches him and asks him questions about the family.) Another episode has Homer mention "my seldom-seen half-brother Herb."
    • This trope was essentially why "Mother Simpson" was produced, as the then current writing team couldn't believe that Homer's mother had never been seen outside of a couple flashback cameos.
  • What Have I Done: Bart sawing off the Jebediah Springfield statue head in "The Tell Tale Head".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Flanders tries to force the Simpson children into getting baptized (without discussing the matter with their parents) while he and Maude have temporary custody.
  • What's a Henway?: From "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase":
    Marge: I said we were having a special guest tonight: Mr. Tim Conway!
    Homer: What's a Tim Conway?
    Tim Conway: Oh, about 120 pounds.
  • Wheel of Pain: Homer is forced to work one that turns the wheel of a cupcake display in the cafeteria.
  • When I Was Your Age...: A perennial favorite of Grandpa Simpson.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ending of "Bart's Dog Gets an F" features still screen pictures and text of what happened to some of the dogs after obedience school.
  • Whispered Threat:
    • In the episode "The Otto Show", Otto tells Lisa a story about a crazed maniac killer, ending the story by whispering to her that he was that maniac. Cue a blood-curdling scream from Lisa and him trying to allay her fears via a "Just Joking" Justification.
    • In "Trash of The Titans" when campaigning for Homer's run as Trash Commissioner, Bart says on a loudspeaker to vote for him or "he'll beat us". Homer gets angry, tells him that he's only joking...then whispers to him (into the loudspeaker) "You're gonna get such a beating!" to the looks of horrified citizens.
    • In "Black Widower", Sideshow Bob marries Aunt Selma, planning to kill her to gain her savings. While rubbing her feet, he repeatedly mutters under his breath his intent to murder her. When Selma overhears, he passes his statements off as loving compliments made in other languages.
  • White Dude, Black Dude:
    • Homer watches a black comedian do one of these routines in "Homer and Apu".
      Homer: [laughing] It's true, it's true! We're so lame!
    • And tries one himself in "Monty Can't Buy Me Love"
      Homer: White people have names like "Lenny", while black people have names like "Carl".
  • Who Is Driving?: A recurring joke regarding Otto and the school bus as he often joins the students in the back of the bus to see what is going on.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!:
    • In "Faith Off", Kent Brockman complains about the writing on the teleprompter.
      Kent Brockman: Big game fever is reaching a fever pitch as the fevered rivalry between Springfield U. and Springfield A&M spreads like wildfever. This is writing?
      Intern: Sorry, Kent, I lost my thesaurus.
      Kent Brockman: [muttering] "Lost your thesaurus." You'll lose more than that. In preparation for the big game, Springfield Stadium has caught additional seating capacity fever.
    • In "Children of a Lesser Clod", Krusty complains about the writing at the award ceremony. It turns out Mr. Teeny is his writer.
      Krusty: Now, every year we find one good Samaritan so deserving that not recognizing him would make Santa Claus himself vomit with rage. Ugh, who writes this stuff?!
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • "The Way We Was", "The Way We Weren't", "That '90s Show", "Dangerous Curves", "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story", the episodes about the birth of the kids ("I Married Marge", "Lisa's First Word", and "And Maggie Makes Three").
    • "Dancin' Homer", which begins with Homer at the bar telling his friends about his short-lived stint as a baseball mascot. There's really no reason for the episode to be told in flashback, but it was done that way because the writers didn't know how to end the episode.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Hamlet, The Departed, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Mary Poppins, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dracula, Lord of the Flies, Sid And Nancy, Lady and the Tramp, Thelma & Louise, Rear Window, A Nightmare on Elm Street, 24, The Shining, My Mother the Car, Batman Begins, King Kong, The Island of Doctor Moreau...
    • This appears the most often in the Halloween episodes.
  • Who's Watching the Store?: Seen in "Lisa the Beauty Queen" when both Apu and Sanjay are at the beauty pageant. Marge asks them who's watching the Kwik-E-Mart, and the scene cuts to Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney stealing the Squishy machine.
  • Widely Spaced Jail Bars: The episode "The Frying Game" has Marge and Homer in jail together, in a cell whose bars are clearly too close together for Homer but Marge could walk right through them. She doesn't, making this a Serious Type.
  • The Wildcats: Parodied in "Bart Star":
    Ned: Who are we?
    Football team: The Wildcats!
    Ned: Who are we gonna beat?
    Football team: The Wildcats!
  • William Telling: In "The Cartridge Family," after Bart finds the handgun Homer acquired stowed in the vegetable crisper, he aims it at Milhouse who sticks an apple in his mouth. Marge manages to find the two just before Bart could pull the trigger.
  • Wily Walrus: In one Couch Gag, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie are penguins climbing onto an iceberg. Homer is a walrus who flops onto the iceberg, causing it to fling the penguins into his mouth.
  • Window Pain:
    • Ralph (with a note attached) is thrown through the Simpsons' window; he announces "I'm a brick!"
    • On another occasion, instead of a brick with a note, a ringing telephone is thrown through a window.
    • In "Moe'N'a Lisa", Moe throws a brick with a note through the Simpsons' window after Homer forgets his birthday.
  • Win Her a Prize: Principal Skinner tries to win a prize for his Mother in one episode.
  • With or Without You: Homer gives these occasionally. The follow-through, eh, not so much.
  • Women Are Wiser: Marge and Lisa to Bart and (especially) Homer.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: The episode "Kill The Alligator And Run" sees the entire family (yes, even Maggie) sentenced by the State of Florida to forced labor on a chain gang after Homer kills an alligator named "Captain Jack" (the Florida town's most famous resident) and addresses the jury at their trial as "Drunken Hicks."
  • The World Mocks Your Loss: After Ned lost his wife he sees couples dancing and having fun at the Jellyfish Festival.
    Marge: Poor Ned. This is his first Jellyfish Festival alone.
    Homer: I know. And it doesn't get any easier from here. There's the Tongue-Kissing Festival, Cinco de Ocho, the Hobo Oscars, days just made for lovers. Not widowers... lovers.
  • World of Ham: Springfield, in spades. What can you say about a town where its citizens fly into a rage at the drop of a hat, or even a pin? To the point where they go as far as destroying the neighborhood, killing each other, out-hamming one another, the list goes on!
  • The Worst Seat in the House: In "The Homer They Fall," Marge's seat for Homer's big boxing match was directly behind a pillar, so she couldn't see anything.
  • World's Smallest Violin: Lenny tries this but loses the bow.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: Comic Book Guy is the Trope Maker using his ubiquitous Catchphrase.
  • Worthless Foreign Degree: Apu works in the Kwik-E-Mart despite being a top-of-the-class computing scientist back in India.
  • Wraparound Background: Lampshaded in "The Front" when Roger Meyers Jr. says that a common way to keep costs down on a cartoon is to re-use the same backgrounds over and over again... meanwhile, he, Bart, and Lisa walk by the same background numerous times.
  • Write Who You Know: In-Universe example: Bart based the character in his web cartoon series Angry Dad on Homer Simpson, as well as a sidekick based on Lisa (A bit of an In-Universe Throw It In! moment, as he created her so the person she's based on, Lisa Simpson, won't complain about the series' ripping off on Homer). Homer was initially not to happy with it, although after it was revealed that his angry reactions are the only reason he's still alive, he allows Bart to continue with the series, although only under the condition that he only does it semi-based on real experiences.
  • Wretched Hive: Springfield has incompetent and corrupt police officers, corrupt politicians and violent idiots who break out into riots for the smallest offences. People are either hopeful about the town or they embrace this trope. According to the creator, Lisa is the only person who can truly escape Springfield uncorrupted.
  • Writers Suck:
    • "The Front," "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," and "Homer to the Max" have a lot of jokes about how awful television writers are (especially the ones who work on cartoons).
    • In "Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade", Homer laments the wave of reality shows, and blames the writers and actors for pricing themselves right out of the business.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Lampshaded by the Mary Poppins parody, who says she's an original creation like 'Ricky Rouse' and 'Monald Muck'.
  • Writing Lines: The chalkboard gags at the beginning of most episodes involve Bart working on his 20th-or-so repetition of a phrase.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: Turns up a bit; in fact, the quality of life in Springfield shifts from suburbia to abject poverty literally around the division of a single set of train tracks.
  • Wrote the Book:
    • In "The Great Money Caper", Homer and Bart walk around Springfield conning people with the help of a book called "A Child's Garden of Cons". Later, Abe joins them in their grifting, saying he wrote the book on flimflamming. Bart verifies.
    • In "the Spinoff Showcase"'s Lovematic Grandpa segment, Moe claims to have written the book on love. Abe responds, "Yeah, 'All Quiet on the Western Front'."

  • X Called; They Want Their Y Back:
    • In "Homer the Clown", Krusty gets a call from George Carlin, who is suing him for stealing his "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV" bit. Krusty ends the call by saying, "Well, excuuuse me!"
      Receptionist: Steve Martin on four.
      Krusty: Ten grand.
    • In the episode "Burns, Baby Burns", Lisa makes fun of Marge's hair.
      Lisa: Buckingham Palace called, they want their hat back.
  • X Days Since:
    • In the new, High-Definition opening: Lenny and Carl are changing the "days without an accident" sign one number higher, then the Quitting Time Horn goes off and Homer runs out, knocking them over in the process.
    • A prison holds a sign counting the number of days since the last break.
    • A redneck bar has a sign counting the number of days without a tornado. And it's reset between scenes.
    • When Apu takes his citizenship test, the sign outside says something like "130 years without a civil war".
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Krusty's gratuitous use of the letter K is one of his defining traits, starting with calling himself "Krusty the Klown" rather than "Krusty the Clown" (the K in Krusty can't be changed, because it's based on his real name, Krustofski). He still does it even though it's burned him on many occasions, like his Krusty Komedy Klassic special ("KKK? That's not good!"). The Unfortunate Implications were made worse by the fact that the letters are in white and the TV special itself was set at the Apollo Theater, where Showtime At the Apollo (a variety show featuring black performers) is filmed. He also did another special called It's a Krusty Kinda Kristmas.
  • Xylophones for Walking Bones: Discussed in a couple of different episodes where Homer remarks that he's afraid of xylophone music because of its association with dancing skeletons.

  • Yakuza: After Homer hires the Mafia to help Marge's pretzel business, the Investorettes hire the Yakuza to fight back.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • In "Moaning Lisa", Bart keeps winning against Homer in a boxing video game. Homer gets lessons from a kid at the video arcade and that night, he uses the tips to wallop Bart in the game, but just before he's about to deliver his finishing blow, Marge unplugs the TV. So Homer didn't technically win the match, and Bart announces his retirement from the game.
    • In "Homer Goes To College," Bart and Lisa are watching an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon called "Burning Down the Mouse," the one where Scratchy finally gets Itchy, (of course, Bart's purpose in life is to "witness this moment"), but just as soon as everything is about to blow up, Doug, one of Homer's nerd college-mates yanks the plug on the TV to plug in their "rock tumbler." Bart and Lisa anxiously tell him to plug the TV back in, but as soon as he does, the cartoon is already over. Krusty remarks, "WOW, they'll never let us show that again, not in a MILLION YEARS!" Understandably, Bart and Lisa are anguished.
  • Yawn and Reach: Homer tries to teach it to Abe in "Lady Bouvier's Lover". Skinner does this to Patty in "Principal Charming", but she doesn't like it.
    Patty: Don't be stupid.
  • Yes-Man: Smithers, though some of Burns' more extreme schemes had Smithers actually standing up to him, even risking getting fired for it. Then again, Smithers did go back to working for Burns later in the episode.
  • Yoko Oh No: Parodied with Barney's girlfriend in "Homer's Barbershop Quintet". She's so avant-garde she drinks perfume containing a single plum from a man's hat and suggests that the quintet release a track that consists only of her voice saying "number eight" followed by Barney belching.
  • You Answered Your Own Question:
    • Homer, unsurprisingly, hasn't grasped some basic concepts.
      Homer: Operator! Give me the number to 911!
    • Played with in "Bart's Girlfriend":
      Bart: Why the crap do we have to go to church anyway?!
      Marge: You just answered your own question with that commode mouth.
  • You Are in Command Now: Homer ends up in command of a nuclear sub in "Simpson Tide".
  • You Can't Handle the Parody:
    • They've used it at least three times. The first is in "Secrets of a Successful Marriage":
      Homer: You want the truth? You want the truth?! You can't handle the truth! 'Cause when you reach over and put your hand into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.
    • From "Sideshow Bob Roberts":
      Sideshow Bob: You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! No truth-handler, you! I deride your truth-handling abilities!
      Judge: Will you get to the point?
    • From "Mommie Beerest":
      Jack playing card: You can't handle the twos!
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Lisa wanted to be in a jazz band but was told she could sit in a chair instead.
  • You Get What You Pay For: In the second segment of "Simpsons Bible Stories", which spoofs the story of Moses, Lisa and Milhouse escape a badly designed Death Trap. Lisa notes, "Slave labor. You get what you paid for."
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Marge and the van Houtens have blue hair. Marge actually dyes her hair that color, though it's assumed from flashbacks to her childhood that she was a natural blue (until she turned 17).
    Homer: She's been gray as a mule since she was 17.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: Becky appears to be torturing the family in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge".
  • You Make Me Sic: In "Bart the Genius", after Bart gives a confession letter to Dr. J. Loren Pryor that he was faking being a genius:
    Pryor: You know... you misspelled "confession".
  • You Might Remember Me from...: invoked Troy McClure says this virtually every time he appears, even when he's on a date.
  • You Monster!:
    • Bart to Mr. Burns in "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part 1)": "You twisted old MONSTER!"
    • Homer will drop this one for any reason. Any.
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: Bart attempts to subvert the trope by applying ice cream bars to the bottom of his shoes to meet the height requirement. It gets played straight when the ride starts and he nearly falls out going through a loop because he is not big enough for the safety bar to catch him.
  • Younger Than They Look:
    • Homer Simpson: In season four's "Lisa the Beauty Queen," Homer tries his luck at the school carnival's "Guess Your Age and Weight" booth. The fortuneteller guesses that Homer is 53 years old and 420 pounds. Homer laughs at the man and reveals that he's 36 years old and 239 pounds. Later episodes would have Homer as 38 or 39, depending on writer.
    • Hans Moleman: During the Alc-Anon meeting in season four's "Duffless," Hans reveals that he's 31 years old (which is true, according to his driver's license on "Selma's Choice" that shows he was born in August of 1961. It would make him around 31 at the time of the episode's premiere — 1991), implying that Hans Moleman's alcohol addiction has rapidly aged him. As usual, Negative Continuity has discredited this, as Hans was seen at the Springfield Retirement Home in "The Old Man and the C Student" and in "Little Girl in the Big Ten," a character pointed out that Hans was 80. Though given Moleman's status, and how incompetent just about every laborer in Springfield seems to be...
    • Mr. Burns: Before "Homer the Smithers," Burns revealed that he was 81 years old and looked older because he went bald around the time he was in college. After "Homer the Smithers", it's since been retconned that he looks his age (or is older than he looks) and has had a head of hair as recently as the sixties.
      • Mr. Burns' age following "Homer the Smithers" has tended to vary. Generally, it was established since then that Burns is 104 years old, although in the S15 episode "Fraudcast News", Burns is 89 years old. Again, this depends on the writer.
  • Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: In the "Treehouse of Horror III" piece "Dial Z For Zombies", Homer offers himself to the zombies if they'll let his family live. After knocking on his head, the zombies feel he doesn't have anything to give.
  • Your Favorite: Matt Groening's favorite candy bar is Butterfinger, the reason he allows the characters to sell them.
  • Your Head A-Splode:
    • Once in a reference to Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, as well as an Explosive Decompression.
    • In "And Maggie Makes Three", Homer's head suddenly explodes during the Whole Episode Flashback, which is immediately revealed to be Bart hijacking the story. When the flashback resumes... Homer is still headless, crying about how his perfect life is ruined.
      Marge: Homer, you had a head.
      Homer: Check. [flashback-Homer's head reappears]
  • You Would Do the Same for Me: In "Homer the Heretic", Ned says this to Homer after he saves Homer from a burning house. In a daydream, Homer thinks differently, though he responds: "That's right, old friend."
  • You Say Tomato:
    • Marge says "foilage" instead of "foliage".
    • Homer correcting Lisa: "It's spelled 'nucular', honey."
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: In the episode "The Springfield Files"
    Dr. Nick Riviera: Don't worry. You won't feel a thing [exhibits a swirling mechanical device]... till I jam this down your throat!

  • Zany Cartoon: The Tracey Ullman shorts were often subject to this.
  • Zany Scheme: Homer performs these, constantly.
    Homer: Now, the only antidote to a zany scheme... is an even zanier scheme!
    Nerd: Why does it have to be "zany"?
  • Zillion-Dollar Bill: Mr. Burns was said to own a trillion-dollar bill - and did! Now Fidel Castro has it.


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