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They Wasted A Perfectly Good Plot / The Simpsons

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This is inevitable in a show where the first five to ten minutes set up things that later turn out to be unrelated to the main plot:

  • The episode "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" starts with Marge yelling at Homer for not going to Lisa's award ceremony, Homer decides to prove her wrong and wants to make sure that he is in the auditorium before anyone else. This seems to be the main plot of the episode, but then it is forgotten and the main plot is about Marge and a bank robber and has nothing to do with Homer getting to Lisa's ceremony.
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  • "Homer The Whopper" could have been a funny episode about the making of a superhero movie in the vein of "Radioactive Man", but instead focuses on the overused plot of Homer sticking to another diet (and failing it), with all the movie stuff happening in the b-plot.
  • The episode where Maude dies. It could have been a Tear Jerker Heartwarming Moments episode (and it was a little bit, especially when Flanders briefly denounced his faith in God and met Rachel Jordan after going to church), but more than half of it was Homer setting up Ned with horrible new girlfriends (even though Homer wasn't being a jerkass about it; he was genuinely trying to help Ned out).
  • Mona Simpson's death, for similar reasons as Maude's: Her death comes out of nowhere and lacks gravity, especially since the funeral was off-screen, and it is quickly forgotten as the story progresses-the rest of the episode focuses on the Simpsons sabotaging Mr. Burns' rocket launch (a plot that could have easily been done without her death). Though the sabotage was Mona's last wish.
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  • Many viewers felt that the first act plot of Season 19's "Husbands and Knives", starring Jack Black as the owner of the new comic book store across the street from The Android's Dungeon, was superior to the rest of the episode, which focused on Marge starting a franchise of women's gyms and Homer getting plastic surgery in fear that his newly-rich wife will run off with another man.
  • The episode "Simpsorama" didn't make a single comment about the different skin tones of the cast. While the Family Guy crossover already did this, it still feels strange that nobody seemed to notice, considering that Fry lived in that time period and nobody was portrayed as yellow.
    • Fry didn't get to do much in that episode. We even didn't get to see the events unfold when Professor Farnsworth asked him to team up with Homer in a nuclear powered experiment.
  • In "To Courier with Love", There is no mention of Bart's time living with Ceasar and Ugolin in France, despite them all being in the same room. They act like they've never met despite the fact they treated Bart like dirt and he got them arrested.
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  • Some fans have theorized that "The Principal and the Pauper" would have worked better if it used a character without such a well-established backstory, e.g. Luigi the Italian chef.
  • Any of Marge's one time jobs could have given her some needed Character Development beyond the nagging housewife and mother role she plays, but especially her stint as a police officer. Marge was awesome as a beat cop, and, as shown in the episode where it happened, it gave her an excuse to interact with the rest of the town and contrast all its seedier elements.
  • Edna Krabappel is a walking example of this:
    • Early in the series run we find out that she's a divorced woman, whose husband left her for a younger woman that also happened to be their marriage counselor (for added "fuck you" level of bitterness). Yet we NEVER meet Edna's ex or his new wife. NEVER. The writers contemplated introducing Mr Krabappel in the season two episode "War of the Simpsons", with the idea of having him be a Dean Martin lookalike. But they decided instead to include a rip-off of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" instead.
    • Her relationship with Principal Skinner was another wasted plotline. It gave both characters added depth and pathos, fleshing them out into fully developed characters and even led to an evolution of their relationship with Bart, who supported their coupling. Sadly, one of the very first things Al Jean did when he came back to the show, was kill the relationship dead. Principal Skinner never recovered as a character, while any chances of Edna and Seymour reuniting, was crushed by the writers pushing Edna/Ned onto fans out of the blue.
    • Finally her death; rather than giving the character a proper send-off, she was written out in the worst possible way: a one-off dream sequence with Ned simply saying "he was going to miss her" while Nelson does a half-hearted "ha-ha!" before agreeing with Ned about missing his teacher. Since then, outside of a Halloween special appearance as a ghost, no mention whatsoever has been made of Edna, in terms of her becoming an unperson and writers shoving all sorts of substitute teachers into the mix whenever they have to do a school centric Bart episode before finally having Ned taking over the position after his store closed down.
  • The show's response to "The Problem With Apu" could have been a tactful way for the show as any Long Runner would to reconcile the social changes over the years that make classic elements/characters age badly especially as Hari Kondabolu made an articulate, respectful case as a long-term fan that along with other South Asians that had to deal with being compared to Apu growing up. Instead, not only does the show shrug it off as "political incorrectness" like the argument was just brushing off another Media Watchdog, it chose to do so through Lisa, the one character who'd be siding with the documentary regardless of her friendship with Apu.
  • In "E My Sports" Homer "punishes" Bart after a prank by buying him a gaming computer (accessories and all) to keep him occupied and possibly become a better person which leads into Bart becoming an obsessed gamer which soon evolves into Homer becoming the coach of Bart's E-sporting team, such an modern, up to date plot (with how huge gaming competitions have become) work pretty well with Bart and Homer bonding and the former getting support from his parents and being good at something (which is a nice pace of change). Sadly, the episode has a lot of Show, Don't Tell elements we’re meant to see Homer as an unbearable Stage Dad, Lisa took him to the temple in the first place because of how overenthusiasm he was being, and there was even a musical number detailing the negative consequences of his actions. Both this and Lisa jealousy subplot come across as shoehorned in especially the roles they play in the episodes conclusion as they lead to another situation where Bart is dumped on while Lisa gets what she wants. Much like Homer feeling spurned by Bart wanting to drive Martin's car in "The Simpsons S 3 E 9 Saturdays Of Thunder" or using Lisa in "The Simpsons S 3 E 14 Lisa The Greek" to gamble and placing too much emphasis on that over simply enjoying spending time with her, it could've and should've been the wedge that came between them: Homer being all about the glory and the money, Bart loving the competitive aspect of it and being pushed too hard. But in the episode proper, Bart didn't seem to have a problem with it at all. Instead Homer ruins the competition under the mistaken belief that it would lead to quicker gain and Bart becomes his scapegoat with all of his teammates blaming him instead of Homer.
  • "Bart vs Itchy and Scratchy" had an interesting premise going on, with Bart unexpectedly enjoying a girl's show (one that was also an all-female reboot of his favorite cartoon)in a moment that Lisa witnessed. This could have lead to a story about them bonding over the reboot but instead Lisa skips straight to humiliating him over the internet. Or the plot could have involved him mingling with some of the girls who are a severely underused group of characters in their own right, again focusing on bonding over the new I&S. Instead none of the female cast even have lines outside of the main family and Luanne, the plot is taken over by three guest voiced characters who lack distinctive personalities, aren't named in the episode, lack any redeeming or likable qualities whatsoever and will likely never appear again so there's no significance to them.
  • The plot "Crystal Blue-Haired Persuasion" involves Marge going into the healing item business after the power plant cuts the kids' health care which forces her to get healing crystals for Bart as a cheaper and supposedly better option for his usual ADD medicine from an new age healing store. The premise has a lot of potential given that it involves Bart getting better grades and skeptic that she is, Lisa wouldn't assume the crystal had any role in it and would assume something else was at play. It would have been a lot better if he wasn't cheating but there was something else to it.
    • Ned Flanders kind nature not only makes him a good Parental Substitute for Bart but also a perfect contrast to the usual Springfield Apathetic Teacher. It would be nice to finally see the effect his positive influence would have on Bart. Instead we get a Recycled Premise of The Simpsons S5E19 "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" where Ned is an Extreme Doormat that easily allows Bart to cheat.
    • Bart’s relationship with Marge plays a huge role in this story so a scenario like The Simpsons S 4 E 20 Whacking Day were he does better in school because the time Marge spends with him provides focus giving him something to aim for.
    • While the scheme itself was clever, and indeed does goes back to a trait Bart had in his classic characterisation: he's a poor student, but clever and resourceful, to the point where he could do better at school if he cared to put in the same amount of effort as he does his pranks and schemes. The combination of two recycled tropes (Marge opens a business/Lisa exposes Bart) comes across as a waste.

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