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Much of the humor from the animated series The Simpsons comes from the characters failing to recognize their own stupidity, being clueless when others harshly criticize them and so forth, so take these moments with a heavy dose of Tropes Are Tools.

Note: There seems to be a reoccurring theme where the characters' stupidity is increased in the Non-canon Treehouse of Horror episodes to the point where it does themselves in as the plot requires it so.

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  • The premise of the movie is that the entire town gets sealed inside a gigantic glass dome by the EPA, thanks to Homer polluting Lake Springfield.
    You'd Expect: At least one of the townspeople would think to dig their way under the dome.
    Instead: None of them do. Granted, the EPA did fortify the land around the dome after the Simpsons escaped, but that doesn't change the fact that the idea didn't occur to anyone before then.
    Even Worse: The entire town sees the Simpsons escape by going through a sinkhole tunnel underground and out to the outside of the dome. They STILL never get the idea to dig their way out.
  • Another one from the movie: after Homer is exposed as the man who polluted Lake Springfield to the point of sealing off the whole city, an angry mob of citizens march to the Simpson home...except the house is right behind them and they're marching the wrong way.
    You'd Expect: Homer to get the family together to figure out a plan on how to escape the mob.
    Instead: He can't help but brag about the mob's stupidity by calling them out loudly outside an open window, where the mob can hear him. The mob turns around, notices Homer outside the window, and surround the house, leaving the family with no place to go. You know you've hit rock bottom when you top people's idiocy with your own.
  • Early in the series' run, a popular recurring gag was "Prank Calls to Moe," where Bart would call Moe's Tavern and ask the hapless Moe for someone whose name, when yelled out, was a Double Entendre.
    You'd Expect: Moe to quickly if not immediately catch on — since he knows Bart and thus recognizes his voice—and have the police arrest him.
    Instead: (1) Moe never seems to realize that it is Bart who is calling. (2) Moe falls for the joke every time (e.g., "Do I have a B. O'Problem?note "). Once someone responds or the bar laughs uproariously, Moe–-rather than ending the call and immediately calling the cops—threatens the culprit with severe harm.
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    • This becomes a plot point in "Principal Charming" where Principal Skinner orders Bart to call his parents. Bart calls Moe's Tavern and asks for Homer.
      You'd Expect: Moe recognize that the caller is asking to speak to one of his regulars and to tell Homer who is actually at the bar at this time.
      Instead: Moe asks, "Homer who?" Bart seizes the opportunity to turn it into a prank call ("Homer Sexual"), and Moe takes the bait. Only when he accidentally threatens Skinner does Moe realize that the call indeed is for Homer Simpson. And he never puts two and two together.
    • Another egregious lapse in Moe's intelligence comes in the Season 3 episode "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", when (1) Moe recognizes Bart's voice (Bart having been sent to Moe's by Marge to collect Homer) and (2) Bart even announces his presence with the very words he tended to call the bar with ("Excuse me, I'm looking for …"), but instead has him sing for the bar.
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    • The Season 29 episode "Gone Boy" has a role reversal of this circumstance. Bart falls down a manhole and gets lost, finding himself in some sort of bunker. He comes across a phone.
      You'd Expect: For Bart to call the police or his parents and tell them that he fell down a manhole and ended up in a bunker so they know where to look for him. That way they can rescue him.
      Instead: He uses it to prank call Moe.
  • In the 1990 music video "Do The Bartman", the school is having a fourth grade dance recital, but Mrs. Krabappel has Bart put in the very back. Angered by this, he plugs his own music cassette tape into the speakers, and steals the show with his own "Do the Bartman" dance. Naturally, Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel are pissed at this.
    You'd Expect: Skinner or Krabappel to just walk on stage, drag Bart off, unplug his music from the speakers, and have the recital continue. Simple as pie.
    Instead: They try to use a Vaudeville Hook to get Bart off stage, but when that fails, they just stand there drinking whisky in shock, and do nothing to stop Bart from disrupting the recital.
  • "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"
    • Bart wants a tattoo for Christmas despite Marge's objection. At the mall, Bart sees the tattoo parlor has one of a heart with the message "mother" underneath and thinks it will convince Marge otherwise. He walks inside where the artist suspects that he is underage. Upon being asked how old he is, Bart insists that he's 21.
      You'd Expect: The artist to immediately confirm that Bart is lying and deny him service. At the very worst, he could check Bart for proof of identification which someone his age may not even have.
      Instead: "Get in the chair."
    • Later in the same episode, Barney tips Homer to bet the $13 that he was left with from his mall Santa job on a greyhound race. At the racetrack, there's an announcement of a late entrant by the name of Santa's Little Helper. Homer takes this as an omen, and finds out that the odds on him winning are 99/1.
      You'd Expect: Homer to hedge his bets and split his stake, say by putting $10 on the dog originally tipped by Barney, and $3 on Santa's Little Helper. That way he'll still have something to buy presents with if the favorite wins, and if Santa's Little Helper does upset the odds, he'll have a $297 payout to look forward to.
      Instead: Despite Bart's trying to persuade him otherwise, Homer bets the entire $13 on Santa's Little Helper, and Reality Ensues when the expected Christmas miracle fails to materialise and he finishes a distant last place.
  • In the season one episode, "Krusty Gets Busted", Sideshow Bob frames Krusty for robbery.
    You'd expect: With how close Bob works with Krusty and thus knowing what Krusty is like, Bob would make sure not to do anything Krusty wouldn't or couldn't do.
    Instead: He reads a magazine and uses a microwave even though Krusty is illiterate and has a pacemaker.
    So: Lisa and Bart notice these inconsistencies, and the latter confronts Bob on them. Bob manages to throw Bart off by telling him that Krusty doesn't listen to doctor's advice and that magazines can be enjoyed even by those who can't read.
    You'd then expect: Bob wouldn't say anything that would tip the already skeptical Bart off that he is the true culprit.
    Instead: He says he has big shoes to fill reminding Bart that Krusty's feet are too tiny to have been actually stepped on in the scene while Bob's are freakishly huge allowing Bart to deduce Bob as the culprit.
  • The conflict of Season 2's "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" begins when Bart and Lisa fight over the centerpiece Lisa made (which, keep in mind, she worked really, really hard on) because there was no room for the turkey.
    You'd Expect: The adults to intervene before the fight escalates any further, and let them figure out what to do with the turkey and the centerpiece. Considering how eager Homer was to carve the turkey, they could have put it where he was sitting, or otherwise let him take care of it.
    Instead: All they do is stand there and watch the kids fight. Grampa was even getting excited watching it!
    As a result: Bart throws the centerpiece into the fire. Homer and Marge do step in, but only after it was too late to save the centerpiece. And judging from Bart's blink-and-you'll-miss-it Slasher Smile, it was no accident. Yes, the adults' ineptitude had led to malicious intent.
  • Season 2's "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" introduces us to Herb Powell, Homer's half-brother and the head of Powell Motors, a car company presently struggling against Japanese competition. Naturally, Herb wants to rectify this.
    You'd Expect: Anything other than what Herb does. Perhaps get more up-to-date market research, since his executives are shown to be very out-of-touch with their consumer base.
    Instead: Herb decides the best way to save his company is to allow Homer free reign to design the company's next car, simply because he fits the criteria of an average American, and throwing all of the company's resources behind the plan.
    Result: With no-one reining him in, Homer is allowed to design an $82,000 monstrosity of a car that only he and Bart would be willing to drive, bankrupting Herb and his company.
    Additionally: Homer himself was hesitant to agree to be a part of such an important project, and instead of giving him some tangible advice or finding someone with actual expertise in the subject, Herb just tells him to come up with something he'd like and stick to it no matter what and refuses to listen to any of his staff's concerns on the project, telling them to just blindly follow Homer's vision, regardless of what it is, practically making the entire project completely unsalvageable by the time it was done.
  • In "Treehouse of Horror II", during Lisa's Dream, the family purchases a Monkey's Paw, which grants wishes with caveats that drive much of the segment's plot, such as Bart wishing for fame and fortune (to the extent where people get sick of them) and Lisa wishing for world peace (which garners the attention of Kang and Kodos to conquer the Earth with ease). It's then Homer's turn to wish.
    You'd Expect: Homer to wish to undo everything since buying the Monkey's Paw, or at least a solution to the Kang and Kodos invasion.
    Instead: Homer wishes for a Turkey sandwich. At least he attempts to counter any loopholes the Monkey's Paw might inflict, but then the turkey turns out to be dry.
    Result: Homer attempts to toss away the Monkey's Paw, but then hands it over to Flanders. Flanders immediately wishes for a solution to get rid of Kang and Kodos, resulting in weaponized boards with nails through them.
    Additionally: Flanders is later seen with a huge castle, and Homer gripes about not having a Monkey's Paw. We don't see if the castle came with any catches.
  • In the opening gag to the Season 4 episode "Homer's Triple Bypass", a parody of COPS, Chief Wiggum and the Springfield Police Department is called to a report of numerous cattle in a yard in a residential neighborhood. The National Guard(!) is called in to provide a tank to break down the door of the suspect.
    You'd Expect: The officers to respond to the correct address—742 Evergreen Terrace (not the canon residence of the Simpson family)—even if by seeing the cattle in the yard of the suspect's address.
    Instead: They break down the door of the neighbor's house—the one belonging to Rev. Lovejoy. As a very angry Lovejoy tries to explain to the officers that they have the wrong address, the scene shows an empty yard, before panning to the neighbor's yard, which has the cattle. The actual suspect—Snake—taunts the officers and makes his escape.
    • So now…
      You'd expect Chief Wiggum to at least be able to read a license plate and accurately describe either Snake (a well-known criminal in Springfield, whom Wiggum and/or other officers on the force have arrested several times) or at the very least his car when putting out the all-points bulletin.
      Instead: Wiggum fails to provide even a very vague description: "Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving a… car of some sort, heading in the direction of… you know, that place that sells chili. Suspect Is Hatless. Repeat, hatless."
  • Season 4's "Selma's Choice": Off-screen during the events of the episode, Homer is eating his way through a gigantic submarine sandwich he brought home from a company picnic. It's too big to refrigerate and he takes at least a week and a bit to eat it. By the time it appears on screen outside flashbacks (and even in the last flashback), it's gone so rancid that it's literally purple with a filling of greenish muck and some mushrooms growing on it.
    You'd Expect: Homer to throw the sandwich away on the basis that it's clearly no longer edible.
    Or: For Marge to do so for him.
    Instead: Marge simply warns Homer not to continue eating the sandwich and gives it to him. The moment she is out of view, Homer, unfazed by the sandwich's disgusting appearance, continues to eat it.
    The Result: Homer gets severe food poisoning the day he's supposed to take Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens, forcing Selma to take them instead while Marge nurses him back to health. Just to amplify the idiocy, Marge immediately recognizes what's caused the food poisoning.
    Even Worse:
    Homer: Marge, I'd like to be alone with the sandwich for a moment.
    Marge: Are you going to eat it?
    Homer: [beat] Yes.
    (Marge immediately bins the remains of the sandwich)
  • In the episode "Duffless", after leaving the Duff Brewery with a drunk Barney, Homer gets pulled over by the police and checked if he is drunk. After being caught to be over DMI with a breathalyser at Barney's suggestion, Homer is arrested.
    You'd Expect: They would do the same check on Barney.
    Instead: Chief Wiggum simply asks Barney to drive the car home without checking if he is also drunk.
  • Season 4's "Krusty Gets Kancelled" includes a scene where Mayor Quimby – running for re-election in a cutthroat campaign – freely admits to the press that he had looted Springfield's finances to arrange the murders of his political enemies. He diverts attention by quoting the catchphrase of ventriloquist's dummy Gabbo (the episode's Villain of the Week), "I'm a bad wittle boy!" and all is forgiven.
    You'd Expect: With several police officers standing nearby, for Quimby to quickly be arrested.
    Instead: The police do nothing as the press corps and others in the large crowd cheer wildly for Quimby. Not only is he never taken into custody, but Quimby easily wins re-election, even as more bodies begin surfacing in Springfield Harbor and nobody asks questions.
  • In the Season 5 episode "Cape Feare":
    • Sideshow Bob, serving a prison sentence, is up for parole.
      You'd Expect: With numerous witnesses having testified against him and overwhelming evidence that he sent threatening letters to Bart (including several written in his own blood), the parole board to quickly and decisively deny Bob parole.
      Instead: Bob is paroled. Later in the episode, the Simpsons have to be placed in the Witness Protection Program.
      Worse: The parole board clearly sees that Bob has a tattoo saying "DIE BART DIE", and Bob claims that it's supposed to say "THE BART THE", but it's just in German, which is not entirely wrong. The parole board then considered this a point in Bob's favour, believing that no-one who speaks German could be evil. It's as if they've never heard of this guy.
    • Still, Bob is able to stalk the family and eventually tracks down Bart on the Simpsons' houseboat and corners him.
      You'd Expect: For Bob to just simply kill Bart and complete his revenge.
      Instead: Bob arrogantly asks Bart if he has any last requests, giving Bart the opening he needs. Bart requests that Bob sing to him the entire score of H.M.S. Pinafore. Bob complies… and the score is long enough to give the pilotless, drifting houseboat to run aground, knock Bob of the boat and stun him long enough for the authorities to arrest him.
  • "Treehouse of Horror IV":
    • In the first segment, Homer decides on a whim to sell his soul for a doughnut, however just as he's down to the last piece, it's revealed that he keeps his soul if he doesn't finish the whole thing.
      You'd Expect: Homer (or really, Marge or one of the kids) to throw the doughnut away, preventing the devil from taking his soul.
      Instead: They keep the doughnut piece in the fridge; when Homer goes to the kitchen at night for food, the predictable happens. Homer manages to keep his soul, but gets a giant doughnut for a head.
    • In the third segment, Chief Wiggum is investigating a series of attacks. He correctly assumes that the culprit is a supernatural creature.
      You'd Expect: Given that the victims were drained of their blood, have teeth marks on their necks and a black cape was left on the scene of one attack, Wiggum would conclude that a vampire is the culprit.
      Instead: Wiggum concludes that the culprit is a mummy.
    • Later in the third segment, Bart and Lisa are confronted by vampires in Mr. Burns's lair. They escape. Along the way, Bart notices a lever with a sign that says "Super Happy Fun-Slide."
      You'd Expect: Bart would smell the obvious Schmuck Bait and run.
      Instead: Bart pulls the lever and goes down the Surprise Slide Staircase back to the vampires and is turned by Mr. Burns.
  • Season 6's "Sideshow Bob Roberts": Republican talk show host Birchibald T. Barlow talks to Bob, who was imprisoned for trying to murder Bart the last time we saw him. Bob claims that, since he's serving time for attempted murder, he's been convicted for a crime he hasn't committed.
    You'd Expect: Barlow to not buy it even for a second; Bob may not have committed murder, but he would have done so if Bart hadn't foiled him.
    Instead: Barlow sympathizes with Bob, due to the two of them both being Republicans, and convinces the people of Springfield to push for his release. Bob is subsequently set free, whereupon he proceeds to cheat his way to becoming Mayor of Springfield, before using his new position to antagonize the Simpson family. Fittingly, Bart and Lisa's plan to expose Bob's electoral fraud involves framing Barlow for it.
  • Season 6's "Homer Badman" has Homer driving Ashley Grant, a feminist graduate student who was babysitting Bart, Maggie and Lisa back home. Along the way, he saw the gummy Venus de Milo that he had stolen from the candy convention stuck to the seat of her pants.
    You'd Expect: For Homer to tell Ashley that she has a gummy bear stuck to her pants, in which she would immediately see it and grab it off to give it to him.
    Instead: Homer attempts to grab the gummy bear off with his hand, and when he does, Ashley turned around to see him drooling as if she thinks he's touching her butt. The next day, Ashley led a group of protestors against him for sexual harassment.
  • Season 7's "Radioactive Man" features some spectacularly poor decision-making from the makers of the eponymous film, but nothing can top the stupidity of the climactic scene, in which Rainier Wolfcastle (in the title role) is tied up as a wall of acid approaches.
    You'd Expect: They'd use special effects for the acid.
    Instead: They use a real, highly corrosive acid. Through an active nuclear power plant. Oh, and they don't inform their star in advance.
    To Make Matters Worse: This highly expensive, highly dangerous scene requires Milhouse (as Fallout Boy) to untie Wolfcastle before the acid hits.
    You'd Expect: (1) There'd be a way for Wolfcastle to free himself if something goes wrong; and (2) they'd make sure Milhouse was actually on set and ready to do the take.
    Instead: Milhouse is nowhere to be found, and Wolfcastle is left to look helplessly at the oncoming acid. He tries putting on safety goggles, but "the goggles do nothing!"
  • Towards the end of "Marge Be Not Proud", Bart, tired of being treated as the Black Sheep due to stealing a copy of Bonestorm, returns to Try 'n Save and has a photo of himself taken and paid for as a surprise Christmas gift for Marge. He goes home and Marge notices he's hiding something in his coat, asking him about it.
    You'd Expect: That Bart would tell her that he has brought home a surprise for her, but she'd have to wait until Christmas to receive it.
    Instead: He lies and claims he's hiding nothing from her, causing her to think he stole something again. He runs and she chases him before he's forced to hand the gift over, spoiling the surprise.
  • Season 7's "Homer the Smithers": Smithers has made a plan to win back his job. It involves calling Mr. Burns' mother (whom Mr. Burns hates) and transferring the call to Mr. Burns, so Smithers can stop it.
    You'd Expect: Smithers to do it himself because he is capable.
    Instead: He gets Homer to do it.
    The Result: Homer poorly impersonates Mrs. Burns, and Mr. Burns finds out about Smithers' plan, so Smithers is getting a grilling for it.
  • The Season 7 episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" has the "Skinner and the Superintendent" segment where Skinner invites Superintendent Chalmers over for lunch. Unfortunately, Skinner overcooks the pot roast he intended to serve.
    You'd Expect: Skinner to turn off the oven and extinguish the burning pot roast before thinking of a way to salvage his meal.
    Instead: He apparently doesn't do either of these things. By the time he and Chalmers finish eating the replacement lunch, the kitchen is already in flames.
    To Make Matters Worse: He tries to convince Chalmers that Aurora Borealis is happening in his kitchen, even as his mother yells for help.
    You'd Also Expect: Chalmers to catch on to the extremely transparent lies Skinner tells to avoid admitting how he's screwing everything up.
    Instead: Chalmers falls for some of the most Blatant Lies in the history of fiction, even as the house is being burned down right in front of him.
  • In Season 8, "Lisa's Date with Density" features a subplot involving Homer engaging in tele-panhandling using an auto-dialler. Several examples of stupidity abound:
    • It starts with how Homer acquires the auto-dialler. While leaving the Kwik-E-Mart, Homer sees Chief Wiggum arresting a panhandler.
      You'd expect: Wiggum to maintain possession of the auto-dialler as evidence against the scammer.
      Instead: His crew throws it in a dumpster which Homer witnesses. Homer takes it with him and starts a panhandling scam of his own.
    • One of the Springfield residents that falls for Homer's "Happy Dude" scam is Abe.
      You'd expect: For Abe to recognize his own son's voice and to either hang up or call his son and ask why Homer is asking people for money.
      Instead: Abe (along with Jasper, who also knows Homer) sends money. He doesn't feel any happier, however.
    • Late one evening, Homer has left the auto-dialler on to call residents who weren't home before, hung up or hadn't been called yet. The calls continue into the early morning hours, and it disturbs many people from their sleep… including Ned Flanders, who repeatedly gets up to answer the phone, thinking it's his mother.
      You'd expect: Ned to either unplug the phone or—knowing Homer's voice, since he has listened to enough of the message to decipher who it is—to go to the Simpsons' residence and request that Homer stop calling.
      Instead: Ned keeps the phone plugged in, certain that his mother may be trying to call him. Even better: Homer doesn't seem to get that the reason Ned's telephone (and his complaining) is disturbing the peace is probably because of his auto-dialler calling the Flanders' residence repeatedly.
    • In the final act, when Chief Wiggum cited Homer for his telemarketing fraud.
      You'd expect: A competent cop to do the same thing Wiggum did with Jimmy the Scumbag, the machine's previous owner: arrest him for fraud and, having obtained a warrant, seize the auto-dialler.
      Instead: Uh boy—what police incompetence here. First, neither Wiggum nor any of the other officers took the auto-dialler with them (for evidence) when Jimmy got arrested; instead, the auto-dialler is kept in the trash, allowing Homer to take it for his own scheme. Later, when Homer is charged with the same crime, Wiggum (1) shoots the machine (causing damage to evidence); (2) fails to take Homer into custody; and (3) (and most glaringly) tells him to bring the auto-dialler with him on his court date. "Otherwise, I got no case, and you go scot-free, you know," says Wiggum rather sheepishly.
    • Homer's court date, where…
      You'd expect: Homer having destroyed the evidence (since he was allowed to keep his auto-dialler), or at the very least erase the "Happy Dude" message.
      Instead: Homer apparently brought it to court — unseen in this episode — because he is ordered by the judge (who apparently has let him off easy) to record a new message apologizing to Springfield residents. Once he says, "I'm sorry" (in an apologetic tone), he then asks for more money through his new "Sorry Dude" scam.
  • "Hurricane Neddy" sees as Ned's house is destroyed during a hurricane.
    You'd Expect: Ned to have insurance so he could rebuild or repair the house if something happens.
    Instead: The episode, which features Ned having a psychological breakdown after Springfield's botched attempt to rebuild his home, is because he didn't, considering it a form of gambling, hence the botched rebuilding attempt in the first place instead of professionals doing it.
  • "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer" begins with Marge doing everything she can to prevent Homer from learning about the Springfield Chilli Cook-Off, out of fear that he would get drunk and embarass her there. She goes so far as to try and hide the smell of the event from Homer.
    You'd Expect: Marge to go and buy an air freshener or two for the house.
    Instead: She smokes cigarettes to try and fill the place with the smell of tobacco, behavior that Homer immediately notices as OOC for her, and then blows smoke into his face when he questions it.
    Result: Homer leaves to get some fresh air, smells chilli and spices as soon as he opens the front door, and the game is up.
  • "The Old Man and the Lisa", from Season 8 — Lisa helps Mr. Burns regain his lost fortune by opening a recycling plant, with which he produces "Lil' Lisa's Slurry." The Slurry is produced from live sea creatures, which horrifies Lisa to no end.
    You'd expect: Lisa would explain to Burns that the point of recycling is to benefit the animals so that they don't suffer at the hands of mankind. Granted, Burns might think that's stupid, but he was trying to reform earlier, so maybe it'd be worth a try.
    Instead: Lisa immediately declares Burns to be pure evil no matter what, leaving him dumbfounded.
    When Burns sells the plant to a fish stick company for $120 million, he decides to give her 10% of his profits.
    You'd expect: While it's understandable that Lisa would be uncomfortable taking the money, she would realize that she could put it towards charity and other good causes, as opposed to letting it stay in Burns' heartless, miserly hands.
    Instead: Lisa promptly tears up the check and Homer suffers four simultaneous heart attacks.
    At the Hospital, Homer forgives Lisa for turning down the money... though he miscalculates the amount at $12,000 instead of $12 million.
    You'd expect: Lisa to spare her father's feelings and his heart by not correcting his math.
    Instead: Lisa reluctantly corrects his math. Homer promptly goes into cardiac arrest.
  • "Homer's Enemy", from Season 8 — The entire premise is a "What an Idiot" trope as seen from the eyes of a newcomer employee, Frank Grimes, and his encounters with Homer. Repeatedly, Grimes tries to point out to Mr. Burns and others that Homer is a poor employee, ill-suited to the job and that his lack of qualifications, skills, ethics and attention to the job make him not only a danger to himself and his fellow employees but to Springfield (and possibly a wider region). Many situations abound:
    Early on: Homer is at his work console when he absentmindedly grabs a flask of radioactive acid and brings the lip up to his mouth, as if to drink it. Grimes is walking by, sees what is about to happen, and slaps it away; the substance spills onto the wall, causing it to become damaged, just as Mr. Burns is making his rounds.
    You'd Expect: Burns — who has supposedly hired Grimes for his skills and accomplishments — to realize that Homer was about to drink a radioactive liquid, which would possibly seriously sicken or kill him; also, for Burns to finally realize that Homer is incompetent and to fire him.
    You'd Also Expect: Burns to reward Grimes for saving Homer's life.
    Instead of recognizing Homer's incompetence, Burns is more concerned with the damage to the wall. He reprimands Grimes, demotes him and docks his pay.
    To be Fair Homer realizes that he was being a dick towards Grimes, and tried to make amends by inviting him to a dinner in his house, apologize for his idiocy and ask for a second chance.
    You'd Expect: Grimes realizes that Homer, for all his faults, is a decent man at the core, and after the dinner, tries to reason with Homer by instructing him over what he should do and how to do his job, or more realistically, convince Homer to quit his job for the safety of all Springfield (including his family), or whatever, act like an adult and resolve his feud with Homer.
    You might even expect that if Grimes still feels uncomfortable around Homer then maybe Grimes himself would just resign from the power plant and get a different job.
    Instead: Grimes gets jealous over Homer's (relatively) luxurious life and only increases his anger towards him, and walks away in disgust.
    At same time: A jealous Grimes venting at Homer that he doesn't deserve any of his successes in front of his wife and kids.
    You'd Expect: Marge and the kids would defend Homer that he's only sharing his happiness with Grimes and call out on him for his jealousy.
    Instead: They just stood there and did nothing!
    Later: Grimes schemes to publicly expose Homer as a fraud by having him enter a nuclear power plant design contest... for children (doing so by giving him a flyer that has all of the references to it being a children's contest deleted). Homer takes the bait.
    On contest day: The contestants bring in their models to be judged ... along with Homer.
    You'd Expect: For Burns, who is a contest judge, to immediately realize that Homer is not a child and disqualify him. Or in the very least, for Burns to instantly recognize the other children's models as superior to Homer's simplistic design. (Although Homer showed more technical expertise (for him) in describing how his model works.)
    Instead: Homer is praised by Mr. Burns, before the others agree and applaud him. Homer wins first place.
    The end result causes Grimes to snap and run amok through the plant, complaining that Homer gets away with everything and wins everything, but he (Grimes) has nothing to show for his hard work and superior ethic and skills. At one point, he sees some high-voltage electric wires.
    You'd Expect: Even in his blind rage, for Grimes to at least show reason and know that touching the wires will result in electrocution and possible death.
    Or: For one of the bystanders to push Grimes away from the wires.
    Instead: Nobody bothers to help Frank Grimes out and... "Well, I don't need safety gloves because I'm Homer Simp—" ZAP! (cut to Grimes' funeral)
  • In "You Only Move Twice", another in season 8, the family moves to the town of Cypress Creek. Homer loves the place because he gets to do a job that's he's actually competent at with a boss who is actually nice to him. However, his family hates the town, Bart because Springfield Elementary's lax education and his own "Underachiever and proud of it" nature have put him significantly behind the town's education standards. Thus, Bart is put in a Special Ed class with a bunch of bratty kids who cause trouble. Lisa hates the town because while she loves the town generally she's allergic to pretty much everything, while Marge hates it because the house they're living in is so automated the vast majority of the housework is done for her so she sits around all day drinking tiny amounts.
    You'd Expect: Bart to apply himself so he can get out of the Remedial Class as soon as possible, or at least try before writing everything off, Lisa to start taking anti-allergy medication, and Marge to get a job or simply do something constructive with all the free time she has now that she doesn't have to do housework anymore.
    Instead: None of the family does any of these things, and just tell Homer they want to go back to Springfield. As a result Homer is forced to move back to Springfield to appease his family for issues that are entirely their own fault, giving up a great job and house (run by a supervillain, but Mr. Burns is one too and isn't Affably Evil like Scorpio).
  • In "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons" Homer has Marge and the kids pretend to be Apu's family when Apu's mother comes to visit, while Homer himself hides out at the retirement home under the name of Cornelius Talmadge (he originally intended to hide out at Moe's, but Moe went on vacation). This lasted until the real Cornelius Talmadge appeared, forcing Homer to run away from the retirement home.
    You'd Expect: Homer to keep hiding out elsewhere until it's confirmed that Apu's mother had left.
    Instead: He comes back home that night to tell Marge about his time at the retirement home until Apu's mother comes in to tell them she's about to leave, thus discovering she had been fooled by a Zany Scheme up until then.
  • "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace": at the beginning of the episode, Bart uses the "old Indian trick" (drinking water before bed) so he can look at his presents early. He ends up accidentally burning down the Christmas tree and the presents, so he takes the evidence to the backyard and buries it the snow. By the time he's finished, it's 7:01 a.m., and the family finds the tree "missing".
    You'd Expect: Bart to tell them the truth. It's not like he can hide what happened: someone's bound to find the tree somehow in the next few days (they do), and even if they don't, the snow will eventually melt.
    Instead: He generates a story about how a burglar stole the tree and all of the presents. Way to go, Bart, ultimately making the whole town think that your family scammed them later in the episode.
    Now that all of Springfield thinks the Simpsons scammed them, and make them pariahs...
    You'd then expect: Any one of them to realize that Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie don't deserve to suffer Guilt by Association for what is entirely Bart's wrongdoing. Bart even admitted on live TV that he acted alone.
    Instead: It never occurs to any of them, and they seem resigned to share punishment for Bart's actions.
  • The subplot in Lisa Gets an A concerns Homer and his new pet, a lobster named Pinchy, whom Homer saved from the boiler. One day, Homer decides to give Pinchy a bath.
    You'd Expect: Homer would make sure the water's not too hot for Pinchy, and to not leave him unsupervised.
    Instead: Homer decides to leave Pinchy alone to have a "nice, hot bath." Homer doesn't realize why that's careless until Bart notices the smell of cooked Pinchy.
  • In "Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"" from Season 10, Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner, in an act for the Springfield Elementary School talent show, are about to perform Who's on First?.
    You'd Expect: The act to be performed properly, as it had obviously been rehearsed. And neither of the two to explain the joke.
    Instead: Skinner botches the joke by explaining that it's not a question that Chalmers is asking, "but rather a player with the unlikely name of 'Who' is on first." Chalmers lampshades this by answering disgustedly, "Six seconds into our routine and you blew it."
  • "The Old Man and the "C" Student":
    • Lisa's letter to the International Olympic Committee gets Springfield the next Olympics. The town greets them at a ceremony in Springfield Elementary, which includes a comedy show by Bart. Principal Skinner got a preview of the act during rehearsals ... and it's an un-PC routine with offending jokes about the IOC reps' countries.
      You'd Expect: Principal Skinner to get Bart to rewrite the act with good, clean material. Or to not let him perform at all. That way, if Bart were to defy him and perform the uncensored act, Skinner would have an excuse.
      Instead: He allows the act to proceed unaltered. This naturally offends the IOC, who promptly strip Springfield of the Games (also banning them from ever hosting the Games) and award them to Shelbyville. Skinner promptly assigns the entire student body 20 hours of community service just to save face.
    • In a twist on the "snakes in the peanut brittle can" prank, Homer puts a spring inside a can of nuts. Lenny opens it and a spring pops out, lodging in his eye. Moe asks Homer to leave his bar, and Homer attempts to cheer him up by him offering a can of nuts.
      You'd Expect: Moe not to fall for the very same prank.
      Instead: He opens the can directly in his face, causing the spring inside to get stuck in his eye.
  • In the season 11 premiere "Beyond Blunderdome", special guest star Mel Gibson has mounted a remake of the Jimmy Stewart classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Despite getting a positive response from test audiences and the assurance of the producers that he's got a hit on his hands, Mel can't shake the feeling that something's wrong with the film, believing that the test audiences like him too much to give him honest criticism. He then reads a very negative review from Homer, who was part of the test audience as a prize he won but is angry that it wasn't the prize he wanted, and because Mel was flirting with Marge earlier.
    You'd expect: Mel would dismiss the ridiculous letter for the absurd and totally misplaced piece of anger that it is, or that he would listen to the producers who tell him that it's a load of nonsense.
    Instead: Mel thinks that Homer is literally the "one guy with the guts to tell [me] the truth", tracks Homer down and asks him to be a consultant on the film, which leads to Mel retooling the ending of the film to replace the original impassioned speech about liberty with an ultra-violent and bloody climax at the advice of Homer, despite the producers trying to warn him that he's destroying his own film.
    Result: Homer and Mel's actions lead to a very bad reaction from audiences when the film is released months later with the new ending and Mel is completely surprised to find that audiences - especially the Springfield residents who served as the film's test audience - hate it. Mel even ends up getting hit with a defamation lawsuit from Jimmy Stewart's own granddaughter. In the end, at least Mel finally realizes that Homer really is just a stupid jerk and not the one honest critic he thought he was and angrily kicks Homer out of his limo when Homer tries to give him career advice on how to bounce back from the fiasco (Homer even suggests that Mel do an Indiana Jones film, despite that franchise being headlined by Harrison Ford).
  • In "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can," the host of Spellympics, George Plimpton, offers Lisa a bribe in the form of a full scholarship to any Seven Sisters college of her choice if she throws the final match of the spelling bee so that a more crowd-pleasing contestant can win in her stead. Being the sort who's prone to Honor Before Reason, Lisa is naturally torn between dirtying her hands for a better future, or being honest in the face of corruption.
    You'd Expect: That Lisa would realize she's just been handed a Xanatos Gambit on a silver platter. She could preserve her honor and honestly try to win the Spellympics without making her intentions to do so clear. If she wins it, then she stands up to the corrupt committee, but if she loses, then she gets her scholarship as long as the host thinks she threw the match. Either way, she wins.
    Instead: Lisa loudly proclaims she will not take the dive as instructed and defiantly attempts to correctly spell her given word.
    Result: She ends up misspelling her word unintentionally, loses the spelling bee, and gets nothing from the host.
  • In "Marge vs Singles, Seniors, Childless, Couples and Teens, and Gays", Satan Himself decides to sign Marge's pro-family initiative.
    You'd Expect: Satan to choose a benign disguise to tempt Marge to sign his check.
    Instead: Satan disguises himself as a tobacco lobbyist, then reveals his true identity before Marge gets to sign the check. For obvious reasons, she doesn't take up the offer.
  • In "Fraudcast News", Mr. Burns cuts off the electricity in the Simpsons' home in an attempt to stop Lisa from printing her newspaper. Lisa tells Homer about it, and Homer walks in with two batteries and holds them up to her, telling her they have to power everything in the house.
    You'd Expect: Homer to let Lisa take the batteries so she can finish printing.
    Instead: He puts them in a boombox and starts singing "Wannabe" by The Spice Girls. The batteries die shortly afterward, and Homer comments, "That was totally Worth It."
  • In "Future-Drama" from the same season, Lisa in the future-projection starts dating Milhouse when he saved her from a fire. That she later finds out he started. Frink even shows Lisa's reaction where she's clearly much younger than in the rest of the simulation.
    You'd expect: Lisa immediately dumps Milhouse like a sack of bricks and likely turns him in for arson.
    Instead: She continues to date him for years after finding out. And no, it's not why she eventually breaks up with him. Milhouse basically pulled an idiotic stunt that could have gotten Lisa killed just to get into her pants and it worked! How is she even graduating at all if she's that stupid?
  • In "The Father, The Son And The Holy Guest Star", Willie has sabotaged the medieval festival at Springfield Elementary but Skinner believes Bart is to blame.
    You expect: That Bart wouldn't say anything that sounds rude and that way, in the worst case scenario, Skinner would just declare him innocent until proven guilty.
    Instead: Bart makes an insulting remark at Skinner and this results him getting the blame for the prank and getting expelled.
  • In Season 17's "The Monkey Suit", Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy blackmail Seymour Skinner into teaching creationism at Springfield Elementary School. Lisa brings this up at a town meeting.
    You'd expect: for Lisa to point out that creationism is not science, that it makes no sense to teach it at normal school when it is already taught at Sunday school or even that it is unconstitutional (as it would mean a public (government-sponsored) school favoring one or more religions against others, something that goes against the First Amendment).
    Instead: she just asks people to vote on choosing between creationism and evolution. Naturally, the people of Springfield choose the former, and it is soon forbidden to teach the theory of evolution at all.
  • Season 18's "Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Three Times" has Homer seeking revenge on the Rich Texan for cutting him off. His wife and kids try to stop him by telling him stories that discourage revenge, starting with Marge's story of the Count of Monte Cristo. Turns out Homer was jamming to Jamaican beats and misses out on the whole story.
    You'd Expect: Marge to hold her tongue. At least this way, he's too distracted to think about revenge.
    Instead: "Weren't you listening? I just told you a whole story about revenge!" This reminds Homer that he has revenge to carry out.
  • On the infamous "The Boys of Bummer" the Little League Championship game against Shelbyville is Down to the Last Play, and Bart misses a pop fly, costing the game. This awakens a really ugly side of the people of Springfield, who relentlessly boo and harass Bart for days, culminating in him attempting suicide. It's a good thing Marge tore into all of Springfield for actions, but after that...
    You'd expect: ...That everyone would pull together to issue Bart a town-wide apology, telling him that they should never have taken the ball game so seriously.
    Instead: They all immediately decide that the only way to make amends is to re-stage the game so that Bart wins. The thing is, Bart still ends up losing the game, prompting everyone to make something up so that it doesn't count, allowing Bart to try again... and again... and again...
    You'd Then Expect: Bart may be Book Dumb, but even he would eventually get wise to these constant re-dos, and that's when to town apologizes for taking the game too seriously.
    Instead: The ruse goes on for damn near 24 hours until Bart finally catches the ball.
    End Result: Well into old age, Bart's ego depends on this win, and he completely breaks down when Milhouse suggests that the game was staged until it's taken back.
  • In the subplot of the 20th season episode "The Good, the Sad and the Drugly", Lisa looks up a website for a school project that covers what Springfield will be like 50 years in the future, and it says a Bad Future is in store.
    You'd Expect: Lisa to give it some deep thought and disregard the website as fraudulent (or a spoof a la The Onion), since the predictions it makes are too absurd and apocalyptic to have any basis in fact.
    Instead: She believes everything the website says, hook, line, and sinker.
  • In the Season 20 episode "Gone Maggie Gone", Maggie is proven to be the solution to world peace, provided she lives in a nunnery.
    You'd Expect: Marge to do the mature thing and allow her child to stay there, since a nunnery isn't that bad of a place to be. Plus, small price to pay for world peace, right?
    Besides: Nobody said that Marge (and the rest of the family by extension) couldn't live in the monastery as well, if she wanted to be with Maggie, right?
    Instead: Marge goes all "She's mine and no one else's" and keeps her. No explanation beyond "God would never ask anyone to give up their child for the good of the world" is given. This is fairly annoying since she learns that her children have to leave their nest in almost every episode about her. A MAJOR Flanderization of her Mama Bear attitude to be sure.
    Bonus Points: Homer somehow comes to the conclusion that Bart could qualify for a Replacement Goldfish. Cue to the entire church becoming hell.
  • In "No Loan Again, Naturally" from Season 20, Homer and Marge are in a state of depression due to longer being able to afford their mortgage payment. Homer especially, since he is Driven to Suicide and planning to hang himself from a tree outside the house. Bart and Lisa are there to witness it.
    You'd expect: Bart and Lisa to stop Homer from going through with it.
    Instead: They just stand there and watch him hang himself. Granted, the tree falls over from Homer's weight, but still...
  • In "Lost Verizon" from Season 20, Bart gets a mobile phone, and Marge (under advice of Denis Leary, the phone's owner) activates its GPS tracker, allowing her to keep track of Bart and stopping him from doing anything she doesn't like. Lisa tells Bart what has been going on, and Bart manages to take the tracker out and tie it to a bird. Suddenly, Marge begins to see Bart moving at speeds impossible for a child to achieve (how did it work without being connected to a battery, anyway?).
    You'd Expect: Marge to figure out that Bart has found the tracker and done something with it.
    Instead: She thinks Bart is running away and proceeds to take Homer, Lisa and Maggie on a road trip... to Peru.
  • Season 21's "The Bob Next Door". It is revealed late in the episode that Sideshow Bob has surgically swapped faces with his prison cellmate, Walt Warren, in order to get himself released in Walt's place. Walt realises that Bob is going after Bart again and attempts to warn the authories, but the transplant has left him unable to speak properly, resulting in him getting put in a straitjacket and shut in a padded cell. He resorts to repeatedly writing his warning on the wall of his cell.
    You'd Expect: Walt would write something like "Sideshow Bob has escaped" or "Sideshow Bob has my face", or anything else that explains clearly what's happened.
    Instead: He writes "Bart Simpson will die". Predictably it gets mistaken for a threat on Bart's life, and Walt has to resort to breaking himself out to save Bart. Marge lampshades this:
    Marge: You have to admit, "Bart Simpson Will Die" was kinda open to interpretation.
    Walt: I'm not a writer.
  • In Season 22's "MoneyBart", Lisa becomes the coach of Bart's Little League Baseball team. She manages to guide the team to success with her use of sabermatrics, but Bart becomes resentful at her for this, believing her to be taking the fun out of the game. It gets to the point that Bart ignores Lisa's instructions to let the pitcher walk him, and ends up hitting a home run, winning the game.
    You'd Expect: Lisa to just let this slide. Even if things didn't go the way she planned, her team still won, right?
    Instead: She throws Bart off the team. This turns all the other players against her, creates a feud within the Simpson family, and means that Bart isn't available when Lisa needs him.
  • In Season 23's A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again, Bart decides to indefinitely extend his family's one-week cruise by faking a pandemic on the main land with the help of a Direct to Video sci-fi movie. The end result is Apocalypse Anarchy on the high seas. Fortunately, actor Treat Williams, who starred in the film as the character who announced the "pandemic", is on the cruise.
    You'd Expect: Williams to speak up immediately.
    Instead: Williams fails to recognize himself, so he doesn't speak up until Lisa exposes Bart's deception. When the other passengers ask him why he didn't recognize himself, he says it's because he did a lot of movies.
  • In the Season 25 episode, "The Man Who Grew Too Much", Lisa finds out the person who tried to kill the Simpsons, Sideshow Bob, is actually cultured and knows famous poets, authors, and artists. Bob asks Lisa to visit him again, calling her the best Simpson out of the cesspool.
    You'd expect: Lisa to completely reject it, or refuse politely, or visit with a bit of suspicion since this is the same person who tried to kill her family. Who knows, Bob might try to go crazy and try to kill them again.
    Instead: She says someone with a cultured mind and brain can't be evil. And she even said "He only tried to kill Bart", ignoring the fact that Bob was trying to kill all of the Simpsons in some episodes, framed Krusty for armed robbery, and tried to NUKE Springfield on one occasion. Sure, Lisa does ask what his plan is and doesn't care until she sees her new "friend" lift an art piece that is supposed to be too heavy to lift alone. She later finds out what was his real plan, and surprise surprise, Bob tries to kill Bart and Lisa again.
  • "Treehouse of Horror XVI":
    • "Bartificial Intelligence": Bart brags to Lisa that he's going to try to jump from the balcony to the pool. Lisa is reading but not too bothered.
      You'd Expect: She would pull her brother in and stop him from doing something so stupid.
      Instead: She tells him it would be Too Dumb to Live and doesn't react when he attempts the jump backwards, which lands him in a coma.
    • "Survival of the Fattest": Mr. Burns and Smithers invite Springfield's men on a hunt. They then reveal they're hunting the guests, as The Most Dangerous Game. Burns's lawyer, one of the guests, protests this, and Burns asks him if he can make it legal.
      You'd Expect: The lawyer to realize that he shouldn't be enabling his boss to murder him. He ought to stall for time so that the men can get out and get help, or lie and say that Burns can't kill them all without getting arrested or sued by their families.
      Instead: He doesn't. The lawyer draws up the legal papers that Mr. Burns needs to avoid litigation. Mr. Burns then kills him.
  • "Treehouse of Horror XXIV":
    • "Oh the Places You'll D'oh!": The Simpsons kids are sick with the mumps, and in this world Marge is a single mother. She has made arrangements to go to a Halloween party.
      You'd Expect: She'd hire a competent babysitter to watch over the kids and make sure they don't binge on candy.
      Instead: Grandpa is the only one watching over the kids. This is the same Grandpa who is senile and forgets to take his medicine.
      The Result: Adult Fear of the worst kind ensues: a stranger called the Fat in the Hat comes by, overpowers Grandpa, and takes the kids on a wild Halloween journey. While he cures them of their mumps and keeps his promise to find them candy, the kids are terrified of his violence and mayhem. When they escape him and run home, he corners them the house and threatens them. Also thanks to the Fat in the Hat curing them, all the kids stuff their faces with candy.
    • "Dead and Shoulders": Bart spends the entire day kite-flying to mess with pilots at the nearby airport, and is left alone after Milhouse suffers an allergic reaction and paramedics rescue him. He soon gets tired of holding the kite string as evening falls.
      You'd Expect: He would tie it around his wrist or to a nearby tree.
      Instead: He ties it around his neck.
      The Result: Bart gets decapitated and the rest of the short ensues when his head is sewn onto Lisa's body.

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