Recurring jokes in The Simpsons

Recurring jokes in The Simpsons

There are many Recurring jokes in "The Simpsons", many of which have been retired during the series or implemented later on in the run. The show's humor turns on cultural references that cover a wide spectrum of society so that viewers from all generations can enjoy the show.cite book | last=Turner | first=Chris | title= |publisher=Random House of Canada |id=ISBN 0-679-31318-4 |pages=63–65 ] Such references, for example, come from movies, television, music, literature, science, and history. Whenever possible, the animators also put jokes or sight gags into the show's background via humorous or incongruous bits of text in signs, newspapers, and elsewhere.Turner p. 62] The audience may often not notice the visual jokes in a single viewing. Some are so fleeting that they become apparent only by pausing a video recording of the show.



"The Simpsons" has perhaps most entered the public consciousness in the form of the numerous catchphrases that are repeated by characters of the show. Homer, when frustrated or making an obvious blunder, shouts out the famous catch phrase "D'oh!", which has achieved such mainstream usage as to be featured in the Oxford English Dictionary. [cite web|url=|title=It's in the dictionary, d'oh!|author=Unnamed author|accessdate=2006-12-24|date=2001-06-14|publisher=BBC News] TV Land had it on their list over the 100 greatest catchphrases on TV. [cite web|url=|title=Dyn-O-Mite! TV Land lists catchphrases|author=Unnamed author|accessdate=2007-02-05|date=2006-11-28|publisher=BBC News] Bart's trademark "¡Ay, caramba!," "Don't have a cow, man!," "Get bent," and "Eat my shorts" were also featured on t-shirts in the early days of the show's run.

In the episode "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily", Reverend Lovejoy makes reference to the fact the characters have numerous catchphrases. While mourning Maude Flanders's death, he states: "In many ways, Maude Flanders was a supporting player in our lives. She didn't grab our attention with memorable catchphrases, or comical accents." At the same time, the Sea Captain, Professor Frink, and others looked disappointed and saying their various catchphrases such as "Yarr.." and "Glavin!". Also, in "Bart Gets Famous", Bart becomes a celebrity by saying the phrase "I didn't do it" , but loses his celebrity status after it is no longer funny. Lisa tells him it's better to not be known as "a one-dimensional character with a silly catchphrase", which is followed by many other characters saying their respective catchphrases.

Many main characters have catchphrases that serve to illuminate the nature of the speaker's character. This is sometimes shown explicitly, as the characters' thoughts are broadcast for the audience to hear. Homer Simpson's "Mmmm... [name of object] " shows his weakness for pleasure, while Marge Simpson's disapproving groan displays her innate uncertainty and nervous nature. Bart Simpson's "Eat my shorts!" displays his obvious form of immaturity.

Numerous catchphrases and sounds also exist for other characters, including

* Homer Simpson "D'oh!"
* Marge Simpson "Distinctive Hmmm sound"
* Bart Simpson "Aye Curumba" "Don't have a cow man"
* Maggie Simpson "Distinctive pacifier sucking sound"
* Apu Nahasapeemapetilon's "Thank you, come again!" when someone is leaving the Kwik-E-Mart.
* Barney Gumble's belch
* Ned Flanders's nonsense words.
* Comic Book Guy would commonly say "Worst (noun) Ever!".
* Disco Stu would often say "Disco Stu" emphasis on "Stu", then pause, then say something by referring to himself in third person. It will also habitually rhyme with U.
* Dr. Julius Hibbert's jovial laughs, often in the most inappropriate situations.
* Dr. Nick Riviera always announces his entrances with "Hi, everybody!" to which everybody in the room responds "Hi, Dr. Nick!". In "The Simpsons Movie" however, he is crushed by a huge piece of glass and weakly says "Bye everybody!" and presumably dies.
* Duff Man would often say "Duff Man", then pause, then say something by referring to himself in third person. His other catchphrase is "Oh yeah!".
* Edna Krabappel's loud laugh has been the equivalent of a catchphrase: "Ha!"
* Helen Lovejoy's "Think of the children! Oh, won't somebody please think of the children!" is another catchphrase normally said in inappropriate situations. On one occasion Moe Szyslak used the catchphrase.
* Krusty the Klown often starts his TV shows with a cry of "Hey-hey, kids!" and a distinctive laugh.
* Mr. Burns's "Excellent..." [whilst tapping the ends of his fingers together] , or "Release the hounds", "A-hoy-hoy!" As well as "Smithers, who is that man? (referring to Homer Simpson; Mr. Burns rarely is shown to remember Homer's name.)
* Nelson Muntz's "Ha"-ha!" directed towards those with misfortunes (and sometimes just for the sake of doing it). On one occasion he says it a half note off key, realizes his mistake and corrects himself with another, accurate ha ha.
* Professor Frink's monotonous gibberish, "Mm Glavin!"
* Superintendent Chalmers shouts "SKINNER!" when he's frustrated with Seymour Skinner or whenever he is referring to him such as when Skinner was dying, Chalmers exclaims, "SKINNER! I wish we'd been closer."
* The Sea Captain's stereo-typical "sea captain" catchphrase, "Yarr!"
* Troy McClure always introduces himself with the phrase "Hi, I'm Troy McClure, you may remember me from such (film/commercial/self-help video/etc) as (insert cheesy-sounding titles) and (another cheesy-sounding title)".
* Yes Guy would always bellow "Yesssssssssss?!" out loud.
* Waylon Smithers would often remind Mr. Burns of Homer's name by saying, "That's Homer Simpson sir, one of your (drones, boobs, stiffs, organ banks, chair moisteners, etc) from Sector 7-G."

Recurring Gags

trangling Bart

Homer's extreme strangling of Bart first originated in the Tracey Ullman Short "Family Portrait". Often before strangling Bart, Homer will yell "Why you little...", to which he then puts his hands around Bart's neck.

pringfield Signs

Around Springfield, there are many signs that put up bad advertising, such as the sign above Painless Dentistry that says "Formerly Painful Dentistry".

The Power Plant Crow

Through out the entire series, whenever a shot of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant is seen, a crow caws before the shot locates to inside the plant. This was parodied in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore"; when a shot of the Bangalore Nuclear Power Plant is seen, a mooing cow is heard. [cite web|url= |title="The Simpsons" (1989) - Trivia | |date= |accessdate=2008-10-06] Similarly, most establishing shots of the Springfield Grocery Store show a shopping cart rolling out of the parking lot into the street.

pringfield's riots

The people of Springfield are always represented as a bunch of ignorant and violent people and are constantly starting riots in the city for almost any reason. In "Marge in Chains", this happens twice, first when the city is passing through a flu epidemic, Dr. Hibbert says all he can give would be a placebo and an angry crowd overturns a truck in search of these "placebos", releasing killer bees; and second when a statue of Jimmy Carter was made instead of Abraham Lincoln. In "Papa's Got a Brand New Badge", after Lenny and Carl both crash their cars in a vitrine of a store because they could not see anything during the blackout, they decide to loot the store, which sets off a huge riot and looting in Springfield, leaving the city devastated. This violent behavior of the Springfieldians also occurs in smaller crowds, as in "They Saved Lisa's Brain"; Carl accuses Lenny of being a literati and the small crowd begins to fight, destroying the gazebo and nearly injuring Lisa. A copy of the "Springfield Shopper" is included in the DVD release of "The Simpsons Movie" with the front page headline reading "Springfield Celebrates It's Angriest Mob Ever!" accompanied by a picture of the majority of Springfield's citizens holding torches and various weapons, as they were when they were chasing Homer in the movie. Mayor Quimby comments on the townspeople's volatility in "Mayored to the Mob" when he says "Oh, can't this town go one day without a riot?".

Floorboard gag

Throughout the series, this particular gag occurs occasionally in the Simpsons home. This occurs whenever any member of the Simpsons family is upstairs, and the camera slowly pans down through the floor. Within this short stint, it shows ludicrous objects within the floor. It once showed a watch that Homer had said he lost, cash, asbestos, blueprints of a house, pirate gold, a tape recorder, dinosaurs, the cat, and, in "The Otto Show", gold and jewels. In "Large Marge", there were reptiles hatching from eggs (a possible reference to "Bart the Mother"). Variations of this gag occurred in "Bart vs. Australia" on a larger scale, in "Radio Bart" as the camera follows the tunnel that barely misses things such as treasure and an alien spaceship, and in Springfield Elementary School. In the most recent floorboard gag, "", it shows a group of dancing white mice in the floorboards.

Bart's prank calls

In the early seasons, Bart occasionally makes prank calls to Moe's Tavern, asking for non-existent patrons such as "Amanda Hugginkiss", "Mike Rotch", "Jacques Strap", "I. P. Freely", "Oliver Klozoff", "Haywood U. Cuddleme", "Al Koholic", and "Hugh Jass" (this latter case being one in which Bart's prank call backfires, as there actually is a man named Hugh Jass in the bar). Moe falls for the trap every time and, when he realizes that the joke is at his expense, shouts threats back at Bart. This is a reference to the infamous Tube Bar prank calls pulled on grumpy New Jersey bar owner, Louis "Red" Deutsch in the late 1960s by John Davidson and Jim Elmo, which follow an almost identical pattern (with much more profanity). Also, in one episode, Mr. Burns rings the bar, looking for a "Mr. Smithers, first name Waylon." Moe believes it to be Bart making a prank call, and shouts back his usual threats, frightening Mr. Burns. [Mike Walsh, [ The Legendary Tube Bar Recording] at]

During the season 18 episode "24 Minutes", Bart is shown intercepting a phone call from Kiefer Sutherland's "24" character Jack Bauer, and claims to be 'Ahmed Adoudi' (I-made-a-doodie). Bauer falls for it before Chloe O'Brian tells him it is a gag name (later in the episode, Bauer returns for vengeance). In "The Simpsons Movie", Bart makes a similar joke, causing Russ Cargill to ask about someone named "Ima Wiener". In "The Regina Monologues" Moe asks how much it would cost to have Bart prank call him.

Comical establishments

Many commercial establishments on the Simpsons have comically farcical names (that are puns) such as "Try-N'Save," (a discount store) "A Bug's Death," (an exterminator) "I Can't Believe It's a Lawfirm", (a lawyer's office), "Nuts Landing" (a pet sterilization clinic), "Stoner's Pot Palace" (a pottery barn),"Sit N' Weep" (a therapist's office), "The Grateful Gelding" (a stable), "Shoe Inn" (shoe store), "When You Wash Upon A Car" (car wash), "Valley of the Dolls" (the doll section at the local toy store), "Age of Aquariums" (a pet store), "Something Wicker This Way Comes" (a furniture store), and "Bloodbath and Beyond" (a gun shop). One store name seen on the screen briefly was "Sneed's Feed and Seed [formerly Chuck's] ". In "Helter Shelter", Homer mentions that he hires service providers based on how funny the logo is, explaining his decision to hire "A Bug's Death" and, in "Homer the Great", "Stern Lecture Plumbing" ("I told you not to flush that.") regardless of their ineffectiveness. In the movie, the family stays at the "Red Rash Inn", and, in Alaska, Homer plays "Grand Theft Walrus" in "Eski-Moe's".


In later episodes, meta-references have become a theme in running gags. For example, for many years, the show refused to reveal the location of Springfield. In finally breaking this rule, the writers maintained the confusion by stating two alternate locations in the original and syndicated version of the episode "Behind the Laughter". Adding to the confusion, a part of the "The Simpsons Movie" shows a scene in which Ned points out the four states that border Springfield, namely Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky, all of which are too far apart geographically to be considered jointly "bordering" anywhere, save for Kentucky and Ohio.

"The Simpsons" is produced and broadcast by Fox Broadcasting Company. The show takes frequent advantage of a non-interference clause in the production contract to make negative jokes about Fox (for example, "We can't watch FOX, because they own those chemical weapon plants in Syria"). [cite web|url= |title=Embiggening the smallest man Media The Guardian |publisher=The Guardian |author=Oliver Burkeman |date= |accessdate=2008-10-06]

Homer's lifelong dreams

Homer Simpson has achieved many lifelong dreams. Among these dreams are streaking onto the field during a baseball game, eating the world's biggest submarine sandwich, owning the Dallas Cowboys (although this dream was never fulfilled as he had to settle for the Denver Broncos), being a contestant on the Gong Show, bowling a 300, becoming a blackjack dealer, and working in a bowling alley. Most of these times, Marge will remind him of his previous lifelong dream, which he has already achieved, often referring to a conveniently placed picture nearby. He best sums up this tendency when he declares "All my life, I've had one dream: to achieve my many goals." He also wants to die choking on food.

Homer's name

When Mr. Burns sees Homer (usually by a security camera), he usually does not know his name. Waylon Smithers routinely reminds him that he is an employee from Sector 7-G. This is most famously noted in the two-part episode "Who Shot Mr Burns?" in which Homer vandalizes his office and sends him a box of chocolates with a family photo at the bottom, but the box is thrown away with the one piece of candy covering Homer's face (a quince log) still in it, and Mr. Burns still does not remember his name. Another example is when Homer is flashing back to 1980 when he first receives his job at the plant (Mr. Burns says he will "remember that name").

When told Homer's name, Mr. Burns will sometimes say "Simpson, eh?" (adding "eh?" at the end of random subjects that other people refer to can also be considered a running gag, like "Maude, eh?")

In older episodes, Homer writes his full name as Homer J. Simpson. In one episode when Lisa asks what his name actually is he says he just never really thought about it. In the same episode, Grampa tells Homer about how his mother was a hippie and chose his name, which Grampa also doesn't know. Homer makes a trip to the hippie encampment where his mother ran away to and discovers that his middle name is Jay in a mural about him that his mother painted. She appears in later episodes only for a short time where she is always running from the law.

Opening sequence

Chalkboard gag

The Chalkboard gag is a running visual joke that occurs during the opening sequence of many episodes. In this gag, Bart is writing a unique phrase on the chalkboard repeatedly; when the school bell rings, he immediately stops writing and runs out of the classroom. The phrase is usually in the form of an admonishment, implying that Bart has been assigned this task as punishment in detention for some misbehavior left partly to the viewer's imagination. In Parent Rap, he wrote "No one reads these any more". In the episode Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays, Marge and Maggie listen to an annoying CD in the car when they take Bart and Lisa to school, when Marge comes to pick up Bart, Bart begs Mrs. Krabapell to make him write something on the chalkboard, however she replies that they "haven't done one of those in eight years" referencing how the show's writers stopped using the chalkboard gags. In the episode A Streetcar Named Marge the writers poked fun at New Orleans in a song in Marge's play called A Streetcar Named Desire. In the next episodes chalkboard gag, Bart wrote "I will not defame New Orleans" after the writers received a letter from the government telling them not to.

Couch gag

The couch gag is a running visual joke in the opening sequence of the series and has aired at the beginning of almost all episodes. The couch gag changes from episode to episode, and usually features the Simpson family's living room couch. A typical gag features the Simpson family running into the living room, only to find some abnormality with the couch; be it a bizarre and unexpected occupant, an odd placement of the couch, such as the ceiling, or any number of other situations. In more recent seasons, the couch gags have tended to be more outlandish and absurd. Generally, between one-half and two-thirds of the couch gags used in a season are new, while the remaining couch gags are repeats. Most couch gags are used at least twice, with a second occurrence usually in the same season as the first.


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