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#1
Old 03-03-2012, 04:12 PM
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Things in The Simpsons you thought were references, but aren't

The early seasons of The Simpsons are PACKED with cultural references, even to this day I have moments going ooohhh so thats what that was!

Anyway the episode where Homer grows hair and gets promoted because Burns thinks he looks like a young hotshot, all the women Homer interviews are coming on to him so Marge encourages him to hire the only male applicant an ambiguously gay guy that seems to have a thing for Homer(he kisses Homer on the lips goodbye when he quits). The whole segment seemed so odd and kinda forced into the episode I assumed it was a reference to a film or something, apparently it is not.
#2
Old 03-03-2012, 08:04 PM
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If anything it's likely to be the other way around for me, things that were referencing something but I didn't realize it and thought they were just being funny until years later when I saw what it was they'd been referencing.

I can't think of an example at the moment, however.
#3
Old 03-03-2012, 08:22 PM
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Well, I for one am still waiting where "an onion on my belt" came from and where it was supposed to go. And I need a complete explanation, not a "Don't go there" or a "it was an obvious gay reference"
#4
Old 03-03-2012, 08:28 PM
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I spent many hours trying to figure out what "My cats breath smells like cat food" was an anagram for.
#5
Old 03-03-2012, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
Well, I for one am still waiting where "an onion on my belt" came from and where it was supposed to go. And I need a complete explanation, not a "Don't go there" or a "it was an obvious gay reference"
I'm fairly certain this one is just a joke. Telling a story that doesn't go anywhere.
#6
Old 03-03-2012, 08:48 PM
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Not sure if this counts, but in a Tree House of Horror episode when Homer says, "I'm the first non Brazilian to travel backwards though time" isn't referencing anything and in fact originally was supposed to be, "I'm the first non-fictional character to travel backwards in time"
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
The first time Homer travels back in time, he was originally supposed to state "I'm the first non-fictional character to travel backwards through time".[4] The line was later changed from "non-fictional" to "non-Brazilian". Groening was confused as to the reason for the change, since he liked the original so much. In fact, he did not even understand what the new line meant.[6]

Last edited by Nobody; 03-03-2012 at 08:48 PM.
#7
Old 03-03-2012, 09:04 PM
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That might be the most misunderstood joke in the history of the show, Nobody. I remember people used to speculate that the "non-Brazilian" thing is a reference to Carlos Casteneda. I know I definitely accepted that explanation the first time I heard it. In hindsight and thanks to Wikipedia, I see Castaneda wasn't Brazilian (he was from Peru) and his Don Juan character was Mexican, so there's no way any allusion to Castaneda was intended.
#8
Old 03-03-2012, 09:27 PM
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There was the one where Homer became a bootlegger. Federal agent Rex Banner comes in to help clean up the town. When he arrives he reads two telegrams. The first is from Mayor Quimby and says "Springfield needs you." The second one says "Rexy, Daisy had puppies!"

I always thought that second one was a reference to something, but damned if I know what.
#9
Old 03-03-2012, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
That might be the most misunderstood joke in the history of the show, Nobody. I remember people used to speculate that the "non-Brazilian" thing is a reference to Carlos Casteneda. I know I definitely accepted that explanation the first time I heard it. In hindsight and thanks to Wikipedia, I see Castaneda wasn't Brazilian (he was from Peru) and his Don Juan character was Mexican, so there's no way any allusion to Castaneda was intended.
I have the box set of that season and listening to the commentary they said the line doesn't mean anything.

Robot Arm - I think the second one is just supposed to be a joke about his tough guy image.
#10
Old 03-03-2012, 11:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post
I have the box set of that season and listening to the commentary they said the line doesn't mean anything..
Not surprised. It wasn't supposed to refer to anything. That's what made it so funny: the non-sequitur.

Sometimes things are funnier if you don't know what they're referring to. There was the running gag in Get Smart where Max would see, say, a five-story-tall arrow, and say, "That's the second biggest arrow I've ever seen."

The joke wasn't that he was referring to a real arrow, but that something so big isn't the biggest he's seen. Any reference would have ruined the joke.
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#11
Old 03-04-2012, 07:07 AM
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Burns and Smithers were watching a broadcast of Boobarella (an allusion to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who was herself a plagiarization of Vampira), and Burns remarked to Smithers, "You know Bill in accounting? That's his daughter".

At first I assumed there was a meaning to this, but I'm pretty sure it's just a throwaway line.
#12
Old 03-04-2012, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grude View Post
Anyway the episode where Homer grows hair and gets promoted because Burns thinks he looks like a young hotshot, all the women Homer interviews are coming on to him so Marge encourages him to hire the only male applicant an ambiguously gay guy that seems to have a thing for Homer(he kisses Homer on the lips goodbye when he quits). The whole segment seemed so odd and kinda forced into the episode I assumed it was a reference to a film or something, apparently it is not.
Harvey Fierstein voiced the character in question - I always assumed he was pretty much just playing himself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon
Well, I for one am still waiting where "an onion on my belt" came from and where it was supposed to go. And I need a complete explanation, not a "Don't go there" or a "it was an obvious gay reference"
Well, it was the style at the time.
#13
Old 03-04-2012, 07:28 AM
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Bart saying, "Hello, mother," while flying a kite at night in the episode "Bart of Darkness." The image is so striking and peculiar, and the sensation I get from it so familiar, that I know it just has be a reference to something.

Last edited by Tarwater; 03-04-2012 at 07:28 AM.
#14
Old 03-04-2012, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
It wasn't supposed to refer to anything. That's what made it so funny: the non-sequitur.
In a similar vein, I always thought the: "Watch out! They're ruffled!" line was a twisted reference,
#15
Old 03-04-2012, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
That might be the most misunderstood joke in the history of the show, Nobody. I remember people used to speculate that the "non-Brazilian" thing is a reference to Carlos Casteneda.
I previously had the vague idea it might be some sort of reference to the Terry Gilliam science-fiction movie Brazil, which is neither about time-travel nor Brazil/Brazilians, but Homer's an idiot so goodness knows what he might have gotten out of a movie like Brazil.
#16
Old 03-04-2012, 11:58 AM
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Years ago when I was more active on Usenet, I would read the Simpsons newsgroup and after every episode, they would compile a list of references for the episode and the end result would always be they would list every single joke because if the premise of the joke was even similar to something else, they would call it a reference. Sometimes it's just a joke.

That said, my entry to this thread is from the Bobo episode. There is a sequence where Homar almost has a vision of the teddy bear. It is vague now because I haven't seen it in awhile but it has to do with a fish tank and a unique musical score. I was sure it was a reference to something but it wasn't.
#17
Old 03-04-2012, 12:30 PM
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There was the episode Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie. The final scene where Homer and Bart are walking together in the future seems to me to be a reference to something, like they're imitating a well-known scene from a movie. But apparently it isn't.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 03-04-2012 at 12:31 PM.
#18
Old 03-04-2012, 01:37 PM
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In Homer's triple bypass, there's the following exchange (link to SNPP)

[at the gas station]
Homer: I keep hearing this horrible irregular thumping noise.
Attendant: It's your heart. And I think it's on it's last thump.
Homer: Oh, I thought it was my transmission. [drives away happily]
Kid: Where's he going?
Attendant: You remember that old Plymouth we just couldn't fix?
Kid: We're going to sell him to Mr. Nikopopolous?!
Attendant: You're a dull boy, Billy.
-- Missing the point, "Homer's Triple Bypass"

I always thought that must have been a reference to something, because it is just so non sequitur, but apparently it references nothing but itself.
#19
Old 03-04-2012, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarwater View Post
Bart saying, "Hello, mother," while flying a kite at night in the episode "Bart of Darkness." The image is so striking and peculiar, and the sensation I get from it so familiar, that I know it just has be a reference to something.
I never saw the movie, but I always assumed it was from The Good Son. Maybe someone who's seen the movie will chime in and tell me if I'm right or not.
#20
Old 03-04-2012, 03:16 PM
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Heck, the episode about backyard pools ends with Martin, humiliated because his own pool collapsed from overcrowding and having his bathing suit torn off by Nelson, singing "The summer winds / came blowing in / from across the sea..." in a sad jazztone.

What does it mean? Beats the hell outta me.
#21
Old 03-04-2012, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F. U. Shakespeare View Post
Burns and Smithers were watching a broadcast of Boobarella (an allusion to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who was herself a plagiarization of Vampira), .
Just for the record, and because this is the Board of the Nitpickers, I have to point out that this is almost certainly an allusion to Barbarella, a movie starring Jane Fonda when she was a young upstanding actress.
#22
Old 03-04-2012, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F. U. Shakespeare View Post
Burns and Smithers were watching a broadcast of Boobarella (an allusion to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who was herself a plagiarization of Vampira)...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reno Nevada View Post
Just for the record, and because this is the Board of the Nitpickers, I have to point out that this is almost certainly an allusion to Barbarella, a movie starring Jane Fonda when she was a young upstanding actress.
it is a double boob hook.

it it a hook on the name, and maybe boobs, to Barbarella.

it is a hook on the character, and definitely boobs, to Elvira.
#23
Old 03-04-2012, 06:04 PM
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This quote sounded like a homage but never figured out what to:

Quote:
Never, Marge. Never. I can't live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors - oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called "City Fathers" who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about "What's to be done with this Homer Simpson?"
#24
Old 03-04-2012, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
I previously had the vague idea it might be some sort of reference to the Terry Gilliam science-fiction movie Brazil, which is neither about time-travel nor Brazil/Brazilians, but Homer's an idiot so goodness knows what he might have gotten out of a movie like Brazil.
My brain was going down this path, but took it further: Gilliam also directed "12 Monkeys," which DOES involve travelling back in time.

So Homer could be confusing one Gilliam movie with another, and also thinking Brazil is about Brazilians.

Pretty sure "non-sequitor" actually makes more sense here.
#25
Old 03-04-2012, 11:59 PM
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So, was tonight's opening sequence/couch gag a reference to something?
#26
Old 03-05-2012, 12:02 AM
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It mimicked the opening of Game of Thrones.
#27
Old 03-05-2012, 12:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalmanese View Post
This quote sounded like a homage but never figured out what to:
Quote:
Never, Marge. Never. I can't live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors - oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called "City Fathers" who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about "What's to be done with this Homer Simpson?"
I don't think it's a reference to anything. It's a great speech, though. According to the DVD commentary on that episode, writer George Meyer improvised this speech while the episode was being revised and it made it to the final episode almost unchanged.
#28
Old 03-05-2012, 12:56 AM
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The "musky odors" phrase is what sells it.
#29
Old 03-05-2012, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by WarmNPrickly View Post
I spent many hours trying to figure out what "My cats breath smells like cat food" was an anagram for.
And the answer is...?
#30
Old 03-05-2012, 09:20 AM
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Elendil's Heir:

Quote:
And the answer is...?
Jeremy's Iron
#31
Old 03-05-2012, 09:21 AM
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Genuine Class!
#32
Old 03-05-2012, 09:55 AM
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Listening to the commentary from the first few seasons, I think many of these can be credited to John Swartzwelder. They gush over how random, quirky, brilliant, and original he was - and rightfully so. Short of that, just his style influenced and shaped the show enough that these sort of non-sequitors stem from him.
#33
Old 03-05-2012, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
And the answer is...?
Let moms acrobatically heft desks.
#34
Old 03-05-2012, 12:33 PM
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Forget I asked....
#35
Old 03-05-2012, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by G0sp3l View Post
I'm fairly certain this one is just a joke. Telling a story that doesn't go anywhere.
Like the time I needed a new heel for my shoe.
#36
Old 03-05-2012, 01:02 PM
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"So I says to Mabel, I says..." I was told it had something to do with The Great Gatsby. So I read the entire book just looking for that quote, and it was nowhere to be seen.
#37
Old 03-05-2012, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Heck, the episode about backyard pools ends with Martin, humiliated because his own pool collapsed from overcrowding and having his bathing suit torn off by Nelson, singing "The summer winds / came blowing in / from across the sea..." in a sad jazztone.

What does it mean? Beats the hell outta me.
It was the last episode produced for Season 5, so perhaps they targeted it as the Season 5 finale and added it as a "summer" reference (although it ended up being the Season 6 premiere).

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Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
Jeremy's Iron
No jeer, my sir.
#38
Old 03-05-2012, 03:26 PM
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Slightly off topic, but in [3F08] "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", Sideshow Bob says "Aah, for the days when aviation was a gentleman's pursuit -- back before every Joe Sweatsock could wedge himself behind a lunch tray and jet off to Raleigh-Durham." Since I live in North Carolina, at the time I assumed that, as a gimmick, they had recorded multiple versions, substituting various cities for different markets. I was surprised to find that this went out nationwide, because I can't think of any reason for singling out Raleigh-Durham as a comedy destination. Not even "so unfunny its funny".

Last edited by whitetho; 03-05-2012 at 03:26 PM. Reason: Bad keeybordinz
#39
Old 03-05-2012, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by gatorslap View Post
"So I says to Mabel, I says..." I was told it had something to do with The Great Gatsby. So I read the entire book just looking for that quote, and it was nowhere to be seen.
The SNPP fan site throws that out there as one possible explanation for the line, but I'm not seeing it. There's no Myrtle in The Great Gatsby and I can't remember anyone saying anything like that. I think that line is just supposed to sound kind of vaudevillian- they're calling your attention to the fact that Bart is only speaking so Homer can interrupt him.
#40
Old 03-05-2012, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
Not even "so unfunny its funny".
That's what makes it funny.
#41
Old 03-05-2012, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
I was surprised to find that this went out nationwide, because I can't think of any reason for singling out Raleigh-Durham as a comedy destination. Not even "so unfunny its funny".
I know why it's a comedy destination. Most people only see the name "Raleigh-Durham" on airport Arrival and Departure screens, as there seems to be flights going to and from there disproportionate to its population and place in the rest of American culture. If I got called by a Family Feud poll and asked "name one odd-seeming city you might see on an Airport Terminal screen", I'd say Raleigh Durham. If the poll allowed a second choice, it would be Wilkes-Barre, but it seems fewer flights these days go there.
#42
Old 03-05-2012, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
The SNPP fan site throws that out there as one possible explanation for the line, but I'm not seeing it. There's no Myrtle in The Great Gatsby....
It refers to Mabel, not Myrtle.
#43
Old 03-06-2012, 12:53 AM
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Now you're on the trolley!
#44
Old 03-06-2012, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorslap View Post
"So I says to Mabel, I says..." I was told it had something to do with The Great Gatsby. So I read the entire book just looking for that quote, and it was nowhere to be seen.
Sounds a bit like Fibber McGee of "Fibber McGee & Molly", if it has to be a reference to something. Which it might be, subconsciously, from one of the writers. But it was probably just nonsense meant to sound 'old timey', like Bart is occasionally known to do.
#45
Old 03-06-2012, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by TBG View Post
That's what makes it funny.
It's funny because it's true.
#46
Old 03-07-2012, 05:43 PM
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Well obsoived!
#47
Old 03-07-2012, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
It refers to Mabel, not Myrtle.
Too much editing. What I meant to say was that there is a Myrtle in The Great Gatsby, but there's no Mabel.
#48
Old 03-07-2012, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TBG View Post
If anything it's likely to be the other way around for me, things that were referencing something but I didn't realize it and thought they were just being funny until years later when I saw what it was they'd been referencing.

I can't think of an example at the moment, however.
When they're tearing down the Toys R Us, and they show Milhouse with a specific look on his face.

Years later I realized it was the famous photo of the crying frenchman during the Nazis marching the streets of Paris.
#49
Old 03-07-2012, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorslap View Post
"So I says to Mabel, I says..." I was told it had something to do with The Great Gatsby. So I read the entire book just looking for that quote, and it was nowhere to be seen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by C. Montgomery Burns View Post
Sounds a bit like Fibber McGee of "Fibber McGee & Molly", if it has to be a reference to something. Which it might be, subconsciously, from one of the writers. But it was probably just nonsense meant to sound 'old timey', like Bart is occasionally known to do.
Myrt was the phone operator on Fibber McGee & Molly.
#50
Old 03-07-2012, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
I was surprised to find that this went out nationwide, because I can't think of any reason for singling out Raleigh-Durham as a comedy destination.
Wasn't aviation pretty much born in North Carolina? Sideshow Bob is talking of a time when people were learning to fly. Makes sense he'd infer those people are in North Carolina, and Raleigh-Durham would be a big fancy town for all those Joe Sweatsocks to head off to.
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