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Bart Simpson

39 Ratings: 3.8
A character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons.
1 review about Bart Simpson

America's Bad Boy

  • Aug 11, 2009
  • by
Continuing my spree of reviewing and talking about Simpsons characters... we now come to Bart Simpson.  America's Bad Boy and one of the shows most versatile characters.  Many of Bart's best episodes are those which center on him and Lisa or him and Homer.  And, of course, the episodes where Sideshow Bob is trying to kill him.  As the show first began... Bart was actually the centerfold of more episodes than Homer.  Even the episodes which centered on Homer had Bart playing a huge part.  As such, choosing Bart's best episodes is just as hard as it is for Homer.  Maybe even harder.  But many of them are there. 

Before that, however, let's talk about Bart.  Matt Groening has often said he likes Bart because Bart mostly closely resembles him.  But beyond that, Bart is an anagram for "brat".  And Bart is most certainly a brat.  He enjoys being rebellious and he enjoys causing mischief.  This doesn't mean that Bart is without remorse.  He's a rebel, mostly.  We see a lot of things about him that bring that out.  In a classic episode where everyone starts acting like him and Bart just about has no identify, he changes.  This goes to show that part does have a pretty rebelious and often independent nature about him.  He rarely calls his Homer "Dad" and instead calls him by his first name.  He loves his sister yet loves to torture her. 

Does Bart know right from wrong?  Yes.  Because he is a remorseful guy despite the trouble he causes.  In the episode "Marge Be Not Proud" Bart steals a game and is very disappointed in himself for doing so and disappointing his mother.  He goes back to the store to provide Marge with an actual picture since the first family photo got so messed up.  These characteristics of Bart often show when Bart realizes he's gone a little too far.  When he gets principal Skinner fired from his job, Bart helps him get his job back.  And these two are considerable enemies.  More than that, he's often there for Lisa as well.  Again, Bart isn't Eric Cartman.  He's America's bad boy because he's a rebel and doesn't always want to follow the rules.  Not because he's actually bad.  Bart knows when he's done wrong and tries to make up for it.  It's why Bart is one of the most amusing characters on the show.  Some of his best episodes are when he and Lisa team up to help others.  Such as reuiniting Krusty with his estranged father, or proving Krusty's innocence, or foiling Sideshow Bob's plans.  These are but a few examples of how he teams up with Lisa. 

Before the show began to decline in quality Bart was amusing.  In these current episodes Bart seems quite younger and more immature than how he was portrayed in earlier episodes.  Where as before Bart understood the things he did and why they were bad... in these current episodes everything seems to be a joke.  Is Bart no longer aware of when he's doing bad?  It appears to be that way.  But at least we have lots of classic episodes to remember who Bart used to be. 

There are a ton of episodes which have Bart at the focal point.  And a lot of episodes we can consider among his best.  Here we're going to condense over 400 episodes into just TEN.  We're going to discuss just ten of Bart's best episodes.

1. The Telltale Head
This is a classic episode that also doesn't really get played that much.  Most of Bart's best episodes are actually the episodes in which he has done something wrong and shows that he understands it.  This is such an episode.  After hanging out around the wrong group of guys, they remark how they wish someone would cut off the head of Jebediah Springfield.  Bart sees this as his chance to be cool.  So he sneaks out in the middle of the night and commits the crime.  What he doesn't know before doing so is how the town will react.  And the next day it all comes in full bloom.  When Bart meets the group of teens he desperately wanted to impress and be a part of, he realizes that they were just talking... they didn't actually want anyone to do it.  Bart is now public enemy number one, but he decides to hide the head for a while.  In an homage to the Tell Tale Heart, Bart starts to descend into guilt as the head begins talking to him.  Eventually Bart comes to his senses and does the right thing.  He shows his family what he has done, apologizes to the town and puts the head back on the statue.  It's one of the best Bart Simpson episodes... even though it doesn't get played enough.

2. Bart the Murderer
This is another fantastic episode that, like the one above, doesn't get played too often anymore.  Here, Bart gets involved with the mob after having a terrible day at school.  While skateboarding home he loses control.  After making an alcoholic drink, it seems as though the Mob likes him.  Until one day he gets detention and has to stay after school.  It appears that the mob believes Seymour Skinner is giving him trouble and decide to "take care of it."  As a result Principal Skinner ends up missing and Bart panics.  The Mob didn't kill his Principal did they?  At the same time, the Mob turns on Bart and lets Bart take the fall for what's happening, labeling him as the Kingpen in it all.  What we discover, of course, is that Principal Skinner is very much alive.  He just got trapped in his garage for a few days.  Bart goes free, learns a lesson and is glad his Principal is okay.

3. Radio Bart
It's Bart's birthday, and while he doesn't get a song like his sister Lisa does, he does get a radio from his father.  At first he doesn't do much with it, until he discovers he can have some fun.  He tricks Homer into believing Aliens have invaded and tricks Marge into believing that Maggie can talk.  But this all comes to a head when Bart puts the radio down in the well and it gets stuck.  Suddenly Bart plays a prank on the whole town.  His plan to get his radio back is to pretend that someone is stuck in the well.  A kid named Timmy.  It's not long before Lisa finds out about his plan.  And she points out that Bart's plan would work... if he hadn't put a stupid "Property of Bart Simpson" label on his radio from the label maker Patty and Selma gave him (there's also a great gag in there in which Homer wants a beer and Bart puts a label on it, "Oh, there's one beer left and it's Bart's!").  So now Bart descends into the well and actually DOES get trapped.  But after being taken for saps, the town doesn't want to help.  And instead they cover a story on a squarrel that looks like Abraham Lincoln instead (that gets assassinated).  Homer, on the other hand, can't stand to see his boy in such a predicament and decides to get Bart out himself.  Pretty soon much of the town is rushing off to the well to help Bart out.  In the end he's saved and once again learns a lesson.

4. Bart the Lover
Another episode where Bart shows remorse.  Here, the school of Springfield gets taken over by the craze of Yo-Yos.  Bart gets one and becomes pretty popular with it.  After he screws up a trick in class, though, Miss Krabappel takes it away and gets detention.  While serving, Bart takes a peak in her drawer and gets it back only to discover that Miss K has placed an ad in the paper looking for love.  Bart decides to answer her letters by impersonating a man named Woodrow.  Things are going fine at first.  Bart believes it's just another prank until he sees how hurt Miss K really is.  So he comes clean to his family and they decide he's got to end this... but can't march up there himself and do it.  It has to be in a final letter.  So Bart tries very hard with his family to craft a love letter (in which Homer suggest three simple words: "I am gay!").  Eventually they write the perfect letter.  The next day in detention Miss K is feeling quite good and decides that detention should be spent outside.  "It's a date!" Bart replies and he goes outside with his teacher in a sunset like fashion.  Bart is sorry for what he's done, and he was able to make everything right.

5. Separate Vocations
There are a ton of awesome Bart episodes, but this one is a personal favorite of mine.  Bart and Lisa take career aptitude tests.  Lisa scores "Homemaker" while Bart scores "Police Officer."  Lisa doesn't like what she's gotten but Bart loves his.  It's hard to decide if this was a Bart or Lisa episode.  Well, it's both (although I didn't put this on my "Best Lisa Episodes" list).  But Bart gets the better portion of the show.  He begins to fight on the side of good, much to Skinner's surprise.  So Skinner makes him the hall monitor.  Things are going just fine for Bart in his job at the school.  And Skinner is loving this just as much as he is.  Lisa, on the other hand, is slipping.  She hates the idea of being a Homemaker when she believes she's cut out for so much more.  Instead, she becomes a hooligan.  In this episode, Bart's grades improve while Lisa's slips.  Finally, after much trouble, Lisa makes a daring decision and decides to steal all the Teacher's Editions in the school.  This has teacher's panicking.  Only two people remain calm.  Bart and Skinner.  So they begin investigating.  It is Bart who discovers that his sister is the culprit.  And when Skinner finds all the books he asks who did this.  Not wanting to see his sister fall anymore, Bart takes the blame.  When Lisa asks Bart why he did that, Bart admits that Lisa is the child who has a future and is made for great things.  It helps Lisa feel better about herself.  Bart has always loved his sister a great deal, but this is the episode in which we see just how far that love goes.  Bart is willing to sacrifice his own future if it means his gifted sister can have a great one.  It shows the power of Bart's character and just how sensitive and sincere he can really be.

6. Cape Feare
There are a number of episodes featuring Sideshow Bob.  But of all of them this is by far the best one.  Bob is out to get Bart after getting him put away.  And Bob really really hates Bart now.  And he knows exactly where to find him.  He spends time writing threatening letters to Bart.  Then he finally gets out of prison and decides to exact revenge.  As a result The Simpsons are put into the Witness Protection Program (in a hilarious bit where Homer can't seem to understand that his name is Homer Thompson now).  Bob follows them (and has another hilarious bit where he steps on several rakes).  They move onto a houseboat, and Bart sees Bob in the middle of town and is scared to death.  As he tries to sleep, Homer comes in and scares him a few times.  But the last time when things get suspicious, it isn't Homer.  It's Bob.  And he's tied up the rest of Bart's family so that no one can help him, and he has sent the houseboat off to sea.  There's no escape for Bart.  His family can't help him (and Homer sleeps through it all, in which Lisa remarks upon seeing him drool: "Oh no, Dad's been drugged!" to which Marge quickly responds "No he hasn't!").  Bart comes up with a plan to stall Bob until they get to Springfield.  And it works.  It doesn't show too many of Bart's strengths as a character on the show, but it's one of his best episodes because of the gags, the plot and because Bart is front and center within it.

7. Bart's Inner Child
This is a fantastic Bart episode and one that truly gets us to understand just who Bart is as a character.  This is how we come to understand that Bart is primarily a rebel.  Brad Goodman defines himself as a specialist.  He's a self help guru that Marge finds out about after her family tells her she nags too much.  When Brad actually comes to Springfield his seminar is interrupted when Bart is bored and decides to leave.  Before he can do so, Brad calls him on stage and asks why Bart did that.  "I just do what I feel like!" Bart says.  To which Brad runs with that and tells everyone to "just do what they feel like."  In the event of this happening, Bart realizes that everyone is suddenly acting like him... and as a result everything sucks.  Lisa tells Bart that this is because he has been robbed of his identity.  What's the point of being Bart Simpson if everyone is acting like him?  Bart isn't just rebelious for the sake of rebellion.  He's rebelious because that's who he is.  And in the event of his identity getting hijacked he comes to realize that there only needs to be one Bart Simpson.  The episode says a lot more outside of Bart.  As a result it is also one of the best Simpsons episodes of all time.  But at the center of it all is Bart Simpson.

8. Bart of Darkness
In an ode to Alfred Hitchcock, this episode centers on Bart.  When a pool mobile comes during a very hot summer, Homer decides to get a pool.  This makes the Simpson children popular (although not for the right reasons).  At some point, during a stupid stunt which Nelson messes up, Bart breaks his leg and is confined to his room for the summer.  Lisa gives him a telescope and Bart looks through it and finds out that the Universe is boring.  Yet when he hears a scream from next door, he's interested.  Only to see that Flanders has done something wrong.  It looks like murder... but this is Flanders we're talking about.  Goodness gracious!  But it does look like he committed murder as he screams it himself.  And then there's the fact that Maude is gone.  And that Flanders answers that she's with God.  And that Rod and Todd will join her soon enough.  Bart being ever so resourceful with a broken leg, sends Lisa in there to investigate... just as Flanders is coming home.  It's another episode that shows that deep down inside Bart is a good guy.  When he realizes that Lisa could also be in danger he does what he can to save her... broken leg or not.  What we discover of course is that Ned Flanders is no murderer.  It was just a mistake that got taken too far out of hand. 

9. Grade School Confidential
Another classic episode.  Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel fall in love.  And when they do, Bart is there to witness their first kiss in Martin's kiddie house outside.  Before Bart can tell anyone, they both call him into Skinner's office and make him a deal.  Some other kid can inherit his future if he keeps their secret.  Except they start taking advantage of Bart.  Using him as a messenger boy.  When Mrs. K steps outside for a while Bart has had enough and leads the entire school to the janitor's closet where the two are making out.  Of course, word gets around that something else happened.  Bart, realizing that things have gotten out of hand decides to help out.  Not so much to make things right, but mostly so that the two of them can keep their jobs.  Once again, after causing trouble that gets out of hand, Bart tries to make up for it.  He does have a line and he does have morals and principles. 

10. Bart's Girlfriend
There are few episodes that show Bart at his most humble and best quite like this.  Bart meets Reverend Lovejoy's daughter.  Jessica.  At first Bart decides to try and be good for Jessica.  Until he discovers that what Jessica wants is a bad boy.  And Bart is that bad boy.  True enough, Bart falls for her, pretty hard.  He soon discovers that Jessica is much worse... and is willing to throw him under the bus.  When Jessica pushes the limits by stealing the Church Collection Bart finally speaks up and states that even he knows that's wrong.  But Bart is left to blame for the collection plate.  He's done nothing wrong, but people blame him anyway because ha happens to be holding the plate.  But who is going to believe it's the minister's daughter?  Lisa believes him because Lisa is his sister.  After a while, Bart does manage to be found innocent and the town apologizes to him.  But it goes to show that Bart does have a moral principle about him.  It only took him seeing someone worse than him for him to realize that he does have a moral center.  Bart is a prankster.  Not an inherently evil person.  He misbehaves but in many instances Bart doesn't condone things that may break the law.  He does have a moral center and it is tested.

And Bart does come to realize that Jessica is just bad.  At the very end of the episode we think that Bart has been taken in by Jessica's charm again, when she "talks" him into scrubbing the church steps.  What she doesn't realize is that Bart will intentionally do a second rate job.  Bad?  Yeah.  But is it entirely immoral?  Not to Bart.  Because that doesn't cross his line.  But this episode does show us, better than most, that Bart DOES have a line.

So there you have it.  Bart Simpson.  Join me next time as we talk about Marge Simpson and try to find ten episodes about her.  After Marge we'll talk about Maggie and perhaps even supporting Simpsons cast members such as Mr. Burns.  Any particular Bart episodes that you like?  Hey, leave me a comment or send a message.  Not everyone is going to agree and Bart has far more than ten great episodes.

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39 Ratings: +3.8
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Bart Simpson
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Homer Simpson

A character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons.

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A character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons.

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A character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons.

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"America's Bad Boy"
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