Bart the General

Bart the General                                   Written by John Swartzwelder
                                                    Directed by David Silverman

TV Guide synopsis

Terrorized by the school bully, Bart seeks counsel from ``the toughest
Simpson alive,'' but Grandpa Simpson defers to a warfare expert, who
emphasizes troop strength, training discipline and strategy.

Title sequence

There is no title sequence for this episode.  We go straight into the show

Didja notice...

    ... Janey is a cute little white girl in this episode?
    ... Otto turned on his Walkman after paying his last respects to Bart?
    ... Grampa wears his slippers <everywhere>?
    ... Milhouse was hiding under the manhole cover?


Yours Truly {rjc}:  Another classic.  Loved the concluding PBS spoof.
And notice how cupcakes bracket the episode.

Movie (and other) References

    + Patton
        - pretty much the entire episode
          (lines, scenes, situations, and music)
        - The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street.
          The Greeks knew it; the Carthaginians knew it; now <you> know it.
    + Full Metal Jacket
        - `trainees' doing pull-ups and other exercises on a jungle-gym-type
          structure as the sun sets in the background.
          (Confirmed by Sam Simon.)
    + The Longest Day
        - The GI helmet resting on its top while Nelson and his goons
          try to escape.  (taken from the final scene of the movie)
      A Clockwork Orange
        - ``There's been a horrible ghastly mistake.''  [or similar]
        - Herman (Bill Murray, or was it Harold Ramis) jabs the training
          dolls with his bayonet as Bart (Warren Oates) watches
          disapprovingly. @{ors}
    Japanese surrender in World War II
        - the emperor lost all official powers, but remained ``the symbol of
          the State.''
    Life's V-J day picture
        - sailor sweeps girl off her feet and kisses her
    The Nuremburg trial of the Nazis
        - Nelson's cronies say that they were ``only following orders''
    Other treaties
        - Nelson recognizes Bart's right to exist, like Palestine recongnizing
          Israel's (and probably other treaties)
        - Nelson is not to raise his fists in anger--this might be a reference
           - Germany and Japan being forced to eliminate offensive armies
           - the Japanese emperor being forced to renounce his religious status
           - (most likely) Some other treaty.  Is there an international law
             student in the house?
        - Nelson being forced to sign the armistice was similar to Germany
          signing the treaty of Versailles after WWI.

Animation Goofs

c,= The box which resembled the Kwik-E-Mart is spelled "Quick-E-Mart" (And,
    the closed caption spelled it as "Quicky-Mart"). {ms}

Comments and other observations


The character of Herman is based on writer John Swartzwelder. @{bo}


Lisa's smirk throughout the entire bus ride is priceless.

The American Burgerkrieg?

Tilman Stieve says that the German version of this episode changes ``The
American Revolution'' to ``The American Civil War'' as one of the good wars.
I have a hard time believing this (maybe it was a mistranslation), since the
Civil War is probably the war that most Americans would agree was a bad war.
It's the most-studied subject in American History.  People are still perplexed
as to why half of the country seceded from the union, and why slavery was so
entrenched that we had to fight a war to end it.

Quotes and scene summary


 Interior of the oven, cupcakes baking.  Homer opens the door, and Marge
 explains that Lisa's baking them for her teacher.  Door closes.  Bart
 opens the door and reaches in, but Marge yanks him away.  Lisa
 ices the most recent batch of chocolate cupcakes...
   Bart:  You know, there are names for people like you.
   Lisa:  No there aren't.
   Bart:  Teacher's pet!  Apple polisher!  Butt-kisser!
   Homer: Bart, you're saying butt-kisser like it's a bad thing!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Homer tells Bart it never hurts to grease the wheel, but Lisa denies that
 she's doing it for the grades.  She gets good grades because she pays
 attention and studies hard.  Homer grabs a cupcake, and the kids dash off
 when the school bus horn honks.  Lisa nips back in time to grab the
 cupcake before Homer can eat it.  (``D'oh!'')

 Bart complains to Otto that Lisa baked a batch of cupcakes for her teacher
 and isn't letting him have even a single crumb.  Lisa hands over a cupcake.
 ``Here, Otto.  I made an extra one for you.''

 Bart takes the seat next to Lisa, and when the bus sets into motion, the
 box jostles, and Bart helps catch it.  Lisa grabs the box back.
   Bart: You sniveling toad!  You little egg-sucker!
   Lisa: [holding secure her box of cupcakes] Tell me more!
   Bart; Back-scratcher!  Boot-licker!  Honor student!
   Lisa: [smirking]  You'll never get one now, name-caller.
   Bart: All right, all right.  Look, I'm sorry.  I, I got upset.
         In the heat of the moment, I said some things I didn't mean.
   Lisa: [milking it] You weren't thinking, were you.
   Bart: No.
   Lisa: I'm <not> a sniveling toad, am I?
   Bart: Not really.
   Lisa: I'm <not> a little egg-sucker, am I?
   Bart: Of course not.
   Lisa: Then what am I?
   Bart: A beautiful human being.
   Lisa: [coyly]  What do you like best about me?
   Bart: [staring at the cupcakes] Well, I'd have to say...
         Your generous nature, your spirit of giving.
   Lisa: Well... [thinks]  Open your mouth and close your eyes, and you will
         get a big surprise.
   Bart: [does so]
   Lisa: [gets up.  The bus stops, and a cupcake falls out of the box.
         Lisa picks it up and shoves it into Bart's mouth, then leaves]
   Bart: [munching]  Thanks, Lis.  You're the best!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Once off the bus, a bully grabs the cupcakes and goes through the box,
 taking one bite out of each before discarding it.  Bart threatens the
 boy, but Lisa warns Bart that the kid is a friend of Nelson Muntz.
 The boy pretends to hand over the box, but drops it and stomps on it.
 This proves too much for Bart, who leaps to attack the kid.  A scuffle
 ensues (with the other kids cheering), and a hand reaches in and grabs
 Bart.  It's Nelson, who holds Bart harmlessly at arm's length, then
 tosses him aside.  Nelson is bleeding.  He explains that he always
 gets other people's blood on his face.  But this time, it really <is>
 his blood.
   It was an accident, man.  A terrible, ghastly mistake.
   -- Bart tries to talk his way out of another jam, ``Bart the General''
 A cold wind blows.  Skinner stops by.  ``Play friendly, children.''
 The bell rings.
   Nelson: [threateningly] I'll get you after school, man.
   Bart:   But...
   Princ. Skinner: Oh no no no, he'll get you after school, son.
           Now hurry up, it's time for class.
   Bart:   But...
   Princ. Skinner: [shooing]  Scoot, young Simpson!  There's learning to be done!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 During class, Bart daydreams...  Nelson is now a giant, who chases Bart
 down the hallway.  Bart throws knives at him, which he merely pushes
 away after they embed in his chest.  Bullets from a machine gun merely
 bounce off him.  Bart is trapped, and giant-Nelson grabs Bart and says,
 ``Lunchtime!''  Bart falls down Nelson's throat...

 ``Lunchtime, Bart,'' says Milhouse.  Milhouse tells Bart he has to
 tell Skinner, but Bart refuses to violate the code of the schoolyard.

 They reach the lunchroom, where Lisa introduces ``Bart the bully-killer!''
   Look, everybody.  I would just as soon not make a big deal out of this.
   I'm not saying that I'm not a hero.
   I'm just saying that... I fear for my safety.
   -- Bart, ``Bart the General''
 Nelson and his two cronies push through the crowd.  The other kids scoot.
 Nelson tells Bart to be at the flagpole at 3:15.  And not to be late.
 He has four other meetings that afternoon.

 Bart daydreams in class again...   It's his funeral.  Open casket.  (Bart
 has his lunchbox tucked under his arm.)
   Otto: [at Bart's wake]  Good-bye, little dude.
         [to Principal Skinner]  He looks so lifelike, man!
   Principal Skinner: Yes, the nurse did a wonderful job reconstructing his
         little face after the fight.  Good-bye, son.  I guess you were right.
         All that homework <was> a waste of your time.
   -- Wake me when it's over, ``Bart the General''
   Thanks, Bart!  We got the day off from school for this!
   -- Milhouse attends Bart's wake, ``Bart the General''
 Homer gleefully says he got the day off from work for this.  Marge jabs
 him in the ribs, and Homer acts in a manner more befitting the situation.
 Marge and Maggie bid Bart farewell.  Lisa holds a cupcake.  ``I can't
 help but think if I had just given it to you in the first place,
 this whole horrible tragedy could have been avoided.''  She leaves it
 on his forehead.  Nelson comes up and takes the cupcake.  ``Hey, look!
 They've got food at this thing!''  He then gives Bart a parting punch.

 The 3:15 bell rings.  Bart tries to sneak out (hiding behind ridiculous
 things), but Nelson blocks his way.
   Nelson:  Put 'em up!  [circles his fists]
   Bart:    [raises his hands in surrender]
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Nelson pummels a helpless Bart.  Bart eventually collapses.  ``Boy, you
 sure taught <me> a lesson.''  Bart is dragged off and dumped into a trash
 can.  ``I'm going to get you again tomorrow, Simpson.''  Bart takes a
 free ride in the garbage can down the street.  Bart mutters, ``Man, that
 guy's tough to love...''

 [End of Act One.  Time: 7:24ish]

 Bart climbs out of the garbage can onto the Simpsons front lawn.  He falls
 and crawls inside.  Marge seems concerned, but Homer just laughs it off.
 Bart goes into the bathroom, takes a quick look in the mirror (``I'm gonna
 miss ya, big guy'') and sits in the tub, moaning in pain.  Homer pops in,
 at Marge's insistence.  Bart tearfully asks Homer's help.  The first step
 is to dry Bart's tears, which Homer does with a high-power hair blower.
   Bart:  Well, I had a run-in with a... bully.
   Marge: [bursts in] A bully!?
   Homer: [annoyed] Come on, Marge!  I don't bug you when you're helping Lisa!
   Marge: Well, Bart, I hope you're going straight to the principal about this.
   Bart:  I... guess I could do that.
   Homer: What!?  And violate the code of the schoolyard!?
          I'd rather Bart die!
   Marge: What on earth are you talking about, Homer!?
   Homer: The code of the schoolyard, Marge!  The rules that teach a boy to be
          a man.  Let's see.  [enumerates them on his fingers] Don't tattle.
          Always make fun of those different from you.  Never say anything,
          unless you're sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do.
          What else...
   -- Rule number four:  Girls have cooties, ``Bart the General''
 Marge will hear nothing of this.
   Marge: This bully friend of yours.  Is he a little on the chunky side?
   Bart:  Yeah, he's pretty chunkified, all right.
   Marge: Mmm.  And I'll bet he doesn't do well in his studies, either.
   Bart:  No, he's pretty dumb.  He's in all the same special classes I am.
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Marge suggests he try talking it out, but Homer drags Bart away. ``Thank
 you very much, Mrs. Maharishi Gandhi.''

 Down in the rumpus room, Homer draws a face on a punching bag and invites
 Bart to do his worst.  Bart feebly punches it.  ``No, no, not like that.
 Like this!''  Homer leaps onto the bag, clawing and chewing.  He spits
 out a mouthful of cloth.
   Homer: You didn't expect that, did you.  And neither will he.
   Bart:  You mean that I should fight dirty, Dad?
   Homer: Unfortunately, son, we Simpsons sometimes have to bend the rules
          a little in order to hold our own.
   Bart:  Amen!
   Homer: So the next time this bully thinks you're going to throw a punch,
          you throw a glob of mud in his eye!
          And then you sock him [pounds fist into hand] when he staggers
          around blinded!
   Bart:  [getting into it]  Yeah!
   Homer: And there's nothing wrong with hitting someone when his back is turned.
   Bart:  Gotcha.
   Homer: [quietly] And if you get the chance, get him right in the family jewels.
          That little doozy's been a Simpson trademark for generations.
          [punches the punching bag down low]
   Bart:  [cringes]  Thanks, Pop.
   -- The rules of the schoolyard, Simpson style, ``Bart the General''
 Bart skids to a halt on the schoolyard when Nelson appears.  Nelson squares
 off for a fistfight, so Bart throws mud in his eye.  Nelson rubs it off
 and marches onward.  Homer appears in a thought balloon.  ``The family
 jewels, son.''  Bart lunges for Nelson, who holds him safely away at
 arm's length.  Dream-Homer shrugs.  Bart's-eye view of Nelson's fist
 approaching.  Dream-Homer cringes as Bart is beaten (offscreen) to a pulp.
 His lucky red hat obvious didn't help.  ``Oh, no.  Not the can, please.''

 Lisa sits on the curb licking a green ice cream cone.  (Spearmint?
 Pistachio?)  Bart rolls in.  He coughs up his lucky red hat.
   Lisa: Why don't you go see Grampa?
   Bart: What can <he> do?
   Lisa: He'll give you good advice.  He's the toughest Simpson alive.
   Bart: He is?
   Lisa: Yeah, remember the fight he put up when we put him in the home?
   -- ``Bart the General''
 At the Springfield Retirement Home, Bart asks to see Grampa.  Heads poke
 out of doors all down the hall.  Grampa Simpson.  Heads return, disappointed.
 Grampa types an angry letter.
   Dear Advertisers,
       I am disgusted with the way old people are depicted on television.
   We are not all vibrant, fun-loving sex maniacs.  Many of us are bitter,
   resentful individuals who remember the good old days when entertainment
   was bland and inoffensive.  The following is a list of words I never
   want to hear on television again.  Number one:  Bra.  Number two:  Horny.
   Number three:  Family Jewels.
   -- Grampa Simpson, ``Bart the General''
 Grampa tells Bart, ``If you don't stand up for yourself, bullies are going
 to be picking on you for the rest of your life.''  Jasper comes in and
 demands Grampa's newspaper so he can do the crossword.  A fierce struggle
 ensues, and Jasper wins.  Grampa realizes he can't be much help, but
 he knows someone who can.

 They go to Herman's Military Antiques.
   Herman: [whispers] What's the password?
   Grampa: Let me in, you idiot!
   Herman: Right you are.  [opens the door]
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Grampa introduces Bart.
   Bart:   Uh, Mr. Herman?
   Herman: Yes?
   Bart:   Did, did you lose your arm in the war?
   Herman: My arm?  Well, let me put it this way:  Next time your teacher tells
           you to keep your arm inside the bus window, you do it!
   Bart:   [nervously]  Yes, sir.  I will.
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Grampa explains that Bart's having trouble with a local bully named Nelson.
   Herman: How many men do you have?
   Bart:   None.
   Herman: You'll need more.
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Herman produces a map.
   The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street.
   The Greeks knew it.  The Carthaginians knew it.  Now <you> know it.
   -- Herman, ``Bart the General''
   First, you'll need a declaration of war.  That way, everything you do will be
   nice and legal.
   -- Herman, giving Bart advice on dealing with a local bully,
      ``Bart the General''
 Herman uses a slightly modified one from the Franco-Prussian War.
   Bart:   Pssst.  Grampa, I think this guy's a little nuts.
   Grampa: Oh yeah?  Well, General George S. Patton was a little nuts.
           And this guy's completely out of his mind!  We can't fail!!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 [End of Act Two.  Time: 14:29ish]

 At Springfield Elementary, a note is passed around.  It reads, ``If you
 hate and fear Nelson, meet at Bart's treehouse.  1500 hrs.  (3pm).''

 Bart's treehouse is packed, but Bart is late.  He staggers in, bruised,
 coughs up his lucky red hat, and hangs it up.
   Bart:     Okay, we all know why we're here, right?
   Milhouse: No, why?
   Bart:     To fight Nelson, the bully.  That guy has been tormenting all of
             us for years, and I for one am sick of it!
             I can't promise you victory.  I can't promise you good times.
             But the one thing I do know...
             [all the kids file out]
             Whoa!  Whoa!
             I promise you victory!  I promise you good times!
             [kids cheer]
   -- Give 'em what they want, ``Bart the General''
 Bart's infantry marches in time, each soldier equipped with a helmet.
   Bart: I got a B in arithmetic.
   Army: I got a B in arithmetic.
   Bart: Would have got an A but I was sick.
   Army: Would have got an A but I was sick.
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Swing-ring practice.  Milhouse misses a ring and falls to the ground.
 (``Aaagghh!'')  Then is knocked over by another trainee.  (``Aggh!'')

 Climbing the monkey bars.  A helmet falls.  Luckily, everyone below
 was wearing their helmets.

 Collision avoidance drills.  One of the kids falls into a dustbin.
   Bart: We are rubber, you are glue.
   Army: We are rubber, you are glue.
   Bart: It bounces off of us and sticks to you.
   Army: It bounces off of us and sticks to you.
   Bart: Sound off.
   Army: One!  Two!
   Bart: Sound off!
   Army: Three!! Four!!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Crossing the stream.  The rock in the middle of the water turns out to
 be a kid wearing a helmet.

 The kids march through mud as General Bart (wearing shades and chewing
 on a piece of grass) watches.

 Silhouetted against the setting sun, the kids climb the monkey bars.
 One kid slips.

 Munitions training.  Bart points at an easel, on which is mounted a
 schematic of a water balloon.  The balloon in Bart's hand bursts.

 Battle simulator.  Kids run past an angry dog.
   Bart: What's the matter with you, soldier!
   Boy:  It's my nerves, sir.  I just can't stand the barking any more.
   Bart: Your nerves!  [slaps the kid]  I won't have cowards in my army.
   Grampa: [whaps Bart]  Sorry, Bart.
         You can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff,
         you can send them off to die on some God-forsaken rock, but for
         some reason you can't slap them.
   -- ``Bart the General''
   Bart: In English class I did the best.
   Army: In English class I did the best.
   Bart: Because I cheated on the test.
   Army: Because I cheated on the test.
   Bart: Sound off.
   Army: One!  Two!
   Bart: I can't hear you!
   Army: Three!!  Four!!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Simulated hand-to-hand.  The kids attack a stuffed bag.  Lewis uses a
 plunger.  Another boy uses a dust mop.  Milhouse attacks with a fly

 Bart calls, ``Okay, next group!  Martinez!  Steinberg!  O'Hara!  Chang!
 Olajuwan!  Herman!''  Herman attacks the bag with a bayonet.
   Bart: We are happy, we are merry.
   Army: We are happy, we are merry.
   Bart: We got a rhyming dictionary.
   Army: We got a rhyming dictionary.
   Bart: Sound off.
   Army: One!  Two!
   Bart: One more time!
   Army: Three!  Four!
   Bart: Bring it on home now!
   Army: One!  Two!  Three!  Four!
         One!  Two!  ... Three-Four!
   -- ``Bart the General''
 In the treehouse, a scale model of Springfield is laid out on the table,
 with saltshakers used to indicate troop placement and strengths.  During
 the strategic planning, the shakers are pushed around with those pusher
 things Army people use.  Intelligence reports that Nelson shakes down
 kids at the video arcade for quarters, then heads to the Kwik-E-Mart for
 a cherry Squishee.
   Herman: When he leaves the Kwik-E-Mart, we start the saturation bombing.
           You got the water balloons?
   Bart:   [salutes]  Two hundred rounds, sir.  [holds a balloon]
           Is it okay if they say `Happy Birthday' on the side?
   Herman: Urgh.  I'd rather they say `Death from Above', but I guess we're stuck.
   -- Saturation bombing with a smile, ``Bart the General''
 Herman sketches the strategy.
   It's a classic Pincer's Movement.  It can't fail against a ten-year-old!
   -- Herman lends Bart military advice, ``Bart the General''
 Lewis reports Nelson's position, and Bart calls everyone to battle stations.
 Yells Herman, ``I feel so alive!''
   I thought I was too old.  I thought my time had passed.  I thought I'd never
   hear the screams of pain, or see the look of terror in a man's eyes.  Thank
   heaven for children!
   -- Grampa Simpson, ``Bart the General''
 Nelson and his two goons return from their Squishee-fest, and Bart blocks
 their path.  ``Nelson, I'm afraid I'm going to have to teach you a lesson.''
 ``Oh yeah?  You and what army?''  ``This one.''  Bart's troops emerge from
 their hiding places, water balloons poised.  (One accidentally goes off
 early.)  Bart yells, ``Commence saturation bombing!''  Nelson and his
 goons are pummelled with water balloons.  They make a run for it, but
 their escape route is blocked off.  Nelson runs past the Simpsons house,
 with the army in hot pursuit.
   Homer: All right, you kids!  Keep it down!  Am I making myself cl--[oomph]
          [Homer is hit by a water balloon]
   Grampa: [giggles]  Heh heh, got him!
   Homer: You!  Up in the tree!  The tall grey-haired kid!  You come down
          here right now!
   Grampa: [pegs Homer in the face with another balloon]
   -- ``Bart the General''
 Nelson and his goons are trapped.
   Goon #1: Don't hurt us!
   Goon #2: We surrender!
   Goon #1: We were only following orders!
   -- A likely story, ``Bart the General''
 The army go after Nelson and saturate him at point-blank range.

 Bart and Milhouse parade Nelson, tied up in the wagon.  Lisa stands
 in the street surveying the damage, when a soldier boy rushes up
 and kisses her, the moment captured forever in a photo.  (Some soldiers
 have all the luck.)  Lisa slaps him.  ``Ewwww, knock it off!''

 Bart says, ``You learned your lesson, so now I'll untie you.''
 Nelson threatens, ``The second you untie me, I'm gonna beat you to
 death, man.''  So Bart decides never to untie him.  Nelson scoffs,
 ``You're going to have to, sometime.''  Bart realizes Nelson is right.
 Herman steps forward, ``I was ready for this little eventuality.''

 Nelson (still tied up) watches TV on the Simpsons couch, while Herman
 finishes the armistice.
   Article Four:  Nelson is never again to raise his fists in anger.
   Article Five:  Nelson recognizes Bart's right to exist.
   Article Six:   Although Nelson shall have no official power,
                  he shall remain a figurehead of menace in the neighborhood.
   -- Terms of surrender, ``Bart the General''
 The parties sign the agreement.  Marge asks, ``Are you boys through
 playing war?''  Bart unties Nelson, and they say, ``Yeah.''
 ``Then here are some cupcakes!''  Cupcakes are enjoyed by all.
 Maggie belches.

 Fade to a library.  Bart sits on the reading table.
   Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.
   Contrary to what you've just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun.
   There are no winners, only losers.  There are no good wars, with the
   following exceptions:  The American Revolution, World War II,
   and the Star Wars Trilogy.  If you'd like to learn more about war,
   there's lots of books in your local library, many of them with cool,
   gory pictures.  Well, good night, everybody.  Peace, man.
   -- Bart's disclaimer, ``Bart the General''
 [End of Act Three.  Time: 21:14ish]

Boring distribution restrictions

Episode summaries Copyright 1992 by Raymond Chen.  Updated 1999 Andrew A.
Gill.  Unattributed discrepancies between this and the previous revisions are
mine.  The American Civil War was not The War of Northern Aggression.  Not to
be redistributed in a public forum without permission.  (The quotes
themselves, of course, remain the property of The Simpsons, and the reproduced
articles remain the property of the original authors.  I'm just taking credit
for the compilation.)

HTML conversion by
Howard Jones( on Sat 10 Sept 1994