The Simpsons/Last Exit to Springfield

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Last Exit to Springfield
Last Exit to Springfield
Season 4, Episode 17
Airdate March 11, 1993
Production Number 9F15
Written by Jay Kogen &
Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Mark Kirkland
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So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show
The SimpsonsSeason Four

Last Exit to Springfield is the seventeenth episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons, and the seventy-sixth episode overall. When Mr. Burns takes away the union's dental plan, Homer winds up crusading against the changes so that he won't have to pay for Lisa's braces himself.

Special Guest Voice: Dr. Joyce Brothers (Herself)


Plot Overview

In a McBaine movie, McBaine bursts out of an ice statue and proceeds to kill every one of the head evil guy's henchmen. When he turns on the villain to do away with him as well, McBain is felled by a booby-trapped shrimp puff. After seeing this, Homer assures Bart that no one is really that evil in real life. Cut to Mr. Burns in his office, waiting for the union representative to arrive. However, it seems that the rep may have been killed and buried in a football field (or may have been Jimmy Hoffa himself). Instead, Burns decides to look at the union contract himself and is disgusted by the amount of benefits entitled to the workers. After recalling how it was in 1909, Burns decides to take back the dental plan from the union.

While Burns is plotting against the plant's dental plan, the Simpson kids are at the (oddly twisted) dentist's office themselves where they discover that Lisa needs braces. Lisa fears becoming even more of a social outcast, but the dentist insists that if she doesn't treat the problem, one of her teeth will turn into a fang that pierces her cheek by age 18. Homer assures Marge at home that the plant won a dental plan during the strike of '88, which is where he got a scar demanding a burrito from a mobile taco stand. Later, at a meeting for the local chapter of International Brotherhood of Jazz Dancers, Pastry Chefs and Nuclear Technicians, Carl informs the members that Mr. Burns will give them a free beer keg with each meeting if only they give up their dental plan. Naturally, the union workers rush to the keg without questioning their loss until "Dental Plan" and "Lisa Needs Braces" echo back and forth in Homer's head. Homer, after some time, realizes that if they give up their dental plan, he'll have to pay for Lisa's braces himself. He tears up the contract on the spot, and is appointed union president on the spot.

Now that Homer is president, he'll have to work towards negotiating back the dental plan. He doesn't have it yet though, so Lisa can't get the invisible braces that she so desperately wants. Instead, she's outfitted with some terrifying antique headgear instead. Homer begins his first negotiation with Mr. Burns without him really knowing it. Instead of taking Burns' advances as an attempt to corrupt him, he thinks that Burns is coming on to him. Homer turns him down, thinking that Burns wants to sleep with him. Burns takes a second shot at him by showing him around his mansion, including his giant television and incompetent monkeys at typewriters. Burns ends his tour at a ping pong table in the mansion's leaky basement when Homer realizes that he really needs to go to the bathroom. He abandons the talks and is dropped off at his home by helicopter. Homer considers resigning after all this trouble. He tries to resign at the next meeting, but instead accidentally initiates a strike.

Burns attempts varying ways to break up the strike, including by calling up old 1930s strikebreakers, who are far less effective than they once were. He also tries turning a fire hose on them and running the plant with just him, Smithers and rebellious robot workers. Later that night, Mr. Burns threatens the city with a crazed opening tirade on Smartline and shuts off the city's power until the workers bend to his will. But, the plant workers don't yield and, instead, sing along to the song Lisa was playing on her guitar in the darkness. Burns decides to cut them a deal, knowing that he'll never get anywhere against the union. He offers them the dental plan in exchange for his resignation as president. He realizes, far too late, that Homer is perhaps not the brilliant tactician that he thought he was.


Title Sequence

  • Blackboard: "Mud is not one of the 4 food groups." The final line cuts off at "grou."
  • Couch Gag: The family sits down on the couch, but the couch absorbs them all and turns into a hideous tentacled monster.


  • Classical Gas by Mason Williams: After performing her protest song, Lenny asks Lisa to play "Classical Gas," which she does (complete with accurate chord animations). "Classical Gas" is an instrumental acoustic guitar composition by Mason Williams. It was first released with an orchestral backing in 1968 on The Mason Williams Phonograph Record and later as a solo guitar piece in 1970 on Hand Made.

Union Strike Folk Song

Come gather 'round children,
It's high time ye learned,
'Bout a hero named Homer
And a devil named Burns.
We'll march till we drop,
The girls and the fellas,
We'll fight till the death
Or else fold like umbrellas.
So we'll march day and night,
By the big cooling tower,
They have the plant,
But we have the power.

Arc Advancement



  • Mr. Burns: According to Mr. Burns' flashback, he was a young boy in 1909 which means he would have to be aged around 90 in the present day. This runs contrary to his statement that he's 81 in a previous episode.


  • 2x04 - Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish: Mr. Burns ran for governor of whichever state Springfield happens to be in after Homer suggested, half-heartedly, that he could change the standards by which nuclear plants are judged instead of paying the $54 million to fix the problems. The Simpson family effectively foiled Burns' gubernatorial bid when Marge served a three-eyed fish caught by Bart during a highly publicized dinner with Burns and the family.
Smithers: He thwarted your campaign for governor...
  • 2x10 - Bart Gets Hit by a Car: Bart was hit by Mr. Burns' car while he was skateboarding and Homer attempted to sue for damages. When the family sued, though, Lionel Hutz made use of a crooked doctor (Dr. Nick) and falsified the extent of Bart's injuries. Instead of getting the $500,000 offered by Burns, they wound up with nothing because of Marge's conscience.
Smithers: ...You ran over his son...
  • 3x05 - Homer Defined: Homer accidentally saved the plant from meltdown by pressing a random button when the plant was moments away from meltdown and ultimately core failure. His ruse was discovered when he made the same random guess at a Shelbyville plant poised to meltdown.
Smithers: ...He saved the plant from meltdown...
  • 2x18 - Brush with Greatness: Marge painted Mr. Burns in the nude when he commissioned her for a portrait to place in the Burns Wing of the Springfield Art Museum. Instead of indulging his ego and painting him as a beautiful man, she painted him in his actual form: that of a frail old man.
Smithers: ...His wife painted you in the nude...
  • 2x08 - Bart the Daredevil: After Mr. Burns drops Homer off at his home in a helicopter, he takes off and falls out. He's then put in a hospital gurney to be airlifted out, but in the background his gurney can be seen hitting chimneys of other houses. This is a direct reference to a similar bit where Homer was being airlifted out of a canyon that he fell into twice.


The Show

  • Unnamed Character: In the script for this episode, the man who said "Nay" in every voting process was called "Droopy Voice Man" because they wanted him to sound a bit like Droopy Dog.
  • Lisa's Chords: When Lisa is playing her protest song about Homer and Mr. Burns, her left hand reflects accurate chord patterns to match the changes in the music. This sequence was laid out by Paul Wee, who is an actual guitarist.
  • A Thousand Monkeys: Mr. Burns seems to be taking the "infinite monkey theorem" seriously in his room of a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters. The theorem suggests that, given enough time, a monkey hitting random keys could come up with the complete works of William Shakespeare, or any other chosen text. But, Burns' monkeys can't even get that far. Instead, he gets erroneous Charles Dickens.

Behind the Scenes

  • Casting Woes: The producers attempted to get several prominent actors to play the role of the dentist in this episode including Anthony Hopkins and Clint Eastwood, who both passed, as well as Anthony Perkins who died shortly after agreeing to do the voice. Finally, they settled on Hank Azaria. Later on in the episode, O.J. Simpson was asked for a role as the Smartline panelist, but he declined (which the writers consider to be a good thing in the end).
  • Purple Submarine: Although Lisa's psychedelic trip is clearly inspired by the Beatles animated film Yellow Submarine, FOX legal forced animators to make the sequence slightly different from the film in every possible way including the slight changes for the Blue Meanies and Beatles character designs and the submarine being purple instead of yellow.
  • Marge the Rabbit: When Marge's hair was cut off by the helicopter blades, there was some discussion as to whether or not to make rabbit ears pop up from the hair stump. Of course, this would make little sense to anyone who is unfamiliar with Matt Groening's comic strip Life in Hell, which stars two rabbit characters and the idea was eventually dropped.
  • Caught on Tape: While doing rewrite work for the montage of Smithers and Mr. Burns attempting to run the power plant by themselves, a camera crew for a show on ABC videotaped their progress. Al Jean regrets letting them tape this because they all looked surly and unkempt, plus montage work isn't funny to watch because it's mainly pitching sight gags.
  • Critical Acclaim: This episode was declared the best Simpsons episode of all-time in a 2003 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Allusions and References

  • Jimmy Hoffa: When Burns is wondering where the union representative is, there's a cut to a football player dripping over a suspicious looking lump in the field. This is a reference to the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa was meant to meet with two Mafia leaders but never showed up. An urban legend states that Hoffa was killed by the mob and buried in Giants Stadium. Hoffa is also indirectly referenced with his theory that the key to successful negotiation is bladder control and the first one to leave the table to urinate is the loser. Homer broke that theory by leaving immediately.
  • The Godfather Part II: One of many references to The Godfather movies littered throughout the series, Homer briefly fantasized about being given donuts in exchange for favors. This is a reference to a similar scene from The Godfather Part II in which Don Fanucci extorts protection money out of local businesses during his reign in the early 1900s.
Homer: Mmm... Organized crime.
  • Batman: There are two references to Batman in this episode. The first takes place when Lisa has her antique braces installed and she demands to see a mirror. This parallels a scene from the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film, in which the Joker demanded to see a mirror after falling into a vat of chemicals. Later, when Mr. Burns and Smithers are accessing the plant shutoff button, they pull a false book and slide down a couple of poles to the room. The musical sting that plays is from the 1989 Batman main theme and the action is a reference to the Adam West Batman television series.
  • Moby Dick: When turning off the city's power, Burns shouts "From Hell's heart I stab at thee" before pressing the button. This is the curse uttered by Captain Ahab when he tries to kill the white whale.
Mr. Burns: From hell's heart, I stab at thee!
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas: After Burns turns off the power to the city and it doesn't deter the union workers on strike, he speaks with disgust and amazement to Smithers in the same way as The Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In the story, the Grinch is shocked by Whoville celebrating Christmas, even though he's stolen their gifts and decorations. The way that the scene was animated is a direct reference to the cartoon and Burns uses some Dr. Seuss-esque words and rhymes.
Mr. Burns: They sing without flunjers, capdabblers and smendlers!

Memorable Moments


  • Lenny: So long, dental plan!
    Homer: [Thinks...]
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    (As a prank, Chuckie drops a pencil into the crack of Homer's butt)
    Carl: Bull's-eye!
    Homer: Thanks a lot, Carl. Now I lost my train of thought.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Lenny's Voice: Dental plan!
    Marge's Voice: Lisa needs braces.
    Homer: If we give up our dental plan... I'll have to pay for Lisa's braces!