Messed up things that no one talks about in The Simpsons

The Simpsons—a classic animated sitcom that's been dispensing laughs, chuckles, and guffaws for decades. The surreal comedy and witty dialogue has made it an indispensable show for comedy fans, but there're some really messed-up moments hiding in The Simpsons

The whole town thinks that Lisa got high on drugs and tried to murder Bart

Lisa's so precocious, always trying to grow up faster than her actual age. Whether that's joining MENSA or playing jazz saxophone, she's always trying new things in an attempt to be seen as a mature adult. Of course, that can backfire. Which is what happened when the entire town thought that Lisa got high on drugs and tried to murder her brother Bart while babysitting him.

In "My Sister, My Sitter," Lisa's attempt to become a babysitter goes badly when—in a fit of pique for being babysat by his younger sister—Bart torments her so badly that she accidentally knocks him down the stairs, dislocating his arm. When she tries to bring him to the hospital (with baby sis Maggie in a pet carrier), she and Bart slip down a muddy hill right in front of the entire town, making it look like she tried to murder him and bury the body. Unlike other moments in The Simpsons, this doesn't exactly get resolved by the end credits. Lisa's reputation as an ineffectual murderer is never resolved here. The "happy ending" is just that some parents are willing to risk their child's death as long as they can get a babysitter.

Considering how much Lisa values her reputation, it's hardly the ideal ending for her. On the other hand, considering this next entry, maybe it's best that she's only accused of murdering her brother and not anyone else.

Bart and Lisa try to cover up Martin Prince's murder

Bart gets a (usually well-earned) bad rap in The Simpsons as a troublemaker and ne'er-do-well, and Lisa's often considered the golden child and moral compass of the family—and often the show. That's what makes "Dial N for Nerder," when Lisa and Bart try to cover up their accidental murder of awkward schoolmate Martin Prince, so much more horrifying. While the show dabbles in implied violence against minor characters (just take a look at this clip), main characters are usually protected against actual murder. Well, except Maude.

Still, basing an entire episode about two children accidentally murdering their friend, and then being haunted by their guilt, in a parody of Macbeth and (later) Columbo is a pretty dark joke. Especially when it's Lisa that keeps encouraging Bart to keep his mouth shut and pretend that nothing happened. That Martin is later proven to be unharmed (more or less) doesn't take away from the potency of the episode's stinger, in which Lisa realizes just how twisted and selfish she can be.

The Simpsons takes place in the X-Files universe

The Simpsons often pokes fun at other fictional properties by bringing in parodies of famous characters to interact with some of Springfield's finest. These characters usually have their name slightly changed to at least imply that they aren't taking place in a concurrent universe (scroll down for one such example), but "The Springfield Files" episode places The Simpsons squarely within The X-Files universe.

In the episode, Homer becomes convinced he's seen an alien in the woods and begins telling everyone in town. The incident is even investigated by FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, voiced by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their roles as the famous alien investigators.

The Simpsons has always dabbled in science-fiction (Kang and Kodos are literal aliens who appear in various episodes), but by using the actual Mulder and Scully, with no parody names, the show brings its own continuity into X-Files continuity. It's a fun wink, but it also means that The Simpsons takes place in a world where there's a boat that ages people super-fast, an incestuous cannibal family, and human-alien hybrids. That's a pretty messed-up world to live in, even if you do have freakish yellow skin and three-eyed fish to contend with.

Homer dreams about murdering his father

Just about everyone has some form of disagreement with their parents, but the Simpsons clan has it especially rough. Bart contending with Homer strangling him almost daily is a well-trod plot point, but Homer's resentment toward Grampa seems more like some harsh emotional abuse since he leaves him in the old folks home and doesn't ever visit. In "Papa Don't Leech," however, fans got to see how twisted their relationship really is.

In an opening scene that closely parodies The Sopranos episode "Kennedy and Heidi," Homer suffocates Grampa in the car after they get into a car crash. As fans might have guessed, it's a dream sequence, but the creepiest part is that Homer wakes up with a smile and says, "I was having the most wonderful dream." We would say that Homer has some Oedipal-like tendencies, but he'd probably misunderstand it as "edible."

Homer helped Hank Scorpio kill James Bond

James Bond has defeated malevolent masterminds, sultry seductresses, and back-stabbing spies, but it turns out his biggest weakness was a clumsy oaf. That's what happens in "You Only Move Twice," when Homer gets a job working as a henchman for Hank Scorpio, a parody of James Bond villains (with a touch of British billionaire Richard Branson).

Homer's ignorance of Scorpio's plans for world domination are played for laughs, but there's a grim joke where a secret agent named "Bont" escapes from a death trap (a slow-moving laser a la Goldfinger) only to get tackled by Springfield's most lovable buffoon. Bont is knocked to the floor and quickly dispatched by Scorpio's other minions.

So the James Bond of The Simpsons universe dies due to Homer, which is bad enough, but the episode keeps going: Hank Scorpio actually succeeds in his plot to take over the east coast, even going so far as to send Homer the Denver Broncos team as a thank you gift for all of his help. We've all made some mistakes in our lives, but helping an insane supervillain seize control over a significant portion of America is a mistake only Homer could make.

Bart sends Milhouse's first love to a monastery because he's jealous

Milhouse is Bart's best friend, but that tends to be because Milhouse forgives Bart for everything, no matter how badly he's treated by the spiky-haired troublemaker. That's best exemplified in "Bart's Friend Falls in Love," when Milhouse starts surreptitiously dating Samantha, a new transfer student at Springfield Elementary. Bart's immediately overcome with jealousy, which gets so bad that he eventually tells Samantha's father about her secret relationship.

Samantha is sent to Saint Sebastian's School for Wicked Girls to put distance between her and Milhouse. Later, Bart feels guilty enough to tell Milhouse the truth, spurring a fistfight. Of course, it turns out that Samantha actually likes the school, and Bart and Milhouse make up by the end of the episode, but that doesn't change the fact that Bart's first reaction to this best friend getting a girlfriend was to literally get her sent to a correctional school. We know that Bart is supposed to be a child, and that being jealous of your best friend's first romantic relationship is pretty common, but that's still a huge overreaction to Milhouse's love life. Luckily, Milhouse has good role models to look to for healthy, romantic love in his life, right?

Maggie shot Mr. Burns on purpose

"Who shot Mr. Burns?" It was the cliffhanger that stunned the nation (and a parody of another gun-related cliffhanger that stunned the nation in TV series Dallas), and fans went nuts trying to figure out the culprit. Even once the suspect pool was narrowed down to the Simpson family, it was still anyone's guess who could have shot the most unpopular man in town.

As it turned out, it was Maggie. After Mr. Burns literally tried to take candy from a baby, he dropped his gun and got shot by accident. Except the episode ends with Maggie looking shiftily around when Marge explains that a baby couldn't shoot anyone on purpose. It's a quick gag to imply that Maggie actually did mean to shoot Mr. Burns, and it's never spoken about again.

It's a really dark joke. It's basically saying that, as a baby not even old enough to form her first words, Maggie is willing to murder someone if they try and take something of hers. That's the type of backstory you normally hear on a Dateline episode, not an episode of America's favorite animated sitcom. Luckily, the stunted age of all the characters on the show means that audiences will never need to see how many more attempted murders Maggie might commit in adulthood.

Gil's entire existence

It's fairly common in sitcoms to have a character whose main role is to be unlucky in life. There's Gunther in Friends, Jerry Gergich in Parks & Recreation, and many, many more. Eventually though, these characters are usually shown to have some sort of bright spot in their lives. It just gets depressing otherwise.

Unfortunately, depressing might as well be Ol' Gil's last name. He's a minor character in The Simpsons based upon Jack Lemmon's loser of a salesman in Glengarry Glenn RossHis very existence is to be the butt of joke after joke. In a world where Homer can hold down hundreds of jobs—despite his obvious brain damage (see below)—and literal aliens exist, Gil is proof that no matter how wacky or surreal the world of The Simpsons gets, there's always going to be unhappy losers like him who can never win.

Homer's stupidity is the result of brain damage that he prefers to being smart

Homer's stupidity is often played for laughs, which makes sense. Who doesn't love a good oaf blundering from one bad situation to another? But in "HOMR," a parody of Flowers for Algernon, Homer finds out that the reason he's so stupid is because he essentially has brain damage. 

When Homer was a child, he put 16 crayons up his nose, but one of them remained jammed in his brain, giving him the low IQ and poor impulse control that audiences love. (We suppose it's lucky that Homer's only as stupid as he is, considering he put that many crayons up his nose, but we digress.) Homer gets the crayon removed and finds he's able to better bond with his smart daughter, Lisa, and even improve his work at the nuclear power plant. This leads to massive layoffs when he diagnoses problems in the workplace. His friends begin to hate the new, intelligent Homer. He ends up getting the crayon replaced by Moe (who's a physician for some reason here) in order to return to his blissful ignorance.

In sum, Homer's life is basically ruined by his surprising intelligence, all to the point that he would rather willingly endure permanent brain damage than live his life as a smart person. Add to this that Moe's an apparent "unlicensed surgeon" whose life is so dour his suicide attempts have been played for laughs, and The Simpsons ends up with a pretty pessimistic view of the correlation between happiness and intelligence.

The death of Frank Grimes

If we're talking about messed-up moments in The Simpsons, we absolutely have to talk about the sad life and death of Frank Grimes in "Homer's Enemy." Frank Grimes is a brilliant hard-working man, who becomes incensed upon meeting Homer Simpson, who is proof there's no such thing as meritocracy. When Grimes' tragic life is highlighted in the local news, Mr. Burns hires him on the spot, only to replace him with a dog who's story is highlighted on the next day's local news.

Despite Homer's best (well, if we're being fair, lazy) efforts at befriending Grimes, his very existence is anathema to what Grimes has spent his whole life believing. Homer waltzes through life with a patient wife, three good(-ish) kids, and a ridiculous resume of amazing jobs while Grimes lives alone in an apartment between two bowling alleys. It eventually drives him insane, so much so he runs around the plant mimicking Homer and eventually electrocuting himself to death.

Even at the funeral, Homer takes attention away, leaving Grimes to be lowered into the earth, unloved and forgotten. There's plenty of messed-up moments, but nothing beats a fundamentally good man going insane at the realization that hard work benefits no one on The Simpsons.