×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The best Itchy and Scratchy episodes from The Simpsons

Among the many television innovations set in motion by The Simpsons, the long-running Fox series introduced the show-within-a-show-within-a-show. Every weekday at 4 PM, kids all over the Simpsons town of Springfield, especially Bart and Lisa, turn on Channel 6 to watch The Krusty the Clown Show. And a highlight of that program is the segment called The Itchy and Scratchy Show, a rapid-fire and unbelievably violent cartoon about the cat-and-mouse games of an actual cat and mouse. 

It usually follows a simple formula. Itchy the mouse tricks Scratchy the cat into a deadly situation and then brutally, creatively, and violently hurts and kills him. As The Simpsons satirizes most every part of modern life, Itchy and Scratchy is a means to mock the casually violent TV programs presented as appropriate kiddie fare (such as Tom and Jerry or those Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons). After 30 seasons, Simpsons writers are still coming up with unique ways for Itchy to torture Scratchy, and out of hundreds of entries, these are the most memorable and funniest ever episodes of The Itchy and Scratchy Show.

'Foster Pussycat! Kill Kill!' has a brutal family betrayal

Itchy doesn't usually kill Scratchy for any other purpose than because it's his job. After all, a cat is a mouse's natural enemy, so it's a preemptive strike against his possible tormentor. But Scratchy seems genuinely good-hearted, more open to love than he is the idea of instinctively murdering a mouse just because it's a mouse. And from the Itchy and Scratchy episode "Foster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" (a play on the title of the cult classic film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), it's evident he just wants to be a dad.

Seemingly and understandably disturbed by past violent incidents (or scared of future ones), this cartoon finds Scratchy trying to stay safe and calm, reading Nice magazine behind a front door outfitted with a dozen or so heavy-duty locks. The doorbell rings, and Scratchy discovers a blanket-covered basket. His shotgun-wielding arm shaking as he carefully removes the blanket, he discovers a bottle-sucking baby. It's Itchy, of course, but Scratchy doesn't recognize him somehow, as he's instantly in love with his new, adoptive child. He then picks up baby Scratchy ... who proceeds to break his glass bottle and stab Scratchy several times with it. 

Scratchy falls to the ground in agony while Itchy runs into the house, steals the TV, and darts off, leaving a trail of bloody footprints. With his dying breaths, Scratchy mourns what he sees as familial betrayal. "Why, why? My only son!" he laments and then dies.

'My Bloody Valentine' shows there's no love lost between Itchy and Scratchy

Itchy and Scratchy shorts often parallel or reflect the plot on the episode of The Simpsons in which it airs, particularly in the early years of the series. For example, the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon "My Bloody Valentine" shares a Valentine's Day theme with its 1993 episode, "I Love Lisa." Eschewing their adversarial relationship in the name of the holiday of love, Scratchy presents Itchy with a heart-shaped valentine that reads, simply, "I Love You." 

Touched and also feeling friendly for a change, Itchy searches his pockets for a return gift, but finding nothing, he reverts to his usual ways. He punches through Scratchy's chest and rips out the cat's actual, still-beating heart and hands it to him. Scratchy is touched and lovingly places it on his shelf at home, then sits down to read the newspaper. It's apparently a slow news day, because the top story is, hilariously and appropriately, "You Need A Heart to Live." Terrified upon reading the headline, Scratchy wildly reaches for his heart, then clutches at his chest, and dies.

'Esophagus Now' features the world's worst dinner

Even though it's titled "Esophagus Now," this Itchy and Scratchy installment focuses on a different part of the body, one that belongs to a very unlucky Scratchy. Coming in the Simpsons episode where Lisa decides that eating meat is cruel and barbaric, this segment finds poor Scratchy hitting up a fancy restaurant and ordering a steak from the waiter ... Itchy. The mouse then tiptoes under the table, shaves Scratchy's stomach, and plops it on a plate for the cat to eat. (He also stabs the "dish" with a tag marked "rare" and places an olive in the belly button for garnish.)

Evidently, Scratchy didn't notice or feel any of that, and he happily digs in when he's presented with a giant plate of his own flesh. He cuts into his stomach and swallows a tasty bite, and yes, Itchy has just tricked Scratchy into self-cannibalism. Of course, that chunk of flesh heads to Scratchy's stomach, and then pops out of the hole he's carved. He then repeatedly chews and swallows the same piece, and it falls out of his stomach each time. But this isn't what does in Scratchy. When Itchy gives him his bill of $100, his eyes bug out of his skull, and his head explodes.

'Four Funerals and a Wedding' is gloriously ridiculous, even by Itchy and Scratchy standards

Cartoons defiantly, willfully, and ridiculously flout logic and rules. They don't have to make sense, and they usually don't. "Four Funerals and a Wedding," an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon from 1995, is perhaps the most nonsensical installment that the cat and mouse have ever had the pleasure of telling. 

It's Scratchy's wedding day, and while he patiently listens to the officiant, he fails to notice Itchy replace the bride with a cat-like figure clearly made up of a variety of explosives — many of them with lit fuses. The ceremony concludes, and Scratchy kisses the bride, not realizing she's built of bombs, nor does he notice when feeding her cake at the reception. Then things get really weird. 

It flashes forward to the couple sitting on the couch while their kids play in front of them. Somehow, Scratchy and the collection of bombs have mated and produced two half-cat, half-explosive children. The scene cuts once more to the porch of a retirement home, where an elderly Scratchy and his wife sit in rocking chairs. Finally, after so many decades, she explodes, turning Scratchy into a skeleton made of ash. A white-bearded Itchy pops in to laugh at his old nemesis, only to die himself from a sudden heart attack. Death comes for all, even evil mice.

'Flay Me to the Moon' takes Scratchy into space

It's always a big deal when one of our earthbound space programs sends a craft or a person into space. That's even true in the world of The Simpsons. Homer did it in the episode "Deep Space Homer," and Scratchy went into the cosmos in "Flay Me to the Moon." Well, not all of Scratchy did — just his tongue. 

Scratchy is so consumed reading an article in the newspaper, topped with the headline "Moon Launch Today," that he fails to notice Itchy sneak in through the window and yank out his tongue, stretching it to an impossibly long length as he runs across the hills and ties it to the bottom of a rocket, the very one headed for the moon. It takes off, along with Scratchy's tongue, stretching it out further as it repeatedly circles the moon, tightly tying up the celestial body. 

All this doesn't pull Scratchy into the menacing void of space — quite the opposite. His tongue is so snugly wrapped around the moon that his body starts pulling the satellite toward a collision course with Earth. The moon enters the planet's orbit and then lands right on top of Scratchy's house, crushing it and the cat inside. Amazingly, this was all part of a well-planned, government-funded effort because the cartoon ends with a NASA control room full of celebrating mice.

'Tears of a Clone' proves that Itchy is a psychopath

Arriving at the beginning of the 2000 Simpsons episode "Little Big Mom," the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon "The Tears of a Clone" establishes something fundamental about the character of Itchy the mouse: He's a psychopathic murderer. He so loves maiming and killing Scratchy that when the cat dies and is laid to rest, he falls into a deep sadness, sitting around drinking heavily and paging through photo albums full of depictions of Scratchy's many horrible wounds and accidents. 

Then, inspired by a newspaper headline about a cloned sheep, Itchy finds an old cleaver with Scratchy's blood still on it and drops it into a "Cloning Machine." It immediately spits out Scratchy clones, which Itchy immediately murders, one by one, with a variety of sharp objects. This wears out the little mouse, so he gets to work building a "Killing Machine." He places it right up next to the "Cloning Machine," so the conveyor belt leads directly from one to the other, causing instantaneous and automatic death for the new Scratchys as soon as they're born. Ah, the wonders of science.

'Cat Splat Fever' asks a weird question about death

The Itchy and Scratchy Show obviously trades in death, and each episode almost invariably ends with Scratchy murdered by Itchy's clever hand. In this cartoon universe, however, death doesn't take, as the cat always comes back to get killed again and again. And "Cat Splat Fever" explores the idea of death, in particular asking the question, can a ghost — already a deceased being — get killed again? 

The answer, apparently, is yes. 

The cartoon starts off with Itchy jumping into a well — a staged attempt at ending his own life to arouse Scratchy's attention. Scratchy dutifully and loyally jumps into the well to save Itchy, but on the way down, he passes the mouse, who's safely sitting on a shelf-like brick. Scratchy plummets to the bottom, where a comically oversized alligator is waiting to tear him to shreds. The cat dies, and his angelic spirit drifts back upward. But Itchy isn't done with Scratchy yet and shoots him at close range in the head with a handgun. That strips Scratchy of his halo, which works as a flying aid, sending his spirit back to the hungry, vicious alligator.

'Mouse M.D.' takes aim at another Fox show

The Simpsons frequently pokes fun at Fox, its own network, as well as the company's programming. For example, in the 2010 episode "Postcards From the Wedge," Bart Simpson watches an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon that pays homage to and sends up the hit diagnostic medical drama House. 

In "Mouse, M.D.", Scratchy seeks treatment at a hospital for a splinter (as Massive Attack's "Teardrop," the House theme song, plays). Itchy, made up to look like Hugh Laurie's character in the show, with stubble and a cane, assesses the situation and subjects Scratchy to a series of torturous and unnecessary medical procedures, including replacing his heart with a spider, administering an acid enema, and chopping off his legs and sticking them in his ears. 

Then, like Dr. House, Itchy has a sudden revelation on how to treat the patient. A light bulb turns on over his head, and Dr. Itchy grabs it, breaks it, and uses it to chop off Scratchy's head, which he then inserts into the cat's open chest cavity, and sews it all up. Momentarily, Scratchy delivers his own head like a baby, and the headless corpse cradles and rocks it.

'Scratchtasia' satirizes a Disney classic

The 1994 Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy Land" ultimately plays as a parody of Jurassic Park, in which animatronic figures at Itchy and Scratchy Land turn bad and terrorize park guests. Before that, the episode savagely mocks Disney — its theme parks, its films, its heritage, and its founder. For example, Bart and Lisa learn from a short film that filmmaker Roger Meyers Sr. made a cartoon in 1938 called "Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors," a nod to Walt Disney's rumored anti-Semitism. And as Disney had his Fantasia, Meyers produced Scratchtasia, a classy combination of lush animation set to orchestral music. Bart and Lisa get to see a clip from that film, which plays as an obvious send-up of the Fantasia segment "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." It even uses the same, familiar score.

After struggling over an ax, Scratchy, clad in a wizard robe and hat, wins out and uses the weapon to chop Itchy into tiny pieces. Like a magical Mickey Mouse dealing with a tiny army of sentiment brooms, each Itchy bit comes to life, forming hundreds of pint-size, ax-wielding mice. Scratchy furiously kills them all, reducing them into a mass of amorphous pink powder. The cat takes a rest and inadvertently breathes in all that Itchy dust ... composed of now-microscopic Itchys. They enter Scratchy's bloodstream and chop at the cat's cellular walls, which causes him to disintegrate from the inside out.

'Little Barbershop of Horrors' is an Itchy and Scratchy classic

Displeased by what they perceive as a downturn in quality in Itchy and Scratchy cartoons, Bart and Lisa Simpson realize they can write a decent script, only to have their work rejected by dismissive Itchy and Scratchy International boss Roger Meyers, Jr. because they're children. They send in the script again, this time under the name Abraham Simpson. (Thereby giving this Simpsons episode the name "The Front.") This time, Bart and Lisa's script gets made, and they were rightfully confident about their writing abilities because "Little Barbershop of Horrors" is an all-time great segment of Itchy and Scratchy. 

Scratchy hits up barber Itchy for a haircut. After taking a little off the top, the mouse tosses a bottle of barbecue sauce onto the cat's head, if only to make the meat more attractive for the box of flesh-eating ants he pours out over poor Scratchy. They quickly devour all of the flesh on his head. As Scratchy screams in agony, Itchy pumps the telescoping barber chair all the way up, where it crashes through the roof and into a TV set in an apartment. Elvis Presley happens to be watching, and he doesn't like what he sees. "Aww, this show ain't no good," he declares of the cat skull staring at him from the broken television. As Elvis so often did, he shoots the TV, separating Scratchy's skull from his spine, finishing him off.

'Porch Pals' is a violence-free episode of Itchy and Scratchy

In the season two episode "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge," Maggie Simpson imitates an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon and attacks Homer with a mallet. As a result, a deeply concerned Marge begins a crusade to end cartoon violence. The movement gains so much traction that the creators of Itchy and Scratchy are forced to revamp the show into a peaceful, violence-free show, and they even consult sweet but square Marge on what changes to make. 

What is Itchy and Scratchy without violence? It could be nothing at all ... or it could be "Porch Pals." Redesigned with gigantic, friendlier-looking eyes, Itchy and Scratchy no longer hate each other and try to murder one another in graphically violent ways, but rather, they lazily rock back and forth in chairs on a porch. The only thing resembling a plot is the ridiculously dull conversation that transpires between cat and mouse. "Lemonade?" offers Scratchy. "Please!" Itchy replies. "I made it just for you," Scratchy explains. "You are my best friend," Itchy declares. And that's about it for these porch pals.

'The Beagle Has Landed' made things, uh, cool?

As the 1997 episode "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show" begins, Krusty the Clown is considering dropping Itchy and Scratchy from his show. The cartoon's studio holds a focus group, where Lisa explains that the series no longer packs the punch it once did because it's been on the air for so long. That's some impressive Simpsons self-criticism, as it was also a long-running cartoon lacking edge. Fox actually told Simpsons producers to add a cool new character to freshen things up, and the show's writers responded satirically. In "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show," an aggressively cool guy named Roy lives with the Simpsons, and Itchy and Scratchy introduces an aggressively cool dog named Poochie (voiced by Homer).

With much fanfare, the rebooted Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show debuts, and "The Beagle Has Landed" tantalizingly shows Itchy and Scratchy driving to a fireworks factory, only to stop when they see Poochie. The dog boasts every cliché form of "cool" possible. He wears sunglasses, a backwards hat, and a leather jacket, and he clutches a surfboard. Then he plays some electric guitar and rides a bike up a ramp to slam dunk a basketball. In his introductory rap, he incongruously describes himself as "a kung fu hippie from Gangster City," as well as "a third Joe Camel and a third Fonzarelli" (a.k.a. Fonzie). It's so bad that it's spectacular.