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Times Simpsons Characters Went Too Far

In the small, vaguely-located town of Springfield live the Simpsons. Dad and mom Homer and Marge, and their kids, troublemaker Bart, studious Lisa, and toddler Maggie. Together, the little family goes on a variety of zany adventures, involving a host of colorful characters from the neighborhood.  

Created by Matt Groening, "The Simpsons" debuted as an animated short on "The Tracey Ullman Show" on April 19, 1987. Subsequently, "The Simpsons" debuted as a half-hour sitcom on December 17, 1989. Three decades later, the show is still going strong, wining 34 Primetime Emmy Awards, 34 Annie Awards, and 2 Peabody Awards along the way. Today, the series is considered the most influential adult animated show of all time, one that forever changed the medium.

"The Simpsons" form of comedy makes extensive use of satire in its depiction of American culture. For much of its history, it has not been afraid to push buttons when it comes to dramatic storylines. Sometimes that same desire to push the envelope resulted in storylines that took quite shocking turns. Here are 14 times the main characters from "The Simpsons" went too far. 

Homer fantasizes about killing his father

Homer and his father Abe have a somewhat strained relationship. It sometimes seems like it gets even more strained over each new season. But more often than not, Homer at least tries to act like a good son, even if he is getting fed up with Abe on the inside. This internal struggle resulted in a super-dark moment in "Papa Don't Leech" (Season 19, Episode 16).

In the beginning of the episode, Homer and Abe are driving down the road when they have a car accident. Abe gets badly injured, and as Homer gets ready to call an ambulance, his father drones on, "Son, call me an ambulance. And while I'm in the hospital, you'll have to visit me every day. And then I'll have to come live with you while I recover. Eventually I'll die in your home, which'll hurt the resale value, but it'll all be..."  

Homer's expression changes as he ends the call to the hospital. Instead, he reaches down and clamps Abe's mouth and nose shut. As Abe stops struggling and appears to drift off, Homer gets awakened from his dream. He then comments wistfully, "I always wake up just before the good part." The entire scene is a reference to a similar sequence in "The Sopranos," but this time it's played for laughs.

Mr. Burns poisoned children

If there was ever a character on "The Simpsons" who deserves the title of "supervillain," it would be the richest man in Springfield, and Homer's boss, C. Montgomery Burns. But even supervillains are rarely shown to be as evil as Mr. Burns, who at times has displayed a terrifying indifference to the damage he causes to others in his quest to further enrichen himself.

Mr. Burns makes most of his money from the nuclear power plant, where Homer works. All that nuclear activity naturally results in a lot of dangerous radioactive waste which must be disposed of — often in unethical ways. In "Marge vs. the Monorail" (Season 4, Episode 12) we seen Burns and his lackey Smithers trying to think of a place to dump barrels of nuclear waste. When Smithers suggests using the local playground as a dumping ground, Burns dismisses the suggestion with, "All those bald children are arousing suspicion. To the park!"

The implication is clear. Burns had in the past deliberately stored waste-emitting nuclear radiation near areas where children visit. Hair falling out is one of the most well-known signs of radiation poisoning, and it is chilling to consider an unknown number of kids in Springfield might be suffering from it — come to think of it, Kearney is hair-challenged, and Wendell has never seemed very healthy —  thanks to Burns.  

Homer permanently damaged Bart's neck

"The Simpsons" has been on the air for more than three decades, and one of the most dated aspects of the show is the gag where Homer chokes Bart in anger. 

Although Homer strangling Bart is usually played for laughs, a few episodes have shown that the damage done to Bart is pretty permanent. In "Today, I Am a Clown" (Season 15, Episode 6), Dr. Hibbert watches an instance of Homer choking Bart and remarks, "So, that's why Bart has all those broken tracheal bones." Then in "Regarding Margie" (Season 17, Episode 20), when Marge loses her memory, she is shocked to see Homer strangling Bart. When Homer tries to assure her that Bart is not actually getting hurt, he says, "It hurts when I swallow."   

What makes the running gag even more grim is that it has been indicated that Homer's father used to punish him in the same manner. So Homer strangling Bart might very well be an example of generational violence that passes through a family tree. Hopefully, Bart will not treat his own children in a similar manner. 

Bart sells his soul

Early episodes of "The Simpsons" took some pretty daring, surprisingly-grounded stabs at exploring the relationship between mankind and religion. In "Bart sells his soul" (Season 7, Episode 4), we see a surprisingly dark take on this theme, which becomes all the more darker considering 10-year-old Bart was at the center of the narrative (as he was originally supposed to be for the entire show).

In the episode, Bart shows scant consideration for the niceties of religious matters, and cheerfully sells his soul to Milhouse for 5 dollars in the form of a written contract. At first, Bart is happy with the transaction. But soon he feels something is amiss. His pets won't play with him, he can't see his breath on cold surfaces, and Bart is unable to summon laughter while watching his favorite cartoon.

Finally, Bart is convinced he really did lose his soul, and imagines he won't be able to get into heaven without it. After a long, arduous adventure, Bart is finally able to regain his soul with the help of Lisa. He dreams of arriving in heaven with his soul next to him, and is finally able to sleep in peace.

Marge turns Homer in

Marge is sometimes referred to as the "sensible one" of the family, and other times as its "wet blanket." Sometimes, those qualities overlap in the most disastrous of ways, like in "Steal this Episode" (Season 25, Episode 9), where Marge turns Homer over to the FBI.

The whole thing starts when Homer discovers that he can illegally stream movies at home, and starts a mini backyard theater for his friends. Marge feels guilty over the illegal downloading of films, and mails money that should have gone towards buying movie tickets to the company that makes the movies. The company alerts the FBI, and they descend on the Simpsons home. 

At first, Marge does not tell Homer that she was the one who snitched on him. After getting assaulted by other prisoners and managing to break out, Homer goes on the run with his family. When Marge finally confesses her role in his incarceration, Homer feels so hurt that he willingly turns himself in to the police. It was one of the rare times when you saw Homer's fighting spirit broken, even though he and Marge managed to patch things up in the end.

Mr. Burns goes full supervillain

Mr. Burns has done lots of messed up things over the years in his quest for wealth and power. But no one story does a better job of illustrating how evil Burns can be than the two-part saga "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" which aired as the finale of Season 6 and the first episode of Season 7. 

Throughout the first part of the 2 episodes, we see Burns slowly turning every person in Springfield against him due to his callous behavior. He robs the local elementary school of their recently-discovered oil well, and Burns' drilling operations cause chaos throughout the town. Despite mass protests, Burns goes about his final crowning achievement: blocking out the sun so the only source of energy in the town would be his power plant. 

All this leads to Mr. Burns getting shot by an unknown assailant, and every person in town is a suspect. Although Burns survives the assault, he proves he has learned nothing about becoming a better person, since one of the first things he demands after waking up is that a baby (who he tried to steal candy from) be thrown in jail. Stay classy, Mr. Burns.

Bart causes widespread anarchy

Over the years, Bart has evolved from a wily prankster to a legitimate criminal mastermind who can orchestrate the most outrageous crimes. Case in point, "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" (Season 23, Episode 19), when he turned a ship full of people into apocalyptic savages. 

Trouble starts when Bart and his family win a holiday on a cruise ship. The vacation turns out better than anything Bart could ever have hoped for, and he dreads ending the cruise and going back to his boring life in Springfield. To put off the holiday ending, Bart runs a fake news segment which warns the crew and passengers of the ship that a deadly virus has broken out, and they need to quarantine on the ship for the foreseeable future.

Although Bart enjoys the extra time he gets to spend on the ship, the rest of the group soon descends into anarchy. Cleaning supplies are quickly used up. Cults are formed. And the tribe of "virus survivors" plan to move to Antarctica to start a new society from scratch. If Bart's deception had not been found out, who knows how long he would have allowed this grim state of affairs to continue?

Incriminating an entire family

2007's "The Simpsons Movie" saw the show raise the stakes for Homer's family and their entire town with a cross-country chase to undo a sinister government conspiracy to destroy Springfield. Unfortunately, it seems that the cost of saving the Simpsons household was the capture and detention of a separate, totally innocent family.

When Homer and his family are making their way out of their town as felons, they encounter a shop which carries their photo, and an offer for a large reward for their capture. Thinking fast, Bart changes the look of the people in the photo. 

In the next scene, it is shown that Bart drew a likeness to another family that was in the shop. As a result, the second family gets arrested and is shown to be led away by cops while Homer and Co. make their escape. We never hear from the captured family again and can only assume they had to spend at least some time in prison before being released. Adding insult to injury, Bart chuckles after seeing the other family get captured. 

Lisa misled her rival

Lisa is the most conscientious of the main Simpsons family, even more so than Marge. But Lisa's desires do not always line up with what her conscience dictates. In "Dude, Where's my Ranch?" (Season 14, Episode 18), Lisa made a selfish decision that almost cost the life of a young girl.

After a hit song makes the Simpsons go viral, the family decides to take a vacation away from Springfield to escape the annoying publicity. They arrive at a dude ranch, where Lisa becomes smitten with a young boy named Luke. But she is upset when she hears Luke talking to a girl named "Clara," and promising her the first dance at a mixer. When Lisa encounters Clara in person, she gives the latter wrong directions to the dance.

It is only later that Lisa is told by Luke that Clara is his sister. Horrified, Lisa, Bart, and the others head into the woods to rescue Clara before she meets her demise. They manage to save Clara in the nick of time, but Lisa's actions cause Luke to break up with her. Considering the way things went down, you really can't blame him.

Abe's kidneys explode

Homer's father Abe Simpson was shown to be a strong and capable man in his youth. But old age turned him into a quavering wreck. It did not help that Homer was far too unsympathetic to his father's plight, leading to a grisly moment when Abe suffered serious medical impairment due to Homer's negligence in "Kidney Trouble" (Season 10, Episode 8). 

During a family outing, Abe manages to tag along with Homer and the others for a visit to a ghost town. On the way back, Abe begs for Homer to stop so he can go to the bathroom. But Homer is making such good time that he doesn't want to stop at any restrooms, or even at the "World's Biggest Toilet" exhibition. Abe warns that he cannot wait any longer, but Homer continues to play down the emergency. 

In the next scene, we see Dr. Hibbert explaining that Abe's kidneys have literally exploded from too much pressure. To make matters worse, Homer panics and escapes from the operation where he was supposed to give half his kidneys to his father. It takes Homer losing consciousness during an accident and winding up at the hospital for Hibbert to finally transfer part of his kidney to Abe, saving the latter's life.  

Dooming the entire town

Homer has messed up a lot over the years. But usually the fallout only affects himself or his family. In "The Simpsons Movie," we see what happens when Homer's shenanigans play out on a grander scale. As a result, the entire town almost comes close to getting wiped off the face of the planet. 

It begins when Springfield's pollution levels are proven to be unacceptably high. As a result, people are forbidden from dumping any more waste in the local lake. Homer is the only one who disobeys the order, dumping a huge silo full of trash into the lake. To contain the ecological disaster, the entire town is subjected to a quarantine under a huge glass dome by the government, after they are somehow able to pinpoint the location of Springfield.

Life under the dome quickly reaches "Mad Max" levels of anarchy, even as Homer and his family manage to escape. In the end, the government directs the entire town be blown up with the help of a bomb. It is at the last minute that Homer is able to use the bomb to destroy the dome itself, and things finally return to a semblance of normalcy for Springfield. 

Bart puts Homer in a coma

Over the years, Homer has inflicted a lot of physical punishment on Bart. But the way Bart treats Homer is no cakewalk either. There was one time that Bart did something so bad to Homer that he actually felt bad afterwards, in "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" (Season 4, Episode 18).

On April Fool's Day, Bart is annoyed to discover that his pranks are fooling no one in his family. Driven to extreme measures, he shakes a can of beer in a paint shaker. When Homer opens the beer, the resulting explosion knocks down part of the house and inflicts grievous bodily injury on him. 

At the hospital, a prone Homer is told he may never walk again. To make matters worse, a further misadventure places Homer in a coma, and Bart tearfully confesses his part in causing the initial accident that landed his father in this condition. This causes Homer to wake up in a rage and start attacking Bart. Although he appears to make a full recovery, Marge later tells Homer he lost 5% of his brain function due to the whole ordeal. Interestingly, a popular fan theory regarding the episode is that Homer never actually recovered from the coma.  

Lisa and Bart kill Martin

Whenever Bart and Lisa gang up, Lisa can usually be relied upon to be the voice of reason. But it has also been shown that Lisa panics much quicker than Bart, and thus has a tendency to make rash decisions under duress. This type of behavior almost cost Bart and Lisa's fellow student Martin Prince his life in "Dial "N" for Nerder" (Season 19, Episode 14).

During a visit to Springfield Park, Bart and Lisa encounter Martin on a high cliff excavating for arrowheads. Bart tries to play a trick on Martin that backfires, sending him stumbling off the edge of the cliff. Lisa tries to get to Martin's prone body with a stick, but that only pushes him further off the cliff and out of view. Lisa and Bart conclude that Martin is now dead, and return to their home. They find out that the police think Martin was eaten by a cougar, still coughing up his clothes. 

Although Bart wants to come clean, Lisa is too scared, and convinces him to follow her example in denying all knowledge of Martin's demise. A memorial is held in Martin's memory, and Lisa and Bart's secret is on the verge of being discovered when Martin reappears. It turns out he was able to survive the fall thanks to his extra-strong underwear, and being able to build a raft to escape a marooned island. Thus, Bart and Lisa are finally absolved of their crime — but not their guilt. 

Marge forced herself on Homer

Marge can generally be relied upon to be the sweetest, most helpful person in Springfield. But steroids can do strange things to a person's mental health. This was made amply clear in "The Strong Arms of The Ma" (Season 14, Episode 9), when Marge takes up professional body building.

After leaving the Kwik-E-Mart, Marge is held up at gunpoint, and her pearl necklace is stolen. Traumatized, Marge becomes a shut-in, out of a fear of constant danger outside. To take her mind off the phobia, Marge starts working out with weights gathering dust in her basement. Soon, Marge starts competing professionally as a body builder, even taking performance-enhancing steroids that make her huge — as well as violent and volatile. 

In a particularly disturbing sequence, we see Marge tell Homer that they are going to get intimate. Homer is visibly nervous and tries to stop her. But Marge won't take "no" for an answer and tells him menacingly, "I wasn't asking." The next morning, Homer walks with a limp, clearly in bad shape after a rough night with the newly-massive Marge.