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Much of the humor from the animated series The Simpsons comes from the characters failing to recognize their own stupidity, being clueless when others harshly criticize them and so forth.

  • Homer hijacks a blimp and falsely tells a baseball player that his wife loves him in order to help him win a game. Sadly the plane crashes, and the baseball player thinks his wife is dead. Homer has to come up with an excuse.
    You'd Expect: Homer to say that the baseball player's wife told him to say the message since she apparently has either a fear of heights or work she has to do.
    Instead: Homer, being the lovable idiot jerkass he is, tells the baseball player that his wife is pooping.
  • In another episode, Maggie is proven to be the solution to world peace, provided she lives in a monastery.
    You'd Expect: Marge to do the mature thing and allow her child to stay there, since a monastery isn't that bad of a place to be. Plus, small price to pay for world peace, right?
    Besides: Nobody said that Marge (and the rest of the family by extension) couldn't live in the monastery as well, if she wanted to be with Maggie, right?
    Instead: Marge goes all "She's mine and no one else's" and keeps her. No explanation beyond "God would never ask anyone to give up their child for the good of the world." is given. This is fairly annoying since she learns that her children have to leave their nest in almost every episode about her. A MAJOR Flanderization of her Mama Bear attitude to be sure.
    Bonus Points: Marge clearly has never actually read the Bible or else she would have seen not only the story of Jesus (the one that makes her humor hypocritical), but the story of Abraham, who God asks to sacrifice his son pretty much just to prove he loves God (granted, it all ended up to be a Secret Test of Character, but still).
    However: Marge actually says "God would never ask a mother to give up her child for the good of the world. ...Again," so she clearly had read the Bible and acknowledged it.
  • Homer just made a bet against Lisa, his own daughter, in a crossword puzzle tournament. Homer ended up winning the bet, gaining a huge loads of money.
    You'd Expect: That Homer kept the whole thing hidden (like keep most of the winnings in a bank or something) so no one would suspect a thing.
    Instead: He bought and showed off a lot of new expensive things that made it clear to everyone that something's up. This allowed Lisa to get Homer to confess that he bet against her, then Lisa ended up disowning Homer as her father.
  • Lisa convinced Burns to recycle, and in result, she caused the environment to go to hell in a way. To counteract this, or to make her shut up, he offers her 10 percent of the profits (which was $12 MILLION; the entire profit was $120 million).
    You'd Expect: Lisa to accept the money and use it for environmental purposes, donating, hell using all of her part of the money to undo the damage. Or at least accept it. It's 10 percent of $120 million, that is $12 million, money that her family will never make.
    Instead: She tore up the check. Even her mother was disappointed with Lisa's decision.
  • She has another one of these at the end of said episode. Homer is in the hospital after the understandable shock of seeing her daughter refuse so much money and they'd gone to visit him. Homer either from shock or stupidity think Lisa only gave up $12,000.
    You'd Expect: Lisa to allow Homer's mistake seeing as he was in such a state from seeing her give up what he thought was 12 grand.
    Instead: She corrects Homer and tells him 10 of 120 million isn't 12,000 but 12 Million. The episode ends with the an emergency call for the nurse. Seriously Lisa should have used some common sense there.
  • In one of The Simpsons annual Halloween episodes, Homer decides on a whim to sell his soul for a donut, however just as he's down to the last piece, it's revealed that he keeps his soul if he doesn't finish the whole thing.
    You'd Expect: Homer (Or really, any member of the Simpson family) to throw the donut away, preventing the devil from taking his soul.
    Instead: They keep the donut piece in the fridge; when Homer goes to the kitchen at night for food, the predictable happens.
  • The Season 8 episode "Lisa's Date with Density" saw Homer engage in tele-panhandling using an autodialer. Several examples of stupidity abound:
    First: One of the Springfield residents that falls for Homer's "Happy Dude" scam is Abe.
    You'd expect: For Abe to recognize his own son's voice and to either hang up or call his son and ask why Homer is asking people for money.
    Instead: Abe (along with Jasper, who also knows Homer) sends money. He doesn't feel any happier, however.
    Late one evening: Homer has left the autodialer on to call residents who weren't home before, hung up or hadn't been called yet. The calls continue into the early morning hours, and it disturbs many people from their sleep ... including Ned Flanders, who repeatedly gets up to answer the phone, thinking it's his mother.
    You'd expect: Ned to either unplug the phone or – knowing Homer's voice, since he has listened to enough of the message to decipher who it is – to go to the Simpsons' residence and request that Homer stop calling.
    Instead: Ned keeps the phone plugged in, certain that his mother may be trying to call him. Even better: Homer doesn't seem to get that the reason Ned's telephone (and his complaining) is disturbing the peace is probably because of his autodialer calling the Flanders' residence repeatedly.
    The coup de gras came in the final act, when Chief Wiggum cited Homer for his telemarketing fraud.
    You'd expect: A competent cop to do the same thing Wiggum did with "Jimmy the Scumbag: arrest him for fraud and, having obtained a warrant, seize the autodialer.
    Instead: Uh boy -- what police incompetence here. First, neither Wiggum nor any of the other officers took the autodialer with them (for evidence) when Jimmy got arrested; instead, the autodialer is kept in the trash, allowing Homer to take it for his own scheme. Later, when Homer is charged with the same crime, 1. Wiggum shoots the machine (causing damage to evidence); 2. fails to take Homer into custody; and 3. (and most glaringly) tells him to bring the autodialer with him on his court date. "Otherwise, I got no case, and you go scot-free, you know," says Wiggum rather sheepishly.
    And then: Homer's court date, where you'd expect: Homer have destroyed the evidence (since he was allowed to keep his autodialer), or at the very least erase the "Happy Dude" message.
    Instead: Homer apparently brought it to court – unseen in this episode – because he is ordered by the judge (who apparently has let him off easy) to record a new message apologizing to Springfield residents. Once he says, "I'm sorry" (in an apologetic tone), he then asks for more money through his new "Sorry Dude" scam.
  • In the opening gag to the Season 4 episode "Homer's Triple Bypass," a parody of Cops, Chief Wiggum and the Springfield Police Department is called to a report of numerous cattle in a yard in a residential neighborhood. The National Guard(!) is called in to provide a tank to break down the door of the suspect.
    You'd Expect: The officers to respond to the correct address - 742 Evergreen Terrace - even if by seeing the cattle in the yard of the suspect's address.
    Instead: They break down the door of the neighbor's house - the one belonging to Rev. Lovejoy. As a very angry Lovejoy tries to explain to the officers that they have the wrong address, the scene shows an empty yard, before panning to the neighbor's yard, which has the cattle. The actual suspect - Snake - taunts the officers and makes his escape.
    So Now You'd Expect: Chief Wiggum to at least be able to read a license plate and accurately describe either Snake (a well-known criminal in Springfield, whom Wiggum and/or other officers on the force have arrested several times) or at the very least his car when putting out the all-points bulletin.
    Instead: Wiggum fails to provide even a very vague description: "Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving of some sort, heading in the direction know, that place that sells chili. Suspect is hatless. Repeat, hatless.
  • In "Missionary: Impossible," when Homer goes overseas to engage in a missionary trip, Bart has taken over the position of "man of the house" and takes over his father's job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Mr. Burns storms into Homer's workstation to reprimand him for years of poor performance.
    You'd Expect: Mr. Burns – even with his advanced age and declined mental acuity – to recognize that whom he is about to scold is not Homer, given that Burns and Bart have encountered each other numerous times.
    Instead: Mr. Burns yells at "Homer" anyway, even as Bart tries to explain that he is not Homer.
  • In "Cape Feare," Sideshow Bob, serving a prison sentence for armed robbery, is up for parole. Quick background: Three years earlier, a gunman, dressed as Krusty the Clown, robs the Kwik-E-Mart. Krusty is identified as the suspect, is arrested, a motive of having to pay gambling debts established, tried and convicted. Sideshow Bob takes over Krusty's afternoon program and turns it into an educational program the kids can't relate to; Bart, convinced that Krusty is innocent, sets out to prove his idol's innocence and with help from Lisa eventually -- using clues they had been given earlier in the show -- exposes Bob as the culprit. Bob admits that he, while dressed as Krusty, robbed the Kwik-E-Mart, this in response to years of frustration of being a comic foil for slapstick. Since going to prison, Bob (a fan of high culture, the arts and any non-pop culture form of entertainment) has vowed bloody revenge on Bart.
    You'd Expect: With numerous witnesses having testified against him and overwhelming evidence that he sent threatening letters to Bart (including several written in his own blood), the parole board to quickly and decisively deny Bob parole.
    Instead: Bob is paroled.
    Later in the episode, the Simpsons have been placed in the Witness Protection Program. Still, Bob is able to stalk the family and eventually tracks down Bart on the Simpsons' boat and corners him.
    You'd Expect: For Bob to just simply kill Bart and complete his revenge.
    Instead: Bob arrogantly asks Bart if he has any last requests, giving Bart the opening he needs. Bart requests that Bob sing to him the entire score of the "H.M.S. Pinafore". Bob complies ... and the score is long enough to give the pilotless, drifting houseboat to run aground, knock Bob of the boat and stun him long enough for the authorities to arrest him.
  • In "Marge Simpson in Screaming Yellow Honkers," Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner, in an act for the Springfield Elementary School talent show, are about to perform Who's on First?.
    You'd Expect: The act to be performed properly, as it had obviously been rehearsed.
    Instead: Skinner botches the joke by explaining that it's not a question that Chalmers is asking, "but rather a player with the unlikely name of 'Who' is on first."
  • Early in the series' run, a popular recurring gag was "Prank Calls to Moe," where Bart would call Moe's Tavern and ask the hapless Moe for someone that, when yelled out, was a double entendré.
    You'd Expect: Moe to quickly if not immediately catch on – since he knows Bart and thus recognizes his voice – and have the police arrest him.
    Instead: 1. Moe never seems to realize that it is Bart who is calling. 2. Moe falls for the joke every time (e.g., "Do I have a B.O. Problem?"). Once someone responds or the bar laughs uproariously, Moe – rather than ending the call and immediately calling the cops – threatens the culprit with severe harm.
    But: Several times, Moe did let on that he knew what he was dealing with. In "New Kid on the Block," an angry Moe came to the Simpsons house looking for Bart, but instead Bart tells him that Jimbo had placed the calls. Moe threatens Jimbo, who begs for mercy. (Moe shows some).
    And Once: Bart calls Moe's when Homer is substitute bartending. So Now You'd Expect Homer to play along with the joke.
    Instead: Homer totally screws things up, not knowing what he's supposed to do. (Although one interpretation is that Homer was cleverly thwarting Bart through his playing dumb.
    It should also be noted: In "Flaming Moe's" (during the gag's heyday), Bart asked to speak to a Hugh Jass (huge ass) ... unknowing that there was actually a man named Hugh Jass at the bar. Bart is speechless and admits he was making a crank call.
    So you'd expect: Mr. Jass to angrily warn Bart that his prank is not funny and that if he is ever called again or is aware of him engaging in such activity in the future, he will have him arrested.
    Instead: Mr. Jass was humored. "All right. Better luck next time. [hangs up] What a nice young man."
    Lately: The joke has re-surfaced in several episodes, and has expanded to text messaging and other forms of instant communication. Again, Moe – and anyone else who is a victim of Bart's prank – fail to catch on or properly report the call, text, etc., to the authorites.
  • "Hurricane Neddy" saw Ned's character and faith in God tested when his house is destroyed in a hurricane. The townspeople rally behind the Flanders family and rebuild his house, but their workmanship -- in the understatement of the year -- leaves something to be desired. When the poorly constructed house falls apart, Ned's inner frustration finally reaches its boiling point, going on a tirade and calling everyone out on what he perceives as their shortcomings. Everyone responds with disgust and/or are upset ... until we get to Homer, whom Ned calls "the worst person I have ever met!"
    You'd Expect: Homer to be deeply saddened that his friend told him such a thing, or maybe start a violent-tempered argument, especially given that Homer sees many flaws in Ned and has openly discussed his disdain for him in the past.
    Instead: (relieved) "Gee, I got off easy!"