Why We Can Thank Congress For The Simpsons' Most Violent Episode

While The Simpsons may not be as biting with its social commentary as it once was, it’s still a show that sticks to its guns whenever possible. And one of those times happened back in 1994, when one of the most violent episodes of the show, if not the most violent, was produced in response to complaints from Congress that the show was too violent. Wait, Congress got the exact opposite result from what they wanted? Must be the first time in history, right?

The episode in question was “Treehouse of Horror V” during Season 6. We all know that these Halloween-based episodes are almost always the most violent of the year, and this one was particularly brutal, particularly for the time. And it all started with a batch of complaints The Simpsons received from different parents groups that wanted the show to remove “Itchy and Scratchy” from future episodes. Around this same time, according to ComicBookResources, several different members of Congress made public statements against the show for its excessive violence. Violence that, by today’s standards, is more like Looney Tunes than anything truly morbid. Some of it, anyway.

But then-showrunner David Mirkin, who was in his second and final year in the gig, decided to stick it to The Man with everything he had. Not only did he deliver the Season 6 episode “Itchy and Scratchy Land,” which centered wholly on a Westworld-like theme park devoted to the violent cat and mouse, but he also made the fifth “Treehouse of Horror” as violent and sadistic as possible. The episode was the last one to deliver a pre-show warning about the content, and it featured Marge directly telling the audience that Congress didn’t want anyone watching it. On the nose!

What made the episode so violent? Well, the first segment was a rip on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, not so cleverly called ”The Shinning,”, and it featured Homer-as-Jack moving into Mr. Burns’ mansion and slowly going insane and trying to kill his family because he can’t watch TV or drink beer. (For Pete’s sakes, don’t make him watch the Tony Awards!) The second segment was based on the Ray Bradbury story “A Sound of Thunder” and sees Homer bouncing around through the past, where he inevitably kills a bunch of things and messes up the timeline. And the third one, one of the greatest Simpsons bits of all time, is based on the Charlton Heston flick Soylent Green, and proposes that overcrowding in the detention hall causes Principal Skinner to start butchering misbehaving children to use as meat for school lunches. Üter and Jimbo are the first ones led to the slaughter – Sloppy Joes will never be as good as Sloppy Jimbos – and then everyone else follows suit. The episode soon ends with a fog turning the entire Simpsons family inside out, and they dance in this gruesome form as the end credits roll.

Oh, and they also manage to kill Groundskeeper Willie in each segment.

So just remember, the next time you want someone to do something for you, make sure they’re not the kind of person who will do the exact opposite just to piss you off.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.