The Simpsons’ Best References And Jokes From The Stephen King’s IT Halloween Special

Krusto the Clown coming out of TV and holding Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons' Not IT special
(Image credit: Fox)

In years past, The Simpsons has paid sweet, sweet homage to the King of Horror through various “Treehouse of Horror” movie parodies, from Pet Sematary to The Shining to The Dead Zone. But with its 34th season, the animated Fox staple delivered its first longform Stephen King tribute in the form of the special “Not IT,” which was more of a direct send-up of Andy Muschietti’s pair of IT films. Beyond namechecking and punning some of the author’s best-known works, the episode brought a twist to the usual parody expectations, using the narrative’s beats to present a somewhat mirrored version of Springfield and its beloved residents, resulting in quite a few highlights. 

Since there aren’t any upcoming Stephen King movies or TV shows imminent, let’s take a trip up to New England, but bypassing Derry, Maine for a presumably nearby location for the first entry below. 

Welcome to Kingfield sign in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

The Welcome To Kingfield Sign

The “Not IT” cold open was an enjoyably faithful and creepy take on Georgie’s paper boat voyage to doom, and arguably should have made this list. But instead, we’re kicking things off with the episode’s on-the-nose setting of Kingfield and its not-at-all foreboding welcome sign. Because I’m willing to bet good money that it’s not the ideal place to bury your kids. But then what place is? Plus, it even earned a callback after the time jump. 

Frank Grimes missing poster in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Frank Grimes Missing Poster 

Do we really think Pennywise is directly responsible for Mini-Frank’s disappearance, or did he get so fed up with Mini- Homer’s insolence that he voluntarily hoofed it to 29 Neibolt St. and camped out inside until the inevitable happened? 

Super Intense Kid Chalmers in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Super-Intense Kid Chalmers

Easily the best wordplay in the episode. Plus, I like the parallel of having future Superintendent Chalmers in the bully role here, since his menace is that much easier to buy into than Nelson Muntz threatening to carve up anyone’s stomach. He just wants to make fun of the belly scars afterward.

Moe, Carl and Comic Book Guy as teens in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Carl Being The One Black Kid In Maine

Not a whole lot of commentary here beyond a weary nod of acknowledgment.

Moe reading Zoidzilla in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Zoidzilla Comic

Sure, Mini-Moe could have been reading IT or another Stephen King novel during the first Losers Club scene, as it tends to go in live-action series. Instead, The Simpsons went the opposite route and referenced its own fictional comic book parody Zoidzilla, which was first introduced back in Season 8’s “The Canine Mutiny.” It’s popped up a couple of times since, but still a solid in-universe nod that wasn’t Radioactive Man 

Grandma's feet in hot tub of maggots in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Comic Book Guys’ Grandmother In A Hot Tub Full Of Maggots 

It’s always fun to question just how far The Simpsons can go with its horror-fueled installments, and “Not IT” featured some hilariously gory bits. But even better, somehow, was what wasn’t shown. I would stretch the limits to say that “not seeing a grandmother in a hot tub full of maggots” is better than a bevy of things in life. 

Teen Moe after being slapped on The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Moe’s Slapping Fetish

Anytime Moe’s darker personality traits are explored, I am 100% on board, with my ticket stamped and ready to be verified. So it’s maybe a no-brainer that my guilty-favorite joke of the ep was Marge sparking an instant slapping fetish within Moe while interrupting his story about overhearing his parents pricing child-sized coffins. There’s no end to the cause-and-effect disturbances therein. Plus, that ALSO gets a callback. 

Jimbo murdered by cream pie in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Jimbo Killed By A Pie To The Face

I definitely liked the hyper-slapstick way that Krusto the Clown was eventually defeated, but if I’m arbitrarily handing out only one entry to something in that realm, it’s seeing Jimbo take a cream pie to the face so hard that it not only crushes his skull against a wall, but also pulls all of the skin off of his face. Where’s that modernized, mega-vi version of The Three Stooges?

Marge's seltzer water company in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

“Drown Yourself In Fizz”

Marge owning a seltzer-based company whose slogan is “Drown Yourself in Fizz” is an amazing way for her to have owned her fear after defeating Krusto. I mean, it also speaks to her clearly not having moved beyond that trauma, which probably speaks to far deeper subjects. Which is what makes it a good joke. 

Homer's terrible aparment with sailboat picture in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Homer's Sailboat Picture

In this version of Homer’s humble abode, his walls are not only adorned with posters for Cypress Hill and Crypto, but also a nod to the Simpson family’s iconic and often crooked living room picture of a sailboat on the water. But in his version, the boat is going under, which points to his sinking status in life, as well as somewhat mirroring how we’ve seen the picture in the past.

Long-haired alt-Lisa in The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

The Monkey In The Needful Crap Window 

The episode’s most spoofish scene features a handful of local businesses playing on novel titles, and I legitimately chucked at Salem’s Parking Lot. But perhaps the coolest and least obvious reference is the cymbal-clapping monkey toy in the window of the Needful Things-esque store. Just such a toy is at the heart of the short story "The Monkey," which is featured in the collection Skeleton Key, which just so happens to boast that very toy on its cover.

Kang and Kodos holding The Tommyknockers on The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

Kang And Kodos Cackling Over Tommyknockers 

Okay, so this bit may not be objectively that amusing, depending on what your takeaway was. Personally, I took it as a bit of a two-headed gag, since The Tommyknockers is one of the author’s rare alien-adjacent tales, and because it inspired one of the all-time worst TV adaptations of anything King wrote. (An even bigger sin when considering the immaculate Jimmy Smits was in it.) As such, Kang and Kodos know that viewers would be extremely displeased to have to sit through that. And thus, the cackling. 

Fan art of Krusto the Clown on The Simpsons

(Image credit: Hulu)

The End Credits Theme And Fan Art

For all the fun that was had seeing various Stephen King elements get Simpson-ized, it was a wholly different level of joy to witness all the amazing fan art that was showcased during the end credits sequence, with winning contest entries being highlighted over a rendition of the show’s classic theme as filtered through haunting carnival music. Although the music and sound effects really were A+throughout the entire episode, and I loved the way Krusto's audience laughter was built into the sound design when he was bringing the mayhem.

New episodes of The Simpsons air Sunday nights on Fox at 8:00 p.m. ET, and can be streamed the next day with a Hulu subscription. Don’t forget the second installment of this “Treehouse of Horror” coupling will rise from the grave on October 30. Hit up our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other shows still have yet to debut before the year is through. 

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.