Five Funny Bits ‘The Simpsons’ Needed to Add to Classic Episodes to Pad for Time
Typically, with TV shows and movies, you hear about the creative predicaments with things running long. People go nuts over deleted scenes, and before they were relegated to YouTube, much of the appeal of DVDs was finding out what was left on the cutting-room floor.
However, especially on network television, the opposite can occur — an episode struggling to meet its minimum required runtime. For The Simpsons in particular, a number of episodes from the so-called Golden Era actually ran short. Fortunately, the minds behind Springfield’s first family had some tricks up their sleeves to pad things out in hilarious ways...
Krusty Takes the Kids to Tijuana
In Season Four’s “Kamp Krusty,” Bart and Lisa attend a horrid Krusty-inspired summer camp run by school bullies. Eventually, Krusty comes in and saves the poor campers, rewarding them with a trip to “the happiest place on Earth”: Tijuana. Still, the episode ran short, and several stills dressed as vacation photos of the kids and Krusty’s adventures in Mexico were added to the end of it.
Sideshow Bob and the Rakes
One of the most memorable gags from one of The Simpsons’ most beloved episodes is Sideshow Bob repeatedly stepping on rakes as he’s stalking Bart in “Cape Feare.” The original script only called for Sideshow Bob to step on one rake, but when “Cape Feare” ran several minutes short, eight more were added to eat up time. As explained by Al Jean on the DVD commentary, the idea was to drag out the joke so that it was no longer funny, then drag it out even more to the point where it became hilarious. Based on how iconic this scene has become, the writers clearly succeeded.
Itchy & Scratchy Cartoons
The Circus Line Couch Gag
If you’re seeing this couch gag, you’re probably watching an episode of The Simpsons that ran short. The first use of this extra-long introduction was in Season Four’s “Lisa’s First Word,” with it regularly being inserted to cover short episodes until Season 13.
The Adventures of Ned Flanders
“The Front” was another Season Four episode that needed help. The A-story featured Bart and Lisa writing Itchy & Scratchy cartoons, while the B-story focused on Homer and Marge attending their high school reunion. Yet, even with both plots, it couldn’t hit the required time. The solution was a short tacked on at the end called “The Adventures of Ned Flanders,” about Flanders and his kids. The creative team even wrote a theme song to play before and after the 30-second segment.
Beyond saving the episode, the writers enjoyed the short so much that it inspired them to do “22 Short Films About Springfield,” the classic episode featuring “Steamed Hams.”