John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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A Lot of ‘Simpsons’ Fans Aren’t Convinced That Maggie Shot Mr. Burns

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A Lot of ‘Simpsons’ Fans Aren’t Convinced That Maggie Shot Mr. Burns

Easily one of the most momentous events in the history of The Simpsons, the “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” storyline ended Season Six with a whodunnit cliffhanger. The show then challenged audiences to use their TV-irradiated brains to try and figure out who gunned down Springfield’s oldest resident, even staging a contest in which the winning sleuth would receive “the prize of a lifetime: a chance to be animated with the Simpsons.” 

In the end, nobody who entered the contest solved the mystery. A random entrant was selected as the winner, but this particular buzzkill opted for a cash prize instead of a timeless cartoon cameo. One fan on a Simpsons newsgroup actually guessed that the culprit was Maggie Simpson, but got nothing in return. Hopefully they used their amateur investigative skills to make a killing in Las Vegas.

Despite the fact that this case was seemingly closed to everyone’s satisfaction back in 1995, not unlike a rogue detective in a bad cop movie, a number of Simpsons fans just can’t let their nagging suspicions drop, and have been suggesting alternate theories involving a variety of non-infant suspects. 

One person argued that the real shooter was, in fact, Chief Wiggum, who purposely bungled his investigation, and even planted evidence to frame Homer. Another believes that it was really Barney Gumble, who had a clear motive (toxic fumes from Burns’ oil drill forced Moe’s Tavern to shut down) and was armed and present at the scene of the crime, yet was never questioned by the police. Not to mention the fact that Barney had a history of pulling guns on anyone who would jeopardize his beer supply. 

According to another theory, Mr. Burns shot himself, purposefully missing all vital organs in order to escape any repercussions from enraging the entire town of Springfield. And if that really was his plan, it totally worked. 

Perhaps most convincing is the theory that Marge Simpson was the one to pull the trigger, in order to avenge her family for all the harm Burns caused. And the primary clue indicating Maggie’s guilt — Burns pointing to the letters “M” and “S” on the town sundial — would also implicate Marge, as she shares the same initials as her daughter. This theory also accounts for why Burns would accuse Maggie in the final scene of the episode; because he’s still secretly in love with Marge.

Then again, it easily could have been Homer. While Homer was mysteriously absent in the crowd that gathered around Burns’ body, fans have noticed that the “Krusty the Clown” we see in the town square looks suspiciously similar to Homer in disguise. The red nose is seemingly painted on, and “Krusty” is missing the bags that normally form under his eyes. And why would Homer need a disguise if not for the fact that he committed the nefarious deed?

For decades this seemed like it could be a major clue. But in 2020, former Simpsons executive producer Bill Oakley claimed that this was merely an error, possibly because the animators mistakenly drew Homer into the scene, despite instructions to the contrary, and hastily turned him into Krusty in order to fix the screw-up.  

Besides, the best evidence connecting Homer to the shooting of Mr. Burns just might just be the Season 18 episode in which Homer literally confesses to shooting Mr. Burns.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).

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John Early Is Figuring Out How to Be Sincere

As the star of the sharp new indie ‘Stress Positions,’ the irreverent comic works in a more serious vein. He tells Cracked why he’s getting comfortable with being earnest — even if he’s scared everyone will think he’s pretentious

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