» » The Simpsons Bart Sells His Soul (1989– )

Short summary

Bart casually sells his soul to Milhouse for five bucks but later regrets it. Moe converts his dank bar into a fun family restaurant.

Following this story, young people across the country began selling scraps of paper to each other upon which they had inscribed their names and souls.

When the church congregation is singing along with "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", as time passes a subtitle appears reading "seventeen minutes later." That song actually does run just over seventeen minutes long.

The scene where Milhouse buys Bart's soul is very similar to the scene in Faust, where Mephistopheles buys Faust's soul. Milhouse even has the same joviality that Mephistopheles had during the same transaction.

Itchy dropping the penny from the Seattle Space Needle refers to a Matt Groening "Life in Hell" cartoon, where he got lambasted for incorrectly stating that a penny dropped from the Empire State Building would embed itself into the pavement.

The manual that Moe is reading on operating a restaurant has the name "Fuddrucker" as one of the authors. Fuddruckers is a popular chain of family restaurants, which also has many if the same decorating schemes that Moe uses in his bar.

Another similarity to Faust is that Bart, like Dr. Faust, is convinced that he got the best of the bargain.

Greg Daniels originally had an idea for a plot that dealt with racism in Springfield. The writers did not think the show was the right forum for it, so Daniels suggested the idea of selling someone's soul, which originated in his childhood.

In high school, Greg Daniels encouraged a bully to sell him his soul for 50 cents, and then convinced classmates to frighten the bully into buying his soul back for an inflated price. Daniels repeated this ploy, but stopped when he realized that the only other person in history who has profited off others' souls was Satan, and that "scared" him.

In the opening scene of the episode, the congregation of the First Church of Springfield are tricked into singing "In a Gadda Da Vida" by Iron Butterfly. Greg Daniels had originally intended for the song to be "Jesus He Knows Me" by Genesis, but the producers were unable to obtain the rights for it to be featured in the episode.

Josh Weinstein recalled that there was contention between the animators about the way Moe looked in the episode. Moe's original design includes a missing tooth, but Weinstein and Bill Oakley felt that it did not "look right" because Moe was such a prominent character in the episode. Wesley Archer showed the original design of Moe from the first season to the show runners, and said: "Here, look. He's got a missing tooth!", but the scenes that had Moe with a missing tooth in them were still reanimated.

The episode has been used in church courses about the nature of a soul in Connecticut, and in the United Kingdom, and was shown by a minister in Scotland in one of his sermons. A 2005 report on religious education in secondary schools, by the United Kingdom education regulator Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), noted that the episode was being used as a teaching tool.

The shot of Bart screaming after his nightmare is stock footage taken from Die Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror II (1991) with Lisa removed.

Bart's prayer, "Are you there, God? It's me, Bart Simpson," is a reference to the young adult novel, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume.

When Ned Flanders says, "Well, I expect that type of language at Denny's, but not here!", it is a reference to Denny's racial discrimination lawsuit in the early 1990s, in which African-American customers were refused service, forced to wait longer, or charged more for their meals than white customers.

This was the second episode to have Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein as executive producers. Oakley and Weinstein wanted to start the season with episodes that had an emotional bias in an effort to center the Simpson family.

This episode is notable for featuring the Seven Deadly Sins:

  • Lust: Homer and Marge remember making out to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (In the Garden of Eden) and everyone in church looking sweaty and disheveled as if they just had sex.
  • Gluttony: When Moe is converting his bar into a restaurant, he acquires a gigantic deep-fat fryer, claiming it can deep-fry a buffalo in forty seconds, to which Homer grouses, "Oh, I want it now!" Later, Homer gets Bart's meal at Moe's Tavern.
  • Greed: Reverend Lovejoy counting church collection money, Milhouse avariciously celebrates owning Bart's soul, saying, "Who's stupid now?" Moe starting a restaurant because restaurants make more money than bars, Homer's brain telling him, "Quiet, you fool! It can be ours!" when Bart leaves his dinner sitting out (see also Gluttony).
  • Sloth: Bart and Milhouse slacking off cleaning the organ.
  • Wrath: Reverend Lovejoy gets angry at being fooled; Moe screams at a little girl who says her "sodie" is too cold; Bart gets angry at Lisa when she starts praying for everyone's soul.
  • Envy: Moe envies the profits of family restaurants. Lisa wants five dollars after Bart tells her he had five dollars. Bart envies the kids in his dream for their souls.
  • Pride: Bart being too proud to believe he has a soul - until all of the strange things happen that make him believe that he really did lose it.

Wesley Archer and his team of animators went to the restaurant chain Chili's to get inspiration for the background designs of Moe's family restaurant. He said it was "quite a task" to transform Moe's Tavern into a family-oriented establishment. Archer added that he was not "quite happy" with the result, and that they could have designed it "a little better".

Wesley Archer was disappointed with the dream sequence in which Bart sees his friends playing with their souls. Archer said that he had forgotten to tell the animators to make the souls transparent, so they were painted blue instead.

In a 2005 interview Matt Groening commented "I don't have a single favorite. There's a bunch I really like", but cited this and Die Simpsons: Homer's Enemy (1997) as among episodes he loves.

Nancy Cartwright stated this as one of her top three episodes together with Die Simpsons: Lisa's Substitute (1991) and Die Simpsons: Bart the Mother (1998).

Yeardley Smith stated in an interview that this is one of her favorite episodes along with Die Simpsons: Girly Edition (1998).

The Raving Derelict acts and screams gibberish very similar to a character to be introduced two seasons later, Eleanor Abernathy, aka the Crazy Cat Lady.

Comic Book Guy learns Bart Simpson's name in this episode.

Bart wears blue pajamas in this episode instead of his usual green pajamas.

Notably absent from the opening when the congregation is singing "In the Garden of Eden" is the Flanders family. Neither Ned, Maude, Rod, nor Todd can be seen in the congregation, despite the fact that the Flanders family religiously attends church every Sunday. However, Rod and Todd can be seen in the subsequent scene when Reverend Lovejoy is questioning the children about the hymn prank.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Broadraven
    Wow. This episode is quite frankly... well made. Right off the bat, Bart sets a unique mood by switching the church performance to the ever-awesome "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly. The people attending church... along with Reverend Lovejoy realize this, but only after singing to the tune. The woman playing the piano at church gets extremely tired and sickly from the track due to its rapid speed. The song is awesome, the scene is awesome, the episode automatically starts off awesome. Then, Milhouse and Bart are seen chatting about Bart's prank... one thing leads to another... and Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for a cheap price... by writing it on a piece of paper and handing it to him. Milhouse is rather overjoyed. Well... Bart begins to go about his business... and rather interesting, yet scary things begin to happen to him. For example... people don't notice him anymore... and he seems to bang into automatic doors a lot (which no longer open for him)... his presence seems to go unnoticed. Whether this is due to some supernatural element or Bart's own conscience is a mystery... but it makes the episode ever-stronger. Bart ends up seeing dreams of children rowing boats beside their own souls... but Milhouse is carrying his soul... leaving Bart without one. Later, Bart asks Milhouse for the paper which supposedly contains his soul... and Milhouse admits to selling it. Bart tries to track down the paper... but to no avail. Bart gives up hope... until Lisa reveals that she bought him his soul back... gracefully handing it back to him in order to satisfy his desire. Bart quickly gobbles the paper up... and he sees a dream where he is once again reunited with his soul... and is seen rowing the boat with joy. Very vivid and imaginative episode. There's lots of morality, as well as awesome moments and unique scenery. This episode is definitely a great one.
  • comment
    • Author: Cktiell

    When Bart gets disciplined by Reverend Lovejoy for making the people sing Da-Gadda-Da-Vada, he gives Milhouse his soul for five dollars. He spends those five dollars on a toy, which doesn't work the way he wanted to. He then tells Lisa he gave his soul to Milhouse and she is shocked.

    He goes to the Kwik-E-Mart and the automatic door won't open for him, and worst of all, it works for Rod and Todd! Then he tries to breathe on the ice cream freezer, but his breath won't show up. When he gets home, he watches Itchy and Scratchy, but doesn't laugh! Lisa runs a test on him to see if he really did lose his soul. She puts a skateboard in front of Homer while he's walking, he trips, and his face gets trapped in the stair railing, then Santa's Little Helper bites him. Lisa has come to the conclusion that Bart lost his soul.

    Meanwhile, Moe turns his bar into a family restaurant, and the Simpson family comes and order food, but Lisa insists they say Grace, saying the word soul a lot. Finally, Bart snaps and runs out. Then Moe snaps from being too friendly and everyone leaves. His restaurant is out of business.

    Meanwhile, Bart goes to Milhouse's Grandmother's house because thats where Milhouse is. Milhouse says he had traded his soul for for buttons, Alf buttons. He said he traded it to Comic Book Guy.

    Bart sleeps next to the Comic Store until it opens. When it does, Comic Book Guy says he sold Bart's soul to a kid. Bart finally gives up.

    He goes home and prays for his soul. Then his soul floats into his room. It turns out that Lisa had bought Bart's soul back. He thanks her and it's a happy ending.

    Overall, this is a touching Bart episode.

  • comment
    • Author: Nidora
    Love this episode, my favourite so far from Season 7, (except WSMB part 2). The prank Bart pulls at the beginning of the episode at the church is priceless, and the relationship between Lisa and Bart again shows they will fight like brother and sister, but in the end, they really do love each other. One of my top 20 episodes.
  • comment
    • Author: interactive man
    Great story and funny. Milhouse is an idiot, but made the episode. Second best episode of season 7, after mother simpsons
  • Episode cast overview:
    Dan Castellaneta Dan Castellaneta - Homer Simpson / Barney Gumble / Abraham Lincoln / Santa's Little Helper / Krusty the Klown / Street Sweeper Driver / Derelict (voice)
    Julie Kavner Julie Kavner - Marge Simpson / Others (voice)
    Nancy Cartwright Nancy Cartwright - Bart Simpson / Ralph Wiggum / Dr. Hibbert's Younger Son / Todd Flanders / Nelson Muntz / Girl with Sore Teeth (voice)
    Yeardley Smith Yeardley Smith - Lisa Simpson (voice)
    Hank Azaria Hank Azaria - Dr. Hibbert's Elder Son / Moe Szyslak / Carl / Apu Nahasapeemapetilon / Waiter / Potato Bug Sprayer / Snake / Chief Wiggum / Kirk Van Houten / Comic Book Guy (voice)
    Harry Shearer Harry Shearer - Reverend Lovejoy / Dr. Hibbert / Advert Voice / Ned Flanders (voice)
    Pamela Hayden Pamela Hayden - Milhouse Van Houten / Rod Flanders / Jimbo Jones (voice)
    Tress MacNeille Tress MacNeille - Dolph / Grandma Van Houten (voice)
    Maggie Roswell Maggie Roswell - Luann Van Houten / Maude Flanders (voice)
    Russi Taylor Russi Taylor - Dr. Hibbert's Daughter / Sherri / Terri / Martin Prince (voice)
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