The episode featured several references to war films:
Lifted directly from the 1970 film Patton: The music, several lines of dialogue, and the scene where Bart slaps Coward for "being a disgrace". Fox owned the rights to Patton, so it was no problem to use the soundtrack.
The marching sequence is a nod to Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" from 1987, as well as the children appearing as silhouettes as they climbed the gymnasium at sunset.
The marching chant is in some ways like the chant from the 1949 war film Battleground.
When Bart Simpson asks Herman Hermann how he lost his arm he mentions a story about a kid who lost an arm sticking it outside the window of a school bus (most likely himself) references a past episode known as "Homer's Odyssey".
This is the first appearance of Nelson Muntz and his only appearance in Season 1.
When Marge asks Bart about Nelson, he tells us Nelson is in all the same special classes that he is in.
In the Czech dub of this episode, due to a "liberal" translation, Herman is more like a Nazi character. He greets Bart "Sieg Heil, meine Junge" and then tells him "never [to] do the Hitler salute out of a moving bus's window".
In this episode, the end credits are superimposed over a shot of the Simpson house (this same instance happened in the next episode, "Moaning Lisa", with a shot of the street where The Jazz Hole is). It's possible that they wanted to replace the black background for the end credits, but it didn't work and the credits were back to normal in "The Call Of the Simpsons". The screen does not switch to black to show the Spanish credits in FXX reruns of this episode, though (same instance happens in FXX reruns of "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" with a shot of the scene with the Simpsons looking at Flanders' house decorations).
Grandpa's list of words he does not want to hear on television again:
3. Family Jewels
Ironically, the words 'Family Jewels' are used several times before that scene. The censors did not want them used on prime-time TV, but the producers ignored the censors’s notes and left them in the episode.
This is the first episode that Bart is seen crying. Homer then proceeds to dry his tears with a hairdryer.
Also, in the French dub of this episode, sad background music was added in this scene to make it seem more emotional.
During their first "fight", Nelson punches Bart twelve times in the face before he knocks Bart out. However, on FXX reruns of this episode, Nelson only punches Bart six times (due to FXX reruns being similar to Fox's syndication cuts), and a cutoff can be found after Nelson's sixth punch if you go through this scene frame by frame.
This is the first episode in the series to show blood.
This is the second episode to have Bart's name in the title.
In this episode, Marge advises Bart to stop Nelson by talking to him only to be interrupted by Homer. In "Lisa Simpson, This Isn't Your Life", Bart tries to stop Nelson with words and it works.
In this episode, Bart fails to stand up to Nelson alone, but does it successfully in "The Devil Wears Nada".
Aside from "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", this is the first episode to not play the theme. But, a shortened and different version of the first seven notes of the theme is heard as the camera fades to a shot of the Simpson house, however.
Much to Lisa's dismay, this is the first time she is kissed by someone other than a Simpson family member, being her first kiss in the series. Strangely, in Lisa's Date with Density, she mentions that Nelson was her first kiss, meaning that she doesn't consider this one, possibly because she was forced to.
Herman said that he cut off his arm by not keeping his arms inside the bus when he was a kid; even though Mrs. Krabappel did mention a kid keeping his hands out the bus window and they got cut in Homer's Odyssey, it is possible that the kid she was mentioning was Herman.
This is the second episode to not have the regular opening sequence; the first being Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire due to that episode being a Christmas special. This episode still has the title card and the swoop of Springfield, however.
This is the first episode to not feature any intro gags at all (couch gag, chalkboard gag, and, for mid-Season 20-present episodes, the billboard and title gags).
When the Yellow Weasel takes the cupcakes, you can see that after he has started eating them, there are four left in the box. Just before he shuts the lid to drop it, you can just see the tops of six cupcakes.
When Bart enters his treehouse after being beaten up, he puts his hat on a peg behind him. In some later shots, at an angle, you can just see the hat behind him. In the shots from directly in front of Bart, the hat is not on the peg.
Lisa mistakenly calls Miss Hoover, her teacher, "Mrs. Hoover". This is an early episode, and it is possible Miss Hoover got divorced "off camera" and still would have been "Mrs. Hoover" at the time.
When Nelson and the Weasels take cover with each other from the water balloons, the Yellow Weasel's skin is black.
At the beginning of the episode, when it fades into the Simpson house while the first seven notes of the theme are heard (due to shortened intro), Bart's treehouse is nowhere to be seen.
↑Groening, Matt. (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Bart the General" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
↑Silverman, David. (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Bart the General" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.