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Bart vs. Thanksgiving
Bart the Daredevil

Apologize? For what? Clearing the table? Having a sense of humor? They think they can starve an apology out of me? Ha!
Bart Simpson

"Bart vs. Thanksgiving" is the seventh episode of Season 2. It features the first appearance of Lou as an African-American, who was mistakenly colored yellow in the previous season.


On Thanksgiving Day, Bart gets the entire family outraged at him and runs away from home. However, when he sees what life is like on the seedy side of town (and ends up on the evening news), he realizes how good matters are for him and returns home.

Full story

On Thanksgiving Day, Lisa is making a centerpiece for Thanksgiving which honors women such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Susan B. Anthony, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas (the latter worked her entire life to preserve the Florida Everglades). Meanwhile, Bart is in the kitchen with Marge while cooking Thanksgiving dinner, while Homer watches the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and a football game on TV.

Bart with the Turkey

While Grandpa, Patty, Selma, and Jacqueline arrive and assemble at the table, Lisa brings in her carefully-crafted centerpiece and proudly presents it. Bart brings in the turkey, and he complains that the centerpiece is "taking up real value estate" for the turkey (meaning that the centerpiece was taking up space). Bart and Lisa descend into chaos, causing the centerpiece to get thrown into the fireplace Bart accidentally threw in and quickly burn to a cinder. The siblings are then separated by Marge and Homer. Lisa runs upstairs to her room in tears and an angry Homer and Marge send Bart to his room without Thanksgiving dinner and strictly tell him that he ruined Thanksgiving.

After Marge consoles Lisa, she sternly tells Bart that if he can give Lisa a genuine apology in front of everyone and mean it, he can come downstairs to dinner. Bart refuses, stubbornly insisting that he didn't do anything wrong, and Lisa is to blame. Scoffing at the directive and thinking that he doesn't have to take his punishment, he decides to teach his family a lesson by running away from home. However, Homer scolds Santa's Little Helper and confines him outside when he tries to eat some of the turkey, and Bart decides to take the dog with him.

Kent Brockman report

During the walk, Bart sneaks into Mr. Burns' mansion, where he attempts to steal a freshly baked pie, but is soon caught and forced outside by the hounds. Bart and Santa's Little Helper then wander to the seedy part of town (known as "The Wrong Side of the Tracks"), and Bart donates his plasma at a blood bank for $12 (The cashier says that he needs to be at least 18, so Bart pulls out Homer's ID). Bart then goes to a soup kitchen, where Thanksgiving dinner is served to homeless people. There, Kent Brockman is doing a report on the dinner, where he delivers a self-serving commentary on how the patrons are forgotten on Thanksgiving. Later, Brockman interviews Bart, where he mocks his family and refuses to offer an apology. The family sees the report on TV, and Homer immediately calls the police. When the police failed to locate him, Homer and Marge regret saying severe things that drove him away.

As Bart exits the shelter, one of the bums asks Bart if he's got a home. Bart says yes and seeing how the bums need the money more than he does, offers the money he got from his blood donation to the bums. Remorseful, Bart realizes how he has more than the bums with whom he shared Thanksgiving and so chooses to return home. However, once he arrives home, Bart considers what his folks might say to him. He imagines himself being greeted warmly and offering an apology, only to be scornfully mocked and laughed at in his face as he grovels an apology, then begin to blame him for everything (Homer being bald/having no hair, Grampa being old, Maggie not talking, and Uncle Sam for making America lose its spirit). Bart assumes that he shouldn't have came back and goes on top of the roof.

Bart refuses to apologize to Lisa.

Meanwhile, Homer and Marge are interviewed by the police after the rest of their somewhat unsympathetic family leave. Lisa is in her room, writing in her diary and conceding defeat. She begins to cry because of Bart's absence, after which Bart calls her outside. There, the two discuss what happened, and Bart still refuses to apologize in the belief that he has done nothing wrong. Lisa tells him to look deeper. Bart comes to realize that he hurt her feelings by destroying something that she considered dear. Bart finally apologizes and Lisa happily accepts and kisses his face and Homer watches them from the window, telling Marge they are great parents. Then Homer leads the family in prayer blessing the meal for Bart's reunion, as they enjoy a late night Thanksgiving feast of turkey sandwiches and displaying the thankful spirit that was absent from the earlier debacle.


Broadcast History

United States

Broadcast date(s) Channel aired
  • November 22, 1990
  • May 23, 1991
  • November 28, 1991
  • November 25, 1993
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  • December 20, 2020
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The episode was written by George Meyer and directed by David Silverman. It was the first script Meyer wrote on the show, and he thought he made "quite a few mistakes, but it turned out really well overall." The staff decided to do a Thanksgiving episode after they realized an episode would air on Thursday, November 22, 1990 (Thanksgiving Day). The Simpsons had previously aired at 8:00 p.m. EST on Sunday night but Fox switched its timeslot to the same time on Thursdays at the beginning of the second season. The idea of Bart going up on the roof was suggested by Meyer who used to go up on the roof himself when he had fights with his family.

Voice actor Greg Berg guest starred as Rory, one of the homeless people at the soup kitchen. Marge's mother, Jackie Bouvier, voiced by Julie Kavner, makes her first physical appearance on The Simpsons in the episode, though she was first referenced in a flashback in the season one episode "Moaning Lisa". Bill and Marty, voiced by Dan Castellaneta and Harry Shearer respectively, also make their first visual appearances, although they were heard on the radio in previous episodes, including "Bart Gets an 'F'". They are two radio show hosts and DJs on Springfield's own radio station KBBL. Homer listens to their radio show when he drives to pick up Grampa at the retirement home for the Thanksgiving dinner.

In Bart's fantasy, Maggie says "It's your fault I can't talk." Carol Kane voiced this line, although she was uncredited.


In its original broadcast, "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" finished thirty-seventh in the ratings for the week of November 19–25, 1990, with a Nielsen rating of 11.9, equivalent to approximately eleven million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on Fox that week, following Married... with Children and In Living Color.

Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote: "Marge's mother Jackie is particularly nightmarish in her first real appearance. The final sequence on the rooftop with Lisa and Bart is lovely, and Homer's comment to Marge is a magical wrap-up to a good episode." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson said the episode "maintained a nicely irreverent tone most of the time – irreverent enough to make it amusing, at least," and added: "The interaction of the Simpson and Bouvier families at dinner was terrific, and Bart's experiences on skid row made their point while they still managed to be pointed and clever. 'Bart vs. Thanksgiving' was another winner."

Bryce Wilson of Cinema Blend said "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" and "Lisa's Substitute", another season two episode, were the first episodes that "asked [the audience] to truly care about the characters, and they work beautifully". Both Dawn Taylor of The DVD Journal and Jacobson thought the most memorable line of the episode was Jackie's line to Marge: "I have laryngitis and it hurts to talk, so I'll just say one thing – you never do anything right."



The Simpsons - Bart's Cranberry Sauce

Season 1 Season 2 Episodes Season 3
Bart Gets an "F"Simpson and DelilahTreehouse of Horror (aka "The Simpsons Halloween Special") • Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every FishDancin' HomerDead Putting SocietyBart vs. ThanksgivingBart the DaredevilItchy & Scratchy & MargeBart Gets Hit by a CarOne Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue FishThe Way We WasHomer vs. Lisa and the 8th CommandmentPrincipal CharmingOh Brother, Where Art Thou?Bart's Dog Gets an FOld MoneyBrush with GreatnessLisa's SubstituteThe War of the SimpsonsThree Men and a Comic BookBlood Feud