Homer witnesses a robbery at the Kwik-E-Mart, and he identifies Krusty the Clown as the culprit. Krusty is arrested, tried, imprisoned, and replaced on the show by Sideshow Bob. Lisa and Bart are adamant that Krusty is innocent, so they examine the confirmation, and they conclude that he was framed and set out to find the person who got Krusty in trouble.
The episode begins with Bart, Lisa and Maggie watching Krusty the Clown on TV. Krusty launches into the TV screen in a motor car. During the show a reluctant and unhappy Sideshow Bob is launched from a cannon, as the wish of a girl as it was her birthday, also an episode of Itchy and Scratchy is aired (titled: Burning Love). Marge is hurt by the 'unnecessary violence' in the show, but Lisa points out if cartoons were meant for adults, they would place it on prime time. Marge calls and asks Homer to purchase some ice cream. Homer is suspicious and shudders when he learns that Patty and Selma are coming over later to show slides of their Mexican vacation, which turns out to be very boring. Homer goes to the Kwik-E-Mart for ice cream on the way home, and while there he witnesses a man that appears to be Krusty rob Apu at gunpoint. Cut quickly to the Simpson house, as the rest of the family watches Patty and Selma's slides. Cut back to Homer, who gives a description of Krusty to the police. Meanwhile, at Krusty's apartment, Krusty is relaxing with a drink when a SWAT team bursts through his door and takes him into custody.
At the police station, Homer identifies Krusty as the armed robber. Homer finally gets home just as Patty and Selma finish the slideshow, being greatful for once having missed the boring viewing. Then the news report about Krusty's arrest comes on the air (with Emmy award-winning Kent Brockman's stand-in, Scott Christian "Kent Brockman is off tonight" ). Homer must deal with Marge's embarrassment along with Patty and Selma's rage when he learns they heard what he mentioned on the security tape. Bart is devastated that his idol Krusty could have done such a thing.
On the news, Kent Brockman reports on the upcoming trial and history of Krusty the Clown including the fact that Krusty has a pacemaker. Reverend Lovejoy calls for a public burning of all Krusty merchandise. The next day as Krusty walks up the steps to the courthouse Bart and Lisa watch in disbelief. The man they see is far different from the clown in the guady outfit on TV; this Krusty is without makeup and wearing a prison uniform with small feet, as he is without his signature oversized shoes. Inside the courtroom during the trial, Homer, being called as a witness, points out Krusty to the jury as the robber. Later back at the house, Homer and Marge gather up all the Krusty merchandise in the house and head to the public burning.
An upset Bart watches as the pile of merchandise goes up in flames. The next day at the trial, it is revealed after being asked to identify some evidence it is revealed that Krusty is illiterate. The evidence that Krusty is asked to identify are betting slips, which suggests Krusty committed the robbery as this evidence, combined with an audit of Krusty's finances, shows he lost considerable amounts of money illegally wagering on sporting events, which Krusty admits to. Later, the jury reaches a guilty verdict. At the Simpson house, Lisa and Maggie watch Sideshow Bob, who has now taken over for Krusty on TV. He promises that while the show will be more educational, it will retain the popular The Itchy & Scratchy Show. When Bart walks in and sees this, he is upset. He tells Lisa he thinks Krusty is innocent and convinces her to help him prove it.
Bart and Lisa go to the Kwik-E-Mart to examine the crime through the security camera footage after convincing a reluctant Apu to let them look around. Lisa quickly notices discrepancies in the prosecution's case. She recalls that the robber had used the microwave oven at the checkout counter to heat a burrito, which has a sign warning that it is unsafe for pacemaker users; Lisa mentions that a few years ago, Krusty suffered a heart attack during a live broadcast of his show and had a pacemaker installed. She also recalls the robber was reading The Spirngfield Review of Books magazine, yet Krusty revealed his illiteracy during the trial. Upon learning these two clues, she realizes that Bart was right and accepts the fact Krusty was framed for a crime he didn't commit. Lisa asks him if Krusty has enemies who wanted to see him framed. Bart suggests they go and visit his best friend, Sideshow Bob, because he may be able to identify any known enemies who hated Krusty enough to see him go to prison. Meanwhile, Sideshow Bob is finishing up a show and tells the crew he wishes to be alone for a while, as he is still depressed over Krusty's conviction. As he goes into his dressing room, his crying transforms into sinister laughter.
At the television studio, Bob has a meeting with the show runners and discuss merchandise ideas. Bart, Lisa, and Maggie pay a visit to Sideshow Bob, he dismisses them because his show is about to start, but he offers them free tickets. In the audience, a visibly saddened Bart watches the show. When Sideshow Bob notices Bart's sadness, he invites him on stage for a new psychological segment of the show called Choices. While on stage, Bart reveals he is sad because he thinks that Krusty was framed and wrongfully jailed, but Bob tries to convince him otherwise, brushing off the clues he and Lisa found by claiming that Krusty was never one to follow doctor's orders seriously and pointing out that The Springfield Review of Books contains amusing caricatures that anyone can enjoy. Bob does get sore when Bart reminds him of the time he used to be Krusty's sidekick, which he remarks darkly that the clown shot him out of a cannon. When Bob mentions that he has "big shoes to fill", Bart connects the final piece of the mystery together, recalling that Homer stepped on the robber's toes and made him scream in pain. However, when he and Lisa saw Krusty going into the courtroom, they noticed that he had normal sized feet. Remembering that Bob has feet large enough to fill Krusty's clown shoes from their attempt to speak to him, Bart concludes that Bob is the real robber.
Outraged by the truth, Bart rightfully levels his accusation towards Sideshow Bob. He grabs the microphone and contends to the audience about his new discovery. Bart then proves his point by smashing the end of Bob's clown shoe with a mallet. This causes Bob to scream in pain and say the exact words spoken by the robber, much to the kids' shock. Bart pounds Bob's other foot, causing him to fall down, and removes his shoes to expose his big feet on TV, as the audience turn on Bob for what he did it Krusty. While watching the show and eating donuts, the police realize Bart is right and they overlooked one key piece of evidence that could have kept Krusty out of jail. Chief Wiggum, who is also eating a donut, orders the officers to go to the studio and arrest Sideshow Bob for the robbery.
Outside the studio, an arrested and exposed Bob dramatically confesses to the crime. He reveals that he framed Krusty for the Kwik-E-Mart robbery out of frustration because he finally got sick of constantly being on the receiving end of Krusty's humiliating antics for more ratings, as well as the fact that Krusty squandered much of the show's profits on gambling and other examples of "his vulgar appetites". Bob felt his intelligence was wasted on the show and wanted Krusty gone so he could make an educational program where his intelligence would appreciated by the public. Before being carted off to jail, Bob pays a grudging kudos to the Simpson children with the often used line from Scooby-Doo: "I would've gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids." and swears revenge on Bart for foiling his plan. He dramatically warns criminals to start treating children as equals because they were smart enough to catch him and will do the same to them. The charges against Krusty are dropped and he now regains the trust of the community. Chief Wiggum and the citizens apologize to Krusty for their misunderstanding, and Homer offers an apology for fingering him in court. Grateful to be free, Krusty forgives the populace for their wrong accusations and thanks Bart for standing up for the truth and sticking to his convictions. The episode finishes with Bart proudly tacking up a photo of himself and Krusty on the wall, before going to bed with his room refurnished with new Krusty the Clown merchandise.
The episode finished thirteenth place for May 23–29, 1990, with a Nielsen rating of 16.4. The episode received positive reviews from critics. Matt Groening has listed it as his ninth favorite episode of the show and said "I have a peculiar love of TV clownery". In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck gave the episode a rating of 3/5. Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said in a review that "throughout the episode we found great material; it really seemed clear that the show was starting to turn into the piece we now know and love. It’s hard for me to relate any deficiencies" and added that "almost every Bob episode offers a lot of fun, and this episode started that trend in fine style."
Krusty the Clown Show Characters, Locations and Key Episodes