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Last Exit to Springfield
So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show

"Where's my burrito!? Where's my burrito!? Where's my burrito!? Ow!"
Homer Simpson

"Last Exit to Springfield" is the seventeenth episode of Season 4.


Homer finds himself filling in for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's union leader when it comes time to negotiate their new contract with Mr. Burns. Homer is a tough negotiator, despite not knowing the first thing about union organizing or even basic economics, and forces Burns to accept the union's demands on the condition that Homer be removed as leader. Meanwhile, Lisa is told she has to get braces and has a hard time dealing with them without a dental plan.

Full Story[]


While watching an installment of the McBain movie series, Bart expresses amazement at how evil the main antagonist is, only for Homer to point out that "there’s nobody that evil in real life". However, he failed to account for Mr. Burns, who's sitting in his office, laughing evilly at a window cleaner hanging on for dear life after the platform snapped in half. Burns then closes the blinds (a scream is heard outside) and telephones Smithers to find out why the trade union leader is still absent from a meeting to discuss the proposed union contract. Smithers informs his boss that the Union President hasn't been seen since he promised to clean up the union (it's implied that he was killed in the effort when a football player trips over the spot where the union buried him in a stadium). Looking over the contract, Burns is disgusted with the demands and reminisces about simpler times when he observed his grandfather treating his workers very badly, ignoring their warnings about unionizing. As such, Burns chooses to avenge his grandfather and take on the greedy union by revoking their dental plan.


"Where's my burrito?!"

Meanwhile, at Painless Dentistry, the Simpson kids are getting their teeth checked by Dr. Wolfe. During the visit, it is discovered Lisa needs braces. When Marge informs Homer, he tells her not to worry about the cost, as the union had won a dental plan during the strike of 1988 (a strike where Homer received a scar on the side of his head by the falling awning of a food truck; he also gained another scar on the back of his head from when he tried to sneak under the door of a pay toilet). Later, at a meeting of the local chapter of International Brotherhood of Jazz Dancers, Pastry Chefs and Nuclear Technicians, Carl announces that the newest contract requires the union to give up their dental plan in exchange for a free keg of beer for their meetings. Homer slowly comprehends that giving up their dental plan would result in his family losing their insurance and require him to pay for Lisa's braces out-of-pocket. Homer jumps into action, reminding everyone how their dental plan has helped them all, and how the new contract is an insult. Carl proposes Homer be the new union president and is promptly elected by a nearly unanimous vote. As his first action as the new union president, Homer rips up the contract agreeing to give up their dental plan. Burns monitors Homer (on the plant's security monitors, with a camera planted in the keg) and is impressed, asking Smithers which employee is the one taking action. A confused Smithers reminds Mr. Burns about all the encounters he's had with the Simpson family (such as the time they ruined his gubernatorial campaign, the time Burns ran over Bart with his car, the time Homer prevented a nuclear meltdown at the plant, and the time Marge painted a nude portrait of Burns) though Burns remembers none of it. The following morning, Homer's family all congratulate him for his new position as Union President and tell that this will give him a chance to gain better conditions for his co-workers (although Homer is more interested in making significant connections to "organized crime"). Lisa asks Homer if he'll be able to get the dental plan back for her braces and Homer tells her that it depends on whether or not he's a better negotiator than Burns. Unfortunately, everyone's hopes are dashed when Bart persuades Homer to exchange his Danish for a doorstop by simply swapping the adjectives ("Dad, I'll give you this delicious doorstop for your crummy old Danish."). The next day, Mr. Burns continues to mistake Homer for a brilliant tactician, confusing his attempt to get a Sugar Daddy off his back with exercising. Burns invites Homer to his office to try to reach an agreement, making several sly innuendos that hint towards his intent to bribe him, which Homer misconstrues as sexual advances. Homer quickly gets to his feet, saying he doesn't go for such "backdoor shenanigans" and promptly leaves.

After a seemingly terrifying prep before her anesthetization (and her dream in the form of a Beatles "Yellow Submarine" style drug trip), Lisa is given her new braces. Due to not having the dental plan available at the time, the only braces the Simpsons can afford are an old, outdated design that predate stainless steel and require having a couple of teeth removed from the back of her jaw.


Lisa's new braces

The braces ended up being extremely noticeable, leading her to call herself a "monster", and even horrifying the photographer when her school pictures are taken. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns sends hired goons to Homer's in order to take him back to Burns Manor to negotiate. Mr. Burns gives Homer a tour of his mansion to give him an idea of what he is capable of (such as the largest T.V. in the free world and 1000 monkeys on typewriters). He also shows Homer his aviary, where we can see birds such as his vulture, and the spoonbill. Once they actually sit to talk, Homer is overcome with a pressing need to use the restroom due to the large amount of beer, coffee and watermelon he had drank during the tour. At first, Homer tries to ignore the urge, but due to the sounds of dripping water and Burns using various innuendos in his words, he asks where the bathroom is and immediately leaves; his delayed attempts to find it among the many rooms of the mansion cause Burns to think that Homer is unwilling to even hear him out. Infuriated by the failed meeting, Mr. Burns takes Homer back to his house via helicopter. As Burns departs, he tells Homer that he's going to crush him like a bug and then takes off laughing maniacally (before falling out of the helicopter and asking Homer to rub his legs until he can feel them again, ultimately being carried off by helicopter once again in a stretcher). Homer finally becomes fed up with having to meet with Burns and calls a meeting where he attempts to resign as president; the union misinterpret his words and immediately vote to strike. Burns is undeterred by the strike and tries several methods of breaking it up, such as bringing in 30's era strikebreakers (led by Grandpa, who proceeds to bore Burns with one of his rambling stories involving tying an onion to his belt), trying to disperse the strikers with a hose (which fails when pressure build up launches Burns into the air), he and Smithers run the plant themselves and buy loyal robot workers (which turn on Burns and Smithers). On an edition of Kent Brockman's talk show "Smartline", Burns is allowed an opening tirade and he threatens dire events if the strike does not conclude. Fifteen minutes later, Burns and Smithers march to a secret room in the power plant and turn off the power for the whole town. Everything quickly descends into anarchy with people looting stores and destroying property. Despite the cut power, the strikers, picketing outside the plant, don't lose hope and, led by Lisa, begin to sing. Burns, confident he has broken the union's spirit, steps out of his balcony to hear their reaction but is disarmed by their unity and optimism (in a parody of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas"). Finally giving up, Burns calls a meeting with Homer to concede to the union's demands on one condition: that Homer must resign as union president. Homer celebrates slapstick style, prompting Burns to finally realize that Homer is not the brilliant tactician he thought he was. Homer goes outside and tells his coworkers that a deal has been reached and they're going back to work and power is immediately returned to Springfield.

With the Simpson family insured again, Lisa's obsolete braces are replaced by the dental-plan-covered luxury braces, and she, the Simpson family and the dentist gather and laugh as the episode finishes (as he had left the 'laughing gas' on).

Behind the Laughter[]


The idea for this episode came from Mike Reiss, who thought it would be funny if the plant went on strike. The writers of the episode, Kogen and Wolodarsky, would later add the dental plan part. In several scenes, Mr. Burns is portrayed as the Devil who is tempting Homer and showing him what he could have. During the production of this episode, an ABC camera crew was allowed into the rewrite room, which Al Jean says he regrets because they were working on stage direction, and they came off as not being very funny.


The producers originally asked Anthony Hopkins and Clint Eastwood to provide the voice of the dentist, Dr. Wolfe, but they both turned it down. Anthony Perkins was later asked to fulfill the role and he agreed, but passed away before the role could be recorded. In the end, the role went to Simpsons regular Hank Azaria. Also, the original third panelist on Smartline was supposed to be O.J. Simpson, but he turned it down, which the writers believe was a good thing. They eventually cast Dr. Joyce Brothers.


This episode is generally ranked as being the best of all time and is on a number of Top 10 lists. An "Entertainment Weekly" article from January 2003 looking back at the top 25 episodes of the series chose this episode as the show's greatest episode, saying "this episode is virtually flawless, the product of a series at the height of its creative powers -- when the satire was savage and relevant" and "the stuff of syndication legend: Burns facing down "brilliant" labor kingpin Homer Simpson; Homer Simpson facing down his own brain (Lisa needs braces!DENTAL PLAN!); Grampa rattling on about wearing onions on his belt. Last Exit is a glorious symphony of the high and the low, of satirical shots at unions." also ranked this episode at #1 on their Top 10 Best Simpsons Episode List.

In his book "Planet Simpson", Chris Turner calls it the best episode of the series, saying "Episode 9F15 of The Simpsons should be taught in schools, in history, economics, social studies, literature and art class. It's flawless and calling it "the funniest half-hour in TV history". He maintains that he chose the episode as best ever before EW's list was published. In 2003, to celebrate the show's 300th episode, USA Today published a top 10 chosen by the webmaster of The Simpsons Archive, which had this episode in first place. The BBC website says "This fine episode contains several of our favorite sequences ... A classic, and the series' most marked expedition into the surreal - up to this point." The episode earned an 9.1/10 on IMDB, and a 9.1/10 out on

Director Mark Kirkland considers this episode to be one of the most surreal episodes that he has worked on because it has a lot of story crammed into it, lots of parodies and contains several visual sequences. Al Jean has also called this one of the craziest episodes. Homer's line "uh... Yeah" after being asked if he found the bathroom is one of Jay Kogen's favorite Simpsons jokes.


Season 3 Season 4 Episodes Season 5
Kamp KrustyA Streetcar Named MargeHomer the HereticLisa the Beauty QueenTreehouse of Horror IIIItchy & Scratchy: The MovieMarge Gets a JobNew Kid on the BlockMr. PlowLisa's First WordHomer's Triple BypassMarge vs. the MonorailSelma's ChoiceBrother from the Same PlanetI Love LisaDufflessLast Exit to SpringfieldSo It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip ShowThe FrontWhacking DayMarge in ChainsKrusty Gets Kancelled