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Bart the General
Moaning Lisa
The Call of the Simpsons

I got this bratty brother
He bugs me everyday
And this morning, my own mother
Gave my last cupcake away
My dad acts like he belongs
He belongs in a zoo
I'm the saddest kid in grade number two.
Lisa Simpson's song about her family

"Moaning Lisa" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons television series.

It features the first appearance of Bleeding Gums Murphy.


Lisa develops the blues, which is noticeable to the people around her. She has a note sent home from Springfield Elementary, but Marge and Homer are unable to cheer her up. That night, she hears jazz music in the distance, and sneaks out to follow it, to discover that it is being played by Bleeding Gums Murphy, a jazz man. He teaches her how to express her sadness on the saxophone, and she is happy again. In the meantime, Homer struggles to beat Bart in a boxing video game, but to no avail.

Full Story

Lisa feels depressed

Act One

The episode starts with a melancholic Lisa staring at herself in the bathroom mirror while Homer pounds on the door waiting for his turn. Later in the kitchen, before going to work, Homer searches for his keys, while Bart and Lisa eat breakfast before school. Lisa finds the keys still in the front door. Marge has only two cupcakes for Homer, Bart, and Lisa; however Lisa defers the cupcakes to Homer and Bart, as she is clearly depressed. Her depression causes her to not show any effort in band practice, in lunch during a food fight, and in the gym. After school in the living room, Bart and Homer play a boxing video game called Super Slugfest. Homer suffers his 49th consecutive loss at the hands of Bart while Marge shows Homer a note from school about Lisa (with Homer initially assuming the note was about Bart and Bart trying to deny it until to even Bart's surprise Marge revealed it wasn't referring to Bart).

Lisa and Murphy

Act Two

The note is a progress report from Principal Skinner informing Homer and Marge that Lisa was too sad to play dodge ball at school. Homer attempts to discover the cause of Lisa’s sadness and she tells him she wonders if the world would be any different if she didn’t exist. When Homer clearly can’t come up with a good quick answer, Marge tells Lisa to take a hot bath and Homer tells Bart to vacuum the floor. When Lisa is done with her bath she walks into the living room where Bart is still vacuuming and is not happy about it. Maggie sits by herself on the couch watching Bart and Lisa. In an effort to see who Maggie likes more both Bart and Lisa coax her to each other, instead Maggie chooses the TV. Later Homer and Bart are playing Super Slugfest again where Bart easily wins again (for the 50th time), Homer blames the loss on Lisa’s loud saxophone playing. Homer goes up to Lisa’s room to yell at her, but accidentally makes her cry as he apologizes for yelling at her. Lisa agrees to just practice on playing the notes without blowing into the saxophone. After Homer leaves the room, Lisa hears a saxophone playing off in the distance outside her window and leaves the house to go find the source. Lisa walks through the town at nighttime and discovers a man playing a saxophone alone on a bridge overpass.

Back at the Simpson house, everyone is asleep and Marge dreams about her childhood. In the dream Marge is a sad little girl and before going out to play her mother tells her to make sure she smiles. Homer also has a dream that he is trapped inside the boxing video game with Bart. Bart K.O.’s Homer and he wakes up screaming from his nightmare. Marge expresses her concern with Lisa’s sadness to Homer. Meanwhile, Lisa is jamming with the man who introduces himself as Bleeding Gums Murphy. Lisa and Bleeding Gums play the blues together, and he tells Lisa he plays at a club called the Jazz Hole when a worried Marge, after realizing Lisa is gone, shows up to bring her home.

Act Three

Moaning Lisa poster.jpg

Homer watches a news report in the living room when he discovers Barney’s Bowlarama has burned down. He runs in the kitchen to tell Marge the bad news, but Marge is fretting over Lisa. Bart enters the kitchen and Marge tells him to go find Lisa and act nice to her and cheer her up. Bart goes and finds Lisa and in an effort to cheer her up, he plays a prank phone call on Moe, but Lisa is not amused. Cut to Homer walking into the local video arcade. Homer seeks advice on Super Slugfest from Howard, a cocky young expert at the arcade. After some time Homer feels he has learned plenty of tricks to defeat Bart. Howard and Homer are then confronted by Howard's mother who scolds Howard for spending too much time in the arcade and then scolding Homer for being in an arcade.

In the meantime, Marge takes Lisa to band practice, and on the way Marge tells Lisa to smile and keep her true feelings inside so she can fit in with the other kids, telling her that is the way to becoming happy again. Marge drops off Lisa in front of the school and observes Lisa fake smiling and interacting with the other kids. Marge sees some boys make fun of Lisa as she smiles her way through it, much to her horror. Mr. Largo comes out of the school to gather the children in for practice and tells Lisa he hopes he doesn’t hear any more creativity from her again today. This makes Marge realize the error of her ways and she quickly does a tire squealing u-turn, snatches Lisa and drives off. In the car, Marge apologizes and tells Lisa it is okay to be sad and that she should always be herself no matter what, promising she will always have family around to help her. Marge then tells Lisa she can stop smiling, but this time the smile (thanks to Marge's support) is genuine.

Bleeding Gums Murphy plays Lisa's song

Back at the house, Bart and Homer are playing Super Slugfest again and this time, Homer puts Bart on the ropes and dominates the fight. Marge walks in to make an announcement, but Homer is too busy winning to listen. Just as Homer is about to pull a final blow to win the game, Marge unplugs the TV to gain his attention, much to his horror. Homer gets upset at Marge for ruining his chance to beat Bart, but Marge states that her announcement is more important than the game. Bart announces that he has retired from the world of video game boxing undefeated (much to Homer's dismay). Marge then tells the family that Lisa has a fun idea for everyone. Cut to the club, The Jazz Hole, where the family listens to Bleeding Gums play a blues song written by Lisa (with Homer reacting negatively to the lyric "My Dad acts like he belongs-ah, belongs in the zoo").

Behind the Laughter


Bleeding Gums Murphy plays a saxophone solo while the credits roll over a nighttime shot of a Springfield street corner that contains the Jazz Hole building. This is the second time the credits roll over continued episode footage; the first was the Christmas special.

International Air dates

  • France: January 19, 1991
  • Germany: October 4, 1991
  • Hungary: September 28, 1998
  • Italy: October 8, 1991
  • Canada: February 17, 1991


Moaning Lisa/Transcript


In its original American broadcast, the episode finished 34th place in the weekly ratings for the week of February 5-11, 1990 with a Nielsen Rating of 13.8.

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "Certain scenes of this, the most syrupy of Simpsons episodes, sent viewers raised on the later seasons scurrying to the bathroom. Yes, the final moments may give you goosepimples, and are a world away from the anti-schmaltz normally associated with the series, but there is still much to recommend here. in fact, the Homer–Bart subplot is more successful than the main storyline; Homer's nightmare about their relationship is genuinely disturbing."


The Simpsons-Jazzman


Shorts: Season 3 Season 1 Episodes Season 2
Simpsons Roasting on an Open FireBart the GeniusHomer's OdysseyThere's No Disgrace Like HomeBart the GeneralMoaning LisaThe Call of the SimpsonsThe Telltale HeadLife on the Fast LaneHomer's Night OutThe Crepes of WrathKrusty Gets BustedSome Enchanted Evening