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Sideshow Bob

"The Bob Next Door" is the twenty-second episode of Season 21.


Bart is horrified when he recognizes his new neighbor as his arch enemy, Sideshow Bob (disguised as Walt Warren), who has returned for revenge. But when Marge tries to convince Bart otherwise by taking him to the local penitentiary, a disturbing secret is revealed, leading to danger for the spiky-haired boy.

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Springfield is suffering from an economic crisis so massive that the Quimby Administration is unable to hide it any longer by cooking the books and fudging the numbers (Homer took this literally in his imagination). Mayor Quimby enacts cost-cutting measures such as preventing the service of removing dead animals from the roads, drastically shortening the school day at Springfield Elementary School (to the extent that the only "school time" was the bus ride over to the School Building), and ordering Springfield Penitentiary to release prisoners convicted of minor offenses. The Springfield Police Department is also affected by the cutbacks, being forced to allow low-level criminals to get away with crimes, due to lacking the resources—and especially the funding—to go after them.

Many citizens move because of the cutbacks, and a house next to the Simpsons' goes on the market. Homer chooses he wants to buy the house because of the smell of cookies coming from it, but someone has beaten him to it: Walt Warren, who closed the deal on the house while Homer was filling out the loan paperwork. Also, at least one of the banks in the world that received Homer's loans, the Iceland National Bank, closed down due to not having enough money, causing the populace to want to kill Homer Simpson.

Marge and Lisa watch movers (and Walt himself) carrying personal possessions into the house, and conclude that Walt is a lover of Hybrid cars, antique furniture, and koi ponds. Bart goes over to introduce himself, "Bart Simpson-style". Walt greets him by saying, "Hello, Bart." Bart immediately recognizes Walt's voice as Sideshow Bob's voice and runs off screaming.

At home, Bart tries to convince the rest of the family that Walt is really Bob. Marge and Homer attempts to reassure him that a lot of people sound like Sideshow Bob. "Like Frasier on Cheers, Frasier on Frasier, and Lt. Commander Tom Dodge on Down Periscope". Bart plans to unmask Walt as Bob. He first tries singing Gilbert and Sullivan music, knowing that Bob has a fondness for it and figuring that he won't be able to resist joining in. When that doesn't work (and Walt says he likes country music instead), Bart sneaks into Walt's house looking for proof but gets caught by Marge. In order to put an end to Bart's paranoia, Marge plans to take Bart to Springfield Penitentiary to show him that Sideshow Bob remains in jail. Bart and Marge see Sideshow Bob in his cell, wearing a straitjacket and writing "Bart Simpson Will Die" all over the walls and the floor with a red pen held in his teeth, which satisfies Bart for the moment.

The next morning, Walt asks Bart if he would go with him to see a baseball game, the Isotopes play against the Spokane Cascades. Bart accepts the invitation and asks Marge if he can go. Marge asks him if he cleaned his room and, when he says that he has not, lets him go anyway because she will have something to do while he is gone. Bart gets into Walt's Hybrid and they start driving to the stadium. When Walt doesn't make the turn off of the freeway to Springfield Stadium, Bart suspects that something is up. Then Walt says that Bart was right all along; he really is Sideshow Bob! To prove it, "Walt" takes off his shoes and unfolds his long feet, undeniable proof that he is Bob. Bob is relieved to finally be able to stop behaving like Walt, and be able to sing all the Gilbert and Sullivan music he damn well pleases!

Meanwhile, at the Springfield Penitentiary, "Bob" swallows his red pen and passes out. The guard rushes in to make sure he is okay and "Bob" spits the pen out of his mouth and it hits the guard in the eye, temporarily blinding him. "Bob" pulls the guard's taser off his belt with his teeth and stuns him with it. He heads outside the prison and, after avoiding the attack hounds (one of which mistakes Bob's hair for a bush and pees on him), makes it over the prison wall. "Bob" goes to the Simpsons' house. He appears in the kitchen window where Marge soaks him with a hose and Homer closes the window on his neck, "Bob" tells them that he's the real Walt. To prove it to them, Walt takes off his shoes and shows them his short feet.

In a parallel story-telling of how Bob escaped from prison, between Walt telling the other Simpsons and Bob telling a helpless bound and gagged Bart, it is revealed that he had heard that prisoners convicted of minor offenses were going to be released, and his cellmate Walt was a minor offender and fortuitously had the same build and facial structure as he did. Just before the release took place, Bob knocked Walt out with a sedative, and switched their faces in the prison hospital (albeit with some difficulty), and then simply walked out posing as Walt when the minor offenders were set free. He then used the proceeds from Walt's investments (which had done very well during his incarceration) to buy the house next door to the Simpsons. Bart (now with no duct-tape on his mouth) starts laughing in Bob's face when Bob tells him that selling the house will be murder which much to Bart's disappointment results in him being gagged again.

As Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie and Walt go to to Bob's house, Marge asks why he did not tell the prison guards the truth. Walt explains that he couldn't properly move Bob's lips, so the guards assumed he was insane and locked him in a padded cell. He tried writing, "Bart Simpson Will Die" on the walls to warn the Simpsons but they ignored him then. Marge points out that his message was open to interpretation, to which Walt admits he's not a good writer. In the bedroom, they find dozens of pictures of Bart and one of Krusty with knives in them, effigies of Bart being hanged and drowned in an aquarium, and so on; Homer comments that Bob really does not like Bart. Lisa finds a brochure of The Five Corners, the only point in the U.S.A. where five states meet, with the notation "KILL HERE" handwritten in red. Walt and the other Simpsons then head for The Five Corners.

Bob stops at a diner, abandoning Bart in the car still tied up and gagged to the car seat. The waitress falls for Bob as Walt. She removes what she thinks is a loose thread on his jacket, but it is really one of the stitches from the face transplant. All of the sutures come undone, revealing that his face has been sewn on. Bob then takes off with Bart. Shortly afterwards, the Simpson family and Walt arrive at the diner, describe Bob to the waitress, and ask her where they went. She tells them that Bob was headed for Mexico. The Simpsons believe her and go to Mexico, but Walt, sensing that the waitress is attracted to Bob, knows this is not true and goes to Five Corners himself, but before going, the waitress notices another "loose tread" on Walt, and pulls it off. Walt runs to Five Corners, with the waitress saying that all the good men she meets are either gay or have no face.

Bob arrives at The Five Corners and has himself and Bart (with his hands and feet bound with duct tape) stand in two of the states at the meeting point. He then tells Bart of his plan to murder him: Bob will stand in one state; reach into a second state and shoot his gun; have the bullet travel through a third state; hit Bart in a fourth state; and Bart will fall dead in the fifth state (although this is not possible, as the bullet would have to curve around to actually hit Bart). Because all portions of the process is legal, he will have immunity from prosecution in all five states so Bob can’t be charged for Bart's murder. Bob brags about his plan, saying that "the sum total is the greatest murder since Snape killed Dumbledore!" Bart complains about Bob ruining the ending of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as he never got to that part in the book (despite it being four years old) because he is a slow reader. Bob then offers Bart a fitting epitaph. After being explained to that it means 'last words,' Bart replies, "Are you here to teach me or to kill me?" As Bob prepares to fire his gun, Bart then jumps to the same state Bob's standing in thus taking away his immunity, pointing out that if Bob shoots Bart in the same state, he'll go to jail as it will be prosecutable. They both do several rounds of hopping between the different states, until Bob steps on a rake that flies up and hits him in the face. Bob then becomes so frustrated that he chooses to just shoot Bart and get it done with, regardless of jurisdiction, and tell people that he did the plan.

Walt arrives in the nick of time and disarms Bob. Walt tells Bob to take off his face and give it back to him, but unfortunately he has a bee under Bob's transplanted face, which distracts him and leaves Bob an opening to rearm himself. Bob then grants Walt the privilege of choosing which state he shoots him in. Walt says "Hawaii" and Bob revokes his choosing privilege. Before he can shoot either Bart or Walt, Chief Wiggum arrives with Eddie and Lou from Springfield's State to arrest Bob, revealing that Bart wasn't really convinced that Bob was Walt by DNA analysis and tracked the GPS in his car. After Bart alerted them before he left with Bob, the police then were able to track them because Bob's Hybrid is secretly monitored by the government (like all Hybrids). Bob compliments Wiggum, before jumping to another state (and out of Wiggum's jurisdiction). However, police officers from the other four states arrive, cutting off Bob's escape. Walt is arrested and taken into custody along with Bob, and the rest of the Simpsons family return from Mexico, where Homer has been having misadventures such as disagreeing with a cook over "How do you say 'taco' in Mexican?"

Back in the Simpsons' neighborhood, Walt's former house is vacant, but only temporarily. A distant Flanders relative called Ted Flanders moves into the house with his two daughters Bonnie Flanders and Connie Flanders, and he and Ned start a conversation laced with "Flanders-isms", saying hello to each other from across the Simpsons' front yard. Homer then shouts for them to stop while being driven silly.

Behind the Laughter


"The Bob Next Door" was written by long-term writer John Frink and directed by Nancy Kruse, her second director's credit for Season 21 after "The Devil Wears Nada." The episode features the return of recurring guest voice Kelsey Grammer as the Bart-hating murderer, Sideshow Bob, making it his eleventh appearance and doesn't come back until Season 25's "The Man Who Grew Too Much". According to executive producer Al Jean, "The Bob Next Door" was slated to air on January 14, 2010, along with "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" and "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice!", but was instead moved to May 16 for an unknown reason.


The episode was viewed by an estimated 6.258 million households, making it one of the highest rated shows that evening, after Family Guy.

The Bob Next Door received very positive reviews from critics.

Robert Canning of IGN gave it an 8.5 rating, stating that it was "Great" and "Overall, this was a great return to form for an appearance from Sideshow Bob. The vengeful character has been let down by recent episodes, but 'The Bob Next Door' has reminded us what makes Bob so much fun."

TV Fanatic gave the episode four out of five and stated that they enjoyed the plot twists but thought the jokes were unfunny, remarking that "the episode just didn't have the same humor as say, Cape Feare."

John Teti of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+. He stated that "The showdown at Five Corners played out just like Cape Feare, complete with rake gag, which is not a bad thing. If The Simpsons intends to self-plagiarize (and it obviously does), that's a good episode to copy."

Sharon Knolle of AOL TV said, "I'd say overall this ep ranks with some of the better Sideshow Bob eps, if not the very best. Certainly, it beats the heck out of The Italian Bob and Funeral for a Fiend."


Sideshow Bob Episodes
Krusty Gets BustedBlack WidowerCape FeareSideshow Bob RobertsSideshow Bob's Last GleamingBrother from Another SeriesDay of the JackanapesThe Great Louse DetectiveThe Italian BobFuneral for a FiendThe Bob Next DoorThe Man Who Grew Too MuchTreehouse of Horror XXVIGone BoyBobby, It's Cold Outside
Season 20 Season 21 Episodes Season 22
Homer the WhopperBart Gets a "Z"The Great Wife HopeTreehouse of Horror XXThe Devil Wears NadaPranks and GreensRednecks and BroomsticksO Brother, Where Bart Thou?Thursdays with AbieOnce Upon a Time in SpringfieldMillion Dollar MaybeBoy Meets CurlThe Color YellowPostcards From the WedgeStealing First BaseThe Greatest Story Ever D'ohedAmerican History X-cellentChief of HeartsThe Squirt and the WhaleTo Surveil With LoveMoe Letter BluesThe Bob Next DoorJudge Me Tender