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The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star
The Bonfire of the Manatees
The Girl Who Slept Too Little
I'm gonna take you home and fix you up. 'Cause you're the real endangered species, a devoted husband. [purrs and kisses Homer]

"The Bonfire of the Manatees" is the first episode of Season 17. It was the first episode to air in September since Season 11's "Beyond Blunderdome" (originally going to be an episode of Season 16 in production order).


Homer falls for a football betting scam and owes money to Fat Tony, who chooses to let Homer pay off the debt by letting him shoot a porno film in the house. When Marge finds out, she drives off, and while she is calling Homer, the phone booth she is in is attacked by a manatee, which is driven off by a marine biologist specializing in them (right down to his "I love manatees" tattoo). Marge becomes fascinated by the manatees, which doesn't escape Homer's notice, so when a pack of them are attacked by jet-skiers, it is up to Homer to save the day, the manatees, and then himself.

Full Story

Homer is watching a football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. Upon viewing the Broncos win, Homer complains about not listening to the advice given to him from "Professor Pigskin". Lisa is reading a book nearby and asks Homer who Professor Pigskin is. Homer then reveals a gambling book and tells her that he gives out the winners in advance and he had picked up every issue for the past few weeks and each prediction had been correct. Lisa then sighs, rolls her eyes and explains that there are actually two books sent out each week half picking one of the playing teams half picking the other and eventually a small group of people will have only received the correct predictions, assume that the books will be always right and then purchase an expensive subscription from the company. Homer doesn't pick up on the fact that it is a scam and gives the company his credit card details. One week later, Homer is watching another game after listening to the pamphlets advice and loses his bet. For this game he had the choice between the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Following the advice he was given, he bet on the Raiders. Unfortunately, all of the star players were down with the flu, so in an act of desperation, the managers merely nabbed drunks from local pubs and sloppily put equipment on them. Lisa hesitantly asks Homer how much money he bet on the game, to which Homer revealed that he didn't bet any of their own money and had borrowed from Fat Tony, who is standing at their window. Upon learning that Homer had lost all their money, Fat Tony calmly claims they can "hammer out a payment plan". Which they do, literally, by kidnapping Homer, restraining him and beating his hands with a hammer. Homer tries to convince Fat Tony that it's really Professor Pigskins fault the Raiders lost, but only succeeds in annoying the mobsters and gets whacked with two hammers. After a few solid whacks, it is proposed that to repay his debt to Tony, Homer will let the mafia use the Simpson home as a set for an adult film, Lemony Lick-It's A Series of Horny Events. Left with no other option then to comply, Homer agrees. Unfortunately, Homer makes the mistake of assuming that the film will be gay and is whacked simultaneously by every member in the room.

Homer tells Moe about the situation, so to help, Moe gives him tickets to Santa's Village to get his family out of the way. When giving the proposal to the rest of his family, Marge is suspicious since it was the middle of August. But after some comments from Bart (about how "Santa" teased him by giving him a PlayStation box that only had socks inside) and some quick thinking by Homer, she agrees. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent why the tickets were such a bargain. The grounds were incredibly dirty, the reindeer were ill due to the unusual environment and, "Santa" wasn't his normal, "jolly" self because he received some, "bad medical news". During production, Lenny and Carl enter the house to borrow a board game and stumble upon the production of the film. Homer attempts to get them out of the house, but when Carl asks how he got Marge to go along with this, Homer bribes them with letting them be in the movie if they don't tell Marge about what is going on. Lenny proposes running the sound board and Carl says he will perform in the sex scenes.

Another promo card for this episode

Meanwhile Marge and the children try to make the best of Santa's Village. However, the experience only continues to get worse and worse as Lisa gets a rash from the reindeer and, "Santa" kicks the bucket while they were there. Eventually, they decide to give up and leave early. Marge tells the kids to be nice to Homer because he had good intentions but then screams in horror when she sees a truck for the production company parked in front of the house. Homer desperately tries to move the process along, but his attempts are dashed when Marge enters the kitchen. Homer tries to play dumb, but to no avail. Marge remarks that she couldn't believe that he was allowing porn to be filmed in the same room where they eat their breakfast and storms off. Homer tries to stop her from leaving by giving an explanation as to why he did what did. But only manages to make Marge even more furious by revealing that he borrowed money from the mafia. She then smashes her car against his four times while saying goodbye to the kids and mentioning that that day was the expiration date for the yogurt and then drives off with a dented front and smashed headlights.

While having an emergency family meeting with the kids, Homer tries to be optimistic and points out that it's a common routine; he does something stupid, Marge goes away out of extreme anger but everything eventually works out. The kids on the other hand, aren't as confident as he is about the situation. Homer sits by the phone and nervously awaits a call from Marge and eventually receives one in which he desperately tries to apologize. But Marge isn't too sure about just putting it behind them. While talking, the phone booth Marge is in is attacked by a hungry manatee who is lured away by Dr. Caleb Thorn, a good-looking scientist dedicated to saving the Florida manatee. Marge strikes up a conversation with Thorn and asks if she could possibly assist in aiding the manatees, and he agrees.

Finally, Homer is unable to wait for Marge to return any longer, so he takes Bart, Lisa and Maggie and goes looking for her. After driving for miles, eating at multiple secret fast food joints, sleeping for a few nights in the car and forcing Bart to stay in a dog crate, Lisa and Bart finally start to complain about the circumstances they're in. Homer tells them that he has cousins living in the area and that they can stay with. While looking through binoculars from the tree house in the backyard, Lisa spots Marge on the back of a manatee.

Homer meets up with her on the beach, and Caleb helps Marge realize that is the same man she fell in love - the only problem is that she still expects him to change.

While he and the kids visit his cousins, Homer tries to win Marge back by saving a herd of manatees from a group of sadistic jet-skiers. Right after the bullies leave, they hear Homer call them "rubes". They turn around to attack Homer. Homer orders the manatees, "Defend!" Then they flee. The hoods get to Homer and start beating him up. Fortunately, Homer's cousin shows up on a speed boat and shows the hooligans a court order requiring them to vacate the waters. Marge is impressed by Homer's actions and agrees to return home. As Marge and Homer walk off, Caleb talks to the manatee he just rescued that he should probably find a wife as well. But instead of heading home, Homer says they can stay for a little while longer since he got a "replacement" to take care of business at work. It is then shown that the replacement is a manatee that Homer slapped a pair of jeans and shirt onto. Mr. Burns takes a liking to the manatee and claims that he thinks it is the start of a great friendship when the manatee licks his cheek. Only for Smithers to tell him that the manatee is actually licking him because he is about to die of dehydration. The episode finishes with Burns and Smithers re-hydrating the manatee with sponges and hoses to the Rose Royce song, "Car Wash".

Behind the Laughter


Al Jean originally pitched the idea of an episode based around the Simpsons rescuing manatees in 2003 during the writers' retreat sessions for The Simpsons Movie. Although not used in the movie, the idea eventually became an episode in its own right.


  • On May 11, 2008, Entertainment Weekly named Alec Baldwin's role as Caleb Thorn as the first of 16 great guest stars on The Simpsons.


Season 16 Season 17 Episodes Season 18
The Bonfire of the ManateesThe Girl Who Slept Too LittleMilhouse of Sand and FogTreehouse of Horror XVIMarge's Son PoisoningSee Homer RunThe Last of the Red Hat MamasThe Italian BobSimpsons Christmas StoriesHomer's Paternity CootWe're on the Road to D'oh-whereMy Fair LaddyThe Seemingly Never-Ending StoryBart Has Two MommiesHomer Simpson, This is Your WifeMillion-Dollar AbieKiss Kiss Bang BangaloreThe Wettest Stories Ever ToldGirls Just Want to Have SumsRegarding MargieThe Monkey SuitMarge and Homer Turn a Couple Play