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The Lastest Gun in the West
The Old Man and the Key
Tales from the Public Domain

Statistics show that old people drive at least as well as sleep-deprived apes.
Lisa Simpson

"The Old Man and the Key" is the thirteenth episode of Season 13.


In order to impress Zelda, a new female resident at the retirement castle, Grampa starts driving again, but Grampa runs into trouble with Homer whose car he continually abuses and he develops some enemies in the form of a rival gang of retirees at the Kwik-E-Mart.

Full Story

The Simpsons receive word that Grampa has passed on. They rush to the retirement home, only to find out that Grampa is very much alive and healthy. It was another resident by the name of Stimson who actually passed on. A short time later, a beautiful new resident, Zelda, moves in. Grampa is instantly smitten, but it soon becomes apparent that Zelda is more interested in Zack, an elderly man with a minivan. Grampa concludes that if he wants to win Zelda, he must get his driver’s license back. At first, Homer is against the idea as it being too dangerous, but he eventually gives in and Grampa gets his license.


When Grampa asks Homer if he can borrow the car for a hot date, Homer refuses, but Marge dreams up the idea of a double-date at a drive-in movie theater. As the date gets underway, Grampa and Zelda make out in the back of the car. When Grampa makes off with Homer’s car so he can drive Zelda around, Homer puts his foot down and forbids Grampa from driving it. Later, at the Kwik-E-Mart, Grampa and his elderly friends are confronted by a group of elderly Hispanic gentlemen, who challenged them to a death race. Grampa and his buddies participate in the dangerous race and win…but crash Homer’s car into the back garden. Perturbed by his betrayal, Homer forbids his own father to drive ever again.


Grampa is crushed when Zelda accepts Zack’s offer to spend some time in Branson, Missouri. With help from Bart, he hot wires Marge's car and heads off to win back his love. Homer and Marge deduce where Grampa has taken the car. They choose to take a bus to Branson so they can confront him. Bart and Grampa follow Zelda and Zack into a Branson theater, where a huge musical revue is underway, featuring a huge cast of faded stars. Suddenly, Grampa stops the show. He tells the audience he drove hundreds of miles to say something special to someone in the audience. He then invites Zelda on stage, but when she draws close, and says “drive me,” Grampa tells her that their relationship is over, then he invites Homer onstage and they reconcile. During the credits, The Simpsons wave in front of the studio. While doing this, Grampa constantly falls asleep, with Homer waking him up each time.


Following the thirteenth season's release on DVD and Blu-ray, "The Old Man and the Key" received mixed to negative reviews from critics.

Writing for Project:Blu, Nate Boss stated that Grampa "just isn't all that funny when cornered, and that's what we get here," and that "the jokes are a bit too few and far between".

Giving the episode a negative review, Ryan Keefer of DVD Talk wrote that it was "borderline painful" and one of the season's "duds".

Casey Broadwater of wrote that the episode "moves at a geriatric pace", and R. L. Shaffer of IGN stated that it "represent[s] some of the worst of The Simpsons." On the other hand, giving the episode a positive review, Ron Martin of 411Mania enjoyed the "poke towards Branson, Missouri, a mecca for old people everywhere," and Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict gave the episode a B rating.

Colin Jacobsson of DVD Movie Guide wrote that, even though Grampa is "essentially a one-joke personality," "those gags tend to be pretty fun." He concluded his review by writing that the episode was "a likable program."

Despite the mixed responses, the episode features one of the "most used little clips" of the series. The scene shows Grampa getting his driver's license. Instead of taking a photo for the license on the spot, Grampa suggests that Selma, who works in the facility, use a photo of him from a newspaper headline that reads "Old man yells at cloud." Selma agrees, and Grampa, holding his newly acquired license, goes up to a window and yells "Who's laughing now?" at a cloud. A still from the scene has been used several times on The Daily Show.

Both Malkowski of DVD Verdict and Jacobsson of DVD Movie Guide considered it to be the best part of the episode. After Clint Eastwood's speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, which featured Eastwood talking to an empty chair representing President Barack Obama, a modified version of the image with the caption, "Old man yells at chair", was used in an internet meme.


Season 12 Season 13 Episodes Season 14
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