|The Seemingly Never-Ending Story||
- “Barney, how do you keep getting back in?”
- ―Moe Szyslak
- “I'm a drunk! I don't know nothing about how I do anything!”
- ―Barney Gumble
The Seemingly Never-Ending Story is the thirteenth episode of season 17. It is also an Emmy-nominated episode. The title is a take-off from the novel The Neverending Story.
On a family outing inside a cave, Homer causes a stalactite to crash into the ground, and he ends up stuck in the hole; while Marge, Bart, and Maggie look for a way out, Lisa stays behind and tells Homer a story about how she was chased by a ram and ended up in Mr. Burns' attic...where he tells the story of how he loses everything to the rich Texan and has to work his way back up from the bottom, starting at Moe's...where he discovers Moe's story of how he met the perfect woman - Mrs. Krabappel - but the only way he could afford to start a new life with her is to steal a bag of gold coins discovered by the archaeologist who would be Snake.
While visiting a cave at Carl's Dad's Caverns, Homer meddles with a very fragile stalactite, with the result that the whole family ends up in a hidden cavern below the main tour—with Homer stuck in a narrow hole, half in and half out of the cavern. To pass the time while Marge and Bart try to find a way out, Lisa begins to tell a story.
Lisa tells how, the week before, she had been out for a walk when a bighorn sheep inexplicably attacked her. She ran to the nearest shelter, Mr. Burns' house. The animal bursts in, and she and Mr. Burns wind up hiding in the attic. There, Lisa finds a photo of Mr. Burns as an employee at Moe's, and he tells her the origins of it.
Mr. Burns explains that once, he and Rich Texan were involved in a scavenger hunt, the winner of which would get all the possessions of the loser. Mr. Burns was unable to find the last item on the list—a picture of himself with a smiling child. (Every child was terrified of him and Milhouse says he is the "boogeyman's grandfather".) The Texan won, and Mr. Burns explains that he had to earn his fortune all over again by starting at the bottom; but to work his way up to the bottom, he would have to work at Moe's Tavern. While there, he found a hidden letter to be read upon Moe's death, which led to Moe's story of a hidden treasure.
Apparently, the summer before Mrs. Krabappel was to begin teaching, she and Moe met and fell in love, albeit without her knowing he owned a bar (she hates bar owners). Moe tosses Homer, Barney（who somehow got back inside the tavern）, Lenny and Carl out of his tavern before closing it, and when they confront him about it later he tells them he will out the one of them who is gay (unidentified) if they ruin things for him and Edna. Moe then wanted to leave Springfield with her but had no money. He then discovered that Snake (before he became a jailbird, Snake used to be a polite idealistic archaeologist) had discovered a large batch of Mayan coins he was going to donate to the museum. Moe ended up stealing them, embittering Snake and leading him to take revenge against convenience store owners. He was then about to leave town with Edna, but when she went into the school to explain that she was quitting, she saw Bart. (This leads to her story.) Bart explained he had all-summer detention, and felt he was a lost cause because no one believed in him. Edna declared that the next year, when she was to teach fourth grade, she would help him to succeed, and explained this to Moe, who reacts crazily. It turns out, however, that Bart was actually just distracting Edna while he and Nelson were stealing microscopes and other classroom equipment.
Rather than spending the stolen coins, Moe uses them to play his and Edna's song on his jukebox repeatedly. Mr. Burns (here ends Moe's story) opened the jukebox, took the coins and gave them to the Texan to buy back his possessions, but the Texan demanded that Mr. Burns produce a picture of himself with a smiling child before he could get the Plant back. (The Texan, he explained, has obsessive-compulsive disorder, thus feeling the need to complete the scavenger hunt.) End of Mr. Burns' story — he explains to Lisa that he cannot get the plant back.
Just then, the goat burst into the attic. Mr. Burns got hurt defending Lisa; however, it turns out that it doesn't want to kill them—in its story (which lasts but a few seconds) it explains that it found Lisa's pearl necklace and was merely trying to return it. Lisa, in gratitude to Mr. Burns for his attempted rescue, takes a photo of the two together with her smiling. This exits to the cave scene.
Just then, Homer breaks free of his trap, and suddenly reveals that he had an ulterior motive for bringing the family to the caves. He tells a story, explaining that while in the woods (hiding from babysitting duty), he saw the Texan hide the gold coins in the cave, and brought the family so they could search for the gold to pay for an operation for Bart (the need for which was unknown to the rest of the family, including Bart, who is now shocked by this... but Homer says that story will have to wait to be heard). Just then, the Texan shows up, and the gold is found — just in time for Moe, Mr. Burns and Snake (who also brought his little son) to also appear, and they enter a Mexican standoff. Marge grabs the bag and threatens to drop it down a deep pit if they do not end their standoff. When she discovers the depth of their greed, she drops it—and instantly, everyone realizes how greedy they had been, and go out to volunteer as a way of atoning for their sins, except Mr. Burns, who attempts to climb down to get the gold.
Suddenly, it is revealed that the whole episode has all been a story by Bart (potentially explaining apparent continuity errors), being told to Seymour Skinner as an explanation for why he did not have time to study for a test. The principal finds this ridiculous until he sees Moe and Edna outside of the school, meaning that Bart's story was apparently true (at least the parts about Moe and Edna). Once they're done kissing, Moe asks to Edna why she forgives him for lying to her--Edna explains that at this point, all she's really looking for in a man is a healthy libido. Unfortunately, it appears Moe cannot even fulfill this very simple requirement, and the Rich Texan obsessively shoots his guns and notes "Moe can't catch a break!"
Lisa's Story 1
- Lisa was walking home from school when a goat came up to her. She ran to Mr. Burns' mansion and he let her in. The goat got through the window and chased them through Mr. Burns's house. They run up the stairs and go up the attic. Lisa finds out that Burns worked at Moe’s tavern.
Mr. Burns' Story 1
- Mr. Burns was a member of a club. A new member (The Rich Texan) came in and he challenged him to a duel. They both get a list of ten items. The first person to get all the items is the winner and gets all the other person’s objects. Burns went on the bus to get a picture of him with a smiling child, which backfires because the children are scared of him. The Texan wins all Burns' belongings. Then Burns started working at Moe’s as a bar boy. He wasn’t getting enough money. He later found Moe’s letter.
Moe's Story 1
- Moe was walking downtown and was hit by a bus. Edna came out and helped him. After closing the tavern, Moe and Edna plan to leave town. Edna goes to the school to tell them that she wouldn’t be teaching there in the fall.
- Edna went into the school and found Bart with detention all summer. She chooses to stay at Springfield Elementary School as a fourth grade teacher.
Moe's Story 2
- Edna tells Moe that she is staying in Springfield to teach the children. Moe gets offended at Edna and drives off.
Mr. Burns' Story 2
- Burns finishes the letter and steals the money out of the jukebox. He then goes to the Texan and gives him the money but the Texan won’t give the plant back until he gets a photo of Burns with a smiling child.
Lisa's Story 2
- The goat gets up to the attic and attacks Mr. Burns. The goat gives Lisa her pearl necklace.
The Goat's Story
- The goat was walking one day and found Lisa’s pearl necklace on a tree.
Lisa's Story 3
- Lisa gets the camera and takes a picture of her with Mr. Burns; Mr. Burns gets his plant back.
- Homer discovers that the Texan has hid the gold in the caves and brings the family with him so they can help him search for the gold to pay for an operation for Bart.
- Bart explains the story as a reason for why he didn't study for a geography test.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour).
- 1st Airdate: Sunday, March 12, 2006
- 2nd Airdate: Sunday, May 21, 2006
- 3rd Airdate: Sunday, August 20, 2006
- 1st Airdate: Sunday, April 2, 2006
- 2nd Airdate: Friday, April 7, 2006 (Encore Screening)
- 3rd Airdate: Sunday, June 4, 2006
- 4th Airdate: Friday, August 4, 2006
- 5th Airdate: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
- 1st Airdate: Tuesday, July 4, 2006