The Call of the Simpsons
The Telltale Head
Life on the Fast Lane

Cultural References

  • The episode title is a reference to the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. In addition, Bart actually hears the head talking when he is overcome with guilt, similar to Poe's character's hearing the still-beating heart of the man he murdered in the story.
  • The Bridge over the River Kwai - the line "What have I done?", as quoted by Bart just after he cuts the head off the statue.
  • When Bart awakes to a find the head of Jebediah Springfield in bed next to him, it is reminiscent of the scene from "The Godfather" where Tom Hagen (played by Robert Duvall) "persuades" studio chairman Jack Woltz to cast Fontane in the movie by leaving the severed head of the producer's prize racehorse in his bed.
  • When Bart skateboards in the streets, he shouts "Cowabunga!", the battle cry of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Originally, this episode was not a flashback, and it was made this way during the final stages of production[1].
  • This episode is referenced in the South Park episode titled "The Simpsons Already Did It".


  • When Bart meets Jimbo (with Kearney), he apparently knows of him already and tells us that he's, "the worst kid in school".
  • Marge pulls a Radioactive Man comic book from inside Bart's jacket before leaving the house for church.
  • Homer has an 8-track tape deck in his car.
  • A member of the angry mob carries a sign with the likeness of Jebediah Springfield's head bearing the words, "Have You Seen Me?"
  • The football announcer on Homer's car radio says, "This could be the most remarkable comeback since Lazarus rose from the dead."
  • Announcer: "Wolodarsky takes it at the 5... oh my, he fumbles," reference to show writer-producer Wallace Wolodarsky.
  • A sign inside church where Rev. Lovejoy has just given a sermon on the evils of gambling reads, "Bingo---Tuesday Night. Monte Carlo Night---Wednesday. Reno Retreat Saturday."
  • The movie marquee reads, "Space Mutants IV: The Trilogy Continues."
  • Among the items Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney steal from the Kwik-E-Mart is a copy of Playdude magazine which is a parody of Playboy.
  • Kearney stands on the lawn and leans on a sign that reads "Keep off the Grass."
  • Sideshow Bob's hair started as an afro in the middle of the episode, but in the final scene, he has his trademark spiky hair.
  • When Bart asks Dolph, Kearney and Jimbo how they got the stolen merchandise from the Kwik-E-Mart, Jimbo replies, "Five finger discount, man," even though characters in The Simpsons only have four fingers.
  • First full appearance of Krusty the Clown on the show.
  • First appearances of Reverend Lovejoy, Apu, Ms. Albright, Sideshow Bob, Dolph, Kearney, and Jimbo Jones.
  • First appearance of the First Church of Springfield, Bart and Lisa's Sunday school, the Kwik-E-Mart and the Aztec Theater.
  • This is the first time Smithers is shown with light gray hair and a green jacket.
  • This is the first time Chief Wiggum is shown with brown skin and black hair, although he made his debut appearance in "Homer's Odyssey" with his blue hair and yellow skin.
  • According to the producers, this episode marked the first hint towards Smithers' sexuality (When Mr. Burns mentioned that he loved Smithers, Smithers replies that "the feeling is more than mutual, sir.")
  • When Barney asks how long Bart's story will take Bart says, "23 minutes and 5 seconds," meaning the length of the episode.
  • In this episode, Dolph and Jimbo originally had each other's voice before they were later switched.
  • When the bullies and Bart were watching the clouds, Kearney noted a man being cut in the back by a switchblade; that man resembled Hans Moleman.
  • Several reruns of this episode, as well as the American DVD release of The Complete First Season cut out part of Bart's speech to the mob, in which he points out that removing the head made everyone realize that they were "taking the town's heritage for granted". This specific part of the speech did not exist in the original reel of the episode that was delivered to the Fox Network, and was the editorial creation of the network censors in compliance of the FCC's 1989 ruling that every serial animated television show transmitted include at least 28 seconds of educational content. However, this version of the ending is preserved on international editions of the DVD, such as Spain and Germany.
  • It is not explained how the citizens of Springfield came across the knowledge needed to arrange themselves into a mob to confront Homer and Bart with the head (although it is possible that Homer contacted the authorities beforehand).
  • Starting in Season 20, Jebidiah's head is sawed off in the intro by Jimbo and Kearney, despite them saying in this episode that they would never cut the head off.
  • This is the first episode to feature Tress MacNeille in the voice cast, voicing Dolph and Ms. Albright. She would later go on to appear in every episode, more than any of the "Also Starring" cast members, starting with Season 11.
  • The questions which Ms. Albright is asked, such as "do cavemen go to Heaven?" are all taken verbatim from a 1985 Life in Hell comic strip entitled "Kids' Questions About Death."
  • This is the first episode along with Bart Gets Hit By A Car shows the title name.
  • Dolph is not named until "Kamp Krusty".
  • When bouncing the four from the Aztec Theater, it is implied in this episode that Kearney is still a kid as the Theater Guy threatens to call all four characters' parents if they tried to sneak into another movie again. However, later episodes indicate that Kearney is in fact an adult.
  • Bart broke the fourth wall, by mentioning that his story would take about 23 minutes, which is just short of the total length of the episode.


  • This episode implies that the Presbylutheran Church bans gambling. This is inconsistent with later episodes.
  • When Bart is asking Ms. Albright questions, the upper portion of his face moves to the opposite side of his mouth.
  • Ms. Albright's teachings are incorrect; the Bible explicitly states that humans and animals coexist in Heaven. Her lines in later episodes suggest that she may have misread parts of the Bible.
  • When Bart enters the Kwik-E-Mart, the doors need to be pushed open to get through. When Bart leaves, the door slides open.
  • The man with the moustache watching Space Mutants 4 is first seen with yellow skin but it turns brown when Bart blows a raspberry.


Shorts: Season 3 Season 1 References/Trivia 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
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