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Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington
When Flanders Failed
Bart the Murderer

"Homer, affordable tract housing made us neighbors, but you made us friends."
Ned Flanders
"Wow, those germans have a word for everything!"

"When Flanders Failed" is the third episode of Season 3, and the show's 38th episode overall. This episode is produced back in Season 2, and it was going to be aired in the previous season, but got pushed to Season 3 because of animation errors, alot like Season 1's Some Enchanted Evening.


When Ned Flanders announces at a barbecue that he is starting his own general store catering to the left-handed, Homer wishes that his goody-goody neighbor will suffer financial ruin. Meanwhile, Bart takes karate class but ends up cutting the activity when he realizes that the task was not as exciting as it was cracked up to be.

Full Story[]


Ned Flanders invites the Simpsons over for a barbecue. Initially, the entire family attends, but Homer declines because he doesn't like Ned. However, once he smells the food cooking, he quickly reconsiders. While they eat, Ned announces that he is quitting his job at the pharmaceutical company and opening a specialty store for left-handed people, called The Leftorium. Flanders then invites Homer to pull a wishbone with him, for the chance of getting a wish granted. Homer initially struggles to think of something suitable to wish for, but, as for a long time he has shown a lot of resentment for Flanders' material success while he is struggling to provide for his own family, Homer starts to think of a way to get back at Ned. Homer goes as far as to consider wishing for Ned's death, but decides that would be going too far, and settles on wishing for the Leftorium to go out of business. Homer does win the wishbone pull, and Maude curiously asks what Homer has wished for, but Ned insists it won't come true if divulged.

In a side plot, after a lecture from Marge about exercise, Bart asks to take karate lessons. While taking him on his first day, Homer gets his first look at Ned's new store. Business doesn't seem to be going very well, which pleases Homer. On his first lesson, Bart finds that karate isn't what he thought it would be, having been given Sun Tzu's Art of War to study before techniques, and takes to the arcade to play karate video games during his following lessons, merely pretending he is actually learning karate.


Homer checks up on Ned to make sure the Leftorium is doing poorly. When Homer is boasting about how Flanders is losing his shirt, Lisa warns Homer that such a bad attitude is poisonous. However, when Homer is elsewhere he begins to witness left-handed people who would benefit from patronizing Ned's store, he does nothing to send them in that direction. Soon after, Flanders begins to experience financial hardship as a result of his failing business venture. Rather than helping him, Homer buys most of Ned's belongings at a garage sale at "fire sale" prices. Ned's financial situation continues to worsen, and Homer witnesses Ned closing the Leftorium with an "out of business" sign; it is exactly like he imagined when making his wish, but witnessing it causes Homer to feel shock and regret instead of satisfaction.

On the school playground the next day, JimboDolph, and Kearney antagonize Lisa by playing keep-away with her saxophone, and she calls upon Bart to defend her with his martial arts skills. Predictably he gets pummeled, but the bullies then return Lisa's sax.

That night, Homer returns Flanders' possessions, only to find the family's house has been repossessed by the bank and they are spending the night in their car, intending to move in with Ned's sister at her apartment in Capital City the next day. Ned is actually thankful for Homer's words at the barbecue, as he now believes that his neighbor was genuinely trying to warn him against gambling his family's future on high-risk ventures such as starting a business. Stricken with guilt, Homer decides to take it upon himself to save Flanders. He tells him to open the Leftorium the next day then makes several phone calls, informing all the left-handed people in Springfield about the store as well as calling in favors. The next day, Ned arrives to find the store full of people happily buying the merchandise - and on top of everything else, Mr. Burns buys the left-handed drive car. This helps Ned make the money he needs to save his house, and Homer toasts Ned as "the richest left-handed man in town".

Behind the Laughter[]


The episode featured an unusual amount of animation glitches because the animation studio in Korea was training a new group of animators, and this episode was one of their first efforts. Mike Reiss said he will always remember it as the episode "that came back animated with a thousand mistakes in it and was just a complete and utter mess." Reardon said there was "literally a mistake in every other scene" when the episode came back from Korea. Several scenes had to be re-animated in the United States because of these glitches, but according to Reardon, "you can still see the lesser ones that got through, such as line quality problems particularly in the first act."


In its original American broadcast, "When Flanders Failed" finished 29th in the ratings for the week of September 30–October 6, 1991, with a Nielsen rating of 13.9, equivalent to being watched in 12.8 million households.

In 2003, "When Flanders Failed" was utilized in a Roanoke Presbyterian Church Sunday School class to stimulate a discussion among both children and adults about why unfortunate things happen to good people. Phil Brown, the teacher of the class, said the reason they used episodes of The Simpsons was "to get something that would get the kids excited and be more than just a traditional Sunday School lecture series."


Season 2 Season 3 Episodes Season 4
Stark Raving DadMr. Lisa Goes to WashingtonWhen Flanders FailedBart the MurdererHomer DefinedLike Father, Like ClownTreehouse of Horror IILisa's PonySaturdays of ThunderFlaming Moe'sBurns Verkaufen der KraftwerkI Married MargeRadio BartLisa the GreekHomer AloneBart the LoverHomer at the BatSeparate VocationsDog of DeathColonel HomerBlack WidowerThe Otto ShowBart's Friend Falls in LoveBrother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?