Black Widower

"Black Widower" is the 21st episode of The Simpsons' third season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 9, 1992. It was written by Jon Vitti, directed by David Silverman, and saw Kelsey Grammer guest star as Sideshow Bob for the second time. In the episode, Sideshow Bob—Bart's archenemy—marries Bart's Aunt Selma. Bart believes that Bob is planning something sinister rather than marrying for love. He realizes that Bob is planning to kill Selma; he prevents the attempted murder, and Bob is sent back to prison. "Black Widower" finished 39th in Nielsen ratings for the week that it originally aired. Reviewers generally enjoyed the episode, and gave Grammer's portrayal of Sideshow Bob particular praise.

"Black Widower"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 21 (56th overall)
Directed byDavid Silverman
Written byJon Vitti (teleplay)
Sam Simon and Thomas Chastain (story)
Production code8F20
Original air dateApril 9, 1992
Guest appearance(s)
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"Funny noises are not funny".
Couch gagTwo thieves are carting the couch away. The family leaps onto the couch, but the thieves dump them off onto the floor and continue.
CommentaryMatt Groening
Al Jean
Mike Reiss
Julie Kavner
Jon Vitti
David Silverman


The Simpsons have dinner with Selma and her new boyfriend, Sideshow Bob, Bart's arch-enemy. According to Sideshow Bob, while he was in prison he spent every moment planning his revenge on Bart for exposing his plan to frame Krusty the Clown; after receiving Selma's response to his "Prison Pen Pal" ad, he was inspired to become a model prisoner and earned an early release.

Sideshow Bob proposes to Selma and she accepts. He makes an appearance at a Krusty the Clown telethon and makes amends; Lisa encourages Bart to forgive Sideshow Bob, but he refuses to believe he has changed. When Selma discovers that Sideshow Bob detests her beloved MacGyver, the marriage is nearly called off until Sideshow Bob agrees to Homer's suggestion to take a walk when Selma watches it.

Selma reveals that she is unconcerned about money, as she made a good profit in the stock market; Sideshow Bob tells her he hopes he is not marrying her for her money. She also reveals that she has no sense of smell or taste and has cut back on cigarettes, now smoking only after meals and after episodes of MacGyver. Selma sends the Simpsons a tape of their honeymoon, including Sideshow Bob's tirade over the absence of a gas fireplace in their hotel room. Bart realizes that Selma has one hour to live and the Simpsons rush to the hotel room.

In the hotel, when Selma retires to watch MacGyver, Sideshow Bob enjoys a drink downstairs. The hotel room explodes behind him. He goes back to the wrecked room, assuming Selma is dead, but she is unscathed and the Simpsons are waiting for him along with the police. Bart explains how he deduced Sideshow Bob's plot: Sideshow Bob opened the gas valve in the room knowing Selma would not smell the leak, then left while she watched MacGyver, knowing that Selma would light a cigarette afterwards and cause an explosion. Sideshow Bob asks why the room still exploded if Bart foiled his plot, to which Chief Wiggum explains that he absent-mindedly threw a match into the room after smoking a celebratory cigar. Sideshow Bob is taken away by the police, vowing revenge once the Democrats return to power.


Kelsey Grammer - Cropped
Kelsey Grammer returned to play Sideshow Bob for the episode "Black Widower".

"Black Widower" was written by Jon Vitti, and directed by David Silverman.[1][2] The staff wanted an episode involving a "mystery", so executive producer Sam Simon approached Thomas Chastain, head of the organization Mystery Writers of America, to help construct the mystery.[3] A number of clues leading up to the revelation at the end were inserted into the script so that the viewers would be able to solve the mystery on their own.[4] As the episode was being written, the writers had their eyes towards winning an Edgar Award, which is awarded to the best mystery fiction in television and film published or produced in the past year. Despite their efforts, "Black Widower" did not win an Edgar Award.[3]

In the episode, the writers echoed the premise of Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner from the Looney Tunes cartoons created by Chuck Jones by having Bob unexpectedly insert himself into Bart's life and attempt to kill him. Executive producer Al Jean has compared Bob's character to that of Wile E. Coyote, noting that both are intelligent, yet always foiled by what they perceive as an inferior intellect.[4] For "Black Widower", director David Silverman updated the character model of Bob to reflect the animation of director Brad Bird.[5] One of Bob's friends from jail seen in the episode is Snake Jailbird. The character first appeared in the season two episode "The War of the Simpsons" only as "Jailbird",[6] but his full name was first mentioned in "Black Widower".[7] The writers gave him the name Snake because of the snake tattoo on his arm, and the character has gone by that name ever since.[6]

"Black Widower" was the second episode Kelsey Grammer guest starred in as the voice of Sideshow Bob. He had previously appeared in the season one episode "Krusty Gets Busted", in which Bart gets Bob sentenced to jail for framing Krusty for armed robbery.[4] Grammer initially expected Bob to be a one-time role, but it eventually became one of the most popular roles he ever played, as Bob became a recurring character on the show.[8] Grammer bases his Bob voice on theatre actor and director Ellis Rabb. He had once worked for Rabb, whose "lamenting tones became [the] foundation for Sideshow Bob."[8]

Cultural references

Joseph Merrick carte de visite photo, c. 1889
Lisa imagines that Selma's new boyfriend is The Elephant Man

The episode begins with the family, except for Marge, watching a parody of the show Dinosaurs on television.[5] The staff thought Dinosaurs was a knock-off of The Simpsons, so at one point Bart exclaims "It's like they saw our lives and put it right on screen," and points at the television screen.[3] Before she reveals to the Simpson family that Selma's new boyfriend is Bob, Patty says there is something "disturbing" about him, which results in Lisa imagining him as being The Elephant Man.[7] As Bob remembers his time in prison, a scene with him picking up road side trash is seen, referencing the film Cool Hand Luke. The music in the scene is a reference to the soundtrack of the film as well.[5] Bob also remembers winning a Daytime Emmy Award in the "Best Supporting Performer in a Children's Program" category.[4][7] In Selma's letters to Sideshow Bob, she refers to him by his prison number, 24601, which is Jean Valjean's prisoner number in the novel Les Misérables.[3] The reunion between Krusty and Bob at the telethon is a reference to a surprise reunion between former comedy partners Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin on a 1970s telethon.[5][7] The telethon logo features an Al Hirschfeld-style caricature of Krusty.[4]

"Black Widower" was the second episode to show Patty and Selma's obsession with the character Angus MacGyver from the television show MacGyver, which has become a recurring joke on The Simpsons.[4] When Sideshow Bob goes into the room to see Selma's corpse, he turns around the chair, only to see Bart sitting in it. Sideshow Bob turns around and sees Selma in the doorway. These shots, from Bob turning the chair to Selma in the doorway, are a reference to the ending of the film Psycho.[5] The music in the scene, written by composer Alf Clausen, is also a reference to Psycho.[5] In Bart's retelling of the story at the end of the episode, Homer's shouts "To the Simpsonmobile!" as the family rushes to the hotel to save Selma's life. This is a reference to Batman's Batmobile and his recurring catchphrase, "To the Batmobile!".[4]


In its original American broadcast, "Black Widower" finished 39th in Nielsen ratings for the week of April 6–12, 1992, making The Simpsons the third-highest rated television series on the Fox network that week, after Married... with Children and In Living Color.[9]

In I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn wrote that he considered the episode a "terrific show", appreciating Grammer's work in particular, and he also enjoyed the Dinosaurs gag and Bob's reaction to McGyver, which he remarked "make the whole thing great fun".[2]

Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict rated the episode 97%, and considered it a "timeless treat" because of Sideshow Bob's appearance, calling it "excellent from beginning to end".[10]

Nate Meyers of the website digitallyOBSESSED rated the episode 3 out of 5. He felt that the episode was "not a strong entry to the series", noting that "the love story between Bob and Selma never seems to play as well as it should".[11]

Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide remarked that later episodes of The Simpsons seasons were typically of lesser quality than episodes that appeared earlier in a season because of "general tiredness and the pressure of creating so many programs". However, he found that "Black Widower" was an exception, noting that most episodes featuring Sideshow Bob rarely disappoint.[12]

Hock Guan Teh of DVD Town applauded Grammer's performance as Sideshow Bob in the episode, saying he could not "get over Sideshow Bob´s evil and conniving tone of voice, all delivered in a pseudo-Anglophile accent".[13]


  1. ^ Vitti, John (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Black Widower" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  2. ^ a b "Black Widower". BBC. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  3. ^ a b c d Reiss, Mike (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Black Widower" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Jean, Al (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Black Widower" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Silverman, David (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Black Widower" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. ^ a b Groening, Matt (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Black Widower" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  7. ^ a b c d Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia (eds.). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
  8. ^ a b Grammer, Kelsey (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother From Another Series" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  9. ^ "Nielsen Ratings". The Tampa Tribune. 1992-04-16.
  10. ^ Gibron, Bill (2003-12-15). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  11. ^ Meyers, Nate (2004-06-23). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season". digitallyOBSESSED. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  12. ^ Jacobson, Colin (2003-08-21). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season (1991)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  13. ^ Teh, Hock Guan (2003-08-21). "Simpsons, The: The Complete 3rd Season (DVD)". DVD Town. Archived from the original on 2006-03-19. Retrieved 2009-08-02.

External links

Bad Medicine (song)

"Bad Medicine" is a single by American rock band Bon Jovi. It was written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Desmond Child, and it was released in September 1988 as the lead single from the band's album New Jersey. The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, Bon Jovi's third single to do so, and became a top-ten hit in Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

Black Widower (disambiguation)

"Black Widower" is an episode of The Simpsons

Black Widower may also refer to:

Black Widowers, a fictional men-only dining club created by Isaac Asimov for a series of mystery stories

Black Widower, a made-for-TV film about convicted murderer Lowell Amos

"The Black Widower", an episode of The Wayans Bros. television series

Cape Feare

"Cape Feare" is the second episode in the fifth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 7, 1993, and has since been featured on DVD and VHS releases. Written by Jon Vitti and directed by Rich Moore, "Cape Feare" features the return of guest star Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, who tries to kill Bart Simpson after getting out of jail. "Cape Feare" is a spoof of the 1962 film Cape Fear and its 1991 remake (which in turn are both based on John D. MacDonald's 1957 novel The Executioners), and alludes to other horror films such as Psycho.

The episode was pitched by Wallace Wolodarsky, who wanted to parody Cape Fear. Originally produced for the fourth season, it was held over to the fifth and was therefore the last episode produced by the show's original writers, most of whom subsequently left. The production crew found it difficult to stretch "Cape Feare" to the standard duration of half an hour, and consequently padded several scenes. In one such sequence, Sideshow Bob continually steps on rakes, the handles of which then hit him in the face; this scene has been cited as one of the show's most memorable moments. The episode is generally considered one of the best of the entire series, and the score received an Emmy Award nomination.

Chris Chalk

Christopher Eugene Chalk (born December 7, 1986) is an American television, film, and theatre actor.

Gabriel Garza Hoth

Gabriel Arturo Garza Hoth (born Mexico, ?) also known as "The Black Widower", was a Mexican serial killer active between 1991 and 1998 in Mexico City. He collected life insurance payments on his wife and lovers, gaining a total of 500,000 dollars.His first victim was his first wife, named Soledad Valdez, who had a heart attack and died in 1991, but the doctors believed that maybe she had been poisoned. His second victim was his girlfriend named Marcela Palacios, who died in 1992 in a "violent assault". The final victim was Ana Gloria Gomezpalacio who died in another "assault". The coincidences were alerted to the police, but Garza escaped to Spain. He was captured in 1998 and extradited to Mexico, where he was condemned to life in prison.

Jerri Southcott

Jerri Southcott is a Canadian radio, television and film announcer, reporter, presenter and actress whose media career has spanned more than twenty years.

Jon Vitti

Jon Vitti (born 1960) is an American writer best known for his work on the television series The Simpsons. He has also written for the King of the Hill, The Critic and The Office, and has served as a screenwriter or consultant for several animated and live-action movies, including Ice Age (2002) and Robots (2005). He is one of the eleven writers of The Simpsons Movie and also wrote the screenplays for the film adaptions Alvin and the Chipmunks, its sequel and The Angry Birds Movie.

List of ¡Mucha Lucha! episodes

¡Mucha Lucha! is an American animated television series created by Eddie Mort and Lili Chin for Kids' WB. The series ran for 3 seasons totaling 52 episodes. Also produced was a straight-to-video movie titled ¡Mucha Lucha!: The Return of El Maléfico.

Lowell Amos

Lowell Edwin Amos (born January 4, 1943 in Anderson, Indiana) is a convicted murderer whose mother and three wives all died under suspicious circumstances.

He was convicted in 1996 of murdering his third wife, Roberta Mowery Amos. Lowell Amos was the subject of a 2006 Lifetime Network made-for-TV movie called Black Widower.

Amos is a former General Motors plant manager. Some sources spell his first name as "Lowel".

MacGyver in popular culture

MacGyver is an American television series that ran from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.

Malcolm Webster (murderer)

Malcolm John Webster (born 18 April 1959) is an Englishman convicted of the murder of his first wife in Scotland in 1994 and the attempted murder of his second wife. Both cases involved staged car crashes and were carried out for the life insurance money. A police profiler labelled him a sociopath. His crimes were portrayed in the three-part ITV miniseries The Widower (2014).

Patty and Selma

Patty and Selma Bouvier () are fictional characters in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. They are identical twins (but with different hairstyles) and are both voiced by Julie Kavner. They are Marge Bouvier's older twin sisters, who both work at the Springfield Department of Motor Vehicles, and possess a strong dislike for their brother-in-law, Homer Simpson. Homer dislikes them at least as much. Selma is the elder by two minutes, and longs for male companionship while her sister, Patty, is a lesbian. Kavner voices them as characters who "suck the life out of everything". Patty and Selma first appeared on the first ever aired Simpsons episode "Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire", which aired on December 17, 1989.

Sideshow Bob

Robert Underdunk Terwilliger Jr., PhD, better known as Sideshow Bob, is a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Kelsey Grammer and first appeared briefly in the episode "The Telltale Head". Bob is a self-proclaimed genius who is a graduate of Yale University, a member of the Republican Party, and a champion of high culture. He began his career as a sidekick on Krusty the Clown's television show, but after enduring constant abuse, Bob attempted to frame his employer for armed robbery in "Krusty Gets Busted". The plan was foiled by his arch-enemy, Bart Simpson, and Sideshow Bob was sent to prison.

Bob made his second major appearance in season three's "Black Widower"; the writers echoed the premise of the Coyote chasing the Road Runner by having Bob unexpectedly insert himself into Bart's life, threatening to disrupt – and sometimes end – it. In each appearance thereafter, Bob has assumed the role on The Simpsons of an evil genius. Episodes in which he is a central character typically involve Sideshow Bob being released from prison and executing an elaborate revenge plan, usually foiled by Bart and Lisa. His plans often involve murder and destruction, usually targeted at Bart or, less often, Krusty, though these plans often involve targeting the entire Simpson family. In 2015, however, during the "Treehouse of Horror" segment, "Wanted: Dead, Then Alive", Bob finally gets his wish of killing Bart, commenting that he spent 24 years trying to kill a ten-year-old child; however, he becomes bored with Bart dead, so he brings him back to life so that he can repeatedly kill Bart over and over again.Sideshow Bob shares some personality traits of Grammer's character Frasier Crane from the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier, and has been described as "Frasier pickled in arsenic". Several parallels have been explicitly drawn in The Simpsons between Bob and Frasier Crane – Bob's brother Cecil and his father were played by David Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney respectively, echoing the roles they played in Frasier. Grammer, who based Bob's voice on that of actor Ellis Rabb, has been praised for his portrayals of the character. In 2006, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his work in the episode "The Italian Bob".

As of December 2017, Bob has had speaking appearances in 20 episodes and been featured in 13; the most recent of the latter, "Gone Boy", aired during the 29th season. In addition to his recurring role in the series, Sideshow Bob has made several appearances in other Simpsons media. He appears in the Simpsons Comics, cameos in the 2007 video game The Simpsons Game, and stars as the main antagonist in The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios' theme parks. A lover of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Sideshow Bob is also known for his singing voice; several of Grammer's performances have been included in The Simpsons musical compilations.

Snake Jailbird

Snake Jailbird (usually referred to as simply Snake) is a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons, who is voiced by Hank Azaria. Snake's first appearance was in the episode "The War of the Simpsons". His catchphrase is "Bye!", which he usually says when he is in trouble. His real name is Albert Knickerbocker Aloysius Snake, although a Simpsons card says his name is Chester Turley. He was named the 19th (out of 25) of IGN's Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters.

The Great Louse Detective

"The Great Louse Detective" is the sixth episode of the fourteenth season of the American animated television sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 15, 2002. In the episode, the Simpson family wins a free spa weekend, and Homer is nearly killed when a mysterious figure locks him in a sauna. Chief Wiggum decides to hire someone who can think like a murderer in order to find the mystery assailant. Bart's mortal enemy Sideshow Bob is sent to live with the Simpsons so he can help find Homer's attempted killer, who turns out to be the son of a man whom Homer drove to insanity. Since airing, the episode has received generally positive reviews from critics, though it has been cited as not being as good as some other Sideshow Bob episodes. The episode's title is a parody of the 1986 Disney animated feature The Great Mouse Detective.

The War of the Simpsons

"The War of the Simpsons" is the twentieth episode of The Simpsons' second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 2, 1991. In the episode, Homer gets drunk at a party and embarrasses Marge, so she decides to sign them up for a marriage counseling retreat.

The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Mark Kirkland. It was the last episode Kirkland directed during his first year on the show. Although not named until season three's "Black Widower", the character Snake Jailbird appeared for the first time in this episode. "The War of the Simpsons" features cultural references to songs such as Tom Jones's "It's Not Unusual", Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love", KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)", and Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman".

Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 11.6 and was the second highest-rated show on Fox the week it aired.

The Widower (miniseries)

The Widower is a British television miniseries originally broadcast in three one-hour installments on ITV in 2014. The series portrays the life and crimes of convicted murderer Malcolm Webster. ITV described the show as: "The Widower tells how, over a 13-year period, a seemingly mild-mannered nurse, Malcolm Webster, set about poisoning and murdering his first wife, attempting to do the same to his second wife and moving on to a further scheme to deceive his third fiancée." The series was written by Jim Barton and Jeff Pope.

Thomas Chastain

Thomas Chastain (January 17, 1921 – September 1, 1994) was an American author of crime fiction. He is best known for his bestseller Who Killed the Robins Family? And Where and When and Why and How Did They Die? as well as the sequel to that work. He was born January 17, 1921 and died in September 1994. He served as the president of Mystery Writers of America in 1989. He was also known as Nick Carter and Thomas Chastain, Jr.

Major appearances
Minor appearances
Season 3
Themed episodes
See also


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.