The Cartridge Family

"The Cartridge Family" is the fifth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 2, 1997. It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Pete Michels.[1] In the episode, Homer purchases a gun to protect his family, of which Marge disapproves. Homer begins to show extremely careless gun usage causing Marge to leave him when she catches Bart using the gun without their permission. The episode was intended to show guns in a neutral way, and faced some problems with the censors because of the subject matter. Critical reaction was mostly positive.

"The Cartridge Family"
The Simpsons episode
The Simpsons 5F01
Homer examines his gun
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 5 (183rd overall)
Directed byPete Michels
Written byJohn Swartzwelder
Production code5F01
Original air dateNovember 2, 1997
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"Everyone is tired of that Richard Gere story".[1]
Couch gagEverybody has their posteriors on fire as they run to a water-filled couch. They hop on board as steam emerges from them.[2]
CommentaryMatt Groening
Mike Scully
Yeardley Smith
Pete Michels
George Meyer
Ian Maxtone-Graham
Donick Cary
Ron Hauge


A riot breaks out in Springfield after a boring soccer match between Mexico and Portugal. Fearing for her family's safety, Marge tells Homer to buy a Home Security System, but after learning it would cost $500, he buys a handgun instead. After a five-day waiting period per the Brady Act, Homer shows his firearm to Marge, who is horrified and demands he get rid of it. Homer brings her to a local National Rifle Association meeting hoping to change her mind, but she remains unconvinced.

After a near accident at the dinner table, Marge again begs Homer to get rid of the gun. He promises to, but later, Bart and Milhouse find it in the refrigerator's vegetable crisper. Marge discovers this and berates Homer, then leaves with the children and checks into a motel. That night, Homer hosts an NRA meeting at his house, but the other members kick him out of the association after seeing how recklessly he uses his pistol. Realizing what his behavior has cost him, Homer goes to the motel and tells Marge he got rid of the gun.

While leaving, Snake arrives to rob the desk clerk. Homer pulls out his gun and Marge is angry he lied again, but as he tries to apologize, Snake snatches the gun. The other NRA members arrive and foil Snake, who escapes. Homer then says he does not trust himself and asks Marge to throw the gun away herself. However, Marge sees a reflection of herself holding it in the trash can and decides to keep it.[1]


John Swartzwelder Retouched
John Swartzwelder wrote this episode.

This was the first episode to air which was executive produced by Mike Scully.[3] Sam Simon pitched an episode for one of the first seasons which saw Homer getting a gun and nobody wanting him to have it. The episode concluded with Homer foiling a robbery and stating that although guns bring destruction, it worked for him.[4] However, this episode was pitched by Scully for either season seven or eight, before being used for season nine.[3] This provided the basic outline, and John Swartzwelder wrote the script.[3] A lot of lines in the episode put guns in a positive light, as the staff felt that they could not just make an episode about how bad they were.[3] Several of the staff, including Swartzwelder, are "pro gun", although others, such as Matt Groening, are completely against them.[5] The episode was designed to be non-biased and to portray each side of the argument equally.[6] Scully noted that if there is any message in the episode it is that a man like Homer should not own a gun.[3] The censors were nervous about some of the episode's subject matter, such as Homer pointing the gun in Marge's face, and Bart aiming the gun at Milhouse with the apple in his mouth, but ultimately let it go.[3]

The opening sequence where soccer is portrayed as the most boring sport imaginable was intended to show that soccer was more boring on television than live, but both Michels and Groening enjoy the game.[3][5] The referee at the game is a caricature of the janitor at Film Roman, who supplied director Pete Michels with every piece of soccer information he needed to design the episode.[6] Pelé also makes an appearance at the match, although he is voiced by Hank Azaria.[3]

The episode closes with music from The Avengers. After the music had been recorded, Scully felt that it did not suit the ending and so wished to change it to something else. However, it was too late in production to get the full orchestra back to do a recording, and union rules meant that previous recordings could not be reused.[3]

Cultural references

The chalkboard gag references the Richard Gere gerbil urban legend.[3]

The gun shop is based on the shop that the Los Angeles Police Department went to during the North Hollywood bank robbery to acquire more ammunition.[6] The title of this episode is a play on the name of 1970s television series The Partridge Family.[2] The end music is the theme to the 1960s series The Avengers,[2] and the song playing when Homer is sitting and watching things go by while he is waiting five days for his gun is "The Waiting" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.[3] Petty rarely let his music be used on television, but, being a fan of The Simpsons, he allowed them to use it.[3]


In its original broadcast, "The Cartridge Family" finished 26th in ratings for the week of October 27 – November 2, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 10.5, equivalent to approximately 10.3 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network, following The X-Files and King of the Hill.[7]

The episode received several positive reviews, being included in the Herald Sun's list of the top twenty The Simpsons episodes.[8] It was also named the fifth best episode in the show's history in an article by The Florida Times-Union.[9] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also praised the episode, calling The Simpsons "the only sitcom in memory to treat gun control with any fairness".[10]

On the other hand, the episode has been criticized by several outlets. The staff received several complaints from the NRA about the portrayal of the organization in the episode, despite the fact that the Springfield NRA revokes Homer's membership for his irresponsible behavior.[3] Ian Jones and Steve Williams criticized the episode, calling it "a messy, unfocused lampooning of gun culture".[11] Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, found that it was "one of the most politically unambiguous episodes ever", but that "[it] is very dull and the plot isn't sustainable".[2] Anna Leszkiewicz in the New Statesman later pinpointed it as the moment Marge should have left Homer, saying "Homer has proved himself to be a violent, unstable, controlling, reckless husband".[12]

The episode was not initially aired on the United Kingdom satellite channel Sky1 due to scenes of flagrant gun misuse, yet was aired several times on BBC Two in an earlier evening timeslot.[13] The episode has since been aired in daytime slots on all channels, albeit with partial editing. The episode was also included on the Too Hot for TV VHS and DVD, along with "Treehouse of Horror IX", "Natural Born Kissers", and "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy".[14]


  1. ^ a b c Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 16. ISBN 0-06-098763-4.
  2. ^ a b c d Warren Martyn; Adrian Wood (2000). "The Cartridge Family". BBC. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Cartridge Family" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ Meyer, George (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Cartridge Family" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ a b Groening, Matt (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Cartridge Family" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. ^ a b c Michels, Pete (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Cartridge Family" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  7. ^ Associated Press (November 6, 1997). "'Cinderella' works magic for ABC". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
  8. ^ "The Simpsons Top 20". Herald Sun. 21 April 2007. pg. w09.
  9. ^ Nancy McAlister. "A sassy 'Simpsons' celebration; Fox hits a Homer as it broadcasts the 300th episode of the animated sitcom tonight". The Florida Times Union. 16 February 2003. pg. D1.
  10. ^ Jonah Goldberg. "The Simpsons: Bedrock American Values". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 14 May 2000. pg. E1.
  11. ^ Ian Jones, Steve Williams. "NOW LET US NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Steve Williams, Ian Jones. "THAT IS SO 1991!". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  14. ^ "The Simpsons: Too Hot for TV". Fox. Archived from the original on 2007-11-13. Retrieved 2007-10-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links

1997 in animation

Events in 1997 in animation.

Atari Age

Atari Age was a magazine distributed to Atari Club members from 1982 until 1984. It was published by The Atari Club, Inc., a subsidiary of Atari, Inc. The magazine only covered Atari products and events, offering exclusive deals to its readers, and serving as an advertising and merchandise outlet for the company. Atari used the magazine to build brand loyalty. The articles extolled Atari games and lavished them with praise, regardless of their comparison to similar products from competitors. The magazine was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Barbara Crampton

Barbara Crampton (born December 27, 1958) is an American actress. She made her screen debut on the daytime drama Days of Our Lives (1983), and her film debut in 1984's Body Double before starring in the horror comedy Re-Animator (1985). Crampton has since starred in a variety of films including Chopping Mall (1986), From Beyond (1986), Castle Freak (1995), You're Next (2011), We Are Still Here (2015), and Little Sister (2016). She is also known for playing Leanna Love on the television series The Young and the Restless (1987–93; 1998–2002; 2006–07) for which she was nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Villainess in a Drama Series – Daytime in 1990.

She recently portrayed Vanessa Moss in the Syfy television series Channel Zero: The Dream Door (2018).

Bart Star

"Bart Star" is the sixth episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 9, 1997. Written by Donick Cary and directed by Dominic Polcino, the episode guest starred Joe Namath, Roy Firestone, and Mike Judge. The episode sees Homer becoming the coach of a pee-wee football team and practices nepotism with Bart by making him the quarterback, which receives backlash from the whole team, including Bart himself. The episode was critically well received.

Das Bus

"Das Bus" is the fourteenth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 15, 1998. In an extended parody of Lord of the Flies, Bart, Lisa and other students from Springfield Elementary School are stranded on an island and are forced to work together. Meanwhile, Homer founds his own Internet company. It was written by David X. Cohen and directed by Pete Michels. Guest star James Earl Jones narrates the final scene of the episode.

Dumbbell Indemnity

"Dumbbell Indemnity" is the sixteenth episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 1, 1998. It was written by Ron Hauge and directed by Dominic Polcino. The episode sees Moe trying to keep his new girlfriend by using a large amount of money, but when it runs out, he decides to commit insurance fraud. Homer helps him, but is caught and sent to jail, and attempts to take revenge on Moe when he does not bail him out. Helen Hunt makes a guest appearance as Moe's girlfriend, Renee. The episode contains several cultural references and was generally well received.

Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy

"Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" is the tenth episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It was first broadcast on the Fox network in the United States on December 4, 1994. In the episode, Homer and Marge's sex life is struggling, but Grampa perks things up with a homemade revitalizing tonic. He and Homer go on the road to sell their elixir, and Grampa reveals that Homer’s conception was unintentional.

The episode was directed by Wes Archer and written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. After its initial airing on Fox, the episode was later released as part of a 1999 video collection: The Simpsons – Too Hot For TV, and released again on the 2003 DVD edition of the same collection. The episode features cultural references to songs such as "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Celebration", as well as a reference to the 1963 film The Nutty Professor. "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" received a positive reception from television critics, and acquired a Nielsen rating of 9.5.

John Swartzwelder

John Joseph Swartzwelder Jr. (born February 8, 1949) is an American comedy writer and novelist, best known for his work on the animated television series The Simpsons. Born in Seattle, Washington, Swartzwelder began his career working in advertising. He was later hired to work on comedy series Saturday Night Live in the mid-1980s as a writer. He later contributed to fellow writer George Meyer's short-lived Army Man magazine, which led him to join the original writing team of The Simpsons, beginning in 1989.

He worked on The Simpsons as a writer and producer until 2003, and later contributed to The Simpsons Movie. He is credited with writing the largest number of Simpsons episodes (59 full episodes, with contributions to several others) by a large margin. After his retirement from the show, he began a career as a writer of self-published absurdist novels. He has written more than eleven novels, the most recent of which, The Squirrel Who Saved Practically Everybody, was published in 2019.

Swartzwelder is revered among comedy fans; his colleagues have called him among the best comedy writers. He is famously averse to press.

Lenny and Carl

Lenford "Lenny" Leonard and Carlton "Carl" Carlson are recurring characters in the Fox animated series The Simpsons, voiced by Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria, respectively. They are best friends of Homer Simpson and work with him at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Lenny and Carl are rarely seen apart and have a close relationship. Each possesses a master's degree in nuclear physics, but are often portrayed as blue-collar working men.


NESticle is an NES emulator, created by Icer Addis of Bloodlust Software. Released on April 3, 1997, the widely popular program originally ran under DOS and Windows 95. It was the first freeware NES emulator, and became commonly considered the NES emulator of choice for the 1990s. Initially offering few features and only supporting a handful of games, development proceeded rapidly and to expand usability such that NESticle is today credited with introducing the concept of recordable playthrough for emulation, as well as providing the capacity for users to create their own graphical hacks via an integrated graphics editor. In pioneering this heightened level of access for users, and providing the tools for fans to hack and remix familiar classics, NESticle has been credited by Spin as representing a milestone toward the development of video game music as a genre.While the emulator is no longer updated and has become obsolete as other emulation projects have developed and improved, NESticle remains frequently listed among prominent top tier emulators and it is still regarded as a good choice for emulation on older (486 and earlier) computers.


Nerdapalooza was an annual nerd music and arts festival in Orlando, FL, the first of its kind to invite all genres of the nerd music movement under one roof, including nerd rock, nerdcore hip hop, chiptunes, and video game music. The festival was conceived by John "hex" Carter, who hosted a nerdy music themed radio show through KRFH, the student-run radio station at Humboldt State University. The word is derived from nerd and palooza, a reference to Lollapalooza. Nerdapalooza, LLC was dissolved on October 29, 2013.

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Pete Michels

Pete Michels is an American animation director who is the supervising director of Future-Worm! on Disney XD. Prior, he was a supervising director on seasons 1 and 2 of Rick & Morty, an animation and supervising director on Family Guy, and supervising director of the short-lived TV show Kid Notorious. He started working on The Simpsons in 1990 as a background layout artist, and eventually became a director. He has also been a director on Rugrats and Rocko's Modern Life.

Michels attended Ridgefield Park High School and graduated as part of the class of 1983.

Politics in The Simpsons

Politics is a common theme in the animated television series The Simpsons, and this phenomenon has had some crossover with real American politics. U.S. conservatives voiced opposition to the show early in its run, when it was still controversial for its crude humor and irreverent take on family values. Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said that the U.S. needed to be closer to The Waltons than to The Simpsons. The show's admitted slant towards liberalism has been joked about in episodes such as "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", in which a reference is made to "hundreds of radical right-wing messages inserted into every show by creator Matt Groening". More recently, however, conservative bloggers and commentators have enthusiastically promoted cultural memes from the series, such as Groundskeeper Willie's derisive term for the French, "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".Political topics addressed on The Simpsons include homophobia and gay marriage (in the episodes "Homer's Phobia" and "There's Something About Marrying"), immigration and border control (“Much Apu About Nothing,” “Midnight Rx”, “Coming to Homerica”), drug and alcohol abuse ("Brother's Little Helper", "Weekend at Burnsie's", "Smoke on the Daughter", "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", "Duffless", "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)", and "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses"), gun rights ("The Cartridge Family"), environmental issues ("The Old Man and the Lisa", "Trash of the Titans", "Lisa the Tree Hugger", "The Wife Aquatic", "The Squirt and the Whale", in addition to being an important plot device in the feature-length film), election campaigns ("Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", "Sideshow Bob Roberts", "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", "See Homer Run", "E Pluribus Wiggum", "Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson"), and corruption ("Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington").


Schnorrer (שנאָרער; also spelled shnorrer) is a Yiddish term meaning "beggar" or "sponger". The word Schnorrer originally occurred in the German language to describe a freeloader who frequently asks for little things, like cigarettes or little sums of money, without offering a return.

The Waiting (song)

"The Waiting" is the lead single from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' album Hard Promises released in 1981. The song peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and #1 on the magazine's new Rock Tracks chart, where it remained for six consecutive weeks during the summer of 1981.

Trash of the Titans

"Trash of the Titans" is the 22nd episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. The 200th episode of the series overall, it originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 26, 1998. The episode, which was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Jim Reardon, sees Homer Simpson run for the job of Springfield's Sanitation Commissioner. Steve Martin guest stars as Ray Patterson, the incumbent commissioner, while U2 play themselves after requesting an appearance on the show.Inspired by a friend's experience in politics, Maxtone-Graham decided to have Homer run for Sanitation Commissioner, although one draft of the episode saw him running for mayor. The staff also wanted the episode to be about trash, and created the concept of "Love Day" as a means of generating waste. The episode's resolution was discussed extensively by the staff, with one proposed idea being that Springfield would be raised up and the excess rubbish swept underneath it. The episode also features a parody of the song "The Candy Man" and an incident involving comedian Redd Foxx.

"Trash of the Titans" won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less), something the staff believe was due to the environmental message at the end. Over 10 years after the original broadcast, an airing of the episode in the United Kingdom courted controversy when it was aired on Channel 4 in April 2008 before the 9pm watershed, with the word "wanker" left unedited.

The episode is dedicated to the memory of Linda McCartney, who appeared alongside her husband Paul in the episode "Lisa the Vegetarian."

Treehouse of Horror VIII

"Treehouse of Horror VIII" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 26, 1997. In the eighth annual Treehouse of Horror episode, Homer Simpson is the last man left alive when a neutron bomb destroys Springfield until a gang of mutants come after him, Homer buys a transporter that Bart uses to switch bodies with a housefly, and Marge is accused of witchcraft in a Puritan rendition of Springfield in 1649. It was written by Mike Scully, David X. Cohen and Ned Goldreyer, and was directed by Mark Kirkland.

Weekend at Burnsie's

"Weekend at Burnsie's" is the sixteenth episode of The Simpsons' thirteenth season. It first aired in the United States on the Fox network on April 7, 2002. In the episode, Homer Simpson is prescribed medicinal marijuana after getting pecked in the eyes by a murder of crows. While his family and friends worry about the drug altering his personality, Homer becomes Mr. Burns's vice president after cracking up at Burns's antiquated jokes.

The episode was directed by Michael Marcantel. The plot idea for the episode was pitched by George Meyer, who wanted to make an episode about Homer getting addicted to medicinal marijuana. Executive producer and current showrunner Al Jean found the idea "very funny" and gave former staff writer Jon Vitti the duty to write the episode's first draft. Fox was initially very uneasy to pass the episode for broadcast, since they were concerned that it might encourage younger viewers to smoke marijuana. Even though The Simpsons' staff slightly altered the episode by not actually showing Homer smoke his medicinal marijuana, the network was still worried that it might cause a controversy.

The use of medicinal marijuana is prominently featured throughout "Weekend at Burnsie's". Because the legislation of medicinal marijuana is a controversial issue, The Simpsons' staff has stated that they wanted to explore both sides of the argument, showing both the negative and positive effects of marijuana use. The episode does not come to an absolute conclusion about the issue. The episode also criticizes the use of genetically modified foods, and references Citizen Kane, Dragnet, The Birds, and Judy Garland, among other things. It also features the American rock band Phish as themselves.

Despite the network's initial concerns, "Weekend at Burnsie's" did not attract any controversy. In its original broadcast, the episode was seen by approximately 7.2 million viewers, finishing in 46th place in the ratings the week it aired. Following the thirteenth season's release on DVD and Blu-ray on August 24, 2010, the episode received mostly positive reviews from critics.

The episode is one of two from the series that has been restricted to post-watershed airing in the UK - a restriction that is still in place as of 2019 (the other episode being The Cartridge Family, although the restrictions on this episode have since been lifted).

Season 9
Themed episodes
See also


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