(KTLA/NEXSTAR) – Is Homer Simpson finally seeing the error of his ways?
Fans of “The Simpsons” are debating whether a recent episode of the animated sitcom had hinted at the end of a long-running gag that involves Homer wringing his son Bart’s neck.
The scene was more common in earlier episodes, though later seasons continued to depict, and acknowledge, Homer’s physical abuse of Bart. But a comment Homer made in the Oct. 22 episode is making headlines for suggesting that viewers won’t ever see him strangle his son again.
The episode, titled “McMansion & Wife,” sees Homer and Marge meeting their new neighbor Thayer. The neighbor commends Homer on his strong handshake, at which point Homer turns to Marge and says, “See, Marge, strangling the boy paid off.”
“Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore,” Homer quickly tells the neighbor. “Times have changed.”
The scene caught the internet’s attention when it was posted to X (formerly Twitter) after the episode aired.
“I just found out that, after over 30 years, ‘The Simpsons’ has finally retired their long-running gag of Homer strangling Bart. Took them long enough,” one user wrote.
Reactions then began pouring in with some commending the move and others slamming it.
“I knew my man Homer was gonna learn,” replied one user.
“Homer will no longer choke Bart. It’s time for ‘The Simpsons’ to go,” another posted.
On Reddit, meanwhile, fans were unsure if Homer’s remark actually reflected any larger decision from the show’s producers. The show was always a satire, some argued, and Homer’s actions were never meant to be “acceptable.”
“It’s important to remember that no one thought strangling a child was acceptable back then, either,” one person wrote. “The joke is in the absurdity of it, and fits within the satirical nature of the show.”
Others pointed to an episode from 2011 that already addressed Homer’s abusive behavior. In that episode, called “Love Is a Many Strangled Thing,” Homer stops strangling Bart after he attends a fathering enrichment class. During the class, the tables are turned on Homer after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar teaches Homer what it feels like “to be young, small, and terrified” by strangling him, and letting his friends do it too.
Homer is traumatized by the situation and refrains from strangling Bart, even when he misbehaves.
But he soon goes back to his old ways in Season 24’s 12th episode titled “Love Is a Many-Splintered Thing.” The choke even frightened Bart’s friend Milhouse.
The Independent reported that the last time Homer was shown choking Bart was during the 31st season, which ran between 2019 and 2020.
When asked if Homer’s comments in the Oct. 22 episode were meant to be understood as an actual decision by the show’s writers or production team, a representative for Fox Broadcasting told Nexstar that producers would be making a statement sometime this week.
“The Simpsons” premiered in 1989 and has long touched on controversial topics. The show has also been slammed for its use of racial stereotypes.
In 2017, the Matt Groenig-created series was called out over its depiction of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu, in the documentary “The Problem with Apu.”
Hari Kondabolu, who wrote and starred in the doc, called out actor Hank Azaria as “a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father.”
Azaria admitted this past April in the podcast “The Fallout of the Callout: Code Switching” that he now finds his casting “embarrassing” and acknowledged how his portrayal of Apu led to “the broader dehumanization of Desi people in the United States.”