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The Boy Who Knew Too Much (The Simpsons)

"The Boy Who Knew Too Much"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 20
Directed byJeffrey Lynch
Written byJohn Swartzwelder
Production code1F19
Original air dateMay 5, 1994[1]
Guest appearance(s)
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"There are plenty of businesses like show business"[1]
Couch gagThe family runs to the couch, but they look around to see that they are not at their house; they are on the set of David Letterman's talk show.[2]
CommentaryMatt Groening
David Mirkin
David Silverman
Episode chronology
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The Simpsons (season 5)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"The Boy Who Knew Too Much" is the twentieth episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 5, 1994. In the episode, Bart runs away from school. Meanwhile, Freddy Quimby (Mayor Quimby's nephew) is accused of assaulting a waiter. Though the entire town believes Freddy guilty, Bart knows the waiter simply hurt himself through clumsiness, as he witnessed the event during his escape. However, he cannot reveal this without admitting his absence from school.

The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jeffrey Lynch. The new character Freddy, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, was given the same type of cheekbones and nose as Quimby to make them resemble each other. The episode features cultural references to films such as Westworld, Last Action Hero, and Free Willy, and the fictional characters Huckleberry Finn, Eddie, and Darwin. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver are also referenced in the episode.

Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 10.1, and was the fifth-highest rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.


On a sunny day in Springfield, Bart is not excited about going to school, in part because he has to travel there on a prison bus and sit on very uncomfortable chairs, and even more so when Mrs. Krabappel announces that the day will be two hours longer than usual.

When arriving at school, Bart forges a note claiming a dentist appointment so that he can skip school, but Principal Skinner is not convinced. Skinner chases Bart through Springfield, and as he finally corners him, Bart jumps into a passing car. The car is driven by Freddy Quimby, nephew of Mayor Quimby, who is going to his birthday party.

At lunch, Freddy is served chowder, but he ridicules the waiter just for saying it with a French accent. He then follows the waiter into the kitchen and apparently beats him up. Bart, hiding under a table, secretly witnesses the true turn of events. Freddy is charged with the crime, presumably assault and battery and is put on trial.

The whole town seems to believe that Freddy is guilty, though only Bart knows otherwise, and he confesses to Lisa that he is the only one who can prove Freddy's innocence. He doesn't want to testify, however, because he would have to admit that he skipped school, and face punishment from Skinner.

At the trial, the jury consists of Homer, Skinner, Moleman, Ned, Helen, Jasper, Patty, Apu and Akira. The waiter has Lionel Hutz as his lawyer. Homer votes against the others, resulting in a deadlock so that the jury is sequestered at a hotel with free room service and cable television. In court, Lisa's able to convince Bart to testify, and Bart tells everyone that Freddy did not assault the waiter, but that the waiter injured himself in a series of clumsy actions. The waiter attempts to deny that he is clumsy, but in the process he trips over a chair and falls out of the window into an open-roof truck filled with rat traps. When asked about how he could have witnessed such an incident when he should have been in school at the time, Bart reluctantly admits he had skipped school that day. Freddy's cleared of all charges.

Although Skinner gives Bart detention for the next four months, he ultimately praises Bart for being honest and coming forward. Meanwhile, after staying in the hotel the jury was residing at, Homer steals everything in the room and brings it home, where he puts it in his bedroom.


"The Boy Who Knew Too Much" was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jeffrey Lynch.[3] Executive producer David Mirkin "loved" that the whole situation of Bart seeing the waiter injure himself and not telling the truth ties together with the Homer plot in that it causes Homer to get jury duty and then only caring about going to the hotel. Mirkin thought it "worked really well".[3] The new character Freddy was voiced by The Simpsons cast member Dan Castellaneta, who also provides the voice of Mayor Quimby.[3] Freddy was given the same type of cheekbones and nose as Quimby to make them resemble each other.[4] When Bart is fleeing from Skinner, a shot of Bart running down a hill from the season four episode "Kamp Krusty" was re-used.[4] At the release of season five on DVD, a review described the image as possibly the "best the series has ever looked on DVD".[5] However, "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" was one of the few episodes in which technical issues still remained; for example, Bart and Lisa's image was fuzzy toward the beginning, and the episode featured for the last time "some of the hand drawn dimensions that would be eliminated once the show switched over to digital compositing and desktop cartoon creation".[5]

Cultural references

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his ex-wife Maria Shriver are parodied in the episode.

While riding on the prison bus, Bart looks out the window and has a dream that features him, Huckleberry Finn, and Abraham Lincoln on a raft going down a river in Springfield. Mirkin said Swartzwelder had always enjoyed putting presidents into his jokes, and this was only one of his many references to Lincoln.[3] The scene of Skinner chasing Bart borrows heavily from the film Westworld, especially the scene with Skinner walking across the river.[3] The Simpsons director David Silverman said Lynch and his fellow director Brad Bird took "a long, hard look" at Westworld to make sure the animation in the scenes resembled the film as much as possible.[4] Mirkin said of the Westworld parody: "Again, to show you what a collaboration this is, we had the animators looking at Westworld and making sure of the animation, and then we made sure that [The Simpsons composer] Alf Clausen got the brilliant soundtrack from the film. He put in a lot of touches that really made the soundtracks identical."[3] Bart's claim to film star and recurring character on The Simpsons Rainier Wolfcastle (a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger[6]) that his "last movie really sucked" and Chief Wiggum's subsequent claim of "magic ticket, my ass" are in reference to Last Action Hero, a Schwarzenegger film featuring magic tickets that was panned by critics.[7] Additionally, Wolfcastle's wife is named Maria; Schwarzenegger's wife at the time was Maria Shriver.[6]

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening appears in a cameo as the court illustrator in the Quimby trial. He can be seen signing his name on his sketch.[3] During the trial, Bart quips "the system works. Just ask Claus von Bulow". This is a reference to the British socialite who was accused of attempted murder, but was acquitted after two trials. Of the twelve jury members, Homer is the only one to vote "innocent", angering the other eleven jurors; the trial ends with Freddy being found innocent. This is a reference to the film 12 Angry Men.[8] During the trial, Homer sings the jingle of the cat food company Meow Mix in his head.[2] Jasper, a member of the jury, wants the trial to be over so that he can go home and watch television. He says that tonight on the science fiction series seaQuest DSV, Eddie, pet dog of Martin Crane on Frasier, will ride Darwin, the talking dolphin character from seaQuest DSV.[3] Both series aired on NBC, which was the highest-rated network in the United States for most of the 1990s. The new "director's cut" of the 1993 film Free Willy that Homer watches at the deadlock hotel features Jesse being crushed by the whale Willy.[3] Homer is later saddened by this, and says, "Oh, I don't like this new director's cut!" Homer stays with Skinner at the hotel, and in a reference to the television series The Odd Couple, Skinner picks up a cigar butt from the floor with his umbrella while cleaning the room, just as Tony Randall does in the opening credits of that series.[4]


In its original broadcast, "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" finished fiftieth in the ratings for the week of May 2–8, 1994, with a Nielsen rating of 10.1, equivalent to approximately 9.5 million viewing households. It was the fifth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following Married... with Children, Living Single, Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210.[9]

Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics.

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, praised the episode for containing "a memorable guest character in the French waiter Monsieur Lacosse, two great slapstick sequences involving the same, and displays Principal Skinner — pursuing Bart across the mountains like 'a non-giving-up school guy', and confessing that in some ways he's "a small man; a petty, small man" — in particularly fine form."[2]

DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson thought Freddy Quimby "may well be the most unpleasant character to grace the series — in an amusing way, though Freddy’s edginess makes him less amusing than his uncle. It’s rather startling to see Skinner so rapidly resume his dislike of Bart after the last episode, though. It’s fun to see his superhuman powers in the pursuit of Bart, and the mystery aspects of the show help make it a very good one. Add to that Homer on jury duty for even more entertainment."[10]

Patrick Bromley of DVD Verdict gave the episode a grade of A for its "excellent bits thrown together to make this one, joke for joke, one of the season's funniest".[11]

In 2007, Patrick Enright of MSNBC called it his tenth favorite episode of the show. He said it was a perfect example of the show's "hilarious randomness" because of jokes such as Homer singing the Meow Mix cat food jingle, and the scene in which Homer discovers that if the jury’s deadlocked, they will be sequestered in a luxury hotel. Homer justifies his decision to be the lone dissenting voice by saying, "I’m only doing what I think is right. I believe Freddy Quimby should walk out of here a free hotel (when he should have said a 'free man')."[12] named it among the 10 greatest Simpsons episodes of all time.[13]


  1. ^ a b Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia (eds.). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
  2. ^ a b c Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "The Boy Who Knew Too Much". BBC. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mirkin, David (2004). The Simpsons season 5 DVD commentary for the episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b c d Silverman, David (2004). The Simpsons season 5 DVD commentary for the episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ a b Gibron, Bill (December 23, 2004). "The Simpsons - The Complete Fifth Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  6. ^ a b Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons season 5 DVD commentary for the episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  7. ^ "Dance with the ladies". The Age. March 25, 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  8. ^ Ho, Kevin (2003). "COMMENT: "The Simpsons" and the Law: Revealing Truth and Justice to the Masses". UCLA Entertainment Law Review.
  9. ^ "Nielsen Ratings /May 2–8". Long Beach Press-Telegram. May 11, 1994. pp. C6.
  10. ^ Jacobson, Colin (2004-12-21). "The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season (1993)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  11. ^ Bromley, Patrick (2005-02-23). "The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  12. ^ Enwright, Patrick (2007-07-31). "D'Oh! The top 10 'Simpsons' episodes ever". Retrieved 2007-10-08.
  13. ^ Molumby, Deidre (September 6, 2019). "The 10 greatest 'The Simpsons' episodes of all time". Retrieved September 7, 2019.

External links