Once Upon a Time in Springfield

Last updated
"Once Upon a Time in Springfield"
The Simpsons episode
Once Upon a Time in Springfield promo.jpg
Promotional image
Episode no.Season 21
Episode 10
Directed by Matthew Nastuk
Written by Stephanie Gillis
Production codeLABF20 [1]
Original air dateJanuary 10, 2010 [2]
Guest appearance(s)

Anne Hathaway as Princess Penelope
Jackie Mason as Rabbi Hyman Krustofski
Eartha Kitt as herself
Gary Larson as himself
Maurice LaMarche as Nuclear Power Plant Security Guard


Episode features
Chalkboard gag "The world may end in 2012, but this show won't"
Couch gag The couch is seen inside a human egg. Each family member is a sperm cell swimming towards and penetrating the egg to sit on the couch. The zygote then divides multiple times, forming a Mr. Burns embryo, whose first words are, "Ex-cellent!"
Episode chronology
"Thursdays with Abie"
"Million Dollar Maybe"
The Simpsons (season 21)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"Once Upon a Time in Springfield" is the tenth episode of The Simpsons ' twenty-first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 10, 2010. It was promoted as the 450th episode of the series, but is actually the 451st, and aired alongside The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! . The episode is dedicated to posthumous guest star Eartha Kitt, who died December 25, 2008, over one year before the episode first aired.

In the episode, The Krusty the Clown Show is once again reconstructed. This time, in a bid to get girls to watch the show, a female character named Princess Penelope is hired as Krusty's latest sidekick. Meanwhile, a corporate recruiter persuades Homer, Lenny, and Carl to work for a nuclear plant in Capital City, after Mr. Burns announces a moratorium on free doughnuts. The episode was written by Stephanie Gillis and directed by Matthew Nastuk.

The episode has received positive reviews from critics, and in 2014, showrunner Al Jean selected it as one of five essential episodes in the show's history. [3]

It received a Nielsen rating of 6.9/17 in the 18–49 demographic and in 2010 was nominated for two awards at the Primetime Emmy Award, winning one for Anne Hathaway's voice-over performance.


Krusty the Clown is informed by his producers that his show is dropping in ratings with the demographics of young girls, and therefore they will introduce a new character named Princess Penelope. Her act features singing, glitter, and a unicorn, which though immediately attracting a youthful female audience disgusts the series' predominately male audience, as well as Krusty himself. Soon, the Krustylu Studio becomes almost completely filled with girls (including Lisa), and all of Krusty's merchandise is replaced by that of Penelope's. However, Bart does not like it and complains that "...women ruin all the great things" (the Army, the Fantastic Four and American Idol "what would be better with only Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson"). Bart demands that Krusty will do something in order to restore the show.

Krusty follows Bart's advice and confronts Penelope in her dressing room. Penelope admits she has followed Krusty ever since she was a young girl, who grew up in Mineola, Long Island, New York. They consequently discover that they share a mutual attraction towards one another. Subsequent episodes of The Krusty the Clown Show feature the two singing love songs to one another, culminating in Krusty's marriage proposal to Penelope and the latter's acceptance. On the wedding day, Bart and Milhouse attempt to sabotage the marriage by showing Penelope Krusty's former wives, Holly Hippie and Eartha Kitt (who divorced Krusty six hours after they got married), who both despise him. Penelope still wants to get married, but Krusty decides that he is not good enough for Penelope and cancels the wedding. Penelope moves to France, only to discover that Krusty is there and apologizes for leaving her behind. She accepts and the two float down the Seine River together into the night.

In the subplot, budgeting issues cause Mr. Burns to eliminate donuts from the lunch room, shocking Homer, Lenny, and Carl. While at Moe's Tavern, a corporate recruiter named Gator McCall offers them a job at the Capital City Nuclear Power Plant. The trio agree to take a tour, where they discover there are luxurious working conditions, including free massages, sushi, and cartoonist Gary Larson, who has come out of retirement to draw The Far Side cartoons for plant employees. They accept the offer.

As Homer, Lenny, and Carl carry their personal possessions from Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Mr. Burns confronts them. After begging is unsuccessful, Burns offers to reinstate even better donuts if they return to work at his power plant. The trio then accepts the offer.


Anne Hathaway guest starred as Princess Penelope Anne Hathaway at MIFF.jpg
Anne Hathaway guest starred as Princess Penelope

The episode features Anne Hathaway's return to the show, this time voicing Princess Penelope. [4] Jackie Mason returns to voice Krusty the Clown's father Rabbi Hyman Krustofski. [5] This is one of Eartha Kitt's final TV appearances, who posthumously guest-starred as herself, being an ex-wife of Krusty's. [4] Hathaway said that she grew up watching The Simpsons with her brothers, and said that "it stuck with me...high school, college, post, everything. I always stop whenever it's on." [6]

Cultural references

The opening chalkboard gag makes a reference to the 2012 phenomenon in which the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012. [7] Homer, Lenny, and Carl get to see a comic from the comic series The Far Side (but not the audience) which includes a lion and an X-ray. [8]

While Penelope is playing the guitar in Paris, Tintin and Captain Haddock are listening at one table, crying and hugging. Penelope is not a real princess, despite her full name being Penelope Mountbatten Habsburg Hohenzollern Mulan Pocahontas.


In its original American broadcast, "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" earned a 6.8 Nielsen rating in the 18–49 demographic. [9] In all, the show was watched by 21.07 million viewers and an 18–49 rating of 8.8/22. The larger-than-normal viewership was a result of the episode following the National Football League playoffs. It was the most watched episode of the show since season 16's "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass", which aired after Super Bowl XXXIX. [10] The episode ranked 8th in the ratings becoming the second highest viewed show on Fox and top rated scripted show on Fox. The episode also came in 5th for the 18–48 rating becoming the top rated scripted programming of the week with a rating of 9.084 million watching and rating of 6.9. [11]

The episode has received positive reviews from critics.

IGN's Robert Canning wrote that "it may not be turning out classic after classic after classic, but The Simpsons can still deliver smart and solid entertainment" and rated the episode 8/10. [8]

Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club , while writing that the plot was "something the show has done many, many times before", stated that the episode was "funny [...] with a nice amount of heart", and graded it a B. [12]

Jason Hughes of TV Squad praised Hathaway's performance, but said that he was "a little disappointed" because the anniversary episode did not focus on the Simpson family. [13]

Tom Maurstad of The Dallas Morning News gave the episode a positive review writing "tonight's 450th episode, 'Once Upon a Time in Springfield' is rock solid. Maybe it's not one for the ages, but it's full of quotable lines and casually hilarious moments." [14]

TV Fanatic stated "Well, as compared to any other episode, "Once Upon a Time in Springfield," was a fantastic outing by The Simpsons". [15] TV Fanatic gave the episode an A, calling it "An excellent episode, though its flaws won’t allow me to give it an A+. Nevertheless, it rates a solid A from me." [7]

The episode was nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 2010, and Anne Hathaway was also nominated for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for her role as Princess Penelope running against The Simpsons cast members Dan Castellaneta for "Thursdays with Abie" and Hank Azaria for "Moe Letter Blues". Although the episode did not win, on August 21, 2010, it was announced that Hathaway won. [16]

Related Research Articles

Bart Simpson fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Bartholomew JoJo Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated television series The Simpsons and part of the Simpson family. He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed Bart while waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip, Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. While the rest of the characters were named after Groening's family members, Bart's name is an anagram of the word brat. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family received its own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989.

Krusty the Clown fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofsky, better known as Krusty the Clown, is a cartoon character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta. He is the long-time clown host of Bart and Lisa's favorite TV show, a combination of kiddie variety television hijinks and cartoons including The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Krusty is often portrayed as a cynical, burnt-out, addiction-riddled smoker who is made miserable by show business but continues on anyway. He has become one of the most common characters outside the main Simpson family and has been the focus of several episodes, most of which also spotlight Bart.

Sideshow Bob Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

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.

"Kamp Krusty" is the first episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 24, 1992. During summer vacation, the children of Springfield attend Kamp Krusty, a summer camp named after Krusty the Clown. The camp is extremely unpleasant, leading to the campers rebelling against the camp director. The episode was followed by the 28th season episode, "Kamp Krustier", 25 years later.

Like Father, Like Clown 6th episode of the third season of The Simpsons

"Like Father, Like Clown" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' third season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 24, 1991. In the episode, Krusty the Clown reveals to the Simpsons that he is Jewish and that his father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, disowned him for pursuing a career in comedy. Bart and Lisa try to reunite a distraught Krusty with his estranged father.

Krusty Gets Kancelled 22nd episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons

"Krusty Gets Kancelled" is the 22nd and final episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 13, 1993. In the episode, a new show featuring ventriloquist Arthur Crandall and his dummy Gabbo premieres in Springfield and competes with Krusty the Clown's show. Krusty's show is soon cancelled. Bart and Lisa decide to help Krusty get back on the air by staging a comeback special.

"Krusty Gets Busted" is the twelfth and penultimate episode of The Simpsons' first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 29, 1990. The episode was written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky, and directed by Brad Bird. In the episode, Krusty the Clown is convicted of armed robbery of the Kwik-E-Mart and sentenced to jail. Convinced that Krusty has been framed, Bart and Lisa investigate the crime and learn that Krusty's sidekick, Sideshow Bob, is the culprit.

Today I Am a Clown 6th episode of the fifteenth season of The Simpsons

"Today I Am a Clown" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' fifteenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 7, 2003. The episode focuses on Krusty's religion, Judaism.

"Day of the Jackanapes" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' twelfth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 18, 2001. In the episode, Krusty announces his retirement due to interference from network executives and the growing popularity of the game show Me Wantee. When Krusty reveals that all of the episodes featuring Sideshow Bob have been erased, Bob hypnotizes Bart into murdering Krusty during his farewell show.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 1) Episode list for season of animated series

The first season of the American animated television series The Simpsons originally aired on the Fox network between December 17, 1989, and May 13, 1990, beginning with the Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". The executive producers for the first production season were Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 6) Episode list for season of animated series

The Simpsons' sixth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 4, 1994, and May 21, 1995, and consists of 25 episodes. The Simpsons is an animated series about a working class family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional city of Springfield, and lampoons American culture, society, television and many aspects of the human condition. Season 6 was the highest rated season of the series.

All About Lisa 20th episode of the nineteenth season of The Simpsons

"All About Lisa" is the twentieth episode and season finale of The Simpsons' nineteenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 18, 2008. Lisa Simpson becomes Krusty the Clown's newest assistant and steals his spotlight. She wins Entertainer of the Year at the Springfield Media awards, but is warned that with her sudden fame comes a new attitude towards others and herself. Meanwhile, Homer and Bart bond over their newfound love of coin collecting. The episode features narration by Sideshow Mel. It was written by John Frink and directed by Steven Dean Moore. Drew Carey guest voices himself, appearing as a guest on Krusty's show.

Treehouse of Horror XX 4th episode of the twenty-first season of The Simpsons

"Treehouse of Horror XX" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 18, 2009. This is the twentieth "Treehouse of Horror" installment, containing three self-contained stories: In "Dial "M" for Murder or Press "#" to Return to Main Menu", Lisa is forced into a Hitchcock-esque murder scheme by Bart; in "Don't Have a Cow, Mankind", Springfield is once again overrun by zombies thanks to Krusty Burger's latest sandwich; and in the Sweeney Todd parody, "There's No Business Like Moe Business", Moe the bartender bleeds Homer dry to create the perfect microbrewed beer. An estimated 8.59 million viewers tuned in to watch the episode.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 21) 2009/2010 season of American animated sitcom

The Simpsons' twenty-first season aired on Fox from September 27, 2009 to May 23, 2010. It was the first of two seasons that the show was renewed for by Fox, and also the first season of the show to air entirely in high definition.

"Pranks and Greens" is the sixth episode of the twenty first season of The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 22, 2009. In this episode, Bart tracks down an immature, college-aged man named Andy Hamilton who was once hailed Springfield Elementary's best prankster and encourages him to do something with his life.

The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! is a documentary special that examined the "cultural phenomenon" of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 10, 2010. The special was directed by Morgan Spurlock.

"Thursdays with Abie" is the ninth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. In the episode, Grampa meets a human interest journalist who writes and publishes Grampa's life stories making Homer jealous and while giving his story of Mr. Burns to the newspaper finds out the journalist plots to kill Grandpa. Meanwhile, Bart is forced to care for a stuffed lamb as part of a class project and gives the lamb to Lisa.

"Elementary School Musical" is the twenty-second season premiere of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 26, 2010. In this episode, Krusty the Clown invites Homer to the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Later turning out to be a hoax, Krusty is sued by the International Court of Justice for his many instances of public indecency. Meanwhile, Marge takes Lisa to a performing arts camp for a week.

Clown in the Dumps 1st episode of the twenty-sixth season of The Simpsons

"Clown in the Dumps" is the season premiere of the twenty-sixth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons, and the 553rd episode of the series overall. It first aired in the United States on the Fox network on September 28, 2014, with "The Simpsons Guy", a crossover episode of Family Guy with The Simpsons, airing afterwards. This episode was dedicated in memory of Louis Castellaneta, the father of The Simpsons voice actor Dan Castellaneta. It was written by Joel H. Cohen and directed by Steven Dean Moore, with Don Hertzfeldt directing a sequence in the opening titles. Jeff Ross, Sarah Silverman and David Hyde Pierce guest starred as themselves, with Jackie Mason and Kelsey Grammer reprising their respective roles as Rabbi Krustofski and Sideshow Bob, while Maurice LaMarche voiced several minor characters.




  1. Reg. # PAu003371153 in the U.S. Copyright Records database Retrieved on February 12, 2009.
  2. "Fox announces 2009–2010 midseason schedule". FoxFlash. 2009-11-24. Archived from the original on 2013-10-13. Retrieved 2009-11-24.
  3. https://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2014/08/20/5-things-essential-simpsons-episodes/
  4. 1 2 Snierson, Dan (2009-07-24). "'The Simpsons': Coldplay's Chris Martin, Sarah Silverman among season 21 guests". Entertainment Weekly . Archived from the original on 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  5. "The Simpsons". Fox Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original on 2009-05-23. Retrieved 2009-05-24.
  6. Hathaway, 0:00 – 0:15
  7. 1 2 Ponywether, Ariel (2010-01-13). "Review – The Simpsons: "Once Upon a Time in Springfield"". FireFox. Archived from the original on 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  8. 1 2 "The Simpsons: "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" Review". IGN . 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  9. Kissell, Rick (2010-01-11). "Football powers Fox, 'Simpsons'". Variety . Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  10. "TV Ratings Sunday: Football Overrun Boosts Gigantic Simpsons; Chuck Premieres Up". TVbytheNumbers.com. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  11. "TV Ratings: Pro and College Football and The Simpsons and NCIS top weekly viewing". TVbytheNumbers.com. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  12. ""Once Upon a Time in Springfield"/The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3-D on Ice/"Love Rollercoaster"". The A.V. Club . 2010-01-11. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  13. VanDerWerff, Emily (2010-01-10). "Review: The Simpsons – Once Upon a Time in Springfield". TV Squad . Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  14. "'The Simpsons' celebrates 20 years with 450th episode". Dallas Morning News. Dallasnews.com. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  15. The Barnacle (2010-01-11). "The Simpsons Review: "Once Upon a Time in Springfield"". TV Fanatic. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  16. Nominations: Official Primetime Emmy Award Nominees. Emmys.tv (2010-07-08).