The Trouble with Trillions

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"The Trouble with Trillions"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 20
Directed by Swinton O. Scott III
Written by Ian Maxtone-Graham
Production code5F14
Original air dateApril 5, 1998
Guest appearance(s)

Paul Winfield as Lucius Sweet

Episode features
Chalkboard gag "I will not demand what I'm worth"
Couch gag The living room is a sauna, with three men in towels relaxing. The Simpsons (also in towels) arrive, but leave sheepishly as the three men glare at them. [1]
Commentary Matt Groening
Mike Scully
George Meyer
Ian Maxtone-Graham
Swinton O. Scott III
Matt Selman
Episode chronology
"Simpson Tide"
"Girly Edition"
The Simpsons (season 9)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"The Trouble with Trillions" is the twentieth 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 April 5, 1998. [2] It was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Swinton O. Scott III. [2] The episode sees Homer being sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to try to obtain a trillion dollar bill that Mr. Burns failed to deliver to Europe during the post-war era.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 9) Episode list for season of animated series

The Simpsons' ninth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 1997 and May 1998, beginning on Sunday, September 21, 1997, with "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson". With Mike Scully as showrunner for the ninth production season, the aired season contained three episodes which were hold-over episodes from season eight, which Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ran. It also contained two episodes which were run by David Mirkin, and another two hold-over episodes which were run by Al Jean and Mike Reiss.

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Ian Howes Maxtone-Graham is an American television writer and producer. He has formerly written for Saturday Night Live (1992–1995) and The Simpsons (1995–2012), as well as serving as a co-executive producer and consulting producer for the latter.



As all of Springfield rushes to send out their tax returns just before midnight on April 15, Homer realizes he did not file his. He rushes and provides false information before delivering it to the post office. The IRS discovers Homer's fraud and arrests him. To avoid prison, Homer agrees to help Agent Johnson of the FBI. With a hidden microphone under his shirt, Homer uncovers that his coworker Charlie is leading a group planning to assault all government officials, and has him arrested by the FBI for conspiracy.

Springfield (<i>The Simpsons</i>) Fictional city in the United States from the Simpsons universe

Springfield is a fictional town in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, which serves as its main setting. A mid-sized town in an undetermined state of the United States, Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. The geography of the town and its surroundings are flexible, changing to address whatever an episode's plot calls for.

In the United States, Tax Day is a colloquial term for the day on which individual income tax returns are due to be submitted to the federal government. The term may also refer to the same day for individual states, even where the tax return due date is a different day.

Homer Simpson fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Homer was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was 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. He named the character after his father, Homer Groening. After appearing for three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show, the Simpson family got their own series on Fox that debuted December 17, 1989.

Impressed, Johnson reveals to Homer that in 1945, President Harry S. Truman printed a one trillion-dollar bill to help reconstruct post-war Europe and enlisted Montgomery Burns to transport the bill. However, it never arrived and the FBI suspects Burns still has it with him. Homer is sent in to investigate. At the Burns estate, Homer searches for the bill before Burns, who believes Homer is a reporter from Collier's magazine, reveals that he keeps it in his wallet. Johnson and Agent Miller burst in and arrest Burns, who, insisting he's innocent, protests that the government oppresses the average American. Moved by Burns' speech, Homer knocks out the FBI agents and frees Burns.

Harry S. Truman 33rd president of the United States

Harry S. Truman was the 33rd president of the United States from 1945 to 1953, succeeding upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt after serving as vice president. He implemented the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, and established the Truman Doctrine and NATO.

Mr. Burns fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns, usually referred to simply as Mr. Burns, is a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Harry Shearer. He is the evil, devious, greedy and wealthy owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and, by extension, Homer Simpson's boss. He is assisted at almost all times by Waylon Smithers, his loyal and sycophantic aide, adviser, confidant, and secret admirer.

The two men go to Smithers, who suggests they leave the country. Burns takes Smithers and Homer in his old plane, setting off to find an island and start a new country. The three land in Cuba and appear before Fidel Castro. Burns tries to buy the island, but Castro foils his plan when asks to see the trillion-dollar bill and then refuses to give it back. Later, Burns, Smithers, and Homer are on a makeshift raft. Smithers asks whether Burns will be facing jail time; Burns replies that, if it is a crime to love one's country or steal a trillion dollars or bribe a jury, he is guilty. [2] [3]

Waylon Smithers Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Waylon Joseph Smithers Jr., usually referred to as Mr. Smithers or simply Smithers, is a recurring fictional character in the animated sitcom The Simpsons, who is voiced by Harry Shearer. Smithers first appeared in the episode "Homer's Odyssey", although his voice could be heard in the series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". He is the consummate executive and personal assistant of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's owner Mr. Burns.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Fidel Castro Former First Secretary of the Communist Party and President of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.


The episode was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham, though the original draft of the plot was much different. Originally, Homer was to learn that he was a Native American, and would try to exploit it to not have to pay taxes. The idea had been going well for a few days, but the staff did not actually know whether Native Americans had to pay taxes. When the writers found out that they did, the whole plot had to be scrapped. [4] Executive producer Mike Scully's brother Brian pitched the idea of the trillion-dollar bill, which they accepted, as they were out of ideas. [5]

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii and territories of the United States. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaskan Natives, while "Native Americans" are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. The US Census does not include Native Hawaiians or Chamorro, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Mike Scully American writer and producer

Michael Scully is an American television writer and producer. He is known for his work as executive producer and showrunner of the animated sitcom The Simpsons from 1997 to 2001. Scully grew up in West Springfield, Massachusetts and long had an interest in writing. He was an underachiever at school and dropped out of college, going on to work in a series of jobs. Eventually, in 1986, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a stand-up comic and wrote for Yakov Smirnoff.

Brian Scully is an American television writer and producer.

Cultural references

The scene where the FBI agent sits near Homer is a reference to the film JFK . [1] While Homer, Mr. Burns, and Smithers are in Cuba, a billboard can be seen with a picture of Che Guevara being used to advertise Duff Beer. [1]

<i>JFK</i> (film) 1991 American political thriller film directed by Oliver Stone

JFK is a 1991 American political thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy and alleged cover-up through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to assassinate the President, for which Lee Harvey Oswald was found responsible by the Warren Commission.

Che Guevara Argentine Marxist revolutionary

Ernesto "Che" Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture.

Duff Beer is a brand of beer that originated as a fictional beverage on the animated series The Simpsons. Beers using the Duff branding have been brewed in a number of countries, resulting in legal battles with varying results. An official version of the beer is sold in three variations near the Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios. In 2015, 20th Century Fox, producer of The Simpsons, began selling licensed Duff beer in Chile, with a view to driving out brandjacking.


In its original broadcast, "The Trouble with Trillions" finished 51st in ratings for the week of March 30–April 5, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 7.5, equivalent to approximately 7.4 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following World's Wildest Police Videos and Melrose Place . [6]

Since airing, the episode has received mixed 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, did not enjoy the episode, calling it, "Rather dull and unfunny", adding, "A mediocre episode at best that makes Burns out to be altruistic (which he's not) and very stupid in letting Castro have his money (which he so wouldn't)." [1] The Daily Telegraph characterized the episode as one of "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes". [7] The article noted the episode contained "one of the few gags in comedy history about relying too heavily on surveillance photography in spying". [7]

Ian Jones and Steve Williams for Off the Telly criticized all of season 9 for lacking an episode that centered on Burns, as they consider Burns to be the crux of many good episodes, though they noted that "The Trouble with Trillions" came the closest, with Burns having a supporting role. [8] In a review of The Simpsons' ninth season, Isaac Mitchell-Frey of the Herald Sun described the episode as "brilliant", and highlighted it along with episodes "Bart Carny" and "The Joy of Sect". [9]

In the United Kingdom, the episode was screened on BBC Two in January 1999, before any other episode from season six or later were seen by viewers on the channel, as part of a night of Cuba-themed programming. [10] The episode had made its UK premiere in June 1998, by the program's primary rights holder in the country, Sky One.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "The Trouble with Trillions". BBC. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
  2. 1 2 3 Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued . Harper Collins Publishers. p. 36. ISBN   0-06-098763-4.
  3. "The Trouble with Trillions" The Retrieved on November 3, 2007
  4. Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "The Trouble with Trillions" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. Maxtone-Graham, Ian (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "The Trouble with Trillions" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. Associated Press (April 9, 1998). "Ball bounces to CBS in ratings race". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
  7. 1 2 Walton, James (July 21, 2007). "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes (In Chronological Order)". The Daily Telegraph . p. 3.
  8. Ian Jones; Steve Williams. "Now let us never speak of it again". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  9. Mitchell-Frey, Isaac (February 11, 2007). "Comedy - The Simpsons, Series 9". Herald Sun . p. E12.
  10. Ian Jones; Steve Williams. "That is so 1991!". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. Retrieved 2011-07-18.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)