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Helter Shelter (The Simpsons)

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Helter Shelter (The Simpsons)
Things would have been better if the writers decided to dump the boring moments into the wilderness and rewrite them to be up to Simpsons standards.
Part of Season: 14
Episode Number: 5
Air Date: December 1, 2002
Writer: Brian Polack
Mert Rich
Director: Mark Kirkland
Previous episode: Large Marge
Next episode: The Great Louse Detective

Helter Shelter is the fifth episode in the fourteenth season of The Simpsons.


The Simpson family has to find a temporary residence while their house is fumigated for Russian termites. When they run out of options, they decide to become contestants on a reality show where families live in the manner that people did in 1895. The family is initially miserable, but slowly adapt to their new life, which causes the show to lose ratings. The producers decide to try to boost viewers by dumping the house down a river and forcing the family to survive in the wilderness.

Bad Qualities

  1. Depending on your view, the logo on the bug exterminator's van, "A Bug's Death", is a poor parody of the 1998 Pixar film A Bug's Life.
  2. Plot Hole: How were Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney dumb enough to believe that the tent over the Simpsons' house was a circus?
  3. None of the rooms the Simpsons stay in work, with Lenny sharing his room with some tennis players, the Comic Book Guy having a "meeting" with "aliens", having to cook breakfast for 6 hours in the 1895 house, said style house having no insulation and bread that tastes like old clothes.
    • Although the 1895 style worked later on, the creators behind the reality show changed the style by having the house dumped down a river, causing it to be destroyed after going over a waterfall.
  4. Homer having blood come out of his mustache is very disturbing.
  5. Even if the 1895 style works out for them later on, it's actually on a reality show channel and that somehow means that the show is losing viewers.
  6. The Swiggy guest star from Laverne & Shirley just came out of nowhere and wasn't too likable for shocking Homer with a tazer.
  7. This episode ended the traditional cel animation era on a sour note, at least in airing order.

Good Qualities

  1. The beginning was pretty decent, with the Simpsons attending a hockey game and them having a great time with Bart punching a celebrity, Homer pouring hot fudge all over his friends and Lisa getting a hockey stick from a famous hockey player.
  2. The King of the Hill theme song playing and the Simpsons doing the things said show's characters done in the song when living life outside is pretty funny, along with Bart pranking Moe with a telegram for "Heywood U. Cuddleme".
  3. At least the Simpsons coped with the 1895 life later on, despite it apparently "losing viewers".
  4. The reality show executives get their comeuppance for attempting to kill off the Simpson family and dumping other reality show contestants in the wilderness when their helicopter is attacked.
  5. The ending where the Simpsons watch Bart prank Homer with a hose is a bit funny.


The episode has a 6.7/10 on IMDb.[1] It was ranked 6th worst episode on on their 2003 list, dropped to 9th in their 2006 list[2], then dropped to 21st on their 2011 list[3].


  • As mentioned above, the scene where the Simpsons try to live outside references the King of the Hill theme song, with said music from said show playing.
  • The show the Simpsons watched was a parody of Law & Order.
  • This is the final episode to use traditional cel animation. Starting with "The Great Louse Detective" until "Take My Life, Please" in Season 20, the show would be animated using digital ink-and-paint.


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