The Saga of Carl

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"The Saga of Carl"
The Simpsons episode
Promotional poster
Episode no. 529
Directed by Chuck Sheetz
Written by Eric Kaplan
Showrunner(s) Matt Selman, Al Jean
Production code RABF14
Original air date May 19, 2013 (2013-05-19)
Couch gag The Simpsons are sea creatures sitting on a shell couch. All of them get eaten by Blinky, the three-eyed fish.
Guest star(s) Sigur Rós
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

"The Saga of Carl" is an episode of The Simpsons. It is the twenty-first episode of the 24th season and the 529th episode overall. It aired on May 19, 2013 in conjunction with the season finale, "Dangers on a Train".[1] The episode also features the Icelandic band Sigur Rós and the then-Prime Minister of Iceland, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, as guest stars, who also have scored original music for the episode, along with their own interpretation of the Simpsons opening theme.


Bart and Lisa become addicted to Ki-Ya Karate Monsters, a new animated show that features monsters and mythical creatures who are karate warriors. Marge becomes annoyed at their focus on this game and insists they go to a museum, only to find the main attraction there is The Science of Ki-Ya Karate Monsters. At another exhibit on probability, Homer becomes fascinated by an educational video featuring French philosopher Blaise Pascal that discusses the odds of winning the lottery. That week, Homer, Lenny, Carl and Moe's weekly lottery ticket wins them a total of $200,000 which they agree to share four ways. Carl goes to cash in the ticket while the others prepare for a celebration party that night. When he does not show up that night, the others realise that he has fled with all the money.

After some genealogy research assisted by Lisa, Homer discovers that Carl fled to his home country of Iceland. Carl's Icelandic heritage was first alluded to in the Season 14 episode "'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky". Homer, Lenny and Moe fly out to Reykjavík to track him down and claim their rightful share of the money. On the plane they Learn that Iceland is Green and Greenland is actually icy (the Vikings switched names to trick everyone) but when they arrive Moe shouts out loud "hey Vikings it's still pretty cold" (it's snowing in summer in Iceland). They arrive and meet a man who tells them about the Carlsons' shameful family history, detailed in an Icelandic saga. The ancient text depicts them as cowards who allowed barbarian invaders into the country to cause massive death and destruction over a thousand years ago. When they track down Carl at the Carlson family home, they learn that the reason he travelled to Iceland was to clear his family name by buying a lost page from the sagas that he believes will reveal that the Carlsons were actually brave warriors. He also says that he did not tell them this because he does not consider them real friends.

Angered by this, Homer, Moe and Lenny take the missing page from him. At first they want to destroy it, but a Skype call from Marge makes them have second thoughts about their feelings for him. They learn to read ancient Icelandic and discover from the page that the Carlson ancestors were actually even more cowardly and treacherous than was previously thought.

Gathering the Icelandic people (including guest stars Sigur Rós and then-Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir) in a public square, the guys explain to them the good deeds that Carl has done for them over the years; he once helped Lenny move house, helped Moe to paint his windows and always leaves leftover beers in Homer's fridge. Impressed by his good qualities and "many small kindnesses", the Icelandic people officially forgive the Carlson family and their reputation is cleared. Touched by their efforts, Carl apologizes and reconciles with his old friends.

Back in Springfield, Carl thanks his friends for having taught them the true values of friendship. Homer, who had planned to put in a fancy swimming pool with his $50,000 share of the lottery money, partners instead with Moe, Lenny and Carl to create mini-pools made out of beer kegs that everyone enjoys – except for Homer himself, once he gets stuck in his new Duff-pool.



The episode received a 1.9 in the 18-49 demographic and was watched by a total of 4.01 million viewers. This makes it the lowest viewing figure for any Simpsons episode ever. However it was the second most watched show on Fox's Animation Domination line up that night, beating two episodes of The Cleveland Show but losing to two episodes of Family Guy with 5.28 million.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Robert David Sullivan of The A. V. Club gave the episode a B–, saying "It’s not a very funny episode, but you get the sense that the animators enjoyed getting out of Springfield, and the score for the Iceland scenes, by indie rock group Sigur Ros, is at least a welcome change from the old-timey music that the show has been inexplicably fond of this season."[3] Teresa Lopez of TV Fanatic gave the episode three out of five stars, saying "Beginning with the conceit of Homer, Lenny, Carl and Moe winning with Springfield lottery, the story took a weird turn. It's not that Carl taking the money was strange; although he was the least likely suspect for such a crime. In fact, Marge even mentioned that she would have expected that behavior from Moe or Homer or Lenny. No, the weirdness involved Carl's apparent Icelandic roots as an adopted Carlson. The strange tale of the saga of the Carlsons and Carl's attempts to regain his family's pride was really just a contrived excuse to take a trip to Iceland. And possibly to explore the shallow friendship between the guys. In the end, it didn't seem to matter that they never talk about anything cause they do care about each other. And guys don't talk about their feelings, right?" Though seeming an excuse, Carl does mention his childhood in Iceland in season 14 episode 16.[4] Actually, the premise of a shameful Icelandic family history is true. All Icelanders know their genealogy back to the original settlement in 870 AD. And they know know the genealogy of everyone else. For some reason certain families acquired stigmas early on--and other Icelanders still hold their current descendants accountable..