Trilogy of Error

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"Trilogy of Error"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 266
Directed by Mike B. Anderson
Written by Matt Selman
Showrunner(s) Mike Scully
Production code CABF14
Original air date April 29, 2001
Chalkboard gag "Fire is not the cleanser"
Couch gag The family skateboards to the couch, jumping off a ramp and doing some aerial stunts before landing, except Homer, who falls off the edge of the ramp and is hit on the head with his own skateboard.
Commentary Matt Groening
Mike Scully
Al Jean
Ian Maxtone-Graham
Rob LaZebnik
Matt Selman
Tim Long
Max Pross
David Mirkin
Mike B. Anderson
Guest appearance(s)

"Trilogy of Error" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsonstwelfth season, and the 266th episode overall. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 29, 2001. In the episode, Homer's rush to the hospital to re-attach his severed thumb, Lisa's rush to school to win the science fair, and Bart's run-in with an illegal fireworks scheme are interconnected as each act tells the events of the same day, but from a different point of view.

"Trilogy of Error" was directed by Mike B. Anderson and written by Matt Selman. The episode, initially titled "Go, Simpson Go", was initially pitched by Selman who figured the whole plot out before pitching it. The episode features a guest appearance from Frankie Muniz as Thelonious, while Joe Mantegna reprises his role as recurring character Fat Tony. "Trilogy of Error" serves as a parody of thriller movies, Go and Run Lola Run. The episode has received positive reviews since its original airing and Selman named it the best episode he has ever written.


Homer's day[edit]

Lisa shows Homer her school science project, a robot named Linguo, who corrects grammar. After a miscommunication with the robot, Homer breaks it by pouring beer down its throat, and Lisa runs upstairs frustrated. Meanwhile, Marge accidentally severs Homer's thumb as she is cutting brownies. When Marge calls the police about the severed thumb, the police think it was intentional, asking for an address to arrest Marge. Marge then gives a fake address. They drive to the hospital, but Dr. Hibbert claims that the insurance will not cover the cost, so they instead drive off for Dr. Nick's clinic. Since Homer's thumb is starting to shrivel up, he stops by at Moe's, where he gets a pickle brine solution. He gets distracted when Moe offers him a beer. Homer rushes out the door and sees Marge is gone. He hitchhikes with Cletus who drives him to Dr. Nick's, but they discover the clinic is on fire. Homer asks Cletus to drive him to Shelbyville Hospital, but his truck gets stolen and leaves Homer having to walk to the hospital. His thumb is almost completely shriveled up now, and he is just about to throw it away when an explosion sends Linguo's severed head flying up into the air and it lands next to him.

Lisa's day[edit]

Due to Homer pouring beer in Linguo's mouth, Lisa has to fix Linguo, missing the school bus as a result. She runs to school but on the way gets a ride from Krusty. However, Krusty mistakenly takes her to West Springfield Elementary School. Lisa leaves the school and, needing a ride, stops at Moe's Tavern looking for her dad, but he is not there. Homer comes in just as she is leaving by the back door. Outside, Lisa finds Marge, who tries to take her to school, but the car runs out of gas. Marge and Lisa see Cletus' truck and hitch a ride, but when he exits his truck they steal it and drive off for the school themselves. However, they are forced to stop when Bart emerges from a manhole in the road in front of them.

Bart's day[edit]

The doorbell rings, and Bart answers it. It is Milhouse, who takes Bart to a cave he has found in the woods, which is full of fireworks. Bart tests some, but accidentally sets fire to Dr. Nick's clinic. Bart and Milhouse hide in a building, but are caught by the police, who were investigating the building due to a call from Marge about the severed thumb. The police ask the boys to help find the person selling the fireworks. Bart and Milhouse find Fat Tony and his henchmen, but when Tony realizes that Bart has a wire he chases the boys through the sewers until they emerge where Marge and Lisa are. Having been chased down the street, Bart and Milhouse get cornered. To save the boys, Marge throws Linguo at the gangsters and due to their bad grammar, the sparks from Linguo's body caused by the overload ignite the fireworks causing Linguo to explode. Linguo's head lands in front of Homer right before he is about to throw away his thumb.

Fat Tony is arrested, but Marge points out Homer's severed thumb and Lisa's destroyed science project. Fat Tony proposes a solution. Lisa brings the mobsters to the science fair, and Legs (one of Fat Tony's henchmen) successfully reattaches Homer's thumb while Lisa narrates the presentation for her class.


Joe Mantegna guest-stars in the episode as Fat Tony.

"Trilogy of Error" was written by Matt Selman and was directed by Mike B. Anderson as part of the twelfth season of The Simpsons (2000–2001).[1] Selman was inspired by the 1999 comedy thriller film Go.[1] Before pitching it, he devised the whole plot in order to prove that it could be done.[1] The episode was originally called "Go, Simpson Go" in an allusion to the 1998 German crime thriller film Run Lola Run.[1] Due to the non-linear structure of the episode, the writing staff found it difficult to write jokes for the episode, because "every thing would affect the story".[1]

In the original draft, the second act would have portrayed Lisa travelling on the short school bus and meeting children with amusing disabilities, but it was deemed "too radical" at the time.[1] The production team also wanted to create a segment focusing on Marge, but they decided she was already prominent in the first two segments.[2]

During production, the staff found it difficult to choose which jokes to start each act since they had previously seen this.[3] There was also a debate on the appearance of Homer's truncated thumb. The staff decided to add a thumbnail, although characters in The Simpsons do not have nails on their fingers and toes.[4] The cost of "Trilogy of Error" was above average, despite the several replays of the same animation and the expectations of the production staff.[5] During production of the third act of the episode, Selman went on vacation and the staff had to finish the act without him.[1]

The title of the episode is a reference to the 1975 made-for-television horror film Trilogy of Terror.[6] The episode makes a number of allusions to the 1999 film Go, an example of which is Homer and Marge's theft of Rainier Wolfcastle's car after Wolfcastle smashes up their car.[1] The episode also parodies the 1992 film Reservoir Dogs by showing the same events occurring from different points of view, while also featuring music similar to that featured in Run Lola Run during the "Lisa's Day" segment.[1]


The episode originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 29, 2001.[7][8] On August 18, 2009, it was released on DVD as part of the box set The Simpsons – The Complete Twelfth Season. Staff members Matt Groening, Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Rob Lazebnik, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Max Pross, David Mirkin, and Mike B. Anderson participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode. Deleted scenes from the episode were featured on the box set as well.[9]

Since airing, "Trilogy of Error" has received positive reviews from critics. Matt Selman considers this episode "the best [he] has ever written".[10] In a 2008 Flashback Review, Robert Canning of IGN called the episode "outstanding" for its several sight gags and pop culture references.[11] He concluded it was an amazing episode and that it proved the series could still deliver "[its] share of quality episodes" despite its overall drop in quality.[11] He ultimately gave the episode a 9.0/10.[11] Several members of the IGN staff later named it the best episode of the twelfth season.[12] AOL named "Trilogy of Error" the 20th best episode of the series.[13] Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide positively compared the episode to the Treehouse of Horror episodes and called the episode "clever program that consistently entertains".[14] DVD Verdict's Mac MacEntire called the episode "one of my all-time favorites" and she called Dr. Nick Riviera's line "Inflammable means flammable" the best moment of the episode.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Selman, Matt (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for "Trilogy of Error" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  2. ^ Scully, Mike (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for "Trilogy of Error" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  3. ^ Maxtone-Graham, Ian (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for "Trilogy of Error" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  4. ^ Groening, Matt (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for "Trilogy of Error" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ Anderson B., Mike (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for "Trilogy of Error" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  6. ^ Robinson, Benjamin (May 1, 2004). ""Trilogy of Error" Capsule". Simpsons Archive. Archived from the original on January 19, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2010. 
  7. ^ Jacobson, Colin (2009-09-02). "The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season (1999)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  8. ^ Alberti, John (2004). Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture. Wayne State University Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-8143-2849-1. 
  9. ^ Lambert, David (2009-05-20). "The Simpsons - Season 12 Street Date, Detailed Contents & 'Comic Book Guy Head' Box". Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  10. ^ Haller, Scott. "The 105th Funniest Man | 34th Street Magazine". 34th Street Magazine. Retrieved July 12, 2010. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ a b c Canning, Robert (August 11, 2008). "The Simpsons Flashback: "Trilogy of Error" Review". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Simpsons: 20 Seasons, 20 Episodes - TV Feature at IGN". IGN Entertainment. 2011-09-14. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  13. ^ Potts, Kimberly (2006). "'The Simpsons' Best Episodes: No. 20 - 16". AOL. Archived from the original on January 1, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2011. 
  14. ^ Jacobson, Colin (September 2, 2009). "The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season (2000)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved December 28, 2011. 
  15. ^ MacEntire, Mac (September 9, 2009). "DVD Verdict Review - The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved December 28, 2011. 

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