Who Shot Mr. Burns?

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"Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 25
Directed byJeffrey Lynch
Written by
Production code2F16
Original air dateMay 21, 1995 (1995-05-21)
Guest appearance
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"This is not a clue... or is it?"[1]
Couch gagIn the style of Hanna-Barbara cartoons, the family attempts to run across a continuously repeating background.[2]
Commentary
  • Nelson Shin
  • Nick Park
  • Mark Burton
  • Maxwell Atoms
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Lemon of Troy"
Next →
"Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)"
The Simpsons (season 6)
List of episodes

"Who Shot Mr. Burns?" is an episode of The Simpsons in two parts. The first part is the 25th and last episode of the 6th season. The second part is the first episode of the 7th season. Both parts were first broadcast on the Fox network. The first part was broadcast on May 21, 1995 and the second part was broadcast on September 17, 1995. In the first part, oil is found at the Springfield Elementary School. Mr. Burns takes all of the oil and tries to make everyone in Springfield angry. Mr. Burns later gets shot by someone. In the second part, the police in Springfield try to find the person who shot Mr. Burns. They believe the suspects are Mr. Smithers and Homer Simpson.

Both of the parts were written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. The first part was directed by Jeffrey Lynch and the second part was directed by Wes Archer. Tito Puente guest starrs in both parts. The idea of the story came from Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons). The writers made his idea become an episode with two parts. The first part has many clues for who shot Mr. Burns becaues the writers wanted people to be able to figure it out. The episode's story came from the Dallas episode "A House Divided", where J. R. Ewing gets shot.[2] Before the second part was broadcast, fans debated on who shot Mr. Burns. Fox started a contest about it over the summer of 1995.

Story[change | change source]

First part[change | change source]

At the Springfield Elementary School, Groundskeeper Willie makes a hole to put a dead classroom pet in. He finds oil under the school and makes the school rich. Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers ask the students and teachers on how they should use the money. Student Lisa Simpson wants them to hire Tito Puente as a music teacher.

At the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Homer is sad because his bossboss Mr. Burns keeps forgetting his name. His wife Marge tells him to give Burns a box of chocolates with a picture of the family under it. Burns and his assistant Mr. Smithers eat all of the chocolates except for the one above Homer's face. Burns writes a card that thanks only Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. This makes Homer start feeling angry.

Mr. Burns thinks of a way to take the oil from the school. He makes people build a slant drill. The drill gets all of the oil before the school can get any. The slant drill causes many problems for the people in Springfield. Groundskeeper Willie and Tito Puente must be fired from the school. Moe Szyslak must close down his tavern because of the oil's fumes. The retirement home Grampa Simpson lives at gets destroyed and must live at the Simpson family's house. The slant drill throws oil at Bart's treehouse, which destroys the treehouse and breaks Santa's Little Helper's legs.

Burns tells Smithers that he has built a machine that will block the sun in Springfield. He hopes this will take away all of the sunlight and will make people buy his electricity. Smithers tells Burns that he is hurting too many people, which makes Burns fire Smithers. Homer gets very angry at Burns for not knowing his name. He quietly goes into Burns' office and writes "I am Homer Simpson" on a wall with spray paint. Burns sees him but still does not remember his name. Homer attacks Burns and gets taken away by Burns' security guards.

The people in Springfield start a town meeting to talk about what Burns has done to them. Burns goes to the town meeting with a gun to defend himself. He starts the machine that blocks the sun. He walks away into an alley and gets shot. Burns becomes weak and falls on a sundial. Many people in Springfield find him on the sundial. Marge says that since he made many people angry, everyone there is a suspect. Chief Wiggum says that he will get the police to start an investigation.

Second part[change | change source]

"Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 1
Directed byWes Archer
Written byBill Oakley
Josh Weinstein
Production code2F20
Original air dateSeptember 17, 1995 (1995-09-17)
Guest appearance
Tito Puente as himself
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"I will not complain about the solution when I hear it"[1]
Couch gagThe Simpson family must take a mug shot.[3]
CommentaryMatt Groening
David Mirkin
Bill Oakley
Josh Weinstein
Wes Archer
David Silverman
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)"
Next →
"Radioactive Man"
The Simpsons (season 7)
List of episodes

Mr. Burns is taken to a hospital. Smithers says that he remembers shooting someone, but does not remember who he shot. Smithers believe he has shot Burns and talks about it at a church, where he gets arrested. When he gets shown on television, Smithers references an episode of a fake show on Comedy Central. Sideshow Mel knows what he is referencing and tells police that Smithers is innocent. He says this because Smithers was watching the episode when Mr. Burns was shot. Smithers said in the town meeting that he always watches the show. He then remembers that he actually shot an elderly man with a leg made out of wood.

Lisa helps the police with the investigation. They talk to other suspects and find that they are innocent. Tito Puente says that he would not shoot Burns, but instead he would perform a mambo song about it. Skinner was putting make-up on when Chalmers finds him doing so. Willie can not shoot with a gun since he has arthritis in his fingers. Moe gets put on a polygraph (lie detector) that says he did not shoot Burns. A dream tells Wiggum to look in the suit Burns was wearing when he was shot. They find DNA on the suit that is from anyone in the Simpson family. Mr. Burns wakes up at the hospital and yells "Homer Simpson!" The police raid the Simpsons' house and find a gun under their car's seats. The gun has Homer's fingerprints and the bullets in the gun are the same kind that were used to shoot Mr. Burns. Homer gets arrested and is put in a police van. At a restaurant drive-thru, the police van falls over and lets Homer run out of the van.

The doctors at the hospital learn that "Homer Simpson" are the only words Burns can say. Lisa investigates where Burns was shot to see if there is anything that shows that Homer did not shoot him. The police learn that Homer is in the hospital that Burns is at. They go to Burns' room and find Homer shaking him. Burns can now speak normally but forgets Homer's name again. Homer gets very angry and points a gun at Burns' head. Burns laughs and says that Homer did not shoot him. He then tells everyone who really shot him: Maggie.

He tells the story of how Maggie shot him. After he left the town meeting, he finds Maggie with a lollipop in the Simpsons' car. He tries to take the lollipop, but Maggie will not let him. Burns takes it, but his gun falls out of his suit. The gun falls on Maggie's hands, who accidentally shoots him. Homer later leaves fingerprints on the gun while trying to find something he dropped under the seats. When Burns fell on the sundial, he moved his arms to the "S" (south) and "W" (west) sides of the sundial. Lisa believes that he saw the "W" as an "M" and put his arms there to show who shot him. Burns tells Lisa that he did not know he moved his arms in that way. He says that he wants Maggie to be arrested, but Chief Wiggum tells him that she is too young to be arrested.

Production[change | change source]

Matt Groening got the idea to make an episode where Mr. Burns was shot. He thought this idea could be used to get more people's attention.[4] The writers wanted the episode to be in two parts with a mystery that could be used for a contest.[5] They made it so that the mystery had clues, had hidden images, and that it would be easy to understand who shot Burns.[5] Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (the writers of the episode) got the idea for Barney Gumble to be the one who shot Mr. Burns.[6] David Mirkin wanted Maggie to do it because he thought it would be funnier if someone from the Simpson family did it.[7]

Producers of The Simpsons wanted to make sure not many people knew who did it. David Silverman was the only animator who knew it while the episode was being made.[8] Wes Archer (director of the second part) did not know that Maggie shot Mr. Burns.[9] Silver and Archer did not work on the animation of the ending until summer in 1995. They made other animators do smaller work so that they did not know who did it.[8] In the table-read (when the show's staff read the script) of the episode, they did not read the ending.[10] Parts of the animation had to be made again so that it got the clues to the mystery.[10] Oakley and Weinstein were not sure if Maggie should have done it, so they made the ending seem as if Maggie may not have shot Mr. Burns accidentally.[10]

Tito Puente and his Latin jazz ensemble were in the episode. They sing the song "Señor Burns". Oakley and Weinstein did not know Puente well enough. They let him in the episode because Groening is a fan of Puente. They thought he would sing the song, but they later learned that Puente is a drummer and is not a singer.[10] One person from his ensemble sung the song instead.[7]

Hidden clues[change | change source]

Many hidden clues were put in the first part for people who wanted to figure out who shot Mr. Burns.[4]

  • Most of the clocks seen in the episode are either 3 p.m. or 9 p.m. This was so that people would know to look at the sundial upside down.
  • Mr. Burns talks about taking candy from a baby before eating the chocolates with Mr. Smithers.[5]
  • When Burns and Smithers start eating chocolates, Maggie is the first one that can be seen from the photo.[11]
  • Mr. Burns falls on the sundial and his arms point to "W" and "S". Burns sees the W upside down, so it looks to be an "M" to him.[4]
  • Names that are part of many characters start with "S" and either "W" or "M". This was so that people would know not to think that chararacters without these letters did shoot Mr. Burns. Many of the characters' full names were made for the episode.[4]
  • Before Homer goes in Mr. Burns' office with spray paint, he appears to be in front of the words "ONLY IN" on the road. The words are upside down for the people watching. For a short second, Homer is in front of most of the letters, where the only ones still seen are "NO" with an arrow pointing to him.[12]
  • A television screen in Moe's Tavern shows that "Pardon My Zinger" (the fake Comedy Central show that Smithers watches) is shown at 3 p.m. on weekdays.[4] It is later shown that Burns was shot at 3 p.m. Smithers says that he has never missed an episode of the show. He walks the opposite way that Burns does before he gets shot.[4]
  • At the town meeting, many people are seen with a gun in their hands. Smithers and a woman have revolvers, Moe has a shotgun, Skinner has a semi-automatic pistol with a suppressor on it, and Barney has a derringer. Snake is later seen with a revolver.[4]
  • Mr. Burns falls on the sundial without his gun in his holster. This was shown on purpose so that people watching the episode would know he was shot with his own gun.[4]

Different endings[change | change source]

David Mirkin wrote many "terrible endings" because the episode was very popular at the time. Harry Shearer voice acted for the different endings.[5] Mirkin wanted to trick the people working on the episode and wanted to show it to the media. However, this was not able to happen.[5] Many of the different endings were animated to show other characters shooting Mr. Burns.[7] Some of these were shown in the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular". That episode showed Barney, Tito, Moe, Apu, and Santa's Little Helper shooting him. Another ending was made with Mr. Burns in the hospital to show that Smithers had shot him. In that ending, Lisa says he falls on the "S" and "W" sides of the sundial because they are the first letters of Smithers' first and last names.[14]

Theories[change | change source]

Many years after the episodes were first broadcast, fans have made theories that other characters may have shot Mr. Burns instead of Maggie.[15] On April 2020, one fan said on Reddit that Homer Simpson made himself look like Krusty the Clown when the people in Springfield first find Burns to be shot. The fan used the episode "Homie the Clown" to prove the theory. In that episode, Homer makes himself look like Krusty and makes people think he actually is him. Krusty did not wear a bowtie at the town hall, but he is seen with one near the sundial. Bill Oakley later said that this was not suppose to happen. He also said that animators were told not to put Homer in the ending of the first part.[16][17]

Contest[change | change source]

Before the second part was broadcast, many fans debated over who shot Mr. Burns. Fox started a contest where people who called the telephone number 1-800-COLLECT would be able to say who they think shot Mr. Burns. This contest lasted from August 13 to September 10.[18] Fox started a website about the episodes. More than 500,000 people went on the website in the summer of 1995.[19] The person who won the contest would get to be animated in an episode. The contest rules said that the winner had to be chosen from a random sample of people, even if none of the people in the sample got it right. The random sample that was chosen did not have any right answers. A winner was picked at random out of that sample, who was Fayla Gibson of Washington D.C. Gibson did not want to be in the show and instead got cash for winning.[5][19]

Television special[change | change source]

A television special named Springfield's Most Wanted was broadcast before the second part on September 17, 1995. It was hosted by John Walsh, who is the host of America's Most Wanted. The special was made to help people figure out who shot Mr. Burns. It shows clues from the first part and talks about suspects of the mystery. Daryl Gates, Dennis Franz, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Kevin Nealon, Chris Elliott, and Andrew Shue talk about who they think did it in the special. Jimmy Vaccaro from The Mirage talked about the odds of who shot Mr. Burns. He said that the odds for Homer are big, with odds of 2:1. Maggie did not have good odds with 70:1. Critics did not like the special. They thought it made the episodes look more popular than they really are.[20][21][22]

Reception[change | change source]

In 2003, Entertainmeny Weekly made a list of 25 episodes of The Simpsons they thought were the best. They put both parts of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" as 25th on the list and called it "The Simpsons' most grandiose pop moment ever".[23] The Daily Telegraph and Entertainment.ie named the episodes one of the 10 greatest Simpsons episodes ever.[24][25] When The Simpsons was put on Disney+, Oakley said that the first part is one of the best episodes to watch there.[26]

Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood (authors of I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide) thought that the first part was a great way to end the sixth season. They said "it's a genuine whodunnit. There's no cheating - all the clues are there."[2] Jake Rossen from Wizard put the first part's ending on his list of the best cliffhangers. However, he felt disappointed when it was shown to be Maggie who shot Mr. Burns. He said "Sometimes it's better to make up your own ending, kids."[27] Entertainment Weekly put the first part on their list of best season finales (last episode of a season).[28]

The song "Señor Burns" got a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award in 1996. Alf Clausen is the composer of the song and Oakley and Weinstein (the episode's writers) also wrote the lyrics.[29]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Richmond & Coffman 1997, pp. 176–177, pp. 180–181.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)". BBC. Archived from the original on March 9, 2005. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  3. Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Who Shot Mr Burns? Part Two". BBC. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Oakley, Bill (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part One)". The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Mirkin, David (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part One)". The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. Weinstein, Josh (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part Two)". The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mirkin, David (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part Two)". The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Silverman, David (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part Two)". The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  9. Archer, Wes (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part Two)". The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Oakley, Bill (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part Two)". The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  11. Alan Siegel (June 9, 2015). "The making of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Walk, Gary Eng (September 15, 1995). "A Burns-ing Question". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  13. Weinstein, Josh (2005). Commentary for the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns (Part One)". The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  14. Vitti, Jon; Silverman, David (December 3, 1995). "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular". The Simpsons. Season 7. Episode 10. Fox.
  15. Smith, Chris (December 5, 2017). "10 Craziest Fan Theories About The Simpsons". WhatCulture. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  16. O'Connor, Roisin (April 26, 2020). "Simpsons writer offers answer to massive Homer and Krusty the Clown fan theory". Independent. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  17. Cremona, Patrick (April 28, 2020). "The Simpsons fan thinks they've spotted incredible Who Shot Mr Burns? twist". RadioTimes.com. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  18. Cuprisin, Tim (August 10, 1995). "Broadcast bucks, events get bigger – Networks step up battle with cable to get viewers to tune in". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Turnquist, Kristi (September 11, 1995). "To Be Continued... Cyberspace Has Been". The Oregonian. p. D01.
  20. Cuprisin, Tim (September 7, 1995). "A Simpsons 'pseudo show' keeps him off edge of his seat". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Gannett Company. p. 3.
  21. Belcher, Walt (September 8, 1995). "Fox gimmick triggers round of criticism". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa, Florida: Times Publishing Group. p. 3.
  22. Hopkins, Tom (September 15, 1995). "Walsh joins 'Simpsons' hype". Dayton Daily News. Dayton, Florida: Cox Enterprises. p. 11B.
  23. "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. January 29, 2003. Archived from the original on April 17, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  24. Walton, James (July 21, 2007). "The 10 Best Simpsons TV Episodes (In Chronological Order)". The Daily Telegraph. pp. Page 3.
  25. Molumby, Deidre (September 6, 2019). "The 10 greatest 'The Simpsons' episodes of all time". Entertainment.ie. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  26. Katz, Mathew (November 11, 2019). "The best classic Simpsons episodes on Disney+". Digital Trends.
  27. Rossen, Jake (August 5, 2007). "The Top 25 Cliffhangers of All Time!". Wizard. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  28. Gary Susman (May 15, 2008). "TV's Best Season Finales Ever". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on May 19, 2008. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  29. "Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics Nominees / Winners 1996 Emmy Awards". Television Academy. Retrieved May 27, 2021.

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Other websites[change | change source]