Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

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"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"
The Simpsons episode
File:Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.jpg
Episode no.Season 1
Directed byDavid Silverman
Written byMimi Pond
Original air datesDecember 17, 1989
Episode features
Chalkboard gagNone
Couch gagNone
Episode chronology
The Simpsons (season 1)
List of episodes

"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", also known as "The Simpsons Christmas Special" was the first episode of the half-hour length Simpsons series to air, though it was the eighth episode produced in season one. The series was originally planned to premier in the fall of 1989, but due to major problems with the animation of "Some Enchanted Evening", it instead began mid-season 1990 with this episode.

The title refers to the line Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire from "The Christmas Song", written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells and originally recorded by Nat King Cole in 1945.

The episode deals with the Simpson family's efforts to celebrate Christmas on a constricted budget.

This episode was released on VHS by FOX Home Video in 1991. The VHS release was titled The Simpsons Christmas Special.



In this episode, Marge asks the children what they would like for Christmas. Lisa requests a pony. Bart asks for a tattoo. Marge takes them to the mall to buy presents. Bart spies a tattoo parlor and lies about his age to get a "Mother" tattoo. With only "Moth" completed, Marge bursts in and drags him out. She spends the family's Christmas money on removing Bart's tattoo and plans to use Homer's Christmas bonus to buy presents. However, Mr. Burns does not give his employees a bonus.

Discovering he has no money for Christmas, Homer gets a job at the mall as a Santa Claus. Bart goes to the mall and harasses Santa, pulling off his beard and exposing his identity. Homer is left without a job and only thirteen dollars. He gets a hot tip from his buddy, Barney Gumble, and takes Bart to the dog track. Homer bets on another dog. "Santa's Little Helper," on a hunch instead. Santa's Little Helper finishes last.

As a dejected Homer and Bart leave the track, Santa's Little Helper gets the boot from his owner for losing another race. Bart is ecstatic when Homer reluctantly agrees to take the dog home. The pair leave with the mutt, ready to tell the family that there will be no Christmas. However, Marge and Lisa assume Santa's Little Helper is the family present and are overjoyed.


  • "All in the Family" - A similar storyline, where Homer does not get his Christmas bonus and puts off telling his family the news, was used in the classic sitcom's 1971 Christmas episode, "Christmas Day at the Bunkers."
  • "The Christmas Song": The episode title is taken from the lyrics of this classic Christmas song, written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells.
  • Christmas specials/movies - Bart references various yuletide specials - "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "The Smurfs Christmas Special," and "A Christmas Carol" - when he insists that a Christmas miracle will happen, despite the family's heretofore misfortune.
  • Discount stores - The Circus of Values store where the Simpsons shop is Springfield's deep-discount store, a la Dollar General and Family Dollar, which were becoming popular during the mid- to late-1980s.
  • Donna Dixon and Richard Nixon - Homer mentions the names of the actress and the former U.S. President when trying to name the reindeer.
  • "Jingle Bells": Bart adds alternative lyrics to the melody of "Jingle Bells." While singing the song Bart mentions Batman and Robin.
  • Miracle on 34th Street - The Christmas movie is homaged in the scene where Bart visits with "Santa" (Homer) and - just like the boy who is rude to Santa in the movie - makes the disrespectful remark, "I'm Bart Simpson; who the hell are you?" (because he suspects Homer is not the real Santa).
  • Dog-o-War is a pun on the name of champion race horse Man-o-War.
  • A Christmas Carol, is mentioned as having a scene portrayed at the Christmas Pageant. Tiny Tim is mentioned as well
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer song, own spin put on it by both Bart and Lisa. In the song Bart refers to Strip Poker and Attilla the Hun, while Lisa mentions Pergola.
  • James Bond series. Bond is strapped down to a metal desk and has a high powered laser going towards him, almost like what happens to Bart.


  • This episode has no title sequence.
  • Santa's Little Helper, Patty Bouvier, Selma Bouvier, Ned Flanders and Todd Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers (voice-only), Lewis,Milhouse Van Houten, Seymour Skinner and Grampa Simpson are introduced.
  • The Springfield Elementary School Christmas show receives 3 1/2 stars in a recent review advertised in front of the building.
  • We are led to assume that Patty and Selma live outside of Springfield, while in all other episodes they live in Springfield.
  • Lisa requests a pony sis times on her Christmas wish list.
  • Marge parks in section ZZ of the mall parking lot, and that parking lot contains sections Z to ZZ.
  • One tattoo in the Happy Sailor Tattoo Parlor features a knife piercing a heart.
  • The worker wearing a radiation suit was able to eat a doughnut through his suit.
  • The `O' in `MOE' was a Christmas wreath.
  • During the shot of the house during the Christmas carol, all the lights have burnt out except for three, which were meekly blinking along the Simpsons' roof.
  • Dogs in fourth race are called:
    • Whirlwind
    • Quadruped
    • Dog-o-War
    • Fido
    • Santa's Little Helper
  • When Bart and Homer return with Santa's Little Helper, a single frame of Maggie sliding off Marge's lap was misplaced.
  • In the views of the house, we do not see Bart’s treehouse.
  • Lewis changes from black to white when Milhouse dares Bart.
  • Bart adds his own spin on the jingle bells song, and is pulled offstage for this.
  • Homer buys presents for all but Lisa. He buys the following presents:
    • Marge: a six-pack of panty hose
    • Bart: pads of paper
    • Maggie: squeak toy pork chop for dogs
  • He buys the presents at Circus of Values.
  • Circus of Values claims that there is nothing above $4.99.
  • Hochiashi is not the name of the Japanese Santa Claus.
  • At the Christmas pageant Lisa is Towanga, the Santa Claus of the South Seas.
  • As the Simpsons are arriving a class sings `O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • The 5th grade presents a scene from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol
  • After putting up the Christmas lights, Homer falls from the roof.
  • Marge hides the Chirstmas money in her hair.
  • The tatto parlor where bart goes to get a tattoo is called ``The Happy Sailor Tattoo Parlor
  • Barts tattoo was meant to be a heart that says mother, but is incomplete after Marge prevents him from getting it done. It says Moth.
  • Bart’s tatoo is removed by a laser.
  • Barney introduces Homer to the prospect of working as a Santa Claus.
  • Due to no bonus, Homer is unable to pay for a tree, even the $45 “slightly irregular trees” and so he illegally cuts one down.
  • Homer only receives a pay check for $13.
  • Santa’s Little Helper was a replacement dog in the race. His chance of winning the race was 99 to 1.
  • Santa’s Little Helper does not finish the race at all.
  • Bart and Lisa add their own spin on the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer song.


  • Bart: (singing) Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile broke its wheel and the Joker got aw... (forcibly moved off stage) EY!
  • Bart Hey Santa, what's shakin', man?
    Homer: [as Santa] What's your name, Bart...ner? Uh, little partner?
    Bart: I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?
  • (Homer explains that he works as Santa due to no Christmas bonus)
    Bart You must really love us to sink so low.
  • Marge: (writing) The magic of the season has touched us all.
    Homer: Marge, haven't you finished that stupid letter yet?
    Marge: (writing) Homer sends his love.
  • Marge: A tattoo?
    Homer: A what?
    Bart: Yeah, they're cool, and they last the rest of your life.
    Marge: You will not be getting a tattoo for Christmas!
    Homer: Yeah, if you want one, you'll have to pay for it out of your own allowance!
  • Homer It's true. The jar is empty. Oh My God! We're ruined. Christmas is cancelled. No presents for anyone.
  • Interviewer for Santa job: Do you like children?
    Homer: Whaddya mean? All the time? Even when they're nuts? (look of consternation on interviewer's face) I...certainly do.
  • Bart: If TV has taught me anything it's that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, It happened to Charlie Brown, It happened to The Smurfs, and it's going to happen to us.
    Homer Well, okay, let's go. Who's Tiny Tim?
  • Principal Skinner: The fifth grade will now favor us with a scene from Charles uh.. Dickens' Christmas Carol.
    Homer: Ohhhh.... How many grades does this school have!
  • Bart Oh please, there's only one fat guy who brings us presents, and his name ain't Santa.
  • Bart (imaging about his mothers response to his tattoo): Oh, Bart, that's so sweet. It's the best present a mother could get, and it makes you look so dangerous.
  • Bart (While ordering a tatoo) One `mother' please.
    Clerk Wait a minute. How old are you?
    Bart Twenty-one, sir.
    Clerk Get in the chair.
  • Smithers [on p.a.]: Attention all personnel. Please keep working during the following announcement. And now, our boss and friend, Mr. Burns.
    Burns Hello. I'm proud to announce that we've been able to increase safety here at the plant without increasing the cost to the consumer or affecting management pay raises. However, for you semi-skilled workers, there will be no Christmas bonuses. Oh, and one more thing: Merry Christmas!
  • Bart at home with bandage over Tatoo
    Lisa (touches Bart's injured arm)
    Bart Ow! Quit it.
    Lisa (touches Bart's injured arm)
    Bart Ow! Quit it.
    Lisa (touches Bart's injured arm)
    Bart Ow! Quit it.
    Maggie (touches Bart's injured arm)
    Bart Ow! Quit it.
    Homer (comes in) Hey, what's with this? (touches Bart's injured arm)
    Bart Ow! Quit it..
  • Barney I got me a part-time job working as a Santa down at the mall.
    Homer Wow. Can I do that?
    Barney I dunno. They're pretty selective. (belches)
  • (Every one impressed at homer’s illegally cut down tree, he got shot at for stealing it) Selma Do I smell Gun Powder?
  • (Homer responding to low paycheck)
    Homer Thirteen bucks? Hey, wait a minute.
    Clerk That's right. $120 gross, less Social Security...
    Homer Yeah.
    Clerk less unemployment insurance ...
    Homer But
    Clerk less Santa training
    Homer Santa training?
    Clerk less costume purchase
    Homer Wait a minute
    Clerk less beard rental
    Homer But
    Clerk less Christmas Club.
    Homer But
    Clerk See you next year. (closes the window)
  • (Santa's Little Helper jumps into Homer's arms)
    Bart Oh, Dad, can we keep him?
    Homer But he's a loser! He's pathetic! He's
    (Santa's Little Helper licks Homer's face]
    Homer a Simpson.
  • (As every one is around Abe (Grampa) Simpson, who is at the piano, they prepare to sing rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)
    (Maggie is riding Santa's Little Helper)

All Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Had a very shiny nose, And if you ever saw it, You would even say it glows.
Bart Like a lightblub!
Homer: Bart.
All All of the other reindeer, Used to laugh and call him names.
Lisa Like Pergola!
Homer Lisa!
All They never let poor Rudolph, Join in any reindeer games.
Bart Like strip poker!
Homer I'm warning you two!
All Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say,
Marge Take it Homer!
Homer err... Rudolph, get your nose over here, so you can drive my sleigh... today.
Marge Ohh, Homer...
All Then all of the reindeer loved him, And they shouted out with glee: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, You'll go down in history!
Bart Like Attila the H- ugh, urk!
Homer You little... grrrr!

External links

  • "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire episode capsule". The Simpsons Archive.
  • "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" at IMDb