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Revision as of 03:38, 7 January 2011

Sage advice from The Simpsons

The Simpsons have a lot of turtle references. (It seems unusually high for a non-recurring 'character'. Almost every reference is to a different turtle. (The clip show, All Singing, All Dancing has a duplicate reference.) I've counted on average two per season. That makes roughly 10% of the episodes that have a turtle reference that I've seen.) The purpose of this page is to document those occurrences and maybe try to find a pattern.

I recently found another page along a similar vein: Reptiles and The Simpsons, to which I owe thanks for the Treehouse of Horror II and Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-D'OH!-cious references.


Can a pattern be detected to when the turtles appear? I haven't found one yet, but I have my suspicions.

Nelson Shin

My prime suspect. Nelson Shin is the founder and president of Akom Production Co., Ltd., which does a large portion of the animation for The Simpsons. He is known to have a pet turtle and has put turtles in other projects. (See Empress Chung.) They animated the first two seasons exclusively, then the turtle references started showing up after they were no longer exclusive animators. The turtles could be a "signature". (All conjecture of course, since it's hard to determine what house does what (part of a) show.)

Episode list

Ep # Episode Title Reference


Treehouse of Horror II
Turtles-Simpsons-03x07-Treehouse of Horror II.jpg

Homer is fired and gets a job as a gravedigger.

  • Willie: Deeper! Wider! Faster! I wouldn't bury m' turtle in that mud puddle!


The Otto Show
Turtles-Simpsons-03x22-I will not spin the turtle.jpg
  • Chalkboard gag: "I will not spin the turtle"


New Kid on the Block
Turtles-Simpsons-04x08-Frying Dutchman.jpg

Decor in the Frying Dutchman includes a turtle in a net.

  • Note: This decor shows up again in a later episode: Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner.


Homer and Apu
Turtles-Simpsons-05x13-I will not go near the kindergarten turtle.jpg
  • Chalkboard gag: "I will not go near the kindergarten turtle"



Bart Gets an Elephant

How the Test Was Won


The Turtle Terrapin Wax turtle grabs Homer's hair.

Note: This scene is cut in syndication[1].

While Lisa complains about being stuck in the house...
In the basement, Homer is about to clean the floor and hesitates between bottles of Bubble Off, Terrapin Wax, Cleanser... He settles for Mr. Cleanser.
Homer: Hmm... [reading] "Use only in a well-ventilated area." [looks around] Shove it, buddy! [pours most of the bottle on the floor]
Homer grunts as he scrubs the floor, but the fumes soon make him dizzy. In his hallucination, the logos of the various cleaning products come to life. At first friendly, they turn evil and attack him; several Bubbles biting him, the Turtle pulling his hair strands, the Cleanser knight stabbing him with his spear, and Mr. Cleanser strangling him.

The clip shows up later as Homer remembers his past injuries in season 20's "How the Test Was Won".


Bart's Girlfriend
Turtles-Simpsons-06x07-Wee Tur'les.jpg

After Bart's new girlfriend pulls a fire alarm, Willy attempts to save the wee tur'les.

Willy: If I don't save the wee tur'les, who will? [beat] doh! Save me from the wee tur'les, they were too quick for me aaaggghh...


Lisa On Ice
Turtles-Simpsons-06x08-Bart's Turtle.jpg

When Bart's team wins a hockey game, Homer pulls out a turtle

Homer: Well Boy, you won, so I'm going to live up to my side of the agreement. Here's your turtle, alive and well.


Meanwhile, Lisa finds she's failing gym class and imagines being impeached from the presidency in the future because she failed gym

Justice: I sentence you to a lifetime of horror on Monster Island. [aside] Don't worry, it's just a name.
Lisa: [running from Gamera] He said it was just a name!
Fellow runner: What he meant was that Monster Island is actually a peninsula.
  • Note: These same kaiju would show up in a later episode: "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"



Two Dozen and One Greyhounds

All Singing, All Dancing

Turtles-Simpsons-06x20-Turtle's Necks.jpg
Mr. Burns: Some men hunt for sport, others hunt for food. The only thing I'm hunting for, is an outfit that looks good...
See... my... Vest. See my vest.
Made from real gorilla chest.
Grizzly bear underwear,
Turtle's necks I've got my share.
but a greyhound fur tuxedo would be best.
So let's prepare these dogs...
Maid: Kill two for matching clogs.
Mr. Burns: See my vest, see my vest, oh please won't you see... my... Vest! I really like the vest.
Smithers: I gathered, yeah...
Lisa: He's gonna make a tuxedo out of our puppies!
Bart: [still humming the tune] Na na na na na na naa naaaa...
Lisa: Bart!
Bart: Sorry... You gotta admit it's catchy.

This song is reprised in the season 9 clip show, All Singing, All Dancing


A Fish Called Selma
Turtles-Simpsons-07x19-A Fish Called Selma.jpg

Troy McClure proposes to Selma at a drive-in theater showing of his movie: The Muppets Go Medieval

Troy McClure: That's not cigars baby, that's love.
Troy: No longer canst I conceal my love, my wimpled turtledove.
Selma and Miss Piggy both moan.
Troy: Oh, princess fair, wilst thou grant me thine dainty hoof in marriage?
Piggy: Oh, Sir Lies-a-lot, I will!
Selma: (at the same time) Oh, Troy, I will!

(Yes, I know turtledoves aren't turtles.)


El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer
Turtles-Simpsons-08x09-Follow the tortoise.jpg

Homer goes on a vision quest after eating the Merciless Peppers of Quetzalsacatanango.

Homer: Huh? A tortoise?! [reading] Follow... the... [gasp] This must be why I'm here! Follow the what!? Follow the what!? Hurry up! [beat] D'Oh!


The Springfield Files
Turtles-Simpsons-08x10-A turtle's got ahold of my teeth.jpg

Mulder and Scully, while investigating Homer's claim of an alien sighting, run across Abe who's lost his teeth to a turtle.

Abe: For the love of God help me! I've been here for four days and a turtle's got ahold of my teeth! There he is! [high speed chase] [...] Ow! He bit me with my own teeth!



Homer tells Marge she has his full attention as we cut to Homer's brain and see a turtle and some farmyard animals playing Turkey in the Straw.


Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment
Turtles-Simpsons-08x18-Rex Banner.jpg

After a prohibition law is rediscovered on the Springfield books (on St Patrick's Day), Rex Banner comes to town to clean up Eliot Ness style. Hunting for the Beer Baron, he raids Moe's Pet Shop (speakeasy):

Rex Banner: What kind of pet shop is filled with rambunctious yahoos and hot jazz music at 1 AM?
Moe: Um. the... the best damn pet shop in town!
Crowd: Yeah! (clink glasses)
Rex Banner: Alright. But you people remember; baby turtles and alligators may seem like a cute idea for a pet, but they grow up!


Bart Carny
Turtles-Simpsons-09x12-Bart Carney.jpg

One of the prizes in the ring toss booth is a turtle.

(I knew there had to be one in this episode. There are just too many images in the carnival for there to not be one. It took me a while to find it though.)


Lisa the Simpson Lisa reviews Yertle the Turtle, possibly the best book ever written on the subject of turtle stacking.



When You Dish Upon a Star

Gump Roast

Snapping turtles chase after Homer.

I wrote that down when the episode first aired, but I've had a hard time finding it whenever it aired in syndication. Now I know why. It was cut in the syndicated version[2].

Marge: [driving boat] How's he doing?
Bart: I don't know. I think Dad might be a little heavy for parasailing.
Homer: [tiptoeing across water] Faster, Marge! Faster! [looking over his shoulder at turtles] The snapping turtles are massing!

They also edited out the same scene from the syndicated version of the clip show Gump Roast[3].


Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo

Returning from a trip to Tokyo, the plane the Simpsons are on is shaken.

Pilot: Uh, folks, we're experiencing some moderate Godzilla-related turbulence at this time, so I'm going to go ahead and ask you to put your seatbelts back on. When we get to 35 thousand feet, he usually does let go, so from there on out, all we have to worry about is Mothra, and, uh, we do have reports he's tied up with Gamera and Rodan at the present time. Thank you very much.
  • Note: These same kaiju showed up in an earlier episode: "Lisa On Ice"


Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner
Turtles-Simpsons-11x03-Frying Dutchman.jpg

Turtle decor from the Frying Dutchman

  • Note: This decor shows up in an earlier episode: New Kid on the Block.


Eight Misbehavin'
Turtles-Simpsons-11x07-Turtles acting different.gif

While trying to free Apu's octuplets from the zoo, they see a turtle swinging through the trees.

Apu: These animals certainly act different at night.


Missionary Impossible
Turtles-Simpsons-11x15-Shell helmet.jpg

Homer wears a turtle-shell helmet in a nod to The Flintstones


Kill the Alligator and Run After hitting an alligator, Homer dives in the swamp to flee the police and comes up with a few animals biting him, including a little turtle.


Turtles-Simpsons-12x09-Leon Uris.jpg

Homer has a crayon removed from his brain, improving his intelligence. In a visit to the library we run across Cletus about to make some turtle soup.

Lisa: I think books have an amazing power to bring people together. Look, even Cletus is checking one out.
[Cletus pulls out a turtle and a bib]
Cletus: Now hold still. Nothing cracks a turtle like Leon Uris.
[turtle bites him]
Cletus: Ow! Dangit! [drops book on his finger]
Cletus: Ow!
  • Note: The art for this turtle appears to be the same as the turtle in episode 11x07, Eight Misbehavin'


Bart vs. Lisa vs. The Third Grade
Turtles-Simpsons-14x03-Third grade turtle.jpg

Bart is demoted to the third grade and Lisa is promoted to the third grade. In the background we see that the third grade classroom has a pet turtle.

  • Note: One of the chalkboard gags indicates that the Kindergarten classroom has a turtle as well. Another chalkboard gag mentions a generic turtle Bart is not supposed to spin. Also, in Bart's Girlfriend, we see that the Science Lab has a lot of "Wee Tur'les".


Large Marge While Lisa and Homer spend their father-daughter time building a house for Domiciles for the Destitute, Homer paints "El Homo" on the house trying to be cool like "El Barto". Then after realizing how it sounds he desperately paints over it.
Lisa: Dad, you're getting paint on your wedding ring!
Homer: Huh? Oh right. Can you hold it?
Lisa: This is a Band-Aid wrapped in tin foil.
Homer: My real ring's inside a turtle.

Marge thinks she sees Homer flirting and goes to a plastic surgeon to get liposuction, but ends up getting breast implants. Hilarity ensues.


The Great Louse Detective
Turtles-Simpsons-14x06-Turtle Massage.jpg

Marge goes to a spa and gets a Turtle Massage after which, the turtles are tossed into a bin marked "used turtles."


Special Edna
"And now, enjoy the soothing music of The Turtles"

(OK, so this reference is cheating since it's referring to the band, not to turtles themselves, but I'm counting it :P)


Brake My Wife, Please A turtle attacks Bart


The Bart of War
Turtles-Simpsons-14x21-Turtle impaler.jpg

While cleaning up litter, Kirk Van Houten (leading the Cavalry Kids) accidentally impales a tortoise.


Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore Milhouse and his mother move to Capital City, leaving Bart to adopt Lisa as his new best friend.
Lisa: The mound builders worshiped turtles as well as badgers, snakes, and other animals.
Bart: Thank god we've come to our senses and worship a carpenter who lived 2000 years ago.


The Wandering Juvie

Bart gets sent to juvenile hall. Yard equipment includes a rocking turtle.


Catch 'Em If You Can
Turtles-Simpsons-15x18-Catch 'Em If You Can.jpg
Kent Brockman: I guess you could call him "The Little Tortoise That Couldn't"! See our website for the recipe.

(I originally found this quote on the net. It took me two years to finally find what episode it came from. Let me tell you, noone on the 'net has the quote right. Most say he says "turtle". Some say "check the webpage for recipes". &etc.)


The Seven-Beer Snitch

In order to find out why Snowball likes another family better than the Simpsons, Bart comes up with an excuse to see in their house.

Bart: My baby turtle crawled into your basement window!
Woman: Oh, you poor boy. What's your turtle's name?
Bart: [looking at woman] Uhh... Apronboobsface?
Woman: Really? Well, let's go find him!.



Bart and Lisa find themselves in Prof. Frink's basement and he uses the science of astrology on his new computer to show them their future, eight years from next Tuesday. At their graduation party, Nelson flees fatherhood on the back of a sea turtle.


Don't Fear The Roofer

Homer goes in for electroshock therapy because everyone believes he's crazy. Bart asks him to hold his dead turtle while he's getting shocked to try to revive it.


The Italian Bob

During the diversity film at the beginning a legend about a turtle is mentioned.

Narrator: Welcome, to Diversity Tales!
Students groan
Willie: Enjoy your multi-cultural hooey! [laughs]
Narrator: It was the Feast of the Sea Lion Who Would Not Share
girl: Come brother Chi-chi, let us collect Cha-cha sticks!
boy: I will make a headdress for the wedding of Earth Turtle and Moon Mongoose
bird: You don't need a headdress! Your most beautiful costume is your self-esteem.

(Spelling of names approximate.)


The Wettest Stories Ever Told

In Mutiny on the Barty (a parody of Mutiny on the Bounty), Skinner gets marooned with Willy, who then maroons him on a turtle.

(Seymour) Bligh: Sing a round!
Willie: Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, Merrily, Merrily, row row, oh so merrily, not so merrily, row row, very merrily... [gives up] I can't do it, sir! I'm just one man!
Bligh: What are you gonna do? Mutiny?
[cuts to Bligh on a sea turtle as Willie rows away]
Bligh: Swim faster or I'll have you made into soup! What are you gonna do? Go underwater?
[the sea turtle does so]
Bligh: [underwater] You call this "deep"?!


Girls Just Want to Have Sums

At the beginning of the episode, the Simpsons are attending Stab-a-Lot: the Itchy and Scratchy Musical (a parody on The Lion King / Spamalot), and an actor in a turtle costume leads the animals down the aisle.


Treehouse of Horror XVII
Turtles-Simpsons-18x04-I passed out on your turtle.jpg

In the You Gotta Know When To Golem segment, Homer mentions Bart's turtle.

*loud moan*
Homer: [drunk] Bart, there's something I have to tell you, father to son. I passed out on your turtle and killed it. Someday you'll thank me.


G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)
Turtles-Simpsons-18x05-Turtle bath toy.jpg

The Simpsons appear to have a turtle bath toy. (Alas, it's not too clear in this screenshot.)


The Wife Aquatic

Marge goes back to a happy place from her childhood, only to find it's not what she remembered. A carousel she loved has a turtle on it. (It's interesting that when they "refurbished" the ride, the turtle had a different shell pattern on it.)


Little Big Girl
Turtles-Simpsons-18x12-Little Big Girl.jpg

Lisa fakes her family heritage in the 'Hitachi' tribe for a school project.

John Squawkingbear: Lisa, hi, my name is John squawkingbear, I'm a reporter for the Chippewa Bugle. [...] I've never heard of the Hitachi [...] where were you centered?
Lisa: Centered? Centered... You know where the four states come together?
Squawkingbear: Oh quite well.
Lisa: Not there. Not even close.
Squawkingbear: In the name of the Great Turtle, will you answer the question!?


Rome-old and Juli-eh
Turtles-Simpsons-18x15-Old sea turtle.jpg
Marge: Awwww look at Grandpa and Selma frolicking in the water.
Homer: It's not right! It's like an old sea turtle dating a suitcase that fell out of a plane.

(Loved the parody of the Battle of Helm's Deep in this episode.)


Stop, Or My Dog Will Shoot!

First we believed Cletus was bitten by a turtle, we now have proof that he was actually bitten by a wereturtle!

Brandine: Cletus, you coward, is you man or turtle?
Cletus [crawling away like a turtle]: Here's your answer, "skittle skittle scurry skittle."


He Loves to Fly and He D'oh's
Turtles-Simpsons-19x01-He Loves to Fly and He D'oh's.jpg

Homer develops a taste for flying. After failing to get a job that would involve travel, Homer hides out at Krusty Burger when we see the school children arrive.

Milhouse: Principle Skinner, why did we have to leave the Learn-and-Touch Reptile Zoo so early?
Skinner: Well, it seems someone was riding the giant tortoise naked.
Otto: It's not my fault. The drinking fountain dared me to do it.

Of course, I loved the bits in Chicago in the beginning of this episode.


I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Turtles-Simpsons-19x04-I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.jpg

A turtle shows up in the baseball game in the Itchy and Scratchy Show.


Little Orphan Millie
Turtles-Simpsons-19x06-Little Orphan Millie.jpg

A sign at the Van Houten wedding reads "PLEASE DO NOT KICK SEA TURTLES".


Husbands and Knives
Turtles-Simpsons-19x07-Husbands and Knives.jpg

A new comic store opens across the street from Android's Dungeon. The new Comic guy has a Girlfriend!! (Who wears a turtle t-shirt.)

(There are probably other turtles in this episode, as there are a ton of images flashing by in the comic stores and I know there were other kaiju around, so there's probably a Gamera I have not yet been able to spot somewhere.)

(I loved Comic Book Guy's parody of the iconic Spider-Man No More cover when he goes out of business.)


Smoke on the Daughter
Turtles-Simpsons-19x15-Smoke on the Daughter.jpg

Lisa, as Angelica Button (a parody of Harry Potter), wears a tortoise-shell barrette. (There's also a kid with a Harry Potter scar in the crowd.)

Comic Book Guy: Nice Angelica Button costume Lisa. Althoooouuuugh... the Griffin on your coat of arms is facing left, not right. And FYI, Angelica wears TWO tortoise-shell barrettes. Nice try though.
Lisa: I based my costume on the BOOKS not the movies.
Crowd: [laughs at CBG]


Four Great Women and a Manicure
Turtles-Simpsons-20x20-Four Great Women and a Manicure.jpg

After a season that's been a bit dry on turtle references, some catch up is necessary. This episode actually has THREE turtles in it!

The first shows up during the Snow White segment. Lisa uses her animal wiles to convince a turtle to climb into the soup pot.

During Maggie's story, there are two drawings of turtles on the nursery wall. (I love this segment. I'm not necessarily a big Ayn Rand fan, but I do like The Fountainhead -- I like architecture and self-reliance.)


The Fool Monty
Turtles-Simpsons-22x06-The Fool Monty.png

Mr Burns gets some bad news that he will die soon. Smithers finds him at the top of a cliff.

Smithers: Sir! What are you doing?
Burns: Smithers, I want to die quietly, on my own terms, crushing as many of those baby sea turtles as I possibly can. Goodbye insufficiently cruel world!

Current count: 53 known episodes

Other Stuff



Turtles-Simpsons-Maggie on turtle.jpg
  • I have a Simpsons figure of Maggie on the back of a turtle
The Simpsons Movie The Turtles are played in the movie. (Happy Together)


The Heartbroke Kid NOT a reference

Bart was watching itchy and scratchy. and there was an explosion in itchy and scratchy. for a brief second you could see something that looks like a DEAD TURTLE hurled across the screen. It's just a hat from one of the bystanders.


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