The Simpsons

Season 9 Episode 2

The Principal and The Pauper

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Sep 28, 1997 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
208 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Principal and The Pauper
The big surprise at the party honoring Seymour Skinner's 20 years as principal is that the real Seymour Skinner shows up. He has just returned to the US after being held as a POW for 26 years. Our Skinner's real name is Armin Tanzarian, who used to be a real hell raiser in his youth. He met Seymour while serving under him in Vietnam. Feeling rejected, Armand resigns as principal and hits the road. The town tries to get used to the real Seymour Skinner, but can they? The real Seymour is a weenie. Edna and Agnes begin to miss their old Skinner; meanwhile, the impostor Skinner is in a nearby town, advertising a for a strip club. Marge, Edna, and Agnes get together and form a plan to bring him back. They travel to meet him and he claims to be a changed man. He has a seedy apartment and a subscription to "Swank." They convince him to return and then the town gets rid of the real Skinner and Judge Snyder orders that they never to discuss him again and everything is back to normal.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • As Springfield prepares to honor Seymour Skinner for his twenty years of service, a shocking secret is revealed.

    In 2003 "Entertainment Weekly" did a list of the best episodes of "The Simpsons". At the end of the list the magazine revealed their choice for the worst episode of the series. They chose the season eleven episode "Bart to the Future". That's the one where we get a vision of the future where Lisa is President of the United States. How could EW possibly think "The Principal and the Pauper" does not deserve that designation? It is an episode so terrible that on Matt Groening's introduction on the season nine DVD set, he voices his dislike for the episode. When the series' creator thinks the episode is garbage you have hit rock bottom! Harry Shearer, the voice of Principal Skinner, has also voiced his hatred of this episode and understandably so. I hated this episode from the minute I first saw it. However I decided to give it another look recently before expressing my opinions of it. They have not changed. Nothing about this episode makes any sense at all. Seymour Skinner is one of the series' greatest recurring characters. It is mind boggling that the character would be ruined with such a stupid backstory. The character of Agnes Skinner is usually very dependable for a few laughs. Here she is just plain irritating and painfully UNfunny. I also could never understand why the people of Springfield can't accept the truth. As starman100 said it's like the writers just stopped caring and did not want to deliver a quality episode. Hands down the absolute worst episode of "The Simpsons". Despite the fact that the series is still in production, I think it is safe to say there will never be an episode worse than this one. Now my review is done. Good! That means I never have to talk about this terrible episode again!moreless
  • Why So Underrated?

    I actually thought this episode was decent, but I've seen people insulted this episode and I don't get why that is.
  • This is the poorest Simpson's episode to date. The writers' sheer indifferent, apathetic and care-free attitude towards the fact that they ruined one of the greatest characters on the show for no good reason is mind-blowing.moreless

    I can't believe that they tossed Skinner "in the trash can" as Harry Shearer stated; and for what? they had run out of ideas. So, that's no reason to totally ruin a genius aspect to this show. It just goes to show, how frivolous the writers can be.

    Another reason for me not to buy S9 on DVD.

    So disappointing.
  • Horrible... horrible episode.

    This is probably the first Simpsons episode I ever hated. It really was a bad one.

    I don't mind change, when it's good change. This just completely destroyed Skinner's backstory. It just was unnecessary and unfunny. And if this "revelation" wasn't bad enough, we also got a truly horrible ending. Really, I don't understand what could be good, or even decent about this episode. I guess some people prefer "funny" one-liners over good storytelling and clever jokes (two things the Simpsons used to have).

    Although it's been a long time since this episode first aired, I still think it sucks as much as I thought back then.moreless
  • The Simpsons Try To Be A Crappy Soap Opera.

    This episode is extremely terrible, even though people here seem to think anything with The Simpsons title credits is automatically funny. Skinner's past is changed to simply fill a horrible writer's whims. On top of that, they don't even make the situation very comical at all. Maybe the writer was trying to get a job at Passions. Changing the background with Skinner just changes the whole situation with his mother of being a sheltered person all his life. It distracts from the comedy of their circumstance. On top of that, they were too dumb to even know when the Vietnam War ended saying Skinner started fighting in the war in 1976. This show is one of the least popular in the series, and it's not necessarily because people don't like change, it's that they don't like a boring show that changes a character for no reason without any comedic value at all. If they wanted to make a change that would have been funny they could have made Lenny an escaped convict or something.moreless
Julie Kavner

Julie Kavner

Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer

Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others

Dan Castellaneta

Dan Castellaneta

Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others

Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright

Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others

Yeardley Smith

Yeardley Smith

Lisa Simpson

Hank Azaria

Hank Azaria

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others

Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

Seymour Skinner

Guest Star

Maggie Roswell

Maggie Roswell

Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others

Recurring Role

Tress MacNeille

Tress MacNeille

Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others

Recurring Role

Marcia Wallace

Marcia Wallace

Mrs. Krabappel

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Agnes's line I have no son was last said by Rabbi Krustofski in 8F05 Like Father Like Clown. Also said by Lunchlady Doris to Pimple Faced Kid in 3F10 Team Homer and by Abe to Homer in 7F17 Old Money.

    • In this episode Judge Snyder is yellow and in another episode he is black.

  • QUOTES (31)

    • Agnes: Here, son. This is yours again.
      Skinner: I've never been happier, or prouder to be Seymour Skinner, but, these last few days as that hot-headed rouge Armin Tanzarian has taught me a thing or two. Now, maybe I've been a little too uptight in the past. Well, from now on, you're gonna see a new Seymour Skinner!
      Agnes: Oh, no we won't!
      Skinner: Yes, Mother.

    • Judge Schnider: By authority of the City of Springfield, I hereby confer upon you the name of Seymour Skinner, as well as his past, present, future, and Mother.
      Principal Skinner: Okay.
      Judge Schnider: And I further decree that everything will be just like it was before all this happened! And no one will ever mention it again... under penalty of torture.
      (The townspeople cheer.)

    • Agnes Skinner: Seymour! I didn't bring you up to use language like that!
      Principal Skinner: Well, you didn't bring me up at all!
      Agnes Skinner: The hell I didn't! I've been taking care of you for twenty-six years! I'm the only mother you've ever known!
      Principal Skinner: But you have your real son!
      Agnes Skinner: You are my real son! You've been my son longer than he has, and he doesn't need me, and I don't need him! Now you march yourself downstairs and get in that car!
      Principal Skinner: Yes, Mother.
      Agnes Skinnner: And the rest of you, too!
      Others: Yes, Mrs. Skinner.

    • Skinner: My mind is made up! I'm not coming back! And that's final.
      Edna: Oh, Seymour.
      Skinner: And I'm not Seymour. My name is Armin. This is Armin's apartment, Armin's liquor, Armin's copy of "Swank", Armin's frozen peas.
      Homer: Can I see your copy of "Swank", Armin?
      Skinner: Yes, you can.

    • Agnes: Oh, Seymour, it's 7:30. Where were you?
      The Real Skinner: A bar, Mom.
      Agnes: I don't know what that is, but on Fridays, you come straight home after school! Tonight is silhouette night. Sit there!
      The Real Skinner: I really just came home to change into a turtleneck.
      Agnes: Seymour! Sit!
      The Real Skinner: In the morning. Oh, Mom? I'm borrowing your car.

    • The Real Skinner: Thank you, thank you. I must say, in many ways, Springfield really beats the old slave labor camp.

    • Edna: No, please, I don't care what you've done. You're still a decent, honorable man.
      Skinner: Mmm…that's the kind of talk that makes me want to marry you.
      Edna: Oh!
      Skinner: But instead, I'm leaving town forever. Goodbye.

    • Skinner: I've called this assembly to announce my retirement effective as of the end of this sentence… this sentence I'm speaking… right now… period! (the crowd gasps)

    • Skinner: Well, now there's no need for profanity. My name may have changed, but I'm still the same man I was last week.
      Marge: Not to us you're not. I mean, how would you feel if you suddenly found out Ned Flanders was an impostor.
      Skinner: Who's Ned Flanders?
      Marge: My next door neighbor, religious guy?
      Skinner: Oh, you mean Reverend Lovejoy.
      Marge: No I don't!

    • Skinner: So, uh, um, should I sign my original name?
      Apu: Just put an "X", then call yourself whatever the hell you want.

    • Skinner: Uh, well, I suppose I'll have to find a hotel.
      Chalmers: I won't hear of it. Tonight, you can sleep on the floor of your office.

    • Skinner: Oh, here, Mother, let me help you.
      Agnes: Get your hands off of me!
      The Real Skinner: Please, Mom…
      Agnes: You too, stranger!
      The Real Skinner: I'm your son!
      Agnes: I have no son!
      Homer: Look, lady, obviously you have at least one son.
      Agnes: No! I have one stranger and one fraud!

    • Skinner: Well, that's about it. So for the past twenty-six years I've dedicated myself to living out your dream.
      The Real Skinner: I didn't dream anything about an aqua suit or a lavender shirt, but you did take care of Mom.

    • Bart: Come on; get to the part where you steal his identity!
      Principal Skinner: I'm trying to explain how emotionally fragile I was.
      Bart: (Loses enthusiasm) Oh, it's one of those stories.

    • Skinner: They gave me a choice. Jail, the army, or apologizing to the judge and the old lady. Of course, if I had known there was a war going on, I probably would've apologized.

    • Superintendent Chalmers: Now let's clear this up. Who exactly are you?
      The Real Skinner: (Salutes) Sergeant Seymour Skinner, U.S. Army. Principal Skinner: It's true. I was in his platoon. They said you were killed on that scouting mission.
      The Real Skinner: No, just captured. It's kind of a funny story, really. After five years in a secret P.O.W. camp, I was sold to China for slave labor. And since '77 I've been making sneakers at gunpoint in a sweatshop in Boo-Haun.
      Marge: That's not a funny story.
      The Real Skinner: Well, I guess you had to be there.

    • (After finding out Skinner is an imposter)
      Homer: (thinking) Keep looking shocked, and move slowly towards the cake.

    • (Principal Skinner is reduced to being a street advertisement for a strip club after leaving Springfield.)
      Principal Skinner: Oh yes! Oh yes! Capitol City's nakedest ladies. They're not even wearing a smile. Not suggestively. Yes six, count 'em, six gorgeous ladies just dying for your leers and cat calls. Yowza yowza!

    • Real Skinner: Mrs. Krabappel, the pledge please.
      Edna: You haven't dealt with women for a long time have you Sergeant?
      Real Skinner: Are you asking me out?

    • Chalmers: Your new principal would like to say a few words. Remember, you have to respect him. He's a war hero.
      Nelson: Ha, ha!
      The Real Skinner: Thank you, Chalmers. You know, where I come from, there's no better way to get acquainted by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance together. (to Bart) Why don't you lead us, son?
      Bart: Hey America, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, America. Hey, hey, America! (Makes a fart joke and the kids laugh)

    • Superintendent Chalmers: So what's your story, Seymour? If that is your real name.
      Principal Skinner: Well, obviously, it isn't. My real name is Armin Tamzarian.
      (Everyone gasps except Bart who Laughs)

    • Ralph: When I grow up, I want to be a principal, or a caterpillar. I love you, Principal Skinner.

    • (Bart is making snacks out of dog food.)
      Marge: Bart, why are you doing that?
      Bart: Our class is making refreshments for Skinner's party, these are in honor of his Army days.
      Marge: Well, that explains the flags, but what about the dog food?
      Bart: My theory is...Skinner likes dog food.
      Marge: Hmm, let's bake him a cake!
      Homer: Ooh, a fresh batch of America balls!

    • Chalmers: The rod up that man's butt must have a rod up its butt!

    • Lisa: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
      Bart: Not if you call 'em stench blossoms.
      Homer: Or crap weeds.
      Marge: I'd sure hate to get a dozen crap weeds for Valentine's Day. I'd rather have candy.
      Homer: Not if they were called scum drops.

    • Ralph: Principal Skinner is an old man who lives at the school. Teacher made me go to Principal Skinner's office when I was dirty.

    • (Announcement in the teachers lounge)
      Superintendent Chalmers: In honor of Skinner's 20th year as principal, we've decided to hold a surprise tribute Friday night.
      Groundskeeper Willie: (Meekly) It's my 20th year too.
      Superintendent Chalmers: The teacher's lounge is for teachers, Willie.

    • Homer: I think I know a way we can solve this problem AND let Sergeant Skinner maintain his dignity.
      (Cut to real Seymour Skinner tied tightly to a chair on the back of an open train carriage)
      The Real Skinner: But I'm a hero!
      Homer: And we salute you for it….(everyone salutes) Now don't come back!

    • Agnes Skinner: I'm sorry, Seymour. It's nice you're alive, but you're just not what I'm looking for in a son. I'm glad you understand.

    • Ralph: Miss Hoover, which one is oral?
      Hoover: Out of your mouth, Ralph. Volunteers? (Ralph and Lisa raise their hands) Thank you, Lisa.
      Ralph: No, Miss Hoover, I'm Ralph!
      Hoover: I only need one volunteer, Ralph.
      Ralph: Miss Hoover, which one is one?
      Lisa: Ralph and I could do the report together!
      Hoover: Your funeral.
      Ralph: Miss Hoover?

    • Homer: Okay, once more. Where are we going?
      Edna: To Capitol City.
      Homer: And why are you and the old lady in the car?
      Agnes: We're gonna talk Armin Tamzarian into coming back.
      Homer: And why is Marge here?
      Marge: I came up with the idea.
      Homer: And why am I here?
      Marge: Because the streets of Capitol City are no place for three unescorted ladies.
      Homer: Why are the kids here?
      Marge: Because we couldn't find Grandpa to sit for them.
      Homer: Why is Grandpa here?
      Abe: Because Jasper didn't want to come by himself.
      Homer: Eh, fair enough.
      Abe: (to Agnes) Hellllllo, beautiful!
      Agnes: In your dreams!
      Abe: We'll see about that! (Lies down to sleep and snores)

  • NOTES (5)

    • In the DVD commentaries for this episode, writer Ken Keeler was extremely bitter that his lack of writing skills and comedic insight caused him to write this episode which is widely considered the worst episode of the Simpsons so far.

    • The reference in "Behind the Laughter" was most likely a response to the general consensus that this episode ranks among the worst ever.

    • Blackboard Joke: None.
      Couch Gag: The family are dressed in spacesuits and the couch is a rocket.

    • The song the children sings for Skinner is the Flipper Theme song.

    • In "Behind the Laughter," this episode is cited as an example of the series going downhill, with its nonsensical plot.


    • Tichborne Case
      The plot of the story alludes to the actual Tichborne case that occurred in the 19th century. The affair of the Tichborne claimant was the celebrated 19th-century legal case in the United Kingdom of Arthur Orton (1834–1898), an impostor who claimed to be the missing heir Sir Roger Tichborne (1829–1854).

    • The bridge scene with flashing explosions is similar to a scene in the film Apocalypse Now,/i>, which starred Martin Sheen, who voiced the real Skinner in this episode.

    • The title is a play on The Prince and the Pauper, in which a penniless boy switches places with the heir to the throne.