"Treehouse of Horror II" is a Halloween-themed episode from the third season of the animated comedy series The Simpsons. It was first broadcast in the United States on the Fox Network on October 31, 1991. The episode has many elements in common with the Halloween special from the previous year; it is made up of three self-contained stories which are connected by a framing device, it begins with Marge Simpson warning parents that the program may be too frightening for their children and the aliens Kang and Kodos make a return appearance. It was the first Simpsons Halloween special to feature gravestones with jokey names on them during the open credits. It was also the first to feature "scary" versions of the names of the cast and crew during the opening and closing credits, something which would be a feature of every Halloween episode until "Treehouse of Horror XII" in 2001.
The three stories which make up the episode take the form of nightmares which are had by the children Lisa and Bart Simpson and their father Homer. Lisa's nightmare is based primarily on the 1902 short story "The Monkey's Paw" by the British author W.W. Jacobs. Bart's nightmare is based on the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" from 1963, which was also adapted as a segment for the 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie. Homer's nightmare is a variation of the Frankenstein story and also references the 1972 movie The Thing with Two Heads.
Opening and framing device
Before the opening credits, as in the previous year's Halloween special, Marge Simpson appears on a stage and warns that the program may be unsuitable for some children. She laments that many viewers did not take her warning seriously the year before and then complained about the program's contents afterwards. She eventually comes to the conclusion that viewers who did not listen to her last year will not listen to her again and leaves the stage.
The episode begins with Homer Simpson sitting at home on Halloween night and watching the news on television. His wife Marge and his children Lisa and Bart return from trick-or-treating with a large amount of candy. Homer, Bart and Lisa begin enthusiastically eating the sugary treats. Marge warns them that they will have nightmares if they eat too much candy. They think the idea that all three of them will have nightmares on the same evening is ridiculous and carry on eating. Sure enough, they each have nightmares that night.
The Simpsons are on vacation in Morocco. Homer buys a souvenir monkey's paw at a bazaar. The stall owner tells Homer that the paw will grant its owner four wishes but the wishes come at a terrible price.
Back at home, the baby Maggie wishes for a golden pacifier and does not seem to suffer any ill effects as a result of the wish. Bart wishes for the family to be rich and famous. In addition to suddenly having lots of money, the family appear on T-shirts and billboards and release several novelty records. The public soon tire of them and grow to hate them.
Lisa wishes for world peace and all the weapons in the world are destroyed. As soon as the Earth no longer has any means of defending itself, the aliens Kang and Kodos are able to invade it and enslave its population using nothing more than wooden clubs.
Homer tries to wish for something without any unpleasant surprises. He asks for a turkey sandwich, saying that he does not want any zombie turkeys and does not want to turn into a turkey himself. He enjoys the sandwich at first, until he decides that the meat is a little dry and starts sobbing.
When he goes to throw the monkey's paw away, Homer sees his neighbor Ned Flanders and offers the wish-granting paw to Flanders instead. Flanders does not seem to suffer any misfortune as a result of the wishes. He first wishes for the aliens to leave Earth, and is hailed as a hero when they go, before wishing for his home to become a castle.
A narrator's voice, based on that of Rod Serling from the Twilight Zone, tells viewers that the small town which they can see is at the mercy of a monster. The monster forces all of the town's citizens to constantly think happy thoughts. One inhabitant, the old man Jasper Beardly, says that he is sick of thinking happy thoughts and gets turned into a human-dog hybrid as punishment.
The monster in question is Bart Simpson, who has the power to read minds and magically transform people. He uses his magic to punish anybody who criticizes him or who does not let him have his way.
Homer tries to put an end to his son's reign of terror by creeping up behind him to hit him over the head with a chair. Knowing that he is coming, Bart changes his father into a living jack-in-the-box. Marge takes Bart and Homer to family counselling. The counsellor Dr. Marvin Monroe says that Bart does not know the difference between good attention and bad attention and needs to spend more quality time with his father.
Bart and Homer, still in the form of a jack-in-the-box, take part in several activities together, including going to a baseball game, fishing and visiting an amusement park. Bart gradually becomes a better behaved child and agrees to change Homer back to his human form. The father and son announce that they love each other and embrace. At which point, Bart wakes up screaming.
Homer gets fired from the nuclear power plant and finds a new job as a gravedigger.
Mr. Burns, Homer's former boss, decides that he can create the ideal worker if he replaces weak human flesh with strong metal. He builds a robot and, together with his assistant Smithers, he goes to the graveyard in search of a human brain to place inside it. Burns and Smithers see Homer asleep in an open grave. Burns ignores Smither's protestations that Homer is probably not dead and that he was not an ideal employee. Homer is taken back to Burns' laboratory, his brain is removed and put inside the robot.
The Frankenstein's monster-like robot with Homer's brain inside it turns out to be a great disappointment to Mr. Burns. The robot is clumsy, lazy and only interested in eating doughnuts. Burns decides to put the brain back where he found it. Homer keeps saying "ouch" when his brain is put back and his head is sown together again. Burns is forced to admit that Smithers was right and Homer is still alive.
The heavy robot falls on Mr. Burns and crushes his body. The only way to save his life is to remove his head and sew it onto Homer's body.
Homer wakes up to go to the bathroom. He notices that Mr. Burns head really has been sewn onto his body and is unsure if he is still dreaming or not.