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"Realty Bites"
The Simpsons episode
The Simpsons 5F06.png
Billboard advertising Marge as a realtor.
Episode no. 187
Prod. code 5F06
Orig. airdate December 7, 1997
Show runner(s) Mike Scully
Written by Dan Greaney
Directed by Swinton O. Scott III
Chalkboard "There was no Roman god named 'Fartacus'."[1]
Couch gag A live-action hand spins the family around.[2]
Guest star(s) Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz
Mike Scully
Dan Greaney
Richard Appel
Swinton O. Scott III

"Realty Bites" is the ninth episode of the animated television series The Simpsons' ninth season, which originally aired December 7, 1997 on Fox.[1] The episode sees Marge becoming a real estate agent, meanwhile Homer enjoys Snake's new car. It was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Swinton O. Scott III.[1] This episode has the final speaking appearance of character Lionel Hutz prior to the death of voice actor Phil Hartman. The episode's development grew out of a desire by the writers to do a show focused on Marge, where her job did not work out. The episode received positive mention in the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, and is featured in the special 2003 DVD release The Simpsons: Risky Business.



While spending his "lazy Saturday" on the couch, Homer decides to take Marge to the Police seized-property auction. While there, Homer buys Snake's car 'Li'l Bandit'. Upon seeing this, Snake vows to kill Homer.

Meanwhile, Marge encounters Lionel Hutz, and seeing he has become a realtor, decides to try it herself. She begins working for Hutz, at "Red Blazer Realty". She tells everyone her honest opinion about the houses, and this leads her to not sell any. Hutz tells her to use more positive descriptions when selling the houses, such as "cozy" instead of "small". Hutz tells Marge if she does not sell a house in the first week, she is fired. Marge does not disclose the entire truth about the "murder house" she sells to the Flanders family. The house was the site of the infamous "Jealous Jockey Murders". Socialite Mrs. Astor survived by concealing herself in the pantry. The Flanders purchase the house and bid farewell to the Simpsons. Marge smiles through sheer guilt while Homer is very pleased.

Meanwhile, Snake sees his car in trouble, and walks out of the minimum security prison. After failing at an attempt to decapitate Homer with a wire hung across two trees (though he does manage to maim Kirk van Houten), he jumps into 'Li'l Bandit' and attempts to get the car back from Homer. They start fighting each other to gain control of the moving car, and Chief Wiggum, who gets woken up by their fighting, starts chasing them.

Feeling guilty about her deception and concerned for the Flanders' safety, Marge goes to check on them at their new house. She tells them the truth about the murders, but they are not angry. Ned and Maude are pleased to be a part of Springfield's history, and refuse Marge's offer of returning the deposit. Unfortunately, the house is destroyed seconds later when 'Li'l Bandit, and Wiggum's police car crash through the house. With the exception of Snake, no one is too badly hurt and Marge returns Flanders's down payment. Hutz, furious at the damage costs, and in particular by Marge returning the money, fires her. At the end of the episode Homer takes Marge to the government unemployment office.[1][3]


Kirk just after his arm is sliced off

The writers wanted to do a "Marge episode", but one where her job does not work out, unlike previous episodes.[4] The episode marks the first appearance of Gil Gunderson, voiced by Dan Castellaneta and Cookie Kwan voiced by Tress MacNeille. Excuses were made by the writers to bring back Gil in future episodes based on Castellaneta's performance at the table read, which proved popular with the staff.[4] Snake's prison number is 7F20, the production code of "The War of the Simpsons", the episode in which he first appeared.[4] The piano wire scene was meant to end with Kirk's sandwich being sliced just the way he wanted, until George Meyer suggested that his arm be cut off instead. Mike Scully described the ensuing laughter at his suggestion as the most intense he had ever heard from the staff. He stated: "They were literally choking because the joke was so unexpected. It was a shocked kind of laugh, and it just started rolling, one of those laughs that build the more they reverberate through you."[5] In the unemployment line, the unemployment recipient with the bucket hat and the beard is a caricature of George Meyer (who was fired after speaking out against the addition of Poochie the Dog on The Itchy and Scratchy Show)[4] Due to Phil Hartman's death, the recurring characters of Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure were retired.[6]

Cultural references

The title of the episode is an allusion to the 1994 movie Reality Bites.[7] Gil Gunderson is based on Jack Lemmon's portrayal of Shelley Levene in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross.[4] Snake sets up a wire across a road to decapitate Homer as he drives by. The wire is supplied by "Acme", after the brand of equipment used by Wile E. Coyote to try and stop Road Runner in the Looney Tunes cartoons.[4] When Ned Flanders explains to Marge that they were painting Todd's room red, Todd starts saying "Red room, red room" and moves his finger, like the character of Danny does in The Shining.[2] When Lionel Hutz reads the list of wrecked items to Marge, it is a tribute to the Lethal Weapon movies.[4]


The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide said, "A simple but enjoyable romp, with the final few minutes in the Murder House particularly funny. Best thing though is the introduction of the hapless Gil, destined to always be a ray of light in any episode!"[2] The episode is featured in a special 2003 DVD compilation called The Simpsons: Risky Business, along with "Marge Gets a Job", "Deep Space Homer", and "Homer the Smithers".[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 21. ISBN 0-06-098763-4.  
  2. ^ a b c Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Realty Bites". BBC. Retrieved 2007-11-09.  
  3. ^ "Realty Bites" The Retrieved on October 25, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e f g The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Realty Bites". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 2006.  
  5. ^ Scully, Mike. (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Ninth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Realty Bites". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.  
  6. ^ Groening, Matt. Interview with Terry Gross. Fresh Air. National Public Radio. WHYY-FM Philadelphia. 2004-12-29. Retrieved on 2007-06-09.
  7. ^ Irwin, William; Mark T. Conard, Aeon J. Skoble (2001). The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer. Open Court Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 0812694333.  
  8. ^ The Simpsons staff (April 7, 2003). The Simpsons: Risky Business. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.  

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