Alone Again, Natura-Diddily
- "In many ways Maude Flanders was a supporting player in our lives. She didn't grab our attention with memorable catch phrases or comical accents! But, whether you noticed her or not, Maude was always there... and we thought she always would be."
- ―Reverend Lovejoy at Maude's funeral
| Alone Again, Natura-Diddily
| Episode Information
"Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" is the fourteenth episode of Season 11. It originally aired on February 13, 2000. The episode was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Jim Reardon. Shawn Colvin guest stars.
- "When Maude Flanders dies in a freak accident, Homer takes it upon himself to help Ned rebuild his life and gets him back into the dating game. After several unsuccessful dates, Ned walks into church and finds himself interested in the lead singer of a Christian rock band."
On a trip to the bird sanctuary, the family sees that a new speedway has been built and is opening that day. The family goes to the racetrack and are surprised to meet the Flanders family. They've come not to see the race, but because Ned admires the safety equipment the racers use and Maude likes the fresh air and looking at the poor people in the infield. Not long after the two families sit down, a squad of cheerleaders is giving out free T-shirts by firing them from a cannon into the crowd, and Homer demands one. He takes off his own T-shirt, and waves it around, shouting, which irritates Ned and Maude, who are seated right behind him.
Needing a break from Homer's antics, Maude goes to buy some hot dogs. Homer draws a target on his chest and finally gets the cheerleaders' attention. The cheerleaders send a full salvo of T-shirts in Homer's direction, but rather than catch them, Homer bends down at the last second to pick up a bobby pin. The T-shirts hit Maude instead, just as she's returning from the hot dog stand. The shirts knock her from the top of the bleachers, and she falls to the ground several stories below. Dr. Hibbert is fortuitously at the race, but he's not able to do anything except pronounce Maude dead.
At Maude's funeral, Reverend Lovejoy eulogized her as follows: "In many ways, Maude Flanders was a supporting player in our lives. She didn't grab our attention with memorable catchphrases, or comical accents. But, whether you noticed her or not, Maude was always there... and we thought she always would be."
One Sunday morning, Ned says he does not want to go to church, because he doubts the Lord for having taken Maude. Guilt-ridden, he later rushes to church (apologizing out loud to God the whole way) and arrives just in time to see Kovenant, a Christian rock band, starting to sing. Ned likes the song, and finds himself attracted (both physically and spiritually) to the lead singer, Rachel Jordan.
After the service, Ned helps Rachel load equipment into the band's van, and strikes up a conversation with her. It turns out that the attraction is mutual, and Rachel suggests that she and Ned get together after Kovenant gets back from touring with the Monsters of Christian Rock. Ned smiles and says, "Maybe we can. My name's Ned Flanders, and I'm here every week -- rain or shine!"
This episode features the death of Maude Flanders - a character who has been a background character since the beginning of the shows history. The kill-off was the result of Maggie Roswell (Maude's voice actor) leaving The Simpsons in 1999 after a pay dispute with Fox.
The episode received mixed reviews from critics. IGN gave the episode a 7/10 rating, calling it "decent". The episode was criticized for killing off a character and for rushing Act III.
Lowe's Motor Speedway president Jerry Gappens expressed his concern over the episode, as it appeared to parody an actual incident. During the aborted Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Visionaire 500k event, on May 1, 1999, flying tires in a Lap 62 crash killed three spectators, forcing the track to abandon the race before the halfway point. WCCB, the Fox affiliate in Charlotte, North Carolina, home to Lowe's Motor Speedway, refused to show the promotional advertising for this episode.