At Long Last Leave
- "The results are in. This town has voted unanimously to get rid of Springfield's unending nightmare, the Simpsons."
- ―Joe Quimby
| "At Long Last Leave"
| Episode Information
"At Long Last Leave" is the fourteenth episode of season 23 of The Simpsons and the five-hundredth episode overall. It originally aired on February 19, 2012. The episode was written by Michael Price and directed by Matthew Nastuk. It guest stars Julian Assange as himself, Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, Jackie Mason as Hyman Krustofsky and Alison Krauss & Union Station as the end credits performers
- "The Simpsons are evicted from Springfield and join an off-the-grid community outside of town. But when Homer and Marge try to sneak back into Springfield, they are welcomed with hostility from their former friends and neighbors and begin to appreciate their new and more accepting home."
The Simpson family are at home watching Channel 6 News where Kent Brockman announces that there is a disaster and everyone has to go into their underground bunkers. After saying it was a drill, and then acting like there was an actual disaster again, he tells everyone to go into their shelters for three hours and not to come out. The Simpsons head to their shelter.
After a while, the family is all bored and decides to head out of their shelter to explore Springfield while it is empty. They then go past Springfield Town Hall where they realize that there is a secret meeting going on. They sneak in to find that the town has voted to kick them out of Springfield. After making themselves known to the rest of the town, the townspeople act angry at them. They then reveal that it was a mixture of Homer's recklessness, Bart's vandalism, Lisa's environmental pleas and Marge's niceness that got them kicked out. They are then paraded out of Springfield.
After driving for a while, Bart says that he needs to pee. They stop to let him go and are then held up by a guy with a shotgun. After Marge explains their situation to him, he welcomes the family to The Outlands. The family starts new here and begins to enjoy life, although Marge still misses Springfield, doesn't think that their new neighbor, Julian Assange, is as nice as Ned Flanders and fears that Maggie is falling in with a rough crowd. She and Homer then decide to sneak back into Springfield.
Homer and Marge, disguised as Mr. Burns and Waylon Smithers, Jr., sneak back in, tricking Chief Wiggum in the process. They have a romantic night together then head to their old home where they go to bed. In bed, they hear Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney come in and are found out. Before the bullies can tell anyone, the police come to the house along with the rest of the town and are prepared to shoot them. However, Homer calls them all jerks and both he and Marge leave to their new home, leaving the townspeople dwelling on what they just said.
The Simpsons are settling into life in The Outlands until Lenny, shortly followed by Carl, turn up, saying that after what Homer and Marge said, they wanted a better life too. Eventually, Moe turns up too, opening Moe's Cavern for them to drink at. After a while, more and more Springfieldians turn up and eventually, they start to move buildings too, until Mayor Quimby and Gary Chalmers come by and ask to join the new town, which Marge seems annoyed about as the corruption is the reason why Marge liked her new life. However, they join too. Eventually, Principal Skinner is the last person left in Springfield, until Bart rescues him in a wooden helicopter, crashing him into several buildings and landmarks. The Simpsons and the townspeople begin to move Springfield to the Outlands.
At the end of the episode, a title card appears stating:
"Thanks for 500 Shows.
All we ask is that you go out
and get some fresh air
before logging on the Internet
and saying how much this sucked."
Being the 500th episode of the show, show runner Al Jean described it as "a tribute to people who love the show." Written by Michael Price and directed by Matt Nastuk, the episode began development as an ordinary episode, with no plans of it being released as the show's 500th. However, once the themes of the story began to resonate, the writers decided to make it the landmark episode.
Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks, guest stars as himself. Assange was approached after Matt Groening heard a rumor that he wanted to guest star on the show. Matt Groening asked casting director Bonita Pietila to get into contact with him, which she did. His lines were written by Kathy Lette and were recorded over the telephone from the UK, while he was under house arrest. Assange was to have another scene with Marge, but it was cut for unknown reasons.
The 500th episode had been promoted since late 2011. First, a suitcase was given to crew members. In January 2012, it was announced that "The Simpsons Ultimate Fan Marathon Challenge" would take place, a competition in which a single person wins by watching as many episodes of The Simpsons as they can, and receives $10,500 and several pieces of exclusive 500th episode merchandise. It was also said that The Simpsons Shop.com would have many pieces of 500th episode-related merchandise.
Aired on Fox on February 19, 2012, the episode was watched by approx 5.79 million viewers and helped, along with reality singing contest American Idol, make FOX the #1 network that week. The Simpsons was also the highest viewed program on the network's Animation Domination line-up, with competitors Family Guy having 5.04 million viewers, American Dad! with 4.44 million and The Cleveland Show with a low 2.06 million viewers.
Critically, the episode received generally positive reviews. TV critics were particularly fond of the celebratory couch gag. The A.V. Club said, "The best thing about the 500th Simpsons episode is the opening couch montage, which hits the nostalgia bullseye almost perfectly by racing through a glimpse of the many gags that have opened the show, never stopping to linger on any in particular. Only a few of the jokes rise to the lowered bar of latter-day Simpsons humor. On the other hand, nothing in the episode goes outrageously wrong, either. There is little Family Guy-style stupidity and randomness, the satire is gently pointed inward, and the guest star, while splashy for his controversiality, does not hijack the plot— instead appearing for a single joke before vanishing. In this way, the content of the episode is a milestone of sorts, too, marking the exact center of Simpsons quality upon which one can judge the elements of an episode while somehow defying any attempts to judge its own merits. Other critics had similar views and some noted the big similarities between this episode and The Simpsons Movie, both which feature the Simpsons being run out of town and being forced to live elsewhere.