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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American sci-fi/drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie tells the story of a large-scale extraterrestrial visitation at Devils Tower, Wyoming. It also tells the stories of several characters who get caught up in the chain of events leading up to the aliens' visit. The plot focuses specifically on Roy Neary, an electrical line worker who has a close-range encounter with a UFO; and Jillian Guiler, whose young son is abducted by aliens. They are both compelled to create images (Roy in sculpture, Jillian in sketches) of a mountain which they eventually learn is Devils Tower. Roy and Jillian then travel to Devils Tower and see the aliens arrive and release a large number of abductees, including Jillian's son. Roy goes aboard the aliens' mother ship and leaves with them when they depart Earth.

The movie was a box office success and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. The movie's five-note theme, which is used to establish communication between humanity and the aliens, was quickly ingrained into popular culture and became one of the most recognized musical memes in cinema. Also, due to its prominent role in the movie, Devils Tower became inextricably linked in popular culture with both the movie in particular and the UFO phenomenon in general.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind has been referred to several times in Simpsons media.


Television episodes[edit]

Picture Season Episode number Episode name Reference
Mud City.png 1 10 "Homer's Night Out" At the strip club Mud City, a sign outside the door reads "Close Encounters of the Mud Kind", a reference to the movie.
Comic Book Convention Sign.png 2 34 "Three Men and a Comic Book" Bart attends the 12th Annual "Close Encounter of the Comic Book Kind" Convention.
Homer Sculpting Mashed Potatoes.png 6 118 "Homie the Clown" While contemplating going to Krusty's Clown College, Homer obsessively sculpts a circus tent out of mashed potatoes at the dinner table. In the movie, Roy Neary develops a similar obsession with Devils Tower, sculpting it in various media, starting with mashed potatoes at the dinner table.
Junior Skeptic Magazine.png
Townspeople Wait for Alien.pngBand Plays Encounters Theme.pngClouds Gathering Over Woods.png
8 163 "The Springfield Files" The episode contains several references to the movie:
  • Lisa reads a copy of Junior Skeptic Magazine that has a picture of Devils Tower on the front cover.
  • Agent Scully has a picture of Devils Tower on the wall of her office at the FBI.
  • On Channel 6 News, Kent Brockman reports on Homer's videotape of an "alien" and derisively refers to it as a "Close encounter of the blurred kind".
  • The whole town turns out for the anticipated third appearance of the "alien", similar to a scene early in the movie where a bunch of people wait by the side of a road for flying saucers to appear.
  • While the townspeople are waiting for the "alien", Mr. Largo has several members of the Springfield Elementary School Band play the movie's five-note theme.
  • Just before the "alien" appears, clouds gather over the woods the same way as they do over Devils Tower before the mother ship arrives.
Claus Encounters of the Third Kind.png 25 538 "White Christmas Blues" The DVD Claus Encounters of the Third Kind is a pun on the movie and a visual callback to the theatrical release poster.

Comic stories[edit]

Picture Comic issue Story name Reference
Public Hanging Homer and CBG.png Simpsons Comics #39 Sense and Censorability Homer and Comic Book Guy are acquitted of obscenity charges related to the sale and distribution of comic books. However, the jury find them guilty of numerous other offenses against the comic book fan community of Springfield and sentence them to "public hanging" - namely, being stuck on a wall holding up a welcome banner for the "Close Encounters of the Comic Book Kind" convention.
Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind Title.png Bart Simpson #1 Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind Punned in the story title.

Video games[edit]

Picture Game Reference
Tapped Out U.B.O. Unlock.png The Simpsons: Tapped Out The quest series "Close Encounters of the Blurred Kind" appeared in the Treehouse of Horror XXV and Treehouse of Horror XXVI events, unlocking when the player obtained a costume of the Burns alien.

Common Cast and Crew[edit]


Picture Name Role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind Role on The Simpsons
Johnny Mathis.jpg Johnny Mathis Received a "Special Thanks" credit for the use of "Chances Are" on the movie's soundtrack. Voiced himself in the Season 26 episode "Bull-E".


Picture Name Role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind Role on The Simpsons
George Doering Musician (uncredited). Played guitar on the album The Simpsons: Testify and for the song "I Love to See You Smile" on The Simpsons Sing the Blues.
Robert Glass Re-recording mixer. Sound re-recording mixer on the Season 4 episode "Lisa's First Word".

External links[edit]