"Last night's "Itchy and Scratchy" was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever. Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world." - Comic Book Guy, "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show"

If you were to sum up the ideals, beliefs, and feelings of malcontents of the popular animated sitcom The Simpsons into just three words, you would have "worst episode ever". The phrase first came into common online use in November 1992 on the alt.tv.simpsons newsgroup when John R. Donald proclaimed that the "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie" episode of the series was the worst episode ever, citing that the episode covered common Simpsons ground and, to him, wasn't that funny.

It wasn't long before other online denizens began to brand each and every new episode of the series as the worst episode ever; it seemed that nothing could satisfy long-time fans of the show. After several years of hearing the cry "worst episode ever", the writers at The Simpsons decided to strike back and made the existing character Comic Book Guy into what the writers considered the average series malcontent to be: overweight, comic-book-shop-dwelling, and generally annoying. In 1997's "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show" when the new character of Poochie was created for The Itchy and Scratchy Show Comic Book Guy decried the new episode as the worst episode ever, and over time began to sport a t-shirt with the catch phrase on it, occassionally calling out (intentional) blunders and continuity errors to the characters on the series (SEE: "Saddlesore Galactica"). In 2001 an episode entitled "Worst Episode Ever", in which Bart Simpson and his pal Milhouse Van Houten gain control of the comic book shop when Comic Book Guy has a heart attack after being laughed at, dared online critics to string the episode up for a beating.

As for the newsgroup, postings naming an episode of the series (new or old) as the worst episode ever are ignored these days after years of postings regarding this topic broke the group apart into fans of the series versus people who downright hate what it has become and seemingly only exist to spread their anti-Homer Simpson ideals. The phrase itself has made its way to other shows and it isn't unusual to see someone post a scathing review of an episode of Seinfeld or The X-Files under the topic "worst episode ever" in the various newsgroups. Often these critics will not even give reasons for their belief, citing that the episode "sucked" without providing details or logic to support that opinion. As a whole, however, the entire "worst episode ever" post spree is behind us.

Incidentally, rearranging the letters in the phrase "worst episode ever" gives us "poster does review".


References:
http://groups.google.com
http://www.snpp.com, particularly http://snpp.com/episodes/4F12.html which includes some interesting reading on the "worst episode ever" phenomenon


Worst node ever.

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