The Simpsons Fixed Pennywise’s Terrible It: Chapter 2 Death
Warning: Spoilers for The Simpsons season 34, episode 5.
While The Simpsons season 34’s first Treehouse of Horror episode parodied Stephen King’s IT, the outing also accidentally improved the disappointing ending of IT: Chapter 2 in the process. While the blockbuster adaptation of Stephen King’s IT was a huge hit upon its 2017 release, the movie, and its 2019 sequel were not without their fair share of flaws. In particular, Pennywise’s death in IT: Chapter 2 was singled out for a lot of criticism as the formerly ferocious villain’s final moments were surprisingly tame.
While Pennywise’s fate was something of a letdown, it was still a surprise to see The Simpsons offer a better version of the character’s demise. However, in The Simpsons season 34, episode 5 “Not IT,” the long-running cartoon comedy managed to do just that. The Simpsons’ spoof of Pennywise gave the character a nastier, creepier death scene than IT: Chapter 2 did, as Krusty’s Pennywise stand-in, Krusto the Clown, snapped each of his limbs one by one as he died. Even though The Simpsons episode was a light-hearted spoof of the IT movies, Krusto’s death was a gross, slow demise that made Pennywise’s end at the close of IT: Chapter 2 look comparatively merciful.
At the end of IT: Chapter 2, after the clown fatally stabs Eddie, the Losers Club gang up on Pennywise and essentially insult him to death. The scene’s intended purpose is to illustrate the fact that the Losers Club needed internal strength, not psychical power, to overcome the villain. However, in practical terms, this amounts to Pennywise cycling through his various forms before melting into a pouting puddle. In contrast, The Simpsons improved IT’s story by giving the character a death that still saw him weakened by the kids, but put the killer clown through a more visceral, cathartic wringer.
In “Not IT,” Krusto the Clown doesn’t simply melt away when the Losers Club stands up to him. Instead, his limbs snap loudly and painfully one by one, the sort of twisted villain death that fits such an iconic antagonist. IT: Chapter 2’s version of Pennywise’s death was low on gruesome detail, but The Simpsons fixed this misstep with a much more impactful version of the pivotal scene despite the episode being a goofy, comedic parody of the Stephen King novel and its adaptations. While The Simpsons pulled off creepy horror scenes before, these are hardly what the show is famous for, and so it was a surprise to see Krusto face such a nasty end.
This bizarre slice of unexpectedly nasty body horror was not the first surprise to come from The Simpsons season 34. So far, every episode of The Simpsons season 34 has toyed with what viewers expect from the series, subverting the format of the show’s anthology episodes, mocking the show’s lack of clear canon, and even breaking the fourth wall. While The Simpsons has always had an anarchic sense of humor, season 34 has leaned into surprising viewers with everything from a self-parodying anthology episode to a Stephen King spoof that outdid its inspiration in terms of nastiness. It is an impressive achievement, and an approach that allowed Krusty’s parody of Stephen King’s IT to improve on IT: Chapter 2’s ending while proving there is still life left in The Simpsons.
New episodes of The Simpsons air on Fox on Sundays.