"Bart Sells His Soul" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It first aired in the United States on the Fox network, on October 8, 1995. In the episode, while being punished for playing a prank at church, Bart declares that there is no such thing as a soul and to prove it he sells his to Milhouse for $5 in the form of a piece of paper with "Bart Simpson's soul" written on it. Lisa warns Bart he will regret this decision, and Bart soon witnesses odd changes in his life. Believing he really has lost his soul, he becomes desperate to get it back. Lisa eventually acquires it and returns it to a relieved Bart.
"Bart Sells His Soul" was written by Greg Daniels, who was inspired by an experience from his youth where he had purchased a bully's soul. Director Wesley Archer and his team of animators visited Chili's for examples to use in Moe's family restaurant. The episode includes cultural references to the song "In a Gadda Da Vida", by Iron Butterfly, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, and a parody of the book Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., by Judy Blume.
Writers from the fields of religion, philosophy, popular culture, and psychology cited the episode in books discussing The Simpsons and the show's approach to the nature of the soul. The episode was positively received by the media, and is regarded as one of the seventh season's and the series' best. The creative team of The Simpsons puts the episode among the top five best episodes of the series, and series creator Matt Groening cited "Bart Sells His Soul" as one of his favorite episodes. It has been used by secondary schools in religious education courses as a teaching tool.
Famous quotes containing the words sells his soul, sells and/or soul:
“Any man who does not accept the conditions of life sells his soul.”
—Charles Baudelaire (18211867)
“There is a great deal of self-denial and manliness in poor and middle-class houses, in town and country, that has not got into literature, and never will, but that keeps the earth sweet; that saves on superfluities, and spends on essentials; that goes rusty, and educates the boy; that sells the horse, but builds the school; works early and late, takes two looms in the factory, three looms, six looms, but pays off the mortgage on the paternal farm, and then goes back cheerfully to work again.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“We enter church, and we have to say, We have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep, when what we want to say is, Why are we made to err and stray like lost sheep? Then we have to sing, My soul doth magnify the Lord, when what we want to sing is O that my soul could find some Lord that it could magnify!”
—Thomas Hardy (18401928)