On Sunday, Lisa is shocked to discover Sideshow Bob is now the chief scientist at a massive chemical engineering company.
Jean attributes the success of the character to Grammer, whose "amazing" voice makes Bob sound memorably malevolent. And he sees Bob vs. Bart as "an updating of the Roadrunner and the Coyote where you have this incredibly brilliant guy who can't seem to find a way to kill a 10-year-old boy. It's a great character to write for."
But not too often. Bob has been in just 13 of 530 episodes.
"I'm really careful about approving a new Sideshow Bob episode because every one of them is so special, and I never want to feel like we're just burning the character out," said Jean, who expects Bob to be back. "But we won't do it unless we have another really great use for him."
Here are Sideshow Bob's 12 previous appearances:
• "Krusty Gets Busted" (4/22/90): Bob frames Krusty in order to steal his TV show.
• "Black Widower" (4/9/92): Bob is paroled and marries Selma.
• "Cape Feare" (10/7/93): The Simpsons enter witness protection to escape Sideshow Bob.
• "Sideshow Bob Reports" (10/9/94): Bob is released from prison and runs for mayor.
• "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming" (11/26/95): Bob threatens to blow up Springfield unless everyone gives up TV.
• "Brother from Another Series" (2/23/97): Bob's brother, Cecil, puts him in charge of the hydroelectric dam.
• "Day of the Jackanapes" (2/18/01): Bob turns Bart into the Manchurian candidate to kill Krusty.
• "The Great Louse Detective" (12/15/02): The Simpsons turn to Bob for help when someone tries to kill Homer.
• "The Italian Bob" (12/11/05): The Simpsons discover Sideshow Bob is the mayor of a small town in Italy.
• "Funeral for a Fiend" (11/25/07): Sideshow Bob fakes his death to get to Bart.
• "Wedding for Disaster" (3/29/09): Homer disappears on his re-wedding day, and Bob is the prime suspect.
• "The Bob Next Door" (5/16/10): Bart is convinced the new neighbor is Bob in disguise.
Another original "Simpsons" episode, featuring the voice of Daniel Radcliffe, airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.