Earlier this year I wrote a post about the "Who Shot J.R.?" event of the 1980s. Since season 32 of The Simpsons is about to debut I might as well make a post about who shot Mr. Burns (Harry Shearer). But who really did shoot him? Is the canonical solution the correct solution?
It's firmly established in Simpsons canon that Maggie Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) shot Mr. Burns. Nothing changes that. As TheRealJims YouTube channel demonstrated in a video series though there are holes that can be poked in the accepted solution.
Keep in mind that Springfield might be located in a state in which there is no statute of limitations for attempted murder. If the Maggie Simpson solution was ever officially retconned putting the true would-be killer in prison might be a way to end the series.
I think the strongest case could be made against Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner). Marge's brief experience as a police officer in the Springfield Police Department gave her plenty of practice using a gun and it's already been established in the series that Marge is one of the few people Mr. Burns truly cares about. Probably enough to cover up Marge's attempt to kill him. The way Marge acted after Mr. Burns was shot also doesn't help her case.
As much as I would love for it to be true the Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) solution is far too sloppy and complicated. It had also already been established in the episode "Lisa's Rival" that Lisa Simpson does not handle a guilty conscience well.
The "Grandpa" Abe Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) solution doesn't make much narrative sense. The tontine motive isn't revealed until later in the seventh season. Also, just because Asa Phelps died later in the season after the reveal of who shot Mr. Burns doesn't mean there weren't other surviving members of the Flying Hellfish at the time Mr. Burns was shot. If the tontine motive was revealed in season five or earlier the information would have been available to the average viewer to come to this solution.
Yeah, the Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) solution is low-hanging fruit. There is a huge difference between shooting someone with condiment guns and a real gun. If it was ever retconned to Bart having made the attempt I could live with that. Mr. Burns' actions caused two of Santa's Little Helper's legs to be broken. Definitely not moral justification for attempted murder but I can see how it would motivate a troubled young boy who had the means and opportunity.
If Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) didn't try to kill Mr. Burns then it's a fabulous red herring. Until I saw this video I had never noticed that the Krusty the Clown (Dan Castellaneta) standing in the crowd at the sundial wasn't authentic. Did Homer plan and prepare to shoot Mr. Burns only to be beat to the punch? In the alternate scenarios Krusty the Clown is one of them. I still think Marge Simpson is the most likely alternative to the Maggie Simpson solution but this is a close second to that. The only reason the Homer Simpson solution fails might just be a matter of being a few moments too late.