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Dental Plan / Lisa Needs Braces is a commonly used call-and-response template, usually featuring a repeated series of images of Lenny and Lisa from the animated sitcom The Simpsons. As spoken in the show, the phrase is extremely catchy, and online it is used mostly as an interruptor.
This meme originated in the Season 4 episode Last Exit to Springfield, originally released in 1993. In this episode, Mr. Burns introduces a new contract for his workers that eliminates their dental plan, while at the same time, the character Lisa discovers that she needs braces. The phrase “So long dental plan!” was spoken by Lenny at a union meeting, while the phrase “Lisa needs braces” was spoken by Marge at home. At the union meeting, the phrase plays repeatedly in Homer’s mind while his brain tries to make the connection between loss of his dental insurance and having to pay out-of-pocket for Lisa’s braces. Homer subsequently becomes head of the union, and organizes a strike to save the workers’ dental coverage.
According to Encyclopedia Dramatica, the phrases were subsequently picked up by 4chan. It experienced common usage from the early 2000s to 2008, where it appears to have dropped of the radar.
This call-and-response format posting is frequently used as a copypasta on 4chan, and was considered by some to be a “forced meme.” Another common use is as an interruptor, in which users would interrupt their own posts using the Dental Plan portion of the meme. This was used in a wide variety of areas, including Xbox Live gaming and Ventrilo harassment. The meme has experienced particular popularity on the site Boards.ie
The phrase has also been used in many YouTube parodies and remixes, and remains highly recognizable today.
Search interest in the phrase has remained relatively constant since 2005. Note that the phrase “dental plan” was not included, as it is too general.