Gumball, Darwin and Anais discover that Mr. Wilson has been picking on Richard for most of his life; ever since he humiliated Richard with a high school prank. The kids try to work their dad through it, but when their efforts fail they realize that getting back at Mr. Wilson is the only way to break the cycle.
The episode begins with Richard about to park in front of the Elmore Mall with Gumball, Darwin, and Anais in the backseat, but Harold rear-ends their car. He then walks up to Richard's car window and throws his keys at Richard, telling him to park it in the shade, then proceeds to discuss his birthday party before informing Richard that he is not invited. Harold laughs and walks off.
While clothes shopping, Harold reappears, jokingly replacing Richard's pants with a much tighter pair. Later, when grocery shopping, Harold calls Richard through the intercom telling him to "come collect his dignity from the front desk." Richard tries to dismiss it as friendly teasing, but the kids are not convinced, especially after Harold proceeds to give Richard a painful wedgie, pulling the underwear over his shoulders. Gumball suggests that Richard should tell Nicole about it, but he thinks that would only disappoint her.
Anais proposes that Richard gets some legal advice on the situation. However, their lawyer proves to be too expensive, stopping mid-sentence to ensure that Richard continually pays for her service. Eventually he runs out, forcing Anais to use a Daisy Dollar, causing the conversation to briefly continue in the form of a song. They all decide that it is not worth the effort, and as the lawyer approaches the door to escort them out of her office, she freezes again. Darwin takes advantage of the opportunity to steal candy from a bowl on her desk.
Richard and the kids sit sadly outside, but Darwin offers Richard a piece of the candy to cheer him up. Right when Richard is about to eat it, though, Harold drops by on a one-wheel hoverboard and steals the candy. Gumball angrily concludes that if Richard cannot beat Harold, he has to get on his level, but Anais interjects, claiming that Richard does not have it in him to act badly. Offended, Richard attempts to roast the kids, but inadvertently showers them with compliments. He tearfully apologizes for what he said afterwards, with Anais concluding that he requires professional help.
They go to a psychologist, where Richard explains where the humiliation first began. In a flashback to high school, Richard receives a letter from Principal Brown, stating that he was to be named prom king. After Granny Jojo helps him build up confidence and contours his face, he goes to the prom and happily jumps on-stage as Principal Brown is about to announce who was named prom king. However, before Richard can give a speech, Principal Brown clarifies that it was not Richard who won and that the 'letter' he received was fake. Richard asks who would do such a thing before seeing Harold begin to chuckle, causing the whole room to erupt in laughter.
Back at the psychologist's office, Richard begins to discuss the stress problems that his bullying caused (dandruff, acid reflux, balding, and gas). Before he can continue on, though, the kids interrupt him and point out that Harold was the psychologist all along, pulling off a fake mustache to reveal his identity. Shocked, Richard's stress problems are all unleashed at the same time, causing everyone else in the room to react in disgust.
Eventually, the kids decide to play dirty to enact revenge, forging a signed blank check with (after some confusion) a value of $1,000,000,001. They jump behind the fence as Harold approaches. Upon seeing the check, he excitedly hires Leonard Daniels as his butler and tells him to throw dollar bills on the floor as he walks. Deciding the bills are not decadent enough, he instead decides to walk on gold coins and eventually diamonds on a red carpet, causing him to wince in pain with each step.
Richard and the kids failed to stop Harold, having been knocked unconscious jumping over the fence and falling into a canal. When they come to and get back across the fence, the kids are satisfied with the prospect of Harold ruining his life by spending money he does not have, but Richard is not, seeking to act like an adult and tell Harold the truth.
The scene then cuts back to Harold as he quits his job while roughhousing and kissing his former employer, buys a gold-plated car (before making his exit via gold-plated helicopter), and replaces his wife with Jazelle, escorting her out of the house as he prepares to detonate it and replace it with a 70-foot-tall statue of himself. Leonard carries a diamond-crusted plunger detonator, but Richard stops him right before he pushes down.
Richard starts to clarify the issue with the check, but Harold interrupts him by pointing out some skywriting mocking Richard. He nervously laughs before whispering something to Harold who, in understanding, takes back what he had thought about Richard and assures him he would not make the same mistake again.
On the walk home, Anais asks what Richard said to Harold, which turns out to be advice on maximizing the effect of the dynamite in detonating the house. An explosion then goes off in the background, ending the episode.
This episode reveals that Harold is a bully of Richard's, and has been since they were in school.
This is Harold's second major role in an episode. His first was in "The Bus."
Richard's teenage design is the same as in "The Choices."
One of the pictures on the lockers in Richard's flashback is the propaganda poster from "The Vision," featuring Hector.
Richard mocks Anais for warning him not to lick an electrical outlet, which he nearly did in "The Flakers," and for reminding him not to forget his appointment at the cardiologist, which he also mocks Nicole for in "The Limit."
This is the third time Granny Jojo appears as young. The first two times were in "The Wand" and "The Choices."
When Anais inserts her specialized Daisy the Donkey dollar bill into the lawyer's box, the music that plays sounds similar to that of "The Candy Mountain Cave" song from the Youtube series, Charlie the Unicorn.
The Daisy dollar that is used for Daisyland is a direct reference to the Disney dollars used as currency for the Disney parks and Disney stores.
There is an animation glitch when Gumball, Darwin, and Anais cross their arms at Harold mocking Richard in the supermarket.
Harold's behavior towards Richard seems to contradict previous, more passive interactions between the two characters, with the two even working together as equals in "The Bus."
However, it can be assumed that they simply had a common goal in that particular episode.
The poster featuring Hector should not appear in Richard's flashback as it takes place long before "The Vision," or before Hector was even born, and was imagined by Gumball and Darwin in the first place.
When the students start laughing at Richard, the inside of Mr. Corneille's mouth is transparent.
When the spotlight is on Richard, Mr. Corneille can be seen in the corner without pixellation. When it shows Harold laughing, though, Mr. Corneille is back to normal.
The hexagon lady is seen in Richard's flashback, but she is revealed to be under twenty-five in "The Watch," and Richard is confirmed to be thirty-eight by Ben Bocquelet, meaning she is at least thirteen years younger than him and should be a young child at the time of the flashback.
Leonard is much smaller than usual while carrying the dynamite.
Polski (Polish): Kołowrót (The Windlass)
Български (Bulgarian): Цикълът на срама (The Cycle of Shame)
Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese): Chuỗi Hổ Thẹn (The Cycle of Shame)
Harold: Oh, by the way, you must've heard about my birthday party, I guess.
Richard: Oh, sure. Uh, where is it?
Harold: Yeah, I've uh, booked a table at that new Mexican restaurant. It starts at seven, got it?
Harold: Great! Then make sure you don't turn up by mistake. [Snickers]
Richard: [Feebly] Sure.
[The three kids look at each other, puzzled. Inside the mall, the family meets up with Harold again while in the clothing department]
Harold: You buying new pants for your wife?
Harold: Well, she's the one wearing them in your relationship, right? [Snickers]
[Richard laughs along, as his kids watch in disapproval. Harold then takes the pants that Richard is carrying, and drops them on the floor]
Harold: [Shakes his head] Mm-mm-mnh. [Hands him a feminine pair instead] Try these on. I think they're more you.
[Next, the family goes grocery shopping, with Richard now wearing the tight yellow pants]
Gumball: Dad, is it me, or is this guy kinda being a total thunder jerk to you?
Richard: Oh. [Embarrassed; chuckles] H-He's not that bad.
Gumball: Then why did he steal your pants?
Harold: [Over the store's intercom] Do do do. Can Richard Watterson please come to collect his dignity from the front desk? [Snickers]
[They return outside to their vehicle, which was left in the hot sun]
Gumball: I'm sorry. That's not just friendly teasing. [Burns his hand on the trunk latch] Ow! He's being really mean to you.
Richard: [In denial] No, he's not.
[Harold appears behind Richard and gives him a wedgie, pulling the underwear over his shoulders. Richard whimpers in pain as Harold enters his car, snickering, and drives away. Aggrieved, Gumball gestures at the event that just took place]
Richard: What? I just didn't want to have a visible panty line.
Gumball: N-Not that! You need to tell Mom about this.
Richard: [Ashamed] I can't. Your mom sees me as an average looking underachieving slob. It would break her heart to think it was all too good to be true.
Anais: Dad, you need to deal with this like an adult.
Richard: I am dealing with it like an adult. I'm pretending nothing's wrong until I get a chance to cry about it when I'm alone.
Darwin: She means you need to put an end to the situation, and deal with it in a mature way.
Gumball: Well... you're old enough to purchase a chainsaw.
Anais: What?! What exactly do you think being mature means?
Gumball: I dunno, "R" rated?
Gumball: Well, what do you suggest?
Anais: Legal advice.
[They head to a law firm, and meet with Doctor Literature in the lawyer's office]
Doctor Literature: Well, Mr. Watterson, I've reviewed the evidence thoroughly, and I'm pleased to say that we ca— [Stops mid-sentence]
[She glances at the money box on her desk. Gumball, Darwin, and Anais, sigh as their father pulls a bill from his wallet and drops it in the slot]
Doctor Literature: Can place a restraining order on Harold Wilson, effective immediately. All you need to do is—
[Richard inserts another bill]
Doctor Literature: ...follow the legal precedent in the case of—
Richard: Can you just talk faster please? [Continues to add money]
Doctor Literature: [Speaking quickly] ...the case of "The state versus Antonio Chavez, article thirteen, section one, amendment nineteen, subsection four, paragraph eleven, verse two, stanza six, sentence nine, pertaining to the victims—
Richard: [Hushed] I'm out. You guys got any money?
[Anais sighs, then sticks some colorful currency into the box]
Doctor Literature: [Singing in a high-pitched tone] ...ongoing trauma due to workplace stress, which had left her life in an awful mess. She built up evidence, and from that moment hence, she was given legal—
Richard: What was that about?
Anais: Sorry. That was Daisyland money.
Richard: [Groans] Right, I don't think we can afford your services.
Doctor Literature: I completely understand. [Approaches the door, opening it a crack] Please, let me show you ou—
Gumball: Aw come on! [Pushes her aside] Doesn't anything happen for free in here?
[The four leave the office, but Darwin decides to swipe some candy from a dish on the desk first. Later, all of them are glumly sitting on a park bench. Darwin places one of the candies in Richard's hand. He smiles and removes the wrapper. At that very moment, Harold cruises by on a one wheeled hoverboard, snatching the candy and eating it]
Harold: That was as easy as taking candy from a b... uh, ba... What was the expression again? Oh yes, a brainless man-child. [Snickers; rides off]
Gumball: You know, I think there's a lesson in all this.
Darwin: [Angry] People riding those things are all butt-hats?
Gumball: Okay, I guess there are two lessons in all this. And the second one is, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Anais: But Dad doesn't have it in him to be bad.
Richard: What are you talking about? I'm all about the thug life.
Anais: You carry "get well soon" balloons in your trunk so you can tie them to roadkill.
Richard: [Hops from the bench] You guys want to see how real I can get? [Turns to face his kids] Well break out the aloe vera, 'cause you about to get burned! Hey Gumball, you blue faced potato on a stick! How glad are you to not have inherited your father's metabolism and be allowed to eat whatever you want without feeling a thick sack of shame? Bam! You just got "P"-double-youn'd! How about you, Darwin, you mutant weirdo? How does it feel to have evolved beyond anything your species could ever have dreamed of, you disgustingly adorable pride and joy of my life? Whoop-yeah! Bring me the tartar sauce, that fish just got cooked!
Anais: I think you're missing the point.
Richard: [Mimicking Anais] "I think you're missing the point, Dad. I think you shouldn't lick that electrical outlet, Dad. I think you should remember your appointment at the cardiologist, Dad." How does it feel to be better than everybody else, Anais? I mean this because I genuinely think you are! Boom!
[Richard starts to laugh, but it quickly changes to weeping]
Richard: I'm so sorry for hurting your feelings with my mean-spirited jokes. [Gathers all three in a group hug] Please forgive me!
Anais: I think he needs professional help.
[At the Elmore Hospital, Richard is in a room, lying on a chaise lounge]
Richard: Well Doctor, I think this cycle of shame started the day I was elected prom king.
["Prom king" echoes as the flashback begins. In it, a younger Richard finds a sealed envelope on his school locker]
Richard: Hmm. [Opens the letter; reads] "Dear Richard, you have been elected prom king. Make sure to attend the ceremony tomorrow night. Please keep this a secret from your fellow students." This must be a joke. No, wait. It's signed by Principal Brown!
[Richard faints and falls backward. Upon sitting up, he sees the note and promptly faints again. He repeats this reaction several more times]
Richard: [In the present] I spent the whole of the next day trying to look my best. [In the past] Gravity will help me fit inside the pants. [Dismayed] But my face is still too fat.
GrannyJojo: You should try contouring.
Richard: What's that?
GrannyJojo: It's kind of like lying, but with your face.
Richard: [Present] It was the happiest moment of my life. I never felt so beautiful. I could feel everyone looking at me in admiration.
[In the memory, Richard enters the prom room, his makeup giving him a more human-like visage. The other students step aside, confused by his appearance, while Principal Brown and Jackie watch from atop the stage]
Nigel Brown: It's now the moment you've all been waiting for. Time to announce this year's prom king!
Richard: [Shouting] Yes, I'm here!
[The crowd gasps in unison]
Richard: Thank you! Yes, it's me! Yes! Ha-ha! [Climbs on stage; Puts the crown on] Thank you! Thank you! This moment is much bigger than me.
Harold: [Off-screen] Uh, hardly.
Richard: I just want to say to all the losers out there, there's gonna be people along the way who will try to take things away from you, but don't let them, because—
[Principal Brown interrupts him by removing the crown from his head]
Nigel Brown: Watterson, we're gonna have to take the crown away from you.
Richard: But I'm the king! [Pulls the note out] It says so right here in this letter. It's got your signature!
Nigel Brown: Did you take a good look at this letter? It is literally signed, "Pwincipul Bron."
Richard: [Humiliated] But... who would do this?
[Led by Harold, the room bursts into laughter. Richard awkwardly joins in, and the flashback ends]
Richard: From that moment on, he kept on making fun of me at every opportunity. It caused me quite a few stress problems.
Therapist: Tell me more.
Richard: Well, for a long time I thought every food came with Parmesan, until I realized it was dandruff. Also, I get such bad acid reflux that my tongue's hanging on by a thread. And I've been losing my hair, so I'm forced to dab the patches with pink paint. Oh, and gas. I'm so gassy—
Gumball: [Irate] Okay, how long is it going to take you to realize?
Richard: [Sits up; looks at his kids] Realize what?
Anais: That Harold Wilson is the therapist.
Richard: [Turns to Harold] What?! That's Harold?!
[Harold rips off a fake moustache, which is identical to his real one]
Harold: Yes! It was me all along, sucker! [Snickers]
[One after the other, Richard loses a patch of hair, belches, and flatulates. After going back to the car, he sobs into the dashboard]
Gumball: Told you we should have gone with the "R" rated option.
Anais: Yeah, we should try something else.
Gumball: So we just run him over, then!
Anais: No! I meant we were wrong to try dealing with this like adults. That guy is so mean. We need to help Dad put a stop to this.
Gumball: [Ponders] Okay. So what's even better than being prom king?
Darwin: Having enough self-respect to not believe in vacuous popularity contests?
Gumball: Hm, another good point. But I mean, what does every adult dream of? Dad?
Richard: Mm, can't say that. Can't say that. Two of those at the same time. Can't say that, either... Money?
[Richard, Gumball, Darwin, and Anais, are standing on the sidewalk next to a garbage can. Using its lid as a flat surface, Richard writes eight zeroes onto a check, then laughs fiendishly]
Anais: Dad, that's still zero dollars.
Richard: Oh, of course. [Adds a one behind the zeroes]
Anais: [Groans] You need to put something in front of it.
[Confused, Richard lays the check on the cement and moves the trash bin toward it. He slowly inches the bin forward while seeking her approval]
Anais: [Irritated] I meant put a one in front of the zeroes!
Richard: [Fixing the check] It's not my fault if Gumball's plan is too complicated.
Gumball: What's so complicated?! Harold finds a signed blank check for a billion dollars, thinks he's rich, we jump out and tell him it was fake. We laugh, he cries. We laugh some more. The end.
Anais: [Points] Ah! Here he comes! Hide!
[All four vault over the fence behind them. Harold passes by and notices the check]
Harold: [Gasps] A check for a billion dollars! And all I have to do is add my name? Ker-ching!
[Leonard Daniels comes along, and Harold lifts him by the head]
Harold: Hey, you! You're my butler now. [Hands him a stack of bills] Take this cash and throw it on the floor wherever I walk.
Leonard Daniels: Oh, yes, I don't mind.
[Behind the fence, the Wattersons are shown to have injured themselves falling into the flood control channel. Elsewhere, Harold is still walking on money]
Harold: Wait, this doesn't feel decadent enough.
[Leonard throws gold coins in his path instead]
Harold: Mm, still not enough.
[A red carpet is rolled out, and the coins are replaced by diamonds]
Harold: [Pained] That's more like it.
[Meanwhile, Richard and his children struggle to climb back over the fence]
Richard, Gumball, Darwin, and Anais: Wait! He's gone!
Gumball: Well good. He's gonna spend all kinds of money he doesn't have and ruin his life.
Richard: We have to stop him!
Gumball: What?! Why?!
Richard: [Sighs] Because unfortunately, it's the mature thing to do.
[Harold is at the hospital, paying his boss a visit]
Harold: [Opens the office door] Oh. Uh, e-excuse me, sir. I-I hope I'm not interrupting. I don't want to burn any bridges with such a good employer. [Flips the desk upside down] I obviously hope that we can remain on friendly terms— [Cuts through his tie with scissors; messes with his hair] but I'm afraid I found a better position as a billionaire player, so I hand you my resignation. [Slaps him in the face] There you go. And here's a token of my gratitude for all these years of service. [Kisses him; backs out of the room] Oh, one last thing. [Flings his underwear at him]
[At a car dealership, he hops from a moving vehicle, leaving it to crash into another]
Harold: [To Larry] Does it come gold-plated? Just put it on my credit card, I gotta go. [Climbs a ladder lowered from a golden helicopter]
Larry: Aren't you worried about maxing it out?
Harold: I'll cash the check in later!
[Jackie is at home doing some dusting, when Harold returns with Jazelle]
Harold: Jackie, meet Jazelle. Jazelle, this is my first wife Jackie. Jackie, I'm afraid I will no longer be requiring your services as a life partner. You should leave now, I'm destroying this house to replace it with a seventy-foot-tall statue of myself.
[Harold and Jazelle are standing across the street, as Leonard Daniels runs from the house with a gilded plunger detonator]
Leonard Daniels: The dynamite is in place, sir.
[Harold raises the plunger, but is interrupted by the Wattersons]
Gumball: Stop! Mr. Wilson, you need to—
Richard: Wait, son. I think it is time for your father to speak for himself. Harold, you and I have never been friends, but there's something you need to know.
Harold: Oh, wait. [Points upward] First, you have to see that.
[Up above, there is sky writing depicting an image of Richard alongside the caption, "I can count to burrito!"]
Harold: Sorry we couldn't fit all of you in there. There wasn't enough space on the canvas. [Snickers]
Richard: [Chuckles nervously; Inhales deeply] Harold, I need to talk to you in private. [Murmurs indistinctly]
Harold: What? Oh, I-I see. Uh, sorry, Richard. I... I apologize for thinking you were a buffoon all these years. You've really... Well, you've taught me something very important today, and I'll make sure not to make the same mistake again. Thank you. [Shakes Richard's hand]
Richard: Goodbye, Harold. [Heads home with his children] See, kids? That's how adults deal with their problems.
Gumball: I'm impressed, Dad.
Anais: But what did you say to him?
Richard: I told him if he stacks his dynamite closer together, he'll get a more intensive blast.
[There is a large explosion on the horizon; the episode ends]