Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves
By Joe Rhodes
© TV Guide, October 21, 2000.
C. Montgomery Burns
The richest and oldest man in Springfield (and possibly the world), he
owns Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, wears clothing made from
endangered species and trusts only his tattered, one-eyed teddy
bear, Bobo. (Voiced by Harry Shearer.)
Memorable line: "I've just robbed a man of his livelihood,
and yet I feel strangely empty."
First appear e: December 17, 1989, "Simpsons Roasting on
an Open Fire," in which he refuses to give Homer Simpson or anyone
else a Christmas bonus.
The scoop: Described by Shearer as "the most reviled of all my
characters" Burns, who literally tried to steal candy from a baby, was
conceived by Groening as the embodiment of corporate greed, a
combination of real-life oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller and Lionel
Barrymore's loathsome Henry Potter character in It's a Wonderful
Life. Burn's look, according to former supervising director David
Silverman, was a parody of former Fox chief executive Barry Diller,
while his physique and movement was modeled on a praying mantis. His
name was inspired by a childhood friend of Groening's who lived directly
across the street from a Montgomery Ward department store and said his
bedtime prayers while looking at the store's flashing neon sign.
Adjacent to the store was a historic log cabin, supposedly the largest
in the world, that burned down while Groening was a child. And thus
came the name: Montgomery Burns.
Matt Groening says: The C in his name stands for
Charles. We took it from Charles Foster Kane in "Citizen Kane."
Loyal, lovestruck assistant to C. Montgomery Burns; he collects
Malibu Stacy dolls and is allergic to bee stings. Loves Abba.
(Voiced by Harry Shearer)
Memorable Line: "The feeling is more than mutual, sir."
(after Burns, after having just received a life-saving blood
transfusion, says, "Smithers, I love you."
First appearance: January 21, 1990, "Homer's Odyssey," in
which he, for the first (but not the last) time, has to tell Mr. Burns
the name of a certain donut-eating employee.
The scoop: Although never officially outed, writers concede
that Smithers may not be gay in the same way that Homer may not be
stupid. "We refer to him as Burnsasexual," says executive producer
Al Jean. In the second-season episode "Bloods Feud," the script had
Smithers say, "Just leave me enough to get home to my wife and kids,"
before giving Burns a transfusion. But the line was cut for time
purposes, freeing the writers to hint at Smither's alternative life
style without any messy family history. In his debut appearance,
Smithers was unintentionally African-American, the result of a
communications foul-up between American-based producers and series
animators in Korea. Deciding it would be a bad idea to have a
black sub-servient character, producers flipped Smithers back to
Caucasian the next show.
Groening says: He was partly inspired by the way Fox
executives acted around Barry Diller. The joke use to be, "Who's
Burns based on? Barry Diller. Who's Smithers based on? Everyone
else at Fox."
Krusty the Clown
Green-haired, red-nosed clown with a weakness for drugs, alcohol,
cigarettes and fatty meats. Endorses shoddily manufactured products,
including Lady Krusty mustache removal system (Voiced by Dan
Memorable Line: "I used to do a lot of tumbling in my act,
but I'm phasing it out for more dirty limericks. 'There once was
a man named Enus..'"
First Appearance: January 15, 1989, "The Krusty the Clown
Show," a Simpsons short from the Tracey Ullman Show.
The scoop: Castellaneta modeled the voice after Bob Bell,
Chicago's long-standing Bozo the Clown on WGN. Originally, Krusty
was a normal person wearing clown makeup, "But at some point, we
decided he looked that way all the time." says David Silverman, who
points out that without makeup Krusty and Homer are almost
indistinguishable. "For my generation, Krusty is every Saturday-morning
TV clown," says executive producer and head writer Mike Scully.
"Everybody had a Krusty in their town."
Groening says: "His inspiration was a clown named Rusty Nails
in Portland [Oregon], who was actually a nice clown with the
scariest name possible. Because you were always told as a kid,
'Avoid rusty nails.' "
(aka Robert Underdunk Terwilliger). Classically trained actor, former
sidekick to Krusty (whom he hates) and multiple felon (including two
attempted murders, one extortion and one plot to abolish television).
Currently residing in Springfield Penitentiary, where he has dreamed of
revenge, hatched many evil schemes and staged a production of "Evita."
(Voiced by Kelsey Grammer.)
Memorable line: "How ironic. My crusade against television
has come to an end so formulaic it could have spewed from the PowerBook
of the laziest Hollywood hack."
First appearance: February 25, 1990, "The Telltale Head"
The Scoop: Originally a silent and nondescript background
character, he didn't become an evil genius until the "Krusty Gets
Busted" episode at the end of the first season. "Writing for Kelsey is
great," says executive producer George Meyer. "He can give the kind of
purple, florid, melodramatic speeches that most of the characters would
never give. And he can sing."
Groening says: "Sideshow Bob is a man of great education and
culture, but he is still consumed with the most bizarre, arbitrary
hatred of Krusty and Bart. Every time he gets out of jail, he goes
after the same people, over and over. You'd think he would be smarter
than that, but no."
Homer's next-door neighbor is a widower (his late wife, Maude, was
knocked over a stadium railing by cannon propelled T-shirts) with two
children, Rod and Todd. He's extremely religious, 60 years old (but
doesn't look it) and the owner of the Leftorium store for left-handed
accessories. He owned Shroud of Turin beach towels, drives a Geo and
screams like a woman. (Voiced by Harry Shearer.)
Memorable line: "Well, get out the Crayolas and color me
First appearance: December 17, 1989. "Simpsons Roasting on an
Open Fire," in which he installs an elaborately spectacular
Christmas-lights display, with a blinking Santa that says "Ho, Ho, Ho,"
putting Homer's hapless tangle of burned-out bulbs to shame and causing
resentment, envy and muttered cartoon obscenities.
The scoop: Named after Flanders Street in Portland, Oregon,
Groening's hometown. "Ned is everything Homer would love to be,
although he'll never admit it," says executive producer Mike Scully.
Ned's annoyingly upbeat brand of Christianity and "oakily dokily" speech
patterns have made him an easy target for those who have accused the
show of being antireligious. But Al Jean says: "We don't mock Ned's
faith. We actually think he's a guy with a lot of wonderful qualities."
Groening says: "The original idea was just a guy who was truly
nice, that Homer had no justifiable reason to loathe, but then did. He
raises the age-old question, 'Why is niceness so infuriating?' "
Operator of the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store, Apu was born in Pakistan
but is an American citizen. A vegetarian, he is frequently shot by
robbers but almost never misses an 18-hour workday. He nearly lost his
job for selling spoiled meat products, charges $1.85 for a 29-cent stamp
and is happily married to his prearranged wife, Manjula, with whom he
has eight children (octuplets); Nabendu, Pria, Sashi, Poonam, Anoop,
Sandeep, Gheet and Uma. (Voiced by Hank Azaria.)
Memorable Line: "I have asked you nicely not to mangle my
merchandise. You leave me no choice but to...ask you nicely again."
First Appearance: February 25, 1990, "The Telltale Head,"
in which he is distracted by Bart, who orders a Squishee, while three
young shoplifters help themselves to a Playdude magazine.
The scoop: Named after the Apu trilogy, three critically
acclaimed films from the '50s by Indian director Satyajit Ray. It was
Groening who suggested that Apu be Indian, though "we were worried
he might be considered an offensive stereotype," Al Jean says.
"But then we did the first read-through, and Hank said, 'Hello,
Mr. Homer' with his accent, and it got such a huge laugh, we knew it
had to stay." The writers made Apu a Pakistani of great dignity and
Groening says: "I think he really loves his job and the
power that it gives him to frustrate other people."
Sea Captain McCallister
The owner of the Flying Dutchman all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant,
(formerly the Rusty Barnacle) has testified under oath that he his
not an actual sea captain but has in fact been seen wrecking
riverboats, oil tankers and a cargo ship full of hot pants. He's also
a panhandler, the owner of a lobster academy and a licensed real
estate agent. Smokes a pipe and has at least one glass eye.
(Voiced by Hank Azaria.)
Memorable Line: "Arrr. I hate the sea and everything in it."
First appearance: November 12, 1992, "New Kid on the Block,"
in which he is sued by Homer ("a beast more stomach than man") for not
letting him eat all he could eat.
The scoop: "My question has always been, what the hell is an
old sea captain doing in Springfield anyway?" Azaria asks. Being
resourceful is one possible answer. As with many Simpsons
characters, McCallister's biography seems to change from episode to
episode. "When it suits us for him to be a real sea captain," Al Jean
says, "then he is. When it doesn't, then he's not. We think of him as
a real jack-of-all-trades." The sea captain's look - a pipe and
one bulging eye - was a tribute to Popeye. But the growling pirate's
voice was Azaria's idea, inspired by '50s English actor Robert Newton
("Treasure Island"), who made a career of playing pirates in movies.
Groening says: "I have no idea where he came from.
Dr. Julius Hibbert
Springfield's respected physician, who's married with five children,
is also the long-lost brother of the late jazz musician Bleeding Gums
Murphy. He delivered all three Simpson children and has distributed
numerous medical pamphlets, including a guide to unwed pregnancy,
"So You've Ruined Your Life," and "So you're Going to Die."
(Voiced by Harry Shearer)
Memorable Line: "When it comes to stress, I believe laughter
is the best medicine. You know, before I learned to chuckle
mindlessly, I was headed for an early grave myself. Ah-heh-heh-heh!"
First appearance: December 6, 1990, "Bart the Daredevil,"
in which he stitches up Bart, who tried to jump over a car with his
skateboard. To discourage Bart from trying any more stunts, he shows
him a ward full of "children who have been hurt by imitating stunts
they saw on television, movies and the legitimate stage."
The scoop: Although not directly based on Bill Cosby's
doctor character Cliff Huxtable, Hibbert became distinctly more Cosby-like,
wearing garish sweaters, as The Simpsons and the then-No. 1
Cosby Show competed in the same time slot.
Groening says: "What I love about him is his barely
contained hostility. His little chuckles are quite inappropriate."
The principal of Springfield Elementary School and arch-enemy of
Bart Simpson, as well as anything resembling actual fun, takes his
job very seriously. "Say what you will about our cafeteria,"
Skinner likes to say, "I still think they're the best tator tots
money can buy." He has a metal plate in his butt and experiences
occasional flashbacks to his service days in Vietnam. Skinner lives
with his domineering mother, Agnes (on of a variety of characters
provided by actress (Tress MacNeille) who calls her son Spanky and
is making him pay her retroactively for all the food he ate as a
child. (Voiced by Harry Shearer.)
Memorable Line: "Attention, everyone: This is Principal
Skinner. Some student, possibly Bart Simpson, has been circulating
candy hearts featuring crude off-color sentiments. Valentine's Day
is no joke."
First appearance: January 24, 1990, "Bart the Genius," in
which it is revealed that Skinner has an entire file drawer
dedicated to the assorted misdeeds, provocations and academic failures
of one Bart Simpson.
The scoop: Groening named world-renowned psychologist
B. F. Skinner, noted for his work with rats in cages. Skinner has
shown a softer side over the years (occasionally even trading his coat
and tie for - gasp! - a sweater.) "What I like about him,"
Mike Scully says, "is that as much as he's a stuffed shirt, he really
does care about the school and the kids."
Groening says: "Principal Skinner is inspired by all the
principals of my youth, rolled into one bland lump."
The Scottish born maintenance man-groundskeeper at Springfield
Elementary is known for his red bushy eye-brows, thick accent, gruff
manner and surprising bodybuilder physique. He's often
condescendingly ignored by Principal Skinner, whom Willie regards
as a "silk-warin', croquet-playin' buttercup." Loves haggis, wee
defenseless animals and secretly videotaping couples in their cars.
(Voiced by Dan Castellaneta.)
Memorable Line: (As a substitute French teacher) "Bounjour,
you cheese-eating surrender monkeys."
First Appearance: February 14, 1991, "Principal Charming,"
in which he must deal with the consequences of Bart Simpson's
proclivity for vandalism and damage to school property, a never-ending
job. In this case, the task is replacing the schoolyard sod where
Bart has used sodium tetrasulfate to burn his name in 40-foot
letters, into the grass.
The scoop: When the idea of a school janitor was first
introduced, writers were leaning toward a Scandinavian, "a yumpin',
yiminy type," Al Jean says. "But then someone thought it would
be funnier if he was Scottish." Castellaneta freely admits that the
voice is a direct ripoff from SCTV, where Dave Thomas "had
this great bit where he was a very angry Scotsman with a cooking
show." Before finding his way to Springfield and becoming a janitor,
Willie made millions in computer software, only to lose it all
at the track.
Groening says: "We wanted to create a school janitor that
was filled with rage, sort of our tribute to angry janitors all over
Milhouse Van Houten
Bart's best friend has a crush on Lisa, can't see without his
glasses and is allergic to milk. His father, Kirk, is a former
bigwig of the cracker factory; his mother, Luann, once dated an
American gladiator name Pyro. (Voiced by Pamela Hayden.)
Memorable line: "When you sneeze, that's your soul trying
to escape. Saying 'God bless you' crams it back in."
First appearance: November 1989, a Butterfinger commercial
in which Bart tells him that Butterfingers are one of the major food
groups. He looks into his lunch bag and says, "But I don't have the
The scoop: Named for former U.S. president Richard Milhous
Nixon. "He's the tortured 10-year-old boy within us all," Hayden says.
"I just hope he doesn't end up on a tower with a high-powered rifle
in 20 years." In early September, Milhouse was the overwhelming
winner in a TV Guide Online poll asking viewers to choose a favorite
among Bart's schoolmates, besting the likes of Nelson Muntz (the
bully), Martin Prince (the brain) and the goodie-goodie Flanders boys,
Todd and Rod. Milhouse is also a favorite with the show's writing
staff because, according to Al Jean, "most of the writers are more
like Milhouse than Bart."
Groening says: "I needed to give Bart someone to talk to in
the school cafeteria. I named him Milhouse because I thought that
was the most unfortunate name I could think of for a kid. There's
been some speculation on the Internet that Milhouse's parents are
brother and sister [for their resemblance to each other.] But I think
some people just marry people that look like them. I mean, Brad Pitt
looks just like Jennifer Aniston in a wig."
The surly bartender and owner of Moe's Tavern is a former boxer and
child actor who played Smelly in the original Little Rascals.
He's susceptible to prank phone calls and took credit for the
invention of the Flaming Moe cocktail, which was actually invented by
Homer. The secret ingredient: Krusty's Non-Narkotic Kough Syrup for
Kids. (Voiced by Hank Azaria.)
Memorable line: "Listen to me, you little puke. One of
these days I'm gonna catch you and I'm going to carve my name on your
back with an ice pick."
First appearance: December 17, 1989. "Simpsons Roasting on
an Open Fire," in which he serves Homer the first of many Duff beers.
The scoop: Bart's duping of Moe is based on the tapes of
actual prank phone calls, widely circulated in the early '80s, to
Jersey City, New Jersey, bartender Louis "Red" Deutsch, who
constantly fell for fake requests for customers name Al Coholic and
Ben Dover. He also unfailingly fell into profanity-laced first of
rage when he realized he'd been had. According to Mike Scully,
"Moe is the kind of guy who would punch someone in the face for you,
if you just asked him. He doesn't need a reason. He's just
kind of mad at the world."
Groening says: "I was always frightened by taverns. They
just seemed like very unpleasant places to go. And there is nothing
nice about Moe's Tavern. It's just a creepy, dark place. And there
are never any women in there."
Homer's best friend and Springfield's former town drunk stopped
drinking (his tab at Moe's has been as high as $14 billion) because
he wanted to take helicopter lessons. He is now addicted to coffee.
(Voiced by Dan Castellaneta.)
Memorable line: "These fumes aren't as fun as beer. Sure,
I'm all dizzy and nauseous, but where's the inflated sense of
First appearance: December 17, 1989, "Simpsons Roasting on
an Open Fire," in which he tells Homer that he got a job as a part-time
Santa at the mall and suggests that Homer might want to try it.
"I dunno, though," he says. "They're pretty selective." After which,
The scoop: Based partly on the Crazy Guggenheim character
from Jackie Gleason's '60s variety show. Barney, who has a beautiful
tenor voice, was sobered up this spring in an episode written by
Castellaneta and his wife, Deb Lacosta. The move caused a bit of
dissension on The Simpsons staff, with some (including
Groening) arguing that a wide-awake, freshly showered, sober Barney
just isn't as funny as an unkempt, disoriented, drunk one. "He's
still a goofy man-child," says Castellaneta. "I don't do the voice
any differently, because I think he's still got 15 years of booze left
in his veins.
Groening says: "Barney was taking the standard sitcom
sidekick and just making him as pathetic as possible. And also there
was a sort of unspoken rule about not having drinking on television as
a source of comedy. So, of course, we went right for it."
Comic Book Guy
Slovenly, sarcastic, overweight owner of The Android's Dungeon &
Baseball Card Shop. A 45-year-old ponytailed virgin who lives with
his parents, has a master's degree in folklore and mythology and a
collection of bumper stickers, including MY OTHER CAR IS A MILLENIUM
FALCON, given to him by a Harrison Ford look-alike. (Voiced by Hank
Memorable line: "Er, excuse me. No banging your head on the
display case, please. It contains a very rare 'Mary Worth' in which
she has advised a friend to commit suicide. Thank you."
First appearance: May 5, 1991, "Three Men and a Comic Book," in
which he sells the extremely rare "Radiocative Man No. 1" to Bart,
Milhouse and Martin Prince for $100.
The scoop: He was partially inspired by a clerk at Los Angeles's
Amok bookstore who was "sitting on the high stool, kind of lording over
the store with that supercilious attitude and eating behind the counter
a big Styrofoam containerful of fried clams with a lot of tarter sauce,"
George Meyer says. Azaria, who based the voice on a kid from his
freshman dorm, loves that the character is an adult who argues with kids
as if they're his peers.
Groening says: "I can't tell you how many times people have come
up to me and said, 'I know who you based that comic book guy on.
It's that comic-book guy right down the block.' And I have to tell
them, "No, it's every comic-bookstore guy in America."
Slapstick comedian, star of Spanish-language sitcom on Springfield's
Channel Ocho. Rarely sen without the antennae and black-and-yellow-striped
bee costume. Constantly assaulted by unlikely falling objects and
low-budget laugh tracks. (Voiced by Hank Azaria.)
Memorable line: (Translated from Spanish) "Oh, what a terrible day
at work. First, the attack of the crazy woodpecker. Then a disaster
with the electricity. And finally, a catastrophe with a baseball. Ah,
finally time to relax. Ay! Oranges on the head!"
First appearance: March 18, 1994, "Rosebud," in which his show
is interrupted by Mr. Burns, who has taken over all 78 of Springfield's
channels in an attempt to ruin Homer's life.
The scoop: Based on a real Mexican television show,
Chesparito, which featured a Latin American superhero parody
character called the Red Grasshopper (el Chapulin Colorado), complete
with antennae and shiny gold shorts. "He was really a throwaway,"
Al Jean says of Bumblebee Man. "Homer was just flipping the channels, and
there he was. Now he just pops up when we want to do something surreal."
The costume, complete with stinger, was influenced by Saturday
Night Live's Killer Bees.
Groening says: "There are two kinds of characters in Springfield:
ones who seem to know the Simpsons and interact with them, and others
like the Bumblebee Man, who don't seem to know them at all. Probably
because they live in other parts of town."
Seven-foot slobbering (yet condescending) one-eyed alien from the
planet Nigel-4, where, remarkably, the language sounds exactly like
English. Kang, who is also the sibling of Kodos (voiced by Dan
Castellaneta), has hobbies including Yahtzee. (Voiced by Harry
Memorable line: "Anyone from a species that has mastered
intergalactic travel, raise your hand."
First appearance: October 25, 1990, "Treehouse of Horror:
Hungry are the Damned." In a clever send-up of a classic
Twilight Zone episode, Kang and Kodos abduct the Simpsons,
then feed them sumptuous banquets in luxurious quarters. Lisa,
spotting a book called How to Cook Humans, accuses the two
of fattening up the Simpsons so they can eat the family. But the
book's actual title is How to Cook for Forty Humans. Kang and
Kodos, their feelings hurt, return the Simpsons to Earth.
The scoop: "What's funny about them," says Mike Scully,
"is that they have that superior attitude that aliens always have
toward earthlings, but without the smarts to back it up."
Groening says: "I originally wanted Kang and Kodos to be
a part of the regular Simpsons universe, except that only Homer would
see them and everyone would think he was a lunatic. But that was too far out,
so we stuck them in the [Halloween] Treehouse episodes."
Professor John Frink
Wacky genius with IQ of 199, 81 points below Steven Hawkings. Works
and teaches at Springfield Heights Institute of Technology. His
inventions, which never work, include mood pants, the Hoax-a-Scope,
the Frinkiac-7 computer and the 77X42 Super Sour Ball. (Voiced by
Memorable line: "Sorry I'm late. There was trouble at
the lab with the running and the exploding and the crying when the
monkeys stole the glasses off my head."
First appearance: March 28, 1991, "Old Money," in which
he tries to solicit a $106,000 grant from Grampa Simpson for the
purpose of building a prototype death ray that, for the moment, he
somewhat dejectedly admits, "only has evil applications."
The scoop: Named after Simpsons supervising producer
John Frink. The voice, Azaria confesses, is a rip-off of Jerry Lewis's
"Nutty Professor" character. In fact, Azaria has proposed there be an
episode featuring Frink's father, who would be voiced by Lewis
himself. Frink's scenes almost always reduce the writers and actors
Groening says: "He was just written as a mad scientist
character until Hank did the voice, and suddenly he became this nutty
professor persona. What I love about Hank is that, you give him a
single line - and most of these characters have very few lines - and
he just brings it to life. Every time."
The round-faced, dim-witted second-grade classmate of Lisa eats paste,
crayons and most anything else he finds on the ground. He has a cat
named Mittens and a crush on Lisa. (Voiced by Nancy Cartwright).
Memorable line: "Me fail English? That's unpossible."
First appearance: April 25, 1991, "Lisa's Substitute," in which
Lisa's teacher, Miss Hoover, believes she has Lyme disease and is
replaced by an enchanting substitute teacher.
The scoop: He was originally named for Ralph Kramden, Jackie
Gleason's character on The Honeymooners, but didn't become a
Wiggum until February 1993 ("I Love Lisa'). "Somebody just said,
'Wouldn't it be funny if Wiggum was his dad and the Lisa dumps him and
suddenly has the police chief mad at her?' " Al Jean says. "When I do
Ralph, my eyebrows get raised very high. It's like an exercise for
my facial muscles," says Nancy Cartright. What Cartwright calls Ralph's
"wide-eyed innocence" came out the first time she did the voice.
Groening says: "Ralph is a character that only needs one line
to make an impression. But those lines are really hard to write,
because they have to have the right amount of childish naivete and
still be a joke. I think my favorite is still, "My cat's breath
smells like cat food."
Chief Clancy Wiggum
The incredibly stupid chief of Springfield's police is not averse to
taking bribes, particularly in the form of food or beer. Husband
of Sarah, father of Ralph, former member of the Grammy-winning
Be Sharps barbershop quartet. Makes chili with "the merciless peppers
of Quetzlzacatenango, grown deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates
of the Guatamalan insane asylum." (Voiced by Hank Azaria)
Memorable line: "All right. Come out with your hands up,
two cups of coffee, and auto freshener that says Capricorn and
something with coconut in it."
First appearance: January 21, 1990, "Homer's Odyssey," in which
he informs the city council that Springfield is "under siege from
a graffiti vandal known as "El Barto."
The scoop: Last name taken from the maiden name of Groening's
mother. That he's a cop and looks like a pig is, according to Al Jean,
"a conscious pun." Azaria did the voice as a David Brinkley parody
but, when told it was too slow, switched to a takeoff of Edward G.
Robinson. "To me, he's just a one-joke guy, that he's just the
worst cop possible," Azaria says. "But [we] never seem to tire of [it]."
Groening says: "When I gave him a name from my family, I didn't
realize he was going to become such a popular character and the
source of such intense humor. Even by Springfield standards, the
chief is particularly stupid, which has nothing to do with the
actual Wiggum family. They're really, really nice people."
Itchy and Scratchy
The ultraviolent cartoon mouse and cat are beloved by Bart, Lisa and all
the impressionable children of Springfield; Itchy has obliterated
Scratchy in every episode, including "Terror of Tiny Toon," billed as
the "violentest, disembowellingest, vomitinducingist Itchy and Scratchy
Halloween special every." (Scratchy voiced by Harry Shearer, Itchy
by Dan Castellaneta.)
Memorable line: "Yeeeeowwwwwww!"
First appearance: November 20, 1988, "The Bart Simpson Show"
(Tracey Ullman short), in which Scratchy (the cat) chases
Itchy (the mouse) with an ax, but ends up with a dynamite in his mouth
and a severed head.
The scoop: The way to tell them apart is that "Scratchy" contains
the letters c-a-t. A satire of increasingly violent
Saturday-morning cartoons taken, as Shearer says, "About two giant,
grotesque, macabre steps further." The animation is intentionally
less sophisticated than the "real" Simpsons world. They're
"cartoonier." says coexecutive producer Ron Hauge. That extra level
of separation allows Itchy and Scratchy to get away with cruelty,
violence and literal blood and guts in a way that otherwise would not
be allowed to air. Even so, says consulting producer Mike Reiss,
"They're like Tabasco. No one would take a big bowl of it."
Groening says: "They were definitely inspired by all the
cat-and-mouse cartoons we grew up watching. This was like pursuing the
cartoon violence to its logical ends. And also the idea of doing a
cartoon really made me happy."
(aka Abraham Simpson): Father of Homer J. Simpson, resident of
Springfield Retirement Castle ("Where the elderly can hide from
the inevitable"), World War II veteran ("Flying Hellfish" platoon),
retired cranberry silo night watchman. Loves Matlock.
(Voiced by Dan Castellaneta.)
Memorable line: "Let's go. If I'm not back at the home by nine,
they declare me legally dead and collect my insurance."
First appearance: January 10, 1998, "Grampa and the Kids"
(Tracey Ullman short), in which he tells Bart and Lisa boring
stories about the "good old days." When they ask for something
scarier, he fakes his own death.
The scoop: Often the focus of pointed jokes about old people.
Al Jean says, "Some of that is because we're trying to illustrate how
society mistreats the elderly, and some of it is because people over
55 never watch our show."
Groening says: "I just wanted to have a really cranky old guy
who complained a lot and lied to children, [someone who] was saying,
'In my day,' as in 'In my day we didn't have pacifiers, we sucked on
pieces of wood,' which I think was his first line."
Selma Bouvier Terwilliger Hutz McClure
Older sister of Marge Simpson, twin sister of Patty Bouvier, who is
her roommate at the Spinster City Apartments. Loves MacGyver,
loathes Homer. Chain-smokes Laramie Hi-Tar cigarettes, works at
Window Six at the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Voiced by Julie Kavner.)
Memorable line: "When are you gonna wake up and smell your
husband, Marge? Granted, you got some kids out of him, but when the
seeds are planted you throw away the envelope."
First appearance: December 17, 1989, "Simpsons Roasting on an
Open Fire," in which she and Patty greet Homer with scowls as he
walks in the door, pointing out that he hasn't bought his family a
The Scoop: Bouvier is the maiden name of Jacqueline Kennedy
Onassis. Although Julie Kavner can't tell them apart and does their
voices exactly the same, there are ways to distinguish between
Selma and Patty. Selma has a part in her hair, round earrings and
a pink dress. David Silverman says the animation designs for Patty
and Selma were to "take Marge and just sort of squish her a little
bit. I think we decided they're shorter than Marge because they're
smokers. Cigarettes stunted their growth`and exhausted their
expressions." Kavner says, "The kids don't hate their aunts. It's
more like they shudder at the thought of them.
Groening says: "My original idea about Marge's family was they
were utterly joyless. The original note I gave to Julie was that
they suck the life out of everything they see."
Santa's Little Helper
Former racing greyhound No. 8 at Springfield Downs, now semiloyal
Simpsons family pet. Has fondness for table scraps, toilet water
and chewing up family heirlooms and expensive sneakers. Never won
a race. (Voiced by Frank Welker.)
Memorable line: "40-1, against."
First appearance: December 17, 1989, "Simpsons Roasting on an
Open Fire," in which he finishes last in yet another race, is
abandoned by his owner, jumps into Homer's arms, is adopted and becomes
Homer's Christmas gift to the family.
The scoop: Al Jean takes credit and/or blame for the mouthful of
a name. "We needed a name that would inspire Homer to bet on him, an
omen, a Christmas name since he was betting on Christmas Eve. But, at
that point, nobody was thinking long-term. We weren't considering what
might happen in 10 years, when we've got to use this name. Welker, one
of the few people Groening unabashedly calls "a genius," is a legend for
his animal voices (everything from Abu, the monkey, in Disney's
"Aladdin," to the baby monsters in "Godzilla"). The guidelines for
writing Santa, according to writer John Swartzwelder, are exactly the
same as writing Homer: Both are loyal. Both have the same emotional
range. And both will growl and possibly snap if you try to take their
Groening says: "We painted ourselves into a corner with out
Christmas episode. Once we wrote the dog into the show, we were
stuck with him. And, by the way, I do suggest that if you don't
have any money to buy your kids presents, get them a dog. That's always
a good solution." (Editor's note: He's kidding, folks.)
Transcribed by Bruce Gomes