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."

Waylon Smithers

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 Castellaneta.)
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.' "

Sideshow Bob

(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."

Ned Flanders

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 Tickled Pink."
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?' "

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

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 industry.
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. Arrrrrrrrrr!

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."

Seymour Skinner

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."

Groundskeeper Willie

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 the world."

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 Butterfinger group."
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."

Moe Szyslak

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."

Barney Gumble

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 self-esteem?"
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, he belches.
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 Azaria.)
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."

Bumblebee Man

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 Shearer.)
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 Hank Azaria.)
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 to laughter.
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."

Ralph Wiggum

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 Christmas tree.
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 food.
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

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Last updated on December 6, 2000 by Jouni Paakkinen (