The Simpsons is a long-running animated television
series, with 17 seasons and 356 episodes since it debuted on December 17,
1989 on FOX, and is a spinoff
of The Tracey Ullman Show.
Highly satirical, the show lampoons many aspects of the human
condition, but primarily parodies the "Middle American"
lifestyle its titular family exhibits, and more generally American
culture, society, and even television itself. The Simpsons is seen
by many critics as the greatest animated series ever, including Time,
which named it the best TV show of the 20th century in 2000. Its influence
on popular culture is unmatched to this day.
||The Simpsons on
The main characters were originally created by Matt Groening as part of
a series of original animated segments for The
Tracey Ullman Show. Over the course of the series Groening has used
many of the themes present in his long-running comic strip series, Life in
Hell. (For instance, the idea of creative school children constantly being
persecuted and suppressed by totalitarian grown-ups stems from the strip.)
Many of the characters in The Simpsons take their names from important
people and places in Groening's life—for example Lisa, Marge and Homer
share names with Groening's sister, mother and father respectively.
The Simpsons sports
a huge array of secondary characters.
The show's basic premise centers on the antics of the family: Homer and
Marge, their children Bart, Lisa and Maggie, the colorful citizens of
Springfield, and occasional guest stars.
Homer, a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, is a
generally well-meaning buffoon whose short attention span often draws him
into outrageous schemes and adventures. Marge was once intelligent and
sophisticated, but has come to conform with the stereotype of
housewife/mother. Bart, the oldest sibling, is a troublemaker and
classroom terror ("the devil's cabana boy" is how Lisa once
described him) who thinks of himself as a rebel while Lisa is a brainy
student, vegetarian, Buddhist and jazz music fan who dreams of a better
future (she is referred to as "the future of the family").
Maggie is an eternal baby, and despite the fact that numerous years (and
birthdays) clearly pass (for example, many Christmas episodes), the
Simpsons do not appear to age. Some characters' ages have fluctuated
throughout the years; this is most likely due to simple oversight on the
part of the writers.
The show also has a vast array of quirky supporting characters,
including co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, and
local celebrities. Many of these characters have developed a vast cult
following of their own. For a comprehensive list, see characters
from The Simpsons. Some of these, like Itchy
and Scratchy, super-violent versions of Tom
and Jerry—are fictional even within the Simpsons universe—see Fictional
characters within The Simpsons.
- For more details on this topic, see Springfield
The Simpsons is set in the fictional United States town of
Springfield. Throughout the show's history fans have tried to determine
where Springfield is by taking the town's characteristics, surrounding
geography and nearby landmarks as clues (in the episode "Blame it on
Lisa" Lisa's Brazilian orphan pen pal "I tried to write, but I
didn't know what state you lived in." to which Lisa replies
"It's a bit of a mystery, yes, but if you look at the clues, you'll
figure it out."). However, both the town itself and its location are
fictional. Nearly every state and region in the U.S. has been both
suggested and ruled out by conflicting "evidence" of a location
for Springfield, so that the town could theoretically be anywhere. It
seems it is kept vague on purpose so any plot device may be used. For
example, it is sometimes an oceanside port town, whereas other times it is
not. In the episode "Behind the Laughter" the Simpsons are
described as "a Northern Kentucky family"; however, the real
Kentucky town is not in that part of the state. In a later airing the
location was changed to "southern Missouri" (the real Missouri
city of that name is in southwest Missouri). Also, in the episode
"Sweet & Sour Marge", it is mentioned that Tennessee is to
the south of Springfield which would put them back in Kentucky or
possibly, in Virginia. Some people claim, and with evidence from an
episode suggesting they live near the West Coast of the United States,
that they are from Oregon; this theory also makes some sense because
Groening, grew up in Portland, and there is a real Springfield near
Eugene. There also exists an episode in which it is possible to catch a
split second glimpse of Homer Simpson's driver's license, which gives his
address as "Springfield, NT 49007", the zip code 49007 belongs
to Kalamazoo, but there is no state with the abbreviation NT (It has been
said that "NT" stands for "Nice Try"--it has also been
said that "NT" stands for "North Tacoma" or "New
Tacoma" or possibly "Not Telling"). It is also mentioned
that the territory known as "West Springfield" is much larger
than the state of Texas, returning us to the notion that it is a
In one episode at a graveyard the characters throw dirt that blots out
the grave of Adlai Stevenson (either the Vice President or Presidential
candidate of the US) who was a well-known politician based in Illinois,
implying Springfield, Illinois. Creator Matt Groening has stated that
Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the city he grew up
in (see Matt Groening's Portland), and the name "Springfield"
was chosen because virtually every state has a town or city with that
name. (See Where Is The Simpsons' Springfield? for more information on
Animation scholars and fans have noted that the series uses the medium
of animation to its advantage, allowing the show to take place in many
settings and feature a far greater cast of characters than a live-action
sitcom. The cost of having an episode of The Simpsons take place in the
mountains, Europe, the city park, or a cruise ship on the ocean (all of
which simply use drawn and painted backgrounds) is hardly more than
placing the family in the more conventional sitcom settings of a living
room, a kitchen, and perhaps one or two related settings. This allows for
far more flexibility in plot development than a typical live-action sitcom
constrained by physical limitations and logistics.
One famous landmark in the skyline of Springfield, seen every time in the
opening sequence, are the cooling towers of the nuclear power plant.
Cooling towers while not exclusive to nuclear plants have become
synonymous with them.
Promotional artwork for The
Simpsons' milestone 350th episode.
Authority, especially in undeserving hands, is a constant target of the
show's often sharp satire. This probably explains the often strong
negative reaction to the show from social conservatives. This negative
reaction was most pronounced during the early seasons of the show. Nearly
every authority figure in the show is portrayed unflatteringly: Homer is
thoughtless and irresponsible, the antithesis of the ideal 1950s TV
father, though he always comes through for his family in the end. Marge
Simpson is also of the 50's stereotype category, and exercises tyrannical
control over her family to ease her own loneliness. Springfield police
chief Clancy Wiggum (voiced by Hank Azaria in an Edward G.
Robinson-influenced tone) is obese, stupid, lazy, corrupt and not overly
concerned with constitutional rights (not to mention that he somewhat
resembles a pig). Mayor Quimby — who sounds like John F. Kennedy —
is a corrupt, spendthrift womanizer. Seymour Skinner (who sounds like
Charles Kuralt), the principal of Springfield Elementary School, is an
uptight, humorless bachelor who lives with his domineering mother. He has
frequent flashbacks to his capture and imprisonment by the Viet Cong, and
in early seasons, Skinner was repeatedly likened to Norman Bates in Psycho
though this ultimately was dropped later on in the series. Ms. Edna
Krabappel is Bart's, and sometimes Lisa's, depressed elementary school
teacher who is impatient and ignorant of her class, and demands darkness
and silence when she is hung over. Reverend Lovejoy, the pastor of the
local church, is judgmental and moralistic (but only regarding other
people), with a monotonous voice that always puts Homer to sleep during
Sunday sermons. While most of these characters are more incompetent than
truly evil there is one true sadist: Montgomery Burns, owner of the
Springfield Nuclear Plant and Homer Simpson's boss. Evil and cruel,
Montgomery Burns is aided in his campaign of terror against the residents
of Springfield by his trusted assistant Waylon Smithers, who secretly
harbors an unrequited love for Burns.
During the more recent years of Simpsons production, some social
conservatives have ironically come to embrace the show. One of the main
explanations of this shift is that the Simpsons portrays a traditional
nuclear family among a lineup of television sitcoms that now portray less
traditional families. The show has toyed with the possibility of
extramarital affairs, such as when Homer falls for a female nuclear
technician who shares his love of donuts, or when Marge's ex-boyfriend
Artie Ziff tries to rekindle their old romance. Nevertheless, these
affairs never occur, and by the end of every episode, Homer and Marge's
marriage is strongly affirmed. Social conservatives and some evangelical
Christians have also pointed to the positive role model of devout
Christian Ned Flanders, whose fretfulness is occasionally ridiculed but
whose decency never wavers despite constant provocation from Homer. In
several episodes, God actually intervenes to protect the Flanders family,
invoking such Protestant concepts as Predestination. As compared with the
Simpsons family, the Flanders family is relatively well-off and less
dysfunctional, fulfilling certain theories expressed by sociologist Max
Weber in his seminal work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
Race relations are also the subject of satire in the show, as the
handful of African-American characters are almost always portrayed as
being more intelligent and rational than their "Yellow"
counterparts. Some people interpret this as a satire of Hollywood and
liberal TV's portrayal of exaggerated 'reverse stereotypes' in which the
computer genius is always a black actor. For instance, Dr. Hibbert,
despite a tendency to laugh at the most inappropriate times, is arguably
among the least dysfunctional characters in the series, and is certainly
more professionally qualified for medical practice than Dr. Nick Riviera.
Furthermore, Officer Lou is constantly lecturing Chief Wiggum on his inept
law enforcement practices, and even Homer's co-worker Carl occasionally
lambasts Homer's stupidity.
The show also routinely mocks and satirizes show business conventions
and personalities. Krusty the Klown has an enthusiastic following among
Springfield's kids, but offstage he is a jaded, cynical hack, in poor
health from a long history of overindulgence and substance abuse. He will
endorse any product for a price. Kent Brockman is a self-important,
spoiled TV news anchorman with little regard for journalistic ethics. Many
wealthy characters are members of the Republican Party, which meets in a
dark castle. Even Rupert Murdoch -- whose corporate empire includes The
Simpsons' broadcast network, Fox -- has been gently spoofed in a couple of
episodes. In fact, Fox itself has been ridiculed many times, and Fox News
has been portrayed as extremely biased in favor of extremist conservative
Episode plots rarely follow any sort of linear course, often taking
several digressions to move storylines in unexpected directions. For
example, the description of the 2003 episode "Dude, Where's My
Ranch?" offered to Shaw Cable subscribers reads: "After David
Byrne turns Homer's anti-(Ned) Flanders song into a monster hit, the
family vacations at a dude ranch, where Lisa falls in love."
The plots of most episodes focus on the adventures of one particular
family member, frequently Homer. However the plots have never been
particularly predictable or constant and tend to be very character-driven.
Recurring themes in episodes include:
- Homer gets a
new job (Simpson writers had Homer count 30 of them in a recent
episode but the actual list is far longer) or attempts to make money
in a get-rich-quick scheme.
attempts to escape the monotony of keeping house by finding employment
or taking up a hobby.
- Bart causes a
large problem and attempts to fix it.
- Lisa embraces
or advocates the merits of a particular political cause or group.
- The entire family goes on vacation. (Because of these vacations the
entire family has been to every continent on Earth with the exception
Simpson or Grandma Simpson needs help sorting out issues from
their past and calls upon the main Simpsons family.
There are several types of scenes that recur often and have become
conventions of the show's storytelling style. Examples of these stock
- A scene at the very beginning of the show in which the family goes
somewhere together, like a cartoon festival or a cider mill. After a
few minutes there, the main plot begins.
- A scene, often near the middle of the show, in which Homer and Marge
are in bed together discussing the events of the story so far.
- A scene in which the family is eating dinner together and talking
about the events of the plot. Conceptually this is very similar to the
"Homer and Marge in bed" scenes, but including Bart and
- A scene in the morning in which Marge is preparing breakfast, and
the kids and Homer are eating before going to work or school as they
talk about what they are going to do. This is often near the start of
- A scene in which Homer is at Moe's
Tavern escaping the hassles of work and family to be with his
- A scene in which one or more Simpsons are watching a TV program,
which the viewer watches along with them.
- A crowd scene, in which the entire town of Springfield convenes to
witness some notable event, protest something, attend a civic meeting,
or even start a riot. Many recurring minor characters appear and
- TV anchorman Kent
Brockman reporting on the events of the plot.
- Scenes that cut from the main action to show what a secondary
character, like Krusty or Mr. Burns, is doing at the time.
- A fantasy in which one of the Simpsons imagines how something might
- A scene in which someone shows up in the Simpsons' living room for
The Simpsons opening sequence is one of the show's most
memorable trademarks. Almost every episode opens with a title shot coming
through the cumulus clouds and into the school where Bart
is writing sentences on the class chalkboard, presumably set as a
punishment by one of his teachers for some mischievous deed or wayward
comment; Homer is shown leaving the power plant, with Mr. Burns and
Smithers in the background (second season onwards); Marge and Maggie are
shown checking out at the supermarket with Maggie traveling across the
scanner, ringing up at $847.63, the then-annual cost of raising a baby
(although a 'trivia question' shown as a wraparound for commercials during
the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" claims that
the register says "NRA4EVER" — National Rifle Association For
Ever, ironically and comedically portraying the liberal writers of the
show as gun-crazed right-wingers); The sequence then introduces Lisa (who
leaves a band rehearsal, usually playing a different saxophone solo); the
family is then shown on their way to their house at 742 Evergreen Terrace
(the address varied in the beginning, but the writers now use 742
Evergreen Terrace exclusively). The members of the family weave
dangerously through traffic and in between fellow (and, from the second
season onward, familiar) Springfield denizens, all miraculously reaching
home at the exact same time. Upon entering, they all speed towards the
family room couch where, in comedic parallel with the audience, they
settle to watch their "must-see" TV show.
For each episode, the sequence includes four variations: Bart writes
something different on the chalkboard, Lisa plays a different solo on her
saxophone, Homer screams in a different way (only done in the first couple
of seasons), and the family attempts to sit on the couch as something goes
awry in an often surreal manner.
In the syndicated version, part or all of the opening sequence is
usually cut in order to include more commercials in the show's allotted
The "couch gag" sequence is frequently used to help show
staff make the show longer or shorter, depending on the length of the
episode itself. Most couch gags last only about five seconds, but the
longest one on record lasted 46 seconds.
The first season opening sequence featured a number of differences from
the later seasons, including a shot of Lisa riding her bike on the way
home and Bart's way home consisting of snatching a bus stop sign, forcing
several dazed Springfieldians to chase the bus, rather than just riding
past a number of well-known characters.
The series' distinctive theme tune was composed by musician Danny
Elfman. The current arrangement is orchestrated by Alf Clausen.
The Simpsons's Halloween
Specials are now some of the most anticipated
An annual tradition is a special Halloween episode consisting of three
separate, self-contained pieces. These pieces usually involve the family
in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting; they always take
place outside the normal continuity of the show (and are therefore
considered to be non-canon), and completely abandon any pretense of being
realistic. Regular Simpsons characters play humorous special roles,
occasionally being killed in gruesome ways by zombies, monsters, or even
each other. These Halloween segments have parodied many classic horror and
science fiction films; often one of the segments spoofs an episode of The
Twilight Zone. Some include "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet",
"To Serve Man", "Living Doll", "It's a Good
Life", and "Little Girl Lost"
The tradition began in the second season episode Treehouse of Horror,
with Bart and Lisa telling scary stories to each other in their treehouse
while Homer secretly listened in. Neither Bart nor Lisa was scared, but
Homer was terrified.
In later years the series dropped the framing device of characters
telling stories, but kept the Treehouse title; for several years
the characters broke the fourth wall and introduced their pieces directly
to the audience. In Treehouse of Horror II the writers decided to give the
cast and crew of the show scary names in the opening and closing credits
(like "Mad Matt Groening" and "James Hell Brooks").
This also became a tradition, and has been done in every Halloween episode
except I, XII, and XIII. The names have changed in subsequent seasons.
Another mainstay of the Halloween shows is the appearance of the two space
aliens Kangand Kodos, introduced in the second segment of the first
"Treehouse of Horror."
In a section of Treehouse of Horror VI called Homer³, Homer and Bart
go into a three-dimensional world created by Pacific Data Images, a
computer animation company. This segment from the Halloween show was also
used as a segment of a film shown in the IMAX cinema in London and Sydney.
This was one of the few times The Simpsons have strayed from their
traditional 2D animation, along with a live action cameo by Regis and
Kathie Lee in Treehouse of Horror IX, a couple of claymation scenes in
'Tis The Fifteenth Season featuring The California Prunes and Jimmy
Stewart, and a live action couch gag consisting of a sketchbook being
flipped by a hand to make the characters run towards the couch and sit
down. Another recent episode featured a CGI trailer for a comedy about
humanoid playing cards.
Many episodes feature celebrity guests contributing their voices to the
show, as either themselves (especially during the middle of the Simpson's
years, i.e. seasons 7 to 13) or as fictional characters (mainly during the
early and later seasons).
The Simpson family first appeared in animated form as shorts
on The Tracey Ullman Show, with the first short "Good
Night" airing on April 19, 1987. Matt Groening admits the reason that
they were so crudely drawn in the beginning was because he could not draw
well and the animators did nothing more than just trace over his drawings.
The shorts were never aired by the BBC in the UK, though some of them,
including "Good Night", were included in a Simpsons anniversary
episode. The Simpsons was converted, by a team of production companies
that included what is now the Klasky-Csupo animation house, into a series
for the Fox Network in 1989 and has run as a weekly show on that network
ever since. The first full length episode shown was "Simpsons
Roasting on an Open Fire", however the intended first episode was
"Some Enchanted Evening", but when "Some Enchanted
Evening" was completed it was rejected due to poor animation, so Fox
aired "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" first.
The Simpsons was the first true TV series hit for Fox; it was
the first Fox show to appear in the top twenty highest-rated shows of the
time. It also sparked controversy, as Bart Simpson was portrayed as a
rebellious troublemaker who caused trouble and got away with it. Parents'
groups and conservative spokespersons felt that a cartoon character like
Bart Simpson provided a poor role model for children. (That some children
needed to take on cartoon characters as role models may have said more
about the their parents, however.) When a Simpsons T-shirt was
marketed featuring Bart and the logo "Underachiever ('And proud of
it, man!')", Simpsons T-shirts and other merchandise were
banned from public schools in several areas of the United States.
Bart appears on the cover
of a 1990 TIME magazine.
The outcry against Bart was reflected in the second season opener,
featuring an episode called Bart Gets an F where Bart's school
wants to make him repeat the fourth grade. In this episode, the school
counselor quotes the controversial T-shirt by stating, "He is an
underachiever... and proud of it."
In September 1990, Barbara Bush infamously said in an interview for
People magazine that The Simpsons was the dumbest thing she had
ever seen. Six years later, an episode had George and Barbara Bush move to
Springfield and leave after George gets involved in a feud with the
Simpson family (in a style reminiscent of Dennis the Menace and Mr.
Wilson). Mr. and Mrs. Bush were both portrayed by voice actors. One of the
Simpsons DVD sets includes a special feature that presents an exchange of
letters between the First Lady and show staff. In another address, Mr.
Bush said that America needed to be closer to The
Waltons than to The Simpsons, causing Bart to say they were a lot like
the Waltons, since they were both praying for an end to the Depression
(never take on a fictional character, as Dan Quayle later learned).
The writers have shown a love for cameo appearances by celebrities and
extended pastiches of contemporary and classic movies, as well as subtle
On February 9, 1997 The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones
as the longest-running prime time animated series in America, however it
has not yet beaten several Japanese anime series such as Sazae-san (which
has been running since 1969) and Doraemon (running since 1979). In January
2003, it was announced that the show had been renewed by Fox through 2005 —
meaning it has replaced The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952
to 1966) as longest-running sitcom (animated or live-action) ever in the
United States. In 2004,the series was renewed through its 19th season.
Some take the view that The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet should
continue to be counted as the longest-running sitcom as The Simpsons
is animated, not live-action, although this view is declining as more
authorities unambiguously credit The Simpsons as television's
In its 1998 issue celebrating the greatest achievements in arts and
entertainment of the 20th Century, TIME magazine named The Simpsons
the century's best television series. In that same issue, Bart Simpson was
named to the Time 100, the publication's list of the century's 100 most
influential people. He was the only fictional character on the list.
Since the series originated as part of The Tracey Ullman Show,
it is also considered the longest running and most successful spinoff
of all time.
Over the years, virtually every Simpsons character has appeared on a
magazine cover, ranging from TIME to Christianity Today and
The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a
series, including 21 Emmy Awards, 22 Annie Awards, a Peabody and numerous
others. On January 14, 2000 the Simpsons were awarded a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The voice actors have been involved in much-publicized pay disputes
with Fox on more than one occasion. In 1998, the voice actors stopped
working, forcing 20th Century Fox TV to increase their salary from $30,000
per episode to $125,000. The actors were supported in their action by
series creator Matt Groening. As the revenue generated by the show
continued to increase through syndication and DVD sales, six actors
(playing over 50 characters) — Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner,
Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer —
stopped showing up for script readings in April 2004 after weeks of
unsuccessful negotiations with Fox. They asked for $360,000 per episode,
or $8 million for a 22-episode season. On May 2, 2004, the actors resolved
their dispute with Fox after having their demands met. The universally
reported claim that this dispute was in fact a full-blown strike is denied
by Harry Shearer.
From season 9, the show has drawn criticism from some fans for straying
too far from its comedic structure, for becoming too
"mainstream," and changing character personalities without
explanation. Some consider its parody of the prequel Star
Wars trilogy in the episode Co-Dependent's Day being very harsh
considering the show's own "downfall." These attacks have been
countered by less hardcore fans stating that the show was always more or
less mainstream, and nonsensical personality changes and the structural
changes were done in a spirit of creative experimentation, and has not
damaged the show.
The series has gone through numerous executive producers, also known as
show runners, throughout its run. The showrunner is in charge of every
aspect of the show for a season.
- Season 1–2: Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon
- Season 3–4: Al Jean and Mike Reiss
- Season 5–6: David Mirkin
- Season 7–8: Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein
- Season 9–12: Mike Scully
- Season 13–present: Al Jean
Voice actors and their characters
All episodes (with the exception of one) list only the voice actors
(not the characters they voice) in keeping with the mystique of having the
audience not associate any one character with an actor — this is to
discourage the audience from easily identifying exactly which voice actor
did what. Yeardley Smith and Marcia Wallace are the only cast members who
only do one voice, though both have on occasion voiced one-shot
Here is a list of all the major voice actors and the characters they
Dan Castellaneta provides
the voice of Homer
Simpson and many other characters.
- Dan Castellaneta: Homer Jay
"Grampa" Simpson, Santa's Little Helper, Barney
Gumble, Krusty The Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor
Quimby, Gil, Sideshow Mel, Itchy, Hans
Moleman, Scott Christian, Kodos, Poochie, Louie,
Bill, Leopold, Captain Lance Murdock, Big Rich
Texan, Squeaky-voiced Teen, Blue-Haired Lawyer, Arnie
Pie, Mr. Teeny, and others.
- Julie Kavner: Marjorie
"Marge" Bouvier Simpson, Patty
Bouvier, Selma Bouvier,
Mrs. Jacqueline "Jackie" Bouvier, Aunt Gladys
- Nancy Cartwright: Bartholomew
J "Bart" Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Todd
Flanders, Ralph Wiggum, Kearney, Database, Margaret
"Maggie" Simpson (occasional), and others.
- Yeardley Smith: Lisa Marie
- Hank Azaria: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak,
Chief Clancy Wiggum (sounds like Edward G. Robinson), Comic
Book Guy (or Jeff Albertson), Officer Lou, Carl Carlson,
Dr. Nick Riviera (sounds like Ricky Ricardo), Snake, Luigi,
Bumblebee Man, Captain McCallister, Akira, Professor
John Frink, Cletus Spuckler (or Delroy), Kirk van Houten,
Duffman, Crazy Old Man, Superintendent Chalmers, Drederick
Tatum, Legs, Disco Stu, Raphael (or Sarcastic
Clerk), and others.
- Harry Shearer: Waylon Smithers, Jr., Ned Flanders,
Principal Seymour Skinner (sounds like Charles Kuralt), Otto
Mann, Reverend Timothy Lovejoy, Dr. Julius Hibbert, Jasper,
Lenny Leonard, Officer Eddie, Rainier Wolfcastle
a.k.a. McBain, Scratchy, Marty, Dr. Marvin Monroe,
Kang, Kent Brockman,
Herman, Judge Snyder, Charles Montgomery Burns,
Recurring guest stars
- Marcia Wallace: Mrs. Edna Krabappel (1990–present).
- Maggie Roswell: Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss
Elizabeth Hoover, Luann van Houten, and others
- Marcia Mitzman Gaven: Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss
Elizabeth Hoover, Luann van Houten, and others. (When
Maggie Roswell quit the show from 1999–2002)
- Pamela Hayden: Milhouse van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo
"Corky" Jones,Janey Powell, and others.
- Russi Taylor: Sherri, Terri, Martin Prince, Uter, Lewis, Wendell,
and others. (1990–present)
- Karl Wiedergott: Various (1998–present)
- Tress MacNeille: Lindsay Naegle, Mrs. Agnes Skinner, Cookie
Kwan, Dolph, Brandine Del Roy, Mrs. Glick,
- Frank Welker: Santa's Little Helper and other animals
- Phil Hartman: Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure; (both
characters were "retired" after Hartman's death) as well as
one-shot characters Lyle Lanley, Evan Conover, and others.
- Doris Grau: Lunchlady Doris; her character also retired after
her death. (1989–1995)
- Joe Mantegna: Anthony "Fat Tony" D'Amico
- Kelsey Grammer: Sideshow Bob (1990–present)
- Jon Lovitz: Artie Ziff, Aristotle Amandopolis, Jay Sherman,
Llewellyn Sinclair, and others (1991–present)
- Jan Hooks: Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon (1997–present)
- Jane Kaczmarek: Judge Constance Harm (2001–present)
John Swartzwelder is the most famous of the writers on the Simpsons'
staff. He has written the most episodes. According to the DVD
commentaries, he used to write episodes while sitting at a booth in his
favorite restaurant. When the restaurant closed down, he bought the booth
and had it installed in his house.
Current late-night talkshow host Conan O'Brien was a writer during the
fourth and fifth season. He wrote "New Kid on the Block" (9F06),
"Marge vs. the Monorail" (9F10), "Homer Goes to
College" (1F02) and "Treehouse of Horror IV" (1F04).
Ian Maxtone-Graham has been a prominent writer for The Simpsons
since the eighth season.
The character Professor John Frink was named for writer/producer John
Overseas animation studios involved:
- Exclusively produced the first two seasons of the series.
- Produced various episodes throughout the run of the series.
- Produced animation for episodes from seasons 3-10.
Rough Draft Studios—110 episodes
- Produced animation for episodes from season four onwards.
U.S. Animation, Inc.—2 episodes
- Jointly produced "Radioactive Man" with Anivision.
- Produced "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular"
Toonzone Entertainment—2 episodes
- Produced "The Fat and the Furriest" and "She Used to
Be My Girl".
The Simpsons has been animated by many different studios over
the past 18 years, both domestic and overseas. Throughout the run of the
animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, the animation was solely
produced domestically at Klasky Csupo. Klasky Csupo was also the animation
studio during the first three seasons of the half-hour length series,
however, due to the increased workload, production was now being
subcontracted to overseas studios, usually in Korea, where labor is
cheaper. While character and background layout is done by the domestic
studio, inbetweening, coloring and filming is done by the overseas
studios. Throughout the years, different overseas studios have animated
different episodes, even episodes within the same season.
During season four, Gracie Films made a decision to switch domestic
production to DPS Film Roman, which continues to animate the show to this
day. The last episode to be animated by Klasky Csupo was "A Streetcar
After season 13, production was switched from traditional cel animation
to digital ink and paint. Originally, the switch was intended to happen
during season 12 with the episode "Tennis the Menace", but after
seeing the results, Gracie Films decided to hold off for two more seasons.
Tennis the Menace, however, being already completed, was broadcast this
"The Simpsons" is one of the longest running prime time TV
shows ever created. By the end of its 16th season, the show had
accumulated 356 episodes.
A number of neologisms that started on The Simpsons have entered
common usage. The most famous of which is Homer's saying:
"Doh!", which is referred to in scripts, as well as three
episode names, as "annoyed grunt". Doh is now listed in
the Oxford English Dictionary. "D'oh" is an another accepted
spelling by online fans; the closed captions for the program (at least in
the U.S.), however, spell it "D-OHH".
Groundskeeper Willy's phrase, "cheese-eating surrender
monkeys", used to describe the French, was picked up by some
extremist politicians and publications in 2003, after France's opposition
to the proposed invasion of Iraq.
The expression "excellent" — drawn out as a sinister
and breathy "eeeexcelllent..." in the style of Montgomery
Burns — has also entered popular use, as have Homer's
triumphant "Woohoo!" and Nelson Muntz's mocking
"HA-ha!". "Woohoo" subsequently became the catch
phrase of Melissa Joan Hart's portrayal of Sabrina The Teenage Witch.
The character Waylon
Smithers. Since the debut of the show, the term "Smithers"
has become a common eponym for a spineless underling.
The show's creators also take pride in having passed on schoolyard
rhymes to a new generation of children who otherwise may not have heard
In spite of the devotion the show has inspired among its fans (or
perhaps because of it) there has been an extraordinary amount of analysis
of the show's weakest periods, especially among its most ardent fans. This
brand of criticism is distinct from the broader debate over the show's
sociopolitical themes that have drawn fire from both ends of the political
Fans hold a wide range of views on which period in the show's history
was the best. Some prefer the earliest seasons, particularly 2 and 3, when
the show focused more on realistic, character-driven humor instead of what
they perceive as cheap, throwaway gags. Others prefer seasons 4-7, when Al
Jean/Mike Reiss, David Mirkin and Bill Oakley/Josh Weinstein were the
showrunners. Under Mirkin, the show began to focus more and more on social
satire, as well as shifting focus away from young Bart to Homer.
In contrast, seasons 9-12 and the appointment of Mike Scully as
showrunner are often considered to be the show's lowest point creatively.
While Scully's tenure featured a great deal of development of the show's
supporting cast of characters (most notably Edna Krabappel, Principal
Skinner, Ralph Wiggum, and Mr. Burns), it was highly criticized for
shifting attention away from the Simpsons, with the exception of Homer.
The show also became heavily reliant on celebrity guest stars (who almost
always were cast to play themselves) and often episodes bent the rules of
realism in order to justify these types of episodes.
But the biggest criticism of Scully's tenure as showrunner was his
reinvention of Homer. Many fans believe that under Scully, the character
of Homer became unrealistically stupid and uncaring in most episodes,
while inexplicably contradicting his own political and moral beliefs in
others. This reinvention, referred to as "Jerkass Homer" by
online fans, caused a large backlash from many longtime fans of the
series, who felt the show had began its decline. Many such fans welcomed
the return of Al Jean as showrunner, calling it a return to the show's
roots. However, many Simpson fans believe that the show should end. They
feel that the show has been in a decline for several years. It's doubtful
this will occur in the foreseeable future as the franchise is considered
as profitable as ever for Fox.
In the meantime, the fierce debate among fans over the best and worst
episodes, seasons, characters, etc. is a target for satire on the show
itself. The recurring character known as Comic Book Guy is an obsessive
and snobbish pop culture junkie who offers unsolicited opinions on a range
of media, including cartoons. In season 8's "The Itchy & Scratchy
& Poochie Show," he snarkily condemns an episode of Itchy
& Scratchy as the "Worst. Episode. Ever." This
three-word injunction has not only become a favorite piece of dialogue
among fans, it has ironically been adopted by those fans as a catchphrase
in their ever-harsh criticism of their most-despised Simpsons