The Simpsons is one of my favorite shows of all-time.
Growing up a kid of the 80’s and 90’s, I was there when it premiered on the Tracey Ullman show and while those first couple of years were a little shaky, at least in retrospect, it quickly began to find its groove and settle into a beautiful rhythm of mayhem, hijinks and hilarious quotes for days. Hell, I am a walking Simpsons quote machine, just spend an afternoon with me and you’ll find out for yourself.
For my taste season five will always be the show’s peak, and I own what could be referred to as the shows golden years on DVD; seasons 3-8. While there are several memorable recurring characters on the show, there have been some just as memorable one-off characters as well.
Today on PopLurker I’m looking at my ten favorites. We’re going to ignore pretty much everything after season 8, because while there is some gold to be found up to season 11 at the very least, if you’re anything like me and most old school Simpsons fans then you’ve been checked out for the past twenty years.
10) Mr. Black – Kamp Krusty
Krusty has endorsed plenty of products in his years as Springfield’s preeminent entertainer. Sure, a lot of said product have had their share of problems from calculators that didn’t have a seven or an eight to an autobiography that was self-serving with many glaring omissions to jagged metal Krusty-O’s in his cereal, but even Krusty couldn’t half ass a summer camp, could he?!
Of course he could, this is the same guy that bet all his money against the Harlem Globetrotters because the Generals were due, right?!
The short lived and questionable Kamp Krusty led by the tyrannical Mr. Black devolved into Lord of the Flies levels of chaos, despite his best efforts to break the children’s spirits, and could only be remedied by an even more questionable trip to Tijuana by Krusty himself to make up for it all.
9) Dean Bobby Peterson – Homer Goes to College
If movies of the 80’s have taught us anything it’s that college is designed specifically for beer fueled mayhem, hazing of new fraternity pledges and stealing the rival college’s mascot…until the crusty old dean sticks his beak in everyone’s business and ruins the fun.
There’s nothing wrong with a harmless prank every once in awhile whether it be stealing Springfield A&M’s prized mascot Sir-Oinks-A-Lot to accidentally running over the dean with your car. Just make sure though if you’re going to prank call the dean and call him a “stupid head” he can’t see you from his office window. And, if he does just hide under some coats, and hope that somehow everything will work out.
8) Brad Goodman – Bart’s Inner Child
Anyone who spends at least one day in Springfield knows that the last citizen in town you want to emulate is little Rutuger, err, Bart. Sure, Springfield is a chaotic mess but “being like the boy” isn’t going to make things run any smoother. Voiced by Albert Brooks; who we’ll see again further down this list, Brad Goodman is the typical self help “guru” we’ve seen a million times on countless late-night infomercials.
The Goodman character lays the ground work for this amazing episode which I quote endlessly to this day, from telling people that we should “go to the old mill anyway and get some cider” (usually met by blank stares) to using “this (fill in the blank) wasn’t double bolted!” like when my sandwich fell apart in my hands one day; thanks to James Brown who was also a one-off in this episode, Brad Goodman has corrupted me just like he corrupted the residents of Springfield.
7) Larry Burns – Burns, Baby Burns
I’ve been a Rodney Dangerfield fan all my life, whether it was his appearance in Caddyshack to starring in and pulling off the triple lindy in Back to School and a place like Springfield fits Rodney’s stature and demeanor to a T with his rapid-fire delivery of one-liner after another. There is such a thing as too much Rodney, and a quick one-off burst here as Mr. Burns long lost son Larry was all we needed.
Larry Burns just wants a little esteem, maybe some regard as well. But what he really wants the most is the love of his father, and for everyone else to relax.
Sure, Mr. Burns finds it difficult to connect with Larry and while Homer is the only one who really understands him, at least he’s not like that wiener kid Milhouse that Bart is always bringing around.
6) Chester J. Lampwick – The Day the Violence Died
Chester J. Lampwick is a simple man. An honest man. Why he created Itchy and Scratchy! Honest! It’s not his fault the only film with his name attached to it burst into flames before he could prove it to anyone else outside of Bart and Milhouse.
Lampwick gets his day in court though, literally and finally gets the recognition and respect he has long deserved…along with his millions of dollars, his gold house and his rocket car. If only he could get some decent corn muffins to go with it.
5) Mindy Simmons – The Last Temptation of Homer
We never did find out if Mindy agrees with Homer that Ziggy got too preachy, but I’m sure she does. Essentially the female representation of old Homer J., Mindy rolls into town on her motorcycle, an irresistible combination of good looks and charm along with a shared love of double glazed donuts.
Homer faces a dilemma as it relates to his marriage and family at home versus his feelings for his new co-worker while they’re away together in the Windy Apple of Capital City. While those sweet and tasty fortune cookies would never lie to us, in the end there’s only one lady in Homer’s life truly worthy of finding him a turkey on his vacation away from workie.
4) Rex Banner – Homer vs the Eighteenth Amendment
What is Springfield to do when the town takes it’s love of alcohol too far? Why call in the biggest square and wet blanket you can find to put a stop to the infamous Beer Baron jerking suds on the side all over town.
Rex Banner may be a little suspicious about a certain so-called pet shop around the way, and while alcohol may be the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems, Banner ends up being a bigger problem then a few libations in the afternoon have ever caused. Springfield has always thrived on its own warped sense of reality and this square peg trying to elbow his way into the mysterious Beer Baron’s racket finds himself making a quick exit out of town, whether he wants to leave or not.
What are you waiting for, him to kiss you goodbye?!
3) Frank Grimes – Homer’s Enemy
Frank Grimes or Grimey as he liked to be called could never catch a break.
From being blown up in a silo explosion to living above one bowling alley and below another bowling alley, old Grimey has had it rough. Yet here’s Homer coasting through life with a Grammy, touring with rock bands, along with having a factory owning son, and lobsters for dinner.
A lot of us want to be like Homer Simpson at least in some small regard, and hell maybe a lot of us are Homer deep down in our core, but that crazy nut Frank Grimes finds out the hard way that there can only be one Homer Simpson.
2) Lyle Lanley – Marge vs the Monorail
Marge vs the Monorail is arguably my favorite Simpsons episode of all-time, only bested by perhaps $pringfield (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) aka Mr. Burns Casino.
The late, great Phil Hartman provides the voice behind Lyle Lanley, and while Homer shines throughout the episode in his own right from calling the big possum Bitey, to his back and forth with Marge over whether Batman has arrived to save the day or not, it’s Hartman’s portrayal of slick con man Lyle Lanley leading the citizens of Springfield in song about the merits of incorporating its own genuine, bonafide, electrified six-car Monorail that gets this episode going and never looks back. Hell, he’s sold Monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook and by gum it put them on the map.
Sure, the Monorail may have been a good idea in theory (like communism), but it’s really no better than the giant magnifying glass or that escalator to nowhere.
1) Hank Scorpio – You Only Move Twice
Voiced by the previously mentioned Albert Brooks, whether it’s his dialogue with Homer about the hammock district to inquiring when was the last time you saw someone say goodbye to a shoe to pulling sugar out of his pockets for Homer’s coffee and then apologizing for it not being in packets (which never fails to cracks me up every time I see it), Hank Scorpio stands at the top as my favorite Simpsons one-off character in show history.
Sure, Scorpio may be a megalomaniacal psychopath bent on world domination, with a distaste for both the word “boss” and the French, but he never laughed at Homer’s dream to one day own the Dallas Cowboys because dreams are what make life worth living. Unfortunately for Homer he didn’t quite wind up with his beloved Cowboys, but what he did get was a start.
While it remains to be seen if The Simpsons itself will ever come to an end, this list certainly has. Was it a happy ending or a sad ending?
It’s an ending, that’s enough!
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