Twenty three seasons (the 24th just beginning), over 500 episodes – there isn’t much accolade for The Simpsons that wouldn’t be stating the obvious. But just for the record, it’s probably the hands down best TV show ever made.
There are rungs of characters in The Simpsons, the obvious nucleus of the Simpson family itself branching outward to extended family, the regular Sprinfieldians like Chief Wiggum, Mr. Burns, Edna Krabapple, Krusty and we could go on. Outside of this we have the peripheral characters, characters who appear regularly with few central story lines – Bumblebee Man, Professor Frink, Hans Moleman, Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel and others. Then there are the others, the minor of the minor characters who, although only featured in one episode made a major impact in one way or another. Or sometimes they just stick in our heads because they say something funny and disappear from the show forever. These are the minor background characters we celebrate today. Without further ado… (and in no ranked order of greatness)
The Top 5 Minor Characters from The Simpsons
Jacques (voice by Albert Brooks)
‘Life on the Fast Lane’
When Homer gives Marge a bowling ball for her birthday that was all along intended for him, Marge decides to take up bowling to spite him. She meets Jacques, the handsome bowling instructor and very nearly has an affair with him.
‘Life on the Fast Lane’ is Jacques’ only speaking appearance although he pops up around Springfield from time to time as a background character – in the hospital waiting room with a bowling ball stuck on his hand, and as a member of “The Homewreckers” bowling team – and Marge’s almost-affair with him was referenced in ‘Another Simpsons Clip Show’ (S06E03).
Best Line – “Jacques you handsome devil, you will strike out tonight!”
Hank Scorpio (voice by Albert Brooks)
‘You Only Move Twice’
When Homer takes a new job, The Simpsons move to Cypress Creek, an idyllic town centered around the Globex nuclear power plant. Homer develops an instant rapport with his new boss, Hank Scorpio. Scorpio is a dynamic, energetic, friends with everyone kind of guy and he’s also a Bond style super villain. Even when beset by ninja assassins, Scorpio is never to busy to lend Homer a sympathetic ear. Most of Scorpio’s lines were ad libbed by Brooks, and Scorpio is often considered to be the best one-off Simpsons character of all time. Hank Scorpio is a recurring character in The Simpsons comics but only had the one TV appearance.
Best Line -”Don’t call me that word. I don’t like things that elevate me about the other people. I’m just like you. Oh, sure, I come later in the day, I get paid a lot more and I take longer vacations, but I don’t like the word “boss”.
Thelonious (voice by Frankie Muniz)
‘Trilogy of Error’
You can’t get much more minor than this guy. During an interconnected series of unfortunate events befalling the Simpson family, Lisa accidentally ends up at West Springfield Elementary instead of her own school. She meets a cute and intelligent boy, Thelonious, and quickly falls for him. But alas, Lisa must get back to her own school even though it means never seeing Thelonious again. He tells her she can’t sacrifice grades for love and the pair part.
Best Line – (on confirming he was named after Thelonious Monk) “Yes. The esoteric appeal is worth the beatings.”
Roy (voice by Hank Azaria)
‘The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show’
You know how Fonzie lived with the Cunninghams on Happy Days? Well that’s what Fox had in mind for Roy, a college hipster who would come to live with the Simpson family, permanently, to liven things up a bit. Thankfully the idea was immediately rejected by the show’s creators, but it did serve to provide a running joke for the show. Roy gave a brief appearance as a Simpson’s house guest (and even made it into a background family portrait) in the very episode that lampoons TV shows that introduce new characters to spice things up. He even looks like Poochie. And by the way, the Itchy & Scratchy writers depicted in the episode are all caricatures of The Simpsons’ creators.
Best Line – He wasn’t really in it for long enough (and it was his presence, not his lines that were the joke), but his “Good news, everybody. I’m moving into my own apartment with two sexy ladies!” still warrants a giggle.
Mindy Simmons (voice by Michelle Pfeiffer)
‘The Last Temptation of Homer’
As Marge had her Jacques, so too was Homer tempted. Mindy Simmons was hired by Mr. Burns as a token female employee and Homer falls for her instantly, an attraction that was oddly reciprocated – talk about batting above average! – as the pair had so much in common. After a work conference lands them both in Capital City for a night, Homer expects to cheat on Marge but in the end can’t go through with it. Good ol’ Homer. Mindy leaves the show after one episode but was later seen, along with Jacques, on the Home Wreckers bowling team and also referenced in ‘Another Simpsons Clip Show’ (S06E03) as the family discuss their individual romantic histories, with Homer saying “she hit the bottle pretty hard” and was fired from the plant.
Best Line – (actually, most of the best lines in this episode come from Homer, but here’s an amusing exchange)
Homer: Uh… so, let’s have a conversation. Uh, I think we’ll find we have very little in common.
Mindy: Can’t talk… eating.
Homer: Hey! My favorite, raspberry swirl with a double glaze.
Mindy: Double glaze. [drools]
Homer: D’oh! Okay, so we have one thing in common. But you know what I hate? Drinking beer and watching TV.
Mindy: Oh, not me. That’s my idea of Heaven.
Homer: D’oh! Me too.
Mindy: Really? I’m can see I’m gonna love working with you. Well, gotta go. I wanna sneak in a quick nap before lunch.
Homer: Foul temptress! I’ll bet she thinks Ziggy’s gotten too preachy, too!
This was an extraordinarily hard list to compile, if only because I lost so many hours getting caught up watching old clips which still, after 20 plus years and countless repeats have me laughing my head off. I’m sure there are a dozen or more characters I’ve forgotten about that are more than worthy to make this list, so please don’t hesitate to leave your comments and share your favourite minor characters (or disagreements).