Homer Simpson (seasons 1-10, 31-present)
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Homer Simpson (born May 12, 1956) is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons as the patriarch of the eponymous family. He is also the unofficial mascot of the 20th Century Fox film studio (now a subsidiary of Disney since 2019) and the Fox Broadcasting Company. He the husband of Marge Simpson, and the father of Bart, Lisa, and Maggie
Naming the characters after members of his own family, Groening named Homer after his father, who himself had been named after the ancient Greek poet of the same name. Very little else of Homer's character was based on him, and to prove that the meaning behind Homer's name was not significant, Groening later named his own son Homer. According to Groening, "Homer originated with my goal to both amuse my real father, and just annoy him a little bit. My father was an athletic, creative, intelligent filmmaker and writer, and the only thing he had in common with Homer was a love of donuts." Although Groening has stated in several interviews that Homer was named after his father, he also claimed in several 1990 interviews that a character called precisely Homer Simpson in the 1939 Nathanael West novel The Day of the Locust as well as in the eponymous 1975 movie, was the inspiration. In 2012 he clarified, "I took that name from a minor character in the novel The Day of the Locust... Since Homer was my father's name, and I thought Simpson was a funny name in that it had the word “simp” in it, which is short for “simpleton”—I just went with it." Homer's middle initial "J", which stands for "Jay", is a "tribute" to animated characters such as Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, who got their middle initial from Jay Ward.
Homer made his debut with the rest of the Simpson family on April 19, 1987, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night". In 1989, the shorts were adapted into The Simpsons, a half-hour series airing on the Fox Broadcasting Company. Homer and the Simpson family remained the main characters on this new show.
The entire Simpson family was designed so that they would be recognizable in silhouette. The family was crudely drawn because Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up; instead, they just traced over his drawings. By coincidence or not, Homer's look bears a resemblance to the cartoon character Adamsson, created by Swedish cartoonist Oscar Jacobsson in 1920. Homer's physical features are generally not used in other characters; for example, in the later seasons, no characters other than Homer, Grampa Simpson, Lenny Leonard, and Krusty the Clown have a similar beard line. When Groening originally designed Homer, he put his initials into the character's hairline and ear: the hairline resembled an 'M', and the right ear resembled a 'G'. Groening decided that this would be too distracting and redesigned the ear to look normal. However, he still draws the ear as a 'G' when he draws pictures of Homer for fans. The basic shape of Homer's head is described by director Mark Kirkland as a tube-shaped coffee can with a salad bowl on top. During the shorts, the animators experimented with the way Homer would move his mouth when talking. At one point, his mouth would stretch out back "beyond his beardline"; but this was dropped when it got "out of control." In some early episodes, Homer's hair was rounded rather than sharply pointed because animation director Wes Archer felt it should look disheveled. Homer's hair evolved to be consistently pointed. During the first three seasons, Homer's design for some close-up shots included small lines which were meant to be eyebrows. Groening strongly disliked them and they were eventually dropped.
In the season seven (1995) episode "Treehouse of Horror VI", Homer was computer animated into a three-dimensional character for the first time for the "Homer3" segment of the episode. The computer animation directors at Pacific Data Images worked hard not to "reinvent the character". In the final minute of the segment, the 3D Homer ends up in a real world, live-action Los Angeles. The scene was directed by David Mirkin and was the first time a Simpsons character had been in the real world in the series. Because "Lisa's Wedding" (season six, 1995) is set fifteen years in the future, Homer's design was altered to make him older in the episode. He is heavier; one of the hairs on top of his head was removed; and an extra line was placed under the eye. A similar design has been used in subsequent flashforwards.
Homer's voice is performed by Dan Castellaneta, who voices numerous other characters, including Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Barney Gumble, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby and Hans Moleman. Castellaneta had been part of the regular cast of The Tracey Ullman Show and had previously done some voice-over work in Chicago alongside his wife Deb Lacusta. Voices were needed for the Simpsons shorts, so the producers decided to ask Castellaneta and fellow cast member Julie Kavner to voice Homer and Marge rather than hire more actors. In the shorts and first season of the half-hour show, Homer's voice is different from the majority of the series. The voice began as a loose impression of Walter Matthau, but Castellaneta could not "get enough power behind that voice", or sustain his Matthau impression for the nine- to ten-hour-long recording sessions, and had to find something easier. During the second and third seasons of the half-hour show, Castellaneta "dropped the voice down" and developed it as more versatile and humorous, allowing Homer a fuller range of emotions.
Castellaneta's normal speaking voice does not bear any resemblance to Homer's. To perform Homer's voice, Castellaneta lowers his chin to his chest and is said to "let his I.Q. go". While in this state, he has ad-libbed several of Homer's least intelligent comments, such as the line "S-M-R-T; I mean, S-M-A-R-T!" from "Homer Goes to College" (season five, 1993) which was a genuine mistake made by Castellaneta during recording. Castellaneta likes to stay in character during recording sessions, and he tries to visualize a scene so that he can give the proper voice to it. Despite Homer's fame, Castellaneta claims he is rarely recognized in public, "except, maybe, by a die-hard fan".
"Homer's Barbershop Quartet" (season five, 1993) is the only episode where Homer's voice was provided by someone other than Castellaneta. The episode features Homer forming a barbershop quartet called The Be Sharps; and, at some points, his singing voice is provided by a member of The Dapper Dans. The Dapper Dans had recorded the singing parts for all four members of The Be Sharps. Their singing was intermixed with the normal voice actors' voices, often with a regular voice actor singing the melody and the Dapper Dans providing backup.
Until 1998, Castellaneta was paid $30,000 per episode. During a pay dispute in 1998, Fox threatened to replace the six main voice actors with new actors, going as far as preparing for casting of new voices. However, the dispute was soon resolved and he received $125,000 per episode until 2004 when the voice actors demanded that they be paid $360,000 an episode. The issue was resolved a month later, and Castellaneta earned $250,000 per episode. After salary re-negotiations in 2008, the voice actors receive approximately $400,000 per episode. Three years later, with Fox threatening to cancel the series unless production costs were cut, Castellaneta and the other cast members accepted a 30 percent pay cut, down to just over $300,000 per episode.
Executive producer Al Jean notes that in The Simpsons' writing room, "everyone loves writing for Homer", and many of his adventures are based on experiences of the writers. In the early seasons of the show, Bart was the main focus. But, around the fourth season, Homer became more of the focus. According to Matt Groening, this was because "With Homer, there's just a wider range of jokes you can do. And there are far more drastic consequences to Homer's stupidity. There's only so far you can go with a juvenile delinquent. We wanted Bart to do anything up to the point of him being tried in court as a dad. But Homer is a dad, and his boneheaded-ness is funnier. [...] Homer is launching himself headfirst into every single impulsive thought that occurs to him."
Homer's behavior has changed a number of times through the run of the series. He was originally "very angry" and oppressive toward Bart, but these characteristics were toned down somewhat as his persona was further explored. In early seasons, Homer appeared concerned that his family was going to make him look bad; however, in later episodes he was less anxious about how he was perceived by others. In the first several years, Homer was often portrayed as dumb yet well-meaning, but during Mike Scully's tenure as executive producer (seasons nine, 1997 to twelve, 2001), he became more of "a boorish, self-aggrandizing oaf". Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote, "under Scully's tenure, The Simpsons became, well, a cartoon. ... Episodes that once would have ended with Homer and Marge bicycling into the sunset... now end with Homer blowing a tranquilizer dart into Marge's neck." Fans have dubbed this incarnation of the character "Jerkass Homer". At voice recording sessions, Castellaneta has rejected material written in the script that portrayed Homer as being too mean. He believes that Homer is "boorish and unthinking, but he'd never be mean on purpose." When editing The Simpsons Movie, several scenes were changed to make Homer more sympathetic.
The writers have depicted Homer with a declining intelligence over the years; they explain this was not done intentionally, but it was necessary to top previous jokes. For example, in "When You Dish Upon a Star", (season 10, 1998) the writers included a scene where Homer admits that he cannot read. The writers debated including this plot twist because it would contradict previous scenes in which Homer does read, but eventually they decided to keep the joke because they found it humorous. The writers often debate how far to go in portraying Homer's stupidity; one suggested rule is that "he can never forget his own name".
The comic efficacy of Homer's personality lies in his frequent bouts of bumbling stupidity, laziness and his explosive anger. He has a low intelligence level and is described by director David Silverman as "creatively brilliant in his stupidity". Homer also shows immense apathy towards work, is overweight, and "is devoted to his stomach". His short attention span is evidenced by his impulsive decisions to engage in various hobbies and enterprises, only to "change ... his mind when things go badly". Homer often spends his evenings drinking Duff Beer at Moe's Tavern, and was shown in the episode "Duffless" (season four, 1993) as a full-blown alcoholic. He is very envious of his neighbors, Ned Flanders and his family, and is easily enraged by Bart. Homer will often strangle Bart on impulse upon Bart angering him (and can also be seen saying one of his catchphrases, "Why you little—!") in a cartoonish manner. The first instance of Homer strangling Bart was in the short "Family Portrait". According to Groening, the rule was that Homer could only strangle Bart impulsively, never with premeditation, because doing so "seems sadistic. If we keep it that he's ruled by his impulses, then he can easily switch impulses. So, even though he impulsively wants to strangle Bart, he also gives up fairly easily." Another of the original ideas entertained by Groening was that Homer would "always get his comeuppance or Bart had to strangle him back", but this was dropped. Homer shows no compunction about expressing his rage, and does not attempt to hide his actions from people outside the family.
Homer has complex relationships with his family. As previously noted, he and Bart are the most at odds; but the two commonly share adventures and are sometimes allies, with some episodes (particularly in later seasons) showing that the pair have a strange respect for each other's cunning. Homer and Lisa have opposite personalities and he usually overlooks Lisa's talents, but when made aware of his neglect, does everything he can to help her. The show also occasionally implies Homer forgets he has a third child, Maggie; while the episode "And Maggie Makes Three" suggests she is the chief reason Homer took and remains at his regular job (season six, 1995). While Homer's thoughtless antics often upset his family, he on many occasions has also revealed himself to be a caring and loving father and husband: in "Lisa the Beauty Queen", (season four, 1992) he sold his cherished ride on the Duff blimp and used the money to enter Lisa in a beauty pageant so she could feel better about herself; in "Rosebud", (season five, 1993) he gave up his chance at wealth to allow Maggie to keep a cherished teddy bear; in "Radio Bart", (season three, 1992) he spearheads an attempt to dig Bart out after he had fallen down a well; in "A Milhouse Divided", (season eight, 1996) he arranges a surprise second wedding with Marge to make up for their unsatisfactory first ceremony; and despite a poor relationship with his father Abraham "Grampa" Simpson, whom he placed in a nursing home as soon as he could while the Simpson family often do their best to avoid unnecessary contact with Grampa, Homer has shown feelings of love for his father from time to time.
Homer is "a (happy) slave to his various appetites". He has an apparently vacuous mind, but occasionally exhibits a surprising depth of knowledge about various subjects, such as the composition of the Supreme Court of the United States, Inca mythology, bankruptcy law, and cell biology. Homer's brief periods of intelligence are overshadowed, however, by much longer and consistent periods of ignorance, forgetfulness, and stupidity. Homer has a low IQ of 55, which would actually make him unable to speak or perform basic tasks, and has variously been attributed to the hereditary "Simpson Gene" (which eventually causes every male member of the family to become incredibly stupid), his alcohol problem, exposure to radioactive waste, repetitive cranial trauma, and a crayon lodged in the frontal lobe of his brain. In the 2001 episode "HOMR", Homer has the crayon removed, boosting his IQ to 105; although he bonds with Lisa, his newfound capacity for understanding and reason makes him unhappy, and he has the crayon reinserted. Homer often debates with his own mind, expressed in voiceover. His mind has a tendency to offer dubious advice, which occasionally helps him make the right decision, but often fails spectacularly. His mind has even become completely frustrated and, through sound effects, walked out on Homer. These exchanges were often introduced because they filled time and were easy for the animators to work on. They were phased out after the producers "used every possible permutation".
Producer Mike Reiss said Homer was his favorite Simpsons character to write: "Homer's just a comedy writer's dream. He has everything wrong with him, every comedy trope. He's fat and bald and stupid and lazy and angry and an alcoholic. I'm pretty sure he embodies all seven deadly sins." John Swartzwelder, who wrote 60 episodes, said he wrote Homer as if he were "a big talking dog ... One moment he's the saddest man in the world, because he's just lost his job, or dropped his sandwich, or accidentally killed his family. Then, the next moment, he's the happiest man in the world, because he's just found a penny — maybe under one of his dead family members ... If you write him as a dog you'll never go wrong." Reiss felt this was insightful, saying: "Homer is just pure emotion, no long-term memory, everything is instant gratification. And, you know, has good dog qualities, too. I think, loyalty, friendliness, and just kind of continuous optimism."
Why He Deserves Some Donuts
- He is one of the most iconic cartoon characters ever created apart from iconic characters like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and SpongeBob SquarePants. He is also possibly one of the most famous fictional characters out there.
- He is one of the biggest adult cartoon icons in history.
- His iconic "D'oh" catchphrase, which was so popular that it actually became a word in the dictionary as an exclamation to express dismay of realizing that one's actions seem stupid or when something has gone wrong.
- His famous obsession with donuts is timeless and funny.
- He is an extremely caring and loving man when he needs to be, like when he stood up for Ned Flanders, now that's something to show Ned respect for a change.
- Homer's moments of stupidity and accident-prone clumsiness were always done hilariously.
- And in spite of Homer's foolish and comical demeanor, on the intelligence front, when properly motivated or passionate about something, he can be very efficient: across various episodes, he's become a top employee for Globex, started a very successful home security business, and was able to trick Mr. Burns into making him CEO of the power plant, which he did in revenge for his rather comprehensive safety report being ignored.
- Homer can be incredibly intelligent when in various episodes. He speaks several languages, is a Grammy-Award-winning songwriter and musician, a skilled poker player, a master marksman, and may know a bit of astrophysics. He's also juggled many, many careers with varying degrees of success, pulled off a scheme to trick Mr. Burns into making him CEO of the power plant, and formed a security company so successful and efficient that Quimby appointed him chief of police and fired Wiggum. The episode "HOMR" reveals he has a crayon stuck up his nose that limits his brain functionality, but when he has it temporarily removed his IQ jumps 50 points and he realizes his full potential (before having it put back at the end of the episode).
- With that said, he can be a great husband and father at times.
- He has accomplished some great feats. For example, he once started a buddy cop relationship with Ned Flanders, which is badass.
- He was in a great band when he was younger.
- His mean-spirited nature can be hilarious, especially when he strangles Bart (despite promoting child abuse), and even in the Tracey Ullman show shorts, and also in the first season.
- He got upset when he made his first enemy, showing that he does not want to hold grudges with anyone.
- He has had many memorable and hilarious forms of chemistry with Flanders (despite Homer belittling him most of the time), Mr. Burns (despite how deceptive he is), and even his own brain.
- Dan Castellaneta's voice role for him is just what an airhead father always says.
- As for now, he was an employee lesser than 200 jobs, making him the most worked animated character from different jobs in history!
- He managed to recover from flanderization starting with season 31, reverting back to the character we all know and love again.
- He can act insensitive and lazy at times.
- His running gag of strangling Bart, while hilarious depending on your view, is still child abuse nonetheless.
- His relationship with Flanders is zigzagged. He started off resentful and jealous towards Flanders if in a passive-aggressive sort of way. Starting from Season 6, he became more and more obsessively hateful towards Flanders and was obsessed with making a fool of him. This toned down greatly after Maude's death (likely because there was little way of having him torment a mourning Flanders without crossing into out-and-out vile territory), his treatment of Ned is finally more like a playful rivalry or even just a case of innocently insensitive, and it's about time it has toned down because it almost had Homer take a step too far.
- His character sadly got flanderized completely during seasons 11-30, even though he isn't as horrible as Peter Griffin. Thankfully, he did finally manage to recover from flanderization in season 31, but he still has some flaws that remain. Though depending on your view, he, along with Bart, is still likable.
- Even before his flanderization in season 11 and even after he recovered from flanderization, he sometimes has mean-spirited moments that can be unfunny and just sad, and he is sometimes miswritten as totally selfish and uncaring, and as borderline abusive towards his family and friends, which is very notable in the episode "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"", in which he made his father lose his kidneys and spent nearly half of the episode trying his hardest to not save him.
Homer Simpson is one of the most popular and influential television characters by a variety of standards. USA Today cited the character as being one of the "top 25 most influential people of the past 25 years" in 2007, adding that Homer "epitomized the irony and irreverence at the core of American humor". Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, believes that "three centuries from now, English professors are going to be regarding Homer Simpson as one of the greatest creations in human storytelling." Animation historian Jerry Beck described Homer as one of the best animated characters, saying, "you know someone like it, or you identify with (it). That's really the key to a classic character." Homer has been described by The Sunday Times as "the greatest comic creation of [modern] time". The article remarked, "every age needs its great, consoling failure, its lovable, pretension-free mediocrity. And we have ours in Homer Simpson."
Despite Homer's partial embodiment of American culture, his influence has spread to other parts of the world. In 2003, Matt Groening revealed that his father, after whom Homer was named, was Canadian, and said that this made Homer himself a Canadian. The character was later made an honorary citizen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, because Homer Groening was believed to be from there, although sources say the senior Groening was actually born in the province of Saskatchewan. In 2007, an image of Homer was painted next to the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, England as part of a promotion for The Simpsons Movie. This caused outrage among local neopagans who performed "rain magic" to try to get it washed away. In 2008, a defaced Spanish euro coin was found in Avilés, Spain with the face of Homer replacing the effigy of King Juan Carlos I.
On April 9, 2009, the United States Postal Service unveiled a series of five 44-cent stamps featuring Homer and the four other members of the Simpson family. They are the first characters from a television series to receive this recognition while the show is still in production. The stamps, designed by Matt Groening, were made available for purchase on May 7, 2009.
Homer has appeared, voiced by Castellaneta, in several other television shows, including the sixth season of American Idol where he opened the show; The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he performed a special animated opening monologue for the July 24, 2007, edition; and the 2008 fundraising television special Stand Up to Cancer where he was shown having a colonoscopy.
On February 28, 1999, Homer Simpson was made an honorary member of the Junior Common Room of Worcester College, Oxford. Homer was granted the membership by the college's undergraduate body in the belief that ″he would benefit greatly from an Oxford education″.
Homer has also been cited in the scientific literature, in relation to low intelligence or cognitive abilities. A 2010 study from Emory University showed that the RGS14 gene appeared to be impairing the development of cognitive abilities in mice (or, rather, that mice with a disabled RGS14 gene improved their cognitive abilities), prompting the authors to dub it the "Homer Simpson gene".