After years of waiting, America’s first family of TV animation makes its big-screen debut Friday. Here is The Examiner’s guide to the colorful cast of characters populating Springfield, the home of The Simpsons.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Voiced by: Dan Castellaneta
Far from the typical alpha male, Homer is fat, lazy and incompetent, a spectacularly thoughtless husband and an equally negligent father. When he’s not at Moe’s Tavern or killing time at Springfield’s nuclear power plant by stuffing his face with doughnuts, he can be found staring at the TV, fantasizing about food (“Mmmm … pizza!”) or throttling his son. Favorite activities include bowling, sleeping and drooling.
Memorable quote: “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals — except the weasel.”
Voiced by: Julie Kavner
Named after and inspired by Margaret Groening, mother of series creator Matt, Marge Simpson is patient to a fault, always willing to look past her bumbling husband’s boorish behavior. As famous for her beehive hairdo (held in place by Johnson’s Water Seal) as her electric-blue dye job, she is an avid churchgoer and a strong-willed moralist, but that doesn’t make her a saint. Marge is a compulsive gambler, and she’s even been treated for road rage.
Memorable quote: “Homer, I thought our marriage could survive anything. But last night, you not only crossed the line, you threw up on it.”
Voiced by: Nancy Cartwright
Born on April Fool’s Day in 1980, Bartholomew Jojo Simpson, though basically good-hearted like all the Simpsons, is a proudly underachieving prankster whose pastimes include terrorizing Principal Skinner, taunting his sister Lisa and ensnaring his nebbish best friend, Milhouse, in a variety of dubious ventures. Despite his well-deserved reputation as a troublemaker, which culminated in his (short-lived) expulsion from Springfield Elementary School, he is a natural leader— a good thing, since he was once named the 46th most influential person of the 20th century by Time magazine.
Memorable quote: “There’s no such thing as a soul. It’s just something they made up to scare kids, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson.”
Voiced by: Yeardley Smith
Though she’s rarely the funniest of the Simpsons clan, Lisa is the smartest (with an IQ of 159) and the most compassionate, frequently acting as the family’s conscience. Much to the bewilderment of her carnivorous father, she has dabbled in vegetarianism, and despite the rousing weekly sermons of Reverend Lovejoy, she is a devout Buddhist. When she’s feeling blue — which is often, given her propensity for righteous indignation and her frustration with the world as she finds it — she relaxes with her baritone sax, inspired by the memory of her musical mentor, the late Bleeding Gums Murphy.
Memorable quote: “If cartoons were meant for adults, they’d put them on in prime time.”
Voiced by: Nancy Cartwright
Seen but seldom heard, Maggie has been suspended in a state of perpetual infancy since the show’s debut in December 1989. Although she seems content to remain mum, intently sucking on her ever-present pacifier, her few utterances have been memorable. Her first word, “Daddy,” was spoken by guest star Elizabeth Taylor, and she was once voiced by James Earl Jones in a Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Though ostensibly the most helpless of the Simpsons, she is basically indestructible, deftly escaping the perils of babyhood.
Memorable quote: “Daddy.”
Voiced by: Harry Shearer
Flanders, an aggressively chipper, God-obsessed widower with two Bible-thumping sons, is, in many ways, Homer’s opposite. He is thoughtful, generous and exquisitely chiseled beneath his well-worn green sweater — the yin to his neighbor’s gluttonous yang. But are his ostentatious displays of piety sincere? Named after Flanders Street in Portland, Ore., Matt Groening’s hometown, Ned has been exposed on more than one occasion as none other than Beelzebub himself.
Memorable quote: “Oh, the network slogan is true! Watch Fox and be damned for all eternity!”
Voiced by: Hank Azaria
Moe, whose tavern functions as a home away from home for Homer and his best friends Barney, Lenny and Carl, is a self-loathing immigrant with a degree in bartending from the illustrious Swigmore University. When he’s not bemoaning his physical shortcomings — as a pro boxer in his youth, he earned the nicknames “Kid Gruesome” and “Kid Presentable” — he has been seen attempting suicide, stealing Homer’s drink recipes and chronicling his depression in song with former Talking Head David Byrne.
Memorable quote: “I’m better than dirt. Well, most kinds of dirt. Not that fancy store-bought dirt. I can’t compete with that stuff.”
Milhouse Van Houten
Voiced by: Pamela Hayden
Bart’s best friend is a nerd without the brains, a lovable loser from a broken home whose sole ambition in life (besides collecting Carl Yastrzemski baseball cards and Radioactive Man comics) is to marry Lisa. His chances don’t appear to be strong, but one never knows when everything’s going to be coming up Milhouse.
Memorable quote: “What about all the times I didn’t wear a tutu? Nobody ever brings those up.”