Simpsons fever has swept fans of the show, thanks to the upcoming crossover episode with Family Guy and the show’s recent series marathon on FXX. It’s given people a chance to see just how impactful and innovative the Simpsons was in its heyday.
One of the reasons for the show’s sustained success, was obviously its main cast of characters. They have also had an abundance of strong secondary characters and even their best one-off characters usually were hits. That’s just a testament to the strong writing of the show through its run.
What we’re looking for with this top 10 list is characters who were featured in only one episode, yet still left a significant mark. The ones that helped add a dimension to the main characters, or were just so damn entertaining. They may have been in background roles in future episodes or had a brief cameo somewhere, but they’re featured only once.
10) Shary Bobbins – “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious”
That character who is VERY familiar to someone you may have heard of, wink, wink. She is “an original creation, Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck.”
When the stress of running a household full of never-ending chores and strange requests, Marge has a nervous breakdown and the Simpsons decide to hire a nanny. After many unsuccessful interviews, Bart and Lisa devise a song summing up the perfect nanny.
Shary Bobbins seems to have a song for each bad habit the Simpsons have, including being messy, lazy and just their personalities in general.
It also seems that the whole town knows her from somewhere. She was engaged to Groundskeeper Willie before she got her eyesight back. Suddenly the ugliest man in Glasgow wasn’t good enough for her.
Despite her attempts at shaking the Simpsons of their defects, the family decides they’re happy just the way they are and Bobbins goes on her way. We know this will be a one-time only character because as she flies away on her umbrella, she gets sucked into a jet engine and bursts in flames.
9) Larry Burns – “Burns, Baby Burns”
If you’re a fan of comedy, you had to like Larry Burns. Larry wasn’t only voiced by Rodney Dangerfield, the character basically was Rodney Dangerfield, who happened to be Mr. Burns’ son.
As far as his backstory, what’s there to tell? He was at the orphanage until he was 18, then he got a job at a souvenir stand. Oh, and once he saw a blimp! After being picked up by the Simpsons, Larry is reunited with Mr. Burns, but Mr. Burns quickly finds out that Larry does not share any of his qualities; he’s more like a second Homer. He’s lazy, obnoxious and likes to go out drinking with the boys. He’s also not very bright, as when he applies to Yale, Mr. Burns’ alma mater, he spells ‘Yale’, with a 6.
When Mr. Burns decides he wants nothing to do with Larry, he and Homer stage a phoney kidnapping, i.e. Larry hides out with Homer in his basement, playing obscure card games and wisecracking about the family.
When Homer is caught, Larry confesses to the fake kidnapping and asks his father if he can accept him for who he is. But Mr. Burns can’t do it, because it’s just not him. Larry then reveals he has a wife and kids and decides to get the whole town into an impromptu party. Larry provided a perfect compliment to Homer, and his comedic persona fit the character’s bill. It was a wonderful treat for Simpsons fans.
8) John – “Homer’s Phobia”
As a character, John (voiced by film maker John Waters) gives Homer an education that gays aren’t a group to be feared, and as the Simpsons did best, they taught you something while making you laugh. Homer likes his beer cold, his TV loud and his homosexuals “flaming”. However, after finding out his new friend is gay, Homer doesn’t want to see him, because he’s uncomfortable with the fact that although John is gay he doesn’t exhibit the traits Homer tends to associate with homosexuals.
Homer also worries that Bart is showing homosexual tendencies, such as wearing a Hawaiian shirt, dancing with a wig, etc…
Homer pulls out all the stops to set his son straight, including taking him hunting, a ‘manly’ thing to do. However, Bart then points out that spending time alone with guys in the woods, seems kinda gay.
John then comes to save the day when aggressive reindeer begin attacking Homer, Bart, Moe and Barney. While Moe and Barney cower, John saves the day, proving that Homer’s idea of gays isn’t quite what he thought. Zap!
7) Jessica Lovejoy – “Bart’s Girlfriend”
Bart has finally met his dream girl. Someone who is beautiful, devious, and just as much of a hell-raiser as Bart, if not more-so. When Bart tries to be sweet, she shuns him. She only likes him when she sees his bad side. She likes Bart because he’s bad.
Bart begins doing things for Jessica Lovejoy, Reverend Lovejoy’s mischievous daughter, that even he feels uncomfortable doing. She ultimately shows that she’ll sell Bart down the river in a second when she steals the collection money from church and pins it on Bart. After she’s exposed as the thief, she admits that her ways are just a means to get attention.
Bart also realizes that he does in fact have a moral compass, which is key moment in the character’s development.
6) Mindy Simmons – “The Last Temptation of Homer”
Who ever knew Homer would find a woman as lazy and gluttonous as him? Homer and Marge are such polar opposites, making you wonder why Homer didn’t go for someone more like him. Here we find out Homer and Marge are perfect for each other (again) but that doesn’t stop Homer from being tempted.
When the plant is forced to hire their first female employee, it turns out to be someone Homer is smitten with, and despite his best efforts, he can’t get Mindy out of his head. After the two are sent off on a business trip, they end up together in a hotel, with a fortune cookie telling Homer he will find happiness with a new love. After a peck on the lips and some soul searching, Homer finds that Marge is the only one for him.
Still, it was great to see what Homer’s perfect match would be like.
5) Rex Banner – “Homer vs. the 18th Amendment”
Rex Banner might think he’s Eliot Ness, but he’s living in the wrong decade. After Springfield enforces a recently discovered 200-year prohibition law and Chief Wiggum’s failure to enforce it, Rex Banner is hired as new chief of police.
He’s quickly tasked with finding the beer baron (Homer), a mysterious character who’s been supplying the town with alcohol.
He made for a great adversary for Homer, who actually turns out to be a clever bootlegger. Banner enforces the law with an iron fist, but the breakthrough always seems to be under his nose. He raids Moe’s ‘Pet Shop’, filled with rambunctious yahoos and hot jazz music at 1:00 in the morning, but is unable to confirm his suspicion of alcohol in the joint.
He then questions Flanders and Comic Book Guy while Homer wheels beer ingredients right past him.
When the liquor dries out, Homer takes the fall for Chief Wiggum to get his job back. When given an opening Wiggum and his force catapult Banner out of Springfield.
4) Lyle Lanley – “Marge vs. The Monorail”
An absolute gem of an episode written by Conan O’Brien, Lyle Lanley attempts to scam Springfield out of $3 million with a faulty transportation car known as the Monorail.
Lanley gives us one of the most memorable Simpsons tunes in history breaking out in song for the Monorail. He runs an extremely simple school to find his monorail conductor, including notes that include “mono=one and rail=rail”.
Lanley’s monorails in Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook all collapsed and wrecked the towns and the same almost happens to Springfield before Homer and a mysterious scientist (not Batman) save the day. Lanley gets his, as he lands in North Haverbrook on his way to paradise and is presumably killed by the town’s mob.
3) Mr. Bergstrom – “Lisa’s Substitute”
Not included for the character’s comedy, but rather the impact Lisa’s substitute Mr. Bergstrom has on Lisa’s character. It’s a reminder of what a great teacher can do for all of us.
He’s the first real male role model in Lisa’s life, as Homer doesn’t exactly fit the bill. He helps Lisa grow her confidence and makes her understand that just because she feels like an outcast due to her intelligence, she is a special girl and will succeed in life.
Sadly for Lisa, he leaves town to teach in the projects of Capitol City. Lisa, distraught over losing someone so important in her life, is handed a note by Mr. Bergstrom. It holds all the advice she needs whenever she feels alone. After he departs, she reads the note and the message is simple, yet extremely powerful, “You are Lisa Simpson.” It’s one of those tear-jerking moments that the Simpsons was able to masterfully create.
His influence also gets Homer to grow closer to Lisa, introducing us to an interesting dynamic in the Homer/Lisa relationship. The episode also does wonders in developing Lisa’s character in general.
2) Frank Grimes – “Homer’s Enemy”
Frank Grimes points out the obvious to us, that Homer’s in no way qualified to be a nuclear safety inspector and should in no way be as successful as he is.
He despises Homer due to his lazy buffoonery, and the fact that he has everything a man could want, all stemming from a life of sloth and ignorance; a dream house, two cars, a beautiful wife, son who owns a factory, fancy clothes and lobsters for dinner!
Grimes’ puzzled, baffled demeanour over everyone neglecting the fact that Homer’s a pig drives him insane. Even his attempts to expose Homer as an idiot by sabotaging him and enabling him to enter a children’s contest doesn’t work and he goes insane. He goes on a memorable rant resulting in his hilariously abrupt death.
How do the Simpsons constantly make death funny?
1) Hank Scorpio – “You Only Move Twice”
It’s just Homer’s luck. He gets the best boss in the world and he turns out to be an evil super-villain, who wants to take over the world.
Homer gets a job at Hank Scorpio’s Globex Corporation and finds that he is good at his job, lives in a beautiful house, is financially set, yet his family is unhappy in Cypress Creek.
Homer is also completely clueless to the fact that Scorpio is evil, thanks to Scorpio’s friendly, motivational nature toward his employees and well, because Homer’s not the wittiest cat.
Whether it’s Scorpio yelling at his moccasins, tricking Homer into thinking he handed him a coat, his fascination with hammocks or the fact he can’t seem to provide packets of sugar, Scorpio provides an abundance of quotable lines and displays two opposites in one character.
His persistent support also leads him to buy the Denver Broncos for Homer, as a building block to Homer’s dream of owning the Dallas Cowboys. Scorpio also seizes the east coast.
Scorpio is a great comparative character to Mr. Burns, yet is evil in a whole different way. Practically every line of Scorpio’s is memorable and every Simpsons fan will inevitably quote him. They sure nailed this one.