The Simpsons is, unquestionably, the greatest cartoon series ever created. Although the newer episodes lack the charm of the earlier ones, it is still the king of cartoon comedy. A large part of this is the fantastic characterization, with countless classic characters that have unique, bold and hilarious personalities. There are many different types of characters in Springfield, ensuring that all kinds of strange and comical interactions and storylines can develop between them. This list is entirely subjective and everyone will have their own ideas, but the majority will agree that there can only be one character at the top.
10. Lenny Leonard
Although not a major character, Lenny brings plenty of humor to The Simpsons. He is often used for gags, as he is seen both at the Nuclear Power Plant and at Moe’s Tavern, which are the two places Homer spends most of his time. Lenny forms a duo with Carl Carlsen, and the unique relationship that these two share is often a source of comedy (including Homer constantly confusing the two). There have been instances that suggest that they share a sexual relationship, but this has never been made entirely clear. Although they are usually seen together, Lenny features more prominently than Carl and has a more developed role. Although not as hopeless as Homer, Lenny is often seen struggling with day-to-day life and is relatively simple. He is often the victim of bad luck, but will always be along for the ride when Homer is executing a drunken plan.
9. Hans Moleman
Hans Moleman is used sporadically throughout the show, and it is rare for him to appear in more than one scene in an episode, but he will often steal the show in these scenes and he is certainly a fan favorite. He is just 4’4″ and has the appearance of an old man (complete with a cane), but in one episode he admits “My name is Hans. Drinking has ruined my life. I’m 31 years old,” although his age is a debated topic. The running gag throughout the show is that he has extremely bad luck and is usually involved in huge accidents, but will always reappear unharmed. His bad luck, funny visual appearance, and only being used at the right time make him a fantastic character, and also responsible for one of the most popular moments in the show (Man Getting Hit by Football).
8. Edna Krabappel
Whilst the humor in The Simpsons is largely delivered by the male residents, there are some excellent and funny female characters too. None more so than Ms. Krabappel, who is Bart’s teacher at Springfield Elementary. Her desire for a partner and her non-existent love life is a recurring theme, but she has had several relationships with male citizens of Springfield. The most notable of which is with Principal Skinner, and the pair attempting to keep their relationship a secret (plus Skinner’s inexperience with women) was a main theme for a long time in the show. While her love life and attempts at seduction are her key source of humor throughout, she also has an interesting relationship with Bart. She is apathetic towards teaching, and her “ha!” catchphrase make her a fantastic and important character on The Simpsons.
7. Chief Wiggum
Springfield’s police chief, Clancy Wiggum is exactly what you would not want in a policeman. He is obese, lazy, ignorant, corrupt and, of course, has a love for doughnuts. His hopelessness as the chief of police provides plenty of comedy in the show, and it also allows Springfield’s residents to get away with anything. Despite this, he is a likeable character, and also a sympathetic one at times where he cannot do his job properly. Playing such an important role in Springfield, Chief Wiggum is used heavily and has entertaining relationships with a number of residents such as Snake, Mayor Quimby, Fat Tony, Apu and Homer. He is also usually accompanied by two other cops, Eddie and Lou, who are marginally better at their jobs but still lazy. On top of this, Chief Wiggum is father to Ralph Wiggum, which gives his character added value and importance.
6. Moe Szyslak
Moe is the owner and sole bartender of Moe’s Tavern, which is Homer’s favorite local haunt, and also where his drinking buddies go to drown their sorrows (this includes Barney, Lenny and Carl and a few other characters). Moe is rude and quick to anger, but also a character with low self-esteem (particularly around women), and he therefore hates himself at times. This makes him a sympathetic character, but also one that can provide comedy in a number of ways. His non-existent love life, the prank phones calls made to his bar by Bart and Lisa, his run-down bar, the shady operations he is involved with, occasional moments of sensitivity and his relationship with Barney (and the other bar regulars) are just a few examples of where he can give the show classic moments, and he has become one of the major characters of the show as it has progressed.
5. Principal Skinner
Principal of Springfield Elementary School, Seymour Skinner is constantly battling a school that is falling apart, full of unruly kids (particularly Bart Simpson) and hopeless teachers. Principal Skinner served in Vietnam, which explains the strict, militaristic attitude he attempts to use at school. Despite this, he lives in fear of his boss, Superintendent Chalmers, as well as his mother. His relationship with his mother (Agnes Skinner) is the source of much humor in the show, as he lives with her and is completely controlled by her demands, despite him being a fully grown man. It is said that the relationship that the two have is based on the relationship Psycho’s Norman Bates has with his mother, and this is alluded to in several scenes throughout the series. Although strict and uptight, his failings and unfortunate living situation makes him a sympathetic, likeable and comical character.
4. Ned Flanders
Springfield’s friendliest “neighborinh-o,” Ned Flanders is the next door neighbor to the Simpson family. He and his family are extremely religious and he is good natured and polite (a rarity in Springfield), but he sometimes struggles to maintain this. Despite his good intentions, he irritates Homer to no end, and the interactions that the two have are a main source of humor in the show. Despite this, Homer has a love/hate relationship with Ned and the two are frequently shown to be friends. His strange way of speaking (“okilly-dokilly,” “hi diddly-ho,” etc.) also brings plenty of comedy and makes him a highly quotable character. Flanders is used as a major character throughout the show, and his storylines usually involve his faith and trying to get his children to follow the bible as literally as possible. His faith is also tested at times, most notably when his wife (Maude) passes away.
3. Ralph Wiggum
Son to Chief Wiggum, and classmate to Lisa Simpson, Ralph is Springfield’s simplest character and easily one of the funniest. He has severe learning difficulties, fails to fit in with the other students, and comes out with unrelated, yet brilliant, lines such as “my cat’s breathe smells like cat food.” He has difficulty grasping things happening around him, and as an outcast he is an extremely sympathetic and likeable character. He is also happy and enjoys life, adding to his charm and humor. Although most of the time he is laughed at by the students, he occasionally makes friends, but latches onto them until they become irritated with them (this includes both Bart and Lisa). There are only a few episodes centered around Ralph, as he is mainly used in classroom scenes where he will say something stupid (“Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”) or be seen eating glue.
2. Mr. Burns
Although Mr. Burns is the main villain in The Simpsons, he is also one of the funniest and a fan favorite. He has an enormous fortune and is the owner of the Nuclear Power Plant (Homer’s boss), and this wealth and power allows him to carry out his evil plans. He is sometimes ruthlessly sinister, but his old age and frailty contrasts this power and this is what makes him such a hilarious character. He is out of touch with reality and relies heavily on his assistant, Smithers, but he is just as mean to him as everyone else. Being the main antagonist and Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns is one of the major characters and is used in most episodes. He will always forget Homer’s name, “release the hounds” on those that step foot on his property, and do everything he can to increase his wealth and power.
1. Homer Simpson
There could be no other character at the top, and Homer is the main character of The Simpsons for good reason. He is a character that everyone can relate to in some way, and he possesses all the traits for a hilarious, yet extremely likeable, character. He is lazy, overweight, slow, crude, and he overindulges, but he is also caring, loving, loyal and brave. His daily struggles in fatherhood, his career, and in life in general can provide both comedy and central plotlines, and there are also many moving episodes centered around Homer (most notably by the brief return of his mother). He, of course, has many great catchphrases and quotable lines throughout, and dozens of brilliant relationships with the other residents of Springfield. The entire show revolves around Homer, and he is the key factor in what has made it the most successful cartoon series of all time.