Springfield and its neighboring towns Shelbyville and Capitol City are filled with hundreds of characters that have appeared on “The Simpsons,” and many of them were intended to show up in one episode. For instance, Gil wasn’t supposed to be one of the show’s most beloved characters; he was just supposed to be on the show as a schmuck once, and then disappear to Dr. Marvin Monroe Land. But the fans loved him, so he stayed. Some characters aren’t so lucky, though, even if they’re equally as adored. On the next few pages are the ten greatest characters from “The Simpsons” who have appeared once and only once, voiced by one of the main actors (meaning: no guest stars, including Phil Hartman and Albert Brooks).
And before you wonder where he is, know that Rex Banner was voiced by Dave Thomas and Freddy Quimby has appeared in three episodes. Be sure to add your favorites in the comments section. (Will, the guy who ate a lot of cheese, would like to nominate the Creepy Frogurt Guy, and I’m mad at myself for not being able to fit in Knight Boat, the Crime-Solving Boat.)
To the Beemobile—I mean, the list!
#10. Shelbyville Manhattan (“Lemon of Troy”)
For the first five seasons of the show, I remember thinking, “What ‘The Simpsons’ needs is more incest jokes.” Then at the end of season six, in “Lemon of Troy,” we meet Shelbyville Manhattan, the founder of Springfield’s rival town and advocate of being able to marry your cousin. In fact, that’s the whole point of him and Jebediah moving—HEY LOOK, AN OLD MAN’S TALKING.
#9. Bruno, Gus, and Andy (“Bart vs. Australia”)
I recently had a long talk with an Australian who was visiting America for the second time in his life. Throughout the evening, we kept trading “In Australia, do they…?” and “Here in America, are there…?” questions back and forth, and I asked whether he had ever seen the “Simpsons” episode about the Land Down Under. He had, and said [to be spoken like Paul Hogan], “Yeah, that’s a very dunny rat and accurate representation, mate, and a corker of an episode, too,” including the beer-drinking, inner tube-floating nude prime minister Andy. (Slight editorial additions to his speech were added.)
#8. Cracker Executive (“A Milhouse Divided”)
The cracker executive (note: not racist) has a point. I don’t think unhappy people eat crackers, because that would just further their sadness. Those little, salty rectangles and/or circles just scream, “This is all I can afford, and because I’m alone in my bachelor pad apartment with my racing car bed, I just don’t care enough to unpeel the cheese wrapper to make an actual sandwich.” They’re happy people food, particularly married people food, and that’s why he fires Kirk after his split from Luann. That, and Kirk took the number one cracker factory in town into a tie for sixth, with Table Time and AlliedBiscuit.
#7. Mr. McGreg (“Homer’s Triple Bypass”)
“Why, if it isn’t my old friend, Mr. McGreg. With a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg.”
#6. God…frey Jones (“Homer Badman”)
One of the all-time great “Simpsons” scenes occurs in “Homer Badman,” when Homer goes on the scuzzy news program “Rock Bottom” to clear his name after allegedly sexually harassing the babysitter. The show’s hosted by God…frey Jones, who for the sake of ratings, edits Homer’s confession into “Babysitter and the Beast.” A brief transcript: “Somebody had to take the babysitter home. Then I noticed she was sitting on…her sweet…can.” (The clock going back and forth in the background is the best part.) With the TV frozen on Homer’s distorted face, God…frey can be heard screaming, “Mr. Simpson, your silence will only incriminate you further. No, Mr. Simpson, don’t take your anger out on me. Get back! Get back! Mist—Mr. Simpson—nooo!” Then: “Dramatization may not have happened.”
#5. Homer Glumplich (“Homer the Great”)
I’m getting married next year, and the soon-to-be Lady Kurp (horrific, I know) and I are currently working on cutting down our guest list from seemingly every person we’ve met in the past five years to a more reasonable figure. If I were smart, I’d do the No Homers Club method of only inviting one person per name. And not include that yokel Homer Glumplich. And then have the ceremony in an abandoned Baskin-Robbins.
#4. The Happiest Man in Springfield (“Hurricane Neddy”)
Among the many literal named characters on “The Simpsons” (The Yes Guy, Squeaky Voiced Teen, Blue-Haired Lawyer, etc.), my favorite is The Happiest Man in Springfield, who is, well, the happiest man in Springfield. His one and only line on the show: “No, no! Not me, friends! He’s talking about himself. But thanks for looking!” Have you ever stopped to wonder why he’s so happy, though? It’s gotta be the red bowtie.
#3. Joey Joe-Joe Junior Shabadoo (“The Last Temptation of Homer”)
Joey Joe-Joe Junior Shabadoo is funny in the same way that the words “Walla Walla,” “Keokuk,” “Cucamonga,” and “Seattle” are: they’re just fun to say. Homer is telling a purely hypothetical story at Moe’s about having romantic feelings for a co-worker, and he uses the fake name Joe-Joe Junior Shabadoo. Moe comments, “That’s the worst name I’ve ever heard,” and a man runs out of the bar crying. Barney shouts after him, “Hey, Joey Joe-Joe!” He was never heard from again.
#2. Roy (“The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”)
Roy, a Fonzie for the 1990s, was added to “The Simpsons” as a previously unseen, unknown houseguest to Mr. and Mrs. S after Fox executives told the show’s writing staff that they should add a new, hip character. Roy only has two lines of dialogue in the episode, yet he’s the perfect, meta parody of a show’s desperation on trying to “appear” cool, thanks to meddling from the Powers That Be. What’s become of Roy we’ll never know, but something tells me he’s still living with his two sexy ladies. Maybe we’ll see him again in a few years.
#1. Frank Grimes (“Homer’s Enemy”)
Before you get all “skeleton key in the wizard’s dungeon” on me, know that Frank Grimes himself has appeared in only one episode; his tombstone and his son make the other appearances. When “Homer’s Enemy” (written by the brilliant John Swartzwelder) aired in 1997, it stirred up a lot of debate among “Simpsons” fans on whether it was terrible or brilliant. The correct answer is, of course, brilliant, because as writer Josh Weinstein once said, “It really feels like what would happen if a real, somewhat humorless human had to deal with Homer.” It’s the show least “cartoon” episode, because Grimey, who had to teach himself to hear and feel pain again, was a surrogate for the audience—Homer’s fun to laugh at, because you don’t know him or have to deal with him, but what if you did? Frank Grimes did, and he died because of it.