Everybody loves Homer Simpson- well, at least almost everybody. It’s hard to deny the character’s ‘lovable loser’ charm.
Ever since The Simpsons made its debut in 1990, viewers had no difficulty relating to the character- after all, we all have someone in our lives who reminds us of Homer.
Truth be told, there’s a little bit of Homer Simpson in every one of us.
But did you know that there are many layers to Homer Simpson? Here are some facts about the beloved character you probably didn’t know about.
Homer and his family actually had their start back in the late 1980s as part of the variety series “The Tracy Ullman Show.” Although the initial characterization of the family was still unrefined, the show had comedic potential.
Flashback to several years earlier, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening is writing music reviews for the alt-weekly paper the Los Angeles Reader. He would soon begin doing a comic strip titled “Life in Hell” about anthropomorphic rabbits living in the city. He would send them back to Oregon for the amusement of his friends.
The comic soon caught on and in 1980, the Los Angeles Reader eventually began publishing them on their pages. It won't be long before Groening would get his big break- this time by way of an offer to make “Life in Hell” a full animated feature. Originally intended to be interspersed between live-action scenes on the Tracy Ullman Show on the Fox network, the business-savvy artist instead pitched an idea to create a new show about the misadventures of a suburban American father. He would find inspiration from his real life, naming the characters after his own family- his father Homer, his mother Margaret, and his siblings Lisa and Maggie. The under-achieving and comic book-loving Bart (an anagram for 'brat') was Groening himself. The idea was given the green light and the rest, as they say, is history.
Meet Homer Simpson
While Bart Simpson and his anti-social behavior was the initial attraction for the series, it’s Homer’s lovable but dim (and perpetually annoyed!) character that truly anchors the show. Voiced by the actor Dan Castellaneta, Homer originally had a very different-sounding voice. For portraying Homer, Castellaneta took inspiration from the legendary actor Walter Matthau ('The Odd Couple,' 'The Taking of Pelham One Two Three') but found the voice difficult to maintain as the series progressed. He would eventually settle for a more comfortable timbre. It’s near impossible to imagine Homer uttering his infamous expression of frustration “D’oh!” in any other voice.
Homer as a Husband
The success of The Simpsons was its ability to mirror our weaknesses and little triumphs. Unlike real-life family comedy shows at the time, their foibles could get over-the-top at times, something that would be impossible to portray with real actors (Homer’s incessant strangling of Bart, anyone?).
As a husband, Homer is loving but at the same time neglectful of his wife- not in a malicious, two-timing way but more out of stupidity and laziness. He is also quite selfish. There is an episode where for his wife’s birthday, he buys her a bowling ball as a gift- something he intends on using himself. He is also a slave to his basest desires- alcohol and food. Alcohol was something that carried over from his bachelor days, while one suspects that Homer has always been somewhat of a glutton.
As a provider, it is estimated the number of jobs Homer Simpson has held is around 191. He started as an inept power plant technician before getting fired. Ironically, he would get re-hired as the plant’s safety inspector after leading a public protest against the power plant’s hazardous conditions. He has also worked as a monorail conductor, blackjack dealer, celebrity paparazzo, and even a prank monkey. Throughout it all, Homer manages to come through at the end of the day and provide for his family.
Homer as a Father
Homer has always had a contentious relationship with his eldest, Bart. Their relationship is defined by a mutual lack of respect tempered with occasional affection. Bart’s contempt for his father is the antithesis of his love for his hero, Krusty the Clown. The chain-smoking degenerate children’s entertainer could do no wrong in the young Simpson’s mind, and it is no accident that Groening fashioned Krusty’s appearance after Homer- he originally intended Krusty as Homer’s alter-ego before dropping the idea.
The artist found a way to bridge the chasm between the two characters by coming up with an episode where Krusty opened a clown college to pay off a gambling debt, and Homer played his star pupil. Young Bart has always held Krusty’s example above his father’s wishes, but there is an undeniable tenderness and authenticity beneath the dysfunctional father-and-son relationship.
In contrast, Homer tries his best for his idealistic and highly-intelligent daughter, Lisa. Lisa can do no wrong in Homer’s eyes and will do everything to keep her from being sullied by Bart’s or anyone’s influence – not that she needs it. Lisa is far more mature than her fumbling father.
Meanwhile, Homer tends to stay out of Maggie’s way. He admires her from a distance and does his best not to be in Maggie’s field of vision whenever he switches to his neanderthal mode- probably one of the few smart decisions he has made in his life.
With over 30 years under the show’s belt, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie have existed in an eternal present while Homer has somewhat aged. At the time of the show’s proper debut in 1990, it was established that Homer was born in 1956, making him 34 years old at the time. However, eagle-eyed fans have noted that Homer’s age has crept up incrementally. In one of the dialogues for the episode 'Lisa the Beauty Queen,' it was stated that Homer was 36, while his best friend Barney Gumble mentioned in a 1995 episode that he was 40. If we were to follow his original birth date, however, Homer would be 66 years old today.
Homer Simpson’s Legacy
Homer’s blue-collar, boisterous glutton persona has touched the hearts of millions worldwide. We laugh at his hopeless gullibility and cheer him on in his slightest of triumphs. He is perpetually trying his best despite his miserable failures and he always means well. This is probably why he is given as many second chances as he needs, despite the predictable outcome. His unique inability to rarely feel guilt whenever he commits to his desires coupled with his consequence-free life makes him the perfect anti-hero. He is the envy of all men.