13 Simpsons characters' real-life inspirations (2024)

The Simpsons has a bigger ensemble cast of characters than any other show on television (except maybe Game of Thrones, which is insanely well-populated). But did you know that many of the most iconic Springfield residents were based on real people?

Not only were creator Matt Groening's parents named Homer and Marge (her maiden name was Wiggum), and his sisters named Lisa and Maggie, but there are plenty of other characters that had their roots in the real world. (By the way, his other sister, Patty, gave her name to Marge's sister Patty in the show, while his brother Mark… didn't.)

1. Moe - based on comic Rich Hall

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Ever see stand-up comic Rich Hall on QI and think to yourself, 'Who does he remind me of?' The answer is probably Moe from The Simpsons.

Rich himself said back in 2007: "I suspected that Moe was based on me because I used to write with George Meyer back when he was one of the original writers on the show. Matt Groening was a fan of my stuff. Other people said, 'You look and sound just like Moe.' Then Matt confirmed it."

2. Mr Burns - based on two business tycoons

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Groening has confirmed that the richest man in Springfield was based principally on the one-time world's richest man, John D Rockefeller. Animator David Silverman, meanwhile, claims he based Burns's look on a combination of a praying mantis and the former head of Fox broadcasting, Barry Diller.

3. Barney - based on a 1950s comedy character

Homer's best drinking and burping pal was inspired by a character from The Jackie Gleason Show named Crazy Guggenheim (played by Frankie Fontaine). CG was a constantly drunken character who appeared opposite Jackie's straight man bartender.

4. Frank Grimes - based on Michael Douglas in Falling Down

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Can't unsee it now, can you? And we bet even D-Fens had a better day than when Grimey met Homer.

5. Apu - based on Peter Sellers in brownface

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While it's still questionable having Caucasian Hank Azaria voice Indian character Apu (an accusation Azaria isn't blind to) he has said he actually based his voice on another white actor pretending to be Indian: Peter Sellers 's character Hrundi V Bakshi in 1968 movie The Party.

6. Troy McClure - based on two B movie icons

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The ultimate Simpsons B-movie star, Troy McClure, is a combination of real life B-movie actors: Doug McClure and Troy Donahue. Thankfully, Doug wasn't offended - his daughter told Simpsons producer Mike Reiss that her father was a big fan before his death in 1995, and that she and her sister would often call him Troy as a joke.

7. Homer - based on Walter Matthau's voice

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Homer was originally more of a grouchy dad than the lovable buffoon we all know today, and according to voice actor Dan Castellaneta, his main inspiration for the voice was influential character actor Walter Matthau. Hear him explain how this came about right here.

8. Mayor Quimby - based on JFK

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Springfield's womanising Mayor was based on American President John F Kennedy. Mainly his voice. Not the womanising. At all.

9. Chief Wiggum - based on American actor Edward G Robinson

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Hank Azaria has said that the inept cop is essentially an impression of Hollywood great Robinson. This was even joked about on the show itself, especially in 2008's 'Treehouse of Horror XIX' when Wiggum and Robinson's ghost accuse each other of being rip-offs.

10. Dr Nick - based on Elvis's controversial doctor

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The dodgy quack doctor was heavily based on Elvis Presley's longtime pill-dispensing doctor George Nichopoulos, who became a controversial figure due to the King's ultimately fatal use of prescription drugs. Also known as Dr Nick, the real-life doctor died aged 88 in February this year.

11. Rainier Wolfcastle - based on Arnie

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Obviously.

12. Krusty the Clown - based on a real life clown

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Matt Groening based Springfield's biggest star on a clown named Rusty Nail (aka James Allen), a frankly scary clown he used to watch as a child. Meanwhile, Krusty's backstory was based on that of legendary US comic Jackie Mason, whose father was an Orthodox rabbi.

13. Bumblebee Man - based on a real-life Mexican TV star

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You may think Bumblebee Man (aka the Channel Ocho Bee) a tad absurd, but he's actually based on a real Mexican TV superhero known as El Chapulin Colorado, aka 'The Red Grasshopper'. The show was huge in Mexico and ran for eight seasons until 1981. Star Roberto Gómez Bolaños died aged 85 in 2014. Ay, que lastima.

13 Simpsons characters' real-life inspirations (2024)

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