Instead of talking about the Simpson family today, I want to talk about secondary characters. Characters that don't have the last name Simpson. I'm talking about people like Sideshow Bob, Chief Wiggum, Principal Skinner, Edna Krabappel, Ned Flanders, the list goes on and on and on. There's an endless number of secondary characters. So many in fact, some have had multiple, entire episodes dedicated to things that have happened in their lives. I have three personal favorites, and those are the ones I will focus on today. I'll come back to this topic many more times on the site, but, just today, I'm picking my three favorites to tell you about.
When it comes to secondary characters, I'll take Troy McClure, Milhouse Van Houten and, far and away the best secondary character, in my opinion, Dr. Nick Riviera. These three have had story arcs and multiple episodes that focus solely on them. Hell, Dr. Nick had a somewhat monumental occurrence happen to him in " The Simpsons Movie", when he was crushed by the dome and said his trademark line, with one huge difference, "bye everybody". That was heartbreaking to me, but I'll touch on that later in this piece.
I first want to talk about Troy McClure. Voiced by the genius and hilarious Phil Hartman. He died way before his time, especially for his voice work on "The Simpsons". There could've been so many more stories than they already had, but the ones that they do have are great. It's a shame that he died so young, just a shame. But, let's focus on the hilarity we did get from Troy McClure. Troy McClure was Springfield's "movie star". He was once a TV movie star, a long time ago, and as time went by, he settled for roles in student teaching films. He was a has been, that never really was. He had a moment in the spotlight. He married Marge's sister, Selma, and, for a very brief moment, studios were all over him because he was a married man and the rumors about him and fish were a thing of the past. He even had a shot at being McBain's new sidekick(McBain is Rainier Wolfcastle's, Springfield's legit movie star, best known role) if he and Patty could have a baby. But, the marriage was a sham and they didn't really love one another, so why bring a baby into the world. McClure lost out on the role and was exiled back to his student films. The fact that he is always confident and doesn't realize that he's a joke of an actor, makes me like his character even more. He's in the clouds and oblivious to the world around him. He always greets people with, "Hi, I'm Troy McClure and you may remember me from my role in" add any terrible, TV movie. He is/was such a great impression of these actors that think they're a big deal, but most people know that they're a has been, or in Troy McClure's case, a never been. I love me some Troy McClure and I recommend you watch the episode where he marries Selma ("A Fish Called Selma" season 7, episode 19) to see Troy McClure at his best. It's a great episode.
Next, we have Bart Simpson's nerdy, pushover of a best friend, Milhouse Van Houten. Milhouse is the epitome of a dork. He does anything Bart tells him to do, no questions asked. He's in love with Lisa, but she could care less about him. Homer refers to him as a wiener on multiple occasions. Hell, he even looks like the nerd on the Dating Game board game the Simpsons play when they stay at the Flanders' summer cottage. Milhouse has some of the greatest and most memorable moments on the show. There's the episode where Bart steals the video game, earlier in the episode Milhouse tells Bart how great the game is and Millhouse has only entered his name, Thrillhouse. But, when the camera shows you his name on the game, it reads Thrillho. He couldn't get the last three letters in. Another great Milhouse moment happens when Homer becomes an artist and floods the town. Milhouse is complaining about his flood pants, but the water comes and he rejoices, "my shoes are soaking wet, but my ankles are bone dry! Everything is coming up Milhouse!". That's a classic line. In the episode where Bart gets Laddie, Bart and Milhouse are talking about lost pets and he says to Bart, "remember that time you said I never had a fish, but then I found the bowl? Why did I have the bowl Bart, why?". I love stuff like that. When he moves to the big city with his mom and tries to become a cool kid by dying his hair and giving Bart a wedgie is hilarious. He's such a failure at being cool, and he loves Bart so much, that while he's giving him a wedgie, he tells Bart that he will always love him. The best Milhouse episode is easily when he becomes Fall Out Boy in the "Radioactive Man" movie ("Radioactive Man" season 7, episode 2). We see some Milhouse depth and sadness in this episode. He doesn't want to be famous and is so distraught, he runs off the set during the critical acid spill scene. Another thing I like about this episode, you see Bart's jealousy, but also love for his friend when, he's talking to what appears to be Milhouse, then Milhouse blows up, but we very quickly find out that it's a dummy for the movie. Bart is so sad, he keeps saying, "I wished him well, I wished him well!". So, Bart has an equal amount of respect that Milhouse has for him. Milhouse Van Houten is a power house on "The Simpsons".
Lastly, my personal favorite besides Homer, we have the incredibly hilarious Dr. Nick Riviera. He's the greatest secondary character of all time on any TV show ever made. He's laugh out loud funny. He's Springfield's cheaper alternative to Dr. Hibbert. He went to a fake medical school and has crazy ways of doing his job. For example, he needs Lisa's help to perform surgery after Homer has a heart attack. He tells Homer, during a different procedure, one to put hair on his head, to take this medicine to knock him out, but Dr. Nick takes the laughing gas, and he punches Homer instead. He offers to give free nose jobs. When Homer wants to gain 61 pounds so he can work from home, he seeks out Dr. Nick for advice, and he's more than willing to help him gain the weight. He even tells him that, if he has any doubt the food isn't unhealthy enough for him, rub it on the table and the grease will tell you if it's healthy or unhealthy. I even use Dr. Nick's famous catchphrase, "Hi Everybody!", as my opening to the X Millenial Man podcast. The bar none, best Dr. Nick episode is the one with 22 short stories ("22 Short Films about Springfield" season 7, episode 21). He has a very small part, but it tells you everything you need to know about him. He enters in front of the infractions board at the hospital and he's in trouble for using a knife and fork to perform surgery. His response to these allegations, "I cleaned them with my napkin". Next, Grampa Simpson is complaining of a problem and demanding a "quack". Who should answer the call, Dr. Nick. He tells Grampa that he has a disease called Bonus eruptus, when the skeleton tries to leap out of the body through the mouth. He proceeds to electro shock Grampa every five seconds, and the board drops all the charges against him. That's when he offers free nose jobs. It's a classically great "Simpsons" episode. Like I said earlier, he "died" in the movie after being crushed by a piece of the dome. This upset me because it meant that I wouldn't get anymore Dr. Nick centric episodes. He's popped up here and there, but he doesn't get lines or any interaction, he's just there. Dr. Nick has, for all intents and purposes, "died". It's a bummer.
So, those are my three favorite secondary characters involved with "The Simpsons". I will retread this topic and the Simpsons many times, but I wanted to point out how great these three particular characters are. They're awesome and watch the three episodes I mentioned for each to get a good idea of what makes them so memorable.
These three background characters are many of the true legends of "The Simpsons" and the Simpson universe.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the co-host of the X Millennial Man podcast. He will keep Hi Everybody alive and well until a dome covers the St. Louis area. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.