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The 12 Best Nameless Characters on The Simpsons

From Squeaky-Voiced Teen to Comic Book Guy, these beloved icons need no names

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    simpsons week The 12 Best Nameless Characters on The SimpsonsThirty years ago this month, America’s favorite animated family made their debut as part of The Tracey Ullman Show. To celebrate, CoS will be broadcasting live from Springfield all week with a slew of Simpsons features. Today, Andrew Bloom looks back at the recurring characters who didn’t need a name to make us laugh.

    Names are one of The Simpsons’ many strengths. There will never be another “Homer” this side of The Odyssey who isn’t compared to Springfield’s resident oaf. Only The Simpsons could mine the middle name of former President Richard M. Nixon and give it to poor Milhouse. And who could forget that Sideshow Bob’s real name is Robert Underdunk Terwilliger, an appellation as elaborate and ungainly as his hairstyle.

    But there are many within the show’s expansive cast of characters who haven’t needed a name to make a big impact on The Simpsons’ universe. Whether it be surly comic book store proprietors, voice-cracking Krusty Burger employees, or feline-tossing loonies, Springfield is filled with plenty of people that stand out, even if we’re not sure what’s on their driver’s licenses.

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    Instead, these folks are referred to by whatever we know them best for: their place of employment, their most popular accessory, or just their overall demeanor. And yet, they are as vital and hilarious as any other denizens of Springfield, even as they soldier on in relative, nameless obscurity. In that spirit, here is our salute to the 12 best characters from The Simpsons who are known by a title, a pseudonym, or as Marge once put it, a vague description, rather than an actual name.


    Squeaky-Voiced Teen

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    Voiced By: Dan Castellaneta
    First Appearance: “Brush with Greatness”
    Also Known As: Jeremy Freedman, Pimple-faced teen, Puberty Boy, Geeky Teenager, Steve, Pop, Mr. Peterson

    Squeaky-Voiced Teen is seemingly fated to work every menial job Springfield has to offer. He could be slinging milkshakes at one of the town’s many fast-food huts, bagging groceries at the local market, taking tickets at the Aztec Theater, or even selling knick-knacks in Australia. But wherever he goes, you can bet he’ll be performing some low-level task in a less-than-flattering uniform, while thanking the customers in his unsteady, perpetually-cracking voice.

    Perhaps that multitude of jobs helps explain his multitude of names. Principal Skinner once referred to him as “Jeremy,” the bullies called him “Mr. Freedman,” and Abe Simpson said his name was “Old Man Peterson.” Sadly for him, none of these have stuck. Instead, the character has long been better known by his puberty-bound description. It’s possible that each job comes with a new name tag, a moniker as transient and disposable as his employment prospects.

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    Nevertheless, Squeaky-Voiced Teen has left his mark on Springfield, remaining one of the show’s more recognizable characters despite never having a story, a fleshed-out personality, or even a name to call his own. There is a quiet determination to him, one that ensures he’ll never give up, no matter how silly, pointless, or painful the task before him may be. In short, Squeaky-Voiced Teen doesn’t let his ever-unstable vocal cords or his acne-ridden face get him down, just the cancellation of Futurama.


    Wiseguy

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “The Way We Was”
    Also Known As: Sarcastic Man, Raphael

    You cannot escape Wiseguy. He may be your limo driver, your exterminator, your handyman, or your security guard, but no matter where you go or what you do in Springfield, there is no evading either his various odd jobs or his trademark bon mots. Most often, he’s sitting behind a counter, selling pets, guns, or Sharper Image-style novelties, and dispensing his insults and casual asides with relish.

    Voice actor Hank Azaria has admitted that his take on the character is an impersonation of Charles Bronson, a detail the show has playfully acknowledged. But Wiseguy doesn’t carry his inspiration’s appellation, with the only hint of a real name coming from Sideshow Bob having once referred to him as “Raphael.”

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    He is, however, one of the few Simpsons characters whose lack of a name has been acknowledged by folks behind the scenes. When asked what to call the character by the fans, one of the show’s sound editors, Bob Beecher, replied: “He doesn’t have one name. His character’s name always fits the scene, so he’s gone by many names: ‘Clerk’, ‘Shopkeeper’, etc. But in the script, the direction given to the voice is ‘Wiseguy Voice’. So call him ‘Wiseguy’ if you want.”

    And we do! Whether he’s adding “boyo” or “pally” to the end of a sentence or just cutting Springfield’s residents down a notch, it’s always fun to see Wiseguy turn up at each shop, eatery, or Bloodbath and Beyond outlet with yet another sarcastic remark.


    The Sea Captain

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “New Kid on the Block”
    Also Known As: Horatio McCallister

    When you need to go on a nautical voyage, try an all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant, or locate a training academy for wimpy lobsters, you’ll find The Sea Captain, there to steer you, feed you, or ask you for spare change. Like other characters on this list, The Sea Captain wears many hats in Springfield, though in this case, he’s always wearing the same hat. Sea Captain is quick with a “yarr” and eternally committed to making his living near the water, whatever form that may take this week.

    But unlike the many ships he’s piloted, The Sea Captain is rarely, if ever, known by his actual name. Though Homer refers to him as “Captain McCallister” in his first-ever appearance, since then the denizens of Springfield have simply referred to him by his familiar ocean-faring title. His seldom-used first name, Horatio, is appropriate for the aquatic aficionado, as he shares it with Horatio Hornblower, a naval officer in a series of novels by C. S. Forester.

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    But whether he’s fighting with a giant squid or ferrying hot pants to their final destination, The Sea Captain is utterly unsinkable, with our without a name.


    Crazy Cat Lady

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    Voiced By: Tress MacNeille
    First Appearance: “Girly Edition”
    Also Known As: Eleanor Abernathy

    Crazy Cat Lady is the platonic ideal of descriptive Simpsons character names. It says it all right there on the tin. She is a lady, around the same age as Homer and Marge. She loves cats, as evidenced by her massive collection of them. And she’s crazy, given her propensity to unleash her unintelligible ramblings and throw members of her furry brood at those who would dare cross her path.

    But in “Springfield Up”, Crazy Cat Lady not only received a name — Eleanor Abernathy — but she earned a backstory as well. Young Eleanor was a Lisa-like overachiever as a young girl. Determined from the start, she graduated with an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a J.D. from Yale Law School. But the strain of trying to be both a doctor and a lawyer eventually led her to take refuge in the comforts we all turn to in our weaker moments — cheap wine and pet-hoarding.

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    Still, Crazy Cat Lady is best known by her title, and she’s remained a memorable presence in Springfield. She ran for mayor after Joe Quimby was recalled. She revealed this season that she’s a talented opera singer. And she can bowl a strike with a fur ball in place of a bowling ball. These skills are impressive, and whatever you want to call her, she’s ready with a lightly deranged mumble and a fistful of feline whenever and wherever she’s needed.


    Blue Haired Lawyer

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    Voiced By: Dan Castellaneta
    First Appearance: “Bart Gets Hit by a Car”
    Also Known As: Mr. Burns’ Lawyer

    The competent, mercenary yin to Lionel Hutz’s yang, Blue Haired Lawyer has made his bones arguing on behalf of the likes of Mr. Burns, Freddy Quimby, and Fat Tony. He’s also represented such dastardly organizations as Itchy & Scratchy Studios, The Movementarians, and most fearsome of all, the Disney Corporation. If the Simpsons are in court, you can be sure he’ll be on the other side.

    Sadly, despite his talents in the courtroom, we’ve never learned Blue Haired Lawyer’s legal name. Animator Jim Reardon designed the character to resemble character actor Charles Lane, and former showrunners Al Jean and Mike Reiss have said that his voice was inspired by McCarthy-era lawyer Roy Cohn. Still, that’s left the man himself with only his profession and his Milhouse-like locks to go by.

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    Nevertheless, he has the unique distinction of being one of the few people in Springfield who actually seems good at his job. While he’s often no match for Bart and Lisa’s grand schemes, Blue Haired Lawyer gives sound legal advice and can hold his own in the courtroom using his nasally voice and skeptical demeanor. That skill as a jurist hasn’t made him well-known enough to earn an actual name from the show’s writers, but he seems content to ply his trade in Springfield’s kangaroo courts, even with nothing to put on his business cards.


    Duffman

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”
    Also Known As: Larry, Sid, Joel Duffman, Barry Huffman

    Lenny sums Duffman up well in the character’s first appearance when he declares, “Hey, it’s Duffman — the guy in a costume who creates awareness of Duff!” Duffman is uncomplicated. As the erstwhile spokesman for Duff Beer, all he needs is his trademark cape and sunglasses, the chance to throw in a few pelvic thrusts, and his traditional shout of “Oh yeah!” to be the booze-hawking life of the corporate-mandated party at a moment’s notice.

    But behind that machismo is a man who will occasionally turn against his corporate masters, teach adult mathematics at a local homeless shelter, or date one of Springfield’s most prominent gay men. He’s not exactly a philosopher in spandex, but there’s occasional depth behind advertising showman’s flashy exterior, even if he’s willing to reflexively sell out in favor of the new Duff Extra Cold™.

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    That said, Duffman’s real name is something a mystery, given his status as a corporate icon. Many different people have played the role, including our own Homer Simpson. But the regular Duffman has gone by Larry, Sid, and any number of other designations when breaking away from his beer-belted persona. Whatever you’d like to call him, Duffman lives on. As the man himself puts it, “”Duffman can never die! Only the actors who play him!” Oh yeah!


    The Yes Guy

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    Voiced By: Dan Castellaneta
    First Appearance: “Mayored to the Mob”
    Also Known As: Frank Nelson-Type, That Annoying Guy Who Always Says “Eeeh-Ye-e-e-es?”, That Jerk That Goes ‘”Eeeh-Ye-e-e-es?”

    Sometimes, all you need in a life is a grand affirmation, a big snootful of positivity, or an exuberant offering of acceptance. For all those occasions, there is The Yes Guy, ready to offer you an energizing cheer using his favorite word.

    There’s not much to The Yes Guy. Like Squeaky-Voiced Teen and Wiseguy, he shows up as an employee at any number of Springfield’s establishments, from The Gilded Truffle to Costington’s Department store to the local prison. He even has a Brazilian counterpart who, naturally, greets everyone with a hearty “Siiiiiiiiii!” When asked by Homer why he speaks in his distinctive manner, The Yes Guy responded that he’d “had a stroooooke” with the same cheery vigor.

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    Although the only hint we’ve gotten at The Yes Guy’s real name is in a deleted scene where he’s referred to as Mr. Pettigrew, his origins may point in a different direction. The character is an homage to character actor Frank Nelson, who made a splash on The Jack Benny Program and appeared on shows as varied as I Love Lucy, Sanford and Son, and The Simpsons’ prime-time animated forebear The Flintstones, using the same distinctive catch phrase and intonation at each stop. Though Homer characterizes him as a jerk, this irrepressible vessel of positivity cannot and will not be silenced.


    Old Jewish Man

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “Bart the General”
    Also Known As: Crazy Old Man

    As one of Grampa’s contemporaries at the Springfield Retirement Castle, Old Jewish Man is another in a long line of Springfield’s resident elderly grouches. But he has a uniquely Yiddish brand of perturbation in contrast to Abe Simpson’s more screwy cantankerousness, that makes him distinctive among Springfield’s wrinkly rabble.

    Old Jewish Man also has a flair for the entertainment industry. As a young man, he worked as a movie executive, tacking on schmaltzy endings to films like Casablanca and later passing on a secret reel of It’s a Wonderful Life entitled “killing spree ending.” But not content to only be behind the scenes, Old Jewish Man was briefly a performer himself. He started on street corners, upstaging Krusty with his pants-down jive, before making it onto television as the leader of the “Crazy Old Man Dancers.”

    For the most part, though, Old Jewish Man is content to hang back and offer the occasional world-weary remark. When Grampa refers to the clerk at the Kwik-E-Mart as “Achoo,” Apu reminds him that it’s “Pu” not “Choo,” only for Old Jewish Man to retort that he has trouble with both. When fondly reminiscing about his first Christmas, he pauses to recall the delicious Chinese food his family ate that day. But whether he’s kvetching or kvelling, Old Jewish Man is always a welcome presence.


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    Rich Texan

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    Voiced By: Dan Castellaneta
    First Appearance: “$pringfield”
    Also Known As: Richard O’Hara, Senator Shady Bird Johnson

    True to his would-be name, Rich Texan is known for two things: his immense wealth and his southern-styled visage. As one of Mr. Burns’ contemporaries, he’s played the role of the big-business boogieman, threatening to chop down a famous redwood tree Lisa wants to save. Most of the time, however, he’s just there for comic relief, ready to bring out his two pistols and yell “yee-haw” at the drop of a (10-gallon) hat.

    Over time, though, the show’s writers have grafted any number of quirks onto the otherwise straightforward character. In one episode, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder, needing to tap his foot between revolver-based celebrations. In another, he revealed that his lifelong dream is to build the world’s first drive-thru humidor. In yet another, it’s revealed that despite his bolo tie and penchant for hoedowns, he is originally from Connecticut.

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    But no matter what new detail the writer’s add, Rich Texan is more or less just there to do his usual Texan shtick. Whether he’s appearing as the owner of the Springfield Atoms or making elaborate wagers with Mr. Burns, you can count on him for a bit of cowboy boot-filled exultation.


    Bumblebee Man

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”
    Also Known As: Pedro, Chespirito

    The idea of a man who dresses in a giant bumblebee costume and whose sole comedic gift is to take pratfall after pratfall seems absurd. But Bumblebee Man is based on a real performer. As the story goes, when the show’s writers would turn on the Spanish-language channel, they would invariably see El Chapulín Colorado (“The Red Grasshopper”), a similarly buffoon-like man in an insect costume, created and played by a Mexican television comedian named Roberto Gómez Bolaños, better known as Chespirito. After repeated exposure to this brand of broad, entomological comedy, the character’s Simpsons equivalent, Bumblebee Man, was born.

    Like his inspiration, Bumblebee Man is a nonstop bastion of slapstick comedy. Speaking in broken, inaccurate Spanish, he may be pelted in the face with eggs, hit with a giant baseball, or accidentally kiss a donkey. But each time, he’ll let out some variation on “ay yi yi yi!”

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    Still, Bumblebee Man is at his funniest when he’s not in character. There’s something truly hilarious about hearing him discuss one of his standard bits of physical comedy in the tones of an auteur. And in “22 Short Films About Springfield”, when we see him off the set, it turns out his real life is as filled with slapstick and big humor as his onscreen one. We may never learn what he calls himself when he’s not in the suit, but Bumblebee Man is still a keeper.


    Just Stamp The Ticket Man

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “When Flanders Failed”
    Also Known As: Manfred Thomas

    How can one explain the greatness of Just Stamp the Ticket Man? Unlike everyone else on this list, he’s only made a handful of appearances. He doesn’t have any consistent jobs or recurring catchphrases. All he has is a big nose and a perturbed disposition, and yet, somehow, he’s utterly amazing.

    Though his appearances on the show are scant, each one features him suffering some bit of nonsense and offering a curt, devastating response. His designation comes from a visit to Ned Flanders’ store, The Leftorium, where he inquires about the rumors that Flanders will validate parking without purchase. When Ned answers in the affirmative, but trails off into some traditional Flanderian prattle, the unnamed man cuts him off with a flat “Just stamp the ticket,” and a star was born.

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    Just Stamp the Ticket Man is a favorite of the show’s die-hard fans. He might respond to Homer’s declaration that he “look[s] like a man who needs help satisfying his wife” with a swift punch in the face. He may see a diaper-clad Barney Gumble and say, “You sicken me.” He might listen to Marge maintain that any teenage son or daughter would think her wishbone necklaces are “really cool” and reply, “I doubt my son or daughter is that stupid.” Either way, there’s just something about his erudite, angry retorts to anyone and everyone that are as endearing as they are harsh.


    Comic Book Guy

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    Voiced By: Hank Azaria
    First Appearance: “Three Men and a Comic Book”
    Also Known As: Jeff Albertson

    Comic Book Guy is Springfield’s resident purveyor of comic books and insults. As the owner of The Android’s Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop, he has plenty of opportunities to wield his sarcastic wit and chastise his erstwhile customers for their ignorance. (It helps that he’s usually arguing with elementary school students.) Often the show’s stand-in for its own fans, CBG represents the nerdier and nitpickier sides of fandom, with his portly visage and declarations of “Oh, I’ve wasted my life” suggesting that the folks behind The Simpsons don’t always take a flattering view of their biggest devotees.

    Inspired by a similarly sanctimonious book store employee whom Matt Groening came across in Los Angeles, Comic Book Guy also lasted nearly a decade and a half without a name. The writers intended to give him one in his first appearance but kept putting it off, eventually defaulting to his generic title until it became ingrained as his official nom de guerre. At last, in the 2005 episode “Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass”, it was revealed, anticlimactically, that his real name is Jeff Albertson, dashing Matt Groening’s hopes that he would one day be dubbed “Louis Lane.”

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    Still, he will always be Comic Book Guy in our hearts and, more importantly, in our officially licensed merchandise. If asked about his placement here, Comic Book Guy would no doubt declare it the “Worst. Simpsons List. Ever.”

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