Thirty 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.
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.
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.
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.