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Guest Characters

Over the years The Simpsons have had some memorable guest stars. I’m not talking about people who play themselves, although that might make a good list itself, but playing characters, ones we have come to love. Though I’d never claim this is a complete list, these are the top ten guests of the 180 or so I could find.


Honorable Mention: Elizabeth Taylor; Maggie – There have only been two official words spoken by Maggie on The Simpsons. One happened back when the yellow family was on The Tracy Ullman show. But then they did an episode about Maggie, a heart-tugger if there ever was one, and Maggie got to say her first word. (Do you remember what it was?) The producers could have had any of their talented cast voice the word, but realizing it was a momentous occasion they brought in Liz. Well done.

#10 Michelle Pfeiffer; Mindy Simmons – “Think unsexy thoughts…think unsexy thoughts…”

#9 Johnny Cash; Space Coyote – This weird wonderful episode wouldn’t have worked without the coyote spirit guide, who one moment dispensed Zen-like advice, and the next tried to gnaw on Homer’s leg.

#8 Spinal Tap – “We salute you, oh half-inflated devil lord….Oi.”

#7 Danny DeVito; Herb Powell – If Homer was going to have a brother, I’m glad he was voiced by Danny. I wish I had a brother like ‘Uncky Herb,’ ‘cause maybe then he’d give me a bird who was DRINKING THE WATER!

#6 Albert Brooks; Hank Scorpio – Brooks has done more characters than perhaps any guest, but Scorpio’s my favorite. I love how caring he was of his employees, but then how ruthless he was when taking over the world. I love how he gave Homer a choice between destroying Italy and France and then commented, “Nobody ever says Italy…” And, he got his own theme song!

#5 Jon Lovitz; Artie Ziff, et al – I also loved his director from “Streetcar,” but Artie stands on top, and I think this quote gets it right. “Marge, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell everyone about my ‘busy hands.’ Not for my sake, but I am so respected, it would damage the TOWN to hear it.”

#4 Glenn Close; Grandma Simpson – What a classy woman. My friend April told me once her favorite part was that it was Joe Namath’s wild hair that caused Grandma to go all hippie. I like that she was ornery but loving, sophisticated yet straight-forward. Glenn Close deserved an Emmy nomination for the gravitas she brought this woman.

#3 Joe Mantegna; Fat Tony – With apologies to Tony Soprano and Vito Corleone, Fat Tony is the greatest gangster in history. He’s violent, yet sensitive. A complete boss, yet nourishes his employees’ feelings. And, let’s not forget he’s a devotee of the lively arts!

#2 Kelsey Grammer; Side Show Bob – From the very beginning Side Show Bob Terwilliger won us over as the murderous criminal with more than a little touch of fey in him. One minute he could be fiendish in his plans to commit murder, while the next he could be talked into performing the entire score of “The H.M.S. Pinafore.” The Side Show Bob moments deserve their own list, but I’ll content myself by pointing out that no one ever made hitting a rake so funny.

and the number one Simpsons Guest Character….

#1 Phil Hartman; Troy McClure/Lionel Hutz – a little piece of The Simpsons died when Hartman left us. There simply never have been better characters than Lionel Hutz: Attorney at Law and Troy McClure (“You may remember me from such films as….”) My favorite Hutz quote was when Homer wanted to sue the Sea Captain for throwing him out of The Frying Dutchman before Homer had all he could eat, and Hutz said, “This is the most flagrant case of false advertising since my suit against THE NEVERENDING STORY.” As for McClure, I will ALWAYS remember him in such shows like The Simpsons.