The Simpsons Best One-Off Characters

Being a staple of television for decades, the Simpsons has amassed a spectacular cast of characters beyond the titular family. Characters like: Ned Flanders, Moe, Principal Skinner, Apu, Lenny & Carl, Chief Wiggum, and so many others are integral parts of the show’s success. But with such a sprawling ensemble the Simpsons has famously brought in a number of characters who have popped up for only a single episode, or sometimes only a single joke. Sometimes voiced by regular cast and sometimes special guests, here are the best one-off Simpsons characters.

Frank Grimes (Homer’s Enemy): Spawned from the idea of what it would be like if a normal, hardworking fellow had to endure Homer’s stupidity, Grimey, as he liked to be called, became a short-lived employee at the power plant. From the start of his life the odds were stacked against him, but Frank worked his way up to an apartment above a bowling alley working two jobs at the power plant and the foundry. However, his planned career path was interrupted by the disdain that grew for Homer, an oaf who somehow achieved everything he had been deprived of. In the end his drive to expose Homer for what everyone already knew he was is what ended up costing him his life.

Lyle Lanley (Marge vs the Monorail): Voiced by the late great Phil Hartman, this con artist taught us that a town with money is like a mule with a spinning wheel. With arguably the show’s most iconic song (“Mr. Plow” gets the other half of that argument though) he manages to convince all of Springfield they need to purchase a full-fledged monorail system. He just happened to have sold such things to: Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook and it put them on the map. Of course, his faulty construction forces a conductor Homer and a non-Batman scientist to save the day, but an unscheduled flight layover ensures Lyle gets his comeuppance.

Guy Incognito (Fear of Flying): Homer finds himself banned from his beloved Moe’s Tavern, and it is Guy Icognito who suffers for it. A posh fellow who only existed for mere moments on the show, but has been remembered by fans ever since. Walking into Moe’s he politely requests a beer, but his uncanny resemblance to the famed nuclear safety inspector leads the surly bartender to be confident it is Homer in disguise. He is beat up and tossed outside where Homer stumbles across the gentleman and is amazed at his being an exact double. But before this can of story worms could possibly be open, the Simpson patriarch gets distracted by a dog with a puffy tail.

Vicki Valentine (Last Tap Dance in Springfield): Once a Shirley Temple-esque star, Vicki now shares her wisdom to Springfield’s aspiring dancers at Lil’ Vicki Valentine’s School of Dance. Armed with the genius teaching philosophy of “tappa, tappa, tappa” (though in her heyday she would have killed for such a gift) she tries to get Lisa ready for the big recital despite having no discernable skill in teaching.

Rex Banner (Homer vs the 18th Amendment): Springfield is brought to its knees when a statute banning alcohol is rediscovered. To show he means business in enforcing this law, Mayor Quimby replaces chief Wiggum with the no-nonsense Rex Banner. An homage to Robert Stack in The Untouchables he makes it his business to stop all hooch in town and makes public enemy number one the notorious Beer Baron.

Joey Jo-Jo Jr. Shabadoo (Simpson and Delilah): Another character who exists solely for one single brilliant gag. Initially, he is simply a rare new face at the bar at Moe’s as Homer unloads his problems on the bartender. Giving the name of the hypothetical person in his dilemma of Joey Jo-Jo Jr. Shabadoo, Moe declares it the worst name he ever heard. This sends the newcomer sobbing and running out with Barney calling out behind him “Hey Joey Jo-Jo!”.

Hank Scorpio (You Only Move Twice): This classic episode answers the question of what would happen if Homer worked for a Bond villain. Moving his employees to an isolated community, Hank Scorpio brings a hip “don’t call me boss”-type style to being a boss. Oblivious to his evil machinations, Homer serves as manager to the charismatic megalomaniac’s nuclear division.

Handsome Pete (Bart the Fink): Another genius character created for a one-off brilliant joke. When looking for a presumed dead Krusty at the docks, the only picture they have to go on is a balloon with the clown’s face. It just happens to also resemble, Handsome Pete who plays a squeezebox and dances for nickels.

Mr. Bergstrom (Lisa’a Substitute): One of the earliest, and best guest stars on the Simpsons was legendary actor Dustin Hoffman. In one of the earliest examples of writers exploring Lisa’s social isolation being a result of her intelligence, she finally finds a desperately needed role model in the form of her goofy and charismatic substitute Mr. Bergstrom. For the first time in her life Lisa feels seen by someone who appreciates her though the nature of his job will inevitably take him away. If you do not get a little choked up by the note Mr. Bergstrom gives as his parting message you may have a rock for a heart.

Larry Burns (Burns, Baby Burns): An apple who fell very far from the tree, souvenir stand owner Larry Burns discovers his long lost father Mr. Burns and attempts to follow in his father’s footsteps. Unfortunately who he is as a person prevents this from happening, but he finds a kindred spirit in Homer who comes up with an ill-conceived kidnapping plot to earns Mr. Burns’ affection. Voiced by the legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield, Larry may have not gotten any regards or esteem from his father, but he became a quick fan favorite.

Space Coyote (ElViaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer): It is fitting that for Homer Simpson it would be a super hot chili that drives him into an existential crisis. Guiding him through his dream state is his spirit guide, a mystical coyote voiced by music icon Johnny Cash. He encourages the patriarch to find his soulmate, and while the message is reiterated by a talking dog, it causes Homer to take stock of his life and in the end grow that much closer to Marge with a new appreciation for the love of his life.

Brandon and Eliza (The Day the Violence Died): When Itchy & Scratchy is cancelled, it falls to Bart and Lisa to once again put their differences aside and team-up for the greater good. This time, things take a turn as their hardwork was for nothing as their dopplegangers, Brandon and Eliza had beat them to it. While the ending of the episode ominously ends hinting at a rivalry between the sibling duos nothing ever comes of it.

John (Homer’s Phobia): Cult favorite filmmaker John Waters guest spot on the Simpsons came at a time when seeing an openly gay television character on TV was a rarity. This made his role that much more important in the grand scheme of things. The Cry-Baby and Pink Flamingos director portrayed John, the owner of a new collectibles shop who befriends the Simpson family. That is except for Homer who has his homophobia brought to the forefront by the newcomer’s closeness to his family as he ridiculously fears for Bart. In an effort to counteract John’s kindness Homer makes it his mission to preserve Bart’s hetero-ness even if it means going to a steel mill. In the end, John saving Homer’s life causes him to change in his views.

Jessica Lovejoy (Bart’s Girlfriend): Bart’s first crush comes from the most unlikely of places, the daughter of Reverend and Helen Lovejoy. On the surface, she is everything one would expect from the angelic daughter of the stuffy minister but in reality she is a cruel and manipulative little kid. She uses Bart’s crush to make him her patsy, but after the congregation learns the truth during an impromptu search of her room the truth is revealed.

Number One (Homer the Great): Sir Patrick Stewart stands as one of the most esteemed actors of his generation. Whether he is onstage or in the Captain’s chair or the Enterprise, he has the ability to command a scene…..or command Stonecutters in the ceremony of Paddling the Swollen Ass With Paddles. As the leader of the secretive fraternity known as the Stonecutters he recognizes Homer as their long prophesied chosen one. But when catering to him means they have to work to benefit society he causes a change of allegiances to the Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers….but they can have one.

Mr. McGreg (Homer’s Triple Bypass): Dr. Nick Riviera may always have a warm greeting for everybody, but that does not mean he is competent at his job. This is abundantly clear when we meet one of his former patients, Mr. McGreg with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg. Undoubtedly the product of Dr. Nick’s handiwork he has no problem taking his anger out on the Hollywood Medical School Graduate.