The Simpsons is the greatest television show ever made. It’s not even up for debate – nothing comes close. Does The Sopranos have a blackboard gag and a sofa gag at the beginning of every episode? Does The Wire have “Do It For Her”, the most heartbreakingly beautiful moment in entertainment history?
There are more metal shows out there – Game Of Thrones was all dragons and swords, Vikings is all hammers and swords, and swords are extremely metal – but no better ones, and over the three decades it’s been on the air, The Simpsons has presented some pretty metal characters. Is 50 too many to look at? Let’s find out!
50. Principal Seymour Skinner
Remember when Skinner’s backstory changed, and he was revealed to be Armin Tamzarian? That was like when a band’s current line-up re-record all their classic stuff so as to cut their former colleagues out of a few bucks here and there.
49. Frank Grimes
Frank Grimes, or “Grimey” as he liked to be called, taught us that a man can triumph over adversity. Well, he didn’t really, he died, but he taught us that a really angry, tightly-wound guy can one day explode. He’s pretty much the protagonist of Iron Maiden’s song Man On The Edge. In fact, both character and song were inspired by the Michael Douglas film Falling Down, which also inspired Foo Fighters’ Walk video.
48. Herman Hermann
The one-armed proprietor of Herman’s Military Antiques shares various traits with metal legends. He has the same amount of limbs as Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, who famously lost an arm in a car crash and kept on drumming. He smokes like a chimney, just like far too many rock stars do. And he is a proud member of the Springfield Insectivorian Society, which isn’t a million miles away from Ozzy Osbourne snorting a line of ants.
He’s just so fucking cool, you know?
46. Professor Frink
Professor Frink once developed the eight-month-after pill. There’s a Slovakian grindcore band that are pretty into that.
45. Cletus “The Slack-Jawed Yokel” Spuckler
Whether eating a skunk, losing a toe or having dozens of children with his wife/cousin/sister, Cletus is certainly a man of extremes.
44. Tattoo Annie
In 1993, when the episode Marge In Chains (pretty metal title) was broadcast, tattoos were way out of the mainstream. Tattoo Annie, a prisoner who sports daggers, sick tribals and a back piece inspired by Mad Magazine’s fold-ins, was way ahead of her time.
43. Jessica Lovejoy
While from a very religious background, Jessica Lovejoy spreads mayhem wherever she goes. Alice Cooper, the septuagenarian Godfather of shock rock, comes from a similarly religious family and still pretends to be guillotined onstage.
42. L.T. Smash
As the Navy recruiter and pop mogul responsible for Party Posse and Yvan Eht Nioj, L.T. Smash doesn’t seem very metal. But the Navy combines several things that are Quite Metal (boats, the sea, weaponry, historical battles), and a full-chest battleship tattoo is certainly up there.
41. Squeaky-Voiced Teen
If Beavis and Butt-Head have taught the world anything, it’s that teenagers in burger restaurants make the best music journalists ever.
Dressing like a vampire and making bad almost-puns about breasts are both fairly metal traits.
39. Sideshow Mel
Shirtless and sporting a bone in his hair, you could totally see Sideshow Mel fronting a not-great local pagan metal band that don’t quite get to open for Finntroll.
38. Kirk Van Houten
Can I Borrow A Feeling? isn’t exactly a hard-rockin’ track, but it’s easy enough to imagine Kirk Van Houten (pretty metal surname btw) channelling that rage into a City & Colour or Dashboard Confessional type of livid acoustic emo act.
37. Barney Gumble
Barney has a great singing voice but an unfortunate lack of self-control, like so many casualties of the rock star lifestyle. A who’s-who of metal royalty have had to quit drinking due to simply doing it too damned much. Liking something so much that you’re medically forbidden from doing it anymore? That sucks!
Managing to be simultaneously a teenager and the parent of a teenager, Kearney should be all that is metal, combining the paternal desire for classic rock with the teenage thirst for rebellion. Maybe. Dunno. It’s just a theory at this stage, and this is the kind of study it’s really hard to get funding for.
35 – 34. Patty and Selma
The very nature of twins is kind of metal (Sherri and Terri would be at 56 and 57 if this list were longer). Add gravelly voices, chain-smoking, pet lizards and intense misanthropy and, yeah, not bad.
33. Dr. Nick Riviera
Don’t write in, but the way crowds everywhere Nick Riviera goes know to respond to “Hi everybody!” with “Hi Dr. Nick!” is the exact same thing as when Iron Maiden audiences sing the first minute-and-a-half of Fear Of The Dark.
32. Milhouse Van Houten
Getting the shit kicked out at you at a Spinal Tap show at the age of 10? Nails.
31 – 30. Kang and Kodos
The only characters outside the Simpson family to appear in every Treehouse Of Horror episode, Kang and Kodos are extraterrestrial Lovecraftian beasts hailing from the planet Rigel 7. While Lovecraft himself was a real piece of shit, his influence on metal – both directly and via his influence on horror in general – is massive. Kang and Kodos are the kind of things Rob Zombie counts when trying to nod off. Metal as fuck.
You know what you don’t see a lot of? Beer-free metal festivals. Duffman has been portrayed by several different people within the world of The Simpsons, sort of like when Van Halen kept changing frontmen.
28. The Sea Captain
The sea has always fascinated musicians, inspiring works like Mastodon’s Leviathan and Iron Maiden’s Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, as well as a subgenre of pirate metal containing bands like Alestorm and Ye Banished Privateers. Sporting two glass eyes and signing his name with a drawing of a ship smashing into a giant whale’s head, the Sea Captain at one point refers to Homer as a “remorseless eating machine”, which sounds like an excellent ’90s thrash album.
27. Bumblebee Man
Bumblebee Man has a thing and sticks to it. You could say the same about Ozzy. Plus, “Ozzy” sounds like the noise a bumblebee makes. That’s just science.
As an actor, chef and martial arts teacher, Akira is something of a polymath. Given how many actors end up starting bands (Jared Leto, Taylor Momsen, Jack Black et al), how into food a lot of them get (Trivium’s Matt Heafy knows a lot about food) and how many of them get into martial arts (David Lee Roth, Dave Mustaine, Glenn Danzig, Zoltan Bathory, Maynard James Keenan, Matt Heafy again), plus fencer/pilot/historian Bruce Dickinson’s role as the world’s favourite polymath, Akira shares enough traits with hella metal dudes for a solid mid-table ranking.
25. Edna Krabappel
Frequently drunk, disgruntled and simmering with contempt for the people around her, it feels like Mrs Krabappel is wasted in education and should be in some sort of super-aggro grindcore act.
24. Marge Simpson
Marge spends a lot of her time growling. Like, way more time than most human beings spend growling. Most adults can go for months and months, even years, without growling, but two types of people do it frequently: metal vocalists and Marge Simpson.
23. Hank Scorpio
Lives in a volcano, is extremely unhinged: metal.
22. Sideshow Bob
Sideshow Bob has a lot of traits that are extremely metal: a deep baritone voice, permanent shirtlessness, homicidal tendencies and the same hairdo as Shane Embury from Napalm Death.
21. Krusty The Clown
If Shawn Crahan has taught the world anything, it’s that clowns are sheer metal. They’re made of hilarium.
20. Moe Szyslak
Moe has a face scary enough to make children cry, which is what a lot of metal bands set out to do. While plenty of his life is spent at home alone ogling the ladies in the Sears catalogue, he’s also performed with Aerosmith, which is not to be sniffed at.
19. C. Montgomery Burns
Possessing a Mortiis-adjacent nose and a heart that doesn’t beat, Mr Burns is well into his second century, frequently speaks like a Victorian and has leprosy. He has friends who are skeletons, once caught the Loch Ness Monster and is a member of both the Flying Hellfish and the League Of Evil. He has monkey guards, frequently-released hounds and a vest made out of gorilla. Dude’s like a walking concept album.
18. Rainier Wolfcastle
Look at how hench Rainier Wolfcastle is. Hencher than Zakk Wylde. Hencher than Doyle. Almost as hench as Till Lindemann, and with a not-entirely-dissimilar accent. Swap his enormous polo shirts for a bunch of leather straps and a flamethrower and they’re two muscular peas in an industrial metal pod.
Some people think leather is the most metal kind of jacket, but it isn’t, it’s denim with the sleeves cut off, so there.
16. Bart Simpson
The way he says “par-tay” in the Lollapalooza episode is a low point, and “underachiever and proud of it, man” is not the attitude that brought the world shredding, but he’s still Bart Simpson. He sometimes pairs shorts with a leather jacket – an extremely Bloodstock look – plus pretty much has the same hairdo as Spider One from Powerman 5000.
Owner of Springfield’s most emo haircut, Dolph sports the fairly excellent full name Dolphin Starbeam, which sounds like the jokey side-project a super-serious band forms to open for themselves.
14. Lisa Simpson
Politically engaged, fiercely intelligent and incredibly musically talented, it’s only Lisa’s decision to play the saxophone – an instrument that, while literally made of metal, only occasionally shows up within the genre – that stops her from being System Of A Down. Also, depending on how you interpret her character design, she might have hair like Chester Bennington had in Linkin Park’s One Step Closer video.
13. Jebediah Springfield
Q: If Jebediah Springfield were alive today, would he be a member of Red Fang?
12. Nelson Muntz
He’s ever so angry, is Nelson. Angry, violent, denim-clad and rarely seen in long trousers. He’s the prepubescent version of the guy that drunkenly gets into the wrong tent at Download then gets really shitty about it.
11. Comic Book Guy
Every type of entertainment has its own Comic Book Guy; hyper-critical self-appointed genre police. There’s an upside to it, the glorious nerdery of effortlessly reeling off obscure sub-labels’ entire back catalogues, but it also sometimes manifests as an “everything new is shit” attitude. Worst. Attitude. Ever.
10. Jasper Beardly
Two things the world of metal loves: beards and secret societies. A thick-bearded senior member of the Stonecutters? Extremely metal. That’s a paddlin’.
A good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules, clad in a skull shirt and wearing a wooly hat all year round? That’ll do it.
8. Eleanor Abernathy, The Crazy Cat Lady
Cats are metal: they’ve got fangs, claws, black fur and they don’t give a shit. Abernathy’s more-is-more attitude to cat ownership: metal. Abernathy’s covered-in-piss lifestyle: metal.
7. Homer Simpson
Bald with a bit of facial hair is a look sported by a lot of big-deal metal dudes: Kerry King, Rob Halford, Scott Ian and countless others. Homer has some musical pedigree, having of course been the lead singer of a grunge band (Sadgasm) and a member of a Beatles-like barbershop quartet (The Be Sharps), and toured with Lollapalooza. He is extremely comfortable harnessing rage, such as his frequent choking out of his son, and as patriarch of 742 Evergreen Terrace. Plus, as an unheralded cog in a faceless machine at Springfield Nuclear Plant, he surely understands the feelings of powerlessness and suburban ennui that are so frequently channeled into metal. Also he drinks a lot of beer!
6. Ned Flanders
Even without the existence of Okilly Dokilly, Ned Flanders would be pretty metal. Christian metal, sure, but metal. Death seems to surround him wherever he goes, for instance. As proprietor of the Leftorium, he’s Springfield’s most sinister resident (to a Latin speaker, anyway). He’s ripped as hell, and one of his kids has a Butthole Surfers shirt.
5. Carl Carlson
Carl ticks a lot of metal boxes. He was in Sadgasm, has been a member of at least one cult and grew up in Scandinavia, one of the most metal regions on Earth.
4. Maggie Simpson
She shot a billionaire and has a monobrowed nemesis – badass. She also can’t speak coherently and falls over a lot, both of which also applied to Mötley Crüe for 15 years or so.
3. Groundskeeper Willie
Groundskeeper Willie has a dark past, filled with the kind of stories that lend themselves to brooding murder ballads. He claims both to have died in a mining accident (“No-one made it oot alive, not even Willie!”) and seen his father hanged for stealing a pig. He also may or may not be the notorious Aberdeen Strangler, and/or have killed a Springfield Elementary student with a rake for having a sassy mooth. His most metal credential, though: when he’s fully greased up, he looks like he’s stepped (or rather, slithered) off the cover of a Manowar album. Dude is ripped.
2. Otto Mann
Despite living a hard enough lifestyle that a urine sample he once gave contained crack, smack, uppers, downers, outers, inners, horse tranquillisers, cow paralysers, blue bombers, green goofers, yellow submarines and LSD Mach 3, Springfield’s biggest metalhead makes his living as a bus driver. A huge fan of Metallica, Poison, Zeppelin and Sabbath, he is a musician in his own right, able to play the guitar (and, at a renaissance fair, the lute) both left-and right-handed.
1. Hans Moleman
Hans Moleman? More like Hella Metalman. He’s given Metallica a lift in his truck, sure, which is fairly metal, and his walking stick contains a concealed blade. But Moleman’s ability to live on the border between life and death, returning regularly from the hereafter to continue his life of torment, decade after decade of eternal agonising pain? That’s fucking incredible.
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Posted on November 30th 2020, 4:53pm