Between June and October, Place to Be Nation’s World Cup of TV Characters pitted classic and beloved characters against each other in a battle for dominance. Ultimately, it came down to a final matchup between Homer Simpson and Cosmo Kramer, two major characters from massively popular sitcoms. 121 people voted, and by a score of 87 to 34 Homer bested Kramer to be crowned PTBN’s favorite character in the history of the televised arts. As we prepare to move on to our next tournament, Jordan Duncan is here to celebrate Homer’s win.
Sometimes, the people get it right! That’s the case with the crowning moment of our World Cup of TV Characters tournament, as Homer Simpson claimed his rightful place as champion, steamrolling just about everyone in his path along the way. Going into it, he was the #3 seed overall, behind Cosmo Kramer and George Costanza. After the dust had settled, Homer is the clear number one and number two is not even close. So why Homer? What is it about this yellow oaf that makes him the greatest character in television history? I’ll give you five reasons.
1. Quantity – I know that a lot of people side with the argument of quality over quantity, and I get that. However, I think The Simpsons is an exception to the rule. With nearly 600 episodes under their belt, the show simply dominates others in terms of how much content there actually is. To give you an idea, there are over 100 more episodes of The Simpsons than all the episodes of Seinfeld and Married…With Children (the other two shows that had characters in the semi-finals) combined! And for the majority of the shows run, Homer has been the central character of it all. Not every episode is a home run of course, but not every one is a strikeout either. In fact, there are far more singles and doubles than anything. I think you could make the case that 350+ episodes fall into the various “hit” category, and I definitely think you could argue that The Simpsons have hit as many homers (pun intended) as any other show in history. That’s a whole lot of total bases, enough to lap everybody else out there many, many times. And oh yeah, that’s not even bringing the Simpsons Movie into the equation! When it comes to TV character greatness, Homer simply overwhelms the competition with sheer volume of content.
2. Quality – Hey, would you look at that. Not satisfied with the “There’s just SO MUCH Simpsons!” argument? I thought you may not be, so I offer this: Homer brings both the quality AND the quantity. The big knock on The Simpsons is that the show is not what it used to be, and I get it. They’re in their 25th season, it’s hard to stay creative, fresh and innovative. Honestly, everything past season 20 is kind of a blur to me, and it’s sub-par blurring at that…but there is NOTHING this show can do that will taint the incredible run the show had from Seasons 3 to 8. In that time, the show aired just under 150 episodes, and I would say that MAYBE 5 of them were duds. It’s when the show found it’s groove and was at it’s absolute funniest and it’s also when the focus of the show switched from Bart to Homer. What other character can produce a resume that rivals “Marge vs. The Monorail”, “Homer at The Bat”, “Deep Space Homer”, “Homer Badman”, “Mr. Plow” and so many others? Even if The Simpsons stopped airing at Season 10 or 12, I think Homer would deserve the award for best character ever based solely on the amazing run of the early seasons.
3. Quotability – I could make this a 10,000 word article here and simply list quote after quote uttered by Homer J. Simpson over the years, couldn’t I? One of the strongest cases for Homer as the best is that he is probably the most quotable TV character in history. Simpsons fans everywhere love to quote the big guy, and my house is no exception. As a long time Simpsons fan, I’ve been known to make the random Homer quote drop; my go to is probably “I call the big one Bitey” when discussing animals. But even my children have fallen in love with all the wonderful things that the Simpson family patriarch has uttered. It is not uncommon for my eleven year old to say “Mmmmmm (insert what’s for dinner)” in a Homer-ish voice when it’s offered up. My nine year old seems to enjoy, “I know! FIRE!!!” (from the episode Bart Carny) from time to time, which is probably something I should contact Steve Wille about. It doesn’t really matter the social situation, Homer quotes are always welcomed and appreciated. Try using one the next time you’re at a funeral! And if that’s not enough convincing, a word that was coined by Homer himself was put into the dictionary! HE INVENTED A WORD. I bet Cosmo Kramer is thinking about that and saying, “D’oh!”
4. Relatability – Don’t we all know someone who has a little bit of Homer in them? For that matter, don’t we all probably have a little Homer in us? I remember in high school, my friends and I would discuss our favorite movies and TV shows at the lunch table and The Simpsons was our absolute favorite (this was during that Season 3-8 run I mentioned earlier). What is funny is all of us were convinced that our dad was like Homer. I argued my dad was like Homer because he seemed to be willing to eat anything that was even remotely edible. Another friend said his dad was like Homer because of his comical outbursts. Thankfully, nobody’s dad reminded them of Homer because he constantly strangled them. But that’s what makes Homer Simpson a character that so many enjoy – he’s everywhere. A blue collar worker who is full of both imperfections and good qualities alike, struggling to make ends meet. His wife is normal, his kids are normal, everything about him is normal. He’s the guy who lives on your street. He works with you at the factory. He’s the guy you have a beer with at the bar. He’s on your bowling team! He could move from Springfield to your town and fit right in. That is, if you could get past a cartoon living in your town.
5. Lovability – Here’s where Homer really wins it for me. What made The Simpsons so special during it’s best run was that it was a HILARIOUS show that also had a lot of heart. Homer would crack you up with an oafish statement or action, then tug at your heartstrings by showing that love for his family. This is probably best exemplified in the episode, “And Maggie Makes Three”. The episode is Homer and Marge telling the kids about why there are no photos of Maggie in the home, and flashing back to her birth. Homer had quit his job at the nuclear plant to pursue his dream job of working at a bowling alley, but because of a 3rd child, he had to go crawling back, sacrificing his dreams to provide for his family. On the wall, they put a plaque that states: “Don’t forget; you’re here forever.” It is a funny episode, but at the end they reveal where all the pictures of Maggie are at. They’re in Homer’s work station on that plaque, covering the letters so it reads “Do it for her.” Is he an idiot? Yes. Is he loud and obnoxious? Yes and yes. But when The Simpsons does it right, Homer is a father who has a deep love for his children and is head over heels for his wife. He does stupid things, but he does them for all the right reasons. And it makes you love the guy and want to root for him.
I could go on and on singing the praises of Homer Simpson, but I feel like this is sufficient evidence. When it comes to TV characters, there’s been a lot of great ones. Some make us laugh, some make us cry. We root for some, we hate some. But none of them captured our hearts and made us laugh nearly as loud and definitely not as long as Homer Simpson. Congrats big guy! You deserve the accolades!