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Waylon Smithers

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Title: Waylon Smithers  
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Subject: The Simpsons, Harry Shearer, Jean-Louis Millette, Cletus Spuckler, Hans Moleman
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Waylon Smithers

The Simpsons character
Waylon Smithers
Gender Male
Job Executive assistant to Charles Montgomery Burns
Relatives Waylon Smithers, Sr. (father)
Unnamed mother
Voice actor Harry Shearer
First appearance
The Simpsons "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (voice only)
"Homer's Odyssey"

Waylon J. Smithers, Jr., usually referred to as simply Smithers, is a recurring fictional character in the long-running American animated sitcom The Simpsons, who is voiced by Harry Shearer. Smithers first appeared in the episode "Homer's Odyssey", although he could be heard in the series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". He is the consummate executive and personal assistant of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's owner Montgomery Burns.

Smithers was partly based on how numerous Fox executives and staff members acted towards Barry Diller. The idea for Smithers' ambiguous sexual orientation came from Sam Simon, who proposed that Smithers should be gay, but the writers should never draw too much attention to it and should try to keep it in the back of their heads. The name Waylon was first used in "I Married Marge" and comes from the puppeteer Wayland Flowers. In his first visual appearance in "Homer's Odyssey", Smithers was mistakenly drawn as an African American by Gyorgi Peluci, the color stylist.

Smithers' relationship with Mr. Burns has long been a running gag on The Simpsons. Smithers is an obedient and sycophantic assistant to Mr. Burns. In many ways, Smithers represents the stereotype of the closeted gay man, and numerous overt allusions and double entendres concerning his homosexuality are made, though some of the show's producers instead refer to him as a "Burns-sexual".

Role in The Simpsons

Waylon Smithers is Mr Burns' devoted executive assistant. His father Waylon Smithers Sr., worked for Burns until he died of radiation poisoning after saving Springfield from a potential nuclear meltdown, when Waylon was a baby.[1] Although he is not openly gay, Smithers frequents Springfield's gay village[2] and goes on a vacation to a male-only resort.[3] It was revealed in a flashback that he was involved with a woman, but the two split up when Mr. Burns came between them.[4] Smithers is shown to have a passionate and deep love for Mr. Burns and his sexual orientation has been characterized by the writers of the show as "Burns-sexual".[5] Smithers has occasional fantasies about Burns: when his computer is turned on, it shows a seemingly nude Burns with an audio montage saying: "Hello Smithers. You're quite good at turning me on."[6] Smithers has openly declared his love for Burns on at least two occasions, such as in "Lisa the Skeptic", when, believing the world is ending, Smithers says "Oh, what the hell!" and kisses Burns on the lips, later explaining it to him as "merely a sign of my respect."[7]

Burns has remained largely ignorant of Smithers' devoted adoration, much to Smithers' frustration. In later episodes, however, Burns appears to be somewhat wary of these gestures.[8] Burns himself has been involved with several women and in "[12]

Smithers' official job at the power plant appears to be that of executive assistant, which he says is "actually about 2,800 smaller jobs"[3] responsible for monitoring employee attendance, and is often a disciplinarian and has won dozens of employee of the month awards.[13] He has often hinted at wanting to be promoted to the position of executive vice president, but Burns has repeatedly squashed this dream, while whimsically bestowing the vice presidency on a dog.[14] Smithers has the largest collection of Malibu Stacy dolls in Springfield and is the president of the Malibu Stacy fan club.[6]



Waylon Smithers' initial (and only) appearance as an African American, as seen in "Homer's Odyssey"

Waylon Smithers was partly based on how numerous Fox executives and staff members acted towards Barry Diller.[15] The idea for Smithers' orientation came from Sam Simon, who proposed that Smithers should be gay, but the writers should never draw too much attention to it and should try to keep it in the back of their heads.[16] Jay Kogen said "Originally he was gay and black...But we thought it was too much so we just kept him gay."[17] The script for "Blood Feud" originally featured Smithers saying "Just leave me enough to get home to my wife and kids," but the line had to be cut for time.[15] Smithers is voiced by Harry Shearer, who is also the voice of Mr. Burns.[18] Shearer is often able to perform dialogue between the two characters in one take.[19] Dan Castellaneta occasionally fills in for Shearer at table reads and voices Smithers.[19] The name Waylon was first used in "I Married Marge" and comes from the puppeteer Wayland Flowers.[20]

Smithers made his first appearance in "David Silverman has claimed that Smithers was always intended to be "Mr Burns' white sycophant,"[22] and the staff thought it "would be a bad idea to have a black subservient character" and so switched him to his intended color for his next episode.[15] The first appearance of a yellow Smithers was "There's No Disgrace Like Home", the fourth episode of the first season.


Smithers dreams about Mr. Burns in "Marge Gets a Job". The censors had issues with the "lump in his bed," which was his knee.[23]

Smithers' relationship with Mr. Burns has long been a [26] Patty Bouvier, Marge Simpson's lesbian sister, was included on both lists.[27]

The debate is referenced in "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", when the episode host, Troy McClure is answering viewer questions, and one that is asked is "What is the real deal with Mr. Burns' assistant Smithers? You know what I'm talking about." A montage of various clips that shows Smithers' lust for Mr. Burns follows, and in the end, McClure says "as you can see, the real deal with Waylon Smithers is that he's Mr. Burns' assistant. He's in his early forties, is unmarried, and currently resides in Springfield. Thanks for writing!"[28]

Several of the allusions to Smithers' sexuality have turned into battles with the censors. For example, in Smithers' fantasy of a naked Mr. Burns popping out of a birthday cake in "Rosebud", the censors had not wanted Mr. Burns to be naked. Another example is "Marge Gets a Job", which has a dream sequence where Smithers is sleeping and Burns flies through a window. The sequence shows Burns flying towards him and Smithers looking happy, but originally it went on for a few seconds longer. It had to be trimmed down due to scenes that showed "Mr. Burns land[ing] in a particular position on Smithers' anatomy".[25] There were also issues with "the lump in his bed", which the animators said had drawn as his knee, but the censors had misinterpreted.[23]

Mostly in the early seasons, Smithers had a catchphrase, which comes from a recurring joke that Mr. Burns never remembers who [29]


Smithers' voice actor Harry Shearer

In the second season, the writers started to enjoy writing about Smithers and Burns' relationship, and the writers often pitched episodes with them as the focus, but many never came to fruition.[30]

In 2004, Simpsons producers announced that one of the characters was going to come out of the closet.[31] Speculation on who it would be was printed in newspapers throughout the United States and Canada (even claiming Smithers' "sexual orientation was about the worst-kept secret in Springfield,")[32] as well as in Australia,[33] New Zealand,[34] Ireland, (the Irish Independent called Smithers "too obvious" a choice),[35] and the United Kingdom.[36] Despite Matt Groening joking that it would be Homer, the Boston Herald calculated the odds of several characters being gay, with Smithers at a million to one.[37] PlanetOut Inc. hosted an online poll in the weeks prior to the episode to determine based on "cartoon gaydar" who was gay on the Simpsons, with 97% of the respondents choosing Smithers. Jenny Stewart, the entertainment editor at the site said of the poll, "We've never had such an avalanche of people voting in any of our polls as we did on The Simpsons."[38] It was Patty Bouvier who came out.[39]

In a 2007 article, Entertainment Weekly named Smithers the 16th-greatest sidekick of all time.[40] They have also described Smithers and Mr. Burns as being "TV's most functional dysfunctional couple".[41] Star News Online named "Smithers' fey way" as one of the four hundred reasons why they loved The Simpsons.[42] In a 2003 article, Entertainment Weekly named the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" duo of episodes, in which Smithers was prominently featured, the series' 25th-best episode.[41] ranked Smithers as the sixth-gayest cartoon character.[43]


Smithers was made into an action figure, and four different versions were included as part of the World of Springfield toy line. The first shows Smithers in his normal attire with a picture of Mr. Burns at his feet and was released in 2000 as part of "wave two".[44] The second, released in 2002 as part of "wave ten", is called "resort Smithers" and shows him dressed as he was at the resort in the episode "Homer the Smithers".[45] In 2003, a series of figures exclusive to Electronics Boutique was released, and a set of one Mr. Burns figure and two different Smithers toys based on the episode "Rosebud" were included. One, called "Bobo Smithers" shows Smithers dressed as Mr. Burns' teddy bear Bobo;[46] and the other, known as "future Smithers", shows him as a robotic dog.[47] A "future Burns" was included in the set as a companion to "future Smithers" and depicts Burns as how he appeared as a robot at the end of the episode.[48]


  1. ^ Maxtone-Graham, Ian; Moore, Steven Dean (2001-12-09). "The Blunder Years". The Simpsons. Season 13. Episode 05. Fox.
  2. ^ Warburton, Matt; Kirkland, Mark (2003-04-13). "Three Gays of the Condo". The Simpsons. Season 14. Episode 17. Fox.
  3. ^ a b c Swartzwelder, John; Moore, Steven Dean (1996-02-25). "Homer the Smithers". The Simpsons. Season 7. Episode 17. Fox.
  4. ^ Daniels, Greg; Baeza, Carlos (1994-05-19). "Secrets of a Successful Marriage". The Simpsons. Season 05. Episode 22. Fox.
  5. ^ a b Carroll, Larry (2007-07-26). Simpsons' Trivia, From Swearing Lisa To 'Burns-Sexual' Smithers"'".  
  6. ^ a b Oakley, Bill; Weinstein, Josh; Lynch, Jeffrey (1994-02-17). "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy". The Simpsons. Season 05. Episode 14. Fox.
  7. ^ Cohen, David S.; Affleck, Neil (1997-11-23). "Lisa the Skeptic". The Simpsons. Season 09. Episode 08. Fox.
  8. ^ Payne, Don; Persi, Raymond S. (2007-02-11). "Little Big Girl". The Simpsons. Season 18. Episode 12. Fox.
  9. ^ Swartzwelder, John; Kramer, Lance (2001-12-02). "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love". The Simpsons. Season 09. Episode 08. Fox.
  10. ^ Richdale, Jace; Kirkland, Mark (1994-04-14). "Burns' Heir". The Simpsons. Season 09. Episode 08. Fox.
  11. ^ Oakley, Bill; Weinstein, Josh; Lynch, Jeffrey (1995-05-21). "Who Shot Mr. Burns?#Part One". The Simpsons. Season 06. Episode 25. Fox.
  12. ^ Oakley, Bill; Weinstein, Josh; Archer, Wes (1995-09-17). "Who Shot Mr. Burns?#Part Two". The Simpsons. Season 07. Episode 01. Fox.
  13. ^ Gewirtz, Howard; Kirkland, Mark (1991-10-17). "Homer Defined". The Simpsons. Season 03. Episode 05. Fox.
  14. ^ Swartzwelder, John; Reardon, Jim (1997-05-04). "Homer's Enemy". The Simpsons. Season 08. Episode 23. Fox.
  15. ^ a b c Joe Rhodes (2000-10-21). "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves".  
  16. ^ a b Jean, Al (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "The Telltale Head" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  17. ^ JayKogen (2012). "Jay Kogen Here. Long past SIMPSONS writer. I created many of your favorite and least favorite characters with the help of the original Simpson writers.". Reddit. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Harry Shearer".  
  19. ^ a b c Jean, Al (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Blood Feud" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  20. ^ Reiss, Mike (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "I Married Marge" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  21. ^ Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire Retrieved on March 2, 2007
  22. ^ "Background Guide to The Simpsons" (PDF). Hurtwood Media. September 2002. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  23. ^ a b Weinstein, Josh (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  24. ^ Turner 2004, p. 296.
  25. ^ a b Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Homer the Smithers" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  26. ^ Finn, Natalie. "LGBT Characters for 2008-2009".  
  27. ^ Finn, Natalie (2007-11-07). Simpsons'" Smithers Part of Shrinking Minority?""".  
  28. ^ Vitti, Jon (1995-12-03). "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular". The Simpsons. Season 7. Episode 10. Fox.
  29. ^ Turner 2004, p. 164.
  30. ^ Vitti, Jon (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Simpson and Delilah" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  31. ^ Susman, Gary (2004-07-28). "I D'oh".  
  32. ^  
  33. ^ "Queer eye for yellow guys." The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia): February 22, 2005 LOCAL; pg. 17. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
  34. ^ "Simpsons in gay outing." The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand), February 15, 2005.
  35. ^ "Waylon Smithers." Irish Independent: August 7, 2004. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
  36. ^ Ayres, Chris. "Homer sexual mystery as Simpsons character outed." The Times (London), July 29, 2004, p. 9. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
  37. ^ Perigard, Mark. "Scandal in Springfield; For a gay old time, Bedrock has nothing on `The Simpsons' hometown." Boston Herald; July 27, 2004. P. 2. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
  38. ^ Harris, Misty. "Is Smithers coming out of the closet?: Simpsons fans hitting the polls. Cartoon series promises answer in January, but what's the buzz on Batman and Robin?" The Gazette (Montreal): August 10, 2004 p. D1.
  39. ^ Burns, J. Stewart; Kruse, Nancy (2005-02-20). "There's Something About Marrying". The Simpsons. Season 16. Episode 10. Fox.
  40. ^ Gunatilaka, Timothy (2004-07-28). "We're No. 2!".  
  41. ^ a b "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  42. ^ Jeff Hidek. "'"400 reasons we love 'The Simpsons. Star News Online. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  43. ^ Peeples, Jase (2011-03-24). "The 20 Gayest Cartoon Characters Ever!".  
  44. ^ "Waylon Smithers". Simpsons Collectors. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 
  45. ^ "Resort Smithers". Simpsons Collectors. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 
  46. ^ "Bobo Smithers". Simpsons Collectors. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 
  47. ^ "Future Smithers". Simpsons Collectors. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 
  48. ^ "Future Burns". Simpsons Collectors. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 

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