ByMara Mullikin, writer at
I'm an aspiring writer, filmmaker, actress and werewolf.
Mara Mullikin

The Simpsons have been on air for almost twenty-seven years. Since then, hundreds of characters have appeared on the series. Some have stayed since the show's beginnings, and others lasted a number of seasons/episodes. Then there's the small percentage who only made single appearances (not including crowd scenes). Whether it's because of the humor they brought, or how they affected the main characters they've managed to be remembered years since their stint. Now, without further ado, here's the top 10 one-time Simpson characters.

10. Barney's Girlfriend

In 'Homer's Barbershop Quartet', Homer, Barney, Apu and Principal Skinner's band 'The B Sharps' have a Beatles-style rise and fall. During their fifteen weeks of fame Barney dates a conceptual artist who's clearly a parody of Yoko Ono. She didn't say much, but her 'number 8' collaboration with Barney and specific drink request will always stick out in my mind.

9. Rex

Rex was an aspiring thespian and catty peer of Lisa in 'I Love Lisa'. He'd tried out for the lead role of George Washington for their school's Presidential Day pageant. He gave such a stirring performance that we were sure he'd be chosen. However, Chief Wiggum black-mailed Ms. Hoover into giving his son Ralph the part. Rex responsively threw a hissy fit and even called his teacher a 'deceitful cow.' Later on, he shows up on stage in a considerably smaller role and sarcastically answers, "yes", before leaving our sights forever.

8. Hugh Parkfield

Lisa's fiance in the future from 'Lisa's Wedding', Hugh Parkfield was a surprisingly interesting and amusing character. Although, there's a sense throughout the episode he wouldn't end up with her, and it would've been easy to pen him as a jerk. He's still portrayed as an erudite and sharp, but flawed English gentleman. You could say (after he declined Homer's offer to wear his cuff pins and not wanting to see her family any further) that he's still a prude (and to an extent he is). Yet, despite being out of his comfort zone when he visited her family. Hugh still goes to great lengths to get along with them. Homer almost killed him for Heaven's sake's and he still gave him a shot. Hugh's also voiced by Mandy Patinkin (a.k.a. Inigo Montoya); how can you get better than that?

7. Tom

Tom was Bart's 'bigger brother' who was impeccable in every way. While he was mentoring Bart he was under the impression that his home life was deplorable, and Homer was an abusive and horrendous father, well, more so. Later, when they finally meet, Tom engages in a fist fight with Homer that unintentionally ends with Homer going to the hospital. Tom's perfection was played up for laughs, but it wasn't overdone.

6. Laura Powers

Laura was Bart's first crush on the series. She became his new next door neighbor in 'New Kid on the Block' and the second he saw her face, he was smitten. Laura was similar to Bart in that she too was a prankster and enjoyed teasing people. However, she wasn't as mean spirited and (most likely due to being older) was more responsible.

5. Lyle Lanley

Lyle Lanley was a con man with a plan. After Springfield received $50,000 in 'Marge vs. the Monorail,' there's a town meeting held to decide what it should be spent on. Lanley coincidentally enters the scene with a proposal to build a monorail. He wins them over with a song and dance. Yet, what they don't know was that he was planning to build the monorail with cheap materials, pocket the rest of the money and vamoose. He was overly charming and despite his lack of intelligence (indicated by his crude drawings) he could swindle anyone, including Lisa.

4. Mr. Bergstrom

Mr. Bergstrom represented that one special teacher we (hopefully) all had during our school years. They were wise beyond their years, knew how to gauge our interest and during those travails knew how and what to say to console us. In 'Lisa's Substitute' Lisa appreciated Mr. Bergstrom's interactive learning style immensely, and even developed a crush on him. However, after Ms. Hoover recovered he left to teach in the projects of Capital City. Lisa saw him one last time at the train station. Before departing he wrote her a note that's intended to be read whenever she felt lonely or couldn't turn to anyone else. Lisa read it and it said, "you are Lisa Simpson."

3. Karl

In 'Homer Delilah', after growing lovely locks of hair, Homer advanced in his career to the point where his position required an assistant. He decided on Karl, a debonair and sharp gentleman. Karl could immediately see Homer doesn't belong there, but went above and beyond to secure his new spot. He revamped his wardrobe, fed him the right dialogue, and boosted his confidence. In the end, Karl figuratively sacrificed himself to cover Homer's butt and was consequently fired. Homer was teary-eyed to see him go, but was grateful for the impact Karl had on his life.

2. Frank Grimes

Frank Grimes had to work hard throughout his entire life and endure tragedy after tragedy. He's hired at the nuclear power plant, and it's clear from the get go he's not fond of Homer's lazy and irresponsible attitude. After getting in trouble with Mr. Burns because of Homer's stupidity Frank declared them enemies. He later explained his hate.

Later on, he tried to humiliate Homer, but it backfired. This was the final straw for Grimes as he suddenly became delusional. He imitated Homer's usual behavior, said, "I'm Homer Simpson," and believed he was invulnerable to danger. Until he touched exposed wires and electrocuted himself to death. And in a case of tragic irony, Grimes was upstaged at his own funeral by Homer.

1. Hank Scorpio

Hank Scorpio from 'You Only Move Twice' was like a box of chocolates, you didn't know what you were going to get with him. He's energetic, witty, down to earth, eccentric, charismatic, free-spirited, sinister and diabolical. Hank would be the perfect boss if he wasn't a ruthless terrorist. Either way, his kind, but malevolent nature and quirkiness (carrying sugar and cream in his pockets) garnered many laughs on his one appearance. We would've seen Scorpio again in The Simpsons Movie, if Russ Cargill wasn't chosen instead.

This list goes to show how impressive the writing quality in The Simpsons was. Despite only making one appearance, each character can be remembered decades or years later. Not many shows can do that. While it's a shame they didn't have more episodes they at least made it count.


Who's your favorite one-time character?


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