• The unproduced Springfield spin-off series would have given side characters like Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, and Mr. Burns a chance to shine.
  • The Springfield spin-off had potential to explore the complex and tragic lives of characters like Krusty the Clown, Milhouse Van Houten, and Barney Gumble.
  • The show could have delved deeper into the backstories and personalities of lesser-known characters like Reverend Lovejoy, Cletus Spuckler, and Fat Tony.

The Simpsons universe is full of compelling side characters who could’ve been explored in more depth in the unproduced Springfield spin-off series. Following the success of season 7, episode 21, “22 Short Films About Springfield,” the classic episode that shine a spotlight on the supporting cast and spawned the iconic “steamed hams” meme, The Simpsons staff considered creating a whole separate series about the unseen lives of wacky Springfieldians like Dr. Nick and Krusty the Clown. Former Simpsons showrunner Josh Weinstein detailed the proposed spin-off and it sounds like a terrific idea: “We felt there were enough fleshed-out side characters that many of them could carry their own full stories.

Weinstein pitched the idea to Simpsons creator Matt Groening. The spin-off would’ve simply been titled Springfield, and it would shed light on characters outside the Simpson family who rarely get a chance to shine. While Weinstein felt that the spin-off “could’ve been great,The Simpsons staff didn’t have the time or resources to produce a whole separate series on top of the already demanding production process of the flagship show. The Springfield spin-off was a chance to tell full stories about characters who are usually only featured in brief sight gags. Many Simpsons characters are interesting enough to have sustained their own half-hour episode of the canceled Springfield spin-off.

RELATED: The Canceled Simpsons Crossover Secretly Reveals Its Best Future

22 Moe Szyslak

Moe answers Bart's prank call in The Simpsons

When Homer goes down to his local watering hole, he’s served by Moe Szyslak. At first, Moe was just the local bartender and his role in The Simpsons was confined to answering Bart’s iconic prank calls. But he’s since been expanded into a tragic figure, suffering from deep depression and loneliness, and that would make him a prime candidate for his own episode if the Springfield spin-off series ever got made. Moe is both one of the most heartbreaking and one of the most lovable Simpsons characters.

21 Chief Wiggum

Chief Wiggum talks to a psychic in The Simpsons

Chief Clancy Wiggum is the well-meaning buffoon in charge of maintaining law and order in Springfield, which is likely why the town is so rampant with crime. Wiggum is such a lovable character that he could easily carry his own story (and did so ably in season 8, episode 24, “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase,” which imagined various potential Simpsons spin-offs). An episode of the Springfield spin-off focused on Wiggum would function as an absurdist take on a police procedural. It would play like an installment of the classic short-lived sitcom Police Squad!, with Wiggum taking the place of fellow bumbling lawman Frank Drebin.

20 Mr. Burns

Mr. Burns appears as Dracula in Treehouse of Horror IV

There are few Simpsons characters with as much comedic potential as Mr. Burns. Mr. Burns is comically rich, comically old (suggested to be over 1,000 years old), and above all, comically evil. There’s so much fun to be had with this character, and not just in a supporting role. The Simpsons has explored storylines in which Burns falls in love and attempts to do the right thing. He’s clearly a lot more three-dimensional than he initially seems. A Springfield spin-off anthology series wouldn’t be complete without an episode about the town’s oldest, wealthiest citizen.

19 Krusty The Clown

Krusty The Simpsons

The writers of The Simpsons have always used Krusty the Clown to satirize hacky comedians who steal jokes from fellow comics and go on stage with the same tired and outdated material they’ve had for decades. But Krusty’s characterization goes deeper than that. He’s the archetypal sad clown; he makes people laugh for a living, but his life off-stage is defined by constant misery. On top of that, he has a strained relationship with his father and a strained relationship with his own estranged daughter. There’s a lot to unpack in a Krusty solo episode.

18 Milhouse Van Houten

Milhouse in The Simpsons

Bart’s best friend Milhouse Van Houten has been a fan-favorite Simpsons character since his debut, and there’s a lot more to this character than meets the eye. In The Simpsons, he’s typically characterized as Bart’s dorky sidekick who goes along with his troublesome antics. But Milhouse is complex. His parents’ divorce hit him really hard and he struggles with happiness and optimism as a result. Plus, thanks to Bart, he’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, so he’s constantly on the lam. Milhouse’s life would make a great half-hour episode of the Springfield series.

17 Barney Gumble

Barney looks in the mirror in The Simpsons

Homer’s best friend Barney Gumble is essentially a version of Homer who never found love. Like Homer, he spends every night getting drunk at Moe’s, but unlike Homer, he doesn’t have a family to go home to. From his heartfelt film festival submission Pukahontas to his multi-episode sobriety arc, The Simpsons is always going out of its way to show viewers that there’s a lot more depth to Barney than it might seem. An episode of the Springfield spin-off revolving around Barney could’ve been a touching half-hour expansion of the themes and tragedies explored in Pukahontas.

16 Reverend Lovejoy

Reverend Lovejoy delivers a sermon in The Simpsons

When Reverend Lovejoy first moved to Springfield, he was eager to spread the word of the Lord to the townspeople. But when he met Ned Flanders, he was gradually worn down until he no longer cared. This character trait is played for laughs when Lovejoy has a small supporting role in Simpsons episodes. But if he had his own half-hour episode of a Springfield spin-off series, the writers could explore Lovejoy’s disillusionment with his own religion in more depth and detail.

15 Cletus Spuckler

Cletus sits on his porch in The Simpsons

Like many Simpsons characters, Cletus the slack-jawed yokel is a one-note caricature of various stereotypes (in this case, backwoods philistines). But there would be a lot more depth to mine if this character was given his own storyline in the Springfield spin-off series. Like Homer, Cletus is a family man with the responsibility of taking care of his kids. But, whereas Homer has just three kids to look after, Cletus has dozens. An episode about Cletus would play like a rural version of Cheaper by the Dozen.

14 Fat Tony

Fat Tony in a restaurant in The Simpsons

Anthony D’Amico, better known as “Fat Tony,” is The Simpsons’ cartoonish caricature of the mafia. He’s voiced by the great Joe Mantegna with both the sinister bravado of a real mafioso and the goofy levity of a Simpsons character. In episodes of The Simpsons, Fat Tony has been used to parody scenes from such popular mafia-based stories as The Godfather and The Sopranos. But a full half-hour episode of Fat Tony’s illicit dealings could spoof the entire plot of a mob movie like Goodfellas or Scarface, with a classic rise-and-fall narrative.

13 Ralph Wiggum

Ralph runs for president in The Simpsons

Chief Wiggum’s son, Ralph, is even funnier than him. Ralph is Lisa’s most dim-witted classmate, who she choo-choo-chose on Valentine’s Day and who presented a collection of Star Wars action figures in mint condition in lieu of a science fair project. Ralph’s appearances in The Simpsons often poke fun at his intelligence, or lack thereof (“Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”), but he’s also one of the show’s sweetest and most wholesome characters. A Ralph-centric episode of the Springfield show could focus on this neglected aspect of his character.

12 Patty & Selma

The Simpsons Season 7 22 Short Films in Springfield Krusty Patty Selma

Marge’s chain-smoking, gravel-voiced sisters, Patty and Selma, are largely characterized by their hatred of Homer. But they’ve become oddly endeared to their brother-in-law over the years as he’s begrudgingly done some favors for them and they’ve become more open-minded. As the characters have become more sympathetic, they’ve earned a lot more attention in the show’s storylines. A Springfield spin-off episode focused on Patty and Selma could shed more light on Patty’s experiences with her sexuality and Selma’s difficulty to make a romantic relationship last.

11 Mayor Quimby

Mayor Quimby in a firehouse in The Simpsons

Mayor Quimby is The Simpsons’ stand-in for every crooked politician. He’s specifically modeled after the Kennedys, but he can be used to satirize any political figure. A Quimby-centric episode of a potential Springfield spin-off series could focus on the mayor’s latest re-election campaign and explain how he’s managed to remain in office for so long in spite of his many scandals. A Springfield episode about Mayor Quimby could play like a political comedy along the lines of Veep or Bulworth.

10 Kent Brockman

Kent Brockman in The Simpsons

Kent Brockman, the most trusted newsman in Springfield, is a hilarious satirical caricature of the late, great Walter Cronkite. While a lot of the stories that Kent covers for the Channel 6 weekday news are puff pieces, he’s been shown to have plenty of journalistic integrity. Kent could’ve been the star of an episode of the Springfield spin-off series that charts the creation of a piece of investigative journalism, like a zany Springfieldian take on Spotlight.

9 Comic Book Guy

Comic Book Guy in his store in The Simpsons

The snarky proprietor of Android’s Dungeon, Comic Book Guy, is one of The Simpsons’ most consistently hilarious characters. The satire of the Comic Book Guy character has only gotten more relevant with time. The popularity of Marvel has given more prominence to the geeky media that Comic Book Guy is obsessed with, and the internet has made discourse surrounding pop culture even more hostile. If Comic Book Guy got his own episode of the Springfield show, audiences could get to know Jeff Albertson, the man behind the ponytail.

8 Nelson Muntz

Eddie drives a motorcycle with Nelson on the back from The Simpsons

Nelson Muntz is one of the main bullies at Springfield Elementary, and like many bullies, he picks on other kids because he’s deeply insecure. He’s upset that his dad abandoned him when he was a kid and he takes out that anger on the world. Nelson is known for laughing at people when they’re caught in an embarrassing or unfortunate situation – “Haw-haw!” – but his segment in “22 Short Films About Springfield” showed what would happen if Nelson got a taste of his own medicine.

7 Sideshow Bob

Sideshow Bob with a machete in The Simpsons

In his first few Simpsons appearances, Sideshow Bob was determined to kill Bart for thwarting his attempt to frame Krusty. But in the later seasons, Bob underwent a redemption arc and actually developed an unlikely friendship with his arch-nemesis. Now, Bob isn’t just an antagonist to Bart; his stories can stand on their own two feet with no involvement from the Simpson family. Kelsey Grammer’s guest performances as Bob are endlessly enjoyable, so giving him the spotlight for a whole half-hour installment of the Springfield spin-off show would’ve been a treat for fans.

6 Dr. Nick Riviera

Dr Nick waving in The Simpsons

The least ethical doctor in Springfield, Dr. Nick Riviera, is tailor-made to star in his own spin-off story. He got one of the funniest segments in “22 Short Films About Springfield.” It would be great to contrast Dr. Nick’s wildly unprofessional medical practises with Dr. Hibbert’s much more professional conduct. There’s a lot of dramatic potential in a doctor who isn’t very good at what he does, but keeps getting work because he’s the most affordable physician in town. The Simpsons has plenty of storylines about Dr. Nick treating the Simpsons; the spin-off could’ve introduced his other patients.

5 Snake Jailbird

Snake with a shotgun in The Simpsons

Snake Jailbird is Springfield’s resident career criminal. When he’s not behind bars at the police station, Snake can be seen robbing the Kwik-E-Mart at gunpoint. He stole Homer’s trampoline just because he put a bike lock on it. Snake’s brief Pulp Fiction-inspired scenes in “22 Short Films About Springfield” offered a glimpse at how much fun a Snake solo adventure could be. If Snake was the star of his own episode of the Springfield show, the writers could give him a whole Elmore Leonard-style crime caper.

4 Principal Skinner

Skinner serves steamed hams in The Simpsons episode 22 Short Films About Springfield

The backlash met by The Simpsons season 9, episode 2, “The Principal and the Pauper,” in which Principal Skinner is revealed to be an impostor, just goes to show how popular Skinner is among the fan base. Over the years, audiences became endeared to Skinner through his dedication to his work and his complicated relationship with his mother, who he still lives with. Skinner’s characterization as a cross between Mr. Chips and Norman Bates could’ve been explored in more depth if he was given his own half-hour installment of the unproduced Springfield spin-off series.

3 Ned Flanders

Ned Flanders scream

The term “Flanderization” has been coined to describe characters like Ned Flanders, who start off as complex and three-dimensional but eventually get boiled down to their most one-note personality traits. In Flanders’ case, he became defined by his devout religious beliefs. A half-hour episode of the scrapped Springfield spin-off centered on Flanders could’ve gone a long way towards de-Flanderizing the character and bringing back some of the complexity he had in the earlier seasons of The Simpsons. In The Simpsons, Flanders is typically characterized in relation to his frustrating next-door neighbor Homer, but the spin-off could’ve explored his life away from Homer.

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