For a series with as famously large a cast and as wide a scope as The Simpsons, recognizable patterns start to arrive over the type of episode genres and plots are tethered to certain characters. Whether it is Bart (Nancy Cartwright) meeting a new love interest, Marge (Julie Kavner) tackling a new hobby or Lisa (Yeardley Smith) championing a noble environmental cause, each major character reliably generates a particular kind of story unique to who they are, especially TV’s all-time favorite animated father, Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta).
Homer is the kind of greatly comedic personality that can get an effective laugh out of whatever he is doing, no matter the scenario. Pairing Homer with a location, concept or occupation has been a reliable recipe for strong episode premises and across its more than 700 episodes and 33 seasons in counting. The series has greatly utilized the versatility of Homer’s character by putting him into different kinds of jobs for him to blunder and “D’oh” his way through. From get-rich-quick schemes to lifelong dreams, Homer’s various jobs have led to some of the series’ most endearingly hilarious moments. Here is a resume rundown of some of Homer’s most memorable job titles:
Astronaut in “Deep Space Homer” (Season 5, Episode 15)
Internally, many of the show’s writers and even creator Matt Groening himself thought “Deep Space Homer” was one giant leap too far for the series. The idea of feasibly launching a blue collar shlub like Homer into outer space with none other than Buzz Aldrin seemed to stretch the realm of the show’s established grounded reality. Regardless, Homer’s space adventure has remained one of the series’ most iconic episodes as Homer’s bid for respect nets him a seat on NASA’s latest mission to see if ants could sort screws in space. While Homer does more harm than good on the mission, clogging the instruments with potato chips and freeing the ants, his actual contributions to the crew’s risky reentry are overshadowed by the true hero; an inanimate carbon rod.
Boxer in “The Homer They Fall” (Season 8, Episode 3)
Homer has a history of athletic prowess but the sport Homer was best built for was boxing hobos in “The Homer They Fall”. After being diagnosed with a medical condition that cushions his brain with a thicker than average layer of fluid, Homer discovers that he cannot be easily knocked out and can bear tons of physical punishment with ease. Bartender Moe Szyslak (Hank Azaria) offers to coach and manage Homer as an underground boxer with the strategy of waiting until his opponent to tires himself out to allow Homer to deliver the final blow. Homer rises through the ranks of the local scene and even is put into the ring for a chance at the heavyweight championship of the world.
Bodyguard in “Mayored to the Mob” (Season 10, Episode 9)
After rescuing Mark Hamill from a barrage of eager fanboys at a local sci-fi convention, Homer is recruited by Mayor Quimby (Castellaneta) to be an official mayoral bodyguard. With the proper training under his belt, Homer enthusiastically takes on the job goes above and beyond to protect the mayor, including sampling his food for poison and escorting him on his venture to get suspiciously acquired bribes in the form of “change” from local venders. Although initially disgusted by the Mayor’s corruption in dealing with mobsters, he still vows to protect the Mayor at any cost, even utilizing the classic dive and “NOOOOOOO” when attacked by assailants.
Bowling Alley Pin Monkey in “And Maggie Makes Three” (Season 6, Episode 13)
In the prequel episode “And Maggie Makes Three”, after finally clearing all of his debts and quitting the power plant, Homer takes on his dream job of working at Barney’s Bowlarama as a “pin monkey”. In this job, Homer discovers the mystical ebb and flow of the bowling alley as he shines the balls, cleans lanes, disinfects shoes and even serves drinks to the bowlers. After discovering that Marge is pregnant again with what will become their third child Maggie, Homer is forced to quit the only job that ever made him truly happy and return to the power plant in order to support his growing family. Although his time at the bowlarama was short-lived and mundane, this episode showed the blissful simplicity of Homer Simpson in how a job as basic as managing a bowling alley can be, to him, a fulfilling passion.
Food Critic in “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner” (Season 11, Episode 3)
They say to write what you know and what Homer knows best is what he likes to eat. Homer loves food and his appetite for everything from donuts to beer is one of his defining characteristics as a glutton for all things that make him go “mmmmmmm”. “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?” puts Homer’s palate to the test as he becomes the food critic for Springfield’s top newspaper. After submitting a 500-word sample article, he dictates reviews for every local eatery with his daughter Lisa as his ghostwriter. Homer’s eclectic taste clashes with his need to please his editors and fellow writers, resulting in his reviews leaning to either being glowing positive or cynically negative. His words carry so much weight in town, in some cases quite literally, that a guild of local restaurateurs conspire to kill Homer so that he may never again deliver more bad reviews.
Krusty the Klown Impersonator in “Homie the Clown” (Season 6, Episode 15)
Whenever Homer gets a new job, there is a clearly communicated motivation for him to find new work, whether personal to better himself or financial to support his family. In “Homie the Clown”, Homer attends clown college purely because he was told to by effectively mind-altering advertising. The episode shows Homer becoming Springfield’s regional Krusty the Klown impersonator to take on the gigs the real Krusty (Castellaneta) wouldn’t waste his time on. As Krusty, Homer cuts the ribbon of a new Krusty Burger and other businesses, entertains children’s birthday parties, and co-hosts awards ceremonies. This is by far the job Homer abuses the most as he enjoys all the benefits and celebrity adulation of being Krusty in what is borderline identity theft.
Singer (Multiple Episodes)
Homer’s voice actor Dan Castellaneta is himself an accomplished vocal talent and the showrunners have taken great advantage of that by allowing Homer to sing professionally on occasion within not only one, but two episodes. “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” of Season 5 saw Homer’s rise to and fall from fame as part of a barbershop super group known as The Be-Sharps. In Season 19’s “The Homer of Seville”, Homer discovers yet another beneficial genetic trait as laying on his back pushes his stomach against his diaphragm in a position priming him to sing grand opera, garnering him starring roles in local opera productions and the admiration of a stalker superfan. While Homer is not particularly talented in other aspects of his life, his tenor singing voice has proven to be one of his most secret special gifts.
Voice Actor in “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show” (Season 8, Episode 14)
In a metatextual look at the world of television animation, Homer gets into the voice acting business with “The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show” With a need to rejuvenate the beloved “The Itchy and Scratchy Show”, the studio behind the toon introduces a new market-tested character, the in-your-face surfer dog with attitude, Poochie. After a semi-exhaustive audition process and executive meddling, Homer is cast in the role and is thrust into the media hype train of the character’s debut. While the character was an utter flop and was the product of studio committee thinking, Homer still took pride in defending the role and took ownership of it, reflected in how much excitement he had in recording every forced catchphrase and rap lyric given to him.
Baseball Team Mascot in “Dancin’ Homer” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Homer’s tenure as the Springfield Isotope’s lively mascot was depicted as a life-defining saga in “Dancin’ Homer”. After making a public spectacle of himself at a minor league game, Homer is brought on to the beleaguered baseball team as the morale boosting mascot they sorely needed. Homer’s performative style and buffoonish swagger enabled the team to score a record string of wins owed almost entirely to his ability to liven up the crowds. Even when being booed out of the majors, Homer’s career as Dancin’ Homer gave him the greatest opportunity in Homer’s life to get paid for having fun on a grand scale.
Mr. Plow in “Mr. Plow” (Season 4, Episode 9)
Easily one of the most celebrated episodes of the series, “Mr. Plow” finds Springfield in the midst of a stronger than average winter blizzard. In the market for a new car after a self-inflected fender bender that totaled the family’s cars, Homer buys a snow plow and takes up a side gig of plowing local driveways to make the payments. Of all of his jobs as a public servant, Homer’s time as “Mr. Plow” was the one time that his job most marked him as a local hero. Homer was awarded the key to the city and numerous accolades for keeping schools and business open, freeing the elderly and overall helping make Winter in Springfield more convenient and livable.
Monorail Conductor in “Marge vs. the Monorail” (Season 4, Episode 12)
Most jobs are given to people who happen to be at the right place at the right time. In the case of Homer, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when given the job of monorail conductor. The fate of three million meant to better the town of Springfield falls into the hands of a greedy shyster who rides the town for all it’s worth to build a monorail poised to doom the town forever. The only thing that could make this folly worse is Homer as its conductor. As a script, Homer being given this job was strategic in raising the stakes and tension of the episode’s final act as the only thing more dangerous than a cheapskate’s death trap is one with Homer at the helm. Despite this, Homer is able to anchor the train away from disaster and crowns himself “the best mono-thingy guy there ever was”.
Bootlegger in “Homer vs. the 18th Amendment” (Season 8, Episode 18)
Out of all of Homer’s less than legal operations, including panhandling, telephone scamming and smuggling fruits and vegetables across state borders, bootlegging is one of Homer’s more involved criminal occupations. After Springfield begins to reinforce a centuries-old prohibition law, Homer becomes the elusive “beer baron” and funnels stolen and later homemade alcohol into Moe’s Tavern. Homer’s self-proclaimed patriotic defiance of the law combines his dependency on beer with his desperation to make a quick buck, making for an all-around smooth operation that even Marge admits is clever.
Sanitation Commissioner in “Trash of the Titans” (Season 9, Episode 22)
The series’ 200th episode sees Homer wins an electoral race for sanitation commissioner against an experienced politician by making insane promises, which in Springfield, USA is more than enough to win the seat. Homer has fumbled his way in and out of high-level jobs before and since, but his reign as the town’s sanitation commissioner highlights Homer’s worst traits in the business world. He riles up the town with the promise that the neatly dressed garbage man can do all the nasty jobs no one else would want with the slogan “can’t someone else do it?” After spending a year’s budget inside a month, Homer resorts to unethical measures to quite literally sweep the garbage problem under the rug. The episode shows that wether in a job as important as a nuclear safety inspector or as comparatively inconsequential as a local sanitation commissioner, Homer can manage to find a way to mess it up in hilariously spectacular fashion.
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