Principal W. Seymour Skinner (possibly born Armin Tamzarian) is a recurring fictional character in the animated sitcom The Simpsons, who is voiced by Harry Shearer. He is the principal of Springfield Elementary School, which he struggles to control, and is constantly engaged in a battle against its inadequate resources, apathetic and bitter teachers, and often rowdy and unenthusiastic students, Bart Simpson being a standout example.
A strict disciplinarian, Skinner has an uptight, militaristic attitude that stems from his years in the United States Army as a Green Beret, which included service in the Vietnam War, where he was captured and held as a prisoner of war. He is quick to take orders from his superiors; chiefly his mother, Agnes, and Superintendent Chalmers.
|The Simpsons character|
|First appearance||"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (1989)|
|Created by||Matt Groening|
|Voiced by||Harry Shearer|
|Occupation||Principal of Springfield Elementary School|
|Relatives||Adoptive Parents: Sheldon and Agnes|
Out of genuine concern for the quality of education of his students, most of Skinner's actions revolve around ensuring the school has adequate funding. His constant, desperate, and usually ineffective attempts at maintaining discipline are an effort to receive good reviews in the frequent inspections of his very strict boss, Superintendent Chalmers—who makes no effort to hide his disapproval of Skinner. These inspections usually turn awry due to Bart Simpson's elaborate pranks—which play-off Skinner's desperation for order. Over the years of pranks and inspections, though, Skinner has developed a love-hate relationship with Bart; when Skinner was fired and replaced by Ned Flanders, Bart found pranks less meaningful, due to Flanders' lax approach to discipline, while Skinner missed his constant battles with Bart. The two bonded during this time and Bart made an effort to get Skinner reinstated in the school.
One of Skinner's defining traits is that he had served as a sergeant in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, where he was captured by the Viet Cong at the Battle of Khe Sanh and spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. Seeing his entire platoon devoured by an elephant was one of the many things that led to the development of his posttraumatic stress disorder. He is also quite bitter about the treatment he and other Vietnam veterans received upon returning from the war. Skinner is a highly skilled combatant, particularly hand-to-hand, and demonstrates his abilities in several episodes. Skinner often seems weak-willed and easily suppressed, but often will use his military command experience gained in the Vietnam War to get real respect and discipline. When he and the students were snowed-in at the school, he treated them like his squad to control the chaos temporarily, before they mutinied.
Although Skinner likes to maintain the image of a strict disciplinarian, he is often weak-willed and nervous and has a very unhealthy dependence on his mother, who constantly torments him and nicknames him "Spanky". Aside from a short-lived relationship with Patty Bouvier, most of Skinner's love life has focused on Edna Krabappel. He and Edna kiss in Martin's playhouse after they are invited to a birthday party, and they are witnessed by Bart. He loses his job along with Edna when Superintendent Chalmers is advised of their romance by Chief Wiggum, after which Skinner and Edna lock themselves in the school with Bart demanding their jobs back. After Skinner is reinstated, he and Edna dated for several more years and became engaged, but later cancelled the wedding. Edna has shown she does want to continue dating Skinner, but first wants him to commit to her—namely by not letting his mother, with whom he still lives, control him anymore.
The controversial season 9 episode "The Principal and the Pauper" heavily altered Skinner's backstory, revealing him as an impostor. Born as Armin Tamzarian, he was a troubled orphan from Capital City, who was forced into the US Army during the Vietnam War. There, he served as a Green Beret under Sgt. Seymour Skinner, whom he came to idolize and befriend. When the sergeant was reported missing and presumed dead, Armin returned to Springfield to inform Skinner's mother, Agnes, but she deliberately mistook him for Seymour, so he assumed his identity and followed Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal. The real Seymour Skinner (voiced by Martin Sheen), had been alive after all, and briefly returned to Springfield to take his rightful place as Springfield Elementary School Principal, but had proved hopelessly unpopular and the Springfielders ran him out of town on the railroad. Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother", and decreed that no one will mention his true identity again "under penalty of torture" (although Lisa uses the real name in the episode "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot"). A clip from the episode was used in season eleven's "Behind the Laughter" as an example of the show's increasingly "gimmicky and nonsensical plots". The continuity of the series appears to revert to the original story of Seymour Skinner in the 2010 episode "Boy Meets Curl", as he is clearly shown to kick Agnes Skinner in utero, establishing him as Agnes' biological son after all. This is further declared in the Season 29 episode "Grampy Can Ya Hear Me" where a teenage Seymour is shown living with Agnes before going off to college.
Another part of Principal Skinner's backstory is revealed in the season 21 episode "Pranks and Greens", when Bart Simpson plays numerous pranks on teachers of the school. Principal Skinner reveals to Bart that there was a student who was an even better prankster than him, and Bart is very eager to find the identity of the prankster. Later, Groundskeeper Willie tells him a story: Years ago, Springfield Elementary School had a swimming pool and a swimming team, and Willie was the coach of the team. Back then, Skinner was quite laid back as a principal, but it all changed when Andy Hamilton, a student then and the aforementioned prankster, managed to fill the pool with worms and locked Skinner in the pool for the whole weekend. Monday was a teacher's holiday, so Skinner was not rescued until Tuesday morning. This experience caused him to become serious and almost merciless in his approach on rules, even going as far as to shut down the pool and demoting Willie, the swim teacher, to groundskeeper. From then on, Skinner became a very strict principal.
Principal Skinner first appeared in "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", which was also the first Simpsons episode to air. The first drawing of Skinner was done by Matt Groening, who based him on "all the principals of [his] youth, rolled into one bland lump." Writer Jon Vitti named him after behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner. An original idea for Skinner was that he would continually mispronounce words. He does this in the series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", but the idea was later dropped. Skinner was originally supposed to wear a toupée, but it was dropped because the writers didn't like "that type of joke". In later episodes, Skinner's behavior was based on teachers that Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein had in high school.
Superintendent Chalmers was introduced in the episode "Whacking Day" as a boss for Skinner. Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria, the voice of Chalmers, fell right into the characters and quite often ad-lib between them.
In "The Principal and the Pauper", it is revealed that Skinner was not who he claimed to be and was really named Armin Tamzarian. The episode was pitched and written by Ken Keeler and he was inspired by the Tichborne case of 19th century England. Producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein were excited about the episode because Principal Skinner was one of their favorite characters. They "spent a month immersed in the mind of Seymour Skinner" to prepare that episode, and from that point forward, took every opportunity to "tinker with [Skinner's] personality and his backstory and his homelife."
They intended for the episode to be "an experiment" and that the ending was meant to allow viewers to reset to the point before Skinner was revealed to be an impostor. The revelation that Principal Skinner was an impostor and the self-referential deus ex machina ending were negatively received by many fans and critics. Oakley considers "The Principal and the Pauper" the most controversial episode from his tenure as executive producer.
In April 2001, in an interview, Harry Shearer, the voice of Principal Skinner, recalled that after reading the script, he told the writers, "That's so wrong. You're taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we've done before with other characters. It's so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it's disrespectful to the audience."
The writers themselves have since mocked the inconsistencies created by the episode; in the season 15 episode "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot", Lisa is seen writing Snowball II on a cat food dish to save money after what would be the fourth Snowball's purchase. Skinner walks by and asks "that's really a cheat, isn't it?" to which Lisa pointedly replies, "I guess you're right, Principal Tamzarian." Skinner then quickly excuses himself to Lisa and walks away.
"Any Given Sundance" (a play on the title of the film Any Given Sunday, but otherwise unrelated) is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons' nineteenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 4, 2008. It guest-starred Jim Jarmusch and John C. Reilly as themselves. After Lisa enters a film about her family into the Sundance Film Festival, Homer, Marge, and Bart, and Maggie are appalled by the candid behind-the scenes look at their family. Meanwhile, Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers decide to enter the movie business.Bart Gets a 'Z'
"Bart Gets a 'Z'" is the second episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 4, 2009.
In the episode, the fourth grade students of Springfield Elementary School decide to spike Edna Krabappel's coffee in order to teach her a lesson after she takes away their cell phones. She is fired by Principal Skinner, who hires a new teacher named Zachary Vaughn. Although Vaughn is a hip young teacher who impresses the students, Bart is plagued by guilt and tries to get Edna hired back.In its original airing, the episode had an estimated 9.32 million viewers and received a Nielsen rating of 5.1/8. The episode was written by Matt Selman, and directed by Mark Kirkland.Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts
"Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts" is the second episode of the twenty-third season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 2, 2011. The episode was the first to feature Superintendent Chalmers as the central character and Chalmers' flashbacks references the films The Breakfast Club and Fight Club. In the episode, Principal Skinner challenges Superintendent Chalmers to take over Bart's education after one of his pranks. Chalmers accepts and starts teaching Bart about Theodore Roosevelt and manliness. After he takes Bart and his friends on an unauthorized field trip which results in one of the children breaking an arm, Chalmers is fired. Bart and his friends then take over the school in an effort to save his job.
The episode was written by Tim Long, directed by Steven Dean Moore, and features the voice of Theodore Roosevelt through archive recordings. The opening sequence was guest-directed by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi, who previously created the animated television show, The Ren & Stimpy Show. In its original American broadcast, it was viewed by approximately 6.19 million people. Since airing, the episode has received generally positive reviews from television critics, with the guest-directed opening sequence by Kricfalusi receiving the most praise.Bart the Murderer
"Bart the Murderer" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' third season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 10, 1991. In the episode, Bart stumbles upon the Mafia bar, Legitimate Businessman's Social Club, after having a terrible day at school. The owner of the bar, mobster Fat Tony, hires Bart to work as its bartender. When Principal Skinner goes missing after punishing Bart in school, Bart is soon accused of having him murdered and is put on trial. As he is about to get convicted, Skinner arrives and explains that he was accidentally trapped in his garage all week, clearing Bart.
The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Rich Moore. Fat Tony (voiced by Joe Mantegna) and his henchmen, Legs and Louie, made their first appearances on The Simpsons. The episode features cultural references to songs such as "Witchcraft" and "One Fine Day", and the American television series MacGyver. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 13.4 and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade
"Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade" is the third episode of The Simpsons' fourteenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 17, 2002. In the episode, the Simpsons buy a satellite television system, which Bart spends so much time watching that he does not study for an important achievement test. He scores so low that Principal Skinner demotes him to third grade, while Lisa does so well that she is moved up to third grade. The two are placed in the same class and become rivals. During a trip to Capital City, they get separated from their class and are forced to help each other in order to find their classmates.Bye Bye Nerdie
"Bye Bye Nerdie" is the sixteenth episode of the twelfth season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 11, 2001. In the episode, after Lisa becomes the target of a female bully named Francine, she discovers a scientific reason as to why bullies pick on nerds and demonstrates her findings at a science conference. Meanwhile, Homer goes into the childproofing business, causing baby-injury-related businesses to go in decline.
John Frink and Don Payne wrote "Bye Bye Nerdie" and their original idea for the episode saw Lisa being sent to juvenile hall after accidentally punching Principal Skinner when she was attempting to punch Francine. "Bye Bye Nerdie" was the first The Simpsons episode directed by Lauren MacMullan, who also made the design for Francine. Actress and comedian Kathy Griffin guest starred in the episode as this new bully character.
"Bye Bye Nerdie" has received generally positive reviews from critics and it was listed among "The Top Ten science moments in The Simpsons" by the editorial staff of Nature. Around 8.8 million American homes tuned in to watch the episode during its original airing, and in 2009 it was released on DVD along with the rest of the episodes of the twelfth season.Chief of Hearts
"Chief of Hearts" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 18, 2010. In this episode, Homer and Chief Wiggum become friends after Homer shares a sandwich with Wiggum during his community service sentence. Meanwhile, Bart becomes addicted to a Japanese kids' game called Battle Ball, but Marge and Principal Skinner believe that Bart is dealing drugs. It is also the first episode in which Lisa Simpson does not deliver any dialogue.
The episode was written by Carolyn Omine and William Wright and directed by Chris Clements, features guest star Jane Kaczmarek as Judge Constance Harm, Maurice LaMarche and Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony and has references to the television shows Starsky and Hutch, Three's Company, and Bakugan Battle Brawlers. "Chief of Hearts" received mixed to positive reviews from critics and came first in its timeslot.Flaming Moe
"Flaming Moe" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' twenty second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 16, 2011. It follows the efforts of Waylon Smithers to earn Mr. Burns' respect by turning Moe's Tavern into a successful gay bar, leading Moe to become more popular as a gay man than Smithers. Meanwhile, Principal Skinner looks for love with the substitute music teacher.Grade School Confidential
"Grade School Confidential" is the nineteenth episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 6, 1997. It was written by Rachel Pulido and directed by Susie Dietter. The episode establishes the long-term relationship between Seymour Skinner and Edna Krabappel. Bart witnesses a romantic moment between Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel and acts as a snitch for them. However, they later embarrass him and he exposes their romance to the public.Grift of the Magi
"Grift of the Magi" is the ninth episode of the eleventh season of the American animated television sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 19, 1999. In the episode, mafia boss Fat Tony successfully extorts a large sum of money from Springfield Elementary School, forcing Principal Skinner to close it down. However, a toy company called Kid First Industries, led by Jim Hope, later buys the school and privatizes it. Classes now start focusing on toys and marketing only, and soon a new toy called Funzo that resembles the children's ideas is released by Kid First Industries in time for the Christmas shopping season. Bart and Lisa decide to destroy all Funzos in Springfield but Gary Coleman, Kid First Industries' security guard, tries to intercept them.
"Grift of the Magi", which satirizes the commercialization of Christmas, was written by Tom Martin and directed by Matthew Nastuk. The episode features several guest appearances; Tim Robbins as Jim Hope, Gary Coleman as himself, Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony, and Clarence Clemons as a narrator that tells the viewers at the end of the episode how the story ends.
Around 7.76 million American homes tuned in to watch the episode during its original airing. It was first released on DVD in 2003 in a collection of five Christmas-related Simpsons episodes, titled Christmas With the Simpsons. Critics have given "Grift of the Magi" generally mixed to negative reviews, particularly because of its plot. The episode has, however, been praised for some of its gags and Coleman's appearance.Harry Shearer
Harry Julius Shearer (born December 23, 1943) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian, writer, musician, radio host, director and producer. Born in Los Angeles, California, Shearer began his career as a child actor. From 1969 to 1976, Shearer was a member of The Credibility Gap, a radio comedy group. Following the breakup of the group, Shearer co-wrote the film Real Life (1979) with Albert Brooks and worked as a writer on Martin Mull's television series Fernwood 2 Night.Shearer was a cast member on Saturday Night Live between 1979 and 1980, and 1984 and 1985. Shearer co-created, co-wrote and co-starred in the film This Is Spinal Tap (1984), a satirical rockumentary, which became a hit. In 1989, he joined the cast of the animated sitcom The Simpsons; he provides voices for characters including Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr. Hibbert and more. Shearer has appeared in films including The Truman Show (1998) and A Mighty Wind (2003), and has directed two, Teddy Bears' Picnic (2002) and The Big Uneasy (2010). Since 1983, Shearer has been the host of the public radio comedy/music program Le Show, incorporating satire, music, and sketch comedy. He has written three books.
Shearer has won a Primetime Emmy Award, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the radio category, and has received several other Emmy and Grammy Award nominations. He has been married to singer-songwriter Judith Owen since 1993. He is currently "artist in residence" at Loyola University, New Orleans.Homer's Barbershop Quartet
"Homer's Barbershop Quartet" is the first episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 30, 1993. The episode was written by Jeff Martin and directed by Mark Kirkland. It features the Be Sharps, a barbershop quartet founded by Homer Simpson. The band's story roughly parallels that of The Beatles. George Harrison and David Crosby guest star as themselves, and The Dapper Dans provide the singing voices of the Be Sharps.
The episode begins with the Simpson family as they attend a swap meet. There, Bart Simpson and his sister Lisa notice a picture of their father, Homer, on the cover of an old LP album. Homer explains to his family that he, Principal Skinner, Barney Gumble, and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon recorded a barbershop quartet album in 1985, which catapulted them to national fame. He narrates to his family the story of how the band formed, reached the pinnacle of success, and eventually folded. At the end of the episode, the group reunites to perform a concert on the roof of Moe's Tavern, singing their number-one hit "Baby on Board".
Throughout the episode, several references are made to the Beatles and other popular culture icons. In its original American broadcast, "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" finished 30th in ratings, with a Nielsen rating of 12.7. It was praised for its Beatles cameo, despite being a leftover episode from the previous season. Reviews that criticized the episode's inconsistent humor blamed it on the change of writers before the episode's creation.Principal Charming
"Principal Charming" is the fourteenth episode of The Simpsons' second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 14, 1991. In the episode, Marge's sister Selma is looking for a husband, so Marge orders Homer to help her find one. Things go wrong, however, when Homer invites Principal Skinner over for dinner and Skinner instead falls for Selma's twin sister Patty.
The episode was written by David M. Stern and directed by Mark Kirkland. The characters Hans Moleman, Groundskeeper Willie and Squeaky Voiced Teen make their first appearances on The Simpsons in the episode. "Principal Charming" features cultural references to film such as Vertigo, Gone with the Wind, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 14.1, and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.Provincial Road 222
Provincial Road 222 is an EP by Canadian musician John K. Samson, released on September 21, 2010. The second in a series of EPs thematically inspired by roads in Samson's home province of Manitoba, the disc is named for Manitoba Provincial Road 222, which links the towns of Gimli and Riverton.
The song "Petition" recites the text of Samson's online petition to induct Reggie Leach, a native of Riverton, into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Samson formally presented the petition to the HHOF in 2013. The song "Stop Error" is set to the music of a chorale by Johann Sebastian Bach. The song "The Last And" is set at Riverton Early Middle School, where a teacher ponders the disintegration of her affair with the principal. In some early live performances, Samson described "The Last And" as having been subconsciously inspired by the relationship between Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons.The tracks were later re-recorded and released, along with those on City Route 85, on Samson's solo album Provincial.Special Edna
"Special Edna" is the seventh episode in the fourteenth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 5, 2003. In the episode, Edna Krabappel begins to lose faith in her relationship with Principal Skinner and becomes depressed. Bart, wanting to raise her spirits, decides to nominate her for the Teacher of the Year Award. Edna and the Simpsons are flown to Orlando, Florida for the event.Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song
"Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" is the 19th episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. The 100th episode of the series overall, it originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 28, 1994. In the episode, Superintendent Chalmers fires Principal Seymour Skinner after a disaster at the school. Bart Simpson, feeling partially responsible for Skinner's firing, tries to help his old principal get his job back.
The episode was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, and directed by Bob Anderson. It was selected for release in a 1999 video collection of selected episodes called The Simpsons: Greatest Hits. The episode features cultural references to films such as Alien and Full Metal Jacket and the television series "The Wonder Years". The title is a parody of the film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Since airing, the episode has received a positive critical reception from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 12.7, and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.The Principal and the Pauper
"The Principal and the Pauper" is the second episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 28, 1997. In the episode, Seymour Skinner begins to celebrate his twentieth anniversary as principal of Springfield Elementary School, when a man arrives claiming that Skinner has assumed his identity. Principal Skinner admits that his real name is Armin Tamzarian, and that he had thought the true Seymour Skinner, a friend from the Army, had died in the Vietnam War. Armin leaves Springfield, but is later persuaded to return as principal.
"The Principal and the Pauper" was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Steven Dean Moore. It guest-starred Martin Sheen as the real Seymour Skinner. Although it aired during the show's ninth season, it was a holdover from season eight. The episode is one of the most controversial episodes of The Simpsons. Many fans and critics reacted extremely negatively to the revelation that Principal Skinner, a recurring character since the first season who had undergone a lot of character development, was an impostor. Many fans do not even consider it to be canon. The episode has been criticized by series creator Matt Groening, and by Harry Shearer, who provides the voice of Principal Skinner. Despite this, Ken Keeler considers the episode the best work he has ever done for television.Treehouse of Horror V
"Treehouse of Horror V" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' sixth season and the fifth episode in the Treehouse of Horror series. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 30, 1994, and features three short stories titled The Shinning, Time and Punishment, and Nightmare Cafeteria. The episode was directed by Jim Reardon and written by Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath, David Cohen, and Bob Kushell.In The Shinning, the Simpsons are hired as caretakers at Mr. Burns' mansion. Deprived of television and beer, Homer becomes insane and attempts to murder the family. In Time and Punishment, Homer repeatedly travels back in time and alters the future. In Nightmare Cafeteria, Principal Skinner begins using students in detention as cafeteria food.
David Mirkin deliberately placed more graphic violence in the episode due to complaints about excessive violence in the show. The episode features James Earl Jones as the voice of an alternate timeline Maggie. The episode was critically acclaimed, with The Shinning segment receiving the most praise.Yellow Subterfuge
"Yellow Subterfuge" is the seventh episode of the 25th season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, and the 537th episode of the series. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 8, 2013. It was written by Joel H. Cohen and directed by Bob Anderson. In the episode, when Principal Skinner promises that the most well-behaved at Springfield Elementary will get to ride in a submarine, Bart does everything possible to become a model student. Meanwhile, Krusty, on Lisa's advice, sells the foreign rights to his show in order to rake in more money, but the international Krustys soon become more popular than the domestic ones.