Waylon Smithers

Waylon Joseph Smithers Jr., usually referred to as Mr. Smithers or simply Smithers, is a recurring fictional character in the animated sitcom The Simpsons, who is voiced by Harry Shearer. Smithers first appeared in the episode "Homer's Odyssey", although his voice 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 Mr. Burns.

Smithers' loyalty and devotion to Mr. Burns was inspired from 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 little attention should be drawn to it. Smithers' first name (Waylon) was derived from that of puppeteer Wayland Flowers.[1][2]

Smithers was colorized in his first appearance as black with blue hair.[3] Matt Groening, in an interview with TMZ, said that this was a mistake but the producers didn't have enough money to correct it.[4]

Smithers is the loyal, obedient and sycophantic assistant to Mr. Burns, and the relationship between the two is a frequent running gag on The Simpsons. In many ways, Smithers represents the stereotype of a closeted gay man, and numerous overt allusions and double entendres concerning his homosexuality are made, though some of the show's producers instead interpret him as a "Burns-sexual". In the season 27 (2016) episode "The Burns Cage", he came out as gay.[5]

The Simpsons character
Waylon Smithers 1
First appearance"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (voice only) (1989)
Created byJay Kogen
Wallace Wolodarsky (writer)
Matt Groening (designer)
Voiced byHarry Shearer
OccupationExecutive assistant to Mr. Burns at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant
FamilyWaylon Smithers Sr. (deceased father)
Unnamed mother

Role in The Simpsons

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 Smithers was a baby.[6] Up till 2016 he was not openly gay, but most people knew he was homosexual before he came out. It was revealed in a flashback that he was married to a woman once, but the two split up when Mr. Burns came between them.[7] 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".

Mr. Burns remained largely ignorant of Smithers' devoted adoration, much to Smithers' frustration. Mr. Burns himself has been involved with several women and, in "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love", Smithers is noticeably disgusted when Mr. Burns starts looking for a female companion.[8] Burns, for his part, views Smithers as somewhat of a lackey, albeit a highly valued one for his competence. He has "rewarded" Smithers' devotion with the future "honor" of being buried alive with him after he dies.[9] Smithers has been shown to be somewhat dependent on his relationship with Burns. In "Homer the Smithers", Mr. Burns orders Smithers to take a vacation and Homer Simpson is hired as a temporary replacement. When Homer loses his temper and punches Mr. Burns in the face, Mr. Burns learns to become self-reliant and this results in Smithers being fired. Smithers decides that he needs to be Mr. Burns' assistant and eventually gets his job back.[10] In the season 27 episode "The Burns Cage", Smithers attempts to admit his love to Burns, who interrupts to reaffirm his contempt for his assistant.[11]

Smithers' official job at the power plant appears to be that of executive assistant, which he says is "actually about 2,800 smaller jobs"[10] responsible for monitoring employee attendance, and is often a disciplinarian and has won dozens of employee of the month awards.[12] He has often hinted at wanting to be promoted to the position of executive vice president, but Burns has repeatedly quashed this dream, while whimsically bestowing the vice presidency on a dog.[13] Smithers has the largest collection of Malibu Stacy dolls in Springfield and is the president of the Malibu Stacy fan club.[14]



Waylon Smithers (first appearance)
Smithers' initial (and only) appearance with a dark complexion, as seen in "Homer's Odyssey"

Smithers was partly based on how numerous Fox executives and staff members acted towards Barry Diller.[15] The idea for Smithers' orientation was pitched by 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][2] 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, coined by Mike Reiss, was first used in "I Married Marge" and comes from the puppeteer Wayland Flowers.[1][20][2]

Smithers made his first appearance in "Homer's Odyssey", which was the third episode of the first season, although he can be heard over a speaker in The Simpsons series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".[21] In his first visual appearance in "Homer's Odyssey", Smithers was mistakenly animated with the wrong color and was made darker than most characters by Gyorgi Peluci, the color stylist. 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][2] Silverman retconned this error by saying that Smithers had a tan from a recent holiday in the Caribbean.[22] The first appearance of a yellow Smithers was "There's No Disgrace Like Home", the fourth episode of the first season.


Smithers wears a brown/brownish green suit, white shirt with a purple bowtie. He has yellow skin, glasses and gray/light brown hair (or brown hair).


Smithers' relationship with Mr. Burns has long been a running gag on The Simpsons. Smithers is an obedient and sycophantic assistant to Mr. Burns. There have often been strong hints about Smithers' true feelings for his boss, with one of the earliest references being in the season one episode "The Telltale Head".[16] Smithers' sexual orientation has often come into question, with some fans claiming he is a "Burns-sexual" and only attracted to his boss, while others maintain that he is gay.[23] During the Bill Oakley/Josh Weinstein era, they still tried to keep his sexuality unspoken and there was debate among the writers about his orientation. Al Jean, who thinks of Smithers as being a "Burns-sexual",[19] felt that had Mr. Burns been a woman, then Smithers would not be gay.[24] David Silverman, a former supervising director has said, "[Smithers] seems to be focused on one particular human, as opposed to anything beyond that. [Rather than being gay], he's sort of 'Burns-sexual.'"[25] In a 2006 study conducted by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, it was determined that nine of the 679 lead and supporting characters on scripted broadcast television were gay or lesbian, but Smithers was not included. A list published in 2008 by the same organization included Smithers;[26] Patty Bouvier, Marge Simpson's lesbian sister, was included on both lists.[27]

Smithers dreams about Mr. Burns in "Marge Gets a Job". The censors had issues with the "lump in his bed", which was his knee.[28]

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!"[29]

Several of the allusions to Smithers' sexuality have turned into battles with the network 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".[30] There were also issues with "the lump in his bed", which the animators said had been drawn as his knee, but the censors had misinterpreted.[28]

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.[31]

Mostly in the early seasons, Smithers had a catchphrase, which comes from a recurring joke that Mr. Burns never remembers who Homer Simpson is. Smithers and Burns would watch Homer (usually over a security camera feed) and Burns would ask, "Who is that man?", to which Smithers would reply, "That's Homer Simpson, sir, one of your [drones, organ banks, carbon blobs, etc.] from sector 7G." Burns would invariably respond, "Simpson, eh?"[32]

In September 2015, it was confirmed by Jean that Smithers would come out to Mr. Burns in a season 27 episode.[33] The episode, "The Burns Cage", was broadcast the following April and saw Smithers unsuccessfully try to move on from Burns.[34] A writer for British progressive magazine the New Statesman felt that the episode was a retcon, making a serious story about the character's homosexuality instead of the previous jokes and innuendo that became the target of homophobia.[35]


Harry Shearer at RT4
Smithers' voice actor Harry Shearer

In 2004, The Simpsons producers announced that one of their characters was going to come out of the closet.[36] 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")[37] as well as in Australia,[38] New Zealand,[39] Ireland, (the Irish Independent called Smithers "too obvious" a choice),[40] and the United Kingdom.[41] 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.[42] 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."[43] It was Patty Bouvier who came out.[44]

In a 2007 article, Entertainment Weekly named Smithers the 16th-greatest sidekick of all time.[45] They have also described Smithers and Mr. Burns as being "TV's most functional dysfunctional couple".[46] Star News Online named "Smithers' fey way" as one of the 400 reasons why they loved The Simpsons.[47] In a 2003 article, Entertainment Weekly named the two-part episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", in which Smithers was prominently featured, the series' 25th-best episode.[46] Gay.com ranked Smithers as the sixth-gayest cartoon character.[48]


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".[49] 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".[50] 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;[51] and the other, known as "future Smithers", shows him as a robotic dog.[52] A "future Burns" was included in the set as a companion to "future Smithers" and depicts Burns as a robot as he appeared at the end of the episode.[53]


  1. ^ a b Goertz, Allie; Prescott, Julia (8 August 2016). "I Married Marge (with Jeff Martin)" (Podcast). Maximum Fun. Event occurs at 61:28. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Reiss, Mike; Klickstein, Mathew (2018). Springfield confidential: jokes, secrets, and outright lies from a lifetime writing for the Simpsons. New York City: Dey Street Books. p. 103. ISBN 978-0062748034.
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  4. ^ "'Simpsons' Creator Matt Groening Smithers Was Black By Mistake ... DOH!". TMZ. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  5. ^ McDermott, Maeve. "Smithers officially came out as gay on 'The Simpsons'". USA Today. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
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External links


alt.tv.simpsons (called "a.t.s." by regular readers) is a usenet newsgroup dedicated to discussing the American television program The Simpsons. Created in 1990, the newsgroup became a popular community in the early 1990s, and continues to exist as of 2019. It is known for reviewing episodes and nitpicking minor details on the show.

The writers of The Simpsons know about the forum and have on several occasions read the comments made on it. The character Comic Book Guy is often used in the show to lampoon and respond to the newsgroup's fans. In interviews some writers have admitted that they do not like being scrutinized, but other writers have participated in the discussions on the forum. Independent commentators call the forum an example of an "active audience" and have claimed The Simpsons is tailor-made for such a forum.

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.

Gorgeous Grampa

"Gorgeous Grampa" is the fourteenth episode of the 24th season of The Simpsons and the 522nd episode overall. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 3, 2013.

Hans-Georg Panczak

Hans-Georg Panczak (born 19 July 1952 in Düsseldorf, Germany) is a German television actor and voice actor. He is best known as the German voice of Waylon Smithers in The Simpsons, of Mark Hamill in the original Star Wars trilogy, and of Glen Quagmire in Family Guy since the fourth season.

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 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.

Jean-Louis Millette

Jean-Louis Millette (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑ̃ lwi milɛt]; 4 January 1935 – 29 September 1999) was a French-speaking actor and writer.Millette was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Millette's television career spans over thirty years: he was a cast member of many of the best-known series in Quebec, including the children's series La Ribouldingue (which he also co-wrote), L'Héritage, Symphorien and Montréal P.Q. (in a role which earned him a Prix Gémeaux in 1994). He was also the voice of Abraham Simpson, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Waylon Smithers in the Quebec dubbing of The Simpsons. On the big screen, he played mostly supporting roles, most notably in Robert Lepage's first film The Confessional (Le Confessionnal).

However, Millette's most significant work was in theatre: he was a major figure of Quebec theatre and, in 1990, received the Prix Victor-Morin for outstanding achievement in theatre in Quebec. He was a member of the Théâtre de Quat'Sous when it was founded by Paul Buissonneau in 1956. Millette died suddenly in Montreal of a heart attack in September 1999. At the time, he was touring a one-man performance of Larry Tremblay's The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi. This role had earned him the Masque Prize (Quebec's annual prizes in theatre) for best acting performance.


Smithers is a surname of English origin. It derives from the Middle English term "smyther", referring to a metalsmith, and is thus related to the common occupational surname Smith. The name Smither is related.

The Blunder Years

"The Blunder Years" is the fifth episode of The Simpsons’ thirteenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 9, 2001. The episode sees Homer, after being hypnotized by the hypnotist Mesmerino while having dinner at the restaurant Pimento Grove, reminded by a repressed traumatic experience from his childhood. The Simpsons set out to find the corpse that triggered Homer's psychological trauma, which evolves into a murder mystery later in the episode.

The episode was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham while Steven Dean Moore served as the director. The original idea for the episode came from current show runner Al Jean, which involved the murder mystery in the episode. The writers then incorporated Homer's flashbacks, at which point the episode was titled "The Blunder Years", a parody on the television show The Wonder Years.

Following the release of The Simpsons' thirteenth season on DVD and Blu-ray, the episode received mixed reviews from critics.

The Burns Cage

"The Burns Cage" is the seventeenth episode in the twenty-seventh season of the American animated television series The Simpsons, and the 591st episode of the series overall. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 3, 2016.

In the episode, Waylon Smithers finally comes out as gay to his boss Mr. Burns, who rejects his love. Other characters attempt to find a boyfriend for Smithers, and he falls for Julio. Meanwhile, Milhouse competes against a new boy for the lead role in a school production of Casablanca, so he can act alongside his own unrequited love, Lisa. Openly gay actor George Takei makes a cameo as himself, and the episode features a variety of cultural references, including to Grindr, Vladimir Putin, Equus and the films of Humphrey Bogart.

The episode was written by Rob LaZebnik, inspired by when his teenage son came out. Critical reception was positive: the emotionally touching aspects of LaZebnik's script and Harry Shearer's portrayal of Smithers were praised. However, criticisms included the plot possibly ending the innuendo-driven humor involving Smithers' secret love of Burns, and an assumption that the character was being retconned due to changing attitudes on homosexuality since the series' debut. The episode was covered by international media.

The Last Traction Hero

"The Last Traction Hero" is the ninth episode of the twenty-eighth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, and the 605th episode of the series overall. It aired in the United States on Fox on December 4, 2016. This is the first episode where former recurring guest star Kevin Michael Richardson joined the regular supporting cast.

The Simpsons (season 1)

The first season of the American animated television series The Simpsons originally aired on the Fox network between December 17, 1989 and May 13, 1990, beginning with the Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". The executive producers for the first production season were Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon.The series was originally set to debut in autumn 1989 with the episode "Some Enchanted Evening", which was meant to introduce the main characters; during the first screening of the episode, the producers discovered that the animation was so appalling that 70% of the episode needed to be redone.The producers considered aborting the series if the next episode turned out as bad, but it only suffered from easily fixable problems. The producers convinced Fox to move the debut to December 17, and aired "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" as the first episode of the series. The first season won one Emmy Award, and received four additional nominations. The DVD boxset was released on September 25, 2001 in Region 1 and September 24, 2001 in both Region 2 and Region 4.

The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular

"The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" is the tenth episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 3, 1995. As the title suggests, it is the 138th episode and the third clip show episode of The Simpsons, after "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" and "Another Simpsons Clip Show". While the "138th Episode Spectacular" compiles sequences from episodes throughout the entire series like the previous two, it also shows clips from the original Simpsons shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show and other previously unaired material. Like the Halloween specials, the episode is considered non-canon and falls outside of the show's regular continuity.The "138th Episode Spectacular" was written by Jon Vitti and directed by David Silverman, and is a parody of the common practice among live-action series to produce clip shows. It has received positive reviews, and was one of the most watched episodes of the seventh season, with a Nielsen rating of 9.5.

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

"The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" is the twenty-fourth episode of the eighth season of The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 11, 1997. The episode centers on fictional pilot episodes of non-existent television series derived from The Simpsons, and is a parody of the tendency of networks to spin off characters from a hit series. As such it includes references to many different TV series. The first fictional spin-off is Chief Wiggum P.I., a cop-dramedy featuring Chief Wiggum and Seymour Skinner. The second is The Love-matic Grampa, a sitcom featuring Moe Szyslak who receives dating advice from Abraham Simpson, whose ghost is possessing a love testing machine. The final segment is The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour, a variety show featuring the Simpson family except for Lisa, who has been replaced.

The episode was written by David S. Cohen, Dan Greaney and Steve Tompkins, with Ken Keeler coming up with the story and the general idea of intentionally bad writing. It was directed by Neil Affleck, and Tim Conway, Gailard Sartain and Phil Hartman guest-starred. The producers were initially uneasy about the episode, as they feared that the purposely bad writing would be mistaken for actual bad writing. The episode, however, now appears on several lists of the most popular Simpsons episodes.

Vittorio Amandola

Vittorio Amandola (November 4, 1952 – July 22, 2010) was an Italian actor and voice actor.


Waylon is a given name. Notable persons with that name include:

Waylon (singer) (born Willem Bijkerk in 1980), Dutch singer

Waylon Brown (born 1979), American politician from Iowa

Waylon Francis (born 1990), Costa Rican footballer

Waylon Jennings (1937–2002), American country singer, songwriter and musician

Waylon Jennings Jr. (born 1979), American singer-songwriter, son of the above

Waylon Lowe (born 1980), American mixed martial artist

Waylon Muller, Marshall Islands wrestler

Waylon Murray (born 1986), South African rugby union player

Waylon Payne (born 1972), American country singer, songwriter, musician and actor

Waylon Prather (born 1985), American football coach and former punter

Waylon Reavis (born 1978), American singer

Waylon Woolcock (born 1982), South African mountain bikerFictional characters:

Waylon Smithers, character from The Simpsons

Waylon Jones, supervillain in the Batman comics

Who Shot Mr. Burns?

"Who Shot Mr. Burns?" is a two-part episode of the American animated television series The Simpsons. Part One is the twenty-fifth and final episode of the sixth season and originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 21, 1995, while Part Two is the season premiere of the seventh season and aired on September 17, 1995. Springfield Elementary School strikes oil, but Mr. Burns steals it and at the same time brings misery to many of Springfield's citizens. Part One has a cliffhanger ending where Mr. Burns is shot by an unidentified assailant. In Part Two, Springfield's police try to find the culprit, with their main suspects being Waylon Smithers and Homer Simpson.

Both episodes were written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein; Part One was directed by Jeffrey Lynch and Part Two by Wes Archer. Musician Tito Puente guest stars as himself in both parts. "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" was conceived by series creator Matt Groening and the writing staff decided to turn it into a two-part mystery episode. Part One contains several clues about the identity of the culprit because the writers wanted it to be solvable.

The concept for the two-part episode was the episode of the primetime soap opera Dallas titled "A House Divided", known by most as "Who shot J.R.?" in which character J.R. Ewing was shot. In the months following the airing of Part One, there was much widespread debate among fans of the series as to who actually shot Mr. Burns and in many ways the public reaction and response to the episode mirrored that of its "Who shot J.R.?" inspiration. Over the summer of 1995, Fox offered a related contest which was one of the first such endeavors to tie in elements of television and the Internet.

World of Springfield

The World of Springfield is a series of action figures featuring characters from the animated sitcom The Simpsons. The line ran between December 1999 and December 2004 and was released by Playmates Toys.

The toy action figure series was called World of Springfield, because the concept of the line was for collectors to build a miniature Springfield through a series of interactive action figures and playsets. It eventually encompassed over 200 different figures and characters from the series, 40 interactive playsets (toy re-creations of Simpson's interior settings and town location settings within Springfield), and three non-interactive diorama town settings.

Other media
Theme parks
Inspired works


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