Bartholomew JoJo Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated television series The Simpsons and part of the Simpson family. He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed Bart while waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip, Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. While the rest of the characters were named after Groening's family members, Bart's name is an anagram of the word brat. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family received its own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989. Bart has appeared in every Simpsons episode except "Four Great Women and a Manicure".
At ten years old, Bart is the eldest child and only son of Homer and Marge, and the brother of Lisa and Maggie. Bart's most prominent and popular character traits are his mischievousness, rebelliousness and disrespect for authority. Hallmarks of the character include his chalkboard gags in the opening sequence; his prank calls to Moe; and his catchphrases "Eat my shorts", "¡Ay, caramba!", "Don't have a cow, man!", and "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?". However, the exception of "Ay, caramba!", these hallmarks have been retired or not often used. Bart has appeared in other media relating to The Simpsons – including video games, The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Ride, commercials, and comic books – and inspired an entire line of merchandise.
In casting, Cartwright originally planned to audition for the role of Lisa, while Yeardley Smith tried out for Bart. Smith's voice was too high for a boy, so she was given the role of Lisa. Cartwright found that Lisa was not interesting at the time, so instead auditioned for Bart, which she thought was a better role.
During the first two seasons of The Simpsons, Bart was the show's breakout character and "Bartmania" ensued, spawning Bart Simpson-themed merchandise touting his rebellious attitude and pride at underachieving, which caused many parents and educators to cast him as a bad role model for children. Around the third season, the series started to focus more on the family as a whole, though Bart still remains a prominent character. Time named Bart one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century, and he was named "entertainer of the year" in 1990 by Entertainment Weekly. Nancy Cartwright has won several awards for voicing Bart, including a Primetime Emmy Award in 1992 and an Annie Award in 1995. In 2000, Bart, along with the rest of his family, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
History with the Macy's Parade
At the height of the character and show's popularity, Bart Simpson first appeared in the 64th edition of the miracle on 34th Street, better known as The Macy's thanksgiving Day Parade in 1990, along with Clifford the Big Red Dog, and was the third-to-last character balloon in the Parade that year. Unlike the other giant character balloons made by Raven Aerostar from 1984 to 2019, Raven Aerostar didn't make this balloon. Instead, it was made by another company called Bigger Than Life. Since Bigger Than Life didn't produce balloons at a high quality standard compared to Aerostar, the seams on Bart didn't hold together well, and he had to constantly be patched up. It is possible this is why he was retired in 1995. He is likely to never return due to the new rules.
Though it is a common misconception that the Bart Simpson balloon was disposed of after a while, as his stitching proved faulty and the balloon's overall terrible condition, this was later proven false when a whiteboard at Macy's Parade Studio was found, and stated that he had been salvaged.
- In 1990, due to the faulty stitching, the balloon deflated the night before the parade started, but was repaired just in time for his first march down Broadway.
- In 1991, Bart's left leg was deflated due to the balloon slowly losing helium.
- In 1992, Bart's right finger was deflated. He also almost hit a building.
- In 1993, Bart's T-shirt was ripped open by a streetlight due to the windy weather, but made it through the Parade route.
- In 1995, the winds nearly blew Bart into an obstacle at Herald Square, but was pushed back with no damage done to him.
- In 1994 and 1995, Bart's neck was deflated, likely due to the balloon starting to wear and tear.
- In the Season 2 episode "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", Bart and Homer watch a parody of the Macy's Parade on television. Then, after Bart mentions why the Parade would use characters who are 50 years old (after discussing Bullwinkle and Underdog), a Bart balloon appears on the television, which is an obvious nod to the Bart balloon debuting that year, when the episode aired.
- During the Thanksgiving update for a mobile game The Simpsons: Tapped Out in 2015, a Bart Simpson parade balloon was added as a decoration. This is a nod to the real balloon, complete with Bart being in a similar pose on his skateboard.
Listed below are the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearances on the NBC telecast.
- "The Simpsons Theme" Instrumental (1990-1995)