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Portland Allusions

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Portland Allusions

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Matt Groening did more than name “Simpsons” characters after Portland streets. The names for many of the show’s oddball characters came from family members, old friends and other obscure personal reference.

The name Homer came mostly from Groening’s late father but also from the lead character in a favorite book, “The Day of the Locust” by Nathanael West. Lisa and Maggie Simpson were named for Groening’s sisters, while Bart’s aunt, Patty Bouvier, has the same first name as another Groening sister. Margaret Groening, Matt’s mother, has never gone by the name Marge. “It doesn’t bother me if people call me Marge, but I’m nothing like her,” she said. “Homer (her husband) used to really get a kick out of being associated with Homer Simpson.” Matt’s paternal grandfather is named Abraham, just like Grandpa Simpson. Springfield Police Chief Clancy Wiggum shares Margaret Groening’s maiden name.

Dolph, a schoolyard bully who is among the local thugs who torture Bart, is named for Dolph Timmerman, a Lincoln classmate of Matt Groening’s. Timmerman wasn’t a bully at all, Groening said, but a “really cool guy.” Miss Hoover, Lisa’s second-grade teacher, is named after Groening’s first-grade teacher at Ainsworth Elementary School, Elizabeth Hoover, who recognized Groening’s drawing talent early after seeing his picture of a boat.

There is no 742 Evergreen Terrace the Simpsons’ address in Portland.

One of Groening’s high school films was called “Drugs: Killers or Dillers?” In its climactic scene, the filmmakers dangled an old wheelchair off the Vista Bridge in an apparent metaphor for what happens when kids take drugs. “That movie was very funny and very clever, but amateurish,” Margaret Groening said. Margaret Groening’s favorite Simpsons character is Apu, who operates the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store. “I just love his accent,” she said. More Portland street names may show up, and Groening would like to work in the Rose Festival fun center because he has fond memories of counting all the fistfights from high atop the rides. Krusty the Clown is loosely based on Rusty Nails, a popular Portland TV kiddie clown in the 1960s. Rusty (whose real name is James Allen) is sincere and loving, a devout Christian who shared Bible stories with children. Krusty is a lusty hedonist and fallen Jew. As a boy, Groening once watched Rusty’s show from the studio audience.

Characters in the Simpsons take their names from important people and places in Groening’s life

  • Lisa – Lisa Groening (Matt Groening’s sister)
  • Marge – Margaret Groening (his mother)
  • Homer – Homer Groening (his father and one of his sons)
  • Maggie – Maggie Groening (one of his sisters)
  • Bart – an anagram for “brat”
  • Abraham – Matt Groening’s grandfather
  • 742 Evergreen Terrace is the address of the place where Matt Groening grew up.
  • Chief Wiggum – Groening’s college love’s last name was “Wiggum”
  • Seymour Skinner – behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner
  • Miss Hoover (Lisa’s teacher) – one of his primary school teachers
  • Apu (Kwik-E-Mart owner) – reference to one of his favourite movies
  • Ned Flanders – In Groening’s hometown, there is a street called NE Flanders St. (from which one could deduce – Ned Flanders, Saint)
  • Maude, Rod and Todd Flanders – they all rhyme with “god”
  • Kang and Kodos (aliens) – In the , Kang is a Klingon, and Kodos (“The Executioner”) is a human villain
  • Barney Gumble (Homer’s drinking buddy) – Barney Rubble from The Flintstones
  • Troy McClure (actor) – B-movie actors Troy Donohue and Doug McClure
  • Dr. Nick Riviera (enterprising physician) – Elvis Presley’s physician, George C. Nichopoulos, was called Dr. Nick
  • Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening says it’s a coincidence, but Sideshow Bob Terwilliger, Krusty the Clown’s murderous and felonious former sidekick and evil nemesis of the Simpson son, Bart, carries the name of the Southwest Portland parkway.
  • Northwest Quimby Street Inspired the name of Diamond Joe Quimby, Springfield’s corrupt, philandering mayor.
  • Northwest Flanders Street Inspired the name of Ned Flanders, the Simpsons’ annoying next-door neighbor.
  • Northwest Kearney Street Source of name of Kearney, one of the schoolyard bullies who torments Bart.
  • North Van Houten Avenue Milhouse Van Houten, Bart’s best friend and foil, has the same name as this North Portland street. Again, Groening says it’s a coincidence.
  • Montgomery Park Used to name Montgomery Burns, the evil owner of the Springfield Nuclear Plant. Groening remembered how Lawrence Shlim, a childhood friend, saw what was then the Montgomery Ward sign from his bedroom window at night and thought that¹s where his prayers were heading.
  • Columbia River Gorge The much larger Columbia River Gorge inspired the Springfield Gorge, known in Springfield as the state’s second most beautiful.
  • Springfield, Ore. Helped inspire the name of the Simpsons’ hometown. Growing up in Portland, Groening thought Springfield, the Anderson family’s hometown on TV’s “Father Knows Best,” was the Springfield in Oregon. Also chosen because of the name’s ubiquity.

more about portland

For more information about Portland from the Simpsons point of view, please view this map

  • Place of Birth Search at IMDB
  • Map of Portland
  • News results for Portland
  • Portland State University