Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Barney Gumble is a fictional character on The Simpsons, voiced by Dan Castellaneta. He was born on April 20th of an indeterminate year. Barney is the Springfield town drunk, a regular at Moe's Tavern. His desperation for alcohol has been the source of many jokes, and his belch is distinctive . He remains friendly and good-natured despite his unfortunate condition. Single, he lives in a messy apartment with very little furniture, above Moe's.
Barney first appeared in the episode 7G08, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", in which he worked as a department store Santa and gave Homer a tip for winning at the dog track. (Also in this episode, if you hear the commentaries on the Season 1 DVD, it is said that Barney was originally planned to be Homer's neighbor.)
In the episode 9F07, "Mr. Plow", Barney was inspired by Homer's Mr. Plow business to have his own snow removal service, calling himself the Plow King and buying a snow removal truck much bigger than Homer's. He even got Linda Ronstadt to sing on his commercials. "We've been looking for a project to do together for a while," he explained. He took away all Homer's customers and earned the key to Springfield.
Barney showed his artistic side again in the episode 2F31, "A Star is Burns", in which Barney won top prize at the Springfield Film Festival for a moving documentary about his life as an alcoholic, called "Puke-a-hontas". Since Montgomery Burns caused Moe's Tavern to close down, (2F16, "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part I"), Barney became a major suspect for shooting Burns after Burns blocked the sun.
Barney served in the United States Navy for a short time, as a submariner on the USS Jebediah (3G04, "Simpson Tide") with his own mother as his superior officer.
In the episode BABF14, "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses", Barney kicked the alcoholism habit. For his birthday, Moe gave him a gift certificate for helicopter flying lessons, not expecting Barney to actually use them. "Can you imagine this boozehound at the wheel of a whirlybird?", Moe asked. Barney went to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, became sober, and took the helicopter flying lessons. He became fairly proficient at it, though he admitted he only knew to make left turns. This new skill helped Homer rescue Bart and Lisa from a forest fire. Unwilling to lose a customer, Moe figured out a way to transfer Barney's addiction to espresso, which led to the disappearance of his trademark belch. He had a relapse in "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can" and was back on the sauce in "My Big Fat Geek Wedding" (in a scene that was a parody of Jimmy Stewart's Harvey). Homer also encouraged Barney to have a beer when he played Ulysses S. Grant is a reenactment of the Battle of Springfield. By the end of season 15 he was back to his old, alcoholic self. Early in season sixteen, though, in a nice continuity nod, he briefly sobered up and got back behind the controls of his helicopter to rescue an old girlfriend from a volcanic lava flow.
Something of a running joke in the series and the comics is that Barney is considered extremely desirable by the opposite sex. In the episode where Selma goes to the Springfield Sperm Bank, Barney walks out from the donation room and is greeted with familiarity by a staff member. Seconds later a mother with a baby appears on screen, Barney exclaims that the baby is a beautiful little girl, whereupon the baby removes her pacifier and emits Barney's distinctive belch. The next shot shows a line of happy mothers and babies trailing from the Sperm Bank, and a continuous chorus of Barney Belches following them.
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