John Swartzwelder (born February 8, 1949) is a writer for the animated television series The Simpsons. He is credited with writing the largest number of Simpsons episodes. John was one of several writers recruited to The Simpsons from the pages of George Meyer's Army Man magazine.
Beginning with the show's sixth season, Swartzwelder no longer attended rewrites with the rest of the staff, having been given special dispensation to send in his drafts from home and let the other writers revise them.
According to his longtime collaborators on The Simpsons, Al Jean and Mike Reiss, Swartzwelder is a huge fan of Preston Sturges films and loves "anything old-timey American." This vaguely defined aesthetic presents itself in many of the episodes he's written, in the form of wandering hobos, Prohibition-era speakeasies, carnies, 19th-century baseball players, aging Western movie stars, and Sicilian gangsters.
According to the DVD commentaries, he used to write episodes while sitting at a booth in his favorite restaurant "drinking copious amounts of coffee and smoking endless cigarettes" (Matt Groening). When the state of California passed an anti-smoking law, Swartzwelder bought a diner booth and installed it in his house, allowing him to smoke and write in peace.
He is also noted as being a staunch Libertarian, as well as a gun rights advocate and a chain smoker.
In 2004, following a short break from writing scripts, he wrote his first novel, The Time Machine Did It (ISBN 0-9755799-0-8). It was followed by Double Wonderful (ISBN 0-9755799-2-4) in 2005.
The Simpsons' 16th season was the first in which no episodes were authored by Swartzwelder.
John has yet to feature in a Simpsons DVD commentary, and has refused to even acknowledge this fact on a commentary, even when offered to have a mic brought to him just to utter the word "No". On one audio commentary, one of the writers pretended to be him as a joke. Swartzwelder was rumored to be doing commentary on the Season 9 DVD box set episode "The Cartridge Family". However, the extent of his participation was that the actual commentators called him on the phone to verify for the fans that he exists. The only opinion he offered on the episode was that he recalled it was a good one, but as far as is known, he won't be on any DVD commentaries.
Here is a continuous listing of every episode he's written for the show so far:
- "Bart the General" (7G05) (1990)
- "The Call of the Simpsons" (7G07) (1990)
- "Life on the Fast Lane" (7G11) (1990)
- "The Crepes of Wrath" (7G13) (1990)
- "Treehouse of Horror" (7F04) (1990)
- "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" (7F01) (1990)
- "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" (7F09) (1990)
- "Bart Gets Hit by a Car" (7F10) (1991)
- "The War of the Simpsons" (7F20) (1991)
- "Bart the Murderer" (8F03) (1991)
- "Treehouse of Horror II" (8F02) (1991)
- "Homer at the Bat" (8F13) (1992)
- "Dog of Death" (8F17) (1992)
- "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?" (8F23) (1992)
- "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" (9F03) (1992)
- "Whacking Day" (9F18) (1993)
- "Krusty Gets Kancelled" (9F19) (1993)
- "Rosebud" (1F01) (1993)
- "Homer the Vigilante" (1F09) (1994)
- "Bart Gets Famous" (1F11) (1994)
- "Bart Gets an Elephant" (1F15) (1994)
- "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" (1F19) (1994)
- "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (2F01) (1994)
- "Homer the Great" (2F09) (1995)
- "Bart's Comet" (2F11) (1995)
- "Homie the Clown" (2F12) (1995)
- "Radioactive Man" (2F17) (1995)
- "Treehouse of Horror VI" (3F04) (1995)
- "Bart the Fink" (3F12) (1996)
- "Homer the Smithers" (3F14) (1996)
- "The Day the Violence Died" (3F16) (1996)
- "You Only Move Twice" (3F23) (1996)
- "Mountain of Madness" (4F10) (1997)
- "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" (4F15) (1997)
- "The Old Man and the Lisa" (4F17) (1997)
- "Homer's Enemy" (4F19) (1997)
- "The Cartridge Family" (5F01) (1997)
- "Bart Carny" (5F08) (1998)
- "King of the Hill" (5F16) (1998)
- "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" (5F21) (1998)
- "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"" (AABF04) (1998)
- "Homer to the Max" (AABF09) (1999)
- "Maximum Homerdrive" (AABF13) (1999)
- "Monty Can't Buy Me Love" (AABF17) (1999)
- "Take My Wife, Sleaze" (BABF05) (1999)
- "The Mansion Family" (BABF08) (2000)
- "Kill the Alligator and Run" (BABF16) (2000)
- "A Tale of Two Springfields" (BABF20) (2000)
- "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes" (CABF02) (2000)
- "Hungry, Hungry Homer" (CABF09) (2001)
- "Simpson Safari" (CABF13) (2001)
- "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" (CABF18) (2001)
- "The Lastest Gun in the West" (DABF07) (2002)
- "I Am Furious (Yellow)" (DABF13) (2002)
- "The Sweetest Apu" (DABF14) (2002)
- "The Frying Game" (DABF16) (2002)
- "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington" (EABF09) (2003)
- "Treehouse of Horror XIV" (EABF21) (2003)
- "The Regina Monologues" (EABF22) (2003)
Cameos John has been seen in:
- The Front: Seen in a room with other Itchy and Scratchy writers when Roger Meyers, Jr. is showing Grampa to the writers.
- Hurricane Neddy: The second person you see when the Simpson family, barring Homer (who was instead to accompany Dr. Foster in order to act as an outlet for Ned to express his inner rage), went touring the hospital premises.
- Bart After Dark: John is walking in front of Bart and Belle.
- Bart the Fink: Seen in the audience of Krusty the Clown's "funeral" with Kermit the Frog
- The Day the Violence Died: He is called in as one of Lionel Hutz's surprise witnesses
- Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily: A statue of Swartzwelder is shown in front of the Town Hall.