- “Young man, I'm going to be on you like a numerator on a denominator.”
- ―Seymour Skinner
- “I know very little about children.”
- ―Seymour Skinner
- “(gasp) Superintendent Chalmers!”
- ―Seymour Skinner's catchphrase after being scolded by Chalmers
Walter Seymour Skinner (born non-canonically Armin Tamzarian),, better known as Seymour Skinner and Principal Skinner is a recurring character in The Simpsons, is the principal of Springfield Elementary School, and a stereotypical educational bureaucrat. He struggles to control the crumbling school and is constantly engaged in a battle against its inadequate resources, apathetic and bitter teachers, and often rowdy and unenthusiastic students, Bart Simpson being a standout example. A strict disciplinarian, Skinner has an uptight, militaristic attitude that stems from his years in the United States Army as a Green Beret, which included service in the Vietnam War, where he achieved the rank of a sergeant, according to his rank insignia. As a result of his service in the Vietnam War, he is often plagued by horrible memories of his involvement via post-traumatic stress disorder, sometimes even happening at the most inopportune of times. It is also implied that he received a severe injury during the Vietnam War on his posterior to require a metal plate to be installed in it.
Out of genuine concern for the quality of education of his students, most of Skinner's actions revolve around ensuring the school has adequate funding. His constant desperate, and usually ineffective attempts at maintaining discipline are an effort to receive good reviews from the frequent inspections of his capricious, temperamental, and whimsical superior, Superintendent Chalmers - who makes no effort to hide his disapproval of Skinner. These inspections usually turn awry due to Bart Simpson's elaborate pranks—which playoff Skinner's desperation for order. Over the years of pranks and inspections, though, Skinner has developed a love-hate relationship with each of them; when Skinner was fired and replaced by Ned Flanders, Bart found pranks less meaningful, due to Flanders' lax approach to discipline.
In an accident involving both Skinner and Chalmers, Chalmers showed grief over Skinner before he realized he was still alive. Although he likes to maintain the image of a strict disciplinarian, he is often weak-willed and nervous and has a very unhealthy dependence on his mother who constantly makes demands from him. She addresses him by the nickname "Spanky." Also, it was heavily implied that Seymour Skinner suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his days in Vietnam, where he spent eighteen months as a prisoner of war. Seeing his entire platoon devoured by an Elephant was one of the many things that led to the development of his post-traumatic stress disorder. Once, his PTSD kicked in in the middle of trying to alert Students of a prank that Bart pulled involving Heart message candies with crude statements on the PA where he remembered his war buddy Johnny being killed while he was writing a Valentine's Day card for his girlfriend back at home, causing Bart to think he "broke [Skinner's] brain". However, one PTSD related episode didn't deal with the war itself, but rather his experiences after the war, where he was apparently spat upon by people who were presumably anti-Vietnam when he was earlier promised with a parade.Skinner's unhealthy relationship with his mother began early: it is revealed that Agnes' pregnancy resulted in her failing to win a medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. He originally was quite laid back as a principal, even going as far as to do a jumpflip to catch a Frisbee while telling a student to keep up with his studies, but it all changed when one of his students (Andy Hamilton) managed to fill the pool with worms and locked Skinner in the pool for the whole weekend (plus a Monday), causing him to become serious and almost merciless in his approach on rules, even going as far as to shut down the pool and demoting Willie, the swim teacher, to groundskeeper. When Bart attempted to stop Krusty from diving into a worm-filled pool out of fear of Krusty becoming like Skinner, he accidentally blurted what happened to Skinner on the air, causing Skinner to angrily mutter sarcastically that his mother told him that Krusty the Clown was supposed to be a good influence, indicating that he was attempting to repress the traumatic memory. Bart also claimed that Skinner likes dog food when preparing something for Principal Skinner, although it is unclear whether he was being serious about this. Besides his job as Principal for Springfield Elementary School, he also worked as a member of MENSA and was also the acting referee and a major organizer of the annual Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Springfield.
At one point, when the Vice President's Assessment Test was coming up, Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers came up with a plan to lure all of the underachievers away from the test day by faking a perfect score on the pretest and then tricking them into going for a Chopper ride to a Pizza Party in Capital City (going as far as to disguise the School Bus as a chopper). However, when the plan reached fruition, Skinner ended up betrayed by Superintendent Chalmers with the latter tricking Skinner into boarding the bus to "get his sunglasses." He then has to get the kids back to the school, and also saved Ralph Wiggum when he somehow managed to board a garbage barge, to which Skinner impresses Bart and the other underachievers by saving Wiggum using the Conservation of Angular Momentum. Luckily for them, the Garbage Barge was also heading to Springfield Elementary School, so Skinner reads the newly motivated underachievers the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the rest of the way, and after returning, cancels the Vice President's Test, and also reinstitutes dancing in school.
Seymour Skinner has shown to be a stern and strict principal of Springfield Elementary; at times though he has been clueless and incompetent and overpowered by truant students, apathetic and underpaid teachers and what has been officially classified as "the worst school in the state". Although presenting himself with the self-assured image of an authoritative disciplinarian, Skinner has shown to be a nervous, fidgety man despite his age and position of power he is always milquetoast around his dominating mother and bad-tempered superintendent. It is heavily implied that Skinner's tightfisted, militaristic view of how Springfield Elementary should be run is because of his time in the military as a drill sergeant where his platoon were unruly and uncontrollable buffoons and his tendency to come down hard on truants. Owing to his militaristic manner of running the Elementary school, he also tended to do meticulous inspections early in the school day, such as placing his finger and stroking the top of a locker to inspect for dust, personally inspecting and comparing the school clock with his pocketwatch to ensure it is accurate down to the very second, measuring the distance between a wall and a waste disposal can, and using a tuning fork to test the ring vibration of a school alarm system, which also gave Superintendent Chalmers, who attempted to go to the Teacher's Lounge at the time without being seen by Skinner to make a secret announcement planning Skinner's 20th Anniversary as School Principal, a very hard time sneaking past him undetected to such an extent that he bluntly said that not only did Skinner have "a rod up [his] butt", but that said rod had its own rod up its butt after barely arriving at the Teacher's Lounge undetected. Skinner's brand of class discipline is considerably harsh from handing out six hundred days detention for the theft of School Textbooks to hanging Nelson by the scruff on a coat hook and shaving the hair off of Milhouse when a swear word was shaved into it. Once, he even had Bart disqualified from getting a free tour of the submarine just because he accidentally dragged water into the school, despite his uncharacteristic excellent behavior beforehand.
In moments of extreme incense, Skinner displays uncharacteristic backbone, even towards Agnes and Chalmers. For example, against his mother's wishes, he proposed to Edna Krabbappel a woman that Agnes speaks hated due to choosing to not allow her to control him any longer. When he was finally tired of Chalmers yelling at him, Skinner stood up to his boss by claiming that he should try teaching Bart Simpson instead. After this outburst of confidence, he proceeds to call the furbishing company for Springfield Elementary to demand that he didn't want a carpet for the halls but his bravado was quenched when he was asked to hold on the phone. In addition, under extreme circumstances, Skinner when left extremely incensed can even drive him to borderline murderous actions. An especially notable instance of this was during the Sun Blocker incident, where he proceeded to duck out of the town hall meeting and intended to ambush Mr. Burns when he left. However, he was unable to actually do so because he took his mother's makeup by mistake (he was actually going for camo paint), with Superintendent Chalmers stumbling upon this just as Mr. Burns got shot. He also implied that he did dark stuff to Principal Kahoutek and his kid when they beat him to the punch regarding reporting a discovery of a celestial body. However, he wasn't always like this. In fact when Skinner opened Springfield Elementary he was shown to be much more carefree and there was a pool on the school grounds but following a prank where the water was replaced with worms and he was trapped for two weeks turned him into the stern teacher which everyone knew.
Whilst usually considered to be a "square" by his students and peers and it has been proven that he is, Skinner has shown to be a more complex and tortured soul due to his own tragic history. A Green Beret in the Vietnam War, Skinner was said to have been disgraced or betrayed by his country when he returned home and it was heavily implied that he suffered from some degree of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of his time in Nam'. Amongst famous spectacles of his PTSD would be when he saw his war buddy, Johnny gunned down when he was sending a Valentine's letter and screamed into the school intercom over this memory, making Bart believe that he "broke his mind" and the months he spent in a POW camp where his friend was eaten by an elephant. In these flashes, Skinner becomes dark and melancholy, if not comically but he is quickly able to shake this off. Even so, Skinner's square tendencies were also evident in Nam' which implies he has always been, for want of a better term, "unhip" but became more rattled over his time there as a soldier. His guilt over accidentally inhaling marijuana smoke, the fact that stealing a cupcake from his commanding officer was his worst action and how he reminisced of candy bars in captivity then commanding his soldiers to do the same when they began thinking of women instead show these square tendencies in Skinner's personality.
More than anything, however, Skinner is prioritized by making sure that Springfield Elementary is well-funded, prioritizing it above the welfare of the schoolchildren within it. This behavior is displayed by the way he always asks for permission slips from the students parents before a field trip, simply to have them as merits so the school can't be sued if anything dangerous or fatal happens to them outside of the school, even when Uter was trampled and left behind on a Civil War, Skinner was only concerned that they had the permission slips from Uter's parents. Skinner is incredulously cheap with the quality of Springfield Elementary, amongst them the teachers who are underpaid and the books that are only banned from other schools. The old school bus is heavily dilapidated and worn-down, once exploding simply because a leaf touched it and Skinner once elaborated that the heavy chemical fumes were cause for the low test scores on some other students. Generally though, Skinner is unconcerned with the future of the children and the poor standards of the school, largely because he doubts the students have any future and he rides all of Springfield's promise on Lisa Simpson. When he did receive a large grant from a board of directors, instead of using it to better fix the school, spends it on a billboard and later on a liquor store. Despite this, he does ultimately love the concept of school, as in his debut appearance, he told Bart that there's "learning afoot" when trying to get him to class (either not aware or not caring that Nelson just threatened Bart with a fight at the school yard); and in Bart's Comet, he reacted with anguish when he learned that President Clinton declared that school was for losers on the headline, being far more in dismay over this than either Bart beating Skinner to the punch of a celestial object or even his accidental release of a vandalized weather balloon (which acted as the reason he had Bart present in the first place) he had just retrieved from learning of the aforementioned event.
Despite Skinner's love for his job, he has had a few relationships in his own personal time. He became smitten with Patty Bouvier (although the feeling was hardly mutual) as Patty was forced into the relationship initially and seemed to abuse him a lot, although Skinner was happy to take it. He proposed but she was too dedicated to her sister to be in a marriage. Edna Krabbappel was the longest of Skinner's relationships but she was frustrated of his doting on his mother and he did get cold feet on their wedding day which ended their union but he continued to have feelings for her nonetheless. Skinner had a passionate fling with the substitute music teacher, Calliope but this reached a subsequent end after three months.
Skinner drove several vehicles in several episodes. In newer episodes, he owned a Merkur, which has been mentioned in several newer episodes. In older episodes, he owned a Toyota Camry. He also owned a Volvo, which got destroyed by Bart and Millhouse.
Skinner's back-story was re-visited in the episode The Principal and the Pauper, where it was revealed that Skinner is an impostor. Born Armin Tamzarian, it emerges that he was a troubled orphan until he was forced into the United States Army during the Vietnam War. There, he was befriended by Sgt. Seymour Skinner, who he came to idolize. When Sgt. Seymour Skinner was reported missing presumed dead, Tamzarian returned to Springfield to tell Skinner's mother, but she deliberately mistook him for Seymour, so he assumed his identity and followed Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal. It is revealed that Skinner (AKA Armin Tamzarian) was born in New Orleans. The real Seymour Skinner had been alive after all, and briefly returned to Springfield to take his rightful place as Springfield Elementary School School Principal, but had proved hopelessly unpopular and the Springfielders ran him out of town on the railroad. Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother", and decreed that no one will mention his true identity again "under penalty of torture" (however, Lisa calls him by his true name teasingly when he comments on her decision of calling Snowball V "Snowball II", without consequences), thus everything returned to normal. Since then, this episode has been considered non canon.
Aside from a short-lived relationship with Patty Bouvier, Skinner's love life has focused on Edna Krabappel. The two dated for several years and became engaged, but later canceled the wedding. Edna has shown she does want to live a life with Skinner, but first wants him to commit to her - namely by not letting his mother, with whom he still lives, control him anymore. Skinner also developed a romantic relationship with the substitute music teacher, Calliope Juniper. However, after Bart had no interest in her daughter, Melody Juniper, she decided to leave and persuaded Skinner to come with her. Skinner left with Calliope and Melody, but came back a few months later with no known explanation..
Skinner wears a blue suit, an orange tie, white underpants, and a lavender shirt. It is sometimes stated that he wears a toupee. He is 49 years old
Skinner's back-story is re-visited, revealing Skinner is an impostor. Born Armin Tamzarian, he grew up in the 433rd Street neighborhood of Capital City. He was a troubled orphan and rebellious teenager until he was forced into the United States Army during the Vietnam War. There, he was befriended by Sgt. Seymour Skinner, who he came to idolize. When Sgt. Seymour Skinner was reported missing and presumed dead, Tamzarian returned to Springfield to tell Skinner's mother, but she deliberately mistook him for Seymour, so he assumed his identity and followed Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal. It is revealed Skinner (AKA Armin Tamzarian) was born in New Orleans. The real Seymour Skinner had been alive after all and briefly returned to Springfield to take his rightful place as Springfield Elementary School Principal, but proved hopelessly unpopular and the Springfielders ran him out of town on the railroad. Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother", and decreed no one will mention his true identity again "under penalty of torture", thus everything returned to normal.
Treehouse of Horror
In Treehouse of Horror XX, Skinner was killed by Bart.
In Holidays of Future Passed, Skinner becomes a landlord of The Lofts at Springfield Elementary, a housing block which the school has become, with Bart as one of the tenants. He also tells Bart that he is two weeks late on his rent along with a geography report from thirty years ago.
In "Days of Future Future", Skinner is seen with the skeleton of Agnes Skinner at a restaurant.
In "Flanders' Ladder", Skinner dies at age 119 from a heart attack after Bart launches fireworks into the air saying that "Skinner sucks".
The Simpsons Road Rage
Skinner acts as a passenger in the game. If the driver is Bart, a conversation will occur where Bart stammers upon noticing that his passenger is Skinner due to thinking he is in trouble due to technically cutting school, although Skinner mentions that he has no intention of punishing Bart this time around and implies he himself is also "playing hookie" regarding School before requesting him to drive him to a specific destination.
The Simpsons: Hit and Run
In "The Simpsons: Hit and Run", Homer delivers Lisa her school project, because she has forgotten it. He drives quicker than Skinner to the school. The next day Skinner chases Bart on his car after he skips school. His mother can be seen sitting in the back seat. Later, he confiscates a laser gun from Bart and Bart has to destroy his car to get it back. He also asks Lisa for help with some errands, and makes little secret of how overjoyed he is that Bart disappeared.
The Simpsons Game
In "The Simpsons Game", he hires Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney to steal artifacts from the Springfield Museum for the school (as he couldn't get any science stuff the legal way due to lack of funds), till they are stopped by Homer and Bart. He also takes part of an angry mob led by Marge Simpson and Lisa Simpson, recruited near the museum, implying that he was planning another heist when Marge's mob came around the corner. If you're walking around Springfield. Skinner is 100% always seen in the school.
Skinner, like Homer Simpson and a few other residents of Springfield, has displayed inhuman or unusual skills. He once tracked Bart throughout Springfield with no visible trail and even walked along the bottom of a river to cross it and then climbed a cliff. He also fought with Bart on a bus and went through a concrete bridge completely unharmed.
Skinner is normally quite passive and submissive outside of school. As a former green beret and war veteran, he occasionally demonstrates he is capable of action in spite of his cowardly demeanor. For instance, he once casually took down the Blue-Haired Lawyer and his two giant bodyguards.
Skinner is also highly intelligent. He is a member of the Springfield chapter of Mensa, meaning that his IQ is at least 130 and is at least in the top 2% of the nation. Other than his membership, however, he does not display extreme intelligence but rather seems like an ordinary man constantly irritated by Bart.
Skinner was also a talented, founding member of the Be Sharps Barbershop quartet.
Principal Skinner first appeared in "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", which was also the first Simpsons episode to air. Matt Groening based him on "all the principals of [his] youth, rolled into one bland lump." Writer Jon Vitti named him after behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner. Skinner was originally supposed to wear a toupee, but it was dropped because the writers didn't like "that type of joke". The Simpsons Guide to Springfield as well as one of the Blackboard gags did, however, briefly imply that Skinner did wear a toupee.
In the first few seasons, Skinner resembles Norman Bates, the main character from Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho. In later episodes, Skinner's behavior was based on teachers that Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein had in high school.
Superintendent Chalmers was introduced in the episode "Whacking Day" as a boss for Skinner and Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria, the voice of Chalmers, fell right into the characters and quite often ad-lib between them.
The Principal and the Pauper
In the episode "The Principal and the Pauper", it was revealed that Skinner is actually Armin Tamzarian. Armin was a troubled orphan until he joined the Army and was befriended by Sgt. Skinner, who he came to idolize. Believing himself responsible for the real Skinner being killed, he returned to Springfield to tell Skinner's mother, but she (deliberately) mistook him for Seymour, and he followed the true Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal. At the end of the episode, Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother," and decreed that no one will mention his true identity again under penalty of torture (this, after the Springfielders ran the real Seymour, voiced by Martin Sheen - who had been alive after all - out of town by way of railroad).
The episode was negatively received by fans and critics over the sudden change of Skinner's backstory. During an interview, Harry Shearer, the voice of Seymour Skinner publicly criticized the episode. He noted that he told the writers after reading the script: "That's so wrong. You're taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we've done before with other characters. It's so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it's disrespectful to the audience." In the introduction to the Season 9 DVD Boxset, Matt Groening described the episode as his "least favorite" and in a Rolling Stone interview, he called it a "mistake".
The Simpsons writers have occasionally mocked the inconsistencies in subsequent episodes, it was referenced in "Behind the Laughter" as a 'far-out plot line' to distract from the family's behind-the-cameras turmoil. When Lisa acquires Snowball V and declares, "To save money on a new dish, I'll call you Snowball II." Skinner says, "Isn't that a cheat?" Lisa replies, "I guess it is, Principal Tamzarian." Skinner then replies, "I'll just be moving along." He then nods at Lisa and the new Snowball, and walks off. In the DVD commentary for "The Principal and the Pauper", the producers stated that they intended for the episode's ending to reset the continuity to before Skinner was revealed to be Tamzarian. As such, they said, fans could dismiss the discontinuities created by the notion that Skinner is actually an impostor and consider the episode on its own terms, divorced from the rest of the series.
- Skinner's prisoner of war ID number was 24601, which is also Sideshow Bob's prisoner number, a reference to Jean Valjean's prisoner number in Les Misérables .
- Skinner is right-handed.
- Apparently, Skinner has a clown punching beanie in his office to quell stress and anger relating to disruptions, especially ones relating to Bart Simpson, as he was seen punching it to relieve himself of his anger when Bart ended up causing a flood due to misuse of the fire hose on Fire Safety day before talking with Bart's parents.
- Skinner's nickname is Spanky.
- Skinner has been noted to have acid reflux.
- As mentioned in “I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot”, when Lisa names her new cat Snowball II to save the trouble of getting a new bowl Skinner calls it a cheat, to which Lisa replies, "I guess you're right, Principal Tamzarian." This is a reference to the episode in which Skinner is revealed to be a fraud, but in the end it’s all forgotten and it returns to the Status quo, just like what happens with the new Snowball II.
- The above is a reference to “The Principal and the Pauper” where it is revealed that Skinner’s real name is Armin Tamzarian.
- Seymour and Agnes live next door to Martin Prince and his family.
- He was once a fourth grade science teacher.
- He is highly allergic to peanuts.
- Bart calls him "Skinny" as he calls Edna Krabappel "Crabby".
- In "Pygmoelian", Principal Skinner is shown smoking a cigarette in Duff Land's Designated Drivers Rockin' Fun Zone.
- Like Abe Simpson, Skinner's War time in Vietnam isn't mentioned in recent seasons as this would make him over 60 today.
- He is shown at times to be a social Darwinist for example in Simpson Tide, he only allowed the best and brightest to be safe in a bunker such as Lisa Simpson, Martin Prince, the championship kickball team and Sherri Mackleberry (he expelled Terri Mackleberry from the bunker because her twin Sherri was considered smarter than her) and in How The Test Was Won, he and Superintendent Chalmers set a trap for Bart and other students such as the bullies and Ralph to send them to Capital City for the day in order to purge the school of failing students (this can be considered worse than the previous example as he would of sent them unsupervised to a dangerous city or to unprofessionally supervised by Otto Mann who was oblivious to the events of the episode but in an act of irony Skinner is betrayed into being sent to Capital City by Chalmers who didn't want to see incompetence and the risk of failure caused by Skinner).
- He speaks Esperanto
- Skinner holds a diploma from the Springfield Diploma Mill
- He claims to be "lop-shouldered" from torture in a north Vietnamese prison camp
- His favorite Star Wars character is Chewbacca
- He has a similar voice to Reverend Lovejoy and Dr. Hibbert.
- He doesn't like semicolons; they make him queasy
- ↑ Crook and Ladder
- ↑ Homer's Barbershop Quartet
- ↑ "The Principal and the Pauper"
- ↑ Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Principal and the Pauper
- ↑ I Love Lisa
- ↑ Bart's Friend Falls in Love
- ↑ Boy Meets Curl
- ↑ Episode – "The Principal and the Pauper"
- ↑ I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot
- ↑ Principal Charming
- ↑ My Big Fat Geek Wedding
- ↑ Special Edna
- ↑ Flaming Moe
- ↑ "Flanders' Ladder "
- ↑ The Principal and the Pauper
- ↑ Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on March 2, 2007
- ↑ Joe Rhodes. "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves", TV Guide,. Retrieved on 2007-08-15.
- ↑ Reiss, Mike. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Principal Charming" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Groening, Matt. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Principal Charming" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Simpsonsfolder.com: Continuity
- ↑ Weinstein, Josh. (2005). The Simpsons season 5 DVD commentary for the episode "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badaaasssss Song" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Jean, Al. (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Whacking Day" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Les Miserables
- ↑ Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em
- ↑ The Crepes of Wrath
- ↑ Grade School Confidential
- ↑ Werking Mom, when Agnes tells Lisa about Seymour's fear