The Simpsons: 15 Mr. Burns Slippery Now-You-Know Facts

There was a Mr. Burns voice before Harry Shearer.
The Simpsons: 15 Mr. Burns Slippery Now-You-Know Facts

We all know Springfield’s most evil citizen, but we want to delve a little deeper into living legend, Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber "Monty" Burns (which is how he signs his will in the season 22 episode, "Flaming Moe”).

He’s done some pretty despicable, downright unforgivable things, but we somehow root for him anyways. Maybe this is why Conan O’Brien called Monty his favorite character to write for.

Mr. Burns is based on two business tycoons and a praying mantis.

Barry Diller

Barry Diller,Web 2.0 Conference/Wikimedia Commons

And the voice is based on two other guys. There’s a lot going on here.

Matt Groening confirmed that Mr. Burns was based on the one-time world's richest man, John D Rockefeller, and animator David Silverman claims that he based Burns's look on a combination of a praying mantis and the former head of Fox broadcasting, Barry Diller.

Harry Shearer based the voice on Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life, and Drew Barrymore’s great uncle) and former president Ronald Reagan.


He’s been there since day one.

Homer looking on

Gracie Films & 20th Television

As evil as he is, at least he’s been around.

Mr. Burns was in the very first episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” which aired on December 17th, 1989.

Counting on Homer's Christmas bonus, Marge spends the Christmas money getting Bart's tattoo removed, but Mr. Burns announces that there will be no Christmas bonus.

He Is Left Handed.

Left handed Burns

Gracie Films & 20th Television

One of Burnsy’s redeeming episodes.

Ned Flanders’ Leftorium was struggling financially, while Mr. Burns would offer his kingdom for a left-handed can opener.

Once Homer comes around and helps Ned, Mr. Burns plops a pile of can openers on the counter and buys the left-hand “roadster in the corner”, confirming that the Leftorium is saved!.

Huzzah for the shopkeep!

His Heritage.

Mr. Burns is of Scottish and Austro-Hungarian descent.

When he wins the basketball team, the Austin Celtics, through a bet, he opts to sing the Austria-Hungary anthem instead of the American anthem before the game.

His net worth.

Forbes estimates Burns’ fortune is roughly $17 billion, but it has fluctuated wildly, depending on the episode.

In Season 20's "The Burns and the Bees”, Burns plays poker with fellows billionaires Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg in the Billionaire Camp. At that time, he is said to be worth $1,800,037,022.

He loses about half of his fortune when his basketball stadium gets converted to a bee sanctuary, and his net worth falls to $996,036,000, causing him to be demoted to the Millionaire Camp.

Silicon Valley had a very similar plot about 6 years later, so South Park right right… The Simpsons did it!

The “winner” of the ‘Who shot Mr. Burns’ competition got the answer wrong.

Who shot Mr. Burns?

Gracie Films & 20th Television

I guess they were too busy to open 1001.

When the first “Who Shot Mr Burns” episode aired, The Simpsons had a competition that offered a prize to anyone who could guess the shooter. The competition said the winner had to be found within the first 1000 random entries opened, but none of those first 1000 guessed that it was Maggie.

By default they gave it to an old lady who guessed, incorrectly, that Smithers did it.

Someone on a university internet newsgroup posted that Maggie was the shooter only two hours after the episode aired. After the competition, the show tried to contact him but his university email address was no longer active.

His childhood nickname.

Burns and Bobo

Gracie Films & 20th Television

In the Bobo episode, “Rosebud”, Burns was so happy that his parents actually nicknamed him “Happy.”

Of course, he then abandons his family to live a life of wealth with a billionaire.

Bonus Fact: His younger brother is George Burns.

He's had many failed relationships.

Burns and Gloria

Gracie Films & 20th Television

Mr. Burns often appears single and lonely but he has been engaged to three women in his lifetime. 

There was a policewoman named Gloria Jailbird, Marge’s mother, Jacqueline Bouvier, and Gertrude. He missed his wedding to Gertrude, their honeymoon, and even the divorce filing, because he was busy building his empire.

He also dated a fellow student when he was at Yale, and had a deadly affair with Countess von Zeppelin.

When he tries to be good, he’s even more evil.

Li'l Lisa Slurry

Gracie Films & 20th Television

Mr. Burns seeks the aid of Lisa in order to improve his image, and she eventually agrees to help him, and teaches him ways to improve the environment.

Burns instead focuses on the whole “six pack holders can trap wildlife” part of the lesson and sets up a new factory that uses millions of them to catch fish and other sea life. He even uses Lisa’s image, because who can’t get behind the face of Li’l Lisa?

He’s been pretty brutal to the Simpson family overall.

Mr. Burns and puppies

Gracie Films & 20th Television

While we’re at it…

He tried to turn Bart against his family, and goes as far as hiring a team of actors to trick Bart into thinking that his family doesn’t care about him. He tried to seduce Marge, and after spurning Mr. Burns' inappropriate advances, he fires her and hires a team of expensive lawyers to make the case go away.

When he accidentally hits Bart with his car, he doesn’t even bother to wonder if he’s alright, then even tries to murder Bart and Grandpa Simpson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish.

There was his whole Cruella Deville phase with the puppies, and he can never remember Homer’s name!

How he amassed his wealth.

The first explanation is that he inherited all of his family's wealth after all his siblings died, and it has also been suggested that he amassed his fortune through his germ warfare laboratory.

The nuclear power plant is an obvious one, but it’s also suggested that he bought the rights to the song "White Christmas" which brings in millions of dollars ‘round the holidays.

Harry Shearer wasn’t the only voice of Mr. Burns.

Comedian and voice actor Christopher Collins originated the voice of Mr. Burns in the first-season episodes “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", “The Telltale Head", “Homer’s Odyssey", and “There's No Disgrace Like Home”.

The producers at the time said that the performance itself was fine, but Collins was not the easiest person to work with, and Harry Shearer has voiced him ever since.

Conan O'Brien called Mr. Burns his favorite character to write for.

Conan on the Simpsons

Gracie Films & 20th Television

With his arbitrarily old age and extreme wealth, Conan had more than enough gold to provide Mr. Burns’ character. He even calls his house “Burns Manor”.

Rolling Stone ranked him #8 on their "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time” list.

Check out the list. Burns is up there with some all-time greats.

Smithers finally declared his love for Mr. Burns.

Smithers & Mr. Burns

Gracie Films & 20th Television

As evil as he is, he ended up coming around.

Longtime show writer Rob LaZebnik wrote “The Burns Cage” as a show of support for his son Johnny, who is gay. He said, “I am a Midwestern guy, so I don't tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, but I thought, 'What better way to tell my son I love him than to write a cartoon about it?”.

In season 27, episode 17, Smithers is finally ready declare his undying love to Mr. Burns. Burns’ initial reaction is as bad as it gets, telling Smithers that he “is someone I give less thought to than the little piece of popcorn stuck in my tooth.”

It seems like that’s it for Smithers and Mr. Burns, but in the end he finally makes the big gesture that Smithers has been waiting for - giving him a performance review: ‘Excellent.' Smithers goes back to work for Mr. Burns, after they share a hug.

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