‘Hi-Diddly-Ho, Neighborino’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About Ned Flanders
Not even Matt Groening and his team had an inkling of just how popular Springfield’s most neighborly resident, Ned Flanders, would turn out to be. After all, Flanders was simply supposed to be a normal neighbor who rubbed Homer the wrong way, with nothing more to him. Today, there are legions of Flanders Fans who throw parties in his honor while presumably sporting giant mustaches and speaking in “Diddly Tongue.” More germane still, he’s now one of the most revered characters in The Simpsons, even if his evangelical beliefs sometimes cause him to do the worst of things.
Read on for some behind-the-scenes facts and trivia about Ned Flanders, the devout Christian who drunkenly married a total stranger in Vegas...
The Dark Story Behind the Way Flanders Talks
In the Season Eight episode, “Hurricane Neddy,” the Flanders’ home is destroyed in a hurricane, and Ned has himself a little diddly-doodly breakdown while roasting the ever-living shit out of the townsfolk of Springfield.
Ned, still somehow capable of being the responsible adult he is amid a complete mental break, promptly drives to a mental hospital and checks himself in. It’s here that we find out how Ned’s parents were “freaky beatniks” who let their kid run wild without any supervision or discipline. Kid Ned displayed a penchant for rage until he was eventually forced to undergo a bonkers prescribed therapy in which he was spanked for 18 months straight. His misbehaving stopped, but it also rendered him unable to express his anger other than saying diddly-doodly nonsense.
He’s Named After a Street in Groening’s Hometown
He Has Been Used to Explain a Study on People’s Dating Habits
In 2015, psychologists at Oxford University, the University of Maryland and the University of Otago in New Zealand found evidence suggesting that most non-believers will immediately find religious folk unattractive thanks to Western stereotypes. The study showed that people will link traits like “rigid” and “traditionalist” to a religious person, even if they don’t have said traits, simply because they believe in God.
The scientists called it the “Ned Flanders effect,” with an excerpt of their published paper explaining, “From Footloose’s parochial Rev. Shaw Moore, who despairs at the ’proliferation of obscene rock and roll music with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality’ to The Simpsons’ overly friendly but entirely dogmatic Ned Flanders, the pious are often portrayed as rigid, conventional and intolerant.”
He Has Famous Religious Fans
Billy Graham once wrote a piece titled “Saint Flanders,” in which he said that The Simpsons character was “the most visible evangelical to many Americans — and that’s just okily dokily.” Dr. Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, is a big fan of both Homer and Flanders, once saying the sitcom was “generally on the side of the angels and on the side of sense.”
The Ned Flanders Metal Band
Heavy metal band Okilly Dokilly formed in 2015 and proudly proclaimed themselves to be the first ever and also only “Nedal” band. The group uses many of Flanders’ quotes as lyrics in their music, and their “White Wine Spritzer” song was played during the credits of the show’s 659th episode, “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say D’oh.”
The alcoholic drink, of course, is a reference to the one that caused Ned to live on the edge while hanging with Homer in Vegas and, subsequently, marry a random waitress.
Left or Right?
Even though The Simpsons isn’t known for its solid continuity, one error led to Al Jean joking that someone should get the boot for it. In the series, Flanders is the proud founder of the Leftorium shop that caters to lefties like him, but as fans soon pointed out, there have been many a scene showing Flanders writing, bowling and even playing the guitar with his right hand. When the Twitter account Ireland Simpsons Fans pointed out this egregious mistake, Jean replied, “A right-hander will definitely be fired for these blunders.”
He Spawned His Very Own Pop Culture Term
According to its Wikipedia page, “Flanderization is the process through which a complex fictional character’s essential traits are oversimplified to being their entire personality, or at least exaggerated while other traits remain, over the course of a serial work.” The term was first coined by TV Tropes to describe how Flanders, who was originally just a normal church-going fella, was turned into a religious nut by dialing up his dogma to 11, and “Flanderization” has since been associated with Kevin Malone from The Office, Brian and Peter Griffin from Family Guy and practically all the characters in Silicon Valley.
He Has Inspired an Adidas Originals Pair of Shoes
The “Left Handers Rule” is a version of the McCarten Adidas shoe and was inspired by Leftie (?) Flanders himself. The shoe was released in 2021.
Voiced By an ‘SNL’ Alumnus
Harry Shearer was a cast member on SNL from 1979 into the early 1980s. He helped create, write and also starred in This Is Spinal Tap, and in 1989, he became part of The Simpsons family, voicing Mr. Burns, Smithers, Reverend Lovejoy and Ned Flanders, to name a few. He learned from Mel Blanc, the famous voice behind a string of Looney Tunes characters, who took Shearer under his wings and taught him the business of voice work.
Ned Flanders Is a Doomsday Prepper (And Terrible At It)
In “Bart’s Comet,” the town of Springfield goes into a panic after Bart discovers a comet heading their way. Flanders isn’t worried, though — he’s built a bomb shelter with enough provisions for such an event. The shelter, however, is so big that the entire town tries to force their way inside when a missile that was supposed to destroy the comet ends up taking out the only bridge providing an exit for the townsfolk.
Flanders himself says, “Hell, I may regret this when our air runs out, and we can’t whistle or stay alive, but… oh what the hey” before letting everyone in — a move that would surely negate the surviving part of the whole exercise.
Of course, everyone eventually leaves the shelter after kicking out Ned and feeling bad about it, and all the better, because the comet rapidly disintegrates thanks to Springfield’s insane pollution but still somehow manages to completely destroy the shelter.
He Has Influenced the English Language
An infix, as ALTA Linguist Wesley Cook writes, is “a part of speech that is inserted between the syllable boundaries of an existing word, such as, say, a-whole-nother thing.” And while it’s rare to have an infix in the English language, they do occur and have become more prevalent thanks to Ned Flanders and Snoop Dogg. The latter’s introduction of words like “crizazy” and “shiznit” to colloquial language is an example of this, and Flanders, of course, gave us “hi-diddly-do” and “well-diddly-elcome.”
He’s Jacked AF
A running joke in The Simpsons — since most of the male characters do not sport the best physiques — sees Flanders being surprisingly swole, which is why even Homer has called him “stupid sexy Flanders.”
His Own Short
Ned starred in his own short, The Adventures of Ned Flanders, which ran at the end of the Season Four episode “The Front.”
According to the DVD commentary, it was created out of desperation as writers tried “every trick in the book” to hit the required runtime but still came up short. The fun of making Adventures of Ned led the team to later do the episode “22 Short Films About Springfield,” which included the iconic Steamed Hams segment.
How Shearer Came Up With the Voice of Flanders
Shearer once explained that he created his Simpsons characters’ voices intuitively since he wasn’t shown any drawings when he first read for them. “I just saw a one-line description in the script,” he said, “and I thought, ‘Let’s try this. If it’s right, fine, I’ll do it for 33 years. If it’s wrong, they’ll tell me to stop.’”
Shearer Was the Reason the Show Developed Flanders’ Character
On the third season’s DVD commentary, we find out that Flanders was originally just going to be a neighbor Homer Simpson was jealous of, but Shearer created “such a sweet voice” that Flanders was ultimately fleshed out to be a sweet Christian fella who showed up Homer with all that niceness.