- ―Barney's catch phrase
- “Don't cry for me, I'm already dead.”
- ―Barney during his home film Pukeahontas
- “Is that a new kind of Mace? It's really painful!”
- ―-Barney compliments Patty on her technique.
Bernard Arnold "Barney" Gumble (born April 20, 1956) is the Springfield town drunk and Homer Simpson's best friend, although to a lesser extent after high school. Being a frequent customer at Moe's (to the point of sleeping there) Barney considers Moe to be his second best friend; however, he is often abused in the process, mainly due to Moe's personality. Barney was formerly an A-student back at Springfield High, but lost it all due to his drinking alcohol and is since then seen as a disgrace by his whole family, none of whom drinks.
He is a recurring character in The Simpsons and one of the sole minor characters in The Simpsons Movie (the others being Charles Montgomery Burns, Jonathan Frink, Moe Szyslak, Krusty the Clown and Fat Tony).
Barney was born on April 20. His father, Arnie Gumble, was killed in a parade float accident along with Sheldon Skinner, Iggy Wiggum, Etch Westgrin, and Griff McDonald, all of whom had served in Abe Simpson's WWII squad, the Flying Hellfish. Barney once had a near-death experience in which he expects to be reunited with "my loved ones, my dad, and that plant I never watered," perhaps implying that he did not get along with his father.
As a teenager, Barney had great potential. He was Harvard-bound until Homer introduced him to beer on the night before they had to take the SATs. It has also been implied that he took to drinking after his high-school sweetheart Chloe Talbot left Springfield to become a successful TV reporter. In spite of the years of alcoholism, he still appears to maintain some of his great early potential. For example, when forced to quit drinking while training to be an astronaut, he almost immediately regained his diction and balance and proved to be an exceptional astronaut candidate. (Unfortunately, to celebrate the completion of his training and selection as an astronaut, he was given non-alcoholic champagne, which immediately resulted in a relapse.)Later on, with Homer, he was a member of The Be Sharps barbershop quartet, in which his stellar Irish singing voice was discovered. Barney showed his artistic side again when he won top prize at the Springfield Film Festival for his moving documentary about his life as an alcoholic, unfortunately titled "Puke-a-hontas".Mr. Black also hired Barney to act like Krusty the Clown for the campers at Kamp Krusty, although Bart was not fooled by his attempt at defaming Krusty (as Barney was poorly disguised as Krusty), and also ends up confirming Bart and the rest of the campers's suspicions that Black just "slapped a clown suit on some wine-o" by answering that he is "Krunchy the Clown," as well as clamoring for Krusty's return (or, as he calls him, "Krunchy").
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 (which was taken away from Homer). Homer eventually fools Barney into traveling to "Forbidding Widows' Peak" to plow through the snow for a $10,000 bill, but is caught in an avalanche. Homer ends up saving Barney, they become friends again and team up, only to find the snow melting (after Homer comments "When two best friends team up, not even God himself can stop them." To which a voice from the sky replies "Oh, no?" and promptly beams down a ray of light to melt the snow), and Homer's truck repossessed. Barney is seen driving his plow as the Plow King again in several occasions.When Mr. Burns caused Moe's Tavern to close down and was shot later, Barney became a major suspect for shooting Burns after Burns blocked the sun (despite his easygoing nature, Barney apparently carries around a derringer at all times).
Barney served in the United States Navy Reserve for a short time, as a submariner on the USS Jebediah with his own mother as his superior officer, although he briefly served in the U.S. Army during his youth.
PersonalityBefore Barney started drinking, he was a very intelligent young man, but while studying for the S.A.T.s Homer offered him one of Abe's beers. After giving in to Homer, Barney took his first sip and quickly downed the entire can. His clothes and hair quickly became a mess and he ran out of Homer's house. Barney is almost always seen in Moe's Tavern, where he is a regular. His desperation for alcohol has been the source of many jokes. He has a quavering, slightly broken voice and a distinctive loud belch (although he sings completely differently, having a beautiful "Irish tenor" type voice), as well as a characteristic wandering eye. He remains friendly and good-natured despite his unfortunate condition. Heavyset, slovenly, and unmarried (though occasionally seen with women), he lives in a very untidy and sparsely-furnished apartment. It has also been implied that he has "lived" in Moe's Tavern. Barney drinks so compulsively that Moe had to send his beer tab to NASA for it to be calculated: it ultimately came out as fourteen billion dollars worth of beer (although Moe mistakenly stated it was seventy billion dollars until he realized that that was actually the cost of the Voyager Spacecraft), and has contributed to at least one of his fellow barflies' beer tab (such as when Homer went to Japan).
He is occasionally seen doing some sort of manual labor, such as working for his Uncle Al at Barney's Bowlarama, but has also been the owner of a successful snowplowing business and been employed by NASA as an astronaut. Barney is 40 years old and his first name was revealed to be Bernard, although he also appears to be in the same high school class as Homer in flashbacks. When streaking at his high school prom earned him "about a decade's worth of detention", it was hinted that he was either to be held back a year, or had already repeated. He had also ended up having to do court-issued community service with picking up roadside litter where he attacked Principal Skinner (who was trying to cross the interstate with a tank of gasoline for his car at the time) after hallucinating that Skinner was a giant beer can.
When alcohol is not readily available, Barney is seen drinking just about anything, such as turpentine, varnish, rubbing alcohol, and brake fluid. In addition, when someone forces him to be sober from alcohol, he sometimes becomes murderous and deranged, which happened on at least two occasions. The first time was when, due to Mr. Burns' slant drilling operation forcing Moe's Tavern to close due to the toxic fumes, he brought out a gun with the intention of wanting to murder Mr. Burns for this, although he never actually got a chance to use it before Mr. Burns was shot by Maggie. The second time was when Mr. Burns diverted all the beer from Springfield and then issued a manhunt on TV to force Homer to give back Bobo, to which Barney was at the door with a gun warning Homer to do as Mr. Burns said, although he ended up accidentally shooting and presumably killing a woman who was crossing Evergreen Terrace after Homer slammed the door in his face, and it is implied that he was arrested for this action shortly thereafter. He also utilized his gun once while acting as the Plow King, to shoot out Homer's Mr. Plow truck's tires.
According to Homer in what ultimately inspired Barney to become sober, Barney's exact stance at being inebriated depended on how he acted: When slightly inebriated during his birthday party (by comparison, as Barney did not remember the birthday party), or as Homer called him "Professor Barney", he was talkative, coherent (at least by comparison) and even insightful, albeit somewhat offensive, as he was telling Lisa that upon death, there will be a planet each for the French, the Chinese, and presumably any other nationality/ethnicity with the implication that they'd all be happier that way, much to the latter's chagrin. When extremely drunk, however, he at one point managed to somehow cross-dress as Marge and yell to the kids in a fake falsetto voice that he's going shopping before drinking while overall being very woozy, enough to fall over the banister, and upon seeing beer soaked into the "shag" (referring into the rug), he proceeds to lap it up like a dog and even get territorial when Santa's Little Helper was nearby, with Homer, initially mistaking him for Marge, telling "her" that "she's" making a fool of herself before realizing "her" true identity.
In very early episodes such as There's No Disgrace Like Home he was portrayed as a bully who regularly picked on Homer and would start fights with him.
When he was nominated alongside Homer to join NASA, Barney quit drinking to undergo the rigorous training. He succeeded and was even nominated to go into space. However, due to the severity of his alcoholism, a taste of non-alcoholic wine was enough to get him intoxicated again, thus resulting in Homer going to space instead of Barney.
Barney was once forced to remain sober for the drinking night at Moe's when he received the position of Designated Driver that night (coincidentally on the same night that he was to win a bottomless glass of Duff from Duffman). The mental strain of that single night of sobriety sent Barney on a two-month bender with Homer's car, after which Barney remembered nothing except for a guest lecture he gave at Villanova (or maybe it was on a street corner). The car was later found parked illegally in New York City, though Barney had no memory of how it got there.
Barney once attempted to kick his 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 tanked-up loser at the wheel of a whirlybird?" Moe asked. This comment, coupled with a humiliating videotape of Barney's actions while inebriated, gave Barney the drive he needed. Barney attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, became sober, and took the helicopter lessons. He became fairly proficient at it, though he admitted he had not yet mastered right turns. This new skill helped Homer rescue Bart and Lisa from a forest fire. Unwilling to lose one of his most crucial customers to his tavern, Moe figured out a way to channel Barney's tendency for addiction into a dependency on the caffeine in espressos.
Barney once made a movie about his struggle with alcoholism and submitted it to the Springfield Film Festival. When he won the grand prize, he vowed to remain clean and sober from that point forward, but quickly backed off his vow when it was announced that the grand prize was a lifetime supply of Duff Beer.
Homer encouraged Barney to drink a beer when he played Ulysses S. Grant in a reenactment of the Battle of Springfield. (Surprisingly, this did not cause him to become alcoholic again. Barney himself was both surprised and hesitant to drink the beer, even for his role, as he was a recovering alcoholic.) He briefly sobered up and got back behind the controls of his helicopter to rescue his old girlfriend Chloe from a volcanic lava flow. He was also relatively sober and piloting his helicopter again when helping Homer take celebrity photographs. When he suggested that an indicted Marge go to a particular rehab clinic to help her kick her drinking habit, he stated that the clinic had "cured him five times," implying that he has been switching between a current and recovering alcoholic. It's revealed that he's always sober in the morning until he enters Moe's Tavern.
During Trappuccino, he was one of the barflies who ran into the church, and was in the massive angry mob set out to kill Homer with the rest of the townspeople. Even later, Barney was attending an AA meeting and went crazy when the coffee ran out.
If there's one thing Barney Gumble loves more than beer, he hasn't discovered it yet. And not for want of trying. Hard liquor, sterno, cough syrup, turpentine, he's tried them all. Once, in a fit of desperation, he drank some non-alcoholic champagne, with near-fatal consequences. But Beer! Wonderful Beer! Barney would kill his own brain for a beer. He's drunk beer out of ashtrays, sucked beer our of bar rags, licked windows made of beer bottles, and, realizing a dream come true, drunk straight from the tap until his heart stopped. As he's said more than once, "If Moe's Tavern didn't close, I'd never leave."
When not entertaining the rest of the barflies with his lip-rippling belches, Barney seeks semi-occasional employment. He has worked as a sneeze-guard tester, handed out pamphlets dressed in a diaper for Lullabuy$ Baby Shop, appeared as a float in a temperance parade, and made regular donations to the Springfield Sperm Bank. However he was also given the key to the city for his heroics as the Plow King, and won a Grammy as tenor singer for Be Sharps, a barbershop quartet comprised of Homer, Apu, Skinner, and Barney. His romantic life, also semi-occasional, has ranger from Linda Ronstadt and Japanese conceptual artist Kako to Selma Bouvier to the woman in front of the drugstore who's always yelling things.
Being the swinging single that he is, Barney's apartment is decorated in an early 70's style -- replete with cable spool table, Farrah Fawcett poster, and empty pizza-box motif. A style guaranteed to keep Barney a swinging single forever. For this fundamentally existential lifestyle, Barney owes Homer Simpson thanks. They have been friends since high school and it was Homer, on the eve of the all-important SAT test, introduced Barney to his first beer, sparing him the shame of an Ivy League education and the burden of steady employment.
Barney first appears as one of the contestants in the Duff Ultimate Eating Challenge in the level Around the World in 80 Bites. He also appears in Mob Rules as one of the people Marge can use to protest the sales of the Grand Theft Scratchy video game to minors.
Behind the Laughter
Barney was partly based on "Crazy" Guggenheim, a character from Jackie Gleason's American Scene Magazine. Matt Groening noted: "Barney was taking the standard sitcom sidekick and just making him as pathetic as possible. And also there was a sort of unspoken rule about not having drinking on television as a source of comedy. So, of course, we went right for it. In "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses" Barney was sobered up, a move that many staff members were against believing "a wide-awake, freshly showered, sober Barney just isn't as funny as an unkempt, disoriented, drunk one." Castellaneta did not change his voice after the sobering, because "[he thinks Barney's] still got 15 years of booze left in his veins."
The name Barney Gumble is a parody (and near homonym) of Barney Rubble, Fred Flintstone's best friend on Hanna-Barbera's TV show The Flintstones. In several of the episodes of the first season, Barney Gumble's hair was yellow, just like Barney Rubble's hair. He was also born on April 20.
Barney first appeared in the episode "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. The Season 1 DVD indicates that the script writers originally intended for Barney to be Homer's next-door neighbor.
Barney is also a major character on the show and has been central in a few episodes such as "Mr. Plow", "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", and "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses". Barney has also appeared in every single season although in season 19 he made only cameo appearances. In seasons 2-5, Barney made lots of speaking appearances approximately 10-15 episodes, because he was always seen in Moe's tavern. He has appeared in 274 episodes.
- Due to Barney's alcoholism, Moe would often be forced to restrain him during the tavern's delivery of Duff, else Barney would drink all the beer in the delivery truck. It was at the point were once the truck driver saw Barney, he would panic about the delivery.
- Barney is likely Norwegian. In "Lisa the Greek", Barney asks Homer to go bowling on Super Bowl Sunday, to which Homer suggests they go next Sunday instead. Barney states "Well, my ma's coming in from Norway, but what the hell."
- In "Homer's Triple Bypass", Barney had once mistaken Homer's heart operation as him trying to go through a sex-change operation.
- In Season 1, Barney had blond hair. This was later changed to brown because it is easier to animate.
- Barney's bar tab at Moe's Tavern is at $14 billion, but after Barney paid $2,000, Moe said that it's "at least halfway." Most likely, Moe is aware that Barney will never be able to pay off the tab and is simply accepting whatever he can get.
- In order to pay off his $14 billion bar tab, Barney would need to pay for ten beers a day, at $2 each, for roughly 1.95 million years.
- At one point, Barney was implied to have been severely injured by a crow mafia led by Homer Simpson when they enveloped him.
- At one point, Barney was on a coffee binge to replace beer, but suffered a relapse and became an alcoholic again.
- In The Simpsons Movie, he is seen in the mob of angry people, who did not know where the Simpson house is at, despite visiting the house many times in the show.
- In "Selma's Choice", it is revealed that Barney is a sperm donor and has fathered an untold amount of children (which look just like Barney, and they burp just like him).
- He was an honor student before Homer offered him a beer, which made him alcoholic, as seen in a flashback.
- An urban legend existed that Barney Gumble was somehow related to Nelson Muntz, due to their sharing an uncanny physical resemblance to each other. This urban legend was presumably referenced in "Yolo", where Nelson's mother, Mrs. Muntz, managed to belch in a very similar manner to Barney.
- Barney is right-handed.
- In older episodes where he was blonde such as There's No Disgrace Like Home and Bart the Daredevil he starts fights with Homer and appeared to be belligerent towards him.
- In the Season 20 opening, now when Bart skateboards out of the school he lands briefly on Barney, who is semi-conscious in the gutter in an alcoholic stupor.
- In Grampy Can Ya Hear Me, it is revealed he is not only the town drunk, but the state drunk as well.
Barney looks like an adult version of Nelson Muntz
- (After the wind blows his diaper away and he ends up naked) Come back diaper! Come back! Hi, ma!
- ↑ A Star is Burns
- ↑ Homer's Barbershop Quartet
- ↑ She Used to Be My Girl
- ↑ A Star is Burns
- ↑ Mr. Plow
- ↑ Miracle on Evergreen Terrace
- ↑ O Brother, Where Bart Thou?
- ↑ Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)
- ↑ Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)
- ↑ Simpson Tide
- ↑ 22 Short Films About Springfield
- ↑ Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo
- ↑ A Star is Burns
- ↑ Lost Verizon
- ↑ Lisa the Beauty Queen
- ↑ Deep Space Homer
- ↑ The Boy Who Knew Too Much
- ↑ Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)
- ↑ Rosebud
- ↑ Mr. Plow
- ↑ Deep Space Homer
- ↑ The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson
- ↑ Days of Wine and D'oh'ses
- ↑ A Star is Burns
- ↑ Homerazzi
- ↑ Co-Dependent's Day
- ↑ Lost Our Lisa
- ↑ The Simpsons Movie
- ↑ Weekend at Burnsie's
- ↑ Mr. Plow