Character Analysis: Homer Simpson

After seeing a video ranking cartoon mothers from most “good” to most “evil”, I found myself bothered by how biased the analysis was in their character as a mother, wife, and human being. It seemed that unless they treated their husbands perfectly and had zero personality flaws, they were ranked lowered than side characters with little-to-know character development in either them, their spouse, or their marriage. No regard was taken into how their marriages, children, personal history, or social dynamics affected them. Which made me wonder, how would I break down these characters, not just the wives, but all my favorite animated characters, if they were consumers. This is an analysis of Homer Simpson, the overall person.

Client Description

Homer Jay Simpson is a middle-aged male (approximately 34-36 years old), officially born 05/12/1956, on a family farm outside of Springfield, USA. Homer did not not graduate high school, although he thought he did, as he did not finish credit requirements. After high school he obtained employment with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, working himself into the position of Safety Inspector. He currently resides in Springfield, USA with his wife and and 3 children (ages 10, 8, 1). He is active within his community, attending community events and church regularly, and socializing in his neighborhood bar with co-workers and neighbors.

Health and Medical History

Homer has suffered from numerous physical and mental traumas throughout his life, including but not limited to the following:

ChildTold mother had died. Grieved throughout his child and adult life.
AdultMother returned, informing him she hadn’t died, she abandoned him when she left his father. Attempted to reconcile with her, until she left again.
ChildFound a dead body in a sewage pipe after swimming with friends. Blocked memory until hypnotized at a social event.
ChildShoved a crayon in his nose that became lodged and affected his mental processing capacity and personality.Did not discover until an adult and had crayon removed. Personality change was too much and had it reinserted.
AdultFell down Springfield Gorge when attempting to stop his son from performing a dangerous stunt, striking head on the rocks multiple times and landing on a bed of rocks. Multiple strikes to head on rocks during rescue.Lifted to Springfield Hospital for medical treatment
This is not a complete list, as Homer’s trauma history is repetitive for physical brain and body injury.

Behavioral History

Although never officially diagnosed, throughout Homer’s childhood he was emotionally neglected (while physically cared for) and often ignored by his father. He has expressed that this is had to dealing with depression his whole life, typically using alcohol (beer) and physical aggression to deal with his emotions and problems. He physically chokes his son when he engages in inappropriate behaviors, he physically fights people and animals, and he erupts into emotional and physical outbursts when frustrated. Additionally, he has suffered numerous head traumas throughout both childhood and his adult life, which may have resulted in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Emotionally, he has maintained long-term employment at a company he has stated makes him feel depressed and unappreciated, which he often references during periods of drinking alone or with close friends.

Cycle of Success and Change

Career review

Homer has maintained steady employment since graduating high school with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Throughout the years, he has been promoted from Nuclear Technician to Nuclear Safety Inspector. Additionally, he has had numerous side jobs that have typically turned out successful, but he never maintains them after their success.

List of Secondary Jobs

JobOutcomeWhy He Quit
BodyguardSuccessfully rescued actor Mark Hamill and Springfield’s Mayor Quimby on multiple occasions.Quit after successful period.
ChiropractorInvented “Dr. Homer’s Miracle Spine-o-Cylinder”, successfully treating people’s back pains.Fellow chiropractor’s destroyed his invention due to his success; he decided to move on.
FarmerReopened his old family farm, and created a new crop when nothing would grow – Tomacco. Attempted to sell to a tobacco company.Lost cash crop and returned to his typical home.
Music AgentGuided musician Lurleen Lumpkin into country superstardom. Quit due to his wife’s unhappiness.
MusicianHas had separate successful music careers, reaching superstar status.Retired, once for his wife and once due to popularity decrease.
NASA AstronautSpace flight had difficulties, resulting in Homer saving the crew upon return.Retired, having no continued interactions with NASA.
Owner, “Mr. Plow” Snow PlowingBecame Springfield’s #1 plow company, receiving the “Key to the City”Closed company after it almost losing his best friend, who opened a rival plow company.
Owner, “SpringShield” SecurityStarted a private community police agency, becoming more effective than Springfield’s PD. Was later instated as Springfield’s only law enforcement agency.Quits after successfully defeating the Springfield and NJ mafia families.
Owner, “Wee Care” Baby Proofing CompanySuccessfully decreased Springfield’s total baby injury frequency.Closed after realizing he caused baby injury related businesses to close.
Pro Arm WrestlerBecame a champion arm wrestler, traveling the country.Quit because he missed being with his wife Marge.
Pro BoxerHad numerous successful fights, leading to a bout with the world heavyweight champion, Drederick Tatum.Retired after his manager Moe threw in the towel, fearing Homer would suffer from TBI.
Sideshow FreakToured a national music festival as a feature attraction.Quit due to wife’s concerns for his health.
Sports MascotHugely popular dancing for fans of Springfield’s baseball team, and credited for their increased winning. He was promoted to a big city baseball team, moving his family out of Springfield. Returned to Springfield after having less success on a larger stage.
SmugglerHomer has smuggled beer, exotic snakes, fruits/vegetables, prescription drugs, and sugar.Eventually quits each time due to wife’s concerns.
This list is not complete, as many jobs were either non-cannon (i.e., Treehouse of Horror jobs) or extremely situational.

Synopsis – Detailed

Homer has a childhood history of achieving success that is never attended to or reinforced. This has led to a learning history of punishing his efforts, which has continued into his adulthood. As an adult, Homer works a primary job he dislikes, which he cites as a trigger for his feelings of depression and sadness. This typically results in an increased frequency and magnitude of excessive drinking, which he has at times admitted is his coping mechanism.

These thoughts and feelings are private events that we consider as behaviors that are triggered by the environment and whose consequences can either reinforce or punish. Meaning, Homer’s primary job triggers feelings of depression and sadness, and excessive drinking reinforces the behaviors of depression and sadness. This demonstrates that his primary coping mechanism is maladaptive, and he needs to either learn more effective (and easier to implement) coping skills and/or change his primary occupation.

This may explain why Homer is quick to change his occupation so frequently. However, whenever Homer begins a new career and is successful, he is met with aversive reactions from others, including his wife. Homer has previously reported his primary sources of happiness are his wife Marge and his youngest daughter Maggie. Behaviorally, this means that Marge and Maggie are the stimuli (SD) in his environment that trigger feelings of happiness. An SD, is a stimulus that indicates reinforcement is available. This indicates that an aversive version of Marge acts as an S-Delta, meaning it indicates reinforcement is NOT available.

Additionally, Homer has a high probability of having undiagnosed conditions of TBI and Depression.

Synopsis – Simplified

  • Homer’s primary career triggers feelings of depression and sadness, resulting in maladaptive behaviors that include excessive drinking.
  • When Homer’s secondary careers are successful, he is often met with adversity that includes losing Marge as a trigger for feelings of happiness.
  • His learning history tells him that his efforts will not be rewarded, creating a contingency that changing the maladaptive environment is not an option.
  • Previous efforts to change his coping skills have been unsuccessful due to his long and extensive learning history of using excessive drinking.
  • Homer has a high probability of having the following undiagnosed conditions: TBI, Depression

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