11.12.11

The Lost Simpsons Characters: The Devolution to Ralph Wiggum

As the Simpsons began, both Bart and Lisa had lives outside of the home. They both had social circles - Bart hung out with kids that weren't Nelson, Martin, or Milhouse, Lisa had all her friends over for slumber parties. In addition to actual friends, there was a wide circle of other children who attended Springfield Elementary. Among them was this guy, part of a two-man chorus who wittily commented on the action in a variety of scenes:




You may think that this character is Ralph Wiggum, but that's not a wholly accurate assumption. First off, there's the obvious intellectual disparity - this kid says things like 'It's recess everywhere but in his heart', while Ralph says things like 'I bent my Wookie'.
His two of appearances as part of the chorus are in Season 3 - Episode 8 'Lisa's Pony', and Episode 23 'Bart's Friend Falls in Love'. His third appearance is in Season 4, Episode 4 'Lisa the Beauty Queen', which is important, because it comes three episodes after the introduction of Ralph Wiggum - at that time a different character!

Here's a scene from the riot in Season 4, Episode 1 'Kamp Krusty':


This is the child identified as 'Wiggum' in the 'handing out mail' scene. while the hair may be similar, this Wiggum child, presumably Ralph, bares no other physical resemblance to the chorus member we've seen up until now - and there's no sign that he's a classmate of Bart or Lisa's.

The proto-Ralph chorus member is in Bart's class, however, and if you wanted proof that he was never intended to be Chief Wiggum's son, one need look no further than Season 4, Episode 6 'Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie'. Early in the episode, Homer attends Lisa's parent-teacher conference. Not only is Wiggum not there:

That's Martin's Dad, second from the left!

But check out who's sitting in front of Homer:


An adult version of the Chorus member, clearly intended to be his father!

It would be nine more episodes before the concept of Wiggum having a son and the Chorus Member would merge together, and the witty character we know and love as 'Guy who says clever things from the sidelines', would be reduced to the, frankly, retarded character:

I know there's always a paste-eater, but did it have to be the clever guy?

Ralph Wiggum. I'm not suggesting that this was a turning point in the show's journey towards awfulness, but it certainly shrank the world the Simpson lived in, and that would go on to create problems further down the line.

No comments: