It Took 34 Years, But The Simpsons Finally Made Bart Into A Character Worth Rooting For

Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for The Simpsons season 35, episode 8.




  • Bart Simpson’s character development over the years has made him more sympathetic, despite his love for practical jokes and occasional cruelty.
  • In The Simpsons season 35, episode 8, “AE Bonny Romance,” Bart is unfairly blamed for the chaos caused by nicotine patches, and his protest of innocence sets up his redemption.
  • The longevity of the show allows for compelling storylines that explore the consequences of Homer’s buffoonery and Bart’s rebelliousness, making them more relatable and sympathetic.

Bart’s rebellious streak makes him a divisive character, but The Simpsons season 35, episode 8 proved that he can be a hero. According to a DVD commentary, when The Simpsons was first pitched to network executives, Matt Groening intended for Bart to be the show’s main character. However, viewers soon fell in love with Homer, and his status as an independent adult allowed the show’s creators to tell more ambitious stories. As such, Bart’s status faded into the background as season 1 continued and, by The Simpsons season 2, Homer was the show’s hero. Despite this, the show has always maintained a soft spot for Bart despite his antics.

Even though The Simpsons season 35 killed off Bart (albeit in the far future), the show has given the eponymous family’s eldest child a lot of stellar storylines. From Bart selling his soul to him parenting a set of baby birds that turned out to be lizards, the character has received plenty of development over the years. Despite this, Bart’s love of practical jokes and his occasionally uncaring side means that he is rarely the hero of a given episode. Lisa has a finely tuned moral compass given her age, and Homer’s biggest redeeming characteristic is his sweetness, whereas Bart can be thoughtlessly cruel at times.

The Simpsons Season 35, Episode 8 Made Bart More Sympathetic

Bart Proved He Was A Hero At Groundskeeper Willie’s Wedding

Luckily, The Simpsons season 35, episode 8, “AE Bonny Romance,” made Bart more sympathetic than ever by repeating a recent Homer storyline with him taking his father’s place. Season 35, episode 7 became the best Simpsons holiday episode in years with a plot about Homer getting unfairly blamed for an infraction he didn’t commit, while “AE Bonny Romance” sees Bart fall victim to the same fate. It’s easier to root for Bart when he’s not just causing mischief and then surprised by the consequences, and “AE Bonny Romance” proved that Bart does try to do the right thing sometimes, despite the character’s well-earned bad reputation.

In the opening scenes of “AE Bonny Romance,” Bart uses plasters to protect himself and his friends from imagined “Cooties” during gym class. These plasters turn out to be nicotine patches and, because of Bart’s history of pranks, Principal Skinner assumes that the ensuing chaos is intentional. Seeing Bart protest his innocence only for Skinner to laugh off his claims is a surprisingly poignant moment that sets up Bart’s redemption throughout the rest of the episode. The Simpsons season 35 already mocked Homer strangling Bart in an aside, but “AE Bonny Romance” subverts the show’s history further by proving Bart can be sweet when given a chance.

The Simpsons Season 35 Takes Advantage of the Show’s Age

Homer and Bart’s Well-known Traits Cost Them Dearly In New Episodes

Lisa pleads with Homer and Marge as Bart looks on in The Simpsons season 35 trailer

The Simpsons has been around for so long that Homer’s status as a buffoon and Bart’s reputation for rebelliousness now precede them in-universe. This results in compelling storylines where the two heroes must face the problems that come from their famous character traits. Homer’s innocence didn’t matter in episode 7, since his colleagues rightly pointed out that, although he didn’t cause the episode’s blackout, he was responsible for many earlier mistakes. Similarly, Bart’s inability to convince Groundskeeper Willie that his future in-laws were up to no good was understandable, since Willie only knew Bart as an infamously troublesome prankster. Bart’s love of practical jokes finally cost him dearly.

If Bart weren’t so badly behaved, he would have had an easier time convincing Willie that his wedding was a sham set up by nefarious villains. Thus, “AE Bonny Romance” saw Bart contend with the consequences of his antics and made him more sympathetic as a result. While The Simpsons season 35’s future revelations prove that Bart will remain a lovably goofy prankster until his final moments, this did not stop “AE Bonny Romance” from showing that he can take things seriously when necessary. Bart eventually managed to save the day and Groundskeeper Willie’s marriage, but only because he could convince his friend that he wasn’t pranking him.

Homer & Bart’s Best Stories Subvert Their Personas

The Simpsons Proved Season 35 Can Reinvent Its Familiar Heroes

Angry coworkers point at a confused Homer in The Simpsons season 35 episode 7

These plots only work because Homer and Bart aren’t acting thoughtless for once, allowing The Simpsons to show a new side of some otherwise extremely familiar characters. After 35 years and over 750 episodes, it is easy to think that the Simpson family doesn’t have anything new to show viewers. However, by actively engaging with Bart’s status as a rebellious prankster and Homer’s image as a buffoonish fool, the show can still feel fresh and original when it subverts these characterizations. The Simpsons season 35 proved that Homer and Bart are more than mere archetypes, and the show did so by rewriting their historical depictions in the series.


    The Simpsons

    Release Date:

    Tress MacNeille, Julie Kavner, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Nancy Cartwright, Hank Azaria, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith

    Animation, Comedy


    Season List:
    The Simpsons – Season 1, The Simpsons – Season 2, The Simpsons – Season 3, The Simpsons – Season 4, The Simpsons – Season 5, The Simpsons – Season 6, The Simpsons – Season 7, The Simpsons – Season 8, The Simpsons – Season 9, The Simpsons – Season 10, The Simpsons – Season 11, The Simpsons – Season 12, The Simpsons – Season 13, The Simpsons – Season 14, The Simpsons – Season 15, The Simpsons – Season 16, The Simpsons – Season 17, The Simpsons – Season 18, The Simpsons – Season 19, The Simpsons – Season 20, The Simpsons – Season 21, The Simpsons – Season 22, The Simpsons – Season 23, The Simpsons – Season 24, The Simpsons – Season 25, The Simpsons – Season 26, The Simpsons – Season 27, The Simpsons – Season 28, The Simpsons – Season 29, The Simpsons – Season 30, The Simpsons – Season 31, The Simpsons – Season 32, The Simpsons – Season 33, The Simpsons – Season 34, The Simpsons – Season 35, The Simpsons – Season 36

    Story By:
    Matt Groening and James L. Brooks

    Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Sam Simon


    Streaming Service(s):
    Sam Simon

    The Simpsons

    David Silverman, Jim Reardon, Mark Kirkland

    Al Jean


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