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The Simpsons character
Lisa Simpson Gender Job Relatives Female Student Parents: Homer and Marge Siblings: Bart and Maggie Grandparents: Abraham Simpson, Mona Simpson and Jacqueline Bouvier Aunts: Patty and Selma Bouvier
(See also Simpson family)
First appearance Ullman shorts The Simpsons "Good Night" (1987) "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (1989)
Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional main character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child, and elder daughter, of the eponymous family. She is voiced by Yeardley Smith and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Lisa was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the
lobby of James L. Brooks’s office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his younger sister Lisa Groening. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family got their own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989. At eight years of age, Lisa is the middle child of the Simpson family and elder daughter of Homer and Marge, younger sister of Bart and elder sister of Maggie. She is highly intelligent, plays the saxophone, has been a vegetarian since the seventh season, has been a Buddhist since season thirteen and supports a number of different causes. She has appeared in other media relating to The Simpsons – including video games, The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Ride, commercials and comic books – and inspired an entire line of merchandise. Yeardley Smith originally tried out for the role of Bart, while Bart’s voice actor Nancy Cartwright tried out for Lisa. Cartwright found that the character was not interesting at the time, so instead auditioned for Bart, and Smith’s voice was too high for a boy, so she was given the role of Lisa. Because of her unusual pointed hair style, many animators consider Lisa the most difficult character to draw. In The Tracey Ullman Show shorts, Lisa was more of a "female Bart" and was equally mischievous, but as the series progressed, she became a more emotional and intellectual character. Lisa is one of the most enduring characters on the series. TV Guide ranked her eleventh (tied with Bart) on their list of the "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time". Yeardley Smith won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992. Lisa’s environmentalism has been well received; several episodes featuring her have won Genesis and Environmental Media Awards, including a special "Board of Directors Ongoing Commitment Award" in 2001, and PETA included her on their list of the "Most Animal-Friendly TV Characters of All Time". In 2000, Lisa, along with the rest
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of her family, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
of animated shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show and had intended to present an adaptation of his Life in Hell comic strip. When he realized that animating Life in Hell would require him to rescind publication rights, Groening decided to go in another direction, and he hurriedly sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family, naming the characters after members of his own family. Lisa was named after Groening’s younger sister. Lisa made her debut with the rest of the Simpson family on April 19, 1987 in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night". In 1989, the shorts were adapted into The Simpsons, a half-hour series airing on the Fox Broadcasting Company. Lisa and the Simpson family remained the main characters on this new show.
Role in The Simpsons
The Simpsons uses a floating timeline in which the characters do not physically age, and as such the show is generally assumed to be set in the current year. In several episodes, events have been linked to specific time periods, although this timeline has been contradicted in subsequent episodes. Lisa’s year of birth was stated in "Lisa’s First Word" (season four, 1992) as being in 1984 during the Summer Olympics. The episode "That 90’s Show" (season 19, 2007), however, contradicted much of the established backstory; for example, it was revealed that Homer and Marge were childless in the early 1990s. Lisa is eight years old. Lisa is a great music fan, best evidenced by her proficiency with the saxophone and her relationship with musician Bleeding Gums Murphy, whom she regards as both a friend and an idol. Murphy was the only one able to pull Lisa out of her depression in "Moaning Lisa", (season one, 1990) and she was deeply saddened by his death in "’Round Springfield". (season six, 1995) Lisa has had relationships with several boys, including Ralph Wiggum in "I Love Lisa", (season four, 1993) Nelson Muntz in "Lisa’s Date with Density" (season eight, 1996) and Colin in The Simpsons Movie. (2007) Milhouse Van Houten also has a crush on her, and on many occasions has dropped none-too-subtle hints about his feelings, but has been unsuccessful at developing a relationship with her. Lisa is the most intellectual member of the Simpson family, and many episodes of the series focus on her fighting for various causes. Lisa is generally used as the main character in episodes with "a real moral or philosophical point," which according to former writer David S. Cohen is because "you really buy her as caring about it."
This image illustrates how to draw Lisa’s head and hairline using the "three-three-two arrangement". The entire Simpson family was designed so that they would be recognizable in silhouette. The family was crudely drawn, because Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up; instead, they just traced over his drawings. Lisa’s physical features are generally not used in other characters; for example, in the later seasons, no character
Matt Groening first conceived Lisa and the rest of the Simpson family in 1986 in the lobby of producer James L. Brooks’s office. Groening had been called in to pitch a series
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other than Maggie shares her hairline. While designing Lisa, Groening "couldn’t be bothered to even think about girls’ hair styles". At the time, Groening was primarily drawing in black and white and when designing Lisa and Maggie, he "just gave them this kind of spiky starfish hair style, not thinking that they would eventually be drawn in color". To draw Lisa’s head and hair, most of the animators use what they refer to as the "three-three-two arrangement". They draw a sphere, with intersecting curving lines (one vertical, one horizontal) in the middle to indicate her eyeline. They take the middle line running vertically and continue the line outside of the sphere to draw one hair point, then two more going towards the back of her head. Afterward, they add three more points in front (in the direction Lisa is facing), then three more behind it. Several animators that have worked on the show, including Pete Michels and David Silverman, consider Lisa the most difficult character to draw. Silverman explains that it is because "her head is so abstract" due to her hair style.
Voice actress Yeardley Smith too high. Smith later recalled "I always sounded too much like a girl, I read two lines as Bart and they said, ’Thanks for coming!’" Smith was given the role of Lisa instead, although she almost turned it down. In order to perform the voice, Smith lifts her voice up a little. Lisa is the only regular character voiced by Smith, although in some earlier episodes she provided some of Maggie’s squeaks and occasional speaking parts. Smith has only voiced characters other than Lisa on very rare occasions, with those characters usually being some derivative of Lisa, such as Lisa Bella in "Last Tap Dance in Springfield" (season 11, 2000) and Lisa, Jr. in "Missionary: Impossible". (season 11, 2000) Despite the fame of her character, Smith is rarely recognized in public, which she does not mind, describing it as "wonderful." Smith received a Primetime Emmy Award in 1992 but felt it was not worth anything, saying "there’s part of me that feels it wasn’t even a real Emmy." This is because the Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance is a Creative Arts award and is not voted on by the regular Emmy voters and not handed out during the primetime telecast. Smith, however, says "if I had to be associated with one character in fiction, I will always be thrilled that it was Lisa Simpson." Until 1998, Smith was paid $30,000 per episode. During a pay dispute in 1998, Fox threatened to replace the six main voice actors with new actors, going as far as preparing for casting of new voices. The dispute was soon resolved, and she received $125,000 per episode until 2004 when the voice actors demanded that they be paid
While the roles of Homer and Marge were given to Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner because they were already a part of the Tracey Ullman Show cast, the producers decided to hold casting for the roles of Bart and Lisa. Nancy Cartwright originally auditioned for the role of Lisa. Upon arriving at the audition, however, she discovered that the character was simply described as the "middle child" and did not have much personality. Cartwright instead auditioned for the role of Bart believing that the role was better for her. Cartwright recalls "with the brilliant wit of the writers and the wry, in-your-eye, honest-to-a-fault interpretation, Yeardley Smith has made Lisa a bright light of leadership, full of compassion and competence beyond her years. Lisa Simpson is the kind of child we not only want our children to be, but also the kind of child we want all children to be. But, at the time, on The Tracey Ullman Show, she was just an animated eight-year-old kid who had no personality." Yeardley Smith had initially been asked to audition for the role of Bart but casting director Bonita Pietila believed her voice was
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$360,000 an episode. The issue was resolved a month later, and Smith earned $250,000 per episode. After salary re-negotiations in 2008, the voice actors receive approximately $400,000 per episode.
and would not revert back the next week. The trait stayed and is one of the few permanent character changes made in the show.
[Lisa is] a good soul. I love that she is so compassionate. She is wise beyond her years. She has remarkable optimism, despite the fact that she’s disappointed so often. —Yeardley Smith  Lisa is highly intelligent and sees herself as a misfit within the Simpson family due to her intelligence and liberal beliefs. Lisa’s knowledge covers a wide range of subjects, from astronomy to medicine, and is notably more concerned with world affairs than her life in Springfield. Although her rebellion against social normalities is usually depicted as constructive and heroic, Lisa can be selfrighteous at times. In "Lisa the Vegetarian", her increasing sense of moral righteousness regarding her vegetarianism leads her to disrupt a "meat-based" barbecue prepared by Homer, an act she comes to rue. In "Bart Star", (season nine, 1997) she triumphantly declares that she, a girl, would like to join the football team. When it is revealed that there are already girls on the team, she expresses distaste for a sport that uses balls made of pig’s skin, but is informed that footballs are synthetic and that proceeds of the balls are donated to Amnesty International. At a loss for words, Lisa runs off visibly upset. She is often embarrassed and disapproving of her eccentric family: of her father’s poor parenting skills and buffoonish personality; her mother’s stereotyped image and inability to recognize social abnormalities; and her brother’s delinquent and low-brow nature. She is also concerned that Maggie may grow up to be like the rest of the family and is seen trying to teach her complex ideas. In the end, however, she is very loyal to her family, most clearly seen in the flashforward "Lisa’s Wedding", which deals with her concerns with introducing them to her cultured future fiancé. In the episode "Mother Simpson" (season seven, 1995) she meets her paternal grandmother Mona Simpson for the first time. Mona is also well-read and articulate, and the writers had
Lisa in her first televised appearance in "Good Night" In The Tracey Ullman Show shorts, Lisa was more of a "female Bart" and was equally mischievous. As the series progressed, Lisa began to develop into a more intelligent and more emotional character with "Krusty Gets Busted" (season one, 1990) being one of the first episodes where her true intelligence is fully shown. Many episodes focusing on Lisa have an emotional nature, the first one being "Moaning Lisa". (season 1, 1990) The idea for the episode was pitched by James L. Brooks, who had wanted to do an emotional episode where Lisa is sad because the show had done a lot of "jokey episodes". The episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" (season seven, 1995) saw Lisa permanently become a vegetarian, making her one of the first primetime television characters to become one. The episode was written by David S. Cohen (in his first solo writing credit) who jotted down the idea one day while eating lunch. Then-executive producer David Mirkin, who at that point had recently become a vegetarian, quickly approved the idea. Several of Lisa’s experiences in the episode are based on what Mirkin went through when he became a vegetarian. The episode guest stars musician Paul McCartney, who is a vegetarian and animal rights activist. McCartney’s condition for appearing was that Lisa would remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series
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used the character as a way to explain some of the show’s puzzles, such as where Lisa’s intelligence came from. In "Homer’s Enemy", (season eight, 1997) it is mentioned that Lisa has an IQ of 156 and in "They Saved Lisa’s Brain" (season ten, 1999) she becomes a member of Mensa Springfield. When unable to attend school due to a teachers’ strike in "The PTA Disbands", (season six, 1995) she suffered a sort of "school withdrawal", going as far as desperately asking Marge to give her a grade. Lisa occasionally worries that her family’s dull habits will rub off on her, and in "Lisa the Simpson" she believes that her family’s "Simpson gene" will start to make her less intelligent. It is later revealed that the gene is on the Y chromosome and thus only men are affected. Lisa also deeply values her integrity, as demonstrated when she cheats on a test about the novel The Wind in the Willows to attain her highest grade of A+++, but she later admits her dishonesty to an unreceptive Principal Skinner and selfgrades her test as an F. Despite her high intelligence, Lisa does have typical childhood issues, sometimes requiring adult intervention. For example, in "Lost Our Lisa", she tricks Homer into allowing her to ride the bus alone, only to become hopelessly lost. Lisa’s political convictions are generally socially liberal. She is a vegetarian, feminist, environmentalist and a supporter of the Free Tibet movement. While still supportive of the Christian church in which she was raised, Lisa became a practicing Buddhist following her decision to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. She also supports the theory of Darwinism and evolution, calling Darwin "one of the greatest minds" of all time, as seen in the episode, "The Monkey Suit". (season 17, 2006) There have been several instances where Lisa has used extreme measures to get her point across, such as throwing paint on Krusty the Clown for wearing a fur coat.
In 2000, Lisa, along with the rest of the Simpson family, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ongoing Commitment". Several other episodes that feature Lisa speaking out in favor of animal rights have won Genesis Awards, including "Whacking Day" in 1994, "Bart Gets an Elephant" in 1995, and "Million Dollar Abie", which won the "Sid Caesar Comedy Award" in 2007. In 2004, animal rights organization PETA included Lisa on their list of the "Most Animal-Friendly TV Characters of All Time". Lisa was also listed at number 11 (in the same entry as Bart) in TV Guide’s "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time." Yeardley Smith has won several awards for voicing Lisa, including a Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Voice-Over Performance" in 1992 for "Lisa the Greek". Various episodes in which Lisa is strongly featured have won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program, including "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment" in 1991, "Lisa’s Wedding" in 1995 and "HOMR" in 2001. In 2000, Lisa and the rest of the Simpson family were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard. In Japan, the broadcasters of the series found they were able to turn the apparent viewer dislike of the series around by focusing marketing attention on Lisa. Lisa’s wellintended but ill-fated struggles to be a voice of reason and a force of good in her family and city struck a chord with the Japanese.
Lisa’s environmentalism has been well received. In 2001 Lisa received a special "Board of Directors Ongoing Commitment Award" at the Environmental Media Awards. "Lisa the Vegetarian" won both an Environmental Media Award for "Best Television Episodic Comedy" and a Genesis Award for "Best Television Comedy Series,
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Lisa has been included in many The Simpsons publications, toys, and other merchandise. The Lisa Book, about Lisa’s personality and attributes, was released in 2006 and is commercially available. Other merchandise includes dolls, posters, figurines, bobblehead dolls, mugs, and clothing such as slippers, T-shirts, baseball caps, and boxer shorts. Lisa has appeared in commercials for Burger King, Butterfinger, C.C. Lemon and Ramada Inn. Lisa has appeared in other media relating to The Simpsons. She has appeared in every one of The Simpsons video games, including The Simpsons Game, released in 2007. Alongside the television series, Lisa regularly appears in issues of Simpsons Comics, which were first published on November 29, 1993 and are still issued monthly. Lisa also plays a role in The Simpsons Ride, launched in 2008 at Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood. On April 9, 2009, the United States Postal Service unveiled a series of five 44 cent stamps featuring Lisa and the four other members of the Simpson family. They are the first characters from a television series to receive this recognition while the show is still in production. The stamps, designed by Matt Groening, were made available for purchase on May 7, 2009.
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