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Lionel Hutz
The Simpsons character
First appearance"Bart Gets Hit by a Car" (1991)
Last appearance"Realty Bites" (1997)
Created by
Designed byMatt Groening
Voiced byPhil Hartman
In-universe information
  • Lawyer (Main)
  • Shoe repair expert
  • Real estate broker
SpouseSelma Bouvier (ex-wife)

Lionel Hutz is a fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He was voiced by Phil Hartman, and his first appearance was in the season two episode "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". Hutz is a stereotypical shady ambulance chasing lawyer in Springfield, with questionable competence and ethics. Nevertheless, he is often hired by the Simpsons. Following Hartman's death on May 28, 1998, Hutz was retired; his final speaking role was five months earlier, in the season nine episode "Realty Bites", and has since occasionally cameoed in the background.

Role in The Simpsons


Lionel Hutz is an ambulance chasing personal injury lawyer and, according to Lisa Simpson, a "shyster" whom the Simpsons nonetheless repeatedly hire as their lawyer (a fact remarked on by Marge Simpson in a typically self-aware aside), mostly because Hutz is the only legal counsel the Simpsons can afford.[1] His legal practice, located in a shopping mall, is named "I Can't Believe It's A Law Firm!" and also offers "expert shoe repair." He often tries to entice potential clients with gifts, including a "smoking monkey" doll, a pen that looks like a cigar, an exotic faux-pearl necklace, a business card that "turns into a sponge when you put it in water,"[2] and even an almost-full Orange Julius he was drinking from himself. John G. Browning of the Southeast Texas Record describes Hutz as a literal ambulance chaser; "Hutz typifies the sleazy lawyer. He exaggerates his academic credentials ("I've attended Harvard, Yale, MIT, Oxford, the Sorbonne, the Louvre") and is "the very worst in legal marketing".[3]

Hutz is characterized as both a grossly incompetent lawyer and an unethical individual in general. This, along with his greed in wanting half of the money, was supported in "Bart Gets Hit by a Car" in his first appearance. Hutz is disliked and mistrusted by both Marge and Lisa who see him for the person he is—especially when he, along with Homer, makes Bart lie about the extent of his injuries. Marge later testified against Hutz out of spite for hiring Dr. Nick, a quack doctor with a shady reputation, along with making Bart lie about his injuries and being in intense pain when in fact he was fine. Hutz's incompetence and greed are also noted by his rival, the more competent Blue Haired Lawyer. In the episode "Marge in Chains" Hutz describes the following as his "problem" with Judge Snyder:

Well, he's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog. Well, replace the word "kinda" with the word "repeatedly" and the word "dog" with "son".

Hutz is a recovering alcoholic. He once offered Marge a celebratory "belt of Scotch" at 9:30 in the morning, remarking that he had not slept in days. In the same episode, he hastily leaves the courtroom after handling a bottle of bourbon in order to consult his sponsor, David Crosby. He then gives his closing statement, unaware that he is not wearing any pants, and thinks that Clarence Darrow was "the black guy on The Mod Squad". Beyond practicing law, he also tries his hand at selling real estate, reasoning that it was a natural move as most of his clients ended up losing their homes anyway.[4] Out of desperation for work, he has resorted to babysitting. Hutz, left in charge of the children for longer than he was hired, nods off in a sitting position; he produces a switchblade upon awakening suddenly. He burns all of his personal documentation in the Simpsons fireplace, claiming that "Lionel Hutz" no longer exists and he is now "Miguel Sanchez".[5] His other alias is "Dr. Nguyen Van Phuoc". He also ran a shoe repair business out of his law office. Hutz's incompetence and financial desperation sometimes lead him to resort to rooting through dumpsters, claiming it is client-related.[6] Hutz was briefly married to Selma Bouvier, although this storyline is not shown in an episode and instead mentioned in "Much Apu About Nothing.” In “Selma's Choice,” Hutz attempts to get his hands on the Bouvier sisters’ Aunt Gladys' inheritance. When he was caught forging Gladys' signature by Marge and Lisa, Hutz was forced to properly read the will and give Marge's family Gladys' inheritance. Hutz has also been known to use a phone booth as an office.

Hutz does not seem to care about conflict of interest; in "A Streetcar Named Marge" he represents clients in a lawsuit against the producers of a local production of A Streetcar Named Desire for not giving them any roles in the play, although he had a role himself.

Another display of his incompetence takes place in "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" when, while representing a French waiter who is accusing Mayor Quimby's nephew Freddy of battery, he is surprised when the opposing counsel mentions that Hutz's client is an immigrant (despite the client's French accent). Hutz then demands that his client tell him everything from then on. Browning wrote that his "courtroom skills leave something to be desired"; in the episode "Marge in Chains", he motions for a "bad court thingy", to which the judge replies "You mean a mistrial?", and then refers to himself as the "law-talking guy".[3][7]

Cases won

Although Hutz loses most of his cases, he does win several cases for the Simpsons. In "Bart the Murderer", he represented Bart when the latter was suspected of the supposed murder of Seymour Skinner, and the charges were dropped when Skinner revealed himself to be alive. In "New Kid on the Block", he represents Homer in his case against the Sea Captain and the Frying Dutchman restaurant over its "All You Can Eat" offer ("The most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film The NeverEnding Story").[8] He also wins a case for Bart in "The Day the Violence Died", by proving that Itchy was created by an old man named Chester J. Lampwick—though the deciding factor of the case is mainly proven by Bart's footwork to collect the crucial piece of evidence, rather than Hutz's competence. Hutz initiates the trial with zero credible evidence.[9] In "'Round Springfield", Hutz successfully sues Krusty the Clown after Bart consumes a jagged metal Krusty-O from a box of cereal, resulting in an inflamed appendix. After winning the case, Hutz gives Bart only $500 of the $100,000 settlement.[10] In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", Hutz wins a case against Sideshow Bob, who was mayor at that time, for electoral fraud, in which Bart and Lisa found evidence connected to it.

The only other case technically won by Hutz was in "Treehouse of Horror IV", where he represents Homer against Satan (who, in a twist, is revealed to resemble Ned Flanders). In a purportedly-deleted scene for this episode, as subsequently seen in "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", Hutz's slogan is "Cases won in 30 minutes or your pizza is free". After he thinks he has lost the case, he gives the Simpsons their pizza. However, Marge informs him that they did win. Then, he tells them that the box was empty anyway. In the video game The Simpsons: Hit & Run, billboards can be seen around Downtown Springfield promoting Hutz's free pizza offer.

Creation and retirement

Phil Hartman was first suggested for the role of Lionel Hutz by Simpsons writer Jay Kogen, who liked Hartman's "great, strong voice." Writer Mike Scully described Hutz as a "combination of overconfidence and incompetence. He never doubted his ability in the courtroom for some reason, even though he had no idea what was going on."[11]

After Hartman's death in 1998,[12] Hutz was going to be recast with Harry Shearer, but the character was retired along with Troy McClure, Hartman's other recurring character.[13] The last episode to feature Hutz speaking was the season 9 episode "Realty Bites".


Entertainment Weekly named Hutz as one of their 15 favorite fictional television and film lawyers.[14] His characterization as an ambulance chaser who is only concerned with money has been viewed as part of a trend away from more noble depictions of lawyers in literature, such as Atticus Finch, and towards more critical depictions of lawyers and the United States legal system.[15] Hutz has also been examined as an example of a fictional depiction of a member of the professional service market in popular culture.[16]


  1. ^ Richdale, Jace; Kirkland, Mark (April 14, 1994). "Burns' Heir". The Simpsons. Season 5. Episode 18. Fox.
  2. ^ Swartzwelder, John; Kirkland, Mark (April 14, 1994). "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". The Simpsons. Season 2. Episode 10. Fox.
  3. ^ a b Browning, John G. (August 15, 2007). "Legally Speaking: D'oh! What 'The Simpsons' teaches us about the law". Southeast Texas Record. Beaumont, Texas. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  4. ^ Greaney, Dan; Scott III, Swinton O. (December 7, 1997). "Realty Bites". The Simpsons. Season 9. Episode 9. Fox.
  5. ^ Canterbury, Bill; Kirkland, Mark (December 4, 1993). "Marge on the Lam". The Simpsons. Season 5. Episode 6. Fox.
  6. ^ Collier, Jonathan; Kirkland, Mark (May 7, 1995). "The Springfield Connection". The Simpsons. Season 6. Episode 23. Fox.
  7. ^ "Marge in Chains"
  8. ^ O'Brien, Conan; Archer, Wes (November 12, 1992). "New Kid on the Block". The Simpsons. Season 4. Episode 8. Fox.
  9. ^ Swartzwelder, John; Archer, Wesley (March 17, 1996). "The Day the Violence Died". The Simpsons. Season 7. Episode 18. Fox.
  10. ^ O'Brien, Conan; Archer, Wes (April 30, 1995). "'Round Springfield". The Simpsons. Season 6. Episode 22. Fox.
  11. ^ Thomas, Mike (2014). You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 158–161. ISBN 9781250027962.
  12. ^ "Phil Hartman, wife die in apparent murder-suicide". CNN. May 28, 1998. Retrieved June 8, 2007.
  13. ^ Groening, Matt (December 29, 2004). "Fresh Air". WHYY-FM (Interview). Interviewed by Terry Gross. Philadelphia: NPR. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
  14. ^ "Best TV/Movie Lawyers: 15 Legal Eagles We'd Hire". Entertainment Weekly. April 9, 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
  15. ^ Ho, Kevin K. (2003). ""The Simpsons" and the Law: Revealing Truth and Justice to the Masses". UCLA Entertainment Law Review. 10 (2). doi:10.5070/LR8102027049. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  16. ^ Ellis, Nick (September 2008). "'What the Hell is That?': The Representation of Professional Service Markets in The Simpsons". Organization. 15 (5): 705–723. doi:10.1177/1350508408093649. hdl:2381/4675. S2CID 145106730.