Moe Szyslak
The Simpsons character
First appearance"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (1989)
Created byMatt Groening
Designed byDan Haskett
Voiced by
In-universe information
Full nameMoe Szyslak
  • Morty Szyslak (father)
  • Minnie Szyslak (sister)
  • Marv Szyslak (brother)
  • Maya (fiancée)
ReligionSnake Handler

Moammar "Moe" Szyslak[1] (/ˈsɪzlæk/ SIZ-lak) is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria and first appeared in the series premiere episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".[2] Moe is the proprietor and bartender of Moe's Tavern, a Springfield bar frequented by Homer Simpson, Barney Gumble, Lenny Leonard, Carl Carlson, Sam, Larry, and others.

Grouchy, lonely, miserable, and prone to violent outbursts, Moe is constantly down on his luck and has attempted suicide numerous times. Other running jokes featuring him include being prank called by Bart Simpson, running illegal activities from his bar, his ugliness and his inconsistent stories about his ethnic origin and what "Moe" is short for. Although he is generally quite disagreeable and confrontational, he is frequently shown to have a tender, aching heart beneath his cantankerous exterior.

Role in The Simpsons

Moe's Tavern

Moe is the owner and bartender of Moe's Tavern (informally referred to as "Moe's"), frequented by Homer Simpson and other characters including Lenny Leonard, Carl Carlson, Sam and Larry, and his most loyal customer, Barney Gumble. He is not a very good bartender, at one time expressing surprise that gin and tonic can be mixed together. The bar is noted for its depressing atmosphere and uncleanliness. The regular patrons of the tavern have been abandoned by Moe in several episodes in which he changes its target audience. The first of these was "Flaming Moe's", in the third season. As a running joke, Moe is sometimes seen engaging in unlicensed or illegal activities at the tavern, such as smuggling pandas and an orca in "Cape Feare" and "The Springfield Files", respectively. Particularly in earlier episodes, the Tavern was frequently prank called by Bart Simpson, who would ask for a gag name which when said by Moe would involve innuendo or insults (e.g., Mike Rotch/"My crotch", Homer Sexual/"homosexual", Ivana Tinkle/"I wanna tinkle", and Seymour Butz/"See more butts").[3]


Moe is one of the darkest secondary characters in the show. He is portrayed with a generally disagreeable personality: he has a short, violent temper, a penurious nature, a crass and undiplomatic manner of speech, and a mood that rapidly vacillates between anger, indifference, and suicidal despair (the latter of which has become more apparent in later episodes of the show). He has an annual Christmas tradition of attempted suicide, but his attempts are comically unsuccessful (landing on a hot-air balloon after jumping out of a plane, for example), and he has already called the suicide hotline so many times that they've blocked his number.[4]

He is easily irritated, frequently threatening the patrons at his bar with a shotgun he keeps behind the counter. He is also gullible, and Bart's unending chain of successful prank calls to his bar are particularly infuriating to him, inevitably prompting a torrent of Red Deutsch-style threats of gruesome bodily harm in return.[citation needed]

He also is, however, occasionally shown to have a sentimental and caring side to his personality, such as reading to sick children and homeless people, although he is secretive about such behavior. In his interactions with his various girlfriends, he has also shown genuine selflessness and kindness (as well as an unusual improvement in his disposition), although negative elements of his personality inevitably emerge and ruin things. He has also struck up genuine friendships with both of Homer's daughters which have remained in the following episodes. In "Thank God It's Doomsday", he asks for salvation, because "I've done stuff I ain't proud of. And the stuff I am proud of is disgusting."[5]


Moe has an almost non-existent love life due to his vulgarity towards women and his ugly appearance. Despite this, he has had a number of romantic experiences, including sleeping with his waitress Collette,[6] dating a woman named Renee,[7] and briefly enjoying the company of many women after he had plastic surgery.[8] He also has a relationship and proposed to a dwarf named Maya, but Moe could not adjust to the difference in height, to the point where his ultimate plan to have his own leg bones shortened led Maya to leave him. He has long been infatuated with Marge Simpson, whom he usually calls "Midge", and has on occasion tried to win her away from Homer,[9][10] although later episodes have shown him actively working to keep the two together.[11] He has been romantically involved with Edna Krabappel[12] as well as Marge's sister Selma Bouvier. Moe's romantic attractions have resulted in run-ins with the law; he has stalked Maude Flanders and other townspeople, he must register as a sex offender, and he has a restraining order placed upon him. At one point, he is seen on his way to a "V.D. clinic".[13] Despite his disturbing approach, Moe has shown to be a caring and devoted lover. While dating Renee (and previously Edna), he wholeheartedly spoiled them with whatever they wanted and vowed to give up his bar and take them away from Springfield forever, even if it means losing his own money and doing illegal acts to make more money. When he thought he finally won Marge's heart, he promised to be "the best man she'd ever had".[10]

In "Pygmoelian," Moe and his three closest friends assess him as a gargoyle with cauliflower ears, lizard lips, little rat eyes, a caveman brow, and a fish snout, who is not pleasant to look at, listen to or be with.[14]

In "The Wayz We Were," Maya returns to Springfield, and she and Moe reconnect, but Moe's fear of commitment overpowers him. At Homer's suggestion, Moe proposes to Maya, which she accepts.

Family and biography

Moe's ethnic origins are a running gag in the show, with his origins always varying. The show's many conflicting stories as to Moe's heritage have been sent up in the tie-in book The Book of Moe (2008), where Moe is depicted in several different foreign national folk costumes and commenting on them, including Hungarian and Polish. From early in the series, Moe was depicted as a European immigrant to the United States. In "Much Apu About Nothing" (1996), Moe is depicted taking his United States citizenship test;[15] previously, "Bart's Inner Child" (1993) had depicted Moe's own inner child chastising him for abandoning his native Italian accent. Later, in "Bart-Mangled Banner" (2004), he reveals himself to be Dutch; he claims his grandfather was Irish while visiting Ireland in "In the Name of the Grandfather" (2009); and in "Lisa Goes Gaga" (2012), Moe describes himself as "half monster, half Armenian." Moe is also hinted to be Armenian in "Judge Me Tender" (2010), claiming that Armenian Idol is his favorite show. As for indications, he was born in America, in "Homer the Heretic" (1992), Moe claims, "I was born a snake handler, and I'll die a snake handler" while in "Day of the Jackanapes" (2001) he claims to have been born in Indiana.[16] Azaria has said he sees Moe as being from Queens, New York City and portrays him with a Queens accent.[17]

Moe (left) as "Smelly" in The Little Rascals.

Numerous conflicting versions of Moe's childhood have been depicted across the show. In "Radioactive Man" (1995), he is depicted as having been one of the original Little Rascals, but was fired after killing the "original Alfalfa". However, charges were not pressed against him as the "original Alfalfa" was, in fact, an orphan owned by the studio. As Homer's boxing coach in "The Homer They Fall" (1996), he shows photographs from throughout his own boxing career, stating that his ugly appearance was the result of competing in the sport. Moe's college years are also depicted in "Homer the Moe" (2001), which shows Moe as having attended "bar-tending school" at Swigmore University (a play on Skidmore College) before opening what became Moe's Tavern.[18] In "Springfield Up" (2007), footage from a documentary called Growing Up Springfield shows an 8-year-old Moe claiming that his father was a circus freak. He was unsure which one but liked to think it was a little of all of them.[19] This is further reinforced in "Sleeping With The Enemy" when he briefly asserts himself as a member of the Muntz family. After Nelson's father returns, blaming his absence on having been stolen away by the circus due to a peanut allergy disfiguring his face. Teenage Moe is shown again in "She Used to Be My Girl" (2004), where he is depicted working in the school cafeteria, given as his first job "since prison"; Marge is responsible for having him sent back there. "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story" (2006) depicts scenes set years before the series present in which Moe and schoolteacher Edna Krabappel are shown to have had a brief love affair. In "Them, Robot" (2012), a flashback scene depicts a young child being stomped on by an elephant, and his face then changes to Moe. In "King Leer" (2018), Moe's father, Morty, and his siblings, Marty and Minnie, are introduced, and he is shown in flashbacks as a child in Springfield.

Much like Moe's ethnic origins, his full name is also treated inconsistently as a gag. In "Flaming Moe's" (1991), he is called Morris by his lover. In "The Springfield Connection" (1995), Homer refers to Moe in the Arabic "Moammar". In "Eeny Teeny Maya Moe" (2009), he suggests that he only changed his name to Moe when he purchased Moe's Tavern. His last name Szyslak is Polish in origin,[20] and is written as Szyślak.



The creator of The Simpsons Matt Groening based Moe on Louis "Red" Deutsch, who was made famous when he was repeatedly prank-called by two Jersey City residents. These prank calls were the inspiration for Bart Simpson's repeated prank calls to Moe, and Deutsch's often profane responses inspired Moe's violent temper.[21] Comedian Rich Hall, an acquaintance of The Simpsons writer George Meyer, has stated that he believes further inspiration was drawn from himself and that Groening has verified this to him.[22] Moe's surname "Szyslak" was revealed in "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)". Writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein found the name in a phone book and gave it to Moe so that he would have the initials M.S., and hence be a suspect in the Burns shooting.[23] Moe was designed by animator Dan Haskett and his facial appearance was modeled after a gorilla.[24][25] Animator Mark Kirkland said that he often lets off-model drawings of Moe pass through production because the character is so ugly that no one will notice.[26]


Hank Azaria

Moe was the first voice Hank Azaria performed for the show. During the time of his audition, Azaria was doing a play in which he had the part of a drug dealer, basing his voice on actor Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. He used the same voice in the audition and was told by Matt Groening and Sam Simon, who was directing him, to make it more gravelly like Deutsch's voice. Groening and Simon thought that it was perfect and took Azaria over to the Fox network recording studio. The result is Moe's pronounced New York accent. Before he had even seen a script, Azaria recorded several lines of dialogue as Moe for the episode "Some Enchanted Evening".[27][28] Moe was originally voiced by Christopher Collins who recorded several lines as Moe which never aired.[28] Azaria explained that he did not discover this fact for several years and that according to Groening, "that guy's" acting was fine but other staff and actors found him "a dick".[29]


In 2001 and 2003, Hank Azaria won Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for voicing Moe and various other characters.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "The Wayz We Were". The Simpsons. Fox.
  2. ^ Rhodes, Joe (2000-10-21). "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves". TV Guide.
  3. ^ Summers, Megan (February 4, 2021). "The Simpsons: Bart's 14 Best Prank Calls To Moe's Tavern, Ranked". ScreenRant. Archived from the original on January 26, 2022. Retrieved March 13, 2022.
  4. ^ Vincent Terrace, Television Series of the 1980s (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), 201-2. ISBN 1442278315
  5. ^ Audio snippet Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine from Thank God It's Doomsday
  6. ^ Cohen, Robert; Moore, Rich; Smart, Alan (1991-11-21). "Flaming Moe's". The Simpsons. Season 3. Episode 10. Fox.
  7. ^ "Dumbbell Indemnity". The Simpsons. Fox.
  8. ^ "Pygmoelian". The Simpsons. Fox.
  9. ^ "Secrets of a Successful Marriage". The Simpsons. Fox.
  10. ^ a b "Mommie Beerest". The Simpsons. Fox.
  11. ^ "Moho House". The Simpsons. Fox.
  12. ^ Maxtone-Graham, Ian; Persi, Raymond (2006-03-12). "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story". The Simpsons. Season 17. Episode 13. Fox.
  13. ^ "Lost Our Lisa". The Simpsons. Fox.
  14. ^ "Moe Syzlak quote from "Pygmoelian", IMDB". IMDb. Archived from the original on 2016-10-25. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  15. ^ "Much Apu About Nothing". The Simpsons. Fox.
  16. ^ "Day of the Jackanapes". The Simpsons. Fox.
  17. ^ Simon, Scott (2017-05-13). "Hank Azaria Says 'Brockmire' Has Been With Him For Years". Weekend Edition. NPR. Archived from the original on 2018-04-01. Retrieved 2018-03-31. Moe is a New York guy, he's from Queens....
  18. ^ "Homer the Moe". The Simpsons. Fox.
  19. ^ "Springfield Up"
  20. ^ "Szyslak - Names Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 2021-10-17. Retrieved 2021-10-17.
  21. ^ Kaulessar, Ricardo (2005-08-10). "Joke on 'Simpsons' started in JC". The Hudson Reporter. Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
  22. ^ Holt, Richard (24 September 2007). "Comic claims he is Simpsons' Moe the Barman". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 January 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  23. ^ Oakley, Bill (2005). Commentary for "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)", in The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  24. ^ Silverman, David (2001). Commentary for "Bart the General", in The Simpsons: The Complete First Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  25. ^ Reiss, Mike (2004). Commentary for "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  26. ^ Kirkland, Mark (2004). Commentary for "Bart Sells His Soul", in The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  27. ^ Azaria, Hank (2004-12-06). "Fresh Air". National Public Radio (Interview). Interviewed by Terry Gross. Philadelphia: WHYY-FM. Archived from the original on 2008-04-19. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
  28. ^ a b Azaria, Hank; Jean, Al (2004). Commentary for "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  29. ^ Hank Azaria Breaks Down His Iconic Simpsons Voices and Movie Roles | GQ, archived from the original on 2018-06-17, retrieved 2018-06-25
  30. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2008-12-10.