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Ralph Wiggum
The Simpsons character
Ralph Wiggum.png
Ralph picking his nose
First appearance"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (1989)
Created byMatt Groening
Designed byMatt Groening
Voiced byNancy Cartwright
In-universe information
GenderMale
OccupationStudent at Springfield Elementary School. Future Police Chief of Springfield. 2008 presidential candidate endorsed by both parties.
FamilyChief Wiggum (father)
Sarah Wiggum (mother)
Iggy Wiggum (grandfather)

Ralph Wiggum is a recurring character on the animated series, The Simpsons. He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright.[1] The son of Police Chief Wiggum, Ralph is a classmate of Lisa Simpson and an odd child, noted for his frequent non-sequiturs and bizarre behavior. His lines range from nonsensical and bizarre interpretations of a current event, to profound statements that go over people's heads. His behavior varies from blissfully unaware, to dim-witted, to awkwardly spontaneous, even occasionally straightforward. The very nature of the character has undergone differing interpretations over the years, and within various media.

The creator of the show, Matt Groening, has cited Ralph as his favorite character.[2] He generally remains one of the more popular and often quoted secondary characters in the show. In 2006, IGN ranked Ralph No. 3 on their list of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters," behind Sideshow Bob and Troy McClure.

Role in The Simpsons

Ralph is a mentally challenged and good-natured 8-year-old boy in Lisa Simpson's second-grade class, taught by Ms. Hoover. His beginnings were that of a tertiary child character, along the same lines as Lisa's on-and-off friend Janey Powell. He has since become one of the more prominent secondary characters on the show, even being the focus of, or at least a major character in some episodes.

These episodes include: "I Love Lisa" (season four, 1993), an episode which set him apart from other tertiary characters and defined much of the character,[3] "This Little Wiggy" (season nine, 1998), and "E Pluribus Wiggum" (season nineteen, 2008); as well as appearances both minor and prominent in many other episodes. Ralph also appears in various other media, such as the Simpsons comic book series by Bongo.

Personality

Ralph Wiggum in a graffiti in Vic, Catalonia
Ralph Wiggum in a graffiti in Vic, Catalonia

Ralph's primary role in the show is to deliver tangent and non-sequitur material, usually with cluelessness and odd behavior, often used to perplex, or give the audience a quick laugh. He has a very carefree and somewhat "loopy" temperament, as he is often off in his own world. This role has had many variations over the years, and as such, Ralph often displays inconsistent behavior. In some episodes, he may seem quite stupid, verbally challenged, and slow, such as proclaiming "I won, I won!" when being told he was failing English, then questioning it and saying, "Me fail English? That's unpossible!",[4] or running on all fours on a hamster wheel.[5] In "To Cur with Love", a flashback scene shows Chief Wiggum and Lou talking about what they want to be when they grow up. Lou (after hearing that Wiggum's goal in life is to be chief of police) says he wants "to be a leader for [his] people, like Ralph Abernathy," to which Wiggum says "Ralph. I like that name" implying that Ralph was named after him. Although it has never been explicitly stated in any Simpsons-related media that Ralph is intellectually disabled and/or brain damaged, it has been hinted in scenes such as a flashback (during the episode "Moms I'd Like to Forget") where Chief Wiggum is holding a baby Ralph, who is drinking out of a bottle. Wiggum suddenly drops the baby Ralph, who lands flat on his head. When Wiggum picks Ralph up again, Ralph suddenly has difficulty drinking out of his bottle.[6] In other episodes, he speaks in a perfectly normal tone and occasionally even displays taciturn[clarification needed] behavior such as questioning a film production staff member over the use of a painted cow over a horse[clarification needed],[7] he seems to be playing straight man to Bart as an adult in one possible flashforward,[8] or his overall behavior in the episode "I Love Lisa", in which Ralph played a central role. He even occasionally displays a penchant for certain talents. The inconclusive nature of his character seems to be one of his only consistencies, and has even been used as a joke in itself a few times, such as Ralph being poached by the Chicago Tribune.[9] Occasionally, Ralph has even been used to break the fourth wall straightforwardly.[10][11]

Creation and design

Ralph's first credited appearance in the show was in the episode "Moaning Lisa". He was considerably different in both appearance, and behavior, from his later appearance. Ralph's modern design first appeared in the second-season episode "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment", and in a couple of episodes after this, Ralph can be caught speaking with a voice similar to that of Nelson Muntz's, before acquiring the higher pitched voice that would become permanent after. Originally intended to be a "Mini-Homer", Ralph eventually took on a life of his own.[12][13] The staff figured that he would also fit perfectly as the son of Chief Wiggum, a fact initially hinted at in "Kamp Krusty" (when Lisa addresses him as "Wiggum") and later made canon in "I Love Lisa".[14] Ralph was named after comedian Jackie Gleason's character on The Honeymooners Ralph Kramden.[15][13] Matt Groening considers any lines for Ralph "really hard to write."[14] Nancy Cartwright raises her eyebrows whenever she performs Ralph's voice.[14]

Ralph's normal attire usually consists of a blue long sleeve shirt with a collar, a belt with a red buckle, and brown pants. However, almost all Simpsons related media and merchandise, including the comic book, often portray Ralph with white or light gray colored pants, instead similar to how Bart is occasionally depicted with a blue shirt instead of his standard orange shirt. Ralph's "stringy" hair is meant to be drawn to make the shape of a bowl-cut, and may allude to Eddie (who has similar hair) being his biological father.[16] In one particular issue of the comic book, Ralph appears along with other Springfield residents, drawn in a realistic style, which depicts him with blonde hair, implying that the hair lines are meant to be a silhouette of a blonde bowl-cut.[17] Adult Ralph in "Bart to the Future" also has light brown hair.

Reception

Ralph has become one of the show's most popular characters. He is commonly featured on media and merchandise related to the show, including the season 13 box set. Kidrobot released Ralph as a separate figure from the rest of their Simpsons line of figurines in 2009. The figure is twice as large as the other ones. The comedy band The Bloodhound Gang made a song titled "Ralph Wiggum" on the album Hefty Fine, dedicated to the character, and composed solely of some of his most famous quotes for lyrics. Show creator Matt Groening has stated that whenever someone asks who writes specific characters, which is a common misconception about the writing process, writers will most likely take credit for writing for Ralph.[18]

References

  1. ^ Nancy Cartwright at IMDb
  2. ^ Moro, Eric (2007-07-28). "SDCC 07: The Simpsons Panel". IGN. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  3. ^ Mula, Frank; Archer, Wes (1993-02-11). "I Love Lisa". The Simpsons. Season 04. Episode 15. Fox.
  4. ^ Scully, Mike; Anderson, Bob (1994-11-13). "Lisa on Ice". The Simpsons. Season 06. Episode 8. Fox.
  5. ^ Maxtone-Graham, Ian, Kimball, Billy; S. Persi, Raymond (2007-05-20). "24 Minutes". The Simpsons. Season 18. Episode 21. Fox.
  6. ^ The Simpsons episode "Moms I'd Like to Forget."
  7. ^ Swartzwelder, John; Dietter, Susie (1995-09-24). "Radioactive Man". The Simpsons. Season 07. Episode 2. Fox.
  8. ^ Scully, Mike; Greaney, Dan (2000-03-19). "Bart to the Future". The Simpsons. Season 11. Episode 17. Fox.
  9. ^ Payne, Don; Anderson, Bob (2004-05-23). "Fraudcast News". The Simpsons. Season 15. Episode 22. Fox.
  10. ^ Spoiler-centric events near the end of the game involving Ralph.EA Redwood Shores, Rebellion, Amaze Entertainment (October 30, 2007). The Simpsons Game (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable). Electronic Arts.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ H. Cohen, Joel; Nastuk, Matthew (2008-03-02). "The Debarted". The Simpsons. Season 19. Episode 13. Fox.
  12. ^ Jean, Al (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode 'Moaning Lisa' (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  13. ^ a b Reiss, Mike; Klickstein, Mathew (2018). Springfield confidential: jokes, secrets, and outright lies from a lifetime writing for the Simpsons. New York City: Dey Street Books. p. 105. ISBN 978-0062748034.
  14. ^ a b c Joe Rhodes (2000-10-21). "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves". TV Guide.
  15. ^ Larry Carroll (2007-07-26). "'Simpsons' Trivia, From Swearing Lisa To 'Burns-Sexual' Smithers". MTV. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
  16. ^ Grau, Doris; Mitzman Gaven, Marcia (2007). The Simpsons Handbook: Secret Tips from the Pros. HarperPaperbacks. ISBN 978-0-06-123129-2.
  17. ^ Hamill, Mark (w), Morrison, Bill (a). Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror, "Catastrophe in Substitute Springfields" 7 (September 2001), Bongo Comics
  18. ^ Matt Groening | The A.V. Club