The Simpsons have been around long enough to make way for all types of jokes and theories, including one that suggests Barney Gumble is actually Nelson Muntz’s father. But how true can it be? Over the course of 31 seasons, viewers have known many of the colorful citizens of Springfield, that go from good-natured people to plain evil characters that you wish you’ll never have to encounter in real life.
There are also those characters that, even though they don’t fall into the category of “main characters”, they are often in charge of bringing comic relief in otherwise tense situations (whatever that means in The Simpsons context), becoming fan favorites. Such is the case of Barney, Springfield’s town drunk, and Nelson, the leader of the school bullies. These characters move in different social circles, but they have some similarities – both physical and in their life stories – that have caught the attention of fans, making them wonder if they are somehow related.
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Barney and Nelson wear similar clothes (blue jeans, orange t-shirts, and blue shoes), have the same hunched posture, and their faces also look alike a lot. This prompted an urban legend that goes two ways: either Barney is Nelson’s future self, or he’s the bully’s real dad.
Was Barney Planned As Nelson’s Father?
The idea of Barney being Nelson’s father isn’t as crazy as it seems. The Simpsons has gone through a lot of changes even after the series premiered, and some characters have undergone some last minute changes. Ralph Wiggum, for example, wasn’t Chief Wiggum’s son until season 4’s 15th episode “I Love Lisa”, though he was referred to by his last name of Wiggum in season 4’s first episode, “Kamp Krusty”. With this in mind, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility that Barney was, at some point, intended to be Nelson’s father, thus why they look alike so much.
Barney Definitely Isn’t Nelson’s Father Now
As this hasn’t been addressed by Matt Groening or anyone involved in the series, the “Barney is Nelson’s father” idea is considered an urban legend, and one that will remain as such as The Simpsons has already introduced Nelson’s father, Eddie. When Marge briefly adopted Nelson, Bart looked for his father so he could get rid of Nelson by reuniting them. Nelson had told everyone that his father abandoned him and his mother when he went to pick up some cigarettes and never came back – but that wasn’t exactly what happened. It turned out that Eddie bought a chocolate, not knowing it had peanuts, to which he’s allergic. He had an anaphylactic reaction that left him all swollen and was found by a man from a circus who put him in a freak show, where people threw peanuts at him perpetuating his reaction. Still, he has never been a good father figure, and abandoned Nelson again. Barney being Nelson’s father is a fun and interesting idea, and one that would explain many of the traits of both characters, but that can’t be the case anymore.
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