How 'The Simpsons' Works

The Main Cast and Crew
Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner (L-R), voice actors on the show, pose by stamps featuring Simpsons characters. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

In lieu of listing all the cast and crew who have ever worked on the show, which would be exhausting, we'll provide a brief rundown. In addition to Groening and Brooks, Sam Simon was an executive producer on the show. Al Jean has been the showrunner since the 13th season — Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein and Mike Scully are a few of the previous showrunners. Dozens of writers have worked on "The Simpsons," but John Swartzwelder and George Meyer are credited with giving the show its character and voice, especially during the "golden age" of the mid-'90s. Notably, late-night TV host Conan O'Brien wrote several episodes, including the classic "Marge vs. the Monorail."

Although there are hundreds of characters on "The Simpsons," the primary vocal cast consists of only six people:

  • Dan Castellaneta — Homer
  • Julie Kavner — Marge
  • Nancy Cartwright — Bart
  • Yeardley Smith — Lisa
  • Hank Azaria — tons of characters
  • Harry Shearer — even more characters

While Kavner and Smith focus on their main characters, Cartwright voices several child characters on "The Simpsons." Castellaneta also gives voice to Krusty, Barney, Mayor Quimby, Groundskeeper Willy and several other characters. Azaria does the voices for Apu, Snake, Comic Book Guy, Cletus, Moe, the Sea Captain, Chief Wiggum and a truly embiggened number of others. Shearer voices Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Reverend Lovejoy, Ned Flanders, Dr. Hibbert and a cromulent number of additional characters.

Next, we'll take a look at how an episode of "The Simpsons" goes from a wacky idea in a writer's head to a laugh-out-loud show.