Follow TV Tropes


Characters / The Simpsons Bart Simpson

Go To


Bartholomew JoJo "Bart" Simpson

"I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything."

Debut: "Good Night"
Debut on The Simpsons: "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

The son and original protagonist of the show in its first couple seasons. Though the oldest child of the family, Bart is a self-professed hellion and mischief-making little punk, though not incapable of good things for the right reason. Voiced by Nancy Cartwright.

    open/close all folders 

  • Abandoned Catchphrase:
    • Bart has changed his catchphrase several times. He has used "Eat my shorts", "Don't have a cow, man", "Ay Caramba", and when introducing himself, "I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?" Lampshaded when Lisa borrows "Don't have a cow, man" to seem cool to some kids who were at the beach with her. He complains that Lisa stole it, while Marge points out that he hasn't said it in four years.
    • His most obscure catchphrase is "Bitchin'," which was only said in at least four episodes (all in Season 2): "Treehouse of Horror", "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", "Bart the Daredevil", and "Brush with Greatness".
  • Always Second Best: He's labelled as the unfavourite child of the family and is constantly in Lisa's shadow.
  • AM/FM Characterization: He was a fan of Michael Jackson, as well as rap (he had his own rap single, after all).
  • Amazon Chaser: Bart used to develop crushes on rebellious girls. In later seasons, this changed with Mary Spuckler and his future ex-wife Jenda.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • In earlier seasons Bart was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) but in later seasons Bart's behavior became increasingly psychopathic and antisocial. For example, in “What To Expect When Bart's Expecting”, he drowns an insect in the paint bucket and makes it walk across the page until it dies. His reason? He hates art classes.
    • In some episodes; Bart is shown not to have a disorder of any kind and his resentment towards education is more likely a result of teachers not tailoring themselves to his needs, motivating him, or showing him subjects that he might be interested in. Bart developed an interest in falconry and was able to assimilate to it without any trouble and was interested in American history after Chalmers introduced him to Theodore Roosevelt. These examples show how Bart has the potential to be a good student, as long as he learns through practical methods.
  • The Anti-Christ: In a few episodes, as a satire of his Enfant Terrible nature.
  • The Anti-God: Treehouse of Horror episode "The Genesis Tub" has Bart of all characters as this, with Lisa as the titular world's Crystal Dragon Jesus, they originally saw Bart as "The Devil", imagine their shock when Lisa told her creations Bart was actually her brother.
  • Anti-Hero: An Unscrupulous Hero example. Can be a Pragmatic Hero on his good days.
  • Anti-Role Model: In the early 1990s, Bart was the most popular character of the show, especially with merchandise (like T-shirts). Since he was considered a bad role model for children, several American public schools banned T-shirts featuring Bart next to captions such as "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?" and "Underachiever (And proud of it, man!)".
  • Arch-Enemy: To Sideshow Bob and, evidently, Doctor Demento.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Arguably, more so than Homer. Bart can only concentrate when under direct pressure while Homer is able to works three days on a flimsy project he thought of by sheer obsession like inventions or a new football stadium.
  • Attention Whore: Many of his pranks are merely for recognition or approval from his friends. May stem from the fact that when he started school he was taught by a completely unsympathetic teacher who constantly told him he was a failure. When this was brought to his parents’ attention they completely ignored it and instead bought Lisa a saxophone.
  • Author Avatar: Bart's family members are all named after Matt Groening's family members. Bart, as the main character, was originally going to be named Matt. In a way, Bart seems to represent Matt Groening with his art skills because Bart was a cartoonist and did publish his own comic book known as Angry Dad.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Bart has antagonistic relationships with Homer and Lisa in particular, but he still loves them as family. Bart and Lisa have a complicated relationship, but in between trying to kick the crap out of each other Bart is shown to be very protective of his sister. And as much as he antagonizes Homer, if anything he and Homer have a similar sense of humor and often have fun together.
  • Ax-Crazy: Several of the later seasons' episodes gave Bart a surprisingly psychopathic streak: he offhandedly mentions being angry enough to bring a knife into school and punch a cop in "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", tries to hang his own father in "Love is Many a Strangled Thing" and tries to destroy Springfield Elementry using the defunct subway system in "Postcards From the Wedge".
  • Badbutt: Bart was conceived as a non-badbutt version of Dennis the Menace, but edgier animated shows with their tendency to rely on Dead Baby Comedy levels of Comedic Sociopathy make him look Badbutt by comparison. This was pointed out in South Park when a Bart Expy told Cartman he once cut the head off a statue, to which Cartman replied that he once tricked a boy into eating his parents.
  • Bad Samaritan: He's known to pose as an ally in order to orchestrate pranks or get what he wants. As shown when he escalated a school strike by playing both Krabappel and Skinner against each other so they'd close the school until the matter is resolved.
  • Berserk Button:
  • Big Brother Bully: Bart often antagonizes Lisa, but when the two truly get physical, Lisa frequently overpowers him.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He usually couldn't give a damn what happens to Lisa on a mundane basis, and the two have an intense sibling rivalry, but his instinct does kick in every time something serious happens.
    • In "Bart the General", he has been insulting Lisa all morning. Upon getting to school, one of Nelson's cronies takes a batch of muffins Lisa had baked earlier. That's all it takes for Bart to attack the crony and he winds up punching Nelson in the face and is challenged to fight. It's the first sign in the series that Bart isn't a total jerk towards his sister.
    • In "Separate Vocations", an Aptitude Test tells Lisa that her suitable career is housewife. In response, she becomes a delinquent and eventually steals the teacher's guides, an expulsion-worthy offense. When Bart finds out what Lisa did, he takes the blame, staying in school due to his work as a hall monitor. When she asked why, Bart tells Lisa that test or no test, she's the one with the makings to be a success.
    • In "'Round Springfield" when Lisa is absolutely crushed that she can't get the last copy of Bleeding Gums's album for a tribute after his death, Bart spends all the remaining money from his recent legal settlement involving Krusty the Clown's cereal to get it for her. He was thanking her because she was the only one who believed him when he said his stomach hurt.
    • In "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson", he helps Lisa when they're at military school.
    • In "Das Bus", when Nelson threatens Lisa to get to Milhouse, Bart immediately defends her.
    • In "Gone Abie Gone", he helps Lisa keep her college fund through poker because he secretly cares about her.
    • In "Black-Eyed, Please", Homer asks Ms. Krabappel to get rid of Lisa's bully substitute teacher. You know what she does? She gets Bart to play a transfer student in the woman's class, and he then proceeds to cause absolute havoc during a two-minute bathroom break and makes the woman quit her job. While it isn't shown, the fact that Bart agreed to do this at all shows that he does care about Lisa.
    • In "Moe'N'a Lisa", he's shocked when he finds out that Moe won't give Lisa credit for his success as a poet and teams up with Homer to get revenge on him.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Bart isn't a great fighter and relies more on trickery and cunning to achieve his goals. As shown when he was knocked out by a single punch from Lisa when he challenged her to a fight. In recent seasons, he's characterised as a manipulator from the sidelines who can't back up his claims when he's against the wall.
  • Book Dumb: He's a known underachiever, but he's able to come up with clever solutions to his problems including strokes of genius Loophole Abuse. When working with Lisa, Bart was able to help write an award-winning comedy.
  • Brats with Slingshots: He's a Bratty Half-Pint who regularly uses a slingshot as a weapon. He even provides the page image.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: His first name is an anagram of "brat" after all.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: It's established he could actually be very bright, he just isn't interested in schoolwork or applying himself seriously. In one future he manages to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • In one episode he created a passable body double "mostly out of latex." The reason: to have to double sit at his desk so Bart can skip class.
    • Bart finds he really likes being a cop and begins acting like one in school with Skinner's approval. He brought order to an otherwise completely unruly Springfield Elementary in only a few days.
    • In "Black Widower" and other Sideshow Bob episodes, he shows himself to be a good detective, picking up on clues that pass over everyone else's heads and undoing Bob's schemes. And, like Homer, he has a strange ability to pick up languages out of nowhere.
    • One episode even has him scoring an A to his test because studying was the only way to drown Skinner and Krabappel making love (It Makes Sense in Context). Likewise, another episode had him put on ADHD medication and he was able to track down a spy satellite, so it's more lack of focus than anything.
  • The Bully: He's not this officially, but some of his more malicious pranks and contempt for other, nerdier kids in school portrays him as a borderline case, especially in later episodes. Depending on the Writer, this role is ironically subverted as he himself can fall victim to the schoolyard Gang of Bullies.
  • Bullying a Dragon: He constantly angers his father to no end, even though that'll just provoke his father to strangle him in the neck ("Why you little!")
  • Bully Hunter: In "Bart The General", he ends up mobilizing all the school kids into forming an army to take down Nelson.
  • Bully Magnet: He's a frequent target of bullying, though that depends on how popular is he in that episode.
  • Butt-Monkey: Not as much as Homer, but he still attracts a lot of slapstick, and in the earlier season was on the receiving end of a lot of violence from Nelson ("The Last Temptation of Homer", "Lisa on Ice" in particular).
  • Catchphrase:
    "Get bent"
    "Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!"
    "Eat my shorts!"
    "Ay carumba!"
    "Don't have a cow, man!"
    "I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?"
    "Bite me."
    • In one episode, he says "I didn't do it!" on live TV. Everyone loves it, making him a celebrity for about a month until the novelty wears off. He spends the whole month hating it because that's all anyone wants to hear from him.
  • Character Development: In the past seasons, an adult Bart was often depicted as a man who threw away his education and became a deadbeat who scrounges off of his family and friends. In other cases, he has a low-income job and lives in squalor. Since the episode "Future-Drama" and "Barthood", Bart's future self is depicted as much more mature and responsible for his sons.
  • Chick Magnet: He had a few girlfriends, one of them fifteen years old. In the episode "Moonshine River", Bart revisits five of these ex-girlfriends.
  • Childish Older Sibling: He's a lazy troublemaker who constantly pulls pranks or makes petty taunts. His younger sister Lisa is studious and responsible, and his other younger sister Maggie is Wise Beyond Their Years.
  • The Chosen One: In "Gone Maggie Gone" Homer reveals that he left Bart with the nuns after taking Maggie back home but when Bart sits on the throne he brings Hell on Earth which potentially makes him Satan's chosen one.
  • Class Clown: He's this to a tee, and sometimes his friends get pulled in as well.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Sometimes. Although he occasionally plays the role of a Kidanova, Bart is usually surprisingly clueless about the effect he seems to have on girls, some of which are quite a few years older than him.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Depending on the Writer, he plays the cool kid to Milhouse's loser, as sometimes Bart is depicted as the coolest kid on the block, while Milhouse is a loner in the form of a Butt-Monkey.
  • Cool Loser: Depending on the Writer. There's no doubt he's the coolest character on the show, but his popularity in school (or even with the rest of the town) runs the gambit from adored by everyone for how awesome he is, to being a loner whose only friend is Milhouse. "'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky" illustrates how easily he can lose his cool status.
  • Creepy Child: Occasionally sinks into it, such as during the teacher's strike in "The PTA Disbands".
  • Cunning Linguist: Bart has an uncanny ability to learn foreign languages, and has been seen doing so repeatedly. To date, he has been seen speaking French, Japanese, Cantonese, and Spanish—though the latter was made less impressive in that he learned it while traveling to Brazil.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Still the main character, but he was the central character in the early days of the show until Homer replaced him later on (he was originally the most prominent character even in the Tracey Ullman shorts).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Easily one of the snarkiest characters on the show, with the exception of Comic Book Guy.
  • Depending on the Writer: He can be the most popular kid in school by a huge margin, have Milhouse as his only friend, or anywhere in between depending on what best suits the story, though one episode did show that popularity can change rapidly as he went from the former to the latter after crying when hit with some mud. Also, he can range anywhere from a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who's more talented than people give him credit for, a hyperactive idiot, or a sociopathic troublemaker, and everywhere in between.
  • Deuteragonist: He was initially The Protagonist in the show's beginning, courtesy of being an infamous Anti-Role Model. However, Homer eventually took his place as such, essentially labeling Bart as the second-most important character.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Perhaps due to Status Quo Is God, but Bart's relationships never, ever go anywhere. It was even the plot of an episode (season 24's "Moonshine River") where he goes and sees all of the girls he used to have crushes on to see if he can rekindle a relationship, with every one of them rejecting him. Even his Accidental Marriage spouse Mary doesn't want him.
  • Dirty Kid: Zigzagged. Some episodes have Bart show a distinct interest in sexual affairs like the Burlesque House, while others have him be about as innocent as an actual ten year old boy would be.
  • Disappointing Older Sibling: Lisa sees him as an immature and poorly behaved underachiever. Marge and Homer agree and even put her in charge of babysitting him one evening (which, unsurprisingly, does not go well).
  • The Dog Bites Back: While Homer strangling Bart has been a long Running Gag for the series, several episodes Bart can give as good as he gets. When Homer spent a fortune Bart made from doing humiliating commercials as a baby, Bart starts to strangle him with his own belt. In another episode, when Homer was reaching to strangle Bart, he reacted quickly and smashed a lamp over Homer's head to knock him out.
  • The Dreaded: He was apparently an urban legend among teachers, and the confirmation that he was real was enough to get Edna Krabappel a nomination for Teacher of The Year Award. Also happens earlier in Stark Raving Dad, where finding out Bart was real was enough to get Homer out of the sanitarium.
  • Driven to Suicide: In "Lisa's Sax" (in which Bart gets abused and belittled by his kindergarten teacher to the point of this) and "The Boys of Bummer" (in which Bart loses a championship baseball game and is treated by the town as a pariah).
  • Dumbass No More: Zig-Zagged; in earlier seasons, Bart was unmotivated with his education and grew up to become a deadbeat or a guy with low income. In later, his intellect was reduced further by making him illiterate and lacking common knowledge. Since Barthood and Future-Drama, Bart instead becomes a skilled artist and is certainly smarter than his younger self.
    • Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie and Flanders' Ladder also show him becoming Supreme Court Justice in the future.
  • Dumb Blond: Book Dumb. He's actually quite intelligent otherwise despite some lack of common sense.

  • Early Installment Character Design Difference: In the first shorts appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show Bart wore a blue shirt, but as of the switch to their own show he wears orange. Despite the change happening so early, a lot of merchandise in The '90s had Bart wearing a blue shirt.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In some futures, Bart is shown to have done all right for himself as a demolition worker (noting that he's finally getting paid to do something he loves) or as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: "Jo-jo".
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Marge seems to be the only member of the family Bart doesn't drive crazy on a regular basis. Granted, he's a headache for being such a brat, but he doesn't go out of his way to bother her like Homer and Lisa. Many of the times he thinks a prank has gone too far is if it genuinely upsets her. On that note, he also defended her on at least one occasion. One notable occasion being when Ned Flanders went into a total breakdown in regards to what happened and lashed out at everyone, and tried to defend her telling Ned to back off. Later leads into an Even Evil Has Standards moment below.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • There are some things that even Bart won't do, such as stealing from church collection plates or stealing all the teacher's edition textbooks. One episode has him expressing worry that he's being turned into a criminal by an eviler girlfriend when all he really wants to be is a petty thug.
    • Hurting animals, at least above insects. He genuinely loves and cares for his dog as well as his once-pet elephant Stampy and Duncan the horse. Then there was the time he not only refused to shoot a bird, but when he accidentally did shoot it much to his horror, he raised the bird's eggs by himself. So, Bart can be a Jerkass to people, but he will NEVER be one to animals.
    • Disappointing his mom Marge in any way possible with the episode "Marge Be Not Proud" as a shining example of this. He may not be too rattled when Homer and Lisa get angry with him (since he doubles as their Berserk Button), but if Marge gets mad at him, he knows he's crossed the line.
    • After trying to defend Marge from Ned Flanders (who was verbally assaulting everyone during his mental breakdown), Flanders eventually started violently tearing him down, and even suggested a new catchphrase when he is an adult: "Hey, buddy! Got a quarter?!". Bart even states that he is "both shocked and appalled" at Ned's statement.
    • Even at his worst, Bart doesn't treat Maggie the same way he treats Lisa.
    • When Homer had him doing a grease racketing job, and Homer was shoveling the grease into the back of Marge's car (without any containers), Bart objects and says "Mom's going to kill you!"
    • He absolutely hates it when someone hurts his pet dog. Had Mr. Burns not happened to have brought his gun, Bart certainly would have brutally assaulted Burns when he arrived at the town meeting discussing Mr. Burns's vile behavior.
    • While he may intentionally drive people insane for the sake of a prank or gag, he completely draws the line at doing any lasting harm, physical or emotional. He'll either become The Atoner or a Well-Intentioned Extremist in order to make up for it when he feels he's gone too far.
    • When Homer takes him, Lisa, Rod, and Todd to see a horror film called The Re-deadening (a parody of Dolly Dearest), while Rod, Todd, and Lisa were freaked out of the film. At first, the viewer would expect him to enjoy just as much as Homer was. Instead, he covered his eyes throughout the film, despite the fact that he once tried to sneak into a horror film in an earlier episode, and he, along with Lisa, was shivering after the film.
    • In "Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble", Homer runs away to avoid giving his kidney to his father. Even Bart stated that even he wouldn't do that to his father.
    • In the movie, he is initially horrified by the idea of skateboarding naked.
    • In "The Simpsons Guy", he was deeply unnerved by Stewie Griffin's Enfant Terrible tendencies, from Stewie's prank call to Moe saying Moe's sister was being raped, to Stewie taking all of Bart's enemies (plus Apu, for an Overly Pre-Prepared Gag) hostage, and obviously setting them up for Cold-Blooded Torture, as a "thank you" to Bart.
  • Evil Laugh: Nancy Cartwright pulls these off eerily well.
  • Fanboy: Of Radioactive Man. Bart has every issue of the comic, which started in the 1960s. Bart is also Krusty's biggest fan.
  • Flanderization:
    • He simply started out as a 1990s version of Dennis the Menace (oft-lampshaded) who liked to piss off authority, but actually learned his lesson in the end, like when he stole Jebediah Springfield's head or when he burned Lisa's centerpiece and, after appearing on the news in a homeless shelter, returning home and apologizing for what he did after a soul search. These days, his negative qualities have been exaggerated to the point where he's a sociopath wanting to ruin Homer and Marge's marriage merely to get him out of homework (as seen in the episode "Postcards from the Wedge"). The only times Bart shows kindness to anyone are when the story demands it, as seen in "A Totally Fun Thing that Bart Will Never Do Again," in which, despite his sociopathic measures to make the cruise trip last longer, did it because he loved his family and wanted to see them be happy, as they never had a decent vacation where everyone was happy.
    • Bart seems to have lost all empathy towards everyone, including his own family, if it means getting a quick laugh. When Homer is forced to go to a fathering class after accidentally making Bart pee in front of everyone when he was tickling him too much, he was forced to be strangled by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to show what Bart experiences when he does that to him. When Homer vows not to strangle or physically punish Bart again, Bart milks it for all that it's worth. He does many blatantly illegal acts since he knows he won't be punished by Homer. He even tries to get his father killed during the bonding exercises. This was actually established all the way back in "The Itchy And Scratchy Movie". After Homer backs out from punishing Bart, he becomes increasingly rambunctious, destroying and causing mayhem in the house for reasons even he doesn't know outside that he can get away with it, smugly confident that Homer will let everything slide. As such, it was established as early as the fourth season that discipline is the only thing keeping Bart from acting like a complete sociopath.
    • He endangers Principal Skinner's life with his peanut allergy, exploiting this to make Skinner do what he wanted. Bart is willing to threaten to kill someone just because the results amuse him, though the joke was on Bart when Skinner fought back with knowledge of Bart's shrimp allergynote 
    • Bart's intelligence also has dwindled down as much as Homer's. Bart started off as Brilliant, but Lazy. He didn't pay attention in class and any ignorance was mostly due to lack of study. Then he became unable to read basic sentences in books or relying on Lisa or the Internet to do his school work for him. This is best reflected in the "future" episodes. "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie" and "Lisa's Wedding" imply that Bart will gradually outgrow his rebellious tendencies to eventually become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (the title is actually "Chief Justice of the United States," but anyway), but all later depictions show him as a Future Loser who, if he continues along his current path, will become a complete bum. Worst of all, he doesn't seem to care much.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: He and Lisa are among the most extreme and well-known examples. He's a Book Dumb mischievous troublemaker (Foolish) while Lisa is very studious, well-behaved, and respectful (Responsible).
  • Former Teen Rebel: In episodes based in the future, Bart does eventually grow out of rebellious hobbies.
  • For the Evulz: At several point in the earlier years, Bart had a habit of doing things just to be bad, like stealing his grandfather's teeth, or getting Milhouse on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and repeatedly tipping them off whenever Milhouse tried to hide, or manipulating the tensions between Skinner and the school's teachers to cause a strike.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Bart is shown to love animals, from raising Santa's Little Helper, raising Lou while on the 4 H club, and is completely against killing animals, even to a point of crying when Homer tried to force him to shoot a Deer. This actually contrasts him with Lisa, who is a vegetarian because of her love of animals but is actually nowhere near as good of a pet owner.
  • Freudian Excuse: His preschool teacher belittled him and verbally abused him to the point that Bart considers suicide, while his father refused to put any effort into raising him and only paid attention to him when he acted out with excessive physical punishment. This probably what lead him to become a troublemaker, if you ignore the series's Negative Continuity that Bart's always been a bad kid since birth in the earlier seasons.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • His relationship with Ms. Krabappel and Principal Skinner; he has served as emotional confidants to both teachers, helped them in their pursuit of happiness of multiple occasions. He clearly cares a great deal about both of them, and only terrorizes them "on principle" as a delinquent because "it's not intentional, just keeping the flow".
    • 24 long years of familiarity has dulled the terror and rage between Bart and Bob, so much so that Bart casually greets him like meeting an old friend, and Bob asking Bart and Lisa to remove the "Sideshow" from their scream of terror since they have known each other for so long.
  • Friend to Psychos: While this trait arguably runs in the family, Bart has more psychotic friends; although they do pick on him as well, the school bullies often help him in episodes, and Bart has been repeatedly associated with the Springfield Mafia. At one point, he is even told that he has potential to join a rival mafia family by its leader.
  • Future Loser: Plenty of future episodesnote  depict him as such, but it's also worth mentioning that the oldest versions of himnote  will become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A little far-fetched? Well, Bart did say he was planning on going to law school...
  • Genius Ditz: He's a terrible student, and usually does no better than a D- in classes, but he's shown many different skills over the course of the series. Exactly what skills he has and how this contrasts his dimwittedness depends a lot on the episode.
    • When he actually uses it, he's a crack-shot with his slingshot.
    • He's a natural for picking up languages, often doing so with great ease.
    • As Lisa puts it "When there's cruelty involved, Bart knows his history".
    • He is decent to gifted in almost every artistic discipline, drawing being his most consistent.
  • G-Rated Drug: Once went on a "Squishee bender" that greatly resembled an alcoholic binge. He was also put on Ritalin Expy, Focusyn, and then Ritalin itself, for his ADD. At one point where he wonders why he is so mischievous while downing half a gallon of soda and a box of candies, quivering at the high.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: He's demonstrated this on numerous occasions such as in "The Boy Who Knew Too Much".
  • Guile Hero: He's managed to outwit Sideshow Bob despite him being a criminal genius. In "Cape Feare", he's able to stall Bob killing him on the boat by requesting him to sing the entire score of "The H.S. Pinafore" giving the police enough time to catch up with him.
  • Heroic Bastard: Discussed and averted; Bart was conceived while Marge and Homer were in the early years of their relationship, Homer proposed to Marge after she announced her pregnancy and they married while Marge was still pregnant. When Herb asked if their children were born in wedlock, Homer replied by saying "The boy was a close call".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's best friends with Milhouse and is usually seen hanging out with him. Although their friendship borders on With Friends Like These... sometimes, they are still very close. He's the only one in the family with a consistent friendship with another character.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Practically prides himself on being Book Dumb, but has consistently managed to outwit Sideshow Bob on several occasions. He's also shown to have latent artistic ability and an untapped intellectual potential almost on par with Lisa's. As with a lot of his traits, though this is Depending on the Writer; for example, one infamous episode states that he's destined to lose his intelligence and become an absolute moron as he grows up, but not a lot of people like to remember that one and it's been contradicted by other episodes.
    • He was a talented drummer in "Jazzy in the Pussycats", and also mentions he has a stamp collection that got stolen in "Homer the Vigilante". He is also a good driver at age 10.
    • During "Bart Sells his Soul", he curtly informs Lisa he's familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda when she quotes him.
    • He is surrpisingly good at taming, caring,training and nurturing animals. At some points his skills border in a full Beast Master, since it had been shown that he sometimes can literally understand what they say or express.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: It's deep in his body, but Bart occasionally shows a very deep empathetic side, especially when it comes to his family or friends.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Homer strangles him on a regular basis, and Marge generally does nothing to stop it from happening. Heck, Bart provides the current page image.
  • Hot-Blooded: Not as much as his father, but when something goes wrong, Bart will get mad to the point of hurting someone. He once beat the crap out of an attacking ostrich with a frying pan, before finally grabbing it by the neck and choking it into submission, much to his father's approval.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Has a balanced habit of bullying and defending Lisa.
  • Ironic Name: He is technically named after a Christian saint (his first name is "Bartholomew", but nobody uses it in full), but Bart thinks Hell is awesome and is on good terms with Satan.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In "Gone Abie Gone", he decides to gamble on Lisa's college fund, only to find that he's losing. When Lisa decides to gamble the money back, after she succeeds (and gets an extra $50), Bart persuades her to stop because gambling can lead to lose all of her money, but she gets addicted to it and eventually loses all the money to Sideshow Bob. However, it turns out Bart posed as him to teach her a lesson about gambling. Not only that, but her college fund was still safe (though because they were underage, they could only keep the original $5,000).
    • In "Lisa the Veterinarian", Bart is the only one to catch onto Lisa's growing arrogance and constantly tries to warn her, but she refuses to listen until Bart brings the class pet Nibbles (which was in Lisa's care for the summer). Nibbles was dangerously ill and depressed, and died afterwards, which was caused by Lisa's negligence when she focused on other people's pets.
    • In "The Man Who Grew Too Much", when Lisa decides to spend time with Sideshow Bob, Bart quickly objects and mentions how Bob has made multiple attempts to kill the family, but she shrugs it off by pointing out that Bart was his main target. As usual, Bart is Properly Paranoid about Bob.
  • Jerk Jock: In his own words, he belongs to the jock clique but is too lazy to actually play a sport. Though some episodes do show him playing baseball or hockey.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though he loathes to admit it, underneath all his mischievousness, Bart actually has a pretty strongly developed core of decency. He is well-known for the mayhem he causes in Springfield, although this is mostly done to drive authority figures crazy, rather than cause any real harm. He gets a number of Pet the Dog moments in helping people he'd normally antagonize, like when he noticed how his teacher Mrs. Krabappel was lonely and depressed.
  • Karma Houdini: His pranks can be downright criminal behavior and he still gets away scot-free, his dossier takes a whole binder for himself and all it gets him is a few weeks at juvie (where he unwillingly breaks out of yet it still count as time served so they let him go). He even smothered Homer with dirt while his back was broken in "Homer of Seville" and got no punishment for it.
  • Karmic Trickster: Since he has no combat skills, Bart has to rely on his cunning and wit to outsmart his opponents. When his enemies have wronged Bart, he plays a prank on them to get revenge.
  • Kidanova: He's not so much girl crazy as he is often oblivious to some of the finer points of a relationship, as he is still ten years old (when dating a pregnant fifteen year old he thought the child was his, because "We kissed and held hands really tight"). But over the seasons he's amassed quite a few girlfriends across different episodes.
  • Kid Sidekick: Bart has frequently been this to Homer in the latter's various Get Rich Quick Schemes.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: On more than one occasion, Bart has been implied to steal, with Marge once chiding him for "prying and jimmying" with a crowbar. He's also proven able to steal a plot-valuable key from Mr. Burns without the old man noticing. But then there's "Marge Be Not Proud", where he has tremendous guilt of stealing.

  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: Was very good at especially miniature golf, ice hockey and ballet in the early seasons with no prior interest in all three, as well as later drumming. These have been contrasted in some episodes with embarrassingly bad performances in football (as quarterback) and baseball. His interests never really carry over to further episodes.
  • Likes Older Women: Most of his love interests are older than himself. His relationship with Mrs. Krabappel alternates between arch-enemy and Well, Excuse Me, Princess!. Then there's that episode with a child therapist which plays out like an actual relationship.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Always wears a red/orange shirt with blue shorts. The Tracey Ullman shorts had him wear a blue shirt before being changed for the series, but resulted in a lot of early merchandise with that look.
  • Lovable Rogue: Most of the time (there are cases when he is genuinely just being a jerkass at times) his pranks and borderline criminal behavior entertains the audience.
  • Meaningful Name: His name is an anagram of "Brat".
  • Momma's Boy: There is an episode where he briefly flirts with becoming one, but Marge realizes that she doesn't want that kind of relationship with him. However he truly does love his mother, and she's the only person who he'll obey without resistance most of the time.
  • Mooning: One of his signature ways of mocking people.
  • Mouthy Kid: He has a lot of sass and snarky comments towards every character on the show.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bart experiences this trope whenever he realizes that one of his stunts has gone too far, especially if Marge is concerned.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!:
    • When Lisa starts dating Nelson in "Lisa's Date with Density", Bart kindly asks her to break the relationship. Bart's concern is justified because Nelson is a bully and a vandal.
    • Subverted in another episode, a boy asks Bart for permission to date Lisa. Bart looks completely relaxed but he never answered the question.
    • His best friend Milhouse has a crush on Lisa. Either Bart doesn't notice, or he knows that it won't happen, or he finds it amusing. Either way, he doesn't seem too bothered by it.
  • Naked People Are Funny: He's been seen in the buff a few times, such as when he rode a pig in the house naked in "They Saved Lisa's Brain". Then there is his legendary naked skateboard ride through town in The Simpsons Movie.
  • Naughty Is Good: He'll often use his schemes to take down a villain like Sideshow Bob, Fat Tony, or Kang and Kodos.
  • Never My Fault: Bart lacks responsibility for his mischievous antics and frequently blame-shifts. The quote below his picture just shows.
  • Not So Different: He and his father are usually at odds with each other, but due to their similarities (being lazy, messy, irresponsible, etc.) they join in each other's antics or act the same way in quite a few scenes. In the movie, Homer is such a bad father that Bart starts liking Ned Flanders better than him, but eventually reconcile with Homer and they bond over their mutual love of danger.
    Homer: I'll let you hold the bomb.
    Bart: The man knows me!
  • Omniglot: Has spoken French (when he was living with those abusive winemakers), Cantonese (when he got a job as an international courier after a driving trip gone terribly wrong, which saw him delivering human eyes to some doctor in China), Vietnamese (yelled "Mau! Di di mau!" while torturing Skinner), Japanese (when he and Homer were thrown in jail for wreaking havoc at a sumo wrestling match), and once became fluent in Spanish during a plane trip to Brazil, then tried to forget everything he learned once he realized that Brazil's main language is Portuguese. And he's learned to read Russian after a couple days of exploring the dark web.
  • Outnumbered Sibling: Between Maggie and Lisa, he often finds himself backed into a corner.
  • Papa Wolf: Inverted, Bart always jumps to Marge's aid when someone threatens her and he will become furious if someone makes lewd comments about her. With Homer, however, it depends on the episode. Primarily Bart will revel in his suffering because of Homer's abuse and because he knows it won't kill him. If Homer is at death's door then Bart will become concerned.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • At the end of the 500th episode, when Skinner's been forgotten in Springfield, Bart comes to get him on a wooden helicopter bike. Sure, Skinner hits the Jebediah statue and both of the nuclear plant's cooling towers, but it was still pretty nice of Bart.
    • In "Special Edna", where he nominated Mrs. Krabappel for the Teacher of the Year prize just to help her get over her depression after one too many breakups with Skinner.
    • In "Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore" after ditching Lisa for Milhouse, he feels guilty and gives her homemade monopoly cards that say things like "Bart will defend you when you're bullied." Then again in "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" he cheers her on as she climbs The Eliminator. If Bart feels guilty, he's usually one to pet the dog.
  • Ping-Pong Naïveté: Due to being a 10-year-old boy, he fits the trope when it comes to things like sex, but that doesn't stop him from constantly making crude jokes and innuendo. There is even a joke about him freaking out when Homer gave him The Talk in one episode but it is not carried over.
    Bart: What a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the bees are trying to have sex with them, or so is my understanding.
  • Prank Call: A running gag involves him making prank calls to Moe's Tavern.
  • The Prankster: He loves to play all sorts of childish pranks, mainly prank calling Moe.
  • Primary-Color Champion: In his more benevolent roles, he falls under this considering he has yellow skin, a red shirt, and blue pants.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Bart is normally a brash mischief-maker who loves pranks, skateboarding, and violent cartoons. However, in "Homer vs. Patty and Selmaa", he has to take a ballet class and is initially embarrassed, as he considers ballet a "girl sport". He is surprised as anyone else to find out he's good at ballet, and that he loves it.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Sometimes he screws the law or moral law in order to do the right thing.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The brash, confident Manly Man to Milhouse's insecure and nerdy Sensitive Guy.
  • Significant Birth Date: His birthday is April 1st which explains his love of pranks.
  • The Sociopath: Was lampshaded by Lisa in "Postcards from the Wedge". Played with in "Paths of Glory." Homer and Marge think Bart's a sociopath/psychopath, and he plays along when he finds out to get special treatment. When he eventually gets committed to a psychiatric house, he still plays along with it, until he finds out that a video game simulation he played was the real thing. He's horrified to think he actually killed people, but was then informed that the situation was a simulation to his relief. While Bart will revel in causing pain to others, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual, actually thinking he's killed someone is the line.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Sometimes leans in this area with "Bart The General" being a standout example.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Bart often does this whenever his parents give him a break. At one point he is denied pizza for another prank, after which Homer gives him a slice anyway so long as he promises to be good. Bart obviously lied, to the point that his behavior degrades to completely random and unsatisfying acts of destruction simply due to the knowledge that Homer will let him get away with it. Homer finally snaps and gives Bart a genuine punishment. This discipline is implied to have positive effects on Bart's life directions in the future.
  • Token Evil Teammate: In the early seasons he was the most amoral person in the family, but now he ties with Homer.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Much like Homer before him, Bart has become increasingly stupid in recent seasons. In earlier seasons he didn't do well in school, mainly because he didn't care and he couldn't stay focused for long periods of time, but he was brilliant in other fields as he could manage to pull off time consuming schemes and pranks in minutes, could master languages in relatively short time, and was a skilled detective. In recent seasons he's depicted as illiterate, is easily entertained, and has trouble figuring out simple tasks.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the earlier seasons, Bart would be a prankster and a bad boy that still knew his limits and knew when to apologise. In the later seasons, his pranks became more destructive, to the point where in "Peeping Mom", he stole a bulldozer to destroy the Springfield sign, which also resulted in city-wide destruction.
  • Totally Radical: During the early years of the show. He actually did say "Cowabunga" a couple of times, but it's so rare that even the show's creators note to being surprised to find out it happened.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Anything from the Butterfinger brand, though this has barely been touched upon in the actual show.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Bart has engaged in this on occasion. While his enjoyment of the extremely gory Itchy and Scratchy is shared by almost all kids in Springfield, there are times, especially in the recent seasons, where he enjoys such violent actions in real life. Also, his behavior during the school strike unnerves Marge.
    Marge: There's something about flying a kite at night that's so unwholesome.
    Bart: (sotto voice) Hello, mother dear.
  • The Trickster: Bart takes great pride in defying authority figures and loves pulling pranks on them. His favorite victims are without a doubt Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel, though he is not above targeting his friend Milhouse and occasionally his family.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: With Jenda in "Days of Future Future". Though he's not really ugly, just slovenly.
  • The Un-Favourite: His parents both prefer Lisa over him. Homer explicitly says that Lisa is his favorite multiple times and Marge is often too pre-occupied with Maggie. Even at a young age he was second fiddle to Lisa with nobody understanding his anger, which is the main theme of the episode "Barthood". In "How Lisa Got Her Marge Back", Homer told Bart that he does love him, but if there was a second Bart he'd hang himself. Unlike everybody else though, Bart has a good relationship with Grampa and he wonders why parents are nicer to their grandchildren than their actual children in "Holidays of Future Passed".
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Depending on the Writer. He's usually a mischievous self-admitted hellion who often bullies those closest to him.
  • Villainous Underdog: His status as a villain is dependent on the episode as he's often portrayed as an anti-hero or villain protagonist. Bart was unwittingly neglected by his parents, abused by his father, abandoned/abused by his teachers and he's regularly bullied by the other kids. He is popular sometimes, while he's often the inbetweener on the social totem pole.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • His relationship with Lisa often has this quality in that they squabble a lot but truly love each other and have even turned to one another in the deepest crises.
    • He and Homer often don't get along due to Bart's behavior, but ultimately they have a nearly identical sense of humor. While Homer says his favorite child is Lisa, he barely understands her but when he and Bart hang out together they tend to have a blast.
  • Vocal Evolution: Not as noticeable as Homer, but earlier seasons Bart had a lower tone but a bit nasal as well. Over time his voice became cleaner while a bit higher pitched.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sometimes when he does something with the legitimate intent of helping someone "chill out", it backfires. A notable instance was when he got Mrs. Krabappel fired when he and the other students attempted to get her to become cooled down by spiking her drink with alcohol, because of Bart's experiences with his dad.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When Bart skipped school in one episode, he inadvertently became the sole witness of a serious crime involving the mayor's nephew Freddie Quimby. Without Bart's testimony, Freddie would have been found guilty of severely beating a waiter. The only one who knows this aside from Bart is Lisa, who merely urges Bart to tell the truth. Complicating this is the fact that he will face a severe punishment for skipping school; but in order to testify Bart has to admit that he had skipped to everyone including Principal Skinner. Bart has no reason to put himself on the line for Freddie who is by all accounts a cruel and petty person; but in the end cannot knowingly condemn him for a crime he did not commit. Bart testifies on Freddie's behalf knowing full well he will be punished for his truancy.
  • With Friends Like These...: His friendship with Milhouse, among others, often comes off as this. Bart frequently bullies Milhouse, while Milhouse has been shown to weasel or turn his back on Bart on numerous occasions. Perhaps the most egregious example is Bart inexplicably managing to place Milhouse on America's Most Wanted for no specified reason, while in return Milhouse has refused to share his Bonestorm game with Bart, and tattled fake lies just to get him in trouble, to say nothing of the incident where him bought Bart's soul for $5, but jacked the price up to $50 when Bart wanted it back. Mihouse even once questioned why they are best friends after getting in a physical fight with him.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel may hate him at first glance, but both teachers admire his sharp wit and kind-heart. Bart for his part respects both teachers for their integrity and their devotion to children, and is quite fond of them.
    • Sideshow Bob is not shy about expressing how much he hates Bart and his wish to destroy his life, but all the same he has an undeniable respect and admiration for the boy's tenacity, cunning and bravery.
    • Homer sometimes views him as this.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: