Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Grampa Simpson's Entire Backstory Explained

Springfield is a town overflowing with kooks, curmudgeons, grumps, and goofballs, but Abraham Simpson, otherwise known as Grampa, just be the most outlandish character in the entirety of The Simpsons. Here is a man who loves to tell pointless, meandering stories as a means of getting attention, writes letters to the president demanding the elimination of three states, refuses to recognize the statehood of Missouri, had his picture published in the newspaper for yelling at a cloud, and was unable to outrun the turtle that stole his teeth.

While now essentially imprisoned at the Springfield Retirement Castle in his uniform of a bolo tie and slippers, Abe Simpson previously led a life that was grand and full of importance and influence. He's been a lover, a fighter, and came face to face with several important historical figures, all before settling down in Springfield to (poorly) raise his son Homer. Here's the complete background and life story of Grampa Simpson, starting all the way back in nineteen-dickity-two.

He emigrated to the U.S. as a young boy

The story of the Simpson family in America begins with Abe Simpson. Like millions of others, he sailed over from Europe during the immigration boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the episode "Much Apu About Nothing," in which Springfield votes on expelling illegal immigrants, Lisa points out that most Americans are descended from people born elsewhere, leading Grampa to tell the story of how back in the old country — which is never specified — his father Orville "thought America was the greatest thing since sliced bread, sliced bread having been invented the previous winter." After promising little Abe that one day they'd set sail for the U.S., they left later that day. SIx-year-old Abraham and his family settled in New York City almost exactly where they got off the boat at Ellis Island, living in the head of the Statue of Liberty. They abandoned it, and moved to Springfield, once they filled up that head with garbage.

The adventures of baby Abe

Like a lot of elderly gentlemen, Grampa Simpson likes to tell stories about the good old days. Also, as with a lot of men his age, the passage of time, the desire to tell a good story, and the unreliability of memories have clearly led to some embellishment. Therefore, it's hard to tell truth from fiction or a mixture of the two when it comes to Abe Simpson's earliest years. In what should be taken with several large grains of salt, Abe claims to fought in World War I, although to enlist he had to lie about his age. In a flashback sequence to a bombarded trench somewhere in Europe, young Abe, all of four or five years old, shows off a picture he drew to his commanding officer and refuses to take a nap.

In other early 20th century (or thereabouts) news, Grampa claims to have been been spanked by President Grover Cleveland on two nonconsecutive occasions, and in a moment of panic — in which Mr. Burns attacks the Simpsons' house with a tank in search of Mona Simpson, Grampa's wife turned political agitator — Abe admits to being the "Lindbergh baby," the infant son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, kidnapped and found murdered in 1932. (However, that conflicts with how he also climbed Springfield's Murderhorn mountain as a young man in 1928, leaving his climbing partner to freeze to death.)

Abe and Hitler's complicated relationship

Grampa Simpson is like an older, bumbling Forrest Gump, present for numerous important events of the 20th century, but he only made things worse. For example, Abe and Adolf Hitler go way back. While today he's so old and in such poor health that he can barely walk, Abe was quite the athlete in his day, competing in the javelin event at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, with Hitler in attendance. Abe's javelin didn't land anywhere near its mark, instead just barely missing Hitler... but it did fatally pierce the flesh of a close associate of Hitler who'd just pulled out a gun to kill the Führer. In other words, Grampa Simpson accidentally thwarted an assassination of Hitler, which feasibly could have prevented World War II from happening. "The next time I saw Hitler we had dinner and laughed about it," Grampa claims in the present day.

In another episode, Abe says he faced off against Hitler during the war. Trapped behind enemy lines in Dusseldorf, Abe stayed alive by pretending to be a female German cabaret singer. One night he performed for a smitten Hitler, and Abe pulled down a negligee strap, causing one of the grapefruits he was using as fake breasts to tumble out, angering Hitler. Bart questions the veracity of the story, and Grampa says that "most of it" is true, revealing that he "did wear a dress for a period in the '40s."

Abe Simpson: Army man

Grampa Simpson might have been fudging the truth about his encounter with Hitler in a Dusseldorf nightclub, but he probably really did dress like a woman in the 1940s. He admits in "Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play" that back in 1942 (which he calls "1940-deuce"), he successfully managed to avoid enlistment or conscription into the U.S. military by posing as a woman for an entire year. He did that by pretending to be "Effie Lou," the center fielder for the Springfield Floozies, the local all-female baseball team. (Fellow Springfield Retirement Castle resident Jasper Beardley also played the the Floozies, and threatened Grampa's record for "lady triples.") Eventually found out, Abe had no choice but to join the war effort. He served bravely and courageously in the European Theatre as part of a unit called the Flying Hellfish, alongside the fathers of Simpsons characters Barney, Principal Skinner, Chief Wiggum. Mr. Burns was also in the squad, although he was a dangerous goof-off who ruined Abe's chance to sniper-kill Hitler. However, Abe wasn't always such a good soldier — while working as mine detector, he accidentally blew up several of his fellow American serviceman, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross, the opposing German military's highest honor.

Abe Simpson: Navy man

It's pretty much impossible, logistically speaking, but Grampa Simpson claims to have fought in the Army and the Navy during World War II. One day with some drinking buddies at the Veterans of Unpopular Wars Hall, he recalls the time he served on the PT-109, a Naval torpedo boat, alongside future president John F. Kennedy. While the ship later sank and Kennedy was commended for his heroic actions, that's not how Abe Simpson remembers it. On deck one day, Kennedy states "Ich bin ein Berliner" (a quote from a speech JFK delivered in 1963). Hearing German come out of his mouth during World War II, Abe assumes Kennedy is a Nazi, and leads his men in a thorough beatdown.

In "Simpsons Christmas Stories," Abe talks about how he was a Navy pilot in the Pacific Theatre of World War II, serving with Mr. Burns and his brother, Cyrus Simpson, never mentioned until this 2005 episode. Abe and Burns are shot down and wind up on a desert island, struggling for survival, eventually shooting down Santa's sleigh. Old St. Nick leaves the island, promising to return for Abe, but never does, leaving him to escape with a jet ski constructed from coconuts.

When Abe met Mona

The big love of Abe Simpson's life, or at least the most prominent and important romantic relationship of his life, was with the former Mona Olsen. They apparently met in the 1950s — Abe was a member of the Air Force and Mona was working as a cocktail waitress. They seemed to be a good match and after Mona gave birth to Homer, they settled into a life of generic, mid-century American domesticity. Then one day in the late '60s, when Abe was watching Super Bowl III in 1969, Mona caught a glimpse of quarterback Joe Namath, his wild hair and unbridled sexuality awakening the rebel and political dissident inside — her true self. She tried to make it work with the grouchy, ultra-conservative Abe, even dragging him to Woodstock, where, amidst the sea of half-nude hippies, he sat in a suit with his arms crossed. After Mona sabotaged a germ warfare lab owned by Mr. Burns, she went on the run for the rest of her life, leading to a de facto split with Abe and leaving him — an embittered, mean alcoholic — to raise Homer on his own. Until she resurfaced in the '90s, Abe led Homer to believe that Mona had died when he'd gone to the movies.

The many loves of Grampa Simpson

In the 2012 episode "Gone Abie Gone," Grampa disappears. Homer and Marge follow a clue to a once-fancy nightclub called Spiros, where 35-year-old Abe worked as a busboy following the departure of his wife Mona. He also played piano and wrote songs, and he teamed up with Spiros' singer, Rita, to became a successful musical act. They fell in love, got married, and were about to tour Europe, only for Abe's duties as a father to keep him in Springfield. Abe and Rita split up.

That's not Abe's only misbegotten romance. Just before he fought on D-Day in World War II, he met an English woman named Edwina, with whom he had a one night stand. When the Simpson family visited England, Abe reconnected with her... and her daughter, a Homer lookalike, meaning Abe is her father.

Abe Simpson is a romantic, but also a philanderer. While courting Mona, the woman he'd marry and Homer's mother, he had a fling with Gaby, a prostitute and worker in a traveling carnival. After one night together, she left town, but when the carnival came back a year later, she had a baby son. They surrendered him at the Shelbyville Orphanage, and he grew up to be auto magnate Herb Powell.

Abe Simpson is a working man

Abraham Simpson has held down quite a few jobs in his life, on account of how he's quite old and also had a wife and child to support. Some of those jobs were a bit more legitimate that others. When the workers of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant go on strike in "Last Exit to Springfield," plant owner Mr. Burns rounds up a trusty band of strike busters from long ago, presumably utilized during the tumultuous and violent labor movement of the 1930s. These hired goons are of course very old now, and led by Grampa, who admits that his squad "can't bust heads" anymore, but will instead disarm union agitators by telling them "stories that don't go anywhere." At this point, Grampa launches into such a tale, which is exceedingly boring but also provides some details about his life in the early 20th century — Shelbyville used to be called Morganville, nickels had pictures of bees on them, and wearing an onion on one's belt was "the style at the time."

The bulk of Grampa's employment life sounds even more mundane — he mentions in the episode "The Front" that he "spent 40 years a night watchman at a cranberry silo." However, by the '90s, or at least in the Simpsons revisionist episode "That '90s Show," he'd moved on to manage a laser tag arena.

He's been a part of Springfield for decades

While he came from some vaguely described "old country" of Europe and spent a lot of time fighting overseas during World War II, Abe Simpson is otherwise a lifelong resident of the Springfield area. The episode "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)" flashes back to Springfield in the 1930s or so, evidenced by how young adults Abe and Jasper take in a movie, which includes a newsreel item about how their town "is a city on the grow," and they exit to streets which are literally paved with gold. Abe hung his hat just slightly out of town, residing on Rural Route 9 in the Old Simpson Farm with wife Mona and son Homer, until the bank foreclosed in 1963 after the dairy cows started producing bad milk (because Homer spooked them). Fortunately, they were able to move into a new house, one Abe won during an appearance on a rigged 1950s game show — he was actually the whistle-blower, and went completely unpunished. Eventually he sold that house to help Homer buy the home in which he presently lives. The family allowed Abe to live with them... but kicked him out, and into the Springfield Retirement Castle, just three weeks later.