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Is Graggle Simpson A Real Simpsons Character?

Ah, "The Simpsons." No American television series of the past three decades is as solid and firmly established as an institution. We all cherish our fondest memories of time spent with its characters — not just the main quintet themselves but the likes of Krusty the Clown, Edna Krabappel, Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Moe, Patty and Selma, Dr. Hibbert ... and, of course, Graggle.

Over the past few months, the internet has been flooded with references to Graggle Simpson, a strange bug-eyed character with a garbanzo-bean-shaped head and a strikingly tranquil countenance. Between tributes, observations, elaborate production history summaries, and baffled questions, users on Twitter and myriad message boards have been sending each other into a tizzy over the question of whether or not they remember Graggle's time as a cast member of "The Simpsons," and, if not, what could be the explanation for that.

Meanwhile, this being the internet, material evidence is both easy to come by and hard to trust: Countless frames of "The Simpsons" scenes featuring Graggle have been circulating, as well as screencaps and even clips of his alleged appearance in the classic 2000s video game "The Simpsons: Hit & Run." That would seem to settle the matter — but then again, those frames and clips could all just as easily have been doctored, couldn't they?

What is the truth, then? Does Graggle Simpson exist or not? And, if he does, is his real name Graggle, or Gumbly, or both? Keep reading to find out the truth.

Who exactly is Graggle Simpson?

Straight, consistent information about Graggle Simpson and his presence on "The Simpsons" is hard to come by — starting with the fact that he is often referred to as "Gumbly Simpson." (Per a tweet by @FlanMine, "Grumbly [sic] is his birth name, Graggle is his nickname. Like how Barts full name is Bartholomew Jojo Simpson.") Some say that he is a recently-added character who contributed to further mucking up the reputation of "The Simpsons," in the tradition of such loathed newcomers as Sparky from "The Fairly OddParents," the Great Gazoo from "The Flintstones," and, well, Poochie from the "Simpsons" in-universe cartoon "The Itchy & Scratchy Show." A January 2021 tweet by @tonyjcelano even bemoaned the fact that "they're digitally adding #Gumbly to older episodes."

Others, meanwhile, speak of Graggle/Gumbly as an old character who eventually got demoted from the show's main cast and relegated to occasional appearances due to poor fan reception. Viewers' impression of him as a "newcomer" would be merely a result of that demotion, prompting tweets like @ImpotentCyborg's "So glad Graggle is coming back. Let's look back on some of his classic scenes," which received nearly 10,000 likes.

And then there's a third version floated by a January 2021 4chan post, which described the character as a creation of original "Simpsons" mastermind Matt Groening. Allegedly, Groening intended the character to be a self-insert, but the writers' room didn't take too kindly to him, even nicknaming him "Weird Matt," which disabused Groening of trying to push him through.

But is he real?

The mythology of Graggle, both in-universe and as an element of behind-the-scenes history, is dense enough at this point that you'd be excused for surrendering to the buzz yourself and doubting your lack of recollection of him. But the truth is that Graggle, like so many of the internet's most obsessive points of interest, is a hoax.

In fact, there has never been any character named "Graggle," or "Gumbly," or "Weird Matt," or "Yellow Matt," on "The Simpsons." The appearance of the character, as detailed in the myriad screenshots that have been circulating online, is made-up. Even his supposed appearance in "Hit & Run" appears to have been animated by a fan. If any of your friends are telling you about their memories of Graggle, simply put, they're lying.

Don't just take our word for it: Hop on ahead to the full cast history of "The Simpsons" on IMDb and do a Ctrl+F with all of Graggle's supposed names. He's not there. He was certainly not voiced by the late Norm Macdonald, as Twitter user @brejashow tried — in Portuguese, as the hoax seemingly became international — to argue at one point using a doctored screencap. (There is a name close enough to "Gumbly" in the "Simpsons" IMDb credits, which is, of course, that of Homer's best friend Barney Gumble, also voiced by Dan Castellaneta.)

The history of how such an elaborate prank came to be is documented on Know Your Meme. And, as it seems, it all started in Japan years ago.

The character now known as Graggle originated on a Japanese message board

Before 4chan, there was 2channel, a Japanese text board community founded in 1999. Much like 4chan, 2channel has long been a go-to internet corner for trolls of all varieties. And it was there, per Know Your Meme, that the character we now know as "Graggle" — originally a community mascot — first popped up, with the earliest known insertion of him into a "Simpsons" screencap dating back to 2015.

The character was first imported to Western cyberspace in 2021, via the aforementioned 4chan post that referred to him as the disgraced "Weird Matt," with a supposedly "official" image of him as part of the Simpson family lineup for good measure. Then, on the same day as the post, a Twitter user with the handle @SimianJimmy used that same image to make the first viral post referring to "Gumbly." The since-deleted tweet read, "Watched a new episode of The Simpsons for the first time in 5 years and I guess they added this hideous new character called Gumbly to the family?" The internet then did its thing, and numerous users began to use their Photoshop skills to create highly convincing edits of "Gumbly" inserted into various "Simpsons" scenes.

The mythology grew out from there, and was revived on May 22, 2022, when Facebook user Yeliab Ressap posted that same old 4chan image, referring to the character as "Graggle," and calling him a "new Mandela effect."

There are multiple reasons why the hoax worked so well

Throughout all this commotion, the term "Mandela effect" has been thrown around left and right, referring to both those who profess to remember Graggle and those who state that they don't. The Facebook post by Ressap, which read "NEW MANDELA EFFECT JUST DROPPED – THIS UNIVERSE DOESN'T HAVE GRAGGLE SIMPSON," was shared over 1,700 times.

The concept of a "Mandela Effect" refers to any social instance of multiple people sharing the same specific false memory. It was named after a strange phenomenon in which numerous people were found to have recollections of news coverage of Nelson Mandela supposedly dying in prison in the 1980s — something that didn't actually happen, as Mandela actually died in 2013 at 95 years old (via The Independent). The use of the expression to refer to the Graggle hoax, as both "a Mandela Effect" and "not a Mandela Effect," was part and parcel with the participants' trolling techniques. After all, the belief in Graggle's existence was no Mandela effect; it was simply a lie.

There are various reasons why that lie took on the life it did. The screencaps of Graggle's appearances on the show, for one thing, were highly convincing, even running the gamut from the glossier, shaded contemporary "Simpsons" style to the show's looser and more expressive classic '90s look.

More importantly, though, this is "The Simpsons" we're talking about. Would a character like Graggle really have been that much of a stretch?

Graggle may not be real, but The Simpsons does have a number of forgotten characters

No other show has continuity as dense and convoluted as "The Simpsons." As the longest-running scripted primetime series in American TV history, the Fox animated sitcom has seen its fair share of characters come and go over the years, and, even though the writers themselves spoofed the trope of the unsuccessful cast addition with Poochie from "The Itchy & Scratchy Show," several Springfield residents could be said to be Poochies in their own right — characters who didn't take, for one reason or another, and ended up getting left by the wayside.

Well-known — or, rather, barely-remembered — examples include Homer's estranged half-brother Herb Powell (Danny DeVito), Lisa's (Yeardley Smith) would-be "The Simpsons Movie" love interest Colin (Tress MacNeille), military antique shop owner Herman Hermann (Harry Shearer), Bart's non-Milhouse friends Lewis and Richard (various voice actors), who disappear into the background after the early seasons, and Itchy & Scratchy Studios head Roger Meyers Jr. (Alex Rocco and Hank Azaria), who was actually a pretty prominent side character before vanishing into thin air at the end of Season 9. And let's not forget Dr. Marvin Monroe (Shearer), an early-season mainstay who purportedly died off-screen before Season 7 but turned up alive several years later — only to disappear once again right after that episode.

There's even been the interesting case of Lisa's music teacher Dewey Largo (Shearer), who was prominent enough to be included in the classic opening sequence, then got relegated for some time to non-speaking cameos, then came back with a more clearly-defined personality and a whole home life in more recent years. Talk about a comeback story worthy of Graggle himself.

(Note: Graggle died on the way back to his home planet.)