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Seymour Skinner

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Homer Looking at Map (Artwork) This article is about Armin Tamzarian, better known as Seymour Skinner.

For the character with the same name, see Seymour Skinner (real).

Young man, I'm going to be on you like a numerator on a denominator.
I know very little about children.
―Seymour Skinner[3]
Superintendent Chalmers!!!
―Seymour Skinner's catchphrase after getting yelled at by Chalmers

Walter Seymour Skinner, formerly known as Armin Tamzarian,[4] is the principal of Springfield Elementary School, and a stereotypical educational bureaucrat. He struggles to control the crumbling school and is constantly engaged in a battle against its inadequate resources, apathetic and bitter teachers, and often rowdy and unenthusiastic students, Bart Simpson being a standout example. A strict disciplinarian, Skinner has an uptight, militaristic attitude that stems from his years in the United States Army as a Green Beret, which included service in the Vietnam War, where he achieved the rank of a sergeant, according to his rank insignia. As a result of his service in the Vietnam War, he is often plagued by horrible memories of his involvement via post traumatic stress disorder, sometimes even happening at the most inopportune of times. It's also implied that he received a severe enough injury during the Vietnam War on his posterior to require a metal plate to be installed in it.


Skinners Sense of Snow

Principal Skinner with Groundskeeper Willie and children, trapped in school

Seymour is ethnically Armenian, the name "Armin Tamzarian" would suggest he is from Eastern Armenian heritage.

Out of genuine concern for the quality of education of his students, most of Skinner's actions revolve around ensuring the school has adequate funding. His constant desperate, and usually ineffective attempts at maintaining discipline are an effort to receive good reviews from the frequent inspections of his capricious, temperamental, and whimsical boss, Superintendent Chalmers - who makes no effort to hide his disapproval of Skinner. These inspections usually turn awry due to Bart Simpson's elaborate pranks—which play off Skinner's desperation for order. Over the years of pranks and inspections, though, Skinner has developed a love-hate relationship with each of them; when Skinner was fired and replaced by Ned Flanders, Bart found pranks less meaningful, due to Flanders' lax approach to discipline.[5]

In an accident involving both Skinner and Chalmers, Chalmers showed grief over Skinner before he realized he was still alive. Although he likes to maintain the image of a strict disciplinarian, he is often weak-willed and nervous and has a very unhealthy dependence on his mother who constantly makes demands from him. She addresses him by the nickname "Spanky." Also, it was heavily implied that Seymour Skinner suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his days in Vietnam, where he spent 18 months as a prisoner of war.[6] Seeing his entire platoon devoured by an Elephant was one of the many things that led to the development of his post-traumatic stress disorder. Once, his PTSD kicked in in the middle of trying to alert Students of a prank that Bart pulled involving Heart message candies with crude statements on the PA where he remembered his war buddy Johnny being killed while he was writing a Valentine's Day card for his girlfriend back at home, causing Bart to think he "broke his mind".[7] However, one PTSD related episode didn't deal with the war itself, but rather his experiences after the war, where he was apparently spat upon by people who w ere presumably anti-Vietnam when he was earlier promised with a parade.[8]

Skinner's unhealthy relationship with his mother began early: it is revealed that Agnes's pregnancy resulted in her failing to win a medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.[9] He originally was quite laid back as a principal, even going as far as to do a jumpflip to catch a Frisbee while telling a student to keep up with his studies, but it all changed when one of his students (Andy Hamilton) managed to fill the pool with worms and locked Skinner in the pool for the whole weekend (plus a Monday), causing him to become serious and almost merciless in his approach on rules, even going as far as to shut down the pool and demoting Willie, the swim teacher, to groundskeeper. When Bart attempted to stop Krusty from diving into a worm-filled pool out of fear of Krusty becoming like Skinner, he accidentally blurted what happened to Skinner on the air, causing Skinner to angrily mutter sarcastically that his mother told him that Krusty the Clown was supposed to be a good influence, indicating that he was attempting to repress the traumatic memory. Bart also claimed that Skinner likes dog food when preparing something for Principal Skinner, although it is unclear whether he was being serious about this. Besides his job as Principal for Springfield Elementary School, he also worked as a member of MENSA, and was also the acting referee and a major organizer of the annual Civil War re-enactment of the Battle of Springfield.

Seymour Skinner's mother

At one point, when the Vice President's Assessment Test was coming up, Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers came up with a plan to lure all of the underachievers away from the test day by faking a perfect score on the pretest and then tricking them into going for a Chopper ride to a Pizza Party in Capital City (going as far as to disguise the School Bus as a chopper). However, when the plan reached fruition, Skinner ended up betrayed by Superintendent Chalmers with the latter tricking Skinner into boarding the bus to "get his sunglasses." He then has to get the kids back to the school, and also saved Ralph Wiggum when he somehow managed to board a garbage barge, to which Skinner impresses Bart and the other underachievers by saving Wiggum using the Conservation of Angular Momentum. Luckily for them, the Garbage Barge was also heading to Springfield Elementary School, so Skinner reads the newly motivated underachievers the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the rest of the way, and after returning, cancels the Vice President's Test, and also reinstitutes dancing in school.

Skinner's Vehicles

Skinner drove several vehicles in several episodes. In newer episodes, he owned a Merkur, which has been mentioned in several newer episodes. In older episodes, he owned a Toyota Camry. He also owned a Volvo, which got destroyed by Bart and Millhouse.

Real Identity

Skinner's back-story was re-visited in the episode The Principal and the Pauper, where it was revealed that Skinner is an impostor. Born Armin Tamzarian, it emerges that he was a troubled orphan until he was forced into the United States Army during the Vietnam War. There, he was befriended by Sgt. Seymour Skinner, whom he came to idolize. When Sgt. Seymour Skinner was reported missing presumed dead, Tamzarian returned to Springfield to tell Skinner's mother, but she deliberately mistook him for Seymour, so he assumed his identity and followed Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal.[6] It is revealed that Skinner (AKA Armin Tamzarian) was born in New Orleans. The real Seymour Skinner had been alive after all, and briefly returned to Springfield to take his rightful place as Springfield Elementary School School Principal, but had proved hopelessly unpopular and the Springfielders ran him out of town on the railroad. Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother", and decreed that no one will mention his true identity again "under penalty of torture" (however, Lisa calls him by his true name teasingly when he comments on her decision of calling Snowball V "Snowball II", without consequences[10]), thus everything returned to normal.[6]

Romantic Relationships

Aside from a short-lived relationship with Patty Bouvier,[11] Skinner's love life has focused on Edna Krabappel. The two dated for several years and became engaged, but later cancelled the wedding.[12] Edna has shown she does want to live a life with Skinner, but first wants him to commit to her - namely by not letting his mother, with whom he still lives, control him anymore.[13] Skinner also developed a romantic relationship with the substitute music teacher, Calliope Juniper. However, after Bart had no interest in her daughter, Melody Juniper, she decided to leave and persuaded Skinner to come with her. Skinner left with Calliope and Melody, but came back a few months later with no known explanation.[14]


As a younger man, Skinner was everything he hated after he became a principal. Armin Tamzarian was an orphaned Capitol City-ite, as well as a street punk and a criminal, stealing from an old woman on his motorbike and running into a judge on the street. Tamzarian declared a vain and egotistical side, refusing to apologize to the woman he stole from and out of repent he joined the army (at the time he didn't know that a war was going on and admits he probably would have apologized should he have known). He was also seen combing his hair during a battle. Tamzarian's personality drastically changed after he was inspired by his commanding officer, Seymour Skinner who filled him with a sense of purpose. He was left extremely depressed when he was presumed dead, claiming he lost his future once again. Out of respect for his former Sergeant, Tamzarian prepares to tell his mother, Agnes that her son was dead but was unable to and instead took his name (a charade which he kept for nearly 25 years).

Skinner as a bad boy

Armin Tamzarian before adopting the identity of Seymour Skinner

Skinner was shown to be traumatized because of his time serving in the Vietnam War. He suffers from Survivor's Guilt and PTSD which mostly surfaces when he reminisces about the time he spent in a a POW camp. When this happens he becomes dark and melancholy (normally in comically inappropriate times) but is able to quickly shake this off.

Out of respect for Sergeant Skinner, Seymour takes his dream job Skinner told Tamzarian about during war; a high school elementary principal. After taking the job, Skinner quickly became a strict disciplinarian but also incompetent and clueless at times. Skinner took a militaristic view of Springfield Elementary, wanting it to be like his time as a drill sergeant when he was in the military, this was heavily shown when he and the students were snowed in and he took a harsh and caliber attitude to keep them under control. Ironically, the more Skinner tightens his group around Springfield Elementary, the more troublemakers such as Bart, Kearney and Nelson act out.
Skinner with arms folded

Seymour Skinner

Skinner is woefully out of touch with children, which he even admits to Superintendent Chalmers. When he suspected that Bart had ditched school, he planned to ambush him at a museum which he says was his gateway hangout when he was a child. When the second place he expected Bart to be at was demolished, Skinner wondered to himself "am I so out of touch?" only to instantly shrug this off, saying "no it's the children who are wrong".

Though not necessarily an antagonistic man, Skinner goes to lengths that border on corruption and child cruelty to make sure he doesn't appear undermined or overpowered by students, especially in front of Superintendent Chalmers. On one occasion he purposefully got Bart three months detention by setting up a false holiday, Scotchtoberfest and using Groundskeeper Willie as bait (by having Bart attach his kilt to a balloon that would reveal his private parts to a crowd). He also ransacked his students lockers when Lisa stole everyone's Teacher Addition, even tearing off the head of someone's stuffed bear and in the same episode he gave Bart 600 days detention when he took the blame for Lisa's crime. Skinner's antagonistic side normally comes out whenever he's trying to impress or is embarrassed in front of Chalmers. An example is when he was doing a mandatory inspect, he lured the delinquents; Bart, Nelson, Kearney, Dolph and Jimbo into a storage closet and when he forget them altogether he and Willie eloped with the mountain bikes. Another occasion was when Bart wore a scandalous Mad Magazine T-Shirt that read "Down with homework" that caused an uprise, causing Chalmers to be stampeded by a horde of students. After this Skinner made is customary for students to wear uniforms, effectively turning them into emotionless drones.

Skinner is extremely cheap when it comes to Springfield Elementary's finances. He cuts back on virtually everything, whether it be the school bus, the food and their own education adopting many books that were banned from other schools. However on one occasion when Skinner received a grant because of Lisa Simpson's A plus-plus instead of using it for the school he cashes it on a liquor store.


Skinner wears a blue suit, an orange tie, and a lavender shirt. It is sometimes stated that he wears a toupee.

Non Canon

Ssi 5 The contents of this article or section are considered to be non-canon and therefore may not have actually happened/existed.

Treehouse of Horror

In "Treehouse of Horror XIV", Skinner's skeletal system is ripped out by the regenerated body of Professor Frink's father. In Treehouse of Horror V, Skinner, and the rest of the faculty start eating students, with Jimbo Jones being the first victim. the final survivors were Lisa, Bart, and Milhouse. In "Treehouse of Horror XIII" 's parody of Dr. Moreau, he was turned a Kangaroo baby with his mother as a kangaroo. In Treehouse of Horror XX, Skinner was killed by Bart.

Seymour Skinner is dead. FINALLY.

Skinner killed by Bart

Other Non-canon

In Holidays of Future Passed, Skinner becomes a landlord of The Lofts at Springfield Elementary, a housing block which the school has become, with Bart as one of the tenants.


Skinner, like Homer Simpson and a few other residents of Springfield, has displayed inhuman or unusual skills. He once tracked Bart throughout Springfield with no visible trail and even walked along the bottom of a river to cross it and then climbed a cliff. He also fought with Bart on a bus and went through a concrete bridge completely unharmed.

Skinner is normally quite passive and submissive outside of school. As a former green beret and war veteran, he occasionally demonstrates he is capable of action in spite of his cowardly demeanor. For instance, he once casually took down the Blue-Haired Lawyer and his two giant bodyguards.

Skinner is also highly intelligent. He is a member of the Springfield chapter of Mensa, meaning that his IQ is at least 130 and is at least in the top 2% of the nation. Other than his membership, however, he does not display extreme intelligence but rather seems like an ordinary man constantly irritated by Bart.

Skinner was also a talented, founding member of the Be Sharps Barbershop quartet.

Video Games

The Simpsons: Hit and Run

In "The Simpsons: Hit and Run", Homer delivers Lisa her school project, because she has forgotten it. He drives quicker than Skinner to the school. The next day Skinner chases Bart on his car after he skips school. His mother can be seen sitting in the back seat. Later, he confiscates a laser gun from Bart and Bart has to destroy his car to get it back. He also asks Lisa for help with some errands.

The Simpsons Game

In "The Simpsons Game", he hires Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney to steal artifacts from the Springfield Museum for the school (as he couldn't get any science stuff the legal way due to lack of funds), till they are stopped by Homer and Bart. He also takes part of an angry mob led by Marge Simpson and Lisa Simpson, recruited near the museum, implying that he was planning another heist when Marge's mob came around the corner. If you're walking around Springfield. Skinner is 100% always seen in the school.



Principal Skinner first appeared in "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", which was also the first Simpsons episode to air.[15] Matt Groening based him on "all the principals of [his] youth, rolled into one bland lump."[16] Writer Jon Vitti named him after behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner.[17] Skinner was originally supposed to wear a toupee, but it was dropped because the writers didn't like "that type of joke".[18] The Simpsons Guide to Springfield did, however, briefly imply that Skinner did wear a toupee.


In the first few seasons, Skinner resembles Norman Bates, the main character from Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho.[19] In later episodes, Skinner's behavior was based on teachers that Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein had in high school.[20]

Superintendent Chalmers was introduced in the episode "Whacking Day" as a boss for Skinner and Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria, the voice of Chalmers, fell right into the characters and quite often ad-lib between them.[21]

The Principal and the Pauper

In the episode "The Principal and the Pauper", it was revealed that Skinner is actually Armin Tamzarian. Armin was a troubled orphan until he joined the Army and was befriended by Sgt. Skinner, whom he came to idolize. Believing himself responsible for the real Skinner being killed, he returned to Springfield to tell Skinner's mother, but she (deliberately) mistook him for Seymour, and he followed the true Skinner's dream of becoming a school principal. At the end of the episode, Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother," and decreed that no one will mention his true identity again under penalty of torture (this, after the Springfielders ran the real Seymour, voiced by Martin Sheen - who had been alive after all - out of town by way of railroad).

The episode was negatively received by fans and critics over the sudden change of Skinner's backstory. During an interview, Harry Shearer, the voice of Seymour Skinner publicly criticized the episode. He noted that he told the writers after reading the script: "That's so wrong. You're taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we've done before with other characters. It's so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it's disrespectful to the audience." In the introduction to the Season 9 DVD Boxset, Matt Groening described the episode as his "least favorite" and in a Rolling Stone interview, he called it a "mistake".

The Simpsons writers have occasionally mocked the inconsistencies in subsequent episodes, it was referenced in "Behind the Laughter" as a 'far-out plot line' to distract from the family's behind-the-cameras turmoil. When Lisa acquires Snowball V and declares, "To save money on a new dish, I'll call you Snowball II." Skinner says, "Isn't that a cheat?" Lisa replies, "I guess it is, Principal Tamzarian." Skinner then replies, "I'll just be moving along." He then nods at Lisa and the new Snowball, and walks off. In the DVD commentary for "The Principal and the Pauper", the producers stated that they intended for the episode's ending to reset the continuity to before Skinner was revealed to be Tamzarian. As such, they said, fans could dismiss the discontinuities created by the notion that Skinner is actually an impostor and consider the episode on its own terms, divorced from the rest of the series.


In Future-Drama, Seymour Skinner's hair becomes white and he looks slightly older. In Holidays of Future Passed, Skinner is now Bart's landlord. In Days of Future Future Skinner is seen with the skeleton of Agnes Skinner at a restaurant.


  • Skinner's prisoner of war ID number was 24601, which is also Sideshow Bob's prisoner number, a reference to Jean Valjean's prisoner number in Les Misérables .[22]
  • Skinner is right-handed. (Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em)
  • Apparently, Skinner has a clown punching beanie in his office to quell stress and anger relating to disruptions, especially ones relating to Bart Simpson, as he was seen punching it to relieve himself of his anger when Bart ended up causing a flood due to misuse of the fire hose on Fire Safety day before talking with Bart's parents.
  • Skinner's nickname is Spanky.[23]
  • Skinner has been noted to have acid reflux.
  • As mentioned in “I, Doh-Bot”, when Lisa names her new cat Snowball II to save the trouble of getting a new bowl Skinner calls it a cheat, to which Lisa replies, "I guess you're right, Principal Tamzarian." This is a reference to the episode in which Skinner is revealed to be a fraud, but in the end it’s all forgotten and it returns to the Status quo, just like what happens with the new Snowball II.
  • The above is a reference to “The Principal and the Pauper” where it is revealed that Skinner’s real name is Armin Tamzarian.
  • Seymour and Agnes live next door to Martin Prince and his family.[24]
  • He was once a 4th grade science teacher.
  • He is highly allergic to peanuts.
  • Bart calls him "Skinny" as he calls Edna Krabappel "Crabby".
  • In "Pygmoelian", Principal Skinner is shown smoking a cigarette in Duff Land's Designated Drivers Rockin' Fun Zone.
  • Like Abe Simpson, Skinner's War time in Vietnam isn't mentioned in recent seasons as this would make him over 60 today.
  • He is shown at times to be a social Darwinist for example in Simpson Tide he only allowed the best and brightest to be safe in a bunker such as Lisa Simpson, Martin Prince, the championship kickball team and Sherri Mackleberry (he expelled Terri Mackleberry from the bunker because her twin Sherri was considered smarter than her) and in How The Test Was Won, he and Superintendent Chalmers set a trap for Bart and other students such as the bullies and Ralph to send them to capital city for the day in order to purge the school of failing students (this can be considered worse than the previous example as he would of sent them unsupervised to a dangerous city or to unprofessionally supervised by Otto Mann who was oblivious to the events of the episode but in an act of irony Skinner is betrayed into being sent to capital city by Chalmers who didn't want to see incompetence and the risk of failure caused by Skinner).
  • He speaks Esparonto.


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External links


  1. Homer's Barbershop Quartet
  2. The Debarted
  3. Lisa Goes Gaga
  4. "The Principal and the Pauper"
  5. Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Principal and the Pauper
  7. I Love Lisa
  8. Bart's Friend Falls in Love
  9. Boy Meets Curl
  10. I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot
  11. Principal Charming
  12. My Big Fat Geek Wedding
  13. Special Edna
  14. Flaming Moe
  15. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire Retrieved on March 2, 2007
  16. Joe Rhodes. "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves", TV Guide,. Retrieved on 2007-08-15. 
  17. Reiss, Mike. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Principal Charming" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  18. Groening, Matt. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Principal Charming" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  19. Continuity
  20. Weinstein, Josh. (2005). The Simpsons season 5 DVD commentary for the episode "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badaaasssss Song" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  21. Jean, Al. (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Whacking Day" [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  22. Les Miserables
  23. The Crepes of Wrath
  24. Grade School Confidential

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