When the writing team behind The Simpsons began expanding their cast of supporting characters in the show’s early seasons, Principal Skinner was conceived as an arch nemesis for Bart. Bart was the ultimate bad boy, who pulled pranks and got bad grades at school, so naturally, his closest enemy would be his principal.
But over the years, Skinner has developed into his own character beyond being a villain to Bart. He lives with his mother, he’s a Vietnam vet, and he has some of the most quotable lines in the show. So, devotees of The Simpsons, here are the 10 Most Hilarious Principal Skinner Quotes.
10 “Steamed hams!”
Having the boss over for dinner is a classic sitcom setup, and The Simpsons gave us a typically absurd version when Principal Skinner had Superintendent Chalmers over for dinner. He promised a banquet of steamed clams, but then he burned them, so he climbed out the window and got some hamburgers from Krusty Burger.
When Chalmers asked about the steamed clams, Skinner claims that he said, “Steamed hams!” and insists that that’s what he calls hamburgers, even when Chalmers points out the grill marks on the patties. Then, when Chalmers spots the fire in the kitchen, Skinner claims it is aurora borealis, localized entirely in his kitchen.
9 “Science has it all.”
The episode “Bart’s Comet” is one of the most perfect episodes of The Simpsons. The premise is terrific. Bart pulls a meteorological prank on Skinner and gets punished by having to search for comets with Skinner every morning when it’s still dark.
When Skinner turns his back, Bart sends the telescope spinning and then spots a comet, completely as a fluke, ignoring all of Skinner’s data entry instructions. Skinner explains why he enjoys searching the skies quite succinctly: “There’s nothing more exciting than science. You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention. Science has it all.”
8 “Go To Work With Your Parents Day. Tomorrow, you will learn by doing and apply your knowledge of fractions and gym to real-world situations.”
It’s obvious to anyone that most of the stuff you learn at school has no bearing in the real world. The only reason you would need to know algebra is if you were going to become a professional mathematician, which applies to – to use a mathematical phrase – a tiny fraction of the millions of kids who have algebra problems slapped onto their desks every day at school.
But Principal Skinner believes wholeheartedly in the American education system. It’s what makes him a great educator. He believes that everything the kids learn in math class and gym class and all the other typically useless classes will actually come in handy later in life.
7 “Welcome kindergarteners, I’m Principal Sinner--Skinner! Well, that’s it. I’ve lost them forever.”
It doesn’t take much for an educator – be they a teacher or a teaching assistant or even the principal – to lose the respect of their students. From the off, it’s hanging by a thread. When Principal Skinner welcomes a new class of kindergarteners to the school and mispronounces his own name, the kids burst into a fit of laughter.
As a seasoned educator, Skinner instantly realizes that he’s lost the respect and attention of those kids for the rest of their time at the school – a time that is only just beginning, since they’re only on the very first day of kindergarten.
6 “Thanks for coming, and don’t forget to purchase some orange drink for the long ride home.”
Public schools in the real world aren’t as shameless or blatant in their attempts to bilk the students’ parents out of money as Principal Skinner is, but they’re not far off. He served some cups of orange drink for the parents to buy at a school function, but hardly any of them bought a cup.
So, as they leave the assembly hall, he tries to up-sell the orange drink by convincing the parents they’ll need it for the long drive to their houses a few blocks away. Skinner has a tendency to make orange drink for the school’s guests – he even made it when NSYNC came to visit.
5 “Now, I finally have time to do what I’ve always wanted: write the great American novel...I call it Billy and the Cloneasaurus!”
When one of Bart’s pranks gets Principal Skinner fired, Bart is shocked to see Skinner shopping at the Kwik-E-Mart. But Skinner’s fine with it, saying, “Now, I finally have time to do what I’ve always wanted: write the great American novel. Mine is about a futuristic amusement park where dinosaurs are brought to life through advanced cloning techniques. I call it Billy and the Cloneasaurus!”
A baffled and irritated Apu says, “Oh, you have got to be kidding, sir. First, you think of an idea that has already been done. Then, you give it a title that nobody could possibly like. Didn’t you think this through!?” The multiple fades during Apu's rant really drive home how upset he is about the whole thing.
4 “Isn’t it nice we hate the same things?”
This is about the best outcome you can hope for from a first date. It’s what Principal Skinner says to Patty as their relationship is blossoming. Naturally, Bart is disgusted by the idea of his principal dating his aunt, but initially, they really hit it off. This was long before Patty came out as a lesbian – claiming, “You could see it from space!” – and Skinner was actually the only male character she was ever known to have a relationship with.
Interestingly enough, Patty later expressed her romantic interest in Edna Krabappel, who also attracted the attention of Principal Skinner. So, they may hate the same things, but they’re also attracted to the same women.
3 “I was sure it was a phony excuse. I mean, it sounds so made-up: ‘Yom Kippur.’”
In this scene, we find a panicked Seymour Skinner on the phone in his office, speaking to Superintendent Chalmers. Apparently, a student named Weinstein asked to have time off school for the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, but Skinner hadn’t heard of it and thought Weinstein had made it up to get out of school, just based on the name.
Superintendent Chalmers seems to have a reason to yell at Principal Skinner every single day, and he once mentioned that out of all the other schools in his district, there are none that he has anywhere near as many issues with as he does with Springfield Elementary.
2 “I was only in there to get directions on how to get away from there.”
This what Principal Skinner says to cover himself after he catches Bart working in a burlesque bar. Homer has ordered Bart to work there as punishment after he pulled a prank there, so he’s not surprised when Reverend Lovejoy and the town’s moral warriors show up at his door to inform him about it.
The person they should be more surprised about is Principal Skinner, who came into the bar, hung up his coat, and started asking about specific dancers – insinuating that he is a regular with a capital “R” – before realizing that the doorman is one of his students.
1 “Mother, that sailor suit doesn’t fit anymore!”
Principal Skinner and his mother Agnes have always had a vaguely Norman Bates-y relationship with each other, but in this episode, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is overtly referenced in a hysterical way.
The shot of the house up the hill from the motel, with Norma supposedly watching Norman from the window, is recreated beautifully in Skinner’s office, while his conversation with his mother’s silhouette gets weirder and weirder as the scene progresses. As soon as he mentions the sailor suit, Lisa and Marge decide to leave his office. This is easily one of The Simpsons’ greatest movie references of all time.