Itchy from The Simpsons turns 100 years old today, September 3, 2019. One half of the immensely popular The Itchy & Scratchy Show, the homicidal mouse, along with his perpetually victimized best friend Scratchy - a parody of Tom & Jerry - have delighted Springfield's children and outraged adults for decades. In The Simpsons' universe, actress June Bellamy does the voices of Itchy and Scratchy but in real life, Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson) voices Itchy while Harry Shearer voices Scratchy.
In The Simpsons, Itchy & Scratchy shorts are a staple of The Krusty the Klown Show, which airs weekday afternoons and is broadcast live from Krustylu Studios in Springfield. Krusty's program can run up to three hours and ten minutes; luckily, Itchy & Scratchy is always there to provide ample filler that's usually better received than Krusty's hit-or-miss live sketches. A typical Itchy & Scratchy episode consists of Scratchy happily going about his daily business, unaware of a grotesque death trap lain by Itchy. The serial killer mouse then gruesomely murders his best cat friend, which always provokes unbridled laughter from the audience. Cartoonist Roger Myers Sr. was long credited as the creator of Itchy & Scratchy, a fact that his son, Roger Myers Jr., who runs Itchy & Scratchy Studios today, proudly trumpeted.
However, the truth about who really created Itchy was revealed in The Simpsons season 7 episode, "The Day the Violence Died". Bart and Lisa Simpson discovered that a homeless vagrant named Chester J. Lampwick (voiced by Kirk Douglas) was the true creator of Itchy and owns the rights to the character. As he showed the Simpson siblings, Lampwick owned a reel of the first Itchy cartoon he ever animated, titled "Itchy the Lucky Mouse in Manhattan Madness", where Itchy kills an Irish man and Theodore Roosevelt. With Bart and Lisa's help, Lampwick went to court and successfully proved that Roger Myers Sr. stole Itchy from him, thanks to an animation cell of Itchy that Lampwick autographed to Myers on September 3, 1919 - the day Lampwick created Itchy. Myers Sr. went on to earn riches as the "creator" of Itchy & Scratchy while Lampwick ended up on skid row.
As for Scratchy, his first appearance was in an uneventful 1928 cartoon called "That Happy Cat"; that same year, Roger Myers Sr. teamed up Itchy and Scratchy for the first time in a short called "Steamboat Itchy" (a parody of "Steamboat Willie", Walt Disney's first-ever Mickey Mouse cartoon). From then on, Itchy & Scratchy became a phenomenon, the serial killer mouse and his hapless cat victim appeared in at least two feature films, Pinitchio and Scratchtasia, and they starred in commercials for Laramie cigarettes. In the 1970s, the cat and mouse starred in an X-rated cartoon called Itchy & Scratchy Meet Fritz the Cat. They also headlined The Itchy & Scratchy and Friends Hour, which included new, unmemorable characters created by Myers Sr. like Uncle Ant, Disgruntled Goat, Flatulent Fox, Ku Klux Klam, Manic Mailman, Dinner Dog, and Rich Uncle Skeleton. In addition, they had their own theme park called Itchy & Scratchy Land until the animatronic robots went on a murderous rampage.
Along with Bart and Lisa, the rest of the Simpson family also impacted Itchy & Scratchy; Marge Simpson led a campaign of decency to have the violent cat and mouse banned, only to briefly write a sanitized version of the cartoon, which flopped. Bart and Lisa successfully wrote for the cartoon, using Grampa Simpson as their front until the ruse was discovered. Finally, Homer Simpson himself voiced a new character, Poochie the Dog, which also tanked thanks to massive studio interference. Homer's brief career as a voice-over artist soon went belly up, which he blamed on his losing creative control of the project (he also forgot to ask for any money).
Because they once jumped to The Gabbo Show thanks to budget issues, Krusty tried to replace Itchy & Scratchy with Eastern Europe's favorite cat and mouse team, Worker and Parasite, but that didn't last. There's just no substitute for Itchy and his homicidal ways and, in 2028, The Simpsons fans will get to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Itchy & Scratchy as well.
The Simpsons airs Sundays @ 8pm on FOX. Every season will be available to stream on Disney+.