By Patrick Cavanaugh
Over the course of more than 30 years, The Simpsons has introduced dozens of characters, some of which go on to become staples of the series as their exploits resonate with fans. One exception to the rule, however, is Poochie, who was introduced in Season 8’s “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show,” whose entire gimmick was that he was introduced specifically to revive interest in The Itchy & Scratchy Show, only for his lukewarm reception to result in him being booted from the show. Creatives involved with the episode recently recalled how the concept of introducing a new character actually came from an executive who asked The Simpsons to add a new family member.
“One of the origins was that Fox was not allowed to interfere with the show, but as a courtesy, [co-showrunner Bill Oakley] and I would meet yearly with the president and top executives,” former showrunner Josh Weinstein shared with The Hollywood Reporter. “And at one point, someone suggested that we add another family member to the show, a teenager … And we were like, ‘That smacks of desperation.’ We were polite. They wanted to help. But we just ignored them.”
The episode of the series also offered a more direct reference to the idea of adding an unnecessary character, with the discussion of the addition of Poochie seeing Lisa claim that it was a move a series would do when they were desperate for ratings. Moments later, the teen-aged “Roy” enters the scene, as the Simpson family all pretend like he has been a member of the family all along.
By the end of the episode, Poochie is sneakily written off of The Itchy & Scratchy Show with the explanation that he had to fly back to his home planet, while Roy leaves the series to go live with “sexy ladies.” In the years since the episode debuted, “Poochie” has become shorthand for a franchise promoting the excitement surrounding the addition of a new character, as well as for situations in which a character is quietly written off of a project with no real justification for why they have departed the narrative.
Despite Poochie and Roy both officially parting the series in their debut episode, they have still earned unexpected appearances and references over the years.
The Simpsons is currently airing its 33rd season.
What did you think of Poochie? Let us know in the comments below!
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