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The Simpsons | Episode Guide | Season Nine
The Principal and the Pauper

Will the real Principal Skinner please stand up?

Episode 4F23
Written by Ken Keeler
Directed by Steve Moore
Also starring: Tress MacNeille, Maggie Roswell
Special guest voices: Marcia Wallace (as Ms Krabappel), Martin Sheen (as Seymour Skinner)

Premise: On the day of the town's celebration of Principal Skinner's twenty years at the school, Springfield is rocked by a scandal. Seymour Skinner isn't Seymour Skinner at all: his real name is Armin Tamzarian. He was an orphan street punk from Capitol City who took the real Skinner's identity during Vietnam. As the town begins to adjust to the real Skinner taking over as Principal, the disgraced Tamzarian returns to his old life away from Edna, Agnes and his beloved pupils.

Features: Carl, Lenny, Barney, barflies, Grampa, Jasper, Kent Brockman, Chief Wiggum, Agnes Skinner, Skinner, Miss Hoover, Groundskeeper Willie, Otto, Mr Largo, Superintendent Chalmers, Milhouse, Martin, Nelson, Jimbo, Sherri and Terri, Lewis, Richard, Wendell, Ralph, Janey, Allison, Rev. Lovejoy, Helen Lovejoy, the Flanderses, Mr van Houten, Mrs van Houten, The Hibberts, Ruth Powers, Quimby, Hans Moleman, Apu, Sanjay, Judge Snyder, Rainier Wolfcastle.

Couch: The family are wearing spacesuits, and the couch blasts off.


  • Groundskeeper Willie has also served Springfield Elementary for 20 years.
  • Every Friday night, Agnes and Seymour make cut-out silhouettes.
  • The real Sergeant Skinner was believed killed on a mission and, upon meeting Agnes, when he took Skinner's effects home, Tamzarian decided to take Skinner's place.
  • Agnes has known all along.
  • The real Skinner was in fact a hostage in a shoe factory and only released last week.

Homage: Sort of Mark Twain's book The Prince and the Pauper, which lends its title to this. And the war sequences owe everything to just about any movie you can think of which focuses on relationships in war zones, from Saving Private Ryan to Full Metal Jacket and so on.

Look out for: Bart's version of the Pledge of Allegiance sung to the tune of Tom Basil's sadly unforgettable 1982 hit Mickey.

Notes: One of the series' all-time best episodes, mainly because it shows us a human side, not just of Principal Skinner, but of his hectorish Mom as well. The revelation that she was as much a party to the deception as Tamzarian is delightful, as is Judge Snyder's brief cameo as he legally changes the Principal's name to Seymour Skinner. Martin Sheen steals the show though in a brief but important slice of Simpsons history.

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I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons GuideThe information in this section is taken from 'I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide' by Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, published by Virgin Books. Content © 2000 Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood.

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