Montgomery Burns

From Academic Kids

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Mr. Burns

Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns (usually simply Mr. Burns), a fictional character, is the owner of the Springfield Nuclear Powerplant in The Simpsons cartoon series. He is fabulously wealthy, and due to his status as Springfield's leading (and perhaps only) plutocrat, Mr. Burns is able to do whatever he wants with little or no consequences. He is attended at almost all times by Waylon Smithers, his loyal aide and confidant. Harry Shearer is the voice behind the character of Mr. Burns. Burns is basically a portrayal of the stereotypical emotionless billionaire who lives in a massive mansion. He is a member of the Sacred Order of the Stonecutters which is a secret society.

Originally, this character was simply called Montgomery Burns, but in an early episode, called "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish," he yelled "You can't do this to me, I'm Charles Montgomery Burns!", which plays on a quotation from Orson Welles's Citizen Kane ("You can't do this to me, I'm Charles Foster Kane!"). His catchphrase is the word "Excellent" muttered in a low, sinister voice with tented fingertips (see Davros).

Burns' birthday is September 15, but the year of his birth is uncertain. His age is most often mentioned as being 104 years. (Though once in the episode "Simpson and Delilah" where Homer became an executive, he stated his age as 81 after Homer guessed 102; and he once had a ninetieth birthday during the series.) He has credited his longevity to Satan. He has the same blood type as Bart Simpson, "double-O negative". According to tests done at the Mayo Clinic, he has every single disease known to man, and survives only because they are just barely but perfectly counteracting one another. This fictional medical anomaly is called "Three Stooges Syndrome."

Burns was originally the real villain of the show. However, his very frail, weak body and 19th century mind have become some of the show's running gags; except of course in 'The Simpsons Halloween Special II' where Burns clearly has a strong arm while beating the bag with a shovel in which Homer is still alive.


Occasional flashbacks show his early life. When he was very young he lived happily with his loving, natural parents, little brother George, and his teddy bear Bobo. Apparently his parents even called him "Happy." He chose to give this up and live with a twisted billionaire, again reminiscent of Wells's Citizen Kane. He has since recovered the bear. His mother is still alive, despite her likely age being in the area of 125-140, and is very resentful of her son; it is mentioned that she once had an affair with US President William Howard Taft, something that Mr. Burns has never forgiven her for. However, just before the Simpsons visit Britain, Mr Burns uses an ATM after Smithers tells him that his PIN is Mr Burn's Age, and Mr Burns presses at least four buttons (although it could be 0125), and Mr Burns is shown 'terrorising children in an 18th century woodcutting'.

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Monty Burns, as a child

The Burns family owned nuclear factories at the start of the 20th century, although back then splitting atoms was a labor intensive process done with hammers and anvils. As a privileged child Burns would amuse himself by injuring hapless immigrant laborers. Burns still sometimes imagines that such activity is still a socially acceptable amusement for the well-to-do. He and his family members are usually portrayed as archetypal early capitalist exploiters. Burns claims to have ridden a fat man to work for a time.

Burns graduated from Yale University in the class of 1914 (accordingly, it is probable that he was born in or around 1892). At Yale, he was tapped for the infamous Skull and Bones secret society. He may have had an affair with Countess von Zeppelin, and Burns apparently speaks fluent German. Burns himself claims to have personally known President Calvin Coolidge.

In 1939, Burns went to a 25th college reunion at Yale and met Lily Bancroft, the daughter of his old girlfriend. They had a brief affair, which resulted in Lily giving birth to Larry Burns. Her family forced her to give up Larry to an orphanage, and according to Burns, they "bundled her up to a convent in the South Seas." Burns did not meet his son until he was adult, and at that point, found himself unable to be a loving father.

Burns served in the United States Army in World War II, seeing action in Europe under Sergeant Abraham Simpson (see also: Flying Hellfish squad). However, Burns may also have worked for the Nazis, as he admits to making shells for them that worked, unlike Oskar Schindler's.

At the end of the war he was personally hired by President Harry S. Truman to transport a specially-minted trillion-dollar bill that was the American Government's original contribution to the reconstruction of Europe, but this bill vanished for many years. Though it was discovered to be carried on his person, besides a single failed arrest attempt there was no known investigation or attempt to retrieve the stolen bill, which is now currently in the hands of Fidel Castro who stole it when Burns attempted to buy Cuba.

During the 1960s Burns operated a biological weapons laboratory until it was destroyed by peace activists including Mona Simpson. Shortly thereafter he built the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where he has worked for the last 50 or so years, obtaining a monopoly over Springfield's energy industry. He also owns the water works and the hotel on Baltic Avenue. Burns has been known to use his control over the city's energy to blackmail the mayor, and the town in general.

He has occasionally run other businesses in Springfield, most notably the Monty Burns Casino which operated for several years after Springfield legalized gambling. He co-owned the "Li'l Lisa" slurry recycling plant and once slant-drilled for oil under Springfield Elementary School.

Burns now lives in a mansion on an immense estate called Burns Manor located at the corner of Croesus and Mammon streets in Springfield (his address is 1000 Mammon Street), the site of the annual company picnic.

Besides attack dogs, this estate includes a robotic Richard Simmons, a room with a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters, a bottomless pit, a human chessboard (formerly a tennis court), the largest television in the free world, a Hall of Patriots commemorating his ancestors, and artifacts such as the only existing nude photo of Mark Twain, the suit Charlie Chaplin was buried in, and a rare first draft of the Constitution with the word "suckers" in it. His telephone number is 636-555-0001 in 'Lisa's Date With Density,' and 636-555-0113 in 'Tale of Two Springfields'. His Social Security number is 000-00-0002 (once, after writing his Social Security number on a form, he cursed Franklin Roosevelt, who apparently must have gotten 000-00-0001).

In 1995 Burns built an elaborate contraption to block out the sun in Springfield, thus ensuring that citizens would have to use his electricity 24 hours a day. The move earned him widespread animosity, and he was ultimately shot, accidentally as it turns out, by Maggie Simpson. Before Maggie was revealed to be the shooter there was a widespread investigation over nearly every citizen in town, as Burns had angered just about everyone with some of his policies over the years. (see: "Who Shot Mr. Burns?") There have been indications over the following years that Maggie might have shot him intentionally. However, in episode 905 ("The Cartridge Family"), Marge says that there should be no guns in their house, because "do you remember when Maggie shot Mr Burns?" Homer responds, "I thought Smithers did it!" Under her breath, Lisa mutters, "Well, that would have made a lot more sense..."

Burns is a staunchly conservative Republican and is the head of Springfield's local Republican Party (other members include Sideshow Bob, Rainer Wolfcastle, Dr. Hibbert, Krusty the Clown, Bob Dole, Ralph Nader, and Count Chocula) In a parody of Rupert Murdoch, he once attempted to buy every media outlet in Springfield but his plans failed after Lisa started her own newspaper.

It is not known who presently stands to inherit his wealth (his manservant and sole confidante, Waylon Smithers, is to be buried alive in Burns' coffin). He chose Bart Simpson as his heir for a period - Burns attempted to isolate Bart from his family and mold him into his own image, but this failed when Bart still displayed loyalty to his family by refusing to fire Homer, and Burns disowned him. Burns may leave his money to the Egg Advisory Council, as he stated he would do this when he felt he had failed to find a suitable heir.

State of mind

While fully alert and untouched by senility, Burns is wildly out of touch with the modern world. For example:

  • He often slips into using language appropriate for the early 20th century or even the 19th century (such as using "score", meaning 20 years, and "twain", meaning 2 years, in a sentence)
  • He thinks that Prussia is still a separate country (it became part of Germany in the 1870s)
  • He once claimed to have watched the DuMont Network "last night". (To be fair, Burns only mentioned seeing something "on the DuMont," and thus could have been using the name to refer to the TV set itself. This would be (albeit only slightly) less anachronistic.)
  • He believes that Thailand is still called Siam, and that Congo-Kinshasa is still called Belgian Congo
  • He thinks that Cuba is still controlled by Fulgencio Batista
  • That JFK Airport is still called Idlewild Airport
  • He demands that his mail be delivered by autogyro, considers donuts as "ethnic food," and he answers the "telephone machine" with "ahoy ahoy?" (in the manner of Alexander Graham Bell before "hello" became commonplace)
  • He still uses the word "gay" in its meaning of "jolly"
  • He refers to the television as a jumping box and a picto-tube
  • He believes that there is still a "negro league" in professional baseball
  • When asked about his hobbies on a Ferris wheel during a date, Burns spies the crowd for youthful-looking answers. He says his hobbies include (from seeing kids riding bumper cars) "piloting motorcoaches" (he owns a 1936 maroon Stutz Bearcat, which he drives with an old-style driving mask) and (from seeing a man pick up after his dog) "collecting dog waste."
  • On the same date Burns offered to play the clavichord and to also show some "stereopticon images" of the Crimean War.
  • Burns has trouble understanding modern slang, such as "in-to".
  • Once he demanded a dodo-egg for lunch.
  • Faced by the belated news of the 1929 Wall Street Crash on his tickertape machine, Burns moves his shareholdings into Opera Hats, Amalgamated Spats and Confederated Slave Holdings.
  • In one of his speeches, Burns made references to "the silent star of Lulu".
  • He wasn't aware that "there's a New Mexico".

Since New Mexico joined the Union in 1912 - when Burns was probably in his thirties - this indicates that he did not gradually lose touch with modern events, but simply never paid any attention to them to begin with. He appears to pick up modernity in snatches, such as his 1920s tube radio, which is hooked up to a massive surround sound system.

Burns has a seemingly childlike dependence on Smithers, who performs all his tasks from kidnapping Tom Jones to lying to Congress to serving breakfast.

Because of his age, Burns is very physically weak, often to the point where he seems to straddle the line between life and death. He often has great difficulty doing the most basic physical tasks, such as giving a thumbs-up or stepping on an ant. A single high-five is capable of knocking Burns off his feet. Though he often gets hurt, in one episode it was shown that he undergoes a lengthy weekly procedure, which in the words of Smithers allows Burns to "cheat death for another week." His organs have grown immensely weak over the years: his heart is the size of a cherry and on one occasion, Burns' brain fell out through his ear. Another time, his lungs came out through his mouth and acted like an airbag. It has been hinted that Burns can survive without his heart - he stated that when some paper money struck his chest, "had my heart been inside at the time, it could have been fatal".

Real life models

The character of C. M. Burns was originally modeled after Fox Broadcasting Company executive Barry Diller, with notable similarities to Howard Hughes (for example, wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet), William Randolph Hearst (indirectly through Citizen Kane), Scrooge McDuck, and others. He bears a striking physical resemblance to Fred Olsen, (see comparison: [1] ( a Norwegian shipping magnate and owner of the Timex watch brand. A popular legend in the U.S. Navy nuclear community is that the character was based on Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, for many years the head of the Navy's nuclear program and famous for his eccentricities.

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