Father. Neighbor. Holy Roller. True believer. Mustachioed. Lefty…
One of the most beloved residents of Springfield, Flanders, Ned (full name Nedward) has given us so much over the years. A faithful provider of positivity, forgiveness, uplifting exhortations, enduring catch phrases, and gentle reminders of hell’s eternal flames, steady Ned has been our delightfully cheesy moral compass since his debut in 1989.
Longtime fans of The Simpsons have been through quite a lot with Ned. He’s been subjected to more tribulation, twists and turns than perhaps any other character on the show (other than Hans Moleman).
He’s lost a wife and nearly his faith on multiple occasions. He’s had to endure living next door to Homer for more than two decades. But despite all this trauma – or perhaps because of it – it seems Ned has also experienced the most profound transformation of any Simpsons character.
From “Funny” to Beloved
The Simpsons has undergone quite a transformation itself over the years. From its humble beginnings of getting cheap laughs from Bart’s sassy one-liners (Eat My Shorts!), and the crudely drawn family engaging in crude behavior (Homer choking Bart, shocking one another at Dr. Marvin Monroe’s clinic, etc.), The Simpsons eventually became the smartest, most insightful, most important TV show probably of all time.
How did they go from “funny” to an unmatched intergalactic phenomenon with legions of devoted fans?
I think a key to the program’s rise to greatness can be found in Ned Flanders’ ascendance from one-dimensional goofballery, to the complex, nuanced man that eventually emerged. Continue reading