The Simpsons: 10 Greatest One-Time Characters

They came and went in a single episode, but we never forget 'em!

Simpsons Mindy

More than any other show in TV history, perhaps, The Simpsons has given audiences the largest array of unforgettable characters.

Because the main players in this sitcom phenomenon have ingrained themselves in modern pop culture to such an extent that characters such as Homer Simpson and Moe the Bartender are recognisable to millions of people the world over - not just for their looks, but for their dense and rounded personalities, too.

So whilst endlessly interesting, comic characters such as Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, and Principal Skinner have lit up our screens for hundreds of episodes, fleshing them out to the point that they feel like real people, The Simpsons also remains impressive for its distinct array of "one-time" only characters. Memorable creations who popped up for just 22 minutes, never to be seen again, but left one hell of a lasting impression.

The Simpsons wins all the prizes for having the best and most memorable one-time characters of any show ever, of course, but there are a choice few within this category who have reached a higher plain: those who appeared only once, and yet - through a combination of great writing and voice acting - have remained immensely popular with fans in the same way as the show's regular cast members...

Note: if a character appeared in a brief, wordless cameo or a background shot in later episodes, they're still eligible for inclusion on this list.

10. Laura Powers

Simpsons Mindy

The Episode: "New Kid on the Block" (Season 4, Episode 8)

The Voice Actor: Sara Gilbert

These days The Simpsons is known less for its candid exploration of romance and more for its zany, Family Guy-esque antics, but there was once a time when an episode could paint that thing we call love with real depth and accuracy.

Case in point: Laura Powers. Bart fell for this cool, Army jacket-wearing character in season four, and she served as a kind of epitome of "the older girl" type that so many pre-teen boys will have encountered at one time in their lives.

As Bart's babysitter, Laura, brilliantly voiced by Sara Gilbert, allowed audiences a window into a more emotional, vulnerable Bart, who - up until then - was mostly associated with school yard pranks and crass toilet humour.

But Laura herself is more than a caricature: there's a warmth to this teenager, despite of the fact she's way more interested in idiot Jimbo Jones than Bart. We believe she has the power to break his heart, and in the process of her doing exactly that, Laura became an unforgettable one-time Simpsons legend.

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Sam Hill is an ardent cinephile and has been writing about film professionally since 2008. He harbours a particular fondness for western and sci-fi movies.