|Dr. Nicholas "Nick" Riviera|
|The Simpsons character|
|Voiced by||Hank Azaria|
|The Simpsons||"Bart Gets Hit by a Car"|
Dr. Nicholas Riviera (usually referred to as simply Dr. Nick) is a recurring fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria and first appeared in the episode "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". Dr. Nick is an inept quack physician, and a satire of incompetent medical professionals. Upon entering a scene, Dr. Nick's catchphrase is "Hi, everybody!", with the characters present immediately responding (often in chorus) "Hi, Dr. Nick!".
Role in The Simpsons
Dr. Nick has a medical degree from "Hollywood Upstairs Medical College", in the 1970s, where he apparently spent much of his time using his ability to acquire prescription drugs to impress women. Thus far, none of the patients he has swindled, maimed, or given useless or dangerous medical advice seems to have sued him—although a few have come after him in person. For example, in "Homer's Triple Bypass", a large angry man grabs him, and Riviera says "Well if it isn't my old friend Mr. McGregg—with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg"; the man literally has an arm where a leg should be and a leg where an arm should be, and it is implied that this is Riviera's fault. Riviera is a stereotype of shady doctors who perform medical procedures for money with little or no regard for medical ethics, or their patients' well-being. His motto is, You've tried the best, now try the rest! In "The Girl Who Slept Too Little", he is seen digging up corpses in the graveyard for body parts, presumably to use in operations on patients. In the same episode he tells Lisa "you have a check-up on Thursday!", to which she replies "We don't go to you anymore; we have a better doctor!" and receives a congratulation from him. In "Treehouse of Horror IX", he injects himself with anesthetic after punching Homer in the face in order to knock him out before performing a hair transplant on him, using a pizza cutter.
In the episode "Much Apu About Nothing", he is seen taking a citizenship test, implying that prior to this he was not a citizen of the United States. Though his origin remains unconfirmed, Dr Nick has a notable Argentine accent in the Spanish-language dubs. In the episode "Margical History Tour", the sequence set in 18th-century Vienna has Dr. Nick saying "Guten Tag, everybody!"
The degrees in his office read "Mayo Clinic Correspondence School", "Club Med School", "Female Body Inspector", and "I went to medical school for four years and all I got was this lousy diploma". He is a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He frequently appears on infomercials, pitching all sorts of bizarre medical offers or endorsing dubious devices, and has often turned his operations into TV spectacles. He is also shown as an inventor/huckster (in the style of Ron Popeil) on the television show I Can't Believe They Invented It!, with products such as the "Juice Loosener" in "Marge in Chains", an inefficient juicer made in Japan which ultimately causes an influenza epidemic in Springfield (due to one of the workers at the factory having the disease, but still going to work, thus spreading his germs through the packaging).
Dr. Nick has operated on the Simpson family a couple of times when they cannot afford their regular doctor, Dr. Hibbert, notably when Homer needed a heart bypass. Lisa Simpson attended the live audience for the operation and saved the day by guiding the obviously clueless Dr. Riviera through the operation. He also worked with Dr. Hibbert as an anesthesiologist during Bart's appendectomy (in 'Round Springfield) but was of little help as he accidentally anesthetized himself instead. It is revealed in the episode "Homer's Triple Bypass" that his phone number is 1-600-DOCTORB, explaining that: "The B is for Bargain!". His catchphrase is "Hi everybody!", except in The Simpsons Movie, in which he was seemingly killed with a large shard of glass, saying, "Bye, everybody... ugh." However, he has survived and made a few appearances since.
The design of Dr. Nick is modeled physically on Gábor Csupó, the co-founder of Klasky Csupo animation studios (which animated the series for its first three seasons and The Tracey Ullman Show shorts). The animators mistakenly believed that Hank Azaria was impersonating Csupó, when in fact he was doing a bad impression of Ricky Ricardo from the TV series I Love Lucy.
In The Simpsons Movie, Riviera is impaled by a large shard of glass that breaks and falls off the enormous dome covering Springfield, saying "Bye, everybody!" before he faints. Executive producers James L. Brooks and Al Jean confirmed that the character was not dead, but he just fainted, and he would be "brought back to life à la Dr. Marvin Monroe". Riviera is seen alive and well in further episodes after the movie.
IGN placed Dr. Nick 23rd on their list of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters". The character was listed in Entertainment Weekly's "30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses" and in Philadelphia Magazine's "10 Best Doctors on Television".
In a tongue-in-cheek analysis, the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) compared the services of Riviera and Dr. Hibbert. It concludes that Riviera is a better role model for physicians, whereas Hibbert, although praised for his sense of humor and quality of care, is a paternalistic and wasteful physician, unlike Riviera, who strives to cut costs, does his best to avoid the coroner and pleases his patients by giving them what they want, disproving Marge Simpson's claim that he is not a doctor at all.
It must be noted this study was the subject of a tongue-in-cheek criticism, also in CMAJ, due to the following issues: insuficient number of options (only two doctors from only one TV – cartoon – show, seemingly selected just because the authors watch it, thus neglecting other role models, such as the given examples of Dr. Michael Mancini and Dr. Peter Burns of Melrose Place, or Dr. Olivia Winters of The Young and the Restless), choosing certain caractheristics over others and valuing them as "good" or "bad" (in this case, "paternalism and prolificacy" as "bad" vs "cost-consciousness and giving patients what they want" as "good"; the author of the rebuttal questioned whether these should necessarily be the values of every doutor, or indeed whether they should have any at all, raising the possibility of "Nietzschean hero[s] free of and beyond the simple fetters of 'good and evil'"), leaving out other data that could better help decide who is the better doctor (specifically mentioning "the most patients in an hour" and "the better golf score") while other data is incomplete (for instance, Hibbert's car is a Porsche, but we know nothing about Riviera's, or even whether he has one), neither being grounded in reality (specifying the amount of time both spend with patients), the question of doctor–patient confidentiality ("Who can forget Dr. Nick’s battle to raise this issue in his Yellow Pages ad, in which he was shown sewing his lips together and proclaiming: 'My confidentiality is as good as Dr. Hibbert’s!'"), sexism in medicine (neither example is a woman, while at the same time many doctors and medical students are women), and both examples being American (thus not being an example for other countries, as they focus on American ways, medical conditions and other issues specific to America instead of issues specific to other countries). The author of the rebuttal instead suggests Dr. Bones McCoy of Star Trek as a role model, "TV’s only true physician" and "someone who has broken free from the yoke of ethics and practises the art and science of medicine beyond the stultifying opposition of paternalism and autonomy. A free and independent thinker and, indeed, someone even beyond role models".
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- Swartzwelder, John; Kirkland, Mark. "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". The Simpsons. Season 24. Fox.
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- Silverman, David (2003). Commentary for the episode "Saturdays of Thunder", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. Twentieth Century Fox.
- Larry Carroll (2007-07-26). "'Simpsons' Trivia, From Swearing Lisa To 'Burns-Sexual' Smithers". MTV. Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Brian Zoromski (September 6, 2006). "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters". IGN.
- Wilkinson, Amy (June 15, 2009). "The Simpsons | Paging Dr. Feelgood: 30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses – Photo 19 of 28". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
- Palan, Erica (October 11, 2011). "10 Best Doctors on Television". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- Patterson R, Weijer C (December 15, 1998). "D'oh! An analysis of the medical care provided to the family of Homer J. Simpson" (PDF). Canadian Medical Association Journal. 159 (12): 1480–1481. PMID 9988570. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
- Yeo M (December 15, 1998). "To boldly go: we have to look beyond the Simpsons for a true medical hero" (PDF). Canadian Medical Association Journal. 159 (12): 1476–1477. PMID 9988569. Retrieved January 23, 2018.