|The Simpsons character|
|Voice actor||Phil Hartman|
|The Simpsons||"Bart Gets Hit by a Car"|
Lionel Hutz, a.k.a. Miguel Sanchez, a.k.a. Dr. Nguyen Van Phuoc, was a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He was voiced by Phil Hartman, and his first appearance was in the season two episode "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". Hutz is a stereotypical ambulance chasing lawyer in Springfield with questionable competence and ethics. He is nevertheless often hired by the Simpsons. Following Hartman's death in 1998, the character was retired; Hutz' final speaking role was in the season nine episode "Realty Bites".
Role in The Simpsons
Lionel Hutz is an inept ambulance chaser and, according to Lisa Simpson, a "shyster" whom the Simpsons nonetheless repeatedly hire as their lawyer (a fact remarked on by Marge Simpson in a typically self-aware aside). His legal practice, located in a shopping mall, is named "I Can't Believe It's A Law Firm!" and also offers "expert shoe repair". He often tries to entice potential clients with free gifts, including a "smoking monkey" doll, a pen that looks like a cigar, an exotic faux-pearl necklace, a business card that "turns into a sponge when you put it in water," and even an almost-full Orange Julius he once had handy.
Hutz is characterized as both a grossly incompetent lawyer and an unethical individual in general. In the episode "Marge in Chains" he describes the following as his "problem" with Judge Snyder:
- "Well, he's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog... Well, replace the word 'kinda' with the word 'repeatedly' and the word 'dog' with 'son'."
Hutz is a recovering alcoholic; also in "Marge in Chains", he hastily leaves the courtroom after handling a bottle of bourbon in order to consult his sponsor, David Crosby. He then gives his closing statement, unaware that he is not wearing any pants and thinks that Clarence Darrow was "The Black guy on The Mod Squad". Beyond the law, he also tries his hand at selling real estate, reasoning that it was a natural move as most of his clients ended up losing their homes anyway, and out of desperation for work, babysitting, where he produces a switchblade on awakening suddenly after nodding off to sleep, and also burns a lot of presumably incriminating documents in the Simpsons' fireplace, then claiming he is now "Miguel Sanchez". His other alias is "Dr. Nguyen Van Phuoc". Hutz's incompetence and financial desperation sometimes lead him to resort to rooting through dumpsters, claiming they are client-related. Hutz was briefly married to Selma Bouvier, although this storyline is not shown in an episode. Hutz has also been known to use a phone booth as an office.
Lionel Hutz does not seem to care about conflict of interest; in "A Streetcar Named Marge" he represents clients in a lawsuit against the producer(s) of a local production of A Streetcar Named Desire for not giving them any roles in the play, although he had a role himself.
Another display of his incompetence takes place in "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" when, while representing a French waiter who is accusing Mayor Quimby's nephew Freddy of battery, he is surprised when the opposing counsel mentions that Hutz's client is an immigrant (despite the client's French accent). Hutz then demands that his client tell him everything from then on. He also misunderstands simple legal terms like "mistrial" and "lawyer".
Although Hutz loses most of his cases, he does win several cases for the Simpsons. In "New Kid on the Block", he represents Homer in his case against the Sea Captain and the Frying Dutchman restaurant over its "All You Can Eat" offer ("The most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film The Never Ending Story"). He also wins a case for Bart Simpson in "The Day the Violence Died", by proving that Itchy was created by an old man named Chester J. Lampwick—though the deciding factor of the case is mainly proven by Bart's footwork to collect the crucial piece of evidence, rather than Hutz's competence. Hutz initiates the trial with zero credible evidence. In "'Round Springfield", Hutz successfully sues Krusty the Clown after Bart consumes a jagged metal Krusty-O from a box of cereal, resulting in an inflamed appendix. After winning the case, Hutz gives Bart only $500 of the $100,000 settlement. In "Sideshow Bob Roberts", Hutz wins a case against Sideshow Bob, who was Mayor at that time, for electoral fraud, in which Bart and Lisa found evidence connected to it.
The only other case technically won by Hutz was in "Treehouse of Horror IV", where he represents Homer against Satan (represented as Ned Flanders). In a purportedly-deleted scene for this episode, as subsequently seen in "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", Hutz's slogan is "Cases won in 30 minutes or your pizza is free". After he thinks he has lost the case, he gives the Simpsons their pizza. However, Marge informs him that they did win. Then, he tells them that the box was empty anyway. In the video game The Simpsons: Hit & Run, billboards can be seen around Downtown Springfield promoting Lionel Hutz's free pizza offer.
After Hartman's death in 1998, Hutz and Hartman's other main character, Troy McClure, were retired out of respect. The last episode to feature Hutz speaking was the season 9 episode "Realty Bites". Since the Simpson family frequently appears in court, other characters have represented the Simpsons in legal matters since Hutz's retirement. For example, in "Sweets and Sour Marge", the equally-incompetent Gil Gunderson stepped in. The Blue Haired Lawyer—who is just as unethical yet very competent - has also served as the family's attorney. Following Hartman's death, Hutz appeared infrequently in clip shows and flashbacks, as well as crowd scenes, but only in non-speaking roles. His last appearance in the series was in the season 12 episode "A Tale of Two Springfields". Hutz and McClure still appear in Simpsons Comics.
- Richdale, Jace; Kirkland, Mark (1994-04-14). "Burns' Heir". The Simpsons. Season 5. Fox.
- Swartzwelder, John; Kirkland, Mark (1994-04-14). "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". The Simpsons. Season 2. Fox.
- Greaney, Dan; Scott III, Swinton O. (1997-12-07). "Realty Bites". The Simpsons. Season 9. Fox.
- Canterbury, Bill; Kirkland, Mark (1993-12-04). "Marge on the Lam". The Simpsons. Season 5. Fox.
- Collier, Jonathan; Kirkland, Mark (1995-05-07). "The Springfield Connection". The Simpsons. Season 6. Fox.
- "Marge in Chains"
- O'Brien, Conan; Archer, Wes (1992-11-12). "New Kid on the Block". The Simpsons. Season 4. Fox.
- Swartzwelder, John; Archer, Wesley (1996-03-17). "The Day the Violence Died". The Simpsons. Season 7. Fox.
- O'Brien, Conan; Archer, Wes (1995-04-30). "Round Springfield". The Simpsons. Season 6. Fox.
- "Phil Hartman, wife die in apparent murder-suicide". CNN. 1998-05-28. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
- Groening, Matt (2004-12-29). Fresh Air. Interview with Terry Gross. National Public Radio. WHYY-FM. Philadelphia. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- "Best TV/Movie Lawyers: 15 Legal Eagles We'd Hire". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
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