Principal Skinner
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Biography for
Principal Skinner (Character)
from "The Simpsons" (1989)

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Principal Seymour Skinner (born in Capitol City as Armin Tamzarian) is a fictional character on the animated sitcom The Simpsons, voiced by Harry Shearer. He is the principal of Springfield Elementary School, and a stereotypical educational bureaucrat. He struggles to control the crumbling school and is constantly engaged in a battle against its inadequate resources, apathetic and bitter teachers, and often rowdy and unenthusiastic students, Bart Simpson being a standout example, due to his constant misbehaviors. A strict disciplinarian, Skinner has an uptight, militaristic attitude that stems from his years in the United States Army as a Green Beret, which included service in the Vietnam War, in which he was captured by the Viet Cong and was held as a war prisoner for eighteen months.

He was born on November 1, 1952. His mother participated in the Helsinki Olympics while she was pregnant with him.

Role in The Simpsons

Out of genuine concern for the quality of education of his students, most of Skinner's actions revolve around ensuring the school has adequate funding. His constant desperate, and usually ineffective attempts at maintaining discipline are an effort to receive good reviews from the frequent inspections of his very strict boss, Superintendent Chalmers - who makes no effort to hide his disapproval of Skinner. These inspections usually turn awry due to Bart Simpson's elaborate prankswhich play off Skinner's desperation for order. Over the years of pranks and inspections, though, Skinner has developed a love-hate relationship with each of them; when Skinner was fired and replaced by Ned Flanders, Bart found pranks less meaningful, due to Flanders' lax approach to discipline. In an accident involving both Skinner and Chalmers, Chalmers showed grief over Skinner before he realized he was still alive. Although he likes to maintain the image of a strict disciplinarian, he is often weak-willed and nervous and has a very unhealthy dependence on his mother who constantly makes demands from him. In an early episode, she addresses him by the nickname "Spanky."

Aside from a short-lived relationship with Patty Bouvier, Skinner's love life has focused on Edna Krabappel. The two dated for several years and became engaged, but later cancelled the wedding. Edna has shown she does want to live a life with Skinner, but first wants him to commit to hernamely by not letting his mother, with whom he still lives, control him anymore. During the early years of the show, it was established that Skinner had served as a sergeant in the US Army during the Vietman War and been captured at the Battle of Khe Sanh. Skinner often seems weak-willed and easily suppressedperhaps because he wants to avoid confrontationbut often will use his military command experience gained in the Vietnam War to get real respect and discipline; when he and the students were snowed-in at the school, he treated them like his squad to control the chaos temporarilybefore they mutinied.

The controversial season nine episode "The Principal and the Pauper" revolutionises Skinner's back-story, revealing that Skinner is an imposter. Born Armin Tamzarian, it emerges that he was a troubled orphan until he was forced into the Army during the Vietnam War. There, he was befriended by Sgt. Seymour Skinner, whom he came to idolize. When Skinner was reported missing presumed dead, Tamzarian returned to Springfield to tell Skinner's mother, but she deliberately mistook him for Seymour, so he assumed Skinner's identity and followed his dream of becoming a school principal. The real Seymour Skinner (voiced by Martin Sheen), had been alive after all, and briefly returned to Springfield to take his rightful place as Springfield Elementary School Principal, but had proved hopelessly unpopular and the Springfielders ran him out of town on the railroad. Judge Snyder granted Tamzarian Skinner's "name, and his past, present, future, and mother," and decreed that no one will mention his true identity again "under penalty of torture." The episode provoked a very negative reaction both from fans and the show's staff. A clip from the episode was used in season eleven's "Behind the Laughter" as an example of the show's increasingly "gimmicky and nonsensical plots"

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