The Simpsons (1989– )
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The Principal and the Pauper 

At his 20th anniversary celebration as school principal, Princess pal Skinner is discovered to be an imposter of the real Seymour Skinner.


(as Steve Moore)


(created by), (developed by) | 6 more credits »

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Episode cast overview:
Marge Simpson (voice)
Lisa Simpson (voice)
Edna Krabappel (voice)
Agnes Skinner (voice)
Miss Hoover (voice)


At his 20th anniversary celebration as school principal, Princess pal Skinner is discovered to be an imposter of the real Seymour Skinner.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Animation | Comedy


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 September 1997 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The major revelations of this episode - that Principal Skinner is in fact an impostor named Armin Tamzarian - were quite controversial to fans of the show. Due to Tamzarian being granted Seymour Skinner's "past, present and mother," and the real Skinner being literally sent out of town on a rail, these twists were only referenced twice more on the show, on The Simpsons: Behind the Laughter (2000), where this episode was used as an example of "increasingly gimmicky and nonsensical plots." As well as in (annoyed grunt)-bots season 15 ep 9, to shut Skinner down (by Lisa calling him "Tamzarian") when he began to complain about naming a new cat Snowball II. See more »


Skinner/Tamzarian doesn't know who Ned Flanders is, despite the fact that Skinner/Tamzarian once conspired with Bart and Homer to get Flanders fired from being a principal. See more »


Miss Hoover: [to Lisa, who doesn't mind working on a school project with Ralph Wiggum] It's your funeral.
See more »


Featured in The Simpsons: Behind the Laughter (2000) See more »


Flipper Theme
Music by Henry Vars
[Sung as "They Call Him Skinner"]
See more »

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User Reviews

Outrage fades with time, but humor is a constant
27 October 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was a pretty contentious episode when it came out, much like Homer's Enemy. And that's exactly what it was supposed to be -- a conspiracy against the fans, a giant screw- you, "in canon," but with a big wipeout at the end so that nothing really changed. This was a bold move that was well executed, and yet somehow fell short of communicating itself to the bulk of the audience.

We've got a story where a minor character in the lives of Springfieldianites is revealed to have a history that's shockingly different than they had understood, though his personality remains unchanged. This leads to outrage and finally a complete rejection of the truth because it's too unsettling.

Hey -- if this episode makes you outraged and uncomfortable, you might be from Springfield!

You see -- it's all a commentary on how easy it is to love a lie. On how constancy is such a necessity in our lives that we'd rather embrace a familiar falsehood than accept the truth.

Maybe that's too meta for TV -- but who gives a spit, this episode is also funny as hell, well paced, well written and highly emotive. And tucked inside is a cogent exploration of complex relationships. It could be the smartest episode in the series' history.

Now let us never speak of it again -- under penalty of torture!

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