The Simpsons:Itchy and Scratchy
The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a segment of the
fictional Krusty the Klown TV show,
watched regularly by child characters on the animated series The
Simpsons. Itself a cartoon, The Itchy & Scratchy Show
depicts a mouse, Itchy, and a cat, Scratchy, who attack and graphically
mutilate each other with deadly weapons.
The Itchy & Scratchy Show is primarily a parody of popular
culture. On one level, it sends up the violence in children's TV, most
obviously spoofing the violent Tom
and Jerry cartoons made during World War II). While not usually as
openly graphic or bloody as Itchy and Scratchy, these works
depicted physical abuse between their characters with no long-term
consequences; Itchy and Scratchy take this violence to its logical
On another level, every Itchy & Scratchy episode satirizes
movies, TV shows, music videos or historical events. The fictional series
has supposedly been in continuous production since the early 20th century,
first for theater release and then for radio and TV. Older Itchy &
Scratchy cartoons are occasionally shown which satirize other aspects
of early animation; for example, a cartoon called Steamboat Itchy
resembles the early Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie. Lisa
Simpson once mentioned the tasteless and racist Itchy & Sambo cartoons
of the 1930s.
Itchy & Scratchy Show appearing as part of The Krusty
the Klown Show could be seen as paralleling The
Simpsons when they were on The
Tracy Ullman Show. Also, many of the themes explored in The
Simpsons episodes are also "explored" in Itchy and Scratchy.
Itchy and Scratchy, in one Simpsons episode, star in a feature movie
entitled Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie.
The characters of Itchy and Scratchy are voiced (within the reality of The
Simpsons) by a woman named June Bellamy (whose physical appearance is
said to be based on June Foray, a famous voice actress) who also claims to
be the voice of Road Runner. (Apparently, she recorded a lone
"meep," and they doubled it so as not to have to pay her for two
"meeps.") In reality, Itchy is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and
Scratchy is voiced by Harry Shearer.
Itchy and Scratchy themselves were once replaced by a show
called Worker and Parasite, a parody of Soviet-bloc government-made
cartoons. Because of licensing restrictions, Krusty could not run Itchy
and Scratchy, so he had to show "communist propaganda cartoons"
from the 1960s. The resulting cartoon showed a poorly drawn cat and a
poorly drawn mouse jumping around inexplicably while experimental music
In the Simpsons episode "Sideshow Bob's Last
Bob's threat of detonating a nuclear bomb caused all TV to be
cancelled. However, Krusty went to a small broadcasting shack in the
desert to stay on air. His heavily improvised show contained The Stingy
and Battery Show, starring a scorpion and a battery.
History within The Simpsons
Within the Simpsons universe, the characters were created by
Roger Myers, Sr., who built the legacy of Itchy and Scratchy and
established Itchy and Scratchy Studios in 1921. It was revealed in the
episode "The Day the Violence Died" that Chester J. Lampwick
actually invented Itchy in 1919 and owns the rights to that character.
Scratchy starred in his first cartoon in 1928, entitled That Happy
Cat. The film, which is ten seconds of animation showing the cat
whistling and tipping his hat, did very poorly. Later that year, Itchy and
Scratchy starred in their first cartoon together entitled Steamboat
Itchy and Scratchy Studios is currently run by Roger Myers, Jr., the
son of the cartoon's creator. It is animated in Korea.
Revealed in the episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" are
characters from the short-lived Itchy & Scratchy and Friends Hour:
Uncle Ant, Disgruntled Goat, and Ku Klux Klam. These characters lampooned
the addition of superfluous, two-dimensional characters to TV shows in an
effort to draw viewer interest.
In 1990, The Itchy and Scratchy Show underwent a non-violent retooling
following a protest campaign led by Marge Simpson. Simpson was later
discredited and the cartoon returned to its original violent format.
In 1993, Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie was released. It received nine
In 1994, Itchy and Scratchy Land opened, although it was temporarily
shut down because of malfunctioning robots (a la Jurassic Park or the
movie Westworld). Unfortunately, Euro-Itchy and Scratchy Land apparently
failed to match the success of its domestic counterpart, with no visitors
upon its opening (in a parody of the early failure of Euro Disneyland
In 1997, the show began declining in ratings and a third character,
Poochie the dog, was added (see below).
Forty years from "now," Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie will
be the first-billed film at a "Classics of Animation" screening
at the Aztec Theater in Springfield (Beauty and the Beast gets
Poochie was a dog character added to the Itchy & Scratchy
lineup in The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show. According to
the show's plot, the producers believed the cartoons were getting stale,
and needed a new character to reinvigorate the show. Homer
Simpson gets the job of voicing Poochie, who is introduced in the Itchy
& Scratchy cartoon "The Beagle Has Landed." A product of
marketing department thinking, Poochie was near-universally despised, and
was killed off in his second appearance, despite Homer's objections.
Both plots were a reference to TV shows which added new characters
purportedly to reinvigorate the show (often in the show's waning years
and/or to replace stars who had either departed or grown up, if they were
child actors). Famous examples include Scooby-Doo
(when his nephew, Scrappy-Doo, was suddenly added); The
Flintstones, who suddenly found themselves co-starring with The
Great Gazoo; and The
Brady Bunch, when Cousin Oliver came to live with the Bradys.
Quite often, these additions of superfluous characters are seen as a sign
the series is in decline; such changes are regarded by fans to be the
defining events in the decline of a TV show. This is itself satirized in
the episode, with the mysterious addition of a new character,
"Roy," to the Simpson family; Roy leaves the show at the end of
Many fans of the show also saw Poochie's creation, depiction, and
demise as a response to various criticisms of The Simpsons by its
viewers. The focus group's desire for a show where its characters solve
real-life problems, and simultaneous desire for a show with its characters
"getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic
powers" reflects the division between fans of earlier episodes of the
series, which tended to focus on the family's relationships with each
other, and fans of the later episodes, which tended to rely more heavily
on sight gags, cameo appearances, and non-sequiturs. Other aspects of the
episode also play up this argument, including Bart's declaration that the
creators of Itchy and Scratchy are "giving you thousands of hours of
entertainment for free" and Lisa's closing lines about how Itchy
and Scratchy's viewers "should thank our lucky stars that they're
still putting on a program of this caliber after so many years."
Despite being created for a single-episode appearance (and despite a
legal document from Krusty stating that he would never reappear), Poochie
has appeared in later episodes of The Simpsons, such as the 11th
Halloween show, an Itchy & Scratchy episode ("Tears of a
Clone"), and was on a Krusty-Brand show T-Shirt (as well as
Other Itchy & Scratchy characters
There was also a vulture modeled after Mr.
Burns — in a cartoon he himself scripted and directed
("Fraudcast News") — who touted the virtues of nuclear power.
When Marge protested the
cartoon's violence, a cartoonist modeled a squirrel with tall, blue hair
after her. The squirrel interrupted a baseball bat fight between the title
characters shouting "Don't do that! Hey! Don't do that!" to
which Itchy whacked her head off.
Quentin Tarantino guest appears in one episode, supposedly having
directed it. He explains his motivation behind the violence in the episode
before being brutally attacked by the cat and mouse duo.
Elvis Presley also appears in a cartoon, shooting Scratchy when he gets
his head stuck in Elvis' television set — a reference to the apocryphal
tale of Presley shooting out a picture tube with a pistol when
dissatisfied with the program.