When it comes to most shows, the main characters soak up much of the spotlight and attention from the fandom. More lines, more memorable, right?
Well, that may be true, but when it comes to The Simpsons there are so many amazing supporting characters that you’ll often hear some of the minor ones quoted just as much as, say, Homer or Bart. With the likes of Krusty, Moe, Edna, Lenny, Carl, and so many more having so many hilarious lines, they’re often held up as some audiences’ favorite-ever characters.
One that you don’t hear quite so much—but definitely should, no question—is Lunchlady Doris, aka Doris Freedman. She’s the cafeteria chef at Springfield Elementary and one of the gags is that she sometimes doubles as the nurse so the school can sneakily cut down on its funding.
Rarely seen without a cigarette, Doris’ no-nonsense and sarcastic demeanor is always worth a good laugh, and she’s had some terrific lines over the years. “It’s rich in bunly goodness,” is a favorite.
She was originally voiced by Doris Grau, an American actress and also a script supervisor. That’s right, not only was she a great voice on The Simpsons but she worked as a valued and experienced script supervisor on the show too, having also worked on projects like the movie Point Break and the iconic sitcom Cheers.
Supervising the scripts, it’s clear she had far more input on The Simpsons than some fans may ever have known. She also voiced other characters like Lionel Hutz’s secretary.
Sadly, she passed away in 1995 at the age of 71 from respiratory failure. The season 7 episode Team Homer was dedicated to her memory, and the role was ultimately retired for over a decade out of respect for Doris after clips previously recorded were used in that episode.
She gradually began to feature in the background but wasn’t voiced by another actress until Tress MacNeille stepped in to make the character her own in season 18.
Additionally, out of respect, the character was renamed Lunchlady Dora, but the spirit of the character pays significant homage to what Doris did with the iconic role. If you thought Dora sounded a little familiar, that’s because Tress also voices such characters as Agnes Skinner, Dolph, and yes, Crazy Cat Lady.
Looking back, Lunchlady Doris made her first-ever appearance in the season 3 episode Lisa’s Pony, later getting some memorable lines and becoming more of a recurring figure in installments like Whacking Day and Round Springfield.