While a C-list Simpsons character, this criminal has a tragic backstory and more in common with Indian Jones than expected.
The Simpsons has a history of revealing that seemingly one-note characters are actually far more tragic than they look. It’s a sad aspect of Springfield that seems to bring down plenty of bright people full of potential — with one of the most unexpected ones pertaining to the town’s most familiar criminal. Over the course of multiple seasons, The Simpsons revealed that the notorious small-time crook Snake was basically this world’s version of Indiana Jones.
Snake (often referred to as Jailbird) is one of the criminals in the town of Springfield. Frequently in-and-out of prison, Snake is often robbing Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart or on the run from Chief Wiggum. He has an on-again-off-again girlfriend in Gloria, as well as a son named Jeremy.
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There have been only a handful of episodes where Snake has been explored as a character, like with Season 18’s “Springfield Up,” which hinted that Snake has a long history of trouble with the law. There have also been multiple hints over the course of the series that Snake had a more promising life ahead of him than the one he currently occupies.
Season 20, Episode 1, “Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes,” includes a scene where a cornered Snake fires a gun at Homer Simpson. Luckily, Ned Flanders is passing by with a plane of bullet-proof glass and deflects the bullet. Confronting Snake, Flanders asks what his mother would think of him, and Snake sadly admits, “she’d say that year off from Princeton was the worst mistake of my life.” It’s a fun throwaway line, but it lines up with some other surprising revelations that have been made about Snake’s history over the years.
For instance, Season 20, Episode 13, “Gone Maggie Gone,” revealed that Snake is well-versed in this world’s mythology and history. Meanwhile, Season 17, Episode 13, “The Seemingly-Never Ending Story” revealed that years before becoming a criminal, Snake had been known around Springfield as Professor Jailbird.
Returning to Springfield after a successful excavation of a Mayan temple, Snake reveals he found a sack’s worth of gold coins. He didn’t even find them for the sheer monetary value, revealing a deep knowledge of the culture they hail from — suggesting his education likely focused on archaeology. Even his appearance and motivations here are meant to resemble Indiana Jones, with Snake only wanting to bring the coins to the Springfield Museum; however, Moe steals the coins for his own goals, enraging Snake.
All these hints — along with suggestions of a difficult childhood — suggest Snake had the chance to overcome the kind of life he’s now trapped in. Snake escaped Springfield and went to an Ivy League school, gaining the kind of job that would bring respect and admiration to the town, similar to what Lisa Simpson aspires for. However, the darker and crueler aspects of the Springfield citizens and culture broke him — much in the same way it’s broken other people who strived to change the world, such as Eleanor Abernathy. While Snake might deserve all the repercussions of his criminal acts, it’s a sad revelation that he had so much potential.
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