Our Simpsons Week continues with a salute to arguably the most important faces in Springfield, the minor characters... 

How do you really judge a Simpsons fan? Ask them for their favorite minor character.

Sure, Homer's the comic star of the show, Bart's the classic posterboy and everyone secretly loves Mr. Burns, but what's really kept The Simpsons going for a record-breaking quarter of a century isn't the central characters, it's the dizzying number of bit-players (if you count special guests and rare appearances, there's over 2,000 of them) who pop up time and time again to provide a bit of depth and variety to each episode.

Arguably, what constitutes a "minor" character is open to interpretation. But, by and large, these are the 10 faces we think will always improve a Simpsons episode with their presence – however brief or fleeting – without having to be the focus of any major storyline.

Feel free to disagree with us in the comments box below...

10. Hans Moleman

Strong contender for Springfield's unluckiest resident, how Hans is still alive and squinting is nothing short of a miracle. Still, anyone who can take a football to the groin with such grace and panache deserves a special kind of applause.

Best Quote: I was saying Boo-urns...

9. Bumblebee Man

Is Bumblebee Man the most misunderstood soul in all Springfield? Forced to don his insectoid outfit day-in, day-out while the world points and laughs at his repeated physical misfortune, never realizing what a complex and deeply layered individual he really is? Or is he just really, really clumsy and loves bees? You decide.

Best quote: Ay, ay, ay! No me gusta!

8. Gil Gunderson

Whenever you're feeling down about your life or you think your luck is running low, just remember, there is always someone out there who's worse off and that someone is probably Gil Gunderson. The man has been fired more times than a pizza oven.

Best Quote: Put in a good word for your buddy Gil...the wolves are at Old Gil's door...oh boy, your whole life you work and you slave and scrimp and you steal just enough to get a sweet, sweet lick of that shiny brass ring. Where's Gil's lick, doesn't Old Gil get a lick?

7. Duffman

The man of a thousand crotch thrusts is here and he brought beer. He doesn't care whether your cat died, you just had major surgery or it's Tuesday morning and you're on your way to the most important job interview of your life, when he asks "Do you want to PARTY?" there is only one answer..."OH YEAH!"

Best Quote: Duffman: Duff beer is brewed from hops, barley, and sparkling, clear mountain... what?

Contestant: "Goat?"

Duffman: "Close enough!"

6. Rainier Wolfcastle

A man every bit as tough onscreen as he is off, what he lacks in words, he makes up for in kicking your ass.

Best quote: Sarah, if tears could burst through my muscular ducts, I would cry like a baby that's just been hit with a hammer.

5. Dr. Nick

If optimism could cure cancer, Dr. Nick Riviera would live in a house made of Nobel Prizes. Sadly for him, optimism never cured cancer, nor performed brain surgery, nor relieved so much as a light headache. It did, however, result in a number of prominent lawsuits. Most of which were settled faster than you can say "Hi, everybody!"

Best Quote:  The kneebone's connected to the... something. The something's connected to the...red thing. The red thing's connected to my wrist watch...Uh oh.

4. Kent Brockman

Got a news story that needs a little lift? There's only one man for the job. Guaranteed to inject one million percent more hyperbole into your school bake sale or local beauty pageant than is necessary, Kent Brockman can always be relied upon to take the "sense" out of "sensationalist media coverage".

Best Quote: Today, Springfield will experience a rare total eclipse of the sun. A solar eclipse is like a woman breast-feeding in a restaurant. It's free, it's beautiful, but under no circumstances should you look at it.

 3. Ralph Wiggum

There are a thousand possible reasons Ralph Wiggum is the way he is: poor genetic code, born during an earthquake, excessive consumption of crayons, microwave for a pet. Whichever one of these is truly responsible, we're not quite sure. But, if parents around the globe started conducting a few more experiments to find out, the world would be a much funnier place.

Best Quote: I wet my arm pants.

2. Troy McClure

We all remember him. Yet, still, with every appearance, he insists on reminding us. Never before has such charisma been combined with such levels of dubious factual information, and with the passing of Phil Hartman (McClure's voice actor) in 1998, we doubt there ever will be again.

Best Quote: Hi I'm actor Troy McClure. You might remember me from such educational films as Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly and Here Comes the Metric System!

1. Lionel Hutz

There can be few "objections" to Lionel's place at the top of this list (probably the first time he's heard that in his career). That's not to say Springfield's very own lousy litigator hasn't seen his fair share of the courtroom. It's just that this time he's actually winning something. Free pizzas all round.

Best Quote: Mr. Simpson, don't you worry. I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn't on, but I think I got the gist of it.

Read more pieces from our Simpsons Week series, celebrating 25 years of the show.

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