|The Simpsons character|
|First appearance||"Bart the Daredevil" (1990)|
|Created by||Jay Kogen|
Matt Groening (designer)
|Voiced by||Harry Shearer|
|Family||Bleeding Gums Murphy (deceased brother)|
|Children||Four unnamed sons|
Two unnamed daughters
Dr. Julius M. Hibbert, usually referred to as Dr. Hibbert, is a recurring character on the animated series The Simpsons. His speaking voice is provided by Harry Shearer and his singing voice was by Thurl Ravenscroft, and he first appeared in the episode "Bart the Daredevil". Dr. Hibbert is Springfield's most prominent and competent doctor, though he sometimes makes no effort to hide or makes light of his high prices. Dr. Hibbert is very good-natured, and is known for finding a reason to laugh at nearly every situation.
Dr. Hibbert is the Simpsons' (usually) kind-hearted family doctor, a near-genius (with an IQ of 155), a Mensa member, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and a former stripper. Hibbert is noticeably less dysfunctional than just about everyone else on the show, though he does have a bizarre tendency to chuckle at inappropriate moments. It is mentioned in "Make Room for Lisa", that "Before I learned to chuckle mindlessly, I was headed to an early grave." He reacts questionably to certain medical problems. For example, when Maggie saved Homer from drowning, he attributed it to common cases of superhuman strength in children whose parents' lives are in danger. Likewise, he expressed only mild surprise when both of Abraham Simpson's kidneys were revealed to have exploded. In a Treehouse of Horror episode, Dr. Hibbert discusses the possibility of Bart being a "genetic chosen one" who can cure a zombie apocalypse over the phone with the Simpsons while under siege from the aforementioned zombies. Though he manages to dispatch several with various medical equipment (taking down a nurse with an expertly-thrown syringe to the forehead), he is eventually overwhelmed and bitten after requesting that the Simpsons tell his wife that he loves her if they should encounter her.
There are hints though, that Dr. Hibbert is not above dubious medical practices. After Marge talks him out of buying an unsuitable house, he suggests repaying her with black-market prescriptions. When he realized that Marge Simpson was initially unenthusiastic about having a third child, he implied that a healthy baby could bring in as much as $60,000 on the black market. Hibbert covered for himself against Marge's horrified reaction by saying that if she had replied any other way, she would be sent to prison, claiming that it was "just a test". It was also suggested in the episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" that he does not in fact have a medical license.
Despite his seemingly honest and good-hearted personality, there is evidence that he is, at heart, a committed mercenary. In "Homer's Triple Bypass", Hibbert announces to Homer that his heart operation will cost $30,000. When Homer has a heart attack in front of him in response to this news, he says, unmoved, that the cost is now $40,000 – hinting the heart attack made him now require a quadruple bypass. In "Bye Bye Nerdie", after Homer's baby-proofing business eliminates child injuries in Springfield, Hibbert complains that he is behind in his boat payments because of this. He is a committed Republican and attends Springfield's Republican meetings alongside Mr Burns, Rainier Wolfcastle, and a Nosferatu-like creature. Hibbert also freely wears fur coats, believing that while fur itself may not be murder, "paying for it sure is!"
Hibbert is often seen in flashbacks (for example, Lisa's birth, or Bart's accidents as a toddler), and each time has a different hairstyle (afro, dreadlocks, Mr. T-style Mohawk, etc.) appropriate for the time period.
Dr. Hibbert is married; he and his wife Bernice have at least three children, two boys and a girl. When his entire family is seen together, they appear to be a spoof of The Cosby Show. Bernice is known to be something of a heavy drinker; this has been joked about on at least one occasion (in "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", she faints upon reading the news that Prohibition has been introduced in Springfield) and laughs exactly like her husband. Despite apparent marriage problems, Dr. Hibbert still requests that the Simpsons tell Bernice that he loves her during a zombie apocalypse, though Homer misinterprets the message and resolves to just give her a high-five.
In the sixth season episode "'Round Springfield", it is implied that he and Bleeding Gums Murphy are long-lost brothers; Hibbert says he has a long-lost brother who is a jazz musician and Murphy says he has a brother who is a doctor that chuckles at inappropriate times, but somehow the two do not put these clues together. However, Murphy later dies, so it will never be known for certain if they are brothers or not. Hibbert also bears a striking resemblance to the director of the Shelbyville orphanage, who mentions a personal quest to find his long-lost twin to an indifferent Homer. In the 1999 episode "The Grift of the Magi", we learn that Dr. Hibbert lives next door to Police Chief Wiggum.
In writers Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky's original script for "Bart the Daredevil", Hibbert was a woman, named "Julia Hibbert", who they named after comedic actress Julia Sweeney (Hibbert was her married last name at the time). When Fox moved The Simpsons to prime time on Thursdays against NBC's top-rated The Cosby Show, the writing staff decided to make Dr. Hibbert a parody of Bill Cosby's character Dr. Cliff Huxtable. Dr. Hibbert is usually shown wearing sweaters when not on duty, a reference to Huxtable. Like the Cosby character, Dr. Hibbert laughs inappropriately, at pretty much everything. He is one of the few competent characters in the show, and was originally shown as being sympathetic to his patients' conditions, but that was eventually changed to him being less caring about his patients.
A tongue-in-cheek analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) compares the services of Dr. Hibbert and Dr. Nick Riviera, a quack physician often used by The Simpsons as an alternative source of medical advice. While Hibbert is praised for his sense of humor and quality of care, it concludes that Nick is a better role model for physicians; Hibbert is a paternalistic and wasteful physician, unlike Nick, who strives to cut costs and does his best to avoid the coroner. This study was rebutted, also in CMAJ, and both doctors are cast aside for Dr. Bones McCoy of Star Trek as a role model, "TV's only true physician" and "someone who has broken free from the yoke of ethics and practises the art and science of medicine beyond the stultifying opposition of paternalism and autonomy. A free and independent thinker and, indeed, someone even beyond role models"
In the twelfth season episode "Trilogy of Error", in which Marge accidentally severs Homer's thumb, she expresses disappointment with how Hibbert handles Homer's plight and attempts to go to Riviera instead.