Fact Check: Is 'The Simpsons' Character Mr. Burns Based on Banker Jacob Rothschild?

Twitter / X
Twitter / X


The character of Mr. Burns on the animated television series "The Simpsons" is based on Jacob Rothschild of the British Rothschild banking family.


Rating: False
Rating: False

For nearly a decade, claims have circulated online that "The Simpsons" television character Mr. Burns, Homer Simpson's boss at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, was based on Jacob Rothschild, a billionaire financier and member of the British Rothschild banking family commonly at the heart of illuminati-based conspiracy theories. A 2015 post from the Instagram account nwoprophecies asserts, for example, that:

Mr. Burns from the Simpsons is modeled after the British Banker, Jacob Rothschild. The Rothschilds are one of the most prominent of the top thirteen illuminati families. The House of Rothschild is in charge of the illuminati's finance.

The claim continued to circulate online. A September 2023 post on X, formerly Twitter, asserted the same:

These claims are baseless. Mr. Burns is based on several American business tycoons — John D. Rockefeller primarily — as well as creator Matt Groening's high school teacher. According to the book "100 Things the Simpsons Fans Should Know Before They Die":

Mr. Burns is [...] wildly and opulently wealthy. A vessel for jokes and ideas about America's history of greed, Mr. Burns was modeled after famous rich American men like John D. Rockefeller, Howard Hughes, the fictional Charles Foster Caine, and Matt Groening's high school teacher Mr. Bailey, the last of whom is probably not a billionaire unless the state of Oregon has really started paying teachers more.

In a 2015 article in Fortune magazine, a representative for Groening said that the best source on the inspirations for Mr. Burns was an October 2000 TV Guide story, in which the creator said that "that the twin models for Burns' personality are real-life oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, and Henry Potter, the miserly banker played by Lionel Barrymore in the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life."

In that same story, animator David Silverman stated that Mr. Burn's physical appearance was "based on Barry Diller, who was running Fox Broadcasting when The Simpsons debuted on the network in 1989." Silverman added that "Burns' body language is modeled on a praying mantis."


Barry Diller (Getty Images)

In addition to incorrect information about the origin of Mr. Burns, these memes misrepresent Jacob Rothschild's wealth, which stood at just over a billion dollars in 2019.

Because the character Mr. Burns was not inspired by Jacob Rothschild, according to the people who developed it, we rate the assertion as "False."


"A Rothschild Broke From Dynasty and Still Became Super Rich." Bloomberg.Com, 10 May 2019. www.bloomberg.com, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-10/a-rothschild-broke-from-dynasty-and-still-became-fabulously-rich.

Goertz, Allie, et al. 100 Things The Simpsons Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. Triumph Books, 2018.

Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/9Wh-aByH80/?hl=en. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.

"Who Is the Real Montgomery Burns?" Fortune, https://fortune.com/2015/03/07/who-is-the-real-montgomery-burns/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.