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Bartholomew JoJo "Bart" Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated television series The Simpsons and part of the Simpson family . He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night " on April 19 , 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed Bart while waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office . Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip , Life in Hell , but instead decided to create a new set of characters. While the rest of the characters were named after Groening's family members, Bart's name is an anagram of the word brat. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family received its own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989 . At ten years old, Bart is the eldest child and only son of Homer and Marge, and the brother of Lisa and Maggie. Bart's most prominent and popular character traits are his mischievousness, rebelliousness and disrespect for authority. He has appeared in other media relating to The Simpsons – including video games , The Simpsons Movie , The Simpsons Ride, commercials, and comic books – and inspired an entire line of merchandise. In casting , Nancy Cartwright originally planned to audition for the role of Lisa, while Yeardley Smith tried out for Bart.