Waylon J. Smithers, Jr., usually referred to as simply Smithers, is a recurring fictional character in the long-running American animated sitcom The Simpsons, who is voiced by Harry Shearer. Smithers first appeared in the episode "Homer's Odyssey", although he could be heard in the series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".
He is the consummate executive and personal assistant of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's owner Montgomery Burns. Smithers was partly based on how numerous Fox executives and staff members acted towards Barry Diller. The idea for Smithers' ambiguous sexual orientation came from Sam Simon, who proposed that Smithers should be gay, but the writers should never draw too much attention to it and should try to keep it in the back of their heads. The name Waylon was first used in "I Married Marge" and comes from the puppeteer Wayland Flowers. In his first visual appearance in "Homer's Odyssey", Smithers was mistakenly drawn as an African American by Gyorgi Peluci, the color stylist. Smithers' relationship with Mr. Burns has long been a running gag on The Simpsons. Smithers is an obedient and sycophantic assistant to Mr. Burns. In many ways, Smithers represents the stereotype of the closeted gay man, and numerous overt allusions and double entendres concerning his homosexuality are made, though some of the show's producers instead refer to him as a "Burns-sexual".