With Minions: The Rise of Gru setting box office records “to infinity and beyond,” it’s clear that moviegoers the world over are still under the grip of Minion Madness twelve years after their debut in Despicable Me and remain highly invested in the continuing cinematic adventures of the three principal Minions, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob.
Despite the Minions spin-off films’ gaslighting retcon of established canon, it is clear that Gru created the Minions. But just who named those wretched pill-shaped yellow creatures? It might surprise you to learn it was Mike Reiss, a writer better known for his work with the world’s third-favorite* yellow cartoon characters, the Simpsons.
Perhaps the most startling revelation from his 2018 book Springfield Confidential, is that he, as an uncredited writer doing punch-up, came up with the idea of naming the individual Minions:
But my most lasting contribution was to Despicable Me‘s Minions: I gave the little bastards names. Throughout the script, Gru would always refer to them collectively as “boys,” but I thought it would be funny to address them each by name, since, to me, they were alike as a pile of little yellow Advils.
Even more surprising is just who he named them after:
In order to contrast their weirdness, I gave them bland white-guy names. I chose from the blandest white guys I know: Simpsons writers. I used the first names of staff members like Kevin Curran, Stewart Burns, Bob Bendetson, and about ten others.
That’s right, the Minions are named after Simpsons writers. I don’t think it’s exclusively Simpsons writers, just guys Reiss knows: of the Minions named in the first movie, I don’t see a direct analogue to Phil, Carl, or Jerry amongst the Simpsons writers room (assuming Reiss was the one who named them). It’s possible Tim was named after longtime writer Tim Long, and perhaps Mark was named after Marc Wilmore, but obviously those are very common names and could be coincidental.
For more relevations, check out Springfield Confidential, available from HarperCollins.
*With The Simpsons Ride, the Minion Mayhem ride, and huge presence of SpongeBob SquarePants, Universal Studios is home to all three, making it a must-visit for fans of the color yellow.