Network television has a history of cliffhangers dating back at least as far as 1980, when fans of Dallas were frantic to know who shot J.R. A quarter century later tastes have changed, but reinvigorating a popular series with a dramatic revelation remains a television staple. This summer Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, announced that during the upcoming season a familiar character would come out of the closet. This sparked a frenzy at the Irish betting site PaddyPower.com, which offered odds on a list of popular Simpsons characters. Perhaps predictably, Waylon Smithers—the prissy, doll-collecting assistant to the nuclear-power-plant mogul Montgomery Burns—started off at the front of the pack. But punters soon began placing so much money on Marge Simpson's sister Patty that in early September the site stopped taking bets. Later that month The Sun, a British tabloid, reported (based on "early scripts") that she is indeed the one who will be outed. But the show's producers aren't confirming this. Fans will discover in January if The Sun was right and Patty's spinsterhood is due to more than her raspy voice, incessant smoking, and plentiful body hair. When the betting was stopped, these were some of the odds on which Simpsons regular would turn out to be gay.
1:1 Patty. Aside from a doomed fling with Principal Skinner, Marge's sister has never dated a man.
11:4 Waylon Smithers. Longish odds for gay-seeming lackey reflect confusion over whether or not he is already "out."
7:1 Selma. Shares her sister Patty's grooming and lifestyle habits, but has had a string of failed relationships, including one with B-movie star Troy McLure.
7:1 Barkeeper Moe. Contribution to mixology is a drink called the "Flaming Moe."
10:1 Groundskeeper Willy. Single, buff, wears kilts with no underwear. And it's unclear why he left Scotland.
10:1 Lenny. Lenny and his buddy Carl are more inseparable than Siegfried & Roy. Coincidence?
10:1 Carl. See "Lenny."
16:1 Barney. The town drunk has cross-dressed more often than Nathan Lane. Does his drinking mask a secret?
20:1 Ned Flanders. Fondness for pink shirts and for remarking "Hi-dilly-ho, neighbor!" uncharacteristic of heterosexual men.
20:1 Reverend Lovejoy. He's a clergyman who never mentions Leviticus. It's surprising that the odds are this long.
20:1 Krusty the Clown. Suspected of fraternizing with a transvestite.
20:1 Principal Skinner. Middle-aged, lives with his mother ... Hello?
20:1 Old Sea Captain. Has said several times that he's completely straight ... on land.
20:1 Comic Book Guy. Gay? Dressed like that? Are you kidding?
25:1 Apu. Kwik-E-Mart owner spends long hours away from his wife and children.
33:1 Chief Wiggum. Has remarked that he would date Ned Flanders "in a second" if he were gay.
33:1 Montgomery Burns. Smithers must see something in him.
33:1 Duff Man. This beer mascot is a symbol of jockish virility, but would provide a spectacular coming-out line: "New feelings ... brewing ... in ... Duff Man! Oh, yeah!"
66:1 Homer Simpson. Once remarked, "I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my homosexuals flaming!"