Like most minor characters on The Simpsons, Disco Stu began as a “one-off” character. This is common on the show. A character will make a brief appearance, solely for the purposes of one joke and then leave forever. Examples are The Happiest Guy in Town from “Hurricane Neddy” and Rover Hendrix, dog of Jimi Hendrix from “Homerpalooza.”
Disco Stu, first appearing in season seven, was originally created to reject a jacket with rhinestones that was intended to say “Disco Stud,” but wasn’t spacious enough. The character was named just for that one joke. His first line: “Disco Stu doesn’t advertise.”
But Disco Stu gained enormous popularity from that short scene. His next speaking role would be in “The Twisted World of Marge Simpson,” when he says “Did you know that disco record sales were up 400 per cent for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue, A-y-y-y! [with thumbs up].”
Disco Stu is a tragic figure of nostalgia. He can’t escape the glorious past of disco music to the point that his investment pitch for his dance school refers to market trends from 1976. He has based his entire life around one thing and he seems oblivious to it. However, he is happy with those delusions. He is a likeable guy who enjoys himself by applying disco to any situation. Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing that he’s stuck in the disco era.
According to The Simpsons, this type of behaviour has been present throughout history. Disco Stu has been manifested as Discus Stu, in a parody of The Odyssey and Big Band Stu in a 1930s setting. He has also appeared as Disco Shrew, in a fantastical Halloween episode. No matter how he appears, Stu is fixated upon one characteristic.
But Stu is not oblivious to his situation after all. In “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation,” Stu, in a “Taxicab Confessions”-esque show, admits that he knows that Disco is dead and his love for it is waning. He also fears that he has no other dimensions than his disco boogying.
Perhaps Disco Stu can move on, and perhaps he can’t. Is he doomed to be a one-adjective guy or will he eventually form another identity as just plain “Stu?” According to animated sitcom rules, probably not, but we can still root for him.