If the Barclays are a “good” example of an Odyssey family, the Rathbones are the complete opposite. Bart Rathbone, the father, wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. There are few ethical questions that he’s not inclined to ignore. From unscrupulously coaching a softball team to using shady methods to run his electronics shop, The Electric Palace, to coming up with all manners of get-rich-quick schemes, Bart affably stands for everything Whit—and the world of Odyssey—is against.
Rathbone is known as a cheap and scheming businessman, always plugging his store (phone number is 555-3122 or 553-1222) while pushing questionable sales promotions and launching half-baked entrepreneurial ideas (such as "Rathbone's Electric Castle and Rock and Roll Instruments of Destruction" in #164: “Sixties-Something”).
Bart is also known for his ill-fated campaigns for the mayorship of Odyssey. In episodes #286: “Tom for Mayor, Part 1” & #287: “Tom for Mayor, Part 2”, he faces off against Tom Riley; in #380: “The One About Trust, Part 1” & #381: “The One About Trust, Part 2”, he runs against Margaret Faye. According to Bart himself in #181: “It Takes Integrity”, he has been running for office since his school days.
Apparently Bart had a bad experience in Sunday School as a child (#196: “Harlow Doyle, Private Eye”). This could have possibly turned him against Christianity, but nothing is known for sure.
Although on rare occasion Bart is deeply moved enough to change his attitude and behavior, these changes of heart are usually brief-lived and never permanently impact his character. In #121: “Missing Person”, Bart is convinced by Officer O'Ryan to reconsider his parenting strategy with his son Rodney after Rodney runs away from home; Rodney continues to be a bully to his peers thereafter, however. Years later in #368: “The Other Woman”, Bart and his wife Doris show sincere remorse for their actions after seeing how much their scheme to convince Tom Riley not to run for re-election as mayor has hurt him publicly, though the experience does nothing to sway Bart from running the following year against Margaret Faye.
Bart comes from a long line of "big-headed Rathbones", including his father, for which he was teased in high school. Bart is the proud "pop" of Rodney and the less-than-ideal husband of Doris Rathbone. He has a brother named Lanny Rathbone who has been in prison, and his brother-in-law is a business agent who, according to Doris, is as reliable as Bart is. His grandfather is Joe Smith.
- He has been kicked of his house by Doris for a multitude of reasons, including putting engine parts in the dishwasher and eating cheese doodles in the shower (#552: “Sunday Morning Scramble”)
- He once tried to take advantage of people during a tornado (#397: “Tornado!”)
- He once taught his son, Rodney, to cheat while playing checkers (#214: “The Living Nativity”)
- He once trained Alex Jefferson to become the next mini golf champion (#471: “Fifteen Minutes”)
- He sounded almost exactly like Rodney when he was young (#442b: “Sticks and Stones”)
- He attended middle school in Odyssey, but also lived in New York City at some point when he was younger. (#129: “Not One of Us”, #390: “No Bones About It”, #442b: “Sticks and Stones”)
- He disguised himself as his grandpa to "Get on the T and V" (#572: “Odyssey Sings!”)
- He is a fan of polka musician Lawrence Welk (#164: “Sixties-Something”)
- He is bald or balding and wears a toupee — in which he wears grease (#254: “Truth, Trivia and 'Trina”, #540: “The Girl in the Sink”, #603: “The Family Next Door”)
- His original name was Bill. (#23: “The Quality of Mercy”, #115: “An Act of Mercy”)
- See Rathbone quotes.