Definitely Not Excellent: Harry Shearer Is Leaving “The Simpsons” [UPDATED]

“They can change them and no one would know the diddly-ifference!”
Definitely Not Excellent: Harry Shearer Is Leaving “The Simpsons” [UPDATED]

“They can change them and no one would know the diddly-ifference!”

Words: Bailey Pennick

May 16, 2015

2015. “The Simpsons” Burns and Smithers

Welp, get ready to essentially say goodbye to Ned Flanders, C. Montgomery Burns, Waylon Smithers, Seymour Skinner, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny Leonard, Kent Brockman, Scratchy, Kang, Eddie, Otto Mann, Rev. Lovejoy, Rainier Wolfcastle, Jasper, Jebediah Springfield, Dewey Largo, Sanjay, Dr. Marvin Monroe, Marty, Herman, Judge Roy Snyder, Bort, Guy who Doesn’t Know if He’s Sarcastic, and many, many more, because Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons.

After twenty-six seasons (and one lame movie), the iconic voiceover actor announced that he would be exiting the endless Fox show to continue pursuing his other work via Twitter.

The show’s executive producers and creators—Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean—released an official statement that hinted that contract disputes were at the center of Shearer’s exit.

Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed. The show will go on and we wish him well. Maggie took it hard. We do not plan to kill off characters like Burns and Flanders but will recast with the finest voiceover talent available.

If you remember, we’ve already seen them try to recast Flanders in Simpsons season ten, episode thirteen “Homer to the Max,” but trying to recast nearly half of the town of Springfield? The results aren’t looking as good as finding true love on Flag Day.

Fox and the rest of the cast have already signed on for two more seasons—through 2017—but without the original voice of Mr. Burns, it seems like Springfield’s evil and ancient heart will truly be gone. And don’t even get me started on losing Lenny.

(via Variety)

Originally published May 14, 11:41 a.m.


Updated: May 16, 11:34 a.m.: Before we could even begin to pen our goodbye letters to Harry Shearer and the original voices of some of The Simpsons’ greatest characters, The A.V. Club reported that all was not finalized (or mutual) in this Springfield deal. After Shearer’s original announcement, James L. Brooks earnestly tweeted that he was not done trying to get the actor back. Al Jean, however, is not as keen on Shearer’s stepping out at the moment, and spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the unfinished ordeal:

I’m a little baffled. The other five [voice stars] signed on May 1 and we offered him the same contract everybody else got offered, but he didn’t sign so we started reading like we were going to and [were] waiting to see if he wanted to come back or not. Then about a week ago TMZ somehow got ahold of a story that [an unnamed voice actor from the cast] wasn’t returning. Then last night Harry tweeted something to the extent that he was leaving the show — implying he wasn’t wanted — which isn’t true. We made him an offer and we’re once more saying, “Do you want to come back like everybody else and work hard and care about the show? Great.” He said he wanted to do other projects, which makes no sense because we’ve always let the cast do all the other projects they want — they have great free time. So I don’t really know what he’s up to [or] what he’s thinking. I hope he comes back. The other misinformation that has been spread is that it would jeopardize these two seasons we’re doing up until 625 episodes. That’s for sure a pickup from the network, and everybody else is pay-or-play — so we’ll make those episodes. If he chooses not to come back, we’ll recast. We will not kill his characters; that’s one way to go. I’m sure there will be plusses and minuses with that and, at the moment, I’m hoping he comes back. But if he doesn’t in a reasonable time, we’ll have to do the other options.

More updates to follow.