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Good-Bye, Neighborino: Harry Shearer Leaves THE SIMPSONS
The news from Springfield today is certainly not “excellent.” Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons. On Twitter, Shearer quoted The Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks’ lawyer as his reason for not resigning for the 27th season and beyond.
Shearer’s list of characters is extensive, notably including Simpson family neighbor Ned Flanders. Ned has been attached to two previous cast departures: his wife, Maude, was killed after actor Maggie Roswell left the series (though the character was briefly recast), and his second wife, Springfield Elementary teacher Edna Krabappel, was retired with an off-screen death following the death of actor Marcia Wallace.
Other recurring characters include Mr. Burns, owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, as well as his assistant, Waylon Smithers; Dr. Hibbert;, Homer’s drinking buddy Lenny Leonard; newsman Kent Brockman; Principal Seymour Skinner; police officer Eddie; music teacher Mr. Largo; bus driver Otto Mann; and Reverend Lovejoy. Shearer has voiced dozens of other one-time characters and celebrity impressions.
Losing these characters — and in one fell swoop, no less — would leave the series crippled. These supporting characters have been integral to the series since the first season. Some will continue to appear on show, and will be “recast with the finest voiceover talent available,” according to executive producer Al Jean.
“Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted and passed. We wish him well but the show will go on. Maggie took it hard,” Jean told Hitfix. “Yes, Burns and Flanders will not die. They are great characters and will continue.”
There have been rumors of castmembers leaving for many years, some with more credibility than others. After twenty six seasons, it is surprising that there have not been more cast departures.
The Simpsons’ 26th season finale airs this Sunday on Fox.
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