Harry Shearer Exits The Simpsons, Burns and Flanders to Be 'Recast'

Harry Shearer Leaving The Simpsons

The Simpsons just delivered a message to castmember Harry Shearer and here’s the loose translation: “Eat my shorts!”

Shearer, the voice behind such characters as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers and Principal Skinner, is leaving the show amid a contract dispute.

“Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed,” exec producer Al Jean said in a statement to the New York Times. “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.”

Late Wednesday, Shearer took to Twitter to confirm that his contract was not being renewed. (Fox recently picked up The Simpsons for Seasons 27 and 28.) Quoting Simpsons EP James L. Brooks’ attorney, tweeted, “Show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.” Shearer then added: “This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work.”

UPDATE: Brooks took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to say that talks were still ongoing with Shearer:

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  1. WonderWaage says:

    Kill the show. Please, no need to go on

  2. James says:

    WHOA. About time something like this happened.

  3. Seems odd to recast. Have they done that before?

    • Cornelius says:

      I think they are best to recast someone then having to make stories up as why people are leaving Springefield/kill the people that Shearer voiced.

      • They could just reduce the number of times they show up on the show so he keeps voicing them on a need to basis.

        • Network says:

          That would work if he only played one or two background characters but it’s way more than that. He plays so many that it would be very difficult to write them all out at once.

      • The Grinch says:

        Yeah, that would be a fun episode. This week, Springfield suffers mass casualties!

    • Max says:

      Yes, Maggie Roswell, left The Simpsons and her character Maude Flanders was briefly recast and later Killed off but Maude comes back every once in a while voiced again by Roswell for Flashbacks and THOH episodes.

      Harry leaving has NOTHING to do with MONEY. Harry wanted time to do other projects like he has always done and FOX said NO.

      • dijeizasin says:

        This is not true. The Simpsons cast can appear (and always have done) on other shows, just not as voice actors.

        • Max says:

          Harry said it himself on his official twitter page: Read my tweets. Wasn’t about money.

          • David4 says:

            That’s what they always say.

            It’s not over money, I just want freedom.
            It’s creative differences, not that the studio / cast is hard to work with.

          • KatsMom says:

            @David4 — He took a 45% paycut in 2011 and was fine with it. His only comment at the time was that he would have taken a 70% cut if they would agree to give him a piece of the profits instead. So, if this were only about the money, I think he would have been gone 4 years ago. There’s clearly something else going on here.

          • Bob Backus says:

            @KatsMom read what you just wrote- He’d take a 70% cut if he could get a cut of the profits. Geee, I wonder what is more- their pay, or the profits? Of course it was all about the money. no doubt angered about the pay cut years ago and wants more now. I agree with him, the talent should get more, more than FOX’s cut, more than some dumb executive’s cut, etc etc. But don’t be so naive to think that it wasn’t about the money, especially when you give a quote from him that proves it was the money. If it was about “freedom” he would have quite instead of trying to get another contract. He’d announce early on that it was his last season, just like the actors who really want “freedom” do. It’s all about the money.

        • canadian ninja says:

          Sounds like he wants to be able to take other voice work. What a monster.

  4. Cornelius says:

    Now I don’t know the contracts and all that but seems like Shearer is just money hungry lol. The show needs to end, it’s had a long enough run.

  5. The Letter J says:

    Cancel the show. It’s had a good run and it won’t be the same without him. I’m not a fan of him for leaving under these circumstances, but I understand them.

  6. The Grinch says:

    The show just got renewed 2 more seasons. They won’t cancel it. They still make a ton of dough on it and they still get a good viewership whether you think it sucks or not. I credit him for sticking around for this long. He’s been unhappy about the money for a long time, as is his right. The actors get paid great but the fact is Fox has made FAR MORE in profits off this show. They said they will recast all the parts and you can go on line and hear people do EXACT versions of these characters, but I guarantee, the first time people hear the “new” Burns or the “new” Ned they will scream that it’s horrible and sounds nothing like Shearer. Sorry to see him go.

  7. Jaime says:

    So no more Smithers or Skinner. Why will they not recast those two? :<

  8. Azerty says:

    In France when the man behind the voices of Skinner, Burns, Krusty among others passed away they had to recast. It feels very weird since it is clearly not the “original” voice that I grew up with. I guess that’s what will happen to you too.

  9. dman6015 says:

    Yes, the show will go on. Other voice over actors have left shows (or passed on, e.g., Jim Henson), and things continued. Frank Oz hasn’t done significant Muppet voices since ‘Muppets in Space’ in 1999. There are a lot of very talented voice over actors out there who can do a lot of voices. No, it won’t be perfectly identical, but it will be close enough.

  10. Network says:

    Fox is in an unusual predicament with this show. Even after 26 years, if they decided they wanted to end it, another network would pick it up in a heatbeat. No question. It’s still such a valuable property which is why Fox even still deals with this. The actors know this too which is why the continually ask for big money which they should get because it doesn’t begin to compare with what fox takes in.

  11. colig says:

    celebritys are the greediest idiots on the planet so i say the hell with him and get someone else.

  12. Kalee says:

    It’s a big loss. But hey, maybe those characters will finally have some life in them again! Skinner and Flanders have sounded so unethusiastic for the past decade now.

  13. rachelle says:

    Possible unpopular opinion time: I love The Simpsons. I hope it never goes off the air.

    • TV Gord says:

      It’s not unpopular with me! I think it’s still as funny as ever! People just get tired of it, and because THEY are tired of it, they think the rest of us should be deprived of it, so they say, “cancel it”. It’s one of the many immature and self-involved comments that show up on message boards about several shows all the time! I’ve learned to ignore them, since they don’t seem to have the capacity to realize that all they have to do is change the channel and let the rest of us enjoy the show while we can. :-)

  14. JIm J. says:

    I knew something like this was gonna happen. The oldest of the six main voice-cast members of “The Simpsons” is leaving “The Simpsons”. Too bad the other voice-cast members aren’t thinking about feature film careers or outside projects.

    Every time “The Simpsons” gets renewed, I always feel sad, because I wasn’t born yet when the show launched in 1990 (I was born in 1993, before the show’s 5th season). I hope they do not replace him with somebody that is actually younger than “The Simpsons”, and if he does a bad job doing Shearer’s former roles, then people will keep on changing the channel to “Once Upon a Time” over on ABC.

  15. Paul says:

    I think it might be time for me to retire from this. It’s not just Shearer’s exit, although that’s bad enough. I just don’t remember that many “laugh out loud funny” moments from this season. I believe the show has been in a slow decline for some time now, and this will probably accelerate its race to the end. Nothing lasts forever. Thanks to the many Simpsons cast members and creators who created over two decades of sometimes brilliant, sometimes hilarious entertainment.