Another popular Springfield resident is getting a long-overdue recast.
Harry Shearer, a white actor who has been voicing Black doctor Julius Hibbert since the character’s debut more than 30 years ago, is stepping down from the role, TVLine has confirmed. In fact, Shearer’s final episode as Dr. Hibbert (Season 32’s “Diary Queen”) aired this past Sunday. Shearer will continue to voice his myriad other Simpsons roles, including Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Mr. Burns.
Taking over the iconic character’s voice will be Kevin Michael Richardson, a well-known veteran of the voice acting world who has already lent his voice to The Simpsons (albeit in smaller roles) dozens of times since 2009. His first episode as Dr. Hibbert (“Wad Goals”) will air Sunday, Feb. 28.
Other characters Richardson has recently voiced include Family Guy‘s Jerome and Cleveland Brown Jr., American Dad!‘s Principal Lewis, Young Justice‘s Martian Manhunter, Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Groot, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ Shredder, and The Batman‘s Joker. His extensive credits also include work on shows like Pinky and the Brain, The Powerpuff Girls, The PJs, Lilo & Stitch: The Series and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Of course, Dr. Hibbert is hardly the first character to be recast in the name of racial accuracy in recent months. The Simpsons famously announced recastings for Carl (now played by Alex Desert) and Apu (new voice TBD), while Family Guy introduced a new voice actor for Cleveland (Arif Zahir). Over on the streaming services, Netflix’s Big Mouth introduced Ayo Edebiri as the new voice of Missy (previously voiced by Jenny Slate), while Apple TV+’s Central Park swapped out Kristen Bell for Emmy Raver-Lampman as Molly.
Vulture initially reported on Shearer’s recasting.