“The Simpsons” sans Harry Shearer
Harry Shearer, a comedian and voice actor best known for voicing iconic Simpsons characters like Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Mr. Burns, announced yesterday that after 26 years he would be leaving the show. Given the unprecedented run of “The Simpsons” for nearly 30 years, having a major cast member depart like this was bound to happen at some point. Luckily for the creative team behind “The Simpsons”, Shearer only voices recurring characters like Flanders and Burns. If Dan Castellaneta or Julie Kavner, the respective voices behind Homer and Marge, had decided to walk away that would put them in much more of a bind, given the prominence of those characters. Showrunner Al Jean has insisted Shearer’s characters will still be on the show and they will be replaced by other voice actors.
Though “The Simpsons” has lost other voice actors in the past due to their passing away, like Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel) and Phil Hartman (Troy McClure), losing Shearer in this way will have a pretty significant impact on the show. Shearer is, along with Castellaneta and Hank Azaria, one of the go-to voice actors on the show and has provided the voices for a vast number of key supporting characters. In the case of Wallace and Hartman, their characters were written out and retired after their passing, which Jean has insisted won’t happen in this case. Shearer voices too many characters, many of whom are fan favorites, for the show to write them all out. While re-casting voice parts is a common practice, “The Simpsons” has surprisingly managed to avoid re-casting over it’s 26 seasons and Shearer’s shoes will be hard ones to fill.