The Simpsons, the animated family sitcom which has run successfully for 26 years, will be saying goodbye to Harry Shearer, the actor who has provided the voice for Mr. Burns and so many of the show’s other supporting characters, as he departs from their hometown of Springfield. This was confirmed in a tweet last night, where the long-time voice behind much of the supporting cast announced that he will no longer be a part of the show. According to Rolling Stone, this could actually mean “most of The Simpsons,” as this leaves a question as to what will become of the characters Shearer has so brilliantly portrayed. Though having a supporting role, these mainstays have added so much laughter to one of America’s most lovable T.V. families. One could only imagine what would happen if these ten lovable characters were to exit Springfield.
Grandpa Simpson would not be too happy to lose old Jasper, who despite his age, has proven to be quite versatile. It’s not everyone who, in Beardly’s state, can substitute a classroom effectively with only a paddle in hand, or freeze himself in Apu’s Kwik-E-Mart. The Simpsons life will not be the same without this Springfield senior.
Brockman over the last 26 years has provided all of the breaking news coverage for the town of Springfield, providing The Simpsons, Flanders, and other families with feelings of reassurance, until at the last minute a crisis hits causing him to either cave or fly into a panic himself. His dedication comes through when after he wins the lottery, he decides to keep his job as he tells Springfield, “I’m a journalist!”
Springfield residents will not necessarily miss this evil, environmentally abusive, megalomaniacal multi-billionaire who has made their every day life miserable, if this Shearer specialty were to depart from The Simpsons. In fact, reactions would probably be similar to Ebenezer Scrooge’s death in A Christmas Carol, which the antagonist turned protagonist encounters in his paradigm of a dream. While it is likely that Homer could still have a job, as cogs are necessary to run a factory, he may still need someone as cynically untactful of Mr. Burns to remind him of his incompetence. Fans for sure will miss the super-villain of The Simpsons, after all it is not everyone that can create a three-eyed fish, or have the audacity to scream out, “I can run over as many kids as I want!”
“Hidely ho!” The nicest guy in Springfield who happens to be Homer’s annoying neighbor could leave a gaping hold in the neighborhood as he moves out. After-all it is not everyone who can at one moment display such a down-home friendliness, and at the next, fly into a torrential rage, while avoiding profanity altogether.
Doctor Julius Hibbert
No one cares for all The Simpsons‘ medical needs like this reliable family physician. Only Hibbert can diagnose a patients with the ‘Homer Simpson Syndrome.” Shearer’s portrayal of the shoot-from-the-hip, supportive physician is unmatched and Hibbert could very well go on to winning a Nobel Prize for medicine.
Only Shearer can pull off the internal conflict that exists within the reverend’s persona, between religious faith and pop-culture. Always there to support The Simpsons, Lovejoy strives to maintain his confident demeanor while keeping his befuddlement in check, which tends to come out every-so-often.
Otto Man the Bus Driver
His name itself has a dual significance. “Otto, maaaaan,” could be a line itself from the beloved head-banging bus driver of Springfield Elementary, who truly takes away from the otherwise monotonous school day. When Bart one day decides to become a skateboard daredevil, Otto as the only adult on the bus gives him one piece of advice that underlines his own personality “Kewwwwwwwlll!!!!!
Principal Seymour Skinner
Springfield Elementary’s polished, but socially inept principal is the antithesis to Bart’s role model, Otto. Beneath the surface of the straight and seemingly confident suit is Shearer’s portrayal of a man with serious issues. From his fear of Superintendent Chalmers, as well as his own mother, to his courting of Marge’s sister Patty and Mrs. Krabappel, Shearer presents to The Simpsons Fans a complex figure only few can pull off so successfully.
It is fortunate that Shearer provides the voice for both Smithers and Burns, because if the latter were to end up departing from The Simpsons, whether it is due to being gobbled up by a three-eyed fish or death by radiation, things could get rather lonely for his expressionless and submissive assistant, who may very well be driven to suicide. On the upside, if the two are replaced by a newcomer to the show providing the voice for both members of the hapless couple, fans could be treated to a whole new relationship between the mogul and his lackey.
McBain (Rainier Wolfcastle)
Shearer demonstrates true versatility, which is most apparent with the Aussie accented actor Wolfcastle who portrays his signature action hero McBain. Unlike most of Shearer’s other characters, McBain displays a collected coolness and dry humor which can be interrupted by a sudden short fuse as he takes out his enemies. This Simpsons hero is so memorable that one The Simpsons devoted fan even put together a full McBain feature film on YouTube.
Since The Simpsons will be around for at least another two seasons, producers have expressed that they plan to replace the departing Springfield mainstay, who had brilliantly portrayed Mr. Burns and others. Despite the likelihood of Springfield’s fixtures continuing their jobs, fans doubt that whoever will replace Shearer will not do justice for Springfield’s quirky rag-tag group of supporting characters. On the other hand, perhaps fans might be treated to a different dimension of personalities, from Burns possibly having a human side, to Lovejoy having a dark one. One thing for certain is that Springfield will never be the same again.
By Bill Ades
News Source: Rolling Stone – Excellent, Smithers: Harry Shearer’s 10 Best ‘Simpsons’ Characters
Photo by Brian Ledgard – Flickr License