Harry Shearer, voice of Flanders, Burns, Smithers, Skinner, is off The Simpsons

I don’t know how many of you will care about this, but it’s potentially devastating to me. Harry Shearer just tweeted that he’s leaving The Simpsons. Shearer’s contract negotiation talks reportedly broke down, and he’s said to have wanted a larger percentage of merchandising revenue. Shearer is an integral and irreplaceable part of The Simpsons, the longest running sitcom in the US. The Simpsons will air its 27th season starting this fall and it’s unclear how it will go on without Shearer. He’s the voice of Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Lenny, Dr. Hibbert, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Rainier Wolfcastle and Otto among many others. I really hope this is just some kind of negotiation tactic, because if it’s true I don’t know how my family’s favorite show will continue. Here’s what Shearer tweeted.

This wouldn’t be the first time The Simpsons have lost a cast member in contract negotiations. In 2000 they killed off Maude Flanders when voice actress Maggie Roswell asked for a raise to cover her travel costs to LA. Roswell eventually reached an agreement with producers that she could work from home and she returned to the show in 2002. She’s the voice of Luann Van Houten, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover and Maude Flanders (in flashbacks and dream sequences). The Simpsons also sadly lost Marcia Wallace, the voice of Edna Krabappel, when she passed away from complications from cancer in late 2013.

I’m hoping that Fox is just playing hardball with Shearer and that they’ll work out some sort of agreement with him to stay on. If he’s off the show, it definitely won’t be the same. They’re not going to be able to write off all those characters and I doubt they’ll be able to replace him convincingly. It would be a huge relief to hear that this announcement was premature and that Shearer and Fox have worked out a deal. Otherwise I have to tell my son about it and I’m dreading that.





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48 Responses to “Harry Shearer, voice of Flanders, Burns, Smithers, Skinner, is off The Simpsons”

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  1. blue marie says:

    What?!? No!! Stupid Flanders..

  2. Pri says:

    Stopped watching after the Toronto episode. Although, if I was richer, I’d buy seasons 1-10 on DVD.

    • mia girl says:

      Do you get FX2? The channel plays all the old episodes. I believe there is a Simpson Musical Episodes Marathon on tonight! Can’t wait.

  3. G0tch4 says:

    I hate to even suggest this but the Simpsons have been on forever. There aren’t people out there who can do these voices? My boyfriend can do a bunch of tv voices flawlessly. I just can’t imagine he’s absolutely irreplaceable.

    • Dubois says:

      Right. Didn’t Jim Henson use to voice kermit and other muppets? They went on after he passed. Also who voiced Elmo after that pervy guy was fired or quit? It can be done.

  4. Ms. Lib says:

    That is a lot of deaths for one sitcom to handle. Maybe they will turn it into a drama.

    • Laura says:

      Ha! I love that idea!!

      I haven’t kept up with the show for years but Harry is such an integral part! I would be devastated if my favorite Otto sounds different.

  5. Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

    The Simpsons is dying. I hope it’s put out of its misery soon.

    • Jegede says:


      And even moreso without Reverend Lovejoy

    • doofus says:

      haven’t watched in years…the writing went downhill a long time ago.

      the only folks I know who still watch are the SUPER DUPER HARDCORE fans who DVR (used to be “tape”) every episode. to keep. FOREVER.

  6. Cindy says:

    No they can’t do this?!? That shot of Flanders shaking it is killing me. They gotta give him what he wants….he isn’t replacable.

  7. Kara says:

    i cant muster up any cares. years ago this would have been devastating news.

    • FLORC says:

      Right. They’ve been on too long. Fox has beaten every last ounce of creativity out of it. That it got renewed only supports the show will go out with a wimper.

      Shearer’s voice could be easily replaced unless he has some rights to the characters or the sound (seems unlikely though). And the show would be suddenly without it’s last leg minus some critical characters.

  8. JustCrimmles says:

    I’ve long had some attraction to him. It’s become an in-joke between my husband and me. Hopefully Fox comes to their senses. Unless they’re going apocalyptic in the upcoming season.

    • BengalCat2000 says:

      I had a very brief and steamy love affair with a
      guy who looked a bit like Milhouse. My best friend will never let me live it down. I even have Milhouse as the dude ‘s contact pic in my phone. But whatever, he was hot!

      • AcidRock says:

        HA! I would love to see this guy in real life!

      • FLORC says:

        I tried posting a “hot milhouse” pic, but it never cleared 🙁 He can totally be hot and still look like a Milhouse!

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        Lol! He’s tall, great body, Face and hair (not blue) just like Milhouse. I have a major nerd fetish, and I don’t care who knows! ☺

  9. aims says:

    I love that Simpsons, it’s cool to be able to watch the Simpsons with my kids and have all of us laugh. I’m an Oregonian and I always get a laugh when I’m driving around Portland and the street names remind me of the Simpsons. It’s really cool.

  10. dr mantis toboggan says:

    Yeah, either they give him what he wants or the show is over. They can’t do it without those characters.

  11. Pinky says:

    He plays both Smithers and Burns? Wow that must really mess with your head. Anyway:

    Boo-urns! (Though I support his desire to do outside projects.) Aww, hell diddly ding-dong crap!

  12. Jag says:

    I haven’t watched the Simpsons for a long time. That said, one would think it would cost more to get voice actors who sound like those characters than it would to give him what he wants. As much of a giant as the Simpsons is, the network or producers need to stop being so greedy.

    Wait to tell your son. Things can change!

  13. nilber says:

    My husband would love this but my son and I would mourn. I adore this show!

    • burnsie says:

      *sits next to Nilber*

      Same here!!! I really hope this isn’t true 😩 I’ve been a huge fan since the early 90s!!!!

  14. Cannibell says:

    Team Don’t Let Harry Walk. “The Simpsons” is the rare long-running show that has managed to remain fresh. Here’s hoping Brooks and Shearer can work something out.

  15. veritas says:

    HS is like half the simpsons. i really cant imagine the show with out him. you cant have the simpsons without mr. burns or flanders. if it does it wont be the same. i dont know if i could watch it anymore. today is now a sad day in springfield usa.

    • Kitten says:

      THIS. They can’t be this stupid, can they?
      Give the guy what he wants yo.

    • AcidRock says:

      I haven’t seen how they handled the passing of Marcia Wallace (beyond the opening credit where Bart writes “We’ll really miss you Miss K.”). Since Edna was married to Ned Flanders and therefore living right next door (and would maybe show up more often due to being so close to the Simpsons’ house), how did they explain her absence? Did she quit the school and divorce Ned? Or do they just show her onscreen but without speaking?

      • Rigby says:

        @AcidRock: The character died, too. I haven’t watched the episode, but the Simpsons Wiki says ‘The Man Who Grew Too Much’ has an epilogue where Ned talks about how much he misses her.

      • AcidRock says:

        Ah, ok. It just occurred to me that none of the recent episodes I’ve seen had Bart in the classroom, so I didn’t know what they were doing for his teacher, or showed Flanders, so I didn’t know if they just made it look like Edna was no longer married to him or what.

  16. Birdie says:

    I’m glad for german dubbing. They are all voiced by different actors. The german Marge voice-actress died a while ago and someone else took over the job. It was weird at first, but now it’s normal.

  17. Luca76 says:

    I listen to the WTF podcast regularly and Shearer was on a month or so ago. He just sounded like one of the most bitter and difficult people imaginable and by his own admission he’s burned a lot of bridges in this business with a good portion of the people he’s worked with. He complained a lot about the Simpsons not paying him enough (eventhough he admitted they pay him ALOT) . I’m surprised he’s stayed on the Simpsons for this long .
    In the end I think the fact that the show has been on since I was in middle school and now I’m almost 40 might be a sign that it’s time to call it a day.

    • lucy2 says:

      I heard that too, and got the same impression – he is not an easy guy to work with. After hearing that, I can’t say I’m stunned that his negotiations broke down.

      That said, I think he’s too integral to the show to let him walk, but I also agree that it’s been on too long and probably this should be the end.

    • delphi says:

      Ditto. Scuttlebutt is that he will only cow-tow to Christopher Guest, only because he knows that without Guest casting him in his movies (and then getting him into the cast of SNL post-80s collapse and pre 90s resurgence), he would be doing VOs for fast food commercials.

      That being said, Burns is my favorite character! (Not sure what that says about me as a person…) Not having Monty around would be awful. Nobody releases the hounds quite like he does.

  18. Meatball says:

    I think it’s about time to let the show go. It is not good anymore.

  19. Red32 says:

    The Simpsons is still on?

  20. Tiffany says:

    Ummm, I am not a lawyer but I say pay the man. Say what you want but that show is still a juggernaut whether some people like it or not.

  21. serena says:

    How the hell are they gonna sobstitute for all those characters???? Bring him back!

  22. bettyrose says:

    I don’t understand why Phil Hartman isn’t being discussed here. Maybe his characters weren’t as major as Flanders, but he was a significant loss to the Simpson’s (and humanity in general).

  23. Jellybean says:

    Kill those characters off with a zombie attach.. For God sake breath some new life in that dinosaur!!!

  24. native says:

    ” Oh maaaan! Ned spilled ink all over my poems!
    He’s a real flat tire! I mean a cube maan! He’s sendin us on the train to squaresville Mona!”
    (Ned’s beatnik dad)