In news that rocked the Internet last night, Harry Shearer will no longer play about half the cast on The Simpsons. Shearer has famously and publicly bickered with FOX over contract negotiations for a good while now, and it seems like he is finally over it and walking (and if anybody is shocked at the cantankerous relationship, they weren’t paying attention- in the earlier seasons the writers flung shit at FOX constantly). He tweeted:

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That’s Simpsons writer/producer James L. Brooks. As a card-carrying Simpsons scholar, this news is a relief. Of course, as we all know, The Simpsons: Golden Years ran from Season 2 (1990) up to Season 8 (1996), with the last Great episode being The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson. Around that time, they stopped being subversively intelligent (in it’s heyday I can easily say it was the smartest show on television) and it became more outright slapsticky, and started leaning more vulgar, which I’ve always suspected was due to “suggestions” from FOX suits wondering how to make it more like that Family Guy show that was all the rage at the time. Anyway, point being, they survived that weird transition, because it was always still the Simpsons characters, doin’ stuff. I’ve always known that The Simpsons would never die, only if its core voice talent stayed. With Harry Shearer’s announcement that he’s done with the show, what do they do now? Kill off every character he voices? Of course not! They’re not slowing this money train down!

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The “finest!” No need to worry, folks! It might be a bit early but I’m convinced this will be the death knell for The Simpsons. Harry Shearer was with the show from the beginning, and was more than simply a voice on the show, he gave the show it’s texture. He was a part of its soul. I’ve seen more than a few comments around the web this morning saying, essentially, that everyone in the world now can do an hilarious Mr. Burns voice, so why would they need to keep Shearer around? This is wrong. Everyone in the world thinks they can do an hilarious Mr. Burns voice. There’s a big difference. There’s only one Mr. Burns, and that’s Mr. Shearer. Vaya con dios, Harry, and so long, Simpsons. We had great years together.

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