Harry Shearer's left The Simpsons? Please kill it now, Matt Groening

After 26 series and with just the dregs of Springfield remaining, it's time to give the show the death penalty, writes Mollie Goodfellow

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The Independent Culture

Just before last Christmas my cat Coco got really sick. She was 14 years old and she had kidney trouble and one week she just got very weak and started dribbling – a lot. It was gross. My mum took her to the vets and they made the decision to have her put down. It was very sad and my immediate instinct was ‘no, how could you, she could have lived forever’, but that was wrong. It was her time to go. And now it’s time for The Simpsons to pull a similar plug.

I have been a Simpsons fan for as long as I can remember. From when I was a little kid, watching it when it showed on BBC Two in the playroom with my two older brothers to now, when I still spend Sundays in bed watching episode after episode.

This morning news broke that Harry Shearer, the voice of much-loved, integral characters such as Ned Flanders, Mr Burns, Smithers and newscaster Kent Brockman, would be leaving the show. While the terms of why he’s leaving are currently vague (and potentially related to contract issues), the departure is a true blow for fans.

The truth is The Simpsons has been dying for a long time. In a post originally on Codewit news, show creator Matt Groening, who shot the show to its deserved platform ‘said’ in 2013 that he should have “ended it all years ago”. He told KBBL-TV: "I don't know why Fox keeps renewing it. The jokes aren't good, the storylines are a mess and episodes are forgettable”, and despite the quotes being a satirical joke by the Codewit article writer, the view point is completely right.

Newer seasons are a mere shadow of the formative ones. The main characters, the Simpson family – Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie – are caricatures of who they used to be. Lisa is unbearably obnoxious, Bart rude and annoying and Homer, oh sweet Homer, is now idiotic, but without the funny and warm-hearted edge that used to make it okay.

The new series’ also shoehorn in celebrities where they were once used sparingly and to good effect. Dustin Hoffman's appearance in the episode Lisa’s Substitute is what makes it one of my favourite episodes. The sweet character of Mr Bergstrom reflects the love people have for Dustin as an actor. Now, we get the likes of pop art queen Lady Gaga whether we like it or not – and we definitely don’t.

burns.jpg
The voice of Mr Burns is leaving The Simpsons

Harry Shearer isn’t the only loss to the Simpsons family either. Earlier this year, co-creater Sam Simon passed away after a battle with cancer, sending ripples through the Simpsons fanbase. Despite retiring in 1993, he was still a pillar of the show – his name still rolled through the credits.

We lost Mrs Krabappel too, after the untimely death of voice artist Marcia Wallace. Though she was not one of the main characters, Mrs Krabappel was a solid staple in the show. She was a token spinster as well as sometime mentor, sometime adversary to rapscallion Bart. Her last main storyline was a weird, mashed together marriage to Ned Flanders - another piece of evidence in the case to give the show the death penalty. Since its birth in 1989, the fantastic, wonderful, sensitive and hilarious show that I’ve grown up with has been running for 26 seasons. That’s about 16 seasons too long. Harry Shearer’s departure is just the final nail in a coffin that’s been waiting too long to go into the ground. It’s time to roll the final credits.

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