When it comes to shows lasting a long time, an inevitable truth is that some characters will either move on or be retired in one form or another. For cartoons, that’s true to an extent, but voice actors can honestly go on for awhile as long as they’re able to speak (so to speak).
For The Simpsons, there’s a really weird situation going on with one of their main series voice-over actors, Harry Shearer. As reported earlier by PopGeeks, Shearer has apparently left the show, which was a big surprise to showrunner Al Jean for numerous reasons. He told The Hollywood Reporter:
“I’m a little baffled. The other five [voice stars] signed on May 1 and we offered him the same contract everybody else got offered, but he didn’t sign so we started reading like we were going to and [were] waiting to see if he wanted to come back or not. Then about a week ago TMZ somehow got a hold of a story that [an unnamed voice actor from the cast] wasn’t returning. Then last night Harry tweeted something to the extent that he was leaving the show — implying he wasn’t wanted — which isn’t true. We made him an offer and we’re once more saying, ‘”Do you want to come back like everybody else and work hard and care about the show? Great.'”
The rumor that is going around is that Shearer wanted to leave not only for monetary reasons, but because he wanted to do other projects. Which is fine, except Jean added:
“He said he wanted to do other projects, which makes no sense because we’ve always let the cast do all the other projects they want — they have great free time. So I don’t really know what he’s up to [or] what he’s thinking. I hope he comes back. The other misinformation that has been spread is that it would jeopardize these two seasons we’re doing up until 625 episodes. That’s for sure a pick-up from the network, and everybody else is pay-or-play — so we’ll make those episodes. If he chooses not to come back, we’ll recast. We will not kill his characters; that’s one way to go. I’m sure there will be pluses and minuses with that and, at the moment, I’m hoping he comes back. But if he doesn’t in a reasonable time, we’ll have to do the other options.”
Jean still wants Shearer to return, but who knows if this situation will be settled?