Did Harry Shearer — The Voice Of Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers And More — Just Quit The Simpsons?

After reports a lone cast member had held up the season renewal, Harry Shearer has tweeted out he would not be part of the Simpsons going forward.

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Last week, Fox announced that The Simpsons had been renewed for its 27th and 28th seasons — a run which will bring the series up to 625 episodes.

Due to the show’s seemingly interminable longevity, this wasn’t in and of itself a surprise to anyone. But a report published by TMZ the next week suggested that one long-running cast-member had refused to sign on: “The sources would not say which actor is holding out, but we’re told it’s a key person in the mix.”.

Although the show’s creator Matt Groenig denied the rumour, TMZ persisted, publishing a follow-up report a few days later claiming the hold-up came from Harry Shearer — the voice of Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Mr. Smithers, Seymour Skinner, Otto, Dr. Hibbert and a whole bunch more. According to TMZ, Shearer’s problem wasn’t with pay, but — much like the last stand-off, in 2011, organised by Shearer himself — it might have more to do with back-end profits and merchandising.

While we wouldn’t usually cite the garbage disposal unit that is TMZ as a lone source of any piece of information, earlier this afternoon Harry Shearer himself sent out a pair of Tweets.

The first quoted the lawyer of James L. Brooks, a writer and producer of The Simpsons who first hired Matt Groenig in 1989 to create the series of shorts that would soon become your favourite show.  

The second appears to be Shearer wishing Brooks well, while intimating that the cause of the tension came down to exclusivity, or “the freedom to do other work”.

If the act of Fox announcing the next two seasons prematurely could be seen as a power-play to strong-arm Shearer into signing on, so too could Shearer’s pair of Tweets, sent out to 107,000 of his biggest fans.

But if the show is losing one of its most enduring cast-members, it’s a sad day for Simpsons fans everywhere.

For now: