The Simpsons Episode ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns?’ Almost Had A Very Different Ending

You shot who in the what now?

‘Who Shot Mr Burns’ is one of the most iconic moments in television history. The two-part mystery helped define The Simpsons as a groundbreaking and experimental comedy, and still stands as one of the show’s best ever episodes — but a Simpsons writer has revealed that it could have ended much differently.

Former executive producer and writer Josh Weinstein has shared a photo on Twitter of the original 1994 pitch, which shows a very rough outline of how the show developed conceptually.

The main difference between the original outline and the final product is that Barney — not Maggie — was the favoured character to shoot Mr Burns. Also, Burns’ plot to block out the entire sun had not been developed, and was originally just a fairly pedestrian real estate deal.

The fact that Barney (and Patty and Selma) were originally considered as the prime suspects shows just how much work went in to crafting the cliffhanger, as well as the care that the writers took with their characters — the consequences of attempted murder weren’t something they were willing to ignore.

As the document says:

“But in the end we have to decide a character we’re willing to sacrifice. It could be Barney, who has been driven to madness by the imminent destruction of Moe’s bar. Maybe he could be sent to jail for a short period of time for attempted murder.”

It makes sense that Maggie was the ultimate choice, because as a baby, she’s basically immune to all the consequences of shooting the most powerful man in town. Shouldn’t really be a surprise that The Simpsons treat their animated comedy characters with such care considering how long-running and successful the show is, but it’s a fascinating insight.

Weinstein has even hinted that he might compile a book of more behind-the-scenes Simpsons documents like this, which sounds like it would be a great read.