Harry Shearer leaves “The Simpsons”

Surprising news came Wednesday: after being on the show since its 1990 debut, “Simpsons” veteran voice actor Harry Shearer’s leaving the series.

The news was made public in a pair of tweets from his Twitter account:

Reasons cited seem to be a mix of contract negotiation disagreements (related to merchandising, voice actor credit not given, etc.), some boredom with continuing the series, and wanting the freedom to do other work. The show was recently renewed by Fox for what’ll be its 27th and 28th seasons, running through 2017.

While Fox clearly cares more at this point about quantity than quality when it comes to “The Simpsons”—and an advantage of animation is being able to replace voice actors for non-aging fictional characters—it’s still a pretty big blow to the show. Shearer did a very large number of secondary characters on the series. Gizmodo UK has a lengthy list of them here, but the most famous ones include Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Kent Brockman, Smithers, and Dr. Hibbert. Fox has one doozy of an impromptu voice actor casting session ahead of it, and/or asking the rest of the cast to take over some of the secondary characters Shearer did.

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