Harry Shearer Walks Away From ‘The Simpsons,’ $14 Million Deal

Harry Shearer. (Photo: Albert H. Teich/)

Harry Shearer. (Photo: Albert H. Teich/Shutterstock.com)

Harry Shearer is walking away from The Simpsons.

Shearer, who has voiced characters on the show since 1989, has taken to Twitter to announce his departure, asserting that the decision wasn’t about money—he is rejecting a reported $14 million offer for two years’ work, as well as terms that the other five principal actors accepted—suggesting instead that the dispute centered on his “freedom to do other work”.

CNNMoney reports that showrunner Al Jean confirmed the decision via email. “As The Simpsons continues its 27th and 28th seasons, Harry Shearer will not be within the show,” Jean said.

There are those however, such as Simpsons co-creator James L. Brooks, who are holding out hope that all is not lost.

Fox renewed the show for two more seasons earlier this month.

In his own communication with CNNMoney, Shearer wrote, “In last four years, I’ve created and starred in a UK TV series and starred on London stage. Not stopping.”

Shearer, who remains prolific outside of the program, has previously had scheduling issues. The Simpsons Ride at the Universal Studios theme parks doesn’t feature any Shearer-voiced Simpsons characters due to his availability conflicts.

Jean has been communicating with fans about the situation on Twitter, where he has admitted to confusion about Shearer’s claims that he lacked the freedom to work on other projects. Jean has also assured fans that the characters Shearer voices—Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Otto, Lenny, Kang, Reverend Lovejoy, Dr. Hibbert, Rainier Wolfcastle, and God, among others—will not be killed off, but recast. “No yellow wedding,” he tweeted.

“We do not plan to ‘kill off’ his characters,” Jean confirmed to CNNMoney, “but replace them with the most talented members of the voice over community.”

On Twitter, Jean suggested that voice actors Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, and Tom Kenny might be potential replacements.

“We wish him well,” Jean said. “Maggie took it hard.”


  • starss

    He has never been the easiest guy to work with. He not only participated in the Simpsons cast lobbying for higher salaries a few years ago, but he LED it. He is the only principle cast member to not appear in the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover. He even said The Simpsons was never as good as it was before Season 5! I suppose, like John Stewart, a guy just feels like he’s done after what feels like eons of doing the same thing.

    • @SpitAndSpite

      what a monster. everyone knows it was still good til’ round season 9ish.

    • Hankenshift

      He did a fine job, but you’re right, he apparently wasn’t easy to work with. And, he’s easily replaced. NO one watches The Simpsons because of Harry Shearer.

    • Nipplenuts McGurk

      He never does ANY “extra circular” Simpsons projects. He’s not in the video games, pinball machine, etc. The weirdest thing was Simpsons At The Hollywood Bowl – they played a Flanders clip from the movie and it was dubbed over with a sound-alike (and not a very good one). That clip existed already…I don’t get why they re-recorded it…probably something to do with Harry’s contract.

      • Bobby Bickert

        I have an old (for Windows 98) Simpsons screen saver that has the voices of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Otto. But I don’t know whether they were recorded specifically for the screen saver, or just taken from the soundtracks of episodes of the TV series.

  • theBlipp

    14 million? PFt, amateurs! That’s barely enough to buy some bread once a week, I’d have walked away as well (on my bread loafers).

  • Tre

    No! Not Lenny! D:

  • Matty

    The reason The Simpsons Ride doesn’t feature any of the Harry voices is actually because they didn’t offer him enough money:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHUZ55Tx0ys#t=34m58s

  • Tom

    I’m glad that he refused the $7M plus licensing and royalties per year. He shouldn’t have to put up with that.

  • Paul M

    Al Jean can give me a call to fill in for Harry Shearer. I do an EXCELLENT Mr. Burns, and would have no problem whatsoever with doing the job for half his salary.

  • Ice cream squared

    My be the guy who plays Mr. Crocker on fairly odd parrents can voice mr. burns my dad says he sounds just like him

    • Mack

      Huh, he sure does, doesn’t he. And Kevin Michael Richardson will probably voice Dr. Hibbert. Two down, 10 more to go.

  • Ben A. Varkentine

    Just. Let. It. Die.

    • Thomas Paul Jennings

      As long as we keep throwing money at it in some way it’ll stick around.

  • foreigner.

    I think Carlos Alazraqui would be a good replacement for him.

  • Chad Townsend

    Think of how many artists and animators that much could employ?!?!?!

  • L_Ron_Hoover

    Good on him for having integrity and wanting to further pursue growing as a voice actor. I also doubt he needs the paycheck.

  • J.S

    D’oh!

  • Karl Hungus

    There is some other Simpsons news out there(and I’m sure Harry would be happy if the entire internet wasn’t harping only on the scandal of his supposed departure) and that is that the Rick&Morty crossover with the Simpsons for their opening this sunday has hit the web. And its a raucous socially redeeming endeavor. Enjoy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ecYoSvGO60&feature=youtu.be

  • Maholo Baggins III

    At this point they can replace all the voices he did with the voice of Jar Jar Binks, explained with one good zinger that can be revisited as needed, remaining funny. Of course it must be exactly the right zinger. Isn’t that the approach that the Simpsons has taken for years? Think about it. Jar Jar awaits redemption.

  • @SpitAndSpite

    Yup. That’s why we bought the first 9 seasons and ripped them to MKV. I’m over the post season 10 simpsons. They’re mean spirited and dull. The heart is there but jokes arent. Jokes are in but no heart. Most of the goodwill the simpsons was built solely on those first seasons. Want proof it’s just those seasons? Look at that 8-Bit intro, I believe ALL callbacks were to those first 9 seasons.. minus Maude dying- which, you know, sucked and was interestingly enough done over contract negotiations breaking down. That’s how good those episodes were. The only tragedy with the simpsons was Phil Hartman, but now, big deal, it’s just a money machine so replace him and continue the banality.

    I know, I know; “worst comment, ever”.

  • El Dango

    Simpsons without Flanders, Burns and Skinner isn’t worth it, but trying to replace them is probably gonna be a disaster. Finally (finally) putting the show to rest seems like the only sensible option.