Fans of The Simpsons have known for quite some time that a major character will meet his or her demise in the upcoming season, the iconic cartoon’s 26th. Recently, producers gave a strong hint that Springfield’s resident washed-up-but-still-popular-with-the-kids entertainer, Krusty the Clown, would be entering his final days.
That strong hint was that the episode is called “Clown in the Dumps,” which seems like a direct reference to Krusty. Producers have also stated the actor who plays the soon-to-be-deceased animated icon won an Emmy for the role.
But Simpsons show runners threw a bit of mystery into the guessing game at Comic-Con yesterday with the release of a video teaser of the episode. There’s a health scare portrayed, to be certain — but the afflicted character is not Krusty the Clown, but Homer Simpson.
Both Krusty and Homer are voiced by Dan Castellaneta. Castellaneta has won four primetime Emmy awards for his performances, in some cases for playing more than one character in a single episode.
The prospect of the show’s central character, Homer, passing away seems difficult to believe. As Entertainment Weekly writer Dan Snierson put it, killing off Homer would be “dumber than… well, Homer in pretty much any situation.”
In the teaser clip, Homer is seen wearing a CPAP device, and goes through a series of mishaps while Lisa watches with a worried look through a “Daddy Cam.” See the video below:
The prospect of the Simpson family having to deal with such a profound loss — crossing over from the “comedy” into the “drama” category — would not necessarily be new territory for the show. Over its lengthy run, the program has dealt with many serious issues. Just last year, Bart befriended a young man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, in an episode entitled “Diggs.” Some have argued that the program only partially succeeded in its attempt to address the matter appropriately.
But at a more basic level, it seems impossible that producers would devise such a dramatic turn for their central character.
Stuart Heritage, blogging for The Guardian, puts Krusty into the category of indispensable. Writing last week, Heritage was clear about his feelings:
“Krusty is too important to die. Take Barney instead. Take Disco Stu. Take Milhouse if you really must, but not Krusty. Not our dear, sweet, tax-evading, chain-smoking, sometimes-diabetic, lithium-addicted Krusty.”
Heritage also cleverly points out that Krusty is not the only clown to be voiced by Dan Castellaneta. Sideshow Mel is in that category too. And Kelsey Grammer won an Emmy in 2006 for his portrayal of Sideshow Bob. “Clown in the Dumps” could merely refer to Krusty’s grief at the loss.
The new season of The Simpsons debuts on Fox September 28.