For 26 seasons, The Simpsons, the first primetime animated show for adults and longest running series on television, has brought us laughter and hijinks by way of the Bunker-like Simpson clan, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Recently, Fox announced that The Simpsons has been renewed for two more seasons, bringing the current total episode count at the end of a 28 season run to a monumental 625. Simpsons creator Matt Groening recently told TMZ that all voice actors are signed on through the next two seasons, but the gossip news site claims that they know otherwise.
TMZ claims that several in the know have confirmed to them that Harry Shearer, the versatile voicester that provides the voices of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Mr. Smithers, and Principal Skinner, among others, has not, in fact, signed on yet, and that while money is not the holdup, as each of the main voice actors each earn the same per episode range, rumored to be anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000, Shearer’s holdup is with the back end and monies earned via Simpsons merchandising, which is massive.
Fox has threatened in years passed to cancel The Simpsons as production costs rise, and one has to wonder if these next two seasons could be the last for the history-making Simpsons. Still a ratings beast and anchor of Fox’s Sunday night animation/comedy lineup, The Simpsons paved the way for a deluge of other adult-humored animated series, such as Family Guy, American Dad, South Park, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. While The Simpsons has outlasted all of them and built a brand that includes a full-length feature film and even a simulated Simpsons Springfield which just opened at Universal Studios theme parks, one would presume that it would be worth it to Fox, who also controls the massive syndication earning potential of The Simpsons, to continue the series as long as possible. Age and time continue to be a factor, though, with an aging voice cast that in 2013 lost Marcia Wallace, who long voiced Bart’s teacher, Edna Krabappel. Still, it is possible that, if the series ends after 28 seasons, The Simpsons would appear in network specials and possibly more feature films. However, with the cancellation of Seth McFarlane’s Cleveland Show and the move to cable network TBS of American Dad, The Simpsons remains a hot commodity of immense value to the network.
In years past, there have been several moments where some predicted the demise of The Simpsons, but the show continues to endure and remain relevant. As long as that remains so, it is hard to imagine a Fox Sunday lineup without The Simpsons, especially after a record breaking 30-plus year run.