Will Longtime ‘The Simpsons’ Character Be Killed Off Over Racism Concerns Raised By Documentary?

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For the past 29 seasons, the character of Indian immigrant Apu Nahasapeemapetilon has been a constant supporting character on The Simpsons, running the Kwik-e-Mart convenience store as one of the more prominent businessmen in the fictional town of Springfield. But there might be a chance he will be the next Simpsons character to get killed off, as his voice actor hinted that actions may be taken in the aftermath of a documentary that called the Apu character racist.

The one-hour documentary The Problem with Apu aired on TruTV on Sunday, November 19, and featured comedian Hari Kondabolu interviewing his fellow South Asian-Americans and asking them about how they felt about Apu being the only character representing their culture on American television. As Variety explained, Kondabolu has always been a Simpsons fan, even if he was bullied as a child by peers who teased him with Apu’s catchphrase of “thank you, come again.” That set him apart from actors such as Harold and Kumar and Designated Survivor star Kal Penn, who was quoted in the TruTV trailer for The Problem with Apu as saying he dislikes The Simpsons specifically because of the Apu character.

Aside from featuring interviews with Penn and a few other celebrities of South Asian descent, The Problem with Apu featured interviews with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon’s voice actor, Hank Azaria, including one where he claimed to have been asked by The Simpsons producers to make his character’s Indian accent as offensive as possible. And while he chose to stay silent about The Problem with Apu and how it accused the people behind The Simpsons of creating a racist stereotype character, Azaria spoke to TMZ earlier this week and weighed in on the issues raised by the TruTV documentary.

Talking about The Problem with Apu, Azaria said that the documentary made some “interesting” points, and that he and The Simpsons’ producers are now “thinking about it,” while also being willing to clear the air with anyone who may have felt offended by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon or any other character on the long-running animated show. He did not outright say if Apu will be the next Simpsons character to get killed off, instead telling TMZ’s reporter that there’s still “a lot to digest,” and that it’s too early to make any decision on the character’s fate.

The last character on The Simpsons to get killed off was not even a regular recurring character, but rather one that had made a few select appearances separated by several years. As noted by HuffPost, the show’s Season 26 premiere featured the death of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, the father of Springfield mainstay Krusty the Klown. Based on clues given by producer Al Jean hinting at a “beloved” Simpsons character getting killed off, as well as the episode’s title being “Clown in the Dumps,” many fans assumed that Krusty would get killed off. But with the death of such a minor character proving to be anticlimactic to viewers, many had taken to social media to complain about what they felt was a lackluster reveal.

If Apu Nahasapeemapetilon becomes the next Simpsons character killed off, his departure will certainly be more pronounced, as Apu’s adventures and misadventures as Kwik-e-Mart proprietor are often a focal point in the show’s storylines. But even with TMZ speculating that Apu’s days in Springfield may be numbered, nothing has been made official as The Simpsons’ 29th season continues, with a 30th confirmed and expected to kick off in the fall of 2018.