Last night, actor Harry Shearer tweeted that after 26 seasons, he will no longer be part of The Simpsons. And to clarify: by "part of The Simpsons," we mean "most of The Simpsons." That's because Shearer voiced so many characters in the show's supporting cast – folks with whom the Simpsons family interacted with each week (Mr. Burns! Principal Skinner! Dr. Hibbert!) – that it's like two-thirds of Springfield just up and moved to Capital City. Or worse, Shelbyville!
Sadder still, it appears the SNL alum, Spinal Tap bassist and Richard Nixon enthusiast parted ways acrimoniously with The Simpsons crew. "From [co-creator] James L. Brooks' lawyer: 'Show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best,'" Shearer wrote on Twitter. "This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best." In another tweet, replying to an alarmed fan, Shearer underscored that, despite his Simpsons split, he would not be retiring.
The producers have said they will replace him, since they've renewed the show for another two seasons, but frankly no other actor will be able to achieve Shearer's level of nuance. (To quote Shearer's Mr. Burns, with regard to replacing him, "Release the hounds!") So, with the hope that the heir to voice-acting icon Mel Blanc's 1,000 Voices throne will be moving on to bigger and maybe even better things, Rolling Stone is saying goodbye to Shearer's 10 most memorable Simpsons characters.