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Harry Shearer Leaves The Simpsons

Montgomery Burns, Seymour Skinner and Ned Flanders say goodbye

simpsons harry shearer

You might know Harry Shearer's face from his portrayal of Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, but his voice has been echoing around your brain for over 25 years, as his work on The Simpsons has seen him play the likes of Otto, Montgomery Burns, Seymour Skinner and Ned Flanders - but now, that gig is up, with Shearer leaving the series.

Announcing the news on Twitter, Shearer mentioned a letter from the show's producer, James L. Brooks:

from James L. Brooks' lawyer: "show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.". (1/2)

— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015

This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best. (2/2)

— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015

For many, Shearer's departure is the death knell for the programme, as the characters he brought to life were some of the most popular on the show, and with Simpsons fans being as fanatical as they are, a copycat replacement wouldn't cut it.

Some other Shearer voices: Lenny Leonard, Rainier Wolfcastle (and so McBain and Arnold Schwarzenegger), Timothy Lovejoy Jr., Kent Brockman, Kang and Scratchy.

And while The Simpsons still boasts substantial ratings and remains incredibly profitable, there have been frequent scraps between voice acting talent and the show's money men, as Shearer and his colleagues fought for a bigger cut of the profits. Shearer's departure, however, is the first head to roll after years of legal wrangling.

Seasons 27 and 28 of The Simpsons are due to enter production soon, but earlier this week there were rumours that Shearer was delaying proceedings by refusing to put pen to paper because of a new deal concerning merchandising rights.

Even die-hard Simpsons aficionados who've stuck by the show since 1989 would admit that recent output has not hit the heights of the Season 4, 5, 6 and 7, so with this news, a chorus of "There's no Simpsons without you Harry!" has echoed around the internet, including Shearer's Twitter feed.

@theharryshearer there's no Simpsons without you, Harry. Simple as that.

— Andrew Callaghan (@wombat1974) May 14, 2015