‘The Simpsons’ Harry Shearer Exits: Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner to Be Recast (Updated)

Voice actor passed on same deal the rest of the cast accepted, showrunner Al Jean says — adding, “It’s confusing”


Updated May 14, 2015, 9:14 a.m. ET:

Harry Shearer‘s “Simpsons” roles will be recast after the voice actor passed on re-upping, showrunner Al Jean said.

The “Simpsons” producer said in a statement provided to TheWrap that Shearer was “offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed.” Jean added that Shearer’s characters will be “recast with the finest voiceover talent available,” in a statement to the New York Times.

“The show will go on and we wish him well,” Jean said, then joking: “Maggie took it hard.”

Shearer will appear in this year’s “Treehouse of Horror,” however, Jean said on Twitter. The actor reiterated to his own fans on Twitter that the decision “wasn’t about money.” Still, there’s some confusion, Jean admits, as he says they always let Shearer have “freedom” for other projects — which was the actor’s provided reason for not re-upping.

The voice actor behind “The Simpsons” characters Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner has announced that he is leaving the show.

Harry Shearer shared the news that he won’t return to the Fox animated classic on Wednesday night via Twitter.

“From James L. Brooks‘ lawyer: “show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best,” he wrote, referring to “The Simpsons” producer, Brooks.

“This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best.”

He went on to thank fans for their support over the years.

Shearer, 71, has worked as an actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author, radio host and director over the course of his long career. He co-created, co-wrote and co-starred in the 1984 satirical rock film “This Is Spinal Tap,” and then worked on “Saturday Night Live” as an unofficial replacement for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, which he reportedly called “living hell.”

Shearer joined “The Simpsons” in 1989, and despite initially being concerned that voice work would be boring, he has since brought some of the most distinctive characters to life, saying that he modeled Mr. Burns on Ronald Reagan and Lionel Barrymore.

Fox renewed “The Simpsons” for its incredible 27th and 28th seasons earlier this month. All-in, that will take the series to 625 episodes.

This season, “The Simpsons” is averaging a 2.7 rating/8 share among adults 18-49 and six million total viewers, per Nielsen’s “most current” numbers, which incorporates Live Plus 7 Day Viewing where available, and it has won 31 Emmys.

Read Shearer’s tweets below.