Well, “The Simpsons did it!” proves true yet again—even when it comes to the show predicting what would happen to its future self.
That’s right: The Simpsons sort of predicted the unfortunate news that Simpsons actor Harry Shearer is planning to depart from the show… and that afterwards, his characters would be voiced by other actors. And believe it or not, the moment came straight from a Shearer-voiced resident of Springfield.
In the season 10 episode “Homer to the Max,” the Simpson clan is gathered around the television watching the new crop of midseason shows. Homer points out a new animated show, saying that networks love the genre “because they don’t have to pay the actors squat.” Then Ned Flanders, a Shearer character, appears in the window to say, “Plus they can replace them and no one can tell the diddly-ifference!” The joke: The voice we hear coming from Ned clearly isn’t Shearer’s.
Following Shearer’s announcement that he plans to leave the show, producer Al Jean clarified that Shearer’s most popular characters would not be killed off—which means the show will have to search for a replacement for Shearer, or even multiple replacements. (Or the show could become a silent cartoon. Though that seems less likely.).
For those who can access SimpsonsWorld, watch the episode here. The moment in question occurs right after the opening credits.