Long-time fans of The Simpsons animated sitcom series have vowed to boycott the show if voice artist Harry Shearer leaves the program. For many, this would signify the first time in more than a decade they’d made a conscious decision not watch the program, as opposed to inadvertently not watching it because they were no longer interested.
Shearer, who voices beloved Simpsons characters Ned Flanders, Mr Burns, Otto Mann and Scratchy, among others, announced his departure via twitter on Thursday morning to the devastation of thousands of people who no longer watch the show.
James Hall, a 29-year-old bank teller from Cambridge Massachusetts who last watched The Simpsons in 2006, wrote on his Facebook: “If Harry Shearer goes, I am out. Losing Harry would completely undermine the integrity of the show.
“I mean, what would happen to Maud if Flanders just disappeared? Would she have to go too? Or would she become a widow?”
A change.org petition calling on Shearer to continue already has over 16,000 signatures from people who, between them, have watched a combined 37 minutes of Simpsons content this year. Gyselle Lipman, who started the petition, told The (un)Australian that while it was unlikely she would watch the program if Shearer returned, she still felt her voice should could in the shaping of the programs future.
In a short statement, creator Matt Groening expressed disappointment that Shearer was leaving, particularly “on the eve of what was going to be our greatest season yet”.