Harry Shearer, the voice talent behind some of the most popular characters in The Simpsons (including Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Lenny, Principal Skinner, Reverend Lovejoy and Kent Brockman), apparently quit the show.
The actor made the announcement himself, with the following tweets:
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
We don't know at this point what this means for the show. Will the producers try to find replacement sfor all the characters Harry Shearer was voicing, or will Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns and Kent Brockman just disappear? Some of these Springfieldians are such an important part of the series, it's difficult to imagine The Simpsons without them. One thing is certain: if Harry Shearer really is leaving, the show won't be the same.
UPDATE: A tweet by Simpsons show-runner Al Jean evokes a recasting (with a Game of Thrones reference); so all the characters voiced by Shearer will still be a part of the series.