The Simpsons legend addresses claims show has gone 'woke' after being axed from voicing Black character

The Simpsons legend addresses claims show has gone 'woke' after being axed from voicing Black character

WATCH HERE: The Simpsons retires one of the show's longest-running gags

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 15/05/2024

- 12:28

Harry Shearer has voiced several long-running characters on the animated series

The Simpsons star Harry Shearer has admitted that he hears complaints the iconic cartoon series has gone "woke" in recent years.

Since it began in 1989, Shearer has maintained his spot in the main cast alongside fellow long-serving voice actors Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, Hank Azaria, Yeardley Smith and Pamela Hayden.

Shearer's portfolio on the show includes iconic characters such as Mr Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Kent Brockman and Reverend Lovejoy.

However, up until a few years ago, he was also the man who provided the vocals for the character of Dr Hibbert.

Dr Hibbert is Springfield's resident medical expert whose throaty laugh was as synonymous with the character as "D'oh!" was with Homer.

But as the character is black, The Simpsons bosses took the decision in 2020 to no longer have white actors voice roles of colour.

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer has admitted that he's aware of the criticism The Simpsons has gone 'woke'


This meant Shearer no longer was tasked with voicing Dr Hibbert and the role instead has been voiced by actor Kevin Michael Richardson in recent years.

The decision also meant Azaria retired from voicing Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

The major change in casting was met with a mixed reaction from the show's fanbase and critics, something Shearer has now addressed.

"Folk say the show has become woke in recent years and one of my characters has been affected," he began to the Times.

He went on: "I voiced the black physician, Dr Hibbert, who I based on Bill Cosby. Back then he was known as the 'whitest black man on television'.

"Then, a couple of years ago, I received an email saying they’d employed a black actor, who then copied my voice.

"The result is a black man imitating a white man imitating the whitest black man on TV," Shearer remarked.

Shearer remains a mainstay in the cast of The Simpsons despite leaving Dr Hibbert behind him - and cites Mr Burns as his favourite character to play.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons: Harry Shearer used to voice Dr Hibbert


The decision to recast the roles wasn't the only time in recent years the animated series was accused of going woke either.

At the end of 2023, fans were up in arms when the long-running joke of Homer strangling son Bart was shelved.

Often preceded by Homer saying, "Why you little...", the gag was an iconic feature throughout the show's 750+ episodes.

In an episode from season 35, however, Homer referenced the "strangling" gag and quipped to Marge: "I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed."

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