Harry Shearer, voice of Mr Burns and Ned Flanders, to leave ‘The Simpsons’ after 26 years

'Spinal Tap' actor leaves after contract disputes with show set to recast Shearer's roles

Long-time The Simpsons voice actor Harry Shearer has announced that he’s departing the show.

The comedian, also known for his role as Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap, revealed the news via Twitter, citing contractual disputes and the lack of freedom to work on other projects as reasons.

Shearer has been involved with the hit cartoon since its debut in 1989. He provides the voices for Mr Burns, Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner and other characters.

‘Simpsons’ showrunner Al Jean told Esquire that the show will recast Shearer’s roles. “We do not plan to kill off characters like Burns and Flanders but will recast with the finest voice over talent available,” Jean said. “Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed. The show will go on and we wish him well. Maggie took it hard.”

Shearer’s other recurring roles include Otto, Dr Hibbert, Lenny, Rev Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Scratchy, God and the Devil.

READ MORE: 15 classic band cameos in The Simpsons

Shearer tweeted that a disagreement with Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks arose because he “wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work”, adding that “Of course, I wish him the very best.” The actor continued to thank fans for their support, saying, “Thanks, Simpsons fans, for your support.” See Shearer’s tweets below.

Meanwhile, the show was recently renewed for another two seasons. Fox announced earlier this month (May 4) that it has ordered Seasons 27 and 28 of the long-running animated sitcom, which will take The Simpsons to a massive 625 episodes since it began in 1989. The show is already the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated programme and the longest-running American scripted primetime series of all time.

The Simpsons’ 27 Funniest Songs So Far

Season 26 of The Simpsons is airing on Fox now and will conclude with its 22nd episode on May 17. Season 27 will then begin on Fox this autumn. Lena Dunham is set to guest star in the Season 27 premiere accompanied by her Girls castmates.

The Simpsons guest stars during Season 26 have included Pharrell Williams, Nick Offerman, Richard Branson, Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe and Sarah Silverman.