Executive producer Al Jean is being tight-lipped until the very end regarding which The Simpsons character is going to be killed off in the Season 26 premiere on September 28. One promise he’s keeping, “When we kill ’em, they stay dead.” Meaning, unlike Family Guy, which killed off Brian the dog for three weeks, don’t expect this Simpsons character to be resurrected despite the fact that they’re a cartoon. Speculation has swirled for some time by fans that it’s cult character Krusty the Clown getting the ax, clearly evident in the episode’s title “Clown In The Dumps,” but Jean said in a conference call today, “We gave it that title for a reason; some have guessed (the character’s death) correctly, and some are really off.”
The episode’s description reads, “Springfield is rocked when a resident dies; Krusty feels insulted during a comedy cable-channel roast and decides to retire; and Lisa steps in to protect Homer when she believes he’s on his way to getting hurt.” Jean also refused to specify on the call which character David Hyde Pierce would be voicing during the Season 26 premiere. Many online accounts say it’s a character named Felix, though Pierce traditionally has provided the voice of Cecil Terwilliger, the envious brother of Sideshow Bob.
However, in this day and age of ratings-challenged TV, Jean isn’t expecting the Simpsons character kill-off to spike viewership. “A wise man I once worked with said when it comes to ratings, it’s about what you’re up against and what you’re after,” he said. “Every fall, we are after football and our ratings are great, and then in the spring, when football is over, it looks like a drought. Nonetheless, our ads are in the top 5 of all networks, we’re huge in M18-34, and we rerun really well.”
And as far as how long The Simpsons will run: “We could last two more years, maybe four, maybe more,” Jean said. “No one has talked to us about wrapping the show.”
Other ground Jean covered included the success of lat month’s Hollywood Bowl event “The Simpsons Take The Bowl,” which included a live performance of the toon’s music paired with favorite episodes. Jean mentioned that there are no plans to rebroadcast the event on TV. The EP was beaming about the success of the 12-day Simpsons marathon on FXX, saying that it provided an opportunity to re-energize old fans who might have abandoned the show after their college days.
In regards to unique Simpsons episodes on the horizon, aside from the November 9 crossover with Futurama, Jean teased the upcoming Halloween episode. “It has three segments: ‘School In Hell,’ inspired by the work of (British comic book author) Neil Gaiman; then there’s a Stanley Kubrick-inspired Clockwork Orange segment; and then there’s a sequence where the Simpsons meet their Tracey Ullman selves.”