Now, the comedian and voice actor is leaving the show
. Showrunner Al Jean says the characters won't be killed off, not even dusty somethingogenarian Burns. New voice actors will portray the characters, which means some of the many "Simpsons" voices we've come to know and love over the past three decades will probably change, at least a little bit.
Homer Simpson's next-door neighbor and sometimes friend, Ned's a devout Christian and irksomely helpful soul.
Notable quote: "Hey diddly ho!"
How he'd react to the news: "Okily dokily!" with relentlessly positive enthusiasm, probably involving a Bible verse. Then he'd organize a fundraiser for Shearer.
Homer's maniacal boss at the nuclear plant, Burns is frail but ruthless, greedy but ... well, greedy.
Notable quote: "Excellent!"
How he'd react to the news: Probably by making further safety cutbacks at the nuclear plant to pay for Shearer's salary.
Waylon Smithers Jr.
Burns' loyal lackey and an avid "Malibu Stacy" doll collector. He also has a crush on Burns.
Notable quote: "Mr. Burns isn't just my heartless boss, he's also my best friend."
How he'd react to the news: Whatever Burns tells him. Barring that, anything he can to save his boss from oblivion.
The principal at Springfield Elementary School, Skinner's locked in an eternal battle with Homer's mischievous son, Bart, as well as with his own disdainful boss, Superintendent Chalmers.
Notable quote: "Uh oh. Two independent thought alarms in one day. The students are overstimulated. Willie! Remove all the colored chalk from the classrooms."
How he'd react: Perhaps this bit from one episode: "Now I, I finally have time to do what I've always wanted: write the great American novel. Mine is about a futuristic amusement park where dinosaurs are brought to life through advanced cloning techniques. I call it 'Billy and the Cloneasaurus.' "
Springfield's most long-winded, disenchanted and apathetic pastor.
Notable quote: "Oh, just about everything is a sin. Have you ever sat down and read this thing? Technically, we're not allowed to go to the bathroom."
How he'd react to the news: Find the most obscure and irrelevant Bible verse and make it the centerpiece of a sermon.
Dr. Julius Hibbert
The family doctor for Homer and his family, known for laughing in almost situation and handing out sometimes dubious medical advice to his patients.
Notable quote: "You have 24 hours to live. Well, 22; sorry I kept you waiting so long."
How he'd react to the news: He'd undoubtedly find a reason to laugh and then send a very large bill to someone.
The sensationalistic and absurd anchor for Channel 6 news in Springfield.
Notable quote: "The spacecraft has apparently been taken over -- 'conquered,' if you will -- by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: There is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves."
How he'd react to the news: By encouraging idle and damaging speculation, of course. For instance: "Hordes of panicky people seem to be evacuating the town for some unknown reason. Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside?"