Woo-hoo! That’s surely what the residents of Springfield, ______ are saying right about now – or at least they would be if they weren’t fictional characters unaware they exist within a long-running TV show. FOX announced today that The Simpsons will in fact continue its seemingly never-ending march into pop-culture eternity, via a two-season renewal that carries the series through spring 2017.
In FOX’s press release, Homer Simpson himself – the one character apparently aware he’s a TV star – sums up The Simpsons’ continued existence thusly: “I’ve outlasted Letterman, Jon Stewart and ‘McDreamy,’ because I have something they don’t: a costly 200-donut-a-day addiction.“
While it’s hard to imagine that anyone doubted FOX would renew The Simpsons, the fact that they gave it a double renewal really speaks to just how popular the show still is. The Simpsons may not quite be the ubiquitously watched comedy juggernaut it was at its peak, but that hasn’t stopped it from remaining one of the highest-rated shows on FOX, nearly three decades into its record-breaking run.
Seasons 27 and 28 will take The Simpsons well past the 600 episode mark, drawing the venerable animated institution toward yet another all-time record in the annals of TV history. While getting to season 21 got The Simpsons past Law & Order and Gunsmoke as the weekly primetime scripted series with the all-time most seasons, Gunsmoke still holds the record for the all-time most episodes with 635. Season 28 will give The Simpsons 625 episodes, meaning that a (likely) season 29 will break another record for Homer and company sometime in 2018.
At this point, the real question becomes just when The Simpsons will end, or if in fact it ever will. FOX would surely be happy to keep renewing the show as long as people keep watching it, and The Simpsons’ cast and crew don’t seem ready to hang it up anytime soon. Which brings up a morbid, although logical thought: What if one of the main cast members dies?
While The Simpsons has lost supporting cast members such as Phil Hartman and Marcia Wallace in the past, we’ve never had to see what if any backup plans the show has in case a member of the top-billed voice cast – Dan Castellanetta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer for the record – were to meet an untimely demise.
While this isn’t necessarily a clear and present danger, it may very well be the only foreseeable circumstance in which The Simpsons would go dark. It’s hard to imagine any of the above actors’ characters continuing on without them – and if Hartman and Wallace are any indication, The Simpsons’ staff is not about to recast beloved roles.
In the meantime though, Springfield is guaranteed to remain a popular tourism destination through at least 2017 for anyone who wants a good laugh.
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8pm on FOX.