At the end of The Simpsons' season 13 clip show episode - entitled "Gump Roast" - a song assured fans to "have no fears, we've got stories for years." While the song was obviously done in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, it turned out to be very true, with The Simpsons just recently premiering season 29. That said, while the series did indeed have stories for years, the question now becomes just how many more years that the FOX animated institution will last.
While season 29 just began, Simpsons fans won't have to worry about the show going anywhere until at least after the 2018-2019 TV season finishes, as FOX already renewed the series for season 30. On the surface, 30 seasons seems like a nice round number to end things on, and many fans are naturally assuming that season 30 will be the last. For his part, showrunner Al Jean has commented on the possibility being a real one, but also made clear that there is no specific plan in place on when to end the show.
If and when The Simpsons does sign off for good, one wonders whether FOX executives or the series' producers will be the ones to make the call. Ratings wise, The Simpsons is still a hit, at least when compared to other programs that air on the network. For the 2016-2017 season, The Simpsons season 28 averaged a 1.8 rating in the key 18-49 viewer demographic. While that number may not sound too impressive, it was enough to make The Simpsons FOX's second-highest rated scripted series, coming in behind only the hit drama Empire.
With that in mind, FOX may end up wanting to retain The Simpsons on its roster for many years to come, thanks to the show's enduring popularity. However, that doesn't mean that the Simpsons creative staff will feel the same way, not to mention the iconic voice cast. While contentious negotiations led Harry Shearer to announce his exit from the show in 2015, the situation was ultimately worked out, and that was the closest The Simpsons has ever come to losing one of its principal actors. Sure, FOX seemed willing to possibly replace Shearer at the time, but what if Dan "Homer" Castellaneta wanted to leave? It's hard to imagine the show continuing on without him.
So, when will The Simpsons end? It's impossible to say for sure at this point, but season 30 does remain a logical assumption. Even after the actual show ends though, one can be sure that The Simpsons' merchandising and licensing empire will go on. Their onscreen adventures may come to a close, but the residents of Springfield will likely never truly go away. After all, as the song referenced above says, "they'll never stop The Simpsons."