The Simpsons has seen some characters leave for various reasons, with some of these even dying on screen, among those Maude Flanders – but her departure from the series was rooted in some behind-the-scenes problems. Created by Matt Groening, The Simpsons debuted in 1989 and is now the longest-running American sitcom with 31 seasons and a 32nd already confirmed. Although the series’ primary focus are the members of the Simpsons family, it has introduced a lot of colorful characters from Springfield, such as their neighbors, the Flanders.
Ned, Maude, Todd, and Rod Flanders are the Simpsons’ next door neighbors and their complete opposites. They are devout Christians who try not to expose their kids to pop culture, liberal education, and more. They are also very appreciative of the Simpsons, even if Homer (and Bart) can’t stand them and only uses them for his convenience. The Flanders got their dose of tragedy when Maude was killed in season 11, a decision that wasn’t well received by fans at the time.
Many viewers criticized the show for killing Maude, even though she wasn’t exactly the most popular or relevant character. But the decision to write her out was rooted in some behind-the-scenes problems between Fox and voice actress Maggie Roswell.
The Real Reason The Simpsons Killed Maude Flanders
Maude was killed in the episode “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” when she was knocked off the grandstand at the Springfield Speedway by a t-shirt cannon when Homer ducked at the last second. Maggie Roswell had been part of the voice cast of The Simpsons since season 1, but in 1994 she moved from Los Angeles to Denver with her family. Because of this, Roswell had to travel to Los Angeles twice a week to record her lines for the show (she voiced Maude, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and Luann Van Houten), which eventually became an expensive obstacle. Roswell requested a pay raise in 1999, but Fox refused and she quit the show. As a result, Fox wrote Maude Flanders out, and Marcia Mitzman Gaven was hired as replacement.
Maude’s Death Made Helen Lovejoy A Bigger Character
In an interesting turn of events, Roswell and Fox reached an agreement a few years later and she returned to The Simpsons in 2002. Maude wasn’t exactly brought back but she did return a few times as a ghost and in flashbacks. Roswell’s return turned out to be beneficial to a previously ignored character: Helen Lovejoy, wife of Reverend Timothy Lovejoy (and mother of Jessica Lovejoy, Bart’s love interest in the episode “Bart’s Girlfriend”). She isn’t a main character or anything like that, but she has received more attention and stopped being just a background character, and had a presence in The Simpsons Movie. Fox and Roswell’s situation is a rare one in the entertainment world, as they managed to reach a deal that works for both and that ended up boosting another character.