The Simpsons season 30 is marketing itself using Troy McClure - despite the character having been retired decades ago following the death of voice actor Phil Hartman. The longest-running scripted TV show ever, The Simpsons shows no sign of slowing down (even if many fans wish it would).
Neither, it seems, does the controversy that comes with it. From the very start, The Simpsons was a headline-making show, with Bart's crude antics deemed unsuitable back in the 1990s by everybody all the way up to then-President George Bush. Nowadays, the controversy is a bit more nuanced, with the recent Apu blowback questioning the negative side of the show's enduring impact. It's an example of how being continuously on the air for so long creates problems that would be otherwise imperceptible. One recent decision, however, seems to be a bit more conscious.
The poster for the currently-airing Simpsons season 30 features Troy McClure (via iTunes), the movie star you may remember from such classics as Stop The Planet of the Apes. I Want To Get Off! and Meat and You: Partners in Freedom. This is rather strange given that Tory McClure hasn't appeared since season 10's "Bart the Mother", originally aired on September 27, 1998. The character was written out of The Simpsons following the tragic murder of Phil Hartman, who voiced Troy and Lionel Hutz (as well as a handful of other characters, including Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley). A fitting acknowledgement of his incomparable talents, Lionel Hutz's recurring role has been somewhat filled by aggressive real estate agent Cookie Kwan, but no movie star has been able to match Troy McClure's eclectic filmography. The character's only subsequent, semi-canonical appearance was in "The Simpsons Guy", a Family Guy crossover.
This makes Troy McClure being used as the subject of The Simpsons season 30 poster odd. Since season 6, each year's DVD and Blu-ray (and later streaming options) have featured a different cover character, chosen somewhat at random. And, after 30 have been worked through that means most major roles have been used up - season 25 had Duffman and season 29 Bumblebee Man. However, there's still many who could be used in his place who still have a major part in the series - Nelson, Smithers and Moe are all yet to be used, to name just three.
It's possible that, with this being the twenty year anniversary of Phil Hartman's death, his character's use is intended as a tribute. Yet if that is the intention, it's not been made clear; it's not been stated anywhere public by the showrunners. As it is, it stands as a blunt return to something affectionally locked away.
Ultimately, this isn't an overly negative move by The Simpsons, more a perplexing one. Retiring a character is a show of respect, and as with Mrs. Krabappel following Marcia Wallace's death in 2013, so it seems a bit backwards to sell new episodes with them.