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How The Simpsons Could End

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
“The Simpsons” isn’t just one of the most influential animated show ever to air in primetime, but a landmark in television comedy. Its iconic characters, quotable dialog, and ingenious satire have forever left a four-fingered handprint on popular culture, which makes it all the more disheartening when we consider how the series has fallen from grace of late. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be discussing How The Simpsons Could End.
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How The Simpsons Could End

“The Simpsons” isn’t just one of the most influential animated show ever to air in primetime, but a landmark in television comedy. Its iconic characters, quotable dialog, and ingenious satire have forever left a four-fingered handprint on popular culture, which makes it all the more disheartening when we consider how the series has fallen from grace of late. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be discussing How The Simpsons Could End.

Most fans agree that “The Simpsons” dipped in quality after Season 10 and never quite recaptured the magic of its golden years. To be fair, the modern “Simpsons” episodes are far from awful and aren’t even necessarily bad. The animation is as impressive as ever and there’s still clearly effort put into the writing. The show also continues to regularly receive recognition from the Creative Arts Emmys and the Writers Guild of America Awards. When stacked up against contemporary animated shows like “Rick and Morty,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and “BoJack Horseman,” though, “The Simpsons” just seems out of touch with the changing television landscape.

[1] In 2019, the series was officially renewed for its 31st and 32nd seasons, meaning it’ll likely continue until at least 2021 and will eventually surpass 713 episodes. Nothing lasts forever, though, and “The Simpsons” could end for a variety of reasons, ranging from contract disputes, to a shift in culture values, to a corporate shakeup. It’s still yet to be seen how Disney’s proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox might impact the show. The departure of a main cast member may be the final nail in the coffin, however. The character of Edna Krabappel was already retired following the passing of actress Marcia Wallace in 2013 and we can’t imagine this show without Dan Castellaneta voicing Homer or Nancy Cartwright voicing Bart.

In any case, “The Simpsons” may be on the fast track to ending abruptly and unceremoniously like “The Fairly OddParents.” To preserve its legacy, the showrunners should call it quits on their own terms and close out the series on a fitting note. Exactly how do you end a show that’s been on the air for nearly 30 years, though? Showrunner Al Jean gave this question some thought during its 23rd season. The Primetime Emmy-nominated “Holidays of Future Passed” was considered one of the show’s best episodes of the modern era, primarily focusing on older versions of Bart and Lisa as they navigate through parenthood, adulthood, and disappointment. [2] Equally funny and poignant, the episode was planned as a possible season finale . . . but in the end, the show went on!

Since they’ve done several futuristic episodes, “The Simpsons” probably shouldn’t end with another flash-forward. The family definitely shouldn’t go out on a clip show either, as the writers know how lazy that would be. [3] The series produced its first two-part episode in 1995 with “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” and its first hour-long episode in 2016 with “The Great Phatsby.” The final episode would also deserve the super-sized treatment to commemorate the end of an era. [4] It was actually announced in 2018 that a second “Simpsons Movie” was in development, which may be the best way to send the series off in epic fashion.

[5] Instead of going back to the future again for the real finale, Jean has proposed that the show go back to the beginning, as in the first episode. In a tweet, the showrunner pitched an idea for the final episode that sees the Simpsons arrive at the Christmas pageant from the series premiere, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” It would be revealed that the entire series was a continuous loop, hence why nobody ever ages. While this could be a humorous and clever way to bring the show full circle, time will only tell if Jean canonizes such an out-there idea.

[6] Reddit user LittleMonkey69 gained a great deal of attention for his finale suggestion. In the proposed episode, it’s announced that “Itchy and Scratchy” is ending and viewers are given a chance to submit their ideas for the last episode. Each member of the Simpson sfamily submits a pitch and Krusty ultimately chooses all five of them. A year later, each Simpson describes their version of the finale to someone else. All the while, they’re going about the same daily routines we regularly see them perform in the opening sequence. Bart gets detention, Marge is at the grocery with Maggie, etc. In the end, the Simpsons reunite on the living room couch to watch the finale, sharing a smile as the “Itchy and Scratchy” music closes out the series.

Giving every “Simpsons” character a proper send off may be impossible, as Springfield is home to countless citizens. While fan favorite supporting players like Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, and Sideshow Bob deserve a chance to shine, the finale should focus on the Simpsons clan above all else. The family dynamic is not only the show’s main source of comedy, but also where its emotional core lies. Although the Simpsons are beyond dysfunctional, they love each other no matter what. For all the laughs the show has given us, it’s also tugged at our heartstrings in ways we never anticipated. With that said, it’d be fitting if the series ended on a melancholy note, akin to when Homer said goodbye to his mother. A few shout outs to cast and crew members who’ve passed away, such as Sam Simon and Phil Hartman, would also be touching.

Of course, since this is a comedy, the finale would require a balance of heart and humor. We’d love to see the episode incorporate callbacks to classic episodes and running gags, such as Bart prank calling Moe one last time. The writers could resolve a few plot holes and longtime questions as well. For example, exactly which state is Springfield in and what decade was Bart conceived in? As far as subplots go, it would be fun to see Lisa reunite with Mr. Bergstrom, or Marge finally meet Ringo Starr in person. At the risk of being overstuffed, though, the main plot would ideally keep the Simpsons together as a unit, with all five present as the credits roll.

We’ve all joked about how the “The Simpsons” will never end, but realistically it has to at some point… right? We mean, even if it’s never officially cancelled, Armageddon is bound to bring an end to TV in general. In all seriousness, though, the end of the series wouldn’t necessarily mean saying goodbye to this yellow family forever. The Simpsons are every bit as timeless as Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Charlie Brown. They’re immortal figures who’ll always draw in strong viewership and merchandising revenue. Even after the initial series ends, they’ll likely continue to endure in other ways.

Maggie could continue to appear in theatrical shorts like the Oscar-nominated “Longest Daycare.” Perhaps the show will be rebooted entirely somewhere down the line with a fresh perspective. Maybe a secondary character could be given the spinoff treatment. We’d totally watch “Chief Wiggum P.I.,” especially if Principal Skinner and Ralph were along for the ride. Whatever the future holds for Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, and Maggie, a good finale would leave us ready to close this chapter and take the last exit out of Springfield.
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