Simon, who left The Simpsons in 1993 reportedly due to some problems with the show’s success and Groening himself, was a huge part of the series’ sensibilities in those early years, bringing in most of the golden age writers and crafting several of The Simpsons’ best episodes himself. As such, it’s fitting that Groening released a statement on hearing of Simon’s passing.
We will miss Sam’s phenomenal talents, sharp intelligence and sly sense of humor. He is gone from our industry too soon.
According to the USA Today, Brooks also conveyed his sorrow through a statement.
[Simon was] truly one of the great ones. He found so much outside the work to give him pleasure and left so much behind for others.
That one strikes me as particularly moving for some reason, inspiring the thought that some of us may be able to follow in Simon’s footsteps in some way. In any case, it’s no surprise that other members of the Simpsons team shared their thoughts via social media. Here’s how longtime Simpsons showrunner Al Jean put it.
Voice actor Hank Azaria, who plays Moe and Chief Quimby, among many other characters, also reached out.
Rest in peace and thank you for The Simpsons, Sam Simon.— Hank Azaria (@HankAzaria) March 9, 2015
Late night host Conan O’Brien worked on the show as a writer during Simon’s years.
Sam Simon's contribution to the spirit of sharp, well-observed comedy is incalculable. Awful to lose such a gifted & genuinely good guy.— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) March 9, 2015
Former Simpsons director and consultant Brad Bird, who went on to direct modern animated classics The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, was also a part of the show when Simon was there.
Just heard that @simonsam passed away. Brilliant writer, so vital to shaping THE SIMPSONS in its crucial early years. Rest in peace, Sam.— Brad Bird (@BradBirdA113) March 9, 2015
Instead of using his own words to pay respects, longtime Simpsons writer and producer Matt Selman paid Simon’s words forward inspirationally.
Essential advice to writers from the late Sam Simon: "Love your characters."— Matt Selman (@mattselman) March 9, 2015
Before The Simpsons existed in a half-hour format, comedian and actor Garry Shandling worked with Simon on his groundbreaking sitcom It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, a series that needed quirky minds putting the scripts together.
Sam Simon wrote on my first series, IGSS. Sam was like a hilarious hurricane in the writer's room. His force will be missed. #RIPSamSimon— Garry Shandling (@GarryShandling) March 9, 2015
Then there’s Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who humbly dedicates his success to Simon’s work.
Had the mind of Sam Simon not paved the way for all of us in primetime animation, I wouldn't have a job. He will be sorely missed.— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) March 10, 2015
Finally, Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, who appeared in episodes of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Drew Carey Show, invites us to remember the myriad projects that Simon was a part of.
RIP @simonsam. The comedy world takes another big hit today. Thank god he left us so many funny things to laugh at. Laugh in peace, sir.— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) March 10, 2015
And now, we go forth into the long week ahead, which will almost certainly end with a heartfelt blackboard gag for the upcoming Simpsons episode, as was done when actress Marcia Wallace passed away. R.I.P. Sam Simon. Know that you’ve left us laughing.