Grieving is perhaps the least enjoyable of life’s processes, though it presents mourners with the chance to relive memories that might not have come to mind at any other time. Pop culture was moved in a big way following Sunday evening’s death of Sam Simon, a television veteran and renowned philanthropist who was most famous for co-developing The Simpsons alongside James L. Brooks and Matt Groening. (If not writing for Taxi, Cheers or The Drew Carey Show.) To be expected, the Internet was flooded with love for Simon, his career, his imagination and his charitable work over the years.
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.
Late night host Conan O’Brien worked on the show as a writer during Simon’s years.
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.
Instead of using his own words to pay respects, longtime Simpsons writer and producer Matt Selman paid Simon’s words forward inspirationally.
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.
Then there’s Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who humbly dedicates his success to Simon’s work.
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.
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.