The Simpsons has been a staple in semi-adult animation for decades, and while it may not have the rating or the widespread critical acclaim it once had, it is still trucking as a pop culture stalwart. That said, there has long existed the oft-addressed argument that classic Simpsons episodes are far superior to episodes from later seasons, and I think I know one pretty major issue that factors into it. Some of the show's character, as iconic as they may be, are entirely played out by this point. They need to be retired.
The Simpsons obviously has a long list of iconic characters synonymous with the show's sardonic wit, but in some cases, the things the characters are relevant for don't really have modern-day equivalents, and thus aren't quite as relatable to younger audiences as they once were. Hardcore fans should be warned that there are some hot takes on certain Springfield mainstays below regarding why they should remove from the mix, but know that some of these picks even anger and disappoint ME. Nevertheless, I still think The Simpsons fans and writers would only benefit from losing certain characters, while possibly trying to introduce different iterations that speak more to modern times. Now without further adokily, let's get to the picks.
He makes us laugh, he makes us think, and he makes us glayvin-gloible, but I think The Simpsons has done just about all it can with Professor Frink. For starters, the whole bit is based on comedian Jerry Lewis, a name that younger audiences likely don't recognize in the same way that audiences did 30 years ago when the show first premiered. The Simpsons could certainly channel another famous actor for a popular scientist caricature; perhaps someone like Jeff Goldblum or Neil DeGrasse Tyson? That may present the same kind of problem if the show lasts another 20 seasons, but those choices are certainly more timely now than any Lewis homage.
Otto Mann is the type of happy-go-lucky burnout that many adult viewers might recognize from yesteryear, but the days are mostly long gone where that particular brand of burnout exists. (Minus Bill and Ted movies, I guess.) Rock music in general has been on a downtrend in recent years, and as a result, you see fewer guys with long hair and tie-dye shirts walking around and talking about Led Zeppelin and Motley Crue. I'm not saying these guys are extinct, but at a time where marijuana is recreationally legal is various parts of the country, Otto Mann is no longer its poster child, though I'm sure he does have some rad posters.
Let's be frank (but not Frank Grimes): Disco Stu trotting around Springfield like the genre never died was already a purposefully out-of-time gag when he was first introduced. I doubt there were many platform-shoe-wearing Disco was well before my time, and I don't particularly remember any groovy swinger dudes hanging out in my youth. I think Stu has slid under the radar just because his premise is so ridiculous and The Simpsons is a cartoon, but disco has been dead for quite some time now. Can we just reboot him as "Dubstep Stu" and give him a bunch of raver gear?
Speaking of outdated references, Bumblebee Man isn't merely a nod to a popular real-life figure from the distant past, but he's also one from an entirely different country! I'm going out on a limb here, but El Chapulín Colorado does not seem like a show with a lot of significance in modern American television, though The Simpsons is obviously popular on an international level. So I could understand keeping the character around if others still find him relevant, especially since he's more of a random scene-stealer as opposed to a narrative magnet. With that said, his character suffers from the same problem as Apu, as he's voiced by non-Hispanic actor Hank Azaria, so maybe it's time to put this character out to pasture.
Beer advertising campaigns have changed a lot as the years go on, and while mascots do surface from time to time – from talking frogs to bikini-clad women to the Dilly-Dilly clan – there isn't really a "face" of modern beer. In that sense, The Simpsons' Duffman is really more of a nod to machismo-heavy cigarette mascots like the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel, both of which have gone the way of leaded gas. Duffman may be a representation I can forgive, since wacky beer marketing and blimp jokes never truly go out of style. For now, though, he's looking out-of-date unless he starts repping Duff Seltzer and Clamato Duff with the quickness.
Ol' Gil Gunderson has held a lot of extremely temporary jobs over the years. While there's no shortage of down-on-their-luck gents on TV who seemingly can't do anything right, I think the situations and gags that befall Gil are frequently played out; for instance, door-to-door salespeople are all but extinct these days. Honestly, though, Gil is a bit of Simpsons redundancy, because I'd sooner take Hans Moleman as the tragic victim of life's foibles. Plus, there are ample lawyer characters to fill the role that Gil occasionally took up in Lionel Hutz's absence. Showing up on a list about obsoleteness is classic Gil, but it's also a sign that he should probably seek employment in Shelbyville.
Herman Hermann has always had the look of a guy who served in Vietnam, even though he's just a military enthusiast. So the fact that he's still the same, while most Vietnam vets are in their late 60s, means he's looking a bit out of date in the modern era. Additionally, pop culture war-hounds like Herman were more prevalent in the years ahead of The Simpsons hitting primetime, thanks to films such as Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. There's not really much reason for this character to be around anymore, which may be why he's more of a just a face in the crowd as of late.
Krusty The Clown
Yes, I know this is about the hottest take I can have as a Simpsons fan, since Krusty is awesome. Still, I can't sit here and talk about how all these other characters being outdated without highlighting the general lack of clown-fronted TV shows in the past 40 years. And kids aren't exactly wowed by clowns in the way Bart was by Krusty, unless there's a connection to viral social media posts or YouTube compilations. Krusty just isn't that relatable to younger generations, which is something that the franchise has self-awarely nodded to over the years. Plus, the show has explored just about every avenue possible with the character, so maybe it's time for Krusty to follow his father into the ethers.
Have any other characters from The Simpsons that need to be put out to pasture? Are there any from this list that you could never say goodbye to? List all suggestions in the comments below, binge the series on Disney+, and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest happenings in the world of television and movies.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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