Simpsons Aim to Retire Their Longest Running Joke

( – The writers for the longtime hit animated sitcom “The Simpsons” have dropped some hints that they may be retiring one of the show’s classic jokes for good.

The revelation didn’t come from an official announcement but from a new episode of the show itself.

In Episode 3 of Season 35 of “The Simpsons,” called “McMansion & Wife,” the character Homer meets a new neighbor and informs the neighbor that he plans to stop choking his son Bart from now on. The neighbor compliments Homer’s firm handshake, to which he responds that “strangling” Bart has “paid off,” and then follows up by saying he’s “just kidding” and doesn’t “do that anymore” because “times have changed.”

The joke was addressed previously back in Season 22 during an episode in which Homer attends therapy and is informed how much harm he’s been causing his son. Since then, the character has depicted choking Bart a few times, but the last time was during Season 31 in 2019. Fans have interpreted the latest episode addressing the choking as an indication from the creators that the joke would be retired.

The reaction from fans was mixed. Some are welcoming the change, believing the joke is tasteless and makes light of child abuse, while others view the running gag as harmless fun for the sake of entertainment.

The change by the show creators is just the latest in a series of changes made to try and appeal to a modern audience. In 2021, Hank Azaria, who was the voice actor for the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, apologized for taking on the role of the Indian character, who he described as “practically a slur at this point.” Azaria apologized for playing a part “in creating that.”

Also in 2021, “The Simpsons” creators announced that the black character Dr. Hibbert would now be played by Kevin Michael Richardson (who is black), replacing Harry Shearer, who voiced the character for many years.

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