Hank Azaria will no longer voice the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons, which puts an end to a run that started in 1990. This apparently now official development had been forecasted for awhile, with Azaria telling Stephen Colbert that he was "perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition [the character] into something new," while he was a guest on the Late Show in 2018.
"I really hope that's what The Simpsons does," he added. "[A]nd it just not only makes sense but it just feels like the right thing to do to me."
Azaria's role as the voice of the Kwik-E-Mart owner started making mainstream headlines after comedian Hari Kondabolu wrote and starred in the 2017 documentary The Problem With Apu, which was premised around the argument that Apu reinforced racist stereotypes.
The Simpsons addressed the controversy during the episode "No Good Read Goes Unpunished," which aired on April 8, 2018. In that episode Marge finds a book she loved as a kid loses its "emotional journey" when its been updated to remove elements some might find offensive. In an intentionally unsubtle moment, Lisa turns to the camera and says that "something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" while turning to a picture of Apu at her bedside. It'd be great to find and embed a clip of that without added political commentary, but that's just not the way the world works anymore.
"All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something," Azaria said, according to the website Slash Film.
“What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to them and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore.”
Kondabolu also reacted to the reports through some tweets:
If you're still watching new episodes in
2003 2020, well, your loyalty is truly exceptional.