'The Simpsons' Season 26 Guest Stars Are a Lively Bunch

There’s the awards statues. There’s the star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. These things are nice, but you know you’ve truly made it when you’ve earned a guest spot on The Simpsons. So, as the 26th (!) season of the show premieres on September 28, you can believe The Simpsons has a lineup of guest stars ready to go.

Make no mistake, guest starring on The Simpsons is still a big deal. There are lists devoted to ranking the best appearances — lists that number in the hundreds. NECA is even making toys of the 25 greatest guest stars, from Britney Spears to Leonard Nimoy. The show may not be as popular as it once was, but being immortalized with yellow skin and bulging eyes still comes with cultural caché.

For the season premiere, titled “Clown in the Dumps,” the producers have announced that a character is going to die (and stay dead, unlike Brian from Family Guy). That little tidbit has taken up most of the headline attention, but the premiere is also packed with guest appearances. So, who can we expect to see visiting Springfield in the premiere — and beyond? Here are a few of the guest stars that have already been announced for this season.

Image: FOX

Jeff Ross

The season premiere of The Simpsons centers on Krusty the Clown, and how he decides to retire from showbiz after a roast goes wrong. Well, you can’t have any kind of roast without comedian Jeff Ross. You just can’t — even in Springfield — so Ross will be putting in a guest appearance.

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Sarah Silverman and David Hyde Pierce

Ross isn’t the only one dropping by the season premiere. Sarah Silverman and David Hyde Pierce will lend their voices to the cast, too. They’ve both been on the show before. David Hyde Pierce appeared as Sideshow Bob’s brother, Cecil, while Sarah Silverman has been on two episodes as Nikki McKenna, a classmate of Bart’s. It looks like they won’t be reprising those roles this time around. That’s a bit of a shame, since I laughed pretty hard when Cecil said construction worker Cousin Merl “ain’t been quite right” in his upper-crust accent.

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Nick Offerman

When Bart and Homer quarrel — as they do — Marge decides to sign them up for a program that’ll let them work on their relationship at sea. At the helm is Captain Bowditch, aka Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman. You don’t think of Offerman as being effusive with his emotions, but he gushed about the guest spot to The A.V. Club. “That was such an incredible life dream for me that I had kind of lost sight of,” he says. “For a couple of decades, I’ve been ape-shit about that show, and I thought, ‘It would be so amazing to be on that show, but that could never possibly happen.’ And today it happened, and I was incredibly on cloud nine.”

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John Ratzenberger

John Ratzenberger has appeared on the Simpsons before, too, as his Cheers character Cliff Clavin. This time, reports are saying he’ll be on this year’s “Treehouse of Horror” episode as himself. Only time will tell if this will top his greatest-ever voice performance, as Hamm, the “slotted pig” (piggy bank) from the Toy Story movies.

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The Planet Express Crew

The Simpsons already made headlines this year with one crossover episode, when the Springfield residents popped in on Family Guy. But that’s not the only crossover you’ll see this year. The crew from (my beloved) Futurama will also stop by Springfield. Every time you think they’re gone for good, Billy West, Katy Sagal, and John DiMaggio come back for another visit with Fry, Leela, and Bender. And — good news, everyone! — Entertainment Weekly calls the episode a “a complex, Terminator-esque story.” The magazine also notes that the tagline for the crossover is: “a show out of ideas teams up with a show out of episodes.”

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Willem Dafoe

Another return guest star, Willem Dafoe once played The Commandant during “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson,” an episode about Lisa enrolling in military school. He’ll be at the head of the class once again, with executive producer Al Jean tweeting that Dafoe will be Bart’s new — and psychotic — fourth-grade teacher.

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Elon Musk

It makes sense to pit the billionaire behind electric cars against the one who once tried to block out the sun. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors (and huge advocate for solar power, by the way), will face-off against Mr. Burns, who’s pretty invested in nuclear power. How does it go? “Burns tries to kill him,” executive producer Al Jean tweeted.

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Will Forte

We’ve known for ages that Moe’s has a prime spot in downtown Springfield, right next to King Toots music store. But we’ve never seen Mr. Toot himself. Well, we’ll finally get the chance, thanks to former Saturday Night Live cast member Will Forte. (And apparently the Moe and King Toot do not get along.) If he’s anything like MacGruber — maybe we’re in a little bit of trouble?

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Don Hertzfeldt

Remember, the episodes themselves aren’t the only places where guest stars turn up. More and more, the show has gotten brilliant artists, cartoonists, and animators to take over the episode-opening couch gags. (Remember the Banksy couch gag?) In a recent interview, producer Al Jean let it slip that animator Don Hertzfeldt has an upcoming couch gag this season. (“Don’t tune in late; you’ll really be sorry if you miss it,” he warns.) If the name Hertzfeldt doesn’t ring a bell, pause this slideshow, check out some of his stuff on YouTube (the “Rejected” short is a good place to start), and come back super psyched that he’ll be taking over part of The Simpsons.

Image: @donhertzfeldt/Twitter

Judd Apatow

OK, this isn’t a traditional guest-starring spot, since Judd Apatow wasn’t hired to play a character on The Simpsons. But he is making a mark on the series. Apatow wrote a spec script of the show more than 20 years ago, when he was looking for TV writing jobs. Now, two decades later, the episode is finally seeing the light of day. The episode involves Homer getting hypnotized to believe he’s 10 years old. Hijinx ensue, and he gets stuck that way. He told Rolling Stone that the premise of the episode is fitting, given what’s happened in his career. “All of my stories are about people trying hard not to grow up,” he says. And, who knows — maybe he’ll land a gust spot in his own episode; he also told Rolling Stone he wanted to be the voice of the hypnotist.

Image: Getty

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