Celebrating Harry Shearer's 'Simpsons' Characters, Because His Voice Artistry Is The Stuff Of Legends

Although The Simpsons might have no intention of getting rid of characters like Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, or Ned Flanders in the wake of voice actor Harry Shearer leaving The Simpsons, there's a good chance we'll all feel like something is "missing" if and when we hear another performer take on these roles. For the past 26 years, Shearer has given us some of our favorite Springfieldians, major characters and one-time players alike.

There are a lot of roles we'd like to celebrate in honor of Shearer's work on The Simpsons; here is just a handful of the oddball characters he turned into television classics.

Mr. Burns

“Well, if it’s a crime to love one’s country, then I’m guilty. And if it’s a crime to steal a trillion dollars from our government and hand it over to communist Cuba, then I’m guilty of that too. And if it’s a crime to bribe a jury, then so help me, I’ll soon be guilty of that!”

Tripling as a tyrannical boss, Bond-level supervillain, and occasionally sympathetic old coot, Charles Montgomery Burns is perhaps The Simpsons’ most historied character. He ran over Bart, almost married Marge’s mother, suffered a near-fatal gunshot wound, tried to block out the sun, and had the Rolling Stones killed. Quite a colorful (and long) life this fellow has led.

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Dr. Hibbert

“Another broccoli related death… One of the deadliest plants on earth. It tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste. It tries to warn you with its terrible taste.”

Always chortling in the face of tragedy, Dr. Julius Hibbert is a joyful combination of capable and oddly unsettling. His medical expertise may occasionally raise an eyebrow, but he’s better at least than Dr. Nick.

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“I’ve never been called an adult before. I’ve been tried as one.”

Though a touch more “one note” than some of the other characters rivaling his episode count, Otto is nonetheless a great exhibition of Shearer’s vocal tenacity.

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Ned Flanders

“Say your prayers, Simpson… because the schools can’t force you like they should!”

While Ned Flanders started out as your all-purpose nice guy, he’s become synonymous over the years with religious didacticism and deep-seated repression. Despite his varied interjections of “diddly” and superfluous “ino” suffixes, he’s warmed his way into the hearts of Springfieldians and at home viewers alike.

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Rainier Wolfcastle

“The goggles. They do nothing.”

A pretty obvious sendup of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but one that has evolved into a life force all its own.

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Dewey Largo

“Nobody likes Milhouse!”

Hardly as prominent as Springfield Elementary faculty members Principal Skinner, Edna Krabapple, or Groundskeeper Willie, Lisa’ snide music teacher Dewey Largo nevertheless has as instantly recognizable a vocal twinge as any other character on the series.

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Judge Snyder

“Boys will be boys!”

Another minor player riding high on a reliable running gag, the impossibly compassionate Judge Snyder just doesn’t have it in him to convict.

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Rev. Lovejoy

“Y’ever sat down and read [The Bible]? Technically we’re not supposed to go to the bathroom.”

As anyone can tell from listening to just a moment of Shearer’s dead-inside droning as Springfield’s most celebrated minister, Rev. Timothy Lovejoy may not exactly be enlivened by his faith in God. He’s just trying to make the days go by.

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Waylon Smithers

“I never miss Pardon My Zinger.”

Smithers showcases Shearer’s talent not just as a comedian, but as an actor. Eternally in love with the ambivalent tyrant Monty Burns, Smithers is in fact Springfield’s most tragic figure (second perhaps only to Moe). The fact that Shearer famously played most of his Burns/Smithers scenes in solid takes is downright inspiring.

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“My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!”

Through the well-traveled wisdom of Kang, we all learned the one universal truth: voting for a third party candidate is basically throwing your vote away.

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Jasper Beardly

“I love that song. Reminds me of elephants.”

You doubt the wonder that is Springfield’s senile old curmudgeon Jasper Beardly? That’s a paddlin’.

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Sebastian Cobb

“I shouldn’t have stopped for that haircut. Sorry.”

Though the bumbling scientist has only one episode under his belt (the masterpiece that is “Marge Vs. the Monorail”), his sharp stoicism in the face of imminent calamity makes him a favorite member of the Shearer arsenal.

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“Ow! My eye! I’m not supposed to get pudding in it!”

The unwavering enthusiasm with which Shearer allows Lenny to deliver this and every one of his harebrained lines of dialogue is what makes the character far more than your average dimwitted working stiff.

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Marvin Monroe

“I’ve been very sick.”

We didn’t hear much of psychiatrist Marvin Monroe’s painful rasp throughout the bulk of the Simpsons’ prime, mostly because the challenging voice was too much of a strain on Shearer’s vocal cords. But we’ll cherish the few moments we got to spend with the easily frustrated doc.

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“The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street. The Greeks knew it. The Carthaginians knew it. Now you know it.”

Of all the paranoid, hyper-conservative, conspiracy theory-spouting nuts that reside in Springfield, the one-armed gun shop owner Herman has got to be the nuttiest. Shearer is said to have emulated the voice of George H. W. Bush for this character. And speaking of which…

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Pres. George Bush

“Just happy to be here among good, average people with no particular hopes or dreams.”

Perhaps the greatest “guest character” to ever earn a focal episode on The Simpsons, former President George H. W. Bush is one of the funniest gifts that Shearer ever gave viewing audiences. His gradual mental unraveling at the behest of Bart and Homer is the stuff of high theatrical art.

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Kent Brockman

“And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.”

Whether he’s dryly reporting on the mayhem befalling Springfield or submitting to his many vices without knowledge that the camera is running, Shearer’s newsman Kent Brockman is a consistent source of the show’s most quotable one-liners.

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Seymour Skinner

“We ride these bikes to Mexico and freedom, Willie! Freedom!”

Principal Seymour Skinner is my personal favorite Simpsons character, the perfect combination of dreadfully pathetic but admirably impassioned by the mundanities with which he paves his day-to-day.

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Cousin Merle

“Geech gone to heaven, Mister Terwilli-jer.”

Oh, Cousin Merle. Really.

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