Patriarch Homer Simpson of long-running cartoon sitcom The Simpsons indicated he will not strangle son Bart anymore.
Homer has famously strangled Bart in a running gag since the show’s 1989 premier.
In Episode 3 of Season 35, Homer meets a new neighbor and gives him a firm handshake. When the neighbor notes the strength of Homer’s handshake, Homer tells wife Marge that “strangling the boy paid off.”
“Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore,” Homer follows up. “Times have changed.”
The Simpsons seemingly confirm that they have retired their long-running gag of Homer strangling Bart in the latest episode:
“See, Marge, strangling the boy paid off. Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.” pic.twitter.com/EHQWUdOHgZ
— Pop Base (@PopBase) November 6, 2023
Some fans of the sitcom expressed frustration with the show’s decision to move away from the bit.
“Nothing has changed in regards to strangling your kid,” one user wrote. “Removed one of the most iconic TV gags.”
Another fan similarly noted Homer strangling Bart was never appropriate even at the show’s inception.
“That was literally the joke,” they wrote.
Uh, it was wildly inappropriate for Homer to strangle his 10-year-old son 30 years ago too… that was literally the joke. https://t.co/fdIbCDZvin
— Phil (@Dromas_Ignis) November 6, 2023
The show previously commented on the recurring bit during Season 22 when Homer seeks therapy and learns of the harm he causes Bart by strangling him. Bart was last strangled by Homer during Season 31.
In the wake of the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, The Simpsons announced they would move away from casting non-white characters with white voice actors. The move included voice actor Hank Azaria stepping away from voicing legacy character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a convenience store manager. Apu has since become a background character in the show.
Azaria issued an apology shortly after stepping away from the character and referred to Apu’s legacy as “practically a slur.”
“I was speaking at my son’s school, I was talking to the Indian kids there because I wanted to get their input,” Azaria said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “A 17-year-old … he’s never even seen The Simpsons but knows what Apu means. It’s practically a slur at this point. All he knows is that is how his people are thought of and represented to many people in this country.”
“I really do apologize,” Azaria said. “It’s important. I apologize for my part in creating that and participating in that. Part of me feels like I need to go to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologize. And sometimes I do.”
In February 2021, fellow legacy character Dr. Hibbert, who is black and voiced by white actor Harry Shearer, was recast with black voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson.