Al Jean, showrunner for The Simpsons, looks a bit guilty. Perhaps it’s because he has just killed off Rabbi Krustofski, father to Krusty the Clown. Perhaps it’s because after months of speculation and hype, the much teased death in the 26th season premiere was not as earth-shattering as some fans were expecting.
“It was funny, originally it was not planned to be a big deal,” he says. “I did an interview and instead of saying who it was, I coyly said the actor won an Emmy for playing the character. Then to my shock it was a headline around the world, and we thought ‘I guess we better milk this for some attention.’”
Soon, the hype grew out of control, and Jean felt the need to intervene. “About a month ago I thought ‘I better backpedal and make sure people don’t think it’s Bart.’”
Despite obvious clues, fans theories continued to run rampant. “ We called the episode Clown in the Dumps! I really thought that would tell you completely. Because the dumps means a sad clown, but people thought that meant kill Krusty! And I was like no, that would be Clown in the Grave! I think people who put their mind to it and went through it logically came to him pretty quick”
“It was never going to be someone like Homer or Lisa,” he emphasises. “I would kill myself first. No one who has disappeared as a character has ever been an integral family member or main character on the show.” But could the show survive one of its main characters or cast members leaving?
“I don’t even want to consider that happening.”
How many more seasons can the show last?
But it has to end sometime, right?
“I think some day it will end.” Jean allows. “There are shows in the US like Saturday Night Live that will never end, because you can do a variety show forever with new talent. For us, we’ve got a cast, and we’re not going to replace them. I don’t even want to think about what would happen, but it’s not going to go forever.
With no plans to kill any more characters, the rest of Springfield can rest easy. “In Hallowe’en shows we’ll kill them a million times, but I have no desire to kill any more cartoon characters the rest of my life.”