(NEXSTAR) – The producers of “The Simpsons” have issued a response to reports that Homer might never again strangle Bart for laughs.
When asked for a comment on the subject, a consultant for the series provided Nexstar with the following statement: “Homer Simpson was unavailable for comment as he was busy strangling Bart.”
The consultant also sent along an image drawn by Matt Groening, the show’s creator, which suggesting that viewers — and media outlets — should not have taken Homer’s recent remarks so literally.
Fans of “The Simpsons” began wondering whether the animated sitcom had hinted at the end of the long-running gag in October after an episode in which Homer and Marge meet a new neighbor. The neighbor commends Homer on his strong handshake, at which point Homer turns to Marge and says, “See, Marge? Strangling the boy paid off.”
“Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore,” Homer quickly tells the neighbor. “Times have changed.”
The scene caught the internet’s attention when it was posted to X (formerly Twitter) after the episode aired.
“I just found out that, after over 30 years, ‘The Simpsons’ has finally retired their long-running gag of Homer strangling Bart. Took them long enough,” one user wrote.
“I knew my man Homer was gonna learn,” another said.
Others, meanwhile, were unsure if Homer’s remark actually reflected any larger decision from the show’s producers. The show was always a satire, some argued, and Homer’s actions were never meant to be “acceptable.”
“The joke is in the absurdity of it, and fits within the satirical nature of the show,” wrote one Reddit user who seemed unconvinced that the writers intended Homer to follow through on his remarks.
Others pointed to an episode from 2011 in which Homer decides to stop strangling Bart after he attends a fathering enrichment class. During the class, the tables are turned on Homer after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar teaches Homer what it feels like “to be young, small, and terrified” by strangling him – and letting his friends do it too.
But Homer soon goes back to his old ways, once again strangling Bart in a 2013 episode.
He was also shown choking Bart during the 31st season, which ran between 2019 and 2020, The Independent recently noted.
Despite the response from the show’s producers, viewers may have had good reason to believe the show would ditch an old gag that could be considered insensitive. In 2020, voice actor Hank Azaria stopped voicing the character of Apu following backlash over his casting and allegations of racial stereotyping.
Azaria admitted this past April in the podcast “The Fallout of the Callout: Code Switching” that he now finds his casting “embarrassing” and acknowledged how his portrayal of Apu led to “the broader dehumanization of Desi people in the United States.”