Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders Voice Actor Quitting The Simpsons [UPDATE]

[UPDATE] According to a new report, Harry Shearer will return to the longrunning animated TV show.

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[UPDATE] Sources have told Entertainment Weekly that Harry Shearer will return to The Simpsons.

"Shearer has signed the same contract as did the other five primary voice actors--Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Hank Azaria--keeping the show's original cast fully intact," the site reports.

The original story is below.

Just a week after Fox renewed The Simpsons for two more seasons, it's been confirmed that veteran voice actor Harry Shearer--the voice of Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders--is leaving the show.

"As The Simpsons continues its 27th and 28th seasons, Harry Shearer will not be within the show," showrunner Al Jean told CNN Money today.

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In addition to Burns and Flanders, Shearer voices Principal Skinner, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Waylon Smithers, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny Leonard, Otto Mann, Rainier Wolfcastle, and Dr. Marvin Monroe.

Basically, he's a Simpsons legend, and the show going on without him is devastating news for fans.

Jean explained that Fox has no plans to "kill off" Shearer's characters. However, the team will "replace them with the most talented members of the voice over community."

As for why Shearer is leaving the show, CNN Money cites issues involving his freedom to do work outside of The Simpsons, something he says he's been afforded since the show started in 1989.

Jean said Shearer was "offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, but turned it down."

In leaving Springfield behind, Shearer is passing over a reported $14 million deal for the upcoming two seasons. This deal, according to a CNN Money source, included terms that would allow Shearer to do outside work.

The Simpsons' latest two-season renewal will bring the total number of episodes to 625. The show is already the longest-running scripted program in TV history.

The franchise lives on in gaming through EA's free-to-play mobile game The Simpsons: Tapped Out. What's more The Simpsons playsets are rumored for upcoming toys-to-life game LEGO Dimensions.

As pointed out by EW, a Season 10 episode of The Simpsons sort of predicted Shearer's departure. Watch the clip below.

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