Did The Simpsons Ever Kill Off Apu (In Canon)?


When The Simpsons essentially retired the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilan a few years ago, viewers were understandably curious about whether the show permanently killed off the supporting star in the process. Apu has been a divisive figure on The Simpsons for some time now. Originally voiced by Hank Azaria, Apu was the subject of considerable criticism from Hari Kondabolu in 2017, when the comedian released a documentary arguing that the character was a problematic stereotype.

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Since then, Apu was effectively retired by The Simpsons as Azaria announced in 2019 that he would no longer voice the character. With The Simpsons season 34 arriving soon, some viewers of the series have naturally been curious about whether Apu will return to the show. However, the reality is that he never actually left.

Even though The Simpsons stopped giving Apu lines and Azaria decided to stop voicing the character, The Simpsons did not kill off Apu in canon. The Simpsons effectively retired Apu when Azaria decided to stop voicing him back in 2019 but, since then, Apu has still appeared in the background of some episodes and his lengthy absence from the show had not been addressed. This might be because The Simpsons wants to keep the character available lest the production decides to recast him, although it seems unlikely that this will happen now that five years have elapsed since the beginning of this controversy.

Why The Simpsons Never Killed Off Apu

One major mistake that later seasons of The Simpsons make repeatedly, is adding even more characters to the show’s ever-growing roster of guest stars, which means that killing off Apu wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea for a show that now has thousands of named characters. However, since many of these one-off characters are played by big-name guest stars who are unlikely to appear on The Simpsons more than once, this might be why The Simpsons seems so determined to hold on to supporting stars like Apu. This is most likely the reason that The Simpsons never officially killed Apu since the show still technically has the option of bringing him back.

Without Azaria willing to voice the character, Apu would need a new voice actor, but the issues with his character run deeper than that. Where Kevin Michael Richardson stepped in as Dr. Hibbert and replaced Harry Shearer without much uproar from viewers, it was the nature of Apu’s character that led to Kondabolu’s criticisms rather than solely the ethnicity of his voice actor. Similarly, it was the content of Apu’s character that led commentators like Bhaskar Sunkara and comedian Akaash Singh to demand that the character be brought back to The Simpsons, meaning The Simpsons can’t change the character of Apu or keep the old character without leaving one camp of viewers unsatisfied. As such, it seems unlikely that The Simpsons will ever properly address the character again, which means Apu Nahasapeemapetilan is still alive but no longer a part of the show.

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