The Simpsons co-creator has given the final word on whether Homer will stop strangling his son Bart in future episodes of the beloved cartoon series.
The long-running gag appeared to have been phased out of the Fox show, which began in 1989, when patriarch Homer, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, declared he had stopped strangling Bart because “times have changed” during a recent episode.
However, when asked whether the episode marks a turning point for Homer and Bart’s relationship, the show’s co-creator James L Brooks said “nothing’s getting tamed” on The Simpsons in an interview with People.
Responding to media reports that the long-standing joke was being “retired”, Brooks replied: “Don’t think for a second we’re changing anything.
“Nothing’s getting tamed. Nothing, nothing, nothing,” he continued. “He’ll continue to be strangled – [if] you want to use that awful term for it. He’ll continue to be loved by his father in a specific way.”
The conversation around this disturbing aspect of Homer’s relationship with his son was reignited after the third episode of season 35 – titled “McMansion & Wife” – was released on 22 October.
At one point in the episode, Homer and his wife Marge decide to pay their new neighbour Thayer, voiced by Hank Azaria, a visit. When Thayer remarks how firm Homer’s handshake is, the latter replies: “See, Marge, strangling the boy paid off”.
“Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed,” Homer continues.
Shortly after a clip of the scene was shared on X/Twitter, the news that Homer would stop strangling Bart in future episodes was widely covered online. Before long, The Simpsons producers appeared to respond to the reports with an illustration of the father-son duo.
The cartoon showed Homer strangling Bart – who was reading a news report titled “Simpsons: No More Strangling” – while reprimanding him for clickbait.
However, the last time Homer was actually depicted squeezing Bart’s neck on-air was during the show’s 31st season, which aired in 2019.
The show has also addressed Homer’s contentious behaviour towards Bart in previous episodes. In a 2011 episode from season 22, titled “Love is a Many Strangled Thing”, Homer finds himself attending a “fathering enrichment class” at Marge’s request.
During the class, a basketball player voiced by real-life former NBA star Kareem Abdul Jabbar ends up teaching Homer a lesson on what it feels like “to be young, small, and terrified” by strangling him, and inviting others to do the same.
After this experience, a shaken-up Homer cannot bring himself to strangle Bart.
The Simpsons has been renewed for its 36th season, which will be released next year, making it the longest-running scripted show ever.
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