This is not the way it’s supposed to end.
“The Simpsons” is certainly entitled to depart after nearly a quarter-century on TV — Fox’s granddaddy of animated comedies has served with distinction and wit and hall-of-fame greatness.
But when the best banana-tinted family ever to color our airwaves finally exits stage-left, the rightful reason should be creative fatigue, perhaps, or the consent that characters who have said so much about human nature for so long have, well, finally said it all.
Come that proper time and reason, Homer, a nation will turn our grateful “d’oh” eyes to you.
But even in the tremendously warped and craven world of network TV, “The Simpsons” is one show that should not be put out to pasture simply over the love of money. Especially when you consider that the cartoon franchise has made most of its principals — including the lead voice actors — wealthy beyond the hopes and dreams of almost anyone who doesn’t own a five-story superyacht.
No, when it comes to the genius behind the “D’oh!,” “The Simpsons” stands for so much more than the dough. This is the show that mocks greed almost weekly, often in the shriveled personage of Mr. Burns — who, as a satiric figure of avarice, ranks among such legendary cartoon cousins as Scrooge McDuck and the Grinch. This is the malevolent tightwad who once said: ”Behold, the greatest breakthrough in labor relations since the cat-o-nine-tails!” And this is the comedy that mines the Seven Deadly Sins so religiously, it is as if longtime “Simpsons” writer-producer George Meyer illuminated them in the show’s comedy bible.
So when the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove reported Tuesday that Fox Television and the show’s voice actors had reached a salary impasse — to the degree that “The Simpsons” may shutter next spring — the temptation was to wait for a punch line.
The only thing richer than Misters Burns and Murdoch in this scenario is the irony.
We can only hope that the Fox suits and the “Simpsons” voices get all their front-ends and back-ends and other revenue routes straightened out soon. And if they seek wisdom and sage inspiration as a means to break the impasse, they fortunately need look no farther than their very own scripts.
Sometimes, the little screen — like the big screen — holds so many of life’s answers. Just follow “The Simpsons’ “ Top 15 Money Quotes and Labor Lines. To wit:
HOMER: Let me ask you something! Does your money cheer you up when you’re feeling blue?!
MR. BURNS: Yes.
HOMER: Okay...bad example. Let me ask you this: Does your money ever hug you when you come home at night?
MR. BURNS: Why...no.
Homer: And does it say “I love you”?
MR. BURNS: No...it doesn’t.
HOMER (taunts): Nobody loves you, nobody loves you!
MR. BURNS: I’m going to write a figure on this piece of paper. It’s not quite as large as the last one, but I think you’ll find it fair.
[BURNS writes a big zero.]
LIONEL HUTZ: I think we should take it.
MR. BURNS: Little do they realize their days of suckling at my teat are numbered.
SMITHERS: Oh, in the meantime, Sir, may I suggest a random firing? Just to throw the fear of God into them?
HOMER: I can’t take his money. I can’t print my own money. I have to work for money. Why don’t I just lie down and DIE?
MR. BURNS: And so our Employee of the Month is the late Roger Ducette, who tragically died from complications due to union organizing. Moving on. The power plant’s first annual Fourth of July picnic is this coming Saturday.
MR. BURNS: Oh, I’m afraid you misunderstand. This picnic is for me. You will all be spending your Independence Day slaving away in the hot summer sun with no pay, lotion or gratitude.
THE BANKSY ”COUCH GAG”:
MR. BURNS: What makes a man endanger his job and ... yes, even his life, by asking me for money?
MARGE: You can’t fire me just because I’m married. I’m gonna sue the pants off you!
MR. BURNS: You don’t have to sue me to get my pants off.
YOUNG BOY: You can’t treat the working man this way. One day we’ll form a union and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve. Then we’ll go too far, and get corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!
MR. BURNS: Why do I need another penny? I have billions. Still, if I don’t take it, that hoodlum over there might.
MR. BURNS: Ah, yes. Naturally, I can’t pay you much of a reward because I’m strapped for cash.
[CEILING caves; riches rain down.]
MR. BURNS: As you can see, this old place is falling apart. But I’m sure we can come to an understanding.
HOMER: He might have all the money in the world, but there’s one thing he can’t buy.
MARGE: What’s that?
HOMER: A dinosaur.
MR. BURNS: Compadres, it is imperative that we crush the freedom fighters before the start of the rainy season. And remember, a shiny new donkey for whoever brings me the head of Col. Montoya.
(SMITHERS whispers to BURNS)
MR. BURNS: And by that, I mean, it’s time for the worker of the week award.
HORST: Attention, workers: We have completed our evaluation of the plant. We regret to announce the following layoffs, which I will read in alphabetical order:
That is all.
SMITHERS: Even so, sir, we could stand to lay off a few employees.
MR. BURNS: Oh, very well! Lay off him, him, him, him.
(Sees Homer wearing thick Henry Kissinger glasses)
Hmm...better keep the egghead. He just might come in handy.
MR. BURNS: Now, a few more details about this year’s company picnic: It’s at the plant, no food will be served, the only activity will be work, and the picnic is canceled.
EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s our highly subjective list of “money quotes.” Feel free to post your favorites.