The Simpsons has found its new Dr. Julius Hibbert in veteran voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson. Since the start of the series in 1989, the role of Dr. Hibbert has been voiced by Harry Shearer. After it was announced last year that white voice actors would no longer be voicing non-white roles on The Simpsons, the search was on for a new Dr. Hibbert, and it's just been reported that Richardson has been cast.
Though Shearer won't be voicing Dr. Hibbert any longer, he'll still remain a part of the series. He will continue to voice other major characters like Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns. Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, and more. Shearer's final episode as Dr. Hibbert just so happened to be the latest episode of the series, season 32's "Diary Queen."
Richardson takes over the voice role of Dr. Hibbert immediately, with his debut as the character coming on Sunday, Feb. 28. A veteran of the business, Richardson has previously won two Daytime Emmy Awards for voicing the Joker in The Batman and was nominated in 2019 for his role as Chauncy Roosevelt on F Is for Family. Among his dozens of other credits includes roles on Family Guy, American Dad!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Animaniacs.
This isn't the first recasting to be seen in season 32. Alex Désert (The Flash) took over the role of Carl Carlson, one of Homer's co-workers at the nuclear plant, in the season premiere. The Black character was previously voiced by Hank Azaria, who has also retired as the voice of other non-white characters like Apu, Lou, and Dr. Nick Riviera. Having a white voice actor playing Apu in particular had been heavily criticized in comedian Hari Kondabolu's documentary The Problem with Apu.
Other series have taken similar measures with their voice casts. After Jenny Slate announced she'd no longer voice Missy in the Netflix series Big Mouth, Ayo Edibri took over the role. After playing biracial teenager Molly Tillerman in the first season of Apple TV's Central Park, Kristen Bell stepped aside for Emmy Raver-Lampman to take over for season 2. Meanwhile, Arif Zahir now provides the voice of Cleveland Brown on Family Guy when Mike Henry resigned from the role.
Shearer's final episode as Dr. Hibbert also featured the last time the series will feature the voice of Marcia Wallace as Edna Krabappel. The Simpsons retired Mrs. Krabappel when Wallace died in 2013, and it has since been explained that the character also passed away. In "Diary Queen," Bart stumbles across Mrs. Krabappel's old diary, and lines previously recorded by Wallace were used in a way that fits into the story. Producer Al Jean said this was their way of giving Wallace and Mrs. Krabappel a proper send-off.
Along with Shearer and Azaria, the Simpsons voice cast includes Dan Castellaneta as Homer, Julie Kavner as Marge, Nancy Cartwright as Bart, and Yeardley Smith as Lisa. Guest stars still frequently appear on the series. New episodes of The Simpsons air Sunday nights on Fox. This news comes to us from Deadline.