It may be impossible to imagine a world without The Simpsons, but Al Jean has tried anyway. The long-serving showrunner of Fox's even longer-running animated hit recently revealed to the U.K. outlet Radio Times how the Simpson family might ride off into the sunset should that day ever come to pass. And according to Jean, their path actually looks like more of a full circle than a straight line.
"I mentioned that there would be an ending where the last episode, they’d be going back to the Christmas pageant from the first episode," Jean said, referring to "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," the 1989 holiday special that launched Homer and his family from bit players on the short-lived Tracey Ullman Show to animated superstars. "So that the whole series was a continuous loop — that’s how I would end it, if I had to."
Of course, Jean is quick to add that he hasn't been asked to end The Simpsons either by 20th Television or its new owners at the Walt Disney Company. (Disney acquired the Fox network, along with the rest of 21st Century Fox, in 2019.). "To be honest, the talk of ending, especially as we're doing really well on Disney+ in the U.S. and the U.K. and other countries in the Americas, I don't see anybody going, 'Let's wrap it up, or figure out how to get out of it' at the moment."
In fact, having hit the 700-episode milestone earlier this year, the showrunner is already thinking ahead to breaking the four-digit barrier. "I calculated that if we make it to 1,000 episodes, that's 12 more seasons… So I'll just be saying, I'll be very happy to be here in 12 seasons' time… [but] it's not just a hop, skip and a jump, it's a little further than that…"
Jean and his writers are already doing plenty of things to keep the show fresh for another dozen years. On the Nov. 21 episode, Waylon Smithers will finally find a steady boyfriend, voiced by Victor Garber. Meanwhile, Springfield is becoming a more diverse place, as new actors have been hired to play characters previously voiced by the original vocal cast — all of whom are white. And in addition to weekly episodes on Fox, the Simpsons are also headlining streaming-only specials that premiere on Disney+.
So forget about that full-circle ending. Just like another Disney mainstay, The Simpsons is headed to infinity... and beyond.
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Fox