With well over 700 episodes, The Simpsons has inarguably left its mark as one of the most notable adult shows now and for the past few decades. Understandably with such a long run, the show has accumulated a large and committed fan base.
From its comical yet effective satire, to its complicated but touching character dynamics, The Simpsons have been living in our hearts for years. That said, part of what has allowed the show to remain relevant despite the passing time is its ability to adapt to the taste of different periods. While the characters themselves haven’t changed all that much, several considerable details from the show have been tweaked, such as the shows fading use of violence and the dismissal of some of the more racist and sexist undertones. Though these changes may have bothered some original fans, they opened the show up to appeal to a new audience.
Any show that lasts as long as this one has no choice but to be able to evolve, which The Simpsons has clearly done a good job at. Nonetheless, the storyline of the show has essentially morphed in every way that it can, without recycling content. This fact has creators, critics, and fans questioning what the future of the show looks like. No matter how it comes about, big change is inevitable in The Simpsons’ future — it’s what that change looks like that is still up in the air.
One possibility is that the series will have to make drastic changes to the show. This could look like a time jump, evolved character traits, or adjustments to alter the dynamics. This may also come in the form of new creative teams working on the show that clearly have different voices or focuses. While fans are usually resistant and critical of such changes (as Simpsons fans have been in the past), they are essential to keep the franchise on the map. Even if fans that are partial to the old structures are unsatisfied, these changes cater to younger generations, which is a huge part of what allows the show to persevere through decades of time.
Groening has responded to fan comments in the past that criticized the new voice that the show is shaping. He has essentially noted that such a significant amount of time warrants changes, as well as new creatives behind the wheel. He clearly supported the direction that the new writing team is taking and even spoke to how clever he thinks that the new content is, even though it’s different from the stuff in the early years.
Al Jean, on the other hand, has expressed that because of the grand longevity of the show, he suspected that the show may end before too long. He then went on to explain that he also feels it’s very likely that The Simpsons will get a reboot. The probability of a reboot is essentially the alternative of making big changes to the show.
At this point, a reboot or spin-off feels inevitable, because of how immensely popular the show has remained. The series has simply created far too successful a franchise to become a relic of television’s past. In addition to the hundreds of episodes that the show has brought to life, the merchandise sales for the franchise are impressive as well. From the vintage merch from the show’s beginning, to The Simpsons products that can be bought at most big name stores today, nearly every item is worth something because of what it represents.
Another detail that points to the likelihood of The Simpsons seeming immortal, in whatever form it takes, is the current pattern of other adult animated shows being revived. A good example of this is the Futurama reboot that is coming, by the same creators. Futurama, like the Simpsons, was extremely successful at the height of its popularity. However, with the structure and schedule it had at the time, it was unable to adapt to the changing needs and focuses of society. While it wasn’t formally canceled, it was no longer being made, until now. In part, that’s because the show was successful enough to be capable of being popular again, but also because there’s a higher demand for content now than ever before.
Being one of the most influential adult animated shows, The Simpsons is likely to have an even quicker turnaround if it gets canceled. It wouldn’t change how anyone viewed the impact of the series if it were to get canceled after such a long run, especially considering that it began as a series of animated shorts. This victory story, along with the show’s ability to remain relevant for literal decades, are some of the factors that indicate that the franchise would get revived if ever it was canceled.
The show being canceled and rebooted could be a blessing in disguise if it happens. As many of the creatives from the show have pointed out before, the characters have been the same age and had the same character flaws for 33 years. That means, for decades, writers of the Simpsons have had to continually create fresh, new content within the parameters set by the basic Simpsons storyline construct. A reboot would allow the storyline to break away from the traditional story structure and focus on a new area, be that new characters in the universe, the same characters at different ages, or just a more detailed focus of the smaller components of the world like Itchy and Scratchy, etc.
No matter how fans feel about either of the likely outcomes of The Simpsons, it seems quite certain that the show will go on. While this series has undoubtedly proven its skills for adapting and sticking it out, whether loyal fans will do the same is up to them. In fact, The Simpsons grasp on relevant pop-culture (and even its future) suggests that if any changes cause fans to lose interest, it’s more a reflection of them than the show. While this reality may not please everyone, it ensures that the topic of The Simpsons is one that will be making its way into conversations for years to come.