The Simpsons Might Be Quietly Removing Apu From The Show Entirely

The Simpsons Might Be Quietly Removing Apu From The Show Entirely
Apu is having a rough... life, really. (Image: Fox)

Apu is one of the most controversial characters on The Simpsons, and news now indicates the show might deal with that by avoiding it altogether.

After previous, embarrassing attempts to handle concerns over Apu’s worthiness as a representative of Indian Americans, IndieWire reports that, according to film producer Adi Shankar, The Simpsons is going to just drop the character entirely, quietly removing him and his family from the show.

Shankar says he got the news from several sources involved with The Simpsons and its creator, Matt Groening. Shankar has been involved in the conversation around Apu since he put out a call for scripts written by Indian Americans that portrayed Apu in a positive, realistic way, instead of the portrayal Shankar and many others feel is a stereotype.

Shankar found a script he liked, though, which means that, while Apu is gone from the long-running animated show that created him, he might not be gone entirely. Shankar’s Bootleg Universe project has a history of producing scripts in the styles of popular shows.

The script Shankar chose, written by Vishaal Buch, a doctor from Maryland, features Apu meeting and interacting with other Indian businessmen, in order to, as Shankar put it in his initial call for scripts, “[take] takes a creation that was the byproduct of a predominately Harvard-educated white male writers’ room and [transform] it into a fresh, funny and realistic portrayal of Indians in America.”

More information on the script can be found in IndieWire’s lengthy write-up here. And if you’re interested in Shankar’s work, check out the second season of Castlevania — he executive produced it. 


  • In a great display of tribalism people are insulted that an Indian character in a tv show about stereotypes and tropes is a stereotype. Sure, write him out, Simpsons has been garbage anyway for over ten years.

    Next people will mass complain about Token or Timmy.

    • I don’t reckon it’s the masses or even that many people making a big fuss about it either.

      I actually think this is just another case of a vocal minority being amplified by social media – where outrage gets all the attention.

      Things always seem much worse in the news, and on the internet.

      • It seems to be one person firing up a vocal minority. Thing for me is that where I live, a good portion of convenience stores ARE run by sub continent races. Whether they’re Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, or something else from the area, that singing accent is pretty common as soon as you walk into most 7/11’s around here.

        Chinese run convenience stores probably out number them here these days, but those convenience store stereotype are there for good reason – its usually a good, uncomplicated way to start a business and get ahead when new to an area.

        I also know a good number from those communities that are professionals as well, whether they’re doctors, lawyers, or something else. But people just want to be offended, or see themselves as better than the average, so expect to be represented that way.

        They then ignore that the racial tropes for other races are just as bad – Barney, Moe, Lenny, and Carl are all stereotypes as well. As vaegrand says, its a show about stereotypes. Its going to have stereotypes for that reason, and has had them for 30 years now.

  • I’m kind of amased they aren’t just quietly getting rid of the simpsons in general. I can’t remember the last time I cared about this show.

    • To be honest I know nobody who watches it anymore.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually using the past coverage of the doco to generate interest and buzz around the show again given its dropping ratings.
      Also wouldn’t be surprised if this was how the begin winding down the Simpsons, how neat would it be to have the characters begin taking steps to actually move on from the static world that’s been their lives and actually have people contribute to that.

      I dunno, I don’t even watch it any more either.

      • To be fair, the only reason why I stopped watching was because ten never ran new episodes after a while and I don’t care for fox. At one point I thought of allegedly downloading the recent seasons since I stopped watching but I couldn’t be bothered investing the time when many episodes would be relevant to older pop culture references which we have moved past.

    • You do realise that LGBTQI people are real people, with real experiences, and a real history of prejudice and discrimination placed upon them, who are still fighting for the right to be equal and safe even in a country like Australia? Making fun of that inclusive acronym and implying it’s nonsense by tacking on some childish “wtfbbq” is not smart, edgy or funny — it’s disgusting and displays a remarkable lack of empathy.

      • It’s already a ridiculously long acronym that everyone keeps adding onto. no matter how you feel about the people the club name is just absurd.

        • I believe the acronym has a plus in it for exactly that reason, and has for a few years – it now includes anyone that is in a minority with respect to gender identity/sex/sexuality.

          • I do understand that but, it’s still too large for people not actively interested to bother remembering.

            I personally don’t really care. I think lumping all these people together as one group is a bad idea anyway so I don’t really bother with it. they are hardly a single unified community and they all have different problems so I can’t simply address them as a community when talking about them.

          • It’s a fair point to say that these identities are unique, but it’s important to consider that people self-identify with the acronym as a way of recognising the shared struggles and to create a sense of inclusivity. And remembering 6 or 7 letters isn’t really a stretch, I don’t think.

          • You don’t have to care about the acronym but I think what mogwai was pointing out was that there is no need to ridicule it when it’s still an uphill battle for our community.

          • Also, acknowledge the privilege of not having to care about the issues the LGBTQI community face on a daily base. A trans friend of mine recently ended up having to report a bloke in peak hour on the train for abusing her for existing. ie comments and harrassment about their gender. I can’t recall when I have ever had an example situation occur but for her it is daily or several times a week at least. The bloke was charged which was good but not feeling safe, ever, is shit. So not having to care about never feeling safe is nice for you but it is not the experience of the wider community. I also don’t have to care, but choose to because my best mate is gay and I hate hearing the abuse he gets from people on the street. If one of my kids came out today (they are a few years off that still) I would be afraid for them. So again, I want a safer world. What @niomo has done has continued to create that unsafe space so everyone is calling them on it.

          • That is fair, and probably in an ideal world, these people would be fighting not to be casually lumped together with each other, but rather developing their own identity. The problem that that presents in this non-ideal world would be a fragmentation of attention in a plight that they still have to fight for, tooth and nail: to be recognised as normal human beings with no fewer rights than anybody else. Coming together with all the other non-cisgender/heterosexual is, sadly, their best shot at being a community big enough to make waves and create change.

            So, if it bothers you for whichever reason, do remember to blame the bigots for it, not the victims doing what they have to for survival.

          • Yeah, I think the Q does the same thing. It seems to be regional which acronym is used more frequently

        • Queer and Intersex. An intersex person is someone who is born with ambiguous sex traits (physical, hormonal, genetic etc). Queer is a bit trickier as it’s a ‘reclaimed word’ that can be used and perceived differently by different people but, at risk of oversimplifying, it generally means not-straight. Happy to be corrected on that last bit if anyone has a better or experiential definition.

    • No he’s not. The show is predominantly white with many very different “white males”. Homer was a stereotype of suburban America.

      The problem is Apu an antiquated stereotype with no depth.

      • Bumblebee Man, Krusty the Clown, Luigi, Groundskeeper Willy, Fat Tony and the mob, All the Australians in the Australian episode, Dr Nick Riviera, Cletus, Bloody Gums Murphy (Bleeding Gums), Uter, Rainier Wolfcastle, all of the Irish characters. The list goes on.

        The show is built on antiquated stereotypes, many with no depth. Out of all of those perhaps only Krusty has had more character development and depth than Apu. I think the better option would be to introduce a new Indian character that works in a completely different field. That way you can say we understand that this character does not reflect everyone but still reflects some. And maybe just recast Apu and have a new character also voiced by an Indian.

  • I find this the best way to deal with all the armchair outrage these days.

    The funny thing I find about this is, the complained he was a racist trope and that he should be more akin to burns with his richness and success and what not.

    Instead of bowing to the minority, they went stuff it, just get rid of him

    Now there are swathes of people complaining they have no representation.
    I applaud the writers and creators.

    Not everyone in this world is born a winner, there are several instances of white people being made into over the top representations, yet none of those are under threat.

    Just wait for the middle American Cletus back lash…

    • Yeah, getting rid of him was just the simplest route in terms of writing I’d say, rather than some passive aggressive way to get back at the people complaining.

      If they kept his character and modified him to meet the demands of those who were ‘outraged’ or upset they’d have to rewrite his character and even then, they might get other complaints – e.g. you’d start seeing bs articles like, “What Simpsons New Apu Gets Right… And So Wrong!” etc

      Forgot to add, you’re right about Cletus… and Bumble-Bee Man, Fat Tony, Groundskeeper Willie, and others I can’t remember off the top of my head.

    • “We’ll give your people exactly the amount and the kind of representation /our/ people believe is enough, and let’s not hear a pip from you other than “thank you”, or we’ll take it away.”

      Yep, sounds about right.

  • People really need to learn to be less sensitive. Apu is a stereotype but so are the majority of the other characters in the show, and he’s not portrayed in a negative light at all. He’s generally portrayed as a hardworking family man just trying to make ends meet. He happens to work in a convenience store which yes, is also a stereotype, but damned if it isn’t also true, even in Australia. His accent, while exaggerated for comic effect, also isn’t inaccurate either for someone who was natively born in India.

    Is Groundskeeper Willie going to be cut from the show too? Bumblebee Man? Krusty? Luigi Risotto? Fat Tony? Cletus? Comic Book Guy? McBain? Seriously.

    • Only a few of those are /racial/ stereotypes, and the ones who are are fairly minor and seldom seen characters.

      Having said that, you (and vaegrand above) may be onto something when pointing out that the Simpsons is a series deeply rooted in stereotypes. I guess the issue is that the series has stubbornly stayed in the air almost three decades, far, far beyond the point it should have been allowed to die of old age. The world has changed quite a bit in the last 29 years; it is to be expected that many of the foundations set back then are not doing much for the sensibilities of the generation that was born in the interim.

      Still… looking back, most of the really memorable stuff, or the gags which made me roar with laughter back then… they were not facile stereotype jokes. What I’m trying to say is that the series was (used to be, rather) smart and sophisticated enough that they did not need the stereotypes. Obviously, removing the stereotypes would end with something that looks nothing like the Simpsons… so again, the right thing to do was letting it die when it ran its course.

      • Groundskeeper Willie appears just as often as Apu does. And like Apu, he’s voiced by someone not from his country (Dan Castellaneta, same guy that does Homer’s voice). I don’t hear any Scots complaining about the character. If anything they embrace him.

        • Fair enough. On the other hand, Scots are white people who have hardly suffered from any discrimination in the latest century or so. The stereotype he represents isn’t really “punching down” anybody. That said, if Scots found him offensive, I believe they would be in their full right to complain about it and I’d support it.

      • Still… looking back, most of the really memorable stuff, or the gags which made me roar with laughter back then… they were not facile stereotype jokes.
        You didn’t like the Australian episode?

        • The Australian episode… I remember Homer and Bart all pumped about the chance of riding inside a Kangaroo’s pouch like in the cartoons and finding out the gross reality; laughed quite a bit at that. I remember Bart playing the joke of “ask your neighbour” to a kid in the outback and the kid embarking in a several-hour trip to their nearer neighbour; that one got a chuckle. I quite remember the dramatic ending calling back to the issue of invasive species and the twilight dimension kind of last scene with the koala on the helicopter. Oh and the silly bit about the water in the loos spiraling the other way around! If there were racial stereotype gags (which I imagine there were), I genuinely cannot remember them.

  • Hard working and welcomed immigrant.

    Owns a local business that is a staple of the community.

    Has a beautiful wife and several children.

    Portrayed as a good father.

    …. Is somehow seen as a bad stereotype in a TV show with several other stereotype characters, now axed.

    Good representation but someone thought the voice goes too hard so goodbye! Don’t complain about not being represented in media anymore 🙂

  • Hard to feel that just writing him out is the right call. So many of the characters on the simpsons are stereotypes as well. It would’ve been great if they just could have changed his character design slightly to avoid his most problematic traits.

    • Why should they, its their art, their IP, their creation.

      Just because you have vocal minority out there who want to take offence at everything doesn’t mean that every one that wants to make content is hamstrung by who might or might not take offence.

      Its a very slippery slope when you let the people who moan make the rules.

      • But… they are a business, first and foremost. If there was any “art” in the series, it flew through the window when they decided to artificially keep the series alive just because it represents a stable paycheck for creators and staff, even if they squeezed out all of the creative and genuinely funny scenarios out of that setting well before the half mark of its now almost 3 decades in the air.

        So, a business. A business that wants to stay afloat listens to its customers. I know that you’d like to believe that we’re dealing here with a “vocal minority” but the truth is that a new generation with different sensibilities was born and became adults since the start of the series. Friend, I know well that one of the most difficult parts of growing older is seeing the next generation of what may seem as hapless kids taking over, changing the world to their liking and slowly making the old world obsolete, and those who cling to it, irrelevant.

        My advice is to do your best to ride the wave. Remember how it was when we were the “hapless kids” and chuckled at the dinosaurs that cantankerously yelled at our newfangled way of seeing the world? Don’t be that dino. It may not feel that way from this vantage, but historically, the hapless kids have mostly succeeded in driving the word forward towards progress and betterment of the species as a whole.

          • Sadly, that’s what everybody thinks regarding things like this: “/I/ am the /real/ costumer/fan/collector/etc. Everybody else are posers and whiners that probably don’t even _________.”

      • Why shouldn’t they? It’s their show. They’re allowed to look at what people have been saying and decide they’re going to rethink the character. As far as I can tell that’s exactly what happened here. Is it so hard to believe Hank Azaria when he says he doesn’t want to voice Apu anymore?

        • I fail to see where your arguments fits in here…

          Your opening comments contradicts itself.
          and further more, they have decided to retire the character instead of bowing to recreational outrage, so yet again, your comment makes no sense.

          Keep up the good work though

          • How does it contradict itself? It’s their show, they can do what they want, and in this case what they want is to change or remove Apu (I don’t think either has been officially confirmed). It’s your point but expanded to take into account the possibility that people involved in making the show agree that there is an issue here.

            It’s the same reason I don’t use the word cunt anymore. I can argue that it’s fine in the Australian sense all I want, but people don’t like hearing it so why would I insist on using it? To hurt people I do care about in order to make a stand against a group that doesn’t even realise I exist?
            Likewise, why would they insist on keeping Apu how he was after someone has pointed out that that representing Indian-Americans this way on TV causes problems for actual Indian-Americans? Because he’s so beloved? If he was Maude’ed before all this we’d be talking about how much of a cop out it was that they didn’t kill anyone important off.

            Recreational outrage? We can go back and forth on the exact motivations of everyone else, ourselves included, but at the end of the day Adi Shankar has calmly and clearly made a bunch of valid points. Being dismissive of his points because you don’t think highly of internet users is a mistake.

    • I think another gesture of good faith that might have worked and even brought something new to the show would be to keep Apu, but also introduce another Indian character who’s personality and role wasn’t defined by his ethnicity. Acknowledge the old, improve with the new.

      • People would find things to complain about at that point, you can’t please everyone, and this would’ve opened the door for them to just get more complaints and demands.

        Even though I haven’t watched Simpsons beyond season 12 or 13, I feel it would seem so heavy handed and tacky to just introduce a character like that, it would be like that Poochie episode.

        • Yeah, introducing a new character is a difficult process, and the Poochy episode illustrated how it can be shoehorned in, but it can be done right. And sure, the majority of the cast have been around since seasons 1/2 but even characters like Disco Stu, Cecil and Duffman amongst others were added several years later, and they’ve found their niche well. People will always complain, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying to improve and adapt.

  • The hard working immigrant who came to America, got a doctorate in Computer Science, is a hard working husband, and father to 8 kids, manages his own small business and is generally respected by all his peers and neighbours in Springfield is being removed because he was a stereotype in an era where small store clerks were often Indians. Thanks, 2018 (and 2017, let’s be honest).

    You know what Apu? I am really gonna miss you! *whistles and leaves*

  • The documentary was called “The Problem with Apu”, not “I’m Outraged About Apu Get Rid Of Him”. This is the producers and directors of The Simpsons just being lazy, again.

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