Another popular Springfield resident is getting a long overdue rewrite.
Harry Shearer, a white actor who has voiced the black doctor Julius Hibbert since the character’s debut more than 30 years ago, is stepping down from the role, Vulture reports. In fact, Shearer’s last episode was as Dr. Hibbert (Season 32’s “Diary Queen”) aired last Sunday. Shearer will continue to cast his myriad other Simpsons roles, including Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Mr. Burns.
Kevin Michael Richardson, a well-known veteran of the voice acting world, has been cast as the icon’s voice dozen of times (albeit in smaller roles) at The Simpsons since 2009. His first episode as Dr. Hibbert (“Wad Goals”) will air on Sunday February 28th.
Other characters Richardson has voiced recently include Jerome from Family Guy and Cleveland Brown Jr., Lewis from American Dad !, Martian Manhunter from Young Justice, Guardians of the Galaxy Groot, Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Batman’s Joker. His extensive credits also include work on shows such as Pinky and the Brain, The Powerpuff Girls, The PJs, Lilo & Stitch: The Series and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Of course, Dr. Hibbert is hardly the first character to be re-cast in the name of racial accuracy in recent months. The Simpsons announced famous recipes for Carl (now played by Alex Desert) and Apu (new voice TBD), while Family Guy introduced a new voice actor for Cleveland (Arif Zahir). On streaming services, Netflix’s Big Mouth featured Ayo Edebiri as the new voice of Missy (previously voiced by Jenny Slate), while Apple TV + Central Park swapped Kristen Bell for Emmy Raver-Lampman as Molly.
TVLine asked Fox for confirmation.