‘The Simpsons’ Producer Apologizes for Surprise Death: ‘We Certainly Didn’t Kill the Character Off Lightly’

“The Simpsons” fans are still reacting to the surprise death of Moe’s Tavern regular Larry Dalrymple — aka Larry the Barfly — on Sunday’s episode, “Cremains of the Day.” And “The Simpsons” co-executive producer Tim Long has the explanation for why the show did it.

“I’m sorry if some fans are upset, but we really wanted to use Larry’s death as a way to show that even the most peripheral people in our lives have dignity and worth, and that we really shouldn’t take anyone for granted,” Long wrote in an email shared with Variety. “To paraphrase Shakespeare, nothing became Larry’s life like the way he left it: drunk, lonely, and with a butt full of sapphires.”

More from Variety

In the episode, Moe discovers Larry dead in the bar. Per the episode’s logline: “When someone in Homer’s life passes away, he and guys from Moe’s go on a roadtrip to scatter the ashes… but will their friendship die as well?” Larry had been a background character on “The Simpsons,” seen in Moe’s Tavern since the show’s very first episode in 1989, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” The balding character rarely spoke, but was voiced by Harry Shearer.

“To me, it’s sort of fitting that some fans are taking Larry’s demise as hard as Homer and his friends do,” Long said. “It’s just a measure of how much the show still means to people. I mean, nobody would have been upset if the Flintstones had killed off the Great Gazoo. If anything, they would have been thrilled.

“The episode is about a lot of things, but mostly it’s about the fear of death. Simpsons characters have always had unusually rich emotional lives, and this episode is really about their anxiety over ‘what comes next’ (and I don’t mean ‘Krapopolis’),” he added. “What I think is bittersweet about this episode is that it took Larry’s death to make Homer and his friends appreciate him — and each other.

“Again, we’re sorry if anyone is upset about Larry’s demise — we certainly didn’t kill the character off lightly. But I also have to point out that Larry was never really one of the show’s breakout stars. I don’t remember any kids wearing a ‘Larry’ t-shirt, or doing a ‘Larry the drunk lonely barfly’ dance. It would have been cool if they had.”

“The Simpsons,” bu the way, has been no stranger to killing off characters over the years — Maude Flanders, Frank Grimes, Mona Simpson and Edna Krabappel among them.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.