Voice actor Hank Azaria is most famous for voicing "The Simpsons" character Apu. However, in a recent interview with Slash Film, Azaria said he will no longer voice the actor in future seasons. That is, if Apu will even appear on future seasons.
"All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore unless there's some way to transition it or something," Azaria told Slash Film, explaining the decision was mutual between him and producers.
So, what does this mean for the future of Apu's character? Let's analyze what we know.
Why did Hank Azaria decide to step down?
The second half of his statement to Slash Film seems to reference that "The Simpsons" felt fans' pressure and decided to make some changes.
"What they're going to do with the character is their call. It's up to them and they haven't sorted it out yet. All we've agreed on is I won't do the voice anymore. We all made the decision together. We all agreed on it. We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it," Azaria explained to Slash Film.
Uproar over the character heightened when Hari Kondabolu released his documentary.
The real drama surrounding Apu's character came when filmmaker Hari Kondabolu released his 2017 documentary "The Problem with Apu," which criticized the show for including a character that he felt represented negative stereotypes and racial micro-aggressions about Indian people.
He also criticized "The Simpsons" for allowing non-Indian actor Hank Azaria to voice Apu's character.
Azaria hinted his departure from "The Simpsons" was coming when he talked to Stephen Colbert in 2018.
"I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room...including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I'm perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me," Azaria told Colbert.
Hari Kondabolu and some fans applauded Azaria's decision to leave.
When word of Azaria's decision came out, Hari Kondabolu jumped on Twitter to share his reaction.
"If @HankAzaria is indeed no longer doing the voice of Apu, I do hope they keep the character & let a very talented writing staff do something interesting with him. If not to better the show, then to at least spare me some death threats," he said in the tweet.
One fan responded with, "Or, even better, just cancel the damn show already."
Another echoed Kondabolu's statement, writing, "I don't think 'The Simpsons' people are racist toward Indian people. I don't think Hank Azaria is racist. It's okay to change something, even if you intended no harm, once you find out it's doing harm."
However, most thought "cancel culture" was taking it too far.
Most Twitter users defended Apu's character and criticized Kondabolu for being "a professional whiner" and "pathetic at this point."
One user tagged Hank Azaria and wrote, "Come on don't do this! Don't give in to cancel culture. Stop being woke. That's not what 'The Simpsons' are about."
Several Indian Twitter users also shared their perspectives, with many saying they took no issue with Apu's character and one noting that seeing Apu on-screen made him feel "represented."
Another user questioned the logic behind the decision, "Seriously? Why is this seriously happening? Why does a talent have to become racist? It's no different than when a female voices a male, as the case is with Bart. Hank Azaria is a very talented man and 'The Simpsons' will never be the same with Apu voiced differently..."