In the note that accompanied critics’ copies of The Simpsons’ 26th-season premiere, “Clown In The Dumps,” executive producer Al Jean made a humble request: “Please don’t reveal the identity of the character who dies, helping us insure the furor you did so much to create lasts until we can safely convert it to a Nielsen rating.” While the interest of a viewing public undergoes that conversion into raw data, The A.V. Club does its duty to keep the furor alive for a little while longer, in a review of the episode as well as news briefs that follow-up on months of reporting, in order to reveal [Spoilers for The Simpsons season premiere ahead, so if you’ve gotten this far and still don’t know, click away now] it was Krusty The Clown’s dad.
Yes, Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, the appropriately crusty holy man whose strained relationship with his son was the basis of the Emmy-winning season-three episode “Like Father, Like Clown,” is dead. That Emmy went to Jackie Mason for his performance as Rabbi Krustofski, an award that marked the character for death in one of the major clues dropped prior to “Clown In The Dumps”’ debut. By way of a fakeout for those following the clues most closely, Mason’s fellow Emmy honoree Kelsey Grammer also appeared in the episode, turning in a cameo as the still-very-much-alive Sideshow Bob. Even the most ardent IMDB trackers should’ve know better than to fit the character for a coffin with extended foot room: Bob Terwilliger doesn’t get killed—Bob Terwilliger does the killing. (Or at least he tries, until he’s inevitably stopped by Bart Simpson.)
On the subject of things that’ll never be stopped: Don Hertzfeldt extended the bold predictions of one familiar Billy Joel parody with his season-premiere couch gag. In typically nonsensical/heart-breaking fashion, Hertzfeldt drafted an outrageous vision of a far-off future in which the Simpson family have mutated into catchphrase spouting shadows of their former selves. (We know: It seems a little far-fetched.) Embedded below, the couch gag is a unique entry in the long list of prophecies that, well after we have mourned our loved ones, our loved ones have mourned us, and we’ve all mourned our memories of basic humanity, The Simpsons will be there. Still there, with a crazy wedding of pathos and absurdity, where something happens do do do do do you imagen Sampsans never canceled?