While it seems as though nothing short of total environmental collapse will stop The Simpsons—and even then, it will still likely be piped into the spaceship-hovercrafts of the chosen survivors—The Daily Beast is reporting that the show may end over something far less unpossible: money. According to Lloyd Grove, one of The Simpsons’ famous contract disputes has hit an impasse between 20th Century Fox and the six principal voice actors, with Fox threatening to end the series after its current 23rd season if the cast refuses to accept “a draconian 45-percent pay cut.” At the center of their tussle is a “tiny percentage” of the show’s syndication and merchandising back-end—the sweet, sweet candy that amounts to countless billions, and will likely continue to do so in perpetuity, particularly after the show is revived in the late 22nd century by cyborg Seth MacFarlane.
All of the actors (i.e. Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer) have long argued that they deserve a piece of those profits, considering their contributions are just as key to the show’s success as those of co-creators James L. Brooks and Matt Groening. But Fox believes they should be happy with the around $8 million apiece they make every year, and balked at the actors’ proposal of a 30-percent pay cut plus a taste of that bottomless renewable revenue. And of course, Fox is pretty sure they have all the leverage here: Whereas in past contract disputes, the studio has threatened to replace everyone with sound-alikes to keep it going, Fox has banked enough hours of The Simpsons to consider dedicating an entire network to nothing but, and—echoing many fans in recent years—it’s now suggesting it could just do without any new episodes.