Homer Simpson Declares He Won't Strangle Bart Anymore on 'The Simpsons': 'Times Have Changed!'

Homer Simpson, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, made the declaration in a recent episode titled 'McMansion & Wife', where he offered an explanation for his tight "grip"

<p>Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

The Simpsons has changed one of its longest-running gags to be more in line with the times.

In a recent episode titled "McMansion & Wife," which aired on Oct. 22, Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) met with his new neighbor Thayer (Hank Azaria), who noted that Homer had "quite a grip" as they shook hands.

"See, Marge, strangling the boy has paid off," Homer quipped to his wife. "Just kidding. I don't do that anymore."

Homer then added with a smile, "Times have changed!"

Related: Hank Azaria Admits He Does 'Wonder' About 'The Simpsons' ' Future — and Says Whether He'd Ever Leave (Exclusive)

<p>20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection</p>

20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection

Homer's strangulation of his oldest child Bart (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) has been deployed for laughs since the show's debut in 1989. (Homer has also been strangled himself — by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played himself in a cameo during the season 22 episode "Love Is a Many Strangled Thing.")

And although Homer only recently declared he wouldn't throttle his 10-year-old toon son, the TV dad hasn't actually done so in several years. According to IGN, Homer last strangled Bart on screen during the show's 31st season, which airing from 2019 to 2020.

Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection
Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Related: The Simpsons Will No Longer Have White Actors Voice Characters of Color

The Simpsons has had to reexamine some of its more problematic characterizations in recent years, most notably when its the Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (also formerly voiced by Azaria) drew criticism for its portrayal of negative stereotypes, even sparking the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu.

Azaria, 59, later stepped down from the role in January 2020, noting that it was "the right thing" to do. The part has yet to be recast, with Apu only making background appearances in the years that followed.

"I really didn't know any better," Azaria said on the Armchair Expert podcast in April 2021, according The Guardian. "I didn’t think about it. I was unaware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens. Just because there were good intentions it doesn't mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for."

Gary Gershoff/WireImage; FOX
Gary Gershoff/WireImage; FOX

It was also announced in February 2021 that the long-running character Dr. Hibbert, who is Black, would be recast with Kevin Michael Richardson after decades of being voiced by Harry Shearer, who is White.

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The Simpsons airs Sundays a 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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