After a 23 season run, it looks like the current season of The Simpsons could be the show's last. News broke today that Fox is threatening to cancel the show if the cast does not agree to a 45% pay cut (if my editor is reading this, don't get any ideas). With ratings down and production costs the highest they've ever been, Fox alleges that it cannot continue to air the series without garnishing wages and would rather cancel the show than share a percentage of the back-end.

They're playing hardball. But are they bluffing? Yes. Here are a few reasons why I think so.

They've Bluffed Before

This isn't the first time that the network has been at odds with the cast's paycheck. They threatened to fire cast members and replace them with sound-alikes when their contracts were up in 2008. Those negotiations ended in an outcome where the cast saw significant pay bumps to $500,000 per episode. Sounds pricey but this actually put their pay in line with that of stars of live-action sitcoms. And it only took 19 years to get there.

It's An Institution

The Simpsons is an institution. The celebrated program has shaped an entire generation. In fact, there are adults alive who don't know the barren television wasteland we all foraged through before The Simpsons existed.  Even though it's not as great as it once was, the first ten seasons still rank as the best television series of all time. I don't think television viewers are ready to say goodbye. At least, not in an abrupt way.

We'll Be Left With Too Much Seth MacFarlane

The writing on the show has slipped but it's still a nice distraction from the tapestry of crass, random references Fox airs throughout the rest of its Sunday night animated block. Also, it's nice to have one option that doesn't require hearing Seth MacFarlane's voice. Though it does have a unique, velvet-like smoothness to it, enough is enough.


The cast has offered to take a 30% cut in wages in exchange for a small piece of the show's back-end earnings brought in through syndication and merchandising. As it stands now, the cast earns $8 million per season. 30% of that is over $2 million, which means the network is making billions of dollars from the program. Are they really willing to throw away that revenue stream?

Dan Castellaneta's Mafia Ties

Maybe he's mobbed up, or maybe he isn't. The one thing that is certain is that he can afford to have anyone disappeared (been awhile since we've seen Üter). Do the suits at Fox really wanna tempt fate?

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