Has Iconic Animated Show 'The Simpsons' Run Its Course?

The show's historic run makes fans wonder when it'll end

Matt Groening
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As The Simpsons continues year after year, becoming the longest-running sitcom on American television, fans speculate whether the series should last much longer.

Some fans feel the show lost its heart and humor years ago. Some fans feel Futurama took quality writers and producers away from The Simpsons, making it suffer. Other fans think the show is as good as ever. How much longer will the show go on?

History of 'The Simpsons'

Since The Simpsons first aired in 1989, the show has earned several Emmys for the show and its cast. The Simpsons has become the longest-running comedy on television, surpassing Cheers or M.A.S.H., and at well over 20 seasons, it is the longest-running scripted prime-time show in the U.S. But fans have become disappointed in the quality of the show.

The Simpsons was at a high in ratings and critical success in 1999. Then Matt Groening's other show was launched: Futurama. Many fans felt that when Groening's attention shifted to the new show set in the future, and Mike Scully became the showrunner, that the quality of The Simpsons began to slip.

Even after Futurama was canceled after five seasons, fans that had been with The Simpsons from the start felt they were watching a different, less funny, show. There was even an online petition for fans to sign to get the show canceled.

Reasons to Cancel

Fans have voiced reasons why The Simpsons should be put out of its misery, saying the show (and, particularly, Homer Simpson) has become less intelligent. There have been bright spots in recent years, but not enough to make many fans think the show is worth keeping alive.

Reasons to Keep 'The Simpsons' on TV

Well, as long as The Simpsons is raking in big bucks and big ratings, Fox will not cancel the show. (And then there's the fact Fox has raked in billions of dollars off Simpsons merchandise.)

Though ratings have been on the decline for years, the same can be said for TV viewership in general, and The Simpsons' ratings have leveled off a bit in the later years. In fact, viewership rose a bit between its 25th and 26th seasons — the first time that had happened in more than a decade. Part of what gives the show its momentum is the incorporation of current events and parody content, which makes the rounds on the internet and social media after they initially air. As long as there's fodder for jokes (and there always is), The Simpsons has an opportunity to continue.

Basically, The Simpsons has been able to retain its popularity largely as a result of its ability to find new fans as the show ages.

Where It Stands

Despite the constant whispers about its cancellation, The Simpsons keeps getting renewed, with FOX announcing new seasons in short increments. The best indication about the show's future? The actors are reportedly optioned through a potential season 30.