The Simpsons has been on our television screens for over three decades, and that stretch of time has naturally brought some significant changes to the world of the show. This has included the retirement of several characters following their voice actors' death, including Springfield Elementary teacher Edna Krabappel (Marcia Wallace), who was written out of the show in 2014 following Wallace's sudden passing. At the time, The Simpsons elected to have Mrs. Krabappel die offscreen, but both fans and even some of the series' crew had wondered what a proper send-off for the character would look like. In the series' most recent episode, "Diary Queen", we finally got the answer, as the series utilized two previously-used lines of dialogue recorded by Wallace's voice to fit into the episode's storyline.
In the episode, Bart tracks down Mrs. Krabappel's diary, and discovers that -- despite her sardonic demeanor -- she did actually believe in him. According to a new report from Variety, the series cleared the use of the lines with Wallace's estate and compensated them for her appearance, and credited Wallace with a guest appearance on the episode.
"Sadly, it was very surprising passing," The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean explained in the report. "I didn't know she was that ill until very close to when it happened. So we never got the chance to give sort of a proper goodbye to her in the show, and this is a small attempt to do that. And, you know, she was so beloved by everybody that worked on The Simpsons, that we just sort of wanted to give her one last moment on the show in her memory. It's just that, it's nothing more, but, we thought she was the best."
"I don't think that people these days want to necessarily know how a character passed away," Jean said of the cause of Mrs. Krabappel's death, which has never been revealed on the show. "But we reveal a little bit more about [Mrs. Krabappel] and then a little bit more about her life and how the character was feeling when she passed."
Jean also confirmed that Wallace's previously-recorded dialogue will not be used in future episodes of the series, reassuring that they didn't want to be "exploitive" with her send-off.
"This will be her last appearance," he said. "We just wanted to sort of send the character off properly, in a way that I think isn't trying to be exploitive."
The creative choice also brings up another aspect of how Mrs. Krabappel's death affected the world of The Simpsons, as she had been married to Ned Flanders prior to her passing. Krabappel's death made Ned a widower a second time over, something that the series is still trying to process.
"When we made them a couple, to me it was an interesting opposites attract move, which people often find confusing in television but it happens forever in real life," Jean said. "People like Krabappel and Flanders really do become couples. It was not the intention to make Flanders such a tragic character. However, since that's the case, I think it's kind of deepened his character unintentionally — where he's somebody who's had his faith really tested, who has been a really good person, and some very difficult things have happened to him. So within the limits of fiction, we've been trying to explore that with his character on the show."
What do you think of The Simpsons' surprise send-off to Mrs. Krabappel and Marcia Wallace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!