The Simpsons’ Hank Azaria Details Decision to Retire As Apu Character

Actor Hank Azaria details why he chose to stop playing controversial The Simpsons' character, Apu.
The Simspons, Apu

Actor Hank Azaria details why he chose to stop playing controversial The Simpsons’ character, Apu.

The future isn’t looking so great for Apu Nahasapeemapetilon anymore. While he was defended for the some would say controversial depiction in early The Simpsons episodes, Hank Azaria, the voice behind the Indian Kwik-E-Mart owner, explained why he won’t be doing the voice anymore.

In a New York Times interview (via Cinemablend), he claimed he didn’t want to because it just didn’t feel right to him.

“Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore. It just didn’t feel right.”

Hank Azaria

He then added this controversy was perfect to spark a conversation and that he holds himself accountable and wants to make up for it.

“What happened with this character is a window into an important issue. It’s a good way to start the conversation. I can be accountable and try to make up for it as best I can.”

Hank Azaria

What Led To The Simpsons’ Apu Drama?

In late 2017, a documentary launched with the title The Problem with Apu. The doc was written and hosted by Indian comedian and self-proclaimed The Simpsons fan, Hari Kondabolu. That said, he didn’t care for how Apu was portrayed.

The film picked up a lot of traction in 2018 and spurred controversy around the Hindu store owner. This led to some fans expecting that his days were limited on the show. But, that wasn’t officially the case.

It wasn’t explicitly said the character was set to be retired as the team behind The Simpsons seemed adamant to defend him in 2018’s, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” In the episode, Marge reads a book to Lisa which was vastly different than how she remembered it, it was a lot more offensive. The controversy was addressed by making a statement about it being unfair to judge a work based on today’s standards, when it was written decades ago.

“Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” the camera it then panned to a picture of Apu, who debuted in the 1980’s episode The Telltale Head.”

The Simpsons, Lisa looking at a photo Apu
Lisa looking at a photo of Apu, No Good Read Goes Unpunished

Through the years, Apu’s character has arguably grown past just being an Indian stereotype. The accent smoothed out and fans got to know more about him, beyond being just the local store owner. But, now with Azaria adamant about not coming back to the role, it’s hard to tell what will happen to him.


The Simpsons isn’t quite known for keeping characters without a voice, they also don’t usually replace the actors. Sure, Bart has been replaced before, so maybe the same will happen with Apu, but only time will tell and who knows how long we’ll have to wait.

What do you think? Should Apu fizzle out of The Simpsons or should they find another actor to play the role? Who would you pick if you had the chance? Let’s discuss in the comment section or on our social media.


Gabriel Stanford-Reisinger

Gabriel Stanford-Reisinger

I write about video games and animation mostly. Might be unapologetically obsessing over Helluva Boss right now.