It’s the end of an era for Apu fans.
Hank Azaria confirmed that he will no longer voice the American-Indian character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on “The Simpsons.”
He made the announcement during an appearance at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Friday after lending his voice to the Kwik-E-Mart owner for 30 years.
While it’s unclear what Fox will do with the beloved yet controversial character, Azaria told /Film, “All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore unless there’s some way to transition it or something.”
He added, “What they’re going to do with the character is their call. It’s up to them and they haven’t sorted it out yet. All we’ve agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore.”
Azaria confirmed that it was a mutual decision between him and the show creators, adding, "We all feel like it's the right thing and good about it."
The decision follows a 2017 documentary, “The Problem With Apu,” by comedian Hari Kondabolu, who claimed the character is offensive, racially insensitive, and a stereotypical mockery of Indian-Americans.
Following the announcement, Kondabolu admitted that he never wanted the long-running animated comedy to get rid of the character.
“I do hope they keep the character & let a very talented writing staff do something interesting with him. If not to better the show, then to atleast spare me some death threats,” he posted on Twitter.
As fans started calling him out in the comments, Kondabolu clarified that his documentary was “not made to get rid of a dated cartoon character, but to discuss race, representation & my community (which I love very much). It was also about how you can love something (like the Simpsons) & still be critical about aspects of it (Apu).”
During an interview with Stephen Colbert in 2018, Azaria said he understood the message and wasn’t opposed to stepping away from the role, according to US Weekly.
“My eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been,” the actor told the late-night host.
The 55-year-old longtime voice actor also voices Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, and Comic Book Guy on the series.
According to CNN, Fox, the company that airs "The Simpsons," has no comment.