Originally posted by Evil Fox Exec:
BTW, I didn't know that Sam Simon left the Simpsons! When and why did he leave?
That's a tough one, honestly....they don't talk about it much.
But if you listen to the commentaries on the dvds so far, you'll notice a few trends regarding any mentions of Simon. One is that, again, they don't talk about him a whole lot (particularly compared to Brooks and Groening, who are also on the commentaries, while Simon is no where to be found). Another is that Groening NEVER mentions Simon. Not once. It didn't occur to me until I read an article (which I'll go into a tad more detail on in a minute) that talked about Simon a little. But its true. Only some of the other crew members EVER mention Simon, and they perhaps even seem careful about saying to much when Groening is there...
The answer, from what I've peiced together, is this: First off, we KNOW he left for good after season 4. Literally, he hasn't been involved in even one episode past, I think, "Cape Feare" (which was a season 4 holdover that aired in season 5). That "Homer Goes to College" was the first episode aired after he left probably indicates something...but anyway. What I've peiced together is that Groening and Simon didn't get along very well. Simon himself seems to be a bit of a recluse (now anyway)and rarely speaks or appears in public at all. But both Groening and Simon spoke out in an article in the New York Times from around Novemember 2001 (unfortunately you can't access it anymore without paying), which is where I'm getting all the following quotes. Groening's account of Simon was that he was a "miserable person to work with", "emotionally unstable". He admitted Simon's talent, but perhaps understated Simon's role in the series. One thing he said was that Simon had a pessimistic "13 and out" saying during season one production that seemingly said "after season one, its over" (obviously that hasn't been the case by far, but honestly it wouldn't have been an entirely bad assumption to make back in the day). Simon was a little kinder in his response, but was fairly negative toward Groening as well. According to Simon, the "13 and out" saying simply meant that, in case they didn't get renewed for season 2, they ought to have as much fun with the the first 13 episodes as possible. Regarding Groening himself, he accused Groening of taking too much credit for the series (I forget exactly what he said if anything, but judging by what Simon's contributions to the show were, it probably had something to do with the development of the characters, which was largely Simon's doing, from the flatter "Ullman" characterizations). He also said that, for his part, if he saw Groening on the street he would say hi and try to be friendly, but "I can't give him credit for what he didn't do". As for outside quotes, the article had some more positive quotes about Simon from various older writers (one even said "Simon was the guy we were REALLY writing for" ). And there was an interview with Jon Vitti in '91 that's pretty telling despite being sometime before Simon's actual leaving (he said: "Simon is perhaps the most undermentioned guy on the whole show. He supervises everything, from script to storyboard......but because there's no book of Sam Simon cartoons to look at, he doesn't get any credit" )
So, long answer shortened: creative differences with Matt Groening.