It’s been a longstanding joke: if you think of an idea, then The Simpsons has (probably) already done it. But one thing the show has generally avoided – outside of one brief joke in a Treehouse of Horror episode – is bringing Springfield’s Favorite Family to live-action.
That almost wasn’t the case. Simpsons collector/expert/megafan That Guy explained in a thread on Twitter that a chance meeting with an unnamed person involved in the spinoff revealed more of the project. It was previously only talked about briefly during the director’s commentary on the season four episode "Kamp Krusty."
Short thread: This weekend I spoke with someone who was involved with what was going to be the first The Simpsons spinoff, a live action Krusty The Clown series, where the premise was that Krusty moved to Hollywood and became a talk show host.April 26, 2021
Pitched as a "live-action Krusty the Clown series," the entertainer would have headed to Hollywood after being cast out of Springfield due to an unfortunate death at a town appearance. There, he would have found unlikely fame as a host after guesting on an episode that saw the previous "[David] Letterman-style" host killed during a mishap with a VR headset.
The clown, who would have been played by Krusty (and Homer, among others) voice actor Dan Castellaneta, would have appeared in "surreal" adventures – and a full pilot script was written up and pitched to Fox.
Network response forced Matt Groening, who co-wrote the script, into transitioning the spinoff into an animated show. But there was to be no last laugh for the red-nosed clown: financial issues eventually sunk the project entirely before it had a chance to get off the ground.
Still, it’s a fun ‘what if?’ How different would The Simpsons have been if the live-action spin-off was created? Its best years, in hindsight, were slowly coming to a close – and this feels like a perfectly cromulent chapter that would have embiggened the Simpsons universe in intriguing fashion.