For decades, “The Simpsons” has been a cherished animated series celebrated for its razor-sharp wit and unforgettable catchphrases. Among the show’s enduring traditions, one of the most iconic recurring gags has been Homer Simpson’s playful, albeit exaggerated, frustration with his son Bart. Recently, rumors swirled that this beloved gag was on the chopping block, but Matt Groening, the creative genius behind “The Simpsons,” is here to set the record straight.

Earlier this month, speculations emerged suggesting that the infamous “strangling scene,” featuring Homer exclaiming, “Why you little!” while playfully clutching Bart’s neck, was being phased out. This conjecture stemmed from a line in a recent episode titled “McMansion & Wife,” where Homer jestingly remarked, “I don’t do that anymore.” This led to a flurry of reactions from fans, ranging from disappointment to applause for the potential change.

In response to the controversy, Matt Groening, the show’s visionary, decided to address the issue head-on and put fans’ minds at ease. In a statement shared with Variety, Groening wittily quipped, “Homer Simpson was unavailable for comment as he was busy playfully teasing Bart.” This tongue-in-cheek response not only reaffirmed the gag’s continuation but also left fans eagerly anticipating more.

The debate surrounding the “strangling scene” ignited with the 35th season’s “McMansion & Wife” episode. Here, Homer’s firm handshake during an introduction prompts a playful comment from a character named Thayer. Homer humorously retorts, “See Marge? Playfully teasing the boy has its perks,” before adding, “Just kidding. I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.”

The topic of Homer’s mock-aggressive tendencies towards Bart was previously explored in an episode titled “Love Is a Many Teased Thing” from season 22. In this episode, therapist Dr. Zander attempts to make Homer realize the consequences of his playful teasing towards Bart. To drive the point home, the towering basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a friend of Dr. Zander, engages in some light-hearted banter with Homer. While it leaves Homer a tad bewildered, the show continued to embrace the gag in subsequent episodes.

Fans of this beloved sitcom had varied reactions to the news. Some applauded the decision to maintain the tradition, while others found solace in witnessing Homer’s evolution as a character. One fan even humorously commented, “I always knew Homer would learn. He’s a sharp guy,” with another adding, “Took him 36 years, but he finally got it.”

It’s important to note that “The Simpsons” has undergone numerous transformations over the years, adapting to shifts in tone and content, especially since Disney took the reins. Disney’s commitment to a more family-friendly brand might have influenced the decision to address and possibly retire the playful teasing gag. Nevertheless, Groening’s statement reassures fans that the show remains steadfast in its roots while adapting to evolving sensibilities.

As “The Simpsons” embarks on its 35th season and beyond, it is evident that the show will continue to balance its classic humor with the necessity to stay pertinent in the ever-evolving television landscape. While certain traditions may be reconsidered, others will endure, ensuring that the Simpson family remains an enduring fixture in television history.

In conclusion, the recent discussion surrounding the potential retirement of the playful teasing gag featuring Homer and Bart in “The Simpsons” has been decisively put to rest by creator Matt Groening’s witty confirmation that the tradition will persist. The show’s ability to adapt while preserving its core humor underscores its enduring popularity and cultural significance. As “The Simpsons” embarks on its 35th season, fans can eagerly anticipate more laughter and satire from America’s favorite animated family.